Travel Diary

A Chateau Wedding in Houston

Recently I was part of the bridal party in my cousin Liza’s wedding. The wedding took place early in January of this year in Houston at the stunning Chateau Cocomar. Seriously y’all, it’s gorgeous. I posted a few pictures of the wedding on my Instagram that weekend, and they were super popular, so I decided to post even more pictures from the wedding on my blog. So, my apologies in advance – this post will be picture heavy. But really, you shouldn’t care because the pictures are gorgeous! And, with Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow, maybe this post will help get you in the mood for love! 😉

All of the photos, except for the first two without the watermark (which are mine), were taken by Jonathan Ivy Photography.

You can find a list of all the vendors used below the pictures. One thing I will point out – the garter seen in one of the pictures below is custom made using lace from the mother of the bride’s wedding gown. It also served as the “something blue”, and definitely makes for a timeless and sentimental keepsake.

A Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #wedding A Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #wedding A Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #wedding A Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingSmores Bar A Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #weddingA Chateau Wedding in Houston, Texas #wedding

As promised, below is a list of the vendors she used with a link to their websites. Also below in the “Shop This Post” section, you can find links to bridesmaid dresses, the mother of the bride dress, some accessories we wore, and the bridal shoes.

XOXO,

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West Texas Getaway Part 2: Marathon and Big Bend National Park

Even though our getaway to West Texas only lasted four days, it was so action-packed I had to split it up into two separate posts. So, if you’d like to read about the first part of our trip – our time in Marfa – you can check it out here.

After our time in Marfa, we made the hour drive over to Marathon, Texas. Really, there’s not much to this small town except for the historic Gage Hotel, which was beautiful and such a gem in the middle of the desert.

The historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas #travelThe historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas #travel

Walking into the lobby, you’d never guess you were entering a hotel in a small West Texas town. Both the lobby and our guest room were beautifully decorated, striking the perfect balance of Texas charm and modern appeal. The hotel’s White Buffalo Bar, which gets its name from the massive white buffalo head adorning one wall inside, was the perfect spot to relax after a long day of exploring the area – we ended both our nights sipping cocktails in front of the fireplace on the bar’s patio (it really was perfect, y’all).

The historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas #travel

Above is a shot of the inside of the lobby.

breakfast at Marathon Coffee #travel

For breakfast in Marathon, I recommend Marathon Coffee. There’s nothing fancy to it, but that’s why it’s so great. Just simple, southern breakfast staples done well. I could see how it could get a little slow if there was a crowd, but fortunately for us, there wasn’t too much of one while we were there.

breakfast at Marathon Coffee #travel

Just casually sippin’ my coffee before we hit the road again….

breakfast at Marathon Coffee #travel

I ordered the biscuits and gravy, which seemed to me to be the obvious choice in an establishment like this one. After all, I needed to fuel up for our big day ahead at Big Bend National Park!

Big Bend National Park in West, Texas #travel

The park is huge, and we didn’t have enough time in our trip to see it all, so we made the best of the time we had available and just drove through as much of the park as possible. It was the first time that either my husband or I had visited a national park, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect and were a little apprehensive as to how it all worked. But, turns out we had no reason to fear. The park ranger we met when paying our entry fee was really friendly and helpful with recommendations and gave us a super-easy-to-follow-along map (necessary here since cell phone service is spotty).

Big Bend National Park in West, Texas #travelBig Bend National Park in West, Texas #travelBig Bend National Park in West, Texas #travelBig Bend National Park in West, Texas #travel

As you can see from the pictures above, the park is absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea Texas had this type of terrain – I’ve seen the plains, the bayou, the coast, the piney woods, and the hill country – but never desert and mountains like you see here.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park in West, Texas #travel

The neatest area of the park that we saw, in our opinion, was the Santa Elena Canyon. The awesome canyon formation was carved out by the Rio Grande River, which runs right through it. It was really something to see, so try to check it out if you’re there.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park in West, Texas #travelMcDonald Observatory Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas #travel(Photo Cred: Vicki Gibson)

After driving through Big Bend National Park, we headed over to Fort Davis, a true Texas mountain town and home of the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory, for a Star Party. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had heard great things from a few friends who had done one. It definitely lived up to the hype.

Make sure you reserve tickets – it was surprisingly crowded considering the sparsely populated land we had to traverse to get there. Also, bring coats and a blanket – even in the summer. It’s cold up there.

But getting back to the Star Party…. Basically, Fort Davis is in the right location – far enough away from big towns for city lights to dampen star visibility and at an ideal high elevation in the mountains – making it an awesome location for star gazing. Hence, why UT built the observatory.

McDonald Observatory Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas #travel(Photo Cred: Michael Cummings)

As you can see in the picture above, at the Star Party an instructor/scientist/genius points out constellations with a high-powered laser. I’m telling you, you’ve never seen so many stars (both shooting and stationary) as you will here. After the laser presentation is done, you have an opportunity to view really neat space stuff (highly technical term, I know) through super fancy telescopes.

One thing I’ll say – don’t do Big Bend National Park and a Star Party in the same day. It was way too much driving for one 18 hour period, and we were so exhausted by the end of it. We only did it so we could fit everything in, but in an ideal world we would have had more time.

Dinner at the 12 Gage Restaurant at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas #travel

After all that driving and star-gazing, we were pretty hungry. So, after we made our way back to the Gage Hotel, we ate a late dinner at the 12 Gage Restaurant. Do yourself a favor and order the elk. Amazing.

The next morning, we woke up and headed back home to Austin. But, along the way, we stopped at the Caverns of Sonora – a really beautiful underground cave formation – to break up the drive a bit.

Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas #travelCaverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas #travel

Above is one picture I took from inside the formation during our tour, which lasted about an hour and a half. Below is a shot of a natural pool inside the cave.

Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas #travelcave selfie in the Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas #travelCave selfie…. necessary.

All in all, I’d say it’s worth a stop at the Caverns of Sonora if you’ve got the time. It was definitely a unique experience that makes you really appreciate nature and God’s obvious hand in it.

Beer pit stop in Fredericksburg, Texas #travel

Last but not least, we happened to hit Fredericksburg just in time for happy hour (happy dance), so we stopped there for dinner and a German beer. It’s such a cute little town with an awesome main street area full of shopping and all things German – heritage, beer, and food. After dinner there, we decided it’s next on our list for another little Texas getaway.

But until then….

XOXO,

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West Texas Getaway Part 1: Marfa

Right before Thanksgiving my husband and I went on a fabulous 4 day getaway to West Texas. Believe it or not, this trip was actually on my bucket  list. I know – it’s so random! But, I’ve been seeing family and friends (celebs too by the way, see: Beyoncé) taking vacations out there lately, so I started doing some research and became extremely intrigued by the idea. Pretty soon, I became a little obsessed with the idea (hence, bucket list), ran it by the husband, and he said he was in. So, I booked it!

In this post I’m just going to share a bit about our experience (and our pictures – this post is definitely picture heavy). What we loved, where we stayed, and a few things we’d do differently. So, if you’re planning your own trip out to West Texas, I hope this helps!

Prada Marfa in West Texas

For the first leg of our trip, we stayed in Marfa. The image most people associate with Marfa is the one above. Prada Marfa. And I couldn’t wait to see it. Not an actual Prada store, as I’ve had to explain to several people, but rather an art installation intended to be a criticism of consumerism. And no, the irony of a fashion blogger visiting such an art installation is not lost on me. 😉

West Texas railroad track

It’s not technically located in Marfa as the name suggests. It’s about a half hour away in Valentine, Texas. So basically, it’s in the middle of nowhere off US Highway 90. Directly across the highway are these railroad tracks above, and that’s about it.

Prada Marfa #travel

It’s situated smack dab in the middle of the desert (picture above and below), which is absolutely gorgeous terrain (especially to someone like me who isn’t familiar with this type of topography).

West Texas desert #travel

To me, seeing Prada Marfa in person was absolutely worth the stop. It’s a bit out of the way (but everything is in West Texas), it’s really small, and there’s not much to do there except take pictures, but I really enjoyed it despite all that. One thing I would do differently, especially since you’re driving an hour out of the way for the visit, is to make sure you’re arriving around sunset. The sunset in this area is stunning, and that time of day always makes for better pictures.

Prada Marfa #travel

Here’s one last picture of the building above. The intent is for the structure to fall into disrepair into the landscape, so that’s why it’s a bit run down.

Marfa, Texas #travel

After that stop, we headed into Marfa itself to explore for a bit. It didn’t take very long to finish our exploring. After all, it’s only a town with a population less than 2,000 people.

El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travel

For our night in Marfa, we stayed at El Cosmico – a glamping/camping destination, or a “nomadic hotel” as they refer to themselves. You can either bring your own camping gear and camp out, or you can glamp it in one of their teepees, yurts, safari tents, or trailers. They’ve got an outdoor kitchen area and a communal bathhouse for folks who aren’t staying in one of the trailers.

Below are some pictures of the grounds.

El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelOutdoor kitchen at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelThe El Cosmico kitty #travel Outdoor kitchen at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelTrailer at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelhammock garden at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travel Trailer at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelWood burning hot tub at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travel

The hotel also rents out these wood fire heated hot tubs, which of course we had to try. It was definitely a neat experience, so I recommend it if you have the chance. We used ours in the evening after dinner and the stargazing was pretty good from in there!

Wood burning hot tub at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travelViewing the Marfa Lights #travel

Once evening rolled around, we headed over to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area to catch a glimpse at the unexplained phenomenon known as the “Marfa Lights”. No one knows for sure what exactly causes the lights to appear, but they do. Scientists have tried to crack the mystery with no conclusive luck. Some say they’re caused by methane gases leaking from the ground, others claim they’re paranormal. Seems the only thing really agreed on is that they’re there.

Viewing the Marfa Lights #travel

Once the sun was all the way down, sure enough you could see them. Tiny lights dancing in the desert along the horizon. They were white while we were there, but I’ve read they can be blue or red as well. After a bit of time spent watching the show (when both my husband and I each told our theories about what was really causing the lights to appear, of course), our stomachs started to growl. Time to eat!

Dinner and drinks at Cochineal in Marfa, Texas #travel

For dinner our first night in West Texas, we ate at Cochineal. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I found. I’ve been to my share of small Texas towns, and in none of the others was there food and cocktails like we devoured at Cochineal. It was like walking into any hip restaurant in Austin, except better. The menu was simple and the cocktails creative. If you’re in Marfa, this is your place for a great dinner. Be sure to make a reservation as they fill up!

Teepee at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travel

And here is our teepee! And that sunset… no words.

I first heard about El Cosmico on a random Cooking Channel show a couple years ago and ever since then I have been wanting to stay in one of the hotel’s teepees (a girlhood dream come true, y’all).

Inside the teepee at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #travel

Above is a shot of the inside. We only stayed one night because I was a little concerned about the weather being too chilly, and it was definitely cold, but it was bearable and even a little cozy. As you can see it does have electricity, and for warmth we kept the propane fire pit going all night (see – so cozy!).

After we woke up and packed up our vehicle, we grabbed a bite at Pizza Foundation. Once again, the food was excellent. Highly recommend this place.

Lunch at Pizza Foundation in Marfa, Texas #travel

After we were fueled up, we headed south of town to drive Pinto Canyon Road. And what a hidden little gem this part of the trip turned out to be. The only reason I knew about it was because my step-sister (who lives in the area) recommended it as “the most beautiful drive in the state”. That’s high praise, so we decided to check it out. Boy were we glad we did.

It wasn’t until we got back that we learned the area where the road cuts through is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful (and remote) places in the state. You can read more about the area in this Texas Monthly article.

If you’re going to drive it (do it!), make sure you have a high clearance vehicle. Also be prepared for several hours of winding, bumpy roads with no cell service. But trust me, it’s worth it! Below are some pictures from the drive along the gravel road.

Driving Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas #travelDriving Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas #travelDriving Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas #travelDriving Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas #travelDriving Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas #travel

To sum up this post – here’s a little insight I gained during this trip – you don’t have to travel very far from home to get away from it all or to experience something new and fun. Often when I think about vacationing, my mind immediately drifts to beaches or cafés in Paris. This trip changed that for me. So, I encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to planning a future adventure. Sticking close to home is a great way to save money, get that classic “road trip” experience, and explore a nearby area that you may never visit otherwise.

I’ll be sharing Part 2 of our West Texas Getaway next week, so stay tuned!

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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Mariachis, Mi Tierra, and Market Square

My niece and nephews have been in town this week, so the husband and I have been trying to help my mother-in-law carry some of the kidsitting burden while they’re here.  So, on Saturday we took a nice little day trip south of Austin to San Antonio. The kids had never been, and San Antonio is a good city for them to experience some different culture. It’s only about an hour and a half drive, but the two cities couldn’t be more different.

First stop, mi restaurante favorito – Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery

Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery in San Antonio, Texas

When a restaurant is as pretty as Mi Tierra, you have to eat there. Sure, you San Antonio natives probably think it a bit touristy, but there’s a reason why us out of towners love to go. Every day is a party – I mean look at all those piñatas! My youngest nephew, of course, immediately asked the waitress if they contained candy. His world was crushed when she told him they didn’t.

Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery in San Antonio, TexasMexican beer and margarita at Mi Tierra in San Antonio

Lunch was our first stop after making the drive. An hour and a half drive isn’t very far (by Texas standards, anyway), but with 3 kids boy it gets loud! Felt pretty far to me. However, it was nothing an ice cold Mexican beer couldn’t fix! The mother-in-law went a bit stronger and ordered a frozen margarita.

Having a beer at Mi Tierra

Halfway done and clearly I’m feeling better already. Ahhh….

mariachi band playing at Mi Terria Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas

And the mariachi band’s midway-through-my-beer timing couldn’t have been better. Yes sirs – please serenade away!

tortilla soup from Mi Tierra

Chicken tortilla soup for me. ¡Excellente!

of course she had to have one

I forget what these paper flower crowns were called, but obviously I had to buy my niece one. She chose the white and blue because she’s going to be the Princess Anna from Frozen for Halloween. She loved it!

Market Square in San Antonio, Texas

After lunch, we walked out the back door and straight into Market Square – a place where artists sell their works from stalls and carts, and local retailers sell quality Mexican artifacts, clothing, and art. There’s also street food, live singing and dancing, and different activities for kids.

guitars at Market Square in San Antoniopretty pink sombrero at Market Square in San Antonio, Texas

Had to get a shot of this sombrero! Who knew sombreros could be so fab?!

Trying on a pink sombrero at Market Square in San Antonio

You think I’m going to see a pink, sparkly sombrero and not try it on? Seriously came close to buying it, but I reigned in the devil on my shoulder and refrained. Still kinda sad about it though, if I’m being honest.

Market Square in San Antonio, Texaseveryone gets something at the Market Square in San Antonio, Texas

Everyone gets something at the square.

street food at Market Square in San Antonio

Street food.

singer at Market Square

Street singing. This girl was really good – reminded me of Selena.

paintings at Market Square in San Antonio, Texaskids rode the mechanical bull at Market Square

The kids loved this part of our square visit – a mechanical bull just for them. I swear they would still be there riding it if we hadn’t cut them off.

snow cone break

By the time the mechanical bull riding was done, it was time for a snow cone break. After all, we still had The Alamo to visit.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

And there she is in all her glory. For those of you unfamiliar with Texas history, The Alamo is the famous site of a battle that took place during the Texas Revolution. You can read more about it here.

The Alamo #texas

It really is a beautiful, mission style building.

David and Liz at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

Here’s one of me and the husband above, and one last shot of the famous historical site below.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

I kept my outfit super casual for this day trip. For one thing, it’s still warm in Texas despite the fact that it’s October, not to mention that we woke up early to get the day started and I didn’t want to spend forever getting ready. So, I just threw on some distressed denim, a simple tank, my Baublebar pearl 360 earrings (in the black/champagne color), my new black Ray-Bans (obsessed), and sneakers and called it a day.

This particular look has been my go-to lately and is perfect for running errands or relaxing around the house. Because who needs to be dressed to the nines every day, am I right?! Just find a signature, basic look that works for you, and don’t be afraid to fall back on it when necessary.

Happy Hump Day!

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Fashion, Politics & Remembering Oscar de la Renta

The one thing I said I was never going to do on this blog was discuss politics. After all, a big reason why I created this blog was to escape from my day to day life working in politics. And yes, I am well aware that title of this post includes the word “politics”, but that isn’t what this post is about. After all, there are occasions when fashion and politics intersect.

One human example of that intersection is the life of Oscar de la Renta. Not only did he dress the women of Hollywood, he dressed several women in the White House. And, lucky for this girl, a special exhibit honoring his 50 years in the fashion industry ran for several months this year in Dallas at the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas

Fashion? Politics? Oscar de la Renta?!? Sign me up! Luckily, the husband and I happened to be in Dallas recently for a work conference, and we had one day off.

We spent a good four hours or so inside the Bush Library (which I recommend visiting regardless of your political affiliation – it’s a really well done museum). We would have stayed longer had I not needed to leave to catch an afternoon fashion show at the flagship Neiman Marcus.

Seriously y’all, this was like my perfect day.

Brunch at Café 43 at the George W. Bush Library in Dallas, Texas

And my perfect day started with brunch at Café 43 inside the Bush Library. Which was excellent, by the way. I kept thinking maybe the President himself would walk in, so naturally I asked the waiter. He said that George (yup, first name basis) usually had his lunch delivered to his office at the Library, but that First Lady Bush came in often with her friends. However, she wouldn’t be in today, he said.

I would have been more disappointed, but then the food arrived. That cookie above is the First Lady’s recipe, and it was delicious!

remembering 9/11 at the George W. Bush Library

I won’t bore you with too many pictures from inside the presidential portion of the museum, but the one above I will share. It’s a portion of the wreckage from the 9/11 attacks, and I think we all need to be reminded of that day every now and then.

David in the replica Oval Office at the George W. Bush Library

On a lighter note, the husband and I each had our pictures taken inside the Oval Office replica, obviously.

Liz in the replica Oval Office at the George W. Bush Library

I’ll go ahead and take a wild guess that this is about the closet either of us will ever get to being President.

Laura Bush in front of the White House with her Scottish Terriers

Here’s an awesome picture of First Lady Laura Bush lookin’ faboosh with her Scottish Terriers (RIP Barney!).

Oscar de la Renta gowns at the George W. Bush Library ODLR exhibit

And now for the fun part…. the Oscar de la Renta exhibit! The two ensembles above were the first two pieces seen as you walk in.

Oscar de la Renta gowns showcased at the George W. Bush Library

I loved how these gowns were displayed against that red wall. It was even more gorgeous in person.

Oscar de la Renta downs designed for First Lady's Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan

This section of the exhibit showed off gowns and suits worn by First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Reagan.

Oscar de la Renta downs designed for First Lady's Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan

I think my favorite is that long-sleeved, sequin number above with the teal belt. The detail was so amazing in person. Truly stunning. If I remember correctly, it was worn by First Lady Bush. To see more pictures from the exhibit, click here.

fashion show set up at the flapship Neiman Marcus store in Dallas

After our visit the the library, I rushed over to the flagship Neiman Marcus for a little fashion show. And everyone was seated front row – how great is that?!

Drinking champagne, waiting for the fashion show to start

Had to grab some complimentary champagne, of course.

fashion show at the flagship Neiman Marcus store

Here’s a peek at some of the looks. Overall, there were lots of big accessories, lots of sparkle, some fringe, and some fur for good measure.

After the show was over, the husband and I went out for dinner at Hibiscus (which was excellent, and I recommend it if you’re ever in Dallas).

dinner at Hibiscus in Dallas, Texas, wearing Topshop

That look on my face above is joy mixed with exhaustion. Such a long day, but it was a great one that was well-spent exploring Dallas with my husband. No complaints here!

I am so glad I got to see Oscar’s work in person before his passing. My favorite quote from him is “I’ve lived every day to the fullest, and I’ve had a marvelous time.” I try to have that same outlook on life, and I encourage each of you to exercise it in your life as well!

RIP, Oscar.

XO,

LizSignature_Bio_Small

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