Mamma Mia Match & Tea Day

I want to say it started with the new movie Mamma Mia 2 coming out, but it probably started with the pants. A while ago, I was helping my mom shop at one of her favorite stores and couldn’t keep my eyes off a certain pair of fun, vibrant pants. After trying them on, I realized my mom had also spotted them. We both loved these pants.

Is it okay to buy the same pants as your mom? My mom has always been young at heart, but had my style officially aged a couple decades? Were we both going to buy and wear the same pants? Spoiler alert, yes! Not only that, hell, we were going to both wear them on a mother-daughter day outing. And what else is there to do but go see the new Mamma Mia sequel that’s all about these mom-daughter relationships! Why not, we’re both just crazy enough to do it.

So this isn’t a film review, but the movie is pretty great – better than I expected. My parents, both theater majors, raised me to love musicals. I don’t think you have to love musicals to like this movie – the cast is great, it’s all Abba songs, which are great, and it’s just a lot of fun!

After the movie, I took my mom to a tea shop in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, called Potpourri of Silk. I knew my mom would love it, and it was really nice! We shared a pot of hibiscus green tea and caught each other up on all the gossip in our lives.

Since we were in the area, we decided to walk around the area to explore all the shops. Bishop Arts seems to have something new every time I’m out there! They have a new adventure store, AJ Vagabonds that I fell in love with, as well as another new coffee stop, Serve.

Of course, with the Texas heat, we didn’t stay out too long but it was a great afternoon! We got a couple of looks in our matching outfits, but that kind of just made it better. As I grow older, I’m realizing I have no shame – thanks, mom!

Katie Jackson Park trail review

As most of you know by now, I love finding hidden nature trails in the city!

Living in Dallas, it’s not exactly easy finding nature escapes where I can’t actually hear the traffic. To be honest, most hiking trails in my area you can always see at least a building. But we have our big nature centers luckily – and we have some hidden gems in our suburbs!

I found out after the fact that the Katie Jackson Trail is prime for “off road” bicycling but this made for a pretty great hiking trail as well! This trail was great for its zero foot-traffic. I hiked on a Friday morning with my friend Lola and we spotted no one else our entire time on the trail.

This trail is split into North and South sections, but other than that uninformative guidance, I cannot tell you how it’s laid out. Lola and I even got lost for a good twenty minutes! We really could’ve used a bit more maps or even less left-or-right options. But I will say the trails were well-marked and there was no chance of wandering off the path.

Because this trail is mostly a biking trail, there are a lot of great dips and inclines scattered throughout which I enjoyed. It’s easy to find a flat walking surface and so much harder to find a trail with some variety!

We were nestled in the middle of a North Dallas suburb so there was definitely evidence of people. Quite a bit of trash and even in one area a very clear teenage hangout. Someone had built a wooden loft and brought out a couple of lawn chairs to have a little break mid-trail. Lola and I thought this was hilarious – but also probably very cool for the local kids to have their own secret hangout.

Of course, the last upside I’ll leave you with was the beautiful views! This trail meets a creek a couple of times, offering a nice view every now and then. Plus, there’s one section with a big field which offers lost of different wildlife and nature to explore.

I will definitely be checking this trail out again – it’s probably great in Spring!

Rest, Remember, Relax, Reflect

As I approach my blog’s one year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a week-long break from blogging, social media, and even -gasp- adventure. I think R&R is super important, and I think R&R&R&R is something I’m in very much need of. I want to take this break for the classic rest and relaxation, but I also want to spend much of it reflecting and remembering my previous year of experiences.

A lot of the time, I find myself thinking of the future. Planning and researching and wondering, “What next?” It’s been so much fun tackling things on my bucket list and making new goals. But I also think I haven’t had too much time for a breath and I definitely haven’t taken an entire week off!

As I’m about to take my first week off (I’ll miss you guys!), I’ll tell you five ways I’ll be spending it. Instead of the planning, scheduling, list-making, writing, picture-taking, etc, here are my main goals for this upcoming break:

  1. Being Lazy in Bed
    I’m not super into TV, but there are a couple of shows I love keeping up with. I don’t like having the pressure of a weekly show, but I know there’s a couple of seasons on Netflix I’ve been meaning to mindlessly binge.
    There’s also definitely some reading I need to catch up on! I’ve been so busy this year I had to adjust my yearly goal from fifty to thirty, but I’m excited to lounge around and enjoy one of my favorite hobbies that doesn’t make me go, go, go.
  2. Cleaning, Tidying
    I just did a huge clean-out of everything in my house, which was a major two-week undertaking, so I’m glad I can spend some time in my space doing the smaller chores I enjoy. I’m talking a couple of dishes here, a load of laundry there, maybe even some light sweeping.
    I really love cleaning, but also just the simple tidying up (like making the bed). Having a clean home puts my mind at ease. And when I need to meditate on things, I find this easiest to do when my hands are mindlessly busy.
  3. Doing “Nothing” with Those I Care About
    As a pretty social creature, I don’t want to completely shut myself off from those I care about. I just think I want to spend time doing more of “nothing” than having a real activity. I’m always interested in trying new things or creating unique get-togethers, but for this week I want to try and not chase having the new experience.
    They can join me on my couch! Or we can have a meal at a dumb chain restuarant – haha! Board games are always a classic. Anything that’s old and familiar and doesn’t require any plan.
  4. Projects that Have Been on Hold
    I am so big into DIYing and making stuff, but I have put a lot of stuff on hold recently. My creative endeavors list is massive as other projects take my interest or traveling has taken my time. I have at least three items on this list that I’ve promised to make for other people – haha!
    I’m so excited to get a chance to be creative in this hands-on way. Art has always meant a lot to me, so I’m ready to get my watercolors out, get the supplies I’ve bought months ago for certain projects, and spend some time making stuff.
  5. Hiking just for Me
    Recently a lot of my local hikes have been at new places so I can explore new trails. Don’t get me wrong, this has been such a fun experience and it’s great discovering new places to love. But because I’ve been pushing myself to find the new and share it with an audience, I haven’t been able to make it to my favorite local trails. I can’t promise I won’t take any pictures while on these hikes – I just love nature and photography – but I’m going only for me this time and that’s what makes the difference. I can’t wait to see my old favorites!
  • See you guys in a week!
  • Find the Biggest Swimming Area (at Joe Pool Lake)

    As soon as it started hitting the 100s in Dallas, I knew it was time to find a pool of water. I have access to a small apartment pool, but that is just not the same as finding a big lake to swim in! After a bit of research for close swimmable lakes – I found out about Joe Pool Lake in Grapevine!

    It was going to be my last Friday off before I switched to a Monday-Friday work schedule, so I was excited to make the most of a day at the lake. My friends Jenna and Lola would be coming with me, and we were all thrilled to have a new nature area to explore.

    The original plan had been to find the one (supposed) hiking trail, but we got there around midday and it was already sweltering. Once we saw the big body of water at our beck and call, we put the hike on hold. The only thing we wanted to do at that moment was swim!

    There is a nice “beach” area with a playground, but with all the kids and the “no dog” rule, we opted for a bit further down the shoreline for a quiet spot in the trees. When we got there no one else was there, so it was a really nice little getaway between the trees with very easy access to the lake.

    I swam as far and long as I could – I love swimming! And it’s not often I’m able to do it with such open space. Joe Pool Lake was pretty great too – definitely not even close to the dirtiest lake I’ve been in. As a side note, I will say it started to get a little scary as the day went on and the lake got more crowded, because boats and jet skis were whipping by.

    I went exploring for our hiking trail and think I found it, but wasn’t sure it was worth the effort when I was already pretty tired and getting hot again. I’d also heard there were kayaks and paddle boards for rent, but after scouring the area, I assumed they set up their booth on the weekend only.

    Back with my friends lakeside, we set up our blanket for relaxation and a little snack. It was time to bring out the watermelon! Not many things are better than sharing a watermelon with friends on a hot summer day, post-swim. Our “slices” were big, but so so good! I ate like a monster.

    After a bit more relaxation and our last swim, it was time to head home from our little day trip to the lake. It took only minutes to dry up in the car – that’s Texan summer heat for you – so we decided a quick pit stop for snow cones was in order. We piled out and checked out the many flavors – I got the watermelon (haha)! Such a fun summer day.

    Why We Need Sharks

    Yep, still hosting shark week! It’s been so fun getting ready and researching sharks! Our activities are just little ways that we can contribute to sharing conservation knowledge. I may never get to be a real host on Shark Week, but I hope I’ve helped open a few minds to the greatness of sharks!

    If you’re a recreational diver, a lot of conservation societies offer you a chance to help out and count sharks for their research efforts. Unfortunately, living in Dallas, I am not a recreational diver… but I am a recreational shopper. So Giselle and I took to the mall to “count sharks” – for research of course! And guess what? We only found one shark item. We can’t let the sharks disappear!

    More and more shark species are becoming endangered. As the apex predator of the ocean, sharks are super important for preserving the natural food chain. Sharks also love feeding on floating dead animals, which while gross, is super helpful for cleaning up the ocean. Losing sharks means losing lots of other things in our oceans, including the coral reefs and other beautiful ecosystems.

    My cohost Giselle’s birthday is today, so we’d thought it’d be the perfect time to talk about how old sharks are! Giselle isn’t super into birthdays so I let shark week takeover her birthday too- which means a shark cake!

    There are shark teeth from over 400 million years ago – that’s crazy! That’s twice as old as the freaking dinosaurs! Sharks also generally live a much longer lifespan than other marine life. They grow just as old as humans do, about 75 years. But some shark species have even longer lifespans – there’s a Greenland shark that is at least 272 years old!

    Well, we had to mention tagging if we’re talking about conservation, right? I got us our own cool “tags” but do you know why sharks are tagged in the first place? Researchers tag sharks to see where they spend their time and to follow their swim paths.

    Not only are they counting and watching eating and breeding habits, they’re learning more about the entire ecosystem. Tagging helps us understand better how to conserve sharks, by protected these discovered feeding and mating grounds. With technology today, tags can report minute by minute where the shark is out of the entire ocean!
    It’s easy to join a shark conservation mailing list, but what can you personally do if you want to get involved in helping sharks? If you happen to live near an ocean and are recreational diving a lot, you can help researchers become a “shark counter.”
    The option if you live somewhere like us in Dallas? Adopt a shark! Sure, you can definitely donate any sum, but a lot of shark conservation societies offer Adoption programs! This is the coolest thing I learned while getting into Shark Week this year. Giselle & I have named our Great White pup Gillbert! We adopted from a fantastic society as old as we are, Shark Angels.
    If you’ve been following along with me this Shark Week, I hope you’ve learned some new things. I hope you love sharks even more (or at least like them a little more). And maybe if you don’t like them, you can respect them a bit more. They’re magnificent animals! There are a hundred more shark facts I could lay down, but maybe let’s just spend some time admiring the beauty of these beasts.

    Hosting Shark Week

    Welcome to Shark Week!

    Let me start by saying, obviously, I love sharks. Like most kids, I was terrified of them when I was little – I even used to be scared a shark would somehow make it through the facet into my bathtub (haha). But somewhere along the way, I started learning about them and now I’m pretty much just awestruck by them.

    One of the items on my bucket list is to host Shark Week with one of my best friends Giselle, so I figured why wait for Discovery Channel to ask me, I’ll just do it on my own. (Side note: this year Shark Week is celebrating the Dirty 30!) My Instagram has been taken over this week to help me host, so make sure you don’t miss all the hosting details!

    To start things off right, we decided to join sharks in their natural habitat – water! Living in Dallas means we are not near an ocean, but we couldn’t let that stop us. While swimming in the pool, I thought about the way a shark swims. Most propel themselves through the water with their tail, using their fins for balance only. This method does not work as well for humans.

    Next, we wanted to discover a shark’s eating habits, so we went fishing! For the most part, sharks are “opportunistic” hunters, meaning they take what they can get. Some sharks (tiger sharks) are known to eat anything, but for the most part sharks are looking for marine life to munch on. We used a fishing pole instead of our jaws, obviously!

    Sharks also take what is known as an exploratory bite. This bite means sharks take a quick test bite to check on what they’re trying to eat. Sometimes surfers can look like seals to a shark, so they’ll take a bite to see if they’ve found the prey they want. Listen, sharks do not want humans; it’s just that sometimes their solitary bite is big enough to do serious damage.

    Does anyone remember taking a “keyboard” class in school? It was required when I was a kid so we could learn typing. Basically it was playing a whole lot of a game called Typershark. (You type the words on the sharks’ bodies so they don’t attack your diver.) It was so fun! Also made me realize my current computer isn’t that great. I need a new processor and my U key sticks – that’s what I’m blaming for my low WPM anyway (ha)!

    In the ocean, sharks are typically ten times faster than humans. When hunting, they can show bursts of speed of up to 40 mph! This speed isn’t necessary for trying to attack divers; it enables them to travel the entire ocean. They may have their favorite spots, but sharks can swim from the Atlantic to the Pacific and still be “home.”

    Luckily, host Giselle works in the medical profession so our next activity was easy to accomplish – donating blood! Sharks and blood are synonymous – we may all have heard at some point that sharks can smell one drop of blood in an olympic swimming pool.

    But even better than blood – sharks can smell and interpret chemicals. They can literally smell fear because of the chemical process that releases glucose into your bloodstream when you’re afraid. That’s freaking awesome!

    I hope we all learned new great things about sharks! And go ahead and try some of these shark “activities” and let me know how it goes. Shark week has only just begun, so until next time!

    Around the River and Back in Time

    By our last day in Jefferson, Texas, mom and I were experts. We knew to take our time in the morning, tie back the curtains, and enjoy the lazy start of the town. We eventually moseyed on to breakfast after nine, heading to the Jefferson Outpost. This store opened “early” to serve breakfast in the back. We ordered our meal, taking in the easy nature of the community.

    After perusing the isles for a bit (think old country store), we headed to our tour on the Turning Basin Riverboat. This small boat held only five of us that morning, making it a relaxing tour that felt personalized since we got to ask all the questions we wanted. The tour took us down the bayou and back, about an hour in length. The width was just about only big enough for us in places, so it’s crazy to think that this town was a major port before the dam broke.

    We decided we hadn’t been carted around enough on this trip (haha!) so we headed to the Jefferson Historic Railway, which was just a small passenger train that ran along the river. I think my mom was hoping for old fancy cars, but this was just a metal train with benches that whole families squeezed into. We took a beautiful ride through the woods until the train lurched to a stop.

    At the end of this ride, they treated us to an east Texas specialty – alligator viewing! They had it set up so you could watch them feed five adolescent alligators, both up close in the field and further away in the river. You could watch how fast they moved on land and their jumping technique in the water, which was pretty cool.

    The whole crowd of us hopped back on the train to head back into the heart of Jefferson, where it was now the middle of the day and hot as heck. Mom stopped in the Jefferson General store for a malt, while I ventured down the block for more of that amazing homemade blackberry ice cream. Side note: the Jefferson General Store is pretty great – they have a ton of stuff and all the candy and toys from everyone’s childhood!

    It was time for our final tour of the trip, at the historic home called The Grove. The house wasn’t too big, but I could tell right away after meeting our guide, the owner Mitchell, that he was well-informed on the house’s history. He was a horror author by trade, which is what had initially gotten him interested in the “confirmed” haunted house. Through his research, he learned as much as he could about who all had owned and lived in the house.

    It was a great tour, even though to be honest, the home was not that impressive. But Mitchell’s stories added color and life to the home, making it a fantastic tour. He had several ghost tales, including the presence of an old woman in the rocker in the corner, and a playful child ghost in the living area. He also talked about certain renovations that had extended the house, causing one ghost to “enter through an outside wall” which actually had been the porch a long time ago. He had done so much research and talked to previous owners, it was a fascinating look at the daily life of Jefferson.

    It was time for mom and I to head out at this point, but we were on such a high from our last tour, we decided one more stop for a late lunch couldn’t hurt. We decided on Kitt’s Kornbread Sandwich, which had been escaping us all trip because of it’s weird limited hours. (Seriously, if you visit, research when everything opens and closes.) But I am so glad we were able to get in and enjoy an original sandwich where the bread was cornbread. It was so good, and so unique!

    Bellies full, we headed back home, already making plans for our next trip to Jefferson. For such a small town, there sure is a lot to do and see!