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.

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Peach Season

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWhile we were at the ranch a few weekends ago, my sister-in-law, Christy, and I went peach-picking. The idea came from my mother-in-law, Denise, who had peaches covering every available surface in her kitchen when we arrived, spurring on a conversation about her recent outing to pick fruit at a local farm. I’m not much of a peach girl, honestly, or at least I thought I wasn’t – I don’t like the way peach-flavoring has become associated with an overly-sweet sugary taste – but when I tasted the fresh ripe peaches, I was smitten. These perfect pieces of fruit were more like a combination of a juicy peach and a tart, flavorful nectarine (one of my favorite fruits). Instantly, I was hooked.

IMG_2677Christy and I wound our way through a dusty back road to Childress Farm, a family owned farm and ranch where peaches, blackberries, pecans, and other treats grow in abundance. We met one of the brothers who owned the farm, and he was so funny and kind, indulging us in conversation about his property and produce. He instructed us to fill a half bushel to our heart’s content, eating as many free peaches as we’d like during our adventure (for the record, we each had at least three). The sun was beating down on us and though many people had already come through to pick peaches, there were still many thriving trees full of ripe fruit. We had the place to ourselves so we chatted while we sorted through the peaches, picking those that were ripe or on their way to becoming ready. Peach juice dribbled down my chin as I snacked on one piece of fruit after the next, and the sky was perfectly blue. In that heavenly moment where all truly seemed right in the world, I realized I was officially a peach convert. Now I’m counting down the days until next year’s harvest! In the meantime, we’ll use up the 80+ (yes, you read that right – 80+) peaches that are stored in the freezer in pies and cakes and muffins and breads

Bluebonnets

IMG_5080Each year I get so excited for April for a myriad of reasons – because it stays lighter longer, because it’s porch season in Dallas, and (now!) because it’s the month of our wedding anniversary. But maybe my favorite reason of all is because it’s bluebonnet season in Texas. These gorgeous blooms sprout up for one month each year and they cover miles and miles of territory in the Lone Star State, making them a natural choice for our state flower. Two years ago Kyla and I spent an afternoon traversing the Bluebonnet Trail in Ennis, a small town about 45 minutes outside of Dallas. We were itching to go again this year so we made a plan to head out there this afternoon, this time with a picnic and our puppies in tow! Zillions of photos to follow, I promise, but for now, enjoy some pictures from last time’s adventure (silly faux senior portraits included).

P.S. Remember this video that Laura made of us frolicking in a field of bluebonnets on our way home from Austin?

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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!

Our Wedding on Style Me Pretty

rj15I am so excited to share that our wedding is being featured on Style Me Pretty today! Style Me Pretty is a major blog that showcases weddings from all over the world, helping brides gather inspiration and find vendors while also highlighting amazing work done by photographers, videographers, and planners worldwide. So it’s such an honor to have our special day featured on this fabulous site! Plus, it’s super fun to revisit all of our beautiful images and relive all of the gloriousness from our wedding day.

rachelandjamesWED113As you know, we love Heather more than we can say, so we’re thrilled that her gorgeous images are splashed all over Style Me Pretty’s site today. She posted some extra pictures on her blog, too. And we love that Patrick’s video was posted there for the world to see! Hop on over to take a peek at the feature – we couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out!

rj6-copy11008rj8 rj171 110461105811047 rj251 rj27 rachelandjamesWED2201 rachelandjamesWED225 rachelandjamesWED226P.S. I got to share my thoughts about our wedding process – you can check them out on the Style Me Pretty post, and you can take a sneak peek at some of my sentiments here!

James & I knew that we wanted a wedding that reflected our love for each other, our families, and our friends. We wanted our day to showcase our passions for our faith, our community, our relationship, our style, and our loves for great food, delicious drinks, awesome music, and gorgeous florals. We knew that we wanted to host a celebration not only of ourselves and of our marriage but also of the people who supported us along the way, both individually and as a couple.

We decided that we wanted to get married and have our reception outdoors and options in Dallas, where we live, felt limited. We ventured to Austin on the recommendation of our close friend & super talented photographer, Heather Hawkins, who was booked to shoot a wedding at Le San Michele, a venue located in Buda. We fell in love with the way Le San Michele combined a sense of sprawling European-style gardens with Texas foliage, where beautiful plants like succulents and bluebonnets and cacti were growing freely around the property. We loved that the venue owners had outfitted the space with plenty of amazing lighting and beautiful decor, and we appreciated that we could bring in any vendors of our choosing to help us on our special day.

Through yet another connection, we were introduced to The Nouveau Romantics. We cannot say enough good things about working with Liz and Hannah – they made our dreams become a reality. They helped us craft the ceremony and reception that we wanted, and we loved that they are a one-stop shop, a place where we could work together on everything paper, floral, and event-related, creating a really streamlined effect for our wedding as a whole. From succulent-filled bouquets and margaritas during cocktail hour to farm-style tables and family-style food service, Liz and Hannah helped us make selections that felt innately us, choices that reflected our relationship and the party we wanted to host for the people we love most in the world.

Head on over to Style Me Pretty for more!

Images via Heather Hawkins

Week & End

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Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? We are heading to James’s family’s ranch in Cross Plains, and, as always, I’m excited for fresh air, home cooking, and lots of relaxation. Also, word on the street is that the local rodeo will be in town…

Enjoy your days off as well as some fun links from around the world wide web!

I can’t wait for Wit & Delight’s party collection to debut at Target on Sunday! I am so excited to see what fun, decorative, and creative pieces that Kate Arends came up with for her personalized collection, Craft Social. I am not-so-secretly jealous of everyone who got to attend the Wit & Delight for Target launch party this week – it looked amazing (especially that pie bar, reminiscent of our wedding desserts!).

I finally took the plunge and purchased this lamp (in white/gold) from One Forty Three for my home office. I had seen it on my friend Natalie’s blog nearly a year ago and had been waiting for just the right time to purchase it. I sold my previous office desk lamp at last week’s garage sale (where we raised $5,238 to benefit Touch A Life’s Fence Fundraiser campaign, exceeding our goal of $5,000 – so exciting!!), partially because I wanted to accumulate as many items as possible for the sale and also, subliminally, because I wanted an excuse to buy the One Forty Three lamp (if I don’t have a desk lamp anymore then I have to buy a new one, right?). I also snagged two of these Ikea lamps (in white as well), after having observed them all over the blogosphere and admiring the minimalist style and cheap price tag. I got one to top the dresser in our master bedroom and one for my office at work. Let there be light!

So many good movies are coming out soon! After reading This Is Where I Leave You, I am stoked to see the movie, and I also am looking forward to seeing The Skeleton Twins. Kyla and I have plans to check it out the latter film on Monday – we’ll let you know what we think! P.S. If you haven’t seen Chef yet, you absolutely must – it may very well be my favorite movie of the year!

This really well-written article about the Ebola virus a bit of a somber link but it’s a really important one. Reporting on the epidemic in West Africa has really lessened over the past few weeks, and in some ways, that’s a good thing. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is the worst Ebola outbreak in the history of the world (according to the article, “there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years”) and we need to start being proactive instead of reactive. Some good food for thought.

Let’s end on a positive note! Las week on A Cup of Jo, Joanna Goddard shared this post about the most brilliant Friday night tradition. I immediately e-mailed it to James with the subject “LIFE GOAL.” I so want to replicate this at our house someday!

Five Years

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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!

Taco Stop

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This morning was one of the really great ones. I felt invigorated and all sorts of hopped up on endorphins, thanks to an early personal training session with one of my City Surf instructors (who took pity on my measly ankle and offered me some one-on-one time to get me back into action). While on my way to the training site, I spotted a pretty little taco shop that I’d never visited (or heard of) before, and I knew that my post-workout breakfast plans were set. My instructor confirmed that the place was delicious, so after getting my sweat on, I excitedly drove a few blocks to Taco Stop.

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Let’s pause and take a moment to appreciate the fresh, bright decor at this lovely little place. Doesn’t it look pretty in the morning sunlight?

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I ordered two breakfast tacos – one with bacon and eggs, and one with potato, cheese, and eggs – and one of each of the salsas (green and red, of course). I added a bubbly, refreshing Topo Chico to the mix and the kind gentlemen working in the kitchen threw in a fresh black coffee for free (!!!). The tacos were piping hot and, as expected, totally delicious. I liked that the tacos were on the smaller side, too – you know that I love me a beast of a taco like the ones that are served at Good 2 Go but I usually reserve those treats for weekends when I can take a nap afterwards. The smaller tacos are certainly way more conducive to having a productive workday (as is the black coffee, which I am slowly but surely acquiring a taste for) – they’re filling but not so rich that I enter into a food coma immediately after consuming them.

I took a minute to reflect on my morning as a whole while I noshed on my tacos. I felt invigorated by doing something out of the norm, even though it was something as simple as trying a new local spot. I savored the quiet time I had to sit and enjoy my breakfast as the world hurried on by. It’s nice to pause in the middle of the work week to  treat yourself to some peace and quiet (and coffee and tacos) every now and then, isn’t it?

P.S. I am going to continue bookmarking all of these recipe & restaurant-related posts in my Taste & Try folder on the sidebar but I’m going to remove the T & T verbiage from the blog post’s titles (just to keep things simple and clean). I hope you don’t mind! All of the content and foodie goodness and Taste & Try vibes will remain the same, I promise.

True Food Kitchen

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My most favorite go-to restaurant as of late has been True Food Kitchen. I’ve gotten to dine there several times lately (including when Mom & Dad visited Dallas) and I keep finding gems on the menu, delicious treats like their fresh-squeezed Kale-Aid green juice, the vegetable crudités with tzatziki and black olive dips, the “inside-out” quinoa burger, and, most recently, the summer market salad made with greens, corn, almonds, cucumbers, avocado, goat cheese, blueberries, and tomato & herb vinaigrette (which I topped with a perfectly grilled piece of salmon). Dad and I sampled my favorite of their cocktails, the Thai grapefruit martini, which is a simple, delicious, and refreshing combination of vodka, Thai basil, and grapefruit juice. So tasty! All of the menu items are made with the diner’s health in mind but taste is certainly not sacrificed in the process – I have yet to see something on the menu that doesn’t appeal to me. And there really is something for everyone – Mom, a vegetarian, loved the quinoa burger and Dad, who was initially skeptical when we described the restaurant, raved about his bison burger after we finished our lunch. James hasn’t tried True Food Kitchen yet but Mom & Dad generously gave us a gift card to the restaurant when they left – I can’t wait for us to go there for a date night!

Cross Plains, Texas

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James & I spent the weekend at his family’s ranch in Cross Plains, Texas. It is one of his favorite places to go as it’s truly a refuge & retreat for him. He loves wide open spaces and he is able to relax most when he’s tending to the ranch and the animals that live there. I, too, find such solace during our time at the ranch. I love the fresh air, the home-grown produce, the hours I spend reading & napping in the hammock, and the small town charm of Cross Plains, a place with a population of less than 1,000 people. We drive just a few hours west and it feels like we’re transported into a different time, and there’s something so therapeutic about that.

Here are some fun photos I snapped on my phone this weekend. We loved spending time with James’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law; playing with all of the ranch puppies (Callie included), especially the newest resident (and my running buddy), Spot; checking out the Barbarian Festival & antique car show in town (which was held at a park that was entirely covered in a magical canopy of majestic trees – so beautiful); eating delicious food; and simply enjoying a restful and relaxing time together.

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