It’s Fall, Y’all!

Well, it’s kind of fall. Technically, October has arrived – but the weather hasn’t exactly gotten it together in Texas. I might’ve unpacked my sweaters, but I’m still wearing short-sleeved shirts the majority of the time. However, that wasn’t going to stop me from visiting a pumpkin patch!

Our first attempt was rained out (and our second too, almost) but finally my friend Jenna and I were able to make it out to the middle of nowhere Texas – Gunter – to enjoy some good ol’ fall activities! We got there on a Saturday morning and realized this farm was mainly for families with small children, but we decided to just embrace it!

First stop: petting zoo! There were a bunch of stables filled with goats, sheep, cattle, and chickens. With our entry we were given a cup of feed to coerce them into coming closer. Full disclosure – I’ve pet a few goats over the past year and this livestock was pretty dirty. It was fun to feed them, but I was not about to touch them. Also let’s just say this portion of the day was done when I saw a cow’s tongue reaching for me (or me holding out food).

Near these stables was the corn maze! I’d never done one of these before so I was kind of excited. It was a bit small, but completely empty except for one (very lost) lady – haha. I will say I’d love to do one of these kind of mazes as a haunted attraction – finding my way in the dark with people popping out at me sounds like such a good time.

After exiting the maze – it took us a total of four minutes – we spotted the hay ride. Jenna’s dog, Florence, took a lot of our attention (and taking some photos) since we were pretty much just sitting there, but it was a nice little ride around a small pond. It was hot though, proving even though I was having a fall day, it was summer weather.

The pumpkin selection was pretty sparse to be honest, but it was fun seeing all the different kinds. I’d never really looked into pumpkins, usually just buying the grocery store ones, but there are actually a lot of different varieties and colors! My secret is that we didn’t end up buying at the farm because we’d both seen them for cheaper at Trader Joe’s. I’m living on a budget!

When we got home, I cracked some cider (because you got to) but then our weekend day got away from us. Between friends coming over and state fair plans, we decided to get our pumpkins and decorate another time. So because weekdays are slow, we stopped by Trader Joe’s on a Monday to continue living like it was fall.

We hadn’t even thought about carving tools until we’d purchased our pumpkins, so we hit up Dollar Tree for some cheap knives. (Being a terrible cook, I own one very small knife – haha!) Cutting the top of my pumpkin proved to be difficult for me. I just couldn’t get it to come out easily, but luckily the rest of the carving went pretty well. I searched some simple faces on Pinterest, and realized no matter what kind of face you decide on, they all look good. I went forward with that encouragement!

One of my bucket list items has been rewatching season one of American Horror Story, and funnily enough when we put it on it was time for the Halloween episodes! They were carving pumpkins just as we were! (Except like, they’re carving a macabre Marie Antoinette and I’m carving googly eyes.) Sure enough, after a bit of carving, cleaning out, and popping in a flameless candle – they turned out great!

Next was painting a quick ghost pumpkin! I think I love painting pumpkins so much more because it’s easier to get something cute. I did these little guys in about five minutes – the effect is so easy. By the end of all my pumpkin decorating, I was surprised how much more I enjoyed carving this year than painting – probably because I liked the challenging activity more! I’ll have to start making a point to carve a pumpkin each year.

Seeking New Ways to Be Active, Trial Workout Classes

It all started with an interest in trying Kickboxing. My friend Giselle and I have known each other for a long, long time, and for at least a decade have talked about doing a kickboxing class together. After finally going after the things I’d only spoken about doing, I knew it was time to make it happen. I got a Groupon for both of us to experience three classes at iLoveKickboxing.com.

I think both of us were pretty nervous stepping into the little gym. We’d been given big boxing gloves and got a peek at the big padded punching bags we’d be punching. But the staff there was so great with us! Usually they want you to do a one-on-one before your first class so they can show you the proper way to hit, but they were nice enough to let us do a two-on-one so we could learn together.

After this little learning session, our first class began but our “private” instructor stayed with us to watch our form and answer any questions. We started with some fun, heart-pounding cardio and then it was time to put on our gloves. Punching and kicking as a workout was so fun! The class seemed to fly by, just like our next two would as well.

When deciding if we were going to continue kickboxing past this, we both wanted to, but we also were eager to try new workout classes now that we’d gotten a taste for a new way to make exercise fun. Giselle and I decided we’d try all the classes we’d heard about or ever wanted to try!

Next we got a Groupon for five barre classes. Having a small dance background (if I can even really claim it), I’d been excited to try barre. This workout used a lot of “ballerina” exercises, which strengthens your whole body by continuous trained movement of certain limbs. Also, after hearing how much my friend Tracy loved it I was beyond ready to try it for myself!

I was not disappointed. It was a very “easy” workout considering it’s one of the few workout classes that has zero cardio. But having a whole hour devoted to strength training was just what I’d been looking for. Two other pluses: working out in a near dark room and having a bunch of mirrors to watch your form (and your face haha).

I run on my own when I can, usually in the months of October to April because of the Texas heat, so I feel fine on cardio. But this is a class I definitely would love to do again when I can find a budget for it. I’ve learned through these special Groupon and trial class periods how expensive an actual membership is to these specialized classes. I’ll be back for you one day, barre class!

For now though, it was time to move on to our most exciting (and scary?) class yet – an unlimited month of dance classes at the Dallas School of Burlesque! (We got these passes as a super good deal on the Wine Walk!) Our first class was a hip hop class, which turned out to be pretty hard. Even as two coordinated people, the fast pace of this class was honestly a bit embarrassing. At least we had each other to laugh with!

We tried a couple of their other classes, but of course the highlight was the burlesque class! It was so fun getting out of my comfort zone, basically just walking slowly and doing subtle moves to show off my curves. The class was more about confidence and fun than a workout, but I could see how some of those hip shakes at a faster tempo could make you break a sweat!

I can’t wait to see what we try next! Keeping workouts interesting is so important to motivating me. Hiking and running is something I enjoy on a mental level because I always have a lot of good ideas, but these special classes train my body in new ways. I’ll be ready for any adventure!

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!

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.

Sweet Tooth Hotel

There’s a new trend in pop art that promotes interaction and temporary installations – that will then last forever through social media. These pop-ups are appearing allover. The main purpose? Get people to take pictures in the art and then post it to their followers.

Dallas is following this trend by opening the “Sweet Tooth Hotel,” an art installation that will only be up and running a few months – so get get your pictures while you still can! This “hotel” features six rooms inspired by candy (ringpops, macroons, etc) and created by local Dallas artists (Built by Bender, Shamsy, etc).

After a brief introduction about what you could touch – everything pretty much – they encourage you to explore. Mainly, you’re encouraged to take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. It’s basically a creative space filled with bright color imagery and fun props to serve as the perfect setting for a sweet photo shoot. It’s kind of genius in an age where social media is an engine for self-promotion.

My own experience visiting this art installation was a lot of fun. You pay for an hour of time to snap as many photos as you can in all the rooms, getting as creative as you can – and for me, trying not to feel awkward as other guests wait for their own turn. You’re climbing in a bathtub, lounging on the bed, stepping out from a fridge, spinning next to neon signs, and trying to make sure no one’s in your mirror shot.

The time went quick, but it was kind of exhilarating. There’s something about a timed “museum” that makes you capture as many photos and poses as you possibly can. You don’t know what you’ll end up using, but the need to hold on to the temporary imagery is important. This art won’t last forever – except for those pictures you keep.

What you post then becomes part of the art too. Even me writing this blog and sharing it to Instagram – it’s all become art in a completely new way. Modern art is becoming more and more interactive. I hope it’s still making people think. Then again, maybe I’m thinking too much about it. Ha!

All in all, me and my friend Jenna had lot of fun seeing the candy-inspired art and getting a few great profile pics!

Do you suppose she’s a Wildflower (Festival)?

A suburb directly north of Dallas, Richardson has some pretty cool events now and again. The Wildflower Festival is definitely one of them. I grew up going to the festival almost every year, but it’s only now in adulthood that I really appreciate it.

Wildflower is an Arts & Music Festival, celebrating local artisans and inviting major musicians to their stages. For old times’ sake, me and my best friends from high school decided to hit up the event as legal drinking aged citizens.

Right away there was an adorable little netted tent full of butterflies. Giselle and I tried to get as many as possible to land on us, so of course we had trouble attracting even one.

Next up there was face painting (unfortunately only for kids) and a fun, colorful photo op stop. They had insect wings, fun sunglasses, and best of all pop guitars available. Painted guitars are a major thing at Wildflower, seeing as it perfectly blends art and instrument. They even have a whole selection of painted electric guitars up for auction to support local charities.

Some of my friends headed to the big stage where classic bands like Starship and Kool & the Gang were playing, but I wanted to check out the aisles of shopping booths they had. Each booth was from local boutiques or craftsmen where you could purchase stuff like handmade jewelry or cool wall art made from threads. I bought a pair of cute beagle socks!

Then it was time for festival food! Being a vegetarian, I can’t always chow down at events like these, but luckily for me they have something called the Tornado Potato. Basically that is just a fresh cut and cooked potato that’s been fried. We lost a lot of great fries that day – the tower was way too big – but still it was fun to eat and very delicious!

Full on fries (and honestly, booze) it was time to head to the main stage to check out one of my favorite bands while I was in high school – Spoon! By that time it was fully dark, so they put on a great outdoor show with their lighting effects and booming sound.

I can’t always make it every year, seeing as it’s only one weekend, but I was glad to make it this year. It’s basically tradition with my friends!