North Shore Trail: Flower Mound, TX

Let me start by saying this is the first hike of the year! I’ve decided to go for the #52HikeChallenge this year, mainly to track my hikes and miles since it’s something I’ve never done before! I originally wanted to do this hike over the weekend, but life got in the way so I did it after work this week.

So, how did I end up in Flower Mound, a suburb outside Dallas? I spent some time looking for “jumpable” cliffs around Dallas because I was thinking of starting the year off with a polar bear plunge and the only way that was going to happen was if I jumped off a fun cliff. That led me to Rockledge Park. However, that has an entry fee and with budget goals I decided to go ten minutes north along Grapevine Lake which led me to Murrell Park. Similiar cliffs, same lake, and its own (free!) hiking trail.

It wasn’t too far from where I work, so after less than a half hour of driving, I was winding my way through a new, and fairly nice, neighborhood. The more parks I check out, the more neighborhoods I drive through. It’s weird to find these hidden hiking trails so close to civilization, that’s for sure. When I arrived the park was empty except for one car, there was no map at the trail head of North Shore, and the sign said Closed.

Oh, and you know, I couldn’t find my hiking boots, which I was sure I’d thrown in the car days beforehand.

I’d already delayed this hike a few times because of the rain, and I’d driven this far, and I hadn’t gone hiking in close to a month. I had excuses not to do it – the most obvious the closed sign followed closely by choosing to hike in my heeled boots. But when things don’t go my way, sometimes I just power through it anyway. And it usually works out.

Starting off, right away I could tell this was a trail meant more for mountain bikers than for hikers, which is typically the case I’ve noticed for the trails around Dallas. The path was narrow and winding and full of bike tire tracks. The temperature was pretty perfect considering it’s early January, although there were a few muddier spots because of the rain. In areas you could see the nearby houses and at various points the trail crossed a small cement road, but overall it’s a nice looping trail. Lots of brush, but the trail was very well marked.

Weirdly, halfway through I found the map posted, though it was hard to tell how long it was. At this point, I had yet to come upon the lake and I was losing daylight. I picked up my pace (even in my heeled boots) and made it my mission to get to the lake and back to my car before I was left in the dark. My phone GPS worked perfectly since I was so close to the neighborhood even though I only passed one trail-runner and one biker in the whole two hours I was out there. My feet held up in my heels even though the trail was hilly and passed a couple of cute waterways.

Finally, just as I was about to give up on the lake overlook, the trail kept heading for the lake, instead of taking me back and forth away from it. I passed a (kind of scary) outdoor bathroom and a (cute) campfire area to get to a small trail overlook with one cliff ledge. There was no way (or time) for jumping so I enjoyed the view and the colors of dusk before heading back to my car.

I knew I wouldn’t have time taking the trail – looking it up now, I think in total the thing is three miles, but it could be as long as six since it doesn’t have many reviews. I took the cement road which led me out of the trails and back to the main road where the park entrance was. This took me less than a half hour and I got some good views of the setting sun over the lake from beyond the trees. Overall, even though I had a chilled sweat, it was a great hike! I’m marking this as a rough start – but still successful!

Merry Chris(TEA)mas at the Arboretum

Merry Christmas!

This year I spent a lot of my “gift” budget on experiences instead of things! It’s been pretty awesome; although I’ll admit I feel a little selfish getting the perks of doing something new when it’s supposed to be for the person I bought it for. All well!

My mom had been wanting to go to the Arboretum for a while, so when I found out they did a special Christmas tea, I knew it would be the perfect event for us! Our tea admission also got us admission to the grounds, which were doing their special 12 Days of Christmas installation.

I was worried it would be too cold, but mostly it was too wet. Of course, yet another rainy day where I’d planned something outdoors. We did a bit of a jog to get to the tearoom, located on the other side of the DeGolyer House. We weren’t completely soaked, but I was feeling a little blue that my plan wasn’t go perfectly. However, my mom is the true eternal optimist (if you were wondering where I got some of that from) and was “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” over everything.

They had prepared three ‘courses’ for us, complete with three different teas to try. The room was a little too blue winterland for me (I was hoping for bright greens and reds), but the dishware and treat trays were so cute. I felt like a kid having a tea party except I was an adult having an actual tea party!

They had the typical cucumber finger sandwiches and fruit scones that you’d expect, but also a Christmas sugar cookie and gingerbread house you could take to go! Being fed little snacks and endless delicious tea is a way I always want to live, and I know my mom feels exactly the same way.

With my mom’s impeccable luck, as tea time was coming to an end, the rain had completely cleared up. What had gone from hard-to-see downpour, was now slightly cloudy golden hour lighting. We took a walk around the gardens first, enjoying the fountains and winter greenery. Then we headed into the fancy house, where my mom wanted a room-by-room tour of how the DeGolyer family lived, including seeing beautiful furniture and an amazing large library.

In this house were also lots of Christmas decorations! A specially decorated and color-themed tree in each room, as well as an extensive collection of nativity scenes from all over the world. It was cool looking at all of them and seeing how the virgin birth was depicted by several different cultures. Well, and a life-size camel statue was located in one room.

From there, we excited to walk the 12 Days exhibit, where little snowglobe-like structures were set up every so often. We started at “A Partridge in a Pear Tree” and walked all the way to “Twelve Drummers Drummer,” liking the way they sparkled and rotated. Definitely worth the visit, especially as a local who’d never experienced it! We loved it.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday and remembers time spent with loved ones is the true gift!

Checking Out the Local Psychics (at a Dallas Fair)

When my friend Giselle asked me to check out the Dallas Psychic Fair with her, it was never a question of if I’d go but when I’d go. Just recently, I was finally able to make it. With a quick google search to checkout their website (and grab a coupon to the fair), all I really knew was their tagline: Spiritual growth through mind, body and soul connections. That didn’t give me a lot to go on, but since I’m fascinated by any kind of open-minded event or personal growth activity, I went anyway.

We entered into a large ballroom setup with different tables of handmade items and chairs circumventing the room. These chairs were set up with one-on-one sessions for psychic readings. After checking in, Giselle asked the woman who took our money how to go about choosing between them all. The woman told us to take our time walking around the room and just go with our gut to see which one was “pulling” us to them. I hadn’t come for a psychic reading (since I actually have one planned with the Jefferson psychic) but I was digging this fair already.

I mostly wanted to look at all the handmade jewelry, the mass amount of crystals, and the essential oil-based skin care. These assorted booths were all over and everyone was really friendly. Honestly, everyone was above and beyond nice about both Giselle and my questions. We didn’t know what orgonite, or lunar water, or channeled massages were. Or where the chakras were and what they meant. Or how to spell something. Or how to use a smudge stick. We asked a lot of questions. A lot of questions.

Across the room, we saw a food stand and went over to inspect. Everything looked very healthy, with fresh salads, vegan, gluten-free, and other specially baked goods. We decided to split a chocolate chip almond cookie, which was vegan and low carb. I’m not going to lie, it was very dry and bland. Haha! I’ve done my fair share of “healthy” baking and know it’s hard – that’s why I don’t bake as much now. But having a guilt-free cookie isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of bucks.

We lapped the outer rim of the room once again, and this time Giselle spotted her reader. He was an older fellow, cherub-cheeked, and looked like he’d know how to knit you a sweater. His name was Michael Runningbear. Giselle checked his availability (he had an opening in ten minutes) and decided she was going to go ahead and do it. Why not? She had a couple of questions she could ask and hell, we were at a psychic fair for some reason, right?

I sat awkwardly at the empty table next to Giselle as she got her reading, for anyone wondering. Having to half-listen to the irritable psychic who had graciously let me sit, but then wanted to mutter under her breath about how she most likely wouldn’t be back next month. Talk about bad energy. Giselle was five feet away and in a completely different world. Runningbear was reading her vibe and letting her draw the Tarot cards to give insight to her future. She came away a little awed. (Just like my mom if you’ll remember. Are psychics really real? I’ve got two people close to me who are now believers.)

Some homemade soaps from Moonlights Apothecary had caught my eye just before the reading, so once Giselle (who was anew woman) was finished, we checked out that booth. The owner, Jordyn, let us know what each one was made with and the intention behind it. She had spelled its energy on a certain focus. I bought two soaps, one because it smelled so freaking amazing and one because it smelled great and was on sale. Please don’t read anything into the “meaning” behind my purchase. Ha.

Overall, it was a great experience! We learned a lot, opened up our minds, made plans to work on ourselves (Giselle with her path in life, me with my skin care). The world will never cease to delight and inspire me. I’ll never possibly explore every unique and interesting facet.

Thankful for Coffee (Vol II)

I guess we’re starting a Thanksgiving tradition here on the blog, because yet again, I’m bringing you the hookup on the coffee shops of Dallas. (Last year’s edition: Thankful for Coffee. ) I love coffee! And even though I’ve been trying to budget my spending a bit more – which means less coffee – I’m also trying to write more (after almost a full year of writer’s block). All this to say, let me share more of the independent coffee scene in Dallas!

Houndstooth Coffee
9730 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75231
Hours: 6a-7p, Parking: Lot, Seating: Always something open, indoor and outdoor buildings, Tip: Try their different flavored espressos, especially something floral

The original (Dallas) Houndstooth is super close to my house but I hate the lack of parking and the limited seating, so I was so excited when I found out they opened a third location that’s exactly halfway between my job and my home! It’s much bigger, with a real parking lot, and a little bit longer hours. Also everything is so stinking cute. It’s also pretty great if the weather is good because it’s got a trendy outdoor space.

Mudleaf Coffee
3100 Independence Pkwy #300, Plano, TX 75075
Hours: 6:30a-8p, Parking: Lot, Seating: Options but might have to share big tables, Tip: Chat with the baristas they are the friendliest!

I kind of accidentally stumbled on this new shop because it’s close to my parent’s house (in Plano). Since it’s in a Dallas suburb it’s very spacious. It’s still new so they’re going to be adding stuff as it fully sets up, including more seating and cool merchandise. I love the openness because it makes for a very private writing time (i.e. I’m not stressed someone will want to read over my shoulder). The staff is super cool and ready to chat with anybody and everybody.

Drip Coffee
3888 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
Hours: 6:30a-6p, Parking: Shared lot, Seating: Good for 1-2 people, Tip: Add extra shot(s) because their espresso is a little weak

This is another coffee shop that recently opened a second location and I love their new one way more. Their original shop is fine, but dark with not much seating. This one has lots more tables (for couples or singles though) and is a much “happier” space. They’ve really figured out their merchandising and I love how they incorporate their “drip” theme! They also roast their own beans, so when you get their black coffee it’s always fresh. Any place with freshly roasted coffee is okay in my book.

Peridot Coffee
2240 Royal Ln #101, Dallas, TX 75229
Hours: 6a-7p, Parking: Lot, Seating: Limited but never full, Tip: Grab one of their homemade muffins

I discovered this little gem by needing to get away from work on a break (haha). It’s on the smaller side, but in a far off part of town so I’m not sure how much business it sees. The decor is cute and simple, and the seating seems to be focused for “students” or people who are ready to work. The man who served me was very friendly, but also promoted the atmosphere of a library, i.e. it was very quiet. Go here if you’re looking for good coffee and a focused mindset.

Fiction Coffee
1623 N Hall St, Dallas, TX 75204
Hours: 6:30a-6p, Parking: Good luck, Seating: Limited but not usually full, Tip: Always go for something “seasonal” or on their special menus

I passed this coffee shop so many times on my way home, I knew it was time to finally check it out. I’m not a fan of a place when parking is hard to come by, but luckily I went on a weekday and was able to snag a spot on the street. (If this place was open later, no way.) It’s so hip inside, very modern and bright. It’s probably a great place to get work done, but for me it closes just a tad early. It’s a great “pre-game coffee” for a Deep Ellum evening, though!

Native Coffee Co.
4319 Alpha Rd, Dallas, TX 75244
Hours: 7a-5p, Parking: Lot, Seating: Always something open, Tip: Oat milk coming soon, yum!

This shop just opened very recently and I kept passing it on the way to my boyfriend’s apartment. I recently decided to stop because I liked the name, and I was pretty excited to find a big clean open space with lots of seating. It’s so funny because it seems new coffee shops are definitely going with the trend of bright lighting, minimalism, and big spaces as opposed to the cramped cozy feel. This coffee shop is attached to a church (which I found out is a thing?), but honestly I didn’t mind that. The chai was good and the barista was friendly, so I’ll definitely be back!

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking a Closer Look at the Dallas Vintage Shops

When I thrift, I mostly head to various Goodwills and various stores with the word Thrift in the name. However, for some who aren’t necessarily interested in going through a lot of bad for a big reward, there’s better secondhand shops that carry a lot more name brands and current trends. Not only that, there’s a couple of places in the Dallas area that are known for collecting amazing vintage finds. Here’s a roundup of some of the best Dallas thrift (with a focus on vintage) shops.

Buffalo Exchange

I love Buffalo first and foremost because I take stuff to sell there a lot. But they’re also one of my favorite places to checkout because they have great unique pieces! If you’re going for a resurfaced vintage trend or something a little more unusual, this store is great.

I’m not going to lie some of it can get expensive, but for selling some name brand stuff, it can also be such a great deal! I also just love the way they style their mannequin outfits. It’s always so unique and they have mastered styling different patterns and accessories together.

Genesis Benefit Store

I like shopping at Genesis because it supports a local women’s shelter. I don’t always get to make it out there because it’s kind of the opposite part of town, but it’s nice supporting local non-profit organizations. Everything spent at Genesis goes directly into helping out domestic abusive survivors who are trying to get back on their feet.

It’s also a super well-organized thrift shop. If you know you need a women’s coat, they’re very easily separated and ready to peruse. And even though their men’s section is a bit smaller, they have some great cardigans and sweaters. This shop usually tends to have nicer clothes too, for women needing interview clothes. So it’s great for when you’re looking for work wear.

Gratitude

I’d never heard of this store before researching local vintage stops. Gratitude came up on a couple of lists, so I knew I had to check it out. It’s located near the Oak Lawn area; a little house on top of a little hill. Inside is a theater production’s dream. The owner has carefully researched and classified every item by time period.

I’m not going to lie, it was too expensive for me, but you’re paying for authenticity. That’s why they also rent. If you have the perfect idea for a retro party or need a costume for some show, this place is sure to have what you need or something just as good (if not better). It’s an absolute adventure to explore all the pieces they have in this store. Especially the hats! I loved looking at all the different types and colors and shapes of vintage hats.

Vagabond Vintage

I passed this little shop a few times on my way to work and knew I had to add it to my list. Their Instagram makes it seem like they mainly have vintage t-shirts, but they honestly have so much more inside. They have all sorts of jackets and coats and truly unique pieces.

The store is on the smaller side, but it’s for those vintage lovers who are looking for those “cool” pieces. If you’re a little rock and roll, you’re going to find something you can’t leave without. And on the other end of the spectrum, for the more down-to-earth outdoorsy type, they have a lot of great warm jackets to take on your next camping trip. Overall, lots of great funky patterns (mostly 80s era) to check out.

2018 Concerts; Something Old, Something New, Something Too Good to be True

Originally, I was going to do a little 2018 concert roundup before finally seeing my favorite (alive) band ever, The Kooks, this month. But they’ve moved their show to Valentine’s Day next year, so look like that’s going to be a date night, i.e. not for the blog – haha!

Something Old: Bon Iver
I used to really dig Bon Iver a few years ago, but I’ll admit I’ve fallen out of them. So obviously I wasn’t looking forward to this concert, mainly because the tickets were bought ten hours before the show. My friend Jenna was tracking last minute ticket sales for Bon Iver on Twitter and when she found tickets for half the selling price she asked if I was interested. Why not!

The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum is one of my favorite concert venues because of the big room, packed crowd feeling. It seems intimate yet you have room to breathe – perfect for concerts. I didn’t know all of their songs obviously, but the vibe was great. Drinking a bit before concerts always helps too – haha. Bon Iver did not disappoint, and overall it was such a fun time!

Something New: Flor
I have recently been a bit obsessed with the band Flor. They’re a small indie band with great road trip vibes. I bought tickets to their little show at the Deep Ellum bar Three Links before they even had released a full album. Which, luckily for me, came out a week before they took the stage. Binging new music and seeing it live after only a few days was such a great experience!

I didn’t mind going to this one alone – which would’ve been my first solo concert – but it turned out my friend Lola was thinking about checking them out too. They are one of my favorites so I was glad they sounded just as great live. It was also so nice to have a “concert” at a bar. I was right up next to the stage but still had plenty of room. The room was full of only real fans and the music filled the street. I have made it my goal to see more bands play at small Deep Ellum bars!

Too Good to be True: Lights
I discovered the band Lights originally in my retail days, when their single Ice came into the store playlist. I’m a sucker for catchy beats and powerful female vocals, so immediately I was into them. At the time they only had a little EP album out, but I’ve liked them for long enough I always check out their new albums. They’re so random and from Canada I had kind of figured I’d never see them.

Their most recent album was an instant favorite, made better by the lead singer making a graphic novel series to go along with the new songs. They’re definitely a great girl power pop band, and seeing it at Granada, which is another intimate somewhat-grungy venue, was so awesome. Include that to being a bit wine drunk with my friend Lola, and you know we had a great time. But, you know what they say about expectations. While the show was fun, I probably would not seek out a second concert.

Honestly not a bad list of bands to see this year! I crossed off one of my must-sees, I affirmed a new favorite, and I was able to dance freely in crowded rooms. A win all around!  I love concerts because I think seeing a band live is a true test to the quality of their sound. And I love to sing and dance – and no one looks at you weird when you do it in public at a concert venue. Hopefully 2019 brings me more fun music events!

Dallas Ghost Tour

Since Halloween’s tomorrow, this is a special spooky blogpost! My mom and I loved the ghost tour we took on our trip to Jefferson, TX, so we decided to try out one in the Dallas area!

Her volunteer organization Altrusa had put together a bus tour with a guide to show us some of Dallas’s most famous haunted spots. However our guide, Janine, said we’d have to take everything with a grain of salt, I knew after she told us to download some free “ghost detector” apps that this would be a different kind of tour.

After one lady passed around “eyeball” Jell-O shots we were headed to our first destination, Flag Pole Hill at White Rock Lake. This area of the lake had reportings of rocks thrown at passing cars. We got off the bus and walked around the dark field with women saying, “I’ve found one!” on their apps.

It was pretty awful, to be honest. My mom and I loved our other ghost tour because of the history not because we were looking for actual ghosts (I say “actual” loosely with these free ghost detection apps). So from then on we knew we’d have to research our own history. Instead of using the app, we used the internet.

Even though I’m a frequent visitor and have never experienced anything, White Rock Lake has a lot of ghosts apparently. Besides the Flag Hill Pole, there’s also a classic Lady of the Lake and a Goat-Man. The lady is supposed to be wandering around in the rain, asking for a ride home, and then disappears from the back of your car once you take her there.

From there we headed to a notorious house in the Lake Highlands area on Blackbird Lane, that had a bunch of murders and suicides inside. We all trooped down to the end of the cul de sac and stared at the house down on the left, which wasn’t very exciting until one of the old neighbors came out to see what we were up to. They told us the house was definitely haunted, he’d lived there for years and the horses in the nearby stables never came near that side of the property.

The most exciting part for me was our next stop, the Aldophus Hotel in downtown. We weren’t exactly allowed to look inside, so our bus parked a bit away and then we went in pairs to go explore on our own. The nineteenth floor of this hotel is supposed to have all the activity. So my mom and I went on our own, admiring the gorgeous lobby and nearby hotel bar, and went into the mirrored elevator.

We got to the correct floor and researched that heavy footsteps and loud big band music was often reported by guests on this floor – which makes sense because this floor that now holds rooms used to hold a big ballroom. Two different people we asked to take our pictures said the camera was going dark while trying to take it (but I blame that on the dim lighting and amateur photographers). Weirdly, all the mirrors on this floor were super tarnished, so I don’t know if that was a stylistic choice or something more spooky.

We all got back to the bus safety and then it was time for a quick stop at a graveyard. We got to Pioneer Cemetery and me and mom decided to just stay in the bus. There was no history on this one except it holding some very old graves, and it was dark, making it look like an accident waiting to happen.

Overall, it wasn’t a great tour (based on planning and knowledge), but it was a great time. The ladies were really into it so it was fun hearing them say, “Did you see one – did you see one?” and even though I had to look up the stories and sightings, getting a look at the places was interesting. So I’m still on the hunt for a real ghost sighting; maybe one Halloween I’ll get my wish!