Liberty Kitchen now open in Austin!


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Houston-based F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group is expanding its culinary reach to Austin, bringing its much-loved Liberty Kitchen to the capitol city. Liberty Kitchen (LKATX) will be open seven days a week, serving lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. The menu includes specially-created items just for the Austin restaurant, and the interior blends authentic Texas images with the playful design elements the group is known for.Liberty Kitchen dining room Austin

For their first venture outside of Houston, partners Lee Elis and Carl Eaves created a 3,800 square feet space at 507 Pressler, Suite 700 (entrance is on 5th Street) in the thriving Clarksville neighborhood. The 140-seat restaurant includes a full bar a private dining/multimedia room for up to 24 people, and a patio for outdoor dining. The Texas-centric details for the decor include coastal and West Texas photographs and printed yard sticks that spells out “The Stars at Night are Big and Bright,” for the ultimate ode to the Lone Star State.

The menu exemplifies Gulf Coast dining with a F.E.E.D. TX twist. Liberty Kitchen serves rotisserie meats and seafood, fresh oysters, plus new favorites such as the Georges Bank Haddie Chowder, Point Judith Squid & Sausage Stuffing, Vegetable Tagine, and the Deviled Egg Trial, an alluring combination of smoked salmon, fried oyster and bacon, Babi Guling, and pimento cheese and crab.Liberty Kitchen Mac-n-cheese

Liberty Kitchen’s culinary director and partner, Lance Fegen created the menu to appeal to the area, offering exciting but unpretentious choices. “All of our menus are different and cater to the neighborhood place we strive to be” Fegen said. “We are a neighborhood restaurant.”Oysters at Liberty Kitchen

Liberty Kitchen features a full bar with 29 beer taps specializing in Texas craft beer and two liquor taps with small batch bourbons or a classic cocktail. The classic cocktail menu was developed by Morgan Weber, Revival Market & Coltivare and soon to be 8-Row Flint Icehouse and Tacos, all in Houston.Liberty Kitchen Dining Room

For more information and full menu and hours visit or follow @lkatx on Twitter. You can also receive updates by liking Austin Liberty Kitchen on Facebook.

Gym Bag Beauty Essentials


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Summer is fast approaching and it has suddenly hit me that bikini season is around the corner.  Although we all know we feel better after a gym session, let’s face it – finding time to work out is HARD.  That being said, a great starting point is to prep your gym bag with all the essentials.  Keep your gym bag stocked and ready to go with the below necessities:

gym bag beauty essentials

1.       Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths in Energize: Keep up with your active lifestyle with ease. Try Ban® Total Refresh® Cooling Body Cloths to instantly cool the back of your neck and décolleté or use for an all-over refresh during any transitional moment day or night.

2.       David Kirsch Wellness Kirschbar: Created by fitness expert David Kirsch, the KIRSCHBAR is the only meal-replacement bar gives you all the nutrition you need for a completely satisfying meal or post-workout snack: it’s 100% natural, gluten-free and is made from 20 grams of high quality, easily digestible protein and 6 grams of fiber.

3.       KMS California HAIRPLAY makeover spray: Dry cleansing and instant style renewal. Split-second style refresher. Absorbs oil and builds bulk to refresh limp or day-old styles. Great for quick style touch-ups and in-between shampoos.

4.       Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Mini Deodorant: The perfect deodorant to throw in your gym bag! This all-natural, freshly scented deodorant provides superior, long-lasting odor protection. Soothing essential oils blend with powerful anti-oxidants and beta glucan technology for daily defense and nourishment.

5.       Rimmel London Wonder’lash Mascara with Argan Oil in Waterproof: You can now get the Moroccan Argan oil your hair loves in a Rimmel mascara with new Wonder’lash Mascara with Argan Oil. Condition lashes and break through clumps for full, smooth volume. The unique brush’s super-soft bristles hug and coat each lash, perfectly separating them from root to tip. Even small corner lashes are dramatically transformed for an effortlessly eye-catching look. Lashes are left smoother, sleeker, and more defined than ever.

6.       Orico London Coco Spritz: An all day coco boost! With just one spritz, your skin will be cleansed, nourished and protected. The main ingredient, Coconut Water, is an excellent humectant and intensely hydrated and locks in moisture to encourage a healthy radiant complexion – especially after perspiring. The nutrients in each bottle provide anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits to reduce the appearance of blemishes or redness, too.

7.       Scunci Everyday & Active™ 3x Stronger Braided Hair Ties: A No Damage braided weave creates a hold three times stronger than regular no metal elastics to keep hair out of sight and out of mind.

8.       NYC New York Color Smooth Skin BB Crème Instant Matte: Refine your skin instantly with this long-wearing crème with an effortlessly matte finish. Smoothing and hydrating, this crème leaves skin looking healthy and silky-smooth without even a hint of shine.

9.       Burt’s Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser: Clinically proven to help improve the appearance of surface dullness, this cleanser, infused with Daisy extract, helps reveal a more even skin tone in as few as 4 weeks*. Formulated with a multifruit complex, our cleanser effectively removes dirt oil and makeup. Make it part of your daily regimen for a brighter and more even complexion, naturally.

Welcome to Miami: Sun-Protection Tips & Coolibar review


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Our new little family of three went on our very first vacation together over Easter weekend.  Mama was craving some beach time & Dada had never been to Miami, so we booked a direct flight to spend a few days on South Beach!  Since we’d be traveling with a three-month-old, I was nervous about how the baby would take it…I was worried about her ears on the plane ride, about what baby gear to tote around, how she’d sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, etc.  Aside from all these factors, another point of concern was sun protection.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles after five or more sunburns, making skin protection a priority for families preparing to hit sunny destinations this spring & summer.  It can be overwhelming getting everyone packed and ready, and bringing along sun protection is often overlooked.  Along with our organic baby-safe sunscreen, we were fully protected in Coolibar, makers of sun-protective clothing for the whole family that looks good, wears well and lasts a lifetime.

Here are some tips to make sure your family’s skin is protected and your vacation isn’t spent tending to painful sunburns:

  • Make sure to wear lightweight clothing that is tightly woven (t-shirts do NOT block UV rays!), and contains a UV protection factor of 50. At Coolibar, all clothing has a UPF of at least 50 and is guaranteed to never wash out or fade. Sun-protective clothing is the BEST way to ensure skin is protected from UV when out in the sun.

    Coolibar womens sun tunic dress

    Sun protective clothing can be really cute, too! Feeling great in this flattering tunic from Coolibar, perfect for anything from brunch to beach.

  • Pack your own sunscreen whenever possible to ensure it will be readily available, and to save some money. Popular vacation destinations often double or triple the price of sunscreen on-site.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen to areas not covered with clothing EVERY two hours, when done swimming, and after lots of sweating. You can minimize the amount of sunscreen needed (and avoid the chasing and tears when applying) by covering kids as much as possible with sun-protective clothing.
  • Make sun protection fun! Choose clothing that kids get excited about so they will love wearing it.  We chose this bright pink sun hat for our little one.

    Baby A is modeling the Baby Girl's Splashy All Sport Hat:

    Baby A is modeling the Baby Girl’s Splashy All Sport Hat!

  • Adults need protection too, and more coverage is better. Pack long-sleeve sun-protective shirts and wraps for long days in the sun, or for when it’s a chilly day.
  • Make sure the kids take regular breaks from the sun especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are strongest, and make sure they are drinking lots of water. Set your phone’s alarm for reminders to get your family in the shade, reapply sunscreen and get some water.  –One thing we did after taking our dip in the ocean was wrap baby up in this.

    Made in the shade!  Relaxing post-swim in Coolibar's sun-protective baby blanket -- what a cool concept!

    Made in the shade! Relaxing post-swim in Coolibar’s sun-protective baby blanket — what a cool concept!

  • Hats are a huge defense against UV exposure! Longer brims add protection to the neck, shoulders and torso, as well as the face and top of the head. For every inch of brim, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%.

    This lightweight & breathable Coolibar sun hat is PERFECT for traveling... completely packable, stylish sun-protection.

    This lightweight & breathable Coolibar sun hat is PERFECT for traveling… completely packable, stylish sun-protection.

  • Choose sun-protective clothing that folds easily and dries quickly, so you take up less room in your suitcase! Moisture-wicking clothing allows for a quick rinse at the end of the day and will often be dry and ready to wear the next morning.


Introducing Alexandra August Wiese


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Here we are, six-weeks postpartum and I’ve finally emerged from the haze of newborn survival-mode.  The first month was quite a doozy, let me tell ya!  I’ve never been so anxious, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed in my life.  It’s an understatement to say that life will never be the same.  Even though it’s been tough, we are now settled into our new family home and baby girl is even sleeping through the night!  A couple other special milestones were reached today, too:  Although we’ve seen her smile during her sleep (happy baby dreams!), she gave us her first real smile today.  She was just finished with her morning feeding and I asked her if she wanted to go to church today…she replied with a wide-awake smile and we both just ate it up and took it as confirmation that it was finally time.  Because she hasn’t had her first round of vaccinations yet, Ryan’s been hesitant to take her out in large crowds but I just couldn’t wait any longer.  Thus, this morning was her first visit to the Lord’s house and going together this Sunday morning as a family made my heart so full.

babys first church visit to Grace Covenant Church

Baby’s first church visit

Several weeks ago, I began a blog post sharing Alexandra’s birth story…our time in the hospital was so memorable that I wanted to capture everything that happened.  The aforementioned newborn “survival-mode” quickly took over my time & energy and I never got around to posting it.  So, now that I finally have a minute to collect my thoughts & properly organize a sentence, here is my recount of our daughter’s entry into the world:

Our precious baby girl decided to come early!  Saturday, January 10th was her actual due date but my water broke at home at 5:30 a.m. on Monday the 5th.  I’ve never really placed much stake in the effect of the tides, moon, storms, etc. on our lives, but I believe my “spontaneous rupture” as they called it, was surely brought on by the first full moon of 2015.  Shining brightly into the floor-to-ceiling windows of our downtown condo, the moon was at the height of its fullness right around the exact time my water broke.  In fact, that day the hospital’s maternity ward was at full capacity and the nurse said although it sounds a little crazy, a full moon will usually do that.

During my chat with the doctor on-call, we were told that since it was my first pregnancy we had a couple of hours to gather our things, eat, and make it in to the hospital without rush.  It was so nice to shower up, do some final cleaning, take a couple of pictures, and apply a little makeup before heading out the door.

One huge benefit of choosing the OBGYN practice we did is that their office is located directly across the street from the hospital in which we elected to deliver, Seton Main.  We were already scheduled for a regular weekly appointment with that day, so we just called-in & headed there first to confirm that today was the day.  After testing the amniotic fluid, they determined my water had indeed broken but I still had not begun to dilate.  My doctor advised starting with a single dose of a drug called Cytotec, which is like a step before Pitocin and has an off-label use of initiating dilation/induction.  Since it’s administered at the hospital, we headed on over to get all checked-in.  We arrived at the Labor & Delivery floor around 9:30 a.m. and took one last belly bump pic before everything changed forever!

One last bump pic before delivery

The baby bump’s last hurrah!

Luckily, the Cytotec began to work after just one dose (they were willing to try up to three doses throughout the day) and without having to use Pitocin, my contractions started within about 3 hours.  During this period before contractions began, we had ample time to get acclimated to our room, meet the nursing staff, ask all our questions, chat with my doctor again, and begin to call & alert family that yes, it was actually GO TIME!

The next five hours of contractions were no joke.  Going through labor pains is seriously the most intense experience, but I’m grateful I got the chance to go through it.  The waves of pain rolled in lightly at first but naturally, intensified significantly over time.  I used breathing techniques, the exercise ball, a heating pad, and my husband’s support to get through each wave of pain.  Ryan was such a trooper for me during this part of the process and I especially appreciated him applying counter pressure with his thumbs to the small of my back when I asked for it.  I didn’t expect to feel it so bad in that area, but the severe lower back pain might’ve been the worst part of each contraction.  I got to where they were coming in a minute & a half apart and was dilated to a 4 when I decided to go ahead and take an epidural.  Because you have to be able to sit still for five minutes straight in order to receive the shot into your back, I got nervous that if I waited any longer I wouldn’t be able to hold still!  The intensifying contractions required me to move to get through them and I knew that if I waited any longer, they would prevent me from sitting still & holding that hunched over position for the required amount of time.  Luckily the epidural wasn’t painful or scary at all, and it was successful at providing relief for the next part of the process.

relief after epidural

All smiles during delivery following the sweet relief after epidural

The next few hours of labor held a night and day difference from the first half of the experience.  Our parents came into the room & visited with us, I was actually able to hold a conversation with them, and I had time to rest my eyes and attempt to relax before the big moment.  Around 8/8:30 p.m., it was time to get checked again and the doctor proclaimed that it was time to push!  The most amazing part of the whole process is that baby girl was more than completely effaced…even to a +2 (I believe that’s how they put it?) — basically, you could tell for weeks that she had “dropped”…in fact, she was always really low from early on in my pregnancy and now that it was time for her to come out, she had already done most of the work getting there!  With the mirror, I was able to see her little head and touch her hair before I even started pushing.  No episiotomy, either — my doctor just used olive oil to stretch & massage the skin during delivery.  I was told my pushing style was unique — I could quickly tell having other people hold my legs wasn’t cutting it, so I held ’em back myself.  The nurses were cheering me on & said they’ve never seen someone do that but the ‘Happy Baby’ pose from yoga class was working for me:  I only had to push for 30 minutes and she was here!

post delivery new baby picture

Me, just after delivery, holding our new bundle of joy

Hmmmm, how to convey the epic moment you see a little person emerge from out of you?  An actual human being who’s been cooking inside your belly for 39 weeks?  To see their eyes blink open and hear their cry?  –It’s incredible, amazing, miraculous.  I didn’t care that she was covered in goop, I wanted to hold her close and just be in awe of her.  I could tell immediately how much she looked like Ryan and upon seeing her face, we both had confirmation of our top choice of names:  Alexandra August.  I wanted to do “delayed cord clamping” and although I don’t think she agreed with the merits of the practice, our doctor obliged and we kept her cord connected for 5 minutes after birth.  I was nervous he wouldn’t want to or be able to stomach it, but Ryan cut the cord!  Oh, and they asked if I wanted to see my placenta and I said yes — yikes, this mass of afterbirth looks like a huge sack of yuck!  But, next time I will definitely look into saving it for freeze-drying into placenta pills.  (No one warned me about the Baby Blues and I’ve heard the hormones in your placenta can help with that.)  I can’t say enough great things about my OBGYN, Dr. Kung at Women Partners in Health and I can’t sing enough praises for the labor & delivery nurses at Seton Main.  I couldn’t have asked for better partners to see us through the birthing process.

So, on January, 5, 2015 at 9:38 p.m., we welcomed our baby girl Alexandra August Wiese into the world.  She was 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 21 inches long.  Half an inch of that height was from a pretty gnarly cone head, but that evened out within a couple of days — haha!  But seriously, our prayers were answered:  she was totally healthy and I fared the labor & delivery process pretty well, too.  Came out of it with an ‘average tear’ (level 2 laceration) and some numbness in my knees attributed to temporary nerve damage during labor.  Our parents were obviously overjoyed with the news of a successful delivery and they were able to come in and meet their grandchild just in time for her first bath.  I remember being ravenously hungry but feeling & looking pretty good, considering I just had given birth.  –I guess when you only push for half an hour your makeup doesn’t sweat off!  Soon after our visitors had left but before we were put into our recovery room, it was time to try to breastfeed.  We tried cross cradle hold & football hold with no luck, but side-by-side was a success.  She now nurses like a champ — no issues with latch, nipple confusion, or anything!

The first night in the hospital was a sleepy blur…in hindsight, I would’ve utilized the hospital’s nursery (it was full anyway, apparently due to the full moon) but because I was breastfeeding, we were advised not to offer her a bottle or pacifier just yet and keep her in the room with us so she could nurse on-demand.  The second night was sleepless, too…up for hours upon hours rocking her side-to-side, skin-to-skin.  Our post-delivery hospital time was rotation of specialist visits, not-as-bad-as-I-was-warned hospital food, and just plain exasperated exhaustion…when it was time for discharge, we were certainly ready to go home.

Dada's 2nd night in hospital w/ new baby

Our new “Dada” during the second day of our hospital stay

Now, here we are:  out of the hospital, out of our downtown condo, and in our new home, happy & cozy.  Her nursery is coming together, she’s past her one-month fussy stage, and I’m getting the hang of this whole newborn parenting thing.  She’s growing splendidly (is breastfeeding as I type this now, actually) and is just so beautiful.  We are incredibly thankful for our blessing…she’s truly made us into a family.




Life[style]: January


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Happy new year!  2015 is set-up to be one of the best years of my life.  Lots of HUGE life moments are on tap:  new baby, new house, new car, trading the downtown buzz for hill country living, and more.  I’m not really making a specific resolution for the upcoming year, just simply praying, staying positive & keeping my hopes up that all these big life changes go smoothly.  I’m feeling so blessed and fortunate to have just recently become a first time mom…it’s almost too much emotion to fathom.

Instead, I want to blog about new years resolutions in general and the small steps I’m working on to eventually create a larger-scale lifestyle change.  With a new baby to consider, health & wellness is resurfacing as a matter of importance in my household.  With new year’s resolutions, people tend to focus on diets but I want to focus on what I put ON my body as much as what I put IN my body.  Now, eating clean & healthy is always top-of-mind but very often, I pay little attention to the other ways harmful chemicals & icky junk can enter the body.  Luckily, my favorite place to shop for healthy food, Whole Foods Market, is also one of the best places to shop for healthy body products.  I did some exploratory product shopping in their Whole Body department over the weekend and found some tiny changes to make to my beauty routine in 2015:

1.  Continue using ‘natural’ deodorant:  Now, this is an old resolution that’s turned into a 2-year habit, but it’s one I’m compelled to share my experience with…  First, let me say that I live in a super-hot climate so if I can make it work in the sweat-inducing Texas heat, you can too.  I know it sounds scary, but I really encourage everyone to switch from daily applications of regular antiperspirant to an aluminum-free deodorant.  I mean, who really needs to shellac-shut their sweat glands everyday?  In the beginning, I kind-of felt like it took some time for my armpits to adjust to ‘breathing’ normally again.  Was there more sweat than ever or was it all in my self-conscious head?  Either way, winter is the perfect season to begin the transition.  There is all kind of scary research linking the chemicals in traditional antiperspirants with breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and actually increased perspiration, so I’ll spare regurgitating the claims and instead just encourage ya to make the switch.  Skip the crystal/rock type (we don’t need to go THAT natural!) and try out my current fave, Every Man Jack.  I switched it up this time around with the Citrus flavor, but Sandalwood is their best scent — so subtle, sophisticated, and woodsy fresh.Every Man Jack deodorant at Whole Foods Market

2.  From the pits to the face:  Test out a natural foundation.  Don’t get it twisted:  I’ll NEVER give up my NARS Orgasam blush or my MAC eyeshadows — organic or not, there are just some beauty products I refuse to give up.  However, as that first layer resting up against the skin, I figure foundation is a good area consider switching up.  Of all the products I put on my face, foundation covers the most area & is more easily absorbed into pores.  This BB cream by Andalou Naturals is purely a shot in the dark — it was what I needed and on sale, so I went for it.  It sounds fun, though, utilizing fruit stem cells to renew, repair, and regenerate.  It’s GMO-free, harnesses the power of apple & grape stem cells, superfruit berries for antioxidants, and organic aloe for soothing hydration.  I’m excited to try it out!  Oh, and if anyone has any first-hand product recommendations in this category, please do share.Natural BB cream at Whole Foods Market

3.  Next, a product that covers the most square footage:  change up the body wash.  If we’re talking the importance of what goes on your body, there is nothing else that is exposed to more ground than your body wash, right?  This one by Seaweed Bath Co. smells divine in an oh-so-lifelike Lavender.  Basically landed on this one for the scent but it also boasts amazing ingredients like seaweed, coconut oil, neem oil, and spirulina.  Who knew SEAWEED (of all things!) is a powerful way to nourish skin?  And yeah, of course it’s a special specific type of seaweed that’s like, harvested by hand in Maine…typical Whole Foods, lol!Seaweed Body Wash at Whole Foods Market

Good luck working on & keeping up your new year’s resolutions, friends.  May you have a healthy, happy & whole 2015!




Dapper Dad \\ lunch & coffee downtown


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Dapper Dad

Launching a new series today!  I just had to start documenting the joie de vivre I get from my well-dressed husband.  When I saw him don this magenta oxford, I decided today was the day to put him on the blog.  He’s gotten more & more into fashion, proper fit, and quality-over-quantity over the last few years and I admire his sartorial refinement.  He enjoys dressing well, but is annoyed by my impromptu photography sessions.  No matter, he’s gotta do it for me — penance for having a better shoe collection than I do.

Magenta oxford by Bonobos

Ferragamo Drivers

Shirt:  Rhodes Collar Solid Oxford in Magenta, Slim fit by Bonobos

Pants:  Stretch Washed Chino in Jet Blues, Straight Leg by Bonobos

Shoes:  Parigi Suede Gancini Driver, Brown Suede by Salvatore Ferragamo

Socks:  Mens socks in fair isle print by ASOS


My Holiday Picks, Nordstrom edition


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Now that Black Friday & Cyber Monday are under our belts, do we have our holiday shopping all wrapped up?  Um, no.  We –cough, cough– did a lot of shopping for ourselves on those days.  –The deals were just too good to pass up, y’all!  However, I managed to cross my parents’ gifts off the list, so it wasn’t ALL for us.

If you’re a Nordstrom Rewards member, they’re offering amazing promotions this month.  From a choose-your-own Personal 10 Points Day to a Private Holiday Shopping Party, they are making it quite tempting to shop them exclusively this holiday season.  Our Austin Private Holiday Shopping Party at Barton Creek Square is tonight, actually, and here are some of my personal holiday picks:

Holiday Picks:  Nordstrom Rewards

(clockwise from top left)

1.  Fresh ‘Favorites’ Set:  For the longest time I wondered why Fresh was trying to charge so much for what I saw as glorified chapstick, but this “lip treatment” has a bona-fide cult-following status and I’m curious to see what the rage is all about.  Plus, value sets like this one are a fun way to dive in and explore a beauty brand’s top sellers.  ($28)

2.  Ugg Slippers:  My hubs has a man-version of these house shoes — he’s been wearing them on the daily and now I’m jealous & want some of that comfy cozy footwear action for myself.  ;)  These by Ugg are crafted from luxe materials in glitzy leopard print…kind of a splurge to buy for yourself but they would make a functional yet fabulous present for the lady of the house.  ($119.95)

3.  Yves Saint Laurent Eye Essentials Set:  For the same reason that I’ve been eyeing the Fresh set above, I’m also intrigued by this one.  Their well-reviewed Touche Eclat under-eye highlighter has been on my radar for awhile now & this is a good way to sample it & other offerings from luxurious beauty brand YSL.  ($41)

4.  Little Giraffe Chenille Blanket:  I received one of these at my Austin baby shower and it is the softest little blankie I’ve ever touched!  Can’t wait to wrap our little girl up in its sweet softness.  They are top-rated (5-stars all around), washable, moms love them (because their babies love them!) and makes the perfect gift for the ‘New Mom’ or ‘Baby’s 1st Christmas’ category.  ($68)

5.  Kendra Scott ‘Elisa’ Drusy Pendant Necklace:  Of course I’ve gotta put some Kendra Scott on my list!  I’ve seen these necklaces on ladies around Austin (my mom has one in an Iridescent Cobalt, in fact) and let me tell ya:  they sure do sparkle beautifully.  I chose to picture the ‘Gunmetal’ color here…I have some KS drusy earrings in Gunmetal and get compliments on them all the time.  Because it’s sparkly white it doesn’t photograph so well but my favorite color of this necklace is actually the Iridescent drusy…how to describe it? –literally looks like you’re wearing a magical fairytale snowflake.  ($65)

6.  Cake ‘Cotton Candy’ Seamless Nursing Bra:  –What can I say?  When they’re giving me 10 rewards points per every dollar spent, I’ll go ahead and stock up on some essentials, right?  With our baby due next month & planning to breastfeed, I know I’ll be needing a good non-binding nursing bra for daily wear around the house.  This one is reasonably priced and boasts rave customer reviews so that was enough for me to get it ordered (in beige) & on its way.  Now, we just need little Baby Wiese to make her world debut!  ($49)

Life[style]: November


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This month, Texas experienced its first Arctic cold front of the season and baby, it was cold outside!  I loved our temps in the 30s & 40s, actually…finally got to wear my chic new winter coat and bust-out my cozy fall sweaters.  Here are some other highlights of November that are brightening my holiday season:

1.  Friendsgiving hostess gifts:  The weekend before last was my baby shower in Houston and the trip marked the last time I’m leaving Austin before baby arrives.  Unfortunately, that means no traveling to family for the holidays!  :(  Not having Thanksgiving dinner with our parents will be different, but different can be good, right?  Thankfully, we were invited to attend a ‘Friendsgiving’ on Thanksgiving Day in Austin, so we wont be all alone.  Ryan is planning to bring along a bottle of Cab Franc from one of his favorite vineyards, Trefethen.  I’m gifting our hostess with my new go-to teacher/nurse/hostess/thank you gift:  the Monogram Mug from Anthropologie.  At just $8, not only is this little token of appreciation budget-friendly, but it’s personalized, multi-use, and goes with almost every decor.  Plus, every lady loves to unwrap a little something from Anthro, right?  I appreciate that they’re great given alone or you can personalize it further by filling it with other fun trinkets the recipient would enjoy.  I like to think of it like a modern, mini gift basket…and everyone is gaga over all-things monogrammed these days.  Bonus: for a couple bucks more, snag one of the limited edition versions in GOLD — so pretty for the holidays!hostess gifts: Trefethen cab and monogram mug

2.  Styling the bump:  A cute part of the weather change is that my baby bump is really starting to show and it’s so fun dressing it up for the season!  I’m soaking up the love from strangers I meet…now that I finally really look pregnant, it’s heartwarming to hear the compliments & well wishes for our little one.  Ryan took these photos of me during our Babymoon in Half Moon Bay, CA.  SkinnyTees basic tank review

I wanted to share that a valuable layering piece I’m wearing underneath both of these looks is my basic white tank sent to me by SkinnyTees.  SkinnyTees offers a collection of seamless tanks, tees, tops, skirts, dresses, bandeaus, leggings and active wear and their products are perfect for that in-between period during and post-pregnancy.  With plenty of material to cover the entire bump, there’s no rolling or riding up here!  Previously, I was living in my Shimera 2-way Seamless Tanks from Nordstrom but for now, the SkinnyTees seamless tank wins out due to the longer length and flattering cut.  seamless tank by SkinnyTees review

2.  Delice:  Arriving exclusively in Texas and Florida this month, this brand new bubbly from the sparkling experts at Chandon won’t be available nationally until February 2015.  Described as crisp & refreshing, they recommend it on its own or in a spritz over ice with a fresh garnish like mint, grapefruit or cucumber.  I was one of the first to receive a bottle of this debut cuvee — while it’ll be awhile before I can enjoy a glass or two myself, I was thrilled to be gifted with a bottle of champs whose name means ‘Delicious’ in French…perfect for Blog Joie de Vivre, no?  Cheers, y’all and Happy Thanksgiving! Delice by Chandon



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I was delighted to recently receive an invitation to a special dinner just for Austin bloggers hosted by Birchbox.  Last night, we gathered at West 6th restaurant Arro for a wonderful evening of dinner and drinks.  The girls of Birchbox treated a curated list of their favorite ATX bloggers & editors –their words, not mine. :)  …and yes, I was beyond flattered to hear that!–  to a wonderful evening of dining and networking.  I’m thrilled to have met & made live connections with some of my local social media pals, especially the girls from and wardrobe stylist Cristina Facundo (& Sara, her sister and local PR maven).  Additionally, I was proud to see that I was included in the company of Austin-based lifestyle blogging queen, Camille Styles.

My table buddies, Sara Facundo and Meredith Davis

Me with my table buddies, Sara Facundo and Meredith Davis

Our NYC-based hostesses pulled out all the stops:  we were served a welcome cocktail (or in my case, a fun mocktail), passed apps, charcuterie board, salad, and choice of entree & dessert.  I must mention that locally-owned French-casual favorite Arro never disappoints, so their choice of venue definitely solidified the fabulousity of our evening.  The place settings were personalized, the tablescape was adorned with cheerful floral arrangements, and obvi we were all giddy for the goody bags…filled with our own Birchbox, of course!Place setting at Arro for blogger dinner hosted by Birchbox

If the same amount of detail & attention goes into each Birchbox as they put into this dinner, then I’m certainly impressed!  In fact, I learned they have a huge testing culture, making sure every product that makes it into a Birchbox is tried & approved.  Oh, and if you’ve never heard of the concept, it’s pretty innovative:  for $10/month, you get monthly deliveries of personalized beauty, grooming, and lifestyle samples, tailored to your own profile.  You get exposure to try cult brands, up-and-coming lines, and their beauty bestsellers.  I could see their subscription service working really well for new moms, college girls, and transplants to a new city –it takes TIME to find the good beauty stores & trusted make-up artists, y’all!  For now, I’m inspired to go through my cosmetics bag and update it for Fall/Winter 2014 with the fresh fun products found inside my new Birchbox!


Life[style]: October


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Hope everyone had a lovely Fall weekend!  Blogging today from the shores of Lake Conroe at the La Torretta Resort.  On Friday morning, I had to take the dreaded 3-hour long glucose test (pregnancy-related test to check for gestational diabetes), so it was such a welcomed escape to jump in the car for a little staycation escape over the weekend.

1.  La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa:  Located about an hour north of Houston & 2.5 hours east of Austin, this Lake Conroe resort offers a ton of amenities at a great price.  Upon check-in, we received one of their Lake View Suites on the 17th floor — what a splendid view of the waterpark & lake!View from the Lake View Suites at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa

Our first evening was enjoyed exploring the resort grounds…they have just about everything you could want in a vacation property.  My favorite features are their lazy river, room views, and lakeside location; Ryan is happy with the ESPN in HD, hot tub, and on-site dining options.  Our first night, we had dinner at their flagship restaurant, Lakeside Restaurant & Bar…we recommend the Spinach & Artichoke Dip appetizer and housemade cheesecake for dessert.  Saturday night was spent at the sushi bar watching the MLB World Series –Go Royals!– over a delish Philly Roll.  Finally, we capped off our evening at the lively piano bar for a little live music and people watching.

Part of me wishes we would’ve at least gotten out on the lake/rented a jetski or something, but between packing boxes for our upcoming move & all my pregnancy appointments back home, simply taking it easy and never leaving the resort property was exactly what we needed.  You can’t really tell so much from their web site, but the fitness center is huge and we were impressed with the variety of workout rooms & equipment options at our fingertips.  A good workout, soaking up a little sunshine, springing for room service, and a nice nap will do wonders for the soul, I tell ya.Sunset at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa

2.  Organic Muscle Milk:  Being pregnant, my husband is always pushing for me to get more protein…he wants that baby to GROW! :)  Because their organic line is newly launched, I recently received a complimentary shipment of 2 four-pack cartons, one chocolate and one vanilla.  Besides endorsing this drink as a great way for me to get in those grams of muscle-building protein, the hubs loves this stuff too.  He gulped down both flavors eagerly, going for them as a breakfast on-the-go, post-workout protein supplement, and ‘just because’ as an afternoon snack…goes without saying, I had trouble keeping them stocked in the refrigerator.

I’m usually a chocolate girl but the vanilla is hands-down my favorite.  I had one of those crummy-feeling days a couple weeks ago, full of pregnancy symptoms like headache, nausea, and all-around lack of energy…was contemplating cancelling my afternoon beauty appt. just becuase I didn’t want to leave the bed.  After some self-coaching (get up! you can do it!), I peeled myself up and drank a muscle milk during the drive there.  –Must’ve been exactly what the doctor ordered, becuase I felt energized after finishing it and the delish vanilla flavor made me feel like I was treating myself to a milkshake!

Being organic is a game changer for me on these drinks, too.  I don’t know of many protein shakes that taste as good (especially while containing as much protein) while maintaing that USDA Organic stamp of approval.  Plus, they are low fat, low cholesterol and sweetened with organic cane sugar and organic stevia.  You can try Muscle Milk Organic Vanilla Protein Shakes at Target.

3.  Mustela:  I’m 29 weeks along now and among other pregnancy concerns, I’m in full-on stretch mark prevention mode.  The baby is estimated to weigh about 3 pounds at this point and is expected to triple in size during the third trimester!  Although my preg-o belly has been pretty small-ish so far, I know this bump is primed to really pop in the coming months.  My mom says she used olive oil to prevent stretch marks and I think I’ll follow her natural oil-based lead by experimenting with my organic coconut oil from Whole Foods.  Mostly, though I’m leaning on a stretch mark prevention cream by Mustela.  It’s a little pricey at just under $50, but I got mine with a 20% of coupon at buy buy BABY.  This one seems to be the most reputable:  successful in clinical trials, legit sounding active ingredients, and Paraben/Phthalate-free.  It’s worked so far…not a single stretch mark yet (fingers crossed my skin stays that way!)Mustela stretch mark prevention cream review


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