Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Very Good Year

What a great year it’s been! I can’t possibly reflect on all of the life change that’s taken place over the course of the last 12 months, but it’s safe to say that it’s been a good one. Sometimes it’s nice to just look around and take note of things in my life that make me happy; whether it’s the cereal that brings me a small joy each morning or the awesome trip I took with friends, I hope that I take a step back and really revel in the blessings. I have very high hopes for 2010 and will be ringing in the new year with some of my favorite people, which is exactly they way it should be. I hope that you and yours have a safe and happy holiday – I’ll see you next year!

10 things I love:

Oldies music - This, to me, is such a security blanket. I know that I have said it before, but I just love the comfort of an unadorned old song that has the ability to take me back. On a near daily basis I find myself listening to some overly-produced Top 40 song, singing completely wrong lyrics until I get to a point where I can’t take it anymore. It’s usually then that I switch it over to a local oldies station and find myself in the comfort of the Otis Redding, Van Morrison, Mamas & The Papas, and Simon & Garfunkel tunes of my childhood. For every new cd that I inherit or fun new band that I pick up, there will always be my steadfast oldies that I’ll run back to.

Blue Bell Ice Cream – It will come as no surprise to you that my list would have this on here. If I have to give up such simple pleasures as Blue Bell to launch myself to “foodie” status then I will happily reside in the predictable food zone that I am currently in. Not only is this a local favorite but this brand of ice cream dates back to my childhood. I remember my Dad pulling out the 1/2 gallon of creamy goodness from the freezer and treating us all to a bowl before bed. It wasn’t until my adult years that I realized his favorite midnight snack just so happened to be our good fortune. The Homemade Vanilla is just heaven, but I also happen to love their Birthday Cake ice cream and chocolate/banana Fudge Bars.

J. Crew separates – Let it just be said, I love J. Crew. At this rate, who doesn’t love J.Crew? They have just about cornered the market on affordable (almost!) trendy/classic separates. Usually my seasonal favorites start outside of my budget and then move closer and closer to the mark as they are put on sale. While it’s a little bit of a stretch for my pocketbook, I can honestly say that everything I have purchased has been the best quality. Take, for instance, a pair of gold flats that I purchased for $100 one Spring in NY. What started out as a questionable purchase, ended up being the shoe of choice for the hundreds of miles I blazed throughout the City. I kid you not, they held up through all four seasons. They endured the first ice of the year when I was still resistant toward boots, they trekked through rain, survived the hot pavement and came out on top. The same can be said for the perfectly hued t-strap sandals (my Summer staple) and the gifted umbrella that opens with just the right amount of force and holds up even under the windiest conditions – a true feat. J.Crew, I love you.

Brunch – What a vague love, right? Well, wrong. My love for brunch started in NYC and has grown throughout the years. I’ve always been a big fan of the coffee/newspaper/Saturday morning combo, but now, I have an appreciation that is far richer. My favorite little brunch spot in New York is home to a lot of sweet memories. Throughout our time there, we dined with new friends, old friends, parents, various visitors, and ever other in-betweeners. Alyssa and I had our tried and true system of “splitsy,” which happens to be one salty dish ordered and one sweet dish ordered and almost perfectly evened down the middle. When paired with a cup of coffee and some fresh-squeezed orange juice, it made for the happiest of Saturday mornings. What started in NY has transitioned to Dallas as I quest for my favorite spot. I have had a few delicious prospects and had the pleasure of taking it in with my friends in the process. I also love the idea of brunching when you travel. I can think of no better way to get acquainted with a new city, than a personalized recommendation for some genuine comfort food. So to all of the eggs benedict of my past, present and future...bon appetite!

My iPhone – I know, I know. I will wear the fact that it’s a cliché to love this thing, but I just can’t help it, it’s completely brilliant! I will say that I love the directional features and other responsible applications to prove that I use it respectably, but the truth is, I love it’s camera ease and ability to fill silences in my day-to-day boredom. Oh, and Twitter has never been so easy :) (follow me! @kristenandco)

Magazines – Since I was old enough to drive, I have created these little loner dates to bookstores and just sat in the magazine section. I could keep myself company for literal hours as I flipped through the glossy pages of all sorts of rags, women’s books, and shelter magazines. It should comes as no surprise that my preferences have changed throughout the years, what I once saw as pure glamour in my teens has turned into an appreciation for well-written articles in my 20s. And just so that we’re clear here, I still let the celeb gossip mags fall into my pile...

A good watch - Anyone that has known me for some time knows that I not only appreciate a good watch, but I tend to covet the really pretty ones. For as long as I can remember, I have worn a watch. There were my late-teen-to-early-20 years that I wore my sport watch tirelessly. Formal dress? Yep, my sport swatch. It wasn’t that I was even particularly sporty, in fact, I was downright’s just, I loved it. I would flip the face into my wrist and not even notice its absence until it was gone. These days I prefer a more sophisticated method of time. For years I have loved the Michael Kors gold boyfriend watch, but have never my let myself purchase one. I would stare in the store window and think of all of the great outfits that would be complete if only I had this watch. This Christmas my parents made it all come true and got me the watch. I can honestly say, I love it. It hits my arm at just the right spot, goes great with all of the outfits I had envisioned it would and best of all, it can tell a mean time.

Lucchese cowboy boots - They compliment any sundress, look great with a pair of jeans, and make you feel like a million bucks. The beauty of the boot is getting it perfectly broken in. I don’t know the science of it all, but I do know that I used to break an absolutely sweat getting those pups on and off and now they glide with barely any effort.

Coconut scents – If there is any scent that genuinely causes a happiness stimulus to my brain, it is coconut. For years I have sought after the perfect musky, sandalwood, coconut combo that gives off just a hint of Summer, but not too much. Alyssa brought the Bath & Body Works Lay It On Thick hand cream into my life and it truly balances all of it perfectly. Not only does it cure the most achy and dry of mitts, but it instantly boots my Winter gloom into Summer dreamin’. Another great scent is the Coconut Frosting bobywash from Philosophy. It also has an amazing blend of tropical goodness that would make Banana Boat weak in the knees.

Mi Cocina Rico Salad – I thought I would round out this list with another food item. Mi Cocina is a Dallas staple among fine Mexican restaurants. Before I moved to Dallas I had been here a handful of times and felt a little under whelmed by what they had to offer. The way I see it, you are either going to do Mexican food the right way (cheap, greasy and good) or prove to me that you’re worth the extra $10 and give me something that I just couldn’t live without. Well, my friends, I found it. This eatery has a fairly standard salad called the Rico salad. It is made with your choice of grilled chicken or beef and includes avocado, cheese (lots and lots of cheese), and bacon. This sounds pretty unusual that I would rave about a simple romaine salad with fairly standard ingredients, but the real kicker is the chili vinaigrette dressing – it is so good! It takes this overall simple salad into something crave-able. Not only that, but if you order the salad “mico rico-style” they will chop the salad into perfectly petite bites for those nights when you’re feeling a little more dainty. I recommend ordering it with an iced tea for just an all-around great meal, or their Mambo Taxi margarita if it’s been a long won’t regret it. So if you’re ever in the big D, hit me up, and I’ll go put our name on the list.

A few pics from a very good year:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas Week

I love the buildup! The anticipation of going home for the holidays, the countless number of holiday movies on cable, the abundance of sweets, the giddy children, the cooler temps, I could just go on and on...

Our family has a Christmas Eve tradition of family dinner, followed by our church's candlelight service and then presents. We have forever held our tradition of piling into our living room (dogs and all!), divvying up the appropriated gifts and taking turns as we go around the circle opening our loot. Things go pretty late into the night, so Nana makes her famous green drink while we clean up trash bags full of bows, gift wrap and tissue paper. We then pile into bed and anticipate Santa's arrival to bring our gifts for the next morning. Undoubtedly, Tiffany would be the most eager to wake up and see all what Santa had brought her, but it never failed that we would wait to go down together. We would hear each other stir and then sure enough, we'd all come creeping down together, sleepy eyes, scraggled hair, and all - more than anything, we would see just how good we had been that year. The older we get the less of an occasion this has become, although no less exciting. In fact, out of all of the traditions that we have adopted over the years I happen to enjoy the slowness of Christmas morning, a little coffee drip in the background and the realization that the holiday rush has settled and now it is time for rest.

There is nothing else that happens during the year that brings such overall joy and happiness to the family like Christmastime. I wish you and yours a blessed one...

"and may all your Christmases be bright!"

Ahh, the days of old. Clearly, I'm both startled and hyped at what Santa brought me. Just check out that little (read: ginormous) diaper...

Back in the day, my parents and their closest friends would doll the kiddies up in their Christmas best for a night of presents, Santa and holiday festivities. I think that more than anything, it's a poster for the 80's. As my Mom would say, "check out Miss Priss in her little red dress," that happens to be yours truly :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

5 Golden Rings

In case you haven't noticed, it's the holidays around here. I mentioned in my Halloween post that my office is no stranger to company work parties and Christmas is no different. We were asked to sport our tackiest outfits and bring our best secret Santa gift for our Thursday party. I was lucky enough to borrow my vintage sweater and accent them with my light bulb earrings, because if my Mom has taught me nothing, she has advised me in the art of a well-crafted accessory.

Anyway, I did not walk away with triumph from our Christmas fashion show (let it be said - the round of applause voting system is seriously faulty), but I did happen to take part in a secret Santa gift exchange that involved no less than four over-sized TV remotes (?) , a crazy chicken calendar (??), a Snuggie (!!), handcuffs (??), a tiny robot (also, ??), and a partridge in a pear tree.

Here's to hoping for a re-count...

Who has two thumbs and loves tacky sweaters? We do!

"Is it my fault that the first seven days all involve birds?" - Andy Bernard, The Office

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weekend Update

I guess it's pretty hard to give a post-weekend update when I lacked heavily in the photo department. With so much going on I didn't even think to plan ahead and charge my camera battery - I hate it when my absent mind gets the best of me. Luckily the iPhone was there as a backup to give us some dimly lit stills, which is exactly how the girls in the 20's chronicled their nights out during the Great Depression...I just love it when life comes full circle.

First up, Robbie and Whitney's engagement party! I must say, what a duo. I have been so lucky to call Robbie one of my closest friends over the past few years and there is nothing like seeing someone happy. Whitney came into his life almost a year ago and it has been a whirlwind since. There is nothing than I appreciate more than a couple that finds the joy in the everyday and grows to love each other even more with every quirky glimpse into their life. All for the sake of love, I opted to make a small wedding cake replica for their party. There is nothing I love more than a stressful task and this was no different. I spent the better part of an entire evening carefully baking (read: demolishing our kitchen) 4 pans worth of vanilla cake, all the while mixing 3 lbs worth of confectioners sugar into homemade icing. Because really, calories don't count when you're in love. However, I am happy to report that I (with the help of Ali!) pulled it off. With a few strategically placed hydrangeas as the finishing touch (to hide the ugly parts), I was able to successfully wish the newly engaged couple my congratulations.


Next up, a Friday night soiree thrown by three guys. I know, I know...surprising, huh? Soiree...guys? Well, all I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised from top to bottom. I don't know about you, but nothing says more to me than a hand-written invite mailed a month in advance. From the very beginning, the attention to detail did not go unnoticed with this affair, and frankly, it was worth it. As mounted animals lined their house in various Christmas gear, I couldn't help but think that these guys really spared no expense. One of the roommates managed the varying tasks of bartender, raffle announcer, birthday boy and host, with such ease that I could have sworn he was born for entertaining. It was one of those parties that ended up better than anticipated, which is just the best. I happen to believe that there are nothing like happy surprises to undecided expectations, I'd like to think that it leaves more margin for success rather than error.

(And because I'm terrible, I have not one photo from this evening. Just picture a bunch of 20-somethings mingling and checking each other out in their Christmas best...was there a line back there? Oh, I already crossed it? Great. Grand. Wonderful.)

Last up, a Gatsby-themed cocktail thrown by yet another group of guys (believe it or not, I don't think Hell has frozen over yet). This night had such promise in that it was for a good cause, it had a theme (20s! flappers! fishnets!), and combined a fun group of people. I must say, it took me back to my date party days as 4 of us collectively got ready, exchanged various accessories and joked about what the night would hold. Complete with red lipstick, we all dolled up, posed for a few pics (few being the operative word...sigh) and set out. From the minute we stepped into the party, it felt like things had been transformed as the guys mixed through the house in their tuxedos and girls clacked around in their highest heels. I can safely say that I haven't seen that many feathers, headbands and fringe since my middle school dance recital, and it was completely worth it. More than anything, it's nice to know that one of the most self-involved demographics can successfully get together and support something that is bigger than ourselves.

As promised, a dimly-lit iPhone pic :)

And because it's funny, I thought I would give you a glimpse into our 20s-style late night detour. Again, just like the real Great Depression. Plus, there has to be an upside to eating french fries with gloves on...

And just because I'm proud of it. My sweet friend Sidney came over on Sunday night to round out the weekend with a little crafting. There is nothing I love more than the creativity muscle and she is actually the talent that helps me implement my over-zealous ideas. I bribed her with a grilled cheese and hot chocolate and in return, she created the stencil that gave me canvas magic...

Crate & Barrel, you can go ahead and eat your heart out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Love this duo.

love this sparkle...
just love...

And finally...

the lack of a diverse color palette means nothing to me. I wouldn't mind having a closet this size, fully stocked, with all of these clothes.

all images via home sweet home

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is dedicated to all my Tinies...


Holiday Pleasures

If that forecast doesn't beg for a night in, then I don't know what does. (33˚!)

Christmas movie? Check. Christmas card assembly? Check. Mandatory 9:30 bedtime? Check, check.

Tuesday, I'm beginning to love you.

Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
Eddie: Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy New York

There is nothing like this time of year in New York City. My first trip to NYC was this very week 9 years ago. Hard to believe, huh? Something about the magic of Christmas, mixed with the energy of the city, (the twinkle lights, the weather, the smell of candied nuts, the rush of the Subway...I'll stop) just oozes the holidays. Since that time, I have spent several of my Christmases visiting and living there – truly some of the best of times.

Images of New York happen to be my favorite and most recently I have come across a photography blog that captures the pure essence of the City - the people. A few of the shots that I have pulled are not holiday-related, and yet, they manage to fill that inevitable void that I have during this time of year...

Merry Christmas and a happy New York!

images via the photodiarist

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mambo this.

You know those times in your life when you sit still, look around you and realize that you are perfectly happy? Those rarely happen, and not because I do not feel the joy, but rarely do I take the time to just sit back and enjoy it.

This week I dodged the Jesse Spano freak-out bullet and turned 25. Something about the way that rolls of the just hits me. I know that most of you will think to yourself, "good Lord, what a baby. Just wait til you're 30...40...50," and the truth is, age doesn't scare me. I'm all about the "only young as you feel" mantra, it's more of just the symbolism. I look back at this quarter century of my life and think of the usual "life" question - am I happy with who I've become? If I were my younger self, looking at my life today, would I be proud? I know, I's a heaping question, one that I'm certainly not ready to face, however, the abundant love I have felt over the past few days proves that something is going right for me. For whatever reason, God allowed the most amazing family and friends to be a part of my story and I just couldn't be happier. So this past Tuesday my sweet friends braved the rainy and freezing temperatures to get together and celebrate. As we talked, drank and laughed, I sat there and realized that this is what it's all about. What joy to be surrounded by some of the most wonderful and funny people lucky am I?

I was fortunate enough to have a few celebratory meals, so I thought I would share some pictures from the festivities. To all of you that made me feel so special, thank you. What a year its been. I'm marching right into twenty-five with the kind of hope that only a new year can bring, and to that I say - let's do this.

First up, brunch with the fam* at Abel's on the lake:

Second, a Monday (mall food court) lunch date with my Tinies. (and an early bday gift!)

Birthday Dinner at Mi Cocina with some of my favorite people*!

(2 Mambo Taxi's Oprah you tube...and some cool h'whip - Heaven help us.)

Sweet Robbie
*so bummed that there was no group pic!

Also note, Owen Wilson managed to sneak into the restaurant mid-meal...and in true entitled birthday girl / over-confident fashion, I asked for a photo, only to get de-nied! I don't remember the specifics, but I believe that I said something to the effect of, "I will never watch Wedding Crashers again." - there's nothing like a scorned bday girl!