Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer is still here darn it!

That cool spell did not last long enough.  Alas, the Texas Bird of Paradise bit the dust from the heat.  After all the pampering after the snows (I went out each day and shook all the snow from the limbs - one-armed as I had just had shoulder surgery - and then the storm that had the trunk bent over touching the ground - another one-armed fix).  There are 2 small shoots coming up from the root but I'm not sure if I cut the main trunk if they will survive.  Guess there is only 1 way to find out....

We did get about .5" of rain yesterday.  There are storms that are supposed to be coming that will drop some water; however, as I recall in May, we were supposed to have lots of water falling but it passed by my yard (and according to friends, it passed them by as well).

I'm ready to see some night time temperatures below 77 and day time temperatures below 92.    Note added next day:  Ha ha ha when I finally went to bed after midnight, the temperature was still in the 80's.   It dropped below 80 for an hour or so around 5am.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Don't All Cars Have Turn Signals?  And Why Don't School Zones Automatically Slow Engines?

I've noticed over the past few years that turn signals must be a very expensive option on cars.  So few are in use that I'm sure it must be due to the high cost of manufacturing and that they are no longer required to be on cars.  My vehicle is about 6 years old and there have been many changes in that time.

You must pay attention when you drive so you can avoid those vehicles - of course, you don't always know which cars/trucks/suvs/semis etc have blinkers untll it is too late and someone is changing lanes with an inch to spare in front of you.  So perhaps the 'NO' sign should cover the spot where the turn signals should be located.

Some people must be getting the economy version - 1 blink at a time.  Usually, I've noticed that those people may use the 1 blink option after they've almost completed the change; that way you don't know if they are going to change lanes again.  That 1 blink option wasn't available when I purchased my current vehicle.

I wonder if you get a discount at the vehicle inspection locations when you don't have the turn signals or you have the 1 blink turn signals?

I enjoy reading driver's minds, don't you?  The challenge is invigorating.  I just don't understand why they don't put a 'No' insignia where the turn signal is supposed to be so those of us who know what they are and how to use them (and how to read them assuming another car actually uses their blinkers) will know that we need to pay close attention to those vehicles.

They should be required on vehicles or if you really really don't want to pay for the optional turn signals, then all vehicles should have the engine drop when a turn is detected.

Another mandatory vehicle safety feature that should be included in all vehicles is a slow down the engine automatically to 20 mph in school zones.  Many school zones have solar powered school zone signs so they could just add another little contraption to force all vehicles to slow to 20 mph.   That way, vehicles wouldn't be able to speed up to the 10 miles over the regular speed limit until the end of the school zone is reached instead of when the end of the school zone sign is spotted - regardless if it is still .5 mile away.  That's assuming they slowed down in the first place.

But the downside would be the decrease in school zone tickets - and I see SOOO many of those being written (note:  read the sentence with a lot of sarcasm in case you missed it the first time).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cooler Weather & Paring Down the Homestead

Oh my does it ever feel so good outside.  Overcast, damp and the temperature is UNDER 80, in fact, it is UNDER 75 - it's 72 at 8am.  WOW I haven't seen this is quite a while.  Even thinking of something hot for lunch like a stew.

Today is trash day and I had to put on flip-flops to because it was so damp.  Usually, I put them on to keep from scorching the bottom of my feet.  It's cool enough to let the kitties outside but the mowers should be coming early today (they alternate - 1 week early the next week very late in the afternoon - so late I think about calling to see if they forgot!).  If I let them outside (only in the back and only as long as I'm back there) the mowers would open the gate and a kitty would assume its an open invitation to explore the world that I won't let them out in.  Well, actually, they'd probably fly to the back door since the mowers make so much noise.

I also left out 6 bags of goodies for the Kidney Foundation to  pick up.  Rugs, curtains, clothes, shoes and my first pair of motorcycle boots.  This is part of the paring down operation.  I have a hard time believing how much I've donated this year and there is still more to pare down.  I've cleaned out kitchen cabinets, the linen closet (more than once - by the way, those plastic giant like baggies where you suck the air out to make them more manageable and easier to store?  well they really just allow you to keep more stuff!).  I never thought of myself as a shoe person until I worked on the closet.  Usually I drive down to the trailer they have near the bowling alley but it was so hot on Monday that I called for a pickup.  At least today, the driver will be working in better weather conditions.

I removed all the builder installed closet rods and shelves.  My my, they must have been confused as they put in enough nails for an earthquake prone area - or maybe since they were from Colorado and just building a few homes on our block - they were afraid the cowboys would come riding through the neighborhood and the shelves would all come down?  Ha ha ha.  Anyway, I removed all the rods and shelves and took them to the dump and put up a wire shelving unit - well, it was 2 of them actually.  Hanging stuff on 1 side and all shelves on the other.  I did cull out quite a few clothes as I was putting them back in the closet.   I still have no idea why I have so many pairs of jeans.  And no, in case you are wondering, I did not get rid of more than 1 or 2 pairs of jeans.

So now, both bathrooms are done.  Well, the master bathroom still has a few things to go but I'm in a wait state.  Waiting on the cut-to-size (I don't like to use the word custom as it implies something more than I'm getting) window 'treatments' (another fancy word for blinds).  Those should be arriving this week.  Then I'm waiting on my brother or another tall person to hang a few things - those high ceilings look nice until you want to do something on the walls!  And I can't make up my mind about the towels - I'm still thinking a denim blue (not baby boy blue) and I found some at Target but not sure they are really absorbant enough - this time I only got the hand towels to try.  I also go the red but I'm afraid they will fade out to pink.

That's all for now as I'm going outside to enjoy the weather in case it doesn't last as long as they say (they being the weather people that can accurately - well mostly accurately - tell you the weather from yesterday).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes - Decatur TX  (Yes another visit)

This time there were 4 of us on the trip.  We even got the directions right (well, 1 small mishap or 2 but that was a case of driver doesn't remember to slow down in small towns/cities to see the small signs - yes, small does exist in Texas - and forgets that outside of the big cities, they don't always have the nice cloverleaf's and underpass U-turn lanes).   Then there was the case of the 2nd car not making it through a light (yes, driver speed again) and not knowing where we were going so they called, we pulled to the side to wait for them just in time to see them fly by - LOL - we had to work to catch up to them!).  I did mention driver speed correct?  both drivers!

We had to wait to get in but not for long.  It was a Friday night after all.   But the food was really good.  I tried the small ribeye this time.  It was good but I went for well-done and should have stuck with medium.  I always seem to forget that the ribeyes have fat on them.  I'll try another one another time but right now I'm partial to the filet.

The potatoes & yeast rolls are still to die for!  Bill tried the mac'n'cheese and pronounced it very good in addition to his chicken fried steak.  Kimberly and Wende had the ribeyes too.  We haven't tried any deserts yet -- it's just the right amount of food so we can drive ourselves back to the Dallas area.  We did look at all the Babe;s goods (honey, sorghum molasses etc) and I explained how sorghum molasses on Babe's biscuits at the Babe's locations was the best!  I should have bought some to bring home but then I'd be forced to learn to make decent bisquits from scratch and so far all I've done is talk about it.

Wende and I walked around the town square and found several antique shops (all closed on Friday night) and came across another small restaurant.  There's a Bed & Breakfast on the square (it's for sale).   I do want to come back on a Saturday to visit the antique stores and do some more sightseeing.

The town is hilly and we drove down (literally) to the local museum.  Then drove around a little bit more to look at the old homes with porches (found 1 for sale that I'm drooling over but have to wait to win the lottery first!) and the tinest little church that I've ever seen.  It is so cute.

All in all, spending time with 3 yankees was a pleasure.  We're planning a trip to Bubba's - another one of the Babe's family of restaurants - in the future.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Five Guy's Burgers & Fries, Plano, TX

Five Guy's was recommended by several people.  My brother and sister-in-law ate 'discovered' it while on a trip to Maryland.  They loved it.

The set-up is nice - it's on Spring Creek near Sam's Club & Performance Bicycles.  Not fancy at all and the people are very nice.   There's a sign that tells you where the potatoes come from that are being used that day.  I like the red and white decor.

Simple menu is easy to use but a wide variety of toppings are available at no extra charge.  There are 1 or 2 items that cost extra.   I like that they always cook the meat medium well - and it does taste good.  Meals come in a paper bag.

I had cheese, mayo, mustard, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms.  It was good but not great.  The fries were ok - I had the lightly salted (really really light on the salt) and a side of the Cajun spices (ok but nothing special).   Lots of fries although I didn't eat even half of them.  I'm a really really picky eater when it comes to fries.

Using lot's of napkins is usually a good sign for me but it was good but just not great.  Since it doesn't have a drive-through window, I'd just as soon go to What-a-Burger (so would my other brother!)

I'll go back sometime though.  This is a brand new location so maybe it was a timing issue.  The grill must need to be seasoned a little more?

UPDATE 10/14/2010
I went back to the same Five Guy's Burgers & Fries and I must say it was much better.  I got the same thing but without grilled mushrooms - cheese, mayo, mustard and  grilled onions - and it was good. The staff is still very friendly and the place was very busy.  I went in about 11:15 to beat the lunch crowd but people were coming in fairly steadily.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes - Decatur TX

An hour drive for dinner was planned with visions of carnivore heaven in mind.  Woe is the restaurant that doesn't deliver!  And boy did Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes deliver.  I'll be back for sure.

We could smell Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes as we drove by,  slowly,  to capture that aroma to help our already hungry tastebuds burst with desire.

Just before going inside , I noticed the antique stores just down the street and made a mental note to return with sufficient time to stroll around the courthouse.  My friend - a non-Texan - had never seen a courthouse so I explained how small towns and town squares were often built around the courthouse.  In this case, the road around the courthouse was a 2 way street instead of one way streets (and that messed me up too!). Sometimes, I take things for granted.

Walking into the aroma heaven, we were seated quickly.  I was worried about going on a Friday night but forgot that we weren't in the big city with 1-2 hour waits on weekends!   Beer and wine were included on the menu - good thing as I was really ready for a Shiner Bock.  We were sitting at the table where Sweetie Pie could watch over us as we ate his kin.  As a carnivore, that didn't bother me a bit since I knew the meat wasn't going to waste.  Sweetie Pie is pretty darn cute for a steer!

The yeast rolls were excellent - especially with butter.   I would have liked to have had honey or molasses - then I would have been in hog heaven - or should that be roll heaven?  either way, it was wonderful.  Had to be careful not to eat too many rolls with real butter so I had room for meat & potato.

We both had Hot Bacon Vinaigrette on the salad.  It was the first time I'd tried the Hot Bacon Vinaigrette and it was delicious.  I absolutely love salad when someone else makes it.  Silly I know, but true.

I had the filet mignon and my friend had the small ribeye steak.  Neither one of us needed to use any additional seasonings.  They were grilled just right (mine was medium and ohhh sooo good).

The potatoes were pretty darn good too!  Best I've had in a long time.  They are cooked in rosin so you can't eat the peel or remove the wrapper.  I love to eat potato peels from baked potatoes but I didn't miss it this time because it was perfect.   They serve a scoop of butter (yes it appeared to be a large ice scoop) but before you squeal in delight - they add salt, pepper and sour cream to the butter.  ummmm  goood!  I love extra salt and butter on my baked potatoes but this didn't need anything else to melt in my mouth.

The portions were just right.  I wasn't too stuffed to drive back to the Dallas area but next time, I'm going to have to try a dessert.  If the desserts are like their Babe's Chicken House desserts - they are scrumptious!

This is clearly a family restaurant and there were some young un's present but they were well behaved.  The little guy that sat at a nearby table was fascinated with the juke box lights.  Instead of the Hokey Pokey that the wait staff dance to at Babe's Chicken House, the wait staff danced a country western line dance.  I wonder why at both restaurants that it is only the female wait staff and kids that are brave enough to dance in public?

I'll be back but I will have to prepare in advance and not eat all day so I can stuff myself and then leave plenty of time to recover in order to drive back in a timely fashion.   Maybe a walk around the courthouse would be a good digestive recovery mechanism?