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.

KAA Camp Wardrobe Capsule

Elleword - my camping gear! Even though I'll be in the woods, I still want to look cute, lol

This just in, I’m going camping next week! My church is taking a group of teens to Kids Across America camp for a week of fun away from parents and technology. We’ll also have time to bond with the kids and have bible study with them every other day. I’ll be chaperoning, I’m so excited! The last time I went to an overnight camp was in college when my husband (then boyfriend) Brandon invited me to go to Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp over the weekend. Since then, I’ve been longing to go camping again. I even sewed a vintage comforter together to make my own sleeping bag! The only catch is that there is a dress code for camp which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t ban just about every piece of clothing in my closet. No yoga pant, fitted athletic wear or skinny jeans. >__<

I needed camp clothes that won’t send a group of boys into a conniption so Brandon and I headed off to the Salvation Army. After looking through both the men’s and women’s sections, we found enough stuff for my trip. Excluding the ‘hotcake hustle’ tee and black jeans, all of these items are my new camp digs. Yes, two of the items are super comfy skirts that are too long to get blown by the wind but durable enough to hike in. Of course, I’ll be wearing tights underneath to keep my legs from being bitten up by mosquitos. It’s almost unbelievable that I managed to find two bathing suits and both cute! Two piece suits are banned so I was relieve to find these two cuties.

 

Elleword - my camping gear! Even though I'll be in the woods, I still want to look cute, lol
Check my vintage comforter turned sleeping bag!

I still have plenty of things to add but I made sure to grab sunscreen, OFF Deep Woods, extra toothbrushes in case some of the girls forget theres, feminine products to share, wet wipes and snacks. While the kids cannot bring electronics, I’ll have my phone and laptop to work with during free times and at night when the girls are relaxing/sleeping. I plan to keep it in my backpack so it will never leave my side! I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to log the fun but I hope to get some pics during the week of my little camping adventures. Hiking, treetops, and water skiing, here I come!

Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

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

Summer OOTD + Update

Elleword - Green Maxie OOTD

Summer is here and I’m loving every moment of it! My husband and I went swimming twice this past weekend and I’ve taken up doing morning yoga and walking Justice (woof) in the evenings. I love that it’s still warm after sunset! My friend and her bestie just moved into our complex so I’m looking forward to visiting them this week!

Today’s another day ‘at the office’ as I edit images, prep blogs, post on social media and write up paid blog postings. After stretching this morning, I felt really loose and calm. To boost my mood, I decided to wear my thrifted green maxi dress ($2 I believe) and a necklace that I bought from Charming Charlie a year ago. I’m spending most of the day at home, hence my bare feet. This dress is really soft, flowy and comfortable. I can do anything in a maxi!

Elleword - my rosy necklace went perfect with this thrifted maxie dress. So comfy!

Check out my fellow Thrift It Clique ladies to see what their summer style looks like!
Brittany   |   Addie   |   Tiyunna

Once I finish up work for the day, I’m going to start prepping for Brandon’s birthday tomorrow! We are going to have some family over, eat and play a few games. He said he just wanted to chill which means I’ll be spending the day cleaning up our place and getting ready for guests to arrive! In between that, I hope to record a few videos for my Youtube channel. Working on my own has me so inspired!

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

 

 

Thrift It Clique: Summer Style + Chilling at Nae’s House

Elleword - I made these yummy wheat pancakes myself :) Love the heart shaped strawberries!

The Thrift It Clique has come together once again for a collaborative style post, this time on summer style. I thought it over for awhile and decided to wear something that reflected my new lifestyle as full-time creative entrepreneur. Since I work from home, I like to be comfortable unless I’m going out. Plus, it’s like 500 degrees outside. I’ll be wearing light colored fabric, as usual, and showing a bit more leg this season.

In other news, Brandon went out of town for five days for work so I decided to take a trip to Nae’s house. Justice (woof) and I packed up our gear and hopped into her car to hit the road. It was nice to work away from the apartment and spend time with my sister and nephew and brother-in-love. Seems like we’ve all been pretty busy lately. Justy and I went home the next day and I got to work on this week’s busy work for my company.

For this OOTD I decided to wear a tan cami underneath a thrifted loose graphic tee that reminds me of lineart from a sketchbook. To finish things off I added my polka dotted beige shorts, also thrifted, originally from J Crew. You can’t see my shoes because I’m not actually wearing shoes, hahah. It’s summer time and I guess I feel much freer without shoes and socks on my feet. Though I wouldn’t suggest walking outside barefoot. The ground is hotter than the air! Speaking of, don’t forget to protect your dog’s feet from being scorched by the ground. Keep them in the grass and dirt or else they could get injured.

elleword-summstyle

 

Thrift Fitness & Lounge Haul

Elleword - this is the first hoodie that I've had since college. I love it!

Two weeks ago, I made a bee line for my favorite thrift store. It was Wednesday, or as I like to call it, the Thrift Shopper’s Dream Day because all of the clothes were half off. I wasn’t sure what I’d find but I was excited to see what they had to offer. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. I found five formal gowns to add to my studio wardrobe inventory for my portrait clients. They ranged from $6 to $1! Once I scooped up the dresses, I started looking for items for my own wardrobe.

 

Elleword - I found lots of cute pink items at the thrift store this week, most of it was fitness and lounge wear.

Most of the items that I found were fitness and lounge wear. I was especially thrilled to have found fitness shorts and skorts since I usually have to roll up my sweat pants to workout in the summer. The gold shorts that I found are made of very lightweight fabric and look something I imagine a sexy boxer would wear, lol. I also found a thin screen printed hoodie that is perfect for wearing around the house and outside when it gets a little nippy (or for protection against the sun). I found a great pair of spiderman printed joggers in the men’s section along with a StarWars t-shirt (my first sci-fi paraphernalia!).

My favorite finds from that trip was a pink trench style rain coat (a surprise gift for my Mom), a pink polka dotted skirt with a beige stripe at the bottom and a pink waist-lentgh blazer with black lace in the back. I can’t wait to take it for a spin at my next networking opportunity! I also plan to wear it for other occasions like church, dates and client consultations! I’ll be starting up my daily OOTD and weekly capsules again and these pink numbers are sure to make a few appearances.

After this trip to the thrift store, I’m down to 13 slots left in my 100 item curated wardrobe. Once I reach 100, I’ll create a visual library to help me keep track of what I’ve worn and give me ideas for new combinations. What have you been wearing lately? Find any treasures at your local thrift store that you absolutely love? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Reading Inspired Writing

Elleword - the storefront at my local Half Price Books store

Aside from improving my photography and client relation skills, I’ve been working towards becoming a more descriptive writer. The goal is to improve my writing style and blog posts so I can start racking up paid writing assignments and spread my reach across the internet. Starting to write proactively after a long drought can be pretty intimidating. That’s why I’ve decided to go back to the basics and read books on a daily basis until I’ve equipped my mind with enough diction to improve my writing skills. I call this technique reading inspired writing. The more I read entertaining and colorful stories, the better I’ll be able to write colorful and entertaining content.

I’ve just begun this journey of falling back in love with reading now that I’ve left the corporate world. I’m starting slowly and then building up my mental stamina and capacity to learn again. I can already tell that this strategy is working because I found myself inspired to write after a few minutes of watching a small family through my patio window. I’m also incorporating foreign language studies, primarily Spanish, to keep my mind challenged. Alright, enough of the technicalities. Here’s what I’m reading to get my brain rebooted.

 

Elleword - Elle is reading 'My Life in France' by Julia Child to improve her righting skills.

My Life in France by Julia Child, with Alex Prud’homme

For those who may not know, Julia Child was a tall sassy chef with a thirst for adventure. She’s been coined as the woman who brought french cooking to America. If you ever watch her cooking show ‘The French Chef’, she just makes you feel wonderful about yourself. When she speaks, it’s like she is singing. This book speaks of her adventures in France with her husband Paul, a government worker and fine artist, and her love of delicious foods. The beauty of this book is that it is filled with historical images taken by Paul himself, of France in the late 1940s after World War II. Though Julia passed away just before the book was published, I feel as if I am getting to know her through her words and stories.

She was a woman of courage, living life in a way that filled her (and her husband’s) life with joy. Paul loved her intensely and always supported and encouraged her to go for her dreams, despite the limitations imposed on women at that time in history. She had this amazing spirit of perseverance and encouraged her readers to keep moving forward, even when they made mistakes. Paul and Julia’s relationship and zest for life inspires me to make an adventure of life and run towards my dreams. Be forewarned, you might want to eat before reading this book. Her descriptions of French food will make you start salivating.

The Wait by Devon Franklin and Meagan Good with Tim Vandehey

I have not yet started reading this book but I’m itching to get started. It’s a book about approaching relationships with a different perspective than that prescribed in magazines. Devon and Meagan share their personal stories of how taking your time and not rushing into things – sex and marriage – can change your life. Although I’m in a happy marriage already, I’m looking forward to absorbing as much information from this book as possible. I believe there is still much that I can learn and apply to my own marriage as well as sharing it with friends. I love talking about relationships, especially with single people because I have a new perspective that I didn’t have years ago. In hindsight, I can see some of the dumb things I jumped into and strive to remind my friends of their own self worth. When you know how valuable you are, you won’t just let any old person come into your life. I’ll give a full book review once I’ve read the book in case anyone wants the inside scoop.

Elleword - Whenever I want to read something interesting or get book/magazine pages for projects, I buy books from the Haggard Library in Plano.

Aside from reading, I’ve also started writing more frequently to stay in motion, so to speak. (This reading inspired writing thing is really working!) Currently, I’m writing up multiple blog entries for three blogs including Fun City Stuff DFW. They have been gracious enough to offer me compensation per post, especially ones with pictures included. I’m so excited because Fun City gets quite a lot of monthly traffic. Posting content regularly on their site is only going to benefit the rate of traffic on my websites. It’s also a way to show people what I can do photographically without consciously trying to sell them on my work. I love working with Fun City because they occasionally send me to events (they sponsor admission for me and a plus one!) to write up cover stories with plenty of pictures. I’ve been to two events thus far, the first being the Savor Dallas Garden Party. The second event was the Taste of Addison this past week. I am always ecstatic and grateful when Andi, their editor, asks me to cover an event. I hope another one comes down the line soon!

I’m only in the second month of my new entrepreneurial routine and having the time of my life. I’m learning how to find work, overcome shyness, gain confidence and rediscovering things about myself that I thought had been lost in corporate seas. I hope my blogging improves. I want you – all five lol – to enjoy reading it and hopefully take positive points away with you. I want my story to encourage and inspire others to live a life of courage. Inspiring stories must be told with inspiring words.

Are you interested in trying “reading inspired writing” techniques? What are you reading right now? When was the last time you read something for pleasure? Share your thoughts in the comment won’t you?

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

Look Ma, New Clothes!


As mentioned in my summer wardrobe capsules post, I’ve got 20 slots in my closet available before I meet my 100 max limit of items in my closet. To get a jump on this, my mom and I went thrift shopping at the Salvation Army this past Wednesday. Wednesday is like gold mine day because all of the clothes, purses and shoes are 50% off!! With that in mind, we combed every inch of the ladies section and came out with some amazing finds!! Here’s what I bought.

It’s getting hotter outside and almost time for me to whip out my shorts (proceeds to walk and jog a few miles to tighten up thighs). I love shorts but I don’t want them all to look the same and be made from the same materials. That’s why I love these three pairs. For one, they are all originally from JCrew. I’ve never owned anything from that store previously, considering how pricey everything is and how I’m spoiled by thrift store prices. Secondly, they each cost me $1.50, that’s all! Score!! I can’t tell which one of these I love most. The polka dots, the nautical pattern or the mint green? How can a girl decide.

Next up is this off white lace sleeveless dress. I’m not sure from where it originated, but I know I’ll be wearing it pretty often! Lace is making more appearances in my closet lately, got me feeling “pretty, oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and gay!” Ok, enough singing. back to the dress. The only con are the little spike embellishments on the collar. I’m not crazy about spikes on my clothes so I’ve got to get those removed or find out how to remove them myself without ripping the lace. YouTube here I come!

This comfy and perfectly fitted Disney sweatshirt hails from Forever 21 but I bought it for $2 at the thrift store. I’m a lover of Disney and Studio Ghibli so I couldn’t pass this up. The cool thing about this sweater is that with the right pieces, I can dress it up for a chic OOTD or just toss on a pair of jeans for the effortless look.

My shoe collection consisted mostly of tennis shoes for a while. It’s usually difficult for me to find any shoe that fits at the thrift store but this time, I lucked out. Must have been because I brought my mom along. She’s a good luck charm! I don’t include shoes and accessories in my 100 item count but they do have a huge impact on my OOTDs. (Maybe I should have a max limit on how many pairs of shoes I have too. ) The beige wedges and flat sandals caught my eye immediately! They are so comfy and perfectly neutral. I’ll be able to wear these babies whenever I like with anything in my closet. That’s the best kind of shoe, don’t you agree? The third pair of peep toe heels are for my sis Gernae. Mom and I figured she’d look great in these and she said she was in need of a wardrobe makeover. Shoes are a great place to start. They can make or break an outfit.

Lastly, these bags were too beautiful to leave on the shelves. When I saw the blue one, I immediately felt inspired to draw or watch my favorite movies. When you see an item that inspires you, you buy it! I couldn’t believe it hadn’t already been scooped up but I’m not complaining! The white and beige bag made me feel like I had more money than what’s in my bank account, lol. It’s classy, cleanly designed and spacious. These bags cost me $12 – $15 dollars each.

So there you have it, I was able to add nine things to my repertoire and fill 5 slots. Can’t wait to bust out these babies this summer! What are you wearing this summer? Leave a comment and I’ll holler back (lol).

Have courage,

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle