Favorite Places: Cornelius Nursery

Flower store
Just look at these beauties!

Lately my favorite place to be on a Saturday morning is the Cornelius Nursery near my apartment. Teddy and I drive to our favorite coffee shop and get our drinks to go — an (iced!) chai latte for me, an (iced!) caramel macchiato for him. The ice is very important, even if I always forget to specify and almost order a hot chai latte every time.

all the succulents!
All the succulents!

Then we drive back toward our apartment, but turn right as if we’re going to my office. But luckily we turn into the nursery parking lot instead.

It’s hot and humid (hello Texas!). My cup is sweating in my hand, I’m sweating, the people stocking fertilizer and potting soil are sweating. But every now and then you’ll pass an enormous fan and close your eyes, lingering in the breeze. Until the lady with a cart full of 20 identical plants needs to  pass you. (I don’t know why you would need 20 identical plants but there’s always someone.)

I found Neville's mimbulus mimbletonia
I found Neville’s mimbulus mimbletonia

But the best part is getting lost. We walk up and down the aisles, point at new plants we’ve never seen before, read labels to see if a plant will survive in our apartment. We talk about the plants we’ll have when we have a yard and more room to plant things — Teddy likes jungle plants, bonsai trees, and Japanese maples. I like roses and bougainvillea and anything that looks like it’d grow around a British cottage. Our yard will definitely not be boring!

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea

The other best part about the garden store is how it almost seems magical — like a small jungle full of plants that come from all over the world, in the middle of Houston. Once we saw a kitten weaving through the rose bushes like he’d done it a hundred times.

 

We keep walking around until we decide we’re too hot. We pay for any new plants we’ve picked up, hoping we’ll be able to keep them alive this time. After the 5 minute drive home we collapse on the couch and soak up all the air conditioning. And maybe take a nap.

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Favorite Places: Franklin Barbecue

 

Franklin Barbecue (Before)

 

Last weekend I went to Austin to try Franklin Barbecue, which is arguably the best barbecue in Texas. Which is a HUGE deal because if Texas is known for anything, it’s for cooking ridiculous amounts of brisket. Luckily our friend from Austin had been there before so he knew what to expect. But in case you’re in Austin and would like to try it out, here’s what you need to know:

 

  • Going to Franklin Barbecue is definitely an experience. It opens at 11 AM Tuesday-Sunday and closes after they’ve sold out of all of the meat they’ve smoked for the day. BUT it’s such a cult favorite in Austin that people start lining up at 7 or 8 in the morning — we got there at 8:15 on Sunday and the line was already into the parking lot. So if you like to spontaneously decide to pick up some barbecue, this isn’t the place to do it. (Luckily there are lots of other really good barbecue places in Austin to fulfill any sudden barbecue cravings.)

 

  • Come in a group. Since the lines are so long, it makes the experience much more fun if you go with friends. Plus, that way you can send one or two people to go pick up some Starbucks and breakfast tacos to tide you over until lunch.
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Favorite Places | Little Dickens

Is anybody else confused about what’s going on with independent bookstores? It seems like everyone is talking about how they’re surviving with the e-book and Amazon boom, but no one can decide whether they’re going to die out or not. Personally, I hope that Chuck Wendig is right, and that indie bookstores will thrive in the post-Amazon market — by doing more than just selling books. My favorite bookstores are the ones that are a little quirky, have a killer selection of books, and are really tuned into the community around them. But I might be a little spoiled, because I grew up with a fantastic bookstore practically across the street from my high school.

 

Little Dickens

 

This bookstore is definitely quirky – it has two names (Little Dickens and Givens Books) and some of the most unusual decor I’ve ever seen. It really hasn’t changed much since I was in elementary school, and it has definitely carved out a niche in the community. It has a permanent spot on my must-visit list whenever I go back to Lynchburg.

 

 

Little DIckens_Robot

 

This is probably the most kid-friendly bookstore I’ve ever visited. There’s more than enough grown-up books for the parents to look at, but half the store is full of books and toys to keep the kiddos entertained. It’s so fun! And they also have the largest selection of teaching supplies in Lynchburg, which is great if you’re a teacher — or a teacher’s kid. Whenever my Mom would go shopping for teacher stuff I’d have an excuse to go book-shopping.

 

Little Dickens_4

 

There are reading nooks with comfy armchairs scattered throughout the store, although it’s almost impossible to get a spot by the fireplace — I really lucked out the day I was here. Also, I love that there are Christmas presents stacked around the portrait of Edgar Allen Poe.

There’s also a great cafe called the Drowsy Poet in the back of the store. There are sandwiches named after famous authors and novels and yummy baked goods, but my favorite thing to get is the Milton milkshake – a coffee cinnamon milkshake that is to die for. I crave it, and I was so excited when I found out that Starbucks’ Cinnamon Dolce Latte is basically the perfect doppelganger. So even if I’m not in Lynchburg, I can get a Milton – minus the ice cream.

 

The photos don’t really do Little Dickens justice (I managed to snap a few on a last minute Christmas shopping trip when I was in town), but it is the most colorful, wacky, fun bookstore ever. Now whenever I visit a new place I always seek out the independent bookstores (for the record, Nicole’s Literary City Guides are my secret weapon for finding new bookstores, restaurants, cafes, even libraries). I’ve found one or two favorite indie bookstores in Houston that I love, so I might have to write about them sometime soon. As long as I don’t get chased out of the store for taking pictures – one store has a very strict no-photo policies. So we’ll see!

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