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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: irving

Why Learning Self-Defense is Every Woman's Responsibility

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I know what you think. This title might be a little too paranoid. I mean, there are so many bad things that are happening in the world today, but it couldn't be that bad right? Well, as a part-time worker at an anti-human trafficking organization, I can tell you that kidnapping, trafficking, rape, and robbery could happen to anyone at anytime, anywhere. I've heard and read so many stories where women get kidnapped by anyone from  colleagues, distant relatives, to a complete stranger.

It's not about focusing on the fear of the bad people out there, though. It's about focusing on equipping yourself for your future. At least that's what I learned from one of the mothers who took her daughter to a RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class at Irving Fire & Police Academy back in April.

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"You never know what life throws at you," said Maria who had been coming to the 12-hour class with her teenage daughter, Sarah.

They were not the only mother-daughter team in the room. I saw so many others who came with their nieces and daughters, some even come every year just to refresh their memories.


There were about 16 people in the class from all over the DFW metroplex (yes, that's the cool thing about this class, you don't have to live in Irving to join). This class get filled up very quickly every month.I guess the hunger and the need for such training are growing. Self-defense is not just for The Avengers cast or martial arts-enthusiasts, or those who live in a high-risk neighborhood. Because although you can depend on our law enforcement officers to protect us to some extent, you just never know.

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Different ages, different walks of life, same goal - to equip themselves for life. The classes are not all physical though, participants learn the theories at a class setting first before they got to the physical training.

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Check out the gears! You don't have to worry about getting hurt, the trainers are professionals so they know how to prepare you for the bad situations without hurting you. However, you can hit and kick them in return! (They got protective gears on too, so everyone's safe!  ;).


It was so empowering just to watch these women defending themselves. They're all everyday women, just like you and me, with no martial arts training background whatsoever. And there they were, kicking, pushing, and defending themselves. This is more empowering than a Beyonce video!

My favorite part was watching these ladies cheering their classmate as she got into a 'combat' with the trainers. "You can do it! Come on! Work around it!," they yelled with excitement.

It's such a beautiful and empowering atmosphere, women supporting and believing in other women. Nobody was too young or too old to fight. Anyone can get up and fight to defend themselves.

This women-only 4-day class takes place every month at the Irving Police & Fire academy for FREE. The minimum age is 10 years old and the class is also available in Spanish! This month's class is full, but be on the lookout for the next one on July 18th!! For more info and registration, click here. 



Savoring the Goodness of Texas Land, Air, and Water

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

When I first heard about this restaurant, I thought, "Law? Why would anyone name a restaurant 'Law'?" LAWeditedLAWedited-2

It turns out that the name stands for Land, Air, & Water. Not just any land, air, and water, but the ones in Texas. Yes, LAW is committed to sourcing their ingredients locally. So throughout the restaurants, you can sense the Texas theme going on, although it does not overpower the beauty of the view of Four Seasons Hotel's greenery, visible through the tall and wide glass windows.


LAW Restaurant officially opened its doors on April 1st (just last week), but the night before, myself and a handful of others got a little preview of what it has to offer.

We were greeted by a selection of wine, carefully picked by master sommelier, James Tidwell, and some delicious appetizers. From Chipotle-Agave glazed thick cut bacon (it's seriously super thick!) to Crab Deviled Eggs and Oysters - they got it all.

I know I could've tried their amazing salads like the TX Caesar, but I couldn't wait to try their Beer Can Chicken tacos (available during lunch daily) so I went ahead and get me some at the taco stations.


On their regular dinner menu, they serve Crispy Duck Confit Tacos with foie gras, kale, and pickled red onions. Ooh, I would love to try that next time!

After tasting the 'Air', now it was time for me to taste the 'Land'. So I headed to the steak station for some seriously huge rib eye steaks.


Look at those ribs sticking out! The steak was cooked perfectly, and well-seasoned. I like it even without the sauce. On their regular dinner menu, LAW also serves this BBQ Rib Tower that you don't want to miss!

And if you're wondering who's the guy behind these brilliant, Texas-inspired menus, here he is. Chef Jonathan Rivera.


I was lucky to get this shot because he was running around greeting people and making sure that the food was served just the way they should. Thanks for stopping by for the photo, Chef!

Next, 'Water'! I've had some oysters for appetizers, but I was curious to try their Crispy Red Fish. 


Served with some fire-roasted chilies, the fish was cooked perfectly, and I like the fact that it didn't have that fishy aftertaste that a lot of fish-dishes have. Even with the skin on, it was divine.

I didn't get to try everything because I was busy having great conversations with this couple who was kind enough to let me tag along on their datenight (thank you Hyon-Chin and James Keoughan!). But by this time, I was full. So you know I had to go straight to the dessert station!


Yay, LAW S'mores! The graham crackers and marshmallows were house-made, and look at that torch! A fancy spin on a childhood favorite!


These lemon & blueberry pies were my fave tho! Sweet and tangy, a good ending to a great dinner.

Oh but we couldn't leave without sipping some cocktails of course! So behold, the Zone of Truth.


Patron añejo, patron silver, passion fruit, lemon and some powdered red peppers to give it a kick. Yum!!

So excited to welcome this restaurant to the city of Irving's already vibrant food scene. Can't wait for you all to stop by and try it too!  


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.



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. 


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!


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.



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 :) 

Getting The Heat at Zest Fest 2016

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Although my tolerance towards spicy food is not that high, I am married to a dude who puts a crazy amount of hot sauce into everything he eats. So when we found out about a festival dedicated solely for spicy food/condiments, we knew we had to check it out. Especially because there were contests and celebrity chefs doing live cooking demo too!

That's Mr.Man, trying the Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Co.'s "Stupid Hot" Sauce. It is stupid hot y'all. As in, the kind that could make your brain stop functioning for a few seconds- kinda hot. We didn't know who was going to eat it at home if we got a bottle of it, so we got their Red Savina Garlic sauce. Mr. Man actually shook the guy at the booth's hands, because the sauce has successfully got him all sweating and speechless.


Each year, vendors compete to win the Fiery Food Challenge through a blind tasting involving the event-goers. If they win, vendors get to bring home this award right here. Like Smokin' Texas Gourmet, that has won quite a few times now, and not only for their food but for their cocktail mixers too!


With a storefront in Keller, TX, Smokin' Texas Gourmet offers a variety of gluten free spices, all-natural and artisanal condiments, seasonings, hot sauces and custom products by chef Peter Mollett.  The one on the picture above is their delicious Jalapeño Honey Mustard. You can order online and have it delivered to your home!

Now, it was time for us to get some lunch. All of these spicy sauces got us craving for some serious grub. So I ordered some ribs with some Eddie Deen BBQ sauce that we had previously sampled with some pickle and sausage (right picture).

Next, it was time for some dessert! We're so glad that we found the Texas Toffee booth after all of the spiciness we've had that afternoon! Loved the 'Gotcha Toffee' (cinnamon & ghost pepper), but my favorite was the dark chocolate pecan! You can find out more about their candy selections here. 

Notice on the picture on the top left, they have the trophy? Yes, we weren't the only ones obsessed with Texas Toffee. You should definitely check it out too :)

You can catch glimpses of what went down at Zest Fest by clicking play on the following video. And...don't forget to subscribe!



Now if you're a fan of spicy food who wants to try out different products every month that you can't get in a regular retailer, Heck That's Hot might just be what you need. 

   It is a monthly subscription of a box of spicy food from salsa, beef jerky, dip mixes to chips and everything spicy you could think of (7 to 8 items in total) for just $30/month.

With the cold weather and the storm that have just passed, do you think you're ready for some heat? :)

I know I'm not. Ugh...


The 2015 Brick Universe Dallas

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Although I'm not really big on building stuff with LEGO bricks, even on my spare time, I was excited to attend the 2015 Brick Universe at Irving Convention Center last Saturday.  Why? Because I got 2 dudes in my family! And because it wasn't just a LEGO art exhibition, but they had so many activities for kids of all ages! We got there at around 11.30 a.m. (it only took us about 5 minutes to get to ICC, yay!), and after getting our ticket at the lobby, we were 'greeted' by this gigantic Manhattan Bridge made of LEGO. Whaaaat?

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Yes it's real. And since the genius behind this remarkable work was hanging around the exhibition area, I decided to approach him and do a little interview. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jonathan Lopes.


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I must admit that I thought his last name was spelled "Lo-pez" like J-Lo's, but it's actually Lopes haha! So I literally said, "Hi, Jonathan Lo-pez!" :P Thankfully he pardoned my misunderstanding and answered my questions anyway.


Lopes has always been a creative person, and since 1997 has been 'playing around' with LEGO bricks as his creative outlet. He started by buying a few LEGO kits to build a train layout. As he gained more knowledge and experience, about 5 years ago, Lopes started to build commission pieces for office buildings and exhibitions. However, this is not his full-time job. Whaaat.


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It took him up to 50 hours to build this bridge! And to my surprise, he did NOT use any computer programs to help him design the whole thing! "I depended on my knowledge of the LEGO pieces," he said. "I'm all about doing it organically."


Although many people would want to hear him say that the Manhattan Bridge is his favourite work, Lopes admitted that his favourite is actually this piece modelled after a Fire Fighter Building. He likes it because of the green trees.



There were a lot of other cool stuff that you could find at the LEGO convention, like Clone Army Customs, LEGO Roses, and robotic legos.


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Not to mention cool LEGO artworks, besides Lopes', with so many different themes from famous skyscrapers to Star Wars.


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What a right timing! #PrayforParis


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Never forget.


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Of course the Stormtrooper had to be here.


They also had tons of activities that expanded kids' creativity as it entertained them like building walls with giant LEGO bricks, inflatable slides, and many more!

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My favourite LEGO piece to work with though was this dude right here. I wish I could take him home with me!

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It'd make a good lunch bag wouldn't it? ;) Oh well.

Vision, Commitment, & Good Food Collide : Chipotle Cultivate

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I have attended many events in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex since we moved here in June, but none of them comes close to this particular event held on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Lake Carolyn, Irving. It was an event filled with educative information on the matter of food and how it's being produced/made, presented in a really creative way alongside live music performances, organic & non-gmo food stalls, pop-up bars, and of course good tacos, Chipotle style. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

This pic was taken in front of the Kids area of the festival, where kids got to do a lot of fun activities including painting on this giant apple made to resemble applegate (natural & organic meat company) logo. Whereas, the adults can explore the festival by using the booklets given at the entrance. What's interesting was we could collect 4 out of 5 stamps on our booklet to get a free burrito-voucher that you can redeem the next day at any Chipotle restaurant. Awesome right?

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We went to the "Guac from Scratch" booth first, where we learned about how Chipotle make their guacamole from scratch. And apparently they use organic ingredients! At the end, were given a voucher to get free chips & guacamole that can also be redeemed at any Chipotle the next day. Yeay, more freebies!

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The second booth that we visited was the "GMO Experience" booth, where we learned about what GMO is and why Chipotle chooses not to use GMO ingredients in their food. For those of you who are not familiar with GMO (genetically modified organisms), they are "plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology". And as described in the Non-GMO project website, this experimental technology "merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding" (read more here) .  No research has proven that GMO is good to consume, and by the sound of it, I wouldn't consider it to be healthy either. Anything modified is just suspicious to me. Wouldn't want to feed my family with it!

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Next booth that we visited was the Fresh V.S. Processed installation, where the ingredients of typical fast food hamburgers and a Chipotle burrito bowl were being displayed and compared. Can you see how the Hamburger ingredients at the top are all powders and 'man-made'? What's best for us to consume is the kind of ingredients that are closest to its natural form (or also known as, fresh!). Anything 'powdered', pasteurized, and highly processed are just never good for us, no matter what the advertising/packaging says. What an eye-opener. I was so amazed at how Chipotle is committed to using the best and healthiest ingredients.

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We then took a break and went straight to the food stalls, I ordered the tacos. Mr. Man ordered the beef gordita (as seen in the pic above). It was super yummy! We didn't try the Kale salad but I bet it's delicious as well.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetUnder this dining tent, we also tried the Shophouse's ricebowl, which  was alright (again, we Asians have high expectations when it comes to Asian food hehe). Anyways, we didn't want to eat too much 'cause there were too many organic desserts like brownies, popsicles, and granola bars to try at the Artisans Hall !

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This one on the pic above is the Urban Acre stall. You can buy fresh produce online and pick them up at select locations around Dallas-Fort Worth. Their produce is organic and seasonal too! Check them out here.

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There were also products like honey and even organic pies being sold and displayed. My favorite was the Chipotle Roasted Pecan Chocolate Brownie I got from the Brownie Cottage stall. Oh my god! It's sweet and spicy at the same time. So moist, and packed with flavors. It was a perfect dessert, especially when paired with some Patron Margarita. Heeyyyy...

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Waiting for performances to start on the Izze Music Stage, we savored our dessert while enjoying some reggae tunes. Then, it was time for some ice cream! And not just any ice cream, but the ice cream of the legendary brand that turns out to be a non-gmo supporter, Ben & Jerry's!!

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The beautiful thing about it was that IT WAS the COOKIE DOUGH ICE CREAM that we got and it was FREE !!!

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We took this picture to support GMO labeling on food products, because we realized that we all deserve to know what is in our food!

Next to the Ben & Jerry's booth, was a booth promoting this cafe called "Momentum". It is actually a culinary training facility that aims to train, educate, and equip young people that are considered "at-risk" (those who are on probation, have gone to prison, etc) to achieve their full potential. How powerful is that? One day, I would really like to build something like this, probably to kids in my homeland, Indonesia. The guy who talked to us about it, Jason, had a troubled past as well, but he changed his life and now dedicates his life to encouraging and empowering young people to not make the mistakes he and many others made. In 2015, the cafe will open in downtown Dallas. For more info, please take time and read more about them here.

On top of it all, Chipotle Cultivate also features the Chef's tent, where you can see chefs cooking delicious meals from scratch, beer & wine tasting hall, Tabasco stall (they are non-gmo!), Izze stall, and a pop-up cinema where you can watch a few documentaries, one of which is about farmers who are committed to producing organic products such as milk and cheese.

It was a truly inspiring event. Reminding us that we should be more cautious about what we put in our body through food and drinks. We ought to take care of our bodies better. And personally, Chipotle inspired me, to build something that serves the people while making profit at the same time. I mean, who does this? Who would "throw away" money like this just to raise awareness about healthy ingredients they way they did it in this festival? Of course, it was also for marketing purposes, but you can see their commitment to a better and healthier culture of eating. And to that, I raise my glass. Till next time, Chipotle Cultivate :)

please take time to watch this documentary by bloomberg tv on Chipotle as a business

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oh and btw we have redeemed our free chips and burritos + 2 bottles of Izze last Sunday. And they were amaze-balls!

First Immigrant Trimester. Done!

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

September 8 marked the third month of our moving to Dallas. There are a LOT to be thankful for, since we had next to nothing when we first got here. Today we got all that we need. A couch, 2 beds, a TV (+ a chrome cast to watch films from our iPad on TV), a dining table with its set of chairs, and some clothes for fall. Remember, it's what we need, not just what we want, cause that category will make an unending list. We've had fights like crazy, we have laughed so hard, we have cried, we have been confused, but we are never afraid cause we know who we are and whose we are :) It's safe to stay that our family is God's favorite sitcom, haha!

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The hexagonal shelf is by Urban Outfitters, the faux plant by homegoods, and the adorable quote board is from Altar D State, a clothing store with a cause. Check them out! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We got these awesome toys from our friend, Naomi, for J's birthday last month. Been lining them up with the ottoman/coffee table to encourage J to walk. These kinds of toys are also the best distractions I got for J so far, cause they teach him words, they got lights and songs, you should get one! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

What I'm thankful about is the fact that we don't have to battle with traffic the way we had to in Jakarta. It used to take Mr. Man about 2 hours to come home from work, but now, it only takes him 10 minutes! He can even go home for lunch and quality time with J :) Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

We took the time to visit the West Dallas area last Monday, particularly the Singleton street. Found this awesome wall that probably belongs to a restaurant, I hope to dine here soon. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Margaret Hunt-Hill Bridge overlooking Dallas' skyline in the morning. Ahh..how I love tall buildings.

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A little workout session at Irving's own Campion Trail on a Sunday morning, featuring a session of doing push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, jogging, and mostly walking and talking (which I enjoy the most).

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The best part of it all is embracing every second of this life we have now. It's funny when people asked me earlier back in Indo, "Aren't you scared of living abroad? away from home and family?" - honestly, it's only scary if you make it scary, right?

Looking forward to making the most of the next decades. Thank You Lord!

Going Back to Zero, Socially

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Moving to a new country means going back to zero, socially. You have to start over again, getting to know new people, finding the right group of friends where you can fit in, and introducing yourself over and over again. I was a big social girl years ago, always out and about somewhere in the city of Jakarta. But when I decided to focus on taking care of my baby, things have changed and I have 'withdrawn' myself from a LOT of friends, just because I felt like our lifestyles have differed in many ways (no hating, seriously). So moving here has not been that 'drastic' for me, socially. However, I still need friends! And I am determined to make friends with the locals! I do not want to be stuck making friends with only the people with the same nationality as me, the way I did when I was studying in Australia 7 years ago. It narrowed the chance of my getting to know the country I'm living in the most organic way! It is not always comfortable to have no friends and to have to be the one who 'approaches' people first. But in my experience, it is always worth the try. You'll never know who'd you end up making friends with! So, why not try to let go of your comfort zone and start opening up?

So I have tried to start up conversations with strangers since July (not the creepy ones of course, haha) in various places like church (the best place to find mommy-friends!), the park, the museum's playground, and recently : the LIBRARY! Yeayyy!


I first got the idea from a stranger I met in my church' nursery room. When I told her that I've just recently moved here, she suggested me to go to local libraries to look for friends.

And she was right. After attending my local library's story time for about 3 times now, I have made some new friends :) And baby J has too!

Here is Valley Ranch Library at 401 Cimarron Trail, Irving. Very spacious, very kid-friendly, and quite scenic too! Especially because it overlooks this beautiful view below.


It is nice to stroll around here before the library opens.


All we need to do is come every Monday at 10, pick up a ticket at the information desk, and wait for the session to start. Baby J likes to pick up some books from the shelves before the session starts, while making friends with other babies who are waiting along with us. The best thing of it all is, it's free!!


He likes to take the books off the shelves, so I have to put them back on afterwards.


He also likes to hang around this "fish pond" with his friends.


His favorite time is definitely the parachute, where he gets to go under this big colorful 'parachute', while listening to some music (they play pandora radio for kids here) with other babies! Meanwhile parents can just hold the parachute and wave them up and down. Kids go bananas during this session!


Afterwards, we stroll around the neighborhood for a while (if it's not too hot outside) and muse ourselves with the green grass and trees we didn't often get to see back home in Jakarta.


We've been loving our daily routines so far, with a few new activities on our list, and it is safe to say that we are never bored. Because boredom only comes when you are least creative. Not an arty person? Not a DIY junkie? Good news! Creativity involves every aspect of life! So there's plenty of chance for you to exercise it in the way you use the amount of money you have, the amount of time you have, the amount of friends you have, and so on. Yes. Creativity. No excuse. Remember that, mommas. :)