Monday, October 30, 2017

Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day!

Last week I was honored to once again join Norma's Cafe on their Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day tour. If you remember, I was asked to go last year and had a blast (see that post here). Basically, we rode around on a bus and stopped at different places to eat chicken fried steak all day. ALL DAY. Yes, all day. Have I said all day yet? Lol.

If you are a regular visitor of my blog, you know I LOVE Norma's Cafe. If you live in the DFW area (or come to visit), you must check out one of their five locations. This year proceeds from Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day at Norma's Cafe benefited the Dallas Stars Foundation (click here for more info on them)

Our day started early at the Norma's location in Frisco where we had our first chicken fried steak of the day along with other yummy breakfast entrees. After last year I learned to pace myself early, so I only had one piece of bacon and some eggs along with my chicken fried steak. From there we headed just down the road and made a stop at Dr Pepper Arena, which is the practice location of our hockey team, the Dallas Stars. We were given a private behind the scenes tour by former Stars great Bob Bassen. Although the arena is open to the public to watch the team practice on the ice, not just anyone gets to see the locker room, workout room, and video room. There was a member of the Dallas Stars Foundation on the tour and he said in the eight years he's worked for them, he's only been back there twice. It was very cool!

We got to see their entertainment room, which has a ping pong table- it was folded up against the wall when we were there. There is also a kitchen area where a private chef cooks for the team and there is a long table for the team to enjoy a meal together. They have a theater room where they can watch film from previous games (we were told depending on how well the game went, that yelling can be heard while they are watching game tapes). Lol. We also go to see the training room.
It was so cool to be able to go into the locker room. We were told that the locker room in the American Airlines Center (where the team plays their games) is about the same size as the one at the practice arena. FYI- it's not that big. We were able to see where they store their equipment, and yes, I had permission to pick up a hockey stick, I didn't break any rules. :) Also, it is bad luck to step on the star logo on the floor. There were several so we were all walking around like it was hot lava. Lol.
In the workout room
Bob Bassen- super nice guy!
We made three stops along the tour for chicken fried steak: Cartwright's Ranch House in Denton, Bono's Chophouse and Saloon in Decatur, and Ranchman's in Ponder. 

Everyone has been asking for my reviews of the tour, so here you go. Not counting Norma's, the best chicken fried steak of the day was at Cartwright's. Hands down. It was so good. And I really liked the atmosphere there. It's located right across from the Denton County Courthouse. The square around the courthouse seems to have some nice shops, I should go back and check them out! Bono's Chophouse had the best sides, including homemade cream corn which was AMAZING. They have something called Armadillo Toes which is jalapenos stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon (they had me at wrapped in bacon). Delicious (and I'm not usually a fan of jalapenos). They also had the best bread pudding I have ever tasted. I was sad we only had a little sample of it. Ranchman's served us chicken fried steak tenders (which honestly was nice since it was towards the end of the day and I'm not sure I could have handled another whole chicken fried steak). Their tenders were very good. They also had cobbler, which I didn't try, but everyone else said it was great. I would recommend trying out any of those locations if you are nearby. Our day ended back at Norma's where they sent us home with chicken fried steak sliders (our FIFTH meal of the day). I didn't eat it that night though. I didn't eat anything until late in the day on Friday because I was so full. Lol.
My chicken fried steak meals. Top (l-r) Bono's, Norma's. Bottom (l-r) Cartwright's, Norma's, Ranchman's (this is not my plate though, I only managed to eat two tenders). Lol.
Ranchman's in Ponder is next door to the Ponder State Bank, which according to local legend, was once held up by Bonnie and Clyde. They tried to get into the safe by coming through the back of the vault. They got in but were unable to open the safe. There was a man named Bill who was inside renovating the bank. We just wanted pictures outside but he opened the door and said we could come and take a look inside if we wanted to. He was so nice. Evidently he was on an episode of American Pickers recently. He is working to restore the bank to how it looked when Bonnie and Clyde were there. Everything there is original (some of it has been in storage for many years). He even let us going inside the vault to see the safe. They are going to open it up as a tourist attraction at some point. I would like to go back once they are done to see it again.

Just like last year, I had so much fun on the tour. It's nice to meet new people and go new places. I had never been to Decatur or Ponder before, despite not living too far from them. It's also fun to try new places to eat. I'm so thankful for my friends at Norma's for inviting me along! 

Bill and Ed crack me up!
My tour group!

Along with dinner, Norma's sent us all home with a goodies bag. I also won a wireless waterproof speaker and free pie for three months as part of the bus tour raffle. :) 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm loving...

That I was able to attend Dallas Fan Days last weekend. I wasn't going to go until they added Bruce Boxleitner to the guest list. When I was six, I would watch Scarecrow and Mrs. King with my sister Mary, so I HAD to meet him. He was so nice. I even got a hug. And yes, I even bought Scarecrow and Mrs. King off of Amazon Prime instant streaming so I could reminisce. :) I also met Ruth Connell from the show Supernatural. Her character Rowena is so horrible but she's really super sweet in person. She's also very soft spoken (her character is very loud). 

Ran into my friend Matt while I was there!
Mandy and I met at my first Comic Con back in 2014- we were so excited that we got to see each other again!
I'm loving...

That I don't have to have shoulder surgery (at least the orthopedic doctor doesn't believe I will have to have it). Last month I started having a pain in my shoulder and when it didn't go away after a few days, my primary doctor recommended that I see an orthopedic surgeon. Two office visits and one $500 MRI later, it was discovered that I have subacromial bursitis. I got two cortisone shots in my shoulder and have been doing at-home physical therapy to see if that fixes the issue. So far the pain has gotten better, so I'm hoping it's a good sign. I have one ugly looking bruise from the shots though (see photo below. If bruises gross you out, keep scrolling). 

Before my MRI. I couldn't wear any clothing with metal on it, so I wore this
This is 10 days after receiving my shots. I assume this is normal?
I'm loving...

That some friends and I got to go to the Lone Survivor Foundation celebrity softball game a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet several celebrities, including former NFL player Jermichael Finley, former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, and country super star Toby Keith. Matthew McConaughey was also there, but he didn't come over to take photos or sign autographs (so we tooks pics from afar).

Fun times with friends!
More celebrities who have had the honor of meeting me
I'm loving...

That some of my siblings and I were able to work on our folks house a few weekends ago. Their house is over 100 years old and was in need of some work, including painting the front door and window panes. Guess which youngest, tall sibling got to stand on the ramp railings and paint the window panes? And this is all WITH a shoulder injury. You can't say that I'm not a trooper. Lol.

My sister Martha added this decal to their front door windows, which makes it look so much better!

Window before
Windows after
I'm loving...

That I got to see my BFF Brandy last Saturday. We sadly don't see each other too often (despite living only an hour apart). We spent the morning and early afternoon in downtown historic Grapevine. We just walked around and shopped, it was fun to just hang out together.

I'm loving...

That my church's Trunk or Treat is this Sunday evening. I was nominated again by my class to work on the decorations for our trunk. I chose a Dr. Seuss theme and have been busy the last two weeks trying to finish it all up. Here are some of my craft creations.

I'm loving...

That I got my James Avery Whataburger charm a few weeks ago. It was only available for a limited time and I think I ordered it within the first hour. Lol. 

I'm loving...

That I'm finally trying to cook more at home. Part of my 40 by 40 challenge is to learn one new recipe a month. I guess as long as I learn 12 new recipes by May, that will work. I've decided to catch up on the past months, so I've learned two so far this month (so we will count that as June and July). It's my challenge- I make the rules. :)

Teriyaki stir fry
 I didn't get an after photo of my food, so I took a photo of the seasonings (I took a before photo but I decided y'all probably didn't want to see raw chicken). I tried a new baked chicken recipe. It called for a garlic seasoning but I decided to try four different seasonings out instead: Lawry's Seasoned Salt, lemon and pepper (I forgot to take a photo of the lemon), Sesame ginger teriyaki sauce (THIS STUFF IS AMAZING), and Roasted Peach Whiskey sauce. I didn't like this one as much, I don't think I liked the roasted peach flavor, but it was still okay.
I'm loving...

That I was able to attend the State Fair of Texas before it closed last weekend. I went last Thursday and had a blast meeting up with friends. And I caused WWIII on social media by putting ketchup on my corny dog. Lol. Haters gonna hate.

What are YOU loving today??


Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Reviews 2017: I'm Watching You

**All reviews on Randomness With Rachel are done on a five-star rating system. The reviews are solely my opinion and no one else's. Randomness With Rachel does not receive any incentives or compensations for reviews.**

I'm Watching You by Mary Burton

This was the first book I've read by Mary Burton and I will definitely be checking out her other books. I really enjoyed this novel- I felt the mystery and suspense were well written. I actually lost sleep because I got to the point where I couldn't stop reading and I had to see how it ended. 

I kept changing my mind who I thought the killer would be, which to me is the sign of a good mystery novel. Now, there were some unresolved issues in the plot (minor issues, just me being nit-picky) and I hope that the characters appear in another novel so we can see what happens to them. There were also some minor characters that I hope get their own story in another novel.

The author does a great job with character development and keeping the story interesting- I can't wait to read another one of her novels. 

Book summary:

I finished this book on September 13, so it goes towards my 40 by 40 challenge.

Book Reviews 2017: A Night in With Marilyn Monroe

**All reviews on Randomness With Rachel are done on a five-star rating system. The reviews are solely my opinion and no one else's. Randomness With Rachel does not receive any incentives or compensations for reviews.**

I am enjoying this series but I think I liked A Night in With Audrey Hepburn a little bit more than this one. Libby seemed a little too whiny in this novel and it just didn't have the same charm as the first one. Also as much as I like Ollie, even he was annoying me in this book. Come on Ollie, man up!

Regardless, I still like the author's writing style and even though I didn't like this book as much as the first one, the author kept me interested in the story.

We do get to know some of the other characters a little better in this novel, which was nice. And despite their flaws, I do like the characters and can't wait to see what happens in the next book. As a fan of classic movies, I love the concept of this series! 

Book summary:

I finished this book on September 11 so it goes towards my 40 by 40 challenge.

Book Reviews 2017: Hidden Things

** All reviews on Randomness With Rachel are done on a five-star rating system. The reviews are solely my opinion and no one else's. Randomness With Rachel does not receive any incentives or compensations for reviews.**

Hidden Things by Andrea Boehshaar

I have no clue how this book ended up on my bookshelf. I don't remember buying it and I can't find a friend who admits that they loaned it to me.  Regardless how it ended up on my bookshelf, I'm glad it did. Evidently this is the second book in a series so I need to go and find book one. 

This was a heart-warming book to read. Yes, parts of it were kind of over the top "Focus on the Family" sugar-coated, but I would rather read that than some stuff printed in other books. It would be a good book for a book club (especially a book club with church members).

I feel the author did a great job with her writing. It kept me interested in the story. The book shows a woman who discovers that just because she's been in church her whole life doesn't mean she has all of life's answers (boy- I can relate to that!) 

It also shows that you have to rely on God even when your heart and mind are telling you something else. I see some other reviews complaining about unanswered questions but there is a book three so hopefully those questions will be answered. I do like how not everything was wrapped up perfectly in a bow at the end- that's not always how life goes. I look forward to the next book.

Book summary:

I finished this book on September 6, so it goes towards my 40 by 40 challenge.

Monday, October 16, 2017


The reasons why I didn't want to write this post were the EXACT reasons why I needed to write this post. If you are on social media, you might see a lot of friends posting "Me Too". I'm pretty sure everyone knows by now what it means (but for those not on social media, here is the explanation): "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

I hadn't planned on writing about this topic until I saw a post online about a friend being shamed for saying it: She was just wanting attention. If she didn't share the details of what happened, then that meant she was lying. Why hasn't she said anything earlier? I bet she's just posting it because all her friends are saying it and nothing even happened to her. Comments and questions like these are the reasons why more women DON'T speak up. So, to all my fellow brave friends who have posted it, I want you to know- Me too.

To the women who have had men tell you that they are "owed" something because they bought you a drink at a bar- Me too.

To the women who have been called ugly names after politely refusing a free drink at a bar- Me too. 

To the women who have found an unwanted hand on their thigh- Me too.

To the women who have been told crude comments about their looks- Me too.

To the women who have been accused of leading a man on (only meaning you were polite and talked to them) and then called horrible names when you denied any advances- Me too.

To the women who have been told, "relax, it was just a joke"- Me too.

To the women who have been told that you aren't worth it- Me too.

To the women who have received unsolicited photos of body parts via text or social media- Me too.

To the women who have asked someone to stop and were ignored- Me too.

To the women who are told if you just dressed sexier, you could get a man- Me too.

To the women who are told that the way you dress just means you are asking for something like that to happen to you- Me too.

To the women who are asked "Well, how much did you drink? How do yo know that you didn't agree to it?"- Me too.

Just because someone admits they have been assaulted or harassed doesn't mean that they owe you any details or an explanation. Just know- it happens. It happens more than you think. It happens to more friends and family members than you think. It's not something we want to talk about. If we want to share details, we will. Don't try and fix us- we aren't necessarily broken. If you want to fix anything, find a way to fix how women are treated so it doesn't happen to someone else.

As always, I love you all.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Mobile Monday

Last week I just couldn't bring myself to post anything. I have so many things I want to say about what is going on in this country and our world, but I have to formulate the words and get them down on paper (well, down on my blog). I'll post on that hopefully soon. I decided to give everyone a break from upsetting/sad posts, and give you a Mobile Monday (which is just a photo recap of what's been going on in the wonderful world of Rachel). Since I haven't posted in a few weeks, I have lots of photos to share.

Last Girls Night Out at the Ballpark for 2017

Dinner with friends

The four of us have been friends for 21 years!
Pinners Conference in Arlington (I had never heard of it either- click here for more info). We were able to meet famous scrapbooker Becky Higgins. She has her own line of scrapbooking materials. 

Trying to stay healthy in an office full of sick people

I had a great weekend with my bestie Zach. We went to the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon, a dinner with some friends from my church on Saturday night, and the Cowboys game on Sunday. Regardless of the outcome of the game, we always have fun going.

I wanted this book but couldn't buy it Saturday. Took a picture as a reminder to order it online at a later time. It looked interesting!
The bestie splurged and we got Club level seats. I'm officially spoiled.
Super comfortable, cushioned seats!

 Celebrating my friend Stan's birthday!

Hope everyone is doing well! Find something that makes you happy in life and focus on that!