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2018: my year in pictures


J A N U A R Y
birthday celebrations in lake tahoe with literally everyone

F E B R U A R Y
started a new job at the clorox company and haven’t looked back!

M A R C H
amazing family vacation in mexico

A P R I L 
little rock trip to hike pinnacle mountain + brunch at lost forty

M A Y 
fayetteville foamfest – our favorite event of the year

J U N E
TAYLOR SWIFT in chicago + deck warming party

J U L Y 
trip to NYC (including live peloton ride, obviously) + the best 90s night for husband’s birthday


A U G U S T
palm springs for kira’s 30th!


S E P T E M B E R
beyonce + jay-z in dallas

O C T O B E R 
the national in kc + 3rd annual fall party


N O V E M B E R 
two terrific thanksgivings then a detoxing weekend getaway

D E C E M B E R 
girls weekend in nyc + got some very important people engaged + amazing family time + ending the year with the best nye bash

Cheers to 2019!

xo xo

[a catalog – my year in pictures] 20172016201520142013201220112010


5 years later.

5 years later I still miss you.

5 years later I want to tell you about how kyle and I are super into vinyls now – old and new, always growing our collection, because I know you’d just love that.

5 years later I still remember the worst phone call of my life and the longest, loneliest flight from arkansas to ohio.

5 years later I hold on to the few months leading up to this day that were full of memories – taking funny pictures while passing out candy at halloween, enjoying a gorgeous fall day tailgating, thanksgiving at home with the family and christmas together before we parted ways, us to vacation in seattle/vancouver and you back to ohio for work.

5 years later I still remember the last text you sent me – making sure we got home from our vacation okay and that you were watching Cash Cab, our favorite, and we’d talk tomorrow.

5 years later I still think of you every time I pass a woodie station wagon or finish a crossword puzzle or hear “classic rock”.

5 years later the holidays are still hard.

5 years later I want to tell you about my new job – about my amazing coworkers and how I’m doing something I love and how I’m happy, because I know you’d be so proud.

5 years later I want you to take me deep sea fishing in key west – because you talked about it all the time and we never got to go.

5 years later I want to sit on our back porch and drink a beer together.

5 years later I want to tell you we saw Ben Bailey from Cash Cab in NYC this summer.

5 years later I want you to know we’re happy, we’re all happy – but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten you or love you any less.

xo xo
Love, your little darlin’

A Tribute: Wonderful Father, Loving Husband of 40 Years, Loyal Friend aka Donny “Rooster”


life lately [christmas week edition]

[great christmas party at samantha’s to kick off the week of festivities!]

[non-christmas event – celebrating Mom’s birthday with drinks at 21c]

[celebrated with this fun crew + made (double batch!) boeuf bourguignon – it was a hit!]

[potentially a new christmas eve tradition with husband – make your own pizza night, including english muffin pizzas husband loved making when he was a kid]

[zero christmas morning pictures (which included chicken + waffle brunch!), but post-brunch and presents included relaxing and nap time]

[finished the day with a wonderful dinner at the in-laws!]

Not pictured: a quick trip to Little Rock to see more family, including my 98 year old grandmother – we’re so thankful for all of our amazing family and such a wonderful Christmas.
Now to see what 2019 has in store! ❤

xo xo


Picturebook: Girls Weekend in NYC!

F R I D A Y 

[the BEST post-flight stop: jacob’s pickles]

S A T U R D A Y 

[Christmas Market Tour: Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bryant Park, Saks windows, Strand Books, Pete’s Tavern + a ride on the SUBWAY]

[fun night in West Village listening to jazz at the Village Vanguard]

[then stumbled upon this AMAZING french restaurant, Boucherie)
[pictured: french onion soup]

S U N D A Y 

[photoshoot in Brooklyn]

[amazing brunch at Cecconi’s Dumbo]

[mid-afternoon snack, obviously]

[rooftop bar (too cold) then dinner at Eataly pop-up Serra Alpina by Birrera – it was MAGICAL]

[MEAN GIRLS! such a cute, funny show!!]

M O N D A Y 

[woke up at 5:30am to sneak a ride in at PELOTON before our flight – husband even rode the same ride at home and caught me on camera (getting ready for the ride, ha!]

[until next time, new york! I’m sure it won’t be too long …]

xo xo


life lately

[enjoying this || ozark brewery’s 5 year anniversary
and for giving us an excuse to drink beer before noon]

[drinking this || cappuccino in a Starbucks HOLIDAY CUP]

[loving this || last ((freezing)) tailgate of the season]

[celebrating this || beautiful lady at her bridal shower!]

[thankful for this || two amazing families to celebrate with on thanksgiving]

xo xo


[post-thanksgiving] weekend getaway

S U N D A Y   E V E N I N G
The wind wails and the fire cackles.
The garland glimmers and the poodle snores.
Thanksgiving is now behind us and the anticipation of Christmas lies ahead.

In the midst of the busy holiday season, husband and I decided to take a respite, just the two of us. We packed the makings for chili and a special Italian red, and brought only our coziest clothes. We vowed to do a phone detox, focusing on the present weekend with the presence of one another. We drove only an hour away, though we might as well have been a million miles away – with stunning lake views, great conversation and the joy of spontaneous, secluded living.

A few things I learned from this little weekend getaway of ours:

– You don’t need to keep your phone next to you at all times.
– You’re not really missing anything on social media.
– Finishing a book in a weekend is one of the best feelings.
– Sometimes all you need is abundant sunshine and the gift of time to reconnect with your significant other.
– Enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee on a patio is one of life’s little luxuries we should all take advantage of more often.
– Don’t lose sight of what’s most important this holiday season.

xo xo


30 Before 30: Q3 Progress Update

Alright, we’re getting into the final stretch, friends! Only 3 more months to go, which means the holidays are (basically) here and then it’s my birthday. I’m actually really looking forward to turning 30. Is that strange? Maybe it’s just because I love birthdays??

I’ve still got quite a few to knock out, but here’s an update on completing my list of 30 things before I turn 30 from the last few months …

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure.
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch. This one might have been my favorite one to check off the list thus far. I knew the meal I wanted to make was Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and knew it would be more fun with help from my mom! It actually wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be, just verryyy time consuming, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. Oh my gosh this was delicious. We already have a plan to make it again for the whole family for Christmas dinner!  
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show. This one makes me so happy because I’ve been dying to see this show and Mom got me tickets for my 29th birthday for our trip to Chicago. It was AMAZING. Absolutely go see it if you get the chance.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours. (17 hours complete!) This quarter included a charity kickball game and volunteering at the Arkansas Public Theatre.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with Husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer. This was so fun! We played Mario Kart (he schooled me), tennis (both won) and a fighting game (which we also both won, to Husband’s chagrin). I definitely need to get in Husband’s world and do this more often!
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. Yay I’ve FINALLY started it, and no I won’t share any details yet! 🙂
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters. This has also been one of my favorite ones to check off the list and I’m planning to set a goal for myself to write letters every year!
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo. I went to see Crazy, Rich Asians (which was THE BEST) and it was so liberating to go to a movie solo. I also happened to be the only person in the theater, so it was extra solo! Ha!
    20. Ride 300 miles. Maybe this one didn’t take as along as anticipated, but it’s still checked off the list and I’m proud!
    21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it.
    22. Do 5 things that scare me. (1. Leave my comfort zone job of 6.5 years. Trust me – it’s scary. 2. Ride a snowmobile)
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.  This one actually happened without me even realizing it. I thought I’d been to North Carolina, but hadn’t – and now I’ve been twice for work this year. Check! 
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all. 
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is totally the Peloton! Since I didn’t grow up in sports or really sticking with an exercise routine, riding consistently has been a huge challenge for me and totally feels like a new hobby! We even chose to ride while on vacation – something I never thought I’d do, ha!
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see. Taylor Swift – check. Taking Back Sunday (our favorite band from high school) – check AND Beyonce/Jay-Z coming up next month. I think I can officially check this one off the list.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip. Someone could probably fight me on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want – our NYC trip was totally spontaneous for me. No, it wasn’t a pick-up-and-go trip, but our friend Mark called, said he was having his 30th birthday party in NYC and did we want to go? I never turn down a trip to New York, so we said yes, but not planning something like that several months out is my kind of spontaneity!!
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash. The planning has begun for a week-long birthday celebration, obviously.

BONUS: Read 30 books. (24 complete!)

xo xo


life lately

[enjoying this || much needed girls night]


[feeling proud about this || hit my 100 peloton rides!
next goal: 150 for my live ride in NYC in Dec.]

[loving this || lots of cozy reading by the fire with poodle snuggles]

[laughing at this || gridiron show with the family
also, eating this amazing smokey and the (gouda) bandit pizza before starting my no-cheese 30 day challenge]

[watching this || adorable show at the Walton Arts Center with the best people]

[dressing up for this || H A L L O W E E N  P A R T Y !
post malone + the Gump family]

xo xo


Book Reviews: Sweet Lies, Sweet Love + Sweet Lights

Sweet Little Lies – Caz Frear: This felt like a typical English detective novel, which if you’re into those, great. If you’re not, it might take you a while to get into, like me. The writing was different, more harsh perhaps? and hard to follow some of the dialect. The characters were not instantly relatable, but at about the 50 page mark (where I determine if I’m going to keep reading or not) there was a big enough twist that kept me intrigued.
Grade: B-

Party Girl – Rachel Hollis: We know I’m a Rachel Hollis fan girl so obviously I had to read her first novel. It was a little rough at first with fairly elementary writing, but you grow to love the main character so much and enjoy the fun, lush details surrounding party planning in LA. The book is also semi-autobiographical, so again, if you’re a Rachel Hollis fan girl, it’s pretty interesting. Very The Devil Wears Prada-esque, this is an easy, beach read.
Grade: B+

Winter in Paradise – Elin Hilderbrand: I fell in love with Elin after my first read of hers The Identicals, which I wrote about in my last book review. This book starts with the main character’s husband dying a suspicious death in a helicopter over St. John. When the entire family travels to the island to find answers, they find so much more than they bargained for – love triangles, tropical adventures and definitely more questions than answers. The first in a series of 3 books, I can’t wait to read the next one!
Grade: A

The Light of Paris – Eleanor Brown: As a $5 bargain-bin book, I didn’t have high expectations going in, but I DEVOURED this book in a matter of days. The sweetest parallel stories about a woman and her young, late grandmother, both trying to find themselves through art – one story is set in Paris and one in Magnolia, Arkansas (what?!). It will make you long for Parisian nights and to re-discover your own passions.
Grade: A+

xo xo

You can read all my book reviews here.


The Perfect Cookies + The Famous Banana Bread [recipes]

One of my favorite things about Fall is settling into the therapeutic routine of baking. I’ve always loved the art of perfecting the chocolate chip cookie or the challenge of trying an ambitious, new recipe. Though, while I bake year-round, it never feels quite right until the brisk air seeps breezily through the open windows or the pumpkin vanilla candle burns to wick’s end.

That’s when baking feels like home.

With a quieter pace the last few weeks, I found two new recipes to try – one for a very special occasion and one to add a little bit of special to a typical week.


B R O W N E D   B U T T E R  +  T O F F E E   C O O K I E S

Very special occasion: Fred’s 75th birthday. I think the entire family would tell you these were a hit. And we continued to eat on them all week. Also, special shoutout to Candace for finding and sharing the recipe. To me, these will always be “Candace cookies.”

 

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 chocolate toffee bars, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
1½ cups dark chocolate melting wafers
Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to browned butter. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits.
  4. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Form ping-pong sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart. Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9–11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet to make 10 more cookies.
  6. Sprinkle more sea salt on top right out of the oven!

 

C H R I S S Y  T E I G E N  ( + T W I T T E R ‘ S )  B A N A N A   B R E A D

If you don’t know the story behind this banana bread, google it. It’s hilarious. Or buy her cookbook – I promise you it’s worth every penny. I’ve made 4 recipes so far and all have been phenomenal, this one no exception. A little chocolate chip banana bread for no reason, but to break the monotony of the week.

 

Ingredients:
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas*
4 eggs
2⁄3 cup canola oil, plus a little more to grease the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting the pan
2 cups sugar
1 (3.5-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 (3.5-ounce) bar dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
Salted butter, for serving

*Get six brown bananas. Not four. Not five. Six. You will think you only need five because it looks like enough, but it will not be enough. You will get five, you will mash them, you will be about half an inch short and that makes a difference and you cannot get around it. Trust me.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, and oil. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine well BUT GENTLY. I swear this came out differently when I used an aggressive electric mixer. Fold in the coconut and chocolate chunks.
  3. Grease and flour a Bundt pan (that means wipe a little grease all over the inside of the pan, dust it with flour, and tip it upside down to shake out any extra flour). Pour the batter into the pan. (This can also make two 8 × 4-inch loaves, but it’s so much more moist in one Bundt pan!)
  4. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. (Test it with a toothpick at around 50 minutes.) Let it cool slightly in the pan, then use a butter knife to gently release the cake from the sides of the pan and around the inner circle, then flip it onto a plate.
  5. Let it cool and cut it into slices. Rewarm them and serve them with salty butter!!

    What’s your favorite Fall baking recipe?
    xo xo

You might also enjoy: Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars, Bourbon Apple Cake


life lately: fall party + kc weekend

3 R D   A N N U A L   F A L L   P A R T Y
[wine, appetizers + friends to celebrate the best season of all]


W E E K E N D   G E T A W A Y :   K A N S A S   C I T Y
[fun, albeit rainy, weekend getaway with friends + a concert][55 degrees and rainy shopping day on the plaza]

[KC must-eat: bbq!]

[the BEST brunch at the corner restaurant]

[WWI museum and memorial – highly recommend and beautiful views of the city]

[The National at Starlight Theatre – amazing show and we were so close to the stage!!
It did rain the entire show, but we made the best of it!]

[and THEN – Matt Berninger, lead singer of husband’s all-time FAVORITE band, came into the audience RIGHT NEXT TO US and husband sang into the mic with him. You have to trust me because I barely got a pic, but this “after” photo of husband is pretty telling. Life complete.]

xo xo


#Last90Days

Is it kosher to just copy and paste someone else’s post into my blog and just say, “Here! Read this – it’s everything I want to say and more!” No? Maybe?

Okay, well here’s what I need you to do before you read any further – follow Rachel Hollis on Facebook and Instagram, sign up for her emails, and DUH read her book Girl, Wash Your Face. Have you noticed I’m a Rachel Hollis fangirl yet?! I’ve already written about her book here and here. And now this is the 3rd post, and this one’s really important because we’re starting a new challenge:

L A S T   9 0   D A Y S 

Y’all, it’s October 1st. That means there’s 90 days left in 2018. 90 days to get your life together. Wouldn’t you like to end your year even better than you started it? Wouldn’t you like to START 2019 already feeling your best?! I love this concept.

The last 3 months are the slipperiest (?) time of the year. You throw all eating/drinking inhibitions out the window starting with the resurgence candy corn and it just goes downhill from there. You get busy with holiday parties and your workouts become nonexistent. You wear your sweats and cozy sweaters, and say you’ll start next year. Nope. Not gonna happen, friends. We’re going to do this together.

I love this analogy Rachel shared in her email this morning:

If you needed to climb to the 20th floor of a building and you’re already on the tenth floor, does it make sense to go back down to the basement now and start all over in January? No way! We’re already here. Maybe we charged up the ten flights last January or maybe it took us all of 2018 to get to this place but dang it, we’re here. It doesn’t make any sense to blow it all now.

Right?! Okay, so I’ve convinced you about the WHY, but here’s the WHAT –

5   T O   T H R I V E 

It’s honestly pretty simple. I didn’t say easy. I said simple. YOU can do all of these things, and YOU can start 2019 as the best version of yourself.

Let’s get our tribe and do this together. Comment below, email me, text me, facebook me – tell me you’re in so we can hold each other accountable.

Today was the first day of the rest of my life.
Who’s with me?!

xo xo


it’s fall y’all. [my favorite cozy recipes]

K + TC – this post is dedicated to you,
my favorite couple who tries all my recipes! 

Okay it’s fall, ya’ll. Officially fall in the books, and officially fall in the weather. Isn’t it crazy how that happens? 90+ degrees one day, then 57 on the first day of fall?! Someone up there knew us Arkansans were ready for some PSL weather. And yes, I did have my first PSL on that glorious fall morning.

This week I’m preparing for my 3rd Annual Fall Party next weekend. It’s been one of my favorite things to look forward to the last 3 years, and I’ve heard similar sentiment from friends. How could you not love a party celebrating the arrival of a new season with chunky sweaters, wine, cheese and all things pumpkin???

One of the best things about fall weather is FOOD. I have several recipes that only make their resurgence when the air turns crisp again. I’ve shared a few on the blog before, but here’s a roundup:

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup – this is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and can’t wait to make it soon
Pumpkin Fettuccine
Bourbon Apple Cake
One-Pan Enchilada Pasta

Now, a new one to share – one of the staples in the Alderman household this time of year – CHILI.
Everyone has their own chili recipe, which I love, because there are so many ways you can change it to fit your tastes. This one I’ve honed over the years and it’s perfect for us. I made my first batch Friday night and already thinking about making it again.

M I L L E ‘ S   C H I L I 

Ingredients
1.25 lb ground turkey
2 cans beans – I prefer black beans + light red kidney beans
2 8oz. cans tomato sauce
15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies
2 tbs. chili powder
2 tbs. cumin
dash of cinnamon!

Directions
Cook the ground turkey.
Drain and rinse the beans.
Combine all ingredients in crockpot on low for 6 hours.
Our preference: Serve with sharp cheddar cheese and jalapeños!

 

Let me know what your favorite fall recipes are, and if you try any of mine!
xo xo


life lately

[enjoying this || first tailgate of the season – WPS!]

[celebrating this || cheers + beers for 30 years. hbd stephen!]

[arranging this || beautiful flowers with a beautiful team]

MINI DALLAS GETAWAY

[dinner at an incredible steakhouse (Nick and Sam’s) with the best dessert:
salted caramel creme brûlée]


[the reason for the trip – queen bey + jay-z! SUCH an amazing concert!]

xo xo


Book Reviews: A Thriller, A Beach Read + An Unexpected Love Story

The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena: I wasn’t expecting much out of this book, and I didn’t get much out of it. It’s a typical thriller about a couple whose child is kidnapped, with the parents as the prime suspects. The best part about this book was a (very) shocking ending, but otherwise one you could skip.
Grade: B-

The Dinner List – Rebecca Serle: This book though … I wasn’t expecting much out of it, and I got SO MUCH out of it. I loved it. It’s a quirky plot – who are the 5 people (living or dead) you’d invite to dinner, then what if that actually happened on your birthday? It’s a cute love story with a deeper subtext and a dash of Audrey Hepburn. Winning combo to me.
Grade: A+

Kind is the New Classy – Candace Cameron Bure: A sweet friend sent this book to me in the mail. It’s an easy read with great reminders about how and why to be kind. Kind is the new classy and will never go out of style. It’s interesting to hear Candace’s Hollywood perspective, with a Christian worldview and specific ways to lead by example.
Grade: B+

The Identicals – Elin Hilderbrand: This book is set in Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket. Mom gave it to me after her trip to Nantucket, and boy, am I dying to go now!! This is such a cute, beach read about two identical sisters, their separate lives on the two islands and how they get intertwined when they least expected it. If you’re looking for a great end-of-summer read that will make you laugh and cry, this is it.
 Grade: A 

xo xo

You can read all my book reviews here.


so long, sweet summer.

Oh sweet labor day,
your weekend signals the close of summer and the nudge to pack away the white pants.

But, for many, myself included, you also cue the thrill of something new. The best season of all is peeking around the corner (if we’re lucky). True, I’ve already planned my 3rd Annual Fall Party and I’m currently burning a pumpkin spice candle as I write this, BUT I’m actually trying to hold on to the sunshine just a little bit longer this year.

It’s been an extraordinary summer. Did we go on any huge trips? No. Did we have any life-altering events happen? Not really. But sometimes isn’t that the best summer of all? Little bits of joy coupled together to create a beautiful summer of memories.

S U M M E R   O F   2 0 1 8 
[in photographs]


And yet,
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

xo xo


Weekend Picturebook: Palm Springs

F R I D A Y   N I G H T

[delicious steak dinner for Kira’s 30th birthday!]

S A T U R D A Y 

[early morning walk + coffee with these balcony views]

[hands down, the best huevos rancheros I’ve ever had
breakfast at Kings Highway + the Amigo Room before pool party at the ACE hotel … ]

[so much fun at ACE pool party! how could we not, with a bubbly bus?!]

[post-pool party burger – the.best.]

[great night at the cougar-town piano bar, where I got asked to be in a “hand dancing” music video ha!!]

S U N D A Y

[more chill pool day, round 2]

[dinner and exploring at The Saguaro – yummy fish tacos + queso]

[love this beautiful friend of mine and so happy I got to spend her 30th birthday with her in California! <3]

xo xo

You might also enjoy my other Summer Weekend Picturebooks: NYC, Chicago


life lately

[celebrating this || husband’s birthday with the BEST 90’s cover band and of course, beer]

[eating this || amazing sushi + REAL wasabi (who knew?!)]

[re-living this || our high school glory days with band Taking Back Sunday!]

[drinking this || while trying to cool off in 115 degree heat in Phoenix!]

[enjoying this || beautiful blooms <3]

[loving on this || beautiful baby momma-to-be!]

xo xo


30 Before 30: Q2 Progress Update

As I’ve shared previously, I’m working towards completing a list of 30 things before I turn 30.

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the challenge – which means I’m halfway through my 29th year! Eek! I’m definitely making progress, but need to start seriously checking things off the list in Q3 … if anyone wants to help with any let me know!

  1.  Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
  2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
  3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
  4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
  5. See a critically acclaimed show. This one makes me so happy because I’ve been dying to see this show and Mom got me tickets for my 29th birthday for our trip to Chicago. It was AMAZING. Absolutely go see it if you get the chance. 
  6. Volunteer 30 hours. (13 hours complete!) This quarter included great, hot, sweaty, challenging Habitat work. 
  7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
  8. Play video games with Husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer. This was so fun! We played Mario Kart (he schooled me), tennis (both won) and a fighting game (which we also both won, to Husband’s chagrin). I definitely need to get in Husband’s world and do this more often! 
  9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
  10. Learn a song on the guitar.
  11. Be in a play.
  12. Learn to play blackjack.
  13. Make a signature cocktail.
  14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
  15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
  16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
  17. Write 30 handwritten letters. (22 complete!)
  18. Take a dance class.
  19. Go to a movie solo. Does it count that I tried to do this? I went to Mamma Mia 2, bought my ticket, got my popcorn and then partially into the movie it stopped working and they gave us our money back … 
  20. Ride 300 miles. Maybe this one didn’t take as along as anticipated, but it’s still checked off the list and I’m proud!
  21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
  22. Do 5 things that scare me. (1. Leave my comfort zone job of 6.5 years. Trust me – it’s scary. 2. Ride a snowmobile) 
  23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
  24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.
  25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
  26. Challenge myself with a new hobby. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is totally the Peloton! Since I didn’t grow up in sports or really sticking with an exercise routine, riding consistently has been a huge challenge for me and totally feels like a new hobby! We even chose to ride while on vacation – something I never thought I’d do, ha!
  27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see. Taylor Swift – check. Taking Back Sunday (our favorite band from high school) – check AND Beyonce/Jay-Z coming up next month. I think I can officially check this one off the list. 
  28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
  29. Take a spontaneous trip. Someone could probably fight me on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want – our NYC trip was totally spontaneous for me. No, it wasn’t a pick-up-and-go trip, but our friend Mark called, said he was having his 30th birthday party in NYC and did we want to go? I never turn down a trip to New York, so we said yes, but not planning something like that several months out is my kind of spontaneity!! 
  30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.
  31. BONUS: Read 30 books. (16 complete!)

xo xo

Next quarterly update: Nov. 1 !


Book Reviews: To Kiss, To Lie, To Revolutionize

Calypso – David Sedaris: I might be the only person who thought so, but I was let down by this book. Of course some of the stories were classic Sedaris, some made me laugh and some made me contemplative, but overall it just wasn’t as great as I was expecting, and found myself rushing through more chapters than I should have.
Grade: B-

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang: This book was so stinkin’ adorable! I would characterize it as Eleanor Oliphant (another favorite) meets 50 Shades of Gray – yes, it’s steamier than you’re expecting, but has such a great story about a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s who just wants to learn how to date. I don’t want to say much else, just read and fall in love with this fun, original, sexy book.
Grade: A+

The Revolution Was Televised – Alan Sepinwall: This book was made for me because it contains two of my favorite things – TV shows and talking incessantly about TV shows. It’s a fascinating read with each chapter focusing on a specific show that was revolutionary for it’s time – The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, to name a few. It’s full of interviews, behind the scenes tidbits and commentary on how the show changed the TV landscape. My only complaint would be too many spoilers.
Grade: A

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager: It’s been a while since a thriller has kept me in suspense the ENTIRE BOOK. And a while since I’ve stayed up late (1am!) finishing a book because I had to know what happened. It’s basically Pretty Little Liars goes to summer camp, so I was obviously interested from the get go, but the storytelling is just fantastic without a single dull moment.
Grade: A+

xo xo

You can read all my book reviews here.


favorites.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but here are a few things I love and want to share with you, so you can love them too. ❤

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Y’all know I’m an avid reader, and I’m seriously obsessed with this service!  Here’s why –
1. The books are new titles with different genres to choose from
2. If you want to skip a month you can
3. It’s $14.99/month (cheaper than buying the book new from B&N or Amazon) and you can add another book into your box for just $9.99!
4. It’s been pushing me to read more because I want to finish my book(s) before the next month’s selection arrives

If you’re interested, use this link to sign up for Book of the Month – you’ll get a free book and I’ll get a free book! https://www.mybotm.com/sbucdim3rc
(I promise you won’t regret it!!)

You can also check out my book reviews here – quite a few from BOTM!

LIVING PROOF DRY SHAMPOO: I’ve tried so many dry shampoos – affordable and expensive, and this is hands down the best one I’ve tried. It’s a little more on the expensive side, but it feels like it actually cleans my hair and doesn’t leave white residue. I buy it in the big bottle for home and the small bottles to take with me when I travel!
Sephora full size: $23, mini: $13

ALLBIRDS: Husband was the first to join this bandwagon and to be honest, I was skeptical. But now, we both have two pairs each and are totally in love. They’re the perfect shoe for running errands or traveling, they’re so cute, so comfortable and you can just throw them in the wash if they get dirty. I have them in black and pink.
AllBirds $95

BURT’S BEES PEACH BLUSH: Since working on Burt’s Bees, I’ve been trying a lot of their products and loving a lot of them, but one of my current favorites is the blush. I love it in Bare Peach, but it comes in three shades. It’s 100% natural, lightweight and the coloring is perfect.
Walmart $9.49

BLOW-UP POOL: If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve undoubtedly seen this pool and how much I’ve been using it this summer. In this high 90s, high humidity Arkansas weather it’s been a lifesaver! It fits 2-3 adults, has a seat and cup holders. I’d say it’s the perfect “adult kiddie pool”!

Amazon
So when we bought it it was $30, but now I can’t seem to find it for less than $52 on Amazon, but definitely keep looking if you’re interested – it’s worth it!

xo xo


life lately

[volunteering for this || great day at habitat for humanity – hard work in this heat!]

[celebrating this || rosé in the usa aka 4th of july]

[mourning over this || the closing of our FAVORITE restaurant in NWA + eating a final meal]

[loving this || concert season at the AMP!
kesha + macklemore
30 seconds to mars]

[walking to this || neighborhood progressive dinner! the most fun ever!]

[enjoying this || my gorgeous hibiscus blooms]

xo xo


Weekend Picturebook: NYC

T H U R S D A Y

[Gorgeous views flying into the city]

[Late night bite at Jacob’s Pickles, a few blocks from our hotel – the buffalo chicken blue cheese mac and cheese was TDF, and see husband’s chicken and pancakes with bacon in the background – good-ness!!]

F R I D A Y

[First things first – had to get that Peloton ride in! It was seriously such an awesome experience! 90s Pop Ride with Emma Lovewell (Husband’s fave instructor)
(If you don’t know about Peloton, ask me!)]

[Lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar with birthday boy Mark – pork ramen was delish, and so cool to finally eat at this place!]

[Undoubtedly one of the best parts of the trip – we stumbled upon this freaking amazing rooftop bar with the most delicious frosé I’ve ever had!]

 [Next stop – checked something off my NYC bucket list: Top of the Rock! Views were incredible.
And we definitely didn’t *almost* fall off from all that frosé…]

[Cheers to pour decisions! Such a fun night out celebrating one of our dear friends’ 30th birthday!]

S A T U R D A Y

[Explored Upper West Side and found one of my new favorite places – Zabars!
If only I lived here and could shop there every day – speciality cheeses, homemade bread …
at least I got to try a bagel and coffee.]

[Walk along Riverside Park – another gorgeous day in the city.
The locals thought it was too hot, but low 80s felt great to us Southerners!!]

[American Museum of Natural History was amazing! (Night at the Museum, anyone??)
My geologist/developer husband especially loved the rocks]

[Saturday night in Greenwich Village – mine (and T.Swift’s) fave <3]

[Dinner at Emily West Village (aka Pizza Loves Emily) – tried to do a cute blogger pizza photoshoot … total fail haha! But I do have a cute Instagram Husband]

[Found the most adorable Air’s Champagne Parlor – this was the BEST rosé! The quote on the mirror says: “I only drink champagne on two occasions – when I’m in love, and when I’m not.” – Coco Chanel
Amen, Coco!]

[Comedy Cellar! SUCH a cool experience – I would highly recommend!]

S U N D A Y

[Brunch at Jacob’s Pickles before our flight home – we learned our lesson for next time, definitely share!!]

[Cheers to an awesome trip and watching the World Cup final in the airport!]

xo xo

You might also enjoy some of my other NYC picturebooks: Sept. 2017, Aug. 2016Dec. 2012 

 


Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be content. Content with stillness. Content with a slower pace. Content with the season of life I’m in.

I made a radical change a few months ago. Sometimes job changes may not seem radical or may not be radical at times, but my entire way of life changed with this one. My days are now more consistent, my nights and weekends are more about me, and everything just feels different.

At first, I might have missed it. I might have missed the crazy, rollercoaster days and weeks I was so accustomed to. But then, I got off the rollercoaster and realized life was so much more than the thrilling, yet unpredictable highs and lows.

Contentment is hard though, isn’t it? Don’t we always seem to want something else, think the grass is always greener? Enjoying where you are and not pining for the next season of life is very hard. I’m not saying I have the secret to success, but it’s something God has been teaching me the last few months.

And I love it. I love the stillness. I love the laziness of just being home with husband, cooking meals together, arguing over why the washer isn’t working, contemplating why one plant isn’t growing, doing life together. ((Have we officially become a boring, old, married couple?!))

Yet, just the other day I asked husband if I was squandering away my summer Fridays by doing nothing. Doing nothing for me being, laying by the pool reading 100 pages at a time, then going inside to cool down and watch an episode or two of my current binge. Should I be using my time off wisely? Getting things done? Crossing things off my to-do list?

No. Just be. Enjoy the time. Enjoy those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

I’m thankful for this season of life we’re currently in. I know it won’t last, but hope to enjoy it while we can, and then learn to love the next season – whatever may come.

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
– Henry David Thoreau

xo xo