The Commissary at the Line Hotel

The Commissary

Considering that eating is one of the Johnson family’s favorite hobbies, it should come as no surprise that we consumed so many delicious treats at plenty of wonderful restaurants while in Los Angeles this past weekend – kale salads and Mexican Cokes at Public School 310, baked coconut bites and green juice at Grand Central Market, chicken tinga tacos and limon agua fresca at Guisado’s, tuna tartare with avocado & wonton chips and fresh cucumber mint martinis at The Culver Hotel, polenta cake Eggs benedict and pumpkin spice lattes at Akasha. But if I had to pick a favorite place, my vote would be cast in honor of The Commissary at The Line Hotel.

I noticed photos of the beautiful restaurant on social media outlets recently (it’s designed to look like a gorgeous greenhouse so it’s hard to miss) and was intrigued not only by The Commissary’s space but by The Line Hotel as well, seeing as it’s the newest hipster hang-out in Koreatown (and home to a Poketo outpost, a fantastic shop that sells gifts, home goods, and accessories). Andrew gave us a fantastic tour of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday (including visits to his super cool office, the aforementioned Grand Central Market and Guisado’s, and Perch for rooftop cocktails overlooking the city) and we were preparing to wind down before making a last-minute impromptu stop to peek into The Commissary.

Mom, James, and I all saw (and loved!) Chef, and the visionary behind The Commissary is none other than Roy Choi, the culinary genius who Jon Favreau’s character is loosely based upon in the film. So it was no surprise that the food was at the restaurant was absolutely stellar. We only intended on having a late-afternoon cocktail but we were so drawn in by the menu (which is comprised only of pictures, so you can choose what you’d like to eat but the preparation ultimately ends up being a supremely delicious surprise) that we tried a few snacks…before having a few more drinks…and then eating a few more snacks. Check out the menu below – isn’t the choose-your-own adventure a fantastic concept?

Commissary Menu

We noshed on the corn, French fries, hash browns, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich, and club sandwich (don’t worry, we ate a few extra salads and drank green juice to counterbalance these fabulously carb-laden choices throughout the rest of the trip) and everything was so tasty – if pressed, I would choose all of these selections again, and then on top of that, I’d get the carrots, the fish, and the tomatoes, as well as several more flutes of the delicious sparkling Bordeaux that I drank (that was served icy cold, just the way I like it).

The vibe of the restaurant itself was just mesmerizing. For someone who loves clean lines and plants everywhere you look, The Commissary is heaven. There is seating outside of the greenhouse space as well, and the back section of the restaurant opens up to the hotel’s gorgeous pool. Everything about the restaurant, down to the mismatching glassware and creatively crafted dining chairs, is perfectly curated and lovingly  decorated. It’s basically something that I wish I could recreate in Dallas! (Or just in my backyard so I could be the only patron at all times…because I’m selfish.) If you’re heading to LA soon, I highly recommend that you check out The Commissary. Dare I say it’s my new favorite restaurant…ever?

The Best Coast

The Best Coast

James & I got home from Los Angeles late last night and I’ve been mourning our departure from the best coast ever since. I absolutely love visiting California, and I get especially sentimental when I spend time in L.A. I lived in Malibu for four years during college and in nearby Santa Monica for one year after I graduated, and I made so many irreplaceable memories in those cities. I met my best friends in those places, and I faced some of my most formative experiences on that coast. And don’t even get me started on the amazing scenery. The ocean is truly restorative to my soul. When I’m on the best coast, I love nothing more than sitting outside and relaxing near the water, pondering life (and, okay, sometimes dozing off). There’s something about the expanse of the ocean that is simultaneously profound, inspiring, and relaxing. If I’m being honest, I feel closest to God when I’m near water – the ocean just has a spiritual impact on me me.

Anyway, you get the idea – I love the ocean. And the West (or, in my opinion, best) Coast A LOT. Coming next – a recap from our amazing weekend together in Los Angeles!

Week & End

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Hey there, folks! This Week & End post is coming at you a little earlier than usual because James & I are headed to Los Angeles bright and early tomorrow morning to visit my favorite brother in the whole world! My parents are already there and they’ve posted up at The Culver Hotel, a great little boutique spot that is just around the corner from Andrew’s apartment. I absolutely cannot wait to be on the best coast so that I can breathe in some ocean air and spend time with the most amazing family on the planet.

Enjoy your weekends and have fun checking out these links from around the interwebs!

I got a quick start on my School Year Resolutions by volunteering today at the Circles Conference. What an amazing event! I was so inspired by the presentations I heard and the people I met. I’ll share a more thorough recap soon!

I popped into J.Crew to return a few items last week and I got totally distracted by their new line of perfumes. Since I typically gravitate towards more masculine scents, it was no surprise that I totally fell for No. 57, which has hints of whiskey, cinnamon, and cedarwood. I picked up a rollerball version of the perfume and I have been loving it already.

I really enjoyed reading Bon Appetit’s post about redefining the Freshman 15. Erin and I were chatting about this article and we felt über distinguished to have developed a taste for so many items on this list (good bread & butter, fish, marcona almonds, and especially good wine and burrata) during our college years (all while still staying true to our addiction to Funfetti cake, of course).

*I’m cutting my number of shared links short this week because, frankly, I have to finish up some work e-mails and pack my suitcase for LA – apologies, friends. Catch you next week! 

School Year Resolutions

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Happy Wednesday, friends! I always feel like I’m in my best rhythm on Wednesdays – does anyone else feel the same way? I seem to have an extra boost of energy that helps me be super productive, allowing me to accomplish lots of tasks on my to-do list.

I wrote about this before, but I really find the month of September to be so invigorating. Don’t get me wrong – summer is still my favorite season, but there’s something about the sentimentality of a fresh new school year that makes me want to set brand new goals for myself. So I started thinking, in lieu of (or in addition to) making New Year’s Resolutions, why don’t we start coming up with School Year Resolutions each fall? We can create new goals for ourselves, using the timeline of a school year to chart our progress. In addition to providing you with some ways that you can make some resolutions of your own on Darling Magazine’s blog, I also thought I’d share my personal School Year Resolutions with you here. This is what I’d like to do:

  • Research and register for inspiring conferences, classes, and seminars that I could participate in for work. I would love the opportunity to get out and about a bit more, pushing myself to meet new people, explore new avenues of relationship-building and fundraising, and learn lots of new and creative ways to do my job.
  • Read two new books every month – one novel and one creative/inspiring/motivational book. On that same train of thought, I need to get a library card…
  • Cook two new recipes per month and categorize them in Evernote. This is an extension of a goal I set for myself in the New Year, and while I have been testing out lots of new recipes (and sharing many of them with you here), I haven’t done the best job of recording and organizing them in Evernote. Extra challenge: memorize some of my favorite recipes.
  • Complete one house-related project per month. This can be as simple as cleaning out a closet that’s bursting at the seams or choosing a new bedside lamp for the guest room, or it can be more time-consuming, something like repainting our master bedroom nightstands or reupholstering our couch.
  • Pursue more writing opportunities.  I am so grateful that I get to write consistently for the powerhouse that is Darling Magazine and also occasionally for the beautiful Bungalow Magazine. In addition to working on pieces for these publications, I’d like to more intentionally pursue other freelance projects and also work on some essays, query letters, and writing exercises in my free time. I love to write – it’s such a life-giving creative outlet for me – but I’d like to fine-tune some of my skills and also identify my weaknesses so that I can work to improve them.

So there you have it! What do you think – will you make a list of School Year Resolutions?

Image via designlovefest

Homemade Funfetti Cake

In college my girlfriends and I loved to whip up a Funfetti cake on a moment’s notice, using any and every excuse (from birthdays and good test scores to the completion of Rush week and Tuesday nights in general) to justify our cravings. Once the cake was cooled and frosted, we would all dive in to the pan with forks, no plates needed. As a result, Funfetti became our ubiquitous celebratory treat – it was festive and delicious and easy and cheap, which meant that it appeared on our kitchen tables on a weekly basis.

While we still do love treating ourselves to some out-of-the-box Funfetti cake, our tastes have certainly evolved and, along with them, our desire to bake from scratch has increased, too. Erin came up with this Homemade Funfetti Cake recipe, which she served at my bachelorette party (paying the perfect homage to our college days). It was an absolute hit, to say the least, and she passed the recipe on to me so I could recreate it forever and ever. So now I impart her glorious creation on to you, friends. Enjoy.

Homemade Funfetti Cake

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (E recommends using Greek yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup milk (organic 2% is recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sprinkles (not nonpareils; and, duh, rainbow sprinkles are preferable)

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Salt, as needed
  • Sprinkles!

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform or baking pan (round or square) with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in the sugars vigorously, getting out any brown sugar lumps (the mixture should be gritty).
  4. Whisk in the egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract until combined.
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.
  6. Slowly stir in sprinkles, but do not over mix because the sprinkles will bleed their color.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 13 – 17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Frosting Directions:

  1. As the cake bakes, prepare the frosting. Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract with the mixer running. Add salt to taste. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin, or add more butter if mixture is too thick. Add 1/4 teaspoon (or more) of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  4. Frost cooled cake as desired and top with sprinkles.

P.S. To recreate the cake pictured above, just double this recipe to create a layered effect.

 

Sweatiquette

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Last Wednesday the doctor cleared me to move on from my removable soft cast into an ankle brace, which marks a huge step in my recovery process – I’m so excited! Since then I have taken a few celebratory yoga classes at my favorite spot, Bikram Yoga Dallas. Even though there are a lot of poses that I won’t be able to do for awhile, it feels so, so good to be back in the hot room – I swear that the heat and the postures are therapeutic not only for my body but also for my mind.

The Bikram Yoga studios in Dallas are truly the most beautiful (and clean!) I’ve ever done yoga in, and the vibe from the other yogis that I practice with is so invigorating and encouraging – there’s such a dedicated crew of people who consistently take classes and it really creates a good energy in the room. Sometimes, though, people do things in class that are disruptive, likely without realizing it. I know that I did these very same things when I first started practicing three and a half years ago. I wish someone would have told me what to do/what not to do right from the get go, preparing me for class and sparing the yogis around me from any annoyances incurred by placing their mats near a newcomer. (Actually, someone probably would have told me if I would have attended a New Student Orientation class that the studio offers, but that’s neither here nor there.) So here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years that I would impart upon a newbie yogi. Summed up their entirety, these rules are part of my self-proclaimed Bikram Yoga Sweatiquette.

  1. We will all sweat a lot in class – after all, the room is heated to 104 degrees and the humidity is jacked up to 40%. But if you’re an extra sweaty person, do everyone a favor and bring more than one towel to sop up the water around you. I understand that we may all fling a bit of sweat on each other throughout the course of the class, especially if the room is packed, but I’ve sometimes been in classes where I’m several feet away from my nearest classmate and still a terrifying stream of sweat makes its way towards me. This, of course, is unpleasant always but especially during savasana when my face is on the ground and uncomfortably close to the aforementioned sweat stream. Just, please, practice some awareness while you practice your yoga.
  2. Drink water in between postures, not during them. At our studios, there are three designated water breaks throughout class, and drinking water is discouraged before the initial break, as it prevents your body from warming up efficiently. Make sure to take swigs of your water afterwards while you’re transitioning between postures, not while your classmates are currently engaged in them. It’s distracting and, of course, jealousy-inducing – everyone else around you would probably rather be drinking water, too.
  3. Leave your phone and your watch in the locker room. It’s so nice to take a break from your cell phone/e-mail/text messages, and it actually makes the class go by faster if you don’t know what time it is. If you have a clock or to-do list to stare at, you’ll only focus on how long you have to hold an uncomfortable posture instead of shifting your thoughts onto how wonderful you’ll feel once class is finished.
  4. Stay home if you’re sick. Some people believe in taking class even if they’re unwell, and while I understand that some yogis may like the idea of sweating out their sicknesses, it’s not a good practice (for the yogi or for the people in class with said yogi).
  5. Hydrate properly prior to coming to class. I cannot stress this one enough. Drink plenty of water and consume lots of electrolytes – you will be grateful for both, especially at the beginning of your practice when you’re still getting used to the heated room. Also make sure to eat something healthy and light about an hour prior to class, even if you’re practicing early in the morning – it will be very difficult to get through the 90-minute sweat session without some gas in your tank. Even when I don’t think I can get a banana down before the 5:30 a.m. class, I make sure to drink some Spark so that I have a little boost of energy and a few additional calories to burn. This way you can make sure to stay in the room throughout the entire class. There is really nothing more distracting than someone leaving the room to refill a water bottle or get a drink. If you’re feeling really crummy and you need some more liquids, ask your instructor to get something for you – they’ll be so happy that you didn’t leave the room that they’ll have no problem grabbing you something to make you feel better.
  6. Bring fresh clothes to change into after class (even if you don’t have time to stay and take a shower). This seems like a no-brainer but I didn’t do this after my first class and I desperately wished that I could make some dry clothes appear out of thin air. I like changing into a bathing suit cover up that’s light and airy, and that doesn’t stick to my sweaty self.
  7. Tell your instructor if you have an injury that will prevent you from doing the postures correctly. This helps your teacher keep an eye out for you in case something happens and it allows him or her to make suggestions in the (highly likely) event that you need to customize certain postures. If you don’t mention this initially, your instructor won’t know that you’re hurting and he or she will give you instructions that will push you further than you should go (which isn’t their fault if they don’t have any advance warning – they’re just being good, motivational teachers).
  8. Every day will be different in the room, so don’t worry if you feel like you’ve taken a step backwards – some days you’ll be on your way to teacher training, and other days you’ll need to take lots of extra savasanas. All that matters it that you came to class. Seriously. Remember what I said about the heat being therapeutic for both your body and your soul? Real talk. If you’re still feeling fed up, keep your exasperation to a minimum and emote quietly – I have been in many a class where a yogi is so visibly and vocally frustrated that it’s distracting.

There you have it, folks. If you have other questions about Bikram Yoga, the FAQ page on the studio’s website is super helpful. Now get to sweating!

Image via Tumblr Gym: Yoga

 

Week & End

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Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? We are heading to James’s family’s ranch in Cross Plains, and, as always, I’m excited for fresh air, home cooking, and lots of relaxation. Also, word on the street is that the local rodeo will be in town…

Enjoy your days off as well as some fun links from around the world wide web!

I can’t wait for Wit & Delight’s party collection to debut at Target on Sunday! I am so excited to see what fun, decorative, and creative pieces that Kate Arends came up with for her personalized collection, Craft Social. I am not-so-secretly jealous of everyone who got to attend the Wit & Delight for Target launch party this week – it looked amazing (especially that pie bar, reminiscent of our wedding desserts!).

I finally took the plunge and purchased this lamp (in white/gold) from One Forty Three for my home office. I had seen it on my friend Natalie’s blog nearly a year ago and had been waiting for just the right time to purchase it. I sold my previous office desk lamp at last week’s garage sale (where we raised $5,238 to benefit Touch A Life’s Fence Fundraiser campaign, exceeding our goal of $5,000 – so exciting!!), partially because I wanted to accumulate as many items as possible for the sale and also, subliminally, because I wanted an excuse to buy the One Forty Three lamp (if I don’t have a desk lamp anymore then I have to buy a new one, right?). I also snagged two of these Ikea lamps (in white as well), after having observed them all over the blogosphere and admiring the minimalist style and cheap price tag. I got one to top the dresser in our master bedroom and one for my office at work. Let there be light!

So many good movies are coming out soon! After reading This Is Where I Leave You, I am stoked to see the movie, and I also am looking forward to seeing The Skeleton Twins. Kyla and I have plans to check it out the latter film on Monday – we’ll let you know what we think! P.S. If you haven’t seen Chef yet, you absolutely must – it may very well be my favorite movie of the year!

This really well-written article about the Ebola virus a bit of a somber link but it’s a really important one. Reporting on the epidemic in West Africa has really lessened over the past few weeks, and in some ways, that’s a good thing. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is the worst Ebola outbreak in the history of the world (according to the article, “there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years”) and we need to start being proactive instead of reactive. Some good food for thought.

Let’s end on a positive note! Las week on A Cup of Jo, Joanna Goddard shared this post about the most brilliant Friday night tradition. I immediately e-mailed it to James with the subject “LIFE GOAL.” I so want to replicate this at our house someday!

Five Years

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Five years ago today I piled up my car, said teary goodbyes to my best friends, and began the long road trip from Los Angeles to Dallas. I was moving to Texas for my job at Touch A Life and though I was totally daunted by the transition and anxious about what lay ahead (I had only been to Dallas a handful of times, and I knew hardly anyone besides my coworkers), I knew that taking this step would allow me to live out the plan that God had set out for my life. And now, looking back, I see how vivid and rich that plan was, and I truly can’t imagine my life any other way. By moving to Dallas, I furthered my career, came into my own as a woman, and, most importantly, met my husband and made some of the very best friends in the world, establishing community that I truly could never live without, regardless of where I live.

Of course, I know that September 11th marks a very sad time in our country’s history, and I’ve been thinking about and praying for those affected by the terrorist attacks continually throughout the day; nothing could ever change or trivialize what this day means to us as American citizens. But as far as my personal journey goes, September 11th has come to mean something else, something about trust and hope and promise. I’m reminded to live every day with intentionality, following in the path that God has laid out before me. I’m reminded to never take a single second of this sweet life for granted and to trust that everything, indeed, can be redeemed and made beautiful in His time.

Photo via Heather Hawkins from our engagement photo shoot last year – click on the link to check out more photos from that fun session!

Taco Stop

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This morning was one of the really great ones. I felt invigorated and all sorts of hopped up on endorphins, thanks to an early personal training session with one of my City Surf instructors (who took pity on my measly ankle and offered me some one-on-one time to get me back into action). While on my way to the training site, I spotted a pretty little taco shop that I’d never visited (or heard of) before, and I knew that my post-workout breakfast plans were set. My instructor confirmed that the place was delicious, so after getting my sweat on, I excitedly drove a few blocks to Taco Stop.

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Let’s pause and take a moment to appreciate the fresh, bright decor at this lovely little place. Doesn’t it look pretty in the morning sunlight?

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I ordered two breakfast tacos – one with bacon and eggs, and one with potato, cheese, and eggs – and one of each of the salsas (green and red, of course). I added a bubbly, refreshing Topo Chico to the mix and the kind gentlemen working in the kitchen threw in a fresh black coffee for free (!!!). The tacos were piping hot and, as expected, totally delicious. I liked that the tacos were on the smaller side, too – you know that I love me a beast of a taco like the ones that are served at Good 2 Go but I usually reserve those treats for weekends when I can take a nap afterwards. The smaller tacos are certainly way more conducive to having a productive workday (as is the black coffee, which I am slowly but surely acquiring a taste for) – they’re filling but not so rich that I enter into a food coma immediately after consuming them.

I took a minute to reflect on my morning as a whole while I noshed on my tacos. I felt invigorated by doing something out of the norm, even though it was something as simple as trying a new local spot. I savored the quiet time I had to sit and enjoy my breakfast as the world hurried on by. It’s nice to pause in the middle of the work week to  treat yourself to some peace and quiet (and coffee and tacos) every now and then, isn’t it?

P.S. I am going to continue bookmarking all of these recipe & restaurant-related posts in my Taste & Try folder on the sidebar but I’m going to remove the T & T verbiage from the blog post’s titles (just to keep things simple and clean). I hope you don’t mind! All of the content and foodie goodness and Taste & Try vibes will remain the same, I promise.

Fall Reading List

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I have always loved to read but there’s something particularly special and invigorating about the beginning of the new school year that causes me to line up a bunch of new titles to devour. I was so thrilled when I recently learned that my favorite author, Shauna Niequist, is working on her next book, Present Over Perfect – even though it won’t be published until 2016, you can bet your bottom dollar that this spurred on my passion for gobbling up a whole shelf’s worth of books while I wait for her next creation to come out. She’s also releasing a devotional next spring that I can’t wait to get my hands on. In the meantime, here are some books that I’m looking to add to my reading list this fall (plus, see the rest of the books I’d like to read [and have read!] here on my Shelfari profile):

  • A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live, Emily Freeman – I admit, we were supposed to read this for our book club in January but I only got through the first few chapters. The content is so good but I got sidetracked by a really delicious novel and didn’t ever get back to the rest of A Million Little Ways. As I seek out inspiration heading into this new season, I can’t think of any better way to dive right in than by reading this book.
  • I Am MalalaMalala Yousafzai - My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas, so it’s been on my list for a few months now. I’m so excited to dig in to this inspiring memoir.
  • The Circle, Dave Eggers – I love all of Dave Eggers’s books so The Circle definitely makes this list. This novel, set at the world’s most powerful internet company, is described as a “heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge” – intriguing, no?
  • Rework, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – I have heard so many great things about this book and the way it transforms the reader’s concept of work, business, time management, and efficiency. I definitely think it will give me a kickstart, work-wise, as we head into our busiest season of the year and corresponding fourth quarter donation push.
  • Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, Nish Weiseth – Speak is “a book about the power of telling our own stories and hearing those of others to change hearts, build bridges, advocate for good, make disciples with grace, and proclaim God’s kingdom on Earth today.” Boom.

What’s on your back-to-school reading list? Got any great book recommendations?

Image via Pinterest