everyday inspiration

Reviews

favorites, round 7. [walmart edition]

Things I love and want to share with you, so you can love them too.
[And yes, I do work for Walmart, so I especially want you to know about these awesome Walmart finds too!]

BIG BUDDHA: Did you know Walmart carries Big Buddha shoes and bags?! Until recently I had no clue, and now I own 3 pairs of shoes. Okay let me tell you about them – the sandals in the top left picture are so stinkin’ adorable and comfortable. I’ve seen a ton of these look-alike sandals in different retailers, but these are the most affordable at $13.

And I’m obsessed with the heels in the bottom right corner. A coworker started the trend and of course, now we all wear them on the same day all the time (case in point above). You can’t see the heel, but it’s short and chunky and totally in style. I bought them in black and tan, obviously, because they’re only $11.

The bag, pictured above the heels, is also Big Buddha and sent by my sis this morning! I love to send my family my WM finds and she sent us this one. I’ve literally almost bought this bag multiple times, but not sure why I haven’t. They have multiple colors/styles in-store.

CACTUS PLATES + BOWLS: Top right are these adorable cactus plates I found in-store for $1.50. I immediately bought two, then went back a few days later and bought two more. They’re plastic so very lightweight, but perfect for a Summer get-together, yeah?? Also worth mentioning are the amazing Better Homes and Gardens melamine plates. These are heavier and very nice. I buy their new Summer styles every year and always get compliments on them.

AVIA TANKS: Aren’t these tanks great? I’m sure you’re starting to see a trend here … when I find something I like that’s affordable, I buy in multiples. Since I’ve started exercising more it’s more fun to buy workout clothes and these are perfect. They are breathable, come in multiple colors and are just $7 each.

FADED GLORY DRESS: Okay so this is not a great picture of the dress, but I wear it ALL THE TIME. It’s sleeveless and so comfortable. It’s long enough for work, but cute enough for weekend. I just purchased another one in black. You will see me in these allllll Summer and definitely in Italy. Unfortunately they are out of most sizes in-store and online, but search your store just in case! It will be worth it, especially for only $7 each!!

OZARK TRAILS: Oh, Ozark Trails, how I love thee. (pictured top left with the sandals) We all know the Yeti trend, and yes we jumped on the bandwagon at first too. Until we found Ozark Trails at Walmart. It is EXACTLY the same as Yeti. I mean exactly. And I can say that for certain since we have both. We now have 3 coozie cans (pictured), 4 tumblers and most recently the cooler. It keeps my beer extra cold and my coffee extra hot, and I am a happy camper.

What is your favorite Walmart find?

xo xo


Book Reviews: A Lover, A Wife + A Handmaid

 

Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff: There are only two reasons this book gets A minus – it starts a little slow and it’s a little too long. But everything else about it is just fabulous. It is a truly epic and fascinating love story that takes you on a ride with no clue of the final destination. Told in two parts – Fates is from the husband’s perspective and Furies is from the wife’s perspective. The latter infinitely more interesting and has a shocking twist.
Grade: A-

What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty: I’ve read several of Liane’s books, and I absolutely adored this one. It’s a tragic plot – she hits her head and has seemingly forgotten 10 years of her life, including her kids and her failing marriage – but it’s also so endearing. She sees her current life through a totally new, un-jaded lense and vows to get her marriage back on track. It’s cute, it’s easy, and it makes you thankful for what you have.
Grade: A

Wearing God – Lauren F. Winner: Highly recommended from a friend, I’m passing along this recommendation to all of you. This is a thought-provoking book about metaphors of God – though not the ones you immediately think of such as King or Shepherd, more like Clothing, Laughter, Laboring Woman… intrigued yet? This is a great book to read with a friend and discuss together. It will probably make you feel uncomfortable, but I promise it will also give you a new perspective on God.
Grade: A
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood: I vowed to read this book before I watched the show on Hulu, and I’m so glad I did. Oh.My.Gosh. This book AND the TV show are absolutely incredible. It’s creepy and weird and will make you cry and will make you gasp, but it is such a good story. I’m so glad Hulu has taken it over so well and expanded upon the book, because I finished it and was dying for more.
Grade: A

 

You can read all my book reviews here.

xo xo


Book Reviews: California, Cults + Catastrophe

What She Knew – Gilly Macmillan: This falls in to the typical genre of books I lean towards – thriller with a lead female character who’s a little shady (a la Gone Girl, Girl on the Train). That being said, I enjoyed it enough, but it didn’t hold up against the others on the list which kept me turning the pages all night. The ending didn’t close all the holes and left you with an uneasy feeling.
Grade: B

Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequiest: Let me start by saying, I love Shauna Niequiest. She gets me, I get her and she is just wonderful. I love love loved her book Bread and Wine, which I’ve reviewed previously, so I was highly anticipating this book. However, it kind of let me down. There were great points that I totally related to, especially the main point of the book being present over perfect, but it seemed to kind of ramble/drag on. This would have been better in a series of blog posts or a chapter or two of another book.
Grade: B+

The Girls – Emma Cline: This book has been on my list for forever, finally became available at the library, and oh my gosh I devoured it! Set in 1960s California, the book follows a teenage girl who gets caught up in a cult that ends very very badly. I was fascinated not only with the cult, but also the transformation of the main character. If you’re interested in cults at all or just want a unique read that will pull you in, this is for you.
Grade: A+

The River at Night – Erica Ferencik: What I learned from this book: I will never ever ever go white water rafting in a remote location, especially on an annual girls trip – which is exactly the basis of this book. The book started out a little slow and I almost put it down, but then it started getting intense and I just couldn’t turn my eyes away from the horror. And it was literally that, horror. I couldn’t put the book down the last 100 pages, though I’m not sure it’s because I was enjoying it. It still freaks me out to think about it now.
Grade: B+

You can read all my book reviews here.

xo xo


Book Reviews: Mermaids, Macarons + TV Moms

eb3f810f-071d-4b39-9b82-a6093ddb2380-copy

 

Mermaids in Paradise – Lydia Millet: This book is funny and spunky and totally surprised me with how enjoyable it was. I’ve always loved anything mermaids so when I heard about this one (a couple honeymooning in the Caribbean stumbles upon mermaids) it sounded right up my alley. It’s a little weird/sci-fi-ish, but still a fun, easy read. Warning: the ending is extremely weird. And if you read it, we must talk about it.
Grade: A

Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham: What a perfect stocking stuffer from Husband! I adore Lauren Graham and this book was no exception. She is so personable and quirky, and you can literally hear her voice reading the book to you. The best parts of the book were when she talked behind the scenes of Gilmore Girls and gave you juicy info like you’re an insider. However, if you haven’t watched GG or Parenthood, you might feel a little alienated reading the book.
Grade: A-

Paris My Sweet – Amy Thomas: Another great surprise Christmas gift from Mom! This book follows an advertising copywriter as she moves from NYC to Paris, and eats her way through the City of Light and all the sweets it has to offer. I love both cities and love desserts, so this book sounded perfect for me, as Mom said. (And it was!) It reads like fiction, but is actually non-fiction so the book also gives you loads of places to actually visit in NYC or Paris for the best macaron or cupcake or chocolate chip cookie or anything your heart so desires.
Grade: A-

Executive Presence – Sylvia Ann Hewlett: It’s often difficult to force myself to read these types of books instead of getting lost in a fictitious world, but I’m always glad when I do. This was a very practical book for anyone in the business world. The author shares the qualities of Executive Presence (EP), why they’re important, studies and stories to go with each, then tips for how to get better at each. I thought it dragged on just a touch, but overall I gained some good personal knowledge for my own EP.
Grade: B+

You can read all of my book reviews here.

xo xo


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.

img_2070

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

xo xo


Food Picturebook: LA

Typically when I go on a trip, I follow up with a Picturebook blog post sharing all my photos and trip highlights.

Since I just did an LA Picturebook in July after my last work trip, I decided to switch this one up a bit. I ate some amaaaazing food on this trip at some amaaaazing restaurants and I just had to share so you can enjoy them too (and so I can remember these places for trips to come!)

Enjoy a look at my latest LA trip via my delicious meals. #FoodPorn

S U G A R F I S H 

img_0958

 

My coworker would not stop talking about this place since the second we learned we were traveling to LA. “We HAVE to go to Sugarfish in Santa Monica.” So we did, straight from the airport. It was packed and a 45 min. wait (the perfect amount of time to get some shopping in), but it was totally worth it. I’m not an adventurous sushi eater, but oh my gosh it was divine. It was easily the freshest sushi I’ve ever had; I had a blue crab roll and a cucumber roll. Most people get the “Trust Me”, where they bring you all different kinds of sushi and you just, well, trust them it will be delicious. Next time, I think I’ll go for it.

Oh, and did I mention this place is a celebrity hot spot?? So you know that makes me like it even more ….

S W E E T   B U T T E R 

img_0960

img_0964

Okay, so this was another one my coworker kept going on and on about, and guess what, it was amazing. She definitely has good taste. This was an adorable breakfast and lunch spot in Sherman Oaks. We sat outside and enjoyed the Cali weather, a cappuccino, avocado toast and pumpkin pancakes. Is that perfect, or what?! They also had a mega drool-worthy dessert case. (I might have purchased a few things for later … and yes, they were delicious.)

M A L I B U   F A R M 

img_1113

img_1115

15095671_3483219712222_5374820458519399990_n

I stayed an extra day after my work trip to hang out with one of my high school besties, who now lives in LA. She took me to this incredible lunch spot in Malibu. It sits on the new Malibu pier with absolutely stunning views. We had the perfect seat, on little couches overlooking the pier and sea. We drank mimosas, ate nachos and chatted just like we were back in high school. Unfortunately it was pretty chilly and overcast while we were there, but I will definitely be back and if it’s sunny, you might have to pry me from this place, mimosa in hand.

J O N  &  V I N N Y ‘ S 

tiffanycojonshookvinnydotolocelebrate5_-ylx-ygs5x

img_1140

So this one has quite an interesting story and is my favorite on the list. About 3 years ago, I read an article in GQ about this new LA restaurant Jon & Vinny’s. Something about the article captivated me – maybe the fact that they deliver pizza AND wine?? Regardless, I sent it to my friend and asked her to please go for me. Well, here we were 3 years later trying to decide on dinner and we remembered the article. We had to go. It was a Sunday night around 6pm, so we didn’t think it would be too busy. HA. Little did we know, they are full with reservations every.single.night. Like, always full. The only way we would be able to get in is if we waited and someone didn’t show up for their reservation. We decided to take our chances.

In the back of the restaurant is this adorable, tiny little wine store called Helen’s with bottles ranging from $15 to $800. We made our way back there to get a glass of wine while we waited and hoped for a table. We stood back there for over an hour and met two of the most interesting, talkative people. It was amazing and fascinating and felt so LA. Just as we were finishing up our convo with the ex-pro golfer who was trying to hide from his family, the hostess told us she could seat us if we could be in and out in 40 minutes.

So we took the challenge, ordered a salad, a pasta and a pizza to share and never looked back. Words can’t even describe how amazing all three were. Sadly this was the only photo I took before inhaling it all, but take my word for it – if you are in LA, you have to go to this place! Just don’t forget to make a reservation!

I N – N – O U T

And of course, I would be remiss if while talking about food I didn’t share my food porn, drool-worthy photo of a California staple – animal style cheeseburger from In-N-Out.

img_1079

‘Ya hungry yet?

xo xo


Book Reviews: a Play, a Thriller + a RomCom

image-1-4
I’ve been in a reading rut lately.

It seems like forever ago when I read the three books in this review because I’ve been failing miserably to find my next book. I started and stopped four books that I just couldn’t get in to, and then just gave up and fell back into my latest TV binge, Suits.

Then, the book gods blessed me with three new books in one week, and I’ve been devouring them. So, I decided to do my book review with only three books instead of my typical four, so I can start fresh with my new books.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling: I was so nervous about this one! I was afraid it would totally ruin one of my all-time favorite series, but I loved it! It takes a bit to get into the flow since you are literally reading a play. But once you do, and you immerse yourself again into the fantastical world of HP you will fall in love with the series all over again.
Grade: A

Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter: This one falls under a typical, go-to genre for me – mystery thriller with a female lead, a la Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Good Girl, etc. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. There were some very dark themes in the book that I wasn’t prepared for (torture, rape) and were written about in more detail than I would prefer. If you like darker thrillers, you would probably really enjoy this.
Grade: B

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne: This one was given to me by a friend out of the blue so I knew absolutely nothing about it, and sometimes those are the best. I often build up books in my head so much that they don’t live up to the expectation. Well, I loved this book! It was such an easy, fun read that follows two work enemies who end up anything but enemies. It’s a very cute, playful love story with a sexy edge.
Grade: A+

xo xo
You can see all my book reviews here.