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Mac of the Month Club | Meeting One

Last Monday, we kicked off the new Nashville chapter of the Mac of the Month Club, a club that asks, can we eat macaroni and cheese every month?! And the answer, we hope, is yes.

I first heard about the concept of a Mac and Cheese Club from my sister, Lindsey. She belonged to a group in Philadelphia which met monthly at different restaurants to sample and rate their macaroni and cheese offerings. I love me some carbs and dairy, and I also love any excuse to hang out with friends, so I tapped Lindsey for the deets, pulled in my Nashville bestie, and all around restaurant and happenings spirit guide, Emily, to put the shebang together.

Since I'm a branding minded person who enjoys graphics, first thing on my list was making a scoring card to help evaluate our level of enjoyment. Feel free to nab the printable at the bottom of this post.

We brainstormed a list of the restaurants we'd most like to visit and came up with this ever-expanding short list: Merchants, The Sitllery, Peg Leg Porker, Publicity, Party Fowl, Mangia, Puckett's, Mile End, and Sambuca. We elected to try Peg Leg Porker first.

Here are the rules and guidelines to our local Mac of the Month Club:
1. You MUST order mac and cheese. {You may order anything in addition to the mac and cheese, but eating and rating the dish du jour -- which is always mac and cheese -- is mandatory.}
2. Reservations will be limited to groups of 8 for maximum bookability and minimum confusion. Reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis.
3. Have fun!


Peg Leg Porker is a casual barbecue joint located The Gulch. Probably most well-known for its pulled pork, this cafeteria style restaurant boast cheap sides {only $1.95 each!}, a nice patio for when it's not raining, and super quick service. 

All four of us, of course, ordered a side of mac, but also doubled down on our sides opting for beans, potato salad, greens, and french fries. The meat eaters in the crowd also ordered some pulled pork sammies, and a basket of hot wings. Everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed my potato salad.

But we came here to discuss the mac.


Peg Leg Porker's mac and cheese side comes in a four ounce styrofoam cup, and costs just under two bucks. It's creamy, peppery, and really cheesy. Instead of elbows, Peg Leg serves their cheese with shells. Most voting members kicked their originality vote up a point or so for this twist, but to really get my attention for a unique twist, I'd wanna see some unusual ingredients. Still, for a pretty striaghtforward, classis BBQ place, this mac and cheese really hit the spot. My only criticism would be that it was a bit too "soupy" for me. I could have done with a bit less sauce, but other attendees enjoyed the extra liquid and used it for a french fry dip at the end of their meal.



All in all, our first meeting was a total hit! We stayed for long after the mac had been inhaled laughing and carrying on, and we can't wait for next month's meeting!

If you're planning on starting your own chapter, please let me know, and download our rating card to get yourselves started!


 
XO,
Annika

Fringe Benefits







Have you ever been shopping and your heart literally skips a beat? I came across this fringe jacket at the beginning of the year, and I knew I absolutely needed it, even though I had no where to go in it. It's just so me. I've always had a hard time defining my style -- when it comes down to it, I like what I like: color, fun, stretchy pants, kate spade everything, and lots of sparkle. It can't be categorized, but this lovely piece of outerwear certainly falls into it.

The one thing I do know for sure about my personal aesthetic is that I am a redhead. It wasn't always this way. I believe my first foray into gingerdom was in college and it just seemed to fit. I have really pale, fair skin, and my mom was a natural auburn-haired lady until she moved from Alaska to California and the sun bleached her hair a platinum blond... so I like to think that I carry off this fiery color. 

So when my genius hair stylist, Mallory, asked me if I wanted to kick my color up a notch, I was totally game. And check out these cute bangs she cut into my new, more layered style. I LOVE it!!


Fringe Jacket: Anthropologie
Turtleneck: Amazon
Jeans: Target
Sunglasses: kate spade


XO,
Annika

Introducing Hey Mavens!

The week after Christmas, I got this crazy idea: I wanted to change the name of my lingerie brand. I damn near drove my entire family crazy trying to brainstorm a new name, secure the proper URLs and social handles, and build a whole new website. It's about six weeks later, and I'm so excited to announce HEY MAVENS! It's everything you know and love about Married&Bright, only amplified.

Hey Mavens is bright, colorful, sparkly, and FUN!

When I first started Married & Bright, my naming strategy was twofold: 1, I had a blog which at the time was called Married & Bright at the time {so named as a pun on our favorite family phrase, Merry & Bright}, and 2, I truly believed I wanted to make bridal lingerie. At the time I started making lingerie, I was working as a wedding planner, and basically my whole life was all about weddings. 

The first modeled photoshoot I ever did with Married & Bright. So vastly different to what Hey Mavens has become, but still relevant for today's bridal customer.

But as time progressed, I started making lingerie that was less and less wedding specific. I was guided by my love for color, fun prints, body positivity, and powerful women. I started feeling less drawn to soft prints, white lace, and feminine styles. But I still felt beholden to my original vision, and bound to create matrimonial lingerie based on the name of my brand.

I remember thinking when I named my shop, "I'll change it as soon as I think of a better name."

I ran my business for over three years before I started feeling like it wasn't a good fit -- but no "better" name came to me. At the end of 2017, I was having a conversation with my friend and her boyfriend, when it finally started to click.

The boyfriend basically conveyed to me that he was wary of buying his girlfriend anything that had the word "married" on it. As an unmarried man, he didn't want any gift to be perceived as a hint. I also began to see how many of my current customers were single women shopping for themselves, and that I might be missing out on connecting with potential new customers who were also put off by the brand name -- thinking "this is for brides and married people. That's not me."

A shot from the 2017 Married & Bright bridal collection taken by Sparrow and Gold Photography, and a short from the 2017 Married & Bright holiday collection taken by As You Are Boudoir. You can see where the brand was starting to diverge.

So that was it. I made my decision. I needed to rebrand. But there was part of me -- a big part -- that wasn't ready to say goodbye to Married & Bright. A huge portion of that unwillingness to let go was my astonishment at the fact that I had been able to land and hold on to marriedandbright.com and the corresponding social handles. Plus, it wasn't like the name was altogether fighting against me. I had a successful business, and I didn't want to break what was actually working.

I figured the best way forward was to split my business into two parts: Married & Bright would continue on as a strictly bridal line, and Hey Mavens would embrace more deeply my quirky design sense and colorful aesthetic that I has been leaning towards, but feeling to shy to leap into full force.



Photo by Laura Quintero Photography from the most recent Hey Mavens collection: Palm Springs. 

I'm so excited to be able to focus my messaging on both of the brands. Hey Mavens won't feel watered down to appeal of elegant and classic brides, and Married & Bright won't feel like some part time wife. Being able to speak directly to my customer in separate categories aligns me for greater success and helps my customers find exactly what they're looking for.

XO,
Annika

How Bow Dah?



Last weekend, Alex and I escaped the freezing Nashville temps to enjoy couple days with family in the Florida sun. When packing, I opted for solid color, light, breezy pieces and threw a handful of these skinny scarves into my bag to add some interest to my basic outfits.

I have been obsessed with these scarves since Daisy Faye Designs released them because they really are so versatile, and easy to style. I have worn them around my neck countless times -- you can see the proof here, here, and all over my instagram.

For this outfit, I was going for a bow theme to match the sleeve detail, and the leather of my shoes, so I simply knotted the scarf into a bow and bobby pinned it into my hair. I think it's super adorable!







Dress: Free People
Shoes: Kate Spade
Sunglasses: Kate Spade
Bralette: Married & Bright


XO,
Annika

Resolution Update: January

As you know, I set some goals at the beginning of this year. I thought I'd update weekly on how that's going, to keep myself accountable. As expected, January was off to a rough start. But not to worry, because...



I barely even made it to barre class, though I went once. The last time I went to barre has to be August or September. I'm definitely not in the best shape of my life -- and I certainly wasn't then.  In the summer and early fall, my body was going through a lot of ups and downs, which just made getting out of bed, much less going to the gym so impossible. I decided to table rigorous exercise for a while. But now, I'm back at it! It's really frustrating to feel like mentally you're ready to work out, but your body doesn't want to. I literally feel like my fat is getting in the way! I can't really do a crunch because my belly stops me about half way up, and anything that I do lying on my side feels horrible because my love handles are so wobbly. I also ended up going to a yoga class which was really challenging, but fun. Inner Light Yoga was a whole new kind of yoga I'd never experienced before and I definitely wanna go back.
Resolution: Go to barre 2x a week. January: 1/8

I've gotten sick of my same three go-to recipes of chicken parm, fettuccine alfredo, and rice pilaf from a box. So, this year, I've set the intention of cooking at least one new recipe a week. After my brother-in-law prepared this delicious main course on New Years Eve -- and my husband actually liked it! -- I knew I wanted to add this yummy recipe to my arsenal. Skirt steak and chimichurri is a simple week night meal that is SUPER fast to throw together, in fact, I made it for some friends out of what was sitting in my fridge and pantry when I decided to invite them over for dinner on a whim. I got on a steak kick this month and tried several different ways to prepare it. Besides cooking it in a pan like I usually do, I tried a cast-iron skillet, a grill pan, a grill attachment for my stove, and reverse searing it by baking it in the oven and then frying it quickly in a pan. I learned my favorite way to prepare a steak is by marinating it overnight in a mix of olive oil, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, freshly chopped shallot and garlic, and a sprig of rosemary, then reverse searing it, and finishing it with a garlic mushroom cream sauce. I'll post the recipe if anyone is interested.
Resolution: Try one new recipe a week. January: 4/4 

Book group was back in full swing this month, which helped me get closer to my goal this year. We read Little Fires Everywhere, which I started without even knowing what I was about, so even though I went in blind, I really enjoyed it. Though we haven't had a chance to discuss it yet, I'm looking forward to exploring what everyone else thought about the themes of motherhood and what it means to be a parent. I also finished (for the second time) The Royal We. This book is straight up chick lit, but it's SUCH a guilty pleasure. It's so enjoyable, and especially now that we have another Windsor engagement, it's fun to read and imagine Meagan and Harry. I started My Brilliant Friend, which was gifted to me in October. I haven't gotten very far, so I won't count this towards my goal for the month, but I'm doing better on this resolution that I thought I would. I have to admit, I'm not an avid reader, but I'm trying to be.
Resolution: Read three books each month. January: 1.75/3

I also want to add a new resolution since January was a free trial month and all. I want to go on another spending freeze. I did it in 2013, and for six months in 2016, and I think it's time. My closet is bursting, my house is well decorated, a have enough fabric to get us through the zombie apocolypse if lingerie was the way to save ourselves... So it's time to put the credit cards away.
New Resolution: Stop spending. As with my last spending freezes, things like food, bills, mortgage, dog stuff, expendables (like makeup, toiletries, etc) don't count. The idea is to live with what I have and enjoy it!

Shut the Front Door!

We've lived in our home for about 10 months {and still haven't shared photos of our renovation -- sorry!}, and it's come time to tackle another project: the front door.

Ever since we've moved in, we've both kind of hated the double doors. The panels, layers of peeling paint, nail holes, the way they close but only barely, the way they very nearly scrape the brand new floors we've put in, the sticky handle and wobbly lock, the hardware... just everything is terrible. While the doors are technically functioning, they just are not great. So, we decided to just replace the whole dang thing.

Here's what we're thinking.




My favorite door color for our house is yellow with a close second of pink, but I don't think that Alex would go for it. Which do you like best? I think as far as design, we are going to go with a flush, flat, windowless door, with either brass or black hardware. We had considered ordering doors with small, rectangular windows, but since the doors are already flanked by windows, and the front of the house is already kind of busy, we don't water to overload the facade.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your input and help us decide!

XO,
Annika

Snow Daze



Last week, the snow came! I have been waiting all winter for a little dusting. This California girl is absolutely delighted by weather. I had been hoping to see some snow before the new year because we had some fun, adorable, pretty snow in mid-December last winter.

December 2016. You can see Bucket's first attempt and snow, and where he decided it wasn't for him.

Let's just say the snow was not worth the wait. Here's what's different this year: we own a house. And that house is on top of a hill. A hill that does not get salted or plowed. A hill we could not go up or down in either of our cars. And a hill that the mailman, the trash collector, and pretty much everyone except for our friends Emily and Caleb, could and would not come up.

Clearly, someone was driving on this hill. It just wasn't us.
So basically, it snowed on Friday, and our entire lives stopped for a week. At first, I was so excited to be in our little winter wonderland fishbowl. I went out and picked up some extra groceries, freshened up my favorite pajamas, lit some extra candles, and made the biggest batch of chocolate chip cookies. But as we moved through the weekend, the honeymoon faded. 



What started out as a three inch dusting, literally trapped us. I can't even believe such a meager amount of snow confined us to the cul-de-sac we live on, but without four wheel drive cars, the black ice and thick snowbanks made it feel just unsafe enough for us to try twice, and bail, twice.


Bless Emily and Caleb for shuttling Alex to work on Tuesday night, and taking us out to the movies on Thursday night. Without even the mail arriving, these two people literally saved me from insanity. I think they call that cabin fever. And yeah, six days into living in these four walls really did it to me.

I've never really had a snow day -- or week -- before, so when the weird depression/loneliness/isolation started to set in, I wasn't really sure how to handle it. Here's a quick list of some things that cheered me {so I don't feel to guilty about this whiney post!}:

  • Making cozy, yummy food. Since I wasn't in a rush to go anywhere, I indulged in some longer-to-complete meals like a garlic crusted roast, coffee and tea lattes made with my new milk frother, tons of cookies, and marinated chicken.
  • Working on some home projects. I've been meaning to purge, clean, and organize the bathroom drawers, linen and master closets, and junk drawers. Finishing those small projects gave me a sense of accomplishment.
  • Putting a dent in work. Since I work from home, I was able to hunker down with my computer and dig deep on a task that I know will take a long time to complete. It was too cold in the basement studio, so I would cuddle up in bed with Bucket, and tippy type away for hours at a time -- something I probably wouldn't have made time for when I felt like I should have been sewing.
  • Reading. I don't often set aside time to read, but since I'm trying to read/listen to three books a month, I was happy to complete my first book of the year during this quiet time.
  • Online shopping. Ha! It's true. Even though the mail wasn't coming, ordering a new slogan tee and some fabrics I've been meaning to purchase gave me a reason to look forward to the next 3-5 business days.


When the snow finally melted the next Friday, I treated myself with a trip to UPS, the post office, the grocery store, starbucks, and Taaaaaaarget! Yes!

Note to self: buy a car with four wheel drive. But that's a whole different post.

XO,
Annika
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