a long, communal table

 

A farm-to-table fresh menu, lights strung for atmosphere above a long, communal table, charmingly decorated, and a venue you would never consider dining at, Farm to Table Dinners are all about community, conversation, surprise, and good food and wine.

Farm to Dinner Party at Black Oak Art
Farm to Dinner Party at Black Oak Art

When you go to a restaurant or attend a dinner party, you generally know what to expect and who you will be dining with. These farm to table events are all about getting out of your comfort zone, being brave, trying new things and meeting new people. And garden-fresh meals from local farms and purveyors, prepared by a chef that is known as much for his biscuits as he is for his gourmet meals.

Valley Mills Vineyards dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo
Valley Mills Vineyards dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo

I have attended several of these in Waco since October and I fall in love with “the dreamy night” every single time.

farm table at World Hunger Farm
farm table at World Hunger Farm

Mark, on the other hand, is still not quite as in love with these events as I am. In fact, he would probably tell you he doesn’t enjoy them at all. But because he loves me, (and I secretly think he does enjoy them- at least the conversation-community-part-of-it), he continues to go with me. Love for me or love for the event, either way, I appreciate him letting me drag him to the dreamy evenings.

Mark and I enjoying the World Hunger Farm in October
Mark and I enjoying the World Hunger Farm in October

I read somewhere about farm to table dinners- “diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.”

farm tt

It is actually hard to get tickets to these events and perhaps that lends some mystery and suspense. When I see the event posted, I am freaking out, stumbling all over myself, trying to click the right buttons and get the tickets paid for. Several have been sold out before I could purchase.  When I do purchase the tickets- it’s like a score for me!  I become elated!

They are announced on Instagram on the accounts of the hosts and through an email. There are only so many tickets available because each event is intimate.

The actual venue and menu are often announced to the participants the night of the event, all a part of the suspense and magic of the evening. A secret society type of evening. All the secrecy lures you in and is a part of the intrigue.

view from our dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo
view from our dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo

Described as a restaurant without walls, the Farm to Table Dinner Party, in Waco, are planned by Sara Martin, of Kindred Event Studios and coordinated food and wine are provided by Milo and Waco Wine Shoppe.

table decorated by Sara Martin of Kindred Event Studio
table decorated by Sara Martin of Kindred Event Studio

I would not call the food classic. The menu is definitely different, which is one aspect of the dinner that is so spectacular. It is not just a dinner party. Something magical really.

Sometimes you really don’t know what you are eating. (which is why Mark isn’t so in love!)

Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo Biscuit Company, plans and implements every detail of the menu according to what is available at the farms he sources, locally in Waco.

Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo, discussing the menu
Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo, discussing the menu

Some of the venues that have been used in the past have been outside, among the stars, at the World Hunger Farm and also along the Brazos River. We have even dined on the historic Suspension Bridge. Although it was not a Farm to Table; it was catered by Milo.

Farm to Table Dinner at World Hunger Farm in October
Farm to Table Dinner at World Hunger Farm in October

The last venue we attended was hosted by Jonathon Martin at his studio, Black Oak Art.

 

appetizer and studio wall at Black Oak Art
appetizer and studio wall at Black Oak Art

The event was originally supposed to be at Gather, a new store opening in Waco, that is a combination of Black Oak Art’s pottery and Kindred Event Studio’s love of entertaining. Gather, The Art of Hospitality, will be mixing traditional southern hospitality with a modern aesthetic. The store was not ready for hosting with construction still in progress. Owners of Gather, Jonathon and Sara Martin, were disappointed to not host the Farm to Table Dinner at Gather. As was I, because I wrote a story about the new store and I am very excited to shop there. But Black Oak Art was just as dreamy.

mug hand-thrown by Black Oak Art
mug hand-thrown by Black Oak Art

Black Oak Art was transformed from a dusty, hand-thrown pottery studio into a perfectly quaint dining atmosphere with a lot of hard work within a very few hours.

The meal included a mixture of hors d’oeuvres, family style shared plates, and composed dishes. There was a wine pairing from David Mayfield Selections and also wine was sold by the glass or bottle.

farm tt2
menu at the Black Oak Art Farm to Table

The menu consisted of Shishito peppers, peaches and ricotta cheese served on rye toasted bread, Eggplant Tartines, Gulf Oyster, watermelon with lemon and thyme, and an heirloom tomato salad. And for the main course, Milo served Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley. (I don’t know but it was so delicious!)

Milo served Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley
the Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley served by Milo

The final course, and most beautifully done, was a dessert that consisted of a cheesecake-like Fromage, in a mason jar, overturned with fresh blueberry, Cantaloupe ice and a crunchy topping.

dessert made by Milo!
dessert made by Milo!

Look how dreamy-and it tasted better than it looked. Apparently, Fromage frais is a creamy soft cheese made with whole or skimmed milk and cream. It is similar to some kinds of quark (WHAT???). It has the consistency of cream cheese, but less fat. (so yay!)

This meal was the best yet that Mark and I have had served to us from Milo. And when I say best yet- I mean that we are not used to trying different, gourmet meals-we are a Morton’s steak and potatoes kind of couple!

As I have said, McEntyre is famous for his homemade biscuits. The recipe has been in the family and comes from Georgia by way of his grandparent.

They serve cheeseburgers on biscuits. Fresh chicken, fried and placed on a biscuit. Sausage on biscuits. (duh?) There are other menu items as well– but the biscuits are a must.

You can try these biscuits I speak of at Milo’s food trucks at three locations in Waco, at the Magnolia Silos, on Webster, behind Heritage Creamery, located at 1125 S. 8th Street, across from Baylor, or on Saturday mornings at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, located at 400 S. University Parks Drive. The menu at the food trucks is just as fresh and sourced from local farmers but has more of a downhome feel. Described on the Milo website as “collaboration between southern comfort food and local farmers”, Milo knows how to serve a biscuit.

I asked Corey why he doesn’t serve his biscuits at these fancy dinners and he said he likes to keep it separate, and different. (Sure…but those biscuits!!)

If you have the opportunity to attend a Farm to Table Dinner, in Waco (or anywhere), I highly recommend it. Truly spectacular and a night to remember. Even if you can’t pronounce the menu. Be brave and try it!! (Mark!!)

love and blessings~dd

Never turn your back on a busy dog park!

Three months ago, I had knee surgery, to be precise-ACL replacement with a hamstring graft, as well as MCL, PCL and meniscus repair.

The story really begins almost twenty years ago on a beautiful mountain with a wicked turn that I stupidly took wrong and of course this was only a green. A difficult green, but a green. (If you know me, this is real!) Envision a cartoon with the person ‘snow-balling’ down a mountain!

I tore my ACL, wore an enormous brace for six-weeks and for the next 18 years referred to my left knee as “my bad knee”.

normal? what's normal?
normal? what’s normal?

Back to the here—In January, my daughter, Cameron and I took Charli, a nine-pound weenie dog and Tegan, a ninety-pound Great Dane to a dog park, in San Marcos. We had visited the dog park in Waco many times without a problem.

Charli and Tegan
Charli and Tegan

Here comes the lesson…never turn your back to a busy dog park!

dog park

I was looking at Charli and unbeknownst to me, four LARGE dogs (two Great Dane’s and two German Sheppard’s) were all chasing one tiny tennis ball that was thrown in my direction. Lucky me.

I was bowled over, literally. I went up…and what seemed like five minutes later, I came down. But before I hit the ground, I heard that all too familiar noise that I have heard so many times before …a loud POP!

walkin' dogs
walkin’ dogs

I told Cameron that I could not get up. I was laughing (because that’s what I do) and fighting back the tears and of course so very embarrassed, as you can imagine. A lady brought me my phone that had flown in the chaos. When I finally got up, I knew I had hurt my knee again. This has happened so many times over the years and I knew the pain. And that pop.

Ironically, I had just gone to the doctor four days prior because of arthritic pain in my hands and feet. Because they thought I might have RA, I had multiple x-rays taken, including on my knee. (I never go to the doctor so this was weird!)

Although I don’t go to the doctor for every little pain, I am no stranger to surgery, sadly. Three C-sections, a hysterectomy, several laparoscopies and a neck surgery losing two discs.

I knew this time was the last time; I never wanted to hear that pop again. Orthopedic Surgeon, followed by MRI led me to March 9 in the OR.

This was by far the worst. I have a whole new respect for these kids in high school that have this surgery and come back to school a couple of days later, on crutches or in a wheel-chair, and on major drugs because they don’t want to take finals. (run-on sentence!!)

the swelling was real
the swelling was real

The doctor left out a lot of valuable information…

Like what a major surgery this is. And that it will take a full year to recover. That you need to practice using the crutches BEFORE your leg is numb and you are looped-up on major drugs! And that you need a loving care-giver that will wait on you “hand and foot”.

knee March 29

I will take this moment to say I would not have made it without Mark. He was my rock. And my cook. And my gopher. And my saint. My driver. My protector. And my everything! I owe him BIG and I hope I never have to re-pay him. (seriously-I hope I never have to!!) I love him for how sweet he was, attending to my every need. My three children even took turns ‘driving Miss Daisy’ and then there was the love and companionship of Charli.

Charli and my peas always make me feel better
Charli and my peas always make me feel better

Week one through three were hell. No really, they were. The pain, the crutches, the swelling-everything. Week four, I saw the light. Week seven I was able to tell those crutches where they could go-and stay! And every week got better from there. I attended physio twice a week from day five; then once a week after the first month. I will not finish until August. My physio has become my people. I see her more than I see a lot of people in my life.

one month post-op
one month post-op

I took one week off from writing because I was too drugged and still in bed most of the time. I read a quote that I loved and I feel is extremely proper in the moment—

“Athletes play hurt. Warriors fight scared.” And then a writer added, “And writers write anyway.” (original quote by Steven Pressfield ~addition to quote added by Hope*Writers) My nephew, Zach, (knowing I am no athlete), jokingly said, “career-ending injury!” Well, thankfully my career is writing.  I feel for those that are stopped by this surgery.

So three months of my life are over and my knee is stronger. I am working on my hamstring. I have good and bad days but by far they are good. I have numbness down my calve that may never come back- but that’s doable. I am getting stronger. I am having to re-learn many things from almost 20 years of bad habits due to “my bad knee”. It will take time and thankfully time is free.

six weeks post-op and bandages gone
six weeks post-op and bandages gone

If you asked me around week two or three if I was happy with my decision to have the surgery, I would have said no.  Now, I am happy to say I am glad.  My knee is healing and I believe will be much stronger than it has been in the last 18 years.

In the darkest days, full of pain and full of hate for my crutches, I would find myself wallowing in “poor me”. I would quickly pull myself up ‘by my crutches’ and remember that I don’t have cancer, I didn’t step on a bomb, I wasn’t in a horrible car crash— I didn’t have anything tragic happen to me other than enjoying life, in a dog park.

Charli, Jemma and Tegan
Charli, Jemma and Tegan

But remember, when in a dog park, don’t turn your back to those big dogs!!

~love and blessings

 

today, with Charli and Martha
today, with Charli and Martha

 

 

 

 

My Waco!

 

When Mark asked me to marry him 29 years ago, before I said yes, I first asked him, lovingly-but-jokingly-but seriously, “do we have to live in Waco?”

About the time Danni was in the third grade and Alex was in kindergarten, in Mesquite, my thoughts began to change and one day I asked Mark, “Do you want to move to China Spring?”

Confession time. Back then, I was a bit embarrassed to be associated with Waco. Sounds horrible, I know. When we traveled and people would ask us where we were from, I would always answer with “China Spring, a little town near Crawford, where the president lives!” That worked throughout the Bush years.

I don’t know why I was ashamed of Waco. Ashamed probably isn’t the right word, more like I wasn’t excited to let people know that I lived near Waco. Yes, there were things that shamed Waco in the past. Those things happen everywhere and shouldn’t define a city but sadly they kinda did.

Honestly, I never gave Waco a chance. I didn’t see Waco. I had my eyes closed to what Waco could offer. Shame on me.

Two years ago, I slowly started to open those eyes of mine. Mark, my husband, moved his office downtown. Alex and Danni moved downtown. I found myself seeing Waco for what it was-a small, lovely urban area with many opportunities to discover, eyes-wide open! And with time and new discoveries, I began to fall in love with Waco–downtown Waco especially.

We started eating, shopping, enjoying wine, and spending a lot of time downtown- two or three times a week. Being adventurous! Of course the Fixer-Upper, the HGTV show, was in full swing and others around the nation were also opening their eyes to see what Waco was about.

In early March, I was honored to be a baton-photographer for an Instagram account called @ilovetexasphoto. Check them out. The concept is really cool. Every three days, they have a different photographer, professional or someone like me that just loves to take pictures, from a different city across the state. I was able to venture through Waco and show the Instagram followers of that account, how I saw Waco.

So here is my Waco…

My first picture I posted on the I Love Texas Photo account was Austin Avenue. I love this tree-lined street, no matter what season. It has nostalgia and is loaded with history. And of course it is home to some of my very favorites in Waco- the Waco Hippodrome, Muddle, Dichotomy, Classy Glass, Jakes and Nick’s. Try these establishments out; think local and support!

Waco Hippodrome on Austin Avenue with The Alico peeking through
Waco Hippodrome on Austin Avenue with The Alico peeking through
Alico 3
Austin Avenue and The Alico, in full fall beauty

Austin Avenue also is home to the green door. This “p” shaped door, next to the Hippodrome, has been the background to many people taking selfies, engagement and graduation pictures. Guilty. Through this one-of-a-kind and peculiar entry way, leads you to some downtown living I dream about, 714 Loft Studios. I received 1,027 likes on this picture!

green door
714 Loft Studios, a loft condominium complex on Austin Avenue
AustinAve2
Another view of Austin Avenue

(Unfortunately, I caught a nasty high fever-virus thing the night of the first day of my baton and I was unable to thoroughly enjoy the next two days-but I pushed through and muddled on but I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked.)

My next picture was of the Washington Avenue Bridge, otherwise known as the Waco Steel Bridge. I travel across this bridge to my husband’s office, located on 6th Street, and it makes me smile every time I cross. It was built in 1901 and crosses the Brazos River. It has a massive 450-foot Pennsylvania truss main span and is among the most historic bridges in Texas.

Washington Bridge

The sun was perfect that March afternoon and I was pleased with the outcome. (You can even see The Alico peeking through!)

Waco has many historical and gorgeous bridges. The Waco Suspension Bridge is shown here. It opened in 1869.

From there, I included my most favorite Waco icon-The Alico Building. The Alico, as I call it, is another opportunity for me to smile. If you look at my Instagram history, I have taken many a picture of this tall soldier that seems to be guarding downtown. Look at the blooms that graced the Alico in early March! This was taken across the street at the building where you stand in line and get your sticker for your car. (I think you can do this online now because Mark hasn’t made me do this in years!)

The Alico and her March blooms

The Alico, a 22-story structure with much character, was constructed in 1910 and completion was exactly 12 months later in 1911.

My next adventure lead me down Austin Avenue, through the Castle Heights residential area. This is another dream of mine-if I can’t live downtown, this will be my neighborhood. Someday.

The Cooper House is one of those historical houses located on Austin Avenue. I  have always admired this beauty but never knew what it was until my research opened my eyes once again. It was built in 1907 (see a pattern here-busy time in those early 1900’s in Waco!). The Cooper House is part of The Cooper Foundation and started with a vision to “make Waco a better or more desirable city in which to live.” The historical house is on the National Register of Historic Places. People that follow the account really liked this picture-1,068 times!

Cooper
The Cooper House home to The Cooper Foundation

The Brazos River is another smile opportunity for me. Especially on days when the sun sits upon her and dances around like little diamonds. It fills my soul because I see God’s beauty there. Perfection.

Cameron Park East, along the beautiful Brazos River

A place I like to visit is Cameron Park. One of the areas in the park I love to take Charli and Jemma (and Tegan, if Cameron is in town) is Brazos Park East. This park is located at MLK and Herring Avenue and features boat ramps, a pavilion, horse shoe pits, Frisbee-golf and of course many scenic and peaceful views for walking, running or just sitting. The view across the river is one to see. (so thankful I opened these eyes of mine!)

Cameron Park East
Cameron Park East

Waco is full of nature. You can escape the concrete and find peace, however you need.

Cameron Park, an enormous urban park located in Waco is one of those places to escape to nature. I enjoy taking the long, slow way home, driving through Cameron Park. Again more smiles. The park spans 416-acres and was dedicated on May 27, 1910. It was named in memory of Waco philanthropist and lumber baron, (ironic?) William Cameron. The park has playgrounds, bike trails, hiking and a beautiful zoo- all of this- alongside the Brazos River.

Cameron Park
The long, slow way home through Cameron Park

I always admire the courthouse downtown, and on this particular day the blue sky was in the background and spring blooms in the foreground. Picture perfect.

The McLennan County Courthouse was built in 1901 and is located on Washington Avenue. It is known for its neoclassical exterior and the courthouse pilasters and columns are Corinthian. Many notable legal cases have taken place in this courthouse, including Clyde Barrow, of the in-famous Bonnie and Clyde fame, in 1930.

McLennan County Courthouse

One of the cool, artsy places to go in Waco, especially on First Friday, is Anthem Studios, located in the Praetorian Building, built in 1915. Along with the famous owners of Pokey-O’s, Waco’s favorite cookie masters, the building is now home to more downtown residential-living, the Praetorian Lofts. On the back of the Praetorian, there is a restored three-story mural of Jesus Christ, extending his arms, the work of a Russian artist. My daughter, Danni lives across from this gem and her view is the front side of the building.

praetorian
Praetorian building on 6th and Franklin Avenue

Just down the street from the Praetorian is my husband’s office building. It has a beautiful arch in the entry-way and on a nice day, as I open the door to go inside, I can see The Alico in the reflection. Smiles.

100 6th Street

My last picture I posted on the I love Texas photo Instagram account was actually not from March but from one of my favorite Waco days ever. Cameron and I were able to attend the media event for Magnolia Market, in October. I was writing a story for The Hometown News about the silobration and the grand opening of the market downtown. We toured the entire silo-fortress, met Joanna Gaines and interviewed her. The day was glorious and I am so happy I was able to share it with Cameron, my official newspaper photographer. Smiles.

Waco's tiny skyline, as seen from atop the Magnolia Market rooftop
Waco’s tiny skyline, as seen from atop the Magnolia Market rooftop

This picture was taken from the top level of the Market building. The skyline is pretty against the blue sky. Waco is little. She is full of charm, history, and things apparently built in the early 1900’s. And she opened my eyes and for that I am grateful.

 

Silos!

*I am in the process of writing an article for an online magazine called Culture Trip Texas.  It is an onlne travel magazine that has stories about travel destinations all over the world, the US and our big state and the many things to do while you are visiting there (here).  I am writing about Waco and what there is to do other than Magnolia Market.  People are traveling to Waco, from all over, to go stand in line and shop at Magnolia.  And then what?  I want to give them some ideas of other interesting, adventures so that they can see Waco as a fascinating place to come visit again!  I will let you know when my story is published but until then-Check the webpage out, at http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/texas/

 

Love and blessings~dd

 

the art of typewriters

Nostalgia. A wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to some past period or irrecoverable condition, defined according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Typewriters are nostalgic to me.

When I was a little girl, my cousin, Marti, and I would spend the night at our grandparents house and we would play like all little girls do. The only difference is we played office (and bar-but that’s a different story for another time). We would have so much fun pretending that we worked in a hotel, as bartenders and waitresses and office workers. Typical little girl stuff.

My grandparents, lovingly called Me-Me and Papa, had an office full of wondrous things like stamps with ink, paper and pens, sales pads with carbon paper, gigantic staplers, and machines like typewriters, huge adding-machines (not calculators) and things that little girls loved to imagine with. We thought they were our toys and our sweet grandparents let us play away, imagining (and wasting paper) and well…just being little girls.

Underwood Five typewriter
Underwood Five typewriter

We would spend hours upon hours in that office, working, and loving every minute of it. I believe they were always watching Hee-Haw.

Childhood nostalgia.

My Aunt Nancy recently moved and while cleaning out things, came across the typewriter that we always played on. Knowing I love to write, (and Marti doesn’t love old things!), she offered it to me. I was very excited about this. I knew I wanted it. I just had no clue what I would do with it? Nancy told me it would need to be repaired because it was very old but I knew I would actually never use it; I simply wanted it for the nostalgia.

It is, from my research, an Underwood Touch-Master Five Manual Typewriter – No. 5. Made sometime in the 1950’s or possibly before. Whether you type on the machine or put it on display, the Underwood typewriter is truly legendary. My plan, of course was to put it on display.

Before I cleaned it a bit.
Before I cleaned it a bit.

The original Underwood typewriter was invented by German-American Franz Xaver Wagner, who showed it to entrepreneur John Thomas Underwood.

The Underwood No. 5 launched in 1900 and is described as “the first truly modern typewriter“. They sold two million by the early 1920s. When the company, in Hartford, Connecticut, was in its heyday as the world’s largest typewriter manufacturer, the factory was turning out typewriters at the rate of one each minute, according to typewritermuseum.org.

This “toy” was once used in my grandfather’s business he owned in downtown Fort Worth and then later, in his house, and is now in my office. Nostalgia.

Not long after I received the Underwood, I read a blog post (from someone you should follow) called “nesting with grace”. Her husband had found a vintage typewriter, spray painted it gold, and he surprised her for her birthday with this beautiful, golden newly-old (old-ly-new?) typewriter. (*Mark–take note on this husbandry thoughtfulness!!)

tw3

Soo…I knew I had to do this with my newly attained-attained vintage typewriter! And so I did.

It took me less than an hour, cleaning and spray-painting. I put gloves on, card-board underneath to protect the grass. (it is February and it is already beginning to green up!?) I only applied two coats on the Underwood; although one probably would have been fine.

I used Valspar metallic in Brilliant Gold (#66009).
I used Valspar metallic in Brilliant Gold (#66009).

I don’t consider myself to be “artsy-craftsy” or a “DIY-er” at all.  Every once in a while I will get the bug–and the Underwood definitely had me itching to try this!

I even had a bit of help from Charli and Jemma! (Charli may or may not have a little touch of gold now?)

Look Cha! A vintage typewriter!

I am simply in love with it. I think it turned out perfect. Looks great in my office and gives me inspiration. I certainly never knew as a child that writing would bring me such joy. Now when writing, I know my grandparents are looking down on me and happy that I am doing what I love. (I just hope they aren’t upset with me for painting the Underwood gold!)

gold keys
I left the front scale the original silver.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”1Earnest Hemingway

Today is a good day for a good day!!
Today is a good day for a good day!!

What do you think about it?  Do you love it or hate it? Would you be brave enough to try this? If so, I know Ebay has several for sale.

tw4

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” – Stephen King

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” - Stephen King Click To Tweet

Nostalgia.

love and blessings~dd

Tree Ornaments Have Become Part of the Family

“Christmas is a box of tree ornaments that have become part of the family.” ~ Charles Schulz

 

Ornaments, to me, are not just red, shiny balls. Every one of them means something; they all hold a memory for me on my tree. I can tell you where or from whom I got the ornament. My tree is not one of those perfectly-placed-ornaments-that-must-be-in-the-perfect-place trees. No. My tree is packed with recollections because every ornament has a memory.

When we trim the tree, we reminisce.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”~ Bob Hope

Christmas Grandma
My Grandma made this for me
Christmas granny
Mark’s Granny made this angel

I have handmade ornaments from both of my grandmothers and from my husband’s granny. I even have the nametag, attached to an ornament, which was the last gift I received from my MeMe and Papa, before he died. I love that I kept this and that I can see her handwriting. Papa passed away while I was in college and MeMe passed away when Danni was almost two.

Christmas tag

We also have ornaments from our childhood. I have one from Mark and several from mine. They have weathered over the years, as have we, but they are very special to us. 

Patti, my mother-n-law, gave me this when we were married. It is from Mark's childhood.
Patti, my mother-n-law, gave me this when we were married. It is from Mark’s childhood.

Some of my ornaments were made by my children, either at school or at home. I remember this Christmas well.  Alex was almost one and Danni had just turned four; Christmas 1992.  I was pregnant with Cameron; due in January. Alex had Scarlet Fever very near Christmas and we were stuck at home. We had to get inventive and crafty. Danni and Alex made these ornaments one night while we were watching Christmas movies.  This is Danni’s; Alex’s looked very different from hers.

Alex made this when he was one!

“The most exquisite Christmas ornaments are made with little hands, full hearts, glitter and glue.” ~ Deborah Whipp

I have ornaments that were given to me by sweet friends.

When we were first married in 1987, we did not have many ornaments to put on our Christmas tree. I bought a kit and hand-painted a bunch to fill our first tree. I was so proud of them. One still hangs on our tree today.

Hand-painted, as you can tell. I was so proud of our ornaments back then.
Hand-painted, as you can tell. I was so proud of our ornaments back then.

I have ornaments from many, many ornament parties. (The one where everyone brings an ornament then you play that mean game where people can steal the one you are holding!) Our family, on both sides, back in the late 80’s and into the 90’s, played this game for many years, so I am blessed with many memories from these. Many have a few laughs involved, as well.

I have ornaments from a few special places I have traveled, like London, Paris, New York, New Orleans, and more. 

Christmas Big ben

I have ornaments from beloved dogs that have crossed the rainbow bridge. Bailey was a beagle that lived a very long time with our family..  Milli and Darby were very special to all of us. They were very much a part of our family.  I still miss them today. They are the reason I love weenie dogs (a little obsessed actually!).

Our beagle, Barney and on the right, Milli and Darby
Our beagle, Bailey and on the right, Milli and Darby

And because of that obsession, I of course have a collection of weenie dog ornaments.

Christmas weener

But the majority of the ornaments that decorate my tree are the ones I have bought for my children throughout the years.

This is Cameron's first Christmas ornament; Christmas 1993. She was almost one here.
This is Cameron’s first Christmas ornament; Christmas 1993. She was almost one here.

When my oldest daughter was born, in November of 1988, I started a tradition of buying her a picture ornament. She now has 27, my son has 23 and my youngest daughter has 22. That is 72 ornaments with my children’s pictures. That is my heart. My life. My tree.

Cameron from 1999 and Alex from 2003
Cameron from 1999 and Alex from 2003

It is wonderful to see how they have grown over the years. There are many of my son from football and my youngest wearing her cheer uniform. There are missing teeth. There are braces. But always smiles; on my face, at least, when I unpack them every December and place them on the tree.

When they each get married and have their own families (one day!), I will give them all of their own picture ornaments to hang on their own family tree.

Danni and Cameron from 2007
Danni and Cameron from 2007

My husband suggested that next year, I should get a separate tree for all the picture ornaments because there is no longer room for all of them on the tree we now have.

no presents under the tree yet!
no presents under the tree yet!

“It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.” ~ Marjorie Holmes, American writer.

 

love and blessings~dd

 

 

Don’t Skip Over Thanksgiving

It seems to be a trend lately to skip over the turkeys and the pilgrims and head right into decking the halls for Christmas. I love the holidays; all of them. Including Thanksgiving. I still love and enjoy my pumpkins and I don’t like to rush to put them away. I always add turkeys to my décor the first of November. As much as I love Christmas and my house lit up with merriment at Christmastime, I try to enjoy every last minute of fall and embrace the meaning of Thanksgiving and all that entails.

Don’t skip over Thanksgiving! After all, in Texas, it is just now fall, so we have to embrace it!

 

tree

 

In my family, we call those who are guilty of this bad deed, a “Christmas Turkey”! Don’t be a Christmas Turkey! Celebrate family and be thankful; hold off on the stockings and mistletoe until the day after Thanksgiving.

Make Thanksgiving something everyone looks forward to. It is the less-stressful version of Christmas so enjoy it. Start traditions so that your family looks forward to Thanksgiving, rather than looking beyond this special holiday.

 

Thanksgiving turkeys

 

I look at Thanksgiving as the front door, if you will, of the holidays. (Actually my daughter’s birthday, a few days before Thanksgiving, begins the holidays for us!)

I look at Thanksgiving as the front door, if you will, of the holidays. #thanksgiving #dedradaviswrites Click To Tweet

 

door

We have several Thanksgiving traditions, in my family, which we have celebrated for many years.

The day before, we bake; altogether, if possible. The night before Thanksgiving, our family goes to dinner together and then we go see a funny movie (that may or may not be Christmas-y.).

The morning of Thanksgiving, we all have a light breakfast, in our pj’s, with plenty of mimosas, of course, and then return home to get prepared for the big day. 

And can we talk about the side dishes, I mean carbs! We all prepare our favorites and we end up with about ten different cheesy, buttery, carb-infested yumminess varieties that once resembled a vegetable and then everyone is miserable while watching the Dallas Cowboys. Tradition. Every year and I wouldn’t change a thing. Another coined term in my house ~“thanksgiving full”. Definition, well, you are fuller than you have ever been.

Thanksgiving night, after you have stuffed yourself and enjoyed your family, and were thankful all day, it is all-in-with-bells-on…we watch Christmas Vacation and start decking those halls.

Tradition is defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. It is never too late to begin a tradition.

 

leaves

Some other traditions I like…

  • Start a Thanksgiving journal. Every Thanksgiving, write down where you are celebrating, who is celebrating with you and have everyone sign the page or write a message. (Don’t forget to write what you are thankful for!) This will be very fun to read year after year.

thanksgiving book

  • Help your children dress up like a pilgrim or a Native American. You can use paper sacks, large t-shirts, construction paper, etc. Pinterest is full of ideas.
  • Let your children decorate. They can help you pick flowers or decorate the “children’s table” with traditional items for Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving pumpkin

  • Pick an easier dish and let your children prepare it on their own, with supervision, of course.
  • Tell stories about your childhood Thanksgivings, your grandparents that have passed away, or perhaps are out of town and can’t join the family dinner. Have your grandparents and parents explain their story of how they met.

grandparents

 

  • Take advantage of technology and call or Facetime with members of the family that are out of town.
  • Have everyone around the table tell what they are most thankful for, either in general or for the past year. This is very important because you learn a lot about each other and sometimes this leads to happy tears.

Don’t be a Christmas Turkey-slow down and enjoy each holiday as it was meant to be! Be creative. Be together. Be thankful. Enjoy the day and the meaning behind the holiday. And then…deck those halls!

To read other posts about fall, click here and view my list of blog posts  I love fall and have written about it several times.

 

love and blessings~dd

 

*I was blessed to write an article about Thanksgiving as a guest blogger for Everything Home Magazine, a new online magazine that is delightful.  Check it out at www.everythinghomemagazine.com

A Night on the Farm

I am pretty much a city girl.  Even though we had acreage and horses for years in China Spring, I don’t consider myself country-like. I really don’t like to get my hands dirty.  I get that from my Mom, although she gets her hands dirty in the kitchen and is not afraid of dirt outside, so who knows?

So a night on the farm was intriguing to me.  Romantic, if you will. And it was.

table lights

 

The lights strung up above the table was something out of a dream.

The table appeared to go one for days, with mix-matched place settings that seemed to be right out of a magazine. Flowers, grown on the farm, and beautiful bottles of water placed every here and there. All of this with millions of little twinkling lights up above; dreamy.

This was a farm-to-table dinner.  On a farm.  At a non-profit farm in Waco, World Hunger Relief, Inc., that teaches interns about sustainable, local and international hunger issues, and sells produce and meats at our local farmers market.

table1

While I fully knew what was on the menu for the evening, I chose to not share this knowledge with my husband.  I am trying new things, branching out, getting out of my comfort zone and he has been attempting to go over-the-edge with me lately, which I appreciate, but I knew the food being prepared for us would not be on his palate.  Or plate.

So the menu was not what we would find ourselves ordering at a restaurant, but I was fine with that; after all it was the experience I was seeking.

goats

Experience brings me to the outside facilities. The bathrooms were outside, (yes, I said outside!) and were actually compost bathrooms. The sustainable farmers, well…make compost out of the waste to use on their veggies and such. Appetizing, huh?

outhouse

A compost toilet is a dry toilet that uses an aerobic processing system to treat human excreta, (WHAT??) by composting your decomposition. After you…well go, you add a scoop of sawdust or peat moss on top.  No flushing.  They did offer antibacterial goop, so that was good.

Good wine; we also had good wine.  And it was flowing so everything was beautiful.

d&M farm

 

Other than the mud (it had just rained cats and dogs or should I say goats and pigs?), and the outside facilities, and the bitter cold, and the meal itself, it was a perfect evening spent with good friends and good wine. I am extremely happy that we went and I am better for it.

love and blessings~dd

Magnolia Market media event

The day I spent at the Magnolia Market Media event with my daughter, Cameron, still tops all the amazing days I have had in the new writing-life I am blessed to live.

The invitation to the Magnolia Market Media Event~

Friday, October 23, while enjoying the rain, I opened my email and noticed  something that said “HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines” in the title.  Being confused but intrigued, I opened it and the shouty capitols started flowing.  I text my daughters, my husband, (my son wouldn’t have known the wow factor of this so I didn’t text him!), my two best friends, my mother-n-law and called my parents to tell them that I was invited to a MAGNOLIA MARKET MEDIA EVENT TO MEET,  AND HAVE Q&A WITH CHIP AND JOANNA GAINES!! CHIP AND JOJO!!!

Me? What?

I was able to bring along a photographer so naturally I invited my daughter, Cameron, with me to not only help me by taking pictures(she has a better camera!) while I took notes, but also to keep me grounded and not act like a fan-girl!  I had to be professional!

The event~

After picking up our credentials, Cameron and I headed to the Magnolia Market at the Silos, in downtown Waco, excited and ready to go.

We had both already been to the new market on Webster, so that wasn’t where the excitement was focused on; the excitement was all focused on meeting Chip and JoJo! This was about to happen!  And THAT, is what had my heart racing!

Magnolia Marketmedia event

We were able to see the actual reveal screens that they will use in the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  It felt so real.  I could hear Joanna in my head saying, “Are you ready to see your fixer upper?”

Magnolia Marketmedia event

When Joanna came out to cut the red ribbon for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony for the new market, that’s when it got real.

Magnolia Marketmedia event

Down to earth, dressed in comfortable jeans and boots, hands in pockets, not uptight or concerned about the thousands about to visit the silos, coffee in-hand, she led us through the tour of the silo compound, along with Brock Murphy, the Director of Public Relations for Magnolia. She answered our questions and made jokes, especially about her husband, Chip, that had yet again pulled a characteristic stunt and hurt his back. (Oh, Chip!)

Magnolia Marketmedia event

Joanna Gaines was a perfect host for the media group that included, The Dallas Morning News, The Waco Trib, all three major TV stations in Waco, and other news agencies, and little ol’ me, a reporter for The Hometown News.

As Oprah would say, “This was an aha! moment”.

Then there was the moment when I asked her a question, got a bit of laughter from my media peers (my who???) and she looked right at me and answered.

Magnolia Marketmedia event

Fan-girl moment.

The garden, the roof-top, the market, the reveal screens, JoJo, the entire morning was unbelievable. Exclamation point. One of the top moments of my life.

Magnolia Marketmedia event

Being able to share it with Cameron; took it over the edge.

love and blessings~dd

*pictures provided by Cameron Davis

Over the Edge

In January 2014, someone I consider a friend, and happened to be my boss at the time, asked me to do something that scared me to death. He asked me to actually use my degree and write some articles and try to get them published. After talking to my husband about this, who encouraged me and told me I could do it, I knew I couldn’t say no; but I didn’t know if I could do it. I knew I had to challenge myself and agree to try. I was scared to death; over the edge.

I not only said I would try, I did it, and the first thing I wrote made it into the Trib. No by-line, but it was mine. I wrote it. The second thing I wrote was published in The Enterprise. I called my parents and told them that I was finally being paid to write and that degree they paid for, back in 1988, was finally being used.

This lead to more bravery.

I quit my job, (sorry friend), and started writing full time for The Enterprise, 26 years after graduating with a journalism degree. He pushed me to the edge and I jumped. And when I landed on my feet, I ran.

Since then, I have slowly become a person that I sometimes don’t know. But I like her a lot. I have pushed myself to do what some people might think is not brave at all; but to me it was heart-racing and uncomfortable, but when it was over I was left, standing, in my new shoes, upright and alright, and better for it.

After all, Marilyn Monroe said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

These things that challenge me, could hold me back or I could push through them and have new experiences and success, either by writing a new story or going to new places, and sometimes both. The momentary fear is scary but by pushing myself, I push toward the payoff.

Darling, let’s be adventurers.

I have now done new-to-me-things like go to the Food Truck Showdown, the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, eaten lunch by myself in public, attended events by myself for the paper, taken my dogs to a dog park by myself, walked in a pet walk for charity, went to London with my daughters without my husband and I interviewed Waco Police Spokesman Patrick Swanton. I have also spoken to Sheriff Parnell McNamara, and called people on the phone that I didn’t want to but had to for a story. Simple things for some. Over the edge for me.

And sometimes, I bring my daughters along, pushing them, also, which helps me be braver.

The Over the Edge for Communities in Service event was the biggest by far. When I was asked if I wanted to rappel down ten stories, 138 feet down the Texas Life Building, as a media person, I was shaking in these new shoes I now wear. Thrilled, excited, heart-racing and scared to death, all at the same time. Who am I? All for a story. For charity. For all those kids that CIS-HOT help challenge daily and help graduate. I can do this, I told myself.

cis overtheedge

Well, I did do it. I am proud of myself but still a bit in shock that I did it at all. While walking backwards, down the perpendicular sidewalk, gripping for dear life, praying to get to the ground safely, I realized I am now a different person because I stood up to me fears, conquered them and lived. On to the next metaphorical cliff.

me over the edge

Thank you, Dr. Marc Faulkner, for pushing me, out, over the edge.

 

 

*So this, my first blog post, is an editorial that I wrote for The Hometown News, a weekly-small-town-newspaper that covers Waco and all small towns in McLennan County. I was reflecting on how I seem to be growing as a person, a writer and how I am trying to “push” myself daily. My life has changed since I began writing.  I feel I have been a writer my entire life but put it aside while I did the most important job of my life-raise my three blessings, otherwise known as children.  And I strongly believe in “All in His time.”

Writing a blog has been a dream of mine for about a year.  I took another leap over the edge with this. Bucket list stuff.  I always say “but I have nothing to write about” and still maybe I don’t. I may never write another post, or I may write everyday.  At this point who knows.

love and blessings~dd

Overtheedge