Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend; I had a great one. The best! You know I love seeing amazing things that are of historical significance to our planet (AFAR magazine calls in Experiential Travel), but Zack and I got to see some of our best friends and just relax–truly relax–for a few days. No schedule, no agenda, no priorities. I don’t think I’ve had that since our honeymoon!
We flew into Houston last Thursday and spent the day exploring Houston with Casey and Melissa–more on those adventures later (including one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had!). After spending Friday road-tripping down to South Padre Island, we went to pick up our other friends, Will and Ryann, at the Brownsville airport. Brownsville happens to be the sister city to Matamoros, Mexico. We figured since we were only about a mile from another country, let’s go for it. So we popped 75 cents into a turnstile and walked over the Rio Grande. We have all read about the unrest in border towns, but our experience couldn’t have been better. We had a great lunch where Ryann ate a baby goat shoulder, walked around the Juarez Mercado for a couple hours and had some great churros from a street vendor, and then spent some time in the town square before walking back over to our homeland. It was a great afternoon and an adventure I’ll always remember!
The 3 photos on the right-hand side are of Cathedral De Nuestra Señora del Refugio (Cathedral of Our lady of Refuge). It was a really pretty and peaceful place, and very different from the centuries-old cathedrals I’ve seen allover Western Europe. The walls were all stark white, and it had a very modern feel to it. I think it’s fascinating to try and see things, parts of other cultures, through the eyes of the people who live there, so it was neat to see a local lady praying at Mary’s feet with her arms stretched to the ceiling.
The photo on the top left is the Jaurez Mercado, which is clearly the epicenter of Matamoros. It was packed, and only with locals. We didn’t see a single other “gringo” there, or anywhere for that matter! Which again was really interesting. Maybe seeing 6 white kids enjoying their city, after the media has shooed everyone away from border towns, was like a sign of hope for them? Everyone from our waiters to our cab drivers to street vendors were as nice and welcoming as they could have possibly been.
The middle photo is the open kitchen in the restaurant where we had lunch, with little goats split open and hanging from hooks. Ha! Crazy, isn’t it? I have to say, I had a bite of Ryann’s goat, and it was pretty gamey and oily. But it didn’t deter Ryann, she ate the whole thing down to the bone! She’s my hero.
The bottom photo is the famed Mexican dish of corn roasted over an open flame, then slathered with butter, chili powder paste, queso fresco, and fresh lime. The street vendors I got this from (who again were as lovey and pleasant as anyone you could hope to meet) used bundled corn husks to brush on the ingredients. He even gave me a pineapple-flavored sucker for dessert and had the cutest grin on his face while he did so!
Ha, ok, I really didn’t mean to go on and on about this part of the trip, but I guess after hearing all of the negativity surrounding border towns, I’m frustrated that Americans have stopped giving them a chance. These towns depend on our tourism to keep them alive, and we should be smart enough to know that in this economy, there is civil unrest anywhere you go. Birmingham is in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the USA year in and year out, but does that stop us from living our lives? I’m not naive, I know shady things happen in these border towns and sadly much of Mexico and really the world over, but if you have your wits about you, you’ll be fine. We were nice, pleasant people who interacted with the locals like they are human beings. There was a mutual respect there, and I hope that visitors to South Texas will start to take the time again to go on little afternoon adventures in other countries.
Yep, so that’s that! I’m pretty sure I have work to do now
Where to begin? Have I bragged enough about the amazing girls I work with, who have become some of my most favorite and fabulous friends? Not to brag too much about them and make you jealous, but when you get a photographer, a chef, 2 graphic designers, and people who otherwise have more talent than is probably good for them, you end up with a birthday party (fiesta!) fit for a magazine. Thank you SO much to Jessica, Jordan, Kamin, Chantel, Stephanie, Brooke, Allison, Sarah, and Megan for an amazing party. I shutter to think what I’d do without you lovely ladies!
Top Row: The charming decor consisted of a punched-out paper garland made by Jessica, a brightly colored pinata filled with chocolate (of course), and a paper doily garland, also made by Jessica.
Bottom Row: The margarita, dips, and tacos were made from SCRATCH by Chantel. Amazing. She has promised to send recipes my way for you to enjoy and make home!
All photos: Who else but Kamin Williams?
BONUS: OK, exciting announcement! It’s still very much in the works, mostly because we can’t agree on a name, but the incredible ladies that brought this party together (including myself, not that I had anything to do with this party except turn another year older), are joining forces to create an amazing new blog! It will be full of style, DIY fun, decor, travel, food, pretty pictures, and lifestyle. We hope to launch soon!!! Stay tuned!!!
Sneak peak of my party dress and the amazing spread from my birthday party! The ever-amazing Kamin took some great pics; will post when I get them from her!
Birmingham has a new TexMex joint! Austin-based Chuy’s is located at the Summit, next to the equally trendy Flip Burger Boutique, and it’s just as good. My lovely friends spent our lunch hour there today, and in addition to the food being really great (I mean, it is TexMex: it’s half grease but all good), the decor is fantastic. The retro junkie inside of me was in heaven.
Clockwise from top: 1) The neon sign is only a small taste of what’s to come; 2) the taco CAR! Get it? It’s the business end of an old Caddy, and during happy hour you can fill your plate and belly with its chips, salsa, and queso; 3) great menu art, even better chips + salsa; 4) my meal: the Southwest enchilada – “a homemade blue corn tortilla stacked with freshly-roasted, hand-pulled chicken, cheese, and green chile sauce, topped with a friend egg;” 5) love the vinyl chairs; 6) the flatware is packaged up in paper sleeves and has Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish blessings printed on them. Jordan made me pray the Catholic prayer, ha!
Also, didn’t get a photo because I didn’t see any, but the owners have hidden 19 tiny soccer balls throughout the restaurant. This location is their 19th one, and it opened during the World Cup. Pretty cool!
Jessica Stalnaker, this girl, what am I going to do with her? She so talented it’s scary. I was so happy to once again coordinate my cupcakes to her paperie, this time for her Nana’s (pronounced NAH-na, not neh-ha, mind you) 80th birthday party. She had a really fun color palette of light blue, dark yellow, and soft coraly-orangey-pink (?) and I tinted the frosting on the mini cupcakes to match. I love that she took photos of her Nana throughout the years and topped the cupcakes with her face. So clever and funny!
Here’s the rest of the photos from her party; I can’t get enough of Jessica’s details, the drink flags and the postcard sentiments are my fave!
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good, solid mid-century post. Zack and I (mainly me) have been wanting to find an old Airstream trailer for a while now and outfit it in complete and utter retroed-out kitsch from floor to ceiling. The other day my friend Mallory tweeted that her and her fiance want an Airstream too! Oh the joy to find out that someone who I actually know understands the awesomeness of Airstreams. I love the thought of packing up the doggies in our mid-century mobile and hitting the road.
Anyway, I sent Mallory a link to this amazing little Route 66-type motel in Bisbee, Arizona called The Shady Dell. It’s basically a big campground with a bunch of vintage Airstreams that have been remodeled to all of their original Americana splendor. There is even an authentic 1950′s style diner on site if you want to share a malt with your boyfriend. I want to go there SO bad!!! Maybe one day I’ll make it out there and I can report back what an amazing step back in time it was!!
All that said, big love to Jen, Justin, Annette, and Ken for keeping the Americana dream alive!!
Admission: I’m a serial crafter. I take arts and crafts very seriously, and you’ll have to pry the hot glue gun out of my cold, dead fingers before I stop. So on that lovely note, last Christmas I made some headbands to sell at the Hoffman Media employee craft fair for some extra cash. I used some French silk remnants I had laying around and threw in some velvet and feather trims and a good vintage button here and there. I slapped a pretty reasonable price tag on them and a couple hours later I was totally sold out and with some orders for more! I just finished filling a couple more orders, and since I’ve never had a proper photo taken of them, I recruited Kimberly and Kamin and their tilt-shift lenses (aka Small Sexy), and with some extra help from Jessica, had a some lovely shots! Thanks so much guys!
I’m so in love with my plastic toy camera. Love this photo I shot with it a couple months ago of the gorgeous Irish landscape! That sunlight reflecting off the water…oooh snap.
Wow, thanks so much everyone. I have had some of the sweetest emails, blog comments, facebook messages, and kind words the last few weeks that I’ve been on hiatus. Thank you everyone, friends and strangers, for all the encouragement. It’s made me feel like a million bucks, and I’m happy to return to the blogging world with new energy. Christmas 2010 is in full swing here at work, but I promise no more 2-month long gaps in posts.
So where should start? Cupcakes, of course! I’m so in love with Atomic’s Moonpie Cupcake. A graham cracker crust, fluffy chocolate cake, dollop of chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, MORE graham, and a homemade marshmallow. I’ve had several requests for these over the last few months, and they’re even going on a cupcake buffet for a wedding a couple months from now!
Many thanks to Al Westlake for contributing her joy and pretty face to this post! I think my art direction went something like this, “Hey Al, hold this and look really happy, then you can eat it.” (Oh, and if you have $20 bucks laying around to give to a good cause, buy a t-shirt to help send her on her mission trip to South Africa! You can even pay by Paypal!)
Thanks again for all the love everyone, love you back!
“if you haven’t noticed, i’ve got nothing to say. and actually, that’s inaccurate. i’ve got plenty to say, but only a limited amount of time and energy to say it with. oh and i have to say stuff in lots of other places. so it’s not that i don’t care. it’s just that i am out of film, short on time and low on energy.”
Here, here. I just returned from Ireland (refreshed and exhausted at the same time), I’m tapped out creatively, my nerves are fried, I’m anxious and stressed 24/7, and I’m tired of people hurting my feelings, letting me down, and taking advantage of me. It’s just gotten me really down. I love blogging, I love sharing my thoughts and creativity with people who appreciate those thoughts and creativity, but lately, it’s just hard and I don’t have any motivation to keep putting myself out there.
Baked in Birmingham won’t go away; I’m not going to end something I love doing just because some people like to rain on my parade. But I think my break here will continue for a little while. Stay with me, and come back when things are going swell again. I’ll be baking my little heart out in the meantime, and hopefully take some pictures along the way. In the meantime, if you’re the praying type, then you know what to do.