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

Birthday Surprises

IMG_1937 (1)I have been basking in my 30th birthday celebrations for nearly three weeks now, reveling in the thoughtfulness of my loved ones, all of whom made me feel so incredibly special on my big day. First of all, I have to announce that the $30 for 30 campaign raised $2,500 – I am so blown away! Thank you, thank you to those who gave to Touch A Life – your gift means the world to me and to the amazing children in our care.

IMG_1939My birthday party itself was an absolute joy. Kyla and Laura planned a gorgeous evening that started with Mambo taxis, chips, and guacamole at Mi Cocina, where we sat in a special secretive bar area on the top floor of the restaurant. When I walked in, I was so stunned to see my mom there – she had flown in from Chicago just to celebrate my birthday! I was so excited. Isn’t that such an amazing gesture? It meant so much!

IMG_1866 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset IMG_1816After noshing on beverages and snacks, we made our way over to Rise for soups, soufflés, and Champagne. We got to sit in the most gorgeous part of the restaurant, a cove of sorts surrounded by birch trees encircled in sparkly white lights. I looked around the table in awe as I thanked God for the amazing women who have become my home team here in Dallas. I felt so blessed.

IMG_1820 IMG_1938 IMG_1812The girls presented me with the most thoughtful gift – a darling clutch filled with 30 letters from 30 special people in my life. I struggled not to cry as I thanked them for this amazing gesture. Since birthdays should last all month long (right?!), I have been reading one letter every day, and I am seriously overwhelmed by the kind things my loved ones have written.

IMG_1845 IMG_1858On my actual birthday, the 3rd, Mom joined me at the ESPA at the Joule Hotel, which was the perfect birthday treat. I hadn’t been to the spa since my bachelorette party and I had been dying to go back, and the whole day was made so much better with my mom in tow! We had coffee and donuts at Weekend Coffee before spending four blissful hours at the spa, indulging in our treatments, our bento box lunches, and the complimentary shortbread cookies that seemed to continually reappear at our sides. It was dreamy.

That night we spent a low-key evening in with James and the pups, noshing on pizza and drinking wine and reflecting on the whole whirlwind celebration. Loved ones near and far made me feel so incredibly spoiled; it was almost difficult to take it in. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to enter my 30s. Cheers to an amazing year ahead!

Countdown to 30

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI absolutely cannot believe that my 30th birthday is next week. Next week! Honestly, I have no qualms about leaving my 20s and entering into my 30s. I feel so grateful for the life I’ve led so far and for all of the goodness that has occurred in my 20s – graduating from college, landing my dream job, moving to Dallas, getting married, becoming a puppy mama, traveling the world. Admittedly, there have been seriously hard times and I’ve made plenty of mistakes throughout this past decade, but overall I look back upon my 20s so, so fondly. I learned and grew and stretched. I prayed and played and worked; I cooked and read and ran. I cried and laughed and hopped on planes and took road trips. I made memories and photo books and the very best friends. I am excitedly anticipating my 30s, as I expect that amidst life’s inevitable hardship and sorrow, there will be endless amounts of joy, newness, richness, and beauty – and for that, I am grateful.

On a lighter note, I am beyond thrilled and honored that my girlfriends are throwing me a birthday dinner here in Dallas next week. They created and mailed out the gorgeous invitation pictured above – isn’t it fabulous? I feel so known & loved, and I can’t wait to celebrate with so many of my favorite women on the planet!

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!

Village Baking Co. Boulangerie

Mom & Dad came to visit a few weekends ago, and on Saturday morning Mom & I snuck away to Village Baking Co. Boulangerie to reward ourselves for completing a super-sweaty Bikram yoga class. We had discovered the original outpost a few years earlier, but since then the company expanded and built a boulangerie on the other side of town. We determined that this new-to-us expansion was reason enough to justify a visit, so we made our way over to lower Greenville Avenue, where there’s been a revival of restaurants over the last couple of years. Situated in between several new eateries is Village Baking Co. Boulangerie, inviting with its darling patio and the wafting aromas of baked goods and coffee. The interior decor is just as you’d imagine a classic French bakery to be, with white-washed walls and gorgeous pastries glistening behind glass cases. After debating between several scrumptious-looking options, Mom and I ordered a pretzel croissant, a lemon tart, and a pistachio éclair, all of which were just heavenly. We drank almond milk lattes and savored our treats, our environment, and our time with each other. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

Week & End

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHappy Friday! This has been a wonky week; due to Callie’s surgery, I stayed home to play nurse for a few days so it feels like time was simultaneously dragging on and flying by. Tonight we’re meeting our dear friends Allison & Taylor for dinner at True Food Kitchen. Allison is due any day now, and we can’t wait to meet her sweet girl, Ruby! The photo above is of the gorgeous (and beyond delicious) cake we feasted on at a celebration for Ruby last Saturday – isn’t it perfect? Tomorrow we’re meeting another set of beloved friends, Korena & Ian, at one of our favorite sushi spots in town. Other than that we’ll be snuggling with our pups, reading books in the backyard (I am totally loving Picnic in Provence), and whipping up a treat or two in the kitchen.

Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy some links from around the world wide web!

I trend toward minimalism as it is, possibly even obnoxiously so – I tend to get rid of nearly everything, sometimes even before someone is finished using it. Still, this 30-day minimalism challenge piques my interest. What do you think, would you try it?

Madewell + Sézane: the 2015 collaboration is HERE! I want everything, especially this, this, and this.

I loved this post that my friend Briton wrote about moving to Dallas. She just arrived from Boulder last month and she’s adjusting to life in Texas. We were introduced by one of my closest friends, Erin, and it’s been so much fun spending time together. I loved reading her sentiments on her blog; they reminded me so much of my emotional process when I moved here nearly six years ago. Her wisdom is inspiring!

While at the ranch last weekend, my sister-in-law and I went to Childress Farm to pick fresh peaches (more on that adventure soon!). I watched Ina Garten make fresh peach cake on her show and knew that was exactly how I needed to use my delicious produce.

Does anyone else follow Marnie The Dog on Instagram? She is a 12-year-old Shih Tzu and I’m basically obsessed with every photo (and hilarious caption!) that her owner posts.

Week & End

325348c2dc8ccaf7872e680798ef5960Happy Friday! We’ve had dreary weather here in Dallas lately but the forecast has taken a turn – the high is supposed to be in the 70s for the next week! So that means tomorrow Callie is going on a long walk at White Rock Lake with her furry friend, Franklin (Kyla’s sweet pup). Tonight I’m meeting my girlfriends at Mi Cocina for our favorite Mambo Taxis, which I think is just the most perfect way to cap off the work week.

Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy some links from around the world wide web!

Last week, the daughter of Touch A Life’s co-founders, Tatum Cope, wrote an incredibly moving blog post about meeting her birth mom in Vietnam this past summer. You’ll have to keep reminding yourself that she is only 16 years old – her wisdom definitely transcends her age.

I enjoy maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one that focuses on consuming wholesome, quality, unprocessed foods and exercising daily, but I always like to treat myself (see: Mambo Taxis). In this day and age, it sometimes feels like a crime to enjoy an occasional dessert, a beautifully-garnished cocktail, or, my favorite, a glorious pizza binge. So on that note, Sarah Yates’s hilarious definitive guide to healthy eating cracked me up. The blogger is actually a very clean eater (her healthy diet is a tool she uses to fight against Crohn’s disease, a condition from which she suffers) so to see that even she is annoyed by the contradictions present in everyday media was a relief. I think she sums it up best here: “There is no one right answer, no one right way, no one size fits all approach to health.” Amen!

Kyla was the first person to tell me that, in spite of my (mostly) outgoing personality, I am actually an introvert because I gain energy from being alone (vs. being with others). I found this to be quite the revelation, so I’ve shared the insight with others, including Korena, who realized that she is an outgoing introvert, too. She sent me this hilarious link and I confess that it. is. so. me. Especially #3, #4 (sorry, Mom!), #6, and #7.

I have been slowly but surely making the transition to using more natural beauty products, and based on this recommendation, I snagged Thayers Witch Hazel Toner with Rose Petal. I love it already!

Last night we made these black bean burritos and they were delicious (we also learned how to make quick-pickled onions – who knew it was so easy?!). The bean filling would be good with just about everything. In fact, I used the mixture to make a quick breakfast taco this morning – so tasty!

Image via lark & linen

Book & Culture Club

d5cdc04762d6023a3d805d38e689d4f1I find it so dang cool that I have been a part of my book club in Dallas for four whole years. I have written about book club time and time again because I love it with my whole heart. We have read great books and enjoyed time together around the table, building a sweet little community that I cherish so much. I feel so grateful for the time we’ve spent together. Because of the experiences we have together on a monthly basis (born out of our shared love for books), many of us have traveled together, set up double dates with our manfriends, babysat each other’s children (and dogs), and offered a shoulder to cry on. We’ve become a tribe.

Last week Melanie, Elizabeth, and I met at Allison’s house for dinner. We brought cookbooks, per the meeting’s theme, and pored over recipes, snapping pictures with our phones so we could remember lists of ingredients and cooking directions. We drank wine and ate Allison’s quinoa salad with autumn vegetables and popcorn studded with pretzels and M&Ms. While we read and drank and ate, we chatted about things we’d like to do as a group in the future – attend lectures, take cooking classes, see documentaries, visit special museum exhibits, go to plays. And suddenly a new facet of book club was formed – culture club.

Our idea is this: instead of simply reading books and meeting in one another’s home on a monthly basis (which, don’t get me wrong, we still love), we’ll choose titles to read on our own and then pick fun activities in Dallas that we can do as a group. Occasionally we’ll regroup in a home, gathering around the table for great food and fun conversation (about life and love and travel and recipes and the books we’ve read), but we’ll be out and about more, experiencing so many of the exciting things that our sweet city has to offer.

So next month we’ll be reading Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes Please (I can’t wait to get my copy!) and meeting for cocktails somewhere holiday-ish and fun. In January, rumor has it that we’ll snag tickets to see The Book Club Play (because, c’mon, it can’t get more fitting than seeing a play about a book club – talk about culture and books combining!), and in February, several of us have already committed to seeing the one and only Ina Garten speak at SMU. So many fun things are on the horizon!

I love watching our amazing group of women shift and grow, both as individuals and as a club. So onto new things, friends – three cheers for book & culture club!

Image via Brett & Jessica Donar for Camille Styles

Bolsa Mercado

7c8474060d53ede52bac0ad967e95533Kyla, Laura, and I met at Bolsa Mercado for dinner a few weeks ago. It was a Monday night and it felt right to kick off the week with a cozy BFFs dinner. I had grabbed lunch at Bolsa Mercado a few years ago but hadn’t been back to check out their new menu. The Mercado is owned by Bolsa, the delicious new American restaurant located down the block. The market is the more casual version of the romantic, dimly-lit restaurant, a place where patrons can come for a delicious bite to eat, something lovely to drink (ranging from Topo Chico and fresh squeezed juices to wine and beer), and lots of goodies and treats to peruse through while relaxing on vintage furniture.

Laura frequents Bolsa Mercado often, as it’s located a stone’s throw from her office, so she recommended that I try the pulled pork sandwich. It seemed like an interesting choice, considering that the menu focuses more on deli-style bites and delicious salads. But I’m so glad I trusted her selection because it was absolutely fantastic – my mouth watered just now as I’m thinking about it! I chose a green salad as my side dish, which was a nice complement to the flavorful barbecued treat. Based on some reading I’d done on the blogosphere prior to our besties date, I knew that I wanted to have a booze-infused juice to go along with my dinner. I had such a good cocktail – kale, pineapple, orange, lime, jalapeño + tequila. It was like nature’s margarita – so good!

The three of us lingered at the table long after our meals were over, laughing and chatting all the while. This is such a sweet place to post up with cherished friends – it’s comfy, cozy, and there are delectable treats galore. What’s not to love?

P.S. There were no good photos online of Bolsa Mercado and I forgot to snap one while we were there, so this gorgeous image from pharmacie_la’s Instagram account will have to suffice!

Studio Reworked

xNBzrj9Nqll_F0t34E4ZaAJGuceiGq0lARzYSn5J_mA,_VnAVHKV1VzPq1qIFD19zAT61mNFYZaB0ujdWmy8Gq0

The fall issue of Bungalow Magazine came out last week and, per usual, it is so beautiful and inspiring. I got to write a piece about Paige Morse, a Dallas-based designer, interior photo stylist, and all-around creative who renovated the dilapidated sheds in her backyard, converting the space into a much-needed studio and refuge. Paige travels frequently and wanted to be able to rent out her entire house, so she ensured that her backyard studio could be fully functional should she choose to camp out there. She worked alongside a local contractor to use repurpose the space and it turned out so beautifully. She even managed to include a kitchen and full bathroom in the space. Heather took all of the gorgeous photos that you see here, so make sure you take a peek at the rest of the lovely images that she snapped. Check out the entire issue here, and read my piece on page 35!

0xmxTXKh3pUHV0EYNrVpHEeNKgd4FUyI9LJyBDnmu30,-0paFajhxemuHba0fC3-_bS9JLSvXmjWlMW-uRpHHrc j4tPopt3uM_DIJpqdmoC90L69Thqb6JkQHEvyAYqHMw nQ0SWNCu-0CIVXYIM_prJMiLRhIv2nRF_bgJXjLFX_E,u1yGwgprl8vQyNlHB-It99-0pouMVDVPSMqXoyz2_Y4

Images via Heather Hawkins for Bungalow Magazine