SF + Napa Favorites

The best thing about having a brother and sister-in-law + several best friends who all live in San Francisco is the excuse to visit Napa Valley, one of my favorite travel destinations.

Austin isn’t a big fan of California in general (it’s the liberal government!!!! jk) but has told me several times he would move to Napa Valley in a heartbeat. We aren’t even big wine-o’s! It’s just too beautiful, and the weather is perfect.

My best girlfriends from college and I took a girls’ trip to San Francisco and Napa earlier this year. Here are some of my favorite things we did and ate!

Museum of Ice Cream | San Francisco

Even if you’re not that into Instagram (you are), the Museum of Ice Cream is still a bunch of fun. It did kind of inspire some introspective self-awareness into how everything we do and take pictures of is for outside consumption and how this leads to the idea that our self-worth is determined by others’ approval, but it was also just eating a shit ton of ice cream.

The best way to describe this “museum” is that it’s NOTHING like a museum but instead a series of adorable, ice cream-related photo and video opportunities. Picture lots of brightly colored sprinkles, pastel pink backgrounds, and sugary props to pose with. Oh, and staff hands you ice cream and popsicles at every step of the tour.

Because my friends and I are basic af, we enjoyed this experience thoroughly.

Tickets are $38 each. The perfectly curated boomerang is priceless.


Girl and the Fig

The girls and I only spent one night in San Francisco before driving out to Napa for a two-day stay. Our first stop: Girl and the Fig, a farm-to-table French Country restaurant and bar. We ate brunch on the patio; I had the Croque Madame and still remember how perfect it was.

Domaine Carneros Winery

Our first wine-related stop on the Napa tour was Domaine Carneros Winery, 1240 Duhig Rd. This was my second time visiting this winery; it’s become one of my favorites because it has an outdoor tasting patio with picturesque views of the vineyards.

Our group of four was seated right away and we each ordered Sparkling Wine Samplers (I was DD so I had a few sips of everyone else’s). At $30 each, the sampler comes with four glasses of really delicious wine. We paired with a charcuterie plate to pace ourselves.


Artesa Winery

Our second winery stop was nearby, just down the road at Artesa, 1345 Henry Rd. This winery had an entirely different vibe — very modern with cool views, not the classic Tuscany-feel that Domaine Carneros created. We shared a sampler of wines at the bar inside. I preferred Domaine Carneros’ wine but liked getting to cool off inside Artesa.



Yountville: Bouchon Bakery

With bellies full of wine, the girls and I headed to our Airbnb, a little one-bedroom at the Silverado Resort & Spa. It was a little pricy for one night, but cute and comfortable. Our only regret was not bringing our swimsuits to enjoy the resort’s pools.

After a quick rest, we ventured out again into Yountville, where we stopped by Bouchon Bakery for a quick snack and coffee. I buy macarons here every single time I visit Napa Valley.


Bistro Jeanty

We’d made dinner reservations somewhere in Yountville (I forget where), but no place would take us until late in the evening, past 8. We were starving, so we popped into French restaurant Bistro Jeanty in Yountville to ask how long the wait would be. We were thrilled when they sat us right away!

I ordered the evening’s special, braised rabbit leg and bacon-wrapped loin, pappardelle in a cream truffle sauce with peas and morels. It was so glorious. I’d never eaten rabbit before but went for it because I love morel mushrooms. It was one of the richest and most delicious dishes I’ve ever had. I ate about six bites and had to take the rest boxed up.


I love visiting Napa with family and Austin, but this was the perfect place to go with my girlfriends. It felt incredibly relaxing to be able to embrace the basic bitchness of it all with my best girls. Highly recommend for any bachelorette parties or upcoming girls’ trip! Eventually I’ll post about Austin and my week-long trip to Iceland — one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

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quick manhattan trip

it was hot, crowded, and housed significantly fewer pigeons and rats than advertised: New York City.

WHERE WE STAYED: Fairfield Inn & Suites World Trade Center
while planning our trip, I had only one must-see: the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. I’d just heard an episode of This American Life about a man named Steve Kandell making his way through the museum years after his sister had died during the 9/11 attacks, called “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” he describes the museum ripping him apart and making him whole again. it was a fascinating and devastating story that I couldn’t stop thinking about, and felt compelled to go myself.
based on this one single must-see, I booked the cheapest-while-still-acceptable hotel I could find nearby. it ended up being incredibly convenient — close to the subway, easy for taxi drivers to navigate, and close to exactly what I wanted to see.

NIGHT 1: Pastrami & Milk Bar
after a long and nauseous day of flying, I was so grateful to meet up with Austin and one of my very best friends, Eunice, who happened to be in town for a work trip. she had been to Manhattan several times before, so she suggested East Village for a quick dinner of pastrami sandwiches and then the actual main course, Milk Bar. I had just watched the episode of Chef’s Table about Milk Bar and its, Christina Tosi, a few weeks prior, and was dying to taste what I’d seen! Austin ordered the Birthday Cake Truffle Milkshake, I got the Cereal Milk Soft-Serve with Flakes, a Crack Pie Bar, and I forget what Eunice got because I didn’t get to try it.

highlight of the trip, probably

DAY 2: Ferry Ride & Walking Forever & Top of the Rock
after sleeping in for a long time, Austin and I headed to the nearby Le District, got a couple of crepes to go, and ate them on the water in Battery Park.

we hopped on an hour-long ferry ride that went past the Statue of Liberty and dropped us off near Times Square (the whole ride is round-trip and two hours long). tickets were about $35 each.

still feeling a little nauseous from my flight, I got just slightly queasy on the boat ride. there were plenty of places to sit and there was a good breeze, though, so it never got to the point of full-on seasickness. the views were amazing!
after we got off the boat, Austin and I walked for what felt like forever (my watch later told me it was a total of 26,000 steps that day). we walked through Times Square, which was showing the World Cup on the jumbo screen. it was so neat to see people from all over the world gathered together to watch the soccer/football game.

Austin and I met up with Euni for one more lunch (thank you again for paying with your company card, bb) before her flight. we grabbed some pizza, pasta, and beer at Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria before walking Eunice back to her hotel. we took the subway back to our hotel to grab a nap (I was constantly le tired on this trip). by the time we ventured out again, it was pretty late. Austin wanted to see the top of the Rockefeller Center, so we snagged some tickets for 10:15 p.m. for Top of the Rock. it was a long wait to get through security and all the way up to the top (maybe an hour?) but the views were worth it.


we ended the night at a nearby bar called O’hara’s just blocks from our hotel, which seemed to be super popular among cops, firefighters, and other first responders. our waiter was super friendly and the food was good. the walls were covered in police and fire badges — and we happened to find a badge from Tulsa Police Department!

DAY 2: Alexander Hamilton is dead & Fearless Girl & the Brooklyn Bridge & The Met & I got sick 😦
another benefit of our hotel’s location, unbeknownst to us when we booked it, was that it was literally one block away from the historic Trinity Church. being the idiot tourists we were, though, we didn’t know how famous the church was — we just saw people milling around in its cemetery like weirdos, so we decided to check it out for ourselves.

we were there for about half an hour, reading out loud the fascinatingly short lives of the people buried in this graveyard that was built IN THE 1660s… BEFORE WE REALIZED ALEXANDER HAMILTON WAS BURIED HERE.

alexander hamilton graveyard
omg how did we not know

we were totally shocked and felt like morons that we’d missed this fact. this church is beautiful and the cemetery and churchyard are free, so i highly recommend seeing it. the surprise of it all actually made it even better.

from Trinity Church, we made our way to Wall Street, also just a few blocks from our hotel. the street was closed down because it was Saturday, except for a few cafes. we grabbed a quick sandwich and juices from Joe & The Juice.
we spent a long time looking for the Fearless Girl statue before we finally asked a security guard, who kindly gave us directions. actually, one of our biggest takeaways from our short trip was that most people in Manhattan, especially in the service sector, are actually super nice.
we finally found the Charging Bull statue, which was SURROUNDED by tourists from all over the world (many of whom grabbed its peen, smdh), but virtually no one was taking photos of the Fearless Girl. I obviously did. and I fed her, too.


by that time, we really needed to pee, and being that it was Manhattan, we were screwed. there are virtually NO public restrooms in this freaking city — not even at stores at which you JUST BOUGHT SOMETHING — so your best bet is to go at a restaurant where you spent money, or, if you’re lucky, at a free museum that you come across.
aka Austin and I visited the National Museum of the American Indian: “Come for the bathrooms, stay for the guilt.” it was actually a lovely building with interesting exhibits. Austin and I had fun looking for costumes and artifacts from the Cherokee Nation, of which Austin is a member.


we still had super sore feet from the day before, so we then naturally decided to walk the length of the Brooklyn Bridge. it was HOT and super sunny, so the walk wasn’t much fun (plus there were several joggers — why would you run on one of the busiest, most crowded pedestrian bridges in the city? sincere question), but the views were awesome. there were so many people I couldn’t have a fashion blogger moment, but we managed to get a few pictures on our walk all the way to Brooklyn.



ok but i love that girl’s pants

we went back to our hotel for another nap (lol), and then Austin asked me to choose our next outing. I picked the Met because #Rihanna. and, if we’re being completely honest, the exhibits were fine. I would compare it to the Louvre — a lot of historical artifacts and statues.

but then — then we heard some creepy-ass music and started walking toward it. it was the HEAVENLY BODIES EXHIBIT! “Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” it was just as magical as it sounds, a really cool and eerie mix of Catholicism’s history with couture; dark but glittery, very creepy-cool. it was unlike anything else in the museum, quite edgy and v goth. I must have walked around it five times!


at this point, I was full-on nauseous, so we cabbed back to our hotel (which made me almost ralph in the car) and I had to bail on dinner with our sweet friends Jacob and Tara (I’m sorry, guys!) while Austin met up with them. I think I Grubhubbed some Thai food and fell asleep with a bowl of soup on my nightstand.

DAY 3: The 9/11 Museum & Dramamine
it was the one thing I most wanted to see in New York but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until our last day — I think I knew it would bum us out, and I didn’t want to be sad early on in our trip. before our afternoon flight, Austin and I finally went to see the 9/11 Museum.
even if you don’t plan on seeing the museum (which you should), at least make your way to see and walk around the Memorial. it’s beautiful, pensive, and inspiring.


once inside the Museum, there’s a lot of security to go through. super-strict security. it made sense to me, but Austin felt like the security officers were rude and it kind of ruined the mood as we entered the Museum. I forgot about it as soon as we got past it. there’s no certain direction you have to go within the Museum; it is split up into different sections that are in no particular order.

Artist Spencer Finch’s “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” is made up of 2,983 squares of paper — one for every person killed in the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Read more here.

I won’t go into melodramatics, but I will say that I am so glad we went to the Museum. it helped put the event and the scope of the damage into perspective, since my generation was pretty young when it happened — I realized just how brave the first responders were and just how extensive the destruction was. heavy, but more than worth it.


of course, as soon as I landed in Tulsa, my nausea was gone. go figure.

blog, diy

Agate Wedding Place Cards

As you know, my calligraphy hobby is turning into a full-on obsession. I started off first using brush pens and markers, which are so much fun. But my favorite calligraphers are old-school and use dip pens, so I wanted to try it. I had a rocky start, but with practice, I’ve gotten better at finding the right amount of pressure and ink flow!


Weirdly enough, I’ve found that writing on agate is so much easier than writing on paper. The nibs are so sharp that they tend to tear and stick on paper. But on these smooth glass surfaces, they just glide.

These are place cards I’m making for Austin’s sister’s wedding, which is in April. She got an assorted set of 200 agate slices. The ladies are getting Ph. Martin Silver ink, the guys are getting copper plate gold.


blog, diy, Uncategorized

Heart Succulent Wreath

Last year I got my mom into succulents. It was as easy as signing us up for a holiday succulent wreath workshop at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City. That was last December, more than a year ago, and my mom’s succulents from that workshop are still alive! (Mine died probably a month after the class.)

Mom and I went to another succulent workshop this past weekend, this time at the Will Rogers Gardens in Oklahoma City. It has a gorgeous greenhouse that garden staff use to host classes – when it’s not being used for weddings!

Will Rogers Gardens greenhouse | 3400 NW 36th St, OKC
Will Rogers Gardens greenhouse | 3400 NW 36th St, OKC

This workshop was called the “Heart-y Succulent Wreath Workshop” and only cost $40 per person. In our experience, we’ve found that classes run by city or county parks are much cheaper than classes put on by private nurseries and stores. The materials are just as good. Actually, in this case, Mom said she enjoyed this workshop more, because she liked the quality of the wreath better.

The Will Rogers Gardens’ naturalist and horticulturalist who taught the workshop said they bought the heart-shaped wreaths from Topiary Art Works in Kansas. The wreaths were filled with sphagnum moss, which succulents love. They were soaked in water and ready for planting when we arrived to the workshop.


We were given about 14-15 succulents to work with, all from the Sempervivum family – also known as “hen and chicks.” They’re some of the heartiest succulents, and can even withstand the brutal winter weather – but it’s not recommended that you leave them outside until the spring.

hen and chicks
hen and chicks

Basically, all we had to do was make holes in the moss, and stick our succulents in right where we wanted them. It was an easy class, but a ton of fun.




Mama and her wreath
Mom’s wreath!

This would be a simple thing to replicate at home – it’s just a matter of getting all the materials you need: a wire-formed wreath, a bunch of sphagnum moss, and several dozen succulents.


Care for the wreath is pretty simple, too: keep indoors during the winter, somewhere with at least six hours of indirect sunlight. In the spring and summer, keep it out of full, direct sunlight. To water, simply soak the entire wreath in a sink full of water for about 15 to 20 minutes every three to four weeks.


Mine’s on the left, Mom’s is on the right – she says she’s going to put a ribbon bow on the top left, so she left it bare

If you’re curious about the other plants in the shot, they’re called Cuban Oregano. The Will Rogers Gardens’ horticulturalist said they had too many, more than he knew what to do with, so we got some for free! They smell amazing. But no, they’re not succulents.



diy, Uncategorized

gallery wall: check!

We *think* we are finally done decorating our home… a year-and-a-half after moving in! We have been talking about putting up a gallery wall since we bought the home. We finally did it!


My boyfriend, Austin, travels pretty regularly as the International Operations Manager at his company, an engineering consulting firm here in Tulsa. He’s been all over the world – five out of the seven continents (all but Australia and Antarctica!), and while he only has his iPhone on hand, he comes back with some pretty decent photos.

To make this gallery of ten photos, we purchased this set of nine simple black frames with white matting on Amazon for $68. The frames are 12 x 12, and with matting, show photos that are 8 x 8. Since most of the photos we printed were taken from Austin’s Instagram page, they were already square. I printed them at our local Walgreen’s, which now has an 8 x 8 photo print size!

But of course, that was only NINE frames, and we needed ten! Austin came up with the genius idea to buy a separate frame that he found at Target for about $12. Up close, they are not identical. But far away… can you tell which one is the odd frame out?


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calligraphy on coasters

Austin’s mom’s birthday is coming up, and while she’s relatively easy to shop for, we wanted to do something special. Austin suggested buying her power tools (WHAT) and I promptly shut that idea down.

I have been wanting to experiment with calligraphy on different media, so I suggested doing some custom work for her. I came up with the idea of writing the fruits of the spirit on some agate-slice coasters. We found these beautiful blue coasters on Amazon. At $60 for six coasters, they’re pretty pricy, but the reviews were excellent and we didn’t want to risk buying a bad product. They were perfect for this project – gold-rimmed and in assorted colors and sizes.


First, I had to check and make sure the metallic brush markers I have were waterproof on glass. Luckily, they are. I use Bianyo Metallic Brush Marker Pens, which have some gorgeous colors and write like a dream. Because there were only six pieces, I couldn’t write all of the fruits of the spirit (also – I had to Google “what are the fruits of the spirit), but we’re pretty pleased with how they turned out. Excited to work with more agate surfaces in the future!



painting your piano is super freaking easy

UPDATE: We finally reupholstered the piano bench! Shoutout to my main man and his staple gun, and Hobby Lobby’s clearance fabric section.


ORIGINAL POST: My boyfriend Austin loves surprises. Loves them. Not necessarily getting them, but giving them. Rewind to about a year and a half ago, when he bought a house in midtown Tulsa, and we needed stuff to fill it with. Both he and I had played piano in our childhoods, and he knew we both missed practicing. One day, he surprised me with a piano he’d gotten for free from a friend of a coworker.


Isn’t it beautiful? The Instagram filter helps. I love how beat-the-hell-up this piano looked. There were nicks and scratches all over it, and the legs are loose. Inside the piano bench, someone left their autobiography, typed out in double-spaced 14-point font. No joke. It’s still there and on my reading list.


While I loved the texture, the color of the piano blended in with our hardwood floors — in a really bad yellow-gold kind of way. During one of Austin’s work trips, I painted this bad boy. News flash: it’s just as easy as everyone says.

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 3.53.56 PM

OK honestly though, we need to talk about how you people act like there is only one god and that god is named Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Well, shut that commandment down real quick because first of all, that stuff is impossible to find. According to the Annie Sloan website, the closest store to me that sells it is in Claremore, a town 45 minutes away from Tulsa. Secondly, it costs a bunch of bitcoins and your first-born for one can.
Surprise: other chalk paints exist and they work just fine. I bought a can of Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal at Home Depot for less than $40. I used about 2/3 of it.


Some blogs I read said you didn’t even need to sand your piano before painting it. However, I assume those bloggers did not own a piano from the 1720s that has been to hell and back. There were so many chips and nicks on our piano that I was getting splinters just looking at the thing. I definitely felt like I needed to sand every surface (except the back). A few sheets of fine-grain sandpaper worked fine. This part took me and my little arms about an hour.
After sanding, I wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it dry for about 10-15 minutes. THEN — I started painting. I didn’t couldn’t move the piano very much, just pulled it out a few inches from the wall, enough room for me to paint the sides.


I spent about two hours painting the piano on the first night, then let it dry overnight. On the second night, I spent another two hours painting the more intricate parts, like the inside of the fall board (the part that covers the keys and then folds back into the piano when you want to play/see the keys) and the music rack, which has a lot of decorative cut-outs and required some time to go over with a smaller brush. I also went over most of the surfaces with a second coat on the second night. All told, it took about five hours (not counting dry time) to complete.


And behold, it no longer blends in with our floors! [Plz ignore the handheld vacuum thx.]
Next project: reupholstering that fugly bench. #vomitburgundy


Painting Piano Collage Graphic


Whiskey’s snow day

Whiskey is decidedly a winter dog. We adopted him a year ago, on Dec. 20, and we’ve associated him with Christmas ever since, whether he likes it or not. This morning we woke up to a cozy, bright blanket of snow in Tulsa.

“What is that stuff?!”

After doing some weather.gov research, we realized Whiskey actually might have seen snow on the ground at least once before in his life, but we didn’t document it on social media, so did it truly really happen?
Enjoy some photos I took with my Nikon D60.


Whiskey running




perfect weekend getaway: Eureka Springs

my first trip to Eureka Springs was in November 2015 — Austin and i had only been dating a few months, and our friends the Fitches invited us to split a cabin with them for a weekend. we had a blast, and i’ve been dying to get back. only about two-and-a-half to three hours from Tulsa, Eureka Springs is the perfect weekend getaway with great food, great shopping and really nice locals.
our opportunity to visit Eureka Springs again came just in time! we went to attend the wedding of our friends Brooke and Brandon. we met the couple when i first moved to Tulsa; Brandon lived in the same apartment complex — on the same floor — as Austin and me. one day, my cat Bianca darted out of my apartment and straight into Brandon’s. his cat Oscar was not happy. anyway, we’ve hung out with Brooke and Brandon from time to time ever since. this really sweet couple got married at Thorncrown Chapel on Friday, with a reception at Crescent Hotel’s Crystal Dining Room.

Austin and i have typically booked lodging outside of downtown Eureka Springs; we’ve found it to be much cheaper and a lot quieter. we’re thinking of booking a bed & breakfast closer to downtown next time, but this really cute little cottage off of Highway 187 did the trick for us this time. it cost just $129 a night (compare that to Crescent Hotel, which was $339 a night. no thank you!). it’s owned by a sweet woman named Annie who owns a store in downtown Eureka Springs called Annie’s Boutique. the one-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage is a few hundred yards from her home.


the cottage came, of course, with the sweetest little fat cottage cat named Shadow. he greeted us every morning with his raspy little meow, and demanded tummy rubs before we went inside for the night.

we spent Friday celebrating the Carusos. on Saturday, we had brunch at Mud St. Cafe and did some shopping downtown. then we spent about an hour hiking at Leatherwood Lake City Park, a gorgeous park with a ton of campers and people fishing in the clear water.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Saturday night we went on the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour (which was super cute and fun but a little overpriced at $22 per person). it was a 75-minute tour that led us around the hotel, from the fourth floor to the morgue in the basement.

look!!! we found a ghost!

after that, we had dinner at Cafe Amoré based on a recommendation from the bride. last time we visited Eureka Springs, we waited for about two hours at Ermilio’s, a famous, beloved Italian restaurant. not wanting to wait that long again, we tried Cafe Amoré instead, and we’re so glad we did. the food was incredible — i ordered the cheese tortellini with pesto sauce. it melted in my mouth like butter. Austin ordered the lasagna, which he really liked, too.

sweet jesus

what a great weekend. we ate the best food we’ve had in a long time, got so much sleep and bought some really nice gifts for Austin’s parents to thank them for dogsitting Whiskey. the only problem … i really want a cat now, more than ever.

i need a cat



DIY: photobooth props

so if you can’t tell already, my new job is allowing me a lot more spare time and i’ve largely used that spare time to make crafts. it’s as if the wholesome, creative child in me is awakened after spending four horrible years focusing on death and destruction as my full-time job (i was a news reporter for several years. hello, welcome to my blog).

anyway, Austin’s ten-year high school reunion was this past weekend. he was president of his class of like, 100 people at Victory Christian School, so he planned a get-together at a downtown Tulsa bar.

J Aubrey Photography (Austin’s cousin!)

since this was a small class, there wasn’t a ton of extra spending money in the budget. i volunteered to make the photobooth props – something i’ve never done before, but literally salivated at the thought of getting to do the project.
before Austin could finish saying, “are you sure?” i had already left the house for Hobby Lobby. i spent about $12 on paint, a pack of wooden dowels and an X-acto knife (v helpful), and used the cardboard that came with our canvas prints (read my previous post on #pupart).
i drew the shapes free-hand with a pen, cut them out with the knife, and painted them with generic acrylic paint. it’s best to stick with bright, primary colors, which show up better in flash photos.


it took me about 3-4 hours to make the props, including the photo frame with the VCS letters. side notes: that flag is the new/slightly unofficial Tulsa flag that we love and have hanging outside of our home right now. and if you’re wondering about the “METRO SUCKS” sign, it was Austin’s idea. he says Metro Christian Academy was his high school’s main football rival. i guess little tiny baby private schools have rivals, too… #iwenttopublicschool #amuchbiggerone #notsheltered

were the handmade photobooth props cost-effective? nah. not at all. i just looked up “photobooth props” on Amazon and they have 80-prop packs for like $8, and i spent hours making my measly set of nine props… but it was fun.

J Aubrey Photography