Touch A Life + Black Friday

TAL on Black FridayHow was your Thanksgiving? Ours was just as phenomenal as anticipated, filled with food and laughter and joy and togetherness. I’m so glad James and I will be in Chicago for a few more days! On the agenda – heading to the gun range at our country club (a first for our family!), hosting a pizza & wedding video outtakes viewing party, getting foot massages, and celebrating my birthday a few days early. I’m so happy!

In between all of our fun activities, I’m sure I’ll be checking out some awesome Black Friday deals, including the fabulous one that Touch A Life is offering. For a $50 donation, we will send you a signed copy of Pam Cope’s memoir, Jantsen’s Gift, along with a set of five beautiful Artifact Uprising prints of our children and Care Center in Ghana taken by photographer Nancy Borowick.  This is a limited edition item – only 16 sets are available!

For a $20 donation, we will send you a set of 10 Christmas cards with illustrations drawn by five Touch A Life children in Ghana. These are perfect to send to your family and friends as a Christmas greeting!

Visit Touch A Life’s website to make your donation and select the item that you’d like to receive. Your purchase will make a difference in the life of a child in Ghana – there’s not much better than that!

Happy Thanksgiving!

35a00f62746e7d2f98053b1194338660Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you’re having a perfect day enjoying great food, delicious wine, and lots of time with people you love.

I am so thankful to be home in Chicago with James and my family. We’ll spend the day cooking up a storm, cheering for the Bears, and, later, enjoying dessert with Erin and her family. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this day and all it represents.

Now, off to enjoy all of my favorite Thanksgiving treats!

Image via Chantelle Grady

Cooking Through Bread & Wine

lindsay-letters-betweenus-canvas-navy_1024x1024As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I reread Bread & Wine recently and it inspired me to get creative in the kitchen. When life gets chaotic and full, I tend to fall back on the recipes I know and love – enchiladas, quinoa bowls, breakfast for dinner, tortilla soup – instead of foraging into the land of the unknown. Shauna Niequist, the author of Bread & Wine, shares loads of delicious recipes in her book, which is part memoir, part cookbook, and they got me excited about trying out some new dishes. Shauna uses good wholesome ingredients and her instructions aren’t a mile long; instead of using complicated, fussy verbiage, her recipes are straightforward and easy to understand. So I thought it might be fun to work my way through the book, chopping and dicing and sautéing, stirring and tasting and trying, and then reporting the results to you here on the blog.

I’m already a fan of several of the recipes in the book – the blueberry crisp, the basic vinaigrette (which I make once a week and pour on just about everything), the goat cheese scrambled eggs, the lentil soup – so I may post about them here, or I may just venture into uncharted territory…we’ll see. Either way, it will be fun (and delicious). Stay tuned!

Image & canvas via Lindsay Letters

Friendsgiving

IMG_9600Can I just take a moment here to give a big round of (online) applause to whoever coined the term “Friendsgiving?” I know that I always say that the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday because it encompasses so many things that I love but Thanksgiving is truly my very favorite. It’s really my dream day, one spent celebrating food and family and friendship and wine and gratitude. It doesn’t get better than that.

IMG_9599It makes me so happy that someone thought to broaden the Thanksgiving sentiment to encompass all of the friends in our lives that we want to celebrate the holiday with but don’t because we’re (rightly so) spending the big day with our families. If I had it my way, I’d have one Thanksgiving meal with my Dallas besties, one with my college besties, one with our small group, one with my coworkers, one with my family, and one with James’s family – that’s how much I love this holiday.

IMG_9601Yesterday we celebrated Friendsgiving as a small group and considering that our festivities lasted for EIGHT HOURS, I’d say it was a fabulous success. We ate turkey and stuffing and brussels sprouts with cranberries, broccoli cheddar casserole and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and s’mores brownies. We toasted to one another, to yesterday’s beautiful weather in Dallas, to Callie sitting underfoot waiting for us to drop morsels onto the floor. It was perfect – just perfect. And the best part? We get to do it all over again with my parents and brother on Thursday! Color me giddy.

Photos by my beautiful friend Briana Wollman

Week & End

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWe made it to Friday! This week felt especially long since I’ve been living in memories and whispers of last week’s trip to the California coast, so I’m really ready for a low-key and relaxing weekend. Tonight I think I’m going to make this soup – it’s going to be rainy here and this seems like the perfect thing to have for dinner. Tomorrow I’ll go to yoga and giggle with Kyla over lunch, then hopefully squeeze in a nap and maybe, if I’m feeling ambitious, some organizational projects. I’m so excited for Sunday, which is when we’re going to have a Friendsgiving celebration with our small group! I’m making stuffing and a harvest salad – yum. On Monday evening (which is certainly not the weekend, I know, but thanks to a short work week, it will feel like an extension of it), James and I bought tickets to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen!

Happy Friday, and enjoy some fun links from around the web!

My latest post is up on Darling Magazine’s blog! It’s about ways to take in culture in your community. How do you get a dose of culture in your hometown? Dallas is full of museums that I love to wander through, and there are so many great ethnic restaurants that (literally!) give me a great taste of culture, too.

Given my passionate love for Mexican food, this cookbook would be the perfect title to add to my repertoire.

Speaking of food, this salted honey pie looks like an incredible addition to any Thanksgiving meal (via Camille Styles).

Okay, more food for thought – wouldn’t a popcorn bar be a fun feature to have at a party?

I need to hop into Goop’s pop-up shop in Highland Park Village soon and very soon! Probably not on Saturday when Gwenyth Paltrow will be there to sign her cookbooks – because it will be a ZOO – but definitely before the pop-up shop leaves Dallas in the middle of December!

Image from our time in Big Sur – more to come soon!

Nashville

IMG_0520While I’m working on my photos from my trip to northern California, I thought I’d share some fun pictures from my fabulous trip to Nashville last month. I was in Music City for work but I got to spend my spare time playing with one of my very best friends, Becca, who lives in the popular 12 South neighborhood, right in the epicenter of everything fun and exciting and delicious. We dined at Silo, hiked around Radnor Lake, and ate lunch at Mas Tacos Por Favor. We drank lattes and ate homemade Pop-Tarts at Barista Parlor. We checked out Pinewood Social and ate my favorite meal at 404 Kitchen. We took lots of photos by the I Believe in Nashville mural (obviously), licked ice cream cones at Jeni’s, enjoyed Southern-style cuisine at Husk, and caffeinated at The Well. We had happy hour at the Oak Bar and barbecue at Edley’s, and we shopped for jeans at imogene + willie. We spent more than one afternoon at 12 South Taproom (my cousin, Sean, met us there once!) and we mingled and laughed with many of Becca’s fun friends.

I hadn’t been to Nashville in five years so it was so good to be back, and it was even better to see the city through the eyes of my best gal. Becca was the perfect tour guide – she made my trip absolutely fantastic. I’m ready to go back!

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Eat Well & Travel Often

il_570xN.470461853_4kg5I have the print pictured above hanging in our kitchen, and I love the way it inspires me every time I wander in for a cup of coffee or a glass of water. I consider it my mantra, a motivating phrase that lifts my spirits any time I ponder the thought. Eating well and traveling often, as surely you’ve noticed, are my two favorite hobbies, the experiences in my life that are the richest, partly because, in and of themselves, they are two of the best ways I can think of to spend my time and mostly because they are activities typically spent with people I love. All of my favorite memories revolve around what we ate and where we went, and all of my daydreams consist of delicious meals and faraway places.

As you may imagine, I’m experiencing massive withdrawals from my recent trip to northern California, and I plan to regale you of our adventures in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and Big Sur just as soon as I get my photos uploaded and sorted. It was an incredible trip, and I’m missing the coast in a major way (though not as much as I’m missing Mom & Andrew). Stay tuned!

Photo & print via chloevaux

Northern California

8042030463_4c12575850_bToday I am headed to San Francisco to meet my mom and my brother for a little getaway, and I am so, so excited for the adventures that await! On Friday we’ll stay in Half Moon Bay for an evening, and then dreams will come true as we spend a few days in Big Sur, a place I’ve been dying to visit. I’m looking forward to exploring new communities, eating delicious food, drinking California wines, and spending tons of time near the ocean. I can’t wait to share photos when I get back!

Happy Thursday to you and yours! See you next week.

Image via Rob DeGraff

Tortilla Soup

IMG_2141The Arctic cold front is blowing through Dallas today and it’s making me crave warm, autumnal things – cozy blankets, fall-scented candles, toasty beverages, and tortilla soup. My boss, Pam, passed on this recipe to me, and while I’ve made so many other delicious soups and chilis, this is the one I always revert back to, my very favorite. It’s so yummy and so dang easy. It’s the perfect workweek meal because James and I never get tired of serving up a hearty bowl of leftovers, and it’s a great dish to give to friends who have just had a baby/are going through a rough time/need their fridges stocked. Paired with tortilla chips and sour cream (and sometimes red wine or a Blood & Honey beer), it can’t be beat. I’ll admit that I like this soup so much that I’ll even make it in the summertime – gasp. It’s that good, y’all.

Pam’s Slow-Cooker Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • 1 box of chicken broth
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 cans of ranch-style beans – I’ve learned that this is a regional treat that can’t be found everywhere. I will mail you some ranch-style beans if you ask me to because I think they make a huge impact on the flavor of this soup. If you can’t find them, pinto beans are a great substitute.
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 bag of frozen corn

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the crock pot. Yep, that’s it.
  2. Simmer on low for six hours or on high for four hours.
  3. Top with tortilla chips, grated cheese, sour cream, jalapeños, avocado – whatever you prefer – and serve.