Writing. So Very Much Writing.

Well, hello there. It's been ages.

Yes, I am still alive. And pregnant.

The reason I've been so quiet around here lately is not for lack of things to share. In fact, there are many experiences and moments I've had that I really, really wanted to nail down for posterity sake. 

But, to be honest, I'm running out of words.

You see, earlier this year, my day job as a Product Manager for a Healthcare IT company started to slow down a bit. Without going into detail--because frankly I still respect that company and have hopes that someday I can perhaps resume my role there--it was an IT start-up, and those are not for the faint of heart. I found myself in need of a regular, dependable paycheck, as we all do, especially given that it would only be a handful of months before I'd need to take time off to have a baby and, you know, raise him for a bit. (I'm hoping I can swing at least three months at home full-time with Little Nugget, and beyond that, I'm leaving it up to The Lord. But I have put in a request to work from home if at all possible. You can request things from God, after all.)

So, all that being said, I've been working the last month now as a web copywriter for a boutique SEO agency. It's actually been a really interesting experience already, and I feel like I've learned so much. I'm amazed at how relevant the training I'm getting is on so many fronts, and I feel pretty blessed to be working as a professional writer. As long as I've been at this deal, this is the first time (that I can recall, at least) that I'm getting paid to use my words. Pretty neat, huh?

Because of this new role and the fact that I'm cranking out thousands of words of copy every.single.day, I honestly don't have much left at the end of a workday. I forgot how draining it can be to produce that much content, as I haven't been forced to flex those muscles so stringently since my years as an undergrad writing major. So while I'm enjoying it and I do feel like the constant creative output is keeping my brain sharp (or at least sharper than it could be if Pregnancy Brain was left unchecked), my own writing has suffered. 

But it's only temporary. We'll see what the months after baby hold for writing, and I'm hoping I'll eventually adjust and may even be more productive with my own content as a result of this gig. But in the meantime, that's why I've been slightly MIA. 

Not that you asked. 


Best Fort Worth Coffee Shops {According to a Local}

CappuccinoWhen M and I get the chance to travel, we typically rely on Yelp and recommendations from friends on Facebook to find some hidden gems in any given locale. One of our first searches? Legit coffee shop. These are easier to come by in, say, areas like the Pacific Northwest, Austin, major metro cities, etc. And now that I'm preggers and off caffeine for at least a few more months, it's even more crucial to find decent coffee shops on the road. Decaf offerings in most mediocre stops are sad at best, so my options are limited unless we find a place with a decent menu and barista expertise. (These are the places that when I ask for decaf cold brew--which has eluded me to this day--know to offer up a decaf iced espresso instead. They don't suggest hot decaf coffee over ice. And yes, this suggestion has been made. I can't.)

When we're home in Fort Worth, we typically enjoy coffee at home. It doesn't hurt that Hubs is an amazing barista, and we have plenty of fun machines and gadgets with which to work. However, we still like to venture out for a good cup o' joe on the weekends, and we love buying freshly roasted beans from some of our local favorites. (After all, best technique and best gadgets in the work don't mean much if you're work with crap beans.)

So without further ado, I present to you...

My Top 3 Fort Worth Coffee Shops

Avoca Coffee Roasters {1311 W. Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth 76104}

We noticed Avoca before it even opened in 2011 because of its convenient location right across the street from one of our favorite Fort Worth restaurants, Spiral Diner. Both are located in the charming Historical Fairmont district, and I think Avoca has been busy since they opened their doors. The first time we tried it, I loved the ambiance and beautiful wood tables, but the coffee was just OK. We chalked it up to early-day growing pains, and they are now our regular stop to restock on decaf beans. (Their decaf De Silva is so ridiculously good. Like, best decaf ever. And I hesitate to share that because they're already getting harder to come by. Soooooo, please don't take all my beans y'all.) The New Orleans Style is my go-to when drinking in, and they recently opened a smaller location off of Foch Street (in the bustling West 7th area), which should be great for mid-day coffee stops since their flagship location on Magnolia is always bumping.

Buon Giorno {915 Florence Street, Fort Worth 76102} 

BG will always have a special place in my heart because (1) M introduced me to this adorable cafe and roaster, and (2) it was my first taste of quality coffee that could be consumed without a ridiculous amount of sugar or cream. Their cappuccinos are consistently smooth and creamy, and I definitely have a weakness for their vegetarian quiches. This spot is located near downtown Fort Worth, and their roaster is in Grapevine (which is also a cute shop). This is where I often meet friends or colleagues to hang out for a few hours because it's cozy and a bit easier to find a table than others on this list. They're open late too, which is awesome when we're craving an evening coffee date. We even bought beans here for our wedding, both to serve and to fill the apothecary jars that we gave out as favors. (Just enough for French Press for two!)

Craftwork Coffee Co. {4731 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth 76107} 

The only shop on this list that doesn't roast their own beans (though they source some absolute winners, such as Tweed out of Dallas), Craftwork came onto our radar earlier this year because they're located just a few blocks away, right off the charming old bricks of Camp Bowie. This place is a really smart concept: they serve awesome coffee, as well as offer private and shared workspaces that can be rented out full- or part-time. Their business model is really solid, which is great because we want them to stick around! Their machine is absolutely beautiful (M has a crush on it, and I'm OK with that), and their decaf almond milk cappuccinos are hands-down the best I've ever had in a coffee shop. (The only rival? Capp a la Mikey. For serious.) The owners are super nice and regularly working behind the bar. Solid new addition, and we love having them in the neighborhood.

So if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, be it as a visitor or a Funky Town resident yourself, I highly recommend these Fort Worth, TX coffee shops. There are certainly plenty to choose from, and we're spoiled in that respect big time. Cheers, friends!

Do you have a favorite coffee spot in Fort Worth? Do share!


Things With Which Writers Struggle...

First, this title. It's far more cute and blog-esque to call it, "Things Writers Struggle With." However, ending a sentence with a preposition is evil. So I have to reword it to be able to sleep at night, yet I'm sacrificing traffic because no one is going to actually Google "Things with which writers struggle," as they will likely search the bastardized version of said inquiry.

For the Love.

Y'all, I am in writing mode, and have been over the last few days. Day Job is in a bit of a holding pattern still, so I'm trying to take advantage of some less stressful days, and writing is the best way to do that (while simultaneously helping me avoid spending money). 

Speaking of which! PSA: Home Goods carries Aden + Anais baby crap. You're welcome.

While I've obviously picked up the pace on blogging a bit since I became pregnant (which I'm loving, by the way, whether you do or not), I am trying to also give due attention to my book. Yup, I'm writing a book. I started it a while ago and have been slowly chipping away in concentrated bursts of inspiration. (This should make for a suuuuper cohesive story and tone.) I don't really even know how to explain it without making it sound lame (oh, the irony of a writer who can't formulate the words to pitch her book), but it's essentially a collection of short stories about family, love, loss, etc.

And here's where I encounter my biggest struggle: I don't think anyone will want to read it. It's so hard to keep going and push through when you've already decided that no one in their right mind would want to hear about your family, that it's not nearly marketable enough to ever actually end up on the shelves, and that a diary would probably be a better ultimate resting place for these stories. And the dang thing isn't even finished yet. Shoot, it doesn't even have a title! The subtitle and chapter titles, I got. But main title? I got nothin'. (Again, with the promising outlook for a writer who can't find the words to name her book.)

I love reading stories about real people, real life, and I have the sincere hope that others do too. Otherwise, I'm writing a book for no one. And the most healthy thing would probably be for me to not care about the outcome, to write for the sake of writing, but I just can't. I care about these characters because they're my people. And I want everyone to know and love them because they're amazing and hilarious and brave. 

So, all that to say, writing is an actual discipline and a craft, and like all good things, it takes work. So I'm working on it. Line by line. And someday, maybe, it'll find a home.

And a title.


Twenty Weeks

It's a little hard to believe that as of today, I am officially half-way through this pregnancy. We knew about Little Nugget at 4 weeks, so we've been able to savor this early season of his development from the beginning. (Especially since I never had Morning Sickness, Praise the Lord.) But part of me knows that this journey is about to hit an incline, and while part of me is petrified, part of me is so excited I could piddle.

We had so much fun getting another peek at Baby Boy earlier this week. He has been so active, even since the first sono (at 8weeks). I was shocked to see him shake his little tush during that first glimpse (made all the more comical that he didn't even look human at this point, more like a sassy shrimp creature), and he's been a busy bee every time since. This week, he was having a blast playing with his feet, but it wasn't more than about thirty-seconds before he'd tucker out and need a nap. He already makes us laugh, and I can't wait to see those little feet, which I can already feel kicking and playing about.

Those are some precious thumpers

I can't wait to see his face, to hear his first laugh, and to look into his eyes as he looks into mine. I know he'll be obsessed with his daddy, and I would love nothing more than to get a little M, big brown eyes, dimples and all. 

I'm still feeling really good, so I've been trying to take advantage of this quiet time at work to enjoy the opportunities I have here at home. I haven't cooked in ages, and we were both feeling it. It was nice to go to the store with a few meal ideas in hand (because otherwise, we're liable to stock our fridge and pantry with epic snacks and zero actual meals...#adultingishard), and I've enjoyed being back in the kitchen more lately. I was reminded that eating at home doesn't have to mean cooking every single day, and it has sure been nice to have yummy dishes whipped up so they're ready to go when I'm ready to eat. (It seriously goes from zero to toddler-status very quickly these days, so a wait longer than ten minutes to feed the face is danger zone.)

Here are some of the recipes I've made lately and enjoyed:


My Maternity Stitch Fix

For those of you who don't already know, I'm a huge fan of Stitch Fix. I have received five regular "Fixes" in the past, and I usually end of keeping every piece. I learned early that strong communication (via your Style Profile, and notes to the Stylist when scheduling your Fix) and having an updated Pinterest style board goes a long way to getting pieces that you actually want and like. And don't forget to mention those little preferences too, such as "no Dry Clean Only pieces," "I need something for X occasion," or "I hate showing my pasty pale legs." They're usually great about considering all those details, and it saves having to hit up boutique after boutique to find fun, unique pieces. (I should probably explain for those of y'all who don't know, but I hate to clothes shop. Like, hates it. So a box of curated clothes and accessories delivered to my front door--free shipping both ways, Halleluyer--is a dream come true.)

My baby bump is getting to the size where my normal clothes are just not as comfortable, and bigger, non-maternity pieces make me feel like a potato. (I think everyone hits this wall at different points in their pregnancy, but apparently my magic number is 19.5 weeks. Potato.) While there are plenty of local stores that carry maternity clothes (Target, Gap, etc.), remember: I hate shopping. Shopping while potato? So bad, I can't even. Enter: Stitch Fix.

Note: You will not see me model this Fix. Perhaps next time, when I'm wearing makeup and feel less 'tater-like.

So here's the haul...
Prettiest package of my week...and I get a lot of packages via mail these days. (Online shopping, FTW!)

#1 - Loveappella Hartley Maternity Dress ($68) 
I really wanted to like this dress (because I asked for a maternity dress that I could dress up or down for upcoming Summer events), but I had a feeling it would be a tough fit. I did a bit of online stalking to see some other maternity Fits, and it seems this dress is a popular one for stylists to send. But no one ever seems to keep it, so I didn't have high hopes. I totally get why my stylist sent it, though, because I have a ton of striped dresses pinned to my style board. But the stripes and light fabric just weren't flattering, so it's going back.

{Verdict: RETURN}

#2 - Nine West Orlagh D'Orsay Flats ($89)
These are just fabulous, and I love me some good flats. But I have no need for shoes at the moment (especially when my feet are likely to swell in the coming months), save for some good sneakers to better support my back. I will say, however, that I'm super excited that SF carries shoes. This is relatively recent, so I have no doubt I will request some sassy kicks in the future.
{Verdict: RETURN}

#3 - Loveappella Lauretta Maternity Skirt ($54)
This skirt was really cute in theory, and I loved the print. But the fit wasn't working (perhaps the size was just off, but I am easily confused by maternity sizing, so hard to know for sure), and I'm much more apt to wear maxi skirts (remember: pale legs), so I'd rather save the budget for a piece I'm likely to wear on a regular basis.
{Verdict: RETURN}

#4 - Full Moon Isha Tie Neck Maternity Top ($54)
This top is exactly why I Stitch Fix. LOVES IT. I would probably never think to pick this up in a store, yet I've wanted a top like this for ages. It's a beautiful grayish olive color, and even though it has longer sleeves, the fabric is so light that I will likely be rocking this all throughout the year. (Friends IRL, I'm sorry in advance for wearing this top on the regular. One day, I will wear other things. One day.) It's a flowy A-line shape without making me look like a potato in a tent (you know what I'm talking about), and looks adorbs with my favorite capri jeans (which I just so happened to have scored from a past Fix)...although, my BeBand is working really hard these days, so it may be time for some panel pants. (Hawt.)
{Verdict: KEEP!}

#5 - Market & Spruce Sollas Maternity Top ($38)
This item totally fit the bill of a great everyday piece. The material is so soft (like all of the Market & Spruce tops that I've kept, which is at least 3 at this point), and I really like the color. It's a little big on me, but I like that I can still wear it now and grow into it. 
{Verdict: KEEP}

To recap, I kept 2 out of the 5 pieces, and all but one item in the shipment were great selections given my asks. (And I seriously don't fault them for sending those fabulous flats. Just not the right time.) Something I've learned with my Fixes, though, is that you have to do the math. I wasn't sure I would keep the Market & Spruce top, as much as I liked it, because I knew that I could find similar for a lower price point. However, once I calculated in a referral credit on my account, as well as the Styling Fee Credit (which is the $20 fee for each Fix, all of which gets applied to anything you keep, so you only "lose it" if you send everything back), which I technically received as a promo on this order thanks to a postcard in the mail (waiting a bit between orders apparently pays off), I got to keep the teal shirt for free! So don't forget to run the numbers. And because you get 25% off if you keep all 5 items, it's not uncommon that the discount amounts to a free item (or two) within the Fix. 

All in all, I'm pleased with my first Maternity Fix, and I can't wait to do another down the road in this pregnancy. I left detailed feedback when I checked out (you can chime in on every item, in detail), so I know the next one will be even better. And thanks to Stitch Fix, this potato didn't have to step foot in a dressing room!

If you're ready to sign up for a Fix, head on over the create your Style Profile! This is not a sponsored post, but I do receive a referral credit when you sign up and order a Fix using the link provided in this post. Ain't no shame in my game.