A Look Inside Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill

Hi all!  I’ve decided to go ahead and review another restaurant.  Once a month seems like a good number for the moment.  Today, we’re going to look at one of Dallas’s seafood joints, Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill.  There are a number of locations for Half Shells under a couple of different names (see their website for the one nearest you), but I’m lucky enough to be near the original in Snider Plaza (across Hillcrest Ave from SMU, next to Kuby’s).

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Borrowed from the website above.

Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill – Snider Plaza
6617 Snider Plaza
Dallas, TX 75205

First off, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

 Accessibility-wise, this place is a bit of a tight squeeze, but if you can get in when it’s not too busy and can snag a table by the door, it’s perfect.  The table height is mid-normal, which is great for me.  There’s also outside seating (again, tight but not impossible).  My biggest problem with the outdoor tables are that they have a lip underneath, so I can’t pull up to them properly (my knees are too high).  Personally, I don’t mind putting the plate in my lap, so I can make it work.

Next up, service.  The service at Half Shells is almost always good.  In all the times I’ve been, I think a waiter ignored my existence once and only until he realized I was capable of speech.  There was one rude hostess who caused us to leave, but that was an unusual experience.  Otherwise, they’re usually very good about not bringing things out too fast or rushing.  Some are better than others about keeping up with drinks, but the food makes up for it.

Speaking of food, when Dad, a friend, and I went last Thursday, we had blue point oysters and crab bisque to start.  Delicious!  If you like oysters on the half shell and they have blue points (a special usually), it’s worth it.  The bisque was amazing as well.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but there are pictures of the entrées.

Half Shells has twice daily specials (lunch and dinner).  Dad and I usually order off the board, but the things I’ve had from the menu are equally as good.  They have one of the best selections of fish we’ve been able to find in Dallas because of the specials.  This time, I got the trout special, Dad had red snapper, and Sarah (the friend who didn’t warn us she was now vegan) had french fries.

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Dad’s salad, asparagus, and snapper. My green beans, mashed potatoes, and trout.
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The lovely Sarah and her waffle fries.

  As always, the food was superb.  I don’t think we’ve ever run across a bad entrée here.

Dessert is a little less than thrilling.  They have it listed on another specials board, so a few things usually change.  It’s always been good, especially when they have one of their berry cobblers (divine!), but otherwise it’s pretty ordinary.  Dad got a chocolate cherry mousse cake and I got a pecan cobbler (they didn’t have anything vegan for dessert).  Both were good, but definitely not the highlight of the meal.

Price:  It’s seafood in Dallas.  In other words, a little pricy, but for the quality and selection of the fish, totally worth it.

Overall rating:
MMMM

A Day in the Life

Hello all!  So, I was chatting with the beautiful Danielle Rose, trying to come up with a topic for this week’s post.  She suggested I talk about my routine a little more, even going as far as telling you about my usual day.  In other words, blame her for this.

Graduation selfie with the culprit
Graduation selfie with the culprit

Honestly, today (Tuesday, March 17, 2015) was really hard writing-wise, so I suppose it’s as good a day as any to use.  My daily routine always starts with the hour and a half+ long process of getting out of bed and into a presentable state.  I won’t bore you with the details.  Anyway, I’m usually up and active by 1:30 or so.

At this point, I usually putz around on Facebook and check my personal email and all that fun stuff, or I work on a crossword puzzle.  Today I did all of the above.  I also started playing that stupid trivia game that’s so popular right now.  Trivia Crack?  Whatever.  It’s basically multiple choice Trivial Pursuit.  So, that also took up some time before breakfast.

lesion-clipart-39056-clipart-illustration-of-a-stack-of-five-square-waffles-garnished-with-whipped-cream-maple-syrup-and-berries_450Again, I eat food instead of modeling it.  Breakfast is usually about an hour, and it’s TV time #1 of my day.  Afterwards (around 3:00, 3:30), it’s supposed to be time to work.  Some days go better than others.  Today was not one of those days.

I stared at the page for a few minutes, then said screw it, and gave myself until 4:30 to work on the crossword (that was less than half an hour).  Then I stared at WordPress for a while.  Sometimes, if I write the blog post first, it gets me in my writing rhythm.  That didn’t work.  So, I read through the last chapter I had written, all the way to the point where I had stopped.  Again, this is a technique to get the writing juices flowing.

creativejuices1It kind of worked.  I got down a couple of hundred words, then remembered that I hadn’t posted on my social media author profiles.  I gave myself ten minutes to find something and get it shared, then back to writing.  I got another hundred words down, then took another five minutes break.

Normally, I’m done with my words around 6:00.  Today, dinner rolled around (7:30ish) and I still wasn’t done.  I took the hour break and instead of hanging around for the usual couple of hours of TV, I went back to work.

That was when I hit my stride.  Granted, I ended the day with only 905 words on the novel (it’s over my 900 words goal, so it counts) around 9:30, but I did it.  Then, I came here to write this post (another ~500 words)!

The point is, it took me for-freakin’-ever, but I didn’t give up.  I set my goals and I met them.  You can do it too!  Even with unplanned for distractions last week (babysitting), I managed to meet my goals.  It helps to have people who support you and help you out.  It also helps that I have nothing else to do.  However, look at all the breaks I took!  Maybe writing can be done when you’re avoiding your responsibilities (we all do it, it’s okay).  Take a break, write some words, have fun!

Top 5 Distractions and How Not to Avoid Them

 Welcome!  Last time, I talked a little about creating a writing schedule, so I thought I would discuss distractions a bit.  Now, I know people who swear by eliminating ALL distractions, even if that means cutting off all those fancy electronics they’ve collected over the years.  I’m not one of them.  Personally, I believe in indulging those procrastination itches in moderation.

displayI’m going to go through the top five instances of procrastination (and yes, realizing that that’s what they are is half the battle) I face or hear about , so I can show you what I mean by “moderation.”

1.  Let’s start with the hardest one: Social Media.  Who really goes more than half an hour without checking the Book of Faces or Tweeter or whatever social site is hot that week?  It’s damn near impossible.  I know.  I get those urges, even when I know I’m supposed to be writing.  I don’t suggest going cold turkey.  If you’re anything like me, ignoring the urge only makes you fixate more.  I moderate things by only allowing myself a five minute break when I hit a lull in writing.  Even then, I limit myself to checking my professional accounts or my writing group.  Otherwise, I’d get sucked down the rabbit hole.

down-the-rabbit-hole 2.  The most annoying of all: Calls/texts.  It’s not annoying because of the people (unless they know it’s your writing time and do it anyway), but because we have this weird desire to know who did what when.  Personally, I keep my phone in sight.  I allow myself that half-second glance to see if it’s important.  If it is (it rarely ever is), I respond.  If it’s not, I write on, assured in my knowledge that I’m not missing anything important (aka everyone I know is safe and nothing life-threatening is happening)!

3. Music.  I classify this as a distraction because many people think it is.  I allow it to play while I work.  Once I get into a scene, nothing can really pull me out of it.  If you’re the type to get easily distracted by music, but still want to listen while writing, I suggest instrumentals or something in a language you don’t speak.  That way, you’re less inclined to sing along and lose focus.

GTGKW4. TV Shows.  I rarely get this urge, but I know it pesters a lot of people.  When it does strike during writing hours (or bursts or however you write), if I’m in a lull (always wait for a lull), I let myself look at the episode description and remind myself that watching that episode will be my reward when I’m done doing productive things.

5.  Food and drink breaks.  A lot of people I know sit down to write and are suddenly overwhelmed with hunger or thirst.  Lies!  It’s just your brain saying “Waah… I don’t know what to write.”  My advice, keep a drink with you and keep snacks in your writing area.  My chocolate and Pocky stashes are on my desk.  Pick something bitesized and keep it nearby.

I guess what all this is meant to convey is that you don’t need to eliminate distractions.  In my experience, it’s better to acknowledge and moderate them.  All work and no play makes work freakin’ unbearable.  Just make sure to limit yourself so you still get your work done!

Schedules vs. Spontaneity

Hello all!  Today, I want to talk about having a schedule vs. being spontaneous when writing.  I chose this topic because I hear a lot of people complain about not having time to write or not being able to find the words when they do have the time.  I’ve also found that, more often than not, these people don’t have a writing schedule.  Some people can make the whole spontaneous writing lifestyle work, many can’t.  That’s okay!

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Personally, I have a schedule that has some spontaneity built into it.  I write five days a week.  Never on Sunday.  That extra day off, I decide based on 1) whether I have anything to do during that week that will require a day off, or 2) how I feel any given day.  I tend to try to save that day for later in the week, even Saturday if I feel like it.  That’s where the spontaneity fits into my writing schedule.

Now, I’m lucky in a lot of ways because I don’t have a full schedule in the first place, so my life can revolve around my writing.  Many aren’t so lucky.  However, while they’re complaining about not having time to write, they’re surfing Facebook or watching Netflix or any other number of entertainment tasks.  Yes, entertainment is important.  You need time to relax, which is why taking days off is important, but if you can binge watch your favorite show on Netflix, then you can schedule some writing time!

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 For a long time, I was a spontaneous writer.  I used every excuse in the book to avoid writing, including that the Muse is a fickle bitch (an excuse I hear repeatedly).  I admit, even after two years on a schedule, I still have days where it’s hard to get started.  In the beginning, I spent more days free writing than actually working on specific projects, but even that kind of writing was productive.  From that, I can now say I have four ideas for future novels.  And now that I’m on a schedule, when I sit down to write, it’s much easier to actually do the writing (even on difficult days).  Writing, like anything else, becomes a habit if you do it enough.  You just have to train your brain into thinking “oh, hey, this is when we write.”  Yes, you will have crappy days, but craptastic words can be edited into something magnificent, zero words can’t!

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I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time finding time to write, take a good look at your daily schedule.  Yeah, you might have to DVR that episode of Bones and watch it on your day off, but BOOM!  There’s an hour for writing.  Going to play that video game for fifteen minutes?  Wait until your day off and surprise!  (If you’re anything like I used to be when gaming, fifteen minutes = three hours) You have three hours to write!  Yes, it’s hard.  Especially nowadays, when instant gratification is so easy to achieve.  But if you can stand to put off the entertainment for even a little while, you can make your own writing schedule.  It seriously helps.  Go on.  Try it.