2016 Texas State Fair

2016 Texas State Fair

Nathan and I enjoyed another trip to the Texas State Fair!

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Up first was the fried chicken and dumplings. It’s funny, I don’t know how they decide new foods to fry, but it always amazes me. This was pretty tasty, but I probably won’t get it again next year. The little brown nuggets on the side are baked biscuits.

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Up next was the fried chicken pot pie, which actually ended up being my favorite of the new fried foods this year. On the side is some little mac and cheese dish with crackers on it. I’ll definitely get this one again.

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After a few samples, we met Kilgo, her parents and Ash. They joined us for the rest of the day.

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This was the fried frito pie, good in theory, but, eh… not great. Too greasy. I wouldn’t waste time on this one again.

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Kilgo was really excited about the Injectable Great Balls of BBQ. Inside was really good BBQ and you used that little plastic ‘mini-turkey baster’ to inject sauce in it.

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Below, to the left, are the fried olives. I’m not a fan of olives, so I didn’t try them. On the right, I made Nathan stand next to this sign for Nathan’s Hot Dogs… since his name in Nathan. 🙂

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Below, to the left, is the fried pecan pie – YES. It was very rich, so you have to share it, but it was awesome. To the right – chicken fried bacon – YES. You only live once, right?

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Kelly’s dad had her get the fried BBQ bologna sandwich and as you can tell from her face, she took one bite and that was one too many.

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Nathan is a big fan of fried okra, he said these were good, but they really need a sauce to dip in.

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These curly fries were amazing!

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Right after I took a pic of the curly fries, I spilled them all over my shirt and in my purse. So, if you look really closely, on the bottom right corner of my shirt below, you can see ketchup. Aside from the stain though, this is a great group pic.

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I’m really scared of rides, but, I put on a brave face and we went on the swing one. It was pretty fun, but next time, I probably shouldn’t do it with a belly full of fried food.

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After the ride, we watched a really cute pet show that had dogs, cats, birds and even pigs to tricks. Nathan’s final food item of the day was a classic funnel cake, which was his favorite. I ended with one of my very favorite foods – corn on the cob.

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All in all, we were successful!

Skiing in Ruidoso

Skiing in Ruidoso

Last week Nathan and I went on a week-long ski trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico with his parents. They rented a great 3-story cabin that had an awesome deck.

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Our first winter adventure was to Ruidoso Winter Park to go tubing.

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Nathan and Gary were brave and went on the fast runs while Suzanne and I stuck to the beginner ones. Needless to say, we were still scared.

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It was so much fun and a good ‘warm up’ to hitting the slopes.

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For our first real ski day (at Ski Apache) Nathan, Gary and I took a group ski lesson. We all decided that we didn’t know anything about skiing and would let a professional help us.

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After learning all of the tricks of the trade, we were ready to hit the slopes!

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Total, we skiied for 3 days. I’m hooked!

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Here I am zooming down the mountain… I wonder if I’ll be ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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We also stopped at Lake Bonito one day.

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The weather was incredible. During the day it ranged from the 50ºs to high 60ºs. Nathan’s parents brought two of their dogs with them and we took Buster and Scout on several long walks.

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We had such a blast last week and I’m really looking forward to the next time I can hit the slopes!

A Christmas to Remember

A Christmas to Remember

This year’s Christmas was pretty interesting to say the least. The original game plan was for the four Cochrans to spend Christmas with Grandma in Kalamazoo. I was going to fly from DFW to Grand Rapids and J4 would drive up from Houston while Mom and Dad would drive up from Troy, AL.

For health reasons, Mom and Dad were unable to make the drive to Michigan. It was very weird to think that we wouldn’t be spending Christmas with them, but at least we all got to spend Thanksgiving together. See my blog post on Thanksgiving here.

I was originally going to fly to Michigan with Chloe at 3pm on Wednesday. That didn’t happen. We waited in the airport for 8+ hours to finally be told our flight was cancelled. I will say, I was very impressed that DFW Airport now has dog bathrooms. We went about 3 times and I know Chloe was thankful for that. Because the flight cancellation was a mechanical issue, American Airlines gave me several food vouchers and put me up in a nearby hotel, which was nice. What wasn’t nice was that I didn’t get my luggage back for my new unexpected overnight trip.

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The next morning Chloe and I caught a 6:00 AM shuttle bus back to the airport and were able to catch the DFW to Chicago and Chicago to Kalamazoo flight.

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After a long two days of travel, I was so glad to be in Kalamazoo and see Grandma at the airport. She met me by the baggage claim area. We waited for my luggage. And waited. And waited. And then I found out my luggage went to Grand Rapids, not Kalamazoo. I was in desperate need of fresh clothes so then proceeded to wear a combination of clothes donated to me by John 4 and Grandma.

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Since it was just the three of us, we kept Christmas Eve very low-key. For dinner we had crackers with brie, wings and my favorite cauliflower recipe.

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Christmas was lovely. We all are very blessed and thankful for the friends, family and opportunities that we all have.

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Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit and Kringle from Aunt Shirley. For the last several years Shirley has provided us with the best Kringle. It’s so good.

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Christmas dinner ended up being rather low-key as well. Our cousins Will and Sue came over for Papa Murphy’s pizza.

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On Saturday night the three of us met another cousin, Michael, for dinner followed by Forever Plaid. This was my fourth time to see Forever Plaid and I just love the music. It’s very cute.

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One of the things that we’ve been meaning to do was to go through and document all of the treasures Grandma has collected over the years and write down what country everything is from.

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Here are some of the cool things she has:

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An original painting from Siberia and a wooden carved walking stick from China.

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An elephant drum from Thailand and prayer wheel from Tibet.

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A boomerang from Australia and a handmade clay jug from New Zealand.

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Other treasures in her house include:

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Sunday night I was supposed to fly back to DFW from Grand Rapids. After waiting several hours in that airport, my flight was cancelled. Big surprise. The next flight to Texas wouldn’t have been until Tuesday night… and there was an ice storm coming so more than likely, that would be cancelled as well. What a pickle.

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J4 and Grandma were originally planning on driving to Troy, AL on Monday to see my parents. Since I didn’t want to risk staying in Michigan and possibly having another flight on Tuesday get cancelled, I checked to see what flights were available Tuesday morning out of Montgomery, AL. Low and behold, they had multiple options so John and Grandma picked me back up from the airport late Sunday night and the plan was for me to join them in the 17 hour car ride the next day. Please note, the picture below was taken of Grandma at about 11:30pm. I asked her if she had started packing yet for our 6:30am departure and she laughed and said, “no, I’m doing my nails now” to which I replied, “don’t rush into it” and of course, we laughed.

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After driving 852 miles, half of which was in the rain, we finally made it to Troy, AL.

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My flight was early the next morning, but it was really nice to get to see my parents for a few hours. Although this isn’t the house I grew up in, it’s still home.

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2015 was really good to me and I’m excited to see what this new year brings my way. Whatever it is, I’m ready.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

For the last couple of years our family has spent Thanksgiving at homes we’ve found on VBRO.com. It has worked out really well and we’ve had a blast each year.

We stayed in a cute house near Gun Barrel City, TX that sat on a huge canal. The house had hard wood floors throughout, a large living room and 3+ bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms.

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Chloe loved looking out the window at the blonde squirrel that lived in the backyard. Please note, she is wearing her fishing jacket and yes, that is a fish in her pocket.

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We ate so well – for breakfast one morning we had Aunt Shirley’s coffee cake. She wasn’t able to make it, but we made her recipe in her honor.

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The weather was pretty terrible, so we took full advantage of being lazy and catching up on sleep.

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Clare was able to join us for the entire break and we had a great time playing games and watching one of the best Academy Award winning movies ever – Death Becomes Her.

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Mom made most of the side dishes (with Clare’s help) and Dad took care of the turkey. J4 was in-charge of taste testing everything before it actually got to the table. I made a mean buttermilk pie (my fav).

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We had the normal side dishes – green beans, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, mom’s white bread stuffing and mashed potatoes.

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We ate around 2:30 and then pretty much took it easy for the rest of the day.

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I think this is pretty common now-a-days – but it is kinda’ funny (and sad) to look up and see everyone (myself included) on their phone and/or tablet. But it’s the world we live in.

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Nathan and Freddie joined us on Friday and Saturday. We were originally going to play golf, but the weather was too terrible to do anything outside. Freddie was just as happy though looking out the window keeping an eye on things.

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We are a big games family and all pretty competitive. “If you aint’ first, your last.” We played a lot of Apples to Apples, Spoons, Scrabble and cards.

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What’s a family get-together without some family portraits, right?

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And of course, we had to do the awkward prom photo.

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And end on a relatively normal pose. 🙂

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Even though the true history of Thanksgiving isn’t as peachy as what we were taught in schools, it is really nice to spend a few days with the family, especially since none of us live close by.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

An Austin Getaway

An Austin Getaway

While I worked for the Texas Golf Association/Legends Junior Tour, I was fortunate enough to meet some really special people and one of those was junior golfer James Ragan. James was a young man from Corpus Christi who played on our Junior Tour and when he was 13 was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The five-year survival rate for this orphan of an orphan cancer is 20 percent. During his life James founded Triumph Over Kid Cancer and brought awareness to osteosarcoma, which it desperately needs. To date, TOKC has raised over $3 million for cancer research at MD Anderson. James’ family – his mom, dad and sister Mecklin – are unlike any family I’ve ever met. I don’t think I could ever write words to accurately describe this family. James lost his battle to cancer in February of 2014 but during his last year Geraldine Meadows and Jamila Rowell began filming a documentary about his life. It’s been several years in the making, but Until 20 had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival. Mecklin was kind enough to invite me two of my old co-workers to the premiere. Since Nathan’s sister recently moved to Austin, we had been talking about going for a weekend anyway, so this ended up being a great time to take our trip to Austin.

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The premiere was full of a lot of emotions – for everyone. The Paramount Theater was packed and I’m sure everyone there had some special connection to James. Behind us in line was his 6th grade teacher and she pointed out several other of his teachers. Kellen and I also saw several other LJT golfers/alums who also grew close to James. Below is the trailer for Until 20. This film was incredibly well done and after the AFF, this will be showing at the Virginia Film Festival as well.

After dinner, Nathan and I walked next door to the Roaring Fork. OMG. Their food was amazing. The next day was our tourist day. Nathan went to the University of Texas so spent several years living in Austin and since I’ve only ever been to the city for work, I was really excited for him to show me around. We walked around campus…

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stumbled upon a small Halloween festival…

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And found a fun little food truck park.

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Nathan is a huge pasta man and more specifically he loves his beef stroganoff. We met his parents, Kate and Louis for dinner at Carmelo’s – which was ah-mazing! We had an awesome dinner and yes, I’m the weirdo that takes home everyone’s leftovers. So good!

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Sunday morning we had brunch by Kate’s place and then met her and Louis at the TMBBQ Fest. Y’all. You know I love to eat and even though I was already full from the previous couple of days, I powered through and ate several really good samples. We had a blast and couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

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The past week was so busy for us – opening night of Kinky Boots in Fort Worth with my musical partner in crime Cat…

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a scary haunted house with his cousin Lee…

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a TCU game with Lee and his wife Blair…

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and a jam-packed weekend in Austin. Phew! I’m exhausted but can’t wait to go back!

A Saturday at the State Fair of Texas

A Saturday at the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas isn’t necessarily something I need to attend every year, but certainly every few years. For those who don’t live in this great state, this fair is known world-wide as one of the highest attended and best state fairs in the country. In fact, it has taken place every year since 1886 except for a few years during World War I and World War II.

The State Fair of Texas is also know for it’s food. Below is literally the most turkey legs I’ve ever seen in one place in my whole life. Insane.

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While we were there we walked around the Auto Show, saw some African Acrobats and watched the Dog Show. The Dog Show was actually really entertaining and one of the dogs actually did backflips.

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One of the biggest attractions (Oprah even did an episode on it) is all the fried foods. It’s become a huge competition between the vendors to have the most creative and tasty fried foods. Here is a link to several past winners. We both agreed the fried spaghetti and meatball was the best.

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Along with the fried bacon (below) we tasted fried alligator balls and fried frito pie. Previously, I’ve tried the fried chicken and waffle on a stick, fried pizza, fried cookie dough and fried oreos. While it may sound like we were total fat-asses, believe it or not but the portions are actually pretty small, especially when you split everything. Which we did, of course.

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We also walked around and saw some of the livestock. This picture doesn’t do justice to how massive this hog was.

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Neither of us really drink beer but there was a beer garden in the Cotton Bowl, so we decided that might be a good place for a photo op.

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I’ve told Nathan many times that “I’m not a ride person” but of course, being at the Fair, it only makes sense to go on a ride. The famous Ferris Wheel had too long of a line so we saw the Pirate Ride. From afar, this ride didn’t look very scary but now that I’ve survived it, I don’t need to do that one again. I know it’s stupid, but I hate the feeling of my stomach going up in my throat… I feel like I can’t breathe. So while everyone else on the ride quietly enjoyed it, I had my head buried in Nathan’s shoulder, small tears streaming down my face, laughing and screaming “Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!” all at the same time.

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Of course, we had to see Big Tex. Big Tex has become the cultural ambassador to visitors at the Fair and a cultural icon in Dallas.

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We had a blast and especially for those who aren’t from the DFW area, mark your calendars for the State Fair of Texas for next year. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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