restaurant review:: salad bar @ the loews hotel

Ladies who lunch!

I started the week off with a lovely lunch in Midtown Atlanta. I met a few girlfriends who also work in the Midtown/Downtown area at the Loews Hotel on Monday to try out the salad bar  that the restaurant Eleven offers during lunch hours. We sat outside, and the weather was absolutely perfect — definitely didn’t feel like July in Georgia.


For just $10, you can create your own salad from a variety of  lettuces, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, meat, and dressings. The meal also includes an assortment of fresh breads (including corn bread and individual ramekins of soft butter) and a dessert of the day. It’s not huge, but it’s certainly the nicest salad bar I’ve ever been to.

We started off with gigantic mixing bowls to go through the line with, which was sort of funny. I think we all made the mistake of filling our bowls too full, because we all had leftovers. The salad was delicious, the cornbread was sweet and buttery, and the dessert (flourless chocolate cake with some sort of cream center) was sinfully rich. They also brought out a bowl of what looked to be salty homemade potato chips, which I couldn’t stop eating. And one of my favorite parts was the iced tea presentation! It was served with a mini glass pitcher for refills as well as a flight of 4 different simple syrup sweeteners. So pretty!




They have a regular lunch menu that includes options like the McDaddy Burger (double decker georgia beef patty, local cheddar, bacon, mushrooms, sunny side up egg) that also sound tasty, but I will definitely be back for the salad bar. I loved having an excuse to do something a little different for lunch during the work week with some lovely ladies!

A Few of My Favorite Things (33)

[Outfit of the week – a big POP of color mixed with a pattern: black/white polka dot top (J. Crew a couple years ago) // Stella & Dot Frida Necklace // Harlow Bangle // Rhea Bangles // Christina Link Bracelet // Phoebe Stretch Bracelet]
[Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays with friends]

[new friends from West Elm – Sam the succulent and Tom the turtle]


[LOVE the new Madison Tech Bag in poppy]

[a friend’s birthday dinner in Midtown]


[Sunday night fun in the kitchen]

Where oh where did the weekend go? I hardly even remember what we did Friday…. It was so nice having a somewhat lowkey weekend in town. We celebrated a friend’s birthday in Midtown one night and spent another night making use of the projection screen in the basement.  And Craig was very handy — he replaced all of the railing on the deck staircase by himself, which took the entire day. We’re one step closer to having a newly redone and safe, sturdy deck!

Sunday, I spent the whole day indoors… on the one day that it was nice and sunny! But I’m so glad I did, because I was taking an intro photography class that covered all the basics of working with a DSLR camera. So now I actually know how to properly use the manual settings on my camera, which I’m thrilled about. I took the class through Southeast Photo Adventures, and the guy Jon who taught the class was great. I highly recommend the class if you’re wanting to learn more about the basics of photography, and they have a huge list of other offerings, including field trips around north GA, which sound so fun! I can’t wait to take another class.

restaurant review:: Bone Garden Cantina

As part of our summer bucket list, we’ve been trying new restaurants around Atlanta each month. We recently checked out Bone Garden Cantina for a date night. As they say on their website, this is authentic Mexican food… not your local combo meal restaurant. (And they actually reference the nearest Taco Bell location on the menu in case that’s what you’re actually after.) It’s a small place that’s very out of the way on the Westside. You’d never know it was there, if not for the giant skeleton mariachi member posted out by the entrance to the building complex. The decor is “day of the dead”… lots of skeletons and great Mexican art everywhere. They have lots of funny rules on the menu (similar to the Vortex in Atlanta), and I would recommend reading them for a good laugh. Hopefully you wouldn’t do any of the things they tell you not to anyway.








Because it was Friday, we started off with the Texas Margarita (made with a splash of OJ) and the Spicy Hombre (spicy mix of Milagro Silver Tequila, habenero-infused tequila and ginger liqueur, with fresh lemon juice and homemade serrano pepper syrup).  Mine was the huge one on the left.


I’m a sucker for cheese dip, and theirs did not disappoint. We chose the best of all worlds with the Three Amigos — Cheese Dip, Guacamole and Salsa Fresca. We demolished the guac in about 5 minutes and tried our best on the other 2 dips. That’s the problem with Mexican food… I always, always fill up on chips and dip before I even get to the main course. 

For dinner, I chose 2 different enchiladas (looove me some good enchiladas!). They were the Desebrado de Res (slow-cooked brisket topped with salsa de tomate, chihuahua cheese and sour cream) and the POCO CHIHUAHUA (melted chihuahua cheese topped with guajillo ranchero sauce, queso fresco and sour cream). Both were delicious, but I especially loved the brisket. Craig got 2 tacos — the BARBACOA de chivo (slow-braised GOAT topped with avocado, cilantro, onion and salsa verde) and the Chili de Arbol (roasted pork topped with a VERY spicy chile de arbol sauce, fresh cilantro and diced onions). We also got sides of refried black beans (delish!) and rice (ok). I wish we’d gotten the Elote (grilled corn on the cob covered with mayo, queso fresco and chili powder), so that’ll definitely happen next time.



I can’t wait to go back to Bone Garden soon! I think it’s quickly jumped to the top of my list for local Mexican restaurants. If you’re in Atlanta, what’s your favorite Mexican spot in town?

Hoopla, Vegas style:: part 2

Hoopla, part 2! 

For the past 3 years, I’ve gotten to meet up with my “cousin” Katie and her friend Kirsten at Hoopla. Katie and I have grown up knowing each other through our mutual cousin (who would make quite a fabulous Stylist, I might add), so it’s funny that we both ended up working with Stella & Dot, just in different states. I say it all the time, but I just love how S&D brings people together or reconnects them with one another.

Devon is another shining example of reconnecting — we were hallmates in our dorm freshman year of college and hadn’t seen one another in years. She was invited to a trunk show I did for another girl from that same dorm hall, and Devon ended up signing up as a Stylist on my team. It’s been so fun getting to know each other again and helping her with her business!
Shannon is one of my Stylist favorites. We met a few years ago at Hoopla and have been friends ever since. 

3,000 very stylish women packed into a room. This is what Day #1 of training looks like.

And we have the best leaders out there. Our VP of Training is a crazy Canadian lady whom we all adore and wish we could soak up her incredible energy. She started each day off by entertaining us as a can-can dancer, a show girl, and the King himself — Elvis. None of them disappointed. 


I’ve never seen so many pairs of colorful flats in my life. And check out 2 of our new bags — the How Does She Do It in painted zebra and the Madison Tech Bag in poppy. Which is your fave?

My favorite slide from the entire training program. Of course it was courtesy of our crazy VP of Training, Danielle. Doesn’t it just make you smile?

For our last night, Chateau, the nightclub at the Paris Hotel, was rented out for our company dance party. Stella & Dot knows how to party.




Perfect view to end our trip — the Eiffel Tower on the Strip.
It’s hard to believe that another Hoopla has come and gone, but there are so many things to look forward to with the new line and all the goodness that fall brings in this business!

Hoopla, Vegas style:: part 1

Another Hoopla has come and gone… and I’m only just recovering. What is Hoopla,  you may ask? It’s only one of the best trips all year — Stella & Dot’s annual conference for Stylists. This was my 4th Hoopla and the first one that’s been in Las Vegas since I’ve been with the company. I think it’s safe to say the trip lived up to the hype. The conference took place at the Paris Hotel, so the theme of “Joie de Vivre” was very fitting.  Join me on a little trip to Paris (in Vegas)!


Ok, so this doesn’t look much like work, but it was a fantastic way to start the week.


Without a doubt, this year had the BEST free swag for Stylists. I received the How Does She Do It tote in Painted Zebra,  Union Square Scarf in Painted Zebra (which now comes with a handy little storage bag), Linda Studs, Moxie Stretch Bracelet, and other fun goodies! 

We started Hoopla off with the fashion show and debut of the new fall 2013 collection, which is always one of my favorite parts. One of my team members, Devon, attended Hoopla for the 2nd time, and I’m so glad I got to share in the fun with her! (And of course my Stylist friend and roomie, Shannon, too!)


Who else has legit Vegas can-can dancers at their work conference?

This year, there was a fun Stylist boutique where we could have our makeup done, portraits taken for new business cards, and sample new Smirnoff flavors. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

IN LOVE with the new Madison Tech Bag in poppy!!! It has zippers on the sides to make it more compact, the strap is adjustable/removable, and it’s coming out in black in August! This is a definite must-have for the girl on the go. 

Another favorite thing about Hoopla is the time we get to spend just visiting, celebrating, and learning from with our fellow Stylists from around the country, many whom we only see once a year. I’ve made so many amazing friends through my job with Stella & Dot, and I so look forward to spending this time with them. It’s incredible to see the success that so many of them have achieved over the past year — from earning an incentive trip to Mexico, to being top in sponsoring, or being #1 in sales in the ENTIRE company (I’m looking at you, Alex!). That’s what is so wonderful about the Stylist community — we help and encourage everyone to go above and beyond their goals, and when they do, we CELEBRATE! This year, the Dixie Dots did it in style with a penthouse suite overlooking the Nevada mountains.
Our Senior Director and leader of the Dixie Dots team, Anna, made awards for lots of our team members. This was mine, which I greatly appreciate. Thanks to Anna for making everyone feel special!


You can’t go to Vegas without seeing the beautiful Bellagio fountain show. 

Or the Chihuly blown glass sculptures in the Bellagio lobby.

That was one looong day, but so fun and so worth it!  Part 2 coming later this week.

A Few of My Favorite Things (32)

[1st pair of Tieks, thanks to a fab discount from Stella & Dot]

[Adorable May Designs notebooks for Hoopla]
photo (1)

[Braves game, beer, and cooking out with friends. Great Saturday night.]

[One of my favorite new photos of Coco – giant head + tiny tootsies. Not bad for an iphone photo.]
[the new Stella & Dot collection has arrived!!]
[A friend’s bday dinner at H. Harper Station]

I had never heard of Tieks until Stella & Dot partnered with them to give all Hoopla attendees an amazing discount on their Italian leather flats. Mine arrived in just a couple days and were adorned with a giant flower on the turquoise box. I was so impressed with the gorgeous packaging and fantastic customer service. See that handwritten note saying to have fun at Hoopla? I’ll absolutely look forward to shopping with them again.

In other news, I spent most of my week in Vegas for the annual Stella & Dot national conference, otherwise known as Hoopla. It’s one of the most fun trips of the year and something I so look forward to. I’m working on a couple posts for this week to share my Hoopla fun.

Of course this weekend consisted of more rain. But we made the best of it with a BBQ dinner at our friends’ new house, a birthday dinner for a friend, starting the re-do on our deck, and meeting our friends’ new puppy!

Have a nice day!

restaurant review:: Vegas edition

One might think that my recent trip to Vegas consisted of nothing but eating. They wouldn’t be far off, other than the Stella & Dot annual conference training and celebrations (HOOPLA), which is the actual reason I was there.  I’ve compiled a short review of each of the three restaurants where we had dinner during our trip. Two of the three were at the Paris Hotel, which is where we stayed. I’d never been to any of them, and I was thoroughly pleased with the experience and meal at each one!

Sugar Factory
I sort of imagined a menu filled with nothing by candy confections and drinks. That wasn’t far off for the drink menu (think Lollipop Passion Goblets and Blow Pop Martinis, complete with candy garnish), but the dinner menu actually had a lot of great options… maybe too many. I chose a burger with blue cheese and bacon (YUM!) and fries. I was kind of starving, but both were fantastic! The burger toppings gave it just enough salty flavor, and the fries were piping hot and crispy. Almost every girl at the table got burgers and all devoured them. And I got a glass of wine for $8 — in Vegas, I think that’s a steal. Also — there’s a giant candy store adjoining the restaurant.. hence the name.





Hash House A Go Go
Just before heading to Vegas, my friend saw a segment on Hash House on the Cooking Channel (I think — Shannon, correct me if I’m wrong). I’d never heard of it, and given the name, I really wondered where she was wanting to take me. Then I looked up the menu and realized that it’s farm food with a twist, and I needed to check it out…. Chicken and Waffles with bacon cooked INSIDE the waffles? And not just bacon bits, but WHOLE SLICES? Yes, please!  Not to mention the sheer size of the dish — it was as tall as a large ketchup bottle and was held together with a giant steak knife. Talk about presentation. All of the portions were huge, so they’d be great to split. We also tried one of the Stuffed Burgers — we had avocado, cheddar and bacon in ours. A bit indulgent? Yes. Did I feel bad about it? Not really.  The only thing I didn’t love about the restaurant was that it was deep inside one of the casinos called The Quad, so there were no windows, which is something that just bothers me. Personal preference. But the food was fantastic!

Hash House Icon



Mon Ami Gabi
We saved the French bistro for last and celebrated Hoopla with one of my “cousins” and a couple of her friends. I’d heard great reviews from several people, especially of the Steak Frites. The restaurant is at the front of the Paris Hotel and the patio overlooks the famed Bellagio fountains. It was a tad too hot for outdoor dining (100 degrees), but we got lucky with indoor seating under a glass roof that was just next to the patio. After having burgers 2 nights in a row, I skipped the steak and went with the Caesar Salad and French Onion Soup… smothered in cheese, as it should be. Since my dinner was fairly light (except for the cheese), I sprung for the Chocolate Tart w/Salted Caramel Ice Cream. The waiter said it was made from “the finest French chocolate” — it was pretty tasty, but too rich to finish. My friend got the White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce, and it was divine.

IMG_9032 IMG_9034
Have you been to Vegas? What are your fave places to eat? My #1 will always be N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms.

our new pet: the fiddle leaf fig

We got a new pet this week. His name is Freddie, and he’s a Fiddle Leaf Fig. No, he does not grow figs, but I think he’s awesome. Fiddle Leaf Figs seem to be all the rage with decorators right now, and I agree. I love the structure, big leaves, and thin stem. And they can grow to be HUGE! I saw a photo of one here that stretched all the way across a large living room that was 2 stories tall. Amazing!

We have a 2 story living room and just re-arranged the space. This opened up part of a wall that had previously housed a leaning bookshelf, so the spot was just waiting… for a fiddle leaf fig! I’d read online that they are hard to come by because they’re so trendy right now, so I wasn’t hopeful that I’d find anything soon. I’d seen some very small ones on the Home Depot site, but even those were sold out online. I finally called the closest Pike Nurseries location and hit the jackpot! They said they had 4′ tall trees…. which actually turned out to be 5’+ tall!

Here’s the guy we picked out with the help of Pam, the very knowledgeable and helpful store associate. Yes, I remember her name because she was awesome. This pot was a beautiful color, but it was a tad too small for such a big plant.


He made it home safely (with a slightly larger pot)!


Thanks to mom and dad for letting me pick out an early birthday gift! I love it and can’t wait to see how big Freddie gets!
For anyone in search of a Fiddle Leaf Fig, I highly recommend checking your local Pike’s. Their staff is beyond helpful with picking out the right plants, pots, soil, etc., and they’ll also give you tons of tips on how to keep that thing alive once you take it home.

restaurant review:: Kevin Rathbun Steak

Kevin Rathbun Steak. I sometimes forget about this fab restaurant because it’s in a sort of off-the-beaten path location in the Inman Park area, which is across town from us. We have been visiting KRS every so often for years now, and I’ve always been impressed with our experience. Recently, we dined there while my parents were in town, and all 6 of us agreed that it was one of the best meals we’ve had in quite a while. I also love the ambiance in the restaurant… dark, lots of wood, and really neat stained glass accents at the bar.


I don’t have photos of the starters and main dishes, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. From start to finish, everything was delicious.  We love some appetizers, so we tried the Eggplant Fries, Grilled Thick Cut Bacon, and Lobster Fritters. The Eggplant Fries were definitely the surprise hit of the table — plump, crispy, flavorful, and covered with powdered sugar for good measure. The Bacon was  quite different — the sauce included molasses and sriracha, which made for an interesting flavor combo. And who doesn’t love fried lobster?

For the main course, most of us had various steaks. My steak came out a little less cooked than I’d have liked, but restaurants almost never cook it to my liking (except Hal’s — they’e got it down). The Caesar salad was big enough to share (2 of us did).  We also shared several sides among the table, including Creamed Spinach, Jalapeno Creamed Corn, Cheddar Grits, and Parmesan Fries. They were all fantastic.

On to dessert — not sure how we had one bit of room left! We shared the Espresso Bon-Bons, Berry Tart, and I think a Bread Pudding, although I have to confess that I can’t quite remember what it was, even with the photo below. But either way, all three were so good that we contemplated ordering a second round. Talk about gluttons for punishment, right?


Had to sneak in a photo of a couple of my beautiful dining partners::
I can’t wait to go back to Kevin Rathbun — just hope it’s on someone else’s dime, because I’d likely break the bank ordering one of everything on the menu.

Friends + Food + Floating + Fireworks!

I hope everyone had a safe/fun/relaxing/exciting weekend! We traveled to Mt. Juliet, TN for the 16th annual 4th of July weekend at our friend’s family lake house. As with most of the Southeast, we had a pretty rain-filled holiday, but we made the best of it! We got some games (Sour Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and Heads Up for Iphone) and had the most entertaining time waiting out the rain. We had a much smaller group this time around… around 12 or so compared to 30+ in past years, but we had a fabulous time, as we always do!

We set up a giant tent so we could at least enjoy the outdoors while we played all afternoon. 

BFFs since high school, and the mister on the left is the reason we met! They also love America. 

Every year, we have a big, fancy dinner at the Cherokee Steakhouse. Meaning that it’s an all-you-can-eat steak and bring-your-own-cooler type of place. 🙂 It’s always a great time. And I hear it’s for sale with the marina behind it for a cool $6 million if any of you are interested. 





Last year, we started a new tradition of going into Nashville to celebrate our friend Hunter’s birthday. This year, we stepped it up a notch with a party bus, complete with a dance floor, which came in quite handy for travel entertainment. 

Nothing but magic.

Downtown at the honky tonks — this is Craig’s favorite, The Stage. I love the giant mural of country legends along the wall. 


On our last day, we finally got a break from the rain and were able to take the boat out. Perfect way to end our weekend!


Actually, this was the perfect way to end the trip — a private fireworks show by the neighbors. So pretty!

Despite the less than stellar weather for the 4th, we had a fantastic weekend because we were with wonderful friends. You can’t beat a trip  filled with friends, food, floating, and fireworks!