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!

Advertisements

Mother’s Day

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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!

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

Los Angeles

IMG_8552

James and I had such a good time visiting Andrew in Los Angeles with my parents a few weekends ago. It’s always such a treat to soak up the California coast with all of my five senses – taking in the rich hue of the ocean, inhaling the salty breeze, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, listening to street musicians, and, of course, tasting so many delicious treats. Andrew moved to Culver City in the spring and it was our first time visiting him in his new ‘hood. He works downtown L.A. and it was fun to have him give us a tour of his favorite spots around his office, especially since the downtown area of Los Angeles has been revitalized so much since I moved away from Santa Monica five years ago.

James and I arrived in Los Angeles super early on Friday morning, and Mom and Dad had come in the night before. We checked out our digs at The Culver Hotel and waited for Public School 310, the cute restaurant across the street, to open for lunch service. We enjoyed tons of good bites before heading to the beach to soak up the sunshine and watch the waves crash against the sand. It was a bit of a trek to make it out to the water, thanks to the notoriously bad L.A. traffic, but it was so, so worth it. The four of us just sat on a bench on the pier for a good long while, gazing out at the water and nearly nodding off as we relaxed in the sun.

IMG_8382 IMG_8385

IMG_0430IMG_0434 IMG_0436 IMG_0452 IMG_0453 IMG_8566

While waiting for Andrew to get off of work, we had cocktails and appetizers at the hotel. The menu at the hotel is fantastic and the quality of the food and beverages is so, so good. We loved the popcorn, the ahi tuna, the hummus, and every delicious drink on the bar menu. We met Andrew at his apartment for homemade happy hour (round two), and we walked down the street for dinner at a sushi restaurant that had a bustling outdoor patio. It was so good to all be together!

On Saturday, we slept in before heading out on an adventure to downtown L.A. Andrew took us to so many cool spots, like Grand Central Market, Guisado’s, his gorgeous office building, and Pershing Square. We peeped into the Ace Hotel, Aesop, and Bottega Louie along the way, taking photos and scoring treats at the French bakery for a mid-afternoon snack (think dreamy bites like macarons, lemon tarts, and chocolate chip cookies). Andrew then took us to Perch, a beautiful bar that overlooked the whole city. It was so cool to sit amongst the skyscrapers, relaxing under umbrellas with ice-cold drinks as a light breeze cooled us off.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

IMG_0466

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

IMG_0468 IMG_0471 IMG_0472 IMG_0473 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_8447

From there, we made a pit-stop in Koreatown at The Line Hotel and, well, you know how I feel about our time at The Commissary. Oh my, it was magical.

IMG_0476 IMG_0479 IMG_0475

The Commissary

Totally stuffed to the gills, we opted against a formal dinner. Instead, we invited my best friend Karli and her husband Nick, who are also Culver City residents, and Andrew’s best friends, Tanner and Taylor, to have snacks and sips with us at The Culver Hotel. It was so, so much fun to catch up with Tanner, Taylor, and Nick (who I hadn’t seen since our wedding!) and to cozy up with Kar to catch up on all of our recent adventures, including her amazing five-year anniversary trip to Europe.

IMG_8522 IMG_8518 IMG_8517

The next morning we brunched at Akasha and the food and atmosphere were both divine. As an aside, a word about pumpkin spice season: I know it is totally overrated and overdone, but if you find yourself breakfasting at Akasha this fall, please do yourself a favor and order the pumpkin spice latte. It is so dreamy. From there, we went to one of my favorite spots on the West Side: Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We browsed the perfectly curated shops and paused for photo ops, lingering over our last few hours together with refreshing lemonade and lots of laughs.

IMG_8524 IMG_8528 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_8531 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_8550

There you have it! What a wonderful family weekend – our first with James as an official member of the crew! Until next time, sweet, sweet Los Angeles…

Week & End

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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.

The Commissary at The Line Hotel

The Commissary

Considering that eating is one of the Johnson family’s favorite hobbies, it should come as no surprise that we consumed so many delicious treats at plenty of wonderful restaurants while in Los Angeles this past weekend – kale salads and Mexican Cokes at Public School 310, baked coconut bites and green juice at Grand Central Market, chicken tinga tacos and limon agua fresca at Guisado’s, tuna tartare with avocado & wonton chips and fresh cucumber mint martinis at The Culver Hotel, polenta cake Eggs benedict and pumpkin spice lattes at Akasha. But if I had to pick a favorite place, my vote would be cast in honor of The Commissary at The Line Hotel.

I noticed photos of the beautiful restaurant on social media outlets recently (it’s designed to look like a gorgeous greenhouse so it’s hard to miss) and was intrigued not only by The Commissary’s space but by The Line Hotel as well, seeing as it’s the newest hipster hang-out in Koreatown (and home to a Poketo outpost, a fantastic shop that sells gifts, home goods, and accessories). Andrew gave us a fantastic tour of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday (including visits to his super cool office, the aforementioned Grand Central Market and Guisado’s, and Perch for rooftop cocktails overlooking the city) and we were preparing to wind down before making a last-minute impromptu stop to peek into The Commissary.

Mom, James, and I all saw (and loved!) Chef, and the visionary behind The Commissary is none other than Roy Choi, the culinary genius who Jon Favreau’s character is loosely based upon in the film. So it was no surprise that the food was at the restaurant was absolutely stellar. We only intended on having a late-afternoon cocktail but we were so drawn in by the menu (which is comprised only of pictures, so you can choose what you’d like to eat but the preparation ultimately ends up being a supremely delicious surprise) that we tried a few snacks…before having a few more drinks…and then eating a few more snacks. Check out the menu below – isn’t the choose-your-own adventure a fantastic concept?

Commissary Menu

We noshed on the corn, French fries, hash browns, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich, and club sandwich (don’t worry, we ate a few extra salads and drank green juice to counterbalance these fabulously carb-laden choices throughout the rest of the trip) and everything was so tasty – if pressed, I would choose all of these selections again, and then on top of that, I’d get the carrots, the fish, and the tomatoes, as well as several more flutes of the delicious sparkling Bordeaux that I drank (that was served icy cold, just the way I like it).

The vibe of the restaurant itself was just mesmerizing. For someone who loves clean lines and plants everywhere you look, The Commissary is heaven. There is seating outside of the greenhouse space as well, and the back section of the restaurant opens up to the hotel’s gorgeous pool. Everything about the restaurant, down to the mismatching glassware and creatively crafted dining chairs, is perfectly curated and lovingly  decorated. It’s basically something that I wish I could recreate in Dallas! (Or just in my backyard so I could be the only patron at all times…because I’m selfish.) If you’re heading to LA soon, I highly recommend that you check out The Commissary. Dare I say it’s my new favorite restaurant…ever?

The Best Coast

The Best Coast

James & I got home from Los Angeles late last night and I’ve been mourning our departure from the best coast ever since. I absolutely love visiting California, and I get especially sentimental when I spend time in L.A. I lived in Malibu for four years during college and in nearby Santa Monica for one year after I graduated, and I made so many irreplaceable memories in those cities. I met my best friends in those places, and I faced some of my most formative experiences on that coast. And don’t even get me started on the amazing scenery. The ocean is truly restorative to my soul. When I’m on the best coast, I love nothing more than sitting outside and relaxing near the water, pondering life (and, okay, sometimes dozing off). There’s something about the expanse of the ocean that is simultaneously profound, inspiring, and relaxing. If I’m being honest, I feel closest to God when I’m near water – the ocean just has a spiritual impact on me me.

Anyway, you get the idea – I love the ocean. And the West (or, in my opinion, best) Coast A LOT. Coming next – a recap from our amazing weekend together in Los Angeles!

Week & End

IMG_9750

Hey there, folks! This Week & End post is coming at you a little earlier than usual because James & I are headed to Los Angeles bright and early tomorrow morning to visit my favorite brother in the whole world! My parents are already there and they’ve posted up at The Culver Hotel, a great little boutique spot that is just around the corner from Andrew’s apartment. I absolutely cannot wait to be on the best coast so that I can breathe in some ocean air and spend time with the most amazing family on the planet.

Enjoy your weekends and have fun checking out these links from around the interwebs!

I got a quick start on my School Year Resolutions by volunteering today at the Circles Conference. What an amazing event! I was so inspired by the presentations I heard and the people I met. I’ll share a more thorough recap soon!

I popped into J.Crew to return a few items last week and I got totally distracted by their new line of perfumes. Since I typically gravitate towards more masculine scents, it was no surprise that I totally fell for No. 57, which has hints of whiskey, cinnamon, and cedarwood. I picked up a rollerball version of the perfume and I have been loving it already.

I really enjoyed reading Bon Appetit’s post about redefining the Freshman 15. Erin and I were chatting about this article and we felt über distinguished to have developed a taste for so many items on this list (good bread & butter, fish, marcona almonds, and especially good wine and burrata) during our college years (all while still staying true to our addiction to Funfetti cake, of course).

*I’m cutting my number of shared links short this week because, frankly, I have to finish up some work e-mails and pack my suitcase for LA – apologies, friends. Catch you next week! 

Five Years

rachelandjamesEP158

Five years ago today I piled up my car, said teary goodbyes to my best friends, and began the long road trip from Los Angeles to Dallas. I was moving to Texas for my job at Touch A Life and though I was totally daunted by the transition and anxious about what lay ahead (I had only been to Dallas a handful of times, and I knew hardly anyone besides my coworkers), I knew that taking this step would allow me to live out the plan that God had set out for my life. And now, looking back, I see how vivid and rich that plan was, and I truly can’t imagine my life any other way. By moving to Dallas, I furthered my career, came into my own as a woman, and, most importantly, met my husband and made some of the very best friends in the world, establishing community that I truly could never live without, regardless of where I live.

Of course, I know that September 11th marks a very sad time in our country’s history, and I’ve been thinking about and praying for those affected by the terrorist attacks continually throughout the day; nothing could ever change or trivialize what this day means to us as American citizens. But as far as my personal journey goes, September 11th has come to mean something else, something about trust and hope and promise. I’m reminded to live every day with intentionality, following in the path that God has laid out before me. I’m reminded to never take a single second of this sweet life for granted and to trust that everything, indeed, can be redeemed and made beautiful in His time.

Photo via Heather Hawkins from our engagement photo shoot last year – click on the link to check out more photos from that fun session!

Week & End

Succulents Desktop

Three cheers for Friday! We are headed to the ranch this weekend and I’m looking forward to quiet time, lots of reading and plenty of naps in the hammock, delicious home cooking, and fresh air. Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there, especially mine! Now for some links around the web…

The image above is one of the newest free computer desktop backgrounds via designlovefest’s monthly Dress Your Tech posts. I love the cute little succulents, don’t you? You can download the image here.

This week we found out that our wedding is going to be featured on Style Me Pretty! We are so excited & honored to have Heather’s glorious images of our special day showcased on such a well-known and respected site. I’ll let you know when the post goes live – so fun!

I love enjoying a glass of fizzy, refreshing (and healthy!) kombucha (this brand is my favorite), especially on a hot summer day. Mixing it with Texas-based Tito’s Vodka is something I wish I would have thought of myself, as I love the idea of adding a little kick to my kombucha for a special treat. I definitely need to make this cocktail asap.

Our book club totally copied Joanna Goddard – we are going to read this book over the summer and see the film adaptation of the novel (starring Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman & Adam Driver) when it comes out in September. I always love the thrill of starting a new book, and I’m especially excited about this one. Do you have any other good summer book recommendations?

Last week my parents, James & I booked a family trip to Los Angeles to visit Andrew, who recently moved back to the Best Coast to start a new job. We’re thinking of staying at this neat hotel, which is located close to Andrew’s apartment, and I can’t wait to try new restaurants, breathe in the ocean air, and spend time with my sweet family.