the end and the beginning.

(image via my friend trina at lalalovelythings.com)

this is a bittersweet week for me... ending one thing i love to begin another.
friday will mark my final day on staff with the mocha club, as i transition to fashionABLE to be the marketing + communications director. 

the last seven years at mocha club have been nothing but amazing and rewarding, and i remain deeply committed to the work of this organization in africa. on my many trips across the ocean, i've had the privilege to meet and serve the most inspiring leaders i have ever known, and it has been an honor to manage a brand that continues to show how our small sacrifices can together make a big impact.

maybe you're thinking "wait, i thought those were the same organization.."
well, they were.
here's how we got here...

most of you know that i have been with mocha club in some capacity since i moved to nashville in the summer of 2007. what began as a part time gig eventually grew into a full time career where i became the juggler of multiple balls and wearer of many hats.

in the fall of 2010, mocha club launched fashionABLE as a campaign to fund skills training for women who graduated from our partner women at risk. it started with just one scarf that we promoted to our members, and now the brand has grown into a business that employs almost 100 women in africa, featuring extensive scarf designs as well as a leather line.

after a couple of years co-laboring with barrett to develop fashionABLE, he went on to manage that brand, and i moved into a manager role for mocha club. in order for both brands to grow, they needed to have their own focus.  so for the past year, my days have been spent focusing on new ideas and re-establishing mocha club as a viable brand in the non-profit space.

earlier this year, after operating under the mocha club organization for a little over 3 years, fashionABLE officially became an independent for-profit company. by not living under the confines of a non-profit, fashionABLE is allowed room for growth, and the ability to focus solely on their passion to provide business opportunities across Africa.

and while i was super proud of what our team was doing at mocha club... i had missed my day-to-day involvement with fashionABLE.
i strongly believe in the development work mocha club is doing around the continent, but my years with fashionABLE showed me how much value lies in investing in the sustainable business aspect of international work. a blog post barrett wrote for ONE in 2011 has stuck with me — where he shared that while charity work is indeed critical, the real solutions to ending poverty are found in creating opportunity.

so i applied to go work back with fashionABLE (yes, i had to go through the application process just like everybody else! very humbling.)  and it became very clear which direction to go.  it is a new season of uncharted waters for fashionABLE, and i am excited to join the team on this journey. i believe in fashionABLE with all of my heart: in the mission, the people, and the products. and i can't wait to shape and represent this brand.

mocha club & fashionABLE will remain in an ongoing partnership, working together to create exclusive products and supporting sustainable solutions across the continent. this video we just launched at mocha club actually shows the partnership between the 2 brands really beautifully...

when we launched "i need africa" 2.0 last fall, i wrote this post about my involvement with the organization through the years, and how my life and my heart are forever changed because of the experiences i've had and the people i've met and the way God has shown up for me through my involvement serving africa with mocha club. it is still my favorite non-profit, and i will continue to support it (and i hope you will, too!)

oh, and i still get to take some friends to africa on the #kenyamocha trip in may!
more on that soon.

i never could have seen this coming, but i'm grateful for the opportunity to remain connected to the continent... the difference being that instead of relief and development, i'll now be focused on creating sustainable business. 

here's to ending well.
to new beginnings.
to not always having the perfect plan.
but trusting the One who does.


tuesday tunes + playing catch-up.

hello friends!
i'm grateful if any of you are still out there. i have been a horrible blogger as of late, but i promise an explanation is coming soon!  in the meantime, i thought i'd share some of the tunes i've been listening to + some instagram pics of what i've been up to...

first up: tuesday tunes. this is a spotify playlist of some of my current faves, including the newest songs from JT, ingrid michaelson, and john legend. and a song from a new band i can't stop listening to: haim.

and since i've been majorly missing-in-action the past 6 weeks... here's a snapshot into my life lately...

jeff and i went to our 1st nashville predators hockey game... 
8th row center ice. not too bad! 

i've taken on 3 recent college grad girls to mentor thru my church, which has been a blast. 
and we've been doing this 40 day lent study together
(journal from my talented friend jessi's shop: naptime diaries!)

the local courthouse was my home for a week as i did my civic duty as a juror!

the weather is getting warmer, which called for a backyard bonfire (with s'mores of course!)

quick trip to chicago meant i got to meet my new nephew henry. 
also pictured: my adorable niece maddie. being an aunt is awesome.

i also got to spend 24 hours in chicago with my blogABLE gals. 
this was brunch at little goat which was incredible.

then it was an atlanta roadtrip to celebrate my friend christine's bachelorette weekend. 
we had a blast & ate so much good food:
heart & tummy = full.

these weekend trips have included my travel essentials: my 2 everlane bags + my favorite fashionABLE scarf.

it's been a busy spring & i've got some crazy transitions coming up soon. 
to be continued...


tuesday tunes: happy.

this song has been my jam lately. i cannot get enough of it!

also? check out 24hoursofhappy.com. amazing.


snow, sun, & super bowl snacks.

how is it already february you guys? 
january flew by for us, as we had the opportunity for two free vacations. (sometimes being in the music business has its perks!) first, we hit the snowy slopes of breckinridge, colorado with some of our best friends...

then, we headed for miami and jumped on the klove cruise, soaking up the sunny caribbean...

yah, i know, pretty sweet. but now it's back to the real world of groceries, laundry, & emails.
but it's still the weekend. AND today's the super bowl. so we pardos are still partyin'.

y'all know i am most definitely a football fan (go dawgs), but i'll be honest... i don't really care who wins the super bowl. i'll watch the game, for sure, but i'm probably as equally excited for the friends & food (and commercials!).  so here's what i'm bringing to our gathering tonight...

>> buffalo chicken egg rolls. // a slightly healthier way to get your wings kick!

- 20 egg roll wraps (usually found in the refrigerated case in the produce dept near the tofu & hummus!)
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 1 cup frank's hot sauce
- 6 oz feta cheese (or blue cheese)
- 2 cups brocoli slaw

preheat oven to 400 degrees. lay egg roll wrappers on a clean work surface. mix chicken & hot sauce til fully coated -- add more/less depending on your spicy preference!
for each wrapper: put 1 tbsp slaw in corner + 2 tbsp chicken mix + 1 tbsp feta.
fold bottom corner over mixture, then 2 side corners like an envelope. roll wrap upward, leaving top corner open. moisten corner w/ water, fold down & seal.
place on greased or foil-covered cooke sheet. spritz each roll w/ cooking oil (i use coconut spray oil) & bake for 12-15 minutes -- until crispy & golden brown.
serve w/ blue cheese, ranch, or feta dressing.

( this photo + a step-by-step folding guide over on canyoustayfordinner.com!! )

>> feta dip. // i'm serving this with sweet potato chips, but it will also be available to dip the buffalo wraps in!

- 6-8 oz feta cheese (1 container), crumbled
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 6 tbsp olive oil (+ extra for serving!)
- fresh thyme

place feta, lemon zest & juice, garlic, & olive oil in blender (i used my magic bullet!) & blend until smooth. (add a bit more lemon juice & olive oil if consistency is too thick)
spoon into a bowl & drizzle w/ a little olive oil & sprinkle w/ thyme!


2014 fresh start.

i took a couple of weeks off during the holidays from work (and let's be honest... from really anything too responsible!)  we spent our time visiting friends and family and reading and lounging and watching a lot of netflix. and of course there was lots eating and drinking and being merry. it was wonderful.

but after a season of such richness, there's just something in me that craves a little cleanse.
and with the start of a new year, when's a better time?  so i spent the last 10 days cleansing out my body -- no sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no alcohol, no caffeine. (yah, all the good stuff) so just a lot of fruits & veggies, chicken & fish... and a little bit of quinoa & brown rice thrown to make things fun.

sadly, the hardest part for me was not getting to drink my morning cup of coffee & my almost nighty glass of red wine.  i substituted both with some some herbal tea (so yah, i drank a lot of tea in the past 2 weeks!)

this is the 2nd time i've done this... sure, it's not easy, but it forces me to really think about what i'm putting in my body each day, and that i don't have to have certain foods as much as i want & crave them.  i drink a lot of smoothies (thank God for our vitamix) and it forces me to plan ahead with our meals, discovering some new healthy recipes along the way!
i thought i'd share 5 of my favorites... these will definitely become regulars in our house!

here's to a happy & healthy 2014!

1. butternut squash + quinoa stew (via cookincanuck.com)

3. salted tilapia with zucchini & squash ribbons (via cheekykitchen.com)

4.  tex-mex chicken in lettuce wraps (another one from eatliverun.com!)

5. salmon & zucchini baked in parchment paper (via marthstewart.com)

have any healthy recipes you're loving lately? 
leave a comment with the link... i'd love to check them out! 


in the kitchen: christmas cookies.

this is the recipe on my mom's side of the family that's been passed down through generations... i can remember making them as a little girl in my grandmother's kitchen.
we're doing christmas with jeff's family this year, so i thought it'd be fun to bring some of these cookies with us. ya know... blending families stuff.

and you guys... these are the perfect christmas cookies!  what makes them so perfect? 1) the actual cookie itself isn't very sweet... it's really more of a butter cookie. so when you add the icing, eating one doesn't put you in a sugar coma. 2) the icing... it's homemade y'all. yup, just some powdered sugar & cream. pure goodness. the whole recipe is just a few simple ingredients you probably already have around your kitchen (minus maybe the sprinkles!). ok, you ready? let's do this.

THE COOKIES: (makes about 3 dozen - depending on size of cookies!)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

>> cream butter. gradually add sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy.  mix in egg and vanilla. sift in flour, baking powder and salt. blend well. then let the dough chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

>> take out chilled dough & roll out to about 1/8" on lightly floured surface. cut with assorted cookie cutters & place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes (or until the edges are just barely browned). remove and cool.

powdered sugar
heavy/whipping cream
food coloring

>> start with about 1 cup of powdered sugar and slowly add a little bit of cream (a little goes a long way!) and mix until the consistency is kinda like glue (yum). add more powdered sugar and/or cream until you get the right amount and/or consistency. divide amongst multiple bowls (1 for each color) keeping your original bowl for white. (i personally did red, green, blue, & white) add a couple of drops of food coloring & you've got your colors.

>> using the back of a spoon, cover each cookie with the combination of colors you wish, then add various sprinkles, red hots, etc.

and voila! make sure to let the icing dry a few hours before stacking them up & storing in an airtight container.  (and please note the far right 2nd from top "abstract" gingerbread man jeff did. oh, my little artistic husband.)

happy baking!


home for the holidays.

this is technically our 2nd christmas together as a married couple, but it really feels like the first one. you may remember that this time last year we were in the middle of a huge move and basically living out of boxes... and, well, we didn't get the luxury of decorating for the holidays.

while i was sad to not have a festive, twinkle-light-filled-home last year, it did allow us to postpone what those that know jeff and i have coined "the great tree debate"...
i wanted a real tree, he wanted fake. so after a year of going back & forth on the pros & cons of both, i have conceded to the fake tree (you gotta choose your battles, right?) -- but with the caveat that i get to purchase as many pine candles as i want!  and we started a new yearly tradition of decorating the tree, making some homemade hot chocolate, & watching a christmas movie!

here are the other ways the pardo home got festive this year...

the willow tree nativity was the first grown-up decorations i owned.. i started collecting them in college & now have the whole set! it fit perfectly on our side table. i also placed some holiday arrangements of red berries + eucalyptus all around the house! 

i needed a spot to display all of our christmas cards... this year i just used some washi tape & stuck them up on the french doors. (anybody have other creative ideas for displaying cards?)

the big focus for this year was our mantle!! things to note:
- felt stockings from west elm: these were actually my 3rd choice. 1st choice & 2nd choice both sold out! 
- stocking holders from land of nod (out of stock). little gold squirrels. so cute, right?
- "o holy night" print from lindsay letters. love all the illustrations lindsay does. perfection.
- starry string lights (in the glass bottle!) from restoration hardware. battery operated. you could use these for so many fun things!
- i also bought a bag of fresh cranberries & put them in an extra jar i had lying around for a little pop of red! 

the plan is to hit up some post-christmas sales to stock up on any other decor for next year! let me know if you have any favorites!   5 days til christmas!


life lately: 12.18.

i obviously trimmed back on blogging a bit this fall, but there have been some extra fun things i'd love to share. so this post is just a hodgepodge of stuff from the last few months. cool? cool.

the dawgs came to nashville in october to play vanderbilt. and even though we lost, 
it was fun to experience football with my old college roomies.

justin timberlake 20/20 experience tour in november. 
hands down one of the best shows of my life. 

"friendsgiving" -- thanksgiving dinner with our sweet community group. 
yay for friends that feel like family (and for healthy-but-still-yummy food!)

jeff and i both turned 32 this week... aka celebrations all week long! 
grateful to grow old with this guy.

oh -- and i also got another fix last month! i can't believe it...#8. (the other 7 are here) i kept these 2 fabulous shirts (i'm also wearing the grey one in the JT show pic above!)  
AND -- just in case you need one more last-minute gift idea... stitchfix now offers GIFT CARDS!  i don't know any gal who wouldn't love one of these! genius.

and because i've been a little less than consistent on tuesday tunes -- i'll leave with my most recent recommendation: the soundtrack from hunger games: catching fire. (ps have you seen the movie? do you love katniss as much as we do?) this soundtrack is legit, with tracks from coldplay, the lumineers, imagine dragons, lorde, and ellie goulding. it's fabulously hipster & makes you want to become an archer. (no? only me?)


2013 gift guide: HIM.

ok, so yesterday i shared my favorite girl gifts... and today it's all about the mr. in your life!

1. cedar & sage man candle. it's hard to find a candle that a guy enjoys. but couple the fact that this scent is dude-friendly (woods! nature!) and it's in a (re-usable!) whiskey glass? man candle for sure.

2. fashionABLE wallet. i gave one to my husband and he loves it. ample room for cards & some cash, but won't overcrowd your pocket! and at $22 it's a price point that's perfect for everybody.

3. birchbox for men. it's a no-brainer that birchbox subscriptions are a killer gift for girls. but they also have boxes for the guys! loaded with grooming & lifestyle products, they can sample new brands each month. available in 3, 6, or 12 month gifts.

4. lululemon kung fu pants. these are the dude equivilent to us hanging out in yoga pants all day. they're super flattering, functional, and comfortable (so says my husband!). they're not cheap, but they're quality, and they'll last.

5. whisky rocks. keepin it cool without watering down. (i may or may not have also used them to chill white wine!)

any other gentleman-approved products you love?

happy shopping friends!


2013 gift guide: HER.

i thought i'd jump on the gift guide bandwagon & round up a few of my favorite things this year for the gal in your life...
ps christmas is in 13 days!

1. mocha club + fashionABLE INA scarf. this is my two jobs coming together! and of course i love the story behind "i need africa". oh -- psssst tomorrow these scarves are buy one get one free. yah, you're gonna wanna get on that. (insider info. you're welcome.)

2. weekender duffel from everlane. i've told you about everlane before (the tote is my everyday work bag and it's the best.) the duffel is perfect for the gal who loves to get away. and the reverse denim is perfection. (and free shipping until dec 19!)

2. kinfolk table. if you're not familiar with kinfolk, take a few hours minutes and just glance through their website, pinterest, etc. it's pretty much like living in a dream life of constant beautiful backyard parties and mountain road trips. and i have a feeling their cookbook is just as magical.

4. compass necklace from miriam designs. again, no shock that i'm sharing the miriam love. this one is my current favorite!

3. capri blue mercury glass candle from anthropologie. y'all, this is the best candle ever made. seriously. burn it constantly. thank me later.

come back tomorrow for my list for HIM!