Sunday, July 26, 2015

My final thoughts on Plano, TX

After spending 13 weeks in the city of Plano, Duane and I have both come up with opinions on what we thought of the city. First off, it's a great place. We met a ton of friendly people, the staff at the hospital welcomed me as one of their own right off the bat and it was a lot harder leaving that job than what I had expected. I could never thank the staff for how generous they were and how awesome it was to have friends at work.
There is a lot to do there and I felt quite safe while I was there. It was easy to feed my shopping addiction and Duane and I ate so much delicious food while we were in Texas. Duane and I were very impressed with the high quality Indian food that was available and also both got the chance to eat home cooked Indian food as well. Food = amazing.
We were also very lucky to get involved with Watermark Church while we were there. We listened to Francis Chan speak and were able to worship along with Shane and Shane. The messages were always powerful and relevant and definitely helped us to grow during this experience.
On the flipside, Plano was very commercialized. Unless you wanted to eat food that wasn't "American" then almost every place was a chain. There were very few mom and pop shops to learn to love and support. The lack of variety and individuality got old quickly and didn't make us want to hang around. Also, it's fairly flat in that portion of Texas so there wasn't much available in the realm of hiking/backpacking. We did a few fun things, like six flags and outlet shopping, but mostly we just worked.
So the verdict was, not for us. We enjoyed our time there but we were excited for a new adventure whenever that time came.
Cas

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Whoops

I got into a rhythm in Plano and it didn't include blogging. Unfortunately I was on call a lot during my last few weeks of my assignment which meant I had a lot of time and nothing to do. There just wasn't a lot going on as far as reportable or blog-able activities. I was also stressed about finding assignment #2 and trying to decide what to do during the interim time because I had a week off between my assignments. But now we are in week one of our second assignment (after several bumps along the road) and I feel like I can breath again. I'm ready to get settled into my new job and make some new friends along the way.
 
So just a heads up for upcoming topics...
-visit to my sister, bro-in-law and their adorable kiddos
-the Nashville detour
-many many hours in the car (yeesh)
-final thoughts on Plano, TX
-medical solutions and the ups and downs of travel nursing so far
-First impression of Madison, WI


The order might be moved around, some topics might be combined, but I hope to get everyone up-to-speed in the next week or so. Sorry about the hiatus.

-Cas

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A few things about Texas

#1 - Donut Shops. Everywhere. Not just your typical Dunkin' Donuts, Shipleys, Krispy Kreme, etc. Almost every single shopping strip has it's very own donut shop....I probably count 6 or 7 just on the way to my work. Most of them are mom and pop shops. Texan's must love donuts a lot!

#2 - It's not suppose to rain this much. This is more about our own journey than anything else but it has rained almost everyday since we have been here. It's crazy the amount of rain that has fallen since we have lived here (enough to fill the lakes and reservoirs). Partly it is really nice because it has helped keep away the HOT HOT Texas sun. It has been windy and lovely whenever the rain is stopped and we have tried to enjoy that time by doing exercising, checking out local parks and going to 6Flags over Texas. But it has been really annoying because it puts a damper on all the fun things we would love to do and just haven't gotten the chance to do yet.

#3 - Dr. Pepper. Texan's are proud of their state and the products it produces. Everywhere you go you can get Dr. Pepper.

#4 - It's beautiful. Especially with all the rain making things incredibly green and lush. Whoever designed the area around the apartment we live in did a great job incorporating green space in with the industrial stuff.

#5 - They are random fields next to highways that have horses and longhorns grazing about. It's like you're in the city and the country all at the same time.

#6 - There is so much incredible food here!! I have really enjoyed trying all new restaurants, all the time.

What else? Texas has been awesome and here in the next week or so, we will start looking for assignment numero dos. I'm excited, but sad at the same time. I really enjoy my coworkers. I have a new nickname "Big Casey." Kinda ironic I know. I got to play in the hospital kickball tournament (which was incredible btw). I feel like I'm starting to be part of a family at MCP and I'm not sure if I want it to end.

This blog kinda got away from me. I'm not sure where I was going with this on the sleepy Sunday morning.

-Cas

Saturday, May 16, 2015

For the Foodies

Hedary's Mediterranean Restaurant
We went to this wonderful restaurant a few weeks back on the recommendation of a coworker. It's an eclectic little family owned restaurant that is located in a converted house. I could tell it was a house because the ladies restroom had a bathtub in it. It felt cozy and the staff was so nice and welcoming, we were off to an excellent experience before the food ever arrived. We started with the Hummus and fresh Naan and we could have made a meal off of just that. It was incredible. So smooth and delicious with a twist we had never tried. I'm pretty sure they added some sort of pickled juice to the hummus. It made it beyond incredible.

For entree's, Duane had Grilled Kibbi and I had Chicken Kabob's. The Kibbi was like a super flavorful meatball/burger served with rice. The Kabob's were pretty traditional with veggies and chicken but it was cooked to perfection and seasoned perfectly. We left stuffed and happy, but now we have to go back because we didn't have space to fit in any Baklava. It was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone :)

Twisted Root

If you like a really excellent hamburger (with some interesting meat choices) and a fun atmosphere, I would definitely recommend Twisted Root. Their specialty is having different game meats as options for the burgers. The day we went, they had the option of buffalo or duck meat as a special choice, along with the traditional beef and turkey choices. I had a good ol' fashioned beef hamburger topped with the chipotle sauce, goat cheese, and bacon. It was divine. The messiest, most delicious burger I have had in a very long time. Duane was adventurous and got buffalo meat topped with onion rings, jalapeƱos, bacon and cheese. The buffalo meat was really good, kinda smoky flavored and leaner than the beef. I thoroughly enjoyed the burger and the sweet potato chips that came along with it.

To top it off, they brew their own root beer including special flavors. The flavor of the day was cream cheese root beer and it was delicious. I love root beer, especially the local brew variety. They also make their own pickles in various flavors like ranch, kool-aid, and the tradition and bread and butter chips. It was a super fun restaurant with great quality food and a fun vibe, including the fact that when we got our food, we also go a celebrity name to go by, we were Sean Connery.

Duane and I have had a lot of fun trying out new restaurants and asking locals what they prefer. It's such a fun way to get the feel for a city.

What are your favorite local eats?
-Cas

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Boulder Bands - A review

I have a tendency to constantly change my hair. Short then long, then chop it off again, dye it, grow it out, perm it, I've tried a lot of things. Whether my hair is short or long, I am usually on the look out for a good headband. One that doesn't hold moisture, can manage my thick, full hair, and that doesn't slide off my super slick head. I had heard about Boulder Bands and they have some pretty great reviews and testomonials on their website but I didn't want to put that much cash (about $14) into a headband for working out when I already had some that did a marginally ok job. Lo and behold, I got an email from Boulder Bands one day, a try it before you buy it deal. They sent me a free band, all I had to do was pay the shipping. I said why not right?

First off, the fit is excellent. It's nice and snug on my head, but not too tight where it would give me a headache. From the moment I first put it on, it felt very secure and didn't seem like it was going anywhere. The fabric is really smooth and also good for wicking moisture. So I tried it out a few different ways.

My first outing was a 2+ hour, about 4.5 miles, hike in Tennessee at Percy Warner Park. (Which by-the-way, was awesome). The Boulder Band performed admirably. I did have to adjust it one time when it had slid back, but in two plus hours that isn't bad performance at all in my book. Since then I have used it multiple times for jogging and have had great success! It stays in place without any issues. I would definitely recommend them if you are looking for a good headband for workout use.

I had planned on taking pictures with my band on...but it kept me delaying the blog so I decided to go ahead and post it. Also, I usually look far from "cute" before, during and after workouts. Love you guys, thanks for hanging with me.
-Cas

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Plano, TX

As always, I am a little bit behind on my blogging because we have been in Plano, TX for over 2 weeks now!?! It's crazy how fast time goes by. Some upcoming stuff to look forward to are restaurant reviews, my first time at an Indian Christian Church service, and a few non-Plano things like my review for Boulder Bands, "It Works" review, and another book review (the books being one of the reasons I'm so far behind with blogging, I've been sucked in).

It's a little nerve-racking having no control over where you are going to live and moving in site unseen. Duane and I were both pleasantly suprised at our accomadations. Our one bedroom is about the size of our first rental home as a married couple back when we lived in Statesboro, GA (for those of you who knew us back then). It feels pretty spacious even with the 3 of us stretched out. Meah is a happy pup to get to sit on our teeny-tiny veranda/porch.
Usually she isn't this awkward, I just couldn't help myself!
She's about the only thing that fits but it seems to suit her just fine. She's also happy to have made so many new doggy friends at the dog park which is right across the street! We couldn't have asked for much better placement than that. We also have a gym so Duane and I have enjoy that perk and feel a little less guilty about indugling when we try new restaurants.

The location is really great. Everything we could ever imagine in the way of stores/food is either 5minutes walking or 5minutes of driving from where we are. There's so many choices, it's hard to know what to try when. I am still enamored by the Super Target and all of the goodness it contains, it's just so big! It is really great to just be able to walk out the door and take a very pleasant stroll to Chipotle, Coldstone Creamery, or any number of other restaurants or shops that we've never heard of. Duane and I are overwhelmed with our choices of places that we can eat out and trying to find delicious choices that cater to our taste buds.

Not everything is peachy. We have the typical apartment issues, with it being smaller than what we are used to and having a dog that is playing hard with other dogs multiple times a week, the canine smells are a little overwhelming (gross). I'm constantly spraying febreeze, lighting candles and sprinkling baking soda to deal with it. Meah even got a shower the other day! Also, there is the noise of having neighbors that share walls and floor/ceilings and the fact that we live right over the parking garage and all of its noises. Just a little hiccup though, nothing that we can't handle.

-Cas

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Road Trippin' it

So this time last week we were still reeling, trying to recover from our trek across Tennessee and Arkansas to come along to Texas. All in all, we spent about 11 hours getting to Plano with the stops and fuel-ups and stretch/potty breaks. Duane and I were up at 4am to load up the last bits of the car and head out. The night before, there were still items to weed out because there was no more room in the cars (said buh-bye to the vacuum). We happened to live close to a 24hr Dunkin Donuts so we got our coffee and donuts around 4:45, Meah got her benadryl and we hit the road.

Meah's ready to go!
The thing I was most worried about was how Meah would do in the car for such a long time, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Of course I'm sure the benadryl helped, although it didn't make her sleep like I was hoping, it helped her to stay calm. After about an hour of being restless and occasionally whining, she settled down and enjoyed the scenery (it helped that the sun was coming up by then). Somehow we made it with two gas stops and a lunch break and that was it! I was impressed by the patience of Duane, Myself and Meah to make it through the long hours in the car.


As much as I wanted to take it slow and have more stops along the way, the office at our apartment complex had decided to close early because of Good Friday. I cannot blame them, but we didn't find out until we were crossing into Arkansas.

It was good that we left extra early, because we rolled into our complex at 4pm and they were about to lock the doors (we had called ahead to let them know we were coming). It was awesome that when we did arrive after our long day, the furniture, linens, dishes etc were already set up for us. We just brought up our basics and Duane's percussion equipment.

And who knew that there was a pyramid in Memphis?
-Cas