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Discover Arkansas

Discover NWA: Staycation at 21c + Chihuly

For our 6th anniversary, we decided to do a staycation at 21c. Since we’re going to Italy very soon, we didn’t want to travel far or spend too much. We’ve also talked about staying at 21c since it opened, so we decided to go for it. And I am SO glad we did. It was exactly what we needed for a little one-night getaway. Luckily, we also got invited to the special opening of the new Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges and it was absolutely incredible. (Thank you, Denise!)

[beautiful, super cozy room – and my sweet coworkers surprised us with champagne!]

[a few photos from the night below – though I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out yourself!]


[chihuly in the forest – there was even a wine tent out there!
wonderful night with these fun friends]

[chihuly in the gallery – and husband’s favorite picture of the night]

[late night snack back at our hotel – sweet + spicy fries that are just amaaaazing]

[sunday brunch at the hive – that buttermilk fried chicken was out of this world]

[post-brunch stroll on the trails – a perfect end to a perfect anniversary getaway]

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Discover NWA: Mod, Modern Ozark Dining

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Discover NWA: MOD, Modern Ozark Dining

At the prompting of Husband,  I’m starting a new blog series for the new year.

Since my Discover Arkansas series was such a success, I’ve decided to narrow the focus a little bit and do Discover Northwest Arkansas/NWA. I’ve lived in this wonderful area of the state almost my entire life and want to share all of my favorite places with you.

I plan to do restaurant reviews, share itinerary ideas for out of town guests, explore events in the area and at some point make another Arkansas bucket list. If there’s something you’d like to hear about, let me know!

*** 

For my inaugural post, I want to share my review of a new restaurant in downtown Bentonville – MOD, Modern Ozark Dining.

Via their website“MOD treats guests to a modern interpretation of the quality and simplicity of Ozark’s seasonal pantry. We enhance nature’s local bounty with our progressive approach to global foods and preparation techniques.” 

Here’s the deal – it’s a prix fixe menu with fresh ingredients in a modern space. I’ve been dying to check it out ever since it opened. Lucky for me, I actually won a dinner for 2 (and Razorback basketball tickets, woohoo!) on Facebook so no harm, no fowl. We had heard it was “an experience”, but we weren’t sure if it would be pretentious, not enough food, etc.

Here’s my review via photos –
(Spoiler: we loved it!!)

img_2053
img_2055[Not a big wine selection, but a good mix of cocktails. Next time we will try the signature G&T]

F I R S T  C O U R S E 
3 appetizers to share

img_2058Hot Coal Roasted Onion Ravioli – I can’t entirely remember what this is except that it had cheese in the middle and toasted breadcrumb like things on top. I do remember the waiter said it’s not actually pasta, but the flavors and the different textures were perfect together.

img_2059Corn Hushpuppies – I loooove me some hushpuppies, and to be honest, you can get better ones next door at Pressroom, but these were still pretty tasty albeit a little fancy for a hushpuppy.

img_2060Brandade – Again, not entirely sure what this is, but this was the best appetizer of the three. First of all, the sourdough bread from Little Bread Co. in Fayetteville was a DREAM. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about it all week. I could eat just the bread, but husband loved the sauce you dipped it in as well – it was cheesy/potatoey/oily and delicious.

S E C O N D  C O U R S E

I’m not sure how this happened, but this was our favorite course of the night and I didn’t get any pictures! Shame on me. But it was just that.stinking.good. This course was a departure from the prix fixe. In addition to the set menu, you can add on additional sides. We added two things –

Breadbasket – Two types of bread from Little Bread Co. that were simply divine, and a housemade spiced butter that melted in our mouths.

King Crab Wontons – This. This is what we will remember from MOD. These wontons were simply incredible. They had a housemade sweet and sour sauce drizzled on top that enhanced all the flavors and had you licking the bowl for more. If you go, and these are on the menu, pay the extra money and add them!

T H I R D  C O U R S E 

img_2064Dry Aged Sirloin – We both chose the sirloin for our entree (because when are you ever going to turn down free steak?!) However, there were 3 options to choose from: 1 meat, 1 seafood and 1 vegetarian. I’d say we chose wisely. The steak was cooked perfectly and the surrounding veggies (celeriac, truffled potato pave and grilled romaine) were delicious, even down to the dried cherries on top. If we had only had this to eat, we still would have been extremely happy.

F O U R T H  C O U R S E

img_2066The dessert was probably my least favorite of it all, but it was honestly exactly what I needed. I didn’t need anything heavy and this little bite of lemon sorbet on a gingersnap cookie (or so I think it was) was so refreshing.

Overall, we decided together this was the best meal we’ve had in Bentonville hands down. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was clean and modern. And most importantly, we loved every single thing we ate.

I honestly can’t wait to go back and try a new menu. They switch it out about 4 times a quarter, with the 4th being the “best of” the previous 3 menus.

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Of course, as long as they don’t get rid of the King Crab Wontons, we will be back.

xo xo


Discover Arkansas: Mount Magazine – Paris, Arkansas

IMG_0814{Mount Magazine Lodge: views from our balcony were just breathtaking. I could have sat here all day!}

IMG_0771{But we decided to get a drink at the restaurant … I really could have sat here all day!}

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IMG_0813{Gorgeous wedding in Blue Mountain – congrats Kelsey and Kyle! <3}

IMG_5890{Good morning, Arkansas – you sure are stunning.}

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{We did a little bit of hiking on our way out – highest point in Arkansas!}

IMG_0841{And of course, when in Paris you must see the Eiffel Tower!}

We were here for less than 24 hours, and we’re already planning our next trip!
xo xo

See more Discover Arkansas posts here.

 


Discover Arkansas: Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Ever since I heard about stand up paddle boarding a few years ago, it’s been on my bucket list. I have never been into water sports, but I love being in or near the water. I’ve tried surfing several times (fun fact: I went to surf camp in Santa Barbara for a week when I was in middle school) and enjoy it, but it’s still pretty hard. I thought this would be the perfect solution to be on the water, but not too strenuous.

When SUP first became popular it was only on the coast or in bigger cities. I knew it would take a while to come to NWA. I thought I would get an opportunity to try it before it did, but unfortunately did not. Today, husband and I tried it for the first time, and we are HOOKED. It was exactly like I imagined. I felt so at peace on the water, and just fell in love. Don’t get me wrong – it was hard at first. I was so unsure of myself and my “sea-legs” standing up on the board for the first time, but once you get it, you get it, and it’s like you’re walking on water.

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We got up early (6am on a Sunday!) and drove about an hour to a section of Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs. We rented the boards through SUP Outfitters. It was the perfect time to be on the lake – there were no boats out yet, it was about 80 degrees and the water was so calm. It was absolutely beautiful. We had so much fun together exploring the lake. There was only one problem … it was too short! We went for an hour and time seemed to run out just as we were getting the hang of it. Next time, we’re planning to go for 2-3 hours and take a little cooler out with us. Who’s ready?!

After our morning on the lake, we headed to Eureka Springs for brunch at Local Flavor Cafe.

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[the best appetizer: baked brie + blood orange mimosas]

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[huevos rancheros – mine and husband’s favorite]

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[cheers to all of our sides of the best cheese grits]

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[love these beautiful ladies and all of the adventures we get to go on together! and love that we all wore the same hat!]

xo xo

Read all my Discover Arkansas posts here.


Blackberries for Days [Photos + Recipes]

Y’all, last weekend I went blackberry and raspberry picking and it was the most fun thing ever. (How Arkansas of a statement was that??)
I went with E and M, and M’s adorable little girl (see cutest ever pictures below). We spent about two hours picking berries, eating a few off the vine, taking pictures and enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning together at McGarrah Farms. We went early so it wouldn’t be so hot and humid like it’s been lately, and it was PERFECT. It felt like Fall outside and we loved it!
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[she started eating the second we started picking]
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[they were so beautiful and big!]
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[enjoying the beautiful weather]
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.52.52 PM[my bounty]
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After our picking (3 quarts! So many blackberries!) we were all so excited to decide what we were going to make with our fruits. Of course I went straight to Pinterest, and there were so many delicious ideas! I was seriously drooling just looking at them. One thing I didn’t make, but looked amazing was this Prosciutto, Blackberry & Basil Pizza – YUM.
Here are some pics and corresponding recipes of what the three of us made:
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.54.17 PM[skinny blackberry margaritas via – TIP: more tequila needed]
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.54.25 PM[blackberry & raspberry oatmeal crumble bars via]
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.45.39 PM[pioneer woman’s blackberry cobbler via]
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.54.42 PM[M’s blackberry cabernet sorbet via]
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.54.34 PM[E’s blackberry mojitos via]
Are you drooling yet? Want some blackberries? Come on over, because I STILL have some left and at this point, feel like I might turn into a blackberry myself!!
xo xo
See all my recipes here and other fun things to do in Arkansas here.

Photobook: NWA Food Festival

I’ve talked before about how excited I am about all the amazing things that are starting to come to my little hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas – a world-class museum, breweries, stylish new restaurants, a FILM FESTIVAL. Seriously, we’re growing up fast and I love it. We were actually just named one of the newest hipster towns across the US – hilarious, and awesome.

We’ve hosted the LPGA tournament for several years now, but for the first time ever this year we added a food festival at the Walmart AMP. Thursday night was Taste of NWA, showcasing 35 local restaurants featuring the best in southern comfort food. Friday night was a beer and burger fest that we did not attend – mostly because we didn’t have tickets, secondarily I don’t think I could have eaten that much two nights in a row.

We went Thursday night with some friends and had no clue what to expect since it was the first year. We left shocked at how much food and drink we consumed for such an affordable ticket price, and we had so much fun! It was hot. Boy, was it hot, but with a cold drink in one hand and a new food to taste in the other, we could get past the heat.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.49.19 AM[one of our first stops – pedal pops. they loved us so much they took a pic and put us on their facebook page and we loved them so much we came back for seconds at the end of the night…]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.46.38 AM[scattered throughout the food tents were breweries, wine tastings, bacardi and coke, and whiskey tastings (and some amazing iced coffee from kennedy’s that we really needed by the end)]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.46.24 AM[love doing these fun things with husband!]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.47.20 AM[and here you go, a picture of [almost] everything I ate. #dontjudgeme by the end we were all so full, but couldn’t stop because we wanted to try everything (which we couldn’t and didn’t). I was definitely in a food coma that night and into the next day, but it was so worth it.]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.45.39 AM[end of the night pedal pops again + more beer – things started getting weird]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.45.53 AM[wait, this was really the end of the night – the boys doing whiskey shots]

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.47.30 AM[had such a fun night with these wonderful friends!]

xo xo


Discover Arkansas: Whitaker Point/Hawksbill Crag

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Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.22.34 PM“Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

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You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
– Psalm 8

See all my Discover Arkansas posts here.


Discover Arkansas: Fayetteville Farmers’ Market

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 4.01.54 PM[my first farmers’ market of the season!]

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Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 3.58.52 PM[veggies on veggies on veggies]

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[love the live music on each corner]

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Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 4.00.59 PM[stopped in at bouchee bistro for coffee + macaroons on the patio,
then a walk through the anchor – an adorable new home decor store]

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 3.57.11 PM[surprise run-in with my sister-in-law!]

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 4.01.39 PM[great family saturday morning adventure!]
xo xo

See all my Discover Arkansas posts here.


Discover Arkansas: Little Rock, Part 1

I’ve officially started on my Discover Arkansas Bucket List. We spent a wonderful Memorial Day weekend in LR with some close friends, and got to visit some family who were gracious enough to let us stay in their home. Though we didn’t get to do everything on our list, we did ate a LOT. [Spoilers: the following photos may put you in a food coma like they did us]

Note: This is part 1. We have plans to go back in July and will absolutely cross the following off the LR Bucket List: Hike Pinnacle Mountain, Eat at Cotham’s + The Faded Rose.

F R I D A Y  N I G H T 
ZaZa’s Pizza – The Heights 

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.00.57 PM[We were fortunate enough to be staying with my aunt and uncle who live in The Heights, so a walk to ZaZa’s is always a must on my list]

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.01.09 PM[The wait for our pizza was 40 minutes, so of course I decided I needed dessert first – Dulce De Leche Gelato]

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.01.18 PM[The taps were mixed up, so Natalie kept getting the wrong beer … which in turn meant free beer … which I wouldn’t say was a bad thing]

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.01.29 PM[Finally our pizza arrived, and it was SO worth the wait. First time trying the ZaZa’s Italian and it was delicious]

S A T U R D A Y

[Not Pictured: Josh driving to North Little Rock to get us Mark’s Donuts for breakfast – amazing]

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Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.02.00 PM[Spent the morning at the Clinton Presidential Center – where we learned about a lot about Clinton and a little about dinosaurs]

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[Next stop: The Flying Saucer because after all that walking around the RiverMarket, we needed none other than carbs + beer]

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Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.02.46 PM[said carbs – pretzels, brats + IPA mac and cheese]

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[and said beer]

[Not Pictured: Nap time back at the house, followed by a walk around The Heights oohing and aahing over all the beautiful houses]

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Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.03.13 PM[Dinner at another one of my LR faves – Local Lime. Six different kinds of salsa, followed by tacos + frozen margs. Not to mention our amazing waiter Kye who sang us show tunes with his BEAUTIFUL voice]

S U N D A Y
Brunch: Loca Luna

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Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.03.20 PM[mimosas + breakfast pizza, which we continued to eat on the way home]

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.03.51 PM[we had a wonderful weekend with these friends we love so dearly!]

until our next adventure! xo xo


UPDATE: Arkansas Bucket List + Discover Arkansas Series

I had such an overwhelming response to my Arkansas Bucket List post, (thank you, I Love You, Arkansas Facebook page for posting) that I had to share an update.

I’ll be starting a new series on my blog called Discover Arkansas. Each post will highlight pictures and my experiences. Thanks to all of you, my bucket list has expanded tremendously! I’m not sure if I’ll get to all of them this summer, but will certainly keep you updated as I do.

Original Bucket List: 

1. Float the Buffalo River

2. Eat a famous hubcap burger at Cotham’s [Scott/LR]

3. See the new Crystal Bridges exhibit, Van Gogh to Rothko [Bentonville]

4. Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park [Murfreesboro]

5. Climb Pinnacle Mountain [Little Rock]

6. Go to the drive-thru wilderness safari [Gentry]

7. Climb to Hawksbill Craig and take a cliche picture [Ponca]

8. Enjoy an evening at the drive-in movies [Fayetteville]

9. Tour the Ozarks through railway [Springdale to Winslow or Van Buren]

New Additions: 

10. Spend the night in a tree house at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge [Eureka Springs]

11. Visit the Elephant Sanctuary [Greenbriar]

12. Float the Mulberry River

13. Visit [Mountain View] – go to the Drive-in and Blanchard Springs Cavern

14. Rivermarket & Heifer Project [Little Rock]

15. Hike to waterfall at Petit Jean State Park

16. Trout fishing on the White River and swimming at Big Spring Park [Cotter]

17. Hike at Painter’s Bluff

To follow along on my journey, make sure and follow my blog via WordPress or email:

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

I’m excited to explore our beautiful natural state! xo xo


My Arkansas Bucket List

A few things you should know about me before starting this post: 1. I’ve lived in Arkansas almost my entire life. 2. I can’t sit still.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the thing. We’re planning this super awesome trip to Europe in the fall – one that I will certainly be posting about incessantly pre- and post- trip. However, since we have limited money and limited vacation time, that means the summer is wide open. But who can live through a summer without doing anything fun?! Certainly not me. See point 2 above.

So, I’ve decided this will be the Arkansas Summer. I will go and see and do all the wonderful things my home state has to offer – some of which I’ve done before (but it’s been a while) or some of which I have yet to do, but always wanted to. For those of you who live here you know how beautiful and underrated this state is. For those of you who don’t live here, you would be shocked to see all it has to offer, and hopefully I can share a glimpse into its beauty with you.

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1. Float the Buffalo River

2. Eat a famous hubcap burger at Cotham’s [Scott/LR]

3. See the new Crystal Bridges exhibit, Van Gogh to Rothko [Bentonville]

4. Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park [Murfreesboro]

5. Climb Pinnacle Mountain [Little Rock]

6. Go to the drive-thru wilderness safari [Gentry]

7. Climb to Hawksbill Craig and take a cliche picture

8. Enjoy an evening at the drive-in movies [Fayetteville]

9. Tour the Ozarks through railway [Springdale to Winslow or Van Buren]

Other must-dos for Arkansans, but that I’ve done regularly so not on my list: Horse races at Oaklawn [Hot Springs], Weekend in Eureka Springs, NWA breweries [read my post about that here], Concert at the AMP [Rogers], Saturday morning Farmers Market [Little Rock/Fayetteville/Bentonville], Tailgate and go to a Razorback Football Game [Fayetteville]

POST UPDATE: Check out my updated bucket list thanks to your recommendations and my new series Discover Arkansas!

Have a recommendation of something to add? See something you want to do with me? Let me know! xo xo


derby daze

Friday night we went to the ArtInfusion Derby Party at Crystal Bridges. After our trip to the races a few weekends ago and this weekend being the Arkansas Derby, we were all in.

As Lorelai from Gilmore Girls says, “I’ll do just about anything if I can buy an outfit.” So that I did. I found a fascinator at Dillards (which, by the way, I didn’t even know what a fascinator was then I saw photos of Kate and Pippa wearing them and I knew that’s what I wanted instead of a hat) and a bowtie for husband to match his salmon pants (perfect for the occasion, right??).

Enjoy some photos below from our “night at the derby”! xo xo

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{obligatory pre-party selfie}

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{first round of mint juleps – cheers!}

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{love, love, love this photo!}

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{the girls and the boys}

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{the second round of mint juleps}

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{the amazing tour guide, featured: Boy Leading a Horse, Picasso}

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{look who we found heading to the after-party}

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{after-party with penguins at 21c}

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{what a terrific evening with these party people!}


Weekend Picturebook: Hot Springs

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.57 PM{started the weekend off right with margaritas!}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.53.08 PM{then back to the house for pool and beer … among other things}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.53.27 PM{love this pic – as someone said, it either looks like a rom-com or a psa for underage drinking}

10153382_10201815113006043_561263744_n Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.48 PM{beautiful home we were so fortunate to stay in}

1555835_10201815923346301_1606689307_n Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.52.23 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.37 PM{day at the races!}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.49.13 PM{dinner at backporch grill}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.52.31 PM{downtown hot springs – superior bathouse and brewery}

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.52.47 PM{sunday morning mimosas}
Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 5.57.01 PM{brunch at fisherman’s wharf before heading home}

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: Cabin in the Woods, Weekend Picturebook: Little Rock


Weekend Picturebook: Cabin in the Woods

One of the things I’m most thankful for this year is our Community Group. After we got married, husband and I started looking for a couples bible study to join. We searched on our own and couldn’t find one we thought would be just right. Of course, God already had a plan for the perfect group for us to join. We got a text message from a co-worker from my previous job asking to prayerfully consider joining their group. God clearly led them to ask us and clearly led us to say yes, because it has been the best decision we’ve made all year.

These are some of the most loving, generous, inspirational people we know and we are so so grateful to call them our friends. It has become so much more than just a group we go to on Thursday nights, but people we share life with.

I wrote this post yesterday, and this morning at church they happened to be talking about community. They shared a great passage about what it means to be in community (Acts 2:42-47) describing biblical community as studying God’s word together, praying together and breaking bread together “with glad and sincere hearts.”

Last weekend we rented a cabin on the Buffalo River together and had an amazing weekend of true community. See below some highlights from the weekend.

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IMG_2466{Friday night Newlywed Game – where husband correctly guessed the two things that would be in my “wild night”. We also won the game.}

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IMG_3657{Saturday morning mimosas and scrabble. It’s a rough life.}

IMG_0692{It was FREEZING, but we went hiking anyway}

IMG_3425{and relaxed with a brew…}

IMG_8730{and did some caving…}

IMG_8122{and celebrated a birthday…}

IMG_2502{then relaxed by the fire.}

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{What a great group of people – and a random little girl who jumped in our picture!}
xo xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: Halloween, Birthdays & Football, Weekend Picturebook: Little Rock


NWA Brew Hop

Saturday night we had an adventure.

We set off with another couple to go Northwest Arkansas brewery hopping. You might be as surprised as I was to learn just how many craft breweries there are in the area. We went to 4 and there were 4 more we wanted to go to, so of course there’s already a brew hop round 2 in the works.

Here’s my review of the night and the brews!

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Our beautiful drinking buddies for the evening

Core Brewing and Distilling Co: A little sketchy, very small (though they’re expanding), located behind Northwest Arkansas Newspapers in Springdale. Not our favorite beer overall, but you can get a lot for cheap. A flight of everything currently on top (7-8 beers) for $6.

Favorite Brew: Raspberry Ale

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Saddlebock Brewery: Awesome place, out in the middle of nowhere Arkansas, with a fantastic two-story deck to sit outside. Overall, best brews.

Favorite Brew: Arkansas Farmhouse**

**also winner of favorite brew of the night

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Apple Blossom Brewing Co: Newest of the four and favorite atmosphere, indoor/outdoor seating and restaurant, unique decor. Along with our brews we also had amazing (and huge!) fried pickles and alfredo fries.

Favorite Brew: Gris Cast Wheat

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West Mountain Brewing Company: Best thing about this place? It also has pizza and really really good pizza at that. In all honesty, we didn’t even drink at this one. All we wanted was pizza and a bed.

Next time on the tour: Tanglewood, Fossil Cove, Hog Haus, Brewskis

xo


Weekend Picturebook: Little Rock

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{T-Dub, aka Theo Wiley, is the cutest}

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{lunch + shopping at The Promenade at Chenal}

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{lounging with family + pups}

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{sushi at RJ Tao}

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{SO glad we got to spend time with this guy}

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{had to stop by for a whatta-burger on the way home}
xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: Kansas City, Weekend Picturebook: Las Vegas


Petit Bistro {restaurant review}

As a New Year’s resolution for my blog, I’ve decided to start doing northwest Arkansas reviews. I pride myself in being that person anyone can come to and ask about the newest restaurant in town, or where to purchase _____. So, to kick off the new year reviews: Petit Bistro. As you might remember, husband and I decided to have a quiet NYE (New Year’s Eve: The Most Overrated Night of the Year) and started it with a four-course meal at said restaurant.

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Left to right: Lentil & Black-eyed Pea Soup; Warm Wilted Spinach Salad w/Bacon, Cranberries, Molasses Vinaigrette; Ribeye w/Shitake Compound Butter Served with Garlic/Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes and Zucchini & Squash Julienne; Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon

Not pictured: Chocolate Lava Souffle w/Vanilla Ice Cream and Macerated Berries

The meal was divine and the atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for – romantic and quiet, with character. Instead of re-writing all my thoughts on Petit Bistro, below is the article I wrote for AY Magazine. Enjoy.

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There’s a secret in northwest Arkansas. It’s hidden behind a rustic, stone building in Bentonville and hosts business executives, wine connoisseurs and date-night couples who casually enjoy a relaxed, elegant atmosphere.

Nearly hidden among the trees on eight acres of land, Petit Bistro sits just off North Walton Boulevard, just before the street crosses into Bella Vista. Walking past the picturesque setting outdoors with twinkle lights scattered in the trees, it’s like stepping into another world outside of the Ozarks.

The warm brown and gold pantones invite customers into the hidden gem. Petit beige curtains line the windows, and unique oval-shaped lights provide a magical feel as they shimmer onto the ceiling and walls, revealing antique décor that feels rustic, yet upscale.

To add to the cultural ambiance, there’s the unmistakable accent coming from owner Dario Amini. Usually found behind the bar chatting with customers, Amini’s accent is difficult to place. Not French or Italian, but German, with influences from his Iranian father and Italian mother.

Amini was born in Germany, lived in Iran and Italy, but most recently spent 20 years in Los Angeles. He started four gourmet quick-serve restaurants in L.A. An alternative to the food court, these upscale cafes opened near high-end stores and served home-baked pastries, international cuisine and a full-service espresso bar.

Moving to northwest Arkansas because of friends and family, he expected to open a larger restaurant, but when he saw the population and culture of the town, he decided on something a little more quaint.

“With all the changes in northwest Arkansas culturally, with Crystal Bridges and the Walton Arts Center, you’ve seen a shift for better-quality restaurants and retail shops,” Amini said. “It’s slowly starting to manifest itself that way. We timed it correctly, by chance, and people are enjoying us as part of the community.”

Open since April 2010, Petit Bistro offers something for every palate. A “fusion of different cultures” Amini mixes Italian, Spanish, French, Lebanese and Moroccan into the menu. With no boundaries for the types of food he can create, Amini simply gets inspiration from his mother’s cooking, all the places he’s lived and visited and great restaurants from Aspen, Colo., to New York City.

“I have these ideas in my head, so whenever a dish comes to my mind, I try to get as close to it as possible, re-creating it in the kitchen,” he said.

Unafraid to try out new dishes, Petit Bistro is famous for their unusual specials, including Swordfish and Shrimp Vera Cruz Pasta; Lamb Lollipops over Mason Salad and Fingerling Potatoes; and Crab Cake Burgers with cheese, avocado and chipotle.

A staple on the menu, and just about everyone’s favorite, is the Cheesecake Du Jour, which has included a variety of flavors, everything from limoncello, rum raisin, avocado vanilla bean (the most incredible cheesecake I’ve ever eaten) to chocolate chip peanut butter. It could be a hit or miss, but it’s hard to mess up cheesecake, Amini insisted.

To pair with the cheesecake and the variable menu, Petit Bistro boasts an extensive wine list featuring domestic and international wines from $19 to $883 a bottle.

For dinner the menu is separated into Petit Plates, Salades, Pizza Rustique, Grand Petit Plates and Desserts. Though we recommend checking out the cheesecake of the day, you can’t go wrong with the Bread Pudding Au Chocolate, which has more of a brownie consistency, or the Bistro Crème Brulee, the best in northwest Arkansas.

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Photo courtesy of Beth Hall

The Petit Plates include burgers, smoked salmon, grilled brie     and the beautifully-plated Pan Seared Tuna Tower ($15). Placed between crispy wontons, the tuna is encrusted with sesame seeds giving it a unique Asian flavor and includes wasabi aioli, pickled ginger and soy on the side.

For the Grand Petit Plates, the Braised Pork Osso Bucco ($36) is a must-see and a must-eat. Osso bucco — Italian for bone with a hole — is typically a veal dish. The braised pork is so tender it falls off the bone into the surrounding, rich sauce enhanced by porcini mushrooms and fresh grilled vegetables. The Lebanese Lamb Chops ($32) is another unique item on the menu, mostly due to the Israeli cous cous. Larger than typical cous cous, the vegetable is similar to rice with a dense consistency and pairs well with the lamb chops.

Whether for an evening of drinks and dessert, a quiet dinner inside or a get-together on the patio with live music, Petit Bistro is a delicacy of northwest Arkansas.