Quality Over Quantity

TOAST+++BOTANY+Pop-UpHappy Tuesday! Life has been a bit of a whirlwind around these parts, what with taking care of the most darling puppy, tackling daily to-do lists, and preparing for a whole lot of travel. Over the course of the next eight weeks, I’ll travel to Ghana, Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles (twice!), meaning I’ll be away from home, on and off, for nearly one month (28 days, to be exact). I love traveling – it is so very life-giving – but I am also trying to soak up a lot of time at home with James, friends, and the pups so that I have lots of memories to carry with me while I’m gone.

I’ve tried to figure out what that looks like in terms of writing and blogging. Writing is such an outlet for me, but it does take time out of the extra minutes I have to spend with loved ones after work. Usually I am willing to make that sacrifice, but I do think that I’m in a season that demands that I pare back the extras in order to spend quality time with the loves in my life. So I’m working on remembering that that’s okay, and also remembering to value quality over quantity. During this hectic time, I may not crank out as many posts as I’d like, but if the quantity is substantial and important, then the post or piece is something I can be proud of – so that’s what I’m meditating on these days. Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. It feels right.

Image via Botany & Kate Berry


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Happy Valentine’s Day! I have always loved this sweet day, thanks largely in part to my mom, who always celebrates this holiday with gusto. She hosted heart-themed parties for me and my girlfriends when we were in elementary school, helped my brother and I craft the perfect valentines to distribute in our classes, and, to this day, creates thoughtful care packages filled with gift cards and chocolates from our favorite hometown shop to send to us. She instilled within us a desire to celebrate Valentine’s Day with all the loves of our lives, whether that be family or significant others or friends. This day has always been special to me and my family, and I hope you feel special all day long, too!

Now break out the bubbly and some sweet treats and enjoy some fun Valentine-themed posts from around the web!

This chocolate and wine-tasting outing looks like the most festive way to spend a day devoted to love. I want in next time!

I hereby vow to host a Valentine’s Day brunch to remember for my girlfriends someday, reminiscent of the fun parties my mom threw for me when I was young. I’m bookmarking this girly get-together to serve as my inspiration (those waffles!).

I love this post on three ways to style grocery store flowers. Trader Joe’s always has lovely, affordable blooms but I’m never quite sure how to arrange them. I need to put some of these tips to good use.

Here’s another promise: I will treat myself to a Valleybrink Road gift box someday, mark my words. They are so gorgeous and filled with all of the best goodies!

Even though James and I love to go out for dinner, especially when we’re trying new restaurants, we’ll be staying in tonight, enjoying take-out Thai and an ice-cold bottle of Champagne. I love that staying in on Valentine’s Day seems to be more of a trend these days – friends and family alike have been mentioning that they have the same plan, and the blogosphere seems full of people who have the same idea, too (this reference was my favorite – it sounds like I could have written it, even down to the fact that this is our first married Valentine’s Day!). Sometimes date night in is better than date night out, right?

Image via A Cup of Jo

Happy New Year!

f6d85d67f44e260d209ff6ebddb82854While 2014 is definitely going to be a tough year to beat, there is so much goodness to look forward to in 2015! (An aside – I absolutely cannot believe that it is the year 2015 already.) I always love the fresh start that comes hand-in-hand with a new year, and I’m excited for all that’s in store – lots of great travel plans, fun memories to be made with family and friends, new classes to take and restaurants to try, exciting places to see and things to do. I can’t wait for all of it!

Are you looking forward to the weekend? You’ve likely already started your weekend rituals thanks to the holiday season but, if not, the work-week break is here! Some of my dear friends from college, Christyn & Mark, are coming through Dallas tonight on their way from Atlanta to Denver so a group of us is getting together for Mexican food (at a new restaurant that I haven’t tried yet – exciting!). We’ll likely all rendezvous for lunch tomorrow to send them off to Colorado, and then I’m heading straight to Kyla’s parents’ house in Fort Worth for a daylong loungefest-turned-slumber party – I’m SO excited! I absolutely adore the Kiser family, so it will be such a blast to spend an entire day and night enjoying good food, pajamas, fun movies, and lots of conversation.

Since you’re hopefully at home enjoying some rest and relaxation, take a gander at these fun thinks from around the world wide web. Happy Friday, and happy 2015!

My most recent post on Darling Magazine’s blog is about being intentional when we’re short on time. Check it out, and let me know if you have any other ideas to add – I’d love to hear!

Last week Lauren and I signed up to attend The Yellow Conference in Los Angeles in August – I am SO excited! I wrote about the conference last year, so I’m thrilled that I’ll have the chance to check it out in person in 2015. Yay!

Spurred on by a random promotion through our bank (so random, I know), I signed up to try NatureBox! I have always loved the idea behind this healthy snacks subscription service but I’ve never taken the plunge. The promo was just what I needed to jump right in. I have already spent way too much time curating my pantry and selecting snacks for my first full-sized box (I’m craving these, these, and these).

I make a fun list of resolutions to keep each year, and one that cropped up for 2015 was my desire to take a floral arranging class. Doesn’t this one look fun?

After stumbling down a blogger rabbit hole, I found myself going nuts on Keep, a Pinterest-like site that lets you corral items that you’d like to purchase, say, for your home, your office, or, perhaps, yourself. Somehow it’s more visually appealing, clean, and organized than Pinterest to me (though of course I still love to pin fun, pretty things!) so I’m enjoying playing around on it, pretending like I have many more rooms in our home to decorate…

Image via Coco Lapine Design

Happy Thanksgiving!

35a00f62746e7d2f98053b1194338660Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you’re having a perfect day enjoying great food, delicious wine, and lots of time with people you love.

I am so thankful to be home in Chicago with James and my family. We’ll spend the day cooking up a storm, cheering for the Bears, and, later, enjoying dessert with Erin and her family. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this day and all it represents.

Now, off to enjoy all of my favorite Thanksgiving treats!

Image via Chantelle Grady


IMG_9600Can I just take a moment here to give a big round of (online) applause to whoever coined the term “Friendsgiving?” I know that I always say that the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday because it encompasses so many things that I love but Thanksgiving is truly my very favorite. It’s really my dream day, one spent celebrating food and family and friendship and wine and gratitude. It doesn’t get better than that.

IMG_9599It makes me so happy that someone thought to broaden the Thanksgiving sentiment to encompass all of the friends in our lives that we want to celebrate the holiday with but don’t because we’re (rightly so) spending the big day with our families. If I had it my way, I’d have one Thanksgiving meal with my Dallas besties, one with my college besties, one with our small group, one with my coworkers, one with my family, and one with James’s family – that’s how much I love this holiday.

IMG_9601Yesterday we celebrated Friendsgiving as a small group and considering that our festivities lasted for EIGHT HOURS, I’d say it was a fabulous success. We ate turkey and stuffing and brussels sprouts with cranberries, broccoli cheddar casserole and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and s’mores brownies. We toasted to one another, to yesterday’s beautiful weather in Dallas, to Callie sitting underfoot waiting for us to drop morsels onto the floor. It was perfect – just perfect. And the best part? We get to do it all over again with my parents and brother on Thursday! Color me giddy.

Photos by my beautiful friend Briana Wollman

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

Wedding Weekend Reflections


I know, I know, you’re probably wondering why I’m still rambling on and on about our wedding festivities. Frankly, I think I’m still living on cloud nine. Being married is such a blessing and as the photos and videos continue to roll in, I get to relive our special day over and over again. I just can’t help myself, really – everything was so perfect that it needs to be documented and shared.

One thing I especially loved about our wedding weekend was that everyone got to spend so much quality time together. Though our wedding wasn’t until Sunday, I headed down to Austin on Wednesday to be with my parents and brother for a few days before everyone else arrived. We had so much fun eating delicious meals (at places like Hopdoddy, Bufalina, and La Condesa), exploring the city, and resting and relaxing together. If you’re getting married soon and you have the luxury of taking a few extra days off, I would highly encourage you to spend some down time with your family – it created such an irreplaceable memory for me.

Since Austin is only three hours from Dallas, it didn’t strike me as a typical destination wedding, but at its core, it was – not one person on our guest list was from Austin, making it a destination for literally everyone. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many of our wedding guests had never been to Austin and wanted to carve out time during our wedding weekend to have fun in the city – I loved that it could serve as an opportunity for a new experience for them. Because of that, people arrived early and stayed late, making plenty of time for my whole family to catch up with loved ones who had traveled to join us for our special day. Nothing felt rushed or condensed – we got to laugh and talk and enjoy one another for as long as we liked.

My two favorite memories, aside from the wedding, of course, took place on Saturday afternoon after our rehearsal lunch and on Sunday morning on the big day itself. On Saturday, everyone was free to rest and relax after we rehearsed and had a great home-cooked lunch together. Organically, everyone (including friends who we love but weren’t members of the wedding party) congregated at the courtyard bar at my beloved Hotel San José. We sipped on delicious cocktails, munched on cheese & hummus platters, and had the absolute best time being all together. At one point, I looked around and felt myself getting emotional (for the zillionth time that weekend) – everyone I loved, from all different walks of life, was in the same place at the same time. It was so surreal. I wanted time to stand still so I could soak it all in. Erin Pommer snuck away to our courtyard suite so she could capture a group photo from the balcony, and she probably doesn’t realize what a gift that picture would be to me – it is truly one of my most favorite images from the whole weekend. As the evening progressed, my bridesmaids, Mom, and I made our way upstairs to order pizza, drink wine, and have a slumber party. Throw an impromptu ice cream run (adorned in our gorgeous hotel robes, of course) into the mix and you’ve got yourself the most fantastic conclusion to a perfect day.

The next morning, my brother and I went for our daily run, which is really the best way to start any day. When we got back to the hotel, we found nearly the entire wedding party (minus James, of course – we didn’t want to see each other until I walked down the aisle!), several of our relatives, and tons of friends from our hometown of Wheaton having breakfast and enjoying the beautiful morning weather at Jo’s Coffee. Once again, organically, people had congregated at a fun spot in town, ending up all together to mingle and eat and relax. While I had listed Jo’s on our wedding website as a place to go, it still amazed me that so many people were there all at the same time. I love the fact that Austin is big enough to offer so many things to do while still being small enough to allow you to run into people you know wherever you go. I had the best time snacking on breakfast burritos, drinking green juice & coffee, and chatting with so many of my favorite people before I got ready to become Mrs. Brown. In fact, I was having so much fun that I was a little late for my hair appointment – oops. Patrick was at Jo’s that morning, too, shooting so much great footage of everyone having a blast together. I love that that footage was showcased in our wedding video – it is so special for me to have that morning captured on film.

Reflecting on these memories just reminds me of how grateful I am for community, and also of how consciously I need to continue pursuing it for the rest of my days. Community is life-giving to me – making memories with people I love is sustaining and soul-filling in a way I can’t really describe. I’m so thankful for the incredible people that walk with me through life’s ups and downs. I could go on and on about them and our memories and experiences but I think I’ll stop here, pausing for one more moment to give a slow clap for the most perfect wedding weekend of all time…