Monday, February 25, 2013

While In Texas...Do As The Texans Do

Of course I love and have been loyal to all my Philadelphia teams (Flyers, Eagles, Phillies, and 76ers), and I hate to admit this, but I've also enjoyed the Dallas Mavericks ever since I started watching them with my boyfriend a few years ago. I honestly don't mind Dallas teams or fans, except for the Cowboys of course. I will never cheer for the Dallas Cowboys because 1. they suck and 2. for fear of being disowned by my Daddy (GO EAGLES). Last week my boyfriend and I were able to go on StubHub and get great tickets for a great price for Wednesday's Mavs game. We found parking in a parking garage (it was raining) for $15 that was just across the street from the stadium. To my surprise, there was no traffic to get to the game, unlike Philly games where the traffic is horrible. We had already ate dinner at home before leaving, so once we found our seats, we both got over priced beers to enjoy the game with. The game was so much fun and luckily they won the game! It's always better when they win. I've been keeping my eye out for cheap tickets to come up on StubHub again. The closer it gets to game day, the cheaper the tickets get. I can't wait to go to a few more games before the season is over. 
I love this picture of AAC with the Dallas skyline
Our tickets from StubHub
"I'm at the W, but I can't meet you in the lobby"
My future home
View from our seats
Almost game time 
Mark Cuban goes to all the games
With my baby :)
Game time!
Yayy MAVS win! 
We even got to watch the news being filmed outside AAC
On Monday last week, since it was Presidents Day, my boyfriend was able to take a long lunch and meet me at a Mexican restaurant called Gloria's. It was right across the street from his office in Addison. I ordered the chicken enchiladas as I always do at Mexican restaurants. They were good and very filling and unlike most enchiladas I've had in the past. For lunch, prices were reasonably priced, and I loved getting to spend time with my baby during the work week.
My chicken enchiladas 
After Gloria's I still was craving Mexican food so on Sunday we went to another Mexican place called Chuy's. Chuy's has a bunch of locations in the South and is really quite an experience. All Chuy's are very unique and different from each other. They say, if you've been to one Chuy's, you've been to one Chuy's. I had been to Chuy's the last time I was visiting Texas and was craving their Chicka Chicka Boom Boom sauce. If you ever go to check them out, you have to try their famous sauce. I ordered the chicken enchiladas, no surprise there, and was so excited to eat, I forgot to take a picture! You'll have to use your imagination on how delicious they were. I enjoyed Chuy's enchiladas more than Gloria's mostly because of the original sauces Chuy's has to offer. Their prices were very similar so if I had a choice, I'd easily go back to Chuy's first. 
I love the palm trees
After getting my Mexican fill, I was craving some sweet treats. I mentioned before, but Korean bakeries really are the best. My boyfriend and I went to Mozart, a Korean bakery in the Korean district right by where we do our grocery shopping. Mozart is a delicious bakery with daily fresh baked cookies and cakes. I went in there on a Macaron mission. I'd never tried Macarons before, but I kept hearing people talk about them everywhere I'd go. I decided I had to try them and what better place to have my first Macaron than from a Korean bakery. I bought one in each flavor obviously! I've only tried chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry so far, but vanilla is my favorite right now. If you've never tried a Macaron, it's buttercream or jam sauce sandwiched between two soft cookies. While I was on my Macaron mission, my boyfriend also grabbed some other Korean sweets to try. I better not go into Mozart too often, I could easily gain 10 pounds from their delicious Macarons. 
I'll have one of each, please
What I came for
I start work this week so my posts might take me a little long to write, but I will make sure to keep posting about what I am doing and where I'm going here in Dallas. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope everyone had a special Valentine's Day weekend and got to celebrate with all your loved ones. My boyfriend and I decided to celebrate on Saturday since he had work on Thursday night. I did try to make the actual day extra special by making my hubby dinner and dessert. I take pride in trying to be a domestic goddess, as I like to say, and treat my man like a King because he treats me like the princess I am. 
As far as our Valentine's dinner date, we went to a great restaurant in Uptown Dallas near SMU on Saturday night. We heard great reviews for Villa-O and were excited to try it out for ourselves. They serve Italian food with an atmosphere as though you are on a cruise ship. I've been on four cruises and absolutely love the dining experience that comes with a cruise ship. Villa-O definitely made me feel like I was dining on the ocean with just me and my baby. I ordered the eggplant parm since it is one of my favorites. The menu said it was a secret family recipe, so I couldn't resist. It came out and I actually thought it was lasagna at first. Instead of noodles separating each layer, it was breaded eggplant. I've never seen eggplant parm prepared this way. It was very delicious. My boyfriend ordered the branzino which is a type of sea bass. It came with a lemon garlic sauce that was to die for! We were very happy with our meals so we had to order dessert (it was Valentine's Day after all). We ordered the white chocolate tiramisu, and it was dripping with expresso amazingness! Our overall bill was around $60 which is much less than what we were thinking it would come out to be. For the quality of food and the great service, I would have expected to pay much more. Valet parking was $5 which again is not too bad in my opinion. Overall, I had a great Valentine's date night with my baby and enjoyed trying out another new restaurant. 
Everything is open including the kitchen  
Villa-O Menu
Feels like you're on a boat
My delicious eggplant parm
Our amazing dessert
Perfect way to spend Valentine's Day
Last week we also FINALLY received our storage unit after many fights with Uhaul. The customer service down South is ridiculously better than up North. The manager of the store down here actually hand delivered our box since we were so unhappy. Now that we have our things, and we've unloaded the box, I will be looking for another moving company for the next time we move. Everything is finally put away and our new apartment here is really starting to feel like home. I'll be adding some new pictures of how things look now that we've actually moved in. 
It's finally here!
A little side note... I just wanted to say how proud I am of my alma mater, Penn State and THON for raising over 12.3 million dollars for the fight against pediatric cancer this weekend. If you've never heard of THON, I encourage you to check out their website at THON is the largest student run philanthropy in the WORLD! Now you see why us Penn Staters are so proud! Since 1977, THON has raised over 100 million dollars benefiting the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. What did your school do this weekend?! Congrats to all those who were involved on this great achievement! 
How crazy is this?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

What A Great Weekend

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend and survived Nemo! I hate to say it, but it was beautiful here this weekend besides a little rain. My boyfriend and I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the warm weather. We had a great weekend, and found a few new favorites in Dallas.
Enjoying this Texas weather
My boyfriend and I love watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network Channel with Guy Fieri, especially when there is nothing else on. We were watching a rerun this past week, and realized one of the restaurants we've been wanting to go to was only 12 miles from our house! Right then and there we made plans to go to Afrah on Friday night for dinner. I love Mediterranean food, and have been DYING to try chicken shawarma! If you've never heard or tried it before, it's chicken that roasts on a spinning wheel where they slice off small pieces to make each piece crispy and delicious. My meal came with hummus, rice, and pitas as well (all my favorites). My boyfriend had the beef shawarma with rice and french fries (how American), and he loved it as well. Each plate was about $14 and well worth the money. I am super picky about meat, but I fell in love with shawarma! You need to try it out! Seriously, if I like it then you know it's that good! Guy Fieri definitely knew what he was doing when he went to Afrah. They have a lunch buffet every weekday, and I can't wait to go back to eat unlimited shawarma, pitas, and hummus! 
Afrah was amazing!
Mediterranean is one of my favorites 
What we came for, Chicken Shawarma! 
Guy Fieri signed picture
What I dream about...
My boyfriend and I both love music, and he has really been wanting to take me to a piano bar. When I picture a piano bar, I think of classy people all dressed up, drinking wine, and listening to classical music. WRONG! On Saturday night we went to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar and had the best night in Texas so far! We called ahead of time to ask some questions and were able to reserve a spot at the bar. If you decide to go I definitely recommend making reservations otherwise you are going to be standing for five hours. When we first arrived, the place was filled with mostly bachelorette parties and birthday parties. I was beginning to understand this is not your typical piano bar. At 8:00 when the show started and a girl was already thrown out for throwing up, it was CLEAR Pete's Dueling Piano Bar is not your typical piano bar. Pete's is all about fun and singing loud. The musicians played songs strictly off request (with a little tip of course). They played anything from Snoop Dogg to Journey. With every song they played, the crowd got rowdier and rowdier. By 10:00 people were beginning to get sloppy. I spent my entire Senior year of college living in the bar, and can honestly say, I don't think I've ever seen anyone throw up right on the floor of the bar. This may because I went to Penn State, one of the greatest party schools of all time, but daymnnnn girls down here DO NOT know how to hold their alcohol. I literally watched three girls throw up right in front of me (no seriously like two feet away from me). Around 12:30 people were way too drunk and we decided we had enough fun, it was time to leave. My voice is still hoarse from screaming song lyrics all night long. I had so much fun, and Pete's definitely knows how to have a good time. Admission was $10 a person and drinks were reasonably priced. I honestly can't wait to go back again! Pete's has a few locations in Texas, and I highly recommend you check them out if you are ever in the area. You won't regret it!

I've been bad, I been good, Dallas Texas, Hollywood
Piano bar, literally   
They were great
Yea... not your typical Piano Bar
Four person band
Just a little rap
Even a violin 
Just a side note... I mentioned before, but if you are ever moving NEVER ever ever use Uhaul's UBox service. We have been waiting for our storage unit to be delivered to our house for the past few weeks. Our box is in Dallas, but they won't deliver it to our house because they said we still have to pay an additional delivery fee which we were told we already paid everything. Over the last month, we have spent over eight hours on the phone with Uhaul trying to get straight information, but everyone has a different story. There is no uniformity throughout their stores. They have jerked us around too many times. One store says you have paid everything, and another says you still owe money. We are moving five more times in the next two years, and we will NEVER use Uhaul again. Sorry for the rant, but seriously they suck!  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dallas Likes and Dislikes

Since I first arrived here, I started keeping a list of things I LOVE about Dallas and things I miss or could do without. 

Things I LOVE:

1. I love the fact that it is early February and it's already 75 degrees! Pools are open, skirts are flowing, tans are glowing. When I left PA it was the coldest day in over 4 years and snowing, so I welcomed this Dallas weather with open arms. Goodbye 20 degree weather and hello 75! 

2. Gas prices are significantly cheaper down here. The highest I've see so far is $3.29, and I've seen it as cheap as $3.09. I'm use to paying at least $3.50/gallon so saving money on gas have been very nice. Gotta love the fact that Texas has its own gas!

3. The average speed limit around here is 70. In PA most roads are 55 with an occasional 65 on the Turnpike. One road around here is even 80. Is this real life?! How can cops catch people for speeding when the speed limit is 80? It's great! 

4. I've never met such nice, caring people until I moved here. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is friendly. Whether it's someone walking past you, a server, or a neighbor, everyone makes it a point to be nice. I'm from the North where it's a dog eat dog kind of world. It really surprised me how different the people are down here. It makes me such a nicer and more patient person, and I love it! 

5. My favorite kind of food is Mexican, and let me tell you they have AMAZING Mexican food down here. Even TexMex is awesome. The food is so authentic and delicioso. I can't wait to try out even more Mexican places, but so far my favorite is Luna de Noche. I could eat Mexican food everyday and not get sick of it. 

6. I've heard of Southern sunsets being amazing, but until I saw one for the first time in person I couldn't even believe how beautiful they are. I don't know why it's so different from the North, but it's on a whole new level of beautiful. I absolutely love watching the set sun, and now I can sit on my balcony everyday and have a first row seat to the beautiful red sky. 

7. In the winter months up North, it's depressing when you look outside at 5:00 and it's dark. I love that at 6:30 the sun is just setting. It makes the days feel much longer, and I have much more motivation to get things done. 

8. The customer service down South is incomparable to anything up North. Every single person is willing to help and they do it with a smile on their face. Everyone is wanting to go above and beyond to make the customer happy, which is something I am not use to. The customer is always right definitely applies down here. 

9. I am not a big drinker, but I love the fact that you can buy alcohol everywhere down here. A gas station, grocery store, a mall. PA has such hard restrictions on alcohol that it took me for surprise when I went to Whole Foods and found an entire three isles just of wine. 

Things I MISS/DON'T like:

1. Well duhhh I miss my family like crazy! I am so lucky to have such a supportive family who loves me and allows me to follow my dreams. Thank you Daddy & Alisha for allowing to me live at home for the last month rent free :) I have two very little sisters (who I love more than anything) and missing them grow up is extremely difficult. Please don't grow up too much! My Mom is such an important person in my life. Her optimism, strength, and wisdom blow me away sometimes. She's my rock. Now she's my rock from 1,500 miles away. Thanks Mom. I've always been close to my entire extended family as well. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents I miss you all. Living 1,500 miles apart is hard, but I know they are all only a phone call away. Thank you family <3 
My Dad's family in Cape May, NJ
My Momma, beautiful inside and out
2. I haven't seen my best friend since 2012, well December 31st 2012, but still! For being the person I used to spend every waking minute with, being so far apart is a BIG deal! She's my best friend, mama, and soul mate. I know if I ever need anything she will always be there for me, and I will always be there for her too. Pleeeeeeeease come visit me soon ma!  Ps- get better at texting please, no but seriously! 

My dime piece Mama, yes we like to match
3. I didn't realize until I left, just how much I love Penn State. Ask any Penn Stater and they will all tell you there is just something unexplainable about Penn State that makes it unlike any other school. It's what makes us the best (haters gonna hate). I'll miss $2 you call its at The Den (also where I met my boyfriend), 110,000 people whiteout games, and screaming WE ARE everywhere we go. Thank you for making me the person I am today Penn State. 
Graduation Day, May 2011
4. Being a Northern girl, I like to do things very fast. Eat fast, drive fast, shop fast, walk fast, talk fast. People down South like to do things very slow which drives me crazy at times. I am the type of person who is always early. If I have to be there at 7, I'll be there at 6:45. Down here they say 7ISH and arrive at 7:30. What is ISH? ISH is not a time people! People who know me, know if there's one thing I can't stand, it's people who can't be on time. Hopefully the more I live here the more I'll get use to it. Hey, maybe I will even start to slow down a little myself (I said maybe...).

5. I am anything but a country girl, but people down here love their huntin, fishin, campin, country music, and red meat. I'm not a city girl either, and Dallas is HUGE. I mean HUGE. I am pretty good with direction, but this city gets me all kinds of confused. They have about 50 different highways all that lead to the many surrounding areas of Dallas. The road names don't make sense either. How can there be a 35E North and a 35E South?! Not only are there a ton of highways, but they are all under construction making it even more difficult to learn my way around. Thank god for iPhone navigation!  

6. And my number 1 complaint about Dallas.... them Cowgirl fans are everywhere! I'll always be Philly proud baby, E-A-G-L-E-S! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Places To Go, Things To See

Since my boyfriend and I had a week in Dallas before he started work today, we tried to fit as much touristy things in while we had the time. I think I have been stuffed with amazing food the entire time here in Dallas. We've gone to so many great restaurants all of which I definitely would recommend. I haven't had a bad meal yet!

Restaurants We’ve Been To:

My favorite restaurant so far has been Luna de Noche which is an upscale TexMex place in Uptown Dallas. The décor is very modern and the food is amazing. Valet parking was only $5, which I consider very affordable. Of course they bring out complimentary chips and salsa, but we also had the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten. I ordered an avocado soup because I absolutely love avocado. It was very different and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. They pour chicken broth over cheese, chips, and avocado for the perfect combination. The cheese melts perfectly to make every bite delicious. For my main course I had their recommended sour cream chicken enchiladas, which came with Mexican rice and beans. My boyfriend had rib eye fajitas, and we both agree this is the best Mexican we’ve had in a long time. The service was great, as all service down South is. My boyfriend had a beer with dinner which raised our bill a little, but the overall price for two people would be around $60-$70. This is not a place we would come every week, but absolutely at least once a month!

Luna de Noche
Avocado Soup
Sour Cream Enchiladas and Rib eye Fajitas 

My boyfriend’s parents took us to a Korean bakery called Caffé Bene outside Dallas in the Korean district. Korean’s are known for their amazing baked goods, and I have to say it was delicious. We went for brunch, and I ended up getting a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. It looked small but it was actually really filling. I also ended up getting a cream cheese danish which is one of my absolute favorites. I couldn’t finish it so I took it home and had it for breakfast the next day. It was still perfectly delicious the day after. This is a place I would love to come once a week for a late breakfast or early lunch. I can’t wait to try more Korean baked goods the next time I go!

Waffle with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Cream Cheese Danish 

La Madeline is a chain restaurant around here, but I’ve never heard of them up North. I would compare it to a Panera which I love. I’ve only been here a week, and I’ve been here three times already! We go mostly for breakfast, but they have great lunch options as well. My boyfriend loves the potato soup and always gets the largest bowl every time we go. They offer free bread and the best jam! My favorite item is strawberries romanoff which is like yogurt but much sweeter, almost like a fruit dip. I’ve also had crepes here and the best, flaky croissants. If there is a La Madeline chain around you I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a really inexpensive breakfast or lunch to try out!

Bread & Jam, Strawberries Ramanoff, Parfait, Blueberry Muffin

My boyfriend’s parents also took us to a restaurant called BJ’s Brewery in Addison, Texas. I would consider the food a mix between Italian, American, and Mexican (three of my favorites!) They are a brewery and make their own beer. Although I don’t really drink, I tried some of my boyfriend’s homemade beer and it was very good. I almost even ordered my own glass. I am a big fan of lettuce wraps so we ordered shrimp Thai lettuce wraps for an appetizer. I loved the spicy sauce that goes with the wraps. For my main course I ordered a delicious turkey burger. It kind of reminded me of a Red Robin burger, and it was perfect! The service was great again even though they were extra busy that night. If you like beer and typical bar food, you have to try out BJ’s!
Shrimp Thai Lettuce Wraps 
Places We’ve Gone:

While we were in the Korean district one day, we also stopped by the Korean supermarket called H-Mart. It was literally like a mall for food. It even has a jewelry store inside.  Although it was mostly Korean food and brands, they also carried food you would find in your typical grocery store. The produce and fish were the freshest I’ve ever seen. My boyfriend and I decided we are going to buy our seafood, fruits, and vegetables from H-mart just because they're super fresh and inexpensive. They had the largest variety of fish I’ve ever seen, and they can filet it right in front of you if you choose. I saw some things I’ve never seen before such as live fluke fish. Apparently that’s really popular in Asian cooking. They get their shipment of fresh fish on Sunday, so every Sunday that’s where you will find us!
H-Mart, like Walmart, but better
Live Lobster 
Live Fluke 
Entire isle for Soy Sauce 
Entire isle for Rice 
Jewelry store inside Korean grocery store 

One of the people my boyfriend works with, was able to get free tickets to a comedy club in Uptown Dallas and invited us. I had never been to a comedy club before and didn't know what to expect. The club was called Hyena's Comedy Club and there were three comedy acts, although the featured act was Billy D Washington. He was hilarious! Seriously hilarious! I was completely entertained! He has been featured on comedy central, HBO, and Last Comic Standing. If you have an opportunity to go see him, do it! I laughed so hard I cried (for and hour and a half straight!). The comedy club required that each person buy a two drink minimum, which sucked for me because I don't really drink. I had to pay for a coke I didn't want or drink. It was absolutely worth it to see Billy D though. Seriously check him out! You can follow him on twitter for updates on where he will be next

Dallas sky at night
Billy D. Washington--- HILARIOUS!
He even plays the piano 

I had an interview last week and realized all my professional clothes are in storage, so my boyfriend took me to the Galleria Mall in Dallas to get some new clothes. I’ve been to nice malls before, but I have to say, I’ve never seen a mall with an ice skating rink. Although we didn’t skate, we did shop (and did a lot of window shopping). Most stores are out of our price range, but it’s still fun to look at all the nice stores and restaurants.
The Galleria Mall 
Ice skating rink inside the mall 

Just exploring the area where we live has been really fun for me. There is a cow farm right in our backyard, and I love to sit outside and watch them. I've also seen a few horses and even a donkey! We also have a pond, fountain, and gazebo right outside our balcony. If you know me, then you know I love water of any kind. Our pond is small, but it's perfect for me! The weather has been so nice that we just sit out in the gazebo and relax. It's really peaceful, even with the cows right next door! Along one of our walks we did see a huge snake which I was not too thrilled about. I've never seen a snake in person other than just a small garden snake. I hope this isn't a normal occurrence here in Texas. I really hate snakes!
Going for a walk on this beautiful Texas day
I LOVE water!
Hey there donkeys 
Hello cuties :)
My perfection

My favorite place we’ve gone so far has been the Dallas World Aquarium in Uptown Dallas. I love animals and water, so the aquarium is the perfect place for me to spend a day. Parking was $7 for the day and admission was $20 per person. We ended up going during the week and ran into a few field trips, but other than that it was pretty empty. This place is huge and not only an aquarium but also a small zoo. We easily spent 4 hours entertained by all there was to see. My favorite part was seeing the three-story waterfall and the endangered manatee eat lunch. I’ve been to quite a few aquariums before, but this was my favorite so far. Some of the best attractions were the shark tunnel, 14-foot crocodile, and jaguar exhibit. If you are in the Dallas area, definitely go check it out!  
Go and check it out! Seriously! 
My favorite part! 
Sloth just chillin  
HUGE crocodile 
With my baby <3 
Otters having fun 
Manatee swimming under the waterfall 
Three-story waterfall
Sea turtle photo bomb
In the rain forest 
Endangered manatee 
With the manatee 
"I like turtles"
Shark tunnel 
Manatee feeding 
Such a cutie 
Sleeping beauty 
Penguins eating lunch 
Pretty pink flamingos
I found this website that lists 100 things to do in Dallas. I can't wait to see how many of them we can do before heading to the next city. As we continue to do more fun things I will continue to blog about them. Check back soon to see what we do next!