new orleans pt. II

IMG_0928IMG_0959IMG_0951IMG_0937IMG_0939IMG_0961IMG_0953IMG_0954IMG_0963I’ve never been much for journaling (ironic, since I run a blog which I suppose is pretty similar in concept?), but I grabbed a cute one from Target before New Orleans, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Like I said in my last post, this was the very Caro + Chris way to do a city. Nothing too crazy, lots of meandering, a few bookstores, and lots of food. And bear in mind that we drove 8 hours from Dallas to NOLA, and had to drive the 8 hours back the next day, so I hope you don’t judge our 10pm checkin too harshly! This post is alternatively named: how to spend a day in The Big Easy when you don’t drink and aren’t much for the party scene. Enjoyyyyyyy

08:15 am Rise and Shine! Beignets at the Cafe du Monde. They were amazing, and we barely spilled powdered sugar. Cafe au lait was amazing, too, of course.

09:38 am St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. Some fun street art too, throughout the French quarter, and some talented musicians made an appearance. I can’t imagine the courage and dedication it’d take to get up and perform each day for a crowd of strangers…

10:04 am Tried on masks at Royal Masks. I’m all for some A Cinderella Story style masks, but when they start looking like plague masks, that’s a hard pass for me.

10:21 am Browsed through the Faulkner House. This was the place where William Faulkner wrote his first novel! There’s some pretty cool history there, and I think that’s actually what impressed me most about the city—the people’s dedication to keeping their history alive.

11:30 am Lunch at Tableu. It was amazing, and on a gorgeous balcony…we didn’t realize till after that there was an enclosed patio, which was equally picturesque. Caroline had gumbo and I had French Onion soup…also we split a fair sized order of fries and a loaf of bread, because portion control is a thing of routine, not vacation.

12:19 pm Wander and people watch in the French Quarter. What is the big deal with pralines? Why do people decide to tour New Orleans en masse, via segway? Is no one else getting whiplash from the taro card reader just steps outside of the Cathedral? We may never know…

01:20 pm Drove around the Garden District. Some of these houses are soooo beautiful, y’all! And there are some really cute little shops around here, which of course we stopped for and perused.

01:50 pm Coffee and croissants at La Boulangerie. This place was so cute, and the croissants were perfect. Also the decor was just darling: white and marble and royal blue and dark wicker.

03:26 pm Shopping at The Rink. I love curated shopping places like this. There was a place selling baby clothes, a place selling old books and a place selling blanket scarves.

04:30 pm Shopping at the Shops at Canal Place. Because even on vacation, there is always time for Brooks Brothers, Anthropologie, and Vineyard Vines.

06:19 pm Dinner. We went to a fondue place, and our poor waiter kept trying to give us suggestions of bars to go to, or fun places to turn up. His expression when we kept reiterating that we actually weren’t about that was pretty priceless.

08:05 pm Bought sweatshirts. The temperature dropped with the sun and, despite all our shopping from earlier, we were woefully unprepared for the climate change. We found some (surprisingly cute?) $5 mens’ sweatshirts at H&M, and they did the trick.

08:34pm Cafe du Monde, round two. The beignets were that great, y’all.

09:41pm Home again, home again.

As cities go, this one was 100% my style. But, I still had an amazing time and made some pretty great memories, and can you really ask for more that that?

Sooooooo remember when I asked y’all if you wanted video content? Well, here’s a shaky, recorded-on-my-iPhone, mostly-a-collection-of-Insta-stories, vlog of NOLA. Let me know what you think!

new orleans pt. I


My friend Caroline and I keep joking that, in the nebulous future, after we’re well-traveled and well-aged, we’re going to make a coffee table book.

And while I wish this was a publication announcement (it isn’t), and that we were celebrating our literary success with Sprinkles (we aren’t), and that we’d already been to the places we’re planning (we haven’t), I think it’s still an exciting concept worth sharing.

So here’s the backstory: We went to New Orleans a few weekends ago, and let me tell you, it was pretty fun. But while we were planning, we realized we had two options: do the photogenic things, or the ‘us’ things. The things Pinterest told us to do, and the things we wanted to do. Live it up on Bourbon Street vs. eat our weight in beignets. Get our palms read vs. do a bookstore hop. The glam way vs. the us way.

We chose the us way.

And we want to keep doing that. We want to go to pretty places and see pretty things, and to experience it the way we want, without worrying about how photogenic it is. Yes, I realize the irony of posting pictures and saying I don’t want to care about appearances. But we decided that we’d be experience based, and capture those, instead of focusing on capturing pictures, and squeezing in some actual fun on the side.

We’re calling this not-entirely-hypothetical book ‘Elastic‘. Because that’s what our waistbands will be.

Everyone says you should travel in your 20s. But I feel like there’s a very Instagram-approved way of seeing the world. It involves mimosas and flights around the globe and nights out and Jillian-Michaels-approved portion control. None of which are necessarily bad things, they’re just really really really not my cup of tea. Image isn’t something I talk about on here as much as I should, and I don’t know if I’m really in a position to be talking about it, so I won’t delve too deeply. I’ll just say this: if/when I see the four corners of the world, it’ll be in an elastic waistband, and the best moments will not be the ones I post on Insta, or even on this corner of the internet. They’ll be the deleted images of me spilling powdered sugar down my front, wearing less-than-flattering shoes because comfort sometimes trumps fashion, and ugly-laughing.

That’s what Elastic is.

It’s your style, your mentality, your smile. Going to lovely places, with lovely people, indulging in lovely things. And settling back into the in-between with grace, not just dreaming of the next plane ticket.

old firehouse bookstore

I can’t help it—I’m that cliche of a girl who, the second she crosses the threshold of a bookstore, transforms into Belle in all her “I’ve never seen so many books in my life!” glory. There’s just something wondrous about a bookstore! Particularly a used one. 

I don’t mean to be picky, but it’s knowing that someone else—maybe two weeks ago, maybe two decades ago—held the same book in their hands. They ran their fingers over the spine, flipped through the pages before beginning, settled back into a chair and was instantly lost to the world around them. Because just as much as the pages within a book tell a story, so do their covers. 

This bookstore in Fort Collins is a new favorite of mine. I’d be lying if I said I happened into it by chance (more like I googled the best bookstores in Fort Collins), but no matter how I came upon it, I was so pleased with it. Nestled in downtown, right next to a tea place and across the street from a Starbs, this firehouse-turned-bookstore was a delight of an adventure. I will say that I was suprised by their selection of scienxe fiction—it was quite extensive! That’s not generally my genre of choice, but to each their own? There was a solid autobiography section, and a feminist literature section, so I would’ve forgiven much. 

I impressed myself with my restraint, walking away with a parody children’s book for a friend (The Very Hungry Pregnant Lady), and a grammar book for myself (Between You & Me) (which, by the way, I’d highly recommend. I read through most of it on my flight from Denver to DFW and it’s absolutely charming). So yes, all told, 10/10 suggest visiting a bookstore made from an old firehouse 👌🏼

an extrovert’s extrovert pt. 2

Sooooo yesterday, I got real about my glamorous and happening social life in the big city (please read that as sarcasm), and so today’s the practical application (not sarcasm). If you didn’t read the precursor, go check that out here…k, welcome back.

So, what to do when you want to do things, but don’t have people to do with with? Do them anyways. Introducing, my guide to seeing your city by yourself, and loving it:

  1. Coffee shop. You used to do it to study/in college all the time. So, this time, don’t bring the computer. It’s really easy to hide behind a screen, and seem busy/productive—no one else can see it’s Pinterest, and you seem formidable. Leave the comfort blanket at home, and instead pretend you’re Anne Hathaway in some Indie movie. Bring a book, or a notepad, or something that you can easily disengage from. Lots of peoples do coffee shops alone, so this is a good first baby step.
  2. Window shopping. Most of us do this by ourselves anyways, but it’s usually accidental. At this time of the year, it’s really easy to rush between shops, checking gifts off lists, and hurrying between heated buildings. So grab a mocha, leave the list at home, bundle up, and get ready to mosey. Walk slowly past shops, and watch your reactions to window displays. Listen to yourself, you have a lot to say. This step is to realize how great a conversationalist you are, how much you see and notice, and your unfiltered and unedited responses to things. We curb our enthusiasm around others, so take a break from that. Spend 10 minutes daydreaming at an Anthropologie display, savor all the smells outside of Lush.
  3. Ikea. Okay, so this isn’t for everyone but y’all know I love Ikea. It’s like Pinterest in real life—all the possibilities for home decor, spread out over a maze of a warehouse. I don’t understand the people who find it stressful. But, Ikea is usually a family or couple event. You go with the person with whom you share a roof; you envision and design your home together. To go by myself seemed kind of anticlimatic, and kind of awkward. And yet, it was sooo wonderful. I wasn’t moving along too slowly for anyone, nor was I rushing someone through their creative process. It was just me and my mind’s eye, deciding if I really needed that easel chalkboard (I did) and if I needed to restock my dryck bubbel paron stash (I did).
  4. Café. It’s not a repeat, I promise; this is the restaurant that has wifi and coffee, but mostly serves food. A waiter will come by and ask if you’re waiting for someone else; you’ll take a breath, smile like it doesn’t bother you at all, and say no. You’ll see it—that flicker of respect/appreciation in their eyes. She’s okay with herself. She doesn’t need any one else. You can order a chai or a three-course meal, but either way, this venture is such an important one.
  5. Movie theater. I don’t know why, but this one was a million and ten times harder for me than any of the others. I made myself get there early, too, instead of just sneaking in. Movies have always seemed like a pretty social thing to me—you go with 15 of your gal pals, or on a date, or something; to go by myself seemed very “I have no one in my life who can spare an hour or two with me, but at least I have fictional characters”. But you know what happened? There were 3 other people that slipped into the theater by themselves. And it was totally fine. And Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling made me cry unapologetically and I was pretty okay with that.
  6. Anything you want. Literally. After you’ve conquered these, I can’t think of a thing that you can’t do. You’re comfortable with your own company, you’re doing all of the fun things, and you’re actually enjoying yourself.
  7. Bonus/pictured above: dress up. Ah, the cliche of cliches. Dress up for you. That dress you’ve been saving for a NYE party you’ve yet to attend? Put it on. The eyeshadow palette you’ve been practicing with? Break it out. The heels you can wear for 45 minutes before they start to ache? Now’s their time. The coat that people can’t ignore you in? Wear it everyday. Do some twirls in front of your mirror, and then again in downtown. People will watch, people will be curious. And you’ll be ready for their stare.

Would I still rather do these things with other people? Honestly, yes. I am still very much a people person, and still really wrestle with being by myself. Having a clear agenda still makes me shudder, and walking alone when everyone around seems to be stuck fast in their familial roles is still intimidating. But I’m learning that not having people around me constantly is an okay thing. I am not valuable because of what I bring to a group, but because of who I am. 22 might be a little late in the game to realize that, but I’m glad I did.

christmas at the silos

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It is no secret that I am obsessed with Chip and Joanna Gaines—the fact that I’m not hashtagging the 17 different types of goals that they exemplify, is nothing short of a herculean effort. This last summer, I went probably once a week to the silos; that’s actually not an exaggeration, since a good friend works there and so I would go and get Common Grounds from outside, sniff Jo’s new candles (her summer one was so magical) and try to guess where all the tourists were from. Fun fact, there’s a disproportionate amount of Fixer Upper fans that hail from Australia…they come from Australia to America to Texas to Waco, just for the Silos and the Gainses. I aspire to someday love something as much as they love Chip and Jo.

Anywayyyyys, this past weekend, I got the chance to return to the Silos!! I went with my sister to their Christmas at the Silos celebration. As expected, it was absolutely gorgeous. Christmas lights dancing on every surface they could, laughing kids bundled up like little hedgehogs, dedicated shoppers piling their arms high with all the paraphernalia they could manage, dutiful partners trudging bags of Magnolia merch back to the cars. I had my Common Grounds—there’s a certain satisfaction with the barista recognizing you, even though you’ve been gone for months, and also in his appreciation when you order a ‘caballero’, instead of asking for ‘a hot cowboy coffee, hot’, like all the other tourists (hair flip)(let me have my moment)—and watched families spreading blankets and settling down together on the lawn for the concerts. Michael Buble crooned Christmas carols over the speakers, glitter was thrown with abandon where kids were decorating their ornaments, everyone lined up for a picture with Santa. It was good to be back, and it was better that it was Christmas.