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Weekend Picturebook: NYC

F R I D A Y 

[late flight in – so, amazing pizza at our hotel restaurant (you can read more about here), and drinks at our rooftop bar with these views || also, how cute is this little hotel room?]

S A T U R D A Y [up and at ’em, ready for shopping! husband’s only request in new york was to go to the nintendo store … just like a kid in a candy store]
[more shopping and central park views]
((not pictured: a glass of pinot by the lake and delicious shake shack lunch after a loooong day of walking))


[ready to brave the weather for our sunset sailboat ride]
[despite the drizzle (then eventual downpour), we had an incredible time on the Hudson in our sailboat. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone!]

[post-dinner jazz session in an underground cafe in greenwich village – perfect end to the evening]

S U N D A Y 

[sadly, we woke to more rain so it put a damper on some of our plans, but instead led us to eat an incredible brunch in west village][bucket list: walk the brooklyn bridge – check! so much fun!]

[explored dumbo, brooklyn heights + another awesome rooftop bar || next time we’re staying in brooklyn!]

M O N D A Y 

[late morning risers – I could not get over this comfy bed and these views || did I mention they also had automated blackout shades?!]

[took a 4-mile stroll for none other than our favorite cookies, then enjoyed them with coffee in central park]

[final hours in the city spent at The Met – who knew this rooftop garden was up here?!]

Until we meet again, NYC.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: Portland

 

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Food Picturebook: Minneapolis + NYC

[ M I N N E A P O L I S ]

B A R   L A   G R A S S A

This place was PHENOMENAL. I cannot recommend it enough. Top picture is their famous lobster + soft egg bruschetta – I was definitely skeptical, but I will definitely be getting it every time I go back. Next was a mushroom pasta that transported me back to Italy.

Y O U N G   J O N I

I read amazing reviews about this place and it was named one of the top 10 restaurants in the country, so you’d say I had pretty high expectations … that were not met. The pizza was very good, but nothing special. However, the place was very cool with a hidden bar and trendy vibe.

P S Y C H O   S U Z I E S


Even though this isn’t food, I had to include this one because the cup is cute and the place was so fun. A full-blown tiki bar on the river – how could you go wrong?!

[ N Y C ]

M A S S O N I 

Okay, so this isn’t a food pic either, but the food was SO delicious and we were SO hungry from traveling that I couldn’t get one in time. However, it needs to be accounted for because it was one of our favorite things we ate on the trip – buffalo chicken pizza with blue cheese crumbles. Oh my gosh. This will haunt my dreams.

S O T T O   1 3


Hands down, the best breakfast pizza I’ve ever had. Ever. Ever. This was also a great brunch deal with a lot of food and delicious rose sangria in an adorable location.

M A G N O L I A   B A K E R Y 

I’ve always known about this place, but only recently did I learn about their banana pudding. You guys. You think you know banana pudding – or you think you don’t like banana pudding – but you don’t know banana pudding. We literally got one of the last ones and devoured it in minutes.

K E S T E  P I Z Z A  + V I N O 

Another meal that reminded me of Italy – this pizza was fantastic. The mushrooms and prosciutto were divine and paired with an Italian bottle of wine was exactly what we needed after getting unexpectedly drenched in the rain.

L A   E S Q U I N A 

Another one where I did not get a photo of the actual food, but the place must not be forgotten. This was a Mexican speakeasy where you walk through this “Corner Deli”, down the stairs, through the kitchen to get to a dark, loud, trendy bar/restaurant. While it wasn’t conducive to holding a conversation, it had fabulous queso, tacos and the best ever street corn.

I’ll be posting more NYC trip pics soon!

xo xo

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life lately

[celebrating this || husband’s 30th, sister’s 50th + puppy’s 5th!]

[eating this || amazing pizza in portland at our family reunion weekend]

[enjoying this || a fun summer work event at crystal bridges #TeamAwesomePowers]

[drinking this || delish blueberry beer at trivia night]

[loving this || a super fun mother-daughter trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see Pioneer Woman Mercantile + the lodge where they film the show!]

[relaxing with this || coffee, a book + a sweater (!!!) on our front porch]

xo xo

Pork Chops with Black Bean Succotash {recipe}

What a relaxing, rainy Sunday it’s been. You know the ones – where you wake up unhindered by an alarm and only the smell of freshly ground coffee can entice you out of bed, where you can leisurely cross things off your to-do list while sneaking in an episode or two of your current binge ((Ozark)), where you can drink a glass of wine at 4pm on the porch listening to the tender rainfall and contemplate the week ahead.

I love these days, and especially when these days are 65 degrees in August.in the South. literally unheard of.

These types of days call for a delicious home-cooked meal and a good bottle of red. Like the recipe below, which I found in a magazine and made early this week.

“Oh my gosh. This is amazing.”

Yessss! And it was easy, and it’s healthy. Winner winner, pork dinner.

P O R K   C H O P S   W/ B L A C K   B E A N   S U C C O T A S H

Ingredients:
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 pork chops (we used butterfly, but the recipe called for bone-in)
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
S&P to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine chile powder, cumin and salt; rub all over pork.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning once, until deeply browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.
3. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast until 140 degrees, approx 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, wipe out skillet and return to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add bell pepper and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
5. Add corn and beans. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. Stir in chopped cilantro, lime juice and S&P. (I also added a little more chile powder to the succotash!)
7. Serve with pork and lime wedges and top with more cilantro!

Enjoy!

xo xo

PS – I just got a cast-iron skillet and am LOVING it. Send me any of your favorite cast-iron recipes!

You might also enjoy: Slow Cooker Cuban Sandwiches and Butter Chicken + Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers

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Book Reviews: Into the Water, Into the Countryside + Into Small-Town Texas

 

My Italian Bulldozer – Alexander McCall Smith: What a fantastic, easy-to-read, fun book – especially as you’re on a train traveling throughout the Italian countryside. Thanks to Mom for buying it for me to take to Italy, as it was absolutely perfect. It’s a quirky read about a food writer going through a divorce who just needed to get away and get inspired. It’ll leave you salivating for a trip to Montalcino.
Grade: A

Option B – Sheryl Sandberg: I’ve already written an entire blog post about this book, so I’ll keep this short. This book rips you apart, then helps put you back together again. I want everyone to read it – especially if you’re grieving or if you’re close to someone who is.
Grade: A+

The Magnolia Story – Chip and Joanna Gaines: If you’re a fan of Fixer Upper, you’ll be a fan of this book. It gives you an inside look at the Gaines’ story – from their first date to their first call from HGTV and everything in between. It’s an interesting, refreshing love story that makes you fall in love with Chip and Jo even more. (And I didn’t even think that was even possible.)
Grade: A

Into The Water – Paula Hawkins: From the writer of Girl On The Train (one of my favorite books of 2015), I was a little skeptical about this one. I wasn’t sure how she could possibly follow such an incredible debut. Yet, she did. Though not quite as thrilling and page-turning as the previous, the story and characters were still terrific. I was thoroughly entertained throughout and pleasantly surprised. Her next book will definitely be on my list.
Grade: A-

You can read all my book reviews here.

xo xo

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Weekend Picturebook: Portland

[A weekend in Portland for a family reunion]

The rest of the family is spending the week in Bend, OR, (which sounded amazing) but we could only come for a long weekend so we rendezvoused in the city for a few days!

[Gorgeous views of snow-capped mountains on our flight in]
[First stop: a brewery, of course! Breakside Brewery was amazing – awesome building, great indoor/outdoor seating and this blood orange IPA was so delicious]

[Incredible meal at The Waiting Room – hush puppies, fried chicken + creamed corn with jalapeños!]

[Early morning walk for coffee + Trader Joe’s in 59 degree weather – I forgot what that felt like! And it was incredible!!][The downtown food truck scene was so cool. There were so many unique options to choose from! We chose gyros and again, it was amazing][This place has my heart. I could have spent all day in here! I only spent 20 minutes and left with 4 books and a coffee mug, so I can only imagine …]


[Gorgeous morning hike up to the International Rose Test Garden – perfect weather and beautiful flowers]

[10:30am – time for … ice cream? We had been scoping out this popular place and the lines were ridiculously long, so we decided to try it first thing Sunday morning for a little treat. I’m so glad we did because it was definitely some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had and there was no line! Pictured: sea salt with caramel ribbons + coffee][Sunday morning farmer’s market was a hit – splash pad for the kids + delicious food for the adults. Unfortunately this was the only picture I got, but it’s okay because these pupusas were out of this world!! I literally watched the lady hand make them out of this tent. I truly feel like I know what real pupusas are now]

[30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival on the waterfront – lots of beer and lots of fun!] [Unfortunately this is the only family photo we got while in town and doesn’t even include the whole gang. (Adorable nephew is cut out purposefully, but he was the cutest part!!)]

I’m so thankful we got to spend even just a few days together exploring this city! It was a wonderful weekend getaway with a wonderful family.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: our last family reunion 5 years ago in Hot Springs

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Kicking the Shit Out of Option B

As you know, I typically do book review posts with short commentary on books I’ve read and give them a grade. I love sharing what I’m reading and inspiring others to read more as well.

However, sometimes there are books that are just so eloquent and inspirational, they deserve their own post. First of which was Carry On, Warrior, which you can read here. And now, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg.

I read Sheryl’s first book, Lean In when it came out several years ago and loved it. I blogged about it in my book reviews in 2013 and gave it an A, saying it had inspired me to lean in and take more control of my career. I knew then Sheryl was a remarkable, passionate woman and someone to follow.

Fast forward to her new book, Option B. Not only do I still believe she is a remarkable, passionate woman, but I’m convinced her writing is changing peoples lives all around the world, something I’ve always aspired to. And I say that, because her writing changed my life back in 2013 and again in 2017, and I’m just a simple 20-something girl in small-town Bentonville.

Option B is about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy. It sounds like it could be a cheesy self-help novel, right? Completely wrong.

She opens the novel by sharing the story of her husband’s sudden death while on vacation in Mexico, and having to travel home and tell the kids their father wasn’t coming home. I read this on a train in Italy and had to literally stop myself from just losing it. It was so real and so raw and so emotional, and I could feel it all.

The thing about this book is, though it rips you apart, it then helps put you back together again. As she was telling her story of grief, it opened up all the wounds of my own grief from a few years ago when my Dad died. But then it put me back together again. Not only could I relate to so many things she wrote (like, the elephant in the room or using journaling as therapy), but she also gives very practical advice on how to build resilience and find joy again. She validated all of my feelings and reminded me I wasn’t alone on this journey of grief, even 3.5 years later.

I want everyone to read this book. Especially if you’re grieving or if you’re close to someone who is. And if for any reason you can’t afford it, I will buy one for you.

“Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B. This book is to help us all kick the shit out of it.”

xo xo