A Blessed Easter

Yesterday was Easter and it coudln’t have been more beautiful to celebrate such an important day! We started off in Conway at another excellent Easter service at New Life Church, then ran by my moms to visit before heading to lunch at Broc’s parents in Little Rock. His good friend from highschool and his family joined us and it was great to have a kid around… hiding Easter eggs just isn’t the same without one of those. Dinner was amazing of course and Jill even broke out her famous Easter Bunny costume (or the head at least) to impress baby Alex. Not sure if he was impressed or confused though because he kept asking to take her mask off…. Can’t fool that kid!
Overall just a great day with family and friends who are such blessings to me.
Let every man and woman count himself immortal.  Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection.  Let him say not merely, “Christ is risen,” but “I shall rise.”  ~Phillips Brooks
Alex really enjoyed the dog cage!

he was just warming up to my camera

my favorite: meatloaf cupcakes!

lovely feast

made by these lovely people

can never get Ty to cooperate

like father like son

there's a decent one

Alex being coaxed into a boogie dance for us

then someone came to visit!

but a little heavy

especially for the little guy!

heaven...

our matching Easter attire

time to find some eggs!

serious about the counting

sweet little family

now for some dog walking

and then more searching

Alex took this! Not bad!

enough with the pictures lady!

cutie pie...

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. — Mark 16:6

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April Showers

April really is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s beautiful weather and a primer for wedding season so lots of fun gatherings and showers are usually happening. So far that has been the case, with a couples shower early in the month, my sister’s wedding shower, and a going away party for my cousin Kara.

First, baby sister’s first weddings shower last weekend at my aunt Linda’s house. (I’m throwing her a “bridal tea party” next weekend so this is just the first round…)
As you probably know if you read this blog, I come from a very tight knit and awesome family who love a reason to get together. And baby Hannah’s wedding is a pretty good one! Aunt Melba did a great job with the “Hollywood glamour” theme, and shower food is just my favorite. Hannah and Grant got lots of great gifts and seem to be well on their way to filling a home with all the essentials!

Happy to have the Wilcox's join my family!

I love my aunt's view of the water!

love this pic...

great grandma with her McKinnley

the happy couple- wont be long now!

And then this weekend, my cousin Kara had people over to her new house in Park Hill for a nice little going away cookout. Yes, she’s headed back to the dreaded island of Hawaii on a travel nurse assignment- bless her heart. Several friends gathered for burgers, appetizers, and great times just being together.

my yummy baked beans- recipe from B's dad.

gonna miss this girl!

Overall it’s been a great April and I’m even more excited about May! Bring on the parties- and Mexico!

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2 Cor 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

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Saturday was our good friends’, Patrick and Anna, wedding shower- crawfish boil style- and I sadly had very little time to help do anything or really enjoy the party… (Tricia, my photo booth business partner, is thankfully much more party detailed than I and planned the whole thing – including all the cute decorations. The rest of us just brought beer and appetizers… so lame, I know).

It was a nice day for an outdoor shindig and the crawfish were delicious!

adorable right?

I still don't know what's wrong with the straight ones....

boiling those little suckers

these are fake...

these are not

not sure about these

all the girlys

my boyfriend is really good at some things

like feeding me crawfish!

and so is Wes

Wes & Brandy

Anna & Jules prefer to eat the inside food

so i'm glad we had some!

cute cupcakes for the future Matthews

i like this sweet candid of them

if you're gonna be an Arkansan Anna....

you have to eat crawfish

like these fools

and these

and especially this one

sweet couple

the busy Beavers! (decor and food pros)

and B and I only good at smiling and snapping pics

one more of the pretty orange mudbugs

and a sweet matte to sign

the inside folks again

And that’s about all I got! Tricia and I had to rush out at 6 for a photo booth party in Hot Springs so neither of us were really able to partake in the drinkin’. Which is good thing sometimes. Maybe.

Congrats Pat and Anna, we love you guys and will see you in San Antonio!!!

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What can i really say about my first trip to the foggy city of San Francisco? I’ve been to many places in my life (Florida, Boston, Hawaii, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Puerto Rico & Chicago in just the past 3 years…) and really enjoyed them all, but this one will forever hold a very special place in my heart. Maybe it was the weather- not too hot, not too cold, and only rained on us one day; or the food- I tried a little bit of everything and didn’t have one bad meal; perhaps the technology & culture; possibly even the wine; but likely the cliche’ “overall experience” puts this city in my number 1 spot.

My purpose for the visit was for work- there was a major technology conference being held the 26th and 27th and many of our vendors have offices there. Our Wednesday and Thursday were full of meetings and a few dinners with drinks so I was able to most definitely mix business with pleasure. I met some really great contacts and have a lot of follow up to do. However in between work and meetings, a coworker and I squeezed in as many sites and city-love as we could.

We arrived on Tuesday around noon and had just enough time to check into our downtown hotel and I was itching to walk around after the seeing the view from my 30th floor room!

We walked through Union Square as I snapped pictures of all the fabulous buildings, cable cars, and shops I will never be able to actually shop in.

Day one and I’d already fallen hard…

We then met a vendor at this very cool hole-in-the-wall bar called the RickHouse. The dark rustic ambiance and exceptional selection of alcohol had me feeling all warm and fuzzy right away!

After drinks we met up with a colleague at 54 Mint for dinner. Delicious authentic Italian food in a charming whitewashed cafe nestled between the bustling streets of downtown’s business district. It was lovely and highly recommended.

After dinner we took an Uber ride (i can’t believe we don’t have these in LR- it’s like a super pleasant cab ride without the smell and hassle) down to the Bay Bridge where I got some pretty nice night shots of the city. It was a balmy 60 degrees and our stroll down the piers was bright and invigorating. My first night in SF had high marks- and it never went downhill!

Wednesday was Ad-tech day and mostly business meetings, a tasty deem sum lunch at Yank Sing, and then a lovely dinner at Farralon, a well-known seafood restaurant in the heart of the city. While the food was just okay, the company was fabulous. It’s not every day you get to dine with a group of women at a business dinner- the conversation took on an almost feministic tone and after 2 bottles of delicious wine we were all bff’s! :)

Thursday was another day of the same and mostly uneventful minus a tasty lunch with a vendor at Trace. We did have a chance to met a friend of Dana’s at the rooftop bar of the Marriott Marquis hotel and the views were spectacular! This city absolutely shines!

Finally Friday rolled around- our first day to really be tourists! Our first stop was breakfast at Samovar Tea Lounge. Everything about this place was gorgeous, from the outdoor patio overlooking the city to the bubbling waterfall below and fragrant wisteria above. An added bonus was watching the cute little Chinese men perform their morning t’ai chi exercises- it was almost surreal. While the food was great, the presentation of it was exceptional. Really a must for a unique breakfast in the city!

I’m not much of a hot tea fan but this blood-orange concoction was pretty yummy…

We checked into our new hotel on Union Square and walked through the financial district for a great lunch with potential clients.

Dana and I split a chicken sandwich that was absolutely to die for…
1st tourist must-do, the cable car! I didn’t have the best spot on the trolly for pictures but it was a great ride. The winding streets of San Francisco are so quaint and lovely!

The photos do it little justice but it felt almost Mediterranean with the pastel colored buildings nestled atop winding streets that seemed to go on forever. It was the perfect transportation to the bay where we departed to visit Fishermans Wharf.

Take a colorful bustling boardwalk on the ocean, add a few palm trees, statues, boats, and delicious smelling food stands and you have my heart. Throw in a crowd of sunbathing sea lions and you take my soul as well! (I’m a total sucker for sea mammals…)

I wish i had my zoom lens on this trip- these guys were really adorable!

Our final destination was Pier 33 to board a ferry for Alcatraz Island! The ride to the island itself was worth the $30 fee- we stood on the deck and took in the most spectacular views of the city, the Golden Gate bridge, and the approaching infamous island in complete awe.

Alcatraz Island itself was also very cool and I learned a lot. We did a self guided audio tour up the paved pathway to the top of the derelict prison and marveled at the pure horror of the place. Being trapped in those tiny cells within only minutes of such a beautifully free city- i just can’t imagine…

And just look at that view!

We ended up only staying for about half of the tour b/c, while interesting, our feet needed a break and we had to get back to the hotel to change in time for our burlesque show in the mission district!

The one sad thing about this night was the “no pictures allowed” rule. I did a review of the bar- El Rio- and the show- Red Hot Burlesque- on Yelp, but really it’s hard to describe without photos. All I can say is it’s a totally different look at the city of San Francisco and one I was more than happy to indulge in! The bar was a total dive on the inside- dark and smoky with cheap drinks and pool tables. But the outdoor patio was more like 5 patio’s in one, and literally behind what looked to be a row of houses. Lights were strung up between trees above all kinds of funky seating arrangements and someone was slinging hot dogs and seriously delicious nachos in the corner of the space. The crowd was about as diverse as I’ve ever seen- from 20 something gay couples to 65 year old hippies, and I mustn’t leave out the fabulous burlesque dancers weaving in and out. Around 7:30 they announced the show was starting and we were cajoled into a tiny room off the side of the bar- maybe 60 people smashed together with seating for half that. While I wasn’t exactly comfortable, the tickets were only $5 (even though we paid Yelp’s VIP $10- they were sold out) and the entertainment was top notch. We saw 5 different performances of flashy and scantily dressed dancers giving us just enough skin to keep everyone hooting and hollering like 19 year old boys in a strip bar. And they were really good dancers too! The drag queen host kept everyone laughing and entertained between gigs and after an hour and a half we left on a totally unique SF high! Great fun and highly recommended!!!

While I didn’t want Friday to end, I couldn’t WAIT for Saturday… NAPA! We booked a tour online through Napa Valley Wine Tours and met our party bus outside of Macy’s in Union Park. It was raining so we really couldn’t have picked a better day to be stuck on a bus for an hour. And this wasn’t just any bus. We ate our breakfast of cheese and pastries on leather couches between neon lights and stripper poles! Our driver Abe was very funny and accommodating, breaking out the mimosas at our stop at the Golden Gate Bridge which we couldn’t see b/c of the rain and fog. I did manage to snap a picture on our drive over it for proof though!

We made friends on the ride there who ended up being our BEST friends on the ride back :) . My only complaint was we couldn’t stop and take pictures of the beautiful green rolling hills of the Napa/Sonoma Valley. But at least my eyes got to enjoy it!
Our first winery has Arkansas roots- the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma!

We all lined up along an open bar and tasted 5 delicious flavors of wine. After a nice buzz, we walked across the hall to the coolest olive oil tasting room and drooled over the fragrant infused heaven on bread. I found about 10 things i wanted to buy but thankfully they ship for free (on orders over $75) b/c my bag was already 4 lbs over on my flight there.

Next was Viansa Winery which boasted a great view that we really couldn’t photograph b/c of the rain. although i tried my best.

Andretti Winery was next and the rain had finally let up enough to walk around the grounds. It was beautiful and felt very much like a small Italian villa. Abe served us a nice light lunch in one of their dinning halls and I’m pretty sure I would’ve eaten anything at this point since I was probably at least a bottle or three in…

Our final stop of the day was Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in Napa. It was also, unfortunately, the most informative tour of the day. I say unfortunately because by this time the last thing I really wanted was a history lesson. Two guides walked us through the barrel room which housed hundreds of thousands of gallons of fermenting wines; then on through the bottling room. I honestly can’t remember one thing about what they said though… I just know they kept pouring and we kept drinking. Our final stop was on the top floor of their mountain lodge balcony where a small band was playing and lots of purchases were made.










Another reason I wish we’d taken a car and stayed the night in Napa instead of heading back into the city: no one wanted to leave! However the ride home was far from boring. As I said, we all became best friends!!!


While this might seem like the end of the road, it is San Francisco after all, and the night was young. Dana and I managed to stumble our way to our hotel (after a mighty hysterical bus chase to save a few bottles of wine I might add) and out the door to our last recommendation of the trip, Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant. It was richly lit and oh so Moroccan! We dined on a delicious appetizer of humus dip & spiced salads; lamb stew and a braised Cornish Hen that was simply to die for. Plus, a few more glasses of wine for myself.



Who doesn’t live for a lavender scented hand-washing at their table???

Once the belly dancer took the stage, I seriously thought I’d been whisked away to Morocco and was seconds from jumping up and joining her! (which i’m sure would have really been a treat for the other diners…)

All in all, it was a beautiful, if not slightly blurry, end to one of the best cities EVER! San Francisco, you had me at hello and left me with a well-deserved hangover. In the words of Herb Cain, “One day if I go to heaven … I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’”  Adios, until next time….

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Perhaps we’re starting to show our age in more than just our faces, but a good time on a Friday night no longer involves hitting the bars. Now one of our favorite things to do is stay in and grill with family and friends. (And I’ve played more games of Catchphrase and Yahtzee than I ever did when I was a kid.) Nothing beats it. I am so lucky to have such a close relationship with my brothers and their wives/girlfriends. And it’s always a treat when my cousin Kara is around! Add a few dogs and it’s a party for all!

Caleb & Ash getting the food ready

My sexy grilling man

sisters in white

mmmm....

Love my Ash

and my little bear, helping in the kitchen

they are great sous chefs

time to break out the back massagers!

B has lots of back gadgets

this may be my favorite- the neck pump

everyone had to give it a try

huge party hit

the Knights

kara and sweet hilde' sister

one of her favorite things to do: beg.

play tug of war

and then rest

my wittle bear's favorite thing: stare at mommy

and sit on her lap

what a nice makeup bag

love love love him

and to kiss on him

lots of love in the room tonight!

kara can't be left out!

our attempt at a group shot

Gabe's hat reminded her of something...

little jockey

cousins

dog cousins

hilde' is worn out!

Great times for all.

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