End Of July, Beginning of August

So, it's been a while since I last updated with a real post. Well, a week and a half at least. I've got a LOT to update!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought Giada De Laurentiis' pasta & coffee from Target while it was on sale. I've tried both, and am prepared to give a review. I used the farfalle in my creamy saffron & shrimp recipe, and it turned out very nicely. I had read reviews that her pasta was going to be gummy and not a good toothsome pasta, but I didn't find that at all. It made a lovely addition because the saffron sauce clung to the ridges in the farfalle, something you wouldn't normally get with your generic bow tie pasta.

Also, her coffee isn't bad. We got the Extra Bold coffee, and even though it's already ground (I prefer whole bean coffee), it made a decent cup of joe.

This past weekend I decided I wanted to go camping. It was my first free weekend, and I wanted to use it for a vacation. So, I researched State Parks, and with Michael's suggestion, chose Tyler State Park. I had heard they had a bunch of rain the week before, so I thought it would be so hot there in the Piney Woods region of Texas. I thought wrong. It was still 98 degrees by the time the sun went down and had been down for hours. We got there, and pitched out tent with the remaining daylight.

Michael went into town because I had forgotten to pack the lantern, and we needed light to prepare dinner. While he was gone I got spooked because I was all alone in the dark. I took a field trip to the lighted bathrooms, and when Michael returned we drove back to the campsite. While I was gone, a raccoon broke into the cooler and ate all of our chocolate and started in on the onions and pepper. I think they went back to the chocolate. :) Anyway, I didn't sleep well that night (lay awake in the heat), and woke Michael up at 4am. He was fine with that.

We drove into Tyler, and waited for the Starbucks and donut shops to open. After getting an iced dirty soy chai latte(!), we got a few donuts and started to drive around Tyler, sipping and eating our treats. We watched the sun rise over downtown Tyler, and scouted out some antique/vintage stores to look at later. We drove by the famous Rose Gardens, which were obviously not at their peak. Still pretty, though.

Then we drove to Kilgore and went to the East Texas Oil Museum. (http://www.easttexasoilmuseum.com/)
It was fascinating! Michael, of course, is now in the oil and gas industry, so he hears about this stuff all day long. I, however, am reading books (The Big Rich by Bryan Burroughs - such an interesting read!) and trying to actively learn about Texas involvement in the beginning of the oil and natural gas boom.
I learned a lot and bought a t-shirt. It was a super interesting museum and I would recommend it to anyone traveling or in the area.

We drove back to Tyler and went to the place we had decided on for lunch - Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q!
Michael had heard nothing but amazing things about this barbecue place. He works with a few people that are from Tyler as well as people who do business in Tyler, and they all said he had to try it. They're only open from 7-10 and 11-2pm, Monday through Saturday. That's it. Or, until they run out of food. In fact, when we got in line, the first thing the pit master said was, "They're in luck. We still have some left." We got there at 11:02am.

As I always do at barbecue places, I ordered ribs. Michael ordered the 4-meat plate with sausage, pulled pork, smoked turkey and brisket. We had every meat represented. I even remembered to take pictures!
It was all very good, but entirely too sweet for me.

They used brown sugar in their rub and sauce. Obviously, Sweet-Tooth-Michael loved it to bits. I like a more smokey, vinegary, peppery sauce. The rub I could care less about, as long as it has some spice and color. I want some singed pieces! Anyway, it was good, but it still doesn't beat a Baker's rib.

Later we shopped around downtown Tyler in their antique & vintage stores. We looked at a lot of interesting stuff, and I only let myself come away with one item: a brass owl.

We drove back to Dallas with smiles on our faces, and we will definitely be giving Tyler State park and the Piney Woods another shot this fall, winter or spring. Gorgeous!

On Monday, I started a new job with the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in their Tobacco Prevention unit. I'll be doing public relations, promotions and city council advocacy for the GDCADA anti-tobacco coalition. I've only been there a week, but I've been really enjoying getting to know the awesome people at The Council. I'll write more on this later.

I'm hoping tonight we will get to go see Inception. I've been hearing a ton about it, and I finally have a free evening to go see it.

Tomorrow morning, I want to go to the Four Season's Market in Addison. It's a European-style market, and is outdoors. It opens at 10 tomorrow, but they have it today as well. (http://www.fourseasonsmarkets.com/?sct=events) I've been meaning to check it out, and have known about it for a while. One of my past coworkers works there selling Roundrock Honey (at the Firewheel market), but I haven't had a chance to go to one because of my past work schedule.

Later, I want to go to Sherman and check out the new Dean Gilbert Lake and Park area off of 1417. Maybe I'll pick us some Vitina's sandwiches up to sweeten the experience. :) I hear it's a nice park with a walking trail. We shall see.

For dinner, we'll be stopping by Martie and Roy's for Michael's grandpa's birthday celebration. She's making fish tacos. Yum!

That about sums up my weekend! I am so thankful that I actually have a weekend again!