Discover Dallas: Volunteering at the Cedar Ridge Preserve

One of the great things I found out about recently is the REI upcoming events page. Not only do they have the dates for upcoming classes and the quartet Garage sale (which is hands down so great), they also list local outdoorsy community service projects. When I saw they would be working on clearing some trails at the Cedar Ridge Preserve, I immediately signed up.

My friend Lola and I were pretty excited not only to help out REI but also to check out a new set of trails. Originally we were in the prairie clearing group, but after losing track of them, we ending up with the branch clearing group on one of the inner trails. It wasn’t too hard and everyone was really friendly. We carried branches and vines about fifty yards off the trail to be composted, and ended up making some great progress.

Afterwards as a treat, REI had cold watermelon and free swag for us. It was such a great experience and such a good way to connect with other local hikers, I’m definitely on the lookout for more of these trail cleanup opportunities.

One of the Preserve’s manager told me he clears an entire two trash bags worth of plastic water bottles and wrappers a day and it’s still not enough. This made me immediately start bringing plastic bags on every hike to start cleaning up a trail as I go. It’s so easy to spot a gross crumpled up bottle, it’s an easy way to keep a trail clean by grabbing it on my way.

About a month after this event, I went back to the Cedar Ridge Preserve to explore more of the trails. I love how large it is and how well kept the trails are. It’s also basically zero pavement, which I really enjoy. I went on a Friday morning, my favorite time for trail exploring, and only ran into a couple of people.

The hills were fortified with wooden steps and there were several benches placed in scenic stops. It was really beautiful and varied. I have definitely made it one of my favorite hiking spots.

Burn Away the Negative Vibes

As someone always on the lookout for new experiences, when my friend Lola texted me about a local sage-making class I was immediately in. We’ve been using local Instagram accounts to find more and more exciting stuff to do. I also have a passing interest in any kind of “new age” or “mystical” stuff, so learning how to make sage bundles sounded really exciting!

We got to a cute little boutique in downtown Dallas at Ten Over Six. We were greeted with smiles and mimosa, so it was already off to a great start. We explored the little shop while we waited a turn at the sage class table. Everything was really cute! Shamsy was really cool. She was in charge of leading the class and also showed us some of her handmade crystal jewelry.

We started with a handful of sage and tried to make it as neat as possible so we could began wrapping it. Shamsy had multicolored thread for us which I then tied into a loop knot. We wrapped three times in honor of the “power of three” rule, which basically just represents cosmic karma. We then grabbed three rose petals and wrapped our sage at a slanted line until we wrapped the whole thing, petals included. We once again wrapped three times around the bottom, making sure to release any negativity we may have been feeling. Then we wrapped back up to the top, using the opposite angle to create little X’s out of the wrapping. We tied, trimmed a bit, and voila – we had our sage bundle!

It was simple and gave us a really cute end result! We were told the sage was still really fresh so we needed to hang it upside down and wait a couple of days for it to dry. We downed the last of our second mimosa, grabbed our perfect little sage bundles, and decided our good vibes would be perfect for a bit of downtown adventure.

Right across the way we noticed a coffee shop that had been on both our coffee lists for a while, The Weekend. I got just a shot of espresso because they had a special floral-infused espresso bean which usually are my favorite. It was good and came with a glass of sparkling water which was so European.

The infamous Giant Eyeball was not too far so we went to get a picture with it since, we’ll, when in Rome, right? They had blocked the little garden off, which was a bit of a bummer. It was weird and we saw it, not much else to say (haha).

Following our weird art trend, we decided to head to the Dallas Museum of Art and check out the special Kusama “Pumpkins” exhibit. To be honest, it is pretty cool, but also a bit lame to pay fifteen dollars and only get forty-five seconds to stand in the pumpkin room with a security guard who keeps talking. The art was cool, the setup not so much.

Overall a great day though! When I burned the sage, I started at one end of the house and slowly made my way through each room. I thought about the good times and how much I love my home. I felt a little ridiculous of course, but it was still kind of fun too! Should I start growing my own sage?

Even a Wandering Heart has a Home

Every now and then – however rare – I truly do enjoy being a homebody. I definitely love to take time to recharge and escape everyone for a little while. Recently, quite a few trips have been canceled – postponed hopefully – so I’ve taken the time to reorganize my life and try and spend more time hibernating. Luckily, I truly love my space!

My house is a little odd in that it’s set up shotgun style. This means there are no hallways and every room leads to the next in a straight line. So when you open the front door, you’re in the living room, open that door, you’re in the bedroom, open that door, you’re in the kitchen, and you get it.

My living room is decorated in earth tones, with lots of greens and browns. There’s a lot of windows, which I love to open, and with all the plants (real and fake), it’s like being in an outdoor space. Besides being big enough to host several people, it’s also got my writing desk – so I can do my two favorite activities in this room!

I love pillows! I’m weird in that even though I don’t really use them except for lounging (which I don’t do too much), I love having every surface covered in pillows. Having fresh flowers and a book by my bed is also a must!

Where I lived before, I didn’t have a closet so I got used to organizing my clothes in a boudoir and this bench me and my dad made. My room colors are grey and yellow, which I think is pretty relaxing but still fun. You can also see the jewelry organizer I made forever ago that has been so helpful for all my earring studs.

I am a cat person. I have one cat, but people know how much I love her so I’ve gotten a lot of cat-themed gifts over the years. This lead me to turn my kitchen into a cat-chen. (Woo, puns!) You can also see my pantry where I try to organize all my whole foods.

My fridge collects not only important notices and friends’ wedding invites, but all my travel magnets!

My bathroom is pretty small, but I still have room for fresh flowers so I’m happy! Originally I had wanted the walls a pale pink color, but that was not what I got. After just going through and painting the whole room this more electric pink, I got a new grandma shower curtain to subdue the overall effect.

If you can’t tell by now, I really love storage and organization! I like everything in my home to have it’s place and I’m pretty particular about how things look. Since the bathroom is pretty small, I took off the closet door and created open shelf storage.

Finally, my media room! It gathers all my entertainment, mostly movies and liquor. The tv isn’t pictured because I just got anew one (won a 65in at the work Christmas party!), but I love lounging in here to watch movies when I have time. It also makes for a cozy movie night!

I’m pretty social so I don’t get to spend as much time at home as I sometimes would like. But when I am home, I love it! It’s been so fun living alone for almost two years, I was glad to decorate an entire house exactly to my tastes. But, I’m also excited to have a roommate again!

I’m kind of a “try everything once” type of girl, so I’m glad I can cross home decor off my list. It’ll be nice to have company again though, and I’m sure the social energy will keep me home even more! Hope you enjoyed this peek into my life!

Holiday Reason

Christmas time always reminds me of my childhood, as I’m sure it does for most people. I loved the house smelling like cinnamon and pine, I loved wishing for snow (and usually never getting it in Dallas), and having lots of time off to spend time with family.

It’s much harder to have as much free time in the winter as I did as a kid. There’s also a whole lot more than I ever realized to do. When you’re a kid you might set out to decorate the tree, make gingerbread houses, and watch the stop motion holiday classics. Now as an adult, my priorities and traditions are much different.

Ice Skating

I love ice skating in general, but something about doing it around a 40 foot tree makes it all the more magical. Living in Dallas, it’s hard to find “winter” to celebrate the holiday. But going ice skating at the Galleria is pretty close. It’s cold, it’s festive, and usually for beginners or experts.

That’s why it’s one of my favorite activities to invite a bunch of friends to! This year I went with two coworkers I’ve grown very close to over the year – Jenna and Gian. We usually have a coffee shop night together, so getting out and working our muscles instead of our brains was really great.

Jingle Ball Concert

Ah, my one accidental (and amazingly lucky) tradition for Christmas! Three years ago when I was a bartender, I was checking out local cheap things to do in December when I learned about the KissFM Jingle Ball concert. It was the following night, tickets were dirt cheap at twenty-five bucks each with a pretty good lineup, and me and my friend Sarah had the night off. Fourteen hours before it started, I grabbed two tickets.

Obviously, we had a blast! Since then the lineup has gotten more and more insane, the venue upgraded, and thanks to Sarah’s insane luck she’s won tickets every year since! It’s our night to wear Christmas-themed dresses, put lights in our hair, and remind myself how much liquor we can handle. Once we’re cute and toasted, we sing the night away.

Tea for Two

My mom had been talking about some fancy mother daughter tea for months. When I say months, I’m not exaggerating. She kept reminding me of our reservations and making sure I had it in my calendar so I didn’t leave town. Then the week of arrived and she asked if I would be wearing a dress. I said, “If you want me to… I have a red velvet one I can wear that’s Christmas-y.” Next thing I know she’s showing up in a red velvet pantsuit and we’re on our way to a Historic Dallas mansion (the Alexander) to have festive holiday tea.

Everything was so adorable! The tea was a special lavender earl grey with cinnamon, which tasted like Christmas. There were little snacks perfect for having a fancy tea. It was all really tasty. Afterward, we all went upstairs to check out some holiday-themed boutiques. It was such a cute mother daughter day to celebrate the season.

The Nutcracker

Two quick things about me: I love ballet and I love Tchaikovsky. It only makes sense that The Nutcracker is an obvious way to celebrate the holiday season. This year I decided we would do something a little different and not go to the local production. I got my family tickets to the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth to see the Texas Ballet Theater’s version.

It was really great! The dancers seemed more specialized to the specific characters and the scenery was really well done. They also used wires for flying objects and dancers which made it pretty magical since we were up on the Mezzanine level. My brother’s fiancé had never been to a ballet either, so it was really great showing my love for The Nutcracker to someone new to it all.

It’s a Wonderful Life

I really love this movie. I love it so much I force my entire family to watch it Christmas Eve night. It is the one tradition I force on my family and I have zero shame about. This movie, besides having the great Jimmy Stewart starring in it, is everything I love about trying to life a fulfilled life. And mainly how it’s the connections you make and the people you love (and those who love you) that make life worth it.

All this to say, I hope everyone has a great holiday. Spend it with loved ones, spend it trying new things, and spend it enjoying your passions. Bring a bottle of booze to your closest friends, bundle up to keep enjoying the outdoors, try and keep your patience with those trying family members, and allow yourself a little relaxation.

Merry Christmas!

Discover Dallas: Thankful for Coffee

If you know me at all, you know how much I’m love coffee. Even if you don’t know me, I think I mention coffee a fair amount of times in my travels. So since it’s Thanksgiving this week, I’m talking my favorite local coffee shops! Thanks, delicious coffee!

Mudsmith

Hours: 6:30a-11p, Parking: Backlot, Seating: Always something open, Favorite drink: Chai (do NOT add a shot)

Probably my favorite in regards to location, hours, vibes, and of course, taste! The decor is pretty outdoorsy/adventure with some great couches in the back. This coffee shop is located on Lower Greenville, one of my favorite haunts because it’s so close to me. The staff is super friendly, but also knows when to leave you alone when you’re wanting a productive visit.

Wild Detectives

Hours: 10a-12a, Parking: Neighborhood, Seating: Inside is harder but outside always something, Favorite drink: Coffee (Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters)

What’s better than a coffee shop? A coffee shop that is also a book shop! This place is too cool, full of friendly baristas and mustached hipsters. I love the book recommendations that are always relevant and changing. There are lots of twinkle lights on the outside (front and back) so go when it’s not too cold out.

Halycon

Hours: 7a-12a, Parking: Backlot, Seating: Always something open, Favorite drink: Almond milk latte

This place is great for late nights when you want to get stuff done. They’re open late and have tons of space – also their decor is vibrant and trendy. It’s a great space to be productive because the lighting is bright and there’s always seats available. I also love that the coffee comes with animal crackers!

White Rock Coffee

Hours: 6a-11p, Parking: Open lot, Seating: Always something open, Favorite drink: Almond milk latte

The best thing about WRC is that they have an “express shop” that is right near my house and on the way to everything. I love driving through and picking up a latte because it’s not only convenient, but also tastes great! Side note: they have freaking great homemade muffins. This is what I always pick up when I’m on the go, but I also like that the main location has a mellow upstairs section for being productive.

Cultivar Coffee

Hours: 7a-8p, Parking: Open lot, Seating: Not a lot of options, Favorite drink: The Local Honey

This place is one I recently discovered. They have my favorite drink anywhere called The Local Honey which is a cappuccino with locally harvested honey. I love great foam and honey (and espresso duh) so this drink goes above and beyond for me. It shares its space with a little eatery/grab&go which can be convenient if you’re picking up food or beer. The seating could be a little cozier but it’s got a very cool modern vibe.

Crooked Tree

Hours: 6a-11p, Parking: Neighborhood, Seating: Good spots go fast, Favorite drink: Seasonal flavored latte

I love the “homey” vibe in this shop. It’s definitely a place to come and hang for hours. They’ve got tables for working but also a lot of eclectic couches and chairs for catching up with friends. They definitely want you to treat it like a common room because they have board games and lots of outlets available for whatever kind of night you’re wanting. I’m also not super big on flavored syrups, but their selection is always on point.

Discover Dallas: White Rock Lake

Living in the East Dallas area for almost three years, it is crazy that it’s taken this long for me to become a regular at White Rock Lake. I started going here for some city-style hiking training, but it’s got a lot more to offer. 

Side note: I now wouldn’t recommend “hiking” here because there are better places in Dallas. Almost all of the White Rock trails are paved with very little up close nature.

Ah, dock yoga.

First of all it’s massive, so I really only know half the trails. The full distance around the lake is more than 9 miles! I started bike riding here because all the trails are long and spacious. 

It’s also so scenic! Because of the lake, it features tons of bridges and docks. I like to bring a friend to socialize because it’s nice to catchup with a great view. It’s also the perfect amount of traffic where it’s not deserted, but you aren’t constantly fighting for the right to the pavement. 

Every picture looks great on these paths.

When I’m dogsitting, I always head here for a couple of hours. There’s lots of fields that you can take a break in (with benches). Or you can bring a blanket (I always have one in my car now) to enjoy the outdoors or even get some reading done.

This year I got into REI volunteering and they work with the East Dallas community to put together the Second Saturday Shoreline Spruce Up – which is great! It’s mostly picking up trash. (It is so upsetting how many people still litter in this day and age.)

I swear I stood up mostly.

Of course, it’s obviously a lake so there’s water activities too! This is where I first tried stand up paddle boarding. It was so fun! A little awkward at first because I was sure I was going to topple head first into the water – but you quickly get the hang of it and then have yourself a leisurely wade through this picturesque water.

The have lots of boats/boards to rent. Just know there’s technically no swimming within city water sources so don’t go expecting a fun splash. 

I run here so I can see far enough to stop when it looks like someone’s coming.

Seriously, this is the spot that just keeps giving.