La La Land Highlights


Bar Chloe in Santa Monica (Order The 1449.)

I'm holding off from a full-fledged guide to my favorites in LA until I return for a work trip in June. 'Til then, here are five highlights from my long weekend in La La Land with my resident tour guide, Mimi. 

Santa Monica beach
waterfront walks

shopping along Abbott Kinney

Gracias Madre sno-cone margs with Meems

Malibu Country Mart

temperatures that make 10-mile walks tolerable 

Rose Café in Venice
girly brunches + beverages

happy week!

Sense Appeal XXXV: Abstract Art, Gingham & Al's


for the eyes:
how cool / Christopher Spitzmiller-esque is top right? 

Abstract art by Erin, my super-talented sister. See her clever Christmas card circa 2011 and stunning chalk art circa 2014. Support by following her Instagram.

for the mind: I feel strongly that there will forever be a time and a place for handwritten notes, and this experiment proves that, sometimes, that time is when we'd usually reply with a text message.

Abbey and I at Club Nomadic

for the ears: I hadn't been to a concert in what felt like years when I saw The Chainsmokers Super Bowl weekend. After a series of hit singles, they just released their first album. My favorites are Don't Say & Wake Up Alone.

skirt // dress

fashion for feel: I got on the gingham bandwagon real fast when my sister wore this J. Crew guy on Easter Sunday. I had given up shopping for Lent, so this was my first purchase after my fast. To score free shipping, I added this accordion stripe skirt to my cart too, and with the advice from my sister Amy, will keep it afterall.

for taste:
the veggie sampler #3
I'd drive by Al's Quick Stop a number of times and heard that hidden inside the unassuming convenient shop was a haven of Mediterranean food. I finally tried it and was most impressed with my vegetable plate, especially the taboulli.

Best Healthy Eats in Houston


Both BYOB and noticeably less greasy than your standard Chinese fare, Cooking Girl (now Pepper Twins) is a winner. 
On my mission to find the best food in Houston, I'm strict in making my selections so that only the very best make the final cut. I'm accumulating a list, and from there, finding common themes to form these posts.

me and Merl satisfying our smoothie fix
Here we have Houston's healthy-ish eats. Though our healthy food scene isn't as robust as that of an Austin or San Francisco, it's making a solid effort to keep the growing healthy appetites happy.

brussels sprouts :: Crispy Brussels Sprouts -Benjy's 
notes: The sauce and perfectly tender consistency set these apart.

image c/o Houstonia

cauliflower :: The Famous Fried Cauliflower -Roost
notes: It actually moves (with bonito flakes), which at first sight is frightening, but at first bite, you'll be sold.

green beans :: Dry Fried Green Beans -Pepper Twins
notes: The portion is plentiful, but you'll find it hard not to polish off your plate. 

image c/o A Lady Goes West

sweet potatoes :: Ancient Grain Bowl -True Food Kitchen 
notes: They're miso glazed and the star of this ancient grain bowl show.  

image c/o Favor

smoothie :: The Wundershowzen -Juiceland
notes: WD loves him a Veggie Kingdom, and my bestie Merl always orders the Originator.

salad bar :: The Moroccan -Central Market
notes: My favorite's got mixed greens, chickpeas, cucumber, falafel, lentils, peas & apricots in a curry dressing.  

falafel :: Beet Falafel Plate -Ripe Cuisine
notes: This food truck takes the cake for all things vegan, but their beet falafel hummus plate is insane.

veggie sandwich :: The Garden Sammie -Local Foods
notes: Wash it down with the heavenly honey iced coffee. 

Here's to a happy and healthy week ahead!

Six Smiles: All Things Spring


the floral letter wall AFE installed to christen our new space's grand opening

My biggest project at Biscuit to date has been the new store. With Bailey's design brilliance and an all-hands-on-deck approach during the final stretch leading up to our opening on Thursday, we celebrated what ended up being a stunning space we're all very pleased with. 

Here are a few snippets from that plus some other things making me smile lately:

gorgeous florals fitting for the perfect spring weather that stayed all weekend 

 so we sipped rosé to kick off the sunshine seasons

Pippa the poodle, whose proud owner is my co-worker Abbey

a fun photo booth at another gorgeous wedding

using Take A Bite's crock-pot carnitas recipe for these stuffed sweet potatoes 

a spring cleaning for my hair

Happy almost Easter!

My Favorites in San Francisco


Having planned our San Francisco trip several months out, I spent a lot of time imagining how it would be. We purposefully planned it so we could "escape the city" on Saturday and hide away in the wine country. I pictured us picnicking in Presidio Park on Sunday to relieve ourselves from another restaurant bill. 

at the bottom of historic Lombard Street

I should have known that nothing goes quite according to plan when traveling is involved. Still, given the right company and attitude, it can easily turn out better than anything you could've imagined. 

Here are five of the happiest moments from last month's trip: 

Taking cover in Leo's Oyster Bar, like a tropical island retreat, after biking through the stormy city all morning. 

photo via

A Sunday stroll through the Ferry Building where I found a grilled cheese with tomato soup to warm my insides and a book for the flight the next day. 

Laszlo, the bar next door, welcomes those waiting to be seated at Foreign Cinema. photo via

The fact that the food outdid the amazing ambiance at Foreign Cinema, where you sit below strung lights and in front of an old-fashioned, projected film.

Victorian homes neighboring the most modern to make for an eclectic mix and more exciting walks.

Our family style menu at Ad Hoc featured Thomas Keller's famous short ribs with truffle mac and cheese. photo via

Yountville by night, the most charming little village that more closely met my escape expectations than the crowds, traffic and tourist masses at the wineries themselves.

Notable mention include take-out from Souvla, shopping in the charming Hayes district, a build-your-own almond butter fro-yo bar and the best souvenir, a bottle from Silver Oak. 'Til next time, San Fran!

Best Chicken Dishes in Houston


Last night, I made William my mom's famous Chicken Crescent Squares for the first time, and it went over very, very well. In keeping with the theme, my first installment of Food Finds Houston features chicken dishes. This short list only scratches the surface of what's out there, but I figure it's just as good a place to start as any.

top left: Ding's crispy chicken sandwich / top right: Mamma Mandola's Sicialian Soup / bottom left: Chicken Vincent / bottom right: Barnaby's Chinese Salad

chicken entrée :: Chicken Vincent -Pronto 
notes: Get a side of green beans. 

chicken noodle soup :: Mamma Mandola's Sicilian Chicken Soup -Carrabba's 
notes: This is exclusive to the original locations on Voss and Kirby. 

chicken pita :: Island Grill 
notes: Faysal, the founder of this neighborhood favorite, is opening his fourth location in Rice Village.

chicken salad :: The Salad Plate -The French House 
notes: I'm almost certain the dressing that comes on the side is the secret sweetening agent for the salad.

chicken sandwich :: Ding's Crispy Chicken Sandwich -Houston's 
notes: Start with the spinach artichoke dip, and prepare to be stuffed silly. 

chicken tenders :: Basket Appetizer -Pappy's Café
notes: Cut the gravy. Add extra honey mustard; it's Houston's best. 

chicken wings :: Buffalo Wings -Pappas Burger
notes: This opinion is WD's. 

chinese chicken salad :: Barnaby's 
notes: Enough for two or lunch and dinner. 

Dig in, and let me know what you think!

My Final Focus Word for 2017: Commitment


The final word I've chosen to focus on in 2017 is commitment, and Ash Wednesday is the perfect occasion to tell you all about it.

I kind of "floundered" through my first year out of college. I couldn't put my finger on why I felt so funny, so off, but when someone used that word, it fit the mold perfectly. The worst side effect of this feeling was my severe indecisiveness. Never quite sure what to do with decisions both big and small, I often wound up living in limbo-land, a very stagnant place that left me feeling restless and anxious. Since my second year, I'm happy to say I have found my way and with that, I feel as though I'm able to commit to what matters to me and make my life the most meaningful it can be at 24-years-old. Here are five ways I hope to do so:

Commit to causes I care about.

I joined the Boys & Girls Clubs first-ever young professional's organization last year, but I didn't do much beyond the required board activities. I want to make a monthly effort to visit the clubs to better understand why I chose this non-profit and gain perspective from its most important people, the kids.

Commit to a schedule I enjoy.
A pretzel & a Pliny's at Anvil is the perfect midweek treat.
Did you know I make Wednesdays a mini-weekend? I work, of course, but I don't put pressure on myself to make it to the gym, and I treat myself to a mid-week glass of wine. It makes me more disciplined to wake up for that workout class and avoid that bottle of wine those other four days.

Commit to the people that matter most.
A little boy peers through the gate to watch William catch for his youngest brother, Michael, at the Little League fields.

My dad retired recently, so I want to spend more one-on-one time with him since growing up, my mom and I naturally had more time to do things together. This starts tonight when he will join me in the stands while William coaches his little league team.

Commit to a book and a TV show.
I snacked on a creamy cup of tomato basil soup from Cowgirl Creamery while browsing the books at Book Passage in the Ferry Building on my rainy Sunday spent in San Francisco. {image via alexinwanderland}

We just finished The Night Manager (loved), and I just read the last pages of Big Little Lies. I'll be tuning into it on HBO now and starting My Paris Dream, which I bought at the San Francisco Ferry Building book store.

Commit to journaling. 
{image via serendipitous wanderings}

Lately, my journal entries have had no theme or consistency. As part of my Lenten practices, I'll start logging a way to describe my day, a person I'm grateful for and a moment worth remembering.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Knowledge: My Second Focus Word for 2017


photo via Camille Styles
Behind my Blogger browser lies a looming goals sheet listing focus areas (spiritual, financial, and fitness for example) with a column for related goals and then, an action plan. It's empty as of now, but I know my second 2017 focus word, knowledge, will play a big part in all of these aspects of my life. I'm using it to guide my post today. In turn, I hope it motivates you to know yourself better, too.

Installing Honey into your browser helps you find online promo codes you may not have known about. Photo via Camille Styles.

money :: Know where my money is going and what it's doing for me. Most of it feeds, houses and clothes me. What about the rest?
  • I broke down a budget for the year already, but I'll regularly check into my Mint account to maintain it.
  • I'll pay attention to worthwhile reward systems: Snap Kitchen, CVS and Honey help you seriously save.
photo via Garance Doré
hygiene :: Know my best self, inside and out. This circles back to my 'care' initiative; read last week's post!
  • Maintain a make-up regimen I love as much as my skin does by focusing on one product every month.
  • Experiment with adding and subtracting certain food groups until I find my body's favorites. 
photo via Garance Doré
career :: Know my strengths and weakness, the ways I work best, and people in related industries.
  • I started keeping a log of 'Lessons Learned' at work. I'll keep it up, adding one by the end of every day.
  • Continue tuning into podcasts like 'Pardon My French' to gain wisdom from creative professionals.
Check back for my third and final focus word, commitment. Coming soon!