I Joined a Book Club!

We call ourselves The Winebrarians: a wine club with a reading problem.

My Waco Trip

This post has been in the making for a long time (we visited Waco back at the end of July), but with moving back to Louisiana, taking the MPRE (the ethics section of the bar exam), and starting my third and final year of law school, I haven't exactly made time for playing around on the blog or reminiscing over summer photos. 

We only spent one night in Waco, but we sure packed in lots of fun into our time there! I honestly think a weekend trip is all that's really necessary to see all that Waco has to offer (but be mindful a lot of the town is closed on Sundays). We finished with the Silos in a couple of hours and we really took our time, so I don't know how people spend full days there. 

Our Trip Itinerary
  • 7:30am  - Left the Woodlands, TX (The drive once we got off the interstate was so pretty! I didn't know there were rolling hills in Texas. You know, all rolling hills are pretty when you grew up in a place that sits well below sea level). 
  • 10:30am - Arrived at Magnolia Table, put our names in for a table
  • 12:00pm - Lunch at Magnolia Table, see below for a description of our meal + photos!
  • 1:00pm - Drove to the Silos, explored the Magnolia store/grounds
  • 4:00pm - Little Shop on Bosque (they close at 5!)
  • 5:30pm - Back to the Silos for sweets at Silos Baking Co. + a golden hour photo shoot once the place had mostly cleared out
  • 6:00pm - A trip to HEB to pick up picnic supplies
  • 11:00am - Checkout of Airbnb
  • 11:30am - Lunch at In-N-Out before driving back home

What We Ate
Magnolia Table

The homemade tater tots were delicious! 

Luckily, one of my best friends had visited Magnolia a few weeks prior to our trip, so she gave us tips that I'm now sharing with y'all! Her best advice was to go to Magnolia Table first to put your name in. We got there at 10:30am (obviously pretty early for lunch) but ended up with a fairly short wait time of 90 minutes so we decided to stay put instead of driving over to the Silos. We got lemonades from the outdoor juice bar and waited outside at the tables under umbrellas. The staff was so friendly, walking around with extra umbrellas, menus, and games to play while waiting. We also explored the Takeaway Market where they serve coffee and grab-and-go snacks and sell a handful of souvenirs. By noon when we were walking back toward the restaurant, I heard them turning people away saying there were no more tables left for the day (open for breakfast & lunch, 6am-3pm).

Our order:
  • Peach Tea Lemonade and Lemonade (if you get the lemonade, you'll receive a souvenir milk bottle-style glass that you can keep to make the cutest flower arrangements when you get home)
  • Appetizer to share: Homemade tater tots -- SO GOOD! 
  • Appetizer to share: Biscuits with strawberry butter -- again, very tasty! I wanted to buy the cookbook just for this dish.
  • Syd: BLT + housemade kettle-cooked potato chips  
  • Jake: Burger + housemade kettle-cooked potato chips
  • Total cost (for the sake of transparency): $53.59

While waiting for our texts that the table was ready, we sat outside under the fans drinking lemonade (with free refills!) and explored the Takeaway Market where they had coffee, juice, snacks, and a few souvenirs including the cookbook! 

Inside the Takeaway Market, the coffee bar 

Silos Baking Co.
Photo of Silos Baking Co. taken on our way out of the Magnolia compound after closing

There was more waiting in line at this location, too, but there were cute little Disney-World-style signs at the start of the line saying "20 minutes from this point." Jake and I both agreed they were quaint and kind of funny because waiting in line for twenty minutes for desserts is fairly silly. We discussed the amazing marketing department at Magnolia throughout the day and both agreed that Chip and Joanna's team is pretty incredible for hooking an audience the way they have. The whole place would make for a very interesting field trip for a business class. While in line, we looked at the menu and marked up exactly which sweets we wanted. Of course, my sweet tooth is my favorite tooth, so we ordered practically one of everything (a mild exaggeration). 
  • 4 Cupcakes: If you know me at all, you know I had to try all the special cupcake flavors. We got lemon lavender, peach pie, strawberry lemonade, and shiplap (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream). 
  • 2 Cookies: (1 sugar, 1 chocolate chip) The cookies are way underrated in our opinion. Cupcakes were just okay, but the cookies were the best! LOVED the chocolate chip cookie! 
  • 2 Bottled Waters (to be refilled at the water stations around the park since it was hot)
  • Total cost: $24.36

Fair warning: these cupcakes had a serious amount of frosting, though it was not an issue for my massive sweet tooth. Jake did scrape some of his frosting off. The cupcakes weren't exactly my favorite, though; the cookies were much better!

Where We Stayed 

We stayed at this tiny house Airbnb, to round out the HGTV-style weekend. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting Waco! It was a little ways away (only 15 minutes) from the Magnolia compound, but since we were only there for the night, it was perfect. After our day at the Silos, we were exhausted so we stopped at HEB to pick up all the fixings for a picnic and ate on the rooftop deck. 

It was my first time in a tiny house, and it was such a cool experience. Even though Jake felt a little cramped, I thought it was cozy. Props to any couples who can live together in tiny spaces like that; in a 20' shipping container, it was around 160 square feet. The hosts really had thought of everything and utilized all the space perfectly. I was most worried about the size of the shower and the bed, but the shower didn't feel cramped at all, and the queen-sized Murphy bed was very comfortable. If you're going with a friend instead of a boyfriend, though, I might recommend one of the host's two-bedroom tiny homes to give yourselves some more space to move around. You can see all his listings in the tiny home "trailer park" here. Our one-night stay ended up costing $168.84 after the Airbnb fees and taxes (this is the busy season price). 

What We Bought

Inside the warehouse/souvenir section of Magnolia Market

Ah, souvenirs... One of the best parts of any trip. I have to say I was a tiny bit disappointed with the Magnolia Market itself. I expected it to be a little bigger with a wider selection of home/kitchen/garden decor. After seeing the show and knowing that Joanna designs the front section every season, I was surprised by how small it felt. I felt like I was in a really crowded pottery barn in the front section, and the back section was cute but full of only "souvenir" products like hats, shirts, bags, etc. However, that didn't stop me from making a few purchases. The photo above is in the back part of the warehouse. 

Items that made their way home with me:
  • Magnolia Seal T-shirt
  • Greenhouse scented candle for Jake's mom (these candles smell so good; however, the "summer" scent was not my favorite)
  • Magnolia Yeti Mug (Jake bought this because I was trying to pick between the shirt and the mug, but he didn't want me to settle. He tricked me and bought it on the other side of the store while I was waiting in line to buy the t-shirt!)
  • Chuck's Gourmet Popcorn A bag of kettle corn to bring back to my mom (I wish I would have tried the Cinnamon Toast flavor!)
I was surprised by the size of Magnolia Market and a tiny bit underwhelmed. I was expecting some sort of farmhouse-Mecca and though it is a large warehouse converted into a store, it didn't exactly feel grand. It's possible that the sheer number of people there affected my impartiality, but I felt like I was in a crowded Pottery Barn with overpriced Target items. A little harsh, but I have to be honest. I think the Magnolia stuff is quaint, yet overpriced. We did go to the Little Shop on Bosque in the afternoon and it was even smaller than I expected (very little room to move around), but the prices were much more reasonable! Make sure you go to Magnolia & the Silos first because they gave me a $10 discount for showing my Magnolia receipt!

While everything in the Magnolia Market was pretty, I did think I expected more from the Gaines family. It was lovely, but not exactly as grand as I expected. 

The attention to detail on the Silos grounds was pretty impressive. There were these umbrellas when you walk in to protect yourself from the sun, strategically placed water stations to keep you hydrated, and fans with misters throughout the park to combat the heat. 

I loved the little garden on the grounds. I can't wait to have a yard of my own and a sweet little garden, too!

A peek inside the greenhouse in the garden on the grounds

The cutest little garden shed outside the Seed and Supply store on the property

Outfit details:

Jake was definitely the shining star of the trip! He did his best to make sure I had a blast the entire weekend, including encouraging me to buy as many souvenirs and sweets as I wanted, taking approximately 10,000 pictures of me, watching HGTV reruns of Fixer Upper in the tiny house after a full day at the Silos, and overall keeping a great attitude despite the heat and crowds.

Other Waco guides that I used when planning the trip:

My best advice based on our experience:
  • Go to Magnolia Table first thing to put your name in! (90 minutes was a long wait, any longer and we would have left to go do something off-site instead of waiting there). 
  • Try the tater tots! 
  • Go during the week if you can to avoid the worst crowds (we didn't!).
  • Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen.
  • Go to the Little Shop on Bosque after you do your shopping at Magnolia Market and you may get a discount (ours was $10 off!).
  • Be mindful of your surroundings when you're not at the Silos (Waco isn't exactly the nicest town).
  • Bring your own water bottles into the Silos with you and refill them at the water stations.
  • Don't go to Silos Baking Co. at the end of the day (they were sold out of some items).

Have you been to Waco? Let me know in the comments!

Summer Reading Update (Part 2)

Even if pumpkin spice lattes might be back on the market, it's still summer for a little while longer! If you've been following along, you may have seen my summer reading post from last month. I'm excited to share the second half of my summer books with y'all. I had the best time getting books from the library this summer, but I added an audiobook to my mix this time around.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok 5 stars
I really enjoyed Searching for Sylvie Lee. My favorite books are the kind told from multiple points of view, and this one was no exception. It was a page-turning mystery, and I didn't want to stop until I found out where Sylvie had gone.

Told from three different perspectives, this book tells you the story in the eyes of Sylvie, her sister Amy, and their mom. I especially loved that this book glimpses into different cultures. The mother speaks broken English and her section showed that in her unique way of describing the U.S. as "The Beautiful Country." I also learned it's a little irreverent to keep Buddha statues in the bathroom and that Dutch people often keep their drapes or blinds open.

Essentially, Sylvie lived with family in the Netherlands for the first few years of her life while her parents adjusted to living in America, and then she moved back to the states at age 9. Later in life, she traveled back to the Netherlands to be with her sick grandmother and then mysteriously vanished without a word. Shy, quiet Amy has to fly across the Atlantic to try to put together the puzzle of Sylvie's life and disappearance. Of course, there are some twists and I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't able to figure it out too quickly. Definitely not overly-predictable and I would certainly recommend it!

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 5 stars
CAUTION: A few minor SPOILERS! Another awesome book! I did not want it to end; I was so invested in the characters, that I wish they were a real band so I could listen to their album. I was caught a little off guard at the complexity of the story; I was expecting sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but I got so much more than that, too.

Daisy Jones and the Six: a beautiful story of love and trust, but an absolutely heartbreaking look at life with addiction. I found myself rooting for Billy, Daisy, and the rest of the band; however, I was completely inspired by Camilla's character. I wasn't expecting such an amazing love story, but what made it so great was how real it felt. The way she coped with her fears by trusting with her whole heart is the kind of love I aspire to. There was a line in the book about trusting someone enough to let them have their secrets that felt so honest and heartwarming.

This was such a creative book. Told from the point of view of all the characters talking directly to the author, it felt like I was listening to a really well-made "Where are They Now" documentary. I was blown away at how the author managed to capture so many styles of speech in one book. I liked "watching" the writing process for the band's hit songs, and was so impressed at how one person could make it feel like a real collaboration of two people.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos 4.3 stars
This book started out feeling pretty normal. I really liked how the author incorporated bits of Filipino culture like how "Ate" (pronounced A-teh) translates to older sister in Tagalog.

Though I was slightly disappointed overall by this book, it was still good. I always appreciate a story told well from multiple perspectives (if you're new here, I'm always going to point that one out). But even though it was an interesting story and well-written, I was expecting a bit more "thrill factor." I was expecting more of a dystopian Handmaid's Tale vibe and it just wasn't that kind of book.

One of the biggest themes in this book was the distribution of wealth and how privilege can affect the course of a person's life. Mostly a story of the contrast between those who grow up privileged and those who immigrate to this country, I thought it was a good and easy read while still managing to cover a large and difficult topic.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis 3.5 stars
I decided to listen to this as an audiobook for two reasons: 1) The waitlist at my local library was very long and I wanted to read it in time for a new Instagram friend's book club (her blog is hellogorjessblog.com), and 2) It's not the kind of book I usually go for. I don't usually like audiobooks because I don't feel like I'm really "reading," but it worked for this book.

I'll be honest, I wasn't looking forward to reading this book. I had labeled it as #basic and I wanted to be able to spend the last valuable hours I had left before school started for leisurely reading and another book. I decided to listen to it in the car, and surprisingly, kept it going once I got to my destination.
I enjoyed how it was split into small chapters with Rachel's personal stories. I think it's important to mention that her privilege probably plays a much larger role in her success than her "you are ultimately responsible for ... how happy you are" mindset might make it seem. Did I have a few empowering moments while listening? Absolutely. The book is so inspiring and I'm glad I read it before my last year of law school. It helped me pinpoint some goals I had lost sight of over the years and reminded me about the path I want to be on as I run toward my future. But, I'm not sure if I'm a full convert and probably won't be one of her blog subscribers just yet.

Becoming by Michelle Obama 5 stars
Another book that I'm so glad I read before starting my final year of law school. I wanted to read this book over winter break, but the waitlist at the library was, again, unusually long (I think more people are finally catching on to how great the public library system is!).

I was so inspired while reading this book. Of course, it's another story where privilege, though mentioned by the author a bit more than it was in Girl Wash Your Face, should still be in the back of the reader's mind. Even though I loved every detail about her Ivy League education, I couldn't help thinking, "That would have never been an option for me." Parts of it were inspiring, while other parts left me feeling a little dejected. Of course, my own privileges from growing up in a white middle-class family with one child and parents who had fairly high levels of education give me my own type of privilege.

As for the behind-the-scenes look at a presidential campaign or what it's like to live in the White House, I could not get enough. I loved hearing about her challenges as a young lawyer and mother and how she managed to juggle it all. Learning in her own words why she chose healthy eating and fighting childhood obesity was eye-opening, too! I definitely recommend this book to everyone, regardless of your political affiliation. One over-arching theme that stood out for me is that you can't make changes if you don't get to know everyone first, even people who don't look like you.

Make sure you follow along on Goodreads if you want to keep up with my current "To-Read" list! 

Astros Game Recap

So last weekend, Jake and I finally made it to the Astros game, a day we had been talking about all summer but hadn't quite pulled the trigger on making the plans.

Summer Favorites

I've been working in Texas for the last eight weeks at a small law firm specializing mostly in personal injury cases and commercial litigation. It's been a little adjustment, but I've had a lot of fun and I'm learning so much! I thought it would be a fun post to share some of the items I've been loving this summer.

Just a few of the items mentioned below

This is the only crossbody bag I packed when I moved this summer. I bought mine through this Etsy shop, but since they are based in Bali, it took over a month to arrive and shipping was the same price as the bag itself (still cheaper than some of the others I've seen online, though!). I linked a similar one above through Amazon.

This is one trend I am loving! I'm rarely adventurous with outfits and I hate to play with patterns, so I usually tie one on a ponytail or bun when I'm wearing solid black or white shirts and dresses. It's such a fun way to add a pop of color; the set I linked above on Amazon includes six different patterns for only $10.

Even though we should be exfoliating all year, I find myself thinking about it more during the summer. I always use this body polish before giving myself a "tan" (aka Rodan + Fields Foaming Self Tanner). The best part is, it smells SO good, almost like a wedding cake flavored snowball. 

I decided to switch to natural deodorant after one of my classmates in Toxic Torts gave a presentation on all of the harmful ingredients we get micro-exposures to daily in our beauty products. Even if aluminum deodorants are actually safe, I feel a little better knowing that the products I'm using mostly likely won't ever make me sick. I've been using this Native deodorant (the sensitive kind without baking soda) and was so surprised that there was no "detox period." I did notice that I was sweating more (duh), but I don't stink! I use it in the mornings then reapply before workouts and after I shower, and haven't noticed myself smelling bad yet! The coconut scent is perfect, even for this hot and humid Texas summer. If you'd like to try it out, use this link to get a free mini deodorant with your purchase + free shipping. 

I got the silver bracelet, the book charm, and the Texas charm to commemorate my summer working here in Houston. Both of the charms I picked are "give-back" charms so 50% of the proceeds for the book go to First Book, a nonprofit that supports childhood literacy and 50% from the Texas charm goes to MD Anderson. You can get 20% off if you shop using this link and their awesome refer a friend program!

I've been using this sunscreen every single day. Its formula is the best; it goes on like a liquid and absorbs quickly into your skin so that you can hurry along with the rest of your makeup. Although I've been trying to slowly switch to "cleaner" products, but I keep coming back to this face sunscreen. It's best for every-day, so not necessarily my go-to for days when I'm swimming or sweating.  

My favorite summer toenail polish! I try to mix it up with other colors but I always go back to this one. It is the best orangey-red out there!

I have been living in these running shorts when I'm not at work. They are the most comfortable athletic shorts I've ever worn (dramatic, yet true). I think they may be a dupe for these Lululemon shorts, but I've tried both and actually prefer the Target version. I love them so much that I bought them in two colors and will probably buy more before the end of the summer!

*Disclosure: Some of the items above use affiliate links. This means I will earn a tiny percent of any purchase you make from clicking through the links. Opinions are always honest and my own.*

Summer Reading Update (Part 1)

It's pretty obvious that I love reading (you really have to if you're in law school), so getting to read for fun is always a highlight of summer. Since I'm working in the Woodlands this summer, I had to get a new library card, which delayed some of my progress a bit.

What I Read: Spring 2019

Reading for fun during the school semester has always been a challenge for me. When I'm trying to balance studying, reading for daily classes, working out, and small attempts at a social life, books tend to hit the backburner.

What I Read: Winter 2018

If you know me or follow me on Instagram, you probably know how much I enjoy reading on my breaks from school. I usually document my progress via the "Books" highlight on my Instagram page along with little blurbs of "reviews".