I live and love in Waco and I occasionally write about my adventures and where you should have a Waco adventure!
Yes,if you know me at all, you know I love Waco and I also love writing about my Waco adventures. I am a Contributing Writer for a new blog called Waco Moms Blog and my first article I wrote was, of course, about Waco.
The big W has become a tourist attraction, which still amazes most people who are from Texas but if you loveWaco and knowWaco, you understand and think ‘finally’!
One should constantly be growing and learning and I believe I am. I have grown into a person who loves life. I love so many things around me. Waco is one of those things.
Sometimes I feel like I not only have found my words but also my eyes.
Or do I now see Waco for the beauty it is because I now write and I am always looking for stories?
I see beauty all around me in the simplest things. I write about all those things on my blog and also, occasionally I get to write about those Waco things for the paper I write for, The Hometown News and for The Groove Entertainment Magazine.
As I was looking through my pictures this morning, preparing to write my continued blog on Waco, I found so many pictures of the Alico Building.
As I have said, I have taken an enormous number of pictures of it because I think it is so interesting looking, peering high over downtown Waco.
When I was a baton photographer for the ilovetexasphotosInstagram account, I did some research on the building.
The Alico Building, a 22-story structure with much character, was constructed in 1910 and completion was exactly 12 months later in 1911.
Waco hasn’t looked the same since. The Alico is still the tallest building in Waco and because it stands alone, so tall and erect, the building appears to be watching over the city as if it was a soldier standing tall. (the thought of that makes me happy!)
It is named after the company that was housed in the building, the Amicable Life Insurance Company, which was chartered in 1910.
Known as a tower of strength and stability, I believe it is a metaphor for Waco. This town has been through a deadly tornado and David Koresh, as well as the Twin Peaks shooting and now the Baylor athletic scandal. This city has always stood tall just like the Alico Building. Proud and tall.
My favorite time to take pictures of this landmark is when there is a gorgeous blue sky above her.
Or fall leaves around her.
Or trees blooming in the spring around her.
Or when I am headed down Austin Avenue, headed downtown.
I may or may not be obsessed.
My husband and two kids have an office downtown and those same two kids live downtown. (our third child lives in Austin)
This is the view from their office on 6th Street. (actually this is a reflection of their view)
I write for The Hometown News, a small newspaper in Waco and I also write for The Groove, an entertainment magazine, in Waco. I have written some articles about coffee houses and barbecue spots that might be helpful if you are visiting Wacotown.
Waco is a lovely place with actually quite a lot of activities going on every weekend. There is always something to do or go explore. One just needs to look.
If you can’t find that thing you are looking for, then just look up and stare at her.
Waco. Wacotown. It has a new place on the map. The map of destinations. People are actually traveling here. To see Waco. Visiting our Waco. It is getting recognition. Some good. Some bad. But we, as Wacoans, are getting noticed. And, everyone knows Magnolia is playing a large part. Baylor, good and bad, has also played a part in the notoriety.
Before you visit our Waco, read a few articles, (linked in this blog post originally posted in October 2016), I have written and discover a few hidden gems in our town.
Sadly, in Texas, we don’t see gorgeous fall leaves until deep October and sometimes Thanksgiving.
I have to decorate with the faux ones.
I love Texas, born and raised, but as I have traveled and even more so as I have aged, I have realized there are much prettier places. (duh!)
I have tried (and succeeded) to find the beauty in Waco. The downtown area on Austin Avenue and more precise, the Cameron Park and Brazos River area are quite gorgeous. As I state over and over, one must look around them and find the beauty. (more about Waco in tomorrow’s post)
For me, I know it is truly autumn, in Waco, when I am headed home, down Lake Shore Drive. When I see a tree, a specific Oak. When I see that tree has turned the most gorgeous shades of fall, a flutter comes upon me and I truly tear up. Every year. Every time. This may sound really silly. But that is when I know the holidays are upon us and the spirit is within me and I am ready!
I should take a picture of that tree someday.
I did take this magnificent shot of a tree that had turned in Grapevine, two years ago at Thanksgiving.
I love the falling leaves. Every house we have had, in our 29 years, has mainly had Live Oaks. While pretty in their own way, they do not turn the pretty colors, the oh-my-it-is-fall colors! They do have acorns though-and that is fall.
When Cameron did her study abroad in London two years ago, she was lucky to have experienced autumn in such a lovely place. She had gorgeous leaves falling all around her.
She knew how much I love them and she mailed me a leaf all the way from London! (I tried to preserve it but one day, it fell on the floor and Charli destroyed it. She was only six months old and what was on the ground was hers!)
Danni and I were blessed to cross the pond and visit Cameron while she was there studying.
This is in Notting Hill. A dreary, perfect London day! I have a habit of taking pictures of my kids walking in cool cities. (ah ha-blog idea!!)
These beautiful leaves were in Grosvenor Square, in Mayfair, in London. If you travel to London, do so in the fall. It’s so pretty and because they don’t have Thanksgiving, they deck the city in Christmas splendor, in November. Amazing-truly amazing!
So basically, if I want to experience autumn in all its glory, I must travel.
And that’s alright.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower,” Albert Camus said poetically.
Mark and I ate a lot of barbecue in less than a two-week time period in July. It was interesting trying all the different meats and sauces, (and sides!) and comparing them. I enjoyed every brisket, every potato salad and every BBQ sauce the article forced me to try.
One week, we had barbecue, for lunch and dinner three days in a row. It became comical. We forged through though-all for a story!
To read the barbecue story in the August edition of The Groove, click here
My daughter, Danni and I visited a lot of coffee houses, in August, and we loved every one and enjoyed drinking every cup. And I enjoyed being with her and experiencing it all with her.
Waco has many great coffee houses to try. Here is the link to the H.O.T. Coffee story, click here
Stop and enjoy your food.
“One of the nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti said that brilliantly.
Along the way, Mark and I have decided that every Thursday night will be date night. And of course, many of those Thursdays include trying a restaurant that includes my subject-of-the-month on the menu.
I have not minded this one bit.
After 29 happy years of marriage and three kids, we are alone in the house with two weenie dogs and a weenie dog-wanna be, our Lab. Empty nesters. We have actually become pretty comfortable at our new stage in life. Mark and I travel alone together, and with friends and family, and we have nights we go out with friends but this is our night and we have both enjoyed it.
We take turns, every other week, picking where we will go. (Of course it all depends on if I am finished with my story and need more research!)
Thursday night date night is something I look forward to every week. And I am blessed that he wants to go with me.
The great quote from Virginia Woolf says it all, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
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.
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.
I have attended several of these in Waco since October and I fall in love with “the dreamy night” every single time.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last venue we attended was hosted by Jonathon Martin at his studio, 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.
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.
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!)
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.
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!!)
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”.
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.
Here comes the lesson…never turn your back to a busy 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!
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 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But remember, when in a dog park, don’t turn your back to those big dogs!!