Traveling Tuesdays: New Orleans

The Husband just got back from a weekend in NOLA for a bachelor party, which he simply stated was “crazy.” This reminded me that I never posted about my amazing bachelorette party in the land of ragin’ Cajuns. My sister was the best MOH ever and arranged a weekend in New Orleans with 10 of my closest friends. It is super flattering to have 11 people agree to drive or fly 5+ hours to spend the weekend with you and it is even more fun to have your 11 favorite people together in one of the “craziest” cities ever. We were there for less than 48 hours, but we made a dent. I will say though, this will not be my best travel post – due to a mixture of adult beverages and a whirlwind weekend its a little blurry.

My NOLA favorites: THE FOOD, the street music, the libations and some quality time with the entire crew.

The cute invites Kayla ordered:

The Food and Drink:
Does anyone remember where we ate Friday night? We changed it at the last minute and I cannot think of the name of it. But, if I do, I will share because it was delicious. My friends are some classy ladies, but they know how to get messy. We all got down with crawfish, shrimp, andouille sausage and other creole delicacies. Plus, they poured us high-ball sized shots. It was a great place for a big group and a late dinner (which isn’t useful information if I can’t think of the name!!).

Some of us were suffering more than others on Saturday, so our group split up for brunch, lunch and shopping. One group checked out the renowned brunch at Court of Two Sisters and said it was everything they expected and more. The atmosphere sounded amazing with a big open courtyard and perfect 70 degree weather. The rest of us headed to the Royal House Oyster House where we had some bloody marys, mimosas, oysters and and peel ‘n eat shrimp to get us back on track.

That afternoon we stopped at Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets. The line was atrocious, but my ever loyal and cunning friends (Martha) some how skipped the line and had the sugary, fluffy pastries in-hand in 5 minutes flat. They were amazing and I still crave them.
Saturday night we had one of the best meals ever at Broussard’s. We put on the cocktail dresses and stilettos and wined and dined the right way. I think we sampled almost everything on the menu and the wine was SO good. Plus, a great meal gave us the stamina to take on Bourbon Street.

The Bars: These are a little fuzzy, but we of course hit the highlights: (1) Hurricanes and Sing-a-longs at Pat O’Briens; (2) Syringe shots and hand grenades at Tropical Isle; (3) Dancing at Gold Mine; and much much more.

The Fun: We stayed at the Royal St. Charles Hotel, which was super affordable and a great location (at the corner of Canal and Bourbon Streets). The rooms were alright – nothing fancy and pretty small, but were clean and accommodating (they happily and successfully split the rooms on 11 different credit cards). When we were not eating or drinking (which was like never), we explored the beautiful French Quarter. We had our tarot cards read in Jackson Square (my fortune teller was so good she predicted that something very good was about to happen in my love life – I’m sure the diamond ring and group of 10 girls had nothing to do with it); ducked into a ton of cute boutiques and art stores (I really miss shopping with Michelle); explored the beautiful Cathedral; listened to the street bands and stopped off at Big Easy Daiquiris for a daytime daiquiri.

Thanks to all these wonderful friends for making that weekend so memorable. Who wants to go back?!

[Images that aren’t mine or my friends: 1/2/3]

 

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Traveling Tuesdays: Napa Valley

Round Two with Rusty: You can’t hardly go all the way to San Francisco and not spend a little time in wine country. Here is part two of my parent’s trip to San Francisco (as told by my dad).

Lodging: We stayed at the Silverado Resort because they offered an amazing golf and spa package. The course is excellent and feels like it sits in the clouds. The ladies vowed that the spa was first-class and loved the day of pampering. We also took full advantage of the private verandas in each room, enjoying cigars and cocktails while overlooking the No. 10 tee box on the North Course.

Wineries: We spent two of the greatest days of our trip in Napa Valley. We drove straight through the gorgeous valley on Highway 29 to St. Helena where we took a tour of and did a tasting at Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuous winery in the valley with a superb mix of white and reds and the best gift shop we found. After that, we headed to the Del Dotto Caves to visit one of Napa’s newest wineries. Del Dotto had a venetian elegance about it. We drank straight from the barrels, bought wine futures, and sampled some prosciutto and cheeses (and drank a lot of wine). The next day we hit Robert Mondavi’s Vineyard, which had a very classy and artsy atmosphere. Then we headed to Francis Coppola’s Inglenook; a beautiful stop with a great tasting room that is full of story telling and history.

Dining:

We had a late lunch after our first tour winery tours at Tra Vigne where we tried everything from BBQ spare ribs to the fig pizza and grilled mozzarella, which was the perfect compliment to our day of wine. Then, we continued our drive through the Valley on the scenic Silverado Trail that is an absolute must for a trip to Napa. That evening we dined at the Rutherford Grill located in the Silverado Resort. The menu was extensive and the drinks and wine were all excellent. We finished the evening outside in rocking chairs by the fireplace to remove the mid-July evening chill.

The next day we traveled to Yountville where we found the gustorry highlight of our trip at the Mustards Grill. The ingredients are as fresh as the come with a huge vegetable garden on the property. Everything we tried from the burger to the pork loin to the salads were top notch. After a few more wine tastings we explored Downtown Napa and visited the Oxbox Public Market at the big curl in the Napa River. There are dozens of eateries and wine-tasting bars in this area. It was a great finale to our trip and encouragement to revisit. We will be back!

Coveted Style of the Week: Vintage Pajamas

The weatherman signaled that we might finally get a cold front the next couple of days and I can’t wait! Our A/C went out on Sunday, which shouldn’t be a big deal in October, but since it is still 88 degrees here in the Lone Star State, its not ideal. Plus, I’m ready to be able to wear fall boots without having a heat stroke. On that note, I want to spend at least part of the weekend (between a Circus-themed party for the cutest one-year-old ever and a Halloween party) snuggled up with the Husband and some Irish coffees. My favorite lounge gear is vintage pajamas (I have no idea why they are called “vintage” since they aren’t used, but I’ll go with it). The preppy, menswear tops allow you to feel stylish while being comfortable. My mom gave me the J.Crew version for Christmas last year, and for the first time ever I didn’t mind the dreaded Christmas morning photo ops.

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September Recap

What the what? How is it already the middle of October. September was crazy, and since so many neat things went on and this is the first time I’ve had to sit down and write out a post, I wanted to do a little September Recap (even though October is more halfway over).

(1) First, I had a birthday. It was strongly suggested to the Husband that he get me these for my birthday:

But instead, he got me this robotic vacuum, which has seriously changed my life. Neato is pricey, but worth every penny. I can watch him work for hours.

(2) Then we took a girls’ trip to Charleston, SC to celebrate Michelle’s impending nuptials – check out our travels here and here.

(3) I spent a week with my brother and the rest of the family. Update on Luke: he is responding wonderfully to treatment and has been able to go back to school- lots of answered prayers. We are doing Light the Night at the end of October to remember and honor all those who fight this horrible disease – check it out in your area.

(4) Kathryn threw a stellar housewarming fiesta. Her house was decked out in beautiful bright colors, the margaritas were flowing and the food was fabulous. It was the perfect wind down after the bad week before. Oh! I also found these adorable serving spoons adorned with the ever-hospitable pineapple when I was in South Carolina. They were too cute of a housewarming gift to pass up.

(5) The next weekend we went to see a wonderful performance of Grease at Casa Manana on Friday night. Fort Worth is lucky to have such a neat little theater (or I’m just easily impressed). Then we threw a couple’s shower for Juan and Joanna. The theme was Monograms and Margaritas and we had entirely too much fun.

(6) Then, Mom, Kayla and I hiked it up to Oklahoma City and found Sister a wedding date, wedding venue and a wedding dress in 24 hours. Kayla’s dress is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and we had a wonderful girls’ day out with Colby’s mom and sister.

October is off to a similar start with a trip to Boston already under our belts, a weekend shooting guns in the big N and a NOLA trip and tailgating this past weekend so stay tuned.

Also, here is a little round-up of some of my favorite sitings around the World Wide Web:

  1. Love this homage to September’s sapphire.
  2. I want to be Tory’s best friend.
  3. I feel bad because of #2, but Tory’s ex-husband has a kind of fabulous line of clothing, accessories and housewares that I have somehow never heard of.
  4. The packaging of Cisthene’s Rain Cleanser even looks refreshing.
  5. This wisteria makes me want to move to Japan.
  6. Love this list and the idea of a family book club.
  7. I love this blog post about getting out of a rut.

Matrimonial Monday: Bridesmaids Asks

A couple of weeks ago I received this cuteness in the mail from my little sister asking me to be her MOH:

And these sparkling beauties are the ones Michelle sent:

I love, love, love formal bridesmaids asks. I didn’t do these for my wedding (because I got too excited and just blurted it out to everyone on the phone or in person) and I so regret it. It’s such a great opportunity to tell the special friends in your life why they are special and just how much they mean to you. There is some beautiful stationery out there for this particular purpose and I’m obsessed:

If you really want to go all out, these are great to pair with a little gift. Who doesn’t love wine, chocolate or a good koozie. Or if you really want to ensure happy bridesmaids – a monogrammed Longchamp. My friend Martha found vintage clutches that she put a note in to give to her bridesmaids. If that doesn’t make your friends feel special, I don’t know what will.

7.5-ounce Belgian chocolate postcards adorned with completely edible images.

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Coveted Style of the Week: Leather Love

Get in my closet!! I have been lusting after some leather pants for about 2 months now. I’m going to make it happen this week. These are perfect for a night out in a low key place like Fort Worth. I can go casual on top and party on bottom. Love it. I’m leaning towards these jeans from J.Brand that were featured on A Piece of Toast, but if you’ve purchased any this year send me the brands you like and that you think fit well.

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Traveling Tuesdays: San Francisco

Earlier this summer my parents went to San Francisco and Napa Valley with my Aunt and Uncle and had a ridiculously fun time. I was so jealous of their stories that I asked my dad to write up a little blurb about his trip.

So here is my first ever guest blogger and my dear-old dad, Rusty:

Hello all! I am thrilled to get to share our trip with you because we had a blast. San Francisco is a mythical place with spectacular views, world-class dining, first-rate mixology and a free spirit. Though we weren’t here long, we went with the philosophy that we can sleep when we’re home and squeezed as much in as possible. We spent three nights in San Francisco at the famed Westin St. Francis on Powell Street. Their famous Clock Bar serves some excellent artisan cocktails and the cable car comes right to the front door on its track down to the Fisherman’s wharf. We then just explored the sites and took in the amazing culinary scene.

The food:

Our first evening we had dinner at Gary Danko, the deservedly #1 rated restaurant in San Francisco. For two hours we were dazzled by a five-course tasting menu, wine pairings and a deluxe cheese cart with 18 different cheeses.

A friend of my brother and sister-in-law treated us to another gourmet adventure with lunch at Scala’s Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. We tried the bistro burger and the pork loin and then we met Tim Nugent, the Bravo TV celebrity pastry chef. He brought us a dessert sampler to try that included his famous panna cotta and his perfected peach gelato.

If that wasn’t enough, that evening we went for seafood at Farallon Restaurant beginning with Happy Hour at the Jelly Fish Lounge for $6 appetizer/cocktail combos and then the main course in the amazing underwater-feel atmosphere. The grilled Hawaiian Ono was just what the doctor ordered.

The next day we ventured out to the Ferry Building, which is a foodie’s paradise. Though, be sure to go before 5pm because many of the restaurants and stores close it up at 6pm. We tried the macaroons at Miette Patisserie and then had dinner at Chef Phan’s esteemed Slanted Door. I sampled the caramelized shrimp, barbequed ribs and the prime rib paired with Castalonia blonde ale and it was awesome. The main dish was only complimented by the cherry pie and Red-Jasmine tea. I will definitely be revisiting the Ferry Building to try out some of other temptations like the Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bread, Hog Island Oyster Co. and Lula Petite Brownies just to name a few.

Finally, we couldn’t leave San Francisco without going to Ocean Beach to enjoy a fabulous Sunday Brunch at the famed Cliff House. We sipped on bottomless Wycliff bubbly as a harp serenaded us in the background. It rounded out a pretty great trip.

Sight-seeing musts:

  1. The flowers and view of Lombard Street – the most crooked street in the world;
  2. A ride on the cable cars;
  3. Ghirardelli Square for a brownie fudge sundae or an Irish Coffee in Buena Vista Bar;
  4. Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch at the Crab House, sourdough from Boudin’s Bakery, salt water taffy from Pier 29, and t-shirts and souvenirs;
  5. Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park;
  6. Presidio Park and Beach;
  7. Japanese Tea Park and the Conservatory of Flowers; and
  8. The view from Coit Tower’s.

Other Fun:

  • We caught a matinee production of Les Miserables at the Orpheum Theater that moved us deeply.
  • I have a personal goal to attend every dueling piano bar in America, or at least try, and Johnny Foley’s Irish House did not disappoint. This made for a very-fun filled night of sing-alongs and cocktails.
  • We also checked out the home of the Beat Generation and flower-power at the corner of Haight-Ashbury. We grabbed a breakfast burrito and coffee at Squat and Gobble and explored the eccentric neighborhood.
  • We walked through the North Beach District, which is San Francisco’s version of Little Italy, peppered with pizzerias and trattorias. Vesuvio Café is a great bar in the heart of the city.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my Napa Valley post next week.

– Rusty

 

Monograms and Margaritas

We  threw a insanely fun couple’s shower at our house a few weeks ago for our great friends Juan and JoAnna. I loved the Margaritas and Monograms theme we chose! The possibilities with this theme are endless. One of the biggest hits of the evening was the Strawberry Basil Margarita that I pulled from Pinterest. This is definitely a recipe that will be made over and over. We had the cutest and most delicious cake balls made by Mo Cake’s in Austin and JoAnna’s BYO Lunch Bags stuffed with Anthropologie goods were a wonderfully creative (and well-received) hostess gift. Unfortunately, I did a horrible job at photographing this event so here is a mix of pictures of our party and some of the inspiration I collected while prepping.  Also, a big thank you to all my co-hostesses – it was a great group to throw a party with.

Some more M&M inspiration:

Foodie Friday: Food Truck Park

A couple of weekends ago I was itching to get out of the house and starving, so I hit up the Fort Worth Food Truck Park. I’ve long been an admirer of Austin’s food truck scene and was excited when DFW picked up on the trend. It is the perfect Saturday mid-day lunch trip. You can choose from burgers, tacos, Korean food, cupcakes or even sushi. Then hit up the beer truck and stretch out with a group on the picnic tables. I was solo this trip so I cozied down with a book and my Lee’s Grilled Cheese for a great late lunch. Here are the trucks I’ve tried, all of which I would recommend.

(1) Fred’s Food Truck – I still prefer the brick and mortar version, but when you want on of Fort Worth’s best burgers to go, this is your place.

(2) Lee’s Grilled Cheese – I eat grilled cheese sandwiches about twice a week (I know I’m almost 30) and these are some of the best I’ve ever had. I had the pesto, tomato goodness and it was excellent.

(3) Red Jett Sweets – a truck that sales cupcakes…need I say more. They also have really cute “Pup”cakes that my sweet Sigma swallowed whole.

(4) Ssahm BBQ – I originally tried this in Dallas at work one day and have gone back for more. These Korean BBQ tacos are legit and the Kimichi fries will change your life.

Next ones on my list to try in Fort Worth: The Drifiting Bistro and Salsa Limon. When we get through these we’ll head over to Dallas to see what they have. Let me know if there are any others you’ve tried and loved.

Flea Market Find

The Hubs and I went to the Will Rogers Flea Market a few weekends ago for the first time. If you live in Fort Worth and haven’t been, I highly recommend it. There are some good finds to be had. I was so very proud of my discovery and have been meaning to post about it for weeks, but kept forgetting. But, style maven, Emily Henderson’s One Kings Lane selections last month reminded me.

Emily’s choices:

And voila:

Aren’t these bookends great?! I was immediately in love despite the fact that the lady who we bought them from asked us who “that guy” was. I think these will look pretty good propping up the old law books.

If you know of any other fabulous Texas flea markets, send me a note. The Hubs and I are willing to travel long distances on the quest for gems like these. (Also, if you find me a Ronald Reagan cartoon drawing like the above, I’ll name my first born kid after you).