Fall Lust List, Part 1: Leather

So my favorite season is finally here - FALL!  It means cooler temperatures, better hair days, patio dining, and boots! There's so many great trends going on for Fall 2012, that I thought I'd feature a few that I'm lusting as I begin to restock my fall wardrobe.  First - let's talk about leather. Pops of leather are showing up everywhere, from shirts, to dresses, and even pants.  Here are a few leather items I'm eyeing:

Tinley Road Vegan Leather Peplum Top
This top with a peplum cut (still one of my favorite spring trends that I'm bring into fall) by Tinley Road is super versatile, and super affordable at only $98!

I live in black leggings during the fall time, and leather is showing up on this cool weather staple as well:
Alice + Olivia


What about a twist on the little black dress?


What do you think - are you guys going to try the leather trend this year?


Restaurant Review: Mr. Mesero

Wouldn't the best job ever be to go to a restaurant, be served the food, and get paid to say whatever you think about it? Yeah, I think that would be pretty awesome. Well, unfortunately I'm not getting paid for this post - but maybe one day! It's been a long time since I've been to a restaurant that I actually haven't read a review on - whether on Yelp or the local magazine blogs. I just like to know what I'm getting myself into beforehand. So here is my review of Mr. Mesero, in case any of you were planning on checking it out.

Mr. Mesero

Opened by Mico Rodriguez at the end of 2011, Mr. Mesero has been a regular on my rotation of restaurants for happy hour with my bff Jamie. It's located in what has been a revolving door of restaurants - you may remember La Cubanita, which I always wanted to try but it closed before I was able to go, and then it was Burger Girl, which I never went to since a burger might be the last thing on my "what sounds good to eat" list. Everyone in Dallas is a fan of Mi Cocina, so knowing that Mr. Mesero was another Mico creation, I had high hopes. Luckily, it did not disappoint!


I feel like atmosphere is so important at a restaurant. The atmosphere sets the tone for how your experience is going to be, and if the decor is lame, the a/c is subpar, and you're super close to your neighbor, your whole dining experience will most likely suck. Now, Mr. Mesero is small. If you have to wait, you're going to get a bad impression, because there really is nowhere to wait. You'll constantly be dancing around waiters and other patrons so you're not in the way. The look of the space is clean, colorful, and modern - just how I'd like my house! There's a huge abstract piece of art that I was a big fan of, but Tyler declared that he could have painted it himself. He's obviously not an admirer of great art. The temperature was a bit off when we walked in, but I think they were trying to figure out what to set the thermostat to since it was just beginning to rain and the cold front was coming through. However, by the end of the night, even Tyler was cold. Losing a star for the coldness, atmosphere gets 4 stars.


These people know what they're doing. Jamie and I have been there three or four times and we have a waitress that knew us by name the 2nd time we went. Her name is Marisol, and she's featured on the Mr. Mesero website. We loved her so much we became Facebook friends with her. Well, she was there when Tyler and I went and she was great. I couldn't decide between two entrees, so she made a custom entree for me. Our water glasses were never empty. Our chip plate was always replenished. Five stars for service. Marisol rocks.


We started off with the Queso Mesero. Yum. This is a white cheese queso with spinach and artichoke. It's smooth and gooey and Tyler basically licked the bowl. I forget what Tyler ordered as his entree, he ate it so fast I didn't really get a good look at it before it was gone. Like I said earlier, I was torn between two items, so Marisol made a combo plate for me - a carnitas taco and a brisket taco, which came with red rice and sautéed onions. The carnitas taco was great - the pork had a perfect crisp to it, just like it should have. The brisket taco was also good - not as good as Mia's brisket tacos, but that's to be expected. I added the sautéed onions and that made it pretty yummy. I told Tyler the red rice was the best rice I'd ever eaten. Seriously, it was THAT good.

Tyler had already cleaned his plate before I got a picture.


Lastly, Tyler ordered the Five Leches cake for dessert before I had a chance to veto. Holy cow, it was delicious. The five milks were condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, cream, and a caramel sauce made out of goat's milk. And we ate it in five bites. And I spent the whole next day at the gym to work it off. It was moist and delish.

Five stars for food. Yumm.

I almost forgot to mention the margaritas. They are about as deadly as the margaritas at Gloria's. I implemented a one margarita rule for the evening so I could drive us home. Tyler had two, and he was asleep on the couch by 10pm. Four stars for the margs, only because you can get the same thing at Gloria's for $3 cheaper.

I think that equals four and a half stars. Tyler and I will be back. You should go too and ask for Marisol!


Wedding Dress Runner-Ups

So, yes, my wedding is over, but I still like to think about it. How do you stop thinking about your wedding day when you're only 5 months in?  It might be the only day in my whole life that is centered around me and my favorite person in the world, and that is just fun in itself. I loved picking out invitations, doing food tastings, deciding which flowers I wanted, coming up with tablescapes, designing the cake - but I think one of the most important things was picking out my wedding dress.  So much inspiration comes from the wedding dress!  It sets the tone for everything. My wedding dress shopping experience was short - we walked into the store, I saw the dress on the manequin, and I said "I want to try that one on."  And that was it.  The hardest decision after that was what belt I wanted to wear.

Paloma Blanca - Style 4202

There were dresses before Paloma Blanca Style 4202 though.  The original dress that I lusted over was the Rivini Camellia:

Rivini Camellia

This model doesn't look too happy about wearing it, but I LOVED this dress - I saw it in a magazine ad, tore it out, and carried it around with me.  Hmm, it actually looks pretty similar to the Paloma now that they're side by side. But, I mean, it really is stunning. The one negative about this dress that my matron of honor made me aware of is that because there is no ruching in the bodice, it would show wrinkling after sitting.  GREAT point. Still love it though.

Vera - you know who I'm talking about.  Her name is synonymous with wedding, except for the fact that she's getting divorced, but that's probably why her Fall 2012 Bridal Collection is all black, but I digress.  Her Fall 2010 line was perfect. There's one dress that stands out for me, and that was this one:

Remove the fluffy vest, and you have Vera Wang Ethel
Vera introduced the black accessory with this line and this trend is still going strong. Negative on this dress? I can name 3 people that have worn it.  And I don't want someone else to be wearing MY wedding dress.

In January before the wedding, I had a minor meltdown that I had picked the.wrong.dress. I only told my friend Darlene, because 1. I knew she'd be honest and tell me which one was better and 2. I knew she'd probably snap me out of it.  This is the dress that caused all the problems.  I introduce you to Winnie Couture Fawne:

Winnie Couture Fawne

There's a Winnie Couture in Houston, so literally 4 months before the wedding, with my dress already hanging in my closet, I thought, maybe I could drive down to Houston for the weekend, sell back my Paloma, and get this dress rush ordered.  As I knew would happen, Darlene knocked some sense into me and told me I was ridiculous. Sure this dress is pretty, it has some ruching and a little sparkle, but it wasn't as special as the Paloma.  Crisis averted.
Okay - so you're saying, Nikki, all these dresses look the same.  Sweetheart neckline. Trumpet cut. Fluffy bottom.  Apparently I had a look I was going for.  There's one more dress that I d.i.e. over, and this one is different, I promise!  Its by Oscar de la Renta, and let's be real, does he ever do wrong?  I think not:

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2010 - Style 12n23
He was doing peplum before peplum was even back on the scene! Genius. I love.love.love this dress, but it wasn't what I was going for. Now if I was 5'11", that would be a different story.

So at the end of the day, I still love all of these dresses, and I love bridal fashion, and I'll probably still look at dresses long after our wedding day.  I think I picked the best dress for me - afterall, it was waiting for my when I walked in the door to the bridal boutique!  Love you Paloma!


Crunchy granola

Every Friday at work, someone that sits in our pod area is responsible for bringing in breakfast. My friend, Andria, decided to do a 'Build Your Own Yogurt Parfait Bar' when it was her turn. I mean, brilliant. It was super yummy, and felt healthy! She brought a nice spread of Greek yogurt, assorted berries, honey, and granola. Now, Andria inspired me with this healthy little breakfast, but store bought granola is usually loaded with sugar and expensive. So...I decided to make my own. That way I could control exactly what I was putting in it. Here's a yummy recipe I found. Not only does it taste freaking awesome in my yogurt parfaits, but it made the house smell amazing while it was baking! Here's the skinny:


2/3 cup frozen apple concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 canola oil
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

5 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup almonds, finely chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Position racks in top and bottom third of oven. Spray to baking sheets with Pam.

Whisk together apple concentrate, oil, maple syrup, and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and salt.

Mix oats, wheat germ, and almonds in a bowl. Add juice mixture. Toss to coat evenly.

Spread evenly between two baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Reverse sheets top to bottom, front to back. Bake for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer sheets to wire racks, mix in half a cup of dried cranberries to each sheet. Cool completely.




Tyler and I try to make frequent trips since we both love to travel.  We were ready for another vaca and had a healthy number of points on our credit card from all the wedding spending, so we decided to take a little trip to Boston - neither of us had ever been and we've heard nothing but good things from several friends that have either been or that are from there. Our goals were to see as much as possible and eat as much as possible - both of which we accomplished.  Here are the details of our trip:

Day 1
We woke up SUPER early to catch our 7am flight, which we barely made.  But so glad we left that early because that meant we had the entire afternoon to spend getting acquainted with the city. Super cute, see for yourself:

View from our hotel
 The first thing we did was walk down to the harbor area to get some lunch.  Of course I was getting a lobster roll.  I heard James Hook had some delicious lobster rolls and they didn't disappoint.


Then we walked back to the hotel and discovered Boston Commons, where the Frog Pond is - so cute.  Its a huge wading pool and there were a ton of kids playing and swimming in it.  They freeze it during the winter and turn it into an ice skating rink.

Fishing frog

We decided to do a Boston Duck Tour that afternoon as a way to find out where some of the cool things were that we could go check out later in the trip - a "duck" is one of those vehicles that is able to drive on land, then go straight into the water.

Waiting to get on the duck

Super excited to start the duck tour!

Going into the water!

Officially in the Charles River. Wowzer.
The duck tour was a hit, and worked up an appetite, so we headed to the Atlantic Fish Company for dinner.  It was on Boylston Street right around the corner from our hotel - did I mention what an awesome location our hotel was in?  Right in Copley Square, near two subway stations, easy to get to everything.  We were a fan. So back to Atlantic Fish Company - this place was yum. So many delicious sounding options, and our waiter's name was Max. :)

So many delicious sounding choices!

Super excited for dinner

Lobster bisque

Boston Clam Chowda, duh
Day 2
The next day was lovely in the morning, so we decided to walk to Fenway Park since it wasn't that far.  Here's a cute little bridge we saw on the way there.


And then we turned a corner, and TA DA!  We were there!

We decided to take the tour, which, I know, Nikki on a baseball tour?  That's like an oxymoron, but I really enjoyed it.  I told Tyler later it was one of my favorite things that we did!

Tyler got a Red Sox hat.  He's super excited here to start the tour

I'm super excited too!

Tyler on the Green Monster - apparently that's what they call the big green wall.  The Yawnkey guy's wife picked out the green color. :)

Me on the Green Monster.  Seats up here have been voted the best seats in baseball.  Look at that view!

Green Monster. The green is made by Benjamin Moore and is licensed by the Red Sox.  To purchase rights to use it costs $9 million.

All that baseball trivia worked up an appetite so we headed inbound (per subway speak) to Sam LaGrassa's.  You may have seen it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Super yummy.

Tyler's roast beef

Nom nom nom nom...

Corned beef for me, please.
Then we decided to head south to visit the Samuel Adams brewery.  Now this was fun, and FREE!  It was really neat to learn about what beer is made of (I'm clueless when it comes to beer, so it was pretty interesting) and to learn about the brewing process.

Our tickets

Oh, and we learned about how to taste beer.  There are four steps - smelling, clarity, tasting - and there's one that I'm missing.  I must have been just drinking the beer when our tour guide was talking about it.  Oops. Four free beer tastings! And we got to keep our glasses!

Free beer!
After beer tasting, it was dinner time.  We did not decide on a dinner place, so this obviously freaked me out because if you haven't already figured out, I had the trip planned down to the minute.  Sigh.  However, we did decide to head down to the Little Italy area, so cute.  This area was super eclectic - college kids, old people, families, super Italian men hanging out in windows. 

The iPhone came in handy as we tried to navigate the city. That's the Government Center behind him.

The old Italian men that we made friends with took this picture for us.  They also rattled off four different Italian restaurant recommendations that their cousins, uncles, and brother's nephews owned.

Spaghetti and meatballs - the angel hair was fresh and might be the best pasta I've ever eaten.

My next mission was to get cannolis.  There are three places that kept coming up in my searches - Mike's, Modern Pastry, and Maria's.  The first night we tried Mike's - here are some pics:

Day 3
The next day we went on a Boston Freedom Trail walking tour - it was free!  Have I mentioned that all the tour guides we had were great?  I mean, these people are super knowledgable and all obviously love what they do.  I overheard some Bostonians saying that tour guide jobs are super hard to get, because everyone wants to be one - sounds like its a pretty desirable job.

One of the stops on our tour was at this cemetery.  I think cemeteries are super scary, and this one was no different, but there were some pretty cool dead people buried here.  Back in the day you had to have money for a proper burial, or else you were just plopped in the ground and covered in dirt, unmarked.  The tour guide said that when they went to build the first subway station at Park Street, the hole they dug up had over 900 bodies in it - I mean, that's so gross!!! Imagine how many people you're walking on, all over Boston.  Eeek.

John Hancock

Sammy Adams - he sounded like he was a pretty cool guy, always starting trouble! :)

Here are a few more pics from our tour:

Democratic Donkey - I just liked him because he was cute. Politics are dumb.

This hotel is super haunted. My boy JFK proposed to Jackie in the dining room here, and he also had his bachelor party here.
After the tour we headed over to Cambridge for lunch and to check out Harvard.  We stopped at this place, Alive and Kicking, which is literally a little restaurant run out of a house and they have a huge thing of lobsters in their garage.  The lobster roll was pretty good though.

Yum yum
Then we headed to Harvard where they were having Freshman orientation.  Now, I'm all for being smart but these kids seemed kind of dorky - whatever, they'll probably be millionaires in 10 years and I'll be super jealous.

Fun at the Science Center on campus

Trying to be smart and have intellectual conversations like the rest of the kids hanging out on the lawn.

We headed back to Boston and decided to check out the Boston Public Library that was right across the street from our hotel.  This place was pretty impressive. 

Dinner time!  I really wanted to go to Giacomo's (ja-kim-o's) but the line was WRAPPED AROUND THE CORNER. Tyler said no, hmph. We went to this place across the street, Panza, and it was really good!

Then we went to Modern Pastry for another cannoli - Tyler went all out with a chocolate covered shell, dipped in chocolate chips.

I just got a plain shell dipped in chocolate chips.  Yum.

Day 4
We woke up early on our last day to take a whale watching tour.  The entire tour was about 4 hours. It was overcast, and COLD.  I whined the whole way out to where the whales were.  Next time I'm wearing my Uggs, ear muffs, and 3 sweaters.  I thought my maxi dress and jean jacket would do the trick, but lesson learned.

Heading out to sea
We're on a boat

Tyler excited to see some whales

Me, pre-freeze.


Tail shot, thanks to my 200mm zoom lens that I brought with me

Tyler scanning the Atlantic for whales

Two humpback friends

More tail

Back to land

Pretty successful whale watching trip.  We saw a total of 7 humpbacks, some hole blowing, lots of dorsal fins, and some tail. We were headed back to the hotel and saw that Maria's was open!  Maria's was closed during the evenings, so we stopped for one more cannoli.  Don't worry - I'm starting up spinning class again first thing Wednesday morning.

Tyler enjoying his last cannoli
And what's a trip to Boston without a stop at Cheers?  Here's Tyler hamming it up in front of the famous bar.

Overall, we really loved Boston and are ready to move there.  The weather was awesome, the locals' accents were funny, there was a ton to do, and the food was awesome.  The first thing I said when we stepped off the plane and into the 91 degree heat (at 11pm at night) was, oh look, we're back in Hell.  Sigh.  Here's to another great trip!  Thanks Boston!