My Paris Love Story

May 21, 2015

france-landmark-lights-night-largeI started taking French lessons in 6th grade, as part of a rotational elective. And I was immediately hooked. My fascination for the capital city, Paris, grew and grew over the years, and I continued studying French for 10 years (I minored at The University of Texas).

My very first encounter with Paris was a layover in Charles De Gaulle Airport on our way to South Africa. I was like a kid in a candy shop, walking around reading signs, absorbing the dialogue going on around me. I loved it. Growing up in Texas meant everyone studied Spanish, so to be in a city where everyone was speaking my language was like a dream come true. I even ordered a drink on our Air France flight in French and smiled for hours after doing so.

A year later, I was looking for ways to spend an entire summer in Paris, but knew that I didn’t want to do a study abroad program and be tied to classwork and living with a family or in a dormitory. I reached out to a contact I had made at a prior internship, as her husband was French and had connections with businessmen in Paris. Through Meg, I found a part time summer internship with a company now named PetroWire. Luckily for me, my boss rented out a part of their gorgeous, large Parisian home, so my accommodation was taken care of as well. read more

Summer Salad Combinations at Salata

May 19, 2015

SalataAt the first signs of summer, I immediately start adding berries and watermelon to our dinner salads. Sasha and I even have an inside joke about it, as he will ask every single day what we’re going to be eating that evening, knowing that the answer will be “summer salad.”

Our meal times tend to involve a big bowl of vegetarian salad, and then Sasha will add meat to his and Isla’s dishes. In order to keep things interesting, I try to vary up my “summer salads,” so that we’re not eating the same thing day in and day out (although, as a creature of habit, I wouldn’t mind it!).

Three delicious summery salad combinations include:

  • Berry-Balsamic Salad: combine fresh spinach with blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, almonds and feta and top with my favorite dressing: balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Spicy-Sweet Tropical Salad: a lettuce blend topped with mango, pineapple, red onion, green pepper, jalapeno and pumpkin seeds, finished off with mango dressing.
  • Mediterranean-Inspired Summer Salad: combine watermelon, cucumber, radish, feta, chickpeas and falafel with a bed of kale and drizzle with lemon vinaigrette dressing.

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Week in Review

May 18, 2015

The big week is finally here – we leave for Europe on Thursday, and while I’ve been preparing for months, there are still a ton of last minute things that need to be taken care of. Like… actually quitting my job, which is a big on! I have an exit interview this week, and I have to go and turn in my badge and laptop. The only thing that is totally done is packing! We took care of that on Saturday night, which is a big thing off our check list. And of course, there was the typical passport scare (how do I always misplace them?).

The past week was full of playdates and lunches with friends, which I love so much. We are so blessed with the wonderful people in our lives.

The highlights of this week included:

  • Finding out more about an upcoming collaboration with Decorist, which I’m really excited about. Just as Sasha thinks we’re done with changes to the house after we finish our master bedroom, I’m throwing a curve ball by re-fiddling our entry/living room. I cannot wait to share the process with you!
  • Meeting two of my closest (and longest-lasting) friends, McKenzie and Brittany, for lunch at Dish Society. We’ve been best friends since elementary (17 years and counting), and we always have the greatest giggles. I love them to pieces, and Isla does too. It’s such a joy seeing them interact.
  • Going to Isla’s The Little Gym class – we had to miss for two weeks while she was sick, and before that, our nanny was taking her. I was very ready to be playing on the gymnastics equipment with her, blowing bubbles and doing flips.
  • A visit from my newest ‘bestie,’ Meredith, who is helping with Isla’s party. She is the owner of Cake & Confetti (on Instagram), and I love every single creative idea she’s thrown at me. I cannot wait to celebrate on June 6!
  • Getting a surprise visit from my little sister, Jill, who brought over a juice from Big Yoga’s new juice bar. It was delicious, and I need to go myself!
  • Taking Isla’s first birthday photos with Paige of Awake Photography at T.C. Jester Park on Friday. She sent them to me that same day (I love her), and I’ve already ordered the Shutterfly book, which guests will sign at her party (order now for 50% off with code ‘Celebrate’)!
  • Getting my makeup done by the incredibly talented Brittany Williams (I cannot wait to share details about her new business!) – she’s the sweetest friend ever and came over at 6am on the day we were taking family photos. I love her to pieces. We then went to lunch later at Adair Kitchen in the day and met our other ‘bestie,’ Jessica.
  • Celebrating Lainey’s first birthday with the cutest party at her house. I loved all of the little lady bug details (a nod to her nickname, Lainey Bug), and especially her silhouette from Biscuit Home.
  • Eating lunch at Yard House with our friends, Alexis and Mike, and their sweet little boy Kevin (who you’ve seen before here, here, here and here).
  • Going on a triple date (plus Isla!) to True Food Kitchen with Amanda, Scott, Taylor and Luke (all featured in this post!). I love these two couples so much.
  • Sneaking in a visit to Crave Cupcakes for a vegan cupcake for Isla’s cake smash (I sprayed it with water and rolled the icing in sprinkles!). They definitely have the best vegan red velvet cupcake in Houston.
  • Fighting the Texas heat with a dip in the pool for Isla’s swim class at Dad’s Club. The lessons are now outdoors, and it’s literally the only opportunity I have to get a tan. Killing two birds with one stone!
  • Finally making my way back to Life Time Fitness after a hiatus with Isla being too sick to take to day care. I’m doing my BBG workouts there, and loving them so far!
  • Having a playdate with our sweet friends, Emma and Alexander. He is seriously a doll. I love him! He’s two weeks younger than Isla, and already says, “Hiya.” Cue my heart melting.
  • Treating myself to a Drybar visit. I watched The Notebook while sipping champagne and getting my hair done. That’s seriously my idea of heaven.
  • Hearing Derrick preach at Bayou City Fellowship about suffering. It was so good. We sang the most beautiful songs – ‘Come and See’ by Matt and Cameron Hammon and ‘Good Good Father’ by Housefires II.
  • I told my sweet neighbor that I missed reading the Houston Chronicle, and the next day, she put her copy on my door mat. It was the best surprise all week.
  • Getting my new Johansen Totes camera bag in the mail, as well as my second lens for my new Canon Mark III – a 24-70mm f/2.8L. I am loving it so far. I already purchased the 50mm f/1.2L, and adore it. So anxious to finalize details about my new photography venture!
  • Celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday on Wednesday and having her babysit twice!

What were the highlights of your week? I would love to know. Have a great Monday!

AwakePhotography-1110Isla’s first birthday photos by Paige of Awake Photography (more on Instagram!)4B3A2344 read more

20 Favorite Books for 0-12 Month Olds

May 12, 2015

twentyfavoritebooksIsla is at the age where she really enjoys reading books. For many months, I felt like I was sort of forcing them onto her, but now she’ll pick them up and ‘read’ them herself. She definitely has favorites, like  Tickle, Tickle, Peter and Good Night, I Love You, and then I have my preferences too (i.e. all twenty books below). We’ve been gifted so many wonderful books, many of which I love reading but Isla isn’t quite into yet (mostly because her attention span isn’t that long!). I seriously love Eloise and Room on the Broom, and I can’t wait to read these to her when she’s a little older.

As for now, the following books are the ones we cycle through most often, but I love changing it up by grabbing a random book off her shelf too. I am dying to know (seriously, that’s why I made this post!) – what are your favorite baby books? I would love to add to our little library.

Our favorites include:

  1. Diary of a Wombat: I bought this book because we’re going to Australia in January, and I’m glad we did because it’s so cute. The story follows the life of a wombat and his new ‘pets’ (i.e. humans who move in next to him). It’s a fun read for both parents and kids.
  2. Peach Tree Farm: This was one of my favorite books growing up, and I still love it today. The story rhymes, which I adore. It includes known characters like Jack and Jill and Mary (whose lamb goes missing!). I highly recommend this one. read more

Week in Review

May 11, 2015

I love a good holiday weekend, especially one with perfectly sunny weather. We had a really great week, mainly because of some exciting news: I have decided to retire (ha) from Accenture and become a part stay-at-home-mom and part photographer (still have lots to learn!). I’m currently working on my website (waiting on a header!), then I’ll share more details soon. I’m very excited to see what God has in store for our little family in the future, especially regarding my career.

I made the decision to quit two Fridays ago, which was really tough as we loved our nanny. Ultimately, this was the best thing for us to do for our family, and I feel really confident in our choice (and she found a new loving home and starts today!). To make me feel ever more assured that we did the right thing, I booked a number of newborn photo shoots last week, as well as shot some professional photos for a former client of mine and signed up to be Ashley of Fancy Ashley‘s new photographer (see some photos below). I’m bursting at the seems to share website details – everything should be ready in a few weeks! If you want any family photos taken, let me know!

Other than spending the most gorgeous Sunday with my family celebrating my first Mother’s Day, the other highlights from our week included:

  • Having Sasha’s dad, his wife and her mother (who was visiting from Serbia) over for dinner on Monday. Olivera prepared food and brought it over, which was very delicious and easy for me!
  • Catching up with my good friend, Melissa, over dinner at our house on Wednesday – the meal and conversation were fantastic, but Isla’s inability to go to sleep was not quite as good (thank goodness she’s not sick and back on schedule now!).
  • Starting a new 12 week workout plan that I’m super excited about – the Bikini Body Guide (or BBG) by Kayla Itsines (cue me being sore all week long). Follow Kayla on Instagram and you’ll be totally convinced it works!
  • Booking a flight to Oklahoma City in mid-June to take “two generations of bestie” photos with one of my best friends, her daughter, and a favorite photographer of mine, Jessa Kae – I’m so excited!
  • Seeing that Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies chose the first and middle name I suggested for her baby girl – Isla Rose! Click here to see the post where she asked for recommendations – pretty cool, right?
  • Meeting Sasha for lunch on Wednesday at Zoe’s Kitchen on a total whim – it seriously made my day! Isla and I love seeing him during the workday.
  • Finding the most gorgeous pink peonies at the new Whole Foods on Voss! I adore peony season!
  • Picking up Isla’s birthday cards from the insanely creative ladies at Papellerie – Riley did the best job ever with them, and I’m dying to get them in the mail! I’ll share details soon!
  • Having Isla’s three grandmas babysit on different days – we are so lucky to have them all in Houston!
  • Meeting my friend, Meredith of Cake and Confetti, at Memorial Park on Saturday to talk business strategies (and life, let’s get real) and then picking up Buff Burger on the way home for lunch (their veggie burger is so tasty and Sasha loves the grass fed burger!).
  • Taking a dip twice in one week, as Isla had her regular swim class at Dad’s Club on Thursday and a makeup class on Friday (that Sasha came to!). I’m so glad that Isla enjoys class now!
  • Enjoying lunch (and a French 75!) at Adair Kitchen with my friend, Alexis – I love getting to catch up and talk work, life and babies (oh, and Kardashians).
  • Celebrating my dad’s retirement (another babysitter! Yay!) and an early Mother’s Day with my family on Friday – we ate Fajita Pete’s, which is absolutely delicious. Their veggie fajitas are so good.
  • Having a quiet Saturday night (a rarity!) – we cooked dinner, watched 30 for 30 The Best That Never Was (which I recommend) and ate TCBY (my favorite!).

What were the highlights of your week? How did you celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday?

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