Defining Your Home Team

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’ve written about the concept of the home team a lot on my blog, either in entire pieces or in small references, so I was excited when I got the chance to expound upon this topic for Darling Magazine. In my most recent post for Darling’s blog, I wrote about the importance of defining the members of your squad. Shauna Niequist, the author who introduced me to this concept in the first place, makes great points about the importance of not only knowing who is in your home team but also being aware of who is not. Here’s a little peek at the piece:

[Niequist’s words] got me to thinking about continually seeking intentionality in relationships. Especially in this day and age of instant connectivity and constant communication, it’s easy to feel connected and close to a myriad of people from all different walks of life. And while that may be perfect for some people, it’s not the right fit for me. I know that I crave quality time with the people I love, and because there’s only so many hours in the day, I have to be realistic about who I’m giving my time and love and trust to — and when, and why.

Head over to Darling’s blog to read the post and let me know what you think about the idea of having a home team! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Above: a favorite photo of Laura & Kyla at the best taco shop in town

Week & End

IMG_8696Happy weekend! What are you up to over the next couple of days? Becca and Mark get in from Nashville late tonight, so James and I are going to eat the yummy pot roast we put into the crock pot this morning and snuggle with Callie until they arrive – I can’t wait to see them! Becca and I are taking a City Surf class in the morning, then the boys will join us as we meet some friends from college for lunch at Good 2 Go Taco. In the afternoon, when Becca and Mark head to a wedding, Laura and I are going to meet up to attend the Camille Styles Entertaining book party! I’m so excited – all of Camille’s other parties have looked so beautiful, and I’m sure the Dallas event will be no exception. On Sunday, we’re going to eat more tacos and Tex-Mex, and in the evening, Laura and Kyla will come over for our annual besties Christmas dinner. We’re going to whip up some of this festive punch to drink alongside a harvest salad, tortilla soup, and pie. There’s so much goodness to look forward to!

Have a great weekend and enjoy some links from around the interwebs!

I saw this carry on cocktail kit on Instagram the other day and thought that the idea was brilliant. The packaging is so dang cute, too.

It might be time to face the facts: I am addicted to Serial. Like, want-to-cancel-all-of-my-plans-so-I-can-listen-to-more-podcasts addicted. Becca sent me this great link that helps listeners associate photos with the characters in the real life story, and while I love the way the podcasts force you to really hone in and listen actively, it’s nice to have a visual of the people mentioned throughout the episodes. I also love that friends and even local businesses have been hosting listening parties – it conjures up images of fireside chats and evenings spent listening to programs on the radio. So good.

My friends Natalie & Andrea posted a gift guide on their blog and I love everything they selected! I especially adore the shout-out they gave to me and the Clare Vivier coin purses that I gifted to our bridesmaids at our wedding. Their sweet words about our special day were so touching – thanks, gals!

Per our birthday tradition, Erin sent me our favorite Momofuku Milk Bar B-Day Truffles and they are unbelievably delicious. I actually can’t believe that I still have a few left – it would be so easy to devour them in minutes – but I’m glad that I saved some so that I can enjoy one (or two) for dessert after tonight’s pot roast.

As is typical this time of year, there are so many amazing movies coming out. I want to see The Imitation Game, Exodus: God and Kings, Wild (I read the book last year), and Unbroken (I’m reading the book now), to name a few. P.S. We saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay before Thanksgiving and loved it – definitely a must-see!

Photo by Briana Wollman for James’s 30th birthday party 

Around Here

Party DecorWow, time sure does fly – December 10th already?! I apologize for my absence on the blog lately – but then again, I don’t because so much goodness has been happening around here and I’ve stepped away from my online presence to soak it all in.

The holidays are such a magical time of year, aren’t they? We had an amazing time in Chicago for Thanksgiving, and last week was spent celebrating James and my birthdays, which are just four days apart (so fun!). My 29th birthday was on Wednesday, the 3rd, and Touch A Life has a policy that gives employees the day off on their special day, which is such a treat. I got my stretch on at yoga and my sweat on at City Surf, treated myself to my favorite juice and smoothie at The Gem, picked up some birthday goodies at J. Crew, and got a foot massage at my favorite place. James and I noshed on filet mignon, barbecue ribs, creamy spinach dip, and French fries at Houston’s for dinner, toasting with martinis (for me) and whiskey (for him). It was the perfect day.

James’s 30th birthday was on Sunday and I threw him a surprise party! It was the best. Nearly 35 of our closest friends came to celebrate James and he was so totally shocked when he walked into our house – we nailed the surprise! My super talented friend Bri took photos of the day, which I’ll share here soon. I had so much fun planning the decor (a few party remnants are pictured above), snacks, and drinks, and all of our friends pitched in with setting up, throwing James off, and keeping the secret about the party. It is the best party I’ve ever hosted, filled with so much fun, love, and good food. James had a fantastic time, which made me so happy.

Holiday events are in full swing, which I love! Tonight is a Christmas-themed girls night in at Korena’s, and tomorrow the Black Frames are playing at a charity wrap party hosted by Fullosophie. My dear bestie Becca and her boyfriend Mark are coming in from Nashville to attend a wedding this weekend, and I can’t wait to see them (and eat tacos at the best spot in town). Sunday night marks Laura, Kyla, and my fifth annual Christmas besties dinner, and the following day is my favorite event of the season (tied with the besties dinner, of course) – the Cone Christmas dinner at Patrick and Lauren’s, where Patrick cooks an entire holiday meal filled with delicious seasonal favorites. James and I are going to check out the Highland Park lights with Callie and hot chocolate in tow, and we’re scooting down to Austin the weekend before Christmas as a special treat to one another (also with Callie in tow, as we’ll be staying at my favorite hotel).

I’ve been cooking some of Shauna Niequist’s recipes, as I planned, so I’ll be sharing a recipe tomorrow, as well as some fun posts the rest of the month! But if I go MIA again, have no fear – I’m just enjoying all that the holiday season has to offer, namely the fact that we get to spend this month thinking of the amazing Christmas story and Jesus’s birth. What a beautiful season – I hope you are loving it as much as I am!

Week & End

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It’s Friday, yay! Do you have big plans to celebrate the first weekend of fall? Of course, I’m always a bit sad when summertime draws to a close but it’s a good thing that it gives way to autumn, my second favorite season. James’s best friend, Joe, and his wife, Katie, are visiting for a few days, so we have plans to take them to some of our favorite Dallas spots, like Good 2 Go Taco and Meddlesome Moth, and we may even brave the crowds to check out the opening weekend of the Texas State Fair.

Have a good one, and enjoy some fun links from around the web!

I snapped the photo above while strolling down Abbot Kinney Boulevard during our visit to Los Angeles last week. We went to several spots that I love – Urbanic, Firefly, Lemonade – and found a few new treasures, too. More on that to come!

Each fall there’s a contest at the State Fair to determine the best new fried foods of the year. Take a look at this year’s finalists – which treats would you try? I’d like a bite of the Sriracha balls and the fried sweet Texas.

This Fort Worth-based home tour is so inspiring to me – it captures so many elements that I would like to incorporate in our house someday. It has such a pleasing mix of neutrals, plants, pops of color, and remnants from travel adventures. I love!

Speaking of Fort Worth, there are two reasons that I need to trek out there for a day trip soon: the Faces of Impressionism exhibit (featuring pieces from my favorite museum in the world, the Musée d’Orsay) is starting next month at the Kimball Art Museum and this cute ice cream shop is calling my name.

Aren’t these white ceramic cups lovely? I love how neutral they are, and I think they’d be equally great as drinking glasses or as succulent planters.

Week & End

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Happy Sunday! How has your weekend been? Mine has been so relaxing and lovely. Kyla (and her sweet Scottie, Franklin) came over on Friday night and we drank crisp, cold white wine while making a splendid dinner of bruschetta and spinach salad. We took our pups for a walk, had long talks, and reveled in one another’s company. There’s nothing sweeter than a night in with a best friend, is there? The rest of this weekend was spent savoring relaxation, free time, and air conditioning – the summer heat has finally descended upon Texas, so it’s been nice to post up indoors and get a few projects done.

If you’re in an evening blog-reading mood, enjoy some fun links!

The photo above, documenting my enjoyment of both coffee & tacos at my favorite spot, is a tribute to the blog’s namesake, of course, and an image from Mom & Dad’s visit to Dallas, which I’ll post about soon! While we didn’t eat at Good 2 Go Taco this weekend, James and I did just get back from dinner at Taco Joint, another spot that we love. The restaurant just opened its third location a mere 1.5 miles from our house, which we are very excited about. We love their tacos, queso, and salsas (especially the jalapeño ranch dip).

I really liked the post on Camille Styles’s blog about creating ways to look forward to Mondays. I tried one of the tips and made plans to meet Heather tomorrow for a lunch date at CBD Provisions. It’s helping a little, but I do find myself wishing the weekend could linger on. However, I did love this quote from the post – it was so poignant and worth taking to heart:

“Let’s face it: life is too short to hate 1/7 of the weekdays! Instead of bemoaning that it’s ‘another Monday,’ practice a spirit of gratitude for another day to live life to the fullest and be your very best self.”

Kyla and I made this blueberry sugar cookie crisp for dessert on Friday evening and it was delicious (James and I are still living off of the leftovers, paired with vanilla ice cream, of course). I’ll post the full recipe on Tuesday!

Have you visited Rifle Paper Co.’s website since they launched their new design? It’s so gorgeous that I want to live in it, and it makes me want to buy a bunch of paper products (like the passport pocket notebooks, all of the greeting cards, and the paint strokes weekly desk pad).

Allison lent me her copy of The Vacationers and I devoured it this weekend, finishing the entire book in two days. It was so good and so well-written. I highly recommend it!

Week & End

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Friday already?! I guess time really does fly when you’re cooped up in the house for a few days – once I got back into my routine after I started recovering, I feel like I blinked and each day was over in a flash. What’s on your agenda for this weekend? Tomorrow James & I are going on a Stand Up Paddleboarding adventure at White Rock Lake with some friends (preceded by breakfast tacos and followed by margaritas), and then I’m heading to Victor Tango’s for a birthday dinner to celebrate my dear friend Kristen. James & I embarked on a major closet clean-out last week, and we’re nearly finished – I think on Sunday we’ll have just the time we need to conclude the decluttering process. It feels so good to be organized and not weighed down by so much stuff, don’t you think?

Have a great weekend and enjoy some fun links from around the web!

I saw the poster above on Bri Emery’s Instagram this week and I wanted it for our house (the reminder is so, so good and I love the color scheme)…then, lo and behold, I discoverd that it’s available for free in Yield Design Co.’s shop – FOR FREE, PEOPLE! All you have to do is pay $2 shipping. What are you waiting for?!

I have been longing to check out two fabulous-looking new(ish) coffee shops in town: Weekend Coffee & The Wild Detectives. I need to hit up these spots soon (and very soon).

I love this peek into the refrigerator of Courtney McBroom (of Momofuku Milk Bar fame).

As a celebration of the closet-clean out (I seriously got rid of so many shoes – I can’t wait to sell them at our garage sale), I figured that these gorgeous Joie sandals had to find their way into my collection (thanks, Mom!).

Got a birthday coming up but not quite sure how to celebrate it? Consider donating your special day to Touch A Life. In lieu of gifts, ask your loved ones to support Touch A Life’s work in Ghana. Host a party so you can celebrate your birthday and thank your family & friends for their giving spirits!

Image & poster via Yield Design Co.

The Beginning

Welcome to Coffee & Tacos, a fresh new space where I plan to record my musings about connecting with others through some of my very favorite things – food, travel, faith, and community. Surely lots of other topics will crop up here and there, but for now, that’s the gist. If you’ve followed me over here from Through Painted Deserts, a thousand thanks. I promise to leave my old site up forever and ever (probably more for my benefit than yours – it’s like an online scrapbook that I cherish so very much) so you can always refer back to it. But I’m entering a new season in my life and after giving the idea some serious thought, I decided to enter into a new blog domain, too.

I chose to switch to Coffee & Tacos, this new blog home, when I began preparing for my name change a few weeks ago. My husband, James, and I got married on April 13th (more on that perfect day soon!) and I started thinking about changing my website to reflect my new name (Rachel Brown). That thought process launched me into a rabbit hole of dreaming new dreams about writing and creating and growing and stretching, and I really began considering what it might look like to give myself a more grown-up platform, a more solid place from which to write. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely loved using Tumblr for my blog (I did so for four years, after all!). And I don’t plan to monetize this space, to become a professional blogger, to quit my day job in pursuit of this creative outlet – those are all great things, but they are not for me. Simply put, blogging has just become such a beautiful way for me to record my thoughts, prayers, hopes, dreams, memories, travels, trials, and victories, and I felt that if I wanted my space to be able to continue to grow and change and progress with me into this new season of adulthood and love and life, it deserved a new place to do so. I wanted it to have a proverbial facelift, as it were.

So why the name Coffee & Tacos, then? Very arbitrarily, for literally no reason that I can recall other than the fact that I absolutely love few things more than a fantastic cup of coffee and a supremely delicious taco (even better when they’re paired together), I named the desktop folder in which I organize my writing projects “Coffee & Tacos.” Seriously, I don’t know why. I don’t even remember doing it, honestly. I guess I thought the name was creative or catchy or distinct, a way to set my writing projects apart from my work documents and personal files. But the title stuck, and I began to lovingly categorize all of my posts and pieces (for the likes of Darling Magazine, Bungalow Magazine, and, of course, Through Painted Deserts) in my Coffee & Tacos folder, which began to grow and flourish as I continued to write.

And, somehow, inevitably I suppose, I fell in love with the name. Maybe it’s because I’m so drawn to the concept of cultivating community around the table, of engaging with others while sharing good food and drinks and honest discussion, of finding God and truth and vulnerability and happiness while rooted firmly in a chair surrounded by loved ones and full plates. Or maybe it’s because I found myself gravitating towards other great blogs that had unique names, especially those that were food-related in some capacity. Or maybe it’s because, simply, I really do love coffee and tacos so dang much (if pressed, I’d say that Good 2 Go Taco is my favorite spot in Dallas for both) that I wanted to name my blog after them. My instinct is that it’s the former, that I care so much about loving others by feeding them and opening our home to them that I wanted this blog to have the same effect – that, maybe, you’ll decide that this is a place where you can be loved and fed (or, at the very least, entertained and inspired).

Bear with me as I adjust to this new format – I considered waiting until I had mastered this new site to start posting but that just seemed silly. The writing is the most important part after all, right? So if things change or break or look funny, hold tight – I hope to get the hang of this soon.

Now – stay awhile, won’t you?