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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 Tag: grapevine

Bubblies, Starfish, and Fun for All Ages - It's #GrapeFest!

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I had been talking about this event since August, and I also did an instagram giveaway for it (congrats to all the winners!) last week. On September 15, The 30th Annual GrapeFest finally took place! And I am so grateful that I got to come and cover the event for 2 days, and even did an instagram takeover with Visit Grapevine

The event was free all day on Thursday (9/15) and free from morning till 5 pm on Friday (9/16), and because J was in school and Mr.Man was obviously at work, I got to enjoy the festival on the first day all by myself!

Click play to watch the whole experience and don't forget to subscribe :)

https://youtu.be/IPtlcFA5KIA

There were so many unique vendors selling everything from jewelries, apparels, to funny wooden signs (one of them says, "God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy" ;) and unique beautiful wine bottle holders.

Now because it was super hot outside, I decided to have my lunch at my favorite spot, Main Street Bakery. But on the second day, I had the brisket on a bun and corn dog with J by the Gazebo Stage.

Pauline, the manager of Main Street Bakery gave me this delicious cronut! It messed up my dress with all of its chocolate syrup drippings. But it was worth it!

What I loved about this festival was the fact that they put time and effort to entertain kids as much as they do with adults. They have interactive games, petting zoo (where a goat jumped onto my chest asking for food and got me screaming like crazy lol), Sea Life touch pool, LegoLand activity center, and GrapeStomp for kids called KidStomp!

I ended both my first and second day at the Champagne Terrace. I would like to participate in the People's Choice Wine Tasting but with a kiddo and no stroller, I had to skip it this year.

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I love this magical moment where the bubble machines were blowing a bazillion bubbles in front of the Champagne Terrace and all of the kids went running to catch them.

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This is insta-worty for sure! ;)

Over all it was an awesome experience, with the food, the live music, and various different wine tastings from different continents that took place. I cannot wait to go back next year!

Pairing Fine Texas Wines & Cheeses at Cross Timbers Winery

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Labor Day weekend has passed and summer is officially over but the excitement continues in the City of Grapevine! As you might have read in my previous post, the ultimate wine experience, GrapeFest, is coming next week from September 15th through the 18th and you and your family are invited! To celebrate, I got a little bit of a head start last week when I went to sample an array of exquisite local wine & cheese selections at Cross Timbers Winery.

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Located in the Historic Brock Family farm house, Cross Timbers Winery  now serves as a popular venue for weddings, receptions, parties and other special occasions. Providing 'wine tasting with wine education', the winery's tasting room is open for public from Tuesday to Sunday (see complete schedule here), with a wide variety of wine to choose from including reds, whites, single varietals, and blends.

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For this particular evening, I got to taste the Cross Timbers Muscat Canelli, Cross Timbers Chardonnay, Cross Timbers Sangiovese, and Cross Timbers Tempranillo.

We paired the wines with the delicious cheeses from Dallas' very own, Mozzarella Company . Owner Paula Lambert hosted this session, as she guided us through each pairing.

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Lambert fell in love with fresh mozzarellas when she was on an extended visit to Perugia, Italy. Due to the absence of such delicacy back home in Texas, she decided to bring the art of cheesemaking home with her. Her factory has been making fresh, award-winning cheeses by hand now for 34 years!

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We sampled Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote, Smoked Seamorza, Montasio Festivo, and Caciotta Black Pepper and Garlic (a lot of people's favorite that evening!).

My favorite combo was definitely the Cross Timbers Chardonnay with Smoked Scamorza! I loved the smokiness of the smooth, hand-formed cheese (they were smoked over pecan shells!) paired with the light-bodied Chardonnay.

But there was a wild card pairing! And it turned out to be my ultimate favorite!

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Cross Timbers Sparkling Wine with Cella and Rosemary Montasio! I loved the Cella cheese best! It is a mixture of cow's and goat's milk, with a subtle citrus flavor from lemongrass. Excellent, excellent flavor. I couldn't get enough of it!

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Some of the lovely ladies I met at the event include (left to right) Julia Sizemore (GrapeFest volunteer), Paula Lambert (Mozzarella Company), Carolyn Lease (event organizer), and Sharon Kircher (with Bank of the West, the presenting sponsor of GrapeFest).

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And the lovely lady on the far right on the picture above is Penny Bigbie, owner of Cross Timbers Winery.

Kimberly Foster from Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau was kind enough to get me a cookbook from Paula Lambert (signed!!) called Cheese, Glorious Cheese and this sweet encounter between the two of them in the photos below wrapped up my beautiful evening at Cross Timbers!

This is just a glimpse of the ultimate wine experience that The 30th Annual GrapeFest has got to offer next week! I can not wait to see y'all there! If you haven't already, get your tickets here

 

A Taste of France in the Heart of Grapevine

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The beauty about being a foodie, a.k.a someone who loves food and is open to trying many different kinds of food (mostly gourmet), is that you get to travel the world without having to leave town. Finding different types of foreign cuisines is not that difficult these days, especially if you live in a big city. Last weekend, our 'destination' of choice was France, and we're so thrilled that we got to savor some delicious French-American dishes at Chez Fabien at the Main St. Bakery on Main Street, Grapevine.

We usually come here for breakfast on the weekends because we love the pastries like the Dessert Trio, Almond Croissant, and the giant macarons.  Or when we're in the mood for something more filling, we'd go for Le Parisien, Chocolate Chip pancakes, and Belgian Waffles.  

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This time however, we're going for the dinner menu! So I dressed up a little bit to welcome the weekend and the fact that I got to be off duty for a little while (what up clutch bag reference! hehe). Well not really. I am never off duty ;)

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We were greeted by a friendly staff who took us straight to this cute spot by the Le Place des Bisous sign, which means the place of kisses. Aaww...

Kisses aside, we were hungry, so it was time for us to order some appetizers. The bread basket had this creamy butter with scallion in it that I loved, and the escargot were buttery and flavorful, we couldn't help but to ask our server to not clear the plates yet so we could dip the bread in the remaining melted butter, garlic, thyme and all of those herbs!

J had just woke up from his long nap so he was a bit cranky. And by a bit I meant crazy cranky lol. The manager Pauline was very understanding though. We immediately ordered him some Grilled Salmon and Fries. What? Yes, they have good menus for kids, not just some basic mac n cheese or pb & j. And check out that old school entertainment! Etch the Sketch! But of course, being born at 2013, J thought it was an iPad.

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I asked our server Casey to surprise me and he ordered me the Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken. The chicken fell off the bone, you can taste the herbs all the way to the bone, and the purple baby carrots added just the right crunch to the whole dish.

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I paired it with their summer cocktail Concombre Bouquet which balanced the whole dish with its fruity, fresh taste. Mr.Man went with Pinot Grigio out of the 60 wine selections that they offer.

This is how I eat every day by the way. With a toddler boy holding my neck and jumping up and down around me lol.

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Mr. Man had the Friday night special which was the Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that's originated from the port city of Marseille with ingredients like garlic, tomatoes, fennel, fish, and shellfish. Here at Chez Fabien, they add their own spin to it though by adding King Crab. The broth was on point, I would highly recommend you to try this dish instead of the more Americanized selections, although they do serve burgers :)

What added a more oomph to the whole French vibe going on here was the live performance by Isabel Crespo (she performed La Vien Rose!). If you can't make it here on Friday nights, there's also live music on Thursday and Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm. That awesome sparkler birthday candle on the left is just what the bistro usually does for customers who are celebrating their birthdays. That's lit!

As a happy ending to our lovely evening, we savored some Banana Nutella Crepe and Bistro Bread Pudding. They are so generous with nutella on their crepes so if you love nutella like I do, you should order the crepes! The bread pudding is always available from breakfast to dinner, it's got the chewy texture that I like, and it comes with lots of peanuts! Yum! If you're allergic, make sure you let them know :)

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Over all, it was a sweet family nightout accompanied by sweet acoustic live music, delicious French dishes, and some craft cocktails (they make their own syrup and juices here!). The best thing was we didn't have to travel very far.  Can't wait to go back here :)

If you're coming to GrapeFest this September, Main St. Bakery will have a booth open outside the bakery/bistro serving their famous Croi-Dough and also sandwiches!  

 

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!

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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. 

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- all photos are owned by Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Exploring Grapevine Historic District

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

While a lot of people seemed to be getting busy with Valentine's Day planning, chocolates, and flowers, last weekend was all about NBA All-Star for us. I am not athletic at all, but my husband is, and it's therapeutic for him even just to watch the game on TV. And I think I'm beginning to see why. The game is fast, it's stylish somehow, yet manly at the same time. I have tried to enjoy watching American football (thanks to the Superbowl fever a few weeks ago), but I think basketball is a lot more fun to watch! (no offense, Americans). So yeah, on Valentine's Day evening, we got our eyes fixed on the NBA All Star Dunk Contest, which was won by the 19-year-old Zach Lavine (as seen in the video below). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYbx_PV3318

 

What's just as fun was what we did during the day that Saturday, which was visiting the vibrant Grapevine Historic District.

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I was first drawn to the district when my friend invited me to take a tour to a birthing center on Wall Street (1 min from the Main street). Why a birthing center? Am I pregnant? No not yet, but am planning to get pregnant this year, so I have been scouting a few birthing centers (not hospitals, because I want a more holistic and natural treatment this time) around DFW. During my first visit I found so many cool shops and hidden gems in the area and I thought that the district is definitely a good alternative to downtown Dallas or even Bishop Arts District! The restaurants are much more affordable, though of course, not as modern and hip as the ones in Bishop Arts.

Anyways, I decided to take Mr. Man and J that Valentine's weekend to have some good lunch and a fun afternoon. First stop was Cafe Italia. If you haven't been there, you need to check this place out!! The house-made vodka sauce is amazing, the veal pasta, the rigatoni, and lasagna were all delicious, and the best part is, the price ranges from $7.95 to $10.95 for lunch!! Not bad at all right?

We finished our meal and strolled around the area, learning a little more about Grapevine.

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Got some girl scout cookies at the Farmer's Market. Wasn't interested till I saw the face of the little girl who was selling them. I mean, giving her $4 won't hurt right? Her mom was there helping her out, I thought I might be doing that with my little girl one day, so why not sow some goodness today?

Now the weather was almost summer-like, 79 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. For winter, that's too hot! So we decided to have some fruity popsicles at Hip Pop. We really liked the concept of the store. It's all hip-hop-themed, with a giant graffiti wall, a giant boombox counter, and rapper-inspired menus like "Ice,Ice Berry" and "Busta Limes".

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The best part is they use all natural organic cane sugar! No artificial flavor and color added. Mama like!

Now it was still Valentine's Day, no matter how cheesy we thought it was. So we stopped by the heavenly chocolate shop of Dr' Sue's and sampled some chocolates for free.

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Oh this one's my favorite, and we got them for free!! The joy didn't stop there though. I was so excited to have found an all-season store called Good Things or All Seasons.

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They have everything for every holiday you could imagine! From Christmas to Easter, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Halloween, all year round!

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I personally like the Kate Spade corner. Look at those polka dot plates!! I can't....I just can't...aaaaaa....gimme gimmeee...

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The other stores that caught my attention was Willow Cottage and Holy Ground (you can sample free coffee here!!). If you want to chill and have some tea or coffee (with dairy alternative like almond milk) and pastries, check out Main Street Bakery & Co. !! And you can have some gelato afterwards at Napolis Cafe just across the street.

Definitely hanging out here more often. Sorry downtown and uptown, I think I've found your substitute.