everyday inspiration


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

Christmas + NYE Picturebook

C H R I S T M A S 

[the start of Christmas break means Mom’s birthday – fun celebration at Midici!]

[Christmas Eve with this wonderful family + a new baking favorite: salted caramel cookies]

[Christmas morning love]

[celebrating Christmas evening with another wonderful family]

B I G  C E D A R
[a few days of rest and relaxation at this amazing place]

[the best Hotarman-masquerade house party ever]

[Cheers to 2018!]

xo xo

life lately

img_1237{enjoying this || breakfast with the best team everrrr}

img_1446{relaxing with this || big poodle by the fire}

img_1350{dying over this || meeting harry connick jr. backstage at his show – he’s soooo dreamy}


{making this || beautiful wreaths with beautiful friends}

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-9-21-46-am{eating this || chrissy teigen’s delish chicken noodle soup}

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-9-23-29-am{celebrating this || mom’s birthday at the hip hop nutcracker!}

the-u-s-capitol-christmas-tree{planning for this || christmas in DC!}

We have a busy couple of days ahead with several fun Christmases, then we head to DC for the week to see more family. Wishing you all a merry and blessed Christmas!

xo xo

‘Tis the season

Yes, the holidays are craaaaazy. They can be busy and stressful and sometimes we just want to pull our hair out. I mean seriously, I posted this on Instagram yesterday, so I’m with you.


And in all of that, we can so easily let the season slip by without truly remembering the purpose of this season, without cherishing the extra time we have with family and friends and without experiencing that little extra dose of joy.

Here are a few little things that have brought me extra joy this season –


[christmas parties]


[ridiculously big christmas trees]

img_1441[gifts from your mom that are just too perfect]

15193415_3485504609343_956750986888329339_n[ugly sweaters + bowling]

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-5-59-59-pm[christmas movies in the backyard]

img_1439[pure relaxation in front of the fire]

img_1296[impromptu photoshoots at work]

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-6-00-17-pm[annual date night to see the lights of the ozarks]

What’s bringing you extra joy this season? Take the time to think about it and cherish it, because as they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

xo xo

life lately

img_0796{darkening this || my hair for the winter}

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-6-49-40-pm{dying over this || gorgeous views a la runyon canyon in los angeles}

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-6-49-21-pm{FINALLY doing this || screenshot from our mannequin challenge, thanksgiving edition}

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-6-49-03-pm{loving this || a very thankful turkey day with our amazing families}


img_1214{bingeing this || GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL, DUH!!! of course we spent all day bingeing, eating, drinking coffee, eating, discussing, crying, laughing, eating. remember when we did something similar a few years ago?}

xo xo

P.S. Team Jess!

12 Days of Christmas [Picturebook]

IMG_9401[Husband’s company Christmas party at Barn at the Springs]

IMG_9443[First of several holiday movies watched – Love Actually]

IMG_9422[Team Christmas party, with our very own Snapchat filter!]

IMG_9474 (1)
IMG_9472[Night on the Fayetteville square + dinner at Tiny Tim’s]

IMG_9498[Friend Christmas party with photobooth fun + telephone pictionary]

IMG_9540[Christmas Eve with the in-laws]

IMG_9547[Early Christmas morning || Very full hearts, indeed]

IMG_9561 (1)[Christmas Brunch at Mom’s || Have yourself a merry little cocktail]

IMG_9559 (1)IMG_9563IMG_9568[Christmas evening at the Aggus’]

IMG_9592[Sadly, our final Christmas shindig got cancelled thanks to rain/flooding/tornados the day after Christmas. Instead of a Family Christmas Cocktail Party of 20, Husband and I ate the prepared food, drank the purchased booze and had a perfect little party for ourselves.]

Other wonderful Christmas celebrations not pictured: 
Annual Community Group favorite things party at Fred’s Hickory Inn
Weekend in Little Rock visiting two amazing families

xo xo

life lately

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 5.59.16 PM{obsessing over this || adorable baby E – in our matching sweats!}

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 5.59.26 PM

{feeling thankful for this || wonderful families to celebrate Thanksgiving with}

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 5.59.50 PM

{eating this || my first hanukkah dinner, complete with potato latkes, matzah ball soup, challah, lamb and rugelach}

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 5.59.39 PM{loving this || amazing guy – my holiday party partner-in-crime}

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 5.59.59 PM

{learning this || how to play poker … remind me to tell you about that time I kept going all in (just so I could go home and go to bed) and kept winning … :))

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.00.16 PM{oohing over this || beautiful sunset, 60 degree december weather and my favorite puppy}

xo xo

Favorite Things: Gift Edition


Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 5.33.24 PM



  1. Bobbi Brown Lip Balm – Sephora, $20
    I’m so obsessed with this lip balm. It feels amazing, has the perfect amount of shine, and comes in a cute tin. This is a great stocking stuffer. (Hint, hint..)
  2. Magazine Subscription – Price varies by magazine
    This is a great gift because you can choose a magazine based on the person’s interests, and it keeps giving all year round. I was gifted Real Simple for Christmas a few years ago, and thought it was such a great idea. It’s also so much more affordable than you’d think!
  3. Plaid Scarf – Etsy, $20
    This is the BEST scarf. It’s big, cozy and perfectly plaid. I’ve seen these in local stores for $40, so this is a great deal and I can personally attest the scarf is great quality.
  4. Personalized Mug – Etsy, $14
    This is another great gift you can personalize! For example, this one is perfect for me, but if you just search Etsy, you’ll definitely find one for anyone on your list. You could even fill it with candy, coffee, a gift card, etc.
  5. Zodiac Necklace – Sequin NYC, $48
    My mom got me this for my golden birthday this year, and I’ve loved it. I get compliments on it every time I wear it because it’s so unique. This would make a perfect gift for the accessory lover or sign-obsessed.
  6. “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling – Walmart, $15
    Books are always great gifts. (If you need more recommendations, check mine out here!) And this is a great new book that will keep you laughing all the way through. Have I mentioned before how much I love Mindy?!

xo xo

life lately

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 5.12.10 PM{enjoying this // a cabin getaway with our community group}

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.42.18 AM

{drinking this // golden beer on our date night in downtown bentonville}

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.41.53 AM

{thankful for this // a wonderful thanksgiving with two families}

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.42.36 AM

{playing with this // on a surprisingly warm day in december}

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.42.48 AM

{loving this // an afternoon with my coworkers to give back to local families}

xo xo


IMG_2850{the piano bar}

IMG_6265{the hashtag}

IMG_9620{the RED decor}

IMG_4818{the peppermint and chocolate macaroons}

IMG_1381{the macaroon lovers}

IMG_3963{the RED shoes}

IMG_8375{the santa hat cuties}

IMG_0351{the beauties dressed in RED}

IMG_2964{the snazzy community group}

IMG_2952{the bestie}

IMG_7900{the favorite}

xo xo

Homemade Hot Chocolate {Snow Day Recipe}

Ever since Thursday I’ve been craving hot chocolate. Unfortunately it was one of the things that escaped my mind as I was hurriedly pushing through Walmart Wednesday night fighting for bread and water. Since I am not a homemade-type person, it didn’t even occur to me I could make it on my own. To me hot chocolate means a paper pouch in a blue box or a decadent dessert drink at a restaurant. (I know, I know, I’m a child of consumerism.)

Well today, the stars aligned. I found cocoa powder in the pantry and looked up a recipe for homemade hot chocolate. Do you guys know how easy it is to make?! I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but not a three ingredient recipe. I also just bought candy canes today and boy, do I love anything peppermint chocolate. So, still stuck at home and dreaming of a creamy hot beverage? Go all out homemade with this easy recipe!

H O M E M A D E   H O T   C H O C O L A T E


1 c milk
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs white sugar
2 tbs cream or milk
Optional: marshmallows, whipped cream and/or candy canes

Place the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot.
Meanwhile, mix cocoa, sugar and cream until it’s a paste like consistency in your mug.
Pour hot milk into the mug and stir until combined and smooth.
Garnish with your favorite toppings!

Enjoy! xo

You might also enjoy: Pumpkin Cheesecake, {Almost} Better Than Sex Cake

A Griswold Charlie Brown Christmas Rap

Thanksgiving is over and I’ve officially moved on to Christmas. I don’t know what it is about this year, but I’m really getting in to the Christmas spirit. I turn the tree lights on the second I get home, and I’ve been listening to Christmas music more than usual, dancing and singing in the kitchen last night as I was preparing dinner. So I’m going to do a series of holidays posts over the next few weeks – holiday decor, gift guide, fashion, party tips, etc.

But first, I want to make sure all of YOU are in the Christmas spirit. Below are some of my top favorite moments from Christmas movies and TV episodes over the years. If you’re not in the spirit after this, you might just be the Grinch!










xo xo

5 Tips I Learned From My First Black Friday Experience

Thursday night I did something I never thought I’d do. I went shopping at Walmart for Black Friday (Thursday).

I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper. I hate getting up early, I hate the crowds and I never think there’s really anything worth it. However, in my second year working the holiday at Walmart, I decided I needed to see what it was all about. I drug husband with me after our third huge meal of the day, promising it would be fun and we wouldn’t be in there too long. Well, I was right about one thing. We were in there for a pretty long time, mostly due to the checkout line. But, honestly I actually had fun. I can’t say the same for husband, but to me it was exhilarating. I totally understand now the thrill people  get from Black Friday shopping. (The people watching was also prime time.)

I might go again next year, but with my tips below I’ll definitely be more prepared.

IMG_8309{Yes, I even bought Diet Coke on sale. But it was the Taylor Swift DC and it was only $1!!}

1. Go in with a plan. If your shopping includes Walmart, this means using maps for the store. Who knew DVDs would be in the Garden Center and iPads would be in the meat section???

2. Only bring people who are equally as excited as you are to be there. Case in point, photo below. Also bring people who are equally as aggressive as you are. Otherwise, they will get stuck in a sea of carts while you’re 50 feet ahead of them fighting for sheets. (I only wish I had a photo of that.)


3. If you’re not doing a big overhaul of shopping, forego the cart. You’ll get around a lot easier and faster. Also, forego the jacket, it may be 30 degrees outside, but it’s 100 degrees inside.

4. Make friends with the people standing in line next to you. You will be in line for a long time, so you might as well have some people to gripe about the lines with, strategize if you should get in another line and talk about the awesome deals.

5. Most importantly, do not bring kids under the age of 10. (Over the age of 10 is a different story, they might be part of your strategy, but I digress.) I understand sometimes that may be the only option, but is it really worth it to lose your kids in a sea of people or get knocked around by carts? The $98 TVs, the $200 iPads, the $3 DVDs – it sounds worth it, but it’s definitely not.

xo xo

life lately {holiday edition}


{celebrating mom’s birthday on the Fayetteville square 3 days before Christmas}


{Christmas with the fam}


{snuck in some relaxation}


{confirmed birthday plans, now only 22 days away …}


{kisses for 2013, NYE at Petit Bistro}

xo xo

life lately

Aside from my NYC travels, which you can read about here, here’s what else has been happening in my life lately.


{wearing this // pants Anthropologie, shoes Target}


{winning this. #tswiftobsessed}


{cuddling with this}


{enjoying an evening of this}


{dying over this White Elephant gift}


{loving this new lunchbox from Target + Neiman Marcus, Tory Burch}

xo xo

Chewy Chocolate Coconut Bars {recipe}

There once was a time in my life that I would bake the days away, and cook, and bake, and cook. Oh to be a sophomore in college again with an abundance of free time and nothing to fill it with. (except baking) These days it’s rare, because it’s not at the top of my list for things I want to do after working all day. However, I’m trying to bake some for the holidays and upcoming parties and family get togethers, so to start …

Chewy Chocolate Coconut Bars

 2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 c. butter

2 c. packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 c. chopped walnuts

1 c. shredded coconut


* * *

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In large bowl, cream the shortening, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.


Slowly blend in flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut. Spread the mixture evenly in pan.


Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.



* * *

Even Olli wants to bake more this holiday.


xo xo

You may also enjoy: {recipe} French Dip Crescents, Pumpkin Lovin’ , {recipe} Mille’s chili

Weekend Picturebook: New York City

{Food + Drink}


[Friday fuel – Shake Shack]


[Blood Orange Cosmo – Casa Lever]


[Saturday Brunch – Balthazar]


[After-show drinks, Prohibition Punch – The Campbell Apartment]

68136_1801290185035_258101351_n 480741_1801291505068_1867156055_n

[Salads + Spinach Risotto – Giano’s]


[Sunday breakfast – Magnolia Bakery]

* * *


483633_1801282784850_580324771_n 28073_1801283864877_1888581318_n 68915_1801282904853_1103450534_n

[The Boathouse – Central Park]


[Metropolitan Museum of Art]




[Rockefeller Plaza]

* * *


148625_1801291425066_1084407029_n 18024_1801291465067_1780372374_n

[Pawn shop > bouncer > nightclub – Beauty & Essex]


[Santa Pub Crawl]

301038_1801289065007_705132926_n 222224_1801289105008_1816242837_n

[Nice Work If You Can Get It + Matthew Broderick (!!!!)]


[Stardust Cafe]

* * *

What a FANTASTIC weekend getaway celebrating my mother’s birthday! We ate, we drank, we walked, we crashed, we played, we laughed, we sang, we saw – we did it all! Happy Birthday Mom, I love you! ❤


You may also enjoy: 10 things I want to do in NYC, thanks to pop culture

My Week in To-Do’s


Purchase stamps

Pay Electric bill

Address and mail Christmas cards

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 4.44.06 PM

{sneak peek for my readers}

Catch up on Gossip Girl

* * *


Happy hour

Plan outfits for weekend in NYC



Purchase black boots + winter coat to complete said outfits

* * *


Get nails done

Wrap Christmas presents

* * *


Pack for NYC


Watch Scandal

Set alarm for 4 am for NYC flight

* * *

How are you staying busy this week?


BTS: Our first family Christmas card photo shoot

We’ve never done a family Christmas card. Every year we talk about it, but it never gets done. Any year up until this one if we’d done it, it would have been quick, easy and painless. This year, however, the year we decide to do it, we have a new puppy. So it was anything but quick, easy and painless. However, we got through it and got some great photos. I’ll hold off on showing the ones that will make it into the Christmas card, but here is your behind the scenes look.

{photos taken at Crystal Bridges of American Art}

{and with our wonderful photographer Amanda}


All I Want For Christmas…

… is my two front teeth!

I’m decked out in the Christmas spirit – I’ve had one Christmas party thus far, a company-wide holiday luncheon + fun holiday meeting with America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., our newlywed apartment is filled with holiday decor, I’ve already watched Elf once this season and most importantly, had the pleasure of serving families in need this season with my team at the Salvation Army.

But, what is it I really want for Christmas? That’s easy. “All I want for Christmas is you.” Simple, cheesy, I know. But it’s the truth, and I am so blessed to have my ultimate Christmas gift by my side forever and this year as my HUSBAND!

As we all search for the perfect gifts for our friends and family, let’s remember that it’s more important to cherish and spend time with them. Throw a party, invite them to coffee or after-work drinks and share the spirit with love this season. I may be sappy, but I’m in a sappy mood this evening – partially because of the videos below and partially because I get to spend the evening with the person I love. Our Friday night agenda? A night in – cooking dinner together (steak, fresh green beans + leftover mahi mahi) and relaxing on the couch with a movie.

Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Oh, and watch the videos below to get into the Christmas spirit.

{the Biebs is one of my guilty pleasures}

{Oh Glee, how I love thee}

{What is Christmas really all about?}

Baby, it’s cold outside

Don’t get me wrong – I love Thanksgiving, and I had a fabulous one with two wonderful loving families we are so blessed with. But the second Thanksgiving is over you can’t help but feel Christmas is in the air! Fortunately, I have a mother who is an amazing interior decorator and we spent all day Saturday decorating the apartment for mine and Kyle’s first Christmas. ♥

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with loved ones and can share in the Christmas spirit all month long, and of course not forget the true meaning of Christmas.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

{Christmas tree painting from RiffRaff}

{Angel collection from my aunt}

{Nutcracker on the bar}

{golden whimsical trees from Sam’s Club}

{Ho! Ho! Ho!}