Week & End

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Dang, y’all, it’s Friday already? No complaints here, of course, but I apologize for my lack of posts the past couple of days! The short workweek threw me off a bit and time just seemed to fly by.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m hosting a small group retreat at our house tonight and I’m so excited for quality time with some of my favorite ladies. We’re going to make our own pizzas (experimenting with combinations like fig, prosciutto & arugula), drink wine, and have a slumber party – so fun! The rest of the weekend will be fairly low-key, which is just lovely.

Have a fabulous Friday & enjoy some fun links from around the web!

James & I are so beyond excited that the second season of Derek is now available on Netflix! We plan to hunker down with a bottle of wine and blow through all of the new episodes in one sitting (yep, we love the show that much).

After the aforementioned shared bottle of wine, James & I are starting our quarterly 10-day AdvoCare cleanse. I used to dread having to give up dairy, alcohol, sugar, and caffeine (amongst other treats, like pizza and chips with queso) for an extended period of time but now that I’ve got a few cleanses under my belt, I’m actually looking forward to it – I feel so energized afterwards.

Speaking of the cleanse, this looks like a delicious (and healthy!) smoothie that I need to make in the very near future.

I love all of Sugar & Cloth’s IKEA hacks – I definitely want to recreate her headboard and nightstands. Add this pretty bar cart to the list, too.

I have enjoyed The Atelier’s stationery for awhile now but I’ve never taken the plunge and ordered any paper products. These striped shirt notecards as well as these palm leaf cards have pushed me over the edge – I must have both!

Photo via The Brick House

Mesa

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There is no shortage of delicious Mexican cuisine in Dallas, certainly, but there always seems to be room for more spots with menus boasting delicious treats from south of the border. Even though I have my favorite Mexican staples around town, I never pass up the chance to try out a new fiesta-flavored spot, and Mesa was certainly no exception. In March one of my Matrons of Honor, Erin, and I had a night in Dallas to ourselves before the rest of our best gals arrived for my bachelorette festivities, so we headed to Oak Cliff to try out the newest hot-spot. We had to circle the block a few times before finding Mesa, a small restaurant nestled into a strip on Jefferson Boulevard. We snuck inside just before happy hour ended and snagged a quiet table near the bar, ordering margaritas (a spicy version for Erin) and guacamole to start the night off.

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Our margaritas were out-of-this-world, necessitating a second round. They were extremely flavorful without being sugary or sweet. My drink was the perfect blend of lime juice, tequila, and nectar agave, and Erin’s beverage, made with habanero serrano tequila, was undoubtedly special. The guacamole was polished off in moments, making us consider another order, but we diversified and chose to order some ceviche instead. Being the foodies that we are, we had scoured the menu earlier in the week, deciding that we wanted to split the vegetarian enchiladas for dinner. We munched on our tasty, fresh ceviche (complete with more of the homemade chips that we had devoured alongside the guacamole) and chatted excitedly about our entree, which turned out as beautifully as we hoped: we were served a plate of delicious julienned vegetables wrapped in homemade tortillas and topped with an incredibly flavorful mole & black bean sauce, so we rolled up our sleeves to dig in. To say that was delicious would not be giving the dish enough credit.

The gist? I can’t wait to get back to Mesa. In fact, I’m sort of ashamed that I haven’t dined there since March. I’ve got my eye on the black bean & chicken enchiladas as well as the lobster enchiladas. Who wants to meet me there, say, tonight?

Week & End

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It’s Memorial Day Weekend, eeeeee! Exactly one year ago yesterday, James & I got engaged – so cool! To celebrate, we headed to Chicago for a mini-Johnson family reunion, which was a total blast. This year we’re spending the weekend in Dallas doing lots of fun things with friends. Last night we were at a benefit concert hosted by the Cones & their friends from their church community, the Kellums – The Black Frames played (and James got to do a cameo on his fiddle, so fun!) and the proceeds of the event benefitted Touch A Life. Does it get any more awesome than that? Tonight we’re having friends over for a backyard barbecue, and on Sunday we’ll meet more friends for dinner at Hopdoddy & a game night (where a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity will definitely be involved). I plan to soak up the sun on Monday and convince James to take me out for a Mambo Taxi (or two). Three cheers for three day weekends!

And now, for some fun links from around the web…

Everyone (including myself, clearly) has been posting gorgeous pictures of peonies & I don’t blame them – they’re in season right now and they make me so happy! I picked some up at Trader Joe’s for our house and my office and I need to read up on how to care for them so they last for as long as possible.

I am obsessed with Daily Greens juice (made in Austin but widely distributed in Dallas, even at my yoga studio) – I drank a bottle of the Harmony juice every day while we were in Austin for our wedding festivities, even on the big day itself! When I read that they are opening a juice bar where they’ll also serve cocktails, I nearly fainted – what a delicious concept.

There are so many good new restaurants cropping up around town. I want to try Pecan Lodge, Top Pot Doughnuts, and Stock & Barrel.

Wouldn’t it be fun to host a build-your-own sliders party?

These sandals! Swoon. So perfect for summer!

31 Bits

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In June my fabulous friend Lauren and I are hosting a party to benefit 31 Bits, a super cool cause-oriented company that sells fabulous jewelry & accessories. Here’s what 31 Bits is all about, per their website:

Our model is to empower people through the fashion industry. We work with our beneficiaries in Uganda to create fashionable, quality products. They earn an income enabling them to provide for their families. We care for them holistically through counseling, health education, finance training, and business mentorships. After five years in our program, our beneficiaries are ready to graduate. A graduated beneficiary has her own business and is educated, health, and confident. She is empowered. And guess what? Everything we do is funded through product sales. That means every time you make a 31 Bits purchase, you have a direct impact on women’s lives in Uganda.

Lauren is on the precipice of launching her own company called Else Agency (website coming soon!). With a background in fashion merchandising, Lauren has worked in showrooms for the likes of Ella Moss and Splendid. She loves fashion and style but she grew a little weary of doing something that didn’t have a direct impact on bettering the world. Lauren and her husband (Patrick, of wedding video fame!) are amazing travelers, dear friends of ours who went to Ghana with me last summer. They are incredible servants in their church community in Dallas and they have a heart for using their talents and skills to make the world a better place. So Lauren started dreaming of starting a company that would allow her to work as a fashion rep for cause-oriented groups, companies like 31 Bits. She’s already scored accounts with 31 Bits and Sseko and when her business launches itself into the world wide web, I have no doubt that she’ll be well on her way to obtaining more amazing like-minded clients.

But I digress! When Lauren told me about her new life plan, I wanted to celebrate, and what better way to do that than by hosting a party to benefit one of the companies she represents? 31 Bits makes it unbelievably easy and fun to host a party on the company’s behalf – the sign-up process was simple and quick. Lauren and I have already started dreaming about all of the fun details of the party (which we’ve aptly called Bites, Sips & 31 Bits – catchy, right?), including a build-your-own Prosecco bar that we knew had to be incorporated into the scheme of things the minute we spotted it online. Tonight Lauren is coming over to help me make this super cute coffee filter garland that will serve as decor at the party, and we’ll drink bubbly and giggle and probably watch the wedding video a time or five. I can’t wait!

Image via 31 Bits

Wedding Video

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much we love the insanely perfect wedding video that our talented friend & videographer, Patrick Cone, shot and created for us. He captured our wedding day (and the events leading up to it, including our proposal) in a way only a genius/close friend can – it’s like Patrick read our minds and snagged footage of all of our favorite moments. Enjoy this beautiful piece – I promise that it will make you laugh & cry! Thank you, Patrick, for blessing us with this incredible keepsake!

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Last Monday was a dreary, stormy day in Dallas, so icky and gross that our plans for the evening were canceled, leaving us giddy at the prospect of a low-key night at home. James and I had already planned on making a delicious dinner but we decided to branch out and whip up a tasty dessert, too – after all, I felt the need to celebrate since I had tackled both the Social Security office and the DMV all in one day in an attempt to knock out as many items on my name change to-do list as possible (that’s definitely a cause for celebration, right?). While at the DMV on Monday evening, I answered e-mails and texted friends and checked my bank account and trolled Pinterest where, lo and behold, I found a recipe that nearly made me salivate: Peanut Butter Cup Pie.

The list of ingredients was manageable, and while there were a few additional things that I needed, I decided that with the crazy rain (and the unpredictable drivers), I didn’t want to have to run to the store. So James and I improvised using baking supplies we already had at home. The result was an insanely delicious, distinctly non-vegan version of the Minimalist Baker’s pie, a treat that was so irresistible that we finished it in two days (and then went running for a really long time…#worthit). This pie is definitely going to be in our recipe rotation forever and always.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Adapted recipe (& photo) inspired via Minimalist Baker

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Ingredients:

  • Graham cracker pie crust (or you can make your own, per Minimalist Baker’s instructions)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (we used Earth Balance for the first time & loved it)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip topping (or you can make your own, per Minimalist Baker’s instructions)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (we used 1 full cup, per the instructions, and while it resulted in some delicious, chocolatey goodness, we felt like we’d be okay with a touch less)
  • 1/3 cup milk (we used whole but next time we want to try almond)
  • Coarse sea salt (like Maldon) or crushed, salted peanuts

Directions:

  1. Add cream cheese, peanut butter, and honey to a bowl and use a hand mixer to blend together, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more honey for sweetness or a pinch of salt if your peanut butter isn’t salty enough.
  2. Fold the peanut butter-cream cheese mixture into the Cool Whip using the hand mixer. Blend slowly and steadily.
  3. Pour filling into the crust and pop into the freezer to chill for about one hour. Once it’s fairly chilled and slightly firm, prepare your ganache.
  4. Add chocolate chips to a bowl and heat your milk to a low simmer. Then pour the milk over the chocolate chips. Don’t touch the mixture for about five minutes, letting the chocolate chips melt. Then stir gently with a spoon or a rubber spatula until a smooth ganache forms.
  5. Spoon the ganache over the top of the pie and spread in an even layer with a knife or spatula, working quickly as the ganache will get clumpy if it sets too long.
  6. Top with flaky sea salt or crushed, salted peanuts (optional) and pop back into the freezer to set. 20 minutes before serving, remove from the freezer and serve.
  7. After the initial chill, store the pie in the refrigerator to maintain a smooth but firm consistency. Keep it fresh by covering it with plastic wrap.

 

Calligraphy Brunch

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It’s Monday once again, but don’t despair – this time next week we’ll be celebrating Memorial Day, wahoo!

Yesterday I got to take a fantastic workshop: a Calligraphy Brunch with the über talented Lauren Essl. The workshop, hosted by Fullosophie, was held at Chicken Scratch + The Foundry, a restaurant & bar that I love for its amazing outdoor space, super cool decor, and beyond delicious chicken dishes. There was a group of 15 women ready to learn calligraphy, and we kicked off the class with salads, bottomless mimosas, and supremely tasty chicken and waffles.

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The weather was absolutely perfect so we started class outdoors, munching on our brunches on picnic tables while we learned the basics of calligraphy from Lauren. After a brief and helpful overview, we got set up inside The Foundry, the bar area of the space, and got to work with our pens, nibs, and lettering samples. Lauren was such a good teacher – informative, encouraging, and helpful. She answered individual questions quickly and kindly, and she made her rounds at the table, pausing for each person to show us samples of her lettering, all the way through the alphabet (yep, from A to Z). She made us adorable packets of take-home goodies, including a personalized notebook, a fun pink pen, washi tape, ink, extra nibs for our calligraphy pens, and a pretty notecard with a bright, fun envelope.

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Calligraphy is a whole lot harder than it looks – although, actually, I never thought it looked easy in the first place. Everything from the way you hold the pen to how much pressure you put on the nib is calculated precisely, and it took me awhile to get a handle on this new way of writing. In spite of the challenge, I found that calligraphy is really fun and it’s sort of relaxing in a way – it’s almost like it’s therapeutic. Anyway, I can’t wait to continue practicing so that someday I can address letters and make my own notecards and such – don’t you think it would be cute to have a large XO on a notecard, something similar to what I was working on below?

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If you ever have the opportunity to take one of Lauren Essl’s workshops, I highly recommend that you sign up immediately – not only are they fun and interesting but they also sell out in a heartbeat. I learned so much and had an absolute blast, and Lauren was a fabulous teacher. Fullosophie did a great job hosting the brunch, too! It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

Week & End

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We made it to Friday! Do you have big plans for the weekend? I have nothing on the agenda tonight or tomorrow, aside from a City Surf sweat sesh or two (and maybe some champagne drinking in the backyard with some girlfriends). On Sunday, I’m so excited to take attend Calligraphy Brunch workshop at taught by the super talented Lauren Essl. Not only have I always wanted to take a beginners calligraphy class but I also have always wanted to learn from Lauren, who I actually met at the Dallas Flea when she was designing stationery and other fun paper products back in 2011. Calligraphy lesson + mimosas – is there anything better?

Have a fabulous weekend, and enjoy some fun links from around the world wide web:

I really liked this post about establishing a reflective routine. It got me to thinking about doing a better job of intentionally creating my own time to read my Bible, pray, journal, or simply just think. Mornings (especially on weekends) are such a lovely time to do this but I often exercise before work on the weekdays, cramping my a.m. reflection/relaxation style just a bit. Maybe doing something in the afternoon or around lunchtime would be a better fit…

Have you tried using rosehip seed oil as a facial cleanser? After reading this post and doing a little research, I decided to take the plunge an order some. I’ll let you know how it goes! (I got some of the dry shampoo that she refers to, too, in case you were wondering.)

On a whim, James and I made a distinctly non-vegan version of this delicious peanut butter cup pie on Monday night and it was to die for. Recipe to follow!

If someone can tell me where these hilarious cocktail napkins are from, I will send you candy & hugs.

We’re a few months late but James and I watched the series finale of Dexter last night and my initial reaction was to loathe the ending (no spoiler alerts here, don’t worry!). But after reading this interview with the show’s producers, it gave me a new perspective that helped me appreciate the conclusion so much more. If you watched all eight seasons of Dexter like we did, what did you think of the finale?

P.S. Happiest of birthdays (on Sunday) to my amazing, loving, and generous dad! I wish we could drink wine and celebrate together!

Image via SF Girl By Bay & Toby Scott

Garage Sale Fundraiser

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Today I did a bit of heavy lifting along with some sorting and organizing and shifting and moving for a garage sale that my friend Jessica and I are hosting in September. We’ve signed up to participate in a Fence Fundraiser campaign to help Touch A Life  build a fence around their Care Center in Ghana, a beautiful space where formerly trafficked and exploited children are free to live, grow, and heal. As the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, I can confidently say that this Care Center is making an enormous difference in the lives of the children in Ghana, and also (maybe even especially) in the lives of our U.S.-based staff (myself included) and supporters.

I love the idea of hosting a garage sale to raise money for a cause – you simultaneously get to declutter your home while making a difference in the lives of others. We’re starting our collection process early, gathering tons of goodies that we hope people will be anxious to buy. Our families and friends have our sale on their calendars (September 6th!) because we are going to need all the help we can get.

The best part? You can host a sale, too! Sign up at Touch A Life’s website to have your own garage sale to benefit this project. Gather up your gently used items, collaborate with your family and friends and community, and commit to hosting a sale that will raise money to support some of the most beautiful children on the planet. Join us, won’t you?

Wedding Florals

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One of the elements that I was most excited about planning for our wedding was the flowers. I was thrilled to get to work with the über talented Nouveau Romantics (who style all of the florals for one of my favorite bloggers, Camille Styles – check out their studio tour featured here), which is why I nearly fainted when they sent me the floral proposal for our wedding. They knew that I wanted to incorporate succulents, ranunculus, and trailing greenery into the overall scheme of things, so they took that inspiration and ran with it. They sent me the most elaborate, beautifully laid out document that highlighted all of the flowers they wanted to use on our special day, ranging from posies and garden roses to sweet peas and herbs. I was blown away by how much I loved their selections; it was like they had read my mind. The florals turned out so perfectly – I can’t even really begin to describe how much I loved the outcome. My favorite arrangements were my bridal bouquet, my flower crown, and Callie’s flower collar. In fact, on our honeymoon I told James that I wished I could still a) be wearing my wedding dress and b) be carrying my gorgeous bridal bouquet around with me. Le sigh.

Enjoy some photos of our wedding florals from the fabulous Heather Hawkins, as well as a peek at the floral design proposal that we used to make our selections!

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