Here, There & Everywhere

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Oh my goodness, I can’t believe so much time has passed since my last post! I would apologize but, truth be told, as much as I love this sweet space of mine, I am not sorry. It has been refreshing to step away from my screen and enjoy a writing sabbatical of sorts. I feel recharged and inspired and ready to dig back in to Coffee & Tacos. Thank you for your patience and your readership – it means so much.

James & I had the very best time during our European adventures (recaps & photos to come soon, promise!) and there’s been a lot of wonderful things going on around here. Hard things, too, because life is not all pie in the sky, but mostly we have been feeling grateful that we get to travel, cook delicious meals, and savor time with one another and with our amazing community (and with our snuggly puppies, of course!).

Regular posting to resume starting now. It feels good to be back!

Image via pop & scott

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Read Between the Lines

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWe’re back from Lake Tulloch, and suffice it to say, heading back to the office yesterday after our amazing weekend was brutal. It’s always tough to be cooped up inside after a normal weekend, but it’s especially difficult after a holiday, isn’t it? Reuniting with the puppies made everything better, as usual, and fortunately I had an impromptu get-together with Laura and Korena that seriously boosted my mood.

Through various outlets of social media, we all learned that the new paper shop in town, Read Between the Lines, was hosting an event at their store last night. I had been wanting to check out this new spot for several weeks and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Fortuitously, Laura & Korena both expressed interest in going when we all connected over e-mail, so we planned to meet there after work. The event was in full swing when we arrived, and we helped ourselves to refreshing ginger beer cocktails and mini Sprinkles cupcakes. Everything in the store was 20% off (!!!) so we browsed and snagged several gifts for friends (okay, and for ourselves). I wanted everything in the store. Not only is the shop itself so beautifully curated but the stationery, prints, and gifts available for sale are so dreamy as well. The best part was getting to explore Read Between the Lines with two of my favorite gals. It was definitely a pick-me-up, an unexpected blip of joy in the midst of my post-Lake Tulloch self-wallowing, and it was such a treat to explore a darling new shop in town. I can’t wait to go back and stock up on more paper goods!

Favorite Podcasts

c4829bf99a19d1e1e9647d08e5785949After reading The Fringe Hours, I knew that one aspect of my life that needed to change was my commute to work. I was finding myself frustrated at the time that felt wasted while I was driving to and from work, and since public transportation wasn’t a viable option, I needed a way to occupy my time that felt productive. I’ve started praying more while driving, which has made a big difference, and I’ve also queued up a great selection of podcasts to listen to while on the road. These podcasts are so good, in fact, that sometimes I find myself circling the block so I can finish up a story before I get home. Here is a list of some of my favorites, in case you’re looking for something good to listen to:

This American Life

Like most of the country, I was obsessed with Serial last year (and I admit that I still listen to episodes from time to time, just for nostalgia’s sake). After the show ended, I started listening to This American Life, the podcast that hosted the series. Instantly, I was hooked. Each episode has a theme, and from that theme stems a variety of different stories, most that are true and based on real-life people and situations, though some are not. The topics explore cultural conversations and ideas, and they open the eyes of listeners to so many new ways of thinking. If I had to choose my very favorite podcast, This American Life would be it.

Happier

I love Gretchen Rubin’s books, so I was thrilled to learn that the author was starting a podcast based on her writings and research. She hosts Happier with her sister, Elizabeth, and they provide so many good nuggets of information along with ways to make daily life more joyful. Listening to Happier is an instant pick-me-up.

After the Jump

This podcast is hosted by design blogger Grace Bonney, who uses this platform to interview creatives of all kinds – designers, store-owners, entrepreneurs of all sorts – and discuss the inner-workings of the world of present-day artists. I love how the podcast’s website sums it up: “From exploring the day-to-day lives of contemporary makers to discussing the challenges they face, After the Jump will take the conversation off the screen and into real life.”

Bon Appétit

A podcast produced by one of my favorite magazines about one of my favorite topics: food! In a word, this series is delicious. BA Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport covers a variety of food-related topics, sometimes interviewing celebrity chefs, restaurant owners, and cookbook authors, while other times sharing conversation and ideas with staffers from the magazine. My all-time favorite podcast in this series featured interviews with Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay but I also loved this one about Waffle House and this one about the best new restaurants of 2015. Thanks to Bon Appétit, I’m now going to check out a few of their recommended food-focused podcasts, including Radio Cherry Bombe, Burnt Toast, and The Dinner Party Download.

Real Simple

Another podcast produced by one of my favorite magazines, bravo! The two series that I listen to are Things Cooks Know and Adulthood Made Easy, both of which are entertaining, informative, and super easy to listen to.

Good Food

Korena recommended this podcast to me (along with After the Jump, actually) because she knew I would adore all of the food-centric conversations and stories. Which, of course, I do (hence the obsession with the Bon Appétit podcast). The episodes are longer, rounding out an hour or so each, and they make for great marathon listening sessions.

Do you have any podcasts to share? I’d love to add them to my list!

Image via p.s. remember this

Flash Tattoos

5212015_180 5212015_141In December I threw a surprise 30th birthday party for James, and it was a total blast. As an added bonus, I picked up several sets of temporary tattoos (these manly ones for the guys and these gorgeous ones for the girls); I thought they would be fun favors. Little did I know, the tattoo station would be one of the biggest hits of the party (after the beverage cart, of course). Everyone had so much fun selecting their tattoos and adorning them for the rest of the party guests to see.

IMG_8859 IMG_8710 IMG_8872 IMG_8861I had a few of the glittery Flash Tattoos leftover so I packed them in my suitcase when I was getting to ready to go to Ghana in May. On a breezy afternoon during the trip, the older teenage girls and I decided to dig into the stash of tattoos, applying them to their arms and necks and fingers. The jewelry-like tats looked insanely gorgeous on the girls, their dark skin really making them pop, and as I watched them laugh and giggle as they added more glitter to their appendages, I was reminded that these girls – their hearts and stories and reclaimed youth – are worth so much more than gold.

5212015_182I am so excited that, as a result of our fun afternoon in Ghana back in May, Touch A Life and our fabulous teenage girls are featured on Flash Tattoo’s blog today! I was honored to get to write a guest post about the girls, their reaction to the fabulous tattoos, and the story behind our organization. The post turned out beautifully, as did the gorgeous photos by Nancy Borowick. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

With only two other staff members in our Dallas-based office, [co-founder Pam Cope and I] both wear a lot of hats. Pam serves as a visionary for the organization, sharing her story and meeting with like-minded crusaders to champion the cause. I love working with Touch A Life’s friends and supporters, reveling in the opportunity to connect them to the children they support by leading trips to Ghana and creating donor communication strategies. Most of all, we can both agree that the best part of our job is spending time with the children we support. We know that even though we have gotten to be a part of their healing in some small way, they have changed our lives more than we could ever change theirs.

Pop on over to Flash Tattoo’s blog to read the full post, and then head on over to the shop to snag some gorgeous tats for yourself!

Floral Crown Workshop

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAt the end of April, Allison and I spent an evening at a floral crown workshop hosted by one of my favorite local florists, Bows + Arrows (remember when they made this gem for our engagement photos?). Taking a floral crown class had been on my bucket list, so I was supremely excited for our night out. It turned out just as perfectly as we had hoped it would, with the studio full of flowers and treats and champagne and girls ready to learn how to make their masterpieces. Alicia, one of the owners of the studio, taught us how simple it is to make flower crowns, even if you don’t have access to fresh flowers every day. Foraging for pretty greens and buds in your yard or your neighborhood really goes a long way, she said, as long as we narrow down a color scheme, which will help us be consistent. She taught us about which supplies are the most helpful to have on hand (namely floral wire and floral tape), and I bookmarked this helpful tutorial for future crown-making adventures. The tips on this post are so similar to the things we learned in class; I’ll definitely be relying on it for future floral crafting sessions!

IMG_1462 IMG_1588 IMG_1593 IMG_1490 IMG_1491 IMG_1590My favorite part of the class was choosing the florals and greens I would use to make my crown. Every beautiful flower in the studio (yes, every single one) was at our disposal, so it took some time to narrow down a color palette and overall scheme. Peonies are amongst my favorite flowers, so I knew that I had to go with a dark pink version as the focal point of the crown. Everything else just fell into place from there. Alicia definitely helped a lot, but I found myself getting the hang of it towards the end of the evening. I felt like an absolute goddess when I finally placed my creation atop my head and, of course, I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate it in my ensemble on a daily basis.

IMG_1460 IMG_1464 IMG_1591 IMG_1493This workshop was way too much fun, and it was so wonderful to get to share in it with my dear friend Allison. What a perfect evening!

Around Here

Happy summer, the best time of the year! I’ve been traveling like a madwoman this month – since our brother-sister trip to Seattle, I’ve gone home to Chicago to spend Father’s Day weekend with my parents, to Little Rock for a business trip, and I’m heading to Malibu tonight to host a bachelorette party for Becca! Needless to say, there has been lots of coffee & books involved (my favorites being a piping hot flat white & Still Alice, respectively). While I am ready to enjoy some quiet weekends in July, I truly wouldn’t want my life to look any other way – I am so blessed by my travels and adventures.

I’ll definitely be posting some fun recaps when the dust settles, so in the meantime, I’ll be posting photos on Instagram! I’d love for you to tag along.

Fringe Hours

77a739df6567692f00457bfa75adea4fI recently read The Fringe Hours by Jennifer Turner and there were so many good takeaways from the book that I’ve already applied many of them to my everyday life. I admit that I didn’t always relate to the author’s tone, and some of the content didn’t resonate with me (the book seemed mostly geared towards women with young families), but there were some irreplaceable insights in the book that caused me to sit and ponder how I can best use my time. The concept of the book is focused on identifying our fringe hours, the little bits of time that are found in between meetings, while checking out at the grocery store, or while waiting for appointments that collectively add up to create large chunks of time that we can use to pursue our passions, restore our souls, or even knock items off of our to-do lists. In a review about the book, author Laura Vanderkam sums up the concept best:

“Have you ever claimed to be busy but lost an hour to Pinterest? In this gentle yet no-nonsense book, Jessica nudges us to question how we spend our time and to find ways to bring joy into the little and large space of our lives.”

This quote highlights exactly what I loved about the book. The premise initially seems so straightforward, causing me to wonder why I even need to read it – the subject matter appears to be obvious: spend time doing things that are productive and beneficial and you will be a happier, more well-rounded and complete person. But once I started analyzing how you use my fringe hours, I realized that so much of my time that could be life-giving ends up wasted. The book turned m attention to ways that I can be more intentional with the pockets of time that I’ve been gifted with, using them to pursue my dreams or brighten up my days.

While reading The Fringe Hours, I realized that I spend a lot of time waiting, whether in airports or office buildings or restaurants or parking lots. To pass the time, I inevitably end up scrolling through social media feeds, which can be enjoyable sometimes, but usually just numbs my brain. Encouraged by Turner’s insights and advice, I decided to ensure that I have a book with me at all times (especially now that I’m loaded down with great titles thanks to my library card). I’ve found that in just the two weeks since I’ve started tucking books into my bag and stowing them in my car, I’ve actually come to enjoy waiting for airplanes or meetings or appointments; the waiting gives me the chance to dive back into the delicious story I’m reading. The same idea goes with keeping workout clothes and running shoes stashed in my office or my car, making it possible to go for a lunchtime run or pop into an unexpected exercise class after work. Jennifer Turner keeps notecards in her car so she can write letters to people she loves. Those who love drawing can keep sketchpads in their desks; those who love magazines can keep them in their bags and pull them out at a moment’s notice. People who like to take pictures can keep a small camera handy, and people who like to cook can download apps that allow them to categorize recipes on the go. It can take a bit of effort as you plan to have the necessary supplies ready in advance, but the payoff is so, so life-giving. By not wasting precious time and instead using my fringe hours to indulge in my passions and hobbies, I have felt energized and renewed.

One other takeaway I gleaned from the book was related to the way I use my time in the car. I have found myself getting extremely irritable during my daily commute, which can range from 30 – 60 minutes. I tried listening to talk radio but usually ended up on top 40 stations, and I felt frazzled every time I got out of the car, irritated by the fact that I hadn’t used my time to sharpen my mind while driving (I totally wish I could take a train to work so I could read during my commute). Inspired by this post, I subscribed to several podcasts , and mirroring the example above, I find that I no longer dread heading to my car; I actually look forward to it! My favorites are Bon Appétit FoodcastHappier with Gretchen Rubin, and This American Life. Today I even sat in my car for a few extra minutes so I could finish up Bon Appétit’s latest show, which featured fabulous interviews with Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay. The best part about this new practice is that I feel like I’m feeding my mind and my soul during my commute instead of frittering away the precious minutes I’m gifted with each day.

There are so many more ways that I’m looking forward to applying the principles of The Fringe Hours into my daily life in terms of pursuing my dreams and hobbies and interests and relationships, and I can’t wait to provide more feedback here. Have you heard of fringe hours? How could you better construct your day to maximize the gift that is the little pockets of time that can be utilized for your benefit?

P.S. I’m trying out a new blog template – let me know what you think of it!

Image (& decor inspo!) via Ghost Parties

Library Card

Library CardI have always been a voracious reader. My parents still tell stories about how they used to have to pull books out of my hands so I could focus on getting ready for school or eating my breakfast without spilling on myself. I have always been a book person. I totally appreciate tablets and e-readers, especially when travel is concerned, but I love the feel of holding a book in my hands. That being said, I devour books like slices of pizza, rapidly gobbling up the stories contained within them. As much as I adore them, books cost a few bucks, so I had found myself reading less because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice space in my budget to pick up new titles.

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, she talks about identifying the problem as the main way of overcoming an obstacle. When I started feeling frustrated that I had been reading less and began contemplating why that was, I realized that I wasn’t in a place to spend a ton of money on books. I can usually read three books a week, so that would come to about 12 books per month, totaling somewhere close to $2,400 per year! So the problem, then, was money. How should I overcome this problem? I don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner, but the answer was so simple: get a library card and check out books for free.

I had dragged my feet on this, for some reason fearing that the process of getting a library card would be tedious and lengthy. But on a gray Sunday at the end of April, I finally took the plunge and I cannot tell you how my heart palpitated once I realized that all of the books in the public library were at my disposal (besides, the whole card process took a whole two minutes). I was like a kid in a candy store, looking up titles (and, frankly, re-training myself on the methods of the Dewey Decimal System), checking out books, and adding myself to wait-lists for popular works. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading, and have since knocked out six delicious titles:

  1. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg – my favorite of the bunch!
  2. The Fringe Hours: Secrets to Making Time for You by Jennifer Turner – really applicable tips found here, though the tone/writing style wasn’t always quite my taste; an easy & quick read nonetheless.
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – so captivating, albeit a bit dark, with a touching budding romance at the center of the story.
  4. The Circle by Dave Eggers – a powerful commentary on social media + an amazing narrative.
  5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – this book was even more engaging than I could have imagined, as I’d heard/read about it for months. I couldn’t put it down!
  6. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott – another winner by an author I love. There were some amazing gems in here, though I could have used a little more meat in some sections.

Now I’m starting The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, which is actually a book that Mom lent me. And here are the books from the library that I just picked up yesterday:

  1. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
  2. The Chaperone by Liane Moriarty
  3. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich
  5. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  6. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
  7. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield

As you can see, I’m going nuts over my new library card – I feel like I’ve been given a new sense of freedom, and I’m loving getting back into a reading routine (especially before going to bed – it’s so relaxing!). It’s the best move I’ve made in recent history.

Have you been reading anything good lately? If so, I’d love to have your recommendations!

Photo of a darling little mobile library in Dallas via my dear friend, Elizabeth Corley

Bluebonnets

IMG_5080Each year I get so excited for April for a myriad of reasons – because it stays lighter longer, because it’s porch season in Dallas, and (now!) because it’s the month of our wedding anniversary. But maybe my favorite reason of all is because it’s bluebonnet season in Texas. These gorgeous blooms sprout up for one month each year and they cover miles and miles of territory in the Lone Star State, making them a natural choice for our state flower. Two years ago Kyla and I spent an afternoon traversing the Bluebonnet Trail in Ennis, a small town about 45 minutes outside of Dallas. We were itching to go again this year so we made a plan to head out there this afternoon, this time with a picnic and our puppies in tow! Zillions of photos to follow, I promise, but for now, enjoy some pictures from last time’s adventure (silly faux senior portraits included).

P.S. Remember this video that Laura made of us frolicking in a field of bluebonnets on our way home from Austin?

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Career Feature on The Everygirl

www.nbarrettphotography.comI am so, so, so excited to share that I am featured on The Everygirl today! I am still pinching myself that this dream has become a reality. I read The Everygirl on a daily basis, so, without sounding like a total narcissist, it’s unbelievably exciting to see myself on the home page. Most importantly, I’m thrilled that this post showcases Touch A Life, the amazing organization for which I serve as the Director of Project Development. I hope readers will be inspired by the story behind the foundation, and maybe even a few people will want to get involved!

I am so totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for this post – thank you to my amazing family and friends for cheering me on today! Thank you, too, to the incredibly awesome and talented Natalie Shelton for taking these special photos. And, of course, thank you to The Everygirl for being such a wonderful place where women can be encouraged and inspired every single day.

Head on over to The Everygirl to read the post and my interview, and check out some of Natalie’s fabulous photos below!

www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com www.nbarrettphotography.com