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Life in DFW

My life as a wife and mom in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and all things fun about it!

Filtering by Category: Places To Go

Small World, Big Imagination.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Our visit to a pretend play heaven in Southlake, TX! They have everything from a mini supermarket, teepees, to a mini farm!

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Corn Maze, Pumpkins, & Hay Rides - It's Hall's Pumpkin Farm!

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Our visit to Hall's Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze in Grapevine, TX. FREE admission, BBQ, Ice cream - one of the best pumpkin patches in DFW!

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Free Things to Do Around Main St. Grapevine (year-round!)

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

If you're drawn to this article by the word 'free', I am on your team. I love finding out about the things that I could get or do for free with my family. It was this love of freebies that lead me into exploring Grapevine's Main Street in the Historic District. I'm so glad that I found these places that I'm going to talk about in this post. If you're in for a stroll around the beautiful historic district with your family without spending that much money, take a note! 1. Exhibitions at The Tower Gallery 

Located at the Glockenspiel Tower right at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau building, the Tower Gallery hosts a wide variety exhibitions year-round that are mostly free. This month all the way through September 28, you can enjoy the  Picturing Wonderland exhibition which showcases Sir John Tenniel's illustrations that complemented Lewis Carroll's text of Alice in Wonderland.

We learned a lot about the story behind the story of Alice in Wonderland. Didn't know that this classic literature was inspired by Charles Dodgson's (Lewis Carroll's real name) boating trip along the Thames with a girl named Alice Liddell!

And while you're there, you can also visit an exhibition at the Grand Gallery (located in the same building) that goes on through September 18 called the Be the Dinosaur  exhibit.

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Here, you and your little ones get to play state-of-the-art video game technology, view a traditional exhibit  featuring full-size dinosaur bones, a paleontology field station, and play around this awesome Safari Jeep right here. Oh, and the little ones get to wear Dino tails as well! Tickets are $4, get them here.

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And when you step outside the building at noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., you can watch this free daily entertainment of 2 would-be train robbers, Nat and Willy who are discussing their evil plan of robbing $60,000 off the train. Arrive a few minutes early so you can  read the storyboards located in the viewing plaza to learn the history of these two characters.

2. Chocolate Sampling at Dr. Sue's Chocolate

 

This place is one of my must-visit's whenever I go to Grapevine Historic District with my family simply because we get to sample their delicious chocolates for free! Don't expect basic flavors, Dr. Sue's offer a wide variety of unique flavors like Hatch Chile Citrus that is a must-try!

3. Coffee Sampling at The Holy Grounds

 

Not far from Dr. Sue's you can find this gourmet coffee & Christian bookstore called The Holy Groundthat samples coffee daily. You can find gourmet coffee with flavors like Banana Nut Creme Coffee, Apricot Creme Coffee, Amaretto Coffee, and the one we sampled here in the picture, Cinnamon Pecan. Very flavorful, aromatic, the cinnamon is subtle but it blends perfectly with the pecan flavor. I also love that they serve complimentary cookies alongside the coffee, how thoughtful of them! They have jewelries and gifts that you can check out as well.

4. Grapevine Botanical Gardens

Now this is just a bonus, because it's not really located on Main Street, but it's close by and you get to visit it for free.

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If you just want to chill with your family and let your little ones run around for a little while, this is a great pitstop. Beautiful vegetations, fish ponds, walking trails, butterfly sanctuary - this place has got it all!

I hope this article has been helpful, let me know if you know any other place around DFW that has great free activities for families and have a great weekend!

Where To Cool Off Around Grapevine, TX

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

It's the first day of August! The HOTTEST month of the year! Oh gosh, when summer gets to this month, a lot of people might still be on vacation mode, while others are on that back-to-school blues :P But me? All I could think of is the heat. But I have a toddler, I can't just go to the malls and museums to avoid the heat all the time! Well, the beauty about living only 10 minutes from Grapevine is that I get to visit the city and experience its variety of entertainment and recreational activities all the time with my family. And when it comes to indoor play areas, Grapevine has a lot to offer!

Paradise Pond

Located in the First Baptist Church - Grapevine, this play area opens only 2x a week on Thursdays & Fridays from 9 am to 11 am. During the summer though, they open on Mondays as well! See details here.

There's only a $1/person charge, which is very affordable compared to going to a museum and other commercial indoor play areas. However the line to get in is very long! Especially if you're a first-timer because you'd have to sign a waiver to get this key tag right here.

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My strategy is to get there around 8.50 am the latest. I know this sounds like a lot of work for y'all, but once you have the key tag, you won't have to get in the long line. And believe me, you'd be surprise to see a lot of other moms and dads who'd also get here by like 8.45 am.

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Strollers are not allowed, there are clean socks available for your kids to borrow if they need to, and there plenty of things they can do inside!

They have a bounce house, a giant slide, areas for the crawlers, plenty of toys from pretend cookware to Star Wars, fire engines, and dinosaurs. They also have costumes for the kiddos to play dress up with! But J's favorite is this mini 'roller coaster' right here!

And this one right here! No quarters needed, it's all free.

Yeah, he still tries to shoot some hoops even with his cast on. He's recovering though, we're getting that cast off this Wednesday :)

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No food or drink allowed in the carpeted area (which means the whole play area), so you're only allowed to feed your kiddo (or have a snack yourself) at the 'lobby' area (the one with the checked tiles).

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The Rec

REC stands for Recreation, Education, and Community. It is a 108,000 sq feet health and community center with an indoor playground, full-size gyms, indoor aquatic center with slides and even a child watch area!

 

It's a beautiful facility that opens from as early as 5 am (details here). And when you walk in you could easily find this awesome indoor playground in the lobby which is open to everyone!

J's favorite is this interactive wall of lights thingy.

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There's a restroom for kiddos inside this air-conditioned play area as well, which I love! Now the play area is awesome, but you gotta come check out the aquatic center. It's like a mini indoor waterpark!

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That area on the second level right there is the fitness room! They also have dance studios, swim lessons, party rooms, and even video games for kiddos to play. The guest pass is $10 but you have to be accompanied by a REC member. If you're interested in becoming a member, the details are here. You can be a member even if you're not a Grapevine resident!

Now if after all of the awesomeness I've talked about above, you still want that outdoor vibe...Check out this park that I like!

Parr Park

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Why this park? Because it has a good amount of shaded areas, lots of trees, and this awesome splash pad!

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As soon as his cast is off, we're going to celebrate like crazy here for sure!

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J was dancing to the sounds his daddy made. I don't know that this thing is but it looks fun to play! :p

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Lots of trees right? Love it. I would come in the morning though, it just gets too hot for me to enjoy it in the afternoon.

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Love that the restroom, picnic area, splash pad, and play area are all very close together. And best of all, it's all FREE!

Okay, one more thing : if you're around Main Street, Grapevine don't forget to visit this popsicle place that I really like called Hip Pop! My favorite flavor is : Busta Limes!

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This is a throwback pic of course, look at how tiny J was!

Anyways, I hope that this post has been helpful. Stay cool, everyone! And Happy August!

Getting Ready for Christmas, in July

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Can you believe we're already halfway through the year 2016?  What have you done with the first half of the year? Have you kept your resolutions? (I couldn't even keep my own resolution to do a 21-Day Vegan Challenge back in January lol). But all regrets aside, the month of July has actually got me thinkin' of the most wonderful time of the year!  NPX 6

Yes, Christmas! This stamement might be more relatable to my people down in Australia, who are going through winter at this time of the year, while the rest of us are soaking up the summer heat (oh gosh, it's gonna get to 100 degrees next week!). But hey, we might not be able to celebrate 'Christmas in July' but we could get ready for Christmas this July, by getting tickets to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad's North Pole Express which will go on sale next Tuesday (07/12) !!!

 

Started in 2006, this Christmas tradition has become one of the most beloved events at the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine. Just last year, more than 42,500 guests enjoyed the family-friendly and exciting North Pole Express ride. And, "for 2016, additional excursions have been added so we expect to see an increase in ridership this year," stated the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau Director of Communications, Leigh Lyons. 

Imagine boarding the beautifully decorated Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s Victorian rail coaches to the North Pole, where Elves welcome you and sing you traditional Christmas carols. And then a magical moment : Mrs. Claus boards the train and presents each child a “We Believe” silver Santa bell! 

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And then when you get to Santa's Workshop in the North Pole, you'll get to meet Santa, who'd wish everyone a Merry Christmas, share his Frosty Chocolate Snow Milk, and take a family photo with you and your family (it's complimentary!!).  

It's recommended to arrive 45 minutes prior to the scheduled boarding time and be sure to check out GrapevineTexasUSA.com for more Christmas Capital of Texas activities for your family! 

Tickets sell out very quickly, so get yours ASAP here >> https://tickets.grapevineticketline.com/event/northpole :) 

It's 5 months till Christmas! Can't wait to get and give presents and more importantly, be present for my family. 

**

- all photos are owned by Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau 

The Art of Staycationing

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I don't know who came up with the term 'Staycation' and what do you guys usually do when you do it (I guess everybody's different), but for me and my family, the point of going on a staycation is getting away from our daily routines as you would when you go on a vacation, without having to travel very far.  ashton-27

So this month, we chose to 'travel' to our neighboring city, Fort Worth, TX. It's only 30 minutes from our apartment, it's got a good historic and downtown district, and it's got this beautiful hotel called The Ashton Hotel.

Located strategically by the city's Sundance Square, The Ashton is a luxury boutique hotel that has a lot of history in it. In fact, it is listed as a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

Okay so what do you do on a staycation? Here's what we usually do.

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1. Chill in the hotel bathrobes and watch cable TV all afternoon

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Seriously guys, this is the best feeling ever. The thought of not having to do laundry, cook, and clean up is a vacation in itself to me! The hotel room was so luxurious and comfy, the custom bathrobes made me feel like a boss lady, and that view by that big window --- ohhh yesss, I can get used to this! At least for another 20 hours lol.

Don't try to do too much on your staycation. The point is to relax. So chill, watch tv, have some cookies, and savor the moment.

2. Enjoy room service if there's any or try the hotel breakfast

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The Ashton waffles were amazing. I wish they offered room service on the weekends, though.

3. Go to the nearest kid-friendly attraction

Choosing Fort Worth Zoo was a no-brainer. It's our favorite zoo in the DFW metroplex, it's got tons of attractions, and we got our FREE tickets from our POGO PASS :) If you're thinking of visiting Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austion, Arizona, or Vegas you can get entries to multiple family-friendly venues with just under $50 when you purchase the passes at pogopass.com with my code MOZDEB. 

4. Try the nearby restaurants

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We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Hanabi, and then made a quick stop at my favorite ice cream place in the metroplex, MELT. I had the cookies and cream but J had their vegan 'Out of the Blue' and it was amazing!

5. Take a walk around the hotel 

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We took a walk to Sundance Square, explored the downtown area a bit, and then went back to the hotel, took a nice warm shower, and watched a good movie until we fell asleep. It was definitely a rejuvenating getaway. We can't wait to do it again!

Hotel and Six 10 Grille photography by Beckley & Co. 

In partnership with The Ashton hotel. 

Pinterest

Spring Picnic at Klyde-Warren Park

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

It's been 4 months since Mr.Man moved to his new job in downtown Dallas and we're loving it so far. We're so grateful for this God-given opportunity and we don't ever want to take it for granted. Now since the sun is out more often and the weather is not as cold as it was at the beginning of the year, we finally got to do what I've been wanting to do for a while : taking him out on a lunch picnic with J around downtown Dallas. Megan_Weaver_11a

It was a no-brainer to pick Klyde-Warren Park, 'cause it's only 2 minutes away from his office and it's more spacious and kid-friendly than the other parks at downtown Dallas.

And even though they have tons of food trucks there at the park, I decided to bring our own homemade meals that were healthy, filling, affordable and yummy!

Spinach and Almond Salad in A Jar

Super easy to make. I layered spinach, some kale, almonds, cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes in two mason jars and topped them with my Chia-Apple Cider Vinegar dressing (made of chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil).

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Crunchy, cheesy, nutty, tangy, and sweet at the same time! I also brought some turkey sammiches with mayo and kethup on wholeweat bread.

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Look at him, the dude was hungry!

Now since he had to go back to work, I couldn't bring him anything 'boozy' to drink. So I made some...

Strawberry & Rosemary Water + Virgin Mimosas 

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I used limeade and Sprite to substitute the champagne. And I added some cut fruits to add more color to it! And for dessert we had...

Baked Mini Donuts with Powdered Sugar 

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So delicious, affordable to make, and hmm...I wanna say healthy but not really. I mean, they might be baked but they're still donuts. But you don't eat desserts to be healthy anyways right? So yeah click here for the recipe!

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Ow yea, he sure is one, just like his mama ;)

It's always nice to sneak some quality time in between our busy days. Next week is going to be even sunnier! I wish you all a lovely weekend with your family and I'll leave you with this piece of advice from my picnic box right here.

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***

Photography by the amazing Megan Weaver (check her out on instagram and facebook :) 

Donut Slayer top by Prefresh available at Ollie and Mave Pop Up Shop 

#SpringGoals

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

2 weekends ago marked the beginning of Spring. The season where a lot of people get sick (including J and Mr. Man) because of pollen allergies and what-not, while others soak up the sun and enjoy the chilly yet sunny weather with picnics and al fresco dining. blueedited-4

 

A vast majority of people usually do a lot of cleaning and decluttering (especially with their closet, fridge, and pantry!!) at this time of year. Many others usually focus more on getting their bodies toned for the 'bikini season' that is coming in a few months. That's why you'd see a lot of 'bikini bootcamp' tips circulating around pinterest at this time of year. A lot of people also go on vacations mainly for spring break. Or if they don't, they'd probably have their summer vacation planned out already.

I, on the other hand, am currently not seeing the urgency of doing all of the above.

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My house is pretty clean, although I will need to clean blackberry stains on my carpet with some vinegar and baking soda soon. I don't have a bikini-body but I don't even wear bikinis. So, all that's left for me to focus on are other urgencies like medical bills, J's health, my mom's upcoming visit and tons of work (events, collaborations, etc) that are due this Spring. On top of it all, I still have to be a good wife, and make room for some quality time with Mr.Man. Dude, my brain could explode any minute!

So  I have only one #SpringGoal : To declutter my mental closet. 

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Now, how do we declutter? By throwing away everything we don't and won't need in the future (that's why you look for any expired food to throw away from your pantry right?). Everything that we don't fit in anymore and things that are not relevant for us going forward - they have to go!

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If it was an internet browser, my mind would have so many 'tabs' opened in every second of the day. But you know what, not all of them needs to be opened! In fact, most of them are the things that I can toss out of my mental closet. Like J in the picture above. I often stare blankly at one spot like that, while 'trying on' different thoughts that I keep in my mental closet. Some are good and creative (I get so many brilliant ideas during the day), but some are just pure insecurities and worries.

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So yeah, this spring, and everyday, I'm hoping to throw away any thoughts that are no longer relevant to who I am today and who I want to become, to what my marriage is and what I want it to become, to who my son is and who I want him to become, etc. 

How about you?

***

these pictures were taken along the Las Colinas Boulevard in Irving. J's wearing a muscle tee from Ollie and Mave :) 

A Little Pre-Valentine's Day Family Staycation

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day, because well...I'm just not into anything cheesy and lovey dovey like that (ever since I was a teenager, true story!). So when I noticed that Valentine's Day was like 2 weeks away from last weekend, I thought, hey, why not do a little staycation around my city of Las Colinas and have a little getaway with my little family. Any excuse to have a little getaway, right? So last weekend we stayed at NYLO Hotel Las Colinas. And we loved it!

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I like the modern and spacious loft design, with a touch of industrial decor around the hotel. The room is just the right size for our small family. To get the glimpse of our staycation, click play and don't forget to subscribe on youtube.

https://youtu.be/o3YnIEXMz10

We got everything from waffles, chinese food, to fresh-cut tulips, turned on the TV and just chilled there. It's nice to not have to clean up and make your bed every once in a while.

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Yes, J loves his orange juice. And I love spending a Saturday, not having to worry about events and what-not. I didn't even post anything on my social media that day! I think that's the essence of 'celebrating love' - as most people believe February 14th is all about. I personally like having J with us, because, well...my love is for him too, not just for Mr. Man. And it's just more convenient to have us all together. It's just the 3 of us anyways. But whatever works for you, kid or no kid, as long as you can have a little 'sabbath' from work and routines and getaway with your loved ones.

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We talked, argued a little bit, ate, laughed, and rested. I don't know what they put in our pillows but we slept good that night. Cute coffee mug? I know! I got it from ILY Couture. It's on sale now so get it quick!

The next day, we had breakfast at The Loft at NYLO.

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And Mr.Man played pool while Jerome chilled with his youtube videos.

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If you don't have any plans yet for Valentine's Day weekend, NYLO hotel Las Colinas offers special rates starting at $199 per couple, which include a 1 night stay and 3-course dinner on the Valentine's Day eve (Saturday, February 13th) with delicious menus like Peppercorn Orange Poached Shrimp. Lamb Chops, and Chocolate Walnut Bread Pudding. Yumm!!

Book your stay now and if you don't know where to go or what to do during your stay around Las Colinas/Irving, check out Visit Irving's blog.

*in-room photos by Beckley.Co // in partnership with NYLO Hotels.

 

Mustangs and Anchor

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The best thing about this visit? We didn't need to drive for more than 5 minutes. Why? Because the world's biggest equestrian sculpture happens to be The Mustangs of Las Colinas at Williams Square, Las Colinas, Irving, TX - a.k.a my neighbourhood! Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 2.04.51 AM

 

Though many people are aware of this majestic sculpture, not many ever took the time to find out how it was made by going to the Mustangs of Las Colinas Museum. So on a Friday morning last week,  J and I decided to pay a visit and learn more about these 'horses'.

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Oh but first, in case you were wondering, the word equestrian means 'of or relating to horse riding'. Okay now press play to get a glimpse of the museum and Williams Square as narrated by museum guide, Mary Higbie.

https://youtu.be/X2KKWZ3Ocbc

Although it seems 'hidden' inside of one of the tall buildings at Williams Square, the museum has attracted thousands of people from all around the world. I love how they celebrate that diversity by having the push pin and the world map ready! There are a number of sculptures, paintings, and other merchandises sold on site (notice the horse-shaped necklace Mary was wearing? Yeah, that one's sold here too!), you might want to check them out when you come to visit.

And, if pondering upon beautiful sculptures and learning a little bit of history make you hungry, there's a food truck outside called The Anchor Food Truck. Not only do they serve gourmet food 3 to 4 times a week, but ALL of their profits go to help feed the homeless and hungry in Irving!

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Started back in July of 2015, this food truck is run by Karen Phillips Jones and her preacher husband of Irving's Anchor Church. Besides preaching, cooking has always been his passion. No wonder the brisket tacos were delish! I would love to try their Mac Daddy next time!

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"We both saw a need to help the hungry and homeless near our church. Nearly everyday, a homeless or hungry person would stop by the church for food or money. We had an opportunity to get a food truck and it was a perfect fit to help others. We are able to use the profits from selling lunch at Williams Square to feed our friends throughout the week at Centennial Park in downtown Irving. Currently there are 16 homeless people that look forward to our awesome food right off the truck," shared Karen.

What a great way to spread the good news, love, and kindness to people! Follow them on social media to find out their weekly schedules and menu.

So many great things in Irving to discover and look forward to this year! Follow @VisitIrvingTX and me @mozdeb to get updates :)

Have an awesome weekend, friends!