Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My Favorite Date of the Year

Austin and I tend to eat out pretty often in this stage of life, and—this might surprise you—we're not big movie-goers. A lot of our date nights are pretty simple, with a dinner we'd enjoy, or a little time downtown. Since we both work downtown, too, there isn't always a huge difference between our "date" nights and our day-to-day. For an anniversary or special occasion, we may do something a little larger, but for the most part we're pretty predictable. We like sharing cubicles at J.O.B. or a cheese board at Scotch & Soda.

But, there is one day of the year that we make an exception to our basic date, and I look forward to it more than anything else. Since Austin and I have been married, we've started a New Year's Eve tradition of setting goals together and making a date out of it.

We'll call it the "let's do this" date, because we like writing our goals on this notepad in particular. Cherry Picker is another favorite of ours, and that's where we like going for this date. It's the best place in town to focus on contentment, cherishing the past, and considering what we want for the future. And I really can't explain why, but the vibe is there. We like taking it slow on this day with our tasty drinks and aspirations for the next year.

If you want to try your own "let's do this" date, here are some things we like to focus in on.
  • We both write out individual goals on our own papers—we take some time to consider where we're interested in improving on our own first.
  • Then, we trade papers and see what each other wrote. This is one of my favorite parts of our little tradition because it's a special way to connect, and I think it's extra important to share your goals with people who can root you on.
  • Some of our goals are bigger, and some are small. For example, I wrote "bake a loaf of bread" on my list this year. That, theoretically, could just take a day, but it's something I know I want to do in 2020, so it went on the list.
  • Finally, we sync up and write a list together. Some of the items are copied from one or both of our lists, but the focus here is that we both have individual goals, and then we have our goals as a couple.

The most important part of goal-setting is mindset. I try to never set goals from a place of negativity or beating myself up for things I haven't done yet. I love to think of a new year as full of potential, with endless possibility, especially as I go into it welcoming expansion. Wishing you all a 2020 full of both growth + peace. ❤️

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

6 Months in Our First Home — An Update!

Remember 6 months ago when I said we bought a house, and I'd be back to share all of the exciting renovation updates?? Turns out updating a home while you, like, have a job and stuff doesn't go so quickly. 😆

We've been making progress, but Austin's had a pretty busy work schedule with his company (including a trip to Africa), and we've taken some weekends off of housework since we want to live a little, too. The good news is, even with our house not even close to being finished, it already feels like home. This makes updating it even more exciting because it can only get better!

I wanted to take a little record of what's been done over the last 6 months, in case you're trying to do some house projects while you live a little, too. Real life isn't an hourlong episode of Fixer Upper, and that's totally OK! The photo above was literally taken the day we moved in, and it hasn't changed much since. Ha! We're planning to update some of our living room furniture, and I'm excited to share this space when it feels "done"—but here it is now. This is still pretty much the only room that's totally settled, which I'm weirdly OK with as long as I have *one* space that feels really homey. 🙂 This is also the room that we tore wood paneling out of, and I'm SO glad we did.

This photo above is from the first spot that I styled, and if you look close, you'll notice we still need to replace the old trim. This is in the same part of the house as the photo of me and my dad from my last house post!

Austin and I are considering this "phase 1" of our renovation project, and we're lucky to be saving some money by doing a lot of it ourselves—and with help from Austin's dad! To finalize this phase, we need to finish laying our wood floors (we're inches away!), replace the trim, and update some old doors. Once we're finished with phase 1, phase 2 (plus phase 3, 4, 5? We've only named phase 1 😂) will include updating the two bathrooms in the house and the kitchen. Eventually we want to do some landscaping and paint the outside of the house, but we're currently focusing on what's inside the house because that more directly affects us. (Sorry, neighbors!)

Here's another process shot of Austin prepping to hang a mirror. Just need to finish the trim here + get a new door, and the entryway will be DONE! Feels good to check things off the list.

Anyway, that's what's been going on in our neck of the woods! Looking forward to spending the holidays at home this year—maybe even with a new fireplace mantle to hang our stockings on. ❤️

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Queen City Gems, Vol. 11

Happy Tuesday! Here's a quick update on some things I'm loving lately in the Queen City.

1. Team Taco is OPEN (yaaaaay! 🌮🎉)

Austin and I checked out Team Taco last week during their soft open, and I am happy to say it exceeded all of my expectations — and then some! I'm not too hard to please when it comes to tacos, but even if you are, I have a feeling you'll like it here. The guys behind Team Taco REALLY know their stuff when it comes to food & flavor; I saw this firsthand when I interviewed them a handful of times for Feast. I've tried a handful of these tacos by now, and the Groundskeeper is my favorite. All veggies and so delightful!! Branding + design are also on point. 

2. Brian and Jenna Bulger Release Dreamy New Tunes ✨

Late to the party on this (as evidenced by the EP's title "July" and this post being written in "August"), but I love seeing these two collaborate and hope to see more from them in the future. Got to hear them serenade a packed-out Cherry Picker a couple weeks ago, and it was a sweet summer evening I won't forget soon.

3. Say "Aloe" to Hickory Lane Plants 🌿

Spotted this lil cutie on Instagram and had to go check it out in person at the C-Street farmer's market. If you've checked out the Ozark Mtn. Flower Truck (which I talked about way back in volume 1 of this series!), this is like the same idea — but for plants! I enjoyed checking it out & snagged a succulent for our sunroom. It's fun for the experience (and definitely good for a last minute gift)! You can find their schedule on Instagram. 💕

That's all for now! xo.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

One Last Look at the Loft

Whew! What a weekend.

We moved from the loft to our new house (!!), and it was exhausting and wonderful all at the same time. I really expected to have a lot of sad emotions leaving the loft. After all, it's the place where I entered as a roommate with my dear friend Merry and left my years there as a wife to my other half, Austin. We filled those exposed-brick walls with lots of laughter, Friends reruns, happy tears and sad ones, Chipotle burrito bowls & how could I forget the Jordan Valley fireworks on those summer nights that honestly felt magical.

Anyway — surprisingly — no sad tears. Just an extra-long sigh of gratitude.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Our First Home Renovation!

In case you missed our big news (which you probably haven't if you follow me on Instagram), we bought our first home about a month ago! Annnd it's been the setting for nearly all of our nights and weekends since then. When we were on the house hunt, we knew we wanted to find a home that had good bones (such an HGTV phrase!) but needed a little love, and we're thrilled with the one we found.

We bought a ranch style home built in 1970, located in Springfield's Brentwood neighborhood. We're quite a bit further from our downtown offices, which we've become pretty accustomed to being close to, but I am unspeakably excited about living near TREES! Tall ones, too! We're really looking forward to having neighbors on our street and a few blocks away, including some great ones we're already lucky to call friends.

When we bought the house, there was wood paneling in the main living area, which we ripped out on day one and replaced with new drywall. On top of that, there was a wallpaper border in almost every single room, and some rooms even had floor-to-ceiling wallpaper! We spent a good chunk of time peeling wallpaper, and it's almost completely gone at this point. We've had to do some patching up on the walls since tearing out the wallpaper — mudding, sanding, etc., and that's what Austin's doing here.

Before we move in just a couple weeks, we're hoping to have all the walls painted (white!) and we'll be replacing carpet in the bedrooms with wood floors to match the main living areas. We likely won't get all of the floors in in time, but the look and feel of our house has already changed so much in what feels like a really short amount of time.

I'll of course share before & after photos once we've made some more progress, but I wanted to give a little look at the in-between because that's the stage we're in right now, and it's the one that sometimes goes undocumented! Figured I should highlight the blood, sweat, tears & less sexy portion. 😉

Thankfully, our hard work hasn't felt as hard thanks to all the great help we've had, especially from my father in law, Tim. A HUGE thank you to our family and friends who have been so helpful as we've been renovating and preparing to move! Whether you've texted us, brought us coffee, sat and listened to us talk about our house reno, let us borrow tools, peeled wallpaper, painted, etc. etc. etc. we're beyond grateful.

Next comes the really fun part — picking out fixtures, furniture and decor to make it feel even more "us", and I'm excited to see where this stage takes us. I've been chronicling most of this on my Instagram stories, so if you're curious to see more of our progress, you can find that on my highlights!

Oh, and if you want links to any of my outfits in this post JUST let me know 😝💕

Friday, March 22, 2019

Queen City Gems, Vol. 10

Happy Friday! Here are a few fun things I think are worth noting if you're living in (or visiting!) my hometown of Springfield, MO.

1. Coffee, Always

If you know me, you know I'm always excited to try a new coffee thing. It's practically my second job! 😂 This week's coffee thing is Architect, a new shop that's gone in Hebrews' old location (1604 E Republic Rd). I went to check out the new shop and was impressed with what they did with the space! I tried their signature latte with house made vanilla, caramel and topped with Himalayan pink salt. It's a great new coffee option on the south side, especially for meetings or co-working.

2. The Rated SGF Film Festival

Did you know Springfield has a film festival?? This weekend is the second annual Rated SGF, and it's going to be such a treat! The team behind it has curated some really special experiences, including live music and an opportunity for a Q&A following each film with one of the key players involved. It's kicking off tonight, and tomorrow's first screening of Oscar-award winning (!!!) Period. End of Sentence. is free to the public. I'm excited Springfield has this festival and looking forward to seeing how it grows over the years. You can buy tickets for a weekend pass to all events or individual screenings if you prefer.

3. Best of Lunch

Best of Luck is a European-style beer hall new to downtown Springfield that I reported on for Feast a few months back. It opened with a truly impressive food menu, and they're giving 20% off this weekend to those who attend Rated SGF! Seems like a good opportunity for double dipping to me. 😝 Let me know if I missed anything exciting going on this weekend! It's a good time of year to get out and about.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

5 Ways to Enjoy Home When What You Really Need Is a Vacation

Spring Breaaaaaak! Oh, but what's that? You're stuck at home, ridiculed by FOMO as you're reminded everybody on the PLANET (it seems) is taking time off to ring in spring.

For a young professional, Spring Break FOMO might be better relabeled as DOMO — despair of missing out. It's not something to fear; it's nearly guaranteed you'll be scrolling your Facebook memories each morning, haunted by the nostalgia of that one girls' trip to L.A. or your most recent family trip to Disney. I don't know about you, but early March is right around the time that I've 100% had it with the chilly Midwest temps and I'm so ready for sunny with a high of 75.

But (reality check!) escaping to L.A. or Florida isn't always an option, so here are some ideas for the meantime:

Get Your Greens
I swear, I definitely spend more time in greenhouses throughout the winter-spring than I do in the summer, just because they feel like an oasis and the perfect pause from a dreary day. I bought a spider plant from Schaffitzel's a couple weeks ago, and it's bringing a smile to my face every time I walk in the loft — and making my space feel a little more like the retreat I need. And on that note —

Chase Some Sun — (or at least the heat)
You want that spring break glow, right? Or you'd at least like to remember what it feels like to be warm again... While you may take vitamin D as a supplement throughout the winter months, nothing compares to laying on a towel and feeling the embrace of summer temps. In Springfield, you can check out a community class at Sumits Hot Yoga for $7, and a $35 day pass to Acacia Spa will give you access to their sauna and eucalyptus steam shower (hello!!).

Find a Muse(um)
If you're looking to get inspired, a trip to a museum may be in store for you. I think anything that gets you out of your routine and allows you the ability to look and learn about something would qualify! We're really lucky to have the spots we have in Springfield — between the Springfield Art Museum, Wonders of Wildlife, the Springfield Nature Center, the Discovery Center and more (I'm sure I'm missing something!), there's a lot to explore in this backyard. Worth noting — WOW is giving 50% off ticket prices for locals for the next two weeks, and if you're up for a day trip, I'd highly recommend Crystal Bridges.

Eat Foreign Food
If you can't go on a trip, then eating like you're on one is the next best thing. There's two rules to make this the best, most immersive "oh, I forgot I was on my lunch break" type of experience: 1. You must dine in. 2. The restaurant doesn't count (for these purposes) if they play top 40 music. There's nothing that will bring you back to reality quicker than hearing the Jonas Brothers over a speaker system. My favorite place in Springfield for this type of moment is Greek Belly. Their food is fantastic, fairly priced and it genuinely feels like a small trip to Greece if you use your imagination.

Stop and Smell the Hydrangeas
The reasons we crave vacation typically come from a desire for excitement and adventure. So how can we cultivate those emotions in our daily life? I think some of it is seasonal just like spring — inspiration comes and goes in waves, but focusing on the good is a fine place to start. xo!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Finding Joy in Community

They say comparison is the thief of joy. I say community is joy’s benefactor.

Today is International Women’s Day; around the world, we women gather, celebrate our shared virtues and lift each other up. But what about the other 365 days of the year?

If I had a dollar for every woman who has confessed that they struggle with the ‘comparison game’ (especially on Instagram), I’d be able to fully fund my coffee habit and probably my houseplant habit, too. Think of how good my Instagram would look then. 😏

What’s a gal to do when you’re in between “omg so happy for you!” and the unvoiced, pestering but why not me? 

You find your community.

Where a dining room table becomes a shared, sacred space. When the ones you have on speed dial dispense their wisdom from 5,000 miles away or just the next neighborhood over. When the hardships you face fuel your bonds with one another, to be seen and known without judgment.

Because you commune, you push each other forward, you create a space full of spark and sanctity.

A space that acknowledges your why not me? is normal to feel, and reminds you of all that you are.

Being a woman is hard, and beautiful, and poetic, and magical — much like being a human. Coincidence? Nah.

p.s. — I made this lil free phone background! You can download here or save it to Pinterest.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Meet the Mocktail That's Good for Your Health

Though we’ve made it through January and February, the sad reality is that winter’s not leaving us quite yet. (You have no idea how mopey I am about this fact).

But here’s a silver lining: You can fight the good "cold-and-flu-season fight" with this mocktail that tastes good AND helps your health. It's like an Emergen-C you can make at home and feel oh so #fancy. I promise ya, while you’re nursing a stuffy nose and using up your last box of Kleenex, this drink will become the cold remedy you look forward to.

Why's this mocktail the perfect addition to your health routine? It's the secret ingredient — elderberry! Elderberry is a naturally occurring immune system boost; it’s a great way to fight off a cold, even better when used at the first signs of sickness. Honey, especially organic, local honey, is known to reduce coughing and sweetens up the tart elderberry. Once you add a bit of mint, you’re practically on the way to a beach vacation — or at the very least a Bachelor binge, let’s be real.

- Elderberry syrup
- Local honey
- Berry LaCroix
- Fresh mint leaves (optional)

1. Dispense 2 tablespoons elderberry syrup and 4 tsp local honey in a small bowl. Use a small whisk to combine the two.
2. Add the honey and elderberry mixture to a can of Berry LaCroix or your favorite sparkling water.
3. Garnish with fresh mint, and kick the cold in style

p.s. if you're into Lacroix mocktails and aren't sick, try out my recipe for a Cara Cara Orange Mocktail or the Cran-Raspberry Lacroix Punch. Happy staying healthy!