2013 Ford Explorer Sport Keeps You Alert

Long are the days that a family has to buy a minivan to have space in a vehicle. With SUV, a parent can look sporty while also being functional. Unfortunately, SUV can make you feel like you are driving a bus if you are used to sedans. Recently my family put the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport to the test and found that Ford has listen to the voices of cautious SUV drivers of the past. First thing you notice is how the exterior has changed from boxy to body similar to a crossover. Bravo, Ford! The Ford Explorer Sport has a noticeable black grille and the all-over black exterior accents, including the lower body cladding and Explorer-specific alloys.

The era of the truck-based SUV, and all of its handling and fuel-efficiency faults, has passed. The new hotness is focusing on the sport rather than the utility, and you can see this by the Ford Explorer Sport interior. The black leather-trimmed seats with sienna inserts were inspired by accessories and apparel from the design houses Balenciaga and Prada. How posh is that?!

But, let me get bak to my original point: the Ford Explorer Sport provides tools to help you stay safe while driving this 7-passenger SUV. What stood out to me as I test drove this vehicle was all the safety features. The rear-view camera system is amazing with its green-yellow-red alert, and when I say alert, I mean an alarm goes off if you are in the red…which I love! Next, BLIS (blind spot information system) with cross-traffic alert is my second favorite feature. This technology warns you when a vehicle is in your blind spot. (And, you know those drivers who love to hang out in your blind spots. It also alerts you of approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking spot. Another great feature is the low-fuel notification with the estimated mileage you need before your tank runs dry. Lastly, I was impressed with attention to safety detail of the Ford Explorer Sport with the inflatable rear seatbelt airbags, which keeps kids safe along with 911 Assist.

Want a quick, agile, fun-to-drive vehicle you can stuff a bunch of kids into? Ford Explorer Sport is just what you’re looking for!

Date Night Out with Catch Me if You Can

Being a young adult takes on a new meaning for Frank Abagnale, Jr. in the hit musical Catch Me if You Can. Based on the hit 2002 movie with the same name, Catch Me if You Can tells the story of Frank as he goes from teenager to FBI’s most wanted. Catch Me if You Can combines classic Broadway with a modern touch, making it a fantastic musical for a date night out. Catch Me if You Can greatly mimics the movie in both plot and dialogue. The major difference, though, is the interjections of musical numbers within the show, bringing the action to the bigger-than life Broadway style.

Every character was played to its fullest. Merritt David Janes, who played Carl Hanratty, was fantastic. His portrayal of the obsessive FBI agent was compelling, and his bluesy voice helped bring the audience into the story. Playing Frank Abagnale, Jr., Stephen Anthony‘s lovely singing voice is what brought the show to life, and his comedic timing was impeccable. He single-handedly fought his way through the show, depicting the lovable crook so common in old Broadway shows.

Dallas Summer Musicals brings Catch Me if You Can to the Musical Hall in Fair Park from Tuesday, February 12 through Sunday, February 24, 2013. You can purchase your tickets here. With all of these opportunities to see the show, why would you miss it? So, come see Catch Me if You Can at the Musical Hall at Fair Park, and enjoy a date night out.

Disclosure: Dallas Summer Musicals gave me two tickets to experience the show. My opinions are my own.

3 Stacks Smokes Frisco

Texas barbecue is really a different from the rest of their neighboring Southern states, and in Texas, brisket is king. This week, I was invited to visit Frisco’s newest barbecue joint called 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House. As soon as you walk in, you smell the delicious smoked meat, hear country music and see a murals painted on the brick walls done by Deep Ellum’s Frank Campagna.

3 Stacks offers black angus brisket, baby back ribs, beef short ribs, pulled pork, smoked turkey breast and their housemade smoked sausage. 3 Stacks brings partners with “The Rib Whisperer,” Trace Arnold as he shares his expertise, tips and tricks on smoking meat. Specially blended rubs created by Arnold are applied to the brisket, ribs, turkey and chicken.

But, let me get back to the brisket. Using quality Black Angus beef, Arnold smokes the brisket for 14 hours over mesquite and pecan woods, hand rubs and hand slices with spice that took him 10 years to perfect. After one bite, I can tell you it will have your taste buds dancing. The meat melts in your mouth that you have to have another bite. My favorite must-have side item is their Jalapeño Fire Crackers, hand stuffed jalapeño with this brisket and three-cheese wrapped with bacon and smoked. IT IS AMAZING!

The commitment to great food spreads across the entire 3 Stacks menu, as they serve only FRESH, never frozen, farm-to-table vegetables. My favorite sides were their Baked Beans, Vegetable Skewers and Cheesy Corn Bake with roasted poblano peppers. They also bake their Yeast Rolls, Jalapeño Cornbread and southern-style drop Biscuit daily.

Owner Jason Hall states, “Our commitment is to consistently create amazing flavors by using the freshest ingredients…based on our selection of regional ingredients.”

They also offer homemade root beer in a chilled mug and lemonade made fresh-to-order. 3 Stacks has a finger-lickin kids menu (grilled cheese, homemade mac & cheese, chicken tenders, etc) that comes with a small hot fudge sundae. Bring the whole family and prepare to be stuffed like those jalapeños! 😉

3 Stacks
4226 Preston Rd
(Right behind Hooters)
Frisco, TX

Greenz Freshens Uptown

With the popularity of movies like Forks Over Knives, many seems to be choosing fresh and healthy foods. Fortunately, long gone are the days of sad bins of tired-looking ingredients in self-serve salad bars. Let me introduce you to Greenz, a fusion salad restaurant.  Greenz offers fresh soups, sandwiches, specialty salads, appetizers and even homemade desserts.  With a focus on health without compromising taste, Greenz offers a wide range of Gluten Free, Heart Healthy, Vegan and Points-Based Diet options. Greenz even offers handy little sheets right when you walk in the door with all of their menu items that meet these criterion.

Founded in Dallas in 2004, Greenz has grown into three locations. They have recently updated their Uptown Dallas location with a new physical design and new owner, Joel Stabile. “I feel like this opportunity was a perfect storm: a great location, a superior product and a fantastic support system under Greenz CEO and Founder, Casie Caldwell,” said Stabile. “I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Everything I need to be a success is right in front of me and all I have to do is work hard to keep up the standards that are already in place.”

Fortunately, they have the same great taste with a modern look. The Warm Pear & Goat Cheese is fantastic, especially if you enjoy goat cheese and a sweet flavor combination.

The Grilled Southwestern Shrimp is an interesting mix of sweet and spicy with sweet potato straws on top.

You can also build your own salad all made from fresh delicious ingredients. By the way, don’t forget to check-in with Foursquare when you visit. They have a great “check-in special.” 🙂

Look for Greenz in Houston, Texas coming in 2013!

Walt Disney World Resort Orlando Travel Guide

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is for everyone! I feel like a kid when I last visit Disney World, enamored by Mickey and the gang plus seeing all the other Disney characters and princesses. The notion that Disney World is just for kids is nonsense. Here’s a Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide for all ages!
WDWTravelGuide MAGIC KINGDOM
Dreams do come true with lots of characters, rides and parades. Most “amusement park” feel of all the parks in Disney World. Rides. Conquer mountains, cruise down and exotic jungle river and brace a ghostly mansion.

  • For kids, the Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Jungle Cruise cannot be missed. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, The Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World , Tomorrowland Transit Authority and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin are rides with minimal wait. Enchanted Tales with Belle, The Barnstormer and Dumbo have to be my kids favorite!

MagicKingdomRides

  • For family, Stitch’s Great Escape, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion can be enjoyed together, but they may be scary for younger kids. Don’t forget Splash Mountain, which is especially fun at night when the fireworks are going.
  • For adults who don’t have small kids in tow, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are so much fun and highly recommended.

Parades.Whether it’s the thrill of seeing which Disney character comes up next, or that moment when your favorite character waves right at you, there’s just something magical about a Disney parade. Your family will love Disney Wishes, A Dream Come True Parade and Main Street Electrical Parade. Make sure to grab a spot at least 30 minutes before the parade starts on Main Street, so your kids can interact with the characters.
Characters. Various characters around the Town Square area when you enter, Tinker Belle and her friends have a a special nook and Merida has her own themed meet and greet. The times guide will give you the information you need to know. TIP: Ask a cast member, at the beginning of the line, or at the end, before you go in, who is there. They will tell you who is scheduled for that day.

EPCOT
Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has 2 distinct realms: Future World, which features technological innovations, and World Showcase, which shares with Guests the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
Rides. It may be a surprise but Epcot has rides. Journey through space, glide over California, become a secret agent and more.

  • For kids, the ImageWorks, Seas with Nemo & Friends Cruise cannot be missed. Living with the Land is a ride with minimal wait. Agent P’s World Showcase adventure was my kids favorite!
  • For family, we love to go on Soarin’, Test Track, Mission: Space, Grand Fiesta Tour at the Mexico Pavilion and the Maelstrom ride at the Norway Pavilion.

Characters. You can find a variety of characters throughout World Showcase (Aladdin in Morocco, Snow White in Germany, Mary Poppins in the United Kingdom and so on).EpcotCharacters

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Movie magic comes to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, awash in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Rides. Experience the intergalactic adventures, plummeting elevator rides, rockin’ roller coasters and more.

  • For kids, they may enjoy to run around Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure and watch MuppetVision 3D.
  • For family, Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania and the Backlot Tour can be enjoyed together.
  • For adults, who don’t have small kids in tow, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are so much fun and highly recommended.

Parades. Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade includes tributes to Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, A Bugs Life, Ratatouille, Up, and The Incredibles. The easiest place to find a good spot is in the area near the American Idol Experience and Echo Lake.
Characters. This will be your best chance for finding characters from recent animated movies. Also, several times during the day, the characters all emerge from Sorceror Mickey’s hat and spread around for meet and greets. During special events, such as Star Wars Weekends, you have the opportunity to meet many special characters as well! TIP: If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, make sure to sign up your child FIRST THING for Jedi Academy near the American Idol Experience. It’s absolutely AMAZING!Image 1

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is by far our favorite theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. There’s not a ton of rides, but the point of any visit is to get lost in the park’s lush, enveloping jungle.
Rides. Discover high-speed thrills, jungle trails and dinosaurs.

  • For kids, DinoLand USA will be their favorite destination. With The Boneyard, a child-friendly discovery playground you can easily spend an hour in – mine did. It’s a great way to give the kids a different kind of exercise, crawling around dinosaur bone excavations, climbing on nets and slides, and playing in a giant sandbox. There is a bridge built out of a dinosaur skeleton and much. My kids loved it and it gave me a bit of a break.
  • For family, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids can be enjoyed together, but they may be scary for younger kids.
  • For adults who don’t have small kids in tow, Expedition Everest and Primeval Whirl are so much fun and highly recommended.

Image 15 Parades. My kids favorite parade was Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. Mickey & the gang have packed up a caravan of crazy, safari vehicles to blaze some trails through this imaginative world. Adding to the rhythm of the ride is a group of giant rolling drums disguised as animals, which are AMAZING costumes!
Characters. Mickey and Minnie can be found in the Adventurers Outpost in Discovery Island. The big area for characters are the greeting trails in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Check the times guides for other locations.AnimalKingdomCharacters
Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide Tips

  • A few days before your trip, make sure to read the FAQ page to know what to bring and what you can’t bring.
  • Pack light. Bring only what you will need so you won’t have to rent multiple lockers. Click here for more information on locker rental.
  • I highly suggest getting a PhotoPass card when you first arrive! They are free and the photographers may capture moments that you were unable to grab because you were behind the camera. 😉 TIP from Tracy Gervais: “If you buy photopass plus or photopass 14 days before departure, you can save $50 on the disc. We find it so worth the money!”
  • If you’re leaving one of the parks right around closing, or after fireworks or a evening parade, consider waiting. Buses are especially bad at this time of night, and the park’s gift shops are open for a short time after the parks official closing time. Do your shopping then, instead of during the day, and leave a little later. Chances are, you’ll still get back to your resort around the same time, and you won’t wait in line so long for a bus, monorail, or ferry in the process!
  • Don’t forget to put on or bring your sunscreen!
  • Plan your day ahead of your arrival. As soon as you arrive at Disney World, grab one of those maps by the entrance or download the My Disney Experience mobile app so you know your way around and check the times of the shows too! You can also find where the nearest restrooms or restaurants are, and know the ride and wait times for each of the rides!
  • Schedule your lunch and snack breaks during a parade, so you won’t have to go with the large crowd and line up for too long.

I hope this Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide proves to be helpful for your next trip. I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends there!

Friends of Greer Garson Gala Kickoff Party

The Friends of Greer Garson Gala kicks off on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at Private Social beginning at 6PM. I am honored to be asked by Greer Garson Gala Co-chairs Jennifer and Chris LeLash to chair this event alongside my beautiful friend, Honorary Chair Rachel Fresquez. Enjoy drink specials, complimentary appetizers and raffle tickets ($10/each or a bundle of 5 for $40) for a chance to win West Village packages for ladies and for gentlemen in addition to 2 tickets to the Greer Garson Gala on April 20, 2013, while supporting Women and Infant Services at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas!

This year’s Greer Garson Gala’s theme is “An Evening in Cannes!” On April 13, 2013, imagine being transported to set of Casablanca with smooth voice of Hunter Sullivan singing, while supporting a great cause. You can buy can become a sponsor or buy tickets for the gala here.

Support Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation while enjoying delicious treats! See you at the end of the month. :))

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Heartstrings

The 29th Annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Saint Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Fashion Show will be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. A crowd of nearly 800 people is expected to join for lunch and watch a fashion show by Stanley Korshak featuring Monique Lhuillier at the Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas. This year’s theme is “Heartstrings,” and the event will raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization dedicated to funding research for blood cancer (a cause near and dear to my heart.). Co-chairs Angela Choquette, Maggie Kipp and Paige Slates are sure to make this event is one to remember. Tickets start at $175, and you can buy them here. Remember to valet at the Flora Street main entrance…it’s was provided by Park Place Motorcars.

Support Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while enjoying beautiful fashions in a stylish atmosphere!

Thank you to all the people below for all your support to help people like my brother, who was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Without your support, he and his family would be alone on one of the hardest battles of their life. Again, thank you!

STANLEY KORSHAK
Park Place Motorcars Dallas
Myrna and Bob Schlegal
Al G Hill, Jr
Ruth Robinson
American Airlines
Modern Luxury
Tiffany & Co.
Whole Foods
Tom Thumb
Robyn and Don Conlon
Maura Costello
Kathy Crow, Claire Emanuelson and Muffin Lemak
Jennifer and Doug Houser
Dr. Rajani Kapu
Diane and John Scovell
Sewell Automotive Companies
TJX Foundation

Heather Centurioni of HBDesigns with her husband, Steve
Baker Botts LLP
Baylor Health Care System
The Boone Foundation

Co-chairs Angela and Maggie Kipp + Lynda Villarreal
Ernst & Young
Tricia George

Dawn and Jon Mellon
Sharon and Tom McNearney & Nancy and Peter Roe
PlainsCapital Bank
The Rigby Family
Tanya Roberts
Jill Rowlett and Dee Wyly
Kim’s Cakes of Dolce Vita Events
Digital 3 Printing
Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar

Ruthie’s Rolls Out Special Award in 2013 for Dozen Nonprofits

It’s not secret that 2012 was all about food trucks! Well 2013, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe has created a unique way for their business to give back to the community. Through its new impressive award program, “Ruthie’s Dozen”, they will honor select nonprofits in the Dallas area. Each month, Ruthie’s will select and showcase one nonprofit in the community by providing opportunities to create more awareness, increase fundraising and highlight their philanthropic mission, all while providing delicious food from their food truck, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe.

The idea for Ruthie’s Dozen was inspired by owner Ashlee Hunt Kleinert’s family and especially her grandmother, Ruth Ray Hunt. “Through Ruthie’s Dozen, we hope to keep my grandmother’s legacy alive by helping others and creating awareness for important causes. Ruthie’s Dozen is a very special award spotlighting a mix of some well known and some smaller, lesser known nonprofit organizations – but all need need visibility and all need our support,” said Kleinert.

Ruthie’s will donate 20% of its net profits that month (10% from Ruthie’s LLC and 10% matching gift from its founders = 20% going to nonprofit). During that month, Ruthie’s will roll to the winning nonprofit’s facility during lunch in order to celebrate the nonprofit and the incredible work they do by providing lunch for staff members. Think of it as Ruthie’s way to say, “Here’s to you!”

Ruthie’s Dozen Winners 2013
January – Genesis Women’s Shelter
February – Executives In Action
March –  Honor Courage Commitment
April – New Friends New Life
May – St. Philip’s School and Community Center
June – North Texas Food Bank
July – Methodist Health System
August – The SPCA of Texas
September – The Downs Syndrome Guild of Dallas
October – The Dallas Women’s Foundation
November – Senior Source
December – “Ruthie’s Rookie” The Birthday Party Project

Mouthwatering Moments of 2012

Now, that we are officially stuffed from the holidays. I sit here on my couch and reflect on all the great places and food that I eaten around the country. Next week, I’ll get my resolutions in order, but for now here’s a baker’s dozen of eateries that you should try if you haven’t already:

My juice detox begins on January 2, 2013. Until then, I shall enjoy the remaining morsels of 2012. 🙂

2012 Kia Optimized the Hybrid

This past week, I had a chance to spend some time driving the Kia Optima Hybrid around Dallas. The 2012 Kia Optima is an impressive vehicle. Kia has transformed its Optima sedan from a plain, forgettable car to a distinctively styled automobile. The Optima Hybrid’s fuel economy rating is 35 city /40 highway and 37 mpg combined.

Kia Optima easily passes the test for midsize-car roominess with more than adequate for most adults in the back, and lots of room for your kids. In addition, the Kia Optima Hybrid offers these as STANDARD: eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone climate control with rear vents, push-button start with smart key, rearview camera, automatic up/down on front windows, glove box illumination and rear reading lamps.

The Optima Hybrid I drove had the Microsoft UVO infotainment system. I really love how easy it was to connect my iPod and to listen to my music. That was, when I wasn’t tuned into the SiriusXM. I am enjoying how car companies are integrating technology into their vehicles.

I have to say that my FAVORITE features are the ones included in the Hybrid Premium and Technology Package. They includes a hard-to-resist panoramic sunroof, leather interior, power heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, an Infinity audio system and a navigation system.

The Optima Hybrid is a capable family car that offers up a quiet and comfortable ride while delivering excellent fuel mileage.  With its gorgeous design, appealing amenities and a competitive price, you should consider Kia Optima Hybrid, especially as the gas prices are quickly approaching $4/gallon.

Disclosure: STI gave me one week to test drive the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid. These are my opinions.