Sunday, December 27, 2009

When in Dallas

I think it's safe to say, most people don't visit Dallas unless they have family or work there. While growing up I wouldn't have had much to tell you about it either because we didn't typically visit all of the sights unless it was a museum, movie theater or sub-par mall. But, now that I am older I try to take advantage of the trips to visit my family as much as possible. This last trip ended up being a shopping trip because everybody else was sick, but I place all of the other "to-do's" on my list below.

Over the years I've tried to figure out the best places to buy all of those old Chanel jackets that the rich, big-haired Dallas women throw out in perfectly good condition. I knew it existed, but it was ever so elusive. Finally, this time I used my super Google powers (I work in search marketing) and got lucky. Clotheshorse Anonymous moved to the top of my list to visit.

Never-worn Miu Miu flats

I was not even remotely disappointed! While I found a yellow Chanel suit for only $600, it was too matronly for my taste. But, there were plenty of other goods available to keep me happy, including a wall of new and vintage furs and fur hats, formal dresses, David Yurman jewelry, Chloe tops, Diane Von Furstenberg dresses, high-end handbags with the tags still on them, tons of Tory Burch, and never-worn shoes. I personally took home the Miu Miu shoes above and a really cute silk dress for only $150.

The hard part about shopping at Clotheshorse Anonymous is sifting through what's practical and what's not. I could have easily spent a fortune in this place and never worn half of the stuff. So I suggest you stay strong and make sure it's something you'll actually use before you walk out. Just remember, that sparkly dress with the tag still on it seemed like a good idea to the former owner too!

Other great things in Dallas:

- View the new Winspear Opera House
(by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster)
- See Big Tex at the Texas State Fair and eat fried anything
- Watch Texas kill Oklahoma at the Red River Shootout (at the fair)
- Eat BBQ at Sonny Bryan's original location

Dallas photo found here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sweet Casa Alabama

Noccalula Falls, Gadsden, AL

The Brothers apparently have strong roots in rural Alabama. I have never lived there, but my grandfather was born there and moved back there from San Diego almost 50 years ago. Growing up I remember riding in the back of my dad's truck all the way from Dallas to Alabama. Yes, that was legal back then! Then we would hang out, dig up worms, go fishing and wander amongst the cows on the neighbors property. Unfortunately I didn't know about cow tipping back then.

I recently paid a visit, as I had not been there in about 10 years (yes, a bad granddaughter indeed). My grandpa and aunts, who recently moved there, showed me around all of the small towns surrounding Attalla.

Mexican grocery, restaurant and general store, Collinsville, AL

If you know me at all, you're aware that I'm part Mexican. This is mainly due to my grandfather's strong interest in other nationalities, and ultimately, his marriage to my Mexican grandmother after a trip to Baja. So, of course, my grandpa and aunts discovered this great Mexican restaurant in Collinsville. It's totally random that there would be a place so good in the middle of the South, especially in such a small town. They had amazing tacos and salsa. The green salsa with radishes was definitely my favorite.

Driving around we couldn't help but stop at all the cute antique shops in the most random places. After antiquing in Seattle (where it's difficult to find a real bargain) it was pretty cool to see some of the amazing stuff that was being sold for next to nothing. U.S. 11 Antiques was my favorite of them all. I bought an old Finley pocket knife from Japan ($3) and a really cool multi-strand bronze necklace ($5).

In August, there is the world's longest yard sale, Tour de Kalb. I don't know if I like shopping around that much, but the possibilities are sure to be endless.

And what is a visit to the South without great barbecue? I was really impressed with O'So Good BBQ and I'm super picky on this subject. We went on Sunday at 3pm and they were literally running out of food because they had been busy all day. The ribs were very tender, the sauce was wonderful and all of the side dishes were great too. I was really bummed that they were out of the fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler. But, I find that you know it's fresh and carefully crafted when they run out of ingredients. The staff was ridiculously friendly, and it was one of the cleanest restaurants I've ever eaten in.

So, enough talking, here are some more pictures:

Photography by me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Puerto Vallarta Not on a Dime

My mother's side of the family recently had a reunion in Puerto Vallarta. My aunt Judy and uncle Jerry were kind enough to supply the rooms from their time share, making it easy for everyone to join in. While there we also celebrated my aunt Ceilia's 60th birthday. Needless to say, it was very nice to have a chance to hang out with everyone.

While we were there we did the typical beach, pool, food, margarita thing. I also had the chance to do a little shopping and go on a canopy tour. Both of which I will elaborate upon here.

Los Arcos, near Mismaloya in the Bay of Banderas

While seeking air conditioning on our shopping trip I found two one-of-a-kind shirts at a boutique called Sucesos. Sucesos is run by an artist who hand paints each and every item of clothing. While the majority of the items cater to the wealthy older Americans that frequent Puerto Vallarta, there are items painted by the owner's daughter that are a lot fresher and appeal to people in their 20s and 30s. The price isn't cheap, especially considering you're in Mexico. But, the shirts are so unique, comfortable and some even glamorous, that you won't mind the expense.

Seeking a little excitement, my cousin, his wife and I all went on a canopy tour with Los Veranos. The guides were very nice and a lot of fun. Over the course of the tour you work your way up to longer and higher zip lines, such as Dos Cojones pictured here. The guides give you a chance to go upside down, spinning and in pairs with their assistance. It was definitely one of the best things I did while there.

Below is the song our waiter sang for my aunt's 60th. Maybe he'll be the next Susan Boyle?

Waiter at Los Tules resort, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Photos and video by me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sideways: Napa Edition

Cuvaison Winery Patio

In planning my trip to Napa numerous people told me they only go to Sonoma to avoid the massive crowds of tourists and families. However, we didn't have much of a choice as to where we went because we were attending a rehearsal dinner and wedding. Below are my favorite places we visited in Napa, and I do believe there are ways to avoid the crazy crowds, such as:

- Mainly go to wineries that are appointment only
- Avoid the really large, well-known wineries
- Go to wineries off the main streets


Swanson is a French-New Orleans inspired winery with a fun decor. Our host was very nice and greeted us as we entered. The courtyard had a bench where we were able to enjoy the wines outside.

My Favorite: 2005 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon, $75 per bottle (only available for direct purchase)

Darioush is a Persian estate that is both a tasting room, event hall and home. The tastings were the most expensive we found, but they didn't scrimp on the experience. It was like having a concierge, with a detailed book of restaurants, Voss water and pistachios available while you taste.

My Favorite: 2006 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, $80 per bottle (available in numerous fine restaurants)

Cuvaison is in the Carneros region, which is closer to the water and cooler. This is the ideal region for Pinot Noir in Napa. It is a modern building set amongst rolling hills and has an amazing patio and view.

My Favorite: 2006 Block F5 Pinot Noir, $45 per bottle (only available for direct purchase)

Photography by Stephanie Littlefield

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Italy Eludes Me

I think I've been planning a trip to Italy for about five years now... Somehow I always end up traveling somewhere else. Since I don't think any travel blog is complete without a trip to Italy, I have posted a link to my friend Mike's blog for your enjoyment:

Mike's Italy Travel Blog

Photography by Michael Stratigakis

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

20 Best Views in the World

This article by Andrew Harper should keep the list busy for a while!

Machu Picchu is on the list of the "20 Best Views in the World."

Photography by me.