the motherland.

It's hard to hear me talk for longer than roughly three minutes and not realize just how much I love being from Texas. I love it all. I live for the landscape and the flatness and the stars that are brighter than anything you've ever seen. I love the genuine nature of people and their hospitality, the twinkle in their eyes. I really love the food--the barbecue, the breakfast tacos, the beer.

I am completely unapologetic about my love for my roots, and you'll be reading a lot about that from me here.

John Steinbeck said it best: 
“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.” 
While this is in no way a complete list, here is a smattering of some of my favorite things to do back home (note: yes, I realize there are far cooler things than I have listed--this is based on my experience only, and only as recently as I've been back, so for some, it's been years. For a little more direction, hit up my ever-evolving Pinterest page).

::: Waco ::: 
my beloved hometown. the birthplace of Dr. Pepper. headquarters of Baylor University.

eat: if you're hankering for mexican, get the india and a meltdown margarita at ninfa's.
bbq? go for the gut pack at vitek's.
soup and sandwiches? olive branch is the way to go (my favs are the guacamole + turkey grilled cheese and the santa fe sandwich... they also have fabulous breakfast).
other solid breakfast options: breakfast burritos at jalisco's or leal's; chocolate chip pecan pancakes or gingerbread belgian waffles at cafe cappuccino.
for the quintessential greasy, indulgent Waco experience, go for a big 'o' (beer), fried pickles and chicken fried steak at george's.
and my personal favorite solo dessert is an oreo cyclone from katie's.

drink: an 1885 from dichotomy (espresso + dublin dr. pepper. amazing.), rodeo clown or milky way from common grounds.
get your beer fix at cricket's or dancing bear pub.

explore: trek across the historic suspension bridge. walk through the campus of my gorgeous alma mater (and marvel at mclane stadium). spend an hour or so at the dr. pepper museum. stroll through the mayborn and texas ranger hall of fame.

play: see what you can find at shops at river square, roots, and congress clothing.

::: Austin ::: 
capital city. eclectic, laidback and hip. rich in history and music, fantastic food, gorgeous landscape and awesome people.
*basically my favorite city in the world. nashville is a close second.

eat: for a nicer dinnertime feast, head to eddie v's or III forks (both chains. both divine.)
favorite breakfast or late night is at kerby lane.
greasy must-stops are franklin's bbq and hut's hamburgers.
favorite mexican is trudy's. and I love torchy's tacos.
for coffee, swing by halcyon, jo's or mozart's.

explore: walk through the university of texas campus. stop by the texas state history museum and the capitol building. dip into barton springs, or the deep eddy or hamilton pools. spend maybe an hour on sixth street--just to say you did it. rent a bike and peddle over the congress bridge (and maybe see the bats!). stay the st. cecilia and make me jealous forever (the heywood and san jose are adorable too).

play: spend your dedicated shopping time on south lamar and south congress--so many great boutiques. see what you can find at the domain! stop into the kendra scott flagship store (and stroll the rest of the walking mall, la encantada). catch a show at stubb's.

::: Dallas ::: 
traffic and great shopping. home of the Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars.

eat: coffee and carbs at breadwinners. pizza at cane rosso. amazing latin at la duni. italian at taverna. burgers at twisted root or village burger bar. anything and everything at eatzi's. and grab a sprinkles cupcake.

see: try to experience cowboys stadium somehow. go enjoy a picnic or walk through white rock lake. spend an afternoon at the art museum, bush library or perot museum. stroll through the arboretum or bishop arts district. make time to see dealey plaza and the JFK museum. scoop up fresh produce at the farmer's market. listen to live music in deep ellum. marvel at the pretty houses on swiss avenue. see a movie at the anjelika. gaze at the skyline! (I have a love/hate relationship with dallas, as my short-lived residency there was not awesome... but the city has one of the best skylines I've ever seen).

play: shop at north park and preston center.

::: Houston :::
biggest city in Texas... (and I do mean BIG). tons of culture, home to the Astros and Texans.

...still racking my brain for the best of the best. stay tuned.

::: San Antonio/Hill Country :::

*I'm not tremendously qualified to play tour guide for San Antone, as I haven't spent substantial time there in several years... so stay tuned. I'll ask around.

And if you're going to San Antonio before I update here, be sure you spend time at the Alamo.

::: Elsewhere :::
...stay tuned.