Week & End

47973f8e4e7597b1289a1ad1324f3c20Happy Saturday, all! How is your weekend going so far? The weather is so blissful here, which means we’re spending lots of time outside. We’re taking our highly anticipated coffee brewing class this afternoon (so excited!) and then meeting friends for Dallas’s best barbecue and, for dessert, ice-cold beers. Tomorrow I’m having brunch with girlfriends and trying this recipe. So much loveliness!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy some fun links from around the web!

I think these produce tips for storing, cleaning and using fruits & vegetables are super helpful! I need to print out this list and keep it handy in my pantry.

It’s that time of year: Christmas gift-hunting season! I love, love, love buying gifts for my favorite people – I like dreaming up perfect present ideas, hunting down deals, writing cards, the whole she-bang. But sometimes less is more (and by that, I mean spending less = more), so this recipe for homemade cookie butter looks like the perfect and cost-effective addition to my holiday gift list. Wouldn’t it be a great treat for loved ones, hostesses, and coworkers alike?

This has been all over the world wide web this week so it’s probably not news, but I am obsessed with the Madewell x Sézane collaboration that debuted on Tuesday. I want every single piece in the collection, especially this, thisthis, and these.

In case you missed it, our wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty on Wednesday and our favorite date nights were featured on Southern Weddings yesterday! I’m so very thankful for these fun opportunities to share the photos that we’ll cherish forever.

Okay, this 1-minute coffee cake in a mug looks like the coziest (and easiest!) way to indulge in a fall breakfast. I plan to make both the regular and pumpkin versions of this treat soon and very soon.

Image via Silver blonde

Date Night at Taqueria La Ventana

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While reading some posts on my favorite sites and blogs last month, I stumbled upon the opportunity to write a date night submission for Southern Weddings. I loved that the site was launching a series to feature newlywed couples and the dates they enjoy, and I admit that I was selfishly drawn in by the promise that, if selected, we would get to participate in a photo shoot while on a date with the photographer of our choice (how fun is that?!). On a whim, I gathered up photos from our favorite activities and whipped up some responses to the date night questionnaire. After letting the submission marinate for a few days, I made tweaks here and there and finally sent it to the editor in charge of the column.

On October 1st, the very same day that I blogged about how much I loved shooting our engagement photos with Heather, I got an e-mail from Southern Weddings saying that our date night submission had been selected! They liked all of the date night options we wrote about but they were particularly smitten with the idea of photographing a night spent enjoying tacos and margaritas. Really, could that be any more perfect?! I was thrilled at the news!

So last Tuesday, James, Callie, and I met Heather at Taqueria La Ventana, a restaurant in downtown Dallas that I had been dying to check out. La Ventana is the epitome of taco stand chic – there’s no interior, just a fabulously decorated patio, and there’s a great view of the skyline in the background. The menu, as you’d expect, is perfect – lots of varieties of street tacos, corn elotes, frozen margaritas, Mexican beer, Topo Chico, and the very best churros we’ve ever had (stuffed with warm caramel sauce!). The night would have been blissful enough had we just been enjoying an al fresco taco dinner together but throw in the fact that we got to have it all documented by the amazingly talented Heather, too, and it was enough to make me pass out with joy.

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Photos via Heather Hawkins for Southern Weddings

San Jose del Cabo

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On this day last year I was living the dream on the coast of San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, as I prepared to stand up for my best friend during her wedding. Erin and Michael got married at the beautiful Cabo Surf Hotel and had their reception at Flora Farm, a dazzling space where the food is literally coming from the on-site farm to your table. I got to be in Cabo for five days for all of the wedding festivities, but I never got around to sharing photos from all of the amazing events – the welcome party, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony & reception, and, of course, all of the fun beach time in between. Mom was my date to the wedding, and it was so fun exploring the grounds of the Cabo Surf Hotel with her. It was such a memorable trip and an insanely gorgeous wedding. What a special time!

P.S. Remember our amazing friend-cation to Cabo in 2009? It goes down in history as one of my most favorite trips ever.

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Wedding formal photos via Cana Family

Our Wedding on Style Me Pretty

rj15I am so excited to share that our wedding is being featured on Style Me Pretty today! Style Me Pretty is a major blog that showcases weddings from all over the world, helping brides gather inspiration and find vendors while also highlighting amazing work done by photographers, videographers, and planners worldwide. So it’s such an honor to have our special day featured on this fabulous site! Plus, it’s super fun to revisit all of our beautiful images and relive all of the gloriousness from our wedding day.

rachelandjamesWED113As you know, we love Heather more than we can say, so we’re thrilled that her gorgeous images are splashed all over Style Me Pretty’s site today. She posted some extra pictures on her blog, too. And we love that Patrick’s video was posted there for the world to see! Hop on over to take a peek at the feature – we couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out!

rj6-copy11008rj8 rj171 110461105811047 rj251 rj27 rachelandjamesWED2201 rachelandjamesWED225 rachelandjamesWED226P.S. I got to share my thoughts about our wedding process – you can check them out on the Style Me Pretty post, and you can take a sneak peek at some of my sentiments here!

James & I knew that we wanted a wedding that reflected our love for each other, our families, and our friends. We wanted our day to showcase our passions for our faith, our community, our relationship, our style, and our loves for great food, delicious drinks, awesome music, and gorgeous florals. We knew that we wanted to host a celebration not only of ourselves and of our marriage but also of the people who supported us along the way, both individually and as a couple.

We decided that we wanted to get married and have our reception outdoors and options in Dallas, where we live, felt limited. We ventured to Austin on the recommendation of our close friend & super talented photographer, Heather Hawkins, who was booked to shoot a wedding at Le San Michele, a venue located in Buda. We fell in love with the way Le San Michele combined a sense of sprawling European-style gardens with Texas foliage, where beautiful plants like succulents and bluebonnets and cacti were growing freely around the property. We loved that the venue owners had outfitted the space with plenty of amazing lighting and beautiful decor, and we appreciated that we could bring in any vendors of our choosing to help us on our special day.

Through yet another connection, we were introduced to The Nouveau Romantics. We cannot say enough good things about working with Liz and Hannah – they made our dreams become a reality. They helped us craft the ceremony and reception that we wanted, and we loved that they are a one-stop shop, a place where we could work together on everything paper, floral, and event-related, creating a really streamlined effect for our wedding as a whole. From succulent-filled bouquets and margaritas during cocktail hour to farm-style tables and family-style food service, Liz and Hannah helped us make selections that felt innately us, choices that reflected our relationship and the party we wanted to host for the people we love most in the world.

Head on over to Style Me Pretty for more!

Images via Heather Hawkins

Fara Coffee

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It’s not news that I love coffee (and tacos, too), so when the kind people at Fara Coffee offered me the opportunity to review their product for my blog, I jumped at the chance. Not only did their coffee selections sound right up my alley, but also they are a cause-oriented company, which really made me stoked to learn more about their Austin-based brand.

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The coffee itself was delicious. I tried the French Roast, which is a departure from my usual coffee preference, but this particular roast was delicious and robust without being overly rich – I didn’t even have to add almond milk or sweetener like I usually do because the taste of the coffee easily stood on its own. I’d love to try the Breakfast Blend next, as that’s the type of coffee (light and mild but still super flavorful) that I typically gravitate towards. I have no doubt that it will be equally as tasty.

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Perhaps even more delicious than the coffee itself is the fact that Fara prides itself on being socially responsible. The coffee is roasted in Austin but the beans are grown and harvested on family-owned farms in Nicaragua. I think this blurb from their marketing materials really sums up the company’s mission:

“Not only do we pride ourselves on our high quality, small batch roasted coffee, but the proceeds help fund the Fara Foundation, which supports the Fara Clinic in Matagalpa, Nicaragua; an elementary school [in the same area]; scholarships for promising youth in Nicaragua; an elderly care facility; and food assistance programs.”

How great is that? Additionally, Fara Coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified, which means that they comply with standards set in place to conserve ecosystems, protect wildlife, and provide fair and safe working conditions for workers (all of whom receive free health care at the Fara Clinic!). This is definitely a cup of coffee that you can feel good about drinking.

Dallas folks can buy Fara Coffee at Central Market, Sprouts, and Whole Foods, and those of you who live outside of Texas can shop for your beans (or Keurig pods) online. This coffee is definitely going to become part of our morning caffeination routine!

P.S. My favorite mug, pictured alongside the coffee, was a birthday gift from Karli via Lindsay Letters – I love it!

Studio Reworked

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The fall issue of Bungalow Magazine came out last week and, per usual, it is so beautiful and inspiring. I got to write a piece about Paige Morse, a Dallas-based designer, interior photo stylist, and all-around creative who renovated the dilapidated sheds in her backyard, converting the space into a much-needed studio and refuge. Paige travels frequently and wanted to be able to rent out her entire house, so she ensured that her backyard studio could be fully functional should she choose to camp out there. She worked alongside a local contractor to use repurpose the space and it turned out so beautifully. She even managed to include a kitchen and full bathroom in the space. Heather took all of the gorgeous photos that you see here, so make sure you take a peek at the rest of the lovely images that she snapped. Check out the entire issue here, and read my piece on page 35!

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Images via Heather Hawkins for Bungalow Magazine

Week & End

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Happy Friday, friends! Today has been a good day, one that started out with an early morning yoga class and an impromptu pit-stop at Houndstooth Coffee (pictured above – I think a calligraphy-ed version of their tagline about coffee & people would look great as a framed print), continuing on with lots of items checked off of my to-do list and burrito bowls with one of our sweet volunteers in our office. The weather is perfect and I’m listening to the Bittersweet audiobook for the thousandth time and I’m so thrilled that it’s the weekend. There is hardly anything on the agenda, except lots of rest, pedicures with girlfriends, reading good books, taking Callie on lots of walks, and whipping up several batches of tortilla soup.

Enjoy your weekend as well as some fun posts from around the interwebs!

Our wedding is going to be featured on Style Me Pretty on Wednesday! I am so, so, so excited! I’ll be sure to share the link here when the post goes live.

Speaking of weddings, my sweet friend Blair got engaged a few weeks ago and her proposal was captured by a local news photographer, who then sought out Blair’s fiancé so the whole world could read their story. It is so, so sweet, and the pictures are fantastic!

After I finish the tortilla soup I plan to make this weekend, I want to try this crock pot pumpkin chili recipe that Becca passed along. Doesn’t it look so seasonally delicious?

My most recent post went live on Darling Magazine’s blog last week and it’s about three books that can help propel you to greatness. Check out this list and let me know what you think – do you have any titles to add?

I though this was a fun article: “The Perfect Wine for Runners’ Favorite Foods.” I want to try a Sangiovese with my next steak and some Sancerre the next time we go out for sushi!

Los Angeles

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James and I had such a good time visiting Andrew in Los Angeles with my parents a few weekends ago. It’s always such a treat to soak up the California coast with all of my five senses – taking in the rich hue of the ocean, inhaling the salty breeze, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, listening to street musicians, and, of course, tasting so many delicious treats. Andrew moved to Culver City in the spring and it was our first time visiting him in his new ‘hood. He works downtown L.A. and it was fun to have him give us a tour of his favorite spots around his office, especially since the downtown area of Los Angeles has been revitalized so much since I moved away from Santa Monica five years ago.

James and I arrived in Los Angeles super early on Friday morning, and Mom and Dad had come in the night before. We checked out our digs at The Culver Hotel and waited for Public School 310, the cute restaurant across the street, to open for lunch service. We enjoyed tons of good bites before heading to the beach to soak up the sunshine and watch the waves crash against the sand. It was a bit of a trek to make it out to the water, thanks to the notoriously bad L.A. traffic, but it was so, so worth it. The four of us just sat on a bench on the pier for a good long while, gazing out at the water and nearly nodding off as we relaxed in the sun.

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While waiting for Andrew to get off of work, we had cocktails and appetizers at the hotel. The menu at the hotel is fantastic and the quality of the food and beverages is so, so good. We loved the popcorn, the ahi tuna, the hummus, and every delicious drink on the bar menu. We met Andrew at his apartment for homemade happy hour (round two), and we walked down the street for dinner at a sushi restaurant that had a bustling outdoor patio. It was so good to all be together!

On Saturday, we slept in before heading out on an adventure to downtown L.A. Andrew took us to so many cool spots, like Grand Central Market, Guisado’s, his gorgeous office building, and Pershing Square. We peeped into the Ace Hotel, Aesop, and Bottega Louie along the way, taking photos and scoring treats at the French bakery for a mid-afternoon snack (think dreamy bites like macarons, lemon tarts, and chocolate chip cookies). Andrew then took us to Perch, a beautiful bar that overlooked the whole city. It was so cool to sit amongst the skyscrapers, relaxing under umbrellas with ice-cold drinks as a light breeze cooled us off.

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From there, we made a pit-stop in Koreatown at The Line Hotel and, well, you know how I feel about our time at The Commissary. Oh my, it was magical.

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The Commissary

Totally stuffed to the gills, we opted against a formal dinner. Instead, we invited my best friend Karli and her husband Nick, who are also Culver City residents, and Andrew’s best friends, Tanner and Taylor, to have snacks and sips with us at The Culver Hotel. It was so, so much fun to catch up with Tanner, Taylor, and Nick (who I hadn’t seen since our wedding!) and to cozy up with Kar to catch up on all of our recent adventures, including her amazing five-year anniversary trip to Europe.

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The next morning we brunched at Akasha and the food and atmosphere were both divine. As an aside, a word about pumpkin spice season: I know it is totally overrated and overdone, but if you find yourself breakfasting at Akasha this fall, please do yourself a favor and order the pumpkin spice latte. It is so dreamy. From there, we went to one of my favorite spots on the West Side: Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We browsed the perfectly curated shops and paused for photo ops, lingering over our last few hours together with refreshing lemonade and lots of laughs.

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There you have it! What a wonderful family weekend – our first with James as an official member of the crew! Until next time, sweet, sweet Los Angeles…

404 Kitchen

404 Kitchen

While I was in Nashville last week, I enjoyed so many tasty treats at so many delicious places – crispy brussels sprouts with apples and bacon vinaigrette at Silo, pork tacos with yogurt dill sauce at Mas Tacos Por Favor, bourbon vanilla lattes and homemade Pop-Tarts at Barista Parlor, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and coffee at Pinewood Social, sweet cream biscuits & peach jam ice cream at Jeni’s, sweet potato buttermilk pie at Husk, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese & pepper jelly at the Oak Bar, and barbecued brisket sandwiches at Edley’s. Nashville is a southern epicenter of good food, that’s for sure. If forced to choose a favorite, though, I would have to select 404 Kitchen, the tiny restaurant nestled in the corner of an even tinier hotel.

Becca had to make reservations two weeks in advance and we were still only able to score a table at 5:15 p.m. This speaks both to 404 Kitchen’s popularity and to its very small, intimate size. The space, though small, is beautiful, complete with plenty of natural light and a picturesque bar. We settled into our teeny table and began poring over the menu. We already knew that we wanted to start with the burrata cheese, which was served alongside the most diverse and delicious accompaniments that I have ever seen. The cheese was laid delicately over salty anasazi beans, crispy brussels sprouts slaw, and a piece of corn pone, the latter of which I can only describe as cornbread’s saltier, more flavorful cousin. It was intensely delicious. We each drank a glass of the best chardonnay we’ve ever had while deciding what to enjoy as our entrees. I settled on the tri-tip, and it was perfection. The meat was seasoned wonderfully and it was complemented by a tasty mustard green pesto. But the show-stopper was the side of farroto served alongside the tri-tip. This dish is 404’s take on risotto, substituting the common arborio rice with farro, a longer, heartier grain. It was creamy and rich and flavorful and studded with hazelnuts and dried cherries. It was, in a word, heavenly.

For dessert, we enjoyed more wine and a deconstructed apple pie, a caramel-y, rich, autumnal treat that rounded out the meal so well. The whole dining experience was exploding with flavor. If you find yourself in Nashville soon, see if you can snag a reservation at 404 Kithen – and if you can, consider ordering an extra helping of farroto along with your meal.

Image via 404 Kitchen

Six Months

Six Months

Today is our six month wedding anniversary! How did that happen?! I feel like our beautiful ceremony and reception were just yesterday. I wish I could teleport back to April 13th, reliving every single glorious moment of our sweet day. I was thinking about our vows, the words that we wrote for one another and said aloud in front of the people we love most, and I thought I would share them here with you today. We worked hard to craft these vows, cobbling them together from our thoughts and prayers and dreams as well as from inspiration found in the Bible, in books, and in beautiful wedding ceremonies. I absolutely love how they turned out – they perfectly encapsulate our spirit both as individuals and as a couple. I get all teary just typing them!

“On this day, I give you my heart, and with it, these promises:

I promise to love you for the rest of my life, following Christ in the journey He’s set out before us.

I promise to dream with you, to challenge you, to travel with you, and to grow with you.

I promise to serve you wholeheartedly, and walk beside you through whatever our lives may bring.

I will be yours in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in failure and in triumph.

I promise to be your partner in parenthood, your ally in conflict, your comrade in adventure, your consolation in disappointment, your accountability in darkness, and your accomplice in mischief.

‘Where you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.’

You are my person – my love and my life, today and always.”

Photo by Heather Hawkins