restaurant review:: watershed

My dad was in town for the night last week, and it just happened to be on Fried Chicken Night at Watershed on Peachtree… so naturally, we had to go. I’ve had Watershed on my list of restaurants to try for years, so I’m not sure why it took so long. And frankly, after having that fried chicken, I’m sort of sad that I’ve been missing out for this long.
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We started off somewhat healthy with the Veggie Plate, which was huge and quite filling. This time around, it consisted of pimiento cheese-topped cornbread (to die for), fancy fried okra w/buttermilk dipping sauce,  carrots glazed with sesame seeds and soy sauce, green beans almondine, tomatoes and cabbage, and a small salad. I think the guys would have preferred the good ol’ Southern style fried okra, but everything was interesting and I’m glad we tried something a little different than the typical fried appetizer.  They also ordered the Spicy Shrimp and said they were delicious — and very spicy! 
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Fried Chicken Night with biscuits! This chicken was incredibly moist, and I loved that they gave us an entire honey bear on the table… I think I used about 1/3 of it.
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Some of the most amazing mac n cheese ever. SO creamy, almost like the consistency of a quiche. Everyone at the table raved over it. 
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Fried catfish with green coconut rice and veggies. Craig said it was really good, but I’m pretty sure he had slight order envy over our fried chicken. 
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Very Good Chocolate Cake (in a jar). And it was very good — incredibly rich, dense, and chocolatey, and the whipped cream on top was a nice, cool addition to the dish. Not pictured is the Hot Milk Cake with caramel icing and sea salt, which was the highlight of the dessert course. I think everyone really considered ordering a 2nd helping of that one.

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Cookie Bag (we chose chocolate chip). Perfect for taking home to enjoy later!
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I highly recommend checking out Watershed if you are in Atlanta! Every dish was excellent, and the service (our server’s name was Heather) was great. Can’t wait to go back!

A Few of My Favorite Things (79)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Stella & Dot t-shirt // Pop Geo Pendant // Engravable Bar in gold w/”MELISSA”  // Pop Geo Chandeliers (stud pops off for 2-way earrings) // Enlighten Bracelet and gold arm party]
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[Kat + Brett’s wedding gallery is up on MHP!]
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[very fancy tea party birthday celebration at work]
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[participating in National Hot Dog Day]
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[fancy birthday bowling]
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[waffle dogs!!]
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 Aside from dropping my phone into about 6″ of pool water on Saturday and having to buy a new one, it was a pretty great weekend!  We started off with a cookout at our friends’ house, had a fun pool day (minus the phone issue), and went back to The Painted Pin on Saturday night for our friend Casey’s 30th birthday. I really enjoy PP because it combines a lot of fun things — games, good food and drinks, and fun times for friends. And did you see those waffle dogs?! Our friend Rachel insisted on ordering them before we left, and I’m so glad she did. I love a good corn dog, but mix that with waffle batter, and you have a big winner.

Sunday, I had the honor of photographing the sweetest five day old little lady, Emmy. It’s absolutely amazing how tiny a brand new baby is, and it was a lot of fun seeing her big brothers sing to her and hold her during our session. We also managed to squeeze in a birthday party for a certain little 6 year old lady bug girl (my cousin’s daughter). The party included hot pink birthday cake, lots of play makeup and jewelry, and some nice time visiting with family. Can’t ask for a better way to end the weekend!

restaurant review:: ink & elm brunch

Earlier in the summer, I came across a Scoutmob Hand-picked deal for Sunday brunch for 2 at Ink & Elm in Emory Village. Since having drinks there one night last winter, it’s been on our list of places to go back to for dinner. We went recently with a couple friends, and it was the perfect opportunity to check it out for a really reasonable price. The voucher included 2 brunch cocktails (mimosas, bellinis, or bloody marys), two entrees, house-made scones, and a cinnamon roll to share.

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I chose the Quiche Westover, which on Sunday, included bacon, onions, and creamy bleu cheese. It was beyond creamy and really good, but I wish it had more bacon. You can never go wrong with too much bacon. I added on the potato wedges, which came with a hollandaise-type dipping sauce. Yum.
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Craig got the burger — Velveeta fondue, dilly pickle, arugula, Worcestershire aioli, benne bun, and potato wedges. He also added a fried egg. The fondue is the kicker — just like you can never have too much bacon, you can never have too much cheese in my opinion.
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Head on over to Emory Village sometime and check out one of the newer additions to the ATL restaurant scene. The ambiance is fancy and high class, but still approachable, the bar is beautiful and the drinks are great, and the food is delicious. You’ll be glad you did!

Hoopla 5.0

Hoopla 2014… my fifth annual conference with Stella & Dot! Every year, this is THE event that Stylists look forward to. Yes, it’s technically a work conference, but it’s really much more than that. It’s game-changing training sessions with the craziest, most brilliant VP team out there and learning about the inspiration and craftsmanship behind the most beautiful, on-trend accessories created by a truly world-class design team. It’s inspirational stories of fellow Stylists being in the back of the room one year and then being recognized on stage for their incredible accomplishments the very next year and celebrations of those fellow Stylists and team members’ hard work. It’s sitting poolside sharing not only work tips and strategies, but also personal stories and laughs. It’s endless hours of happiness through dance parties, team parties, and dinner parties with friends near and far, many of whom we only see once a year at this conference.  It’s listening to our Board Chairman’s yearly speech and wiping tears from your eyes because his words are just that beautiful and heartfelt… and also watching him dance on stage for 3,000 women, all of whom are jumping from their seats to cheer him on. It’s way more than a work conference, because through all these things, it rejuvenates me and makes me want to apply what I’ve learned to all aspects of my life. It makes me want to be a better version of myself.

This is kind of a photo over-share for the blog, but I hope this gives my readers/friends/family a glimpse into the happiness, innovation, inspiration, fun, and pure joy that Stella & Dot embodies. Who wants to join me next year?

Hoopla swag bags, including 3 new pieces from the fall 2014 collection::
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My ATL friend Melanie, the Lucky and Lovely lady
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Orlando World Marriott Center – best pool yet
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Faux cousin yearly meet-up
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From college hall roommates to Hoopla roommates
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All opening sessions should include break dancers
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Complete with an appearance by our Global VP of Training, Danielle Redner
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Some love for the ladies in the back!
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Metallics, geometrics, and bright colors — all big trends for fall
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Day #2 of Hoopla
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Danielle’s re-incarnation as “Danierella”
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Stella & Dot is partnering with Every Mother Counts, founded by Christy Turlington. Did you know that 1 woman dies every 2 minutes from complications during pregnancy and childbirth? Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. The organization informs, engages, and mobilizes new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world. The sale of just 20 of these bracelets will buy essential medical equipment for midwifery students, pay for two prenatal visits for uninsured women, and buy 6 safe birth kits for mothers-to-be. Can you imagine what we can do as a company through this partnership?
I have a goal to sell 25 bracelets by August 31st — who wants to help make a difference?? Click here to support this amazing cause!
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One of the fall favorites – the Fanella Statement Necklace
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Sutton in gold – wear it 5 ways
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Our CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin and her youngest daughter rocked it on stage for our “Hoopla dance” 
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dinner with Stella friends 
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Dance party, complete with break dancers and flamingos everywhere
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Day #3
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Hostess bonus through 8/31/14! Who wants a FREE engravable necklace?
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Heading home, but not before dinner at the airport with some lovely new friends who didn’t want me to eat alone. Nice people are everywhere.
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Agreed, John, agreed.
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A Few of My Favorite Things (78)

[marketing ploy to make me drink Coke]
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[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: black Old Navy maxi dress // mint J.Crew cardigan // Rory Necklace]
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[quite fitting new find]
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[Saturday night concert @ Smyrna Market Village]
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[two-a-day weekend photo sessions]
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It’s never fun to work a full week after a holiday weekend, but we managed. 😉 Our weekend started off slowly and perfectly with dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s house on Friday. We dined al fresco on caprese salad with tomatoes and basil from their garden, another yummy salad, spaghetti squash “hash” with peppers and chicken sausage and then finished off the meal with homemade coconut and berry popsicles. Yum!

After a fun pool day with friends on Saturday, we discovered a free concert series taking place at Smyrna Market Village that night. Thanks to a brief summer rain, the temps were really nice for an outdoor concert, and the music was great. We didn’t stay long, but I look forward to going back another time with friends and a picnic. I love our area more and more when we find little gems like this.

To round out such a relaxing weekend, I had two photo sessions on Sunday! I just started volunteering with a great nonprofit organization out of Texas called Preemie Prints, where photographers volunteer to do a session for local families with babies in the NICU (or those who have recently “graduated”). Ryland just recently graduated from the NICU after being there for 9 weeks, so I went to Marietta to do a newborn session with his family at their home. It will be such a joy to be able to gift these photos to his parents, and I can’t wait to share the session with y’all over on MHP soon!

restaurant review:: West Egg {dinner}

You guys. Most everyone in Atlanta knows that West Egg Cafe is one of the best brunches in the city. But did you know that their dinner is also really, really good? Last week, I snapped up a Scoutmob Handpicked deal for a $35 West Egg dinner for 2, which included a carafe of wine, a sampler app platter, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts (view deal here, good through Aug 2014). We didn’t have any plans on the Thursday before July 4th since we were staying in town, so we headed to the Westside for a little dinner date.

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This is the chef’s sampler platter:: homemade pimiento cheese, hummus, veggies, toast points, crackers, and ham. YUM. We cleaned the plate in about 5 minutes.
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I had my eye on the Pig & Grits, but I ultimately went with the Meatloaf & Mac, because how could I not have pimiento cheese in 2 of the 3 courses I ate? Everything on my plate was delicious — yes, even the green beans. The mac was so creamy and cheesy, and the meatloaf was incredibly moist and flavorful. I also enjoyed the zig-zag design they made with the sauce. Craig chose the “PB&J Burger” — pimiento cheese, bacon, and tomato jam — and every last bit was devoured. He said the burger itself was good (nothing out of this world), but the combo of the three toppings was spot-on.
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Not one, but TWO desserts included? Yes!
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Craig took that opportunity to get something he knew he wouldn’t have to share with me — Banana Pudding. It was such a great presentation, and the meringue was really sweet and crisp. I didn’t taste the pudding, but Craig almost licked the mason jar clean. I think it was a winner.
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I picked the Oatmeal Cream Pie  made with oatmeal cookies and marshmallow creme…. it was divine. It was also huge, so I took half home with me to enjoy later. I liked that the cookies had large oats and were sweet, but not overly so. The marshmallow filling was just right.

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If you’re in the Atlanta area, grab one of the Scoutmob Handpicked deals and go to West Egg for dinner this summer!
(This post was not sponsored in any way by West Egg or Scoutmob. I just really like to eat out and take advantage of great deals.)

a happy 4th

This year marked the first-ever 4th of July that Craig and I spent at home — meaning not at our friend Hunter’s family lake house, as we’ve done for as long as we’ve been together. (And Craig was on a 16-ish year streak.) While it was sad to see our longtime tradition end, it was nice to be in town for the long weekend and still get to spend it with several of our friends. We spent most of the day at our neighborhood pool and then had a cookout with friends at our house.

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Craig got up bright and early Friday morning to start a beef brisket on our new ceramic smoker, and while it required a lot of attention, it was well worth it (I think so anyway).
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Friends contributed with mac n cheese, baked beans, orzo salad, and cornbread salad. I also made bruschetta with basil from our garden and tomatoes from our neighbors’ garden — so good!
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I love that our neighborhood is so festive and loves to get together. Everyone gathered up by the pool for a little fireworks show and lots of giant sparklers. Such fun!
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We ended the night with s’mores over the fire pit. One of our friends had NEVER had a s’more before — so un-American, right? 😉
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Our 4th was so nice — the most PERFECT weather, pool time, friends, great food, and fireworks. Can’t ask for much more. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

A Few of My Favorite Things (77)

[afternoon session @ Whittier Mill Park]
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[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Old Navy pineapple tank / GAP skinny jeans / orange J.Crew cardigan / Rebel Pendant / Engravable Bar Necklace / Gold bracelet stack]
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[bruschetta with homegrown tomatoes and basil]
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[happy 4th]
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[a Marietta wedding]
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[wedding reception with a view]
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What a fun and busy week! It’s so nice to get a long weekend every once in a while thanks to a holiday. I have more fun photos from the 4th to share in a post this week, so I’ll skip over our holiday festivities for now. I was busy busy with a head shot photo session early in the week for a fellow Stella & Dot Stylist, and then I spent Saturday photographing the sweetest two families becoming one in a wedding at Marietta Square. That area is so charming, and their reception at The Strand Theatre was perfect. Gorgeous weather, a beautiful sunset over the mountains, and lots of fun with their closest family and friends. Aside from lots of photo editing the rest of the weekend, we managed to squeeze in a fun dinner date and some park time, as well as homemade BBQ brisket quesadillas, which were so so tasty. Happy Monday!

restaurant review:: Folk Art

As part of my summer bucket list, we tried a new restaurant last weekend. After hearing several good things about Folk Art in Inman Park, we met a few friends there for Sunday brunch. The wait was about 45 minutes, so it was obvious from the start that this newish spot is pretty popular. Because of the wait, we grabbed some mimosas and bloody marys to quench our thirst while we stood outside. Both hit the spot. 😉

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The inside of the restaurant is quite charming, and the service was great. Our waiter immediately asked how long we’d had to wait and then sent over a piping hot plate of their Sweet Potato Beignets. We were surprised to receive a complimentary starter since everyone else had to wait, too, but we gladly accepted and scarfed them down. I’d like some more right now.
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Craig chose the Bad to the Bone Sandwich (house roasted pork shoulder topped with collard green cole slaw, date chili bourbon BBQ, gruyére cheese, and crisp shaved onions), and OMG it was good. Greasy, but so, so good. I think he ate every bite, other than what some of us at the table stole.
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I had originally come here wanting the S’mores Waffle, but quickly changed my mind when he said the Foul Play (the chicken + waffle dish) was one of their best. And believe me, it did not disappoint. The waffle itself was made with a sweet potato base, and the dish came with a side of whiskey peach compote, which I could have eaten for days. I also added on the hash browns, which were cooked perfectly. 
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There are so many more dishes on their menu that I want to try, but I really may just go back and get the same thing because it was so yummy. If you’re in the Atlanta area, it’s a must-try for brunch – and probably all other meals, too.