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.

Kokila Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon