I still envy students with real summers, but I do love the built-in long weekends that come with this season. It all starts with Memorial Day, which is arguably the best of them all, as you have all that fun in the sun to look forward to. Here are five links to read wherever you may be today through Monday:
I get nostalgic coming home. This week Jack and I headed home to the house I grew up in, over the rolling hills miles outside of the small southern Ohio town that I’m from. There are so many memories here, happy ones and sad ones. This was the place I ran through the tiny maze-like hallways with my cousin and our baby buggies. The kitchen table where I had years of “cakes in the morning.” The gravel driveway that I ran across barefoot to and from the pool during the summertime. At the other end of the driveway, the school bus stopped for me from grade school until I got my first car. The house where I spent every Christmas with my insanely large and AWESOME extended family. Christmas gifts covering the pool table in the basement, sheer chaos and squeals over getting Pound Puppies from Uncle John. The house where I hunted Easter eggs and I’m pretty sure there are some misfit eggs still hidden in the basement.
I got ready for all major high school dances in this house. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I packed up my car and headed to Ohio State University, and this house was always the first stop I made when I got back into town. On September 11th, 2015 I woke up to see Today Show footage of the Twin Towers just moments after the first building was hit. I brought a few boyfriends to this house and finally “the one” who asked for my hand in marriage in the living room. 3 months after my wedding, I surprised my family with news that a baby was on the way in this very house. My Mom took her last breath here, surrounded by her family. And I’ve continued to return to this house with each of my children. And it will forever be a special part of their lives too. They’ve built snowmen in the front yard, run barefoot in the grass, caught lightning bugs on hot summer nights, and cuddled with so many family members here. My heart is happy when I’m home.
Hey guys! How was the weekend? We had a relatively low key weekend spent outdoors, hitting up a rad new urban park and a BBQ’ing in the backyard. Bret an I also went to a gala on Saturday night that our good friends chaired. The Children’s Fund, one of the most impressive volunteer run non-profits I’ve ever come into contact with raises millions for children’s charities in Houston. If you live here, get involved! It’s amazing. If you aren’t a Houstonian and you’re looking for a new endeavor, start something like this in your city. The non-profit’s business model is genius. Members of The Children’s Fund are required to raise a certain amount of money per year plus help put on the annual gala that brings in 100’s of thousands in a single night. Members serve a 5 year term, which means they commit to raising money for The Children’s Fund for the long term. Once a member rolls off, they remain totally connected because they’ve been so committed, thus continuing to donate every year. It’s genius! Kind of like a Junior League but for couples; a fun volunteer organization that you get to donate time to with your significat other and meet other couples who are committed to raising money for kids in need. A hobby that gives back to the community, how awesome is that?! I’m continuously amazed by how philanthropic my city is.
Over the weekend I carried my laptop from my bedroom to the kitchen, my office and back and that was the extent of my computer time. Zero. So today is catch-up day and I’m also packing day for a quick trip to Ohio. I wanted to get this outfit up on the blog ASAP because I received so many compliments on it when I posted it on Instagram stories the other day. Isn’t this top so pretty?! It’s the perfect color of pink and very flattering on. I tucked mine into culottes but it could be worn out with white denim too. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these Sophia Webster sandals. I’ve wanted a pair of Webster’s whimsical shoes for so long but couldn’t seem to find the right style. The low block heel is pretty perfect for all occasions. I wore these to the Children’s Fund gala with this dress but will most likely wear them more often dressed down with jeans or a denim skirt and a tee.
Costa Rica, the “pura vida,” pure life, and that it is. Bret and I had the chance to sneak away to Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo for some much needed R&R. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to get from Houston to Costa Rica, a 3 hour flight and a quick cab ride from the airport to the property. This trip is the perfect spot for a long weekend (US direct flights locations listed below), but if I had my kids in tow we would have stayed for a lot longer.
The resort sits atop the Papagayo Peninsula, one of the prettiest pieces of property I’ve seen, with a beach on both sides of the resort. The view from our canopy suite was an awesome mix of terrain, monkeys were actually hanging out in the trees just outside our window, and the ocean. Four Seasons Papagayo is the place to be for eco-adventure–kayaking, repelling, hiking, paddle boarding, surfing, snorkeling, the list goes on. The excursions available through the resort kept the adventure seeker in Bret happy and the incredible spa and chill beach ambiance was perfection for me.
There’s truly something for everyone at Four Seasons Costa Rica, including our kids. The resort operates with kids in mind, from wagons full of beach toys, to stools in each of the restrooms (if you have a toddler you feel me on this perk!) to castle tents in the guest bedrooms, this place is kid heaven. I can’t wait to come back with my entire family later this year.
Costa Rica Travel Guide | Four Seasons Costa Rica at Papagayo
When to go | The best time to visit Costa Rica is from mid-December to April (the dry season)
Direct flights from | Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, Newark, Atlanta and Miami
What to do | Right on the Four Seasons property you can golf, spa, paddle board, kayak and more. There so many activities right at your fingertips, you could stay for weeks and no day would look the same. Water sports, fishing, hiking, golf, day trips for surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica’s #1 surf camp, or the active volcano at Arenal, ATV rides, repelling, the list goes on.
Where to eat | The restaurants on the resort property were all so fabulous. We had a special chef’s table dinner at Cena Sociale with 7 course tasting including wine pairing. The food and wine were amazing, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Even cooler, was the experience. Our table was in the actual kitchen directly in front of the serving line, so we got to see the chef’s in action, very exciting!
Stroller friendly | The resort is very hilly, but there are concrete paths that are stroller friendly. The Four Seasons also provides a shuttle service to all guests, so it was easy to get around the resort via golf cart, as well.
I wore today’s getup for a GNO with Lauren, L. Avenue’s fab contributor on all things fashion. Lauren is my sale maven, always finding the best sales on the web, like yesterday’s holiday sales that I hope y’all took advantage of. Lauren and I met for drinks here the other night. I love today’s gold top for so many reasons but most of all because it’s just so easy and chic. A metallic jacquered print is so chic and the cut is just right for hiding a mommy middle. I’ve been rocking these slimming black skinnies and love the gold zipper detail and a gold and black pump is sure to put a little extra pep in my step.
Spring break is just around the corner for school boys and gals, college kids and people like me, who will use any excuse even if it doesn’t technically apply to my life to book travel during the snoozefest that is winter. There’s something inside me that starts itching right around January 15th, after the craze of the holidays, and yearns for a trip to look forward to. This year it was a little harder than most to book travel given my new little bundle of joy. We were lucky enough to take a quick trip to Four Seasons Costa Rica last week though, for a quick 42 hours in heaven. I’ll be recapping our travel later this week, but for now here’s some beach travel outfit inspiration, in case you’re planning a spring break getaway. And if you’re not, book something right quick and thank me later.
Beach getaway packing list
We only left for 42 hours (yes I counted!), which means packing should be pretty short, sweet and to the point right?! Truth be told, we both admitted that we overpacked because all you really only need is right here and nothing more.
Hi friends! This week has been–and will continue to be–a whirlwind in the best way. My best friend got married last weekend, my birthday followed that Monday, and I’m celebrating in San Fran starting today. So I hope you’ll indulge me for my all things travel Friday Five today.
I’ll be boozy brunching by the bay with my boyfriend in a few hours at the beautiful Leo’s Oyster Bar.
Hey y’all! If you haven’t had enough decadence in your life post-Valentine’s, allow us to add a little more. Today, we’re stoked to collaborate with one of my favorite Houston chefs, Marcia Smart. Marcia is a food writer and cooking instructor who also works full time as a mother of three. She’s written recipes for Cooking Light and has also done freelance writing for Robb Report and Parenting Travel magazine. She recently started her own cooking website, Smart in the Kitchen, which focuses on helping busy moms menu plan with new crowd pleasing recipes for the entire family. I’m a huge fan of Marcia’s and am stoked that she’ll be joining L. Avenue from time to time with recipes, busy mom menu prep and entertaining tips.
Here’s what Marcia has to say about pulling off the ultimate cheese board….
How To Pull Off the Ultimate Cheese Board
There’s nothing easier than unwrapping some cheese and sticking a knife in it, but let’s show some effort, shall we? A well-appointed cheese board, with all the sweet and savory nibbles and condiments to accompany it, can sustain a chatty cocktail crowd for hours. Book club? Check! Cocktail party? Check! Retro cheese and chocolate course after a dinner party? Super double check! The key to keeping things both interesting and delicious? Mix it up…
Variety is the Spice of Life
Start by choosing a variety of cheeses from different milks (cow, sheep and goat). And be sure to vary the textures, some should be creamy and runny and others firm and grainy. And even if you’re not a fan of veiny bleu cheese, there’s nothing like a wedge of creamy gorgonzola dolce and a glistening square of honey comb to get your appetite stirring (which are delicious eaten together, by the way).
If you’re shopping at a good gourmet grocer, look for Humboldt Fog goat cheese, Laura Chenel chevre, St. Andre triple cream cow’s milk brie and Mimolette (an aged raw cow’s milk cheese), aged gouda, Manchego or Pecorino Toscano. If you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s, most of the cheeses are packaged under their brand. A good mix would be their 1,000 Day Gouda, mini Basque, Manchego Anejo, Blue Stilton or any of their Toscano cheeses. I also like to “mess up” the cheeses a little, so people aren’t afraid to jump in. Hard cheeses, like gouda, can be pre-sliced with a sharp knife and fanned out on the board to make them more manageable.
The Homemade Touch
Even if you just choose a couple different cheeses — say a Manchego and a soft goat cheese — you can add a homemade touch by drizzling garlic- and rosemary-scented olive oil on the chèvre (recipe here) For warm, delicious olives, rinse off the brine your olives are packaged in and warm them in good quality olive oil (look for a cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil that’s a rich green color) with red pepper flakes, lemon rind and a bay leaf (recipe here).
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep your eyes on the prize. Choose your cheese and 2-3 “extras”:
3-5 cheeses (3 is absolutely fine, unless you have a crowd)
Charcuterie (prosciutto, hard salami or French ham torn in to thin, uneven pieces)
Crackers and flat bread (Sardinian flat bread, sliced baguette, seeded crackers, as well as rice crackers or endive spears for gluten-free friends)
Dried or fresh fruit (blackberries, fresh figs, dried cherries, dried apricots or dried wild blueberries)
Nuts (toasted pecans, pistachios or Marcona almonds)
Condiments (fig jam, quince paste, and mustards for meats, if serving)
It’s Super Bowl week in my home city and I’m feeling Texas vibes with today’s double denim getup. This look is perfect for a Super Bowl party and I’ll definitely break it out again next month for the rodeo.
This city is pretty hard to beat during the winter months with 70 degree temps and so much to do outdoors. Which makes a light denim jacket a wardrobe staple. I had a chance to peek at some of J. Brand’s spring collection at Monkees the other day and I want it all. From trendy patchwork denim dresses to classic chambray tops and gorgeous neutral suede…I’m in love. And ready to rock this new stuff now. The western trend will be major again in 2017 and being a Texan (technically an Ohio-Texan) I’m feeling right at home with this trend. For those warmer days ahead, snag this number on sale and check out these patchwork shorts and this linen and chambray dress. I think you can easily get a little too folksy with this trend though, which is why today’s J Brand suede crop top and patchwork skinnies offsets a more western boot and accessories.
Living in Houston has me waaaay excited for this year’s Super Bowl. I have to admit, most years I tune into the big game strictly for the nachos and commercials. But this year, we’re hosting in mine and Molly‘s (the face behind the Friday Five) hometown, so we actually know the teams playing. Even more, we’re pumped for the festivities leading up to this Sunday’s main event. In case you’re in town for the Super Bowl, here is a quick comprehensive BEST of Houston guide. Enjoy!
The Dunlavy:: A family friendly brunch spot with the best views in town of our Buffalo Bayou. Bike it before or walk it afterwards: it starts on the border of historic River Oaks and extends all the way into downtown.
B&B Butchers :: Of all of the dinner spots in town, my money is on this spot being the best celeb sighting scene. This upscale steak house is perched just outside of downtown and the dinner menu is to die for. If you’re lucky enough to snag a ressie, go big or go home and get the Chef Tommy’s Bacon. You’ll thank me for one of the most delicious dishes I’ve tasted. Ever. Post dinner, head to Social 51 next door, an upscale pop-up bar created just for SuperBowl.
State of Grace:: Pull up a seat in the pearly oyster bar for cocktails and coastal fare or dive into the dining room where beautiful leather booths lie beneath the impressive deer mounts for true Texas decor.
Underbelly :: At minimum, visit the wine bar at this Montrose establishment or find brews at Hay Merchant next door. Stay for supper served by star chef Chris Shepherd. The goat dumplings are his original creation and out of this world.
Julep :: Their namesake is their signature drink, but they’ve got plenty more where that came from. A stone’s throw from downtown on Washington, my favorite to sip on is the Whispering Mathilda since gin is my spirit of choice.
SHOPPING & BEAUTY
Tootsies :: A Houston establishment, the chicest Houstonians shop at Tootsies. Carrying a beautifully curated collection of both contemporary and designer styles, this boutique is a must-shop.
Biscuit :: I’m biased, but this shop is a hop, skip and a jump from several of our other hot spots and is home to a Houston designer’s original bedding line and great gifts for your Houston hostess for the weekend.
Whim :: Houston’s newest contemporary boutique located a block away from Tiny Boxwoods. Brunch and shopping sounds like the perfect Houston Saturday game plan.
Full Blown :: This boutique blow dry bar has a full cocktail bar and couture fashion show coverage on a big screen. They sell R & Co. products, and you’ll be in walking distance from Brasserie 19 when you’re done.