8.19.2014

tuesday tunes: lindsay mccaul

i'm breaking my blog silence to tell you about a new album i am so excited about! my friend lindsay mccaul released her album one more step today, and it is so great. yes, i'm bias -- jeff wrote/produced half the songs -- but even so -- i'd love it regardless!


the title track, "one more step" is about lindsay's dad, who passed away a couple of years ago. it's a beautiful song, and i tear up every time...



so so proud of lindsay & this record -- go get it & show your support!


7.31.2014

fashionABLE 4 hour 40% off FLASH SALE!

friends! i just had to let you know that fashionABLE is having a FLASH SALE right now on select summer scarves (etanesh stripes, frehiwot, alem, & anchinalu) so we can make room for our fall inventory


just enter the promo code SEEYASUMMER2014 in your shopping bag, and you'll get 40% off for the next few hours. but don't delay -- it ends at 6pm CST today.

happy shopping!!


7.20.2014

trader joe's top ten: part 7

it's time once again for the list of my favorites from trader joe's!
(i can't believe it's been a year & a half since my last one!) check out the previous posts here: part one // part two // part three // part four // part five // part six


10. cocoa kettle corn // this bag of goodness comes out during the holidays, and it is ridiculous good. kettle corn is already amazing, but then add cocoa drizzle? yum. i'd suggest stocking up on a few bags to last for the year.

9. quinoa oatmeal // in the frozen section, there are now 2 different version of oatmeal: steel cut, and then with quinoa. these make quick oatmeal in the morning so easy! (i love to add some berries into mine, too!)

8. marcona almonds with rosemary // literally the most amazing nuts in the world. these are my favorite thing to put out w/ a cheese plate.

7. spray coconut oil // i'm a huge coconut oil fan, and having it in spray form is even better. this is a daily staple for our morning eggs, for pans when i'm baking, or really anything i need to oil up!

6. whole wheat pizza dough // we make homemade pizzas in the pardo home about once-a-week, and i always start with this dough. it's 99 cents and makse a perfect pie every time. (tip for cooked-thru dough: after rolling out w/ some flour, spray with a little bit of coconut oil (see above) and let it cook for about 6 minutes before putting on your toppings & baking again for another 5 minutes!)

5. candy cane green tea // this is another holiday item i stock up on for the year. it's the most soothing and refreshing mint tea, and this green variety is actually caffiene-free, so it can be enjoyed any time of the day.

4. corn & wheat tortillas // taco night is another staple in our home, and these are the best i've found. corn tortillas tend to crack and break, but these have the perfect blend of both corn & wheat making them soft and pliable.

3. cold brew coffee // this is a concentrated version of our favorite pick-me-up. just add water or milk, and voila! instant barista-approved drink. my favorite: add almond milk + a few drops of vanilla liquid stevia + some ice for an iced latte!

2. cruciferous crunch collection // this is a yummy combo of kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, & red cabbage -- all bagged & ready to cook! i love roasting the whole bag on a pan with some olive oil + sea salt. yum.

1. $3.99 flowers // my husband isn't the best at buying me flowers. but that's ok, because i buy them for myself. and at $3.99 a bunch, i don't feel bad about picking these up a few times a month! my go-to is the mums, but i love the sunflowers this time of year, too!

what are you loving at trader joe's lately?

7.19.2014

pardo home on air bnb!


a lot of you were around for the building of the #pardohome.  not a day goes by that we aren't super grateful for this house and the home we've created inside.  but until there are little pardos running around, we have a lot of extra space that we need to make the most of!  so... we've listed our guest room + bathroom on air bnb!

i had been hearing more & more about air bnb this last year, and then we actually used it to stay in a few different places on our california vacation earlier this summer. we had a great experience (and made some mental notes!) and decided to pursue listing our own place.
nashville is actually the top city for air bnb this summer (not to mention just a really popular tourist destination in general -- thanks to articles in GQ, NY times, & rolling stone... and that little tv show.)

with our master bedroom on the main level, we can offer air bnb guests the entire 2nd floor -- including a spacious bedroom, full bathroom, and even a little breakfast nook with their own keurig coffee maker!  (check out our listing to see more pics) plus, we live in the cutest neighborhood ever, within walking distance to great restaurants & just a 5 minute drive to downtown.




know anybody traveling to nashville this next year? would you mind recommending our space?  PLUS -- get a $25 travel credit!

6.13.2014

life lately: 06.13.14

this has been one crazy season. even with an amazing vacation in the middle of it, the pardos have been swamped in the work department.  and any free time for me has been spent right here:


but even in the midst of crazy, life goes on.
here is a bit of an update on our life lately...

watching: we just finished the west wing on netflix and we miss those characters so much!  currently searching for our next series & open to suggestions.

reading: i've been on a bit of a fiction kick in 2014. i've read: gone girl, the divergent trilogy, and the fault in our stars, and up next i've got where'd you go bernadette. i'm also starting notes from a blue bike. any favorites you've read lately i should put on my list?

listening to: i've missed some tuesday tunes, but i've been listening to a lot of new music from: needtobreathemiranda lambertnickel creek, johnnyswim, and ingrid michaelson.
i also got to see both nickel creek and ingrid at the ryman in the past few months! amazing, both of them. here's the #kenyamocha team at the ingrid show last month:


wearing: i've got a couple of new summer styles i'm just loving, including kimonos & soft pants. (i'm requesting them in my next stitch fix!!)
oh, and a good arm party. (pssst. we've got some super fun new leather wrap bracelets launching next week at livefashionABLE.com!)

convincing: i'm currently on a mission to convince jeff that we need this puppy. he's a pocket beagle (my favorite!), his name is seymour, and i just love him. we have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks... i'll keep you updated!

5.19.2014

#kenyamocha. and a change of plans.

so i was supposed to be publishing a blog post this morning telling you how excited i was about getting on a plane this afternoon to take the #kenyamocha team across the ocean... but we've had a change in plans.

after careful & intentional consideration, we will not be traveling this week. the past couple weeks have seen an increase in violence, including our destination of nairobi. on friday, a twin bombing heightened ongoing international security concerns, and because the safety of each team member is super important to us, we decided it best to postpone the trip.

this was definitely not an easy decision to make. the staff kept a close eye on the events, and maintained constant communication with our partners on the ground, and then following the state department's release of a travel warning and honest discussion with our team, we collectively decided to remain here in the US and pursue the trip at a later time.

of course i am sad... it's hard when you build up to something for so many months and then it just suddenly changes. i'm bummed i won't be taking these friends to see kenya this week, but i'm trusting there is a reason why the timing is not right, and holding on to HOPE that there will be a day we'll get to be there in person.


but the purpose is not deterred ... the projects we were going to visit: the new dawn educational centre & the ladies of HEKO are still important and inspiring and we want to bring awareness to the incredible people we call our friends and partners.  this next week, our team will still be blogging about these projects... AND, a couple of the bloggers, jessi & lindsay, are coming to stay with annie and me in nashville this week to work together!  we're even planning an impromptu special event to highlight our friends in kenya later in the week... so stay tuned!



you might still have some questions about this... thankfully the fine folks at mocha club have drafted up a nice little q & a, so i'll just let them take it from here...


• How was the decision made? The decision was made collectively after discussions with several of Mocha Club’s partners on the ground in Kenya, as well as Mocha Club’s U.S.-based project managers who travel to the area frequently. Travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State were also taken into consideration, as well as each team member’s personal feelings towards the situation. 
So what happens next? We fully believe the Lord has a plan for the week that allows us to still celebrate the students and teachers at New Dawn from the United States. We are fully committed to traveling to New Dawn when conditions permit in the future. In the meantime, please continue to follow along to learn more about New Dawn and discover opportunities to support the incredible work being done.   
Why was postponing the best decision? The goal of the trip was and is to share the stories present at New Dawn – several of which were made possible because of the dedication of Purpose Project and Mocha Club supporters. We feel that were the trip taken as planned, those stories and our ability to share them with you would be marred by questions of why we went, what was happening regarding the attacks and subsequent security alerts, and ultimately – fear. The students of New Dawn deserve full attention, both ours and yours. We would rather wait and tell the story right than go and relate a story peppered with fear or uncertainty. We’re still incredibly excited to share with you and bring you along on our journey – it will just be at a time other than next week.  
What can I do? Please join us in prayer – for peace in Nairobi and the surrounding areas, for safety to all those we were planning to spend time with while on the ground, and for the planning process as it begins again with rescheduling the trip. There will also be opportunities to support New Dawn and other education projects in Africa throughout the next week 
What exactly is going on in Nairobi? Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab has threatened Kenya for years because of Kenya’s involvement in Somalia. Tensions existed long before this past week between the Kenyan government and Somalis living in Kenya (largely in Nairobi neighborhood Eastleigh) out of fear of ties to al-Shabaab. The twin bombing in the minibus and market in Nairobi on Friday has not yet been deemed an act of terror and al-Shabaab has not yet taken responsibility for it. As such, security is heightened as uncertainty grows.  
Is New Dawn in danger? New Dawn is located in the Huruma slum outside Nairobi. The school is near the U.S. Embassy, U.N., and several other well protected and respected locations. Mocha Club and the leadership of New Dawn agree that there is no direct threat to the school or nearby grounds. 

5.14.2014

california love (+ my wine country tips!)

sorry for the radio silence around here for the past few weeks, folks. i started my new job, worked exactly 4 weeks, and then jeff and i headed on our big 10-day summer vacation to california. the trip was actually planned pre-job-switch, so the timing was kinda crazy, but we still soaked up every minute. oh, and did i mention i leave for africa in 5 days? no biggie.

ok. so northern california is a pardo happy place... from the busy streets of san fran to the quiet vineyards of napa... we love it all.


here's a not-so-little recap of our trip + my wine country tips!


first up: san francisco.
jeff would say this is his most favorite city. he's been here a bunch, but i haven't since i was a kid. so he indulged me while we did the tourist-y stuff: coffee at the ferry building, watching the sea lions at pier 39 on the wharf, eating sourdough and riding trolley cars. we even toured alcatraz (view from "the rock" in the pic above). we also went on a little hike and found the best view of the golden gate bridge...


top spots:
- coffee at blue bottle // might i suggest the ferry building location, and then grab a cinnamon roll biscuit from the biscuit bender cart across the hall.
- dinner at bistro aix // we met my friend jenna & her husband here our first night. they're both foodies, so we knew it'd be amazing. (and it was)
- dinner at umami // jeff had been here years ago and has talked about it ever since. i get it though. ridiculously good sushi + killer vibe. get the kobe beef sliders appetizer and thank me later. and for dessert? cookie dough + ice cream "sushi". holy yum.


then we spent a week in wine country...
you guys. 7 days in napa/sonoma means we tasted a lot of wine and ate a lot of delicious food. my tastebuds & my tummy were in heaven.


i'll start with the wineries:
we tasted at over 20 different places over our week... some amazing, and some just ok. we've learned that not only does the wine itself need to be good, but the "hang" is super important for us. we don't want to be in & out in 30 minutes in the high turnover places. so here are my top 10, considering both the wine and the hang/experience. (note: pretty much all of these require appointments!)

- imagery // this was a clear favorite (evident by the 3 bottles we're bringing home with us!) a little outside downtown sonoma, the wine is really great (and priced well) and we felt like we were treated like family. win-win.
- honig // a little off the beaten path, but with so much charm. definitely take your tasting out on the patio, and plan to hang out & stay awhile.
- failla // this was our only "repeat" from our trip 2 years ago, but it was our favorite then, and it stays at the top. this time we added on the tour, which ends with a tasting in an intimate living room in their cave. (super cool) also? the best pinot noirs we've found.
pride // 4 miles up a winding road, you'll find this estate on top of the mountain. it's a beautiful property and the tour of the grounds & caves is great. the wines were good but a bit overpriced.
vincent arroyo // we wanted to take a stop in calistoga (a little town 30 minutes north of napa) and literally googled "best winery in calistoga"... and this place showed up! thankfully google did not disappoint. totally unassuming but oh so enjoyable. loved their vintage petite syrahs (that were super affordable, too!)
- domaine carneros // this one wins for the view, hands down. and if you like bubbles, definitely go here. just picture yourself enjoying a sparkling rose on the chateau patio on a sunny afternoon with a panoramic view of the valley. yah, it's as great as it sounds. (note: we split the "chateau sampler" of 2 bubbles + 2 pinots & it was plenty... they're big pours!)
- caymus // you get seated around a table for 10 in a private room, and your wines come paired with different cheeses (my dream!). the staff are super knowledgeable, too, and it's a great place to ask questions and learn. if you've got time, grab another glass of wine & enjoy it in their beautiful courtyard.
beau vigne // this one was a pleasant surprise. we got a "2 for 1" card from our hotel (and it was right next door) so we decided to walk over & try it out. we were the only people in the place, which meant we could just hang out for a bit. this also meant we got a few extra tastes -- including their award-winning (and way out of our budget) "cult" cabernet. i'm not usually a cabernet lover, but apparently i do love really expensive cabs :)
- robert sinskey // great stop on the silverado trail... super friendly people & your wine flight tasting comes paired with small bites (which, again, i love!)
- cakebread // definitely one of the "main stream" big wineries off hwy 29, but both the tour and the wine are really good. home to my favorite chardonnay.


honorable mentions: 
- ceja // downtown napa. enjoy your tasting on the comfy leather sofas while listening to some salsa & latin tunes. (for real. it's owned by a latina family!)
- highway 12 // downtown sonoma on the square. tasting room shared w/ a country gift shop, but don't be fooled -- the wine is really good!


by-the-way... we have a favorite street in wine country, in a little town called yountville, and it's our own little version of "pleasantville". only about a mile long, washington street contains some of the best restaurants we've ever eaten at, and you can find us morning & night taking strolls up & down, to and from our favorite spots (because, y'all: the weather is so perfect.)


so, next up: favorite foods.
a lot of these are yountville (see obsession above) but there are some outlier winners too!

ad hoc // this was our only "repeat" dinner spot from our trip out here a couple years ago. (and because we can't afford french laundry, we'll gladly take this more affordable option from thomas keller any day!) the fixed 4 course menu changes daily, so you're never quite sure what you're gonna get -- but trust me, it's all amazing. (see our 4 course meal in the pic above) this should be a definite dinner spot on your list!
bouchon // another thomas keller spot, right down the street -- this one is designed to imitate a french bistro. we loved both the attention to detail and the overall vibe. don't miss: the oeufs mimosa (deviled eggs) appetizer & the profiteroles for dessert.
bouchon bakery // some might say we're obsessed with this place. and they'd be right. a cup of coffee paired with the perfect bouchon pastry is our favorite way to start the day. we spent many-a-morning (plus an afternoon or two) stopping in to get a treat. *insider tip: grab a loaf from here to keep in the car & munch on between tastings!
bottega // this is another yountville spot, but warning: you will leave stuffed. it's italian, so go figure, but everything is rich & heavy. the vibe is great, though, and the "raviolo" is a unique dish: a giant ravioli filled w/ spinach & ricotta, black truffles, farm fresh egg yolk, & sage brown butter. just come super hungry!
the girl & the fig // this is a can't-miss-spot. right in downtown sonoma, it's the perfect mix of charm & class. definitely share a cheese plate (and check out the "salon du fromage" cheese station!).  i had the wild flounder meuniere which was fantastic. but seriously, everything on the menu is great.
- ca' momi // this was our favorite "find". with no plans, we ventured to the oxbow public market our 1st night in napa and fell in love. it's super charming & bustling with all the right energy. we went first for a cup of coffee at ritual, stayed for some happy hour oysters at hog island (jeff was in heaven) and then pulled-up to the bar at ca' momi. we were so pleased with our experience, we went back later in the week when some other dinner plans fell through! big wins: their pizzas & the "gnudi" -- aka a ricotta + spinach gnocchi.  and the "rosso di napa" on tap (yup, that's red wine on tap!) is really really good. (maybe we bought 2 bottles)
- redd wood // we stumbled upon this because it was adjacent to our hotel the last couple of nights (see below) but we enjoyed both a lunch & a breakfast here, and both were fabulous!
- boon fly cafe // if you need a weekend brunch spot, definitely head here. there will probably be a wait, but there's free coffee & porch swings, so it's all ok. and be sure to get some of the "world famous" boon fly donuts.


ps you can pass on eating at mustards. sadly, this was our biggest disappointment. it's a napa staple, and everybody talks about it, but we were definitely underwhelmed. in our opinion, don't bother.


where to stay:
we actually used air bnb for the first time on this vacation -- we found a cute basement apartment in san fran and rented a private room for most of our time in napa. it was a great way to stay for a bit cheaper when you're coming for a long trip.

then we decided to splurge for our last 2 nights to stay on our street in yountville. we found a deal at the north block hotel, and it was so worth it. this modern boutique hotel has a private patio/balcony for each room, and of course a ridiculously comfy bed... but it was the bathroom that won me over. the rain shower + spa-like complimentary cleansers were so heavily. and 2 words: heated. floors. yup, we lived the life of luxury for 48 hours! (and no, i'm not getting paid to write this... but hey, north block hotel, we'll take a free night any time!) :)


another fun thing we did was rent bikes one day from the folks at napa valley bike tours. we did a little 10 mile loop that provided both a needed workout (see: all the food we consumed above) + a unique view of the valley.


have you been to northern california? anything we missed in either san francisco or wine country that we should hit next time we're there? 
(oh yes, we're hoping for many next times!) 



3.31.2014

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.


3.25.2014

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...


2.11.2014

tuesday tunes: happy.

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



also? check out 24hoursofhappy.com. amazing.