a local gem: lake forest farms

So it’s really hard to keep exciting things a secret, but I am committed to shooting a gorgeous farm to table dinner hosted by McKinney’s very own Lake Forest Farm in November. (I know. I know. GIRL SCREAM!) Today was the grand opening of their new Farm Stand, where you can purchase the best of our local fruits, veggies, flowers, etc. I am so excited to be a part of such an incredible addition of culinary greatness to our little big-little town. The organic and health scene is steadily gaining popularity in Texas and we seem to be surrounded by numerous produce stands, farmers markets, and restaurants who source the majority of their food locally.

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happy chickens roaming about the farm

IMG_5624-1my dear friend and talented musician Wesley Ballard just killing it.

IMG_5676-1earth on tap is uh-mazing. i tried their orange + mint + ginger + grapefuit juice. yum!

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lovely little greenhouse filled with aquaponics.

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onions so fragrant they made you consider taking a bite.

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gorgeous wooden boxes and colorful baskets filled the stand.

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and of course they had flawless arrangements.

Le sigh. What an amazing place. What a great night. And we still have so much to look forward to!

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being okay with being alone

Alone time. As I grow older I notice more and more that people don’t have much of this, and don’t desire much of this. The concept of not taking time for oneself baffles me. Time set aside to reflect, relax, and breathe is one of my most cherished activities and something I would miss terribly if it wasn’t within reach. I’m always reminded of the benefits long after my alone time is complete. I feel more rested, yet productive, effective and thoughtful. Sometimes I even feel more tolerant towards others, a desire to be kinder, more compassionate. In a society that’s ridden with codependency and the fear of alienation, there’s a bevy of bona fide reasons to give yourself the gift of being alone, psychological and otherwise.  As you finish out this week, take an hour, three hours, or however many you can allot and enjoy the comfort of being with you. You owe it to yourself.

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My alone time was spent…

repeating: peasants by houses

snacking: brie + pear + mustard seed panini (recipe soon!)

admiring: the art of alison cooley. swoon.

watching: the great gatsby! for the fourth time.

napping: often.

wishing: this cool weather would stick around for a while.

turning our home into a haven: the den

J and I live on a sleepy street near a flourishing downtown square outside of Dallas, Texas. Our 1940s home is modest for lack of a sweeter term (THERE SERIOUSLY IS ONLY ONE CLOSET OMG!), but it is where we fell in love and have made some of our amazing memories. For that reason, I fall in love with the little place a little more each day. Especially now since we have been using this space to slowly understand our differing interior aesthetic.

Our first project is our den, since we spend most of our time there. I wanted to go for a  palette that would effortlessly combine my love affair for art deco +  minimalism (seriously how does that combo happen?) and J’s taste for functionality + industrial type decor + nature. So I daydreamed a space with gold, mirrored silver, and dusty hues of blues and natural wood.  And of course I wanted to share some of the pieces that have really inspired how we’re developing our interior.

the den

| art deco mirror | mirrored tapestry | chic entryway | mountain lovers | andrew gallo printquirky wooden notes | beachy hues | faceted candle holder | faceted clock |

It’s been and will continue to be a time-consuming and costly process, but it’s completely worth it. Hunting for deals, creating pieces ourselves and bringing our tastes together is surely going to make one of the most gorgeous and functional spaces yet! Stay tuned =]

the everyday vacation

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

Seth Godin

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I stopped in my tracks the moment I finished reading that quote. It felt harsh. Like the painful realization of an unhealthy friendship. Or like something an old grandfather would say nonchalantly as he’s reading the morning paper. He’d pause after for effect, and would lift his eyes to yours in a look that says “I know you know better than that.”

While planning is an inherent part of my nature, I have to wonder what I’m missing while I’m off instituting structure in my life. I live in an adorable neighborhood full of charm and quirks yet I don’t take advantage of my ability to walk to the market, or ride my bicycle to the winery and shops. I’ve saturated my schedule so much that it’s now difficult finding time to dedicate to photography. I’ve sacrificed the excitement and joy I feel in every day things for the comfort of routine, which I now desperately want to escape.

Over the last couple of months and countless conversations with friends + coworkers on the subject, I’ve gathered a list of encouraging points that could make you (and me) fall in love with the everyday.

DO THAT THING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO

Always wanted to make a cheesecake from scratch? Dying to take up yoga? Too timid to take beginning sewing classes with 6 year olds at Jo-Ann Fabrics? Just do it. Confess to yourself what you really want to spend your time doing and go for it. Several months ago I found a little online gem called Skillshare, an online community where you can learn real-world skills from incredible teachers in project-based classes that you can take at your own pace. It’s a pretty incredible system. I recently signed up for the Art of Modern Calligraphy class from the über talented Molly Jacques, I can’t wait to see how it goes!

MAKE A DRASTIC CHANGE

‘Drastic’ is really in the eye of the beholder isn’t it? For me, drastic means rearranging the furniture in the den and changing my kitchen color scheme. Other times it’s meant cutting my own bangs. For you it could mean selling your belongings and moving out of the country, or altering the way you interact with others. Whatever it is bring on the change, after all, “…that’s how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”  [Libba Bray]

SLOW IT DOWN

I notice great changes in my mentality + emotions when I take a few extra minutes to do something. Tasks become more thoughtful, and I certainly notice more. I hate doing laundry, but taking note of the warm fresh-scent of clothes right out of the dryer has become something that leaves a quiet smile on my face.

I hope wherever you are, you begin cultivating a life you love. A gorgeous one filled with Tuesday afternoon giggles and random Sunday bike rides.

love + links 09.13.2013

I genuinely hope all of you have had a wonderful week. For me, Monday came with an unreal amount of insecurities, worry, pressure and major feelings of defeat at the office. It’s a mentality that I’ve found is typically hard to shake and usually results in a perpetual “funk”, but thankfully as the week progressed and I was able to knock some things off of my To Do list and my brain shifted to a more positive place. Saturday we’ll be enjoying a nice aTm  vs Bama collegiate cookout with friends, while Sunday will be spent catching up on French lessons, and some leisurely reading.

happy weekend

I’ve been wanting to start a post on Fridays to feature the things I’m currently loving + coveting + reading, and this my friends is the first of many.

Can we talk about how incredible Jenni Kayne’s Spring 2014 collection is? I’m swooning over this all white ensemble.

After years of not seeing one another my old BFF from high school and I have jumped right back into awesomeness. We’re dying over Youth by Daughter and can’t wait to see them at the Kessler Theater on Monday!

I think this beautiful textured tray by Koromiko should become a part of my like asap. It matches PERFECTLY with our kitchen!

Currently studying + reading Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson + Richard Mendius. So far this book has explained to me that I’m not as crazy as I think, and our brain basically does whatever it wants. I recommend it to anyone who thinks they might act/react irrationally from time to time, or anyone who wants to scientifically understand why we are they way we are. I just love logic. It’s so refreshing!

I’m a hat person with a very small hat collection. This gem is about to mix things up.

The launch of Clementine Daily has brought so much joy into my mornings. I can’t wait to see the goodies they continue to bring!

Have a marvelous weekend friends.

image via pinterest

september [2013] playlist

My mood is almost always directly reflected on the type of music I’ve been listening to. This month I wanted to pick up the pace a little bit and revisit some old loves with a mix of bands I’ve just recently begun listening to. This is quite possibly my favorite list to date. I’ve stumbled across some incredible songs via Spotify, my favorite musical discovery source. I’m endlessly impressed with the scope of artists they feature. It’s pretty incredible.

Caitlin Rose‘s darling southern rendition of Arctic Monkeys “Piledriver Waltz” reminds me of a young bluesy Zooey Deschanel, and I can’t get enough of her! I’m dying for some new material, girl.

I recently heard “Manchester” by Kishi Bashi and fell desperately in love with the strings, sweet vocals. He just so happens to be a touring member of Regina Spektor’s troup and of Montreal. No wonder he’s exceptional. This track will take you to an adorably bright and colorful place.

But my favorite at the moment is “Huggin & Kissin” by Big Black Delta, a solo-project of Jonathan Bates- bassist from one of my favorite bands of all time Mellowdrone.

Enjoy.

the fresh start: fall resolutions

If I was a more romantic writer I’d be composing beautiful sonnets dedicated to Fall. By the time our relentless Texas heat dies down I’m basically on my knees thanking Mother Nature for bringing crunchy leaves and cooler winds, and this year will be no exception. Although true fall doesn’t begin until September 22nd I have decided to make my fall resolutions list! Something I somewhat inconsistently have done since I was in middle school, because as I’ve said before, fall to me is truly the fresh start of the year. (I hate you New Years)

fall resolutionsadorable paper courtesy of quill & fox 

HAVE A MORE NATURAL DIET

I love the idea of being a vegetarian or vegan. Every stinkin’ time I see one of those foodie documentaries I become super dedicated and cut out everything that I’m supposed to, cause those health statistics really get to me. And I love + eat + sleep + breathe veganism for two weeks, and then my inner baker + chef comes out and I start making cupcakes or spaghetti carbonara. At that point I accept defeat and fall back into my old habits of eating big and heavy meals and judge myself after every meal. I was recently talking to my mom and she’s been on a Paleo-esque diet and has fallen in love with it. In the last 4 months she’s manages to lose almost 50 lbs. and she “hasn’t felt this good in a long time.” If it’s worked that well for my mom and she hasn’t gone completely crazy by now, it’s definitely worth the try. So starting today I am embarking on a 30-day Paleo trial. If I don’t dig the style or results I’ll attempt 30-days of vegan and compare. Regardless, I’ll be eating FABULOUSLY for 60 days. It’ll give me the opportunity to try different recipes and to practice portion control- something my German grandparents are (surprisingly) attempting as well.

BEGIN FRENCH LESSONS (AGAIN…)

I received the Rosetta Stone package to learn French for my birthday in May. I let my “busy” schedule interfere with my dream of learning that beautiful language and I’m SUPER disappointed in myself for not following through with it. I hereby commit to studying the software at least 4 times a week. If that means I have to cut down on my ANTM time, that’s probably a good thing. It’ll give me the opportunity to make some evening tea, have some time to myself, and to accomplish something I’ve been waiting to do for years.

50 DAYS OF YOGA (THANKSGIVING DEADLINE) 

Starting today I will complete 50 yoga sessions before Thanksgiving! I have 83 days to complete this challenge, so in theory it should be a breeze. But as I said I’m inconsistent, so maybe not.

DEVELOP A HOME ROUTINE (CLEANING + LAUNDRY + DISHES)

Poor J. Poor, poor J. He literally is the only one who does the dishes in our house, and cleans, and he actually does his laundry. I admire him in so many ways, one being how he just accepts the responsibility of being an adult and gets shit done. (s’cuse my French) Last night I was sitting on the couch playing around on Pinterest, and realized I’d been hearing dishes clang and the water run for like 20 minutes (our home was built in the 40s so obv. we don’t have one of them fancy dishwasher thingys). I got up and hurriedly tried to make it look like I was doing something productive and he definitely didn’t buy it. I certainly need to pick up my slack (and all of my shoes) so by setting a weekly schedule of when I take care of things is sure to help. I’m a girl who like structure and boundaries and lists and stuff so laundry on the weekends + dishes M/W/F + vacuuming/sweeping on Mondays (before Under the Dome of course!)

So these are my goals. Hopefully habit-forming, with positive results. Wish me luck!

mushroom + rosemary baked brie

The moment we step into September I get in the mood for autumn. All year long I crave cable-knit sweaters, apple cider, barren trees, and delicious warm breads + vegetables that I would never attempt to make in the sweltering Dallas summer. In the fall I suddenly pick up old books that I’ve cherished for years, flipping through their musty pages giggling at my notes and highlights and scrawled definitions from years past- proof that I can even over analyze things that I enjoy tremendously. Memories of starting school again, the excitement of a new fall  wardrobe, a new year to prove yourself and move ahead. Fall symbolizes comfort for me, where summer fades and I become more of who I am. I think that’s why I’ve daydreamed of living in the Pacific Northwest, or Vermont and Maine the majority of my life. I’m drawn to foggy mornings and the scent of treats baking in the oven.

When I finally got the chance to visit the dreamy PNW, I made an abundance of unexpected friends. One being a down to earth political figure in Clallam County, Washington named Mark. Every visit he would take us on guided fishing trips through the Dungeness, Hoh, and Sol Duc rivers where I learned to fish and caught my first big fighting fish, a Steelhead. After long cold mornings littered with fish blood and granola bars we’d make the trek to his sleek modern cabin in the hills where he’d combine some of the most unique flavors in well plated dished while he “educated” us on good music: The Talking Heads, Jorane, Muse, and Crash Test Dummies. We’d sip exceptional wine, dance across the bare wooden floors in our socks, admiring the art he collected and his eloquent way of speaking.

Most of my favorite recipes have been learned from people just like Mark. Although I haven’t been to the PNW or visited him for quite some time, the memories of his open heart, home, and kitchen bring a smile to my face in the dusty-hued months. I’m thankful to have learned this simple appetizer from someone who sparked my love for cooking + baking. This is one of the first food “shoots” I did, last year in my home after spending a full day at the McKinney Farmer’s Market and the Local Yocal where I discovered Texas Olive Ranch olive oil.

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| ingredients |
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
8 ounces mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1 teaspoon rosemary (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine (or madeira or broth or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
1 (8 ounce) wheel of brie
1 baguette (sliced)
| directions |
heat the oil in a pan.
add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
add the mushrooms and saute until they start to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
add the garlic and rosemary and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
season with salt and pepper.
add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until it has evaporated.
slice the brie in half, and place the brie on an oven proof serving platter, top with the mushrooms and bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese melts, about 8-10 minutes.
serves 4
recipe adapted from closet cooking