Altadena Golf Course | huevos rancheros

I’ve had many takes on this Mexican breakfast staple: runny eggs with fiery salsa and crispy fried tortillas with a bit of frijoles and melted cheese. I flew home for a surprise visit—well it was a surprise to my youngest sister who starred in St. Francis High School’s production of A Few Good Men.

After church Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast. My parents told us we were going to the golf course for breakfast—whatever that means, I thought. My dad compared it to how we used to go to the airport for breakfast when I was a wee one and we lived in Agua Dulce. I’m sure this makes sense to all of you reading, right? :)
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I loved the hustle and bustle of this little diner. Make no mistake—we were not eating at the country club (which is what I initially thought we were going to do). In fact, this couldn’t have been more of a contrast to a ritzy country club Sunday brunch. It was down home comfort food. And the huevos rancheros I ordered tasted like someone’s mama made them.

These were pretty darn simple huevos rancheros—nothing too exciting or fancy about them. But I can’t quite find the words to describe the comfort that washed over me as I took a bit of the refried beans covered in cheese and that spicy enchilada-style sauce and I gleefully watched the yolk pour out of my egg whites with just a quick prick of my fork. I stacked bite after bite with crispy hash browns and sipped a cold Stella (it was after 12).
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There are so many versions of Mexican food to people. It’s fun to experiment with different flavors and takes on a classic. But this is what my heart needed: simple and spicy.

current obsessions

1. Birchbox
If you haven’t already tried Birchbox, it’s only $10 a month, so what are you waiting for? Very often there’s at least one sample in my box that I would have gladly paid $10 for on its own (lipsticks, cheek stains, dry shampoo, volumizing spray), and when there’s more than one? Score.
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The box is fun enough, but what I really love is the rewards system they have. I used to shop at Sephora for all my makeup needs, and I’d be so excited when I would FINALLY earn enough points to get a sample I actually didn’t even want that badly, but, hey, it was free. With Birchbox, every dollar you spend is a point earned, every friend you refer is 50 points earned, and every review you leave for a product that came in your monthly box is 10 points earned. 100 points = $10 credit to the Birchbox shop. I’d say that’s a pretty fabulous rewards system, as I can actually use my rewards towards something I want. Here are a few of my favorite items I’ve gotten in my monthly box. Want to try it? Use this link (I’ll get points!).
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Product info: 1, 2 (in Beauty Queen), 3, 4, 5 (seriously obsessed), 6 (in Reign in Spain coral)

2. True&Co
About to get a little personal here, so beware. I hate bra shopping. It’s discouraging, it’s very hard to find something that fits like it should (in my size at least), and usually leaves me in a panicked conundrum of whether or not I should buy right here right now or shop around a bit more.
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Well, I think I’m in love. True&Co is a home try-on service for lingerie. You take a quick fitting quiz, and then they come up with suggestions just for you based on your results. They’ve been spot on for the most part with me. You leave feedback, telling them in detail why things fit or didn’t fit well. Then they use that feedback to keep your personal shop up-to-date!
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The best part about this is that though you pay $45 up front to get your try-on box, it’s fully refundable (and shipping is free both ways) if you decide you just don’t want anything in the box at all. I encourage women of all shapes and sizes to try this. If you do, use this link to get $25 off your purchase of $100 or more.

3. Pure Barre
Ok, I’ve talked about Pure Barre (recently, too – sorry), but I’m mentioning it again because it has definitely been at the forefront of my mind these last few days. Pure Barre Tuscaloosa is in the middle of its 20 in 30 challenge. (That’s 20 classes in 30 consecutive days — anyone who completes the challenge gets 20 percent off their next package).
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I am out of town for three weekends in the challenge, got big plans for one weekend in the challenge, and got sick the first week of the challenge. I may have to do two classes a day for a couple of days to make up for days missed, but I am determined to do this! Cheer me on!

If you haven’t tried Pure Barre, I still highly recommend it. It’s definitely pricey, but the T-town location has student discounts. And I feel the price is worth it. I see it as an investment in a sound body and mind (plus I am feeling and seeing the results).

Those are my current obsessions. What are yours?

#bhamtosatx | our trip to San Antonio

Two of our very dear friends, Courtnie and Daniel, moved away from Birmingham to San Antonio, Texas, where they are in the middle of an exciting adventure! So we decided to pay them a visit. We really couldn’t go too long without seeing them (they only moved in August). And after getting stuck for a night in Dallas (thanks, Southwest), we were welcomed into their fabulous apartment in Southtown which has an amazing view of the city. Then we proceeded to eat and drink far too much and enjoy the company of these two who we miss all the time. Some of my favorite spots we went include: The Monterey, El Mirador, 1919, Bakery Lorraine, and Big Hops Growler Station! Here’s a mezcla of photos. Enjoy!

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First night: Lone Stars at the Iron Cactus in Dallas

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Day 1 in SATX: Macarons from Bakery Lorraine!

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Big Hops Growler Station

A line up of our Texas brews.

A line up of our Texas brews.

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C & D’s lovely city view

Good morning! Coffee made by D.

Day 2: Good morning! Fab coffee made by D.

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San Fernando Cathedral

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Riverboat cruise!

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Lunch at El Mirador (I got a puffy taco and a chalupa compuesta. C got really good camarones and we all got Don Julio margs.)

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D & C

 

About to gameday!

About to gameday!

walking

walking

 

Pimm's Cup at 1919

Pimm’s Cup at 1919

Day 3: Best brunch ever at The Monterey

Day 3: Best brunch ever at The Monterey

My beautiful BLT with a fried green tomato and avocado.

My beautiful BLT with a fried green tomato and avocado.

Farewell trip to See's Candies!

Farewell trip to See’s Candies!

my fall downfall

I used to not yearn for fall. While fall is fun—back to school, football season, parties, friends—I never felt I could enjoy it to the max as long as I was in school. There was just too much to do and never enough time to do it. Even with football season, I still had anxiety about all the work that always had to be done once the game was over. I’m sure I was so much fun to be around.

And I never saw what the big deal was about the weather. Ok, it’s nice and cool and all that, but just a few weeks in I’m ready to relaxing by the pool again sipping some sort of tropical cocktail.

But I think the Alabama heat has gotten to me, and I am so ready for sweaters and jackets and slow-cooked stews and beer and tailgating food and boots with cozy socks and pumpkin everything.
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When it’s fall, I eat, and I drink. I tailgate; I am lazy. I’m cold and want to do nothing but cuddle. Ergo, I often eat very badly on football weekends and don’t exercise much to make up for it. Ergo, I gain weight. Oh, and then comes the holiday season.

Not this fall! I am promising myself it will not happened. And hopefully it will be a bit easier this year as I have developed two new workout loves: 1) kickboxing and 2) Pure Barre.

Let’s start with the first.
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I’ve got a membership at the University’s Rec Center, and I love Princess’s kickboxing class on Mondays at 5:15 p.m. It’s a hard, grueling workout that leaves you feeling beat while also quite victorious because you made it. I never look as attractive as the woman above (we also don’t get the cool gloves in this class—we just punch air), but there is something that makes me feel like such a badass working on my jabs, hooks and uppercuts. After just a month of this class, my legs and arms definitely saw a huge difference, and now I can do squats like nobody’s business.

Now the second.
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I had long been interested in giving Pure Barre a shot, simply because the word “barre” was in the title, and I love dance-related classes. I then heard this was not a dance class … so I sort of changed my mind.

Then a friend of mine said she had tried it and suggested I do, too. So I did. The first class was probably one of the hardest workouts I had ever done. I was sore everywhere—places I didn’t know I could be sore. And I also knew I had not gotten the full workout since I was a newb and some of it takes awhile to figure out. But I felt amazing and couldn’t wait to go back.

So I went back for a second class and decided to go for it: I got the new client special ($100 for 1 month of unlimited classes).

Pure Barre is an investment. The regular price for unlimited classes for 1 month is $225. (What??) But this is a strengthening class that works on giving you a dancer’s body, and the after-Pure Barre high is addicting. You learn how to control, define and strengthen muscles using the tiniest of movements. And immediately after working those muscles, you stretch them out to create the long, lean muscles that dancers have. With each class I attend, I get better and stronger. I’ve gone to about eight classes, and I can already see and feel a significant difference in the shape of my body.

Those are my two favorite workouts right now, and who knows, maybe I’ll earn some flat abs instead of a tummy this fall.

Oh, and PS – I love going to DAZE with Lillian at the Rec on Wednesday evenings. DAZE is sort of like Zumba, but more hip-hoppy. SO fun.

my top 5 favorite alabama beers

Any of you who know me know I love beer—probably a bit too much. For me, there is just no better way to enjoy a hot summer evening or an Alabama football game on a fall afternoon than with a cold brew, preferably a local one. And in Alabama that’s pretty easy because this state has some fabulous local beer. So I’m rounding up my favorites right now. Some of these are seasonal and a lot of these are brown ales, for which I apologize in advance, but hey—I’m just being honest here!

So without further ado, here’s my top five favorite Alabama-brewed beers.

1. Good People Brown Ale | Good People Brewing Co., Birmingham
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I absolutely love a good brown ale, and this is crisp and full-bodied with a subtle sweetness.

2. Truck Stop Honey Brown | Back Forty Beer Co., Gadsden
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Did I mention I love a good brown ale? Back Forty’s is truly phenomenal. It’s that honey flavor that sets it apart, making it delicious, sweet and refreshing. It’s sort of a rarity to see it a grocery store because it usually flies off the shelf. We often have to run over to our specialty beer shop to get it, which James often does just for me. :D

3. Seasonal Peach Wheat | Back Forty Brewing Co., Gadsden
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My gosh this beer is good. It’s like drinking peach cobbler. Well, it’s not that sweet, but the fresh peach flavor is bright and on point. It’s seasonal and only sold in bombers. I suggest you grab it if you see it, though the season is probably over now.

4. Long Branch Scottish Ale | Avondale Brewing Co., Birmingham
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This beauty is one of Avondale’s flagship brews. It’s dark in color, rich in flavor with caramel undertones and a buttery aftertaste. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

5. Leadbelly Peanut Butter Porter | Beer Engineers, Birmingham
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Beware: This is a heavy beer! It’s 13 percent ABV (jeez!) so it’s probably best to split this one with someone like, say, your husband. But it’s very interesting. This one is up on my top right now because of how unique it is. It smells like a jar of peanut butter, though the flavor isn’t as prominent as the aroma. This is completely decadent and divine—a perfect dessert!

There are others I simply love but didn’t name: Good People Oatmeal Stout, Back Forty Naked Pig Pale Ale, Avondale Vanillaphant and Streetcar Kolsch to name a few. What are your favorites?

at my desk

I spend about 40 hours a week in my office. I love my job, but I also love little ways to brighten up my busy routine. So here’s a quick round up of my favorite office supplies and accessories.

1. Rifle Paper Co. Notebooks
I found mind at Target (which was amazing), but here’s an updated version of the Rifle notebooks that are simply a joy to use to take notes, keep track of my to-do lists, etc.
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2. Cute folders
The folders I have are bright and colorful ones I found on clearance at Anthropologie a few months ago, but I have been eyeing these Nate Berkus ones at Target. I love the gold—so glam! They’re perfect for keeping loose papers organized in style.
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3. Chic writing utensils
I actually followed this tutorial by Hank & Hunt. I used washi tape (also found at Target) to cover plain ol’ number 2 pencils to give a bit more style to jotting down meetings in my calendar.
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4. Printstagrams
They’re so cute and little and a lovely way to add a personal touch to your workspace.
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extremely simple huevos rancheros

Sunday morning I woke up with a sweet tooth. I ended up satisfying it with a small bowl of granola with milk and a drizzle of honey. I thought breakfast was over until I saw James reach into the fridge and pull out the tortillas, salsa and eggs. I panicked, knowing my darn sweet tooth was going to make me miss out. You can’t eat breakfast twice, I thought!

Wrong! After tons of convincing (JK not really. I was very easily convinced), I decided that Round 2 Breakfasts are fine in moderation. So together, following James’ lead, we constructed a very simple but delicious version of huevos rancheros. No beans, nothing fancy. Just eggs, tortillas, salsa and cheese.

If you’re craving huevos rancheros, and you think they might be too hard or complicated for quick and easy breakfast – think again!

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Simple and easy huevos rancheros
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 eggs
4 corn tortillas
1 cup mild or medium chunky tomato salsa (we used what we had in the fridge — Pace)
Few dashes hot sauce (i.e. Tapatio or Cholula. I think we used this Cholula)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium sized skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling pan to coat.

When oil is heated, dip both sides of a corn tortilla in the oil and let cook about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil as needed. (FYI, somehow my oil is never hot enough when I start this process so I always waste 1 or 2 tortillas that are just saturated with oil. Don’t beat yourself up.)

In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil, swirling pan to coat (add more oil if needed). Once oil is heated, crack four eggs into pan. Cook over medium-high heat until whites are set and yolks are runny.

While eggs are cooking, combine salsa and hot sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until heated through.

To plate, top one tortilla with one egg and about 1 to 2 tablespoons salsa. Top with another tortilla, another egg and another 1 to 2 tablespoons salsa. Garnish with shredded cheese. Serve immediately.