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Jon and I have some exciting news to share with all of you!

Hope you enjoy the vid as much as we enjoyed making it!

Grateful for this blessing – J + V

Instagram is my little social networking buddy and it’s been my creative outlet since my absence from this blog and since taking a design hiatus from invitation work. I really think it’s an amazing app and besides getting to follow great amateur and professional photographers alike via their camera phones, I get to catalogue little visual tidbits of my days, marriage, foodie searches, Dallas adventures and that dapper canine we call Hoosier. It’s really fun to look back through my photos and recall what we’ve been up to. Unfortunately, Instagram is only available on the iPhone, but you can follow my feed here or discover some photo feeds you’ll really love (also check out Webstagram and Followgram if you don’t have an iPhone)!

Without further ado, here are my three favorite food-related photos. I couldn’t blog for the second time this year and not include food!

Made my first two layered cake! Super simple coconut cake I found on All Recipes, but I replaced the Cool Whip icing (gross, I strongly dislike Cool Whip)  for a homemade whipped frosting topped with toasted coconut.  I also followed some revisions reviewers suggested: used yellow cake mix, nix the condensed milk, and don’t allow cream of coconut to touch the bottom of the cake. It was a hit and I’d highly suggest making it.

Hynpotic Donuts! Dallas finally has a fun donut shop that’s completely worth the trip. We were eager to try this place out after discovering the Donut Vault and Donut Plant this summer. That bacon one is called Canadian Health Care and I’m currently salivating just thinking about it. Excuse me.

Lastly, I leave you with the photo of the dinner Jon cooked for me on Valentine’s – pasta carbonara. Yes, it looks as good as it tastes and yes, I do feel overwhelmingly fortunate to have him as a husband. No, I don’t know really know how he loves me. Yes, I am slightly offended you asked that question, but I’m over it so let’s be friends again. Pasta carbonara is a rich entrée that melds the flavors of broccoli, bacon, egg noodles, and an egg over easy on top that you break as soon as you begin eating because the yoke serves as the creamy sauce for the noodles. It was delightful to say the least.

All photos here were taken in Instagram via the iPhone 4s camera. Amazing what mobile technology is capable of these days, huh? Well, if you’re on Instagram, definitely let me know what your screen name so I can check out your IG photo feed!

2011 has been a tremendous year. I wasn’t always willing to admit that during the year itself (ask Jon, he’ll tell you), while other times I was overwhelmed with gratitude and contentment. It was too much to post all the photos and write about it so here are some of the highlights:

  • a spontaneous overnight stay in Denver with four incredible friends
  • getting a free ticket to Alt Summit a week before the conference (Jon won the husband of the year award for pushing me to go despite my reluctance and intimidation whilst sacrificing work time and enduring the 40 hour round trip drive)
  • watching our niece Gianna turn one and watching so many friends welcome their beautiful babies into the world including my sweet cousin’s second baby, Cody
  • We moved into a charming duplex just 10 minutes from down town and we love it. Hoosier adores it as well!
  • craft nights with Rach & Mols
  • discovering the awesomeness that is my favorite store in Dallas – We Are 1976 (if you are a Dallasite, you MUST go!)
  • having four days off of work with Jon during Dallas’ “Snowpocalypse,” and cooking fun meals and baking cookies
  • two Austin trips and one San Fran trip with college friends
  • traveling to Salt Lake, Denver, Iowa, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, LA, and San Francisco
  • a four-hour picnic in Central Park (this still warms my heart)
  • Jon and I did a 10 day detox diet (shocking considering I am a girl who likes her meat, and third helpings)
  • saying goodbye to some dear, dear friends (and quite possibly some of the best people we’ll ever know) as they moved to Ohio (Molly come back!)
  • we attended a Mad Men welcome party, a casino night birthday party, two of Kyle Steed’s many fantastic art shows, and Molly, Jon, Jordan and I hosted a little 30th shindig for our favorite Rachel
  • Jon will always be a highlight of my year. Not only did he plan some unbelievably stellar dates and thoughtful evenings for us, he also chose to uphold his commitment to love me unconditionally everyday as Christ loves the church, whether I deserved it or not. On a side note, he also started wearing bow ties this year. Score!

Obviously there were lows. Obviously there were struggles, insecurities, arguments and tears. But without hardships, how can we enjoy times of abundance in their entirety? I definitely went through what felt like a long season of discontentment and I can say with joy how grateful I am that the Lord has pulled me out of that and how utterly thankful I am for this year. It is, after all, a year that brings me one step closer to accepting adulthood (did I mention a cable guy came to the door and asked if my parents were home?).

So enough about me, what were some of your highlights in 2011? Struggles? What are you looking forward to in 2012?

My vision is good enough that I’ve never needed glasses, but I’ve been obsessed with them since owning my first vanity pair in high school. And clearly, I’m still obsessed. Enjoy.

 GWG photo by Trevor Hoehne

 source

 warby parker

 source

 source unknown source

sorakeem

gentle pure space

 Sporting my own spectacles (my souvenir from San Francisco) while preparing for the Halloween party we attended Saturday night. I’m a nerd if you can’t tell. Isn’t my husband awesome at tying a bow tie?

8 years ago, a boy had a crush on me.

8 years ago, I had never dated. I never had a boyfriend up until that point. I had never been kissed.

8 years ago I decided I liked said boy as well.

8 years ago today, that boy asked me to be his girlfriend. It wasn’t smooth the way he did it, trust me, but four and a half years later he’d ask me to be his wife and every day since we were freshman in college, I’d be grateful he called me his.

{a favorite photo in our home from when we were “little” 18 and 19 year olds}

So after sharing just a few blog posts ago that I’m attempting to jump back in the swing of things (blogging-wise), I’m still finding it hard to find my footing (creatively speaking). Jon and I had dinner with our friend Kyle, who is an accomplished illustrator and Instagram celebrity (seriously, 13k followers, but seriously you want to follow him), and I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to be in the company of another creative, especially one that loves the Lord whole heartedly. I picked his brain on what designing and creating art looks like for him these days and explained the current drought I’m going through. He was encouraging to say the least and I couldn’t help but be inspired by how Kyle sees the world (artistic goggles are so much cooler than beer goggles).

So, I’m searching for my niche. Maybe I could call it my passion? Or maybe, staying to true to this blog’s name, I’m searching to do a variety of things I’ve been excited at trying but too intimidated to jump into. Until I know something more definitive (I’m still really good at eating) I’ll certainly keep you updated.

The above photo was taken on Alcatraz Island during our San Fran trip. My clever husband decided he’d make an invisible doppelganger of himself and I couldn’t resist jumping in. Isn’t he creative? I think so too! Happy Friday y’all!

 

 

School started back up this week so I thought it was appropriate to post a lovely school related photo.

Hello sweet friends! Long time, no blog. I apologize for not calling, writing letters or sending the proper amount of hugs and kisses. I sort of don’t know what to say (typically not a problem for me). I’ve restarted this post five times and I know at this point I just need to accept that what I share may not be perfect, but it will be sincere.

So I haven’t been blogging for a variety of reasons. It’s a combination of the summer schedule (aka not a routine), traveling, and moving into a new place. In addition to those events, I was internally analyzing what my relationship was with blogging. Long story short, I realized that I had been idolizing my blog. I confess that I had prioritized blogging over my time with the Lord, over cooking decent meals for  my husband, and over so many things that deserved to be a higher priority. Please know that I am by no means suggesting that other bloggers are wrongfully prioritizing their time with their blogs, because I don’t believe that at all. This is simply a realization I’ve had about the way I’ve unwisely and selfishly used my time. I’ve prayed about this, I’ve apologized to my sweet husband and now I apologize to you.

With that said, if you’ll potentially have me back in the blogsophere, I’d love to continue blogging but this time with a healthier mind-set. Jon and I have talked about it and we both think that continuing blogging is the right decision because I love it, it’s the best creative outlet and I enjoy getting to know so many of y’all.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest! I really appreciate it and I hope you understand where I am coming from. Posts on some of my other trips this summer, some recent invitation work and shots of the new home coming soon!

*Disclaimer: Jon has never suggested that I was a bad wife. I simply know that I can improve in my domestic skills.

{school photo via Be Calm’s photostream }

I’m going to make this short and sweet and let the photos speak for themselves! While in Los Angeles, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Oh, Hello Friend’s and Cakies‘ first We Like It Pretty collaborative workshop with Jenn from I Art U. It was a photography workshop perfectly entitled, Snap It Pretty, and boy did we! The day was perfect (an outdoor event in TX is totally not a reality in July) and the decor and details were honestly as amazing as they appear. Danni and Ruby really outdid themselves this time, and it was so neat to meet them in person as well as some new friends and fellow bloggers.

I would highly, highly recommend signing up for a future We Like It Pretty workshop so whether you’re local or eager to enjoy the LA weather, I suggest you make it out to the next one!

On a final note, I could hardly resist myself when I saw Ruby’s girls were present! Having seen their photos online, I couldn’t help but want to snuggle them once I met them (I promise, I’m not a creepers. Just love kids!). Ruby’s sister, RJ, was equally snuggable, but since she’s 19 I simply gave her a hug. Thanks for letting me play with your darling girls Ruby!

Giordano’s
Price: $ – $$
Rating: Meh…. 
Something You Should Know
: There is a 30 minute wait if you order a stuffed pizza.

A reader specifically told me to skip the deep dish pizza because she felt it was overrated, but I have such an affinity for pizza that I couldn’t resist. Sadly, I felt like the coveted deep dish pizza was uninteresting and just a lot more cheese and calories filled with each bite. Looking back, I wish I had tried at least one more pizza place, but after this experience I decided to pursue other foodie endeavors.

Just Indulge
Price: $
Rating: Pretty good!
Yummy concretes and chocolate goodies made in-house. I had the vanilla concrete mixed with caramel and added a toffee bar on top. Yum!

{We made some friends from Florida while waiting in line! Definitely a highlight!}

Hot Doug’s
Price: $
Rating: Don’t miss out!
Something You Should Know: Bring Cash and expect a wait
It’s on Anthony Bourdain’s “13 Places to Eat Before You Die ” article for a reason! I’ve never had a hot dog quite this good and I’ve never seen a hot dog joint with both good ol’ hot dog, bratwurst and sausage combinations as well as gourmet options. I love the personality of the restaurant as well. For instance there is a dog called The Salma Hayek and below its name in parenthesis it says “Formerly the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret” with the description simply saying “Mighty Hot!” Hilarious!

Kuma’s Corner
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: The burgers are bigger than your face, they have a great beer selection and there’s generally a long wait.

The burgers here were pretty good: a generous size, fresh toppings, nicely melted cheese. What disappointed me was the quality of their sides. Jon had their chips and I ordered their fries and they were nothing to write home about, but I understand that the star of the dish is the burger of course. Just thought it was worth mentioning! The customer service was great and considering it’s a heavy metal joint that’s open until 2am, Jon and I can’t say we were too bothered by the music selection or atmosphere.

 

Doughnut Vault 
Price: $$
Rating: My mouth is salivating at the sheer thought of having a DV donut…..
Something You Should Know:  Cash only + They open at 8:30 and close whenever they sell out so don’t dilly dally when making a trip out!

The buttermilk doughnut is $2 and the glaze donuts $3. Easily the most expensive donut you’ve ever paid for, but clearly also worth their price once biting into them. The above photos are of their chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze and pistachio donuts!  And I don’t think the photos do a good job of conveying the size of these donuts. They are huge! In addition to their  donut’s visually pleasing appearance, don’t you just love the way they’ve designed their exterior with the vintage painted menu and blue paint? I couldn’t get enough photos of it!


XOCO
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: A contemporary Mexican sandwich restaurant started by the renown chef, Rick Bayless.

Jon and I ordered two entrees, but the one above is the one that I think is more than worth raving about! The bread in XOCO’s sandwiches lean towards the crispier (aka kind of cuts your mouth up) side, but when dipped into this spicy flavorful soup, it’s a myriad of flavor, textures and ingredients in each bite. Top it off with their limonade (lime instead of lemon) and you’re golden! Unfortunately I can’t remember exactly what this entrée is called, but after looking at the menu it might be the Ahogada.

Julius Meinl
Price: $$
Rating: Yummy in my tummy
Something You Should Know: It’s a European based restaurant.

Their egg bakes are the bomb and I loved their bread pudding-like French toast. Yums!

Wormhole
Price: $
Rating: Pure Awesomeness
Something You Should Know: Don’t miss out on their delicious macaroons for just a $1!

Humorous, chill, and old school (did you see the NES!) would be the three adjective I’d use to describe the atmosphere of this coffee shop and absolutely delicious would express how much we loved their coffee and macaroons. The Wormhole received great ratings on Yelp and we could clearly see why. It’s located in the artsy district of Wicker Park (shout out Laura!) and it’s completely worth the trip (I shopped at some local thrift stores while Jon was sippin’ on iced coffee).

Big Star
Price: $
Rating: Rocked my world
Something You Should Know: It’s located in Wicker Park and it doesn’t have a sign that says the name of the restaurant, it just has that red and black star.

I mean, it’s clear to see that the place is just cool. It’s even better to know that the food is great too. That pork and pineapple taco, known as the Tacos Al Pastor, above was my absolute favorite. I want ten of those right now! Jon somehow managed to devour the loaded  Sonoran hot dog that had a bacon wrapped dog topped with pinto beans, lime mayo, and the essence of life. Just kidding, but seriously it was difficult even attempting to bite into the hot dog because of its size. The beer battered tilapia taco was also scrumptious!

Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches (aka Banh Mi)
Price: $
Rating: Get in my belly
Something You Should Know: Cash only + Featured as one of Chicago’s top cheap eats!

Okay, down to our final eatery! It was 9:45 at night, I was hankering for one last Chicago treat and Bon Bon happened to be open and down the street from where we were staying. It was meant to be. The above photo is the pic we took when we came back the next morning to eat there one more time since Jon was too full the night before from eating the “heart attack in a hot dog” at Big Star to eat a sandwich (meaning I ate a sandwich by myself…yes, I love food that much). We only had the opportunity to try their ginger chicken and charred pork banh mi but they were both phenomenal and less than $5 each. When you’re eating out so much, it’s nice to have a break on your wallet while not compromising a tasty filling meal. Oh, and the Thai tea and surprisingly their crinkle sweet potato fries were wonderful as well. Be sure to ask for their special Sirachi mayo sauce and say hello to the owner. He’s a sweetheart!

——

Here are a few basic foodie tips Jon and I have to offer from our experience in Chicago:

TIP 1: I have recently appreciated Urban Spoon much more than Yelp because the site lists the top 10 Foodie Finds in the area that bloggers and food critics alike are discussing. This is how we discovered both the Donut Vault and Kuma’s Corner.

TIP 2: BRING CASH!  We can’t tell you how many locations were cash only!

TIP 3: Be ready to travel all around the city for good food. It can be kind of time-consuming to figure out which buses and trains you’ll take to get to a certain area, but it’s worth discovering all the different pockets of a city and trying the best local restaurants that you can’t experience at home.

——-

A HUGE thank you goes out to those of you who were kind enough to share your recommendations with me. It deeply influenced our trip and enhanced our Chicago experience! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m still feeling full from the trip (and that was two weeks ago). Gotta love this blogging community!

We ate and then we ate some more. Day four is dedicated to the art of attempting to satisfy the insatiable appetite!

Our sweet friend Laura who is a former Chicago local influenced a good portion of our day which began with brunch at Julius Meinl.

 Then a visit to Wicker Park which Laura described as artsy and fun. She wasn’t lying!

We grabbed coffee and maroons at the highly rated Wormhole. It didn’t disappoint, the coffee and macaroons rocked our world plus the decor was uber fun!

Big Star for an early dinner. Delish!

My obsession with Tolix chairs continues….

 

Back to downtown to enjoy the concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion!

 Our last stop of the day was at Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches. Jon was so full he couldn’t bear the thought of another meal, but I was afraid we’d miss out on a Chicago treasure if we didn’t try at least one more meal. Thankfully the stop was completely worth it and so good we stopped by the next day for brumch right before we left town!

The owner is super friendly and I loved that he is a half Japanese, half Caucasian man running a Vietnamese sandwich shop! He said that offering Japanese food was in the works.

Gosh guys, thanks for putting up with all of these personal posts! A strong motivation for starting this blog was to catalogue our adventures so Jon and I could look back on them later down the road, but I also had two readers (including myself) when I first began posting so things have changed a bit. I appreciate your patience and a food post will be coming soon!

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