A Fresh Start

I am so excited to announce that I’ve launched a new site under my name, Rachel Brown, and it will not only be the new home to this beautiful blog, but it will also be a place where I can showcase the freelance writing and podcasting work I’ve been doing over the course of the past several years! While I have loved, loved, loved blogging in this space for the past three and a half years, I decided it was time to try something a little newer, something a bit more professional. But have no fear! I’ve merged all of my Coffee & Tacos blog content over to the site, so readers will always be able to access my old posts.

I am adjusting to a new posting schedule and I can’t wait to bring you exciting new content in the coming months. Thank you for supporting me and joining me in this exciting new journey!

Image via Paper & Stitch



All in Moderation

Hello, my dear friends! I am so happy to be back in this space, reading and reflecting on old posts and getting inspired to write more in the coming months. Our beautiful Ruby is nine months old – where is the time going?! – and we are more in love with her than ever. Each day we feel increasingly grateful for the gift that she is to us, and we can’t believe we were blessed with the sweetest, smiliest, most loving little girl.

The months after Ruby was born were blissfully calm. Of course we had days when sleep evaded us and sicknesses reared their ugly heads, but mostly we were enveloped in an atmosphere of peace as we soaked up every minute with our baby girl. My friend Gwendolyn gave me my favorite piece of advice about the postpartum season, telling me to ignore the feeling that, after we had settled into a routine, I had to be up and about all the time. She told me that she felt like she’d forced herself to get up and go too early on, that I’d likely prefer nothing more than snuggling up with my baby girl for hours on end. For an introvert, this advice was easy to take but I’m so glad she shared it anyway. There were days when while I was on maternity leave when I wondered if I should be more productive or active. But I quickly recalled Gwendolyn’s advice and hopped back into bed with Ruby in my arms, knowing that time was slipping through my fingers, knowing that there was nowhere better to be at that present moment. I loved every minute of that sweet, sweet season. I had nothing to do but be Ruby’s mom and it was the most surprisingly beautiful period of time, one that I had anticipated anxiously – I hadn’t known how I would feel, physically or emotionally, and I was so encouraged that I felt so calm and so at peace.

We did get out and about, of course. We met our dear friend Emily and her baby girl, Grace, for coffee once a week, exploring fun shops around town in an attempt to source the best brew (I think Weekend Coffee still remains my favorite). I started exercising just as soon as I got clearance from my doctor, and in addition to going for cleansing runs around the neighborhood in the morning, Ruby, Coach, James, and I went on a walk every evening. I met friends for wine and went to parties and scheduled lunch dates. We took Ruby on very first trip: fittingly, to Malibu, one of my most favorite places in the world. But I tried to move carefully, as I had learned early on that life’s pace with Ruby was much slower in the most refreshing way – if I allowed myself to resist the urge to rush and check items off my list and accomplish more, more, more. I intentionally left blank days on my calendar. I left my over-achieving attitude at home. I embraced the days when Ruby didn’t feel up to going out, and I shifted my plans. Some days this was easy to do; some days it wasn’t.

After I transitioned back to work part-time, after the holidays came and went, after the new year was upon us, I really started to feel like myself, like I was hitting my stride: as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, as an employee. I will always have moments when I’m not sure how I’m doing, when I don’t know how I measure up, but I seemed to settle into a rhythm in the new year.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about moderation. In many senses, I have always wanted more, even in diametrically opposed ways. It’s as if I’m attempting to balance desires on one end of the spectrum with desires on the other: more tacos + more kale. More wine + more water. More exercise + more rest. More weekend trips + more Saturday mornings at home. More coffee + more sleep. More books + more Netflix. More playtime + more naps. More baby cuddles + more me time. More plans + more spontaneity. More writing + more free time. More of this + more of that.

I struggled to reconcile this feeling of wanting more with my desire for wanting less. I loved the feeling that I had experienced right after Ruby was born, and the way that it inspired me to pare back my life in so many ways – by saying no to invitations, by keeping my calendar more open, by decluttering closets, by maintaining a slower pace, by being present with Ruby. But I also wanted to show my daughter the world, to engage in activities that I love and fill life to the brim with experiences and meals and trips and sunsets and books. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about moderation, that it’s all about enjoying the things I want more of (the tacos and the wine and the exercise and the travel) while balancing them out with the things that help me say yes to less (the kale and the water and the rest and the Saturday mornings at home).  I’ve been thinking that moderation is the key to the joy our family has been experiencing in this season of life – and, maybe, it will be the key to experiencing joy in every season.

Anyway. That’s plenty of pondering for now. I plan to be popping back in to this space with more frequency, all while keeping moderation in mind. More writing, more connecting on the wonderful world wide web – but also more face time with the people I love.

Photos via Hunter Folsom – check out the link to read Hunter’s beautiful post about Ruby and our family. I am so honored to call her a friend! If you’re in the Dallas area and you’re looking for photos, Hunter is currently donating 100% of her proceeds to Preemptive Love Coalition. Amazing, right? 

Ruby Clare

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetOur sweet baby girl arrived on July 17th (her due date, can you believe that?!) and we are over the moon. Ruby Clare Brown is named after her beautiful great-grandmother (whose 120th birthday was on July 20th!) and James’s amazing younger sister. We can’t stop staring at this gorgeous miracle of ours! Thank you to James for being the very best daddy and night nurse on the planet, to my parents for being total rock star helpers, to our siblings & friends for flooding us with loving visits and calls and texts, to Mr. Coach for being such an adoring puppy and protective big brother, and to Ruby for being everything we ever dreamed of and so much more. We are so blessed!

P.S. Two fun facts about Ruby’s name – the birthstone of July is a ruby (so naturally I’m eyeing something like this in honor of baby girl) and it is also the traditional 40th wedding anniversary gift, which is perfect timing since my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage in June! So fun & definitely meant to be, right?

Maternity Staples

IMG_4343Being pregnant for the first time has been such an exhilarating, eye-opening process. The old adage that you don’t know what you don’t know has proven true time and time again over the course of the past nine months, and that was certainly no exception when it came to stocking up on clothing and other maternity supplies. My pregnancy has been truly wonderful and easy, which is something I do not take for granted. I’ve been able to maintain an exercise routine of working out five times per week, which has felt crucial both in terms of making me feel good physically but also emotionally (those endorphins have never felt more real). Exercise has helped me sleep, too, and knowing that I have a workout impending helps me make healthier eating choices (although, let’s be honest, I have been treating myself to a lot more baked goods, pizza, and mint chocolate chip ice cream over the course of the past nine months). While I’ve had several debilitating bouts of tiredness here and there, staying active has allowed me to still engage socially with loved ones, travel (this year alone I went to LA, Pennsylvania, Seattle, Florida [twice!], Palm Springs, Ohio, and Chicago), and feel efficient at work. I have been so thankful for this sweet season.

I really felt my body begin to change around the end of January/beginning of February when I was about 16 – 18 weeks along. I knew I needed to make some adjustments in my wardrobe especially, and I had a tough time figuring out the best staples to purchase without going overboard. Some dear friends lent me some amazing maternity clothing, and while we hope and plan to have more children, I didn’t want to buy too many clothes for myself when so many impending purchases loomed on the horizon (hello, nursery decor!). But I wanted to feel good about myself and I certainly wanted to feel comfortable. Since I’ve only got four and a half weeks to go until my due date (!!!), I thought I’d share some of the staples (clothing and otherwise) that ending up helping me along through my pregnancy.

Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Capri Workout Pants + Lululemon Boogie Shorts

IMG_4390Like I mentioned, exercise has been hugely important and beneficial during my pregnancy. My friend Erin lent me a pair of her Ingrid & Isabel maternity spandex and they are miracle-workers. The crossover panel felt so comfortable as my body grew and changed, and yet the pants looked and fit just like regular spandex crops. As I grew, I found a ton of comfort in my trusty Lululemon shorts, which I already owned from years of practicing Bikram yoga. As the summer temperatures started to rise, I was more interested in wearing shorts than pants, and these staples are so soft and comfortable, getting better with each wash.

Maternity Jeans

IMG_2911Maternity jeans were one of the first items that came to mind when I started scouting for pregnancy staples. My favorite pair is from H&M. I accidentally purchased a pair of Super Skinny jeans, thinking they were the same as the regular Skinny version I had already purchased, and I ended up liking them much more than the Skinny ones themselves. I chose a dark wash that was great for work. I also love the pair I got from ASOS in a lighter wash, making them a little more casual. On the whole, H&M and ASOS became the most reliable spots for finding great maternity wear, jeans and otherwise. My friend Allison lent me the perfect pair of black jeans from Citizens of Humanity that were clutch for work events and presentations when I needed to feel more professional.

Soft, Stretchy Dresses

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IMG_3485IMG_4668Especially now that we are in the throes of summer, soft dresses have been my daily uniform. T-shirt dresses are so comfortable (I swear I wear this once a week), but sometimes I want to show off the bump, so stretchy, tighter-fitting dresses have been great, too. I’ve especially loved this Racerback Bodycon dress from Forever 21, which I got in black and navy. The length is great for work (usually I throw a chambray over the dress for the office but go sleeveless when I’m out with friends) and you can’t beat the price. While I have loved my maternity jeans, nothing feels better (or more feminine) than wearing a great little dress.

Maxi Dresses

Speaking of dresses, maxi dresses are another staple that have made me feel so feminine as my body is growing and changing. Between the dresses I already owned and the garments that mama friends lent to me, I was totally set in this department, but there are so many great affordable options out there if you’re looking to stock up. Most of them will work perfectly after baby is born, too.

Essential Oils + Diffuser

I have always appreciated essential oils but I’ve never really taken the time to learn too much about them and really dive into the essential oils culture that’s been taking society by storm. I caught a nasty case of strep in late April and James helped identify some natural ways to keep our house healthy and clean. He bought this super cool diffuser and started using some doTERRA oils we already had on hand. Our favorite quickly became the On Guard blend that helps boost the immune system and purify the air. It made the house smell delicious, and whether it was a placebo effect or not, I really think the aromatics helped me feel better. We got so excited about our oils that I recently joined the doTERRA team as a wholesaler, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

ASOS Maternity Jean Shorts

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThese shorts from ASOS are getting so much wear – I absolutely love them! Now that it’s summer, ASOS has several additional options available (I love these) and I highly recommend snagging a pair (or three). They’re so, so comfortable and versatile.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion

I blessedly haven’t had an issue with stretch marks (knock on wood!) but I still love using this lotion every day. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my skin and it smells so lovely.

Commando Underwear

My mom sent me several pairs of these underwear and I will never wear any other brand for as long as I live – I am a total Commando convert. These underwear are so comfortable and they are forgiving as your body changes and grows.

Gap Pure Body Crewneck Tees

Allison put a gray version of this tee in her stack of loaner maternity clothes and I loved it so much that I promptly went online and bought the shirt in white and black, too. The soft, stretchy material is so comfortable and it’s the perfect thing to wear on its own or with a cardigan, chambray shirt, or blazer.

Sparkling Water + Mocktails

I must admit: I have sorely missed margaritas. And champagne. And wine. But mostly the margaritas. Sparkling water has definitely taken the edge off, especially when I’m drinking a flavorful version like my favorite cherry lime La Croix. I have been relying on Topo Chico, too. I’ve invented a little cocktail of sorts, mixing Topo Chico with limeade, ginger beer, and a few jalapeño slices. It’s super refreshing and it’s reminiscent of my beloved margaritas with a hint of a Moscow mule. I will be ready to enjoy a Mambo Taxi once baby girl is here but for now this does the trick.

Spanx Bra-lellujah Bras

Of all of the clothing-related errands to run in life, bra shopping is the task I loathe the most. I don’t know why, really, since it’s a fairly painless process, but I just hate it. I tend to find a bra that works and stock up on it in several colors. But I had to admit that it was time to find an alternative to my pre-pregnancy bras about halfway through when they started pinching my skin (lovely image, I know). My friend Emily recommended Spanx’s Bra-lellujah Bras because they clasp in the front and, thanks to Spanx’s renowned stretchy material, they grow with you as you change. I snagged one in nude and one in black and have been set ever since.

Library Books

You already know how much I love my library card, but it has gotten even more use during my pregnancy. Even though this season has been filled with the most sweetness imaginable, there are still, of course, times of stress. We’re entering into a phase of life that is totally unknown, after all, and nothing helps me decompress and escape like a great book. I recently joined Goodreads to track all of the books I’ve read and the titles I want to read, so feel free to follow me there. Some favorites I’ve read over the past few months include Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Bringing Up Bébé, A Window Opens, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Auggie & Me, The Secret Garden, and For the Love.

Liz Lange for Target Maternity Swimsuit Bottoms

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThis has been one of my very favorite maternity purchases. With several beach trips on the docket (and a July due date), I knew I wanted to invest in some sort of comfortable swimwear but I didn’t want to buy lots of different swim suits. In fact, even though my top size ultimately changed a bit (hence the Bra-lellujah discovery), I really just wanted to focus on finding some great bathing suit bottoms so I could mix and match with the tops I already owned. I learned that there aren’t a lot of great options for maternity bottoms online, so I was stoked when these Liz Lange for Target suit bottoms worked so well. I bought them in a slightly larger size and loved how they curved under the belly to accommodate my ever-growing bump. I immediately bought two pairs in black and rotated them with different tops. It worked perfectly!

Hot Baths + Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts

I jokingly told my friend Laura that hot baths are the pregnant woman’s equivalent to happy hour. While that might be a stretch, hot baths, even now in June, have been such a comfort to me. They really help me relax, especially when I throw in some yummy-smelling epsom salts.

A Good Blazer (with a little give)

Before I found out I was pregnant, I was in the market for a new blazer, and I wanted something a little less structured/more flowing, which was fortuitous since it ended up being the best way to upgrade my pregnancy style at work. I found a Madewell version that I loved and it has been key when I’m needing to be dressier for events, presentations, and important meetings. Because it’s not super fitted, it has worked with every stage of my pregnancy, and it pairs perfectly with the aforementioned Gap tees, a great statement necklace, black jeans, and booties.

Soft Pajamas (in a larger size)

One of the silliest realizations I had about my nighties (and about some dresses, too) was that as my bump grew, my garments didn’t necessarily get smaller – they got shorter. Nightgowns became night shirts, which is usually fine, but sometimes I want to wear a tank + pants or shorts set. Just last week I went to Target and stocked up on super soft pajama sets (like this and this) in a larger size than I would normally wear. While I’ve mostly tried to stay away from buying non-maternity items that aren’t my size, I am realistic enough to know that my body won’t bounce back right away – and that I’ll be in pajamas a lot during maternity leave. So spending a little money on several cute sets seemed worth it, and I’ve already tucked away a few extras in my hospital bag. As comfy as James’s oversized shirts are, I still want to feel like a lady so these do the trick.

Foot Massages

Truth be told, I would get a foot massage every day if I could, so this isn’t something new, but it’s definitely been a treat during pregnancy. Our favorite local spot is just down the street, making it a very convenient temptation to give in to. I’m fascinated by the power of Chinese reflexology, and I always feel so relaxed after an hourlong appointment. The price – $30 for 60 minutes – can’t be beat, either.

Garden of Life Raw Prenatal Vitamins

I started taking prenatal vitamins a couple of months before I got pregnant and it helped me establish a rhythm of taking them  consistently once I knew I had a sweet little love growing inside my belly. My OB recommended the Garden of Life variety and I have really loved them. I do make sure to always take them with meals in case they make my tummy ache, but I’ve really noticed a difference in my skin and hair and overall wellbeing (i.e. not getting sick over the winter, when I usually catch a case of bronchitis – though I did succumb to strep) – this could be partially due to hormones and the “pregnancy glow,” but I’ll give credit to the vitamins. I take them in combination with DHA and D3, and I think the trifecta has really worked. I plan to continue taking them after baby girl arrives.

Something Really Pretty (treat yo self!)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI’ve held off from buying non-maternity clothing for the most part, making one splurge-worthy exception for Anthropologie’s Magnolia Lace Dress (in white). I wanted something really special to wear to my baby shower, and I justified the price tag by deciding to wear the same garment for our maternity photos. This dress made me feel so, so pretty and feminine while also being super comfortable. I was able to order the dress in my normal size, so I’m hoping to wear it again and again after baby girl arrives.

Snack Time + Shenanigans with Puppy & Hubs

IMG_4557Because how can you resist these two?!


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!

We’re Having a Baby!

IMG_3236Oh my goodness, we are so, so, SO excited and so beyond grateful that we get to be parents to the sweetest baby girl! We can’t wait to meet our little lovey in July – we are definitely counting down the days. Our amazing families and friends have showered us and baby girl with so much love and joy already. We are so immeasurably blessed by our people and we have been honored to watch them rally around us during this celebratory time! We have been having so much fun preparing our home for our little girl to arrive; particularly, I’ve loved dreaming about the nursery decor. Stay tuned for more fun baby-related posts, and thank you for joining us in our excitement!

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!

Here, There & Everywhere


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