Lately

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!

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. 

Week & End

tumblr_n3n73wHzYe1s79rl8o1_1280Happy Friday from the best coast! A full recap of my time in California will come soon, but for now, enjoy some fun links! Have a great weekend.

I loved this wine & food pairings post. My favorite combination is one that James and I enjoy frequently – macaroni & cheese + Chardonnay!

I adore all things Clare Vivier, so I really enjoyed this tour of her Los Angeles studio. Isn’t it gorgeous? It also makes me want to add several more bags to my ever-growing collection, stat.

I’ve recently been learning more about Paul Quinn College, a school based in Dallas, and it was neat to see Michael Sorrell featured in this list of America’s ten most innovative college presidents. The school’s vision, as summed up in the piece, is so fascinating:

“[Sorrell] disbanded the football team, no easy task in Dallas, and literally turned the field into a farm. The team had been costing $600,000 a year, according to Yahoo Sports, and Sorrell said it would have cost $2 million to save. The farm is operated by students (who are paid for their work), and the resulting produce is sold to local grocers and restaurants, used at the college, or donated to local charities. Students aren’t just picking vegetables—they’re working on the business end, too, getting paid professional experience with a service twist. It’s all part of Sorrell’s vision for what he calls the “New Urban College Model”—a work school that emphasizes local businesses rather than manual labor (like at rural counterparts).”

This post totally affirmed my belief in never washing my jeans. Hurray!

This book keeps popping up everywhere and I’m totally drawn in by the premise: the author cooks her way through recipes featured in wonderful books (think everything from The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Gone Girl). It’s a combination of two of my favorite things – reading & cooking – and while I super love using my library card to check out books, this title might just be one that I have to purchase.

Image via Topo Designs

Los Angeles & The Yellow Conference

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetI am so excited to be heading back to the best coast again today – I’ve been there every month since May, how lucky is that?!

Remember last year when I dreamed of attending the Yellow Conference? Lauren and I put our heads together in January and started setting the wheels in motion for both of us to attend the event. We bought our tickets, booked our flights, and time flew by as we giddily anticipated our adventure together. I can’t believe the conference is here already! We leave for Los Angeles this afternoon and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re staying at the Ace Hotel, and we’re hoping to enjoy a delicious dinner at one of my favorite spots in Koreatown, The Commissary at the Line Hotel, after we arrive tonight.

Over the weekend, I’m going to stay with Andrew. He’s hosting a cocktail fundraiser party to benefit Touch A Life on Saturday evening, which is going to be so fun! I’m stoked that I get to spend good quality time with him while I’m in his neck of the woods.

Happy Wednesday, and enjoy the rest of your week!

Photo from Becca’s bachelorette weekend in Malibu in June…more pictures to come!

Napa Valley

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWe are spending the weekend in Napa Valley to celebrate Mom’s birthday and it’s so much fun to be all together! We realized that this is actually our first Johnson-Brown family vacation, the first time the five of us have traveled together to somewhere other than where one of us lives. It’s so fun to explore wine country together, especially as we celebrate Mom’s special day.

We actually arrived on Thursday and have been doing so many fun things – savoring our hotel in Yountville, wine-tasting at some of our favorite wineries, eating delicious food, soaking up the sun at the pool, and enjoying lots of new adventures together. A full recap will come when we return, but for now, back to the wine! Happy Saturday to you & yours!

Mother’s Day

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I know that Mother’s Day was yesterday but I felt so inspired to write a post about it – better late than never, right? I got back from California late last night and I was so thrilled to have gotten to celebrate Mother’s Day in person with my momma. We had the perfect day – I took an early morning SoulCycle class (where I was given the fabulous pink Mom tattoos that Andrew’s rocking in the photo above) before we all had a delicious brunch at one of our favorite Santa Monica spots, Huckleberry. We noshed on fried egg sandwiches, lentils with feta and swiss chard, and tons of desserts – a strawberry tartlet, a vanilla ginger donut, a mixed berry crumble, and the most perfect lemon bar I’ve had in a good long while. We spent the rest of the afternoon taking in the Los Angeles skyline from the Griffith Observatory. The weather was divine and the sky was crystal clear, and we all had so much fun together.

My mom has taught me so much, more than I could ever try to convey here. She is a role model to me in so many ways and I love how adventurous she is – together we’ve traveled all over the world (she’s heading to Ghana with me next week, and it will be her sixth trip to West Africa), explored hundreds of amazing places, and eaten so much delicious food (okay, and drank so much delicious wine). I know that I can speak for Andrew when I say that she’s just the best.

Yesterday I read a beautiful post by Max Wanger on Instagram (originally from his wife, Margeaux) that I just had to share in light of Mother’s Day:

“To all of you who are already moms. To all of you who are soon-to-be moms. To all of you who long to be moms. To all of you who are missing your moms. To all of you who have experienced the joy of giving your entire heart to another living being, human or not. You are amazing and you are loved.”

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to my beautiful mom! I love you!

Pepperdine University

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This afternoon I’m heading out to my alma mater, Pepperdine University, and I’m so, so excited to be back on campus. I’m actually getting to go to Malibu for my job, as Touch A Life’s work in Ghana is being featured in the university’s annual Bible Lectures. Pepperdine has a beautiful art museum on campus, so an exhibit is going to be set up to showcase paintings from the children at our Care Center as well as photographs by our amazing friend, Nancy Borowick. We’ve been working hard on getting everything ready, so I can’t wait to see the exhibit come to fruition.

Of course, I also can’t wait to be on the best coast. Malibu holds one of the most special places in my heart and revisiting the small quirky beachside town always gets me all sorts of emotional. Malibu is the place where I really came into my own as a young woman, and it’s the spot where I met the very best friends on the planet. It is going to be so good to be back.

For fun, here are two posts (one here, the other here) from my last two overnight stays on Pepperdine’s campus. I love looking at old photos and reflecting on all of the amazing memories from college. What a beautiful place!

San Francisco

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWe’re experiencing California-like temperatures here in Dallas this week (a high of 77 degrees today, eee!), and the weather instantly transports me to the wonderful trip I took to San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and Big Sur with Mom and Andrew in November. It’s about time that I finally share some photos, and I have to break them up into parts since each location easily deserves its own post. Up first: San Francisco.

Mom and I flew into San Francisco on a Thursday, and though I’ve been to northern California a dozen times since I graduated from college, I hadn’t gotten a chance to explore San Francisco on its own in such a long time. Mom and I had so much fun together. After we landed, our first stop was at Craftsman and Wolves, a hipster coffee shop and patisserie that I had been dying to try, and there we encountered the most delicious treat of all time – the rebel within, the dreamiest and most curious savory muffin stuffed with a perfectly poached egg (now I have to try to recreate it). We wandered around the neighborhood, popping into lots of little shops, my favorite being Little Paper Planes. Later we met my cousin and her fiancé for dinner at Nopa, sharing cocktails and lots of delicious small plates. The next day we woke up feeling refreshed and took a long luxurious stroll near the water, meandering over to Saint Frank for more hipster (and delicious!) coffee and breakfast. We strolled past Lombard Street, finding ourselves out of breath as we hiked through the hilly streets. We headed to Plow for a super-late brunch, which was just divine (three words: lemon ricotta pancakes), and then made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge – the day was too beautiful to pass up a photo shoot with the gorgeous landmark. We took a pitstop at the Painted Ladies before strolling through Hayes Valley, the cutest little strip of shops and restaurants.

Looking back, I can’t believe how much we packed into our San Francisco schedules in such a short amount of time. It was perfect!

Stay tuned: Half Moon Bay is next.

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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