Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Holiday Fun

          December is right around the corner, and you can definitely feel the holiday spirit. Colorful lights are going up on homes, and sparkling décor is highlighting doors and windows. Everywhere you look holiday decorations are on lawns, houses and in store front windows. We want to help you get into the holiday spirit by highlighting a few fun places to visit to see some lights and decorations.  

To start off the Lion’s Club parade of lights will be held this Friday night, December 1 at 7pm for all to enjoy. The route will start at Buford Park, making their way down Connally Street to Church Street then back down Houston Street to end at the Prim. This parade is great, fun for everyone, pull up a lawn chair, grab your hot coca and watch the colors drive by as the Community Supports the local Lion's Club. This is a free event, for those in attendance.  

Heritage Park’s Christmas in the Park is one of my favorite holiday experiences here in town. The park looks beautiful all dressed up for the holidays and the atmosphere is festive and fun. Plus, I think it helps to draw new people to the park who otherwise might not have stopped by in the past. The last day to experience this step back in time is Saturday, December 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 p. m. admission is $3 per person. 

Another one of our favorite activities to do is to go hunt for a Christmas Tree. Kadee Farms in located in Greenville at 5054 Highway 69 South (7 Miles) Greenville, TX 75402 and has been hosting a choose and cut tree farm for the past 40+ years. In recent years they have added a walking light path for everyone to enjoy. It is $8 per person to walk the path and enjoy the lights. The lights are open Tuesday – Sunday from 5:30 – 8 p. m. Even if you are not looking for the perfect tree, you can enjoy Christmas at the Farm. They have many activities for the whole family, a holiday shop, s’mores roasting along with hot coca and apple cider to enjoy. Be sure to check out their website for more information and what they offer and hours of operation.

The North Pole of Texas is another great option to see holiday lights while riding the rails. A small farm in Pickton, Texas, host a train ride that is 100% free to the public, we encourage you to read their message on their website to learn more about this service this wonderful family provides for people from all over. Only open on the weekend during the season, be sure to get there early, located at 227 County Road 3378 Pickton, TX 75471. Stop by and experience the joy of the season, in a unique way.  

There are multiple drive through light displays in North Texas. Where you want to go and how far you want to drive will determine which ones you take advantage of. Tyler has the Tyler Lights, and the cost is $20 per car.  Grand Prairie has been hosting Prairie Lights for many years and is probably one of the best drive through light displays that I have ever seen. There is something for the whole family to see and talk about during this display. There are multiple ways to see the lights, $50 per vehicle or you can grab a fast past and skip the line, and select at time for $149 per car. Carmela’s Magical Santa Land in Longview, Texas is another great option for the whole family. Located at 6085 Hwy 259 North, Longview, this is fun for the whole family, and they only request that you make a donation. They are open Sunday – Thursday from 5:30 – 10 p. m. and Friday – Saturday from 5:30 – 11 p. m. There is no excuse to not see the lights at Carmela’s they have hours that you can visit after dinner and enjoy a driving and walking the trail. 

The Dallas Arboretum does an amazing job of decorating for the holiday season. Their 12 days of Christmas Display is a wonder to see and fun for the whole family. The display is open to the public November 9 – January 5 from 9 a. m. - 5 p. m. Grab your tickets and select your day to enjoy this piece of holiday fun. Tickets range from $12 – 20 per person.  

If you are looking for a colder adventure for the family, then be sure to check out ICE at the Gaylord. This year’s theme at the Texas location is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Grab your blue coat and wander through the ICE as you discover how much fun the cold can be. Be sure to take a trip down the slide and enjoy being a kid again. Ticket for ICE are $28.99 for adult (12+), $19.99 for child. This is an adventure the whole family can enjoy.  

To make the holiday season a little more fun, we like to do a drive through town scavenger hunt where everyone can participate. You can make your scavenger hunt into bingo and give our prizes or treats. Or just see who can collect the most items. If you have multiple drivers, this could be fun as groups who go out separately and come back after a certain amount of time. Either way, there are multiple ways to enjoy the lights and decorations this holiday season. We hope that you and your family find many fun and exciting ways to celebrate the lights and décor of the holiday season.  

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Herb Infused Cocktail ~ Caledonia Thyme Spritzer


    The North East Choral Society hits the stage next weekend for their annual holiday show, Celtic Christmas.  The show times are Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 p. m. and a second show on Sunday, December 3 at 2:00 p. m. at the Sulphur Springs High School Auditorium.  Tickets can be purchased from any Choral Society member, on their website or at select sights around town.  This year's show is going to be one you won't want to miss.  Not only will they be featuring songs you love to hear, but they will also be featuring beautiful Celtic Christmas music, with a special appearance by Dr. Bryan Robinson as the piper. 

    Bagpipes have long been a symbol of national pride and identity for Scotland and the Choral Society is excited to share those traditions as well as others with the public this year.  Dr. Robinson has been a piper for over 25 years and faithfully served in the Navy during the Gulf War Era.   The tartan he wears was adopted by the Navy and represents the Polaris tartan, which encompasses all the colors he wore while serving in the Navy.  

    We partnered with the North East Choral Society to bring you a very special cocktail for December.  The Caledonia Thyme Spritzer.  We wanted to have a drink that represents this year's theme and brings a little holiday cheer to your day.  

    Caledonia Thyme Spritzer

1.5 ounces Scotch

1 ounce Wine

1 ounce Pineapple Juice

1/2 ounce Thyme syrup

Pineapple and Thyme

Combine all the ingredients into a shaker cup filled with ice.  Give the cup a vigorous shake until all things are chilled.  Pour over a ice filled glass.  Garnish with the extra thyme and pineapple. 

    For this drink we chose a Rose to help added in a little color for the holiday season.  You could also use a Riesling that is on the dryer side to help balance out the sweetness of the pineapple juice and thyme syrup.  No matter what wine you select stay on the dry side.

    You can enjoy your cocktail before the Choral Society concert next weekend, bring your ticket in for a discount.  Anytime in the month of December while open the Caledonia Thyme Spritzer will be available for purchase.  We hope you stop by the Tipsy Oak Lounge by the Oaks bed and breakfast to enjoy this special holiday drink.

    As always enjoy your beverage responsibly and have a designated driver.  Cheers!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Let's Eat ~ Food Trucks Gorditas Nena's


    On your way to Coleman Park, between League Street and Hwy 19, there is a Shamrock gas station, where Gorditas Nena's has pulled up and parked.  Gorditas Nena's is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a. m.  - 7 p. m.  They accept cash or cards and even have service through door dash.  Can't make it to their spot, give her a call and place your order to be delivered for you, 430-201-7915.  I have seen this food truck around town, usually at a gas station and figured she might offer some different choice for her customers, and I should give it a try.  We were pleased with our food selections for this new dining adventure. 


    Usurpingly, the gordita was our favorite that we ordered from this food truck today.  With multiple options you can't go wrong with the gordita.  Order more than one and mix it up to find your favorite.  Meat, cheese, beans, or eggs gathered between two flour or corn tortillas.  The flavor was even throughout the gordita and was filling.  One of the reasons she started her food truck was because her friends and family would tell her that the flavor of the food, she cooked reminded them of home or how their grandmother would make their favorite dish.  What a great way to help people feel more connected to the past.  

    I think next time we will have to try a few more.  I always try to pick out a few things from the menu to get the best idea of what each food truck has to offer.  So today we did the Asado gordita, and really enjoyed the whole thing.

    Who can pass up on tacos from a food truck that specializes in Mexican food.  Street tacos are one of my favorite foods and I could probably eat tacos everyday.  She offers a good variety of tacos that will fill you up can are very cost effective to purchase.  Bring your whole family down to try out the gorditas and tacos.

    Last but not least I also picked up the ceviche.  We love ceviche and will order it at almost any location that offers ceviche.  Since it can be different wherever you go, no two ceviche's are alike.  One must always order the avocado to go along with it as well.  Nice sturdy chips help to make the transfer from the plate to your belly that much smoother.  Hers was okay, it had plenty of food to offer but could us a bit more flavor.  Otherwise, the variety was well proportioned and enjoyable. 

    Head on over to give them a call, Gorditas Nena's is a great stop to make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Bring a crowd or just yourself, there is something there for everyone to enjoy. 


Thursday, November 2, 2023

Travel East Texas ~ Road Trip Addition


    One of the great American pastimes is to take a family road trip.  You never truly realize how big the United States is until you hit the open road. My daughter and I made this road trip to visit her college before dropping her off.  Our road trip took us through 21 States.  You read that correctly 21.  We travelled from Texas to Maine and back.  We took a different route there than we did on the way home, which is part of the reason we hit so many States in one trip.  

    One of our favorite stops to make on road trips are the little, small town coffee shops along the way.  Since being a previous coffee shop owner, it's always fun to see how people style their shops and what they have to offer.  For me the best way to see if the coffee is any good is to order a cappuccino.  You can determine if the espresso is roasted well, how well they can create the foam and if the drink is too hot.  Of course, we would often grab a quick bite to eat or use this stop as a mealtime, since sometimes breakfast on the road is not what you expect.

    While the miles fly by in the car, we either listen to music and sing along or we use this time to listen to a book.  All in all, on our road trip, she, and I each read seven books.  Don't worry, we had plenty of time to talk, listen to each other and bond while traveling.  For us reading is a perfect way to spend time together and then discuss what we read.  It's part of our bonding process.  Even now when one of us reads a book we think the other will like, we let each other know.  

    All that time in the car means we must take some time to get out and explore along the way.  We didn't really stop too much on the way out since we had to arrive in Castine, Maine by a certain date and time.  But we did explore a little and found some great restaurants along the way.  On the way home we took a little more time to do some sightseeing, outside of Maine.  Castine is just beautiful.  The girl is really going to enjoy her time in Maine, so long as she can make it through the winter.  The city sits right on the edge of the water and offers water sports, boating and a great community environment.  A wonderful place to visit or live.  The towns that are close by also offer great wonderful exploration, we really enjoyed Bar Harbor. 

    I have always loved the show Gilmore Girls, and so we stopped off in Washington, Connecticut to check out the city that the show's location was based around.  Even on a Sunday morning, this little area was busy.  We stopped in for a late breakfast at Marty's cafe.  Bought some books at the bookstore and then just wandered around and took some pictures that highlighted the points of interest in Washington.  The bookstore, had a section dedicated to Lauren Graham's books for readers to pick up and enjoy.  Along with a children's section and stationary.  It was a great stop and we both enjoyed the visit. 

    From there we headed down to Philly.  We figured we would stop by and see the Liberty Bell and walk around the city and enjoy some vegan Philly cheesesteaks.  Yes, vegan Philly cheesesteaks are a thing.  Made with mushrooms and vegan cheese with onions, they were delicious.  The only thing that dampened our time in Philly was the rain.  We left the umbrella in the car and had blocks upon blocks to walk before making it back to our car.  Needless to say, we were wet and so was our food.  

    All through our travels we stayed in bed and breakfast establishments.  After all, what a great way to see how other people run their businesses and pick up some pointers.  Each bed and breakfast were different.  Many are started from an old home that is remodeled into the space it is now.  At some locations we had the whole house to ourselves.  At another we were there with other guests as well.  Breakfast was different at each stop.  Two of them cooked breakfast and served it out, just like we do.  Another had a set menu that you could specify what you wanted, and another had granola.  That might sound odd but it's the truth.  The bed and breakfast we selected in Castine offered a continental breakfast, which really surprised me.  I would have thought they would have put in a little more effort into the food than they did.  Next time we will check out the other bed and breakfast option in Castine.  

    Our favorite overnight stop was just outside of Philly, at Alpenhof Bed and Breakfast.  They had such a unique house design and it was decorated in a such a way that was reminiscent of a mid-evil castle.  They have been operating as a bed and breakfast for over twenty years.  We hope to make that mark one day as well.  Their property and home were well appointed for guests to visit, find a spot to read or walk in the garden.  They even had a swimming pool for guests to enjoy.  We really enjoyed our stop here and would highly recommend if you are ever out that way to make a stop there as well. 

    Since we did not want to drive back through Tennessee, we headed further South towards Georgia.  We stopped in a little town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina called Shelby and we could not believe how similar it was to Sulphur Springs.  The bed and breakfast there is named after the streets it sits on.  The downtown was close enough to walk down to, and the square, was full of shops and dining.  A little bigger than Sulphur Springs, but still made us think of home.  We ate at a great woodfired pizza place and wandered the streets downtown before heading back to get some sleep.

    We had such a great adventure, driving down the road and exploring the country where we live.  No two cities are alike, and no two bed and breakfast stays are alike.  Each one brought something different to the table, with each one leaving a memory for us to look back on together.  While it might take longer to reach your destination, never underestimate the road trip.  It might be the best way to explore different parts of the country.  Grab a friend, some snacks, and a map, then hit the road.  We suggest staying at bed and breakfast to be able to get a better feel for the area in which you are visiting.  Typically, they are run and owned by locals who can point you in the right direction. Happy and safe travels.