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. 

XMS_0221.jpg
XMS_0232.png
XMS_0238.jpg
XMS_0247.jpg
XMS_0242.png
XMS_0229.jpg
XMS_0257.jpg

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

 

 

XMS_0564.jpg
XMS_0603.jpg
XMS_0595.jpg
XMS_0646.jpg
XMS_0661.jpg
XMS_0719.jpg
XMS_06672.jpg

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.

XMS_0689.jpg
XMS_0697.jpg

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.

XMS_0182.jpg
XMS_0186.jpg
XMS_0218.jpg
XMS_0214.jpg
XMS_0202.jpg
XMS_0196.jpg
XMS_0207.jpg

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. 

XMS_0660.jpg
XMS_0643.jpg
XMS_0617.jpg
XMS_0600.jpg
XMS_0558.jpg
XMS_0601.jpg
XMS_0580.jpg
XMS_0591.jpg
XMS_0627.jpg

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. 

IMG_2845.jpg

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. 

XMS_0872.jpg
XMS_0950.jpg
XMS_0090.jpg

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. 

XMS_0051.jpg
 The view of Camelback from our door

The view of Camelback from our door

XMS_0842s.jpg
 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. 

XMS_1003.jpg
XMS_0s015.jpg

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. 

XMS_0901.jpg
XMS_0877.jpg
XMS_0922.jpg
XMS_0899d.jpg

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! 

XMS_0520.jpg
XMS_0501.jpg
XMS_0489.jpg
XMS_0508.jpg
XMS_0830s.jpg

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!

XMS_0362.jpg
XMS_0334.jpg
XMS_0335.jpg
XMS_0254.jpg
XMS_0308.jpg
XMS_0315.jpg
XMS_0275.jpg
 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.

XMS_0270.jpg
XMS_0266.jpg
XMS_0323.jpg

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! 

XMS_0112.jpg
XMS_0099.jpg
XMS_0104.jpg
XMS_0168.jpg

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.

XMS_0378.jpg
XMS_0431.jpg
XMS_0399.jpg
XMS_0382.jpg
XMS_0423.jpg
XMS_0475.jpg
XMS_0449.jpg
XMS_0483.jpg
XMS_0436h.jpg
XMS_0479.jpg
XMS_0467.jpg
 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. 

Forkville Supper Club

sDSC_0262.jpg

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the first event by the Forkville Super Club. Put together by our friends, Monte and Melanie Davis and held within their own home, it was a fun night of extravagant eating! Having it in their own home added a cozy vibe, plus we had the added benefit of watching Monte do his thing within his own kitchen and his element. Half of the fun was watching what he did next and how he prepared the food. 

It took me a little longer than I would have liked to get this on the blog because as some of you know, I was out of commission for most of last month because I got sick and didn't listen to my body enough to rest when I needed to. I had no voice at this party, as in, none. Even though I couldn't really join in on conversations in the way I wanted to, I found myself surrounded by such a fun, eclectic and friendly crowd! We drank an assortment of beer and wine, some provided by Silver Ghost Cellars and we all sort of instantly became friends. 

I found myself, even in my state, to be one of the last guests hanging around. Then, as we headed out, Monte surprised all the guests with a package of his homemade bacon! 


The menu was out of this world. Check it out and let me know what your favorite would be! Keep scrolling to see what was my favorite dish was! 

 

Cold Dishes:

Tuna Tartare with Wasabi-Avocado Aioli and Sesame Seeds in a Wonton Cup

Spicy Crab Salad with Sriracha Mayonnaise in a Fried Wonton

Shrimp Tostada with a Spanish Coleslaw, Cilantro-Lime Crema on a Fried Tortilla

Duck Prosciutto with Mustard Melons

Hummus and Grilled Pita with Spiced Olives

 

Hot Dishes:

Fried Arancini Balls with a Spicy Marinara

Baked Brie and Cranberry Sauce Wrapped in a Puff Pastry

Bacon Wrapped Jalepenos with Cream Cheese and Chorizo

 

Crostinis:

Truffle Chicken Liver Mousse with Sherry and Caramelized Onions

Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Horshradish Sour Cream

Goat Cheese Mousse with Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar

 

Plates:

Seared Scallop with Creamed Corn and Chorizo

Sauteed Shrimp with Cheddar Grits and Andouille Tomato Sauce

Seared Foie Gras with Maciere Potato, Aged Cheddarand Duck Jus

 

DSC_0415.jpg
DSC_0397.jpg
DSC_0254.jpg
DSC_0249.jpg
DSC_0252.jpg
DSC_0270.jpg
DSC_0281.jpg
DSC_0322.jpg
DSC_0364.jpg
DSC_0278.jpg
DSC_0296.jpg
DSC_0347.jpg
DSC_0475.jpg
DSC_0488.jpg

Wondering what my favorite bit from the evening was? All of it was great, but my favorite was without a doubt the Foie Gras that we ended the night with. Granted, Foie Gras is something that you either love or hate. In this case, I absolutely loved it. You can see above, Monte posing proudly with the Foie Gras he made, and he had every right to be proud of it! 

If you're interested in jumping in on their next party or having a private event with Forkville Cuisine, you can find them on Facebook or email them at forkvillecuisine@gmail.com to get on their email list for the next event! Their next party is in a couple weeks and they're already added a second date and are still running out of room, so make sure you get in the know ASAP on when they will be hosting! 


Fort Worth Fav: Handmade Cleanser/Moisturizer from Little Bits for You

I'm rolling out my Fort Worth Favs! Each month, I'll be highlighting a local place, product or small business that I love in an effort to focus on shopping small and local. I'm kicking it off just in time for any last minute Christmas orders! 

The owner of Little Bits For You, Jennifer gave me this little jar of all-in-one everything to try out and I felt like it was more than deserving to be the first of my Fort Worth Favs. It's listed as a cleanser and moisturizer, but this stuff can be used for pretty much everything. Since my skin has become unusually sensitive over the past year, I used it in place of my shaving cream and really loved it (which is a big deal). 

I've also found myself dabbing a little here and there on my knuckles since the cooler weather has made them a little dry. The fact that I can use this in so many ways really makes it stand out among my skincare products. I have the unscented version, but you can get a scented one here.  

At a whoppin' $8, this is a fun and affordable idea. So, if you're on the hunt for a last minute "little something" or a stocking stuffer, this is definitely something to consider. Plus, it's always nice to know that you're supporting a small and local business. The last day to order is for local delivery is the 23rd! You can contact her and order the product through her Etsy shop! 

image1.jpeg

Holiday Review: JORD Watches

I received this beautiful JORD watch in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

 

Every year around this time, I’m stuck going through gift guide after gift guide, trying to find something for Kyle. I’m a big gift giver. It’s something I actually enjoy. But after almost 7 years of marriage, I feel like I'm running out of ideas. This year, JORD watches came to my rescue. JORD makes hand-crafted, wooden watches that make the perfect gift! 

Kyle is rocking a custom fitted watch from the Hyde series. Crafted with Olive wood stacked on top of Sandalwood, it’s a beautiful accessory to tie any of his looks together. Yes, I’m even including his computer programmer “work uniform” of jeans and a sweatshirt. Also, can we just take a minute and appreciate the fact that these wood watches are splash proof? This makes it all kinds of perfect for any parent who is constantly dealing with a child who seems to have a sort of magnetic pull towards puddles and spills. I really love that I can give Kyle a quality gift that is not only stylish but also practical. 

The unique watches come beautifully packaged and will be perfect under any tree this Christmas! You can also get the backplate of the watch and the cedar watch box engraved with a personal message. I’m seriously considering getting one for myself and just having “you made it through the holidays” on the back. 

If you're feeling a little stuck this year or looking for something that stands out from the usual gifts, check out what JORD has to offer. Make sure to use this link to recieve 25% off your purchase! https://www.woodwatches.com/g/laura_lape

DSC_0444.jpg
DSC_0287.jpg
DSC_0258.jpg
DSC_0316.jpg
DSC_0347.jpg
DSC_0284.jpg
DSC_0274.jpg

1 Year of Homeownership - Before and After Shots

We did it guys! As of today, we've officially been homeowners for one year! To celebrate, I wanted to show off some of the changes we made. Not every room is shown in these before/after shots, but each room had a bit of a transformation. Almost every surface in the house was painted, some new light fixtures installed and we started making it into our home!

 

Living Room

Before

08.jpg
09.jpg
11.jpg
12.jpg

After

DSC_0864.jpg
DSC_0868.jpg
DSC_0877.jpg
DSC_0870.jpg

Dining Room

Before

06.jpg
05.jpg

After

DSC_0888.jpg
DSC_0884.jpg

We opted to turn what was the formal dining room into a colorful play room. Worth mentioning is that between the carpet and concrete, there is a layer of foam tiles so that the floor is a little safer for bouncing around. The carpet is by FLOR. We're long time fans of FLOR, and love that each of the triangles is a separate tile, so that when spills happen, we wont have to replace the entire carpet. Instead, we can just get a replacement tile. 

 

Kitchen

Before

16.jpg
13.jpg
15.jpg

After

DSC_0833.jpg
DSC_0840.jpg
DSC_0851.jpg

Master Bed & Bath

Before

18.jpg
19.jpg
20.jpg
21.jpg

After 

DSC_0730.jpg
DSC_0748.jpg
DSC_0771s.jpg
DSC_0759.jpg

The Nursery

Before

23.jpg

After

DSC_0799.jpg

Our NYC Food Tour

When we realized we would be exploring NYC on a toddler's schedule, we figured that meant most museums, large crowds and late nights were out. However, food is a must, regardless. So, why not eat well while exploring?  The city is beautiful, eccentric, quirky and rooted in so much rich history and diversity. All of that bleeds over into the culture surrounding food and I was so excited to be able to jump into it for a short time. One of our good friends, Jaselle, lives there and we were lucky enough to have her as our local guide during her free time. I'm fully aware that we didn't even scratch the surface of all that was available, but here's what all we ate and what we thought of it. 


Pizza at Parkside Brooklyn

When we got into town, we were starving. 

We walked a few blocks to Parkside Brooklyn, a bar and brick oven pizza place. Thin crust is my jam, so I was on board immediately. Pictured is a lamb sausage pizza with mozzarella, onions and mint. It was seriously the best way to start the trip. We also got an order of the veal meatballs which were again, so so good.

I loved this spot. I wish I had been in a better mindset (not exhausted from dealing with tiny human temper tantrums 30,000 feet in the air) so that I could fully enjoy it. The staff didn't blink an eye and handled James perfectly who was essentially a ticking time bomb at this point. The menu was small, simple and didn't feel overwhelming which was what had us ordering some meatballs along with the pizza. Quality was fantastic, vibe was exactly what we needed and the drinks were jussssst stiff enough.

Lape Rating: A+


Cookie Dough at DŌ

The next day was pretty open, as most of our days were. We walked around SOHO past all kinds of bakeries knowing what I was headed for: . They scoop cookie dough like ice cream, and it's kind of genius. I've heard from friends who planned on visiting this spot that they had to skip it due to wait lines that were around 4 hours. We didn't wait 4 hours, but we did wait around 45 minutes. There was a baby/toddler  park right across the street (where the line was) so it was the perfect opportunity to keep James cool with waiting. It's located in an adorable area that makes waiting a lot more fun than some other places in Manhattan. 

DO is definitely quirky, fun, and original! The main reason it doesn't get an A is really just because, as great as it sounds, there's really no time where eating a heavy-handed scoop of cookie dough settles well. It's not a light snack, hard to walk with and not very cold, which, again isn't a fault of the business but more a fault of the food item they've centered the business around. Kyle and Sharon weren't huge fans of their cookie dough choices and everyone agreed that my "unicorn sugar cookie" flavor was the best by a landslide. Although it was tasty, it was also super rich (as expected, I guess). I ate a couple bites, even posed for pictures with tourists (who weren't willing to wait the 45 min to an hour ), then immediately got a to-go box, guzzled my entire water bottle and put it away until later in the evening. 

Lape Rating: B+


Avocaderia Avocado Bar

Sunday morning, we were relatively well rested and had our hearts set on some avocado. We stopped by "the world's first avocado bar," Avocaderia, to check it out! Jaselle and I went with the "Avoburger", which uses two halves of avocado as the buns on a burger of smoked salmon, herb yogurt, watermelon radish, arugula, black sesame seeds and lime "citronette." We also each picked up some cold pressed juice to sort of detox from the cookie dough extravaganza we had finished the night before.

It was really good! To be fair, I ate the avoburger like an actual burger once for a photo and then continued eating it as a salad. Kyle got a beautiful spread of avocado toast with smoked salmon which didn't even make it into a photo. The food was great, the service was friendly and it was just out there enough to get me to drop by. Kyle also asked that I specify that the coffee was much better than he was expecting. 

Lape Rating: A+


The Rainbow Bagel

Jaselle and I hopped up early the next day to head out without Kyle and James to pick up what I was probably most excited about for the trip . . . the rainbow bagel from The Bagel Store. Sure enough, they had a bagel combo that pretty much screamed "I'm here from out of town ready to join in on the rainbow bagel hype!" The store was smaller than I expected but going on a Monday morning was an awesome decision because there was no line. It seemed to genuinely shock Jaselle to see no one waiting. The staff seemed nice and it was hard to hide my excitement when they brought out a freshly made batch of rainbow bagels. I got the "Rainbow Bagel Supreme" which was a "rainbow bagel with generous amounts of rainbowfetti cream cheese, topped with cotton candy and fairy dust." Sure, it all kind of clogged up the image of the bagel itself but goodness was it so good. We got two savory bagel sandwiches (still on the signature rainbow bagels) and one that had the rainbowfetti cream cheese without the cotton candy or sprinkles. 

I obviously have a sweet tooth so while others may shake their head and dry heave, I loved it. Super fun, original, sweet and my new standard for a bagel. Plus, it's really cool to know how much work goes into each bagel. These people really care about the craft. Sure, the rainbow supreme bagel is a little gimmicky, but the rainbow bagel as a whole isn't. 

Lape Rating: A+ 

 


The Unicorn Latte

When the Starbucks Unicorn Frappe frenzy hit, I was holding out for this Unicorn Latte from The End Brooklyn. We picked up 3 lattes all labeled under "Healing Lattes" on the menu which immediately had me intrigued. We went with the Unicorn, Merbabe and Purple Amethyst Latte having no clue which one would be the cutest or the best tasting. 

Turns out the Purple Amethyst (top right) was the best tasting. It was really cool to try and I loved knowing that all of the ingredients would actually do my body good, unlike pretty much anything else I consumed on the trip. Regardless, they weren't the tastiest drinks in the world and although the place was cool, it felt like we went through a lot of effort to get there with not much of a payoff. 

Lape Rating: A-


Traditional Khachapuri

Dinner rolled around and off we headed to the traditional Georgian restaurant in the East Village, Oda House. While researching NYC food spots, khachapuri quickly hopped towards the top of our list. It's essentially a hand made bread boat with really good cheese. The video below describes it in better detail, but one of the cool things about it is that before it is served, and egg and a slab of butter are put into the cheese boat o' awesomeness and then mixed together before eating. We started off with some Georgian wine and khinkali, oversized, hand-rolled lamb and herb dumplings. They were so good. Insanely good. The main attraction is obviously the khachapuri so it was a great treat to see that we were starting off with another dish that was so great. After dumplings and the khachapuri, we ordered satsivi and chanakhi. The satsivi was organic, grass-fed chicken cooked in walnut sauce and Georgian spices and served cold alongside ghomi, Georgian grits topped with sulguni cheese. We loved it! The chanakhi (seared organic, grass-fed lamb baked in a clay pot with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and garlic) really wasn't our favorite, but operating under a sort of tourist's vow, we didn't regret trying it out. 

Had James not been up late and clearly not thrilled about it, we would have stayed longer and tried some sulguni cheeses as a dessert, but we'll leave that for next time, because we will definitely be back to this spot. 

Lape Rating: A+


Israeli Hummus at Chelsea Market

DSC_00691.jpg
DSC_0970.jpg

One of our last stops was Chelsea Market where we planned to casually stroll through, but after getting there, we quickly realized we were reaching some serious hangry levels. We stopped at a spot known for Israeli street food, Dizengoff

There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of options to choose from in the market. It felt good to stop and grab something that was healthy and good quality. 

Lape Rating: A+


Mashmallow Ice Cream at Ample Hills

Last but not least, we had to hit up Ample Hills Creamery. Being just a couple stops over from where we were staying, it felt like a no brainer. Jaselle was insistent that we try it and let's get real, as if you have to twist our arms to try ice cream. 

Immediately when you walk in, it feels cozy. The names of each ice cream are clever and hand drawn, some with a little cartoon beside it. My personal favorite would have to be "Churned This Way" with a parade of happy animals dancing and waving the pride flag. I went with Snap Mallow Pop, the famous marshmallow ice cream and loved every bite. Also, for the record, I ordered a small, so, as you can see from the photo below, they are heavy-handed with the scoops.

The ice cream was great, the service was great, but our favorite part had to be the children's play area towards the back of the building. With only a couple tables and bar seating, they could have easily chosen to use this space for anything but I really loved that they chose this. It gave James an opportunity to get out of the stroller and play! Sure, we brought some toys with us, but nothing like this. It was such a great end to the day being able to relax and watch him play, all while enjoying some seriously tasty ice cream.

Lape Rating: A+


Honorable Mention

  • Eataly: We knew this famous spot was a must. It's just that we didn't realize they opened a new location. Jaselle was meeting us and although we were all at Eataly, we got our wires crossed and ended up at different locations. She came to us since we had James. We may have missed out on the vibe, variety and experience from the original location, but it was a wonderful view as we ate across the street from the Freedom Tower and memorial. I was still pretty tired from traveling and our first big day on the town, and didn't take many pictures. I did get a sweet tote bag though.

Magnolia Bakery: Obviously we had to stop here. At the time, we weren't loving the crowded area around NBC studios but I happened to spot Magnolia and insisted I get something. I went with a simple vanilla cupcake. I saw the famous banana pudding and I guess I can blame it on being flustered by the crowd, or just not in the mood for banana pudding, but I passed it up for the cupcake. In retrospect, I regret it a little, but the cupcake was still fabulous! I wish I had gotten more!

Great Gifts Under $40

My favorite time of year is Christmas. Sure, the eggnog is great, the lights are beautiful and there is something special about afternoon naps with carols playing in the background, but I love searching for the perfect gift for friends and family. I thought I might put together a quick look at some of my favorite go to gifts for under $40.

 

  1. 9oz Swell Bottle in Peridot // Small enough to it into almost any purse, cute and crazy convenient, this is the ultimate gift for the girl on the go.

  2. Popcorn Lip Scrub from LUSH // Salty and sweet is the best combination out there and this lip scrub encompasses all of it. It’s so tasty that you may forget to notice how well it works!

  3. Custom Banner from Hanging with Lucy // This is such a cute way to tell someone you love them, miss them, wish them a Merry Christmas or really . . . whatever you want! Jess does an incredible job making adorable felt banners and will work with you on whatever you want written on them. Just think of the possibilities! She goes above and beyond to make it perfect and right now, if you use the coupon code CHRISTMASWITHLAURA checkout, you’ll get 10% off through the end of January.

  4. Paradise Gardens 2017 Wall Calendar from Paper Source // Paper Source has an excellent collection of calendars that would double as wall art if you don’t look closely. It’s a great grab for the friend who is always organized!

  5. Reversible Dainty Earrings by Kate Spade // Ever want to buy a friend jewelry but get lost second guessing your decisions? This is the solution. A beautiful and simple pair of earrings that can be worn either way. It fits all styles and looks good with pretty much anything making it a winner.

  6. Oh Joy! Book // What an overall perfect book. With super cute tutorials and crafting ideas, it feels like the best kind of Pinterest board come to life. It also makes a great coffee table book in that it’s big, beautifully laid out and overall, such a fun book to flip through.

  7. Clear Rosa Case by Rifle Paper Co. // Phones may change, but we still need cute cases to make them better. Enough said.

  8. Sugar Lip Treatment // I can’t say enough about this. I recently ditched almost all of my lipstick in favor of a few of these. My absolute favorite is the Rose (pictured). It’s pink but sheer (and that’s showing up as sheer on my very fair skin). It’s just enough color to add on for a quick run to the store, an early class or even a night out. An added bonus is that it has SPF 15 so it’s great for your lips all year long.

  9. Soy Nail Polish Remover from Ella + Mila // I can’t get enough of this polish remover and recommend it to pretty much everyone I see wearing nail polish. If you do your nails often, you know how acetone dries out your nails and makes your hands feel all kinds of yucky. This remover is oil based and includes the best kind of ingredients that leave your nails and cuticles actually feeling better than before. If you’ve got a friend who loves doing her nails, do her a favor and pick this up for her.

  10. Fake’n Bake Candle // Sometimes, candles feel like a not so personal gift. This candle is hilarious and perfect for that friend who always burns the cookies and laugh it off.

  1. Personalized Plaid Scarf by Land’s End // This scarf is part of the Cashtouch collection which means it is insanely soft. Sometimes scarves don’t seem like the obvious gift for the guy in your life, but even the grizzliest of men can’t deny how good it feels to be wrapped in a super soft scarf while you’re out braving the elements.

  2. Oxford Colorblock Phone Case by Jack Spade // This classic colorblocking never goes out of style. Show him you care about both him and his phone.

  3. The Mac + Cheese Cookbook // Because every guy should know how to make one killer dish. Why not make it macaroni and cheese?

  4. Old Fashioned Carry-On Cocktail Kit from J.Crew // Traveling for the holidays? What a perfect gift to help your buddy get through the flight and all the stress that goes along with traveling, holidays and visiting the family. It comes with everything you could need (including a recipe card and coaster). All you need to do is provide the hard stuff.

  5. Stranger Things T-Shirt // When you’re not in the upside down, fan-made shirts that are well done can be hard to come by. This one is fantastic and a great gift for anyone still wondering about Barb.

  6. New Mac Candle from Twelve South // Smells just like the real thing. Clever candles never go out of style.

  7. Keysmart // Kyle got this as a groomsmen gift two years ago and still uses it everyday. It may not be for every guy, but it holds up well and is a fun gadget for someone who needs some key organization.

  8. Kalamazoo by LUSH // I’m a huge fan of LUSH as a company and as an excellent place to find great gifts. Great skin is always in style and LUSH delivers just that, not to mention this contains apricot kernel oil which helps condition, making prickly beards softer and stronger.

  9. Chapter Travel Kit by Herschel Supply Co. // Herschel Supply Co. is a brand I love that makes all kind of bags and accessories. Kyle and I both have laptop sleeves by them and swear by them. This may or may not end up under our own tree so that Kyle can keep his toiletries in more than just a giant pocket for future travels.

  10. Sneakers from H&M // I love the masculine contrast on these. There’s always room for one more pair of shoes, right?