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!

When to Judge a Book by its Cover; Hikes Based on Pictures

The three of us (well, four, counting Florence the dog) left our airbnb pretty early so we could get on the road. We stopped at an independent coffee shop in Santa Fe, called Betterday, for a little caffeine kick. Then we were catching the sunrise from the windows of my car. Even better, since we were driving past Albuquerque, we caught a sky full of air balloons from afar.  It was great up close watching them launch the day before, but it was also great seeing them all laid out across the big blue sky.

After an easy drive, we arrived at El Malpais National Monument. Besides seeing that they had caves, and incorrectly assuming their use online of the word “tubes” meant there was tubing – I knew nothing. It would turn out these tubes were more like cavern passageways. The word ‘malpais’ actually comes from a Spanish term for ‘badlands’ because a lot of the park is covered in volcanic rock.

We headed to the visitor center and talked to the ranger there. His help along with the pictures posted on the walls helped us decide on our hikes for the day. Seriously, we looked at the cool pictures and said, “that one!” Side note: I use the National Park website constantly, and if they had all the trails with times, difficulties, and pictures, etc. listed it would be so, so helpful. (Send them an email on my behalf, thanks!)

First stop was the Ventana Arch, which was a little bit out of the way driving wise, but the three of us had such great memories of Arches National Park, that we decided where there’s an arch, there we’ll be. The hike was a super easy flat one, maybe twenty minutes. The arch was awesome. It’s always so incredible to see what nature can do.

From there, we headed in the car down a long stretch of bumpy dirt road to head to our next destination: the Big Skylight Cave. This was one of the most popular images found at the visitor center so we definitely wanted to check this one out. We’d gotten a permit to access these “tubes” (a set of 4, including the Big Skylight). Because of an epidemic of white nose syndrome among the bats of the US, we had to be very careful to clean our shoes on the way in (and out) of our hiking trail.

Our hike was fun, though I’ll be honest the lava rocks were not my favorite to hike on. The whole path was marked with cairns, basically small rock towers, to show us our path, which was fun because it was basically a wide open space of varying sizes of lava rocks and no real path to follow. Then we reached the the top of the cave and we were already impressed. It was like looking into a big, beautiful crater, with an arch to the left and a big tunnel with a skylight to the right.

Warning: we did not have the appropriate gear to attempt this “tubing” adventure. They recommended helmets, gloves, and headlamps. I hadn’t even put on my good hiking boots. But when greeted with this amazing sight, I knew I had to get down in there. Just, very very carefully.

It was a bit of work getting down the cliff, finding the path with little red metal divets, and trying to scale the thing without slipping. Then we were down there, making our way across big boulders to get further into the cave. Every step was cautious, but mostly we were slow going just looking around in the hunt. The skylight was a big hole at the top of the cave, allowing a beautiful stream of light, but also hitting the rocks below enough to create a lush moss growth.

The day had been perfect above, a little crisp but perfect for a lightweight long sleeve shirt, but the deeper into the cavern we went, the colder it got. Without headlamps, we didn’t venture too much further (plus you know, we had a schedule to keep). It was absolutely breathtaking though.

We eventually made our way back up, which actually seemed easier, and hiked back to the car. I was feeling pretty great because of the whole experience, so as we headed to our next destination I was in high spirits. We were out in the middle of nowhere with little reception, but we passed one kitschy little town and the art sculptures made us slow down. Then, lo and behold, a coffee shop was right off the little highway calling our name.

On the side of the colorful building was Inscription Rock Trading coffee, and inside was a miriade of New Mexican delights. Handmade jewelry and bags, a whole herb wall, and in the back a little bar area with all sorts of coffee drinks. The intriguing art outside had stopped us, and it was the cherry on top of our recent adventure!

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?

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.

Becoming Locals in NYC

So many mixed feelings about the city I fell in love with at thirteen. I started this trip coming from a new place in my life where I was genuinely very happy. I was satisfied with where I was at. I was finally actively seeking my best life and at the moment had no complaints about home sweet home. But.

Well, it’s New York for Christ’s sake. I went in thinking “I’m fine. It can’t hold up. What would I want here?” And then you descend into the subway, the smells, the clamor, the glory of several lives rushing about in a perfect order. And when someone shoved aside my suitcase with a sneer, I smiled and rushed about too. It’s easy to join in when everyone agrees to not wait up.

New York will always have my heart.

Every pic looks like it should be a movie.

We settled into our Airbnb first, a really cool loft space in Brooklyn. Well, technically, first we lost the keys to the door for half an hour while we searched three flights of stairs (the key had fallen and gotten wedged in our suitcase handle). Then we settled in and got ready to explore! 

We had very loose plans. Basically we wanted to wander the city and stop in anywhere we felt like. There was a couple of touristy things I had added to the list that were simply must-dos but for the most part our only rule was: If you pass a coffee shop, you must stop.

So much coffee, so little time.

It seems the train you need is always broken. Our place was supposed to be twenty feet from a subway stop but of course it was under construction the exact amount of time we would be staying there. Which ended up being kind of great because we walked a lot of Brooklyn. At several points during our stay people asked us directions like we were locals. And we knew the answers!

We made our way over to Manhattan and I was navigating the subway for the first time myself. I felt like such a cool kid! This was my first time in the city with no parents or teachers. It was weird to think a NYC vacation for us was a typical day for its citizens.

There’s so much culture all over the city – I love it!
We spent more time wandering through the  Burroughs, making our way through NoHo, SoHo, Little Italy, etc etc. Our first day was spent walking and making mental maps. I could walk New York’s streets forever, because even when it should just be a sidewalk there’s always something going on. 

Shops, and food, and best of all, people. Every kind of person you ever could meet, you can find in New York City. There’s so much story to every walk-up, every person has two (plus) lifetimes, and things happen there. Constantly. The air is full of possibility. 

We spent a long time in Strand, otherwise known as COOL KIDS BOOK CLUB.

Obviously, I’m still in love with New York. I always saw myself ending up here, and with the way things are headed in my life… I still might! 

The world is mine for the choosing, and just in the past few months I’ve learned how resilient I can be. How I can make things work out by force of will. And how I just need to keep opening my life to whatever opportunities pop up.