2/365 A Walk in the Park


Day two is here and so far, so good!

It’s coooooooool outside. I stepped outside in a sweater to meet up with my photography mentee and had to run back inside and grab a jacket! That’s fall in Dallas for ya, one day it’s rainy, the next sunny and chilly, the next hot and muggy. Who knows how to dress for this weather!? I digress. Before the mentoring session started, I set my camera and tripod up and started walking up and down the paths. The trees weren’t quite as orange as they look in these pics but the wind had the fallen leaves flying all over the place.

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A walk in the park turned into a pretty great pic! FYI, Dallas does not look like this in the fall without some photoshop magic, LOL. Almost everything was green!

The last time I did a 365, I often stood closer to the camera. I’m still getting used to being a distance away and using the timer or remote. The nice part about not being close to the camera is not having to worry with retouching or trying 8 or 9 times to get the right facial expressions. I think it took me about 5 minutes to get a winning shot today! What do you think? Should I have tried something more daring? Let me know in the comments. If you’re working on a photo project, send me a link so I can check out your work too! I’m always looking for inspiration.

Have courage,
Elle | gernellenelson.com

Dallas Chocolate Festival Media Preview


A few days after returning home from my month long photo assignment at KAA, I received an invitation to attend the Dallas Chocolate Festival Media Preview event. Andi, owner and managing editor of FunCityStuff.com and all around awesome gal has invited me to other fun local events in the past so I was excited to be working with her again. Plus, who doesn’t like free chocolate? In celebration of National Thrift Shopping day, I put on a cute combination of thrifted pink and black items and chocolate themed makeup. Brandon, my sweet and supportive husband, dropped me off at Whole Foods in Addison a few hours later and I quickly climbed the stairs that lead to the event space.

I was instantly greeted by the sights and smells of artisan chocolates. My first stop was at a table sponsored by Whole Foods that featured wine pairings with decadent morsels of Guittard, Divine and SRSLY chocolate bars. Hands down, my favorite wine was the Cava Mistinguette sparkling white. It was sweet and perfect for dessert or mimosas. After chatting with the Whole Foods rep, I spotted the confectionary display on the Isabelly’s Chocolate and Sweet Treats table. Isabelly’s won the Dallas Market Center 2016 “Best Chocolate/Candy” award this year.  I scooped up four red velvet cake balls, Brandon’s favorite flavor, and then tried one of their chile de arbor dry peppers covered in caramel and dipped in Belgium chocolate. The closer I got to the stem, the spicier and more savory it became.

Next up was Dr. Sue’s Chocolate table where Dr. Sue herself was serving attendees. Dr. Sue’s goal is to fight obesity-related disease by offering all natural chocolate with healthy ingredients mixed in. That night, she was giving away Rosemary Olive Oil Melt Aways and Texas Mendiants. The melt aways had such a unique flavor. I could smell the rosemary and tastes hints of sea salt as it melted in my mouth. You’ve got to give it a try! After trying a candied jalepeno topped Mendiant, I moved on to Yelibelly Chocolates. Yeli has been studying bellydance since 1999 and making her own chocolates since 2007. After securing her first chocolatey partnership with a dance studio, the name Yelibelly Chocolates was born! Yeli gave out Expresso Rum chocolates, Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Ganache and Habanero truffles that intensified in spicy flavor the longer you hold them in your mouth. She also had these adorable Chocolate Covered Oreos, each of them decorated with a pattern or design. Yeli was very kind and her candy was as fun to look at as it was to eat.

The next table belonged to Eileen’s Pralines. Eileen Scheib, Chief Executive Baker, and her business savvy husband Jack served up coffee, oatmeal and mocha treats. I love the fact that, together, the Scheibs bake, package, sell and market their treats side by side. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that her cookies are light and crunchy, thanks to her graham cracker base, instead of thick and chewy like other pralines. She also sells praline bars with cayenne and chipotle flavors at her shop in Dallas. My mom loves pralines so I took a sample of each flavor for her to try before walking over to the table belonging to Wackym’s Kitchen. Paul Wackym has been selling his sweet and crunchy cookies since 2008. That night Paul was wearing one of his many decked out hats, a tradition he started during his first year in business.  He had several cookies out including his Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Snickerdoodles and Dark Chocolate Orange cookie which will be offered at Central Market starting this fall. My favorite is definitely the Salted Caramel!

To wrap things up, I tried the Chocolate Pot de Creme french desserts provided by Haute Sweet Patisserie. Chef Gianni Santin, one of the founders of Haute, showed us all how to make this dessert during his cooking demonstration. His passion for cooking showed as he artfully prepared each ingredient and topped them with whipped cream and handmade chocolate toppers. I’m especially a fan of the crunchy chocolate pearls. Haute’s retail space is in Old Lake Highlands where they offer coffee alonside their yummy cakes and pastries. They also offer gluten free and paleo items.

I had such a good time at the event but keep in mind, that was only a preview of the full Dallas Chocolate Festival taking place on Saturday, September 10 at the Addison Conference Centre. This year’s sponsors include Callebaut, Cocoatown, D Magazine, Guittard Chocolate Company, Perfect Temper Kitchen, Solbeso, TCF Sales and Whole Foods. Ticket are $30 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and $75 for VIP tickets. Thanks to the host, DallasChocolate.org, I’ve got a discount code for you! Use the code: CHOCOLATEFUN to get $5 off admission to the festival or the festival’s Movie Night, a new addition to the event.

For Movie Night on Friday September 9th at 7pm, the DCF will be showing “Bean to Bar: A Film About Artisan Chocolate” and then hosting a Q&A with director Bob Ridgely, chocolate makers Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate and Rob Anderson from Fresco Chocolate. Attendees can expect cocktails, chocolate (naturally) and finger foods to be served. Movie night admission is  $60 for individuals and $100 for two tickets. The DCF is offering three classes on Sunday, September 11 at Perfect Temper Kitchen in Plano for those who want a hands on experience. Each class is $60 per person or you can attend all three for $150. Seats are limited so reserve your seat quickly by visiting DallasChocolate.org!

Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Productive Summer OOTD

Elleword - Productive Summer OOTD

Yesterday I got lots of work done for a new video based class that I’m going to teach on Skillshare as a way to make passive income. It’s the first of many! I recorded myself working as well as an intro and conclusive video. Now all that’s left are the voiceovers. I hope to finish those before my interview today for a part time marketing assistant gig.

I wore a thrifted Rue 21 peach colored top with lace netting on the shoulders. My skater skirt is from my lounge and fitness thrift haul. I felt so flirty and cute in this. I wore brown wedge shoes (not shown) as Brandon and I hit the Salvation Army to buy supplies for the camping trip I’m chaperoning next week.

Gone on any thrift shops lately? I’d love to see what you bought. Leave me a link or comments below.

Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Elleword - my thrifted peach shirt looked great with this skater skirt. You don't have to spend lots of money to look good.

Summer Vibes in July


I’ve been doing lots of thinking around ways to make passive income so I can enjoy all that summer has to offer. Aside from posting our vacation in Vegas video and talking about why I shave my head on my Youtube channel, I’ve decided to work on new videos everyday to build my audience and start making money from ads.

Our truck bit the dust last month and I’ve once again embraced the commuter lifestyle. To get to church, we take two buses and then ride our bikes the rest of the way. While waiting on our second bus, we found this little donut shop and decided to step in for breakfast. After church let out, we hitched a ride with my mom back to our place.

The next day was the fourth. Instead of jumping into an event or barbecue, we took a long walk with Justice (woof) and relaxed at home. The next day was my birthday! Brandon had to work but surprised me with lunch at Ojedas, my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. I ate the Carmel special and had two celebratory frozen margaritas. So good! Brandon had to head back to work but Nae (my twin sis) and my brother-in-love Danio joined me for round two.

More summer fun is on the way and I can’t wait to indulge! I’ll keep you updated via blogs and vlogs to keep you in the loop.

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Adventures in Marriage: The Case of the Missing Glass

Elleword - Brandon and I enjoying the view at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas

Have you ever had the feeling that something has gone MIA? Let’s say it’s not a cherished electronic or puppy but something of the practical nature. Well that my friends is what this adventure is all about.

Some of the things we use everyday were wedding gifts from our family. Included in this list are plenty of dishes and glasses. My favorite glasses were a set of short squarish drinking glasses that looked reminiscent of those you see distinguished gentlemen filling with Brandy in old movies. Of course, instead of whiskey, I usually filled my glasses with a mix of lemon and cranberry juice. As part of our agreed chore schedule, I take care of the meals and my benevolent husband takes care of the dishes. A few years later, that’s when the mystery began.

I would go to grab one of my favorite glasses and notice that there were less of them in the cabinet than usual. After only seeing three, I started looking around the kitchen – the sink, beneath the counter, my husband’s desk – but those sweet little treasures were nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I heard the last glass shattering in the sink that I realized where my beloved chalices had disappeared to. While Brandon was keeping up his side of our chore wheel, he was having trouble keeping a good grip on some of our dishes. Drinking glasses gave him the most grief and, one by one, my goblets bit the dust.

Elleword - My replacement glasses from the thrift store

 

 

Of course, there was no need to be upset, it’s just a little glass in the scope of our matrimonial journey together. But let’s be honest, I missed my little cups. So I did what any thoughtful wife would do in this situation. I bought replacements! The new glasses have spiral designs at the base and best of all, they only cost me $1 each (thank you Salvation Army!). I wouldn’t be the thrift loving gal you all know me to be without adding a a pair of taller glasses with a geometrical design similar to the kind you see in crystal drink ware. They were $3 total. Do I expect these new editions to our pantry to last forever? Not unless I buy a friction grip for Brandon or vow to handle all glass sanitation from now on.

Case closed.

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Chef Trainee Gerry Roland presents at the Cordon Bleu

Elleword - My nephew Gerry is studying the culinary arts at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas, TX

My nephew, Gerry, is studying to become a chef.

A year or so ago, my nephew moved in with my twin sister and her husband to pursue the next step in his formal education. Thus far, the Cordon Bleu has exposed him to several regional dishes, sauces and desserts. Gerry sometimes brings these meals home for my sister and brother-in-love to try but he’s usually tied up with his job at a restaurant near their townhouse. Every semester, Gerry and his fellow chefs in training put on a sample show where they share the dishes they’ve been working on with the public. I wasn’t able to attend one of these demonstrations in the past (day job woes). Gerry invited me to come and enjoy some yummy foods that he and other budding cuisiniers had prepared a few weeks after I left the corporate world. Naturally I accepted!

Aside from the fact that there’d be free food, I wanted to take a look around. I hadn’t been to a culinary school before and after watching Julie & Julia 100 times, I was excited to see a real chef’s kitchen. When the day came, I got wrapped up in a writing assignment. Thankfully my sister (Gerry’s mom) Youlanda checked in with me via text to find out if I was still coming. Realizing that I didn’t have adequate time to put on a decent outfit, I settled for a pair of jeans, the neon pink t-shirt I was already wearing and my thrifted purple Nike zip up jacket. I crossed my fingers, hoping that I wouldn’t be the only casually dressed attendee as I kissed Brandon and ran out the door.

Eating at the Cordon Bleu School in Dallas

After driving (and sweating since our AC is out) for half an hour, I came upon a retail complex. The three suites on the end housed the Cordon Bleu of Dallas. I dabbed my face and neck and started towards the door. Youlanda came out to meet me. She was this brightly colored aztec print dress that we’d found on our latest shopping trip at Thrift City. Mom was waiting inside, also decked out in bright spring attire. Now I really felt underdressed! The lobby area was packed with guests of all ages. Though there was no food in sight, the aromas from the other room wafted in and made my stomach growl. An older gentleman dressed in a white culinary uniform came out to greet the group. The chef, who turned out to be one of the instructors, informed us that the students had all been working very hard on these dishes and were challenged to create their own recipes. Then he lead us around the corner into a modest dining hall full of eager student chefs stationed at covered dishes along the walls.

The instructor sat the guests at round tables covered by white and royal blue table clothes. In the center of the table were flowers, a bread basket, fancy butter and Mother’s Day themed menus. The three of us sat near the beverage area next to a friendly man whom we later learned supplied fresh produce to businesses and was married to one of the chefs in training. Feeling like one of those moms at elementary school plays, I hopped up and took a picture of Gerry at his food station. He looked so pristine in his uniform! Shortly after, everyone got up and started loading their plates with food. The students served us, sharing the details of their chosen dish and how to best enjoy it. There were savory foods like turkey pot pie, pot stickers, ceviche, milk bread, mussels and roast duck (Gerry’s main course). I had never eaten duck before so that was the first thing I tried. It was so delicious that I got seconds! For dessert we had poached pears. Once everyone was served, Gerry came to join us at our table. Gerry informed us that he’d planned on serving mochi dessert but it hadn’t turned out the way he planned and was left in the freezer. We raved at how good everything tasted and that we were sure he’d be able to succeed the next time he tried making the Japanese dessert.

After lunch, Gerry gave us a tour of the facility. After turning several corners and passing a group of large preparation areas, we walked into the large kitchen where Gerry and his classmates learned how to make traditional foods while experimenting with their own dishes. I’d never seen so many pots and utensils in one room. Just beneath one of the counters stood four large containers of flour, each a different kind, used for specific purposes. The shelves on the wall held enough seasonings to last a few years if stored in my cabinets at home. All of the appliances and table tops were stainless steel and brimming with cooking supplies.

There is a display case in the hallway honoring the late Chef Jean Lafont. Having been born in France and later moving to the U.S., Chef Lafont was known for his great ability to teach aspiring chefs and help them find employment after graduation. People called him the Diamond of Dallas Fine Dining.

Elleword - We had a great time at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas, TX!

Overall, we had an awesome time. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for his next presentation. I’ve been inspired to cook a bit more creatively at home and add some variety to our menu. I’ll let you know what I come up with! When was the last time you cooked and what was the occasion? Let me know in the comments.

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

One Tasty Date in Addison, TX


This Saturday, my husband and I went to the Taste of Addison event. One of my awesome writing clients hooked me up with two free tickets in exchange for images and a blog post! Naturally I jumped on the chance and asked Brandon to come along for some fun in the park. Before we left the apartment, he seemed a little doubtful that we’d have much fun but I think the promise of food was enough to get him rolling. I’m glad because as soon as we got there, the smells of food made our mouths water!

After we hopped from booth to booth, snacking and chatting away, he started to really enjoy himself. He even got some footage for Periscope! We are both going to need to get in a few extra workouts to make up for all the calories we consumed! After spending three hours in the park, we jumped on the ferris wheel to get a view of the carnival that takes up a large part of the park. It was a little scary up there, but mostly romantic. By the end of the night, Brandon and I were all smiles. A chill started to settle in the air on our walk back to the truck. My feet were hurting from standing most of the day so Brandon carried me on his back for most of the walk back as I cheered him on.

Elleword - Elle and Brandon hanging out at the Taste of AddisonTime for a shameless plug: if you want someone to cover a local event in the Dallas metroplex, feel free to contact me! I love new experiences and strive to take lots of pics whenever I go out and about. I’ll write up a post to go along with the images and have it back to you within a few days. Contact me today to with your ideas.

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Found Fashion Friday’s at the Grove


This weekend, I went the to Grove for the Dallasites101 anniversary party. I didn’t get to meet Lily and Kara, the co-founders, but I did manage to run into Becca from Beckley Co.  Once I arrived, I called up Gernae (twin sis) and found my way to her table. My brother in love was also there, decked out in KC Royals t-shirts. Both of them looked like they were in good spirits. Maybe it was because of the music DJ Blake was playing. He did an awesome job of mixing 90’s rap with today’s pop music. After a short while, I walked over to the Vita Coco stand with Nae and asked them about the benefits of coconut water.

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Love this jacket! Both items are thrift finds
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Nah and Danio 🙂
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Our coconut water drinks
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The Coco Vita stand
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DJ Blake
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Jazmine from Poopouri
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Jazmine’s Texas bracelets from the Haute Wheels mobile boutique

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A group of stylish friends

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Here’s my ootd!

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The ladies told us that it was 3x as hydrating as water and naturally enriched with vitamins and electrolytes. We’re always looking for reasons to try something new so we grabbed one of each flavor: lemonade, pineapple and cafe latte. I didn’t get to try the pineapple but between the latte and lemonade flavors, I like the latte best. The flavor was a little strange at first but after shaking it up and giving it another try, I started to like it more. It was almost chocolatey. I wonder what coconut water tastes like by itself.

A volleyball game was underway as I walked around getting footage for my vlog. I wanted to lounge in a hammock but they were all occupied so I started searching the crowd for great outfits. It didn’t take long. 🙂 The first person I talked to was Jazmine, SEO manager for Poopourri. She was really kind and even invited me to a Bible study on Tuesday nights. We exchanged information and business cards and she let me take a picture of her for my blog. Poopourri traps odor under the surface of toilet water. In other words, you won’t stink up the place when you take a restroom break. I’ve got to give some of that a try.

We wrapped things up by taking some pics on the Photo Bus and then headed our separate ways. I’m looking forward to seeing what other events I can get into this spring. Speaking of that, I’m throwing an event! It’s called the Spring Fling Meet and Eat. I’ll be meeting up with ladies to network, snack on picnic brunch and give out some photo/pose tips. Hope to see ya there!

Have courage,
Elle

 

Thrift It Clique: Pantones and Petals


This past week, I got together with my friends from the Thrift It Clique to cover our monthly OOTD meetup. This month’s theme was centered around Rose Quartz and Serenity, this year’s official Pantone colors. If you look around any store or outlet mall, these colors are all over the place. This year is unique because there are two chosen colors instead of the usual one. Pantone’s selection of it’s yearly hue impacts the entire fashion and product industry! I’m especially happy because Rose Quartz falls perfectly in line with my signature style color scheme.

Any who, I met up with the ladies at the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden to take some pics in our threads before the sun got too high in the sky. As usual, we all were in good spirits as we strolled through path after path of gorgeous flowers and displays. By the time we wrapped things up, we had plenty of pics taken and went our separate ways. Here is what I wore. This multi-toned dress was a clearance item at Charming Charlie’s. It is very comfortable and and chic at the same time. I plan to experiment with this dress and other items in my wardrobe to figure out how many unique looks I can come up with. The shoes were bought from Target a year ago but they are a regular staple on the shelves.

Before I go, I want to invite any Dallas locals reading this to my Spring Fling Meet and Eat on May 21st. This will be two hours of networking, snacking and learning a thing or two about getting better photographs of yourself. Be sure to bring a picnic brunch, blanket and business cards. I’ll be giving away a few prizes as well. There is no fee to participate. You only need to pay admission into the arboretum.

thriftarbor14Be sure to read up on what the rest of the clique wore. Kendra, Addie and Brittany have written up their own #Thriftitclique posts on their blogs. Go follow them!

Have courage,
Elle

 

Introducing Found Fashion Fridays!


I’ve decided to not only post images of my own outfits but of those that I see when I’m out and about! It won’t be every Friday starting off but I’m hoping to post one of these babies at least once a month. To kick things off, here are some fashionable locals that made it in this month’s lineup!

It’s Friday, what are you gals wearing this weekend? I’d love to see your ootd. Share a link to one of yours in the comments!

Have courage,
Elle