Formula for Fun

Michael, Allie, Betty and Dan at the Dallas Arboretum with a Christmas village backdrop.

What’s your formula for fun?

There are lots of ways to have fun, but here’s how we made fun on our recent trip to Dallas where we visited Michael and Allie. Perhaps my list will give you a new idea or two to make some fun of your own.

1. Eat Good Food.

Michael's smoker.

Good times often start with good food. Top winner in this category goes to the brisket Michael made in his new giant smoker. That thing is a beast, and Michael smoked a 13 pound brisket. He had purchased the smallest piece available from a, lucky-for-them, nearby butcher shop named Deep Cuts.

The brisket was fabulous. Were there leftovers? Well, four people, thirteen pounds, yes. Michael sent us home with a takeout package giving us enough for two more meals. With a swimming pool and a smoker, I’d say the party is at Michael and Allie’s!

Two plates of brisket with salad.
Leftovers never looked so good!

We also ate out a couple of times during our visit. We had an early meal, breakfast for some and lunch for others, at Old Wild West Cafe in Grapevine. It was very good, of course, but we liked that we could ride our bikes to the cafe from the campground. Cool!

On our last evening there, the four of us went to Napolis Italian Kitchen and Market. All our meals were delectable, and this one was right up there. We ended our ten day visit by sharing a meal at this quaint, charming cafe on the historic Main Street in Grapevine. We began our meal with an appetizer of Focaccia Bread drizzled with Balsamic.

Dan and I never had Focaccia Bread before, and, I don’t know if it was the atmosphere, the bread, the cold temps outside, or the fact that we were hungry , but that bread was out of this world! When I got home, I put this “Focaccia Bread” on my list of food to make at home. I’ve already bought some balsamic glaze from Aldi. So, if you know a good recipe, please help me out, and put it in the comments below.

2. Play Board Games.

After eating good food, next on the enjoyment scale for us is playing games. While Dan and I mostly play Scrabble, when with others we branch out to other games. We’re flexible like that. This trip, we played a number of new games, and we liked them all. A clever reader will decipher my unspecified, but clear rating system of the games. Perhaps you have heard of these or maybe even played them.

Michael and Allie

The Mind. This is a collaborative game where everyone tries to put a sequence of 100 numbers in order without talking. Given the nature of this task, some “mistakes” are programmed into the game rules, allowing the group to advance even when a number was added too soon or too late. I’m not sure we’ve ever played a collaborative game before, but we liked it. I would definitely play this game again.

Ticket to Ride. Well, I can’t help but think of the Beatles when this game was mentioned, but it has nothing to do with the Fab Four. Other than the fab title, that is. This is a longer, strategy game where one builds train routes and scores points. I enjoyed the game but felt the game could be sped up by allowing more than one “action” per turn. As someone who loves to travel though, I enjoyed playing on the map and picking my routes and cities. I would play this game again.

Michael and Allie looking at the Ticket to Ride game board.
Sometimes ya just gotta think.

Poetry for Neanderthals. This game was similar to Taboo (a real favorite of mine! Love, love, love Taboo!), but with one stipulation. Everything the clue giver says has to be only one syllable. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. I loved this game, and would most definitely play this game again. Me like game, ugh!

3. Try Something New.

Large projection screen with a Formula 1 race car on it in Michael and Allie's living room.

Here’s the part I mentioned in my last post – the part where I drove 170 miles per hour. While most of you probably guessed I didn’t really drive 170, y’all probably thought it was on a video game. But did you guess it was on a Formula 1 racetrack?

Yep! Michael has a setup in his office where he competes (virtually) in Formula 1 races. He has even raced with real Formula 1 drivers, and just a week or so before our visit, he and Allie went to the Formula 1 race in Austin. Yep, my son, Michael is a pretty cool dude.

I should have taken a picture of his setup, but it includes a Meta headset, a driver’s seat, a steering wheel, foot pedals for the gas, brake, clutch, rumble movement, and a large screen for those in the audience. Michael had Dan and I both try racing on the track in Austin. Dan gets motion sickness, so he could only race once, watch a bit, and, poor guy, could only go 75 miles per hour.

Yours truly, on the other hand, took advantage of those straightaways on the track and got my speed up past 170. I have to admit though, my success was on my third try after crashing on my first couple of attempts. It’s kind of funny, but I screamed and closed my eyes when I crashed. I wonder if I could go 180.

Another day during our visit, there was also a real Formula 1 race going on in Brazil. Michael showed it on his big screen, and it was fun to watch. It’s fun to see someone, especially your son, so excited about something. Apparently, lots of people are getting into Formula 1 racing. It’s really taking off in the U.S.! Ha Ha.

4. Do Something Physical.

So, what did we do when that 13 pound brisket was cooking? Well, we played another favorite game of mine – Pickleball! Michael and Allie are lucky enough to live not by one, but by two sets of Pickleball courts. Both are in walking distance from their home.

Now, between the lines in this post, you probably see the pride I have in my son. But, while Michael is a natural born athlete, Allie takes the prize in Pickleball. A former high school tennis star, she is a talented and skilled Pickleball player.

We mixed up the teams, so Dan and I wouldn’t get creamed every time. A good combination was Michael and I against Dan and Allie. The games were closest with this mix, but Allie did win every game. She delivers the returns in a nice, smooth line right over the net, placing the ball exactly where she wants. Usually just beyond my reach. This is the level of game I ascribe to achieve someday. Yea, I know I’m dreaming, but I can try, right? I look forward to more Pickleball with Michael and Allie.

5. Visit a Beautiful Place.

A tree covered in lights at the Dallas Arboretum.  The trunk and limbs are covered in white lights.

Our visit also coincided with the Dallas Arboretum‘s “Holiday at the Arboretum” which features the twelve days of Chistmas, the Christmas Village and the Dazzling Musical Tree. We got our tickets in advance, and we chose 6 p.m. for our entry time.

The night before was our coldest night since sometime last winter in Missouri, with wind gusts that chilled every bone. However, we were blessed from above, and our night at the Arboretum was cool but not uncomfortable at all. Add in the hot chocolate we had, and it was the perfect evening to view the holiday decor at a most beautiful place.

I took pictures of each of the twelve days of Christmas, thinking I’d post one a day during its time. However, the twelve days of Christmas starts on December 25 and ends on January 5th, the Feast of the Three Kings. But I think most are “done” with the holidays on January 1, so I wasn’t sure about this idea. I decided it’s probably best to share just a few here and keep the rest of the magic in my heart.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Two Turtle Doves
Three French Hens
Nine Ladies Dancing
Ladies, which dress would you wear?
Ten Lords A-Leaping
Ladies, is there a lord would you leap for?
Eight Maids A-Milking
Ladies, who here has milked a cow?
Not me.

As you can tell, we had a wonderful time in Dallas. We did a lot! Add in love and laughter to each of the above and it all adds up to a wonderful and fun time with family. Whatever the rating system, nothing tops that.

Seeing the “Holiday at the Arboretum” as well as the holiday decorations on Grapevine’s Main Street, has put me in the holiday spirit just in time as Thanksgiving approaches. The holidays always seem to go by so fast, so I better give you my wishes now.

I hope your holiday season, is just like our trip to Dallas, filled with good food, fun and laughter, the magic of the sparkling season, and the love of family and friends.

So, whether you celebrate the coming holiday season or not, Blessings to each and every one of you!

German candle pyramid.


  1. I loved this read, Betty! Your suggestions for enjoyable times are right on the money and the Christmas at the arboretum was a wonderful way to cap off your time in Dallas. We haven’t done anything Christmassy yet – not even any decorations, so the holiday spirit is a bit delayed here. Your post gave me a gentle nudge to start moving in that direction, so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you enjoyed this post, Terry! I normally do not put “Christmas” before “Thanksgiving,” but our trip coincided with “Holiday at the Arboretum.” And of course, I wanted to see the beautiful decorations. What I’m trying to say is you’re not behind at all – at least in my book. Our Christmas decor comes out right after Thanksgiving. I just got a little jump on the spirit. 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a delightful post, Betty! I’m so glad you and Dan had a fun trip and that you got to spend such fun times with your kids. The shots of the arboretum are amazing, and I’m going to try a couple of your games. Michael’s racing set up sounds extremely cool, but I would probably be hanging out with Dan and nursing my own motion sickness. Thanks for sharing your fun with us. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments. I hope you enjoy whatever games you choose. They were all fun! None of our kids live near us, so we want to make more memories than just the holidays. I hope the Hefner’s have a very Happy Thanksgiving, too!


  3. Wow! Great post, as always. We play Ticket To Ride and really enjoy it. (It goes much faster with just two people playing.) Thank you for sharing a few of the pictures from Holiday at the Arboretum. Those look amazing! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Charla! I did like Ticket To Ride. I just wanted to do more than one action each turn. 🙂 I liked picking my cities and routes; probably because I like looking at maps. And those little trains were so cute, but I told everyone they were really RVs. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too.


    • Oh, David – as smart as you are, I do think you figured it out. But.. you are too polite to say so. It was a wonderful visit. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That sounds so wonderful. I love good food and games time. I have similar games here and love playing with friends or family. We have a game called Trans Europe and Trans America where you build rail lines through Europe and America. I do love that one.
    Enjoy all these times! They are precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m late to the party but I’ve been reading and rereading. What a wonderful post and what a wonderful time you obviously had. Time with family is so precious. Hey, I do want to know what happened to Rummikub? Not even a favorable mention. Has it been shoved to the bottom of the game box? Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, you’re not late to the party. The party doesn’t start until YOU are there! Yes, time with our kids is very precious. Now, I have to sya, we forgot Rummikub at home. So, we did not have it in our travel trailer for the whole trip. We did miss it! When we were at Michael and Allie’s home, they suggested the other games. Rest assured, Rummikub remains a favorite.


  6. Such beautiful pictures in this post, Betty! A brisket from a smoker is definitely the way to go, so kudos on that having happened. The “Holiday at the Arboretum” looked like a really great exhibit to see. Glad you had a great time there. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I read in your posts about how much you like the game. I like to say the little trains are travel trailers. 🙂 It is very different from Scrabble but still very fun! Hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Dallas Arboretum is a beautiful place. I was only able to capture a small amount of the beauty. And we had such a beautiful evening, too. Thanks for your comment, and have a great Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. The older I get, the more I realize how precious it is that we can make wonderful memories. So, I am trying to do that more. I loved that German Christmas tree, too. So colorful! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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