• East Texas Experiences

    Family Fun in Dallas

    Gavin turned three years old earlier this month! To celebrate, we took a short trip to Dallas to do some fun stuff. We spent two days (one night) doing fun-filled activities with Gavin. We went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Grapevine and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas.

    We drove over on a Wednesday morning and did Legoland Discovery Center, which is in the Grapevine Mills mall. That took a few hours for us to do everything and give Gavin plenty of time to play. He was too young for a couple of the activities, but he did play in the Duplo Village and with the earthquake tables, walked around the Miniland, rode two rides (Merlin’s Apprentice and Kingdom Quest), and saw the 4D movie. They have a coffee shop inside, so we had a snack break while we were there. Of course, Gavin got a couple of new Duplo sets on the way out. Lego Duplos are his favorite toy, so we knew he would have tons of fun with all the Lego stuff.

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    When we left the Legoland Discovery Center, we walked through the mall to the Rainforest Cafe for a late lunch (okay food and service). It’s a fun restaurant to eat in, and we all enjoyed looking at the animals. We didn’t shop the mall, but it was busy and seemed to have a lots of good shopping options. Okay, I may have dragged Michael and Gavin in the Books-a-Million, but that was the only store we shopped. After the mall, we went to check into our hotel and rest a bit. After getting our second wind, we headed out for dinner – we ate at the Uncle Buck’s Brewery & Steakhouse (okay food, great service) that is part of the nearby Bass Pro Shops. We spent the night in Grapevine, and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the mall. We were exhausted after a very full day of activities!

    Gavin having fun at Rainforest Cafe | rainerlife.com

    We headed to the museum on Thursday morning. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was very nice! Gavin had fallen asleep on the drive to downtown, so we put him in his stroller (he’s really too big for it, but we’re still making it work) and Michael and I enjoyed looking at some of the exhibits that wouldn’t have been much interest to Gavin. Those were the exhibits on the second and third floors that were about discovering life, being human, engineering, energy, and minerals. We woke him up to go to the fourth floor, which were the exhibits on space and dinosaurs. After seeing the fourth floor exhibits we went to the children’s museum on the lower level. We spent a lot of time in the children’s museum while Gavin played and explored. This area of the museum was designed for kids under the age of five, and has a wonderful selection of activities for the little ones to learn and play.

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    After we left the museum, we drove over to the Spaghetti Warehouse (good food, great service) and had lunch. It was a good restaurant choice for us because Gavin loves pizza and pasta.

    It was a busy two days, but lots of fun. Gavin really enjoyed the Legoland Discovery Center, and I think it’s somewhere we will take him again. The same is true for the museum. We’ll definitely be going back. They had an amazing selection of hands-on activities for older kids, so I think Gavin would really love it in a few years.

  • East Texas Experiences

    Tyler Quilt Show {2015}

    Although I don’t quilt, I do appreciate beautiful quilts and enjoy looking at them. My mother is a wonderful quilter and has made many quilts for Gavin and me. Recently, my Mama, Gavin, and I enjoyed a day at the 34th Annual Tyler Quilt Show. Two friends who quilt, and hadn’t been to the Tyler Quilt Show before, went with us. We all had a good time, and the quilters got a few ideas and made some purchases on quilting supplies.

    Looking at quilts | rainerlife.com

    The Tyler Quilt Show is hosted by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas every March during the Azalea Trail. It is held at the Harvey Convention Center, which is located at 2000 West Front Street in Tyler, TX. Parking is convenient and free. Tickets cost $7 each at the door, and the show took us a couple of hours to see. This year’s theme was “Color Your World with Quilts,” and there were lots of beautiful, colorful quilts on display. This year’s show was expanded to include the entire Harvey Convention Center, and had over 200 quilts on display.

    2015 Tyler Quilt Show | rainerlife.com

    2015 Tyler Quilt Show | rainerlife.com

    The categories for judged bed-sized quilts were (the number in parentheses represents the number of quilts in that category):
    Hand Quilted – Pieced (5), Appliquéd (8), Mixed Techniques (7), Other Techniques (2)
    Quilted on a Stationary Home Machine – Pieced (10), Mixed Techniques (3), Other Techniques (1)
    Quilted on a Track Machine – Pieced (60), Appliquéd (10), Mixed Techniques (21), Other Techniques (1)

    The categories for judged small quilts were:
    Hand Quilted – Pieced (4), Appliquéd (3), Mixed Techniques (3),
    Machine Quilted – Pieced (23), Appliquéd (8), Mixed Techniques (11)

    Categories for judged quilts with no size limit were:
    Art Quilts (8)
    First Quilt – Hand or Machine Quilted (4)
    Miniatures – Hand or Machine Quilted (4)

    They also had an Exhibit Only category with 10 quilts, plus some special exhibits – Featured Member, Hoffman Challenge Quilts, and Quilt Show Challenge Blocks (58). The show also offered a silent auction for small and miniature quilts, with the proceeds going toward the cost of Quilters’ Guild of East Texas programs.

    Along with all the quilts on display, there were around 30 vendors set up. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, quilting gadgets, and kits.

    My favorite part of the Tyler Quilt Show is the Bed Turning. This year it was a showcase of vintage quilts that lasted about 30 minutes (seating was available). One lady discussed a quilt’s style and history while two other ladies held it up for everyone to see. Each year boasts some really interesting quilts.

    Bed Turning | rainerlife.com

    Bed Turning | rainerlife.com

  • East Texas Experiences

    BJ’s Beer Tasting & Dinner

    Every few months BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse hosts a beer tasting and dinner. We normally attend these dinners, in fact, we’ve only missed one and that was because we didn’t find out about it until it was over. I enjoy the dinners because it is a great way to try new beers and try menu items I might not normally order. Our local BJ’s hosted the latest beer tasting last night and featured their own beers paired with items from their menu.

    Course 1 – Lightswitch Lager
    Course 2 – Brewhouse Blonde paired with clam chowder
    Course 3 – Camaraderie Ale paired with crispy fried artichokes
    Course 4 – Brewmaster’s Reserve Double IPA paired with Black and Bleu-House burger
    Palate Cleanser – Jeremiah Red
    Course 5 – PM Porter paired with baby back pork ribs, white cheddar mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables
    Course 6 – Tatonka Stout paired with mixed berry and candied pecan cobbler

    BJ's Beer Tasting & Dinner | rainerlife.com

    For the most part, the beer and food items were paired well. The dinner started with a taster of Lightswitch Lager, which is one of my favorite BJ’s beers. They were scheduled to serve their Oasis Amber as the first beer, but didn’t have it available, so they substituted the Lightswitch. The second course was paired well with the Brewhouse Blonde, a kölsch, complementing the clam chowder. The third course featured the Camaraderie Ale, which is brewed in Belgium by Bavik Brewery, and was matched well with the fried artichokes. The fourth course was the poorest pairing for me. While the beer and burger were each fine, I didn’t feel that the IPA and burger complemented each other well. The fifth course was the best pairing. PM Porter is my other favorite beer by BJ’s, so I might be biased on this one. I had never had BJ’s ribs before, and they were excellent. By the sixth and final course, I was pretty full, but the pairing of the stout with the sweet dessert was good.

    Plenty of beer and food were offered and the service was great. The cost of the dinner was very reasonable at $35 per person, plus tip. Looking forward to the next tasting and dinner.

  • East Texas Experiences

    Cedar Creek Brewery

    Cedar Creek Brewery | rainerlife.com

     
     
    Last Saturday we ventured down the road to a local brewery, Cedar Creek Brewery, in Seven Points, TX. This brewhouse has a tasting room located in the brewery, plus additional seating outside. They sell 4 oz samples of beer and beer by the glass. This is a family friendly brewery, and they have root beer for the kiddos. We enjoyed the casual atmosphere, and all of the people working were very friendly. We had never been to the Cedar Creek Brewery before; however, we had tasted all of their beers prior to our visit. They brew three beers – Lawn Ranger Cream Ale, Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale, and Scruffy’s Smoked Alt. My favorite Cedar Creek beer was Lawn Ranger, while Michael preferred Elliott’s Phoned Home. Definitely worth checking out this brewery if you find yourself in or near Seven Points – open Fridays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 12pm-7pm.

     

    Cedar Creek Beers

    Lawn Ranger
    Elliott’s Phoned Home
    Scruffy’s Smoked Alt
    Style: Cream Ale
    Style: American Pale Ale
    Style: Smoked Beer
    ABV: 5.0%
    ABV: 5.1%
    ABV: 5.1%
    IBU: 18
    IBU: 37
    IBU: 35

     

    Cedar Creek Brewery beers | rainerlife.com

    Cedar Creek Brewery beers | rainerlife.com

     

  • East Texas Experiences

    Avinger Wine Festival

    The first Avinger Wine Festival was held on September 21, 2013, in Avinger, TX. We love trying new wines, so as soon as I heard about this festival earlier in the year, we marked our calendars and planned to visit it. We rode over to Avinger with my mama and stepdad, who were equally as excited about the new festival.

    Darinda and Micheal enjoying the Avinger Wine Festival.

    The festival was held on the grounds of the Simpson/Salmon home located on Main Street (Highway 49). This was a wonderful location for the festival. Parking was available in a neighboring field. It had rained the day before, and we were pleasantly surprised that muddy grounds were not an issue. Entry to the festival was free, and we were given a map with a list of the vendors, food booths, and wineries.

    Once past the entrance, the vendor booths were set up and selling items such as ceramics, woodwork, art, olive oils, salad dressings, jams and jellies, and wine accessories.

    A walk through the vendors led to the food booths, selling foods such as cheese trays, steak and chicken skewers, rotisserie chicken, and empanadas. We stopped at a couple of the booths and bought food to take into the wine garden.

    The wine garden had a $5 entry fee, which included a wine glass and a wine bottle tote bag. Eight local wineries were set up in the wine garden and provided wine tastes for $1 and a glass for $5. Bottles of wine were also for sale from the wineries, with prices varying depending on the wine. I had been to three of the wineries before, so I mainly purchased tastings from the other five wineries to try new wines. Some tables and chairs were available in the wine garden; however, there was not enough seating for the crowd that showed up. This was the only thing I saw that needed improvement for future festivals. Glad they had such a positive response for their first festival!

    Wineries at the Avinger Wine Festival:
    1. Enoch’s Stomp Winery & Vineyards – We have been to this winery, located in Harleton, TX, and tasted their wines. This winery has one of our all-time favorite wines – Cweet Cynthiana. I didn’t try any of their wines at the festival, but below is the list of wines they advertised.

    Red Wines
    Cabernet Sauvignon (dry)
    Chambourcin (dry)
    Merlot (dry)
    Norton (dry)
    Blush & Rose Wines
    Cweet Cynthiana (sweet)
    Susan’s Secret (sweet)
    Sweet Lenoir (sweet)
    Dessert Wines
    Ellen’s Song (off-dry red port)
    Ellen’s Sweet Song (sweet red port)
    Marla’s Melody (sweet white port)
    Potter’s Hand (sweet red)
    White Wines
    Blanc DuBois (dry)
    Blanc DuBois (sweet)
    Villard Blanc (dry)

     

    2. Fairhaven Vineyards – We have been to this winery, located in Hawkins, TX, and tasted their wines. I didn’t try any of their wines at the festival, but below is the list of wines they advertised.

    Red Wines
    Aliona (semi-sweet)
    Ariadne (dry)
    Lomanto (dry)
    Chambourcin (dry)
    Dessert Wines
    Circe (ruby port)
    White Wines
    Blanc du Bois (semi-sweet)

     

     

     

    3. Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards – We have been to this winery, located in Pittsburg, TX, and tasted some of their wines. I only tried All My X’s at the festival, which was good and I think I have had it before. Below is the list of wines they advertised.

    Red Wines
    All My X’s (sweet)
    Dolcetto Reserve (dry)
    Grand Reserve Meritage (dry)
    Sangiovese (dry)
    Super Texican (dry)
    Sweet Rodeo Red (sweet)
    Blush & Rose Wines
    Pinky Tuscandero (sweet)
    Rosie the Riveter (semi-sweet)
    White Wines
    Blanc du Bois (sweet)
    Grand Reserve Viognier (dry)
    Moscato Reserve (sweet)
    Vermentino (dry)

     

     

     

     

    4. Maydelle Country Wines – This winery is located in Rusk, TX. They had some of their fruit wines (blackberry, lemon, lime, and peach) available at the festival. I tried the lime wine and Michael tasted the lemon wine.

    5. O’Farrell Country Vineyard – This winery is located in Atlanta, TX. They make muscadine and fruit wines. We tasted the Blue Diva, Cheeky Peach, Smokehouse Red, and Sweet Memories. I liked the Cheeky Peach best.

    Muscadine Wines
    Moonglow (dry & sweet white)
    Sassy Sisters (sweet blush)
    Smokehouse Red (dry red)
    Sweet Memories (sweet red)
    Fruit Wines
    Blackberry & Grape (semi-sweet, blackberry and muscadine)
    Blue Diva (table wine, blueberry)
    Cheeky Peach (table wine, peach)
    Plum Crazy (table wine, plum)
    Plum & Grape (sweet, plum and muscadine)

     

    6. Red Road Vineyard & Winery – This winery is located in Naples, TX. We tasted the Chocolate Lach Rua, Las, and Signature Red. The Signature Red was my favorite of the ones I tasted for this winery. Below is a list of the wines they advertised.

    Red Wines
    Dearg (dry)
    Lach Rua (sweet)
    Signature Red (dry)
    Texas Cabernet Sauvignon (dry)
    Blush & Rose Wines
    Las (sweet)
    White Zinfandel (off-dry)
    Dessert Wines
    The Icehouse After Dark (port)
    Tristan Manuel (ruby port)
    White Wines
    Fion (dry)
    Muscat Canelli (sweet)
    Sedoga (semi-dry)
    Signature White (semi-sweet)
    Solas (semi-sweet)

     

     

    7. St. Rose Vineyard & Winery – This winery is located in Pittsburg, TX. Most of the wines they advertised were fruit and muscadine wines – Foxy Blue (blueberry & red muscadine), Foxy Blackberry (blackberry & red muscadine), Foxy Cherry (cherry & muscadine), Foxy Cranberry (cranberry & muscadine), Foxy Peach (peach & white muscadine), Foxy Pear (pear & white muscadine), and Foxy Strawberry (strawberry & white muscadine). They also have The Red Fox, a dry red muscadine wine, and The White Fox, a dry white muscadine wine. We tasted the Foxy Blackberry and The Red Fox.

    8. Texas Legato Winery – This winery is located in Lampasas, TX. They offered four wines at the festival – Cabernet Sauvignon (dry red), Chardonnay (dry white), GCP Mirtillo (semi-sweet, blueberry), and Sweet Peggy Sue (semi-sweet white). We tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sweet Peggy Sue. I liked the Cabernet Sauvignon best.

    We all had a great day enjoying some Texas wines, eating artisan foods, and browsing the vendor booths. Already looking forward to next year’s festival on September 20, 2014!

  • East Texas Experiences

    Fairhaven Vineyards

    Wines we bought at Fairhaven Vineyard.

     

    Last Saturday we decided to take in a local winery… Fairhaven Vineyards in Hawkins, TX. They have a nice tasting room located in the winery, and both of the ladies working were friendly and polite. Since we had never been to Fairhaven Vineyards, we did a tasting of each of their wines – Ariadne, Lomanto Reserve, Chambourcin, Chambourcin Reserve, Aliona, Blanc du Bois (dry), Blanc du Bois (semi-sweet), and Circe. The Callisto Rose and Chardonnay were not available the day we were there. They also sell cheese, fruit, and meat trays to enjoy while tasting the wines. We ordered the half size cheese and meat tray, which was plenty for the two of us. We liked a few of the dry red wines (Ariadne, Chambourcin, and Chambourcin Reserve) and the ruby port (Circe). We bought a bottle of Chambourcin and Circe to enjoy at home. Neither of us cared for the Blanc du Bois (both the dry and the semi-sweet). It was a good winery to visit and we found a few new wines to enjoy.

     

    Fairhaven Wines

    Red Wines
    Ariadne (dry)
    Lomanto Reserve (dry)
    Chambourcin (dry)
    Chambourcin Reserve (dry)
    Aliona (semi-sweet)
    Rose
    Callisto Rose (sweet)
    Port
    Circe (ruby port)
    White Wines
    Chardonnay (semi-dry)
    Blanc du Bois (dry)
    Blanc du Bois (semi-sweet)

     

     

     

  • East Texas Experiences

    Tyler Quilt Show {2013}

    Once again, I am not a quilter… but since I do appreciate beautiful quilts, I thought I’d share another post about a local quilt show.

    My Mama and I recently enjoyed a day at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show. The Tyler Quilt Show is held by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas every March at the Harvey Convention Center. The Harvey Convention Center is located at 2000 West Front Street in Tyler, TX. Parking is convenient and free. Tickets cost $6 each at the door, and the show took us a couple of hours to see. This year’s theme was “Red and White Renaissance,” and there were lots of beautiful red and white quilts on display. This year’s show was the largest yet – over 200 quilts were on display (78 were red and white quilts).

     

    Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show
    Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show

     

    The categories for judged bed-sized quilts were (the number in parentheses represents the number of quilts in that category):
    Hand Quilted – Pieced (15), Appliquéd (6), Mixed Techniques (6), Other Techniques (3)
    Quilted on a Stationary Home Machine – Pieced (12), Appliquéd (2), Mixed Techniques (8)
    Quilted on a Long-Arm or Track Machine – Pieced (66), Appliquéd (7), Mixed Techniques (31)

    The categories for judged small quilts were:
    Hand Quilted – Pieced (3), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (10),
    Machine Quilted – Pieced (14), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (20), Other Techniques (6)

    Categories for judged quilts with no size limit were:
    Art Quilts (3)
    First Quilt – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)
    Miniatures – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)

    They also had an Exhibit Only category with 17 quilts, plus some special exhibits – Grandmother’s Corner (6), Quilt Show Challenge Blocks (47), and Wool Display Booth (17). The show also offered a silent auction for small and miniature quilts, with the proceeds going toward the cost of Quilters’ Guild of East Texas programs.

    Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
    Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
    More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
    More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.

    Along with all the quilts on display, there were 25-30 vendors set up. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, and quilting gadgets.

    My favorite part of the Tyler Quilt Show is The Bed Turning. It is a showcase of antique quilts that lasts about 30 minutes (seating is available). Basically, one lady discusses a quilt’s style and history while two other ladies hold it up for everyone to see. They always have some really interesting quilts.

    In addition to the annual quilt show, a needleart show was being held across the road from the Harvey Convention Center. The 21st Biennial Needleart Show was hosted by the East Texas Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America. This year’s show was located in the Tyler Rose Garden Center (420 South Rose Park Drive). Tickets to the needleart show were $2 each. Projects on display included cross stitch, needlepoint, blackwork, redwork, smocking, and other embroidery styles.

    32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show
    32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show

  • East Texas Experiences

    Dallas Quilt Show {2013}

    Let me start this post by stating that I am not a quilter, I simply have an appreciation for the talent and craftsmanship involved in making beautiful quilts. My Mama is a very talented hand-quilter who has made many beautiful quilts (she’s probably shaking her head while reading this, but it’s true!). This year we made a day trip over to Dallas for the Dallas Quilt Show, and we really enjoyed it.

    Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.
    Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.

     

    The Dallas Quilt Show (“Dallas Quilt Celebration”), is held by the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas every March at the Dallas Market Hall. Market Hall is located at I-35E and Market Center Boulevard, so it’s a fairly easy location to find. Parking is good – there is plenty of free parking space, but they also offer a valet service. We always park in a nearby parking garage (free) and walk over to the show. Tickets cost $8 each at the door, and the show can easily be seen in a day.

    Numerous quilts were on display this year. Walking around and admiring all the quilts is my favorite part of any quilt show. The show had lots of quilts on display with some in judged categories (Master and Artisan), but also special exhibits. We prefer to view the judged categories first, and we always note the hand quilted projects (our favorites). The categories for the judged quilts included a Master and Artisan Divisions for each of the following: Large Pieced (One Person), Large Appliqué (One Person), Wall Quilt (One Person), Two-Person Wall Quilts, Two-Person Large Quilts, and Art Quilts (One Person). Open Division categories included: Miniature Quilts (One or Two Person), Other Techniques (One or Two Person), Group/Friendship, Seniors (One or Two Person), Show Chair Theme – “Edibles” (One or More Persons), Garment (One or More Persons), Pictorial (One or More Persons), Small Quilt (One or Two Person), and First Quilt (One or Two Person). They also offered two Non-Judged Categories: Juniors (17 and under) and Adults. The special exhibits were Modern Masterpieces by Texas Quilters 1989-2010, Modern Quilts of Texas, Go Texan Quilt Collection: Stitched with Texas Pride, Innovations: Quilts by Barbara Oliver Hartman, and Material Mavens 12 x 12 Art Quilt Challenge. The show also offered a Miniature Quilt Auction, with the benefits raised going toward the Search One Rescue Team (a volunteer search and rescue organization based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

    Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
    Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
    Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
    Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013

    Along with all the quilts on display, there were numerous vendors (around 150) selling their wares. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, quilting gadgets, sewing machines, plus a few vendors were selling soaps, baskets, and jewelry.

    The only gripe I have is the concession area at lunch time. My gripe is because there is not enough seating for the lunch crowd. We know this every year, yet we still always venture in about 12:30 to get our lunch. So far, it works with one of us waiting in the food line while the other goes in search of two seats together. There are four main food vendors – this year we had taco salads that were really good. I’m not aware of any restaurants near the Market Hall, but that would be an option to avoid the crowds, or simply wait until an “off” time to go eat.

    Overall, the Dallas Quilt Show is always fun for us. We get to see some beautiful quilts and my Mama gets to stock up on quilting supplies. Definitely worth checking out for any quilter.

    Me enjoying the quilt show.
    Me enjoying the quilt show.