Sunday, November 18, 2018

Kick Off the Holiday Season with ICE at the Gaylord Texan!

We couldn't wait to kick off the holiday season this year!
Normally I avoid thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but this year I am determined to try ALL the things!
I haven't been to ICE in about 10 years, and my husband and girls have never been. So we did a bit of research and headed up to Grapevine to experience the wonder!


This year's theme is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with characters from the 1964 classic film.
The making of ICE is actually incredible. Thirty-six truckloads of ice are delivered to the Gaylord over a period of three weeks- this is how fast the ice factory can produce it! Then 40 artists from Harbin, China (where it stays below freezing for half the year!), carve 2 million pounds of ice into the fantastic wonder you get to experience. How cool is that?!



(Learn more here: The making of ICE)

We picked an off-peak day to go because we know lines get long during the holiday season. Wait times can be several hours long, so factor this into your decision about when to attend!
Once you are lined up and ready to go, you will receive a long blue parka. Rookie mistake on my end: do NOT think the parka itself will keep you warm enough to enjoy ICE for long! It is 9 degrees inside ice. Nine. Degrees. Bring a hat and gloves. Wear boots- or at least socks. I do NOT recommend ankle-length pants and ballet flats (not that I wore those or anything...) Do not think that you won't need your own winter jacket underneath the parka. Seriously... If you're not sweating while you wait you probably aren't dressed warmly enough!



Once you enter, the display is truly a wonderland. The story of Rudolph is brought to life in blocks of ice larger than my children. The color is stunning. There are blocks throughout where you can re-read the story of the holiday's most beloved reindeer. My girls loved seeing the larger-than-life Abominable Snowman make an appearance. There is an On The Blocks Ice Bar inside ICE where you can have an adult beverage to warm you up. I wish I wouldn't have skipped that part...


Toward the end of your time in ICE, you will stumble upon the ice slides. My kids could have run up and slid down for days if my feet weren't so cold! They are a fun way to end your time at ICE.
When you exit you will be given the opportunity to purchase the pictures you took before you went in, and you will also turn in your parka. You will be greeted with a snow tubing hill and Build A Bear Workshop. There is also an entire gift shop complete with ornaments, t-shirts and the like.


Allow about 30 minutes to enjoy walking through ICE (aside from the wait you will experience to get in).



Know before you go:
1. You must pay to park at the Gaylord. Parking cost us about $20.
2. Lonestar Chirstmas is running concurrently with ICE and has lots of awesome activities. However, all activities are a la carte. Keep that in mind when purchasing ICE tickets. You can buy combo tickets that include snow tubing. Snow tubing, purchased onsite, is $20 per person.
3. Dress warmly. Bring a coat. Bring a hat and gloves. Wear boots or socks and sneakers.
4. Leave some time afterward to wander around the Gaylord and see all of the (free) decorations they have out for the holidays! My girls loved the Gingerbread House so large my 5-year-old could have fit in it!
5. Enjoy! Aren't the holidays magical?



*Please note, we were given 4 complimentary tickets to ICE in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Daytrippin' with Everything Arlington: Magnolia Market in Waco, TX!

I think I might be the last person in Texas to have finally visited Magnolia Market in Waco.

Okay, maybe not the last last.

But certainly every time I mentioned to friends or family that I was making a day of driving down to Waco to check out Magnolia Market last week, I heard "Oh, I love that place!" It seemed I didn't know very many people who hadn't been there yet!

Magnolia Market is the brainchild of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the powerhouse couple behind HGTV's Fixer Upper. Magnolia Market as we currently know it opened in 2014 in Waco and has since blossomed into a successful tourist destination for Waco.



Magnolia Market is located in downtown Waco, and, despite what I initially thought, it is more than just a high end home decor store! Magnolia Market is actually the perfect day trip with your girlfriends, your kids, your SO... It's a fun little getaway!

One of my best friends from college moved from Chicago to Austin back in February, and, until last Friday, we hadn't been able to make our schedules line up so we could finally get together. We put this date on the schedule weeks prior and decided to meet in Waco because it is literally half way between Arlington and Austin. The drive to Magnolia Market took me just about an hour and a half and was 91 miles from my home in southwest Arlington.



I was surprised to find that there are lots of paid parking lots around Magnolia Market. To be blunt, I'm super cheap when it comes to things such as parking and generally don't pay if I don't have to. So my youngest and I found street parking a few blocks out and decided to just walk rather than pay $10 to be closer. I was also surprised at how crowded the whole area surrounding the market was! It was a Friday, but the crowds and tour buses were already swarming.

We started out at Silo Bakery, where my youngest enjoyed a cinnamon roll and I had a coffee and a Silo Cookie. Don't let the line-out-the-door intimidate you! Inside is standing room only, and the line doesn't take very long. We then got to sit at the tables outside and enjoy the fresh air and delicious coffee!



Next to the bakery is the market itself. I had been warned by many people that a lot of the items weren't as kitschy and original as things I might see on Fixer Upper, and I found this accurate. The items, while gorgeous, felt a little more West Elm posh than Joanna Gaines earthy (and the price tags were definitely all West Elm posh). I loved browsing the tshirts and Magnolia-specific items. I went gaga for their soy candles, which all smelled divine (I fell hard for a scent called Joy), but I couldn't justify the $28 price tag for the 8 ounce size (in my head, I heard my husband asking if, for that price, the candle would fold his laundry, too.). My youngest loved some of the gorgeous wall hangings, and there were a few I would have loved to hang in my living room!


Beyond the market is a wide open space next to the silos. Pets aren't allowed on the green to keep it clean for kids to run barefoot on or perform cartwheels on (that was my kid- cartwheel after cartwheel). Striped bean bags are scattered throughout the green for lounging and sunbathing. My friend and I sat here for hours catching up, enjoying the weather and the people-watching. We also saw communal games peppered around the green for sharing and enjoying.



Next to the Silos is an entire food truck park with loads of yummy offerings. There was a popcorn truck and a gourmet juice truck and, our favorite, Cheddar Box, a gourmet grilled cheese truck. At 30 minutes, the wait for a grilled cheese was long, but, I assure you, my grilled cheese was most definitely the best I've ever had! There are lots of picnic benches to devour your food truck delicacies or enjoy your own picnic lunch!



Overall I really enjoyed my trip to Magnolia Market. We were there about four hours, and the drive was three hours round-trip, making it a fantastic day outing. I can only imagine how beautiful (and Instagram-worthy!) it will look during the holiday season. I highly recommend it is a week-day getaway with a few girlfriends or sisters, as you'd be able to kick back and really enjoy the scene. If you do need to bring the kids (or, gasp!, the husband!) rest assured they will be well-entertained, too. (Just maybe make sure your husband doesn't know the going rate of, say, any home decor before you go if you actually hope to leave with any!)


Monday, October 1, 2018

Everything Arlington's Fall Festival Guide

It's here! It's here!
My absolute favorite time of year!
The weather is cooling down, the pumpkins are popping up and fall festivals are ready to fill up our weekends and promise oh so much fun for kiddos!
Looking for ALL things Fall in the Arlington area?
You're in the right spot!



Weekend of October 5-7, 2018

After Dark at the Park; River Legacy Park, Arlington.
5p- 9p Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Cost associated with this event. 
From the event page:
Family-fall festival & fundraiser featuring storytelling, karaoke, pumpkin patch, animal encounters, bounce houses and a variety of children's games, crafts and activities. Admission is $8 per person ages 3 & up. More than 20 activities FREE with admission.

Fall Fun Community Event; The Oakridge School, Arlington.
6p- 8p Friday, October 5. $5 per person.
Enjoy a petting zoo, pumpkin decorating, food truck, games and more. Bring $5 a person (charge or cash) to enjoy all the activities, and the food truck will be extra if you would like to have dinner. 

Green's Fall Festival; Green's Produce, 3001 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington.
11a- 4p Saturday, October 6, Free.
Full of family fun with a bounce house, paint your own pumpkins, face painting, balloon animals, hot dogs, popcorn and more!! Last year was a huge hit, and we're sure this year will be even better!

Kountry Karnival 2018 Fall Festival; St. Maria Goretti, 1200 S. Davis, Arlington.
12- 7p, Saturday, October 6, Free.
School fundraiser. Some activities may cost. New pumpkin patch for 2018 plus a block party 5-7p.

Weekend of October 13-15, 2018

Family Market & Festival; Arlington First Church of the Nazarene, 1301 W. Green Oaks, Arlington.
9a-4p, Saturday, October 13, Free.
Family market and festival with a kids zone, cake walk and more.

Weekend of October 19-21, 2018

Haunt the Block at Third Thursdays Downtown Mansfield; Main St., Mansfield, TX
5-8p Thursday, October 18, Free.
Dress up for the costume contest and trick or treat down Main St. Storefronts will be collecting canned food to help stock the shelves at local charities for the upcoming holiday season.

Fall Fest and Artisan Market; Viridian, Arlington.
8a- 3p, Saturday, October 20, Free.
Pumpkin patch is open 8-3, face painting and petting zoo is 9-2. 

RAH Annual Fall Festival; Richter Animal Hospital, 4601 W. Sublett Rd., Arlington.
2-4p, Saturday, October 20, Free.
Activities for both people and pets! Pet photos, bounce house, games, hospital tours, kissing booth and more.

Trunk or Treat & Pumpkin Palooza; Kennedale TownCenter, Kennedale.
5p-7p, Saturday, October 20, Free.
There's something for all ages at the TownCenter Trunk-or-Treat!
• Trunk-or-Treating in the Library parking lot (316 W 3rd St.)
• Pumpkin Palooza! in TownCenter Park (405 Municipal Dr., behind the Kennedale Public Library), featuring: pumpkin painting*, cotton candy, and chalk art)


Weekend of October 26-28, 2018

MAC Boo Bash; Mansfield Activities Center, 106 S. Wisteria Lane, Mansfield
6-9p, Friday, October 26, buy tickets in advance online. $8 kids, $4 adults.
Geared toward ages 2-6. Games, crafts and candy. Tickets are $10 each at the door if they are still available night of. 

Fall Family Fun Fest; St. Barnabas UMC, 5011 W. Pleasant Ridge Rd., Arlington.
6-9p, Friday, October 26. Free.
Come join us for family fun, Trunk or Treat, a bounce house, train rides, laser tag, carnival games, food, candy and more! Best of all, it's FREE!

Family Festival; Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ, 6102 W. Pleasant Ridge, Arlington.
2-5p, Saturday, October 27, Free.
Family festival.

Fall Festival; Holy Cross Church, 4400 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington.
4-6p, Saturday, October 27. Free.
Festivities include:inflatables, puppet shows, petting zoo, picture spots, games and crafts.

Trunk or Treat; City Chapel Arlington, 4015 W. Interstate 20, Arlington.
4-6p, Saturday, October 27. Free.
Free family fall event! Candy, games, vendors, food trucks and more!! Invite your friends, all are welcome!

Mansfield Police Department 2018 Fall Festival; Katherine Rose Park, Mansfield.
5-9p, Saturday, October 27. Free.
FREE Family Event at Rose Park. Bounce Houses, Food, Free Giveaways, Games, Hay Ride and so much more.

Fall Fest; The Vineyard Church, 1301 W. Abram St., Arlington.
6-9p, Saturday, October 27, Free.
Our first ever FALL FEST!  Join us in our new building for Carnival Games, Trunk-or-Treat, Petting Zoo, Face Painting, and MORE!

Trunk or Treat; Parkhill Park and Pavilion, Grand Prairie.
6:30-8p, Saturday, October 27. Free.
Annual trunk or treat hosted by the GP Youth Football Association.

North Davis Fall Festival; North Davis Church of Christ, 1601 N. Davis Dr., Arlington.
4-6p, Sunday, October 28, Free.
Free fun for the whole family. Trunk or treat, inflatables, games, food and more.

Halloween Night

Street N Treat; Market Square, 120 W. Main Street, Grand Prairie
6-8p, Wednesday, October 31. Free.
Join us for an enjoyable Halloween event in Grand Prairie! Participants will enjoy FREE games, face painting, kid’s crafts, and trick-or-treating at the Farmers Market! Prepare to dress to impress, ask “Trick-or-Treat” and bring a large bucket for candy!

Fall Festival; Greater Community Baptist Church, 126 E. Park Row Dr., Arlington.
6-9p Wednesday, October 31, Free.
Fun for all ages- games, candy.

Hallelujah Carnival; Crossroads Christian Church, 6450 S. Highway 360, GP.
6-9p Wednesday, October 31, Free.
Games, inflatables, pony rides, cakewalks, petting zoo and more!

Fall Fest; Inspired to Live Church, 2455 Ascension Blvd., Arlington.
6:30-9p, Wednesday, October 31. Free.
Games, face painting and raffles along with great entertainment.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sunday Funday at Trader's Village!

Trader's Village is a place I've driven by hundreds of times during my years in DFW and never stopped to check out. I was always too busy, too broke, too full of excuses not to.



When I told friends, however, that I was taking my husband and girls this past Sunday to check out the Grand Prairie hot spot, they were all quick to offer advice. "Bring cash and be sure to ask for deals. All the vendors want to make you a happy customer!" Or "pack a cooler with some beer and juice boxes and enjoy the day." "Be ready to walk and shop!" It seems I was in the minority of people who had yet to visit Trader's Village.



So Sunday we headed out to spend some time together as a family and see Trader's Village. We barely got ourselves parked (parking costs $4, FYI) before the girls begged to try out the rides, which could be seen from the parking lot as we drove up. For $12.99 per person for an unlimited-ride wristband (you can also buy individual ride tickets for $2.49 each), the girls were able to enjoy the 12 rides Trader's Village offers over and over again. From bumper cars to swings and a coaster-esque ride called the Village Vortex to a carousel, Trader's Village has a great selection of amusement rides to keep kids happy throughout the day- and ample seating for mom and dad to relax and enjoy people-watching while kids ride. While many rides have height restrictions (my 4 year old wasn't tall enough for the Village Vortex, which required a minimum height of 48 inches), there were several offerings for younger kids, as well. They even have a large padded play structure called the Rumpus Room where kids can climb while parents enjoy refreshments and entertainment on the Big Red Patio stage (just don't forget socks- kids can't play in the rumpus room without them!).



After you've checked out ALL the rides (more than, say, six times each, if you're my kids!), head over to Gary's Grill to grab a bite at America's number one flea market. Named after Trader's Village's founder Gary, Gary's Grill is located just beyond the amusement rides and offers an array of delicious food, from roast beef sandwiches and taco salads to chicken fingers and, my personal.favorite, sopapilla sundaes. Not only does Gary's Grill offer something for everyone (nachos, anyone?), it does so at reasonable prices. A sopapilla sundae is only $3.50.... And worth every penny!


After you've played and eaten, get ready to shop your heart out! I dare you to go to Trader's Village and NOT find what you are looking for. From vintage toys and housewares to furniture and clothing, Trader's Village has vendors who sell it all. My girls enjoyed combing through toy collections that included American Girl dolls (authentic- I'm a massive fan!), McDonald's Happy Meal toys from my childhood (I know because my parents still have a lot of them!), Beanie Babies and loads of modern toys including Sophia the First and so on. My husband and I enjoyed looking at furniture and comparing prices to what we know stores by the mall are currently offering (spoiler: Trader's Village is significantly less expensive!), and he really liked looking at accessories and parts for his Dodge truck. We also stopped off at the Cactus Cantina for a beer (they sell margaritas, too!) because Sunday Funday!



After five hours at Trader's Village, we dragged my girls out with promises of returning in the near future. We had such a great time! They oftentimes have weekend events, as well. This coming weekend is both Taste of Grand Prairie (Thursday) and the Polynesian Festival (Saturday). See the full schedule of events at www.tradersvillage.com.




Trader's Village is open Saturday and Sunday, and the Website suggests that best shopping times are 10 am to 5 pm.

*I was given complimentary ride passes and food and beverage from Trader's Village in exchange for my post. All thoughts and opinions are my own*


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Keeping Cool with NRH2O: Waterparking with the Girls of Everything Arlington

With summer drawing to a close (that was fast!), I'm working hard to fill the days with ALL the things. The girls made me a list of the things they most want to do before they head back to school in (less than!!!) two weeks, and we are working hard on checking off each item (although my oldest's top line item: go back to Paris, France, is sadly not going to get checked right now).

So Monday we (swim)suited up and headed out to NRH2O (www.nrh2o.com).



Honestly, I love this place. It's not that far from Arlington (about 20 minutes) and parking is free. There are coupons online to save you on admission.

And it's totally manageable with three kiddos solo, in my opinion.



I mean, there are closer waterparks. And less expensive city pools and splash pads. But NRH2O is my girls' favorite spot this summer.

There is something for everyone here, which may be why the girls love it so much. There is a large water structure with spraying water, slides, climbing areas and a large dumb bucket with almost zero depth so kids of all ages can enjoy. My 8-year-old loves it as much as my 4-year-old. There are several areas geared toward small kids with slower slides, extremely shallow wading areas, spray features and more. There's even a sand area to build when you just need a break from the water!



For bigger kids, NRH2O offers multiple slides as well as a wave pool and a lazy river. So many options! My girls love the Green Extreme, the world's largest uphill rollercoaster that two riders at a time can enjoy in a tube. They don't even complain about the climb to the top of the platform because they know how much fun awaits them on the journey down! Their second favorite would be the Accelerator- slides you race down on body mats side by side. They enjoy this one over and over and over again.



We always set our stuff right by the wave pool (and I lock up my valuables in my portable safe from Masterlock). We are conveniently close to Dippin' Dots and the Funnel Cake Lab, two fantastic options for an afternoon sugar rush. We are also close to changing rooms and restrooms as well as Al Gater's Smokehouse & Grill- a great stop for on-site dining! You can also bring in your own cooler with food and snacks- just make sure to avoid restaurant or store-prepared food as well as glass containers and alcohol.



Looking for a great deal on admission? Tickets are normally $28.99 for guests taller than 48 inches and $21.99 for guests smaller than 48 inches, and kids 2 and younger are free. Purchase in advance online and get tickets for $24.99! Better yet, go to nrh2o.com before you go and click on Daily Discounts under the Admissions tab. Right now you can save $8 per ticket just by flashing the coupon from your phone! You can also get in for just $12 when you go after 3 pm. Be sure and check the discounts tab (there are loads of daily discount options!) before you head to the ticket counter!

I asked my girls for their tips for a successful day at NRH2O, and they offered up these tidbits of advice:
- Pack lots of water. You'll get thirsty!
- Don't forget sunscreen so you don't get burned.
- Bring the lock thing my mom has so you can keep your money and phone safe (or just rent an on-site locker!)
- Pack snacks. And bring money for Dippin' Dots always.
- Bring a change of clothes for when you are ready to leave.
- Know where your beach chair is in case you get lost.



My advice? Pack the sunscreen and snacks and enjoy these final dog days of summer!

*I received complimentary admission to NRH2O in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Spice Up Date Night or GNO with Breakout Games!

I love a good puzzle.

And I love to watch crime shows on TV.

My husband and I are currently a little too into the My Favorite Murder podcast.

I probably should have been a crime detective, now that I think about it.

So, in an effort to spice up date night, my husband and I, along with three other couples, tried Breakout Games at Parks Mall (located upstairs between Barnes & Noble and Sears) this past weekend.



Breakout rooms have been a trend now for a couple of years. The concept is simple: You are "locked" in a room and given very few clues as to how to escape. You must work together with your teammates to discover clues hidden all over the room. Clues come in various categories and can be difficult or easy to decode.

This was our second time, actually, attempting a breakout room, and, unlike the last time around, this time we actually escaped! I even contributed an important clue this time around, thankyouverymuch.


What I love about Breakout Games at Parks is that there are multiple options. I chose "Do Not Disturb" for our Saturday Date Night, but there are five other options available to interested parties (other choices include escapes such as Museum Heist and Island Escape).

Up to eight people can participate in this particular game (some only allow seven). The rooms are quite small, but, trust me, you will want the everyone's opinions and contributions as you attempt to escape the room you've been quarantined to!

Breakout Games is a fun way to add some variety to date night, girls night out, team bonding events and more! These escape rooms get you thinking and interacting with one another- and they are so much fun!


Learn more about Breakout Games here: 

*Please note: I was given free admission to Breakout Games in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

Friday, July 27, 2018

Partake Foods: Your New Favorite Allergy-Friendly Treat!

I have a wicked sweet tooth.

Like, an extreme I'm-eating-cookie-butter-with-a-spoon-as-I-type-this sweet tooth that keeps me craving sweet things day and night.

So when Partake Foods (www.partakefoods.com) asked me to sample its new line of allergy-friendly cookies, my only question was "How soon?"



Partake Foods was started by a mother (whose husband just happens to be from Arlington- a Martin High School graduate!) who had concerns about what she was feeding her daughter. After learning her daughter had food allergies, she set out to find healthy, allergy-friendly snacks. What she found was that there were limited products on the market that didn't contain common allergens or lots of processed junk- or worse yet, both! So, she made her own.

Partake Foods Mini Cookies are free of the top allergens, including nuts, egg, dairy and soy. They are also non-GMO verified, gluten free and certified Vegan. Wow! Talk about a clean cookie! My kids don't have food allergies, but I do know food allergies are on the rise. Some say food allergies could affect as many as 1 in 10 kids by the year 2020.



So I worry. I worry about what snacks I send with my kids to places such as school, camp, after-school activities. I recently read a viral article about a girl with severe peanut allergies passing away because she mistook an unsafe food product for a safe one. What if my kiddos accidentally and innocently share unsafe products with someone who is allergic?

Enter Partake Foods Mini Cookies- a snack I can send basically anywhere with my kiddos without worry!

But my next thought was, of course, what do they taste like? My husband literally said, "If all that stuff isn't in those cookies, what is?" (the short answer, ingredients such as organic cane sugar, gluten free flour blend, lentil protein and more) Again, I'm not someone with much experience firsthand with food allergies. But I did text the nutrition label to two friends whose sons have food allergies, and both said the labels on these cookies looked great!



All that was left, then, was the taste test. I dove happily in to the box of Sprouted Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies- and I loved Every. Single. Bite! My oldest tried two and said that she, too, thought they were delicious! I don't think my oldest would mind one bit if these cookies starting showing up in her lunchbox once school starts! (School is going to start soon, right? Right?!)

I then asked my friend Melina if she and her son would try some cookies. Her son has allergies to nuts and some seeds, so she has more experience with allergy-friendly foods. Here is what she had to say after sampling the Carrot Oat and Sweet Potato Millet Cookies:



"While both are similar in texture and taste, my 7-year-old gobbled up the Carrot Oat cookies. They had a slightly sweeter taste. I do have to say, BOTH packages were gobbled up with 24 hours, so really they were both enjoyed by all, but we preferred Carrot Oat.

They are crisp (similar to a ginger snap cookie) and have the feeling of eating a healthy cookie. They taste good and are not overly sweet."

These cookies are now available at Whole Foods all over DFW- including the North Arlington location!

Enjoy these tasty treats and your weekend!


Please note: I did receive compensation for my review. All thoughts and comments are my own (or that of friends who assisted me in this article).