Wonderfully Made Podcast

unnamedToday our beautiful Ruby is one month old! Time is absolutely flying by and we are cherishing every moment with our sweet girl. We are so, so in love!

These past several weeks have been full of baby snuggles, family time, meals with friends, stolen kisses, and evening walks with Ruby and Coach. We’ve been resting and soaking up time with our newborn girl, remembering that our sweet love will never be this little again – she is just precious, and we are so grateful.

In the meantime, there have been some exciting developments in some side projects I’ve been pursuing. I’m so excited to share that I am the co-host of an exciting new podcast for Wonderfully Made! Allie, the Founder of WM, and I reconnected at the Yellow Conference last summer and we realized we had a shared passion for podcasts. We decided to join forces to launch our own podcast on behalf of Wonderfully Made, one that would feature authentic conversations with world-changing women who are living out their unique purpose. Tag along as we interview positive female movers and shakers who are championing this generation of young women to live with integrity, passion, and faith. In the first two episodes you’ll get to know Allie and me better, and in the third (which launched yesterday!) we begin interviewing women who inspire and challenge us. Subscribe on iTunes and you’ll never miss an interview!

P.S. Thank you to James and our dear friend Tommy for writing the original music for the intro & outro of the podcast – they did an amazing job!


Ruby Clare

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetOur sweet baby girl arrived on July 17th (her due date, can you believe that?!) and we are over the moon. Ruby Clare Brown is named after her beautiful great-grandmother (whose 120th birthday was on July 20th!) and James’s amazing younger sister. We can’t stop staring at this gorgeous miracle of ours! Thank you to James for being the very best daddy and night nurse on the planet, to my parents for being total rock star helpers, to our siblings & friends for flooding us with loving visits and calls and texts, to Mr. Coach for being such an adoring puppy and protective big brother, and to Ruby for being everything we ever dreamed of and so much more. We are so blessed!

P.S. Two fun facts about Ruby’s name – the birthstone of July is a ruby (so naturally I’m eyeing something like this in honor of baby girl) and it is also the traditional 40th wedding anniversary gift, which is perfect timing since my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage in June! So fun & definitely meant to be, right?

Counting Down

rachelandjames051Baby girl’s due date is just a few days away so James and I are soaking up time together as just the two of us (well, three of us, counting Coach!). These past two years of marriage have been filled with so much adventure and joy and while there have been bumps in the road along the way, James and I both feel so blessed by the ways in which our relationship has evolved and grown. While there is a teeny sense of mourning for the passing of the season of us, there is infinitely more excitement for the next season of our lives and for the richness and depth our daughter’s presence is going to bring to our hearts and our home. We know that we are never going to be the same, and for that we are grateful.

Our dear friend Heather Hawkins took beautiful maternity photos for us in June, so I promise to share the rest of them soon. I love this blog so much, as it’s served as a wonderful space for connecting with others while also serving as a scrapbook of sorts, documenting life’s momentous occasions, adventures, and thoughts. I’ve been busy tying up loose ends at work before I head out of the office on maternity leave while also queuing up lots of posts for my editors at both Darling Magazine and Wonderfully Made (including finalizing a fun podcast project that I can’t wait to tell you about). I haven’t carved out as much time as I’d like for sweet Coffee & Tacos but just know that even though my posts may be more infrequent, as they have been of late, I’m not going anywhere – I pinkie promise.

Photo via Heather Hawkins

Maternity Staples

IMG_4343Being pregnant for the first time has been such an exhilarating, eye-opening process. The old adage that you don’t know what you don’t know has proven true time and time again over the course of the past nine months, and that was certainly no exception when it came to stocking up on clothing and other maternity supplies. My pregnancy has been truly wonderful and easy, which is something I do not take for granted. I’ve been able to maintain an exercise routine of working out five times per week, which has felt crucial both in terms of making me feel good physically but also emotionally (those endorphins have never felt more real). Exercise has helped me sleep, too, and knowing that I have a workout impending helps me make healthier eating choices (although, let’s be honest, I have been treating myself to a lot more baked goods, pizza, and mint chocolate chip ice cream over the course of the past nine months). While I’ve had several debilitating bouts of tiredness here and there, staying active has allowed me to still engage socially with loved ones, travel (this year alone I went to LA, Pennsylvania, Seattle, Florida [twice!], Palm Springs, Ohio, and Chicago), and feel efficient at work. I have been so thankful for this sweet season.

I really felt my body begin to change around the end of January/beginning of February when I was about 16 – 18 weeks along. I knew I needed to make some adjustments in my wardrobe especially, and I had a tough time figuring out the best staples to purchase without going overboard. Some dear friends lent me some amazing maternity clothing, and while we hope and plan to have more children, I didn’t want to buy too many clothes for myself when so many impending purchases loomed on the horizon (hello, nursery decor!). But I wanted to feel good about myself and I certainly wanted to feel comfortable. Since I’ve only got four and a half weeks to go until my due date (!!!), I thought I’d share some of the staples (clothing and otherwise) that ending up helping me along through my pregnancy.

Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Capri Workout Pants + Lululemon Boogie Shorts

IMG_4390Like I mentioned, exercise has been hugely important and beneficial during my pregnancy. My friend Erin lent me a pair of her Ingrid & Isabel maternity spandex and they are miracle-workers. The crossover panel felt so comfortable as my body grew and changed, and yet the pants looked and fit just like regular spandex crops. As I grew, I found a ton of comfort in my trusty Lululemon shorts, which I already owned from years of practicing Bikram yoga. As the summer temperatures started to rise, I was more interested in wearing shorts than pants, and these staples are so soft and comfortable, getting better with each wash.

Maternity Jeans

IMG_2911Maternity jeans were one of the first items that came to mind when I started scouting for pregnancy staples. My favorite pair is from H&M. I accidentally purchased a pair of Super Skinny jeans, thinking they were the same as the regular Skinny version I had already purchased, and I ended up liking them much more than the Skinny ones themselves. I chose a dark wash that was great for work. I also love the pair I got from ASOS in a lighter wash, making them a little more casual. On the whole, H&M and ASOS became the most reliable spots for finding great maternity wear, jeans and otherwise. My friend Allison lent me the perfect pair of black jeans from Citizens of Humanity that were clutch for work events and presentations when I needed to feel more professional.

Soft, Stretchy Dresses

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IMG_3485IMG_4668Especially now that we are in the throes of summer, soft dresses have been my daily uniform. T-shirt dresses are so comfortable (I swear I wear this once a week), but sometimes I want to show off the bump, so stretchy, tighter-fitting dresses have been great, too. I’ve especially loved this Racerback Bodycon dress from Forever 21, which I got in black and navy. The length is great for work (usually I throw a chambray over the dress for the office but go sleeveless when I’m out with friends) and you can’t beat the price. While I have loved my maternity jeans, nothing feels better (or more feminine) than wearing a great little dress.

Maxi Dresses

Speaking of dresses, maxi dresses are another staple that have made me feel so feminine as my body is growing and changing. Between the dresses I already owned and the garments that mama friends lent to me, I was totally set in this department, but there are so many great affordable options out there if you’re looking to stock up. Most of them will work perfectly after baby is born, too.

Essential Oils + Diffuser

I have always appreciated essential oils but I’ve never really taken the time to learn too much about them and really dive into the essential oils culture that’s been taking society by storm. I caught a nasty case of strep in late April and James helped identify some natural ways to keep our house healthy and clean. He bought this super cool diffuser and started using some doTERRA oils we already had on hand. Our favorite quickly became the On Guard blend that helps boost the immune system and purify the air. It made the house smell delicious, and whether it was a placebo effect or not, I really think the aromatics helped me feel better. We got so excited about our oils that I recently joined the doTERRA team as a wholesaler, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

ASOS Maternity Jean Shorts

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThese shorts from ASOS are getting so much wear – I absolutely love them! Now that it’s summer, ASOS has several additional options available (I love these) and I highly recommend snagging a pair (or three). They’re so, so comfortable and versatile.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion

I blessedly haven’t had an issue with stretch marks (knock on wood!) but I still love using this lotion every day. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my skin and it smells so lovely.

Commando Underwear

My mom sent me several pairs of these underwear and I will never wear any other brand for as long as I live – I am a total Commando convert. These underwear are so comfortable and they are forgiving as your body changes and grows.

Gap Pure Body Crewneck Tees

Allison put a gray version of this tee in her stack of loaner maternity clothes and I loved it so much that I promptly went online and bought the shirt in white and black, too. The soft, stretchy material is so comfortable and it’s the perfect thing to wear on its own or with a cardigan, chambray shirt, or blazer.

Sparkling Water + Mocktails

I must admit: I have sorely missed margaritas. And champagne. And wine. But mostly the margaritas. Sparkling water has definitely taken the edge off, especially when I’m drinking a flavorful version like my favorite cherry lime La Croix. I have been relying on Topo Chico, too. I’ve invented a little cocktail of sorts, mixing Topo Chico with limeade, ginger beer, and a few jalapeño slices. It’s super refreshing and it’s reminiscent of my beloved margaritas with a hint of a Moscow mule. I will be ready to enjoy a Mambo Taxi once baby girl is here but for now this does the trick.

Spanx Bra-lellujah Bras

Of all of the clothing-related errands to run in life, bra shopping is the task I loathe the most. I don’t know why, really, since it’s a fairly painless process, but I just hate it. I tend to find a bra that works and stock up on it in several colors. But I had to admit that it was time to find an alternative to my pre-pregnancy bras about halfway through when they started pinching my skin (lovely image, I know). My friend Emily recommended Spanx’s Bra-lellujah Bras because they clasp in the front and, thanks to Spanx’s renowned stretchy material, they grow with you as you change. I snagged one in nude and one in black and have been set ever since.

Library Books

You already know how much I love my library card, but it has gotten even more use during my pregnancy. Even though this season has been filled with the most sweetness imaginable, there are still, of course, times of stress. We’re entering into a phase of life that is totally unknown, after all, and nothing helps me decompress and escape like a great book. I recently joined Goodreads to track all of the books I’ve read and the titles I want to read, so feel free to follow me there. Some favorites I’ve read over the past few months include Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Bringing Up Bébé, A Window Opens, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Auggie & Me, The Secret Garden, and For the Love.

Liz Lange for Target Maternity Swimsuit Bottoms

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThis has been one of my very favorite maternity purchases. With several beach trips on the docket (and a July due date), I knew I wanted to invest in some sort of comfortable swimwear but I didn’t want to buy lots of different swim suits. In fact, even though my top size ultimately changed a bit (hence the Bra-lellujah discovery), I really just wanted to focus on finding some great bathing suit bottoms so I could mix and match with the tops I already owned. I learned that there aren’t a lot of great options for maternity bottoms online, so I was stoked when these Liz Lange for Target suit bottoms worked so well. I bought them in a slightly larger size and loved how they curved under the belly to accommodate my ever-growing bump. I immediately bought two pairs in black and rotated them with different tops. It worked perfectly!

Hot Baths + Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts

I jokingly told my friend Laura that hot baths are the pregnant woman’s equivalent to happy hour. While that might be a stretch, hot baths, even now in June, have been such a comfort to me. They really help me relax, especially when I throw in some yummy-smelling epsom salts.

A Good Blazer (with a little give)

Before I found out I was pregnant, I was in the market for a new blazer, and I wanted something a little less structured/more flowing, which was fortuitous since it ended up being the best way to upgrade my pregnancy style at work. I found a Madewell version that I loved and it has been key when I’m needing to be dressier for events, presentations, and important meetings. Because it’s not super fitted, it has worked with every stage of my pregnancy, and it pairs perfectly with the aforementioned Gap tees, a great statement necklace, black jeans, and booties.

Soft Pajamas (in a larger size)

One of the silliest realizations I had about my nighties (and about some dresses, too) was that as my bump grew, my garments didn’t necessarily get smaller – they got shorter. Nightgowns became night shirts, which is usually fine, but sometimes I want to wear a tank + pants or shorts set. Just last week I went to Target and stocked up on super soft pajama sets (like this and this) in a larger size than I would normally wear. While I’ve mostly tried to stay away from buying non-maternity items that aren’t my size, I am realistic enough to know that my body won’t bounce back right away – and that I’ll be in pajamas a lot during maternity leave. So spending a little money on several cute sets seemed worth it, and I’ve already tucked away a few extras in my hospital bag. As comfy as James’s oversized shirts are, I still want to feel like a lady so these do the trick.

Foot Massages

Truth be told, I would get a foot massage every day if I could, so this isn’t something new, but it’s definitely been a treat during pregnancy. Our favorite local spot is just down the street, making it a very convenient temptation to give in to. I’m fascinated by the power of Chinese reflexology, and I always feel so relaxed after an hourlong appointment. The price – $30 for 60 minutes – can’t be beat, either.

Garden of Life Raw Prenatal Vitamins

I started taking prenatal vitamins a couple of months before I got pregnant and it helped me establish a rhythm of taking them  consistently once I knew I had a sweet little love growing inside my belly. My OB recommended the Garden of Life variety and I have really loved them. I do make sure to always take them with meals in case they make my tummy ache, but I’ve really noticed a difference in my skin and hair and overall wellbeing (i.e. not getting sick over the winter, when I usually catch a case of bronchitis – though I did succumb to strep) – this could be partially due to hormones and the “pregnancy glow,” but I’ll give credit to the vitamins. I take them in combination with DHA and D3, and I think the trifecta has really worked. I plan to continue taking them after baby girl arrives.

Something Really Pretty (treat yo self!)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI’ve held off from buying non-maternity clothing for the most part, making one splurge-worthy exception for Anthropologie’s Magnolia Lace Dress (in white). I wanted something really special to wear to my baby shower, and I justified the price tag by deciding to wear the same garment for our maternity photos. This dress made me feel so, so pretty and feminine while also being super comfortable. I was able to order the dress in my normal size, so I’m hoping to wear it again and again after baby girl arrives.

Snack Time + Shenanigans with Puppy & Hubs

IMG_4557Because how can you resist these two?!

Defining Your Home Team

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’ve written about the concept of the home team a lot on my blog, either in entire pieces or in small references, so I was excited when I got the chance to expound upon this topic for Darling Magazine. In my most recent post for Darling’s blog, I wrote about the importance of defining the members of your squad. Shauna Niequist, the author who introduced me to this concept in the first place, makes great points about the importance of not only knowing who is in your home team but also being aware of who is not. Here’s a little peek at the piece:

[Niequist’s words] got me to thinking about continually seeking intentionality in relationships. Especially in this day and age of instant connectivity and constant communication, it’s easy to feel connected and close to a myriad of people from all different walks of life. And while that may be perfect for some people, it’s not the right fit for me. I know that I crave quality time with the people I love, and because there’s only so many hours in the day, I have to be realistic about who I’m giving my time and love and trust to — and when, and why.

Head over to Darling’s blog to read the post and let me know what you think about the idea of having a home team! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Above: a favorite photo of Laura & Kyla at the best taco shop in town

Palm Springs

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetMy family and I had so, so much fun in Palm Springs. We celebrated Mother’s Day by renting a super cool mid-century modern house, where we posted up for four whole days and soaked in the sunshine. We ate at several delicious spots like Tyler’s (yummy burgers), Birba (authentic Italian with such good pizza), and Cheeky’s (heavenly brunch), but we also did our fair share of cooking and mixing up cocktails at home, which was so fun. I got to have dinner with my parents all by myself on Thursday evening; since James & Andrew had yet to arrive, it was just the three of us, which was a rare and cherished treat. We spent hours upon hours at the pool at our rental house and playing Bocce ball in the backyard court, and we lounged at the Ace Hotel for a blissful afternoon. We wandered through the grounds of The Parker and added a stay at the gorgeous property to our bucket lists. We drank iced coffee and ate yogurt parfaits for breakfast near the pool every morning and we took lots of long walks around our pretty neighborhood. It was such a great weekend filled with quality family time. I can’t believe that our next family vacation will include our baby girl, so exciting!

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Processed with VSCO with c1 presetHi, hi! I’m sending my sincerest apologies to my dear sweet Coffee & Tacos, this amazing outlet and space for creativity, for not gracing its presence in far too long, but I am back! I think after I wrote this exciting post I wanted to let everything sink in for awhile. It is so surreal and amazing that we are going to be parents!

IMG_3412 IMG_3425Since my last post, James & I traveled to both Seattle and Florida as part of a whirlwind, just-what-we-needed anniversary trip. We had originally scheduled a trip to Puerto Rico that got thwarted by the Zika virus, but God knew that we’d have a much better time eating and exploring our way through Seattle with our bffs (seriously, there is nothing cooler than being pregnant at the same time as your bestie) and then spending a relaxing week in Florida sans plans, agendas, and to-do lists. Baby girl made an appearance in some beach photos and James & I had so much quality time together during our lazy days spent swimming in the gulf, eating at the beach bar, reading good books, walking through the mangroves, and watching the sunset. The whole adventure was good for the soul.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with g3 preset Processed with VSCO with c1 presetLaura got married in the most gorgeous wedding ceremony of the year at such a cool local venue. She was a knockout bride who was so calm, cool, and collected. She and her husband, Curtis, are the perfect match, and I felt so honored to be a part of their special day. James got to play in a band during the reception and he had way too much fun – he’s such an amazing performer. I blame it on the pregnancy hormones but I got a little emotional when he whipped out his violin for a cover of Wagon Wheel – he’s so dang talented! The band wore rust-colored tuxes that nearly stole the show.

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We’re trying to pack a few more trips into our calendar before I can’t fly anymore, so we’re heading to Palm Springs to spend this weekend with my family – I am beyond excited. I haven’t been to Palm Springs since this amazing girls trip a few years ago, and I can’t wait to go back. We rented a super cool house and we actually haven’t made any real plans, so I know the weekend will be a perfect blend of relaxation and activity. Plus, I can’t wait to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mama and my baby girl!

The following weekend we’ll be spending time in Chicago while our dear friend, Patrick, shoots a legacy video that will feature my incredible great-uncle and his twin brother, my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young. It’s a project our family has wanted to work on for such a long time so I’m grateful it’s coming together now. My great-uncle John is nearly 95 years old but doesn’t act a day over 30 – he is truly a rock star with so many incredible stories to tell.

I had a lovely case of strep throat that I battled last week but thank goodness preggos can take Zpack and the unseasonably cool Dallas weather was conducive to spending hours in bed reading good books and waiting for James to bring me tacos (naturally). I finally started feeling like myself again on Monday, so I’m grateful I feel better in time for our fun trip.

There’s so much more to catch up on so stay tuned. It feels so good to hop back into a writing rhythm. Happy (almost) weekend!

We’re Having a Baby!

IMG_3236Oh my goodness, we are so, so, SO excited and so beyond grateful that we get to be parents to the sweetest baby girl! We can’t wait to meet our little lovey in July – we are definitely counting down the days. Our amazing families and friends have showered us and baby girl with so much love and joy already. We are so immeasurably blessed by our people and we have been honored to watch them rally around us during this celebratory time! We have been having so much fun preparing our home for our little girl to arrive; particularly, I’ve loved dreaming about the nursery decor. Stay tuned for more fun baby-related posts, and thank you for joining us in our excitement!

Around Here

tumblr_o2py8vpTzt1qkol0qo1_1280Life has felt so full lately, a perfect balance of travel and rest and productivity and fun and a lot of really good time with people I love, especially James. We’ve had friends visit from out of town, hosted barbecues in our backyard (in February!), treated ourselves to foot massages, and tried new restaurants (like Filament, Afrah, Unleavened Kitchen, and Motor Sisters Ice Cream). We went to a monster truck rally (beyond hilarious and entertaining), took Coach on approximately 204,237 walks, cleaned out our closets, and binge-watched House of Cards. We’ve launched individual passion projects (a podcast for me – stay tuned! – and grilling for him), booked an anniversary trip (to Seattle to visit Karli & Nick + to Florida to lay on the beach!), bought a new couch, and taken lots of naps. I spent a weekend in Boulder with my best friends from college, and I celebrated my beautiful bestie, Laura’s, bachelorette weekend in Austin, one of my very favorite places. Tomorrow I head to Florida for the second annual adult spring break, this time with Kyla and our sweet mommas. This year feels like it’s flying by, and while there have definitely been hard days, when I look back at the past few weeks it’s easy to remember how very blessed we are.

Image via Kate Arends / Wit & Delight

Everything You Need

I love, love, love this print I saw at The Butcher’s Daughter during our weekend in Santa Monica. The sentiment “You have everything you need” rings true always, but on the day I saw it I felt particularly struck by the reminder, so much so that I had to snap this photo before we left the restaurant.. It is so, so true, and I certainly need to remember this thought on the days when I am misled into thinking that I need more. I have everything I need.