Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Museums, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Enjoying the Metroplex Part Duex


Here’s the rest of the stuff I did when I was too busy to blog about it.

Kimball Art Museum, Ft Worth TX

The Kimbell Art Museum (Faces of Impressionism) – I mentioned the Musee d’Orsay while describing the DMA’s current exhibit, but the portraits over at the Kimbell right now are actually from that famous depository of Impressionism.

Confession, portraits are not my favorite thing.  I like paintings with people in them, but I prefer almost every other subject matter over portraiture.  Confession number two: I had no idea what special exhibition the Kimball had going on.  I’d just been meaning to get over there and see the new Piano Pavilion ever since it opened last fall.  (Even more proof of how overwhelmed I’ve been lately!)

So, when my little sister suggested a play date, this was at the top of my list.  I also hadn’t had a Joe T. Garcia’s Tex-Mex fix since my birthday in March, so I added lunch to our itinerary.  The ever-amiable Susan was agreeable.

Confession number three.  I loved this exhibit.  I loved it so much that I bought the catalog – and believe me,  I’m not exactly hurting for art books.  Perhaps the reason I loved it so much was the fact that when it came to portraiture, the Impressionists shook the art world up with it, as much as they did with everything else they painted.  This show will be there through January 25th.  You need to get over there and see it.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the Piano Pavilion, also.  The Kimbell has an amazing collection of art, but at any given time, most of it was under wraps to make way for the spectacular special exhibitions they have hosted.  With the Piano Pavilion, they’ve created a wonderful place for special shows and made more room for their own extraordinary collection.

All in all, it was a great day in Ft. Worth, in spite of the fact that my little sister balked at sitting out on the Fiesta Patio.  So what if it was a chilly November day.  I sat inside munching on my family style dinner looking through the window at the patio wishing I was there.  It was almost perfect.

DAB Autumn11292014Dallas Arboretum ( Autumn at the Arboretum) – When we finally got to this year’s Autumn at the Arboretum it was in it’s last days.  You could tell, because workers were already assembling the holiday exhibits.  Still there were plenty of beautiful flowers and about a zillion pumpkins of every imaginable shape, size and color.  As you can see from this photo borrowed from the front of the DABS fall program, the garden is beautiful whatever the season.

I was glad to see that the water features of the Magnolia Glade were finally flowing.  They’d proven to be a sticky wicket for a while, but none of the previous frustrations are apparent nowadays.  One of my favorite parts of the garden is currently under renovation.  It used to be the Lay Ornamental Garden and it is being transformed into the Lay Family Garden.  I’m excited to see what they’ll do, but I did miss seeing it.

The Dallas Arboretum is always treat – whatever time of year it is and regardless of whether there is currently any special event going on.  right now, it’s all decked out for the holidays, so do plan on seeing it.  However, you should see it often, so you don’t miss a thing.

Arhaus NP11292014NorthPark Center (Arhaus Grand Opening Party Nov 14) –  How could I leave NorthPark out of this cavalcade of my favorite places – the ones I go to even when I don’t really have time to go anywhere?  I am on NorthPark’s weekly email list.  That doesn’t mean I’m any cooler than someone who’s not, except that I did take time to go on their website and click the button.

As a part of this list, I get frequent updates as to what’s happening at this mall which I consider to be the center of the universe.  Seriously!  When we first discussed building the house in Heath, one of my first considerations was how long it would take me to get to NorthPark from there.

Anyway, some weeks all they tell me about are sales or the latest addition to the food court, but I also get some awesome invitations.   That’s what happened on the week in question.  In fact, that NorthPark Noteworthy was chockful of good stuff.  They were inaugurating something called Watch Week and I was invited to the Arhaus Grand Opening.

First allow me to rave about Arhaus.  If you are interested in furniture and furnishings, it’s in there.  They have gorgeous stuff and they have lots of it.  You shouldn’t have to be bribed to visit with free champagne.  However, it certainly was nice to see all their beautiful merchandise while munching exquisite goodies and quaffing cold champagne.  (In real flutes I might add.  No plastic or paper cups for this crowd.)  Make your way to Arhaus!  It’s worth a special trip.

As the Arhaus party wound down, we wandered back into the mall and happened onto a place called Pirch.  We seriously couldn’t figure out what it was.  Was it a coffee shop?  Were they selling plumbing fixtures?  Was it an appliance showroom?  Believe it or not, the answer to all three questions in YES!!

Unfortunately, I was a little late in requesting an invitation to the Watch Week events.  We did go back to the mall on Saturday and visit several of the watch and jewelry boutiques, but all we heard over and over and over was that we SHOULD have been there Thursday night.  See if I ever wait to ask Bill whether he’s interested or not.  I’ll just request the invitation and then figure out who will go with me!

So, we had a great time at NorthPark and now you have three assignments.  Visit Arhaus.  Visit Pirch.  It’s right next door to Arhaus.  Sign up for the NorthPark Noteworthy email list.  Then I’ll be seeing you at some of their fabulous events.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

After Blooms in the Garden



During early Spring, the Dallas Arboretum is full-to-overflowing with with people flocking in to see Blooms. Then things settle down, but the garden is still there. Membership can extend your fun and keep you coming back for more.

More Than Just a Spring Fling

A few months back, on a pleasant February day, a friend flew in from California and I took her to the Arboretum for lunch.  Yes, in February!  Were the blossoms as spectacular as they are in April?  Well, no, but that didn’t make the garden any less lovely.  When the flowers are a little less overpowering, other areas are easier to appreciate.

We strolled through everything except the children’s garden, had lunch in the tearoom and took a tour of the Degolyer house.  Never once did I have to say, “Too bad you missed Blooms, ” because my friend, in from Lompoc, famous for it’s flowering fields, was dumbstruck by how pretty everything was.  As a member, parking my car was free, admission was free and lunch was discounted, as were our gift shop purchases.

I love the gardens year round.  I’m always interested in which part is having a make-over and am eager to see the finished product.  During scalding Dallas summer days, the fern dell is a haven.  I love the Cool Thursday concert festivals.  My husband and I will drop by for a stroll, even when we only have a little bit of time to spare.  Autumn at the Arboretum is as exciting as Blooms.  Even the holidays are special at the gardens.

The Arboretum Loves Its Members

There’s more to my Arboretum membership than free and discounted stuff.  There’s a newsletter that keeps me up to date on what’s happening and sometimes very special invitations arrive.  That happened a few weeks ago.  Artscape was that weekend – one of those times when the Arboretum fills up to capacity – but as a member, I was invited for a sneak peek.  All the artist’s were set up and ready to share their goodies that Friday evening, but the bazillion non-members couldn’t get in.  What a treat!

Every Little Bit Helps

When I dream of being wealthy, I dream of bestowing gallons and gallons of money on the organizations I love best.  Some of those organizations would feed hungry people and others would fill spiritual needs, but the Dallas Arboretum would certainly get a bucket or two of cash.  I’m sure the Arboretum would love for me to strike it rich and might even name a garden for me if I suddenly had multiple millions, but I know that every little bit counts.  Until I become a multiple bazillionaire, DABS is grateful for my membership and constant patronage.  For less than a c-note ($82), you can join the museum and get in free all year. Since admission is $15 each and parking is $10, imagine how quickly you’ll be on the better side of that deal.

Spread the Membership Love Around

Once you figure out how wonderful membership is for you and the arboretum, you might start looking around for other organizations to support.  I’m also a member of the Dallas Museum of Art, for all the same reasons.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Rory Meyer’s Children’s Adventure Garden

A snippet of the children's garden, from their current brochure
A snippet of the children’s garden, from their current brochure


Have you been to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society? Then get over there!

Late Afternoon Visit to the Children’s Garden

After we’d been to church and run a few errands, we wanted a way to enjoy the gorgeous Sunday afternoon, so we decided to visit an old favorite, DABS.  We actually arrived unaware it was opening weekend of the children’s garden, but we couldn’t miss the plethora of pumpkins.  We decided to take a tram for an overview of the gardens and discovered we’d happened onto the tail end of children’s garden’s opening festivities.

I was afraid we’d find ourselves overwhelmed with squealing kids, but it was late enough in the day that most of them had gone home.  The smattering still enjoying the children’s garden was just the right amount to let us see how much kids loved it, without feeling under siege.

Starting at the End

My husband being the contrarian that he is,wandered towards number 21 on the map when we left the entry plaza rather than The Cascades, which is indicated as your next stop.  Still the Incredible Edible Garden wasn’t a bad place to begin.  This really is a kid’s garden.  Everything begs for you to press it, touch it, feel it, spin it, climb on it, sit under it or do something to it and your reward is not only entertainment but learning experiences.

We meandered along the walks, visiting an overlook and enjoying misters in a gazebo. We peeked into the Exploration Center, but moved on along to the Plants are Alive Section.  Talk about alive, the exhibits were crawling with delighted kids and their parents. Touch was being used to learn all around me.  I observed parents discussing whether a mushroom was an animal, vegetable or mineral with a pair of enraptured little girls.  The energy level was almost exhausting.

Wandering further we found a giant kaleidoscope.  Children were fascinated and their parents had to drag them away.  We pretended we were just observing the kids, but eventually with no kids in line, we had a go at it.  No wonder they were so enthralled!  It was truly addicting.

Moving on we saw them closing up the puppet theater and found ourselves at the T.Boone Pickens Pure Energy area.  BRAVO!  The children loved it.  Squeals of laughter alerted us to the fact that the area could easily be called Pure Entertainment.  It’s been a long time since I saw so many handles to turn or so much water being manipulated – and if the kids were really lucky, some would splash out on them.  Of course, my big kid couldn’t resist his own turn at most of the exhibits.

With only a half hour left, we tried to take in as much of the rest of the garden as we could.  We trotted through the maze, wanting to see the dragons, but not allowing ourselves time to get lost.  And speaking of time, the human sundial is charming.  The kids were thrilled by it.

We strolled the Texas Skywalk and peeked into the Walk in the Clouds.  We longed to linger in the Moody Oasis, but it was time to head back to the car.  On the tram ride back to the main entrance we did pass the new Magnolia Garden I’d been looking forward to, but I hadn’t missed my opportunity to see it, because the water feature has been broken almost since it opened.

Speaking of broken, there were a few items in the children’s garden that were already not operating.  Not major things.  A joystick on one of the solar energy activities was missing and the pendulum was gone from from a display in one of the kaleidoscope activities.  The garden might be for kids, but it’s apparently not totally kid-proof.  Come to think of it, what is?

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Museums, Music, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Dallas Arboretum & the Sounds of Summer

Looking at the Campt House from the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn at The Dallas Arboretum.
Looking at the Camp House from the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn at The Dallas Arboretum.


Have you been enjoying the sounds of summer? You know those great outdoor concerts that pop up all over the place. If you haven’t then shame on you.

Concerts on the Lawn at DABS

Take the Dallas Arboretum for instance. On a recent Tuesday night Bill and I were there for an UTD alumni event.  The band that evening was a Journey tribute band, cranking out memories from the eighties. But whatever your musical taste, from Brave Combo‘s electric polka to Le Freak’s disco, the Arboretum has a night for you.

Sunset over White Rock Lake.
Sunset over White Rock Lake

What’s more, the venue is superb.  Sure the grass covered amphitheater is a great place to have a picnic and listen to some live music, but you’re at one of the best arboretums in the world and you’re free to roam the grounds.  Here’s a tip.  The arboretum has become so popular that it’s hard to get the gardens to yourself.  With everyone else tapping their toes by the concert stage, Bill and I took a stroll.  Being alone in the gardens just before  dusk is a romantic experience.  Then we rejoined the revelers and caught the last moment of the sun.

Miro and music 'til midnight
Miro and music ’til midnight

Free Concerts

The concerts at the arboretum require purchasing a ticket (unless you’re a guest of your alma mater), but there’s a lot of free music outside elsewhere, too.  Throughout the summer and fall the Nasher Sculpture Center throws a bash called ’til Midnight at the Nasher.  What’s really cool about it is that you usually have to pay to see the Nasher collection, but on concert nights, not only is the concert free, but so is the museum.

The Nasher is next door to the Dallas Museum of Art who used to rock downtown with Jazz Under Stars during the summer months, but they’ve moved their concerts indoors. Every Thursday you can sit under the Chihuly and enjoy the Uptown skyline in air conditioned comfort to the sound of live jazz.  There’s also Late Night at the DMA on the third Friday of every month and they host some great concerts then.  The DMA concerts are free, but you might have to pay to get into some of the special exhibitions.  Oh, but we were talking about outdoor concerts weren’t we!

Insert band, bodies and boats.
Insert band, bodies and boats.

Then perhaps you should go out to The Harbor in Rockwall.  I have it on good authority that on Thursday evenings, boats on Lake Ray Hubbard gather just off shore and the multi-use complex is covered in barely covered bodies getting down to the music.  Bill and I were there for a Sunday afternoon recently and the place was hopping, so I have to assume that it’s a pretty wild scene with a free concert going on.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  I know Watters Creek has a Concerts by the Creek series. Their green is always a pleasure to visit, but we’ve happened upon one of their concerts before and it’s really something special.

For a do it yourself concert with fireworks, Summer Blast at Grapevine Towne Center.  You download the music, they provide the parking lot and Grapevine Lake has the fireworks.  Then in the fall, Grapevine Towne Center will have a Sunset Concert Series.

What about you?  What’s your favorite outdoor concert in the Metroplex?



ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Spring is Blooming at DABs

Dallas Arboretum, Dallas TX
My Best DABs Photo


I made my annual visit to Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. First I have to confess – I think the gardens look bare without Chihuly.  I adored the gorgeous sculptures spread throughout the garden and made many visits during the exhibition.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to visit without missing them.

Visiting Blooms with Mom

That being said, the gardens were lovely.  This year seems to be a haze of orange and yellows and bright tulips beckoned us to come inside. Blooms will officially close April 7th, but DABs is a year round treasure.  You don’t have to wait for a special event.

My visit was on a Wednesday afternoon, but the garden was full.  On this trip, my main purpose was to entertain my eighty-five year old mother who volunteered in the DeGolyer house for over twenty years.  She’d still be doing it if her health allowed her to.

Mom’s a little frail to make it very far, but she shunned the wheelchair and eagerly led me to the tram stop.  We were lucky to get a very charming gentleman as our tram driver who behaved as if he were transporting a national treasure when he found out about mother’s career as a docent.  Her pride and pleasure were enormous.

Of course the flowers along the Paseo de Flores were beautiful as always.  Dark violet pansies had been planted early on and then the perky tulips grew up among them.  Overhead, blooming fruit trees seemed to fill the sky with popcorn.  A new garden is coming up between the Degolyer house and the Red Maple Rill.  The new garden will focus on Magnolias, one of my personal favorites and should be finished this year.  I can’t wait.

All of Dallas is waiting anxiously for the new children’s garden.  It was supposed to open this summer, but technical difficulties with some of the hands-on features, similar to those pesky challenges at the Perot, have caused the opening day to be pushed back. But the Arboretum is still a place for kids.  The special exhibit of this year’s garden is The Adventures of Great Explorers.  Visitors will find an Aztec Pyramid, Asian Pagoda and Geometric Dome among the tributes to great explorers like Cabeza de Vaca, Marco Polo and Admiral Byrd.  You should go explore them for yourself.

Several times as the tram made its way through the garden I caught tears glowing in my mother’s eyes.  She loves the garden as if it were her very own, and in a way it is.  She loved it when all these features weren’t even a dream and her generosity of giving twenty years of Thursdays to the arboretum helped to grow it into what it is today.

As the tram returned to its departure point, I suggested we stroll back to the entrance via the Jonsson Color Garden and get a peek at the Palmer Fern Dell.  As we crept along she told me about the misters in the dell and other features of the garden I’ve known and loved for many years, but she enjoys talking about it, so I asked questions to prompt her memories.

The Dallas Arboretum is the premiere attraction of our fair city.  There’s plenty to entertain you around here, but you haven’t been to Dallas until you visit the gardens.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Breakable News for Dallas Arboretum


An exciting new exhibition of contemporary art is coming to Dallas, but it won’t be at a museum or gallery. Instead, you’ll have to go to a garden.  Saturday morning I went to the Dallas Arboretum for a members event. Along with the number of pumpkins delivered for Autumn at the Arboretum and a list of the gardens being developed, I heard some fabulous news.

Chihuly Is Coming

This May, Dale Chihuly, glass blower extraordinaire, will install a major exhibition right here.  The great big Chihuly Studio semi’s will roll into Dallas with several huge pieces of his work and place them throughout the arboretum grounds.  If you know and love Chihuly the way I do, then you’re already thrilled.  If you don’t, then you are in for a real treat.

Dallasites are lucky, because we have a beautiful example of Chihuly’s glass mastery at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Hart Window is four stories tall and if you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing and go right now.  It won’t even cost you anything, because it’s right in the atrium before you get to the admissions desk.  (The free jazz concerts in the atrium on Thursday evenings are a great way to enjoy the masterpiece.)

To have Chihuly mount an exhibition in Dallas puts us on par with cities like Venice and London.  Some art snobs like to belittle Chihuly’s work, but just because the general public can appreciate an artist’s creations doesn’t demean it.  In their day, Michelangelo and da Vinci were pretty popular guys, too.

Other DABS News

Chihuly is not all that’s happening at the Arboretum.  During this week, fifty thousand pumpkins will be assembled into houses, floated in fountains and placed throughout the garden for Autumn at the Arboretum, which begins Sunday.  Along with the pumpkins, new fall annuals will be planted in all their glory.  You’ll want to see it.

Cool Thursday Concerts will continue through October and include everything from country singer/songwriter Max Stalling to a Bon  Jovi tribute.  If you want to make the concerts a really special evening, Restaurant DeGolyer, which is under-going a renovation of both its facilities and its menus, will have wine tastings on Thursday nights in October, too.

And pardon their dust, but two new gardens are underway.  In between the DeGolyer House and the Camp House, the new Red Maple Rill is nearing completion.  Those gorgeous red maples, in a wide ranging variety, will be highlighted along with new fountains, walks and flower beds.

If you’ve got kiddos, then take them for a play date at DABS’ Pioneer Village.  This feature is available for only a few more months and the sod house, teepee and other structures will be coming down.  But don’t fret, the kids are getting a larger more exciting garden.  Remember that foreboding bamboo forest down at the far end of the gardens – past the Camp House?  That bundle of bamboo will be replaced by the Children’s Adventure Garden.

Did you know the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society’s gardens are rated among the top twenty – not in the States – but in the WORLD?  MSN and others put them at number fourteen.  This alone makes the gardens worth a trip to Dallas, but Chihuly makes it a “must see.”  Come to Dallas and see our gardens.  If you live in Dallas and don’t have a membership, then this will be the year to join.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Dallas Arboretum, A Beautiful Bouquet

Tulips, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas TX
Tulips, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas TX


My mother loves gardening and from the moment she heard an estate on the edge of White Rock Lake had been earmarked for an arboretum, she pledged her heart to it.  The plans for the gardens were announced a few years before she retired.  When the city threw an open house for interested parties, I went with her to see what the fuss was about.  She told me she wanted to play a part in the project.  Our family’s modest means wouldn’t provide a vast monetary donation, so Mom gave herself.

From Nothing, Bounty

In its infancy, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society (DABS) needed everything.  The land for the Arboretum, which had been donated to SMU and then sold by the university to the city, had two homes on it.  The grounds were lovely, but no one would have called it an Arboretum.

There were rolling hills, a great view of the lake, huge trees and lots of grass, but very little in the way of floral displays.  Volunteers planted, mulched, watered, raised funds, served cookies, dusted furniture, started a gift shop…well, they did whatever needed to be done.

When she retired, Mom joined the ranks of the docents in the DeGolyer House.  They gave tours of the house, even though there was little beyond architectural features to show.  The owners donated the house and the grounds, but all the furnishing went to the owner’s children and grandchildren.  Over time, furnishings authentic to the house or the period found their way into the rooms, but in the beginning, visitors wandered through vast empty rooms.

Mom volunteered much of her time and energy to the Arboretum.  Throughout the year, she gave tours on Thursdays and during special events she’d sign up to help on other shifts.  She’d pack her lunch, park in the volunteers lot  and spend the day at the DeGolyer House infecting visitors from all over the world with her love for the arboretum.  As part of a housekeeping committee she’d dust the mantles, windowsills and library shelves.  She made cookies for a fund-raising committee and spent as much money as she could afford in the gift shop.  The Volunteer Bulletin Board in the gardens could have been called “Ruth’s Hall of Fame.”Dallas Arboretum, Dallas TX

DABS Grows Like Weeds

And the gardens were growing.  The Lay family of Frito-Lay fame donated an ornamental garden.  The primary walkways became the Paseo de Flores.  Other prominent families donated the Jonsson Color Garden, the Boswell Family Garden, the Palmer Fern Dell and the McCasland Sunken Garden.  Our family donated Mom.

Then I moved to California with my husband.  One day I attended a luncheon sponsored by a local women’s networking group.  If I’d really been paying attention, I wouldn’t have been caught by surprise, but after lunch I turned my chair to see the speaker better.  Projected on the screen was a familiar vista of my hometown arboretum.  The speaker, who was priming the pump for a local horticulture project, said, “Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are the perfect example of what a community garden should be.”

The speaker was right.  The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are a perfect example of what a community garden should be.  The rich have donated the funds to make the gardens beautiful and the rest of us have given our time.  On any given Sunday afternoon children play in the fountains amid large stone frogs.  Many brides plan their weddings in the gardens and many more just come to be photographed.  Throughout the summer, concerts fill weekday evenings.  An extravaganza called Blooms graces the Spring and Fall has Autumn at the Arboretum.  In summer, children frolic in fantastic cottages and in winter, local decorators festoon the DeGolyer house with imaginative Christmas trees.  Every day, tour buses drop off hordes of visitors from around the globe.  I go as often as I can to see the garden and honor my mother’s contribution to it.

Come to Dallas.  When you come, save a day for the arboretum.  I’m sorry to say that if you come on a Thursday, Mom won’t be there to lead the tour.  She’s much too frail for that now.  But you can smell our most fragrant flower and enjoy our  beautiful bouquet – The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.