Things To Do in Dallas

When I was in kindergarten, we had a foreign exchange student who lived with us for a year (we actually did this 3 different times, but Mizuho was the first) and over the years we have kept in close contact with her.  We got to go visit her and her family in Tokyo in 2011 and she brought her daughters to the US that same year.  This year for their spring break, they decided to come visit again and would spend part of their visit here in Dallas with my husband and me (my brother and his wife live here too… so they got to visit all of us!).

The girls are all learning English, while Mizuho is fluent, so there was a lot of translating going on, but I am so impressed with the girl’s ability to pick up the language! But since we decided to do a whirlwind of Dallas activities in one weekend I decided to snap some photos and share with you all some of the best things to do in Dallas (especially with kids!).  I’ve tried to include info on admissions prices/time to allocate, but check out each website for up to date information!


1. The Arboretum— I could not have been more impressed with the Arboretum.  I have been before and always enjoyed the beautiful blooms and the views of Whiterock Lake, but I had never experienced their children’s area! It was amazing! There were tons of things for kids of all ages to do and play with, including water features, tree houses, places to learn about weather and light reflection, tons of options. And everywhere you looked were beautiful blooms!


We managed to hit it up when it was both GORGEOUS outside, the tulips were blooming, and the Japanese Cherry Blossoms were in bloom.

thingstodoindallas9   thingstodoindallas7

As far as price goes, we ended up getting a family membership for 125 dollars.  It was the same price as 6 adults and I’ll be able to use it all year to take people in.  If you live in Dallas or know someone who does, I think this would be an excellent gift idea for Christmas.  I’ll definitely be using my membership! I know in the fall they have houses made out of pumpkins and they have concerts out on the lawn periodically, so check the website for events!

Cost: If you are just in town for a short period or aren’t interested in a membership, tickets are $15 dollars for adults and $10 for children (12 and under).

Time: Depending on how long you like to be outdoors (and how hot it is) allow at least an hour for the children’s area and an hour to walk the rest of the gardens.

Food: We ate at the Two Sisters Cafe in front of the children’s area, it is mostly sandwiches and self serve items, with a few items that can be heated up in provided microwaves.  The food was good, but pricey.  The arboretum does allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, so a packed picnic would definitely be the way to go!

2. The Perot Museum–definitely a great stop for inquiring young minds.  It is nature and science museum that has TONS of great exhibits.  I highly recommend taking the escalator to the top floor and working your way down, but you should time your visit well because the second floor has a lot of hands on activities that are fun for all ages (see my dad below concentrating very hard on making the ping pong balls pop!)


They also have some really cool dinosaur skeletons, information about space and weather, even a place where you can practice reading the forecast:


There is a ton of information in the museum, so if you are with a science buff, allow a little extra time.  But for kids and adults there is a great balance of hands on activities, media, and information.  We didn’t take advantage, but they also have some 3D movies that I think would be kind of fun to see.  I always loved those as a kid!

The building itself is pretty amazing, with a lot of thought going into making it sustainable and interesting.  And there are some outdoor areas that you can play music or play on the frogs before you even make it in to the building.


Cost:  $17 for adults, $11 for children ages 2-17

Time: I would allow 3 hours minimum if you want to see the whole museum, longer if you are with someone who wants to read everything!

Food:  I wouldn’t plan on eating at the museum (although they did have a cafe).  I would plan on eating a dinner or lunch at a good Mexican place like Chuy’s or El Fenix or pick up food to go and eat out at Klyde Warren Park which is not far from the museum.

3. George W. Bush Presidential Library— A beautiful building on my grad school alma mater’s campus, the Bush Library is a great museum.  It walks through the Bush family’s private lives, giving you glimpses into their pre-White House days, September 11th, and the presidency as a whole.  I definitely underestimated how emotional it would be to rewatch the footage from 9-11.  The Library does a really good job of being reverent to the power of that day, but also giving you glimpses of what it would be like to be the president during an event like that.

One of the cool things to do in the museum is to sit at a replica of the Resolute Desk in an oval office that is built completely to scale.


I’m not sure younger kids would get as much out of this museum as some of the others, but there were definitely field trips of 2nd and 3rd graders three while we were there… so there is definitely some for them to see and experience.

Cost:  $16 for adults, $14 for children ages 13-17, 10 for children ages 5-12, free for under 5

Time: I would allow 2 hours to see the Library and watch the videos

Food:  There aren’t any restaurants that I saw in the Library, and food and beverages are prohibited.  So eat before or plan to eat after!

4. The Fort Worth Zoo— (there was some debate about whether we would go to the Dallas Zoo or the Fort Worth Zoo, I think both are good zoos, we ended up going to Fort Worth because it was open later on Sundays and we could only go late afternoon).


I will start off by saying I am not a huge Zoo fan.  I don’t love seeing animals in cages and I feel like many zoos are exactly the same.  BUT I do have to admit that the girls loved getting to see all the animals and the Fort Worth Zoo does a great job of allowing you to be up close to the animals to really get to see and experience them.  And maybe more importantly for a Texas zoo, they have a lot of good shaded places to walk and places to sit down, so for all of you tired and hot mom’s, this would definitely be a plus in my book.  Not to mention, the people watching is almost as good as the animal watching!

Aside from somewhat tragic timing of walking through the raptor canyon at feeding time (There was a real national geographic moment as an eagle was fed its live rat, at which point we discovered that one of the girls has a very tender heart and loves hamsters… so THAT was traumatic), it was a great visit.


Cost:  $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 3-12, free for under 3

Time: We were there for about 2 hours and that was a good amount of time.  If you have slower walkers or want to linger around various animals, I would allow 2.5-3 hours.

Food:  There are tons of restaurants and snack bars, but everything is a bit pricey and not healthy at all.  Although they have a Dickey’s BBQ in the zoo, and I love Dickey’s so if you plan on eating… that is a good option.  You are allowed to take your own food and you are definitely allowed to bring water bottles and I highly recommend taking them, especially if you are visiting in the summer.


5.  The 6th Floor Museum— We didn’t actually get to fit this one in on this trip, but I have been several times and it is one of my Dallas Favorites.  Housed in the Schoolbook Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald theoretically took the shot that killed Kennedy, this building has sweeping views of Downtown Dallas and Dealey Plaza. It also houses an impressive collection of information about Kennedy’s presidency and assassination. They do an excellent job of showing you what information there is on the actual event as well as conspiracy theories and other information surrounding the event, they even show the famous Zapruder film that shows the assassination occurring.

This is a picture I took out the window at the 6th floor museum that I took last fall when I was there for an event.


Definitely worth a visit, especially if you are a history buff or interested in the Kennedy Assassination.  There are not really a lot of activities for young children, but a definite must see for older children and adults.

Cost:  $16 for adults, $13 for children ages 6-18, free for under 6

Time: 2 hours is about the right amount of time if you want to go through the museum and get a lot out of it, but again, if you want to read everything allow a little extra time.


I love Dallas and all of the things it has to offer, so I’m always happy to have visitors to my city! What do you think Dallas-ites, have I missed anything?



What’s Going on in My World

So for the last few weeks I have had MAJOR project ADD.  I can’t decide what project to start on, work on, etc.  I think this is probably pretty normal, especially after 3 months of being in a new house.  For the most part everything is unpacked, livable, kind of how we want our house to be.  But on the other hand, there are a lot of things that aren’t as organized or how we want them because we are waiting on something else.  For example: My craft closet (and by extension that bedroom) are a total disaster because I haven’t had time to put a desk in the craft closet, so every time I want to work on a project I drag my sewing machine, embroidery machine, and cutting board onto the desk and floor in that guest room.  Then every time I work at home, I drag them all back into the closet so that I have enough space to work at that desk.  (The pic below is the CLEAN version of that room)


Or as a second example our laundry room is right off of our kitchen, which is very convenient for moving laundry along, but it means when the laundry spills out of that room it is basically at our kitchen table.  And the cheap-o drying rack we have used forever only fits on top of the dryer, which makes it even LESS stable.  I have plans to make (and have bought all the supplies) this guy to hang on the wall but it requires painting the dowels and wooden pieces and its been TOO DANG COLD to paint anything.  So I’m hoping for some time this weekend to get it done.


These are what I call snowball projects… it starts with a small thing I want to do, but in order to do the small thing I have to do a bigger thing first, but that requires a bigger project too and pretty soon I’m working on a huge project that I didn’t really intend to.

Like re-doing our guest bathroom.

I got a little stir crazy a few weekends ago and decided it was time to strip the wallpaper in the guest bathroom downstairs (the only truly hideous room in our house) and never having stripped wallpaper before I thought this would be a fun little project.  HA. HA HA.  Two weeks later and several hours long peeling sessions, I’m about halfway done, the bathroom looks FAR worse than it did before and I’ve tried several methods of wallpaper removal–all to no avail at making it any easier.  (these pics were the first session of peeling when we were using the steamer).  Oh and somehow in this process we knocked the tube out of the toilet which made water (fortunately clean water) go all over the floor every time you flushed.  Since we didn’t know this is what we had done and just knew the tank spilled water all over the floor every time we flushed, we called the plumber to come out to fix our problem.  He spent about .2 seconds reconnecting the tube while I sat mortified that I’d called a plumber to fix such an easy problem.  HOME OWNERSHIP for the win.


Apparently if you properly apply wallpaper there will be some barrier between the drywall and the paper, but there definitely was not on ours.  So a few places has pulled off the top layer of drywall paper, so I’ll also be learning how to skim coat a wall before we are able to paint this bad boy.  Fortunately it is a small space… unfortunately I’m STILL not done stripping wallpaper, so I’ll have a full post for you guys on that sometime in the next few weeks (hopefully!!) wallpaper

And in other project ADD, I ordered this bookshelf from World Market (pick up in store so I didn’t have to pay 80 dollars in shipping) since it was a nice large bookshelf in the style we like for 325 dollars with tax and everything!


I got it assembled yesterday, so I’ll snap a few pictures of it and show you what it looks like in our bonus room tomorrow.  I love it!! And it’s still on sale, so snap one up if you like it!

Anyway, this post has been as scattered as my projects have been lately, but that gives you a glimpse into where my head is at these days!! And the good news is we are supposed to have a few more nicer weeks of weather so hopefully I’ll be able to focus and get some projects done now that I can be in the garage again!

My Life in Photos

Update: I had a couple of questions about how the books turned out, so I’ve added a photo of those to the bottom of the post!


I have this weird quirk (okay I have a lot of them, but let’s just talk about one today).  I have always had this irrational fear of losing all my photos. I love looking through old photos, watching slideshows, old scrapbooks, etc.  And for some reason I have always had a fear of losing them all in a tornado, flood or some other force of destruction. This paranoia led me to a project that was only possible due to my single years living in an apartment by myself with not a whole lot to do in my free time. I decided to go through my parents rubbermaid boxes full of photos of my childhood, organize and scan them all (or all the ones with people in them… no one needs the 4 rolls of scenery photos from the Grand Canyon, thank you twin brother) and put them on external hard drives for Christmas for my family.  It was the perfect project: it meant that several people had copies and they all lived in different states plus it was a pretty special gift to be able to see pictures we hadn’t seen in years!

Sidenote: not too long later mom found a few more rubbermaid boxes with more pictures, so it turns out I only scanned about half, but still… it was a good representation of childhood. 🙂

But when this all happened I took the opportunity to sort through my digital files as well.  I’d had a digital camera for about 4 or 5 years at this point, so I was beginning to accumulate quite a few digital photos! (Fortunately for me, it was before the iPhone and I didn’t have any pictures from my every day life to sort).  But I spent a little time here and a little time there and finally had all the photos on my computer sorted into categories.

The good news is that this process really made it so that with the plethora of digital photos I take now (blog photos, life, iPhone, etc) I have a system for organizing them.  And because nothing beats being able to flip through and look at pictures, I have a system that works pretty well for me to print pictures and keep up with my digital life.

I thought in light of it being January and most people are in an organizing/cleaning/purging phase I would show you guys my system (since the only organizing I’m doing around my house right now is taking things out of boxes and putting them where they belong).  And yes, I am totally aware that some of this borders on the obsessive, but just go with me here.

Okay so first of all, I have all of my historical photos backed up on Dropbox (I pay for a subscription, but if you have less than 2 GB you can use it for free) and I also have them on an external hard drive that I keep at the office… just to have backups for my backups :).  I like Dropbox because it acts like a folder on my computer making it easy to move folders and view what is in there.  It also is easy to share folders with family and friends, since I am regularly the only one taking photos in my family! Most of my historical photos I have grouped into categories like family, Weddings, Vacations, etc because I have a hard time remembering what years things happened in.



Then on my computer I have things broken down into years as well as some other frequently accessed folders or things I want to keep on my phone.  I have my iPhone sync with several of my folders including the ‘slideshow’ folder I have below that has a random selection of photos from my childhood or funny pictures I may want to access on my phone.

photoscreenshot3 Then within my 2014 folder I create more folders for each different subject/event.  Whenever I import photos from my camera or iPhone (which I try to do periodically… my iCloud is not reliable on getting all my pictures transferred… so I go through Windows import whenever I back up my phone) I try to move them immediately into folders where they belong, although since my life isn’t QUITE that organized, I know that if I have a folder with the date as its name that those photos need to be sorted.


Where you see the “Best of…” folders above is where I have been at an event and taken TONS of photos that I want to keep, but I also want just a few that are really the best pictures from the event.  Sometimes these are edited, sometimes not, but these are usually the ones I share with friends and family so they don’t have to sort through all 400 pictures to find the 30 halfway decent ones. Periodically through the year I make sure that all my folders are copied to Dropbox and since I can access Dropbox from my phone, I can quickly send a link or email a picture to someone wherever I am!

Then my big project that I do ever spring is to make a MyPublisher book with all of the pictures.  I have had good experience with MyPublisher for making photo books.  I’m sure there are ones that are as good or even better, but since I’m now about 4 years into printing these (and they are all uniform… and match the guest book from our wedding) I’m probably going to stick with them.  They usually have a few good discounts in January, so I usually wait until they have one for 60% off or free pages and then print the book.


I don’t do anything fancy like write words or descriptions for everything, I just go through my 2014 folder, pick out the pictures I want printed, then tell it to sort by time.  Sometimes I’ll swap out which pictures are big and small, but the whole process takes me about an hour or two to go through. I love flipping through the last few years of photos and we keep the photobooks out in our living room for guests to look through if they are so inclined! The whole process now is pretty effortless and I always know where my pictures are, or can find them easily!  I’m hoping this all helps me out when I have this little kiddo and the inevitable onslaught of photos that is sure to ensue.