Feeling like a “real” blogger: Create & Cultivate Dallas

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Last weekend, I went to Create & Cultivate Dallas. It was my first ever blogger conference, and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. I sit down with my blog reader every morning, so there’s something of a celebrity status reverence in my mind. I also anticipated a great deal of fashion bloggers, given that it’s a popular category in general and in the Dallas area.

A twinge of impostor syndrome had me feeling the need to up my style game and buy a bunch of new outfits. Some confidence-boosting FT business cards and soul-searching later, I realized a) my closet is already too full and b) I like my every day style, so it just wouldn’t be me to dress like my idea of a “real blogger”. Some outfit planning later with my style consultant (as in, if my husband hears “these shoes or these shoes?” one more time…) I ended up 100% comfortable as just me in things I already owned. Figures.

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Once I actually got there, I realized I had nothing to worry about anyway. Everyone was truly friendly and nice. There was also way more of a range of blogger levels and career fields present than I expected, which kept things interesting and way more approachable. It also helped a ton that one of my favorite people was there.

Overall, it was fun, fancy, and I’d definitely go again! Here are my big takeaways from Track #2:

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Let’s get technical:

  • Know your audience – where else should you be for them to discover you, what do they actually want or need from you.
  • Engage with people who’ve just liked / commented / followed – they are most likely to still be on their phone or in the app.
  • Hashtags – check before you use! Luckily, this lesson was already cemented while researching before a client’s major sports event…In case you were wondering, “#score” on Instagram is not so much sports-related. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.
  • Specify rounds of edits in partnership contracts in advance, as well as fair fees for extra / extensive ones.

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Make your own opportunities:

  • Bag Snob turned a negative review for a designer’s bag –> a product conversation –> into a bag pitch –> into her own line.
  • House of Harper was looking to personally embark on a home remodel. She decided to explore expanding her blog content accordingly and pitched Lowe’s with her design ideas to see if they would maybe, like to, potentially sponsor. They did.

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Quotes, thoughts and things:

creativity is a practice

 

know your strengths, tap your network for the rest

 

sell the idea over the skills

 

respond to “no” with “why”

 

you’re only as good as your last _____

 

authentic > innovative …and is often innovative in and of itself

 

inspire creativity by understanding how people work best – and then letting them

Hope to see ya’ll at the next one!

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Meeting Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential!
Meeting Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential!

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Coffee Shops on the To Do List

I think I speak for both Sarah and I when I say that we are pretty picky when it comes to where we go to get our coffee house fix. It takes a lot to impress us. Atmosphere, patio, views, employees, chair comfiness, pastry selections (gluten free, please for Sarah..sufficient sweetness for me) and of course that coffee taste are all equally important.

Ascension Coffee
Ascension Coffee

My favorite coffee shop in Dallas is Ascension in the Design District. It’s my go to. The coffee is so delicious, and for me it was one of the first boutique coffee shops I knew about in D-town (having come from the land of Starbucks corners). Their perfectly sized small coffees are everything I need to turn a bad day into a great one.

But, I have a wandering eye. There are two new(ish) specialty shops in Dallas that if I don’t try in the next month I might die.

Houndstooth
Houndstooth

Houndstooth opened up about a week ago by Knox/Henderson. Originally from Austin, this shop has found its way North and I couldn’t be more thrilled! One thing I love is that they host frequent public coffee cuppings at their Austin N. Lamar location. This gives you the opportunity to try new coffees and learn more about their flavor, something I actually really enjoyed while working at Starbucks. At first you’re just like ‘ummm yeah this one tastes like coffee too…” but when you start trying several coffees and pairing them with foods, you start to notice the different flavors in each cup. So, Houndstooth. I’m hoping to see you tomorrow morning.

Davis St Espresso
Davis St Espresso

The second place I’m hoping to pay a visit to is Davis St Espresso in Oak Cliff. They just recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary, so I’m super late hoping on this train. Davis St. also hosts cuppings – a quality I think defines a dedicated coffee shop…just saying. Unfortunately this one is a little out of the way and difficult to get to and it’s closed on Sundays. But I’m determined! I’ll see them very soon.

Tat it up

Over a year ago I came to the thoughtful conclusion that I wanted to get a tattoo.

I tend to be really indecisive about small decisions (never ask me what I want for dinner, ever) but then cannon ball into big decisions (move to Arizona after I graduate without visiting for a company I wasn’t big fan of? Heck yeah sign me up!). The thing about tattoos though is it’s a permanent big decision, so I took plenty of time to stew on it.

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The first thing I figured out was what I wanted to get. I knew I wanted to get a line from my favorite poem “who know’s if the moon’s a balloon” by E.E. Cummings. I’ve been writing “always it’s Spring)” on all surfaces since I first read the poem in college (I tried to go through a poetry phrase, ya know, like all smart people do…) The poem stuck out to me. I almost have it memorized. It paints such a beautiful picture. And it is pure optimism. It speaks to a utopia. That’s so perfect that even the “flowers pick themselves”.

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But, in yoga we learn that things aren’t perfect. Life has its ups and downs and twists and curves that we don’t see coming (whether that’s in life, or moving from one pose into a handstand that you didn’t think possible). Things can be beautiful one instant and terrifying in the next. In class we learn to take both in stride. To take the bad with the good and the good with the bad and appreciate all of it. Love all of it.

Not to say that is an easy task. It’s not. My car was towed a few weeks ago and I was a wreck. It put me in a bad mood for two solid days. Although you should let yourself feel the anger and the sadness and all the other bad emotions, you shouldn’t let it steal joy from your life. Which I did.. for two solid days.

All of this to say that I wanted to get “always it’s Spring)” on me as a reminder of this beautiful life and that it’s not always spring. Sometimes it’s winter and it’s freezing outside and your car is under three inches of ice. But that to put a smile on your face through all of it and to remain content, will lead to more love and a happier life. I also wanted it soon. To get it at a time when things are great, like now, to serve as a reminder for when they’re not.

On A Piece of Toast (a favorite blog of mine and Sarah’s), Molly got her tattoo when she was on vacation with a group of girlfriends having the time of her life. I loved that. It wasn’t just any other day, it was also a remembrance of a great time. I wanted to do the same!

(Plus, I’m 25. I wanted to be a little rebellious since I skipped that phase in high school. I love that a tattoo is something that I’ll have when I’m 65, even if I hate E.E. Cummings by then and am so over yoga, I hope it’ll remind me to live a little, laugh a little, and rebel a little)

This past weekend my friend from college Molly was in town and she and my soul sista Catherine stayed with me for the weekend. We had a absolute blast! We crammed so much into those two days, I was exhausted come sunday evening. So when we were paddle boarding on Saturday morning and two other friends mentioned they had gotten tattoos the night before, I was sold. This was THE weekend (planned spontaneity is kind of my thing).

Death and Glory Tattoo
Look how cool, calm and collected I am. This was clearly taken before the pain started!

We headed to Death and Glory on Lower Greenville in Dallas, sat in pain for about 10 minutes while watching BMX, got bandaged up and then obviously went to HG Supply rooftop for a celebratory beer or two. It was a shockingly easy process and with my two bff cheerleaders with me, the whole thing was a breeze.

That's my "I'm so excited, but sooo nervous and also that hurt really bad" face
That’s my “I’m so excited, but also nervous and also that hurt really bad” face

Sooooo I did it. I got my tattoo! I’m so very very excited to have it and also to not to be sitting in that chair with all that pain anymore! If you don’t like it, don’t tell me… 😉 there isn’t much I can do about it now…

This was taken the next morning. Please ignore my unpainted finger nails and lack of filter.
This was taken the next morning. Please ignore my unpainted finger nails and lack of filter.

It’s time to summer

I’ve lauded summer before on Finding Tiffany’s, especially given that the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Any time I’m encouraged – no – expected to eat plenty of hot dogs and light things on fire I’m all in.

But what does this summer hold? I feel some goal-setting coming on…

More pool days at FOE. It’s basically the epitome of the neighborhood pool in every quirky, indie movie, which is awesome. And as the husband said, it’s a place where the poolside currency isn’t abs, but tattoos.

Photo by Jason Acton, D Magazine
Photo by Jason Acton, D Magazine

More walks to our new Design District neighbors. I’ve been meaning to walk down the Hi Line shops, try the Taco Stop and bike on the Trinity Strand Trail.

I've got some exploring to do.  Photo by International Business Times
I’ve got some exploring to do.
Photo by International Business Times

Nesting the new home. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we’re New-York-in-training, as we’re already spending more than we wanted to on not enough space. Despite the fact that this leaves my Target shopping spree decor budget waning and Ikea nearly broke us up, we’re now the proud owners of some new boxes of furniture and a whole lot of ideas.

Photo by Buzzfeed
Photo by Buzzfeed

Hosting a housewarming party. I can only hope we complete the apartment in time to throw a summer housewarming party. I love to plan and host, the husband loves to cook…we may have found our real life calling.

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Photo by Paperless Post

Pineapple nail art from Ms. Patty. I’m not too worried about not completing this one. Ms. Patty is the best, and Beauty Bar’s deal for $20 nail art + cocktails by day is only rivaled by their epic dance parties by night. Also, I’ve decided pineapple prints will be the next summer trend. You heard it here first.

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Photo by Wondrously Polished

 

 

Allieology

Perks of trying something new

On sunny days in Dallas all I want to do is go to Ascension. Their patio is a frequent host to my and Lydia’s blogging, drinking, caffeination and story swapping.

It’s slightly sunny and barely above 60 degrees today, so naturally I set out to make another such afternoon happen. I was mid-Google mapping when one of my new year’s goals came to mind, reminding me to try new things and places.

So I swapped my Google activity to search and began looking up a new coffee shop instead. Drip Coffee caught my eye, and after reading Yelp reviews criticizing the shop’s environment as too industrial (this Yelper would hate my wedding) and praising their fresh-roasted coffee, I was sold.

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And I’m in love.

I’m no expert when it comes to coffee terminology, but I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to taste. Their iced coffee is 100% my favorite in Dallas now. It is dark, rich flavor, slightly nutty and chocolatey, and – my favorite – has a smooth but thick texture. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I can actually taste the coffee, you know? I hate when it’s a thin, almost syrupy-textured liquid.

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Music can make or break a place, and their’s is just the right style (good) and volume level (subtly audible). Nothing like the true aural hideousness that is Mudsmith. Don’t ever go there.

The baristas also actually know or want to know every customer and ask real questions about their lives, which is just awesome.

Regardless of whether my coffee description made any sense, you should definitely try Drip Coffee. Bonus, it is surrounded by a lot of shops with serious cute-potential. Apparently I should make it to the Park Cities side of town more often.

A series of unfortunate events

Let’s go back to last Friday. A coworker was just telling me that Klyde Warren, a personal favorite and very cool downtown Dallas park, opened an ice skating rink. As any big city-starved and New York-obsessed girl, visions of sliding through crisp air surrounded by twinkly lights and the beautiful juxtaposition of trees and tall buildings swarmed my head. As not good as the movie Serendipity was (sorry Lydia), I’ve also never been able to lose the mental image of the Central Park ice skating scene and hope that I too might find my own adorable, quick-witted John Cusack to enjoy it with.

So with fiancé and high expectations in tow, I made my way downtown.

All seemed good as we walked up and laced up old fashioned-looking skates. People of all ages were lacing up their own skates, and the twinkly lights were ready for my movie moment. I was even wearing my favorite winter coat (even though I’m pretty sure it was 60 degrees today). And then we stepped on the…not ice.

Not sure how they got away with all the media placements touting the arrival of downtown “ice skating” (gotta love the power of a good publicist), but there was no ice to be found. Instead, our skates came to a screeching halt on plastic, yes, plastic, that required footwork not unlike an elderly penguin post-hip replacement surgery. Definitely no skating, sliding or speed of any kind here. Upon further inspection, our skates actually had just a flat metal strip where the blade would be.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the Klyde Warren. We even threw it out as a potential wedding location due to our support of and excitement for the space from Day 1. So this hurts me to say more than it hurts you, dear park: this “ice skating” is a waste of money, both for participants and the park itself.

After a few attempts at waddling we needed a change of scene, stat. It seemed like a nice night to finally check out Hoffman Hots, a fifties-inspired hot dog restaurant in Trinity Groves. Sadly, this was a severe disappointment both in food quality and atmosphere. And that’s saying something because I LOVE hot dogs. We also figured out we could buy 8 10-packs of hot dogs from a grocery store with what we paid for our 4 “gourmet” hot dogs, which really instilled confidence in our ability to make financially sound decisions for our future.

While this blog might sound like one long complaint, I have to be honest: We actually had a lot of fun tonight lamenting how “Dallas” aka “shiny on the outside/not so hot on the execution” the whole thing was….But if someone asks you to go ice skating in Klyde Warren you might want to tell them you prefer the Galleria.

Good food for a bad day

I did not have a good day.

My initial reaction, however potentially psychiatrically unsound, is usually to hermit in my own emotional cave all night long, but I decided I could poke my head out for a minute to tell you about a few of my favorite things. Just for you. Feel special.

To stock up for my evening watching Netflix in bed, I stopped by two of my favorite Lower Greenville establishments: Sevan G&G Cafe and Company Cafe.

If you live in Dallas, you must go to Sevan. The most precious Armenian couple own it, and even though I’ve never gotten their names (and now we’re far past the socially acceptable number of encounters to ask due to my Mediterranean food addiction), we’ve reached the point where the quiet husband and wife will actually both come out front and chat whenever I pick up my to go order. The Kafta Kabobs are heavenly.

Of course, it’s not a pity party without dessert, so I had to stop by Company Cafe to buy whatever gluten free baked good they had available. I ended up going home with a chocolate chip cookie bigger than my hand, so I’d say the additional minutes in the post-icepocalypse Dallas temps were well worth it. …Is it strange that my phone autocorrected to accurately spell “icepocalypse”?

The down side of coming home so hungry (always) and eating so fast (standard) – I now feel like a balloon someone filled with cooked oatmeal.

But…I have Shiner Cheer, White Collar Season 4 on Netflix, a fiancé who listens sympathetically to my unintelligible, tearful call and a double date with my space heater and bed. So I’d say things are looking up.

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Dallas Autumn Ball

Last Friday night, ze boyfriend and I got all gussied up for the Dallas Autumn Ball and had an absolute blast.

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The Dallas Autumn Ball is an event at Hotel ZaZa that according to the website seeks to “engage, impassion, and empower young professionals and young individuals to celebrate charity and raise much needed awareness and funds for worthy educational causes in Dallas. This is a unique black tie event that delivers a philanthropic opportunity to give back to the community in a festive setting.

The money raised at the ball went to Project Amplify. It’s a tutoring initiative for right here in Dallas to improve the education system, motivate our young people and help uncover passions. Through a highly researched method, Project Amplify sets out to rock the education system as we know it and start some real change.

So, last Friday night gave the opportunity to the young Dallas professionals to give money to a great cause, and then dance the night away with their friends. All of which I’m down for. Plus, it combined all the things a young Dallas professional loves; dressing up, Hotel ZaZa, booze, photographers, #hashtags and Uber (a local cab service).

Basically, we had a blast. Everything was to perfection, including my date. AND my feet didn’t even hurt..well..not that bad. Okay yeah I walked back barefoot but whatever. The aforementioned booze at least helped ease the pain a little. If you haven’t heard of the Dallas Autumn Ball before, now you do. Be on the look out, I’m counting on 2014!

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Dallas Restaurant Week commences

Dallas Restaurant Week is upon us. Do you feel the sudden shift in the weight of Dallas citizens? I can promise you that I sunk our city a little deeper after last night’s glutenous meal. I woke up still full this morning from too much tastiness! Anyhoo, last night my roommate and I set out to Hibiscus, fully dressed for the occasion (an excuse to wear her Birchbox red lipstick and me to wear my new heels? Sold!).

For those that don’t know, Dallas Restaurant Week is a time where us normal folk get to dine at Dallas’ finest restaurants. For just $30 or $45, you get to enjoy a full meal at your choice of dining bliss. At Hibiscus, for example, we paid $30 for a shared appetizer, shared side, individual entrees and a shared dessert. It would’ve been wise of me to actually calculate the real cost of the meal versus the Dallas Restaurant Week cost…but alas, I…didn’t. Dallas Restaurant Week also begs the question, just how does one articulate a happy squeal in simple words? A YAY! or a HELL YES! simply isn’t sufficing. So let’s just say I’m SUPER stoked.

Our choice, Hibiscus, is located in the Knox-Henderson area, across from Velvet Taco.  It’s the kind of place that doesn’t list their prices online and the hostesses are so dressed up that you start to wonder what their salary is and if you should change career paths. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s narrow and split up into three rooms, with just a curved passage away as the entrance. This made what is actually a huge restaurant, feel small and cozy. Well, almost cozy.

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So, in the hope of making your mouth water, here’s what we had…

To start, we had the Baked Dungeness Crab Dip with wood fired crackers.

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For my main course, I had the Spit-Roasted Fran’s Fryer Chicken with local kale, spring veggies and lemon-capers. As our side we had the Deep Dish Mac & Cheese (omg).

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And then to top of our calorie count for the day, we had the Classic Chocolate Cake (devils food fake with truffle ganache, cocoa frosting and morello cherry).

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Needless to say, I had to be rolled out of there and into my car. I used my full (and happy) tummy to steer me home so that the rest of me could enter a deep food coma. Only kidding (kinda). I’ll be day dreaming of that meal every time I eat my boring protein shake dinners or my hard boiled eggs at lunch. *Sigh*

Not to fret though, my other planned Dallas Restaurant date is right around the corner. The beau and I are headed to The Grape next week to pig out a little more. Om nom nom. Wish me and my almost-there-abs some luck!

Ps. The photos of all the delicious food are courtesy of my roommate, Brittany. Her pics made me strongly reconsider my dedication to my trust iPhone in favor of a Droid *gasp*