Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Decking the Halls - Holiday Home Tours of North Texas

It’s that time of year again, time for all the festive Holiday Home Tours! These fundraiser home tours are one of my favorite things to do in the Christmas season. You get to see a variety of homes decked out in their finest while helping out one of the local charities or organizations. Every year there are different houses to see, and so many different styles of architecture and decorating. It’s so fun! Keep in mind you can save a little money by purchasing your tickets in advance!

Three years ago I went to the Candle light Home Tour in Waxahachie, Texas.  I think it’s fun to go early and check out the cute shops in the historical downtown area. Then grab a snack and head out on your home tour. It’s fun to go in the evening to see the Christmas lights along the way. When you finish the tour head into town and check out the live nativity Bethlehem Revisited behind Central Presbyterian Church at 402 N. College St.

Check out or for details on how to get tickets.

Other December events in Waxahachie:

  • English Christmas Tea --- December 3rd | 2:00-2:45P, 3:00-3:45P or 4:00-4:45P 
  • Bethlehem Revisited --- December 1-3 and 8-10 | 6:00PM - 9:00PM | Admission Free
  • Christmas Hayride --- December 2-3; 9th | 6:00PM - 8:00PM | Enjoy the holiday sights over a mile long ride down Main Street | Donations welcome
  • Photos With Santa --- December 2nd & 9th | 4:00PM - 8:00PM | Photos taken in downtown Waxahachie, $5.00 per picture
  • Chocolate Stroll --- December 9th | 2:00PM - 6:00PM 

Two years ago my mom and I headed to Chestnut Square in McKinney, Texas for their Holiday Tour of Homes! We visited the historical homes of Chestnut Square and did some yummy taste testing at a few live demonstrations at the square before hopping a trolley and starting the tour. The homes were amazing, and some had historical significance which we found really interesting. We loved the tour, and afterwards we perused the cute shops in the square. Such a fun day!
The 44th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes in McKinney takes place this year December 2nd and 3rd. Check out events for ticket information and details.

Last year I did the Candle Light Christmas in Ryan Place tour in Fort Worth, Texas.  This tour was so fun! We picked up our tickets at the church where they were having a small craft fair. We bought some goodies before heading out on the tour. We had fun checking out all the amazing architecture of these homes that were decked out in their holiday finest!  My friend and I spent the day checking out the shops and Christmas decorations downtown before the tour and topped off the night with dinner! It was a very fun way to celebrate the holiday!


A few years ago I did the holiday lunch and tour of the historic Alexander Mansion on Ross Avenue. The lunch was amazing, and the house was beautiful. I believe it was the first house in Dallas to get indoor plumbing. It’s a special place, and you will enjoy exploring each beautiful room. There was also a small craft fair when we visited, and I enjoyed buying a few holiday crafts.

Be sure to check the calendar for the Holiday Tea/Lunch. You can get more information on tickets and reservations at

Historic Alexander Mansion
4607 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75204 December 1st -3rd, 2017

I haven’t experienced these home tours yet, but they’re on my list! If you’re in the area check them out!

The 31st Winnetka Heights Holiday Home Tour – Historic District of Oak Cliff
December 9, 2017, noon till 6pm.
Parker County Heritage Society 36th Annual Candlelight Tour of Homes
December 9, 2017, 11am to 7pm
122 Fort Worth Highway Weatherford, TX 76020 – 214-893-4536

Preston Hollow Elementary Holiday Home Tour and Market
Saturday, December 2, 2017, 12pm to 4pm, $25 tickets
Preston Hollow Elementary School, 6423 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas 75230

Frisco Holiday Home Tour - Fundraiser for Make-A-Wish North Texas
Saturday, December 9th, 11am to 5pm, Tickets are $35 online

After you tour the inside of these homes, drive around and look at all the Christmas lights! It’s fun to tour the nearby neighborhoods while singing along to Christmas carols on the radio and sipping hot chocolate! Make it a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Best of Hot Springs, Arkansas!

     It's fall yall!!!! Autumn is my favorite time of year......the cool crisp air, the colorful leaves, the festivals and all those yummy sweet scents and foods that make you feel all warm and cozy! It's a time we tend to think a lot about family, and also my absolute favorite time to travel! So, last November I set off with my parents on a long weekend road trip through Oklahoma and Arkansas. The idea was to bask in all the glory that nature has to offer in the fall.

     Our first stop was Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma to check out the Beaver's Bend Folk Festival and craft show at the The Forest Heritage Center Museum.  It took a little over three hours to get there from Dallas, and we arrived just in time to start sampling all the yummy festival foods. We shared a variety of food truck specialties from tator twisters to chicken gyros, and of course kettle corn!

     We roamed through the crowded halls of the museum checking out the many handy crafts, artwork and gift items before heading outside into the lively outdoor festivities. There were a variety of stalls with live demonstrations of craft working from days gone by.  Make some hand dipped candles, learn how to make lye soap, watch the basket weavers in action, or just tap your feet along to the rhythm of the live folk bands keeping everyone entertained.  There's something for everyone at this small mountain festival, and it's worth stopping in for a couple of hours for the beautiful mountain scenery alone! Be sure and take the kids to pet the baby goats before you head out!  This year's festival is November 10th-12th, 2017 and you can get all the details at

     Next, we were off to Mena, Arkansas to join the Talimena Scenic Byway Trail, a 52.8 mile trail through the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. We made a brief stop in Mena to visit the Mena Art Gallery at 607 Mena St. The small gallery displays and sells the crafty handiwork of local artisans while hosting various crafting events and art parties. It was the perfect place to stop for a break before starting our long drive on the scenic trail. It's a beautiful drive with a variety of scenic overlooks and is most enjoyable when decked out it's fall finest. You can check the progress of the fall foliage and get other tourist information at   It was a bit sad to see some blackened areas from fires, and barren areas from tornadoes, but there was plenty of beauty to behold along the way. We ventured off the trail for dinner at Mountain Harbor Resort Restaurant just as the sun was setting. We sat by the window and enjoyed some yummy southern cooking in the quiet restaurant before taking a quick walk to the edge of the lake.  We stood for a few minutes in the cool night air watching the last sun rays dance on the water before we headed back to the scenic trail.

     The trail wasn't quite as fun at night. It was really dark on those mountain roads with few lights, so we hurried on to our destination for the night. I booked Ark Manor bed and breakfast on Airbnb, and it was a really comfortable house about 15 minutes north of Hot Springs in Blue Springs, Arkansas. Our hosts, John and Monica were amazing and we felt right at home! They had a pool table for us upstairs, and a bon fire going outside. We loved our breakfasts, and enjoyed watching Hallmark movies in the living room. I highly recommend you stay there if you are looking to meet new people and want a cozy affordable place off the beaten path.

The next day we took a quick drive to Ouachita State Park for a hike around the lake. It wasn't a super easy trail, but it was quiet and beautiful. We passed very few people during the three or four hours we spent hiking. It was quite a work out! We definitely worked up an appetite before driving into downtown Hot Springs for lunch. We enjoyed the most amazing burgers at Arkansas' oldest bar, The Ohio Club. This place is really historical, and had an amazing antique bar that looked like parts of it came from a ship. It opened as a bar in 1905 and later became speakeasy fronting as a cigar shop. Many famous people were known to hangout in the hidden casino including notorious gangsters like Al Capone and Bugsy Segel. Amusing historical memorabilia decorates the walls, so you will have plenty of amusement while you wait for your meal.

Ouachita State Park

The famous and historical Ohio Club


     Downtown Hot Springs has plenty of art galleries, boutiques and eateries to explore. I had a beautiful and delicious lavender-lemon cupcake from Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shoppe. It was one of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted, and I love cupcakes! We popped in the Arlington Resort Hotel to have a look around, and were delighted to see they had historical treasures on display as well as a few shops to explore beneath the hotel. My favorite was the beautiful dining room and it's antique style furnishings and décor.

     You can't visit Hot Springs and not visit bath house row!  A few of them are now museums that you can explore, so take advantage of the free trip back in time as you learn about the interesting bath house history. I loved it!


     Once you've finished browsing in all the shops and galleries, wind down with a stroll on The Grand Promenade, a level up from the main drag. It's beautiful and offers a different view of this quaint historical town. Poke your feet in the natural bubbling hot springs if you dare! They're supposed to be therapeutic and cure what ails you!

     Our last nature stop was a trip to the beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens, the botanical gardens a short drive from downtown Hot Springs. We got lots of exercise walking the quiet gardens and exploring the different trails. They were in the process of decorating the gardens for Christmas, so there were lots of need light displays an fun winter décor. There was a small café near the miniature train village, and we enjoyed sandwiches and lemonade while watching the little trains travel through the village. I loved the beautiful trails, small fairy village, and fun gift shop. I highly recommend a trip to these gardens as a fun way to get exercise in a beautiful natural environment. Do save time to see the majestic Anthony Chapel on your way out, you don't want to miss it! Tickets are about $15 for adults, and you can check out all the details at

Beware of the Yeti!

Fairy Village

Anthony Chapel

     There are a variety of things to see and do near Hot Springs, especially if you are craving time in the great outdoors. You can rent a cabin at one of the nearby lakes and go fishing, hiking, or boating. Take a dinner cruise on DeGray Lake or ride the roller coasters at the Magic Springs amusement park, there is something for everyone! Enjoy!

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bit By The Travel Bug

     I remember our two week long summer camping trips being the highlight of the year when I was growing up.  My parents would load up my two older brothers, two younger sisters and I in the family van along with tons of bags, camping gear, and food containers.  It was a blue converted utility van, so no air conditioner, no television, no super plush seats or any other modern day gadgets and luxuries.  It was just us, our gear, and the many interesting things that flew past the window along the way to wherever suited my parent's fancy that year.  My mom was the vacation planner as well as the navigator, and she juggled all the maps, travel leaflets, and a big cup of Dr. Pepper with ease.  We spent many long, hot hours on the road driving to and from all sorts of places.  Mom loved the mountains and rivers, and often chose destinations based on the prettiest hiking trails to water falls.  I'm a girly girl and didn't really love hikes through the dark, bug infested woods at the time, but I always enjoyed the view at the end and felt accomplished after the climb!
     We camped all over the states, and in all weather conditions.  We camped in the freezing cold and had to sleep fully dressed in hats, coats and gloves, and in such miserable heat you thought you might dry up by morning from losing so much sweat during the night!  We survived a tent collapse in a thunderstorm, ant and spider invasions, the feasting of the mosquitoes, and waking up to miniature rivers running under the tent. 
     Our meals were cooked on an old propane stove or in the hot campfire coals, and once dinner was even sacrificed when the tantalizing aroma of the grill attracted a mama black bear and her two hungry cubs! Yikes! We hiked many trails, explored theme parks and touristy buffets (my parents love Golden Coral and Shoney's), swam in lakes, waded in rocky rivers, walked sandy beaches, explored water parks, and anything else that looked halfway amusing.  The days were long and hot, and laying our itchy, sunburned bodies down on the hard, rocky ground at night wasn't ideal, but we suffered through it.  We sacrificed the comforts of home, but those two weeks every summer were what we waited for all year long.
     We had a blast fighting over the window seats, blowing our allowance money on cheap souvenirs, endless road trip games, off tune rounds of 99 bottles of beer on the wall, and exploring all sorts of oddities! Those were what we lived for!  That annual escape from our mundane reality was the highlight of our childhood, and nothing taught us and inspired our imaginations more.  Nothing brought us more joy than those amazing views from the window seat.

The famous blue van!!


Branson, Missouri is a small city deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, and was often the destination of one of my many childhood summer camping trips.  Now that I’m older autumn is my favorite time to visit.  While the days are getting cooler the mountains are decked out in a rich array of warm color.  Nothing beats the crisp fall air mixed with the sweet aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls at the 1800’s themed amusement park Silver Dollar City!  I’ve been visiting Branson and its nearby towns for many years, and below I’ve listed my favorite places to go. Now all you have to do is load up the car and……GO!

  • Silver Dollar City – 1800’s theme park built around the majestic Marvel Cave! This is a great cave and you get a free tour with your ticket to the park.  Check out the many live demonstrations, shows, concerts, restaurants, and gift shops! The thrilling rides will leave you shouting “Fire in the Hole”!!!  Enjoy a nice cold root-beer float at the Saloon, and don’t forget to end your visit at the fun show in the huge outdoor amphitheater!  Summer visits are fun, but crowded! My favorite times to visit are during the Fall Craft Festival September through October, and An Old Time Christmas Festival November through December! The fall foliage followed by loads of colorful lights at Christmas is just magical!

Yummy southern buffet!
Marvel Cave

Silver Dollar City Evening Show Under the Stars

  • Branson Belle Dinner Cruise & Show – Enjoy dinner and a show as you cruise the beautiful Table Rock Lake on a fun riverboat.  For reservations call 1-800-504-0115


  • Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater – Enjoy Harold Bell Wright’s famous Shepherd of the Hills story under a glowing star-lit sky.

  • Branson Landing – Take a leisurely stroll through the many shops at the landing! Enjoy the dancing waters and tasty delights at the restaurants along the river. My favorite is White River Fish House by the Bass Pro Shop. This restaurant has fun woodsy decor and feels like a lodge! The food is great too!      

  • Downtown Branson – There isn’t a whole lot to downtown Branson which is within walking distance of Branson Landing, but you can still find big treasures at antique shops, flea markets, Dick’s 5 & 10 General Store, and Patricia’s Victorian House! Ruby Lena’s Tea Room is a great place to lunch with your gals and has amazing pie!!

  • Grand Village Shops – Explore this cute collection of boutiques for gifts and treasures! I love the Kringles Christmas Shop for its variety of unique Christmas decor. Mulberry Mill has great gourmet food, home decor, women’s accessories and more!  Explore the beauty of Thomas Kinkade’s Art Gallery, or enjoy the nostalgia of Dicken’s Gift Shoppe and Boutique!  This is MY FAVORITE SHOPPING CENTER IN BRANSON, and I know you are going to love it too!


  • Shopping – There are many souvenir places along the main drag through Branson, or if you’re looking for a deal there is the Tanger Outlet Mall. Check out Magnolia Gardens for arts and crafts, and when you see an interesting place on the side of the road………DO STOP and CHECK IT OUT! Go to and get your free map and discount coupon book! Get Shopping!

  • Pirates Cove Mini Golf- Putt Putt Golf – Compete with your family for a hole in one at this fun pirate themed golf course. 2901 Green Mountain Dr., Branson 417 336-6606

  • Eat Up! – Looking for fun places to eat? In addition to the fun places at Branson Landing, or all the yummy foods at Silver Dollar City, are a number of other fun places along the main drag. My parents love Golden Coral for the variety at the buffet! You can stuff yourself at the Grand Country Village Buffet, or step back in time at the Cakes & Creams 50’s Diner (one of my favorites)! This is one of my favorites for a burger, fries, and their amazing cotton candy ice cream cone! Put a quarter in the jukebox and relive those happy days gone by!  For a great breakfast check out Bob Evans at 801 W. Main St. The restaurant has fun decor and a lovely gift shop to keep you entertained if there is a wait!
Mom at Golden Coral - May we never take our freedom to eat Cotton Candy for granted!
Julie's favorite cotton candy ice cream!

 Favorite Shows –Branson is known for their amazing shows, concerts, and entertainment! Some of my Favorites are Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show! Watch out or you might become part of the show! I was once recruited for the horse race……..and I won! The Sights and Sounds Theater is amazing, and one of the best shows you can see in Branson. The beautiful theater hosts a variety of biblical themed productions, and be sure and sit in the back center of the theater to enjoy the full scope of the play! The Shoji Tabuchi Show is a family variety show, and one of the best in town! I highly recommend it! I also enjoyed The Twelve Irish Tenors (the ladies will love it), The Haygoods (fun family entertainment), SIX Branson (amazing vocal band), Smoke on the Mountain (fun Ozark play), and Legends (revisiting music legends from the past). 


  • Titanic Museum – Relive the experience of one of the passengers as you learn more about this infamous ship and the people who experienced the tragedy. Check out the many artifacts, and see how long you can last in the freezing water of that tragic day.  This is a must see for all Titanic fans!
  • Wine Tasting - Missouri is for wine lovers!!!!! The wine making industry is huge here, so check out the many vineyards and wine trails! We love the free wine tasting at Stone Hill Winery in Branson! We buy the sherry here and use it to make some amazing sherry cake!

  • Where to Stay - Most of my visits to Branson were either on family camping trips or visits to the family lake house. I did stay at The Welk Resort a few times, and it has a fun indoor pool! We always enjoyed The Silver Dollar City Campground for camping. It’s been awhile since I visited, but I remember it having a pool and little convenience shop. There are a ton of resorts and hotels in Branson to choose from, and they are known for their time shares! If you do one of the 90 minute tours you get a discount or even free event tickets at most of the resorts! There are lots of tourist offices that will give you more information or sign you up for those discounts and tours. There are also a number of options with great views and one of the best is Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa!  This beautiful resort has stunning panoramic views of Table Rock Lake, and is the perfect place to relax in luxury! There are plenty of accommodations around the lake for everyone wanting to enjoy the great outdoors, so be sure and look up the nearby cabin rentals, camp grounds, and resorts.

  • Play on the Lake!  Whether you want to fish, swim, kayak, hike, picnic, or just explore on the boat, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake have you covered! While Table Rock Lake is well known and closer to Branson, Bull Shoals Lake is nearby, and a quieter place to play on the water.  

  • While you are visiting Branson there are a number of other places worth checking out in the nearby towns! Here are some of the fun things I enjoyed!

  • The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks – Located just a few miles from Branson Landing in Hollister is this beautiful country style lodge with luxurious guest rooms, find dining, yummy baked goods, and fun gift shops! I’ve enjoyed several great meals here, and I always grab a pastry or cupcake to go! There is a nice creamery where you can try the tasty ice cream made by the students! The college students work here, make the food, serve it, etc. It’s pretty amazing! Be sure and check out the different student ran sites on the college campus that are opened to the public. Explore the green houses, grist meal, basket weaving, and more! Want to splurge? Stay the night at The Bluff House and enjoy its amazing views of the Branson Skyline and Lake Taneycomo!  A few years ago I went to the grape festival in Hollister for the grape stomping competition, and local Barry Williams (Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch) gave a free concert! Yes, he did amuse us with his slim shady spoof of "will the real Greg Brady please stand up" rap song! Ha!


Connect Four!
Grape stomping competition!

Barry  Williams (Greg Brady)

  • Ozark – Ozark is small town between Branson and Springfield, and I always stop here to eat if I’m on my way to Springfield! Lambert’s is the place to eat for southern home cooking and flying rolls. The servers toss hot rolls at you, so be sure and keep an eye out for rolls flying your way. You order an entree, and the servers come around with other pots full of tasty treats like sorghum molasses for your rolls, or scoops of fried okra! It’s so fun! The other thing I enjoy in Ozark is antiquing. There are a few shops here worth checking out, and I really enjoy hunting for treasures here after eating all that yummy southern food! Pop in to Funtiques Market near Lamberts or take a short drive over to Ozark Antique Mall! Enjoy!
Lambert's Soul Food
  • Dogwood Canyon Nature Park –- Hey nature lovers, this is the place for you! Bass Pro Shop’s founder Johnny Morris bought and landscaped this property in 1990, and it is stunning! Twenty-six miles southwest of Branson in Lampe, sits ten thousand acres of Ozark Mountain landscape for you to walk, jog, segway, bike, tram tour, or horseback ride through! It’s absolutely beautiful with all the cascading falls, streams, ponds and picnic areas! My parents and I rented bikes at the park and rode along at our leisure. It was both beautiful and relaxing, and we got a great work out! There is also a little wedding chapel onsite, so you can celebrate your love in natural beauty and forget all the fussy decor!  Admission is $5 for kids and $10 for adults. Rentals are extra. Call 1-800-225-6343 to plan your event. 2038 West State Hwy 86, Lampe, Missouri 65681.


  • Laura Ingles Wilder Historic Home and Museum – Fan of Little House on the Prairie? Visit Laura’s old homestead in Mansfield, Missouri about 45 miles east of Springfield. See the home she lived in and wrote her books from as you learn more about her life on the prairie and her adult life with Almanzo.  Tickets are about $14.  3060 Highway A, Mansfield, MO For more information call 877 924-7126.

Whatever you decide to do on your trip to Branson, have a wonderful time in the beautiful Ozarks and watch out for those scraggly, no good, moon-shining baldknobbers!

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Decking the Halls - Holiday Home Tours of North Texas

It’s that time of year again, time for all the festive Holiday Home Tours ! These fundraiser home tours are one of my favorite things ...