30 June 2010

Dallas: Mini Me

For all of you who shopped at Baby Bliss in Snider Plaza only to have your infant grow up and have you wonder: "Where am I going to shop for my 6 year old now?" Mini Me has opened its doors.
The boutique with its concrete floors and exposed brick walls carries Dwell lunch boxes, Tea clothing, and a darling assortment of toys, books, and puzzles for toddlers to age 10.

Wimberley: Wimberley Pie Company

A must-stop in Wimberley is the Wimberley Pie Company. It's old-school in the best possible way, rickety door, fresh cellophane-covered pies in glass cases, and bags of cookies on the counter. This sign gives you a feel for their state pride.
They had plenty of classic options - apple, buttermilk, coconut, etc... - but you can't really get more southern than a Coca-Cola cake, a moist almost chocolate-flavored cake topped with chocolate icing embedded with pecans.
Buy an entire pie for anywhere from $9 to $15, depending on the ingredients, or just get a slice for $2.75.

28 June 2010

Wimberley: Boot Whisperer

One of the places I visited this weekend in Wimberley was The Wild West Store. There are more than 500 pairs of pristine, but gently worn boots in this charmingly overflowing spot smack in the middle of town.
There are also glass cases filled with fabulous turquoise belts, cuffs, and necklaces.
When you pop in, you tell the owner your budget and show her your bare feet.
She'll mill around the shop for about 3 minutes and come back with boots that fit your feet and personality perfectly. She swears she's right 8 out of 10 times.

Wimberley: Blanco River

Have you ever been to Wimberley, Texas? We went for the first time this past weekend and I have one word: fantastic. Our friends Brooke and Blake have a family home there that opens onto the Blanco River. The better part of Saturday was spent lying in lawn chairs that we pulled into the five-inch deep water with a cooler filled with drinks.
Folks would float by on tubes, my kids learned how to fish and caught minnows with nets, and I just laid there and watched. It was Texas paradise.

25 June 2010

Dallas: Venz Edits

Check out Venz Edits today! Amber featured D Magazine's July style page that I put together. It's the ultimate summer outfit using only Dallas designers like Koch, Amber Venz, Megan Adams, and more!

24 June 2010

Houston: Maison Burdisso

I just returned from a long day in Houston but I wanted to let you in on a little discovery: Maison Burdisso. I had lunch at Tiny Boxwoods - is there really any other option? - and afterwards wandered through the Thompson + Hanson grounds and boutique. I spotted these delightfully packaged caramels and upon closer inspection realized they're Houston-made.
I bought two packages of them and a little box of spiced almonds. $43 later I was in my car wondering what a $13 package of caramels tasted like. I started to drive, leaned over and opened a bag, and peeled one off its wax paper. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I drove over a curb getting onto Westheimer when I tasted this chewy salty-sweet morsel. I sucked it off the paper. I may have even eaten some paper. And now I know what a $13 bag of ten caramels tastes like.

23 June 2010

Dallas: Haven

Just got a text from darling Jon Tutolo - does he have the best smile or what? - telling me that Haven is getting a face-lift and everything in store is 50 percent off beginning tomorrow. Why are all the good sales starting tomorrow (Barneys begins its 60 percent markdown) when I'm in Houston working all day???

Dallas: TOMS and Hockaday

If you already know this, than forgive me for being late to the game, but I'm flipping over the collab that Blake Mycoskie's TOMS has done with The Hockaday School (thank you, Taylor Bigler, Hockaday alum and writer of Miles to Go for clueing me in). Girls this fall will get a choice of the traditional slip on or the lace up saddle shoe and as with all TOMS for every shoe purchased, a pair goes to a child in need. Love.

Georgetown: Monument Cafe

My newest I-35 road trip tradition (along with kolaches at Czech Stop and a run through Style Station) is having a late lunch at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown. Rusty Winkstern, a New York native, opened his restaurant in 1995 and it's been going strong ever since. It's the kind spot where everything comes from the earth (read: seasonal and no canned goods allowed) and they serve fare your grandmother would be proud of. I've now had the most mouthwatering chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes the last two times I've been while also stealing a few - quite a few - crunchy wisp thin onion rings from my kids' plates.
Every meal starts with a complimentary homemade biscuit and butter and this last time I washed mine down with a glass of white. I love how they serve it in a simple short water glass. The cafe is based on roadside cafes of the 20s & 30s and everything down to the ragtime music, chalkboard wall menus, and stainless steel kitchen and fixtures makes you feel like you've stepped back in time. To get there take exit 262 off 35 South or 261 off 35N.

Austin: Hotel San Jose

Remember when I told you that C left his Rabbit at the San Jose? Well he arrived today and there was a note inside that read: "Hey guys! It was fun at the Hotel San Jose - but it is so nice to finally be home! Love, Rabbit."
Seriously, any hotel staff that does creative sweet little things like that - for a child, no less - is tops in my book.

22 June 2010

Dallas: Little Nest

Such exciting news to share: Nest Dallas is now offering Little Nest Furniture. Check out these adorable pint-size pieces of furniture for your little one.

The best part: Get 20 percent off any Little Nest purchase now through July 10 when you visit the Nest blog and leave a comment about your favorite thing from the Little Nest Collection.

21 June 2010

Austin: San Jose & Jo's

Saturday and Sunday morning started the same way for me: Pilar and I would walk over to Jo's, grab a regular latte and an OJ, and sit and watch folks buzz around SoCo.
After about 20 minutes of petting dogs, saying hi to friends, and reading the poster-riddled bulletin board, we'd walk back over to the San Jose and swim for about an hour. I had no idea that a creamy latte and an 8 am swim could be so immensely pleasurable.
The staff, as always was great, but I have a newfound appreciation for them after staying here with children. The bartender, Brent, was incredibly sweet and introduced himself to C & P, told them that he'd be able to help them with whatever they needed - in this case two Coca Colas on ice. And just yesterday they called to say that C had left his Rabbit in the room and it would be promptly mailed. I think you can always judge people on how they treat children - people who dismiss anyone under 4 feet tall are immediately put on my not-so-hot list. No one this weekend made it on there.

20 June 2010

Dripping Springs: Richard's Rainwater

I'm a little mad for supporting all things Texas-related, Texas companies, and Richard's Rainwater is something that I love - the company calls it "cloud juice"- and I was reminded of how good it is this weekend while at the San Jose. On 8 acres in the Hill Country right outside of Austin, this water is collected, bottled, and then sold to area retailers. If it's not at a store near you, you can always order online.

18 June 2010

Austin: The Weekend

Off to Austin for the weekend and will have a slew of Austin-centric posts for next week. Have a great weekend!

17 June 2010

Dallas: Good Morning Texas

Want to know the perfect Father's Day Gifts? Tune in tomorrow at 9 am to watch me on Good Morning Texas.
And, an added bonus, hot stuff trainer Brandon Wall will also be on tomorrow to talk about how fantastic Tread Fitness is.

16 June 2010

El Paso: Crave Kitchen & Bar

Some of my best friends are from El Paso and I get a little jealous that when they go home to visit family, they can always pop into Crave for breakfast, lunch or dinner. About a year ago I spotted it in Cincinnati, an artsy entertainment district in EP, and I ended up writing about it for a Texas Monthly column called Street Smarts.
It was a really fun discovery - my favorite thing as a writer/journalist is stumbling upon something fabulous and then telling everyone I know about it. The restaurant is small with communal seating and when you enter about 1,000 forks, spoons, and knives hanging by butcher's string dangle from the ceiling. It's a big impact, but inexpensive little trick that immediately lets you know that you were in for something special.
A big chalkboard wall has the daily menu scribbled on it and here are my suggestions: Blueberry pancakes with lemon curd, buttermilk pan fried chicken and waffles, and one of the 70 beers they have on hand. Making me hungry and thirsty thinking about it.

Dallas: Beyond Barre

If you read both this blog and Life-Content than you know that me, Courtney Sinelli, and Jon Tutolo of Haven are on a bit of an exercise roll. Ever since we all started Tread Fitness back in April and we saw amazing results from intense one-hour workouts with Brandon and Bart, we've been a little crazed about getting back into shape. Then My Fit Foods came into the picture, which quickly became another obsession. Now we're rounding things out with classes at Beyond Pilates.

The Beyond Barre class is right up my alley, as I really want to get my upper legs in shape - you know I'm a fan of thigh-high hemlines worn with ridiculously high heels. There is this area that is just a little too round for me and after last night's class I think I may have found a solution to kicking it to the curb. The instructor Bethany, a lithe gamine who was a cheerleader and dance fitness instructor, made everyone a little envious of no.1 her insanely chic cropped hair cut with swoopy bangs. no. 2 her ridiculously toned thighs and stomach. no.3 her ability to do all the exercises sans the barre. The class was completely full last night so sign up online or risk being turned away at the door. And you may want to get a pair of grip socks from here or here.

15 June 2010

San Antonio & Houston: Megan Odabash

Here's one more thing to add to your to-do list: from noon to five Wednesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 17, sloan/hall in San Antonio and Houston, respectively, will host designer Megan Odabash for jewelry trunk shows.

14 June 2010

Garland: Stetson & Albertus Swanepoel

See those hats? The ones above in that group shot. Those are the new fall 2010 Albertus Swanepoel-designed hats for Garland-based Stetson, a special capsule collection the iconic Texas brand put together for the upcoming season. Swanepoel has designed hats for Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Thakoon, Peter Som, the list goes on. How fabulous is it that this CFDA-nominated designer has come together with a brand that all Texans are inherently familiar?

13 June 2010

Dallas: Beyond Pilates

What an ass-kicker of a morning I had. It was my first class at the newly opened Beyond Pilates on Lovers Lane. I was a little intimidated by the machines - a big piece of equipment with all kinds of springs and pulleys - and I always thought that it was for folks who just wanted to stretch a little. So wrong. First off: Beyond Pilates is an off-shoot of traditional Pilates. Using a machine called a Megaformer, you're taken through a series of body-toning motions. After a quick, but thorough rundown of the machine, the fully sold-out class (and this at 9 am on a Sunday!) got to work.
The moment we started I could immediately feel my core working to full capacity. Owner Brandi Marino - who has the most amazingly toned arms - took us through all the motions while coaching us individually if we needed help. 15 minutes into it I was full-out sweating. Every single move took all the control and stability I could muster but Brandi was very motivating, upbeat, and the dance music was perfect. Classes are similar to Tread Fitness, in that you can buy a package of classes. The more you buy, the more you save. If you really love it, you can buy a unlimited month-long pass. If Pilates isn't your beat, try the Beyond Barre classes, a ballet-inspired workout that firms up the legs and lower abs (Come and meet me for the Tuesday night class!). It's about time that spots like this have made their way to Dallas. Finally a place where you can get a super-intense workout and attention as needed without the pricey-ness of gym membership or personal training.

Oh, has anyone else noticed that all the best trainers have B names...Brandi, Bethany, Bart, Brandon? I'm going to change my name to Bristie.

11 June 2010

Houston: Crave Cupcakes

I've mentioned before that my first stop in Houston is always Crave Cupcakes. My plane usually lands before 10 am and I head here for a cinnamon sugar cupcake and a hot earl grey with half and half. But now I dying to try some of their recently introduced breakfast cupcakes.
Along with the cinnamon sugar, they now serve walnut zucchini, lemon blueberry, almond cranberry, maple walnut, and what may prove to be a new favorite, apple streusel, a delectable little morsel filled with granny smith apples and topped with maple pecan streusel.
While Crave's presentation is modern, they are thoroughly old-school when it comes to making their cakes. All the dairy used in the recipes is from Texas farms, the vanilla is Madagascar bourbon, and there are no preservatives so they don't sell what was made yesterday today.
In fact, any cupcakes left over from the day are donated to Prepared for Life, a Houston non-profit that teaches kids life and business skills.
Makes me thirsty for some cold, flavored milk. I happen to love the ones from Promised Land Dairy in Floresville, Texas, which is about 6 miles up the road from where I spent all my summers as a kid. Wouldn't be surprised if this is where Crave gets their goods.
The interior is so beautiful. They're opening a new location this summer in West University on Kirby.

10 June 2010

Austin: Helm Handmade

Joshua Bingaman has always had a thing for men's shoes and boots. He met some highfalutin folks on the inside of the bespoke footwear world and created Helm Handmade, an Austin-based men's boutique shoe design company. These aren't massed-produced mounds of leather and laces, but handmade kicks that only the most discerning appreciate.
One pair of boots take up to five days to make. The leather is hand-cut, hand-stitched, and soles are hand-nailed. That's a whole lotta love that goes into something that you put on your feet. But then again, it's always about the shoes, isn't it?

09 June 2010

Austin: Uchiko

Uchi is hands down the best Japanese food and sushi in Austin. Every time I've been - one very memorable time with my friend Martha - the wait is insane, but completely worth it. I, along with the rest of the city, have been patiently waiting since last year for chef Tyson Cole to finally open Uchi's sister restaurant, Uchiko. Here's a peek at the Michael Hsu-designed space - the library is below - at the new spot on North Lamar.
I've interviewed both architect Michael Hsu and Tyson Cole for Texas Monthly. If you want to take a peek at Cole's kitchen cabinet and what he uses in his home kitchen - think $5,000 knives - or see the tie flying obsession that Hsu has in the garage of his mid-century home, click here or here.

07 June 2010

Austin: Apiece Apart

Austin's Laura Cramer kills it with the fall collection she designed with her Apiece Apart co-founder, Starr Houtt.
There's a reason that Style.com, Vogue, Lucky, Elle, and The New York Times love them.
I've always thought that modern clean design is the hardest to do. To be able to pull back, restrain, and just whittle it down to the essentials while also making sure all the little details are compelling enough to make clothing into something much more than just a blouse, dress, or trousers. To make something sculptural that hangs on someone is like creating walking art.
The knit loops on this black wool coat look so beautifully textured. Doesn't it make you want to reach out and touch it?

Houston: 310 Rosemont

In case you haven't met, may I introduce you to 310 Rosemont? The River Oaks Shopping Center boutique carries a slew of designers that aren't in every other unisex shop in H-town. Think Iro, Rag & Bone, Adam Adam Lippes, and Halston.
When you come in, you're offered a drink from their fully-stocked bar.
And your four-legged friends are welcome to keep up you company while you decide what you'll take home that day.
Love the color combo of the pink shag carpet and orange damask wallpaper.
Will be in Houston in the next couple of weeks, so I'll have to put this on my must-stop list.

Dallas, Austin, Houston: My Fit Foods update

I'm dutifully reporting that the green chili chicken over quinoa that I devoured for lunch was indeed delicious. I have also snacked on apple breakfast patties - yummy little pie shaped snacks made with apples and egg whites and would totally substitute for pancakes or some other carb-heavy morning dish - and I am now complete.

06 June 2010

Dallas, Austin, Houston: My Fit Foods

For weeks I've driven by the My Fit Foods location on Lemmon Avenue on my way to Tread and today I finally looked it up to see what it's all about. The Houston-based company cooks and packages fresh, preservative-free dishes that are perfectly proportioned for a super-healthy alternative to fast food. All the meals are designed to boost your metabolism, are made with low glycemic carbs, and are affordable. The menus look pretty good and everything can be ordered online. Tomorrow I'm going to buzz in and try some things. Will keep you posted on what I think of the breakfast tacos and turkey chili.

04 June 2010

Dallas: Carissa Rose Sample Sale

Dallas-based Carissa Rose has made a name for herself by designing genius shirts and dresses sized in bust measurements, all the better to fit those who've always had problems with gaping button downs and plain unattractive styles. Her line is so well-regarded that she's been featured in O Magazine and if you know anything about trying to get edit coverage in O, than you know it's got to be good.
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 5 from noon to 5 pm, Carissa Rose is having a sample sale in their White Rock area showroom. Everything, including the styles pictured here, is $25! Most CR pieces run more than $100. The showroom address is 606 Northlake Drive, Dallas, 75218. Cash only.

Everywhere: Wedges

The Celine wedges that have inspired dozens of imitations have been on the top of my list of summer must-haves. Before I ever lay down my credit card, I troll around the web to see if there may be a suitable substitute so I don't rack myself with guilt over my indulgences. I found these, the Warrick Wedge, on SteveMadden.com and they're so-so, but.....

these Jeffrey Campbell's - below - on Intermixonline.com, with their creamy tan texture are the winners. Now, if I could just find them in a size 7, I'd be set, but they seem to be sold out everywhere.