December 8, 2009

Charitable Donations

It's that time of year...
Now we all know we can make charitable donations any time for any reason. And if you regularly schlep your gently worn but clean clothes to a local thrift store (I like the Friends of the Family one on University that benefits our women's shelter) or are a supporting member of KERA, more power to you.
If you're like many of us and you do your giving all at once, and right around this time, let me please run down just a few of the excellent non-profits who are helping our community.
In no particular order:

Our Daily Bread
A true community organization that gets its support from individuals, church partners, business and community groups. They provide a daily meal in a safe environment for all who are hungry, as well as physical and emotional support for the needy people of Denton County, including transients and especially the homeless.

And they would love your help.
You can make donations of food or new, warm clothing (sweatshirts, hats, scarves, gloves) at their location 300 West Oak Street. (That’s the basement kitchen of St Andrew Presbyterian, y’all.) M-F 9:00a- 1:00p. Ask for Liz, Rick or James.

You can also donate online.

Get your donation to this non-profit in before Dec 31 and you get to claim it on your income tax. You get to help the truly needy and maybe get a kick back from Uncle Sam. Everybody wins.

Denton Humane Society
Oh lord do I wish all our local charities were big enough/organized enough to accept online donations.
But they don’t. Yet.
On the other hand, that in no way diminishes the work they do. And the folks at our local branch of the Humane society operate on a shoe string. A frayed shoe string, which is a crying shame, considering all the good they do for our stray feline and canine residents. They also help residents of the homo sapiens variety make life-long love connections. I got two amazing kittens from them, who grew up to be the cats of destiny. Turned my S.O. into the cat man he was always meant to be, and gave up shots of pure love on a regular basis.
If you’re ready for a pet, contact them. If you just want to help some innocent animals who – let’s be honest – can’t help themselves, contact them.
And check it out, if you just set up your Kroger card , you can help them every time you shop. Come on, that’s the least we can do.

Want to do more and mail a check or money order?
P.O. Box 1972
Denton, TX 76202-1972

Call 940.382.7387 with any questions.

UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group
Did you know that people come to Denton, go to school, adopt adorable kittens and then abandon them when they leave?
Shocking, right?
It makes me sick, but it’s true. Those people couldn't suck more.

But, the good folks at the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group have taken an active, almost guerrilla approach to this problem. Practicing the Trap, Neuter and Return method, they will trap local feral strays, have them spayed or neutered and return them to their neighborhood haunts. In addition, they have feeders set up around the UNT campus to feed some of these poor animals. Their goal is simply to stop the cycle of strays begetting more strays, but their site also provides resources and referrals to other area rescue groups.

Again, all donations tax-deductible.
Mail to:
UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group
PO Box 310475
Denton, TX 76203

Call Dallas Newell - 940.390.0555 with any questions.

You can also use GoodSearch or shop with iGive to benefit this excellent organization.

Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home
Do you know there is a residential facility for neglected and abused children right here in Denton?

“CPCH is a licensed General Residential Operation through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that protects children and teens ages 5-17 who, for various reasons, cannot live with their families.”

Pretty grim statement, right? Only imagine how grim the lives of these children were before they came to CPCH.
I guess you can figure that they need your help. Happily, you can even donate on line! A first!
Never forget you can donate your time here too. Some volunteer gigs don’t even require a long-term commitment. There are a bunch of children you could help out, right here in town. Want to learn more? Go to the Web site or call 940.382.5112

The Local Kiwanis
Want to know why? Read this blog post from July.
If you already know why, the Kiwanis assure me they accept donations all year long at:

Denton Area Kiwanis
1001 N. Elm St.
Denton, Texas 76201

December 6, 2009

Atomic Christmas

This month, and I hope in time for the holidays, I bring you some more artsy crafters. I don't know anything about them - other than they keep their lawn retiree-neat year round, and for the last 11 years - at least - they've offered up these awesome holiday light configurations.
And I say "holiday" consciously. I don't care if you don't put up a tree and Christmas isn't your thing; it's my opinion that everyone can enjoy decorating their houses with greens and lights. That harkens back to a muuuch older tradition.

Stepping off of her soap box, your friendly neighborhood Dentonista asks, "You recognize these lights, right?" They aren't just holiday lights - these are pieces of classic Americana.
Made in the traditional fashion, from roughly a squajillion Solo cups, you need to see them to fully appreciate the clever craftsmanship - my crummy pictures certainly don't do them justice. (I hate this camera.)
And you can see them, at the corner of Panhandle and Fulton streets.

You know what else I like about them? Their fresh, contemporary appeal.
As you know, mid-century modern style is all the rage right now (here, here, here), and I can think of nothing more atomic-chic than these Sputnik-y lights.
And you know what? You can take one (or several) home!
That's right. For just $20 you can own your very own bit of hand-crafted holiday kitsch.
Even if you're not lucky enough to live in an atomic ranch, (and I know they're tough, though not impossible, to come by in Denton), these lights are so classic, they'll go with everything. If you live in one of the gazillion post-war 'grannies' (check out the Panhandle, Egan, Congress streets area, right around this house), these lights are even architecturally appropriate.
So drive by and check them out, or call 940.387.1480 to grab some of these awesome lights. I have the feeling that when they're gone, they're gone for the year.

Oh, and have a very happy holiday season and a safe and lovely New Year, my dears.

November 13, 2009

Across The Tracks Mexican

Soul food.
Not a lot of it in North Texas. In fact, since the late, lamented fire and subsequent closing of Steve’s Barbecue (the same BBQ joint where you might see the dreamy Harry Connick Jr…), I don’t even think you can get sweet potato pie in Denton.
(Want to know more about Steve’s? Click here, here, here, and here.)

But I digress.

No matter, you can get TONS of Tex-Mex locally, and I think that is soul food to a lot of Texans. I mean, think about it. It’s comforting, greasy, and always served in abundance. That sounds like soul food to me.

Now, I’ve blogged and tweeted about eating at a couple of Mexican places around town, but I wanted to write more about Mi Ranchito. Though, to be honest, I did have an internal dialogue along the lines of, “Do I really want to share this with the blogosphere and maybe add-to-the-dinner-crowd?!”
Lucky for you, my better self won out, so I’ll tell you more about Mi Ranchito - one of the reasons I love Denton.

Around my house, we call it “across the tracks Mexican”. It’s not really on the wrong side of the tracks, but just on the South side of Fort Worth Drive (377). It is close to the RR overpass and on a sketchy stretch of road. (Not sketchy dangerous, mind you, just sketchy run down. )
All that said, Mi Ranchito is as good a place as any to get down with the chips, salsa, Dos Equis (all pictured), enchiladas etc.  - and maybe better than most.
After all, a nearly life long Dentonista turned me on to it.

Now understand the Tex-Mex served here (and at most Tex-Mex places) is working people’s food.
You won’t find light dishes, small plates, fish (except the fried kind), or even the lighter, coastal-style of Mexican you can find elsewhere.

What you will find, in addition to the tacos and combo plates you can find everywhere else, is a special weekend menu. If you go Thurs-Sun, you can sample:

  • A delicious, chocolatey Chicken Mole

  • The Tostada Ranchito (pictured)

  • El Trio

  • Seafood Cocktail (pictured)

  • You know those schooners of red something, with maybe some tentacles hanging out of it, that you’ve seen served up at some Mexican places? That’s the seafood cocktail.
    Seriously, do yourself a favor; get outside your normal Tex-Mex routine, and try this. You can even take baby steps and get it with all shrimp, instead of the equally (or maybe more) delicious shrimp/octopus combo version. Served up with saltines and picante sauce, you simply can’t not like this. (You know what’s good too? Using the tortilla chips to scoop up this deliciousness.)
    And, in reliable Tex-Mex tradition, the small (pictured) is plenty enough to split as an appetizer, or more than enough as a meal for one.

    If you’re still unsure, at least make time to try one of the other weekend specialties. (I swear, even the salsa is kicked up a notch on the weekends.)

    Now, I mentioned this is working people’s food, right? This is a working people’s restaurant. So, you’ll also find: couples; families with kids; groupings of extended generations; and maybe a waiting line out the door.

    What you shouldn’t find: hipsters in skinny jeans – not if they’re smart.
    In fact, leave your tight or slim cut pants of any sort at home.
    Track pants, sweat pants, NFL pants, maternity jeans, overalls , whatever your old, loose bottoms are, drag ‘em on. You'll fit right in, and you probably won’t have to hold them up when you leave.
    Cause that’s how they set you up at Mi Ranchito; nobody leaves here hungry.

    Oh! I almost forgot to mention the lunch specials: Tues-Fri - $4.95.
    What's not to love?
    Try it and see.

    MI Ranchito Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    October 20, 2009

    So What? Sew Everything, If You're Clever

    You know I love Denton for the artists and arts and crafters, right?
    Well, one of my sisters (a former Dentonista and lifelong artist) joined the arts and crafts movement yonks ago – pottery, silk screening, print-making with some exotic Japanese tool or other, etc. Every time I talk to her, she's creating something new.
    All incredibly impressive, and I'm all, “More power to you!”
    And then she started sewing.
    With our Mother’s old sewing machine. (You know those black and gold Singers? Yep, that old.)
    The machine that I once used to make a chair pillow.
    A round one.
    Without a pattern. I know, right?
    That machine. Whatever; no big.
    And she started cranking out beautiful, useful things. With zippers!
    And, I thought, “I could do that.”
    You know, unlike everything else she does, I could do that.
    But, unlike my sister, I’m not much of a self-teacher. If I’m going to learn something on my own, I look up the nearest class (in my case, usually some Adobe software) and sign up.
    So, that’s what I did.
    I found Seams Sew Easy, the only sewing class in town, that I know of, which has classes timed for working adults. I took Eileen's Adult Sewing Class, and I’m so glad I did.
    I am currently using what I learned to engage in a crafty, reduced, reused and recycled holiday season with my sisters (and friends).
    That’s right.
    We – the sisters and I – entered into a pact to give each other gifts that were homemade, recycled or reduced (50% off or more).
    My friends are just the lucky (I hope) beneficiaries of this pact.
    So, sadly, I can’t post any pictures for you, because I’d ruin some surprises. Check back after the holidays though, and I might have uploaded some examples*...
    *1/1/10 Here is a picture of sisters and significant others in aprons I made!
    I can say that the adult class’ project was an apron.
    Sounds easy (and or dull) right?
    Not so! It was MUCH harder than the aprons I gave as gifts.
    This is the most engineered apron you will ever wear; a veritable sampler of simple and advanced stitches and techniques.
    I love that thing, and I feel like a total bad ass every time I put it on.
    I mean, I-made-that!

    Meanwhile, if you're interested in a recycled holiday of your own, let me tell you Freecycle, Recycled Books Records CDs, and eBay are excellent sources.

    Now, I might let secular, non-Christian, or just the quietly religious crafters know that even though the address for Seams Sew Easy is on the North Side of Denton, it meets in Jesusland. A common question to new comers is, “Do you home school?” Answers run the gamut from ‘yes’ to ‘not yet’.
    I have to say though, that’s about as intense as the religious experience gets, and that didn’t get in the way of me learning-to-sew!

    Seriously y’all, you can’t over estimate how fun and satisfying this can be. I told the S.O. it was like learning Spanish – which I have not done, yet – it’s something I knew I could do, if I just made time...
    And I did make time.
    And now I’m doing it!

    You can too my dears. Women, men, boys, and girls all welcome, and she will have you sewing in no time.
    Go for it.

    PS - You know what I found out?
    Back in Black is good sewing music.
    So is Smells Like Teen Spirit.
    (Jesus, I just dated myself, didn’t I? Oh well.)
    Think I’m wrong? I’m not wrong. Try it and see.

    September 26, 2009

    Feeling Silly? Feeling Saucy? Feeling Thristy? You Might Be Feeling Fuzzy's

    Located on the rapidly gentrifying Industrial Street, Fuzzy's Taco Shop is across the street from Hot Box pizza. Yeah. I promise.
    Anyway, ignore the sub- sophomoric name(s) and come in for the schooners of tap beer. At $2.25 for domestics and $3.25 for imports, they are the real stars of the show. Oh, and does ‘import” mean they have Dos Equis on tap? Well yes, yes it does my dear.
    And you know what a schooner is, right?
    They’re those squatty goblets with bowls the size of your head that weigh as much as a new born baby… and they’re filled-with-ice-cold-beer!!
    Oh yeah.

    I would have said the tacos are ish, but they really do grow on you.
    In fact, thinking about it, I would say all the food there has grown on me, and the pulled pork tacos ($1.99) are actually really good. I usually get the aforementioned pulled pork soft taco, with a soft grilled fish taco ($1.99) or two.
    I used to get them habenero style, but I’ve had to back off that. I don’t know if I was tougher a few months ago, of if they’ve amped up the blend, but that habenero sauce is now nearly atomic. It will cause your whole mouth to burn, and possibly your lips to swell.

    On the other hand, in your other hand there should be an ice-cold schooner of beer, so maybe you don’t care.
    The significant other is a fool for the beef fajitas ($7.99), with the Latin potatoes.
    We can’t figure out what makes them Latin, but they ARE good. Like the best home fries you’ve ever had, and surprisingly well matched to the fajitas.
    We’ve tried both the borracho beans (nice) and the refried beans (creamy and comforting), but no other sides.
    You know, I guess that means we’re pretty comfortable there, with what we’ve got.
    That’s a recommendation, isn’t it?

    And did I mention Fuzzy’s is right next door to Dan’s Silver Leaf, making it the perfect spot for a quick meal and fortifying beer pre- or après show?

    So, you could make a real night of it, down on Industrial.

    One last thing, they also have a ‘patio’. It’s not the least bit scenic, and it’s all picnic tables, but you can dine and drink outside, while enjoying the sun, breeze, and al fresco companions.

    Swing by, you have nothing to lose, and a possibly a new watering hole to gain.

    Fuzzy's Taco Shop (Denton) on Urbanspoon

    September 1, 2009

    Do Only Twits Twitter?

    Boy, I hope not. Because, as you can see, you can now follow your friendly neighborhood Dentonista on Twitter.

    Now, I promise I won't treat you to deep thoughts over my morning coffee or whimsical musings on the excellence of my cat (Yes, I have a cat; of course I have a cat), but I will try to assure you that embracing a Dentonist lifestyle is as fulfilling as it is possible.

    I decided to use Twitter as my agent because I think you'd be bored silly (and I'd be uninspired) if I blogged about every excellent meal I have at the Green House or Hannah's, or every time I stuff my face with baked deliciousness from Ravelin Bakery, or each time I swing by the Cupboard for some organic berries and chamomille shampoo, but I assure you, I am living la vida Denton, 24-7. Even though, sadly, I can neither make being the Dentonista my full-time job, nor can I always entice the writing muse (hence the more and less sporadic nature of my posts), there are still tons of people/places/things I need to document.

    In fact, just this a.m., as I drove by the Denton Farmer’s Market, I thought, “I really need to get out there with the camera and my shopping bag.” I've also been thinking about a trip to some of the architecturally interesting places of worship around town… and what about the Bayless-Selby House, for Pete’s sake?! Believe me my dears, I have a whole list of things I need to get my heinie (and camera) to.
    And I will.
    I swear.
    You do too. And tell me about it!

    In the mean time, please follow me on Twitter.

    August 12, 2009

    Doc’s Bail Bonds

    I admit my dears, I had a tough time classifying this one. Yes it’s "free" – to drive by – and I certainly want you to “see it”, but not from the inside because you need their services for an incident related to a drive-by…
    You know what I'm saying.
    OK, equivocating is for wimps and Libras so I am just going to say, that with the demise of Cheerleader Bail Bonds (no lie), this is the most flamboyant bail bonds place in town.
    I mean check that out.
    You can’t argue with dedication like that.
    A custom hearse?
    An aqua citadel?
    If, God forbid, you need the assistance of a bail bondsman, you could hardly find one with more style.
    Second place goes to Cagle Bail Bonds with their updatable Most Wanted bill board.
    Of course right now it says Mos Wanted, like Mos’ Def, I guess. In this case though, I believe these folks are the least def. Just sayin’.
    Third place has to go to Freebird Bail Bonds. Who knew bondsman had such funny senses of humor and style?
    Go on and cruise down Mckinney Street and check them all out.

    July 17, 2009

    Denton's Fantastic, Fiery & FREE 4th of July

    July 2014 Update:
    The Fireworks are now set off at Apogee Stadium, across the highway from the Fouts Field.
    Always check the Kiwanis’ website.

    Original Post:
    I was on the square one day with a girl friend, probably for lunch at the Chestnut Tree, and we looked across the street to the courthouse lawn, where children were actually running around and playing.
    She turned to me and said, “Every now and then something I see just makes me think I’m living in small town America, and I LOVE it.”

    Well, I live in as small a city as I ever want to, so I was a tad claustrophobic. However, the Denton Kiwanis’ annual 4th of July celebration at UNT’s Fouts Field, is some small-towness I can get down with and love.

    If you’ve never been, you want to go. If you’ve ever been, you know what I mean – people in the stands, people in the parking lot, people sitting on the lawn of the coliseum, while their kids slide down the grassy slope on flattened card board boxes… Everyone gathered to watch a spectacular and free fireworks display put on every year by a local chapter of a benevolent organization.
    Seriously, you wish every city, town, and village could be the recipients of such generous largesse.

    This year, a sister, the significant other (SO), and I celebrated white trash style. In the back of the SO’s pickup, we were barefoot and seated atop old comforters with a cooler of beer, squeezed into a barely legal (OK, blatantly illegal) spot in the parking lot. Why cold-kicking it in the bed of a pick up is so much more 4th of July for me than anything else, I don’t even know - but it is.

    And the display we watched was awesome. Bigger than last year, and featuring a recording of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which is guaranteed to make me tear up, at one point I leaned over to my sister and said, “This looks like what you see in pictures of fireworks!

    You know, I think you tend to forget, during the year, just how cool fireworks are, and when you finally get to see them again, you remember – fireworks rule! Y’all it was truly scrumptious.

    Now, if you were celebrating outside the stadium, as we were, you might not know that the display is also a fundraiser. While it is totally free to attend, the Kiwanis accept donations at Fouts Stadium (collected by the ‘bucket brigade’), which go to support the free medical, dental, and prescription drug assistance they’ve been providing to children in Denton County Texas for 86 years and counting. The fireworks show is their largest yearly fundraiser.

    If you didn’t have a chance to donate – or didn’t even know you could - and you’d like to, never fear! The Kiwanis assure me they accept donations all year long at:

    Denton Area Kiwanis
    225 W. Hickory, Ste A
    Denton, TX 76201

    I figure I’ll just help them get a jump on next year’s event and donate now – all Dentonistas, Dentonites and Dentonauts are more than welcome to join me. Come on folks - it's Denton County's kids we're helping.

    June 15, 2009

    There's NOTHING Cool About a Litterbug

    I’m sure it’s happened to you.
    You’re driving down the road, enjoying your good fortune to be in Denton, relaxed, happy… when you are yanked from your calm reverie (maybe even by the sound of your own voice shrieking, “Oh no you did not!”) because the jerk in front of you just threw some trash out the window.

    Whether it was the ubiquitous cigarette butt flick or something as egregious as tossing a soda cup, I know it ticks you off as much as it does me.

    Why? Because your good mother taught you not to be a litter bug, and you think – as do I, dear heart – that litterers' mothers tried to teach them too, and what makes them think the rules don’t apply to them anyway?!

    Well, I confess, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I have my suspicions.
    I think it’s probably either laziness or ignorance, or a combination of the two.
    For instance, I know some smokers (and even nonsmokers) think that cigarette butts are biodegradable, and since they don’t want them stinking up the interiors of their cars, they toss them out the window.

    Let me clear that up right now.

    Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. (See here and here and here.)

    And, use your heads smoking litterbugs – those blackened and burned patches on the shoulders on I-35 North and South (and shoulders and medians all over Texas!) are from fires started by tossed butts. In fact, cigarette butts are the most common cause of grass and wildfires in Texas.
    And your car? It already smells like smoke.
    I promise.

    Did you know, cigarette butts represent a significant portion of the total litter clogging the roads?
    "Each year more than 1 billion pieces of litter will accumulate on Texas highways. Of those, 13 percent are cigarette butts. That means 130 million butts will be tossed out in Texas alone this year."
    --Texas Department of Transportation

    Well, why did I bring this up knowing it will just rile you up dear readers? Because there IS something you can do about it.
    Report those nasty litterers!
    That’s right, as part of the awesome Don’t Mess With Texas anti-litter campaign, you can anonymously report litterers.

    You’ll need to have the following to report those litter bugs:

    • Texas license plate number (Texas plates only)
    • Make of vehicle
    • Time of day
    • Location
    • Date
    • Who tossed (driver, passenger or accidental)
    • What was tossed

    I know you have a pen and piece of paper in your car, and you can scratch this out without taking your eyes off the road. (You don't want to cause an accident while helping to educate a litterer.)
    After TxDot processes your info, they will send the litterer a Don't Mess with Texas litterbag along with a letter reminding them to keep their trash off of our roads.

    So really, you’re doing litterbugs a favor. They are kindly reminded to keep their trash to themselves, without getting an expensive fine, and they score a cool trash bag for the car.
    Better than they deserve, I think.

    And, they’ll realize people are watching; someone saw what they did!
    I think the shame alone might help them not to litter, and that’s good for ALL of Texas, not just the excellent bit that is Denton.
    So check out the Web site and get on it, my dears.
    There’s no need to be ticked off, when you can do something useful about it.

    May 14, 2009

    Occidental Finally Finds Flavorful Oriental

    I know, oh how I know – “Oriental” is a term that has gone out of favor, and the equally generic “Asian” is the more preferred term. I think that’s too bad. I’ve always thought “Oriental” was a lovely, poetic term, and I never knew anyone to use it in any sort of pejorative manner. No matter that no one uses it anymore, it balances the equally Victorian term “Occidental” so beautifully that I just had to use them together.

    What’s this mean to you, dear reader? It means I’ve-found-good-Chinese-food-in-North-Texas!!
    Yes my dears, and I think enough of you to share my secret.
    Now, sadly, this divine little pleasure palace is not in Denton, but in Plano.

    I know my dears, I know. You don’t want to do it. You can spend days, even weeks avoiding it. But sometimes, occasionally, you must leave Denton. Be it for a pesky job, pesky friends, or pesky events, none of which are clever enough \ lucky enough to be located in Denton.

    Well, if your travels take you to deepest, darkest (shallowest, brightest?) Plano, your time will be well spent if you swing by Yao Fuzi and scarf down some ambrosial, authentic Chinese food.

    You know I grew up eating Chinese food. Though it probably wasn’t the best Chinese food available (I was quite fond of chicken chow mein and egg foo yung), it was tasty enough and easily enough available to engender a life-long love of it and an about weekly intake of it. Let me break it down this way, Chinese food is to NYers what Tex-Mex is to Texans.

    Sadly, good Chinese is not something we have in Denton (or even in any sort of abundance in N. Texas) and I have been in years long withdrawal. We do have plenty of good Thai, plenty of good sushi rolls, but no good Chinese.

    So, imagine my delight when I read this review in the Dallas Morning News.

    What can I say that the DMN didn’t?

    Well, after I first raced over there, I practically swooned with delight to find that they serve “Twice Cooked Pork with Wheat Buns”. I know it’s a common dish in China (thanks to my friend HH), but I had never eaten it until I went to Central Asia. And then, my dears, I could not-get-enough.

    A sort of sliced, barbecued fatty pork and cabbage dish, it’s served with steamed buns that look like chubby white tacos. Trust me; roll the bones and try this dish. I think you cannot be disappointed.

    Now, on my initial visits, I eye-witnessed two types of menus circulating the dining room – one in Chinese and one for round eyes, and I wondered what rare offerings was I missing?!
    Now, they have added an additional menu insert, to the English menus, at least for dinner.
    And I’m glad/sad.
    You know there are all sorts of delicious delicacies the chef just thinks are too weird for non-Sino sensibilities, and that’s too bad. I mean, I freely admit I won’t be eating any organ meats (from any cuisine) any time soon, and I’ve had all the tendons and cartilage I need to eat, but bring on more whole fish, sea food, mushrooms, and tofu. (Though, the restaurant manager, and son of the Chef, tells me I can call ahead and request dishes they don't have on the menu, and if the Chef can make them, he will... I was just asking about the simple scallion pancakes and cucumber salads I ate all the time, again in Central Asia, but you might have a more exotic fave?)

    AND, all that said, if all you’re going to order is fried rice or sweet and sour chicken, don’t waste your time (or the Chef’s) coming here. Though both are available (and probably as delicious as they can possibly be), such a meal would be a total waste of your dining experience.

    What does your friendly neighborhood Dentonista recommend as a perfect meal? I’m so glad you asked, darling.

    Naturally, you’ll want to dip your bill in either a Tsing Tao beer (pronounced Ching Dow – trust me) or a martini – the largest martini I’ve ever been served, I believe - and perfectly delicious.
    Then, you definitely want to start with:

    • Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). If you’ve never had these before, be prepared for a ridiculous taste explosion that may transform your life. And, if you don’t know how to eat them – you can ask one of the stylish wait staff, or you can read this.
    • Obviously, I’m going to recommend the twice-cooked pork – of course.
    • Some sea food – Maybe the Soft-shelled crabs or whole fish...
    Now seriously, that is enough food for two people to eat and have leftovers. Or, as is more often the case with YFND, enough for two people to happily and eagerly stuff their faces… until they can see their reflections in the crockery. This is why I’m going to suggest you bring a few more friends.
    Not only will you be a hero (or heroine) for suggesting this place, each additional member of your dinner party means an additional dish! (And maybe another appetizer.. just saying, m’dears.)

    Don’t bother with dessert. Obviously the East has given us many, many amazing cuisines, but I think they have nothing to add to the dessert pantheon. Now I know some Thai person (or lover) will pop-up with, “What about sticky rice and coconut milk?!”
    OK, OK.
    That’s just the exception that proves the rule. As I told a girlfriend, P., “Dessert made of carrots is a lie. That was just your Mom trying to get you to eat your vegetables. Now, finish your brownie.” Although she tells me that whenever she makes halwa for a party, she never has any leftovers. Whatever - we'll have to agree to disagree.
    And, seriously my dears, when you want dessert – you want chocolate, sugar, and maybe some flour or cream, right? Well, I know I do. And anyway, if you've followed my advice and done your job, you shouldn't have any room left for dessert!

    Go on; see that I'm right.

    Yao Fuzi Cuisine on Urbanspoon

    April 30, 2009

    Denton Arts and Jazz Fest

    I want to apologize for being gone so long. I’ve been a bit under the weather. Actually, more like under the duvet and propped up with pillows, thank you for asking, but I’m on the mend.

    And, to celebrate my return to the living, I ventured out this weekend, with one of my favorite women (never a Dentonista, damn it, but a life long sister) to the Arts and Jazz Fest. Now, I’m sure you already know, without your friendly neighborhood Dentonista telling you, that the Arts & Jazz Fest is one of the things that makes Denton the best. Of course you know it! People come from far and wide, not just to check it out, but to perform and show their beautiful wares.

    (I should apologize here for not having pictures for you. I can only say that being out of it for so long has left me weak-limbed and twitter-pated, and I did not think to schlep along my camera.)

    However, I found no shortage of goods tempting me to schlep them home, and the soaps from Fleegal Farms won out. Up from Austin, the lovely proprietress was selling huge, handmade bars of super-fatted and super-yummy-smelling soaps, scrubs, and lip balms. I snagged Mexican Chocolate Spice, Peppermint Chocolate, and Lemon Smack soaps.
    This soap is all natural as well as so creamy and luscious, that when I got home I was able to easily cut the lemon bar in half, to fit my weirdly small kitchen soap dish. And now I’m treating my butter-coated baker’s fingers to lemon-riffic cleanliness!
    Happily my shower soap dish is normal size, so I can embrace the full delicious-ness of that Mexican Chocolate Spice bar. Words can hardly describe how good it smells. Seriously, I’m hoping these amazing soaps inspire me to learn to make my own…
    My sister? Took one sniff of the Melalueca Mint bar and was hooked.
    You think mint soap sounds weird? Let me tell you, it is the most refreshing yet delicious smell you can sport.

    Of course there was no shortage of beautiful jewelry there either. Several artisans had gorgeous displays that sorely tempted me. But, since my days as a gainfully employed office drone are numbered, I womanfully resisted.

    I had to resist the really wonderful varieties of pottery available too. I was happy to see two vendors again, whom I recall from last year. (Whose names and businesses I did not record… Again, I’ve been out of it. Sorry.) Both were located in the Civic Center pavilion, and both are older gentlemen.
    One, down from Oklahoma, makes the most beautiful vases with what looks to me like kingfishers on them, and this year he also had small covered dishes with chipmunks for handles. That sounds insipid, but they were just perfect. Almost an Arts and Crafts feel to them. The other gentleman is more local, if I recall, and he uses an Indian horse-hair technique on some of his pieces. When fired the horse hair ‘melts’ into the most unusual and visually arresting designs. I also saw a truly local (Dentonisto) potter whose large display included cherry blossom and koi motifs. Really gorgeous. And all these potters? Well priced. Seriously, if you were there, you could have scored some awesome gifties.

    Now, I could go on about all the things to tempt the kiddies, but I think I’ll concentrate on the freaks instead. While chowing down on a sausage-on-a-stick (natch), I turned to my sister J and remarked, “It’s nice to see the uniform of teenage rebellion hasn’t really changed since I was in high school.” And my dears, it hasn’t. I was watching a group of teens go by kitted out for a Smiths concert. Or reunion. So perhaps, it would be more correct to say that everything old is new again… Certainly the neo 70s surfer look so many other boys were sporting that day (in land-locked North Texas) pre-dates my teen years… And don’t even get me started on the senior citizens rocking full Highland regalia; they made my day. I admit, I was a tad disappointed to find they were actually a dance group. None the less, they were a joy to behold. The lady in leather pants, though, was a real head scratcher for me…

    What else can I say about this fantastic, annual shin dig? Did I mention it’s free? Yup, 100% free. How often does that happen? You can shop, eat, and gawk to your heart’s content, as is my want, or you can kick back and listen to any or all of the roughly gazillion bands and musical performers. This year? The Arc Angels were here! And, of course, those perennial Dentonistos Brave Combo performed.

    Please don’t let my weak coverage of this marvelous event be your only impression. Mark your calendars for next year, and get here and do it yourself. I also want to invite anyone who was there to comment and tell me what your favorite part was.

    March 27, 2009

    Earth Hour

    March 28, 2009 - 8:30 pm local time.
    That's rights kids, it's Earth Hour. Time to turn off your lights for one measly hour to show some solidarity for the nice folks at the World Wildlife Fund. Individuals, businesses, governments, and organizations around the world will be turning off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.
    Now how easy is that?
    I know clever Dentonistas, Dentonistos, and all other readers can figure out some way to spend an hour in the dark...
    Maybe Trivial Pursuit by candle light?
    However you choose to spend your hour, show that you're down with the climate by signing up here.

    March 21, 2009

    The Pagoda on Locust Street

    Last week when I told you that the Pagoda on Locust Street inspired me to write about the north end of Locust, I promised to try to satisfy your curiosity about it.

    Well, I must admit, I wondered about it for years before I ever gained entry to the first floor – as a student at The Yoga Hut – but I’ve never been in the apartments on the upper floors. Nor do I have a complete story on the Pagoda’s history, though I do have 3 pretty complete stories, two of which come to me from wise and nearly life-long Dentonistas.

    One Dentonista told me a story of a family-style religion that took up residence and built the pagoda and an adjoining vegetarian restaurant, in the late 60’s early 70’s. (The last time I was in that restaurant, Enrique’s Mexican occupied it, and the woodcarvings and stained glass work were fantastic. Most recently, Jonathan’s Bar was there, but I never visited. You can see what’s left from the outside – look for the stained glass and wooden doorway on Congress Street, near Locust.) Apparently the food at the vegetarian restaurant was good, and all the members of the religion, mostly college students, worked there. According to this one Dentonista, many of these students dropped out of college, but did not notify their parents. They did turn their parent-funded tuitions over to their messianic leader. He eventually dropped out too, leaving them on their own…

    Now, my other source, another wise Dentonista and yogini, told me the story of a “Kundalini Yoga group that bought up half the land around UNT, and built up that whole corner-- the ashram, the restaurant with the stained glass, and they had a bakery downtown-- all in the 70's. The Rudra Ashram. The leader, Rudi, was from NY. He had gone to India, obtained enlightenment, and founded two colonies – one in Denton and one in New York. Unfortunately, Rudi died in a plane crash in New Mexico, and two members split the property/followers, etc. Stuart Perrin got Denton and was not charismatic. As the 70's died, so did the Rudranandra ashram in Denton.”

    A bit of easy research on your friendly neighborhood Dentonista’s part unearthed this additional version:

    Rudra Center emerged in the early 1970’s out of the spiritual need of a small group of seekers in Denton Texas, who happened to meet Swami Rudrananda (Rudi) in Dallas Texas, while attending Swami Mutananda’s first’s tour.
    After the…presentation, he was personally invited to Denton by this group. He obliged and the wheels of creation followed him, as he then offered to set up a meditation group for them and established an Ashram (place to study spirituality) in 1971.
    To house this spiritual school for study, a small two story plantation house was pulled off the real-estate market at 611 North Locust Street… . He left the rest to be generated and paid for by the students. The work that followed created immense growth potential for all involved.

    After Rudi left for his home in Manhattan, New York, the small group of students realized that it would be difficult to maintain these efforts by themselves, at this early stage, and requested a 'teacher' be sent to them to assist in their learning. Rudi then sent one of his leading disciples at the time, Stuart Perrin, to fulfill this role for him.

    Rudi would continue to visit Denton, once or twice year, until his untimely crossing in 1973, to promote and assist in the Ashram’s spiritual growth and development. His guidance, and the demands that he placed upon all involved, were the inspiration and the light that nourished this seedling into growing and blooming into its present expression.

    Upon Rudi’s crossing, Stuart Perrin assumed the full task at hand in Denton and continued to teach within and build the situation until 1978, when he passed the mantel to Mister Robert Baker (Silver Ra) who has maintained and continued to build upon it until the present time. As the present 'caregiver,' Silver Ra has incorporated many additional spiritual approaches, besides Rudra Meditation- the founding discipline, into the teaching format and has been the vehicle and focus of this Oasis of Awakening since that time. During Silver’s personal learning years with Rudi, his teacher often told him “to create a type of Spiritual University, where many kinds and types of spiritual work could coexist together”. Silver Ra has continued to build upon his ‘God Father’s’ vision to this day as chief instructor and guide for the Rudra Center for Enlightened Awareness.”

    Fascinating, no? And, if you compare the three stories, you can see they’re all the same, all true – can’t you? They’re just slightly different versions of the same story.

    In the years I’ve been here, the most significant external changes to the pagoda that I’ve noticed were the addition of a thunder bird to the roof, which I don’t think was a positive change, and the further cultivation of the gardens, which certainly is. To see it from the inside, why not check out a Yoga class? Or go to the oxygen bar? You could take some lessons in shamanism. Not for you? How about some purification in the sweat lodge? Or a pipe ceremony at the next full moon? No? At least go chill with some meditation - everybody could do with a little mind-clearing quiet time. Everybody.

    Go on; ankle on over and bliss out on the myriad delights Locust Street has to offer, this gorgeous pagoda included!

    March 15, 2009

    North Locust Street

    You know I think Denton is a city eminently suited to strolling with the historic neighborhoods, interesting architecture spanning over 100 years, and the little nooks and crannies of local shops, restaurants, and weirdness, and today I’ll suggest you walk down the north side of Locust Street, between Congress and University.
    “What’s so great about this stretch,” you ask? Well, you already know it's in a great neighborhood. The Greenhouse is on Locust Street, and The Cupboard is just one street west. Of course, one block east is Austin Street and just two streets east is the Emily Fowler Library - reasons enough you might say. However, north Locust has some really great little bits all its own.

    One of those, the pagoda, inspired me. Yes – the pagoda on Locust Street. If you’ve lived in Denton for any amount of time, of course you know the building I’m talking about, and I’ll bet you’re as curious as I was. Well, I won’t satisfy your curiosity here, but in my next post.
    Why not now?
    Iris season has just started in Denton - the only flower your friendly neighborhood Dentonista can grow with any guaranteed success - and I saw those gorgeous white ones blooming in a surprise clump, right by the side walk. I also noticed a few species of bulbs coming up, and I don't want you to miss them. Once they're gone, they're gone for the year.

    What else? How about this house? I really like this house.
    I don’t have any stories about it, but I would love some information about this architectural style. In fact, I didn’t even know this was a style, until I saw a house just like it, with the bowed front wall and sunrise detailing in Lorena, TX. They could have been twins. What’s in Lorena, TX? Nothing I could see but a tiny little business district (Old Towne), about ¼ of a block and some fabulous old Texas architecture. Sprawling, huge houses, a bit run down, and still residential. One wonders what they might be worth, if they were located in a larger city?
    You know how I love shouting, “To the Internet!” right before I research anything? Well, I do, and I think I’m a pretty good researcher. However, I couldn’t find a bit of info about this style of house. I don’t know if architecture is difficult to research, or if I just don’t posses the correct language to pose the queries. So, my dears (Pat C., I’m looking in your direction), if anyone has any info on this style – or know where any others like it are located – I would really love to hear from you.
    Look what else I saw, just wandering around. Y'all that is a vintage fire engine. It sits outside a local insurance company's offices. You know, I like that too. If you wander down this street, you'll see lots of great houses (several bungalow style, I believe) that have been restored or maintained as businesses. When you stop to notice, there are a lot of businesses on this street, and they fit in beautifully, for the most part, with their residential neighbors. A really nice example of mixed use space, without breaking new ground or razing existing buildings or trees.
    And, on that note, I'll leave you, my dears
    Be sure to tune in next week to learn about that awesome pagoda.

    February 28, 2009

    All Thaied Up - Andaman Thai

    If you were looking for lecherous tales of Thai lovlies, you're at the wrong site.
    If you are looking for details on the excellence that Denton, Texas has to offer, read on my dear...

    I’ve mentioned that there is currently no good Chinese food to be had in Denton, and you know how much that pains me. Happily, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Thai food, and today we’ll be discussing Andaman Thai.

    Located on the east end of Hickory Street, in the gentrifying Industrial Street area (near Fuzzy's Taco Shop), the newly renovated exterior (and interior!) should prepare you for the lovely dining experience that awaits you.

    Your first clue might be the unusual persimmon and cinnamon colored interior. This combination would never work in your living room, but somehow works beautifully in this restaurant. It simultaneously lets you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, and prepares you - subconsciously - for a taste adventure that may also be unusual, but will work deliciously.

    What do I mean? Well the steamed (and slightly sticky) chive dumplings may sound and look a little weird, but they are delectable. Equally delecatble? The pork dumplings, offered fried or steamed. Equally weird seeming? The poached banana dessert. Consisting of sliced bananas cooked in coconut cream, this dish sounds like nothing, right? Tastes like Shangri-La. Believe me.

    The crab cake appetizers were phenomenal, but lack of demand caused them to be removed from the menu. Intrigued? Ask the chef about them. Perhaps interest will cause him to reconsider. Until then, how about the shrimp and chive dumplings might suffice.

    Happily, Thai iced-tea is still offered. What’s that? Imagine the strongest, blackest tea you can, into which sweetened, condensed milk has been added, but not blended. The tea is so stout that it doesn’t automatically mix with the milk, but instead causes it to form a sort of cumulous layer. Sounds weird; looks weird; is divine. Divine rocket fuel – this drink will start you up. The curries: red; green; and yellow are all equally fine, and I honestly can’t tell you which is my favorite. And, of course, most of the the mains can be vegetarian friendly, made with tofu. I tend to think the whole fishes are a little overcooked, but they are flavored and dressed so deliciously that they are completely worth ordering.

    Lastly, and liquidly, if you’d like something other than the Thai iced-tea, which can also double as a nice dessert, wine and beer – including Thai beers – are available. Perfecto.
    Check it out.

    Andaman Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    February 7, 2009

    Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

    In a small corner of far north Denton County, a large barn-like building houses possibly the best fried chicken you will ever eat.

    Though just one of the now seven Babe’s, and not even the first, this is the Babe’s I think of as the ‘original one’.
    Simple. It’s the first one I ever went to; it’s still my favorite, and I think it alone keeps Sanger from drying up and blowing away. You know anything that contributes positively to Denton County is cool with me.

    Located on 4th Street, in down town Sanger, Babe’s is so influential on its little corner of the world that the gift shop next door stays open late Friday and Saturday nights to catch the spontaneous trade from the folks milling about outside waiting to get tables in Babe’s. And I know that strategy works for them. I saw one dinner companion drop around $200 on some things that just caught his eye. Additionally, a new gallery (art and jewelry – good prices!) opened up across the street, and does the exact same thing! I’d say they’re both lovely places to kill some time.

    Now, because your friendly neighborhood Dentonista loves you, I will tell you:
    Do not go to Babe’s if you are dieting, or on any sort of ‘eating plan’
    Do not go thinking, “I’ll just have one piece.”
    You won’t.
    Do not think you will be able to pass on the biscuits and honey (or sorghum).
    You won’t.
    And once you’ve crossed that line, why not have the mashed potatoes, cream gravy, creamed corn, and beans and greens? Even if you could resist round one of the sides, served family-style, you’d never be able to resist when your waitress comes around with refills.
    Oh, and do not go thinking you’ll just have some of the Smoked Chicken, to cut down on the calories. The only reason to go to Babe’s is to get down on some fried chicken. (In a pinch, I’ll go you the Fried Chicken Tenders – who doesn’t love boneless? And they come with green pepper-infused honey mustard!) I understand they also serve Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Catfish, and Pot Roast, but obviously I have no first-hand knowledge of those things.

    Know what else? Babe’s is BYOB. I'm tempted to suggest some wine coolers or a bottle of Boone’s to go with fried chicken but then, you are not going to Babe’s to slum. You are going there for the honestly good food.
    Food like your Mom would cook.
    If your Mom was raised on, then moved off, a farm to attend college, get married, have kids and a career.
    Yes the mashed potatoes are so-creamy-they-must-be-instant (“You try working all day, then mashing potatoes!”), and the creamed corn comes from a can ("SO convenient!"). But the beans and greens taste fresh; the chicken is as perfectly fried as it ever will be; the iceberg lettuce salad is dressed with the vinegar, sugar, and vegetable oil dressing your grandmother used to make, and the biscuits are lightly crisp on the outside and tender-on-the-inside, in a way only that can only be made from scratch.

    Fetching and stepping all this food (and all those refills) takes a lot of hustle, and it is carried out be the hardest working teen-age waitresses you’ll ever see.
    YFND did some time in the purgatory called waitressing, and I don’t think I ever worked as hard as these girls work every shift.
    Go prepared to tip like a drunken rock star. They deserve it. These girls, these young WOMEN, work hard in a town that doesn’t have many jobs.
    Did I mention they sing too?
    Oh yes.
    A recent visit had a waitress warbling, “Stand By Your Man” to a packed house. No one else seemed to twig to the irony of a teenager singing that particular song.
    In 2009.
    She DID have a good voice, as do all the singing waitresses there.

    And when you’re not enjoying a live floorshow, you can people watch (maybe a game of people-watching bingo? Camouflage? Check. Granny-mullet? Check. Overalls? Bingo!) while listening to music from the bubbling juke box. Mostly playing top 40 hits – from the 50s – they are a tad more progressive with the Country music, reaching all the way into the 70s. Oh don’t front; you love it, and you know ALL the words!

    One last bit of HIGH praise from you friendly and frugal neighborhood Dentonista – Babe’s is as cheap as it is good. A fried chicken dinner, with a full round of all you can eat sides and their stout ice tea cost like $13.
    You can’t beat that with a stick. AND you can afford to mad tip that waitress, Big Shot. Go on, strap on the feedbag and see that I’m right.

    Babe's Chicken Dinner House on Urbanspoon

    January 31, 2009

    Texas First Ladies Collection

    You know, part of the joy of and the impetus to become your friendly neighborhood Dentonista was to avoid "local malaise".
    Know what I mean? Friends come to town and you don't know what to do with them in town (because you can't think of what you do in town), so you end up schlepping to Dallas or Ft. Worth.

    Or worse, friends from out of town say, "Denton? Cool! Have you been to/done XX?!" And you have to mumble, "Er, no." Cause why? Because subconciously you think, "Oh yeah, I'll check that out later. There's plenty of time." But later never comes. (True story - I was fourteen [14!!] before I took the Circle Line cruise around the Statue of Liberty. I've still never been inside the Statue of Liberty and, I think, I've only been to the Museum of Natural History once. Pitiful. I am determined not to repeat the mistakes of my youth.)

    I also hate missing out on things. You know I made it to The Funky Eclectic before they closed, but I missed the Southern Fried Pie Company and, apparently, the bison tamales at the Cupboard. And, that's a shame.

    So, I've heard about Texas Woman's University's (TWU) Texas First Ladies collection for years and never checked it out. Until this summer... I enlisted the company (and camera - mine was on the fritz) of another Dentonista and headed over to TWU's beautiful campus. I want to note, when I called TWU for directions, they were incredibly helpful, and parking was free and close!

    Assembled in 1940 by the Texas Society Daughters of the American Revolution(DAR), the gown collection now belongs wholly to TWU, and is located on the 2nd floor of TWU's Administration Conference Tower (right next to the historic Hubbard Hall). The exhibit displays 17 (of the collection's 46) gowns and corresponding mini-bios for the former owners at any given time, and members of the Benjamin Lyon Chapter of the DAR act as docents and provide other support for the collection. That's an interesting little tie in too, isn't it? Want one more? While I was there, Laura Bush's (Texas) inaugural gown was on display. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, you will certainly agree she was a dull dresser. What you may not know, which that gown amply demonstrates, is that she has an amazing figure, and that makes her satorial blandness a near crime. Let's hope she feels free to cut loose, now that she's out of the White House. Girl certainly could rock some fun threads, and she deserves a rest. Meanwhile, you can use these dresses as historical proof that some Texas first ladies really put on the dog. I certainly hope there are some 80's gowns on display for you, my dears. They were outstanding!

    Believe your Dentonista when she tells you, it's worth a trip to TWU just to park and walk around the campus. Be sure to see the Little Chapel in the Woods, the Library, and the gardens. Add this free, historical, and pro-woman exhibit and you have a nice little afternoon.

    What more could you want?

    January 20, 2009

    The Cupboard’s Customer Appreciation Weekends

    I know I’ve sung the praises of Cupboard Natural Foods once or twice, but I haven’t yet mentioned their customer appreciation weekends. I think they have them twice a year, and you do not want to miss out; it's a blast!

    Why is customer appreciation so much fun?

    Well, does 20- 50% off sound like fun to you? That's music to your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista's ears. In fact, once I twigged to the huge savings one can rack up during these events, I was completely prepared to buy in bulk the items that will keep on my shelves - vitamins, cosmetics, body care, frozen food, etc. I keep my eyes peeled for gifts too.

    So, you like discounts like I do?


    How about free? Do you like free? I looove free, and there is tons of free stuff at these events too. Vendors come with samples of all sorts of things - cookies, soap, wheat grass juice. (No joke, the first time I EVER had wheat grass juice was at the first customer appreciation I stumbled into. It's not nearly as weird as you think it is.) In addition, the happy hippies at the Cupboard raffle off all sorts of thing, every hour on the hour. We've won pet food, resusable shopping bags, and gift baskets of New Chapter vitamins and herbs. Awesome.

    Why am I telling you all this now? Because, there’s a customer appreciation weekend this weekend!
    Now, be warned, with all the vendors set up and bargain shoppers circling, it will be crowded. Happily, this is a crowd at the Cupboard. Vegans, hippies, moon children, even home-schoolers, tend to be a mellow and affable bunch. You might even enjoy feeling like you're amongst 'your people'. I always do, and I hope to see you there.


    January 14, 2009

    Lame Fri, Sat. and Sun Night Movies

    And Step Show! Just keep reading.
    Please note
    : This Entry Gives Info You Can Use ANYWHERE, Not Just in Fabulous Denton.

    Sure, you think you’re all that with plans for Friday night, and places to be Saturday night, and maybe an early dinner out on Sunday. Well sometimes I am too. And sometimes my significantly charming other works nights. (Yep. Working nights is the pits. Working 3 nights a week? Not so bad.) And, when I am solo, I admit, I’m likely to ride the couch and channel-surf Lifetime, ION, TNT, USA, AMC, BRAVO, SciFi (ooooh, come oooon Eureka! marathon!), or now, with Charter Cable (that's the 'Denton connection' - that and 'my couch') cramming free movie channels down my throat, HBO, SHO, or MAX. Bastards.

    In fact, a summer-time double feature on Lifetime - Beauty Shop AND True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, starring Valerie Bertinelli, inspired this post.
    Sure, make fun, but she was a teen star, married Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen people! and has a son to show for it), and is still working! How many women can say that?

    The week after that? – Confessions of a Go Go Girl. Seriously.

    Now I KNOW you’re thinking, “Dentonista! What’s a woman like you, with all the local savvy, doing on the couch?!”

    Sometimes a girl just wants to stay in, mix her own martinis and give herself a facial – maybe a deep hair conditioning too.
    (As my mother used to say, “Do I know how to live or what?” Sadly, she didn’t warn me about drunken dialing, texting, or posting… But that’s another entry.)

    And I’ll tell you, as energetic and outgoing as I am when I travel (I mean, I have been known to eat dinner and go-to-the-movies-by-myself!), I can be just that inversely sluggish and hermit-y at home.
    Why not? My home IS lovely and comfy.
    But still…
    I know. I KNOW my dears, and I WILL try to be less of a slug.

    What else have I seen, while beautifying in front of the TV? Well, you DO gather this is the time to catch up on movies you would never spend money to see, right? In fact, you might not want to be seen seeing?
    That said, I was happily surprised by:

    White Chicks – I KNOW! But remember, these are dirty little secrets I’m sharing with you. Don’t judge! The ‘dance off’ scene made me laugh out loud. For like 5 minutes! (Go on, click the link. You'll laugh too.)

    I mentioned Beauty Shop – I admit it, I’m always rooting for Queen Latifah. I’d love to get a drink or dinner with her. (Hey – Parliament Funkadelic’s on the sound track! You can’t go wrong there.) And Alicia Silverstone. OK – I always root for her too.

    And because I always root for Queen L - Last Holiday.

    Stomp the Yard – Come on! A movie dedicated to step show? How're you gonna pass that up? And you know what? This was a good thing. It made me wonder what happened to the enormous convocation for step show, which was held annually at North Texas. I only got to see it once (roommate was a Zeta), but it was very well known.

    So, to the Internet!

    A few minutes later, I now know that the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Eta chapter at UNT have been hostessing the longest running step show in the Southwest! And, it is now called Greek Explosion.

    As I mentioned, I haven’t been in YONKS, and I think I’d like to go again. I sent an e-mail to DST and asked for a specific date, but got no response. Later however, I found out "The Zeta Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will host its 38th Annual Greek Explosion at 6 p.m. on March 1st in the Coliseum at the University of North Texas." $15 admission and part of that goes to charity. Seriously, this sounds like a night you don't want to miss.
    Anyone interested in going with me?

    Lastly, because your FND loves you, she will remind you to beware the drunken dial or drunken e-mail folks! Your friends know you love them; your secret crushes don’t need to! And never, EVER e-mail work from the couch.

    That’s all for now, my dears.

    January 7, 2009

    Cowboys Welcome Indians

    Field Trip Alert! Today we'll be visiting Lewisville, just outside the Denton County line, my dears.

    I'm sure everyone in every good town has a wish list of just small additions that would make their own town truly perfect. Even your friendly neighborhood Dentonista, who looooves Denton with her whole heart, has such a list. It's a shorty, I assure you, but it exists. At the top of that list? Indian food. I'm not talking about samp and pemmican; I'm talking about carrot pickles and dosas and jalfrazi and vindaloo. How a city, in North Texas, with two universities has no Indian restaurant is a complete mystery to me.

    Happily, there IS quality Indian food available to you (maybe even to pick up on your way home from work) right up the road in Lewisville. Located in a shopping center at the corner of Round Grove Rd. & Mac Arthur Blvd, the extremely talented cooks at Kokila make masala vada just like your mom would make. If, you know, your mom was Indian. Serving both Northern and Southern-style Indian dishes, this is the best kind of "home cooking".
    Do you know what I mean?
    I mean freshly, freshly made and subtly different each time. I've never been disappointed with anything I've eaten. Take out? Buffet? A la carte? All delicious, and hard to say what's my favorite. I mean, the buffet gives you a ton of choices for making up a plate of choice bits (and the opportunity to eat your fool head off), but the take out (and a la carte) gives you leftovers!
    If you go a la carte, be smart. Order at least one dish as thali (Indian for 'blue plate special'). In addition to your curry or main, you'll get rice, naan, two not-so-small soups, dahl, papadum, three or so chutneys, and gulab jamun. All the savory sides are more than big enough to share with a dining companion. If your friend gets an a la carte, y'all are looking at a feast that is easy to dish out and enjoy.

    Please be aware, this spread will cover most of your dining table. If you are likely to eat at the 'casual dining table' (your coffee table), as I am, it will completely cover it.
    New to Indian food but intrigued? Go for a weekend buffet. (I have it on good authority - weekend buffets tend to be just a bit more "A" game.)
    Can't make that? Order a thali butter chicken (which is actually a rich, red sauce) with a side of masala vada and prepare for a life-long but pleasurable addiction.
    Think I'm joking?

    I was introduced to Indian food years ago, in a small town outside of London.
    It was terrifying. Featuring, as I recall, some kind of sweet, creamy meat. I may never have repeated the experience.
    Luckily, a friendly vegetarian co-worker took me to my first lunch-time Indian buffet, and my current passionate desire was ignited.

    Much like vampiric blood-lust - I imagine - it has got to be quenched and requires regular feedings to keep it from overwhelming me. In fact, once you are converted, you may think back on your life as 'when I found Indian food' and 'everything before'.

    If you're a newbie, you might also like to know that Indian food is traditionally eaten with your fingers (on your right hand). I've never been able to do that with out making a mess, but don't feel like you can't try.
    Roll up your sleeves and get in there. Probably your kids (or your inner child) can help you out.
    Not going that route? Then feel free to employ forks, spoons, chopsticks...Whatever gets that deliciousness from the plate to your gob.

    Just go eat it!

    Full disclosure - OK, I had heard tell of a small Indian buffet in an old gas station on Ave C, but a quick trip over there proved fruitless. The atmosphere and displayed food were so unappetizing, I left empty-handed, and just headed up the road to Lewisville. Others disagree though. If anyone with actual tasting experience wants to clue me in, please feel free to comment.

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