Friday No. 26

Friday, January 29, 2016

No. 1

Last Friday night I got to check out a Dallas restaurant that had been on my wish list for awhile, Sissy's Southern Kitchen. The atmosphere and details were even better than I could have imagined.. and the food was great. I can't wait to return with Ben! I got the chicken fried steak (I hadn't had one in YEARS!) and pecan pie for dessert. So, so, so yummy!

This may be weird, but the decoration of the bathroom left me almost speechless- it was beautiful! And the candle burning in there was so amazing. I made friends with two ladies in there talking about it so we took it out of the hurricane to see what it was.. and I discovered the first time in my life I had ever considered really wanting a $60 candle. YIKES!! Haha. It was a Champagne scented Lafco candle, and it's inspired me to try to find a more reasonably priced Champagne scent. It's something I never would have thought I would be drawn to.. but I loved it.

No. 2

When I get my mind set on a home project, there's no turning back! Since we moved into our house, we've had this awkward space by our fridge. For awhile it held our dog's kennel during the hot summer months, and often times for parties it would hold a beverage table. I wanted something more permanent.

As our little family has become more and more settled, I realized how important it is to have control of all your boring adult stuff. Files, calendars, etc. I know some people don't like these, but I dream of having a built in desk in our kitchen one day. It just makes sense for me to be able to do all of my stuff at a desk in the heart of the home. But that's a ways away.. and I wanted something that would work for us now. I had hung the bulletin board months ago and have loved using it to hold birth announcements, save the dates, and party invites. Everyone please put your photos on everything and I'll keep you up forever. :) We've loved having the random images of people we love up year round. A few weeks ago it hit me that I could set up some kind of drop station for all of our stuff. A trip to Target for a bookshelf and a TON of internet searching for file baskets (Linens and Things.. who would have guessed?!) later.. we have our wonderful little organized family zone. I am so so happy with it! I've got my eye out for some kind of cute little bowl or tray to keep keys, wallets, etc. :)

No. 3

My first two baby shower invitations arrived in the mail this week and I about died. I love throwing showers, and seeing my own name on the invitation was such a cool thing. I'm so excited that our first celebration will be our family shower in just two weeks!

No. 4

I really enjoyed reading this post by Lysa TerKeurst on Southern Weddings.. For some reason I've always looked forward to the idea of being the parent at the wedding, and I loved this sweet perspective.

Another link I loved this week was Dax Shepherd + Kristen Bell's music video. Why are they so cool? 

No. 5

Sweet Baby Strader's first monogrammed outfit arrived in the mail yesterday.. and I'm obsessed! Can't wait to see him in these sweet things from Bella Bliss . :)

All of my Friday posts can be found here.

What's Up Wednesday - January 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What we're eating this week...  At this very moment I have Chicken and Dumplings in the Crockpot! This week I'll also be making Cauliflower Pasta and Quinoa Turkey Meatballs.

What I'm reminiscing about... our travels from the years past! I cannot believe how blessed we are to get to travel back to Europe with our baby boy this summer!

Old photo from Cinque Terre
What I'm loving... did any of y'all catch the pilot for Home Town on HGTV this weekend? I watched it twice on Sunday because I wanted Ben to watch it with me. The whole show was so charming and put us in such an incredible mood. I wouldn't say that Laurel's decor is exactly my style, but I loved what she did so much and she really inspired me to integrate more meaningful pieces into our home. Seriously, as we watched I realized that our living room houses almost nothing of meaning. This has to change and I'm brainstorming! :)

What we've been up to... it's been a busy time for us, Ben's got basketball season going and has also been showing a lot of properties. We've got a lot of big dreams up our sleeves!

What I'm dreading... sending my beautifully baked bundt cake to school with Ben, haha! I tried this  easy recipe for Ben's school potluck.. and I am so ridiculously proud of it! Now I want to try all the recipes! Haha!

What I'm working on... Sweet Baby Strader's nursery! I'd love to have it done sooner rather than later. :) I also just got a photo book in the mail with all of our gender reveal photos.. it turned out so great!

What I'm excited about... our lives changing forever in just a few short months. Every time I feel the baby kick I'm reminded of all the joy ahead.

What I'm watching/reading... I've been having a hard time getting into any tv shows other than The Bachelor, haha! Maybe I'll come around but I've been letting even my favorites pile up on the DVR. Who knows why! Yesterday Kiera Cass released a new book (The Siren), so I've just started reading that!

What I'm wearing... I've finally had a second trimester rush of energy (just a few weeks before third trimester, haha!) and my nausea seems to FINALLY (knock on wood!) be under control. This had had me wearing work out clothes most of the time so I can either run to the gym for some cardio or get strength training done at home. It's crazy how working out has become something that makes me feel more myself. One thing that I'm looking forward to after baby comes is getting back into some really high intensity workouts that kick my hiney. It's such a good, humbling feeling and I love it!

What I'm doing this weekend... we have our last clear weekend before a really busy few months ahead, I'm hoping we'll be enjoying a whole lot of nothing, just quality time!

What I'm looking forward to next month... We have such a fun, busy month ahead! Two showers for me, I'm hosting one bridal shower, my birthday, Valentine's Day, and two out of town weekends! Whoowee!

What else is new... not a whole lot! It's been a pretty ordinary week around here! :)

British Belle: Dressing the First Half of Pregnancy

Monday, January 25, 2016

I thought it might be helpful or fun to share what I've been wearing during pregnancy so far. I'm just about a month away from the third trimester- so wild! I went through random photos from the first half of pregnancy to see what I could find.. and what I was actually wearing. 

I ordered this long tunic from Pink Blush maternity and have been loving wearing it with leggings. Ben really liked it too! 

This flowy white blouse was the first maternity shirt I purchased, from ASOS. It honestly is even cuter when you're just hiding the fact that your normal shirts don't look great. I loved it for early second trimester. I'll probably wear this post pregnancy, which is awesome! I'd love to have minimal clothes that go unworn. 

It's funny how big my bump looks in the photos above, and how small in this one, haha! This is another example of me trying to keep wearing non maternity clothes. :) This photo is actually taken after the one above it.. so funny!

This is kind of cheating because it's not me in the photo.. (image found here) but I got this exact sweater on Black Friday from Anthropologie and wore it on Christmas Eve morning. I ended up having to change because it was so warm here on Christmas! I have worn it since though. Great with leggings or even prematernity jeans rocking the hair tie trick. Oh wait, I do think I have a photo of me in it that I texted to a friend. 

While shopping at Anthro I found this top that I think will last quite a bit longer in pregnancy. It made me feel so cute, which is a huge requirement when some days I feel like an elephant. :) 

Until the night of our anniversary, I had mostly been wearing flowy styles as opposed to allowing the bump to shine. I really enjoyed wearing this pre-pregnancy dress though, and really feeling like a mama! Obviously as my belly grows it will show off a bit more, but wearing this inspired me to really rock it, haha!

Pregnancy has made me realize that I very rarely wear form fitting tops, especially when they are on the more casual side. This is an normal, size small striped tee from J. Crew, that I wore at 21 weeks.

I have to be honest and say that I've been wearing pajamas or leggings literally WHENEVER I'm home and have the chance. I'm wearing normal ones, just low around my waist so the belly fits. :) I'm a big fan of pajamas that make you feel cute and pretty!

And that's that! I've now almost exclusively graduated from my side panel maternity jeans to a full panel pair. I got them on sale at Pea in the Pod and have loved them. Any experienced mamas got any more maternity style tips to share? I just wish I could rock some Kourtney Kardashian pregnancy style. As a whole, Kardashian style isn't usually what I go for but she always looked so put together during pregnancy!

Friday No. 25

Friday, January 22, 2016

Last weekend, we traveled to visit some out of town cousins and meet their brand new baby girl! She is about four days old in the photos below, what a sweet girl! 

This photo makes me so excited.. just saying. :)

Sweet baby Sunny is so loved! She was such a snuggly little girl who looks just like her mama, our cousin Shelley. She has her dad's red hair though. :) Can't even handle.. so so sweet! It was kind of a surreal thing to be around a newborn knowing that there's one 1/7 of her size hanging out in my belly.

I about died when I saw these pajamas. First of all, I basically live in pajamas these days (no joke I have them on as I'm writing) and they have scenes from London, Paris, and Italy! Our favorite places. :) They're my first pair of PJ Salvage flannels but they won't be the last.. I'm obsessed. These guys are so cozy. I never would have bought them unless they were on sale but they are perfectly warm and cozy. I've had fun wearing them the last few days. :)

I shared this photo of our mantle on instagram this week. I had struggled with styling our mantle for some time. The space above the shelf isn't that tall, which is limiting. And the two photo frames on the side are covering electric outlets. I finally managed to hide the eyesores and have a simple look. I'm loving it!

What do y'all have going on this week? Happy Friday! :)

Capri Travel Guide

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Capri is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was stunning. The water was amazing. The weather was great while we were there. That being said, I think we should have planned more for our day there and had a better plan. We took the ferry over from our home base for a few days of Naples. I'm kind of thinking it's the area we stayed in, but Naples wasn't our favorite city. We very well might have missed some cool things in Naples, but we were focused on getting to the Amalfi Coast, and to Capri. That being said we'd both go back again for one thing and one thing only: 

Naples is the city where pizza was invented, and we had heard that the pizza was dramatically more delicious than any other Italian city. We had already enjoyed lots of yummy pizza and so we were skeptical.. but my oh my. So amazing. We seriously talk about this pizza often. Haha! (I also talked about this in my 15 Best Things I Ever Ate post)

So basically, Capri is stunning. But if you're going there.. plan better than we did. :) That being said, we really and truly enjoyed this stunning place. 

Things to Do: 
  • It's a rare occasion when Ben says he thinks we should have spent a bit more money on something, but that was our thought in Capri. We paid something like 50 euro to ride on a boat around the island packed with lots of rude, pushy people and their selfie sticks getting in the way of your view. For 90 (and I'm sure you could negotiate) we could have gotten a private boat. Looking back, we would have come with our bathing suits under our clothes, gotten a private boat, and felt like we were celebrities. Especially if you're traveling with a group... PRIVATE BOAT!!!
  • We didn't get the chance because of overcrowding, but visiting the Blue Grotto looks amazing. I was a little bit scared of it so I wasn't super disappointed that we had to miss out. 
  • Something to keep in mind is that Capri is expensive. If you're just there for the day, plan to pay for transportation to any beach areas. 

Places to Eat: 
  • We ate one meal on Capri, and we just chose a quaint looking cafe with a great view of the water. There were several bunched together, and they all looked great! 
  • While we were there I remember someone commented on my instagram photo and said that Capri is a great place to buy fresh fruit from street vendors.. I believe that the fruit would have been better than we had ever tasted.. but there were none out. 

Our Babymoon Plans

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Because it's no secret that we love traveling.. we've gotten a lot of questioning about having planned a baby moon. While the idea of one last hoorah sounds awesome, we feel that we've gotten to share lots of sweet travel experiences together (our trip to Italy last summer being our favorite!) and honestly, we're really looking forward to being able to travel WITH our baby.

We know this isn't for everyone, but I literally took my first international flight at two weeks old. Traveling with our young family has become a huge desire of our hearts. It won't always mean something super glamorous, but we want to build memories with and for our children. Will our baby remember traveling with us this year? Nope. But will we? Yep! And I'll have plenty of photos to remind Sweet Baby Strader about the adventures he got to go on. :)

The mission of our trip for this summer is for Sweet Baby Strader to meet his British family members. But we also knew if we were going all that way, we wanted to enjoy a few days in London, and perhaps another city if we could swing it. So at the end of July we'll head across the pond for our Moon with Baby ;)!

Like I said, this may not be for everyone, and those with and without kids may think this is totally crazy, but people do it all the time. It may just not be people in your direct circle. :) This has been part of our vision for our family since before we were married and we are so excited. Whenever I read blog posts about sweet mamas traveling with their young children I've teared up thinking about that being our future.. and this summer it will be our our reality! I'm under no impression that traveling with a baby will be the same as traveling on our own. I know there will be hard moments. But I truly believe we'll be better parents because of it, and that our time in Europe will be extra special because of the company of our little guy. When Ben and I took our first trip in 2014- I truly had no idea that #StradersinEurope would become an annual thing, and this year may be the last for awhile.. but who knows. I'm so grateful that we are able to travel to visit family that our child otherwise wouldn't know. And we're extra grateful to the people who are making this trip possible. We were gifted flyer miles to get over there, which dictated and planned a lot of our trip for us. Last year using flyer miles meant that we would take three flights to get to Italy, two to get home. It was worth it but honestly misery at times. Obviously this isn't an option with a two month old. So to get flights that would be easiest on our little family, we had to select certain dates, which ended us up with a rather long trip. I've POURED over the computer for the last week trying to make the trip as baby friendly & flexible as possible, while still getting our adventure on. I've read reviews and tried to register intentionally for great quality products that will serve us well on this trip, as well as all the rest of the time. I was originally thinking we'd get sucked into $200 fold-into-a-backpack pack and plays.. but we have resisted. :)

So where are we going? What's the plan? We'll fly into Milan, Italy (Mama's eating ITALIAN FOOD FOR LUNCH BOOYA!!) and drive up to somewhere central in Switzerland (TBD) with a stop in the Lake Como area for lunch/ to break up the trip with a nice long exploratory walk. Then for the rest of the week we'll explore Switzerland at our leisure. Ben's #1 wishlist item is to bungee off of a dam where that they used for a jump scene in a James Bond movie (Goldeneye, for those who might know!) and we'll see if I can emotionally handle standing at the top of a 220 meter jump holding my infant watching our person JUMP off of it. :) We'll see... Haha! Then we'll come back to Milan to explore our one remaining big Italian city, return our rental car, and fly directly to London. From there we'll spend time with family, and another few days with our sweet boy showing him our favorite city in the world. I might die over all of our photos, and my #1 trip resolution is to take some videos to compile a video of our trip. Especially with our babe, I think this will be extra neat.

Look! People with strollers! That's US!! 
So there you have it. :) If you have any particular recs for Milan, Switzerland, or really even London please let us know! Thanks for being so encouraging to us in this stage of life.. we are blessed!

A GREAT travel with baby resource:
Barefoot Blonde 50 Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Photos of Lake Como from this post.

25th Birthday Wishlist

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's that time of year again.. I feel like as I get older my birthday really sneaks up on me. Especially with it being so close to Christmas, Valentine's Day, and our anniversary. Literally we have Christmas on December 25, Anniversary on December 29, Birthday February 9, Valentine's February 14. Wild. I think this has made us really not big Valentine's people, and thus far we haven't done anything huge for anniversaries. That being said, we're only two years away from 5 years and we want to make that special. :) I digress...

This Christmas we got SO many generous gifts for Sweet Baby Strader. A chair for his nursery, a nice toy box, and tons of other goodies. That being said this wishlist is all about mama. It thought it might be more interesting to y'all that way, too! :)

Le Creuset Utensil Crock in White- I think two of these would do a great job storing all of our kitchen utensils! I love the idea of two, because I saw someone use one for all of their wooden spoons, one for metal. It looked great!

Tory Burch Miller in Natural/Gold-  During the summer, I wear a pair of these sandals literally every day. What's crazy is they actually make the best travel walking shoe, I've discovered. I've had my first pair since before we got married, and since I got the patent plastic version they're still in great shape, but a lot of the stitching is fraying. I thought it might be nice to put a new pair on my wish list. :)

Plum Pretty Sugar Pajamas for the Hospital- This is kind of, technically a baby thing... but I love Plum Pretty Sugar jammies and these blue dot ones are the perfect subtle nod to Kate Middleton leaving the hospital with Prince George. Anyone? :) I think I'd order these in an xl, to make them extra roomy and comfy for after delivery when I imagine I'm not going to be rocking my body everywhere. :)

Shay Shull's new cookbooks- When your favorite blogger comes out with some cookbooks.. you want them! Haha! :)

Eliza J Gingham Shirtdress - I LOVE wearing dresses when we travel, and I've got my eye on this one for our summer trip (sharing more about this tomorrow!) It's just a perfect classic piece that I'd wear for years to come!

Kendra Scott Necklace

Drybar Boxed Set- I've used the same hairdryer since early high school.. and it wouldn't surprise me if that's some kind of electrical hazard.. yikes! Haha! Especially now that my getting ready time is going to be smaller, I'd love a nice one to get the job done faster. After my first trip to Dry Bar at the beginning of the month, I'm dying for their fun clips and terry cloth lined shower cap, too! :)

Lilly Pulitzer Dress- You can't go wrong with a quick trip to Lilly for something cute to usher in the spring :)

I was amazed at how hard it was to not add a baby outfit or a nursery detail to this list.. yikes! :) Haha!

New York in October Days 4&5

Monday, January 18, 2016

A blogging resolution of mine is to actually finish blogging all of our travels. I always start and then forget to finish the posts. So stay tuned for lots of throwback travel updates from over the past year, appearing over the next few months. Let's set the goal to get caught up before Sweet Baby Strader comes. :)

Looking back on this trip to New York I'm just reminded.. Wow! Traveling with your best pals really is so fun. I truly cherish the memories from this trip. The weather was amazing, and Sweet Baby Strader was at 11 weeks (I think!).. it was such a nice contrast from my trip to the city over the summer, where I was fresh into trying to handle loss.

Day 4 was one of those travel days where you experience so much and are SO exhausted! Haha. We started the day with a reservation at Sarabeth's. It was just a short walk over from our hotel on Park to get to the Central Park South location. I remember walking those streets with my besties in the gorgeous weather so fondly. Before breakfast, we stopped for a quick photo outside the Plaza.

After a delicious breakfast, these Texas girls wanted to find some real fall trees in the park.

We succeed and snapped a few photos. However, we were wearing our fancy shoes so our more expansive walks of the park were saved until the next day. :)

Our goal for the morning was to switch to our hotel on the Upper West Side (we had started out on the Upper East) for the rest of our trip. On the walk from where we had ended up in the park back to our hotel, we stopped at two of my favorite places in life. Laduree, and Lilly Pulitzer!

The 12 week baby size comparison on my pregnancy app was a macaron, so it was extra fun to think about how Sweet Baby Strader would be that size just the next week. Now sweet baby is a lot bigger.. and so am I! Haha! :)

Now don't judge.. but our first stop on the Upper West side after checking in was another bakery. Haha! Levain houses by far the best cookie I've ever had. Susannah actually went back to New York for business this week and brought us both back a cookie. Yum! I recommend the chocolate chip walnut to all.. and it's worth the wait in line I promise. Buy a few, like we did. :) We tried a few of the fresh warm bites, and stashed our cookies in our purses for snacks later in the day. Our next goal was to get to Brooklyn.

We rode the subway to get downtown, and ended up close enough to take a quick peek at the 9-11 memorial. I had seen it multiple times, but it's always worth a stop to say a prayer for the families affected.

We walked the two miles across the bridge and explored Dumbo a bit before ordering a pizza from Juliana's.. YUM!!! Also a note, we got a surprising amount of great group photos on this trip. Yay stranger photographers! :)

Pizza and Lizzmonade by the pier is an experience not to be missed, in my opinion. :)

We then rode the subway to Tribeca to check out Taylor Swift's apartment. I think I started having a bit of morning sickness at that point, so we sat down for a few minutes. We then shopped in SoHo for a little while, but by this point our legs were SOOOO tired. It had been a really long and fun day!

After one last stop in SoHo, the Birchbox store... we got back to the Upper West Side, stood in line to get Shake Shack, and power walked with our warm, delicious food back to our hotel room. We pigged out and watched Gossip Girl in our jammies for the rest of the night. We walked something crazy like 35k steps that day!

For Day 5, we were feeling a much more low key day. We were honestly still zonked from the day before! We had brunch reservations at Tavern on the Green at noon, so we decided to have a leisurely morning in the hotel. When we woke up, we got a snack at Starbucks next door (I literally wore my jammies and coat to go there!) and then got ready at a slow pace.

We planned to walk through Central Park for awhile before our reservation.. a GREAT decision. It was gorgeous!

We hit up some of the "big" spots.. the photo above is by the Strawberry fields.

And the fountain that's in every movie ever. :)

And of course, more fall photos. :)

Tavern on the Green was so fun.. I loved seeing the iconic New York landmark and it was a very authentic crowd.. didn't feel super touristy. It might have just been when we were there, but who knows! Great experience.

After brunch, we took the Subway uptown to visit Columbia University.

Visiting college campuses is so fun. We also accidentally strolled into the campus chapel where a wedding was taking place. We saw no less than 6 wedding portrait sessions that day, too. If you look carefully, you can see a bride on the library steps. Haha!

This cold afternoon was also a great time to get my first Carmel Apple Spice of the season. :)

While we were there, we got to meet up with Susannah's brother and sister in law who live in Virginia. We met them at The Frick, and enjoyed the architecture of the building more than anything. :) After hanging out with them for awhile walking around, we finished the trip with dinner at The Meatball Shop on the Upper East Side, before taking an uber back to our room. Note: we saved SOOO much money on this trip only taking cars twice. Love you forever, subway and walking!

The next day we woke up early for our flight back to Texas! What a sweet trip! :) In 2015 I got so spoiled with three trips to New York.. and now it probably will be at least another year until I return!
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