Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Essentials

Winter Essentials

Now that winter is (thank stinking goodness!) winding down here in Austin, I thought I would share a few things that got me through this winter. I love reading other's go-to products and beauty must haves, so while my routine is incredibly simple, I think there are a few products here that everybody can use.

Coconut oil. I'm known at my office to be slightly (read: completely) obsessed with this stuff. I use it for lotion, lip balm, eye makeup remover, mouthwash and cooking/ baking. Basically coconut oil can do anything.

Fresh flowers. I don't function without fresh flowers, for winter I love full white or light pink blooms.

A good book! While I guess this is a must-have for any season, it is certainly needed during the winter when weather forces you indoors for days at a time.

Argan oil. This SAVES my hair. I am the worst with my mane, going way too long between trimmings on a regular basis. This helps keep it somewhat under control, especially with winter dryness.

Oregano Essential Oil. Let me give you a fair warning - you will smell like a pizza once you put this on. But it will kick a cold in its ass - I apply a few drops on the sole of my feet and put on socks before bed. You can also take it orally (a few drops in a glass of water).

Water. Water. Tons of water. I go to the bathroom approximately 50 times a day, but I'm okay with it because it saves my skin. I got this cup (on sale!) from Starbucks and absolutely love it - it keeps drinks cold for so long and is perfect for water sipping all day long!

Yes to Cucumber Face Wipes. These are the absolute best. No weird chemicals, great smelling and they actually get all the makeup/ gunk off of your face easily.

Benefit High Beam. I love products that you can use multiple ways and this fits the bill - as blush, eyeshadow, high lighter and my favorite use, on lips.

Elf primer. This stuff is literally $5 and is the best Target find ever. Molly told me about it a year ago, and I was certain that there was no way this cheap primer could really hold its one. SHE WAS SO RIGHT! It makes make up go on so much smoother and helps it stay on all day long. Get it, get it now.

Vaseline. A little bit on my lips each night before bed and no winter dry lips here!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comfort Zone


I gave a presentation (my first in a while) this week at an Austin marketing group meet up. I stuttered a little bit from nervousness, but did not poop my pants from nervousness. We'll call that a win. I sometimes get so comfortable in my cozy little life that I don't want to venture outside of my comfort zone. This was one of those times, but I new it was a good opportunity for me and I wanted to take advantage of it. I want to make it a priority this year to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people, travel to new places, try new things. So much easier to say it than to do it! I get afraid of being bad at things, of having others think I'm bad at things. But really, that is what the growth happens. When I've moved to a new city, or said yes to what seemed like a crazy idea at the time, that is when I'm challenged and when I (wo)man up to the challenge. So, this is going to serve as a public commitment to get out there. Embrace the scary things. Keep my head up when things go a little wonky. And more than anything, to try to enjoy it all! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Smile, Read, Wear, Eat


Smile
The new Whole Foods in our neighborhood is blowing my mind. It is the new flagship store and has the best selection of EVERYTHING. Fresh sushi? Done. Wood fired pizza? Absolutely. Every kind of cheese you could ever want? Not a problem. I love to grocery shop but this takes things to a whole new level.

Read
I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It was a great book, I finished it in 3 days I think? I do have to admit, I had been told by every lady I knew that it was SO INCREDIBLY UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING. I think I went in with such high expectations that while I loved it, I wasn't blown away by it. I was certainly surprised (especially part two of the book - I didn't see that coming) which I always appreciate. I am actually looking forward to the movie, I have never enjoyed the movie as much as books (The Help, Wolf of Wall Street, etc) but I think this has the potential to be awesome. I'm especially looking forward to the alternate ending. 


Wear
I'm loving this mint tunic (on sale!) and think it will be perfect for lounging pool side or with sandals for wandering through town. We're headed to Europe this spring (Turkey, France and Spain) so anything I purchase the next couple of months is going to have to be great vacation attire. Easily packable, not terribly wrinkle prone and comfortable to wear. I'd love to hear any recommendations!


Eat
Uchiko in Austin. Oh my wow. Preston and I went here for a date night on Friday before our family came into town and it was SO. BELIEVABLY. GOOD. It is a close second to La Condesa for my favorite Austin restaurant. If you go, get the brussel sprouts. It sounds strange, just do it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekends in Austin: Margaritas, Library and Sunshine

This weekend we had Preston's family in town to celebrate his Nana's 79th birthday. I know it is a thing to say how young people look as they turn another year older - but wow, does it really apply to her! She doesn't look a day over 70 and is still as active as ever - working full time, busy going to the ballet and movies and anything else you can imagine. She is such an inspiration!

While here, she wanted to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, and I will admit I was a little hesitant. On a sunny weekend the last thing I typically want to do is be inside. But this museum was incredible! It was redone it 2012 and was so impeccably executed - from the video montages, to the recorded phone conversations to the design - it was flawless. You get such a feel for who Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson were, not only as politicians, but as people. I absolutely loved seeing Lady Bird's incredible office (that she worked at up until her passing) - the bright sofa, clean mid century designs - I was in love. I know Austin is known for live music and great food, but if you visit I highly recommend adding the library to your agenda! (As a side note, when they zoomed in on this photo of LBJ during the House of Cards episode I watched last night I excitedly geeked out that I knew the back story. Do you watch House of Cards? If not, start. Now.)


I always find myself fascinated by former first ladies whenever I am at museums or listening/ reading about former Presidents. Who they were, how they handled the power, fame and pressure of being a First Lady. One recorded phone conversation between Lady Bird and former President Johnson was her critiquing a speech he had just given and I was so impressed at her candor - and incredibly honest constructive criticism. 


I naturally had to get in on some margarita action in honor of National Margarita Day on Saturday. We went to the Salt Lick (an Austin staple) on Saturday night, though I have to say that so far my favorite margarita has been the skinny margarita from here. It is a very uncool choice in a town full of cool choices, but my taste buds don't lie! The rest of our weekend was spent soaking up as much of the beautiful sunshine as possible. A long walk, patio lounging and lots of reading on Sunday made for a perfect day.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seattle: My Recommendations


I met a sweet girl not too long ago who was planning a trip to Seattle. I immediately got a little too excited, and began rattling off my must-sees. Seattle is one of my favorite cities - it will always hold a special piece of my heart. Here are some of my favorites if you find yourself visiting Seattle...

Downtown 
The Pink Door - Head here on a Monday night for dinner - they have cabaret and it is as cool as it sounds. Order the beet salad as an appetizer. If you are visiting Seattle during the summer, go here again the next day for lunch on the deck. Once again, order the beet salad.

Matt's in the Market - Go here for dinner. Fresh, delicious seafood, great wine and awesome views if you go before the sun sets (like 4 during Seattle winter).

Michou - It is right across from Pikes Place, awesome for grabbing a quick breakfast or lunch and before heading to walk the market. If they have lemon cookies, GET THEM ALL. The best cookie ever. 

Bathub Gin - near Belltown, its a back alley speakeasy with the best drinks of my life. There are a lot of places to go out if you venture down into Belltown, some of them (a lot of them) are shitty - BUT VENTURE DOWN THERE FOR THE STREET  HOT DOGS. Get a Seattle dog - hot dog with cream cheese and grilled onions, it will be the best thing you eat your whole trip. 

Capitol Hill 
Knee High Stocking Company - Fun pre dinner cocktail, call ahead to make reservations and get directions. Awesome food here if you'd like to stay for dinner as well! 

Von Trapp's - Bocce ball and good beer - I don't really know what more you could want. Skip the food, it's not the best, even for bar food. 

Grim's - Awesome for after dinner drinks, relaxed and very Seattle.

Ballard
Whatever you do while in Seattle, GO GET A SANDWICH AT PASEOS. Insanely good Caribbean sandwiches. You will die. Bring cash they don't take cards. They have two locations - Fremont or Ballard, both are awesome areas to explore - if it is a sunny day head to the Ballard Locks for exploring. 

West Seattle
This is where Preston and I spent our time in Seattle living. I love this sweet neighborhood. It is a short 10-15 minute drive from downtown, but because there is a bridge involved traffic can be horrible - plan your drive here during off hours.

If you have time, go walk Alki and then stop at Marination Mai Kai for the kimchi rice bowl aka best lunch of my life. 

Mashiko - This place has, in my humble opinion, the best sushi in Seattle. The chef is known to 

Bakery Noveau - The best macaroons in town. But if you are like me and think that macaroons are overrated (gasp) I would spring for a chocolate croissant. So good. 

Circa - My favorite casual neighborhood restaurant for a solid steak. Get a side of sweet potato fries.

Last but not least, La Rustica for solid Italian food in the cutest little place right across from the water. Not the best service, but really when you can stare out at the Puget Sound and drink a delicious glass of wine does it really matter?

Woodinville
Chateau St Michelle winery and Redhook brewing company. Perfect day. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flights Booked, Bags Packed!

Photo from glorious Cinque Terre {Monterosso}

Alright, that's a lie. My bags are most certainly not packed yet, but I have booked a few plane tickets for the next couple of months and couldn't be more excited! First up is San Francisco next month. I'm headed there for a work conference but staying for the weekend and Preston is flying up to meet me! So far our to-do list is wine tasting in Napa, visiting friends and eating a lot of delicious foods. Any recommendations are welcome!

Next ticket to purchase is Vegas for this babe's bachelorette party! We'll be going the second weekend of May which means PERFECT warm weather, hot enough to be by the pool but not hot enough to burn your face off. Absolutely cannot wait.

Ready, set, trip time!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Smile, Read, Wear, Eat


Smile
My white tulips from my sweet Valentine have left a perma-smile on my face this week. Can I just say how much I prefer these beauties over red roses? I also love having a husband who has been sweet enough to learn my (somewhat picky) flower preferences. Bless him!


Read
First, let's get this out of the way: I am a reader. I love books. I live for them. When I am reading a good book, the only way I can describe it is that I am hungry for it, I can't stop thinking about it until I finish it. I've been wanting to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but it was checked out at the library so I decided to start with her first novel, Sharp Objects. It was a dark novel, but dark in the I-need-to-find-out-what-happens-next way. I don't think I ever would have picked it up had I not heard such great things about the author, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Also re-reading (and the re-reading again) this column: "Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. 

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room. 
Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you."

Wear
I don't know if this technically qualifies as wearing, but my manicure + pedicure are certainly my favorite part of my outfit today. It was a glorious two hours, and I highly recommend Milk + Honey if you are in need of a mani/ pedi in the Austin area. Also I am absolutely loving these work out tops from Costco. $10 and super comfortable - that is a yes in my book. They do run big though, so I would go a size down from what you normally wear!

Eat
This chicken - easy, yummy, healthy. It meets all of my dinner requirements and in general anything I've ever made from a DALS recipe has been a keeper.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Austin: South Congress Cafe & Uncommon Objects


South Congress was what sold me to move to Austin. Preston had always talked about the city, and I had the chance to come for a work conference a few years back. While my coworkers were at a meeting, I took to walking up and down South Congress, eating ice cream as I went. I loved the people, the shops, the no-fuss about all of it. This street is Austin in a nut shell.

Now we get the chance to head down here whenever we want! This weekend we decided to try South Congress Cafe with some friends. Besides the crazy long wait (we called ahead and still had to wait over an hour) and not so pleasant hostess situation, the rest of our brunch was awesome. The migas and carrot cake french toast are to die for. Definitely worth making a stop at in Austin, especially if you can sneak in on a week day. :)






If you do decide you'd like to brave the crowds and go on a weekend, I suggest spending your 45-90 minute wait sifting through treasures at Uncommon Objects. Antlers, vintage flags, mason jars - anything awesome you could want for you home, they will have it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.


Happy Valentine's Day! You know when you read, or hear something, at it just speaks to you in such a way that you find yourself thinking about when you wake up in the morning, when you are sitting at your desk at work, on your commute home, while you are cooking dinner... I love when that happens. I've had a few moments lately and coincidentally they all had to do with love, so what better day to share than a holiday dedicated to love?!

First, this sermon (select What Is the Church Part 2: People who Love). It was one of those services where I don't think I stopped nodding in agreement the whole time. Not because I was doing the great things he talked about, but instead because, SHIT-I-am-so-easily-inconvenienced-by-things and wow do I need to work on that. There was a statement somewhere along the way about how easy it is to love people when they are kind, and gracious, and wonderful. That love comes easy!! When it is inconvenient to love people, that is when we should be loving them harder. I am horrible at this, the second that somebody is late or cuts me off in traffic or does something unkind, my feisty half takes over. This sermon has been replaying in my head - reminding me over and over and over to love when it is inconvenient.

This article on what real love is - and advice on how to approach marriage. It is my favorite single article on relationships (and love) that I have ever read. There will be tears when you read this. "I found that real love is still there in the hard places. That is where it matures, and becomes more beautiful. That is where it is refined. That is where it becomes real."

And last, but not least, I'm loving this song. It's been playing in my head all week long.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Time Home Owner: Rugs are your best friend


I love, love, love owning a home. I am a complete novice (we've owned for about 4 months), and have yet to figure out how to fix our garage remote on one side or our half-broken garbage disposal. Despite of that, I think we've learned a few things that are worth sharing. Mainly in the arena of home decor, because, well that is one of the few areas I think I actually have some share-worthy knowledge!

To kick things off, I thought I would talk about one of my favorite things: rugs, rugs, rugs. I love them. I have been placed on rug-buying restriction more than once by my sweet husband more than once. They are the perfect way to pull a room together and instantly take a space from normal living area, to 'oh so cozy, I want to sip my coffee and read a book here and never leave'. For your first home, when things (like gallery walls) and decor and furniture are still coming together, rugs are such an easy way to make a space feel polished without breaking the bank. As for where to purchase cozy, awesome rungs, here are my favorite sources:

Joss & Main: Flash daily deal site with AWESOME furniture finds. They are owned by WayFair, and all of the products I've purchased have been awesome quality. If you keep an eye out and check daily (things can go fast!) you can find great rugs for a steal. Our old master bedroom rug is from Joss & Main and even after two moves, wear and tear from a St. Bernard and a cleaning at a horrible dry cleaners it is still going strong.

One King's Lane: Exactly the same as above, just not owned by WayFair. Really, really well curated picks, I would say a  tiny step above Joss & Main? I check both daily when I am in the market for something particular.

RugsUSA: Oh my wow the sales. That is the trick here - you have to find what you want, and then WAIT until there is a sale. They have 70% off at least once a quarter, and that my friends is when you should stock up on rugs. I MEAN REALLY, 70% OFF?!? They are having a President's Day sale now so hustle on over there if you are rug hunting. The rug above is from there, our guest room is from here and soon enough our patio rug will be from here (just don't tell Preston).

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

design dilemma: the dining room wall that made me lose sleep

Last night Molly and I talked for 30 minutes about how I was going to lay out the gallery wall on my dining room wall. I've gone back and forth for two weeks, and once I had an arrangement I liked, I went to sleep and woke up with a change of heart. Of course. I'm not too worried, since this seems to be the way my creative process works: have an idea, love it, plan it, change mind, have an idea, love it, plan it, change mind - but it eventually leads to putting together something I really do love so I'm ok with the back and forth.

To give you an idea of what I'm working with, here is the bare, sad wall now:


It's pretty bad right now, I know. But, I don't want to rush into anything. We've only lived in this house for 4 months, and well, we've done a lot in that time. I would rather take my time and put up something I like instead of something I will (inevitably) want to redo next week.

I'm drawn to gallery walls, and want to put together something more modern/ funky than what is going on in this room right now. Our house bones are pretty traditional so I am craving a switch from that with this wall - especially since it is the first thing you see when you walk in. Here are some of my inspiration images...

 




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thankful


This print is surely going to find it's way onto my (soon-to-be-created) living room gallery wall. What an awesome verse to remember, especially in those moments when I am feeling anything but surefooted. (Like, for instance, last night. My first night in our home officially by myself as Preston was traveling for work. I don't know what the opposite of surefooted is - but I imagine it looks something like me falling asleep, then waking up terrified that the little noise downstairs was somebody breaking in. What the what?!)

So, back to thankful. Today I am feeling especially for being able to have a great cup of coffee at work, when I get here bright and early in the morning. If I'm ever dreading waking up, or going out into the cold, I think about a delicious cup of coffee waiting for me and it does wonders! Also thankful for...

The slobberiest, hairiest, messiest, sweetest puppy in the whole world. The puppy who sneaks onto the couch (where he knows he is not allowed) to get his beauty rest at night. The dog who wags his tail and makes the happiest faces at me even when I am giving him my mean face.

I'm grateful to have the kindest, most loving family as neighbors. Bonus that the dad is in law enforcement and makes sure I know him and his wife are completely available, at any time, for anything I need, while Preston is out of town.

The honesty and love of friends and sisters. And long emails and great phone calls and funny texts.

City and Colour Pandora station.

Last but least, thankful for the most awesome guy in the whole. entire. world. Who I completely take for granted until he leaves for a work trip and I realize just how stinking much I miss him! I married up, that is for sure. Thanks for making life rad P Simon.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Home Sweet Home: Our Housewarming Party



When I graduated from college, I wanted everything on the graduation party menu to be homemade. Nothing from a store, nothing from a box. I wanted to bake each little cake, use family recipes for all the appetizers. I was even a little bit offended when somebody so sweetly brought store brought wings. The nerve. 

Well, fast forward a few years to the house warming party for our first home, and my priorities seem to have shifted a bit! My sweet mom was coming in town for the party - her first time to our new house and city. And the most important thing was to have fun with her! Show her around, enjoy every little second and for our house warming party I wanted to take it easy. So Costco appetizers and a huge cheese board it was! And it was awesome. There was no stress of having to cook every little thing to perfection, to make it all perfectly homemade. In fact, with my darling momma and sweet mother in law there, I hardly did anything at all! They took care of prepping the yummies and I did what I love to - set it all out and decorated the table, wine in hand! Here are a few pictures of our get together, and three cheers for awesome momma's and Costco treats...










Also, let's be honest, I took the 'take it easy' mantra a little too far and didn't even think about taking out my actual camera. Or focusing my iphone camera. Woops! More importantly though, thank you to our sweet, sweet family and new friends for coming to celebrate with us. We are so, so appreciate of your encouragement, love and excitement!