We spent the evening at the home of a really kind couple (they are on the far left). A lot of Brandon’s co-workers were there so we took this pic before the end of the night. We went for the first time last year and had a blast so I was happy they invited us again. We made sure to leave gift bottle of Bellini. Turns out, its our hostesses’ favorite! Afterwards, we made our way back to our side of town and I paid the rent for my shared studio space. Gotta order some new checks pronto!
Today I tried on almost 15 items and only managed to find one thing at the thrift store. However, it was a sweet find! When Brandon and I walked into the store, I saw this love lounge chair right away. So we took advantage and got a shot of me in the chair for today’s pic. What do you think of my casual OOTD? I distressed the jeans myself, though you can’t really see them up close, lol.
Today, after a couple of meetings and networking at the Plano Chamber of Commerce, I spent some time with my good friend Damarys. We ate lunch, walked around the shops and ate fudge brownie bars in the sun. It was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon. She took this pic of me at Legacy Hall for my 365 project. It was so great lounging around and chatting about whatever came to our minds. No social media, no obligations, just two women enjoying the city. Here’s a few more pics from our time together, including Berrynaked the ice-cream bar shop.
How is it that I feel energetic enough to make it through a Taebo workout, yet unable to get off the couch at the same time? (Gets up, walks down 5 flights of stairs, checks mail, jogs back up 5 flights of stairs and resumes typing) Sigh, it all started two months ago….(Proceeds to waste 20 minutes scrolling on FB while eating grapes… I have a problem!!)
This past June, Brandon and I took our first trip abroad. Since I was hired to capture a group vacation as the official trip photographer for Vron’s World, Brandon decided to book the trip too. When I tell you we had a blast, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. We experienced Havana, Cuba to the fullest. We danced the night away salsa dancers, saw a shipwreck while snorkeling (also a first!), took an AfroCuban tour ate dinner beside the sea and much more! All my years of Spanish class came in handy. Being able to speak with locals revitalized my desire to learn new languages. It was incredible and we can’t wait to take another trip across the globe with Vron someday.
Once we came back, Cuba felt like a distant memory. This is when the trouble began.
At this time, I was heavily considering what to do with my life after struggling to build my photography businesses. It’s fun, challenging and hard as heck to build your business from scratch when you only have a few hundred in the bank. There have been plenty of times when I felt like a failure but my heart kept telling me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. Looking over my life, my attention was heavily divided. During the week, I was spending 6 – 8 hours a day babysitting my niece and the rest of my time recovering, LOL. Weekends were split between errands, church, dance ministry and spending time with Brandon. Needless to say, I hardly had any mental or physical energy left for working on my brands. Something had to give!
I quickly realized that part of my anxiety of attempting to work in a cluttered apartment. We had stuff overflowing from our bookshelves, dishes taking over the countertops, books, bags and other random items invading my desk. It was no wonder I couldn’t get anything done. So I started discarding the junk from the life. Anything that didn’t get discarded got assigned a new ‘home’. Then I started clearing my schedule so that I’d have time to give my best efforts to work during the week and on weekends. Now I’m no longer babysitting and in a few weeks, I’ll be on hiatus from dance ministry. You’d think that would open up my mind to progress right?
Well I guess my mind has become weak from a lack of stimulation for two months and now I have to build it back up if I want to do anything productive. I’ve been eating primarily fruits, grains and veggies but my sleep quality has really sucked the last couple of days. When I’m up, I have to convince myself to try to work, or at least move my body until I feel an inertia to keep going forward. I guess this is the ‘withdrawal’ stage of my former routine. Dang it karma! Despite that, I have managed to book a few shoots, network and spend time reading for pleasure. You know how long it’s been since I read or listened to an audiobook just for fun? Months! Maybe a year or so!
And now, here I type at my almost cleared desk, staring at my to do list that hasn’t yet been finished. And yet, I feel hopeful. Hopeful, because I now have put time back into my hands. Relived because I was able to let go of some things and obligations that were stressing me out more than anything else. Thankful because I’m blessed enough to have these issues without a day job. Yes, I’m feeling antsy and tired (WTH) but I’m free to figure things out again. I can’t wait to see what happens when I create a new daily routine for my life.
I’m currently juggling three huge projects and they are taking up all of my time and energy to produce. I haven’t blogged on here in so long, my apologies. Hence, I’m making some changes. I want to turn Elleword into a photo diary. Life and Style will still be the main theme but I’m doing it for the love of sharing and tracking my days as I live life courageously. Let me know what you think of the new direction. Here are my pics from today. Sorry, some of them are not as great because I took them with my phone (I really need to upgrade!!).
I’m getting back to OOTDs so I can force myself to dress well every day. I can’t be walking around looking crazy if I expect to reach out to potential clients on a moment’s notice. After I got dressed, I headed across the street to a new coffee shop that opened up recently. It is so cute! I found a great spot to do some business planning for Gernelle Nelson LLC and two top secret projects that I can’t yet share but am stoked about! Here are some pics from the coffee shop.
And now for my OOTD. I wore way more neutrals than usual for this look, including my husband’s sweater from Express. I call it my tomboy style, haha.
That’s all for now. I’m off to cook dinner!
I’m getting back into Youtube, first by posting footage I’ve been holding onto. While it’s a lot of work, it’s also a lot of fun capturing everything and looking back at all of the great times I’ve had with my family and friends. It’s like I get to relive the moments over and over. Here’s my intro video.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.