Style For Any Age: Pastel Sundresses

This segment of Style For Any Age is focusing on colorful spring dresses. We’ve been trying to up our efforts around our house to be greener and I wanted to not buy something this time around and instead use something out of my own closet. I mean, if Kate Middleton can do it regularly, why can’t we?

Fashion is a tricky concept although it may feel like we need a new wardrobe for each season and whatever fits in with the latest trend, I would encourage you to instead look at what is already in your closet. I’m sure you’ve all gone through and figured out what gives you joy and what doesn’t at this point. Now, let’s wear what gives us joy and remember to wear it often. Love the clothes you buy and love how you look in them.

I’m rocking a (I kid you not, maybe 8/9 year old) dress from Banana Republic. It makes me feel fun, flirty and feminine in it. Especially when combined with some strappy nude sandals and a few pieces of delicate jewelry.

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My Favorite Things: Appreciating My Postpartum Body

Look, appreciating my postpartum body hasn’t been easy. There’s a million reasons why the first few months with a baby can be difficult and a million more that can make a mom go hard on herself. Without focusing on maternity or specifically postpartum clothing/products, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite things that have made this season a little easier on me and have made me feel better about myself.

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Aerie Romantic Lace Plunge Bralette // I cannot say enough great things about this bralette. All the way to XXL, this bra makes bra can handle all that breastfeeding throws at it without making you feel frumpy.

Old Navy Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans // These jeans are always a favorite with me, but I specifically love the new prints/washes. I have this mid-rise tye dye pair and I love that they don’t make me feel like I’m trying to cover up or hide. Sure, I may be rocking a size larger than I want to right now, but these make me feel like I stand out for all the right reasons.

Modcloth Simplicity on a Saturday Tunic // I swear by this as the best tee ever. I tend to fall between regular and tall fit so I love this length. Although it’s a tunic, it hits me like a long tee and it’s perfect for covering up that postpartum bump.

Target Woven Backless Mules // These little slip ons add a little oomf to anything and I’m learning to really appreciate it. When it feels like you’re living in leggings, these add a little more. T shirt and jeans? Yeah, they work well there too. Shorts and a tank? You bet. These are the all around perfect pair of mules.

Essie Nail Colors (Shown in Mint Candy Apple and Cute as a Button) // These two colors are my go to for when I’m feeling a little gloomy. Sure, they’re a little out of my comfort zone but they add a pop of color and instantly brighten my mood.

Style For Any Age: LOFT Look II

I went out of my comfort zone for this one. Continuing with our installment of LOFT looks for our Style For Any Age series, I decided to do something different. I’ve been styling my body for a while now and know all he tricks to keep attention at a minimum to the areas I like least, one of those being my mid-section. Well, when you’re this pregnant, there’s really nothing you can do about it.

In fact, it’s a pretty bizarre feeling to spend what feels like a lifetime covering up an area that I’m now supposed to try and highlight. So, for this look, I decided to just go all out and throw on a lightweight, knit jumpsuit. That’s right, a jumpsuit at over 35 weeks pregnant. I went a step further and didn’t really layer anything with it. It was insanely comfortable and because of the sleeves, it really didn’t need much more to the look in regards to clothing layers. Also, this jumpsuit is currently 40% off with the coupon code HELLO so jump on it. I never considered myself a romper or jumpsuit girl, but now that I pulled it off while super pregnant, I think I’m on board with adding some similar looks to my wardrobe!


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Check out how I styled the look below and remember that through Saturday, March 30 you get 40% off of your purchase.

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1. FRESH Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Coral // Always one of my favorite products. Just enough color and plenty of lip care combined.

2. Lou & Grey Brushmarl Jumpsuit // This jumpsuit was crazy comfortable and third trimester approved! (yeah, that comfortable)

3. Metallic Multistrand Necklace // Loved this chunky necklace. It added just enough to the look without distracting or getting lost.

4. A New Day Rebecca Pointed Ballet Flats // These pointed flats are an easy pairing with almost any look. This pair is an affordable wardrobe staple.

5. Metallic Arm Marbleized Cat Eye Sunglasses // Because every woman needs a pair of cat eye glasses.

Ordering at Starbucks with a Reusable Cup

As much as I’d love to say I walk through life with confidence, there’s nothing quite like the wave of anxiety that hits when you feel like you’re holding people up in line. It feels so silly to admit because it’s such a small and unworthy reason of keeping me from doing so, but this is primarily what’s kept me from ordering my coffee using a reusable cup.

Last summer, with every iced drink came a plastic cup, lid and straw. I tried reusable straws but I still felt guilty about the number of plastic cups stacking up just so I could enjoy a little treat. Add in the likelihood of getting a little milk or a small cup of something for James and I wasn’t too proud of myself. Still, I would talk myself out of ordering using a reusable cup. Even if you’re a hot drink kind of person, there are multiple pieces that go into each cup. The lid, the cup itself, the plastic stopper and the cardboard sleeve all add up, no matter how cute the holiday cup designs are.

Feeling inspired by others’ New Year resolutions to reduce waste, I stopped by Starbucks and got all the information anyone needs on how to order using your own cup.

No worries of holding anyone up, no awkward questions, no wave of anxiety and significantly less waste. So, here’s what to do.

  • Pull up to the drive through/approach counter (this should be an easy one).

  • Before you order, tell the barista that you have a reusable cup. This allows them to give you the discount of $.10 and let’s them know how to prepare it.

  • Give your order.

  • Have your lid off when you pull up to the window or hand them your cup. Not only is this for convenience but it is actually considered a health hazard if they were to take your lid. So, just keep it off until you get your drink.

  • Pull up to the window/approach counter and give them your cup.

  • Drive/walk off and drink up.


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Easy, right?!

This isn’t a hard thing to do, it’s just something that doesn’t really come to our minds as much as it should. Throw in a busy schedule, kids, school and all the other things that life brings and it becomes easier to just shrug it off and consider it not a big deal. Those cups add up, though. Reusable cups are easy to come by, sometime even within our own home. A lot of us have them laying around, whether it be a tumbler or an insulated thermos.

Let’s put them to some good use!

Style For Any Age: LOFT Look I

We were graciously invited to LOFT at Sundance Square to style ourselves for the next installment of Style for any Age. Here, we came up with a couple things to keep similar and incorporate our own styles into each of our outfits.

Before all my plus size ladies check out of this blog post, I want to take a moment and speak to you. LOFT isn’t a company I had ever associated with plus size shopping options. It doesn’t come up often as a resource for plus size or maternity and honestly, I don’t know why. Throughout this series, I want to work with companies who are size inclusive and understand that their size range has a direct impact on the confidence of their consumers. For those of you who don’t fit into the petite range, who can’t just throw on any article of clothing and it drape beautifully and for those who are dealing with conflicting feelings about your own self image, LOFT is a place you should be checking out.

I loved how many signs were around the store reminding the customer that even though they may not have it in store, they carry almost everything online in plus, tall and maternity sizing. Oh and the sizes don’t just stop at an XL or a 18. LOFT carries up to size 26 online which is a huge win in my book and the kind of size inclusivity I want to stand up for.

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Check out our looks below and how each of us styled it.

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Slim Tie Waist Pencil Pants in Julia Fit // Obviously the tie is downplayed a little for the sake of my growing baby bump. Still, an adorable pant that comes in a variety of shades.

Geo Pointelle Sweater// This super cute pullover doesn’t show it in the pictures, but has the most pattern filled with specs of both pastel pink, purple and even just a hint of blue. If you’re not into Easter dresses, this is an awesome option that you could end up wearing all year.

Double Layer Tassel & Stone Pendant Necklace // The perfect pendant to compliment baby bumps of all sizes.

Pearlized Stretch Bracelet Set // Such an easy and beautiful way to jazz up an outfit.

ASOS Snake Print Loafers // The print that keeps on giving and goes with almost any look.

Styling by Kendra Scott

Last week, I showed off our styled looks featuring the well known Nordstrom ruched tank dress. I wanted to give some rightful attention to the jewelry we were fitted with. The ladies at Kendra Scott in the Shops at Clearfork were a dream to work with. Not only did they make us feel right at home, but they found pieces that went with our outfits and were suited to our skin tone.

Sure, that may sound like no big deal, but as someone who falls on the extreme side of being fair-skinned, my skin tone is something I strongly consider when choosing jewelry. Who knows, maybe that’s why I have so few pieces in my collection. Kendra Scott has a metal that I’ve never really considered and is now all I want to wear. It’s called “Bright Silver” and it’s not the deep grey or metallic silver you would normally see in regards to jewelry. It almost comes off as a white and it’s perfect for people like me who are the palest of pale.

All in the Bright Silver metal, I was given the Tegan Y Necklace, the Millie Bracelet in Ivory Mother of Pearl and the Gaby Statement Earrings in Ivory Mother of Pearl Mix to go along with my look. I am officially in love with anything in Bright Silver from Kendra Scott!

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Style for Any Age: Ruched Tank Dress

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Here’s the breakdown of how this look was styled.

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  1. Ruched Body-Con Tank Dress in Purple Taupe Heather // Although this isn’t technically a maternity style, you’d have no clue between the size variety and ruching detail.

  2. Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Super Strawberry // Perfect color that is long lasting without being overwhelming

  3. Millie Bright Silver Link Bracelet In Ivory Pearl by Kendra Scott // The perfect color for my skin tone

  4. Tegan Y Necklace In Bright Silver by Kendra Scott // A generous pendant that falls in the perfect spot

  5. Gaby Bright Silver Statement Earrings In Ivory Mix by Kendra Scott // Again, this shade of ivory is absolutely perfect for fair skin tones. It highlights without distracting attention.

  6. TOMS Rose Gold Pearlized Women’s Avalon Slip-Ons // Can’t get enough of TOMS right now. Especially with their new giving model to help end gun violence, it makes wearing these slip ons even better.

My Trader Joe’s Staples

Ever feel a little overwhelmed by the selection at Trader Joe’s? Well, I’m sharing the staples we keep on hand at our home in an effort to make your shopping trip a little easier.

Keep in mind that we don’t do our primary grocery shopping here so you may find some things missing. Also, being pregnant right now, our family isn’t following any specific diet. I may do a follow up post when I’m back to losing the baby weight on how to eat healthy while shopping at Trader Joe’s but for now, this is just a general list of the things we shop for there.

Another important thing to remember is that when you’re walking through Trader Joe’s and wondering if it’s worth buying something, just ask them to open it. You can sample anything in the store while shopping. We’ll probably not the wine but you know what I mean.

 
 

The Flower Section

Trader Joe’s carries one of (if not the) cheapest selection of flowers considering the variety they have available. You can get mixed bouquets for any budget or bunches of a certain kind. The city goes nuts when the bring the peonies out in Spring.

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts

This little bag makes for an easy side of pan-fried brussels sprouts and being shaved cuts the work in half.

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Frozen Spinach & Kale Bites

These are easy to make, taste great and toddler approved.

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Uncured Ham & Swiss Cheese Flaky Croissant Dough Squares

We call this breakfast pizza in our home. They’re easy to make and aren’t nearly the calorie bomb you would expect them to be.

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Frozen Roasted Corn

Sure, frozen corn is great. This is better. Pair with some crumbled feta or cojita for an easy side or just use in place of regular frozen corn in your recipes.

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Frozen Rice

We actually have a rice cooker now so this isn’t what it used to be in regards to being a staple, but it deserves to be on this list. With perfectly cooked rice in 3 minutes, it’s a lifesaver on days you forgot about dinner (hey, it happens).

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Thai Red Curry Sauce

This sauce plus a can of coconut milk mixed with shredded chicken and veggies is one of our favorites.

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Hi-Protein Veggie Burger

These taste good and has a whoppin’ 26g of protein in each burger.

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Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

The holy grail of Trader Joe’s product. This pairs beautifully with, very seriously, almost everything.

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Organic Coconut Aminos

I actually prefer this to traditional soy sauce, so making the switch to this healthier option has been an easy one for me. The pricetag on this one makes it easy, too.

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Joe’s Diner Mac n’ Cheese

Sure, sure. Everyone gets hyped about Beecher’s world famous mac n’ cheese, but I would say this gives them a run for their money.

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Organic Coconut Milk

Trader Joe’s also has organic reduced fat coconut milk and organic coconut cream. We always have a couple cans on hand for a last minute recipe or a dairy free substitution.

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The Cheese Section

All grocery stores try to offer a variety of cheeses, but I would say the variety and price makes Trader Joe’s one of the best. If you’re looking to quickly put together a cheese board without breaking the bank or just branch out and try some new cheeses, this is an awesome area to peruse.

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Uncured Bacon Ends & Pieces

If you’re a fan of thick and fatty bacon, trust me, get this next time you’re there.

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Oven-Baked Cheese Bites

These little crackers pack a punch. They pair great with soups, salads or just some wine.

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Pinks & Whites

These little cookies are the adult version of frosted animal crackers and absolutely worth the calories.

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Speculoos Cookie Butter

We knew this would end up on the list. Pair with apples, pears, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps or just grab a spoon and go for it.

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Cornbread Crisps

Now, these aren’t on our shopping list every time but when we make soups or stews, this is a perfect pairing.

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Organic Ketchup

I mean, if my kid is going to insist on dunking everything into ketchup, I might as well know the ingredients in it, right?

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Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies

A simple treat for toddlers in the shape of letters and numbers.

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Peanut Butter Cups

I’m not sure what makes these better than other peanut butter cups, but they just are.

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Bamba Peanut Snacks

If you’re a mom, you may be familiar with the Osem Bamba snacks you’ll find in the Kosher area of the store. These are often used to softly introduce peanut butter to babies and testing the waters for allergies. Well, now Trader Joe’s sells them for $.99 a bag. When describing them to people, we call them “peanut butter cheetos.”

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Ranch Seasoned Crispy Chickpeas

Another toddler approved snack that is a fun one. They travel well and pack well for lunches.

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Crispy Crunchy Okra

These air fried sticks of okra are great for both toddler and adult snacking.

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Seasoned Kale Chips

Another way to sneak some veggies into the snack routine that actually works.

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Style For Any Age: Indie Heeled Booties

For this installment of Style for Any Age, we decided to jump on board with the trend of light booties. White, cream and beige booties are everywhere right now so we picked up this pair from Target and each styled it differently. I took this opportunity to bust out the pastel pink maternity jeans which ended up having more of a loose fit giving a nice boyfriend look and pairing it with a simple leopard print top.

Check out the deets below and head to both Monica and Lauren’s instagram to get the info on how they styled their looks.

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Here’s the breakdown of how I styled these booties.

  1. Universal Thread Indie Heeled Booties // These off-white booties are an affordable and fun way to try out the current trend of white booties.

  2. Leopard Print Dolman Sweater // Easy, affordable and dolman sleeves are always a perfect option to hide some of that pregnancy weight.

  3. Pink Maternity Shrunken Boyfriend Jeans // Note: these run large. They’re the cutest boyfriend jeans and come in a fun pop of color.

  4. Ella & Mila Nail Polish in I Need a Tan // One of my favorite nail brands safe for pregnancy. It dries fast and always looks fierce.

  5. Warby Parker Piper Sunglasses // A very Hepburn pair of sunglasses without going overboard. Just the right amount of class and the perfect amount of protection.

Style For Any Age: Longline Leopard Cardigan

I came together with a couple other local bloggers to try something new!

We all purchased one article of clothing and each of us styled it differently. It sounds simple, right? In actuality, we forget how our size, age and seasons of life affect what we wear and how we wear it. For example, I went pretty low-key with my version. I mean, as much as I’d love to regularly be incorporating heels, dresses and chunky jewelry into my wardrobe, my everyday life makes any of those options difficult. So, I went what I call “boyfriend maternity chic” with this one.

Check out the look below.

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Here are the details on how I styled this look.

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  1. Angashion Long Sleeve Leopard Print Cardigan // This cute, longline cardigan can be dressed up or dressed down and flatters all body types.

  2. Urban Outfitters Brushed Woven Blanket Scarf in Tan // The perfect neutral third piece to layer over anything.

  3. Kelly & Katie Miralla Oxford from DSW // Kelly & Katie is well known in my home as being both extremely comfortable and well priced. It’s no surprise their oxfords are rated well.

  4. Fresh Cosmetics Sugar Nude Tinted Lip Treatment // My holy grail product. It keeps my lips tinted, well hydrated and protected from the sun with SPF 15.

  5. Simplicity on a Sunday Tunic by Modcloth // The hill I will die on: this is the best all around long t-shirt you will be able to find. It comes in a variety of colors and ranges from XXS to 4X.

  6. Old Navy Maternity Premium Raw Edge Rockstar Jeans // Insanely comfortable and fashionable while that bump grows.



Sitting Made Simple: Fort Worth Launch

Sitting Made Simple (SMS) is coming to Fort Worth and I’m all kinds of excited about it! I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the founder, and the owners of both the Dallas and the new Fort Worth branch to find out what all of this means.

Sitting Made Simple is exactly what it says it is. They do the work for you in regards to getting you a sitter. What they do is recruit, interview and screen potential sitters. Let’s be clear, their interviews are not chill. They go above and beyond simply checking references. We’re talking background checks, CPR certification, looking into driving records and the interviews are always in person. So, after someone completely checks out, they go into their system. Then, someone like myself goes in and realizes I need a sitter for an upcoming night out. Instead of shooting out five(ish) texts to the sitters I have in my phone, I can simply go to their site and make a sort of sitter reservation. It really is that simple.

The owner of SMS Fort Worth, Melissa Wolfe, had been using the Dallas service for about a year and a half before she decided that we needed something like this here, too! The site tries to pair you with a sitter who is relatively nearby so that they aren’t driving more than 30 minutes to get to you. She’s a mom of two and understands exactly what goes into looking for a sitter and the importance of trusting who you leave your little ones with. After getting to spend some time with her, I was inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit and her ambitions to bring something like this to our area, but also I genuinely enjoyed being around her.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Sitting Made Simple Fort Worth! To celebrate their launch, I’m giving away 3 months of trustworthy babysitting reservations free over on Instagram. Head here to enter now!

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Rise Soufflé and Their Cheese Selection

I recently was invited to attend a brunch at Rise to try out their menu and get to know the restaurant a little more. If you’re unfamiliar with Rise, it’s a fun spot here in Fort Worth that specializes in soufflés.

It was a delight to be a part of this not just because of the great food! Rise has a noticeably different ambience than other hot spots around town. The dining experience usually lasts a minimum of around an hour and a half. Here, instead of getting the bill and feeling like the wait staff is ready for you to leave, you’re meant to sit back and enjoy, and, everything from the menu to the decor matches that sentiment.

We were treated to a beautiful arrangement of foods, not limited to their signature soufflés. I tasted a bit from the main table and then enjoyed some of their classic Marshmallow Soup as a starter. The soup is a tomato bisque with small goat cheese soufflés in it and topped with a zesty pesto sauce. It may seem like it’s a rainy-day type of treat but trust me, this works with any weather. For the entree, I chose the Duck a’lOrange soufflé which was a dream. I described it as “Thanksgiving in a bowl” and an absolute delight in regards to a savory soufflé. For dessert I went with the raspberry soufflé which again was perfect. Because it had a tart flavor and texture, it wasn’t heavy. It was the perfect addition to both the soup and the Duck a’lOrange.

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All of this was wonderful and I think it’s absolutely worth your time to stop by and try it, however, it was their cheese selection that left a lasting impression on me.

Before the soup, we were brought a hefty cheese board holding 12 hand-selected cheeses from around the world and given a brief explanation about each of them. Two cheeses were featured on their signature girolle, which is a device to help shave the cheese. I went with the Rosey Goat, (Spain), Cahill’s Porter (Ireland), and Boschetto al Tartufo (Italy). They were all insanely good. I was pleased with my choices, but the Boschetto al Tartufo may be one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had. It’s a fresh, semi-soft cheese made from a combination of a cow's and sheep's milk and infused with shavings of rare white truffles.

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After we had enjoyed our cheese along with their tasty accompaniments, the cheese presenter casually mentioned that you can buy any of the cheeses here in the restaurant.

I’m sorry. WHAT?!

This kind of floored me. I’m someone who strolls into high end stores and picks out cheese like most people do wine, by how pretty the label is compared with the price. Like wine, sometimes you nail it and find a favorite. Other times you’re less than impressed. This happens regularly with me and to be fair, I don’t seek out an employee nearby for answers or really expect them to have the knowledge to point me towards some great cheeses.

I even asked as clearly as possible because I couldn’t really believe this option was available from Rise. “So, instead of heading into the super market or a similar option, I can just come here and buy these cheeses?” The answer is yes. You can come by the restaurant and get a brief explanation of the cheeses that are available and then purchase a couple to take home. If you’re looking for a full cheese board, they can even build it for you for pick up. Personally, I’m rarely someone who needs to have it made for me, but I almost always need some hand holding during the actual cheese selection.

When family comes into town, for the upcoming holidays, or even just because, I now know that I can get a few quality options for a cheeseboard with very little effort. I had no idea that this service was available and whether it be for entertaining or simply a calm night in, I’m already figuring out when I can next stop by and bring home some of that Tartufo!

Fort Worth Favorite: Brunch at Cane Rosso

Cane Rosso is known for their Neapolitan style pizzas, which, if you didn't know, are my jam. The restaurant has a large, laid back space on Magnolia and features a huge wood-burning oven. Neapolitan pizzas are cooked for a little over a minute in a very hot wood-burning oven. They are traditionally thin crust and are eaten using forks and knives. Neapolitan pizza is my favorite. They have a secret menu that's worth ordering off of, too! I've had the The Honey Bastard which comes topped with spicy soppressata salami, mozzarella, bacon marmalade and habanero-infused honey. The Heimy Bastard (still off menu, here) is similar to the Honey Bastard Pizza except for one big difference. The Heimy Bastard includes all of that goodness and then adds on Heim Barbecue's burnt ends. The Heimy is only available on Tuesdays, though, so plan accordingly.  

Cane Rosso isn't exactly what you think of when considering brunch options. So, lured by the bacon marmalade and the $1 mimosas, I got a couple friends together and put it to the test.

Turns out, it's awesome. We ordered a side of fried artichokes, the Breakfast Panini, the Wafflebird and the Mother Cluckin' Bastard. The portions were large and the mimosas were really good. For $1 we were fully expecting to be less than impressed. We shared a little of each of our meals and it was a wonderful, laid back brunch with friends. My only critique was for a little sauce other than the bacon marmalade (which is worth a trip there on it's own) on my Mother Cluckin' Bastard. I know everyone loves the simplicity of a chicken biscuit, but if we're already having some fun with it, let's go next level and add a sauce in there too. At the end of the meal, we decided to split the check 3 ways and with splitting a starter, each a full entree and two drinks, we left paying just under $20. 

Every time I come by Cane Rosso, I have the thought "I should really come here more often." I'm excited to now throw it on the list of fun, easy going and affordable brunch spots. 

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Why You Should Date Your Friends

Sometimes friendships just happen and it can be a really beautiful moment when they do. It's as if all the stars aligned just to allow you two to meet, laugh together and make a quick connection. But what happens next? How about someone who is going through a difficult time and needs a friend to step up? What about a friendship you see potential in but only get to see or talk to them in passing? 

If we're lucky, we'll have a couple of those magical connections in our lifetime. For the most part though, maintaining friendships can be difficult. We all have a lot going on in our lives, so how do you go about creating an intentional atmosphere for diving deeper within a friendship?

Ah, yes. There's that word I love so much. Intentional. I'm a big fan of intentional friendships, and as I get older and after moving around a bit, I realize there are two important things I've learned about them.

1) We need them.

2) It's really unlikely that you'll develop deep relationships in an organic way.

Sure, these probably sound like no brainers, but sometimes we need a gentle reminder. Friendships aren't as easy to develop with spouses, kids, and work schedules. To maintain deep and meaningful relationships, we have to put effort into them which also means leaning into the discomfort of putting yourself out there. These relationships don't fall into your lap anymore (and if you really think they do, we may need to address your friendship expectations). You both have to work at them. Both of you will have to make a minimal amount of investment of your time, your energy and your concern in order to move outside of a shallow friendship.

However, it's scary to put yourself out there. It can be forward and get a little uncomfortable that you're intentionally going against the norm of dropping a line like "let's get together soon" and then just letting that opportunity fade away. Sometimes it takes people by surprise that I'm willing to put something on the calendar for a month or two out. But hey, if that's when you're available, I want to be penciled in. Personally, having the opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level is worth the risk of being considered too forward, pushy or aggressive.

My favorite way to dive deeper is to have what I call a "friend date." It's similar to a traditional date in that it's a gesture that essentially says "you're is worth putting myself together and I'm willing to invest both some time and money into the opportunity to get to know you better." Again, it's very similar to a regular relationship in that a friend date basically says you're worth the effort. It's an opportunity to ask intentional questions to get to know each other in an attempt to move a relationship forward. 

So what do these dates look like? 

For me, they usually involve going out, one-on-one, for food. Notice how I didn't specify a meal. Coffee, brunch, or drinks are my go-to choices for friend dates because they are relatively vague when it comes to a time frame. I prefer to go with small plates over a full meal, because sometimes you end up in that awkward situation where the food comes out fast and now you have the bill, but you're nowhere near done talking. There is some intentionality with choosing to go out over staying in or meeting up at each other's home. Having friends over is awesome, but there are still distractions that come with that. Especially in my house where Kyle also has his office and there's usually a toddler running around (and likely screaming, too). A lot of my friends now have kids, pets and spouses so going out on a casual date allows for the ability to dive deeper but also minimizes distractions. Not to say you should always go out. I understand there is value in being home in that you're saving money on both ends plus hospitality definitely builds the relationship on both sides. It's just that I prefer getting out to minimize my own distractions. This one is more of a personal preference rather than a general rule. 

Being in a one-on-one setting is a rule, though. Having double dates or friends over for game nights is a blast, but that's different from a friend date. The answers to questions about how you're handling a tough situation, how your relationship is with your parents or what goals you have for the next couple of years are going to have a much different vibe being asked in front of Kyle, their partner and whoever else is present versus in a one-on-one setting. To be clear, I'm not saying that you should always hang out by yourselves. I'm just stating that it needs to be done on occasion in order to move forward with a relationship. You can't only hang out in groups. 

I'm personally pushing myself to be more purposeful with my friendships over this summer. James is easier to handle during both weekends and weeknights, so I'm able to slip out more often. The days are longer and my involvement with youth ministry calms down during the summer meaning I'm also seeing some friends less than I normally would. So, I'm making a personal goal of trying to make friend dates a more regular thing.

Take a moment and think about the friends you have. Think about those friends who you're wanting to get to know better, deeper and in a more intentional way. I encourage you to push through that discomfort of putting yourself out there and ask them on a date. Shoot them a quick text asking about their schedule, whether it be within the next couple weeks or possibly even a couple months out. It'll be worth it. 

 

 

 

Fort Worth Favorite: LMK Jewels

Landri Massey has been operating her new company LMK Jewels for 7 months now in only her spare time.  What makes this business stand out to me, though, is that she has had the vision and drive to develop this business in between classes, extracurriculars, and sifting through university applications.  That's right: Landri is a 17-year-old high school student.

To celebrate one of her recent family vacations, Landri made her mother, sister, and herself matching necklaces. When she had materials left over, she asked around if anyone would be interested in some jewelry she made. The answer was a resounding yes. All of a sudden she found herself filling orders for family members and friends, and she eventually began to develop a business out of it. The original necklace, The Austin Choker is now a staple. 

Her website has been live now for only a couple months,  and it has taken off surprisingly well.  

In between homework, she fills orders for people all over the country. It's not just her artwork that is admirable, though. The genuine love that she has for her peers and her customers is something really remarkable. Teenagers can be incredibly inspiring and a big dose of inspiration is just what I got while listening to her talk about the satisfaction she gets, not from a purchase, but from the hope that through her jewelry, she can promote confidence, self worth and kindness. Sure, the creative outlet is a wonderful benefit, but the true heart of this artist is to help bring out someone's personality and make them feel beautiful, whether it be paired with a t-shirt or a prom dress.

She plans to continue her education, majoring somewhere in the Marketing field. Her goal is to grow the business throughout college and sort of evolve her product line as her consumer base matures, which are her peers. She regularly spots her work on students passing her in the hallways of her school and, no doubt, will eventually be spotting it all over Fort Worth.

Landri's creativity and true passion for making a difference in someone's perception of their self worth are beautiful and inspiring. Her entrepreneurial spirit is something that help to make our city special and I'm excited to see what the future holds for her.

Check out her site, and follow along on Facebook and Instagram

 

 

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Fort Worth Favorite: Swiss Pastry Shop's Black Forest Cake

We've heard talk of this holy grail of a cake around town for a while: Black Forest Cake. Swiss Pastry Shop has been open for almost 50 years and is part of a Fort Worth Family legacy, so, if you've been around this town for a while, you've probably heard of it. Over the weekend, we finally got to experience it ourselves and I immediately knew it would be my feature for this month's Fort Worth Favorite! 

What makes this cake special? 

It's not a traditional black forest cake, with the chocolate sponge and cherry filling. Swiss Pasty Shop actually refers to this masterpiece as the "uncake". The ingredients are simple (and gluten free): egg white, pure cane sugar and crushed almonds which are then made into layers of meringue. Between the meringue layers is thick, sweetened whipped cream and topped with chocolate shavings. 

The textures come together beautifully and for such simple ingredients, the "uncake" is surprisingly flavorful. As someone who does not consider themselves "a cake person" and who will almost always choose pie if given the option, this feels like a perfect medium between the two desserts.

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It absolutely lived up to the hype and we will definitely be ordering this for any family get together (or really any excuse to have a cake)! 

Check out the video below that features the shop and shows how the cake is made! 

Fort Worth Favorite: Laura Bacigalupo Art

I met Laura Bacigalupo a couple years ago through our church, just a few weeks after arriving in Fort Worth. I was instantly drawn to her because she was so open about her love of art and because of her ability to clearly define goals for herself in regards to her dream of being an artist. As someone who personally struggles with finding motivation or even a clear way to channel creative energy, I was so impressed with her creative goals. It just felt so appropriate that I would highlight her for this month's Fort Worth Favorites. 

Within the last couple years, she's now made a career out of her art. She sets up booths at local festivals, and her work primarily sells through word of mouth. Her days are often spent in her Riverside Arts District studio where you can see that she also brings her son in to experiment with his artistic abilities too! Every few months, she hosts beginner-friendly abstract painting workshops that focus on embracing the playfulness, humor and forgiveness of the painting process while also embracing the imperfections that come with abstract painting.

When talking about her process, she said that any of her canvases have anywhere from 1 to 100 layers of paint on them. Her works are abstract, inspiring, and colorful. The use of bright colors is somehow able to give you a sense of ease and comfort while still being fun and playful. I'm no art critic, but I can definitely say that I love what she creates!

You can find more of her work on Facebook and Instagram.

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Fort Worth Favorite: CraftWork Coffee Co.

This month, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite local businesses, Craftwork Coffee Co. Sure, I get that it's a little cliche to be a toddler mom that is attracted to coffee shops like a moth to a flame, but I swear this spot is special. I've mentioned it on my Instagram here and there, but it occurred to me while in conversation with friends that a lot of people don't know about this gem. 

If I'm off to Craftwork, I usually end up at the Magnolia location. The space is open, stroller friendly, it's easy to park nearby, and conveniently right across the street from the Magnolia Micro-Park. I'm able to bring James in, hang for a little bit, and when he gets a little too crazy (because he's almost 2, so it will undoubtedly happen), we can head across the street to let him burn off some energy.  Being on Magnolia, the coffee shop is one of the first places open on weekdays (6:30am), which is perfect for an 8 or 9am coffee date or before heading to the zoo.

Did you catch all that? That's right. I bring James. 

Besides the coffee, I love this place because of how welcoming they are of families.  I never fully understood how daunting it can feel to push a stroller into a coffee shop, cafe, or any small business who doesn't primarily fall under the umbrella of "family friendly." I love that not only have I never felt intimidated by the atmosphere or the patrons, but the staff makes me feel almost empowered to be the kind of mom who walks into a coffee shop with a toddler. They interact with both me and James in such an authentic way. Instead of rolling their eyes, they seem to find a little bit of joy in watching him climb up their very block-like bench. They talk to us in a way that doesn't feel like a sort of "autopilot small talk" but in a way that feels like they are actually wanting to get to know us. Sure, this is probably just a reflection of their excellent staff and realistically, this is what every business should strive for. However, for a mom with a ticking time bomb of a child (because, let's get real, that's what every kid is), it feels so nice to be greeted with a genuinely welcoming response to the presence of my little time bomb. 

I know it's common for moms to shy away from hitting up Magnolia thinking that it isn't kid friendly or to have concerns about being so close to a busy city street, but I've been numerous times and have never felt unsafe. Magnolia's vibe is unique in Fort Worth and Craftwork fits in so well there. I would encourage all the moms around to give the Craftwork/Micro-Park combo a shot one morning. 

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Scottsdale Weekend Getaway

A couple months ago I was feeling a little overwhelmed with life and I shot a quick text to my best friend, Kyla. 

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Haven't met Kyla? Well, that's a bummer because you would probably love her - most people do. She doesn't really love having her picture taken, she would rather not take risks with her food, she's friendly to (literally) everyone who crosses her path, and is one of the most self-sacrificial, compassionate people I've ever met. She isn't necessarily the opposite of me, but maybe pretty close. We've known each other since the 3rd grade, and even when I lived in Canada, we somehow found a way to see each other a couple times a year. Now that we live closer though, we're able to get together every couple months. 

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People would ask me what I was planning on doing on this trip, and my answers were usually along the lines of "I don't know, not have to be back home by naptime? Enjoy not changing any diapers and not worrying about making dinner?" Well, guess what?! That's exactly what we did! We soaked up the lifestyle of walking everywhere since we had an Airbnb near the main square. We ate wonderfully, hit up the spa, saw a couple movies and enjoyed just being together for a couple days. Overall, it was just what I wanted, but a few things stood out from the rest. 

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The view of Camelback from our door

The view of Camelback from our door

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This is a living art exhibit that picks up and moves with the wind. 

This is a living art exhibit that picks up and moves with the wind. 

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When I started researching places to eat (because that's what I usually start with when it comes to vacation planning), I ran across Diego Pops all over Instagram and knew we would need to try it out. Every corner of this place is an Instagrammer's dream - the decor was so fun. Plus, the food was awesome! We sat by the fireplace outside, had a good round of watermelon mint margaritas and enjoyed the atmosphere, people and food. This place was all about tacos, and they were great, but the real winner at this place were the Brussels Sprouts Nachos. With corn, all kinds of queso, chilis, pickled onion (which you know I love), and topped with a roasted garlic beet cream sauce and a fried egg, it was an absolute work of art. 

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The second highlight was the first place we went to after landing, Berdenas Cafe. We got coffee on our first visit, which was very much needed since we got up at 4am to head out for our flight. The next time we stopped by, we had to try their "Smashed" Avocado Toast which won the title of Best Avocado Toast in Phoenix in 2017 by the Phoenix New Times. Turns out, the title fits. It was so good. It seems relatively simple enough that I think i could try to replicate it at home. I didn't expect to see it topped with cold-pressed olive oil. That's definitely a little avocado toast secret I took home with me! Anyway, we stopped by to try this out along with a couple cute lattes and the "Banana Breadosaurus" which, even though we clearly only got it because it was adorable, tasted fantastic. Berdenas delivered good coffee, good food, a friendly staff and the environment was spot on! 

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When I started asking for suggestions on where to go when we were here, I had a huge number of people all say the same place: The Mission. I feel pretty confident that I can speak for both me and Kyla in that this was the best meal we had while in town. It's a very dimly lit restaurant which was made more apparent by the guy next to us using his phone's flashlight to read the menu. The decor isn't my thing, but since it was so dark and the food was fantastic, I was easily willing to overlook the number of borderline kitschy chandeliers that were hanging from the ceiling. That night was a real win because I was also able to push Kyla out of her comfort zone a bit and try some new foods.

We started off with the Duck Carnitas Empanada appetizer which consisted of a duck confit, foie gras, orange habanero glaze, oregano, mushroom & queso Oaxaca. Kyla and I both agreed that this was definitely the best part of the vacation. 

The margaritas were fantastic. I stuck with their signature margarita, "The Mission" for the night. It had tequila, lime, OJ, agave nectar, egg white and a little splash of Grand Marnier. It was fabulous. For entrees, I went with the Chorizo Porchetta and Kyla had the Marinated Jidori Chicken. Both were phenomenal, but honestly, after the appetizer, it was just a bonus. Oh, and I can't forget when they surprised us with a massive pink Himalayan salt block which held our extra tortillas. We ended up sharing the Pumpkin Bread Pudding topped with pomegranate seeds for dessert. I make mention of the pomegranate because it isn't a pairing I would have considered, but goodness, it somehow came together beautifully. Overall, this restaurant was every bit deserving of the hype around it and I'm now one of those people who will make sure to suggest it to anyone who heads that way!

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The big salt block! When they brought it out, we were told to be very careful because it was hot. Of course, the moment their back was turned, we each tested that out. It was indeed, very hot.

The big salt block! When they brought it out, we were told to be very careful because it was hot. Of course, the moment their back was turned, we each tested that out. It was indeed, very hot.

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Ok, ok, I promise we did more than just eat while we were there. Scottsdale is known for their spas, and it was difficult to choose which one we would end up at. We eventually chose to spend our afternoon at The Sanctuary on Camelback Spa, part of the stunningly beautiful and luxurious Sanctuary Resort. It was such a wonderful experience and that unwinding was a huge part of what we came to town for. After our treatments, we wandered the grounds and soaked up the views for a bit. The only thing that could have made it better would be if the weather had been warm enough to swim! 

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On our last day there, we got up extra early to hit up The Desert Botanical Garden. I can't really express how excited I was for this. The sun hadn't fully come up yet, so we were bundled up in the 38-40F weather. Every bit of this was so fun and stunningly beautiful. We learned about all kinds of cacti that we didn't know even existed, got to learn a little bit more about agave plants when one of the guides offered up some fun facts, and stumbled on the rosemary bush of my dreams. We walked the garden as long as we could before we had to head out for the day but we could have stayed there all day.

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My rosemary dreams coming true

My rosemary dreams coming true

We left with some candy made from cacti like these! 

We left with some candy made from cacti like these! 

The last thing that we did may not seem like anything that exciting, but it was pretty huge to us. We went and saw two movies - definitely something I can't do with a toddler. We saw I, Tonya which was was great, but I wanted to love it more. We also saw Call Me By Your Name which is one of the best movies I've seen in recent history. I just can't get over what a beautiful experience it was. If you're able to catch me, I'd love to talk more in detail about each movie, but I wont spend the last bit of my blog about a weekend away doing a film review.