Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Texas Experience

I recently just got back to Jacksonville after visiting my family in Texas for a week. After achieving a little outside perspective in Florida, I realize just how Texas Texas can be. I mean, state pride is everywhere you look! Case in point, the first thing I see after getting off the airplane in Houston...

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Isn't Snapchat so much fun???

Yes, that is a life-sized replica of a horse-drawn coach, complete with Western-themed murals, to honor the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo being in-town. And don't let me forget the other Texas sight at the airport:

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Oh yes, y'all, a cowboy boot the same size as me! Don't miss the Western memorabilia in the nearby display case either. All I can say is, what a welcome home! It was good to be back in the Lone Star State.

No self-respecting Houstonian would miss the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo of course. This rodeo is not your typical rodeo, y'all. It's more like a festival. I have such fond memories of going to the rodeo when I was growing up, so being able to go twice during my visit was really a treat. The first time I went with both my mom and dad. We hit all the animal exhibits, including Brahmin cattle, the birthing zone (lambs and piglets!!! My heart almost burst), honey bees, chickens and rabbits. The bunny below was one of my favorites for obvious reasons. If you know me, you know how much I love eyeliner.

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The actual rodeo events are also incredible. My favorite is the barrel racing (girl power!), but the bullriding is like a train wreck: you can't look away, it's so compelling! One of the cutest events is called mutton bustin'. Basically, five-and-six-year old kids get put on the back of a running sheep to see which one can stay on the longest. It's like tame bullriding.

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If the rodeo events aren't your favorite, one of the best parts is how many other things there are to do! On both nights, we enjoyed the Wine Garden where they serve award-winning wines from across the country. Oh yes, the rodeo awards not only livestock, but wine as well! Besides wine, food vendors of all kinds offer you whatever kind of food you can imagine. Since I was in Texas, I naturally indulged in some much-missed Mexican food.

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One of my favorite parts of this trip was being able to spend quality time with both my parents. My dad took me to the second night of rodeo. We walked around the shops and looked at turquoise jewelry. I can't remember the last time I spent time with just my daddy. My mom and I also got to take a cooking class at Sur la Table! We were the only two in the class, so we got a lot of neat cooking tips.

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We're chefs now!

I learned how to properly salt and pepper meat by holding your hand high for even distribution. Apparently, my previous method caused a lot of salt pockets...whoops...also, make sure you whisk from the center, out! Much more effective. Cooking is one thing I always love learning more about, so this was a particularly special experience for me with my momma.

To end the week, my parents and I traveled to Dallas to attend my grandma's 90th birthday party. My mom and dad got my grandma a GIANT chocolate cake that we took with us. I mean, this thing was four layers tall! My mom and I were nervous about how to cut such a monstrosity, but the main thing about cutting cakes is don't be afraid! We managed to parcel out most of the cake. It was delicious!

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90 years, what an achievement!

The best part of the party was seeing a lot of folks from my dad's side of the family, whom I haven't seen in quite a long time. To me, that is the Texas experience: loving on my family and enjoying the things I remember from growing up. What a fabulous trip!