Hotel Ella

Where everybody knows your name… I cannot say enough amazing things about this hotel. It’s… wonderful. The hotel itself is an old mansion in Austin which they have restored and added onto. The staff greet you by name when you arrive, I love all the valet’s but I must say Devon, you are just the best, and because I stay there so much, a couple of the girls who love hearing my stories will actually jump up and down and say, “Ms. Matthews is back, How are you Ms. Matthews?” Megan, Shelbie, Chelsea, you girls rock! 

The pool is outstanding… you feel away from all troubles and worries and any care in the world.

The chandelier  tree/seating area is perfect for working on the lap top, smoking a cigarette, meeting other cool people staying at the hotel, or having a cocktail whipped up for you by one of the fabulous bar tenders at Goodall’s Kitchen, the restaurant on site.

One of my favorite things about this hotel is that they offer free rides from the hotel {you can cab or uber it back}. I think they will take you anywhere within a five-mile radius, but don’t quote me on that. This works perfect for me, because I love to go see my friends play on South Congress, and I’m not going to drive, so I only have to pay for a ride back. So nice.

The other night, no shocker, I was at the Continental Club and… my phone died. Thankfully, they have an ultra hip sister property, Hotel Congress, just up the street. So I just walked up the street, greeted Elliot by name, and ask him to please call me a cab.

“Of course Ms. Matthews! Did your fridge end up working the other night?” He ask.

Good memory… last time I was at the hotel my fridge wasn’t working at Elliot had been sent up and promptly fixed it.

The next morning I was walking out of the hotel and one of the managers stopped me and ask what I did, and ask for the name of my blog. I told him I had just finished up writing the ‘Skid Row’ post and had to get on the road.

“Leaving too soon,” he assured me. “Come back soon, I’m gonna check out your blog!”

So until next time Hotel Ella, the ‘Cheers’ of my world.

*And if you find yourself at The South Congress, look for Andrew at the front desk and Nick at the bar. Nick… who I was about to ask if he remembered me goes, “You’re not still with that Chicago guy are you? Please say no!” The answer was a resounding Hell No. But the Mormon sister wives prevailed!!! More on that in another post. 

The Louie Chronicles 

After laughing with a good friend over a recent post, she suggested I start “The Louie Chronicles” or… tales from the perspective of my purse. 

I thought it was a brilliant idea because my purse always gets better treatment then I do. 

Mind you I drop it and leave it to fend for itself… but some nice, usually lad, picks it up and cares for it. 

So here begins… The Louie Chronicles. I’m dedicating this first tale to the lady who gave me the idea, and without further ado… here is the story of the Lipstick Knife Incident, as told by my purse…

It was a chilly February evening. I was minding my own business enjoying the comfort of the floor in my owners apartment when my owner and her very thin blond friend bounded out of the bedroom talking about some boy in a band and swooped me up. 

I was no stranger to my owner and her friends talking about bands.  Music and boys seemed to the topic of most conversations, with occasional references to food or work of some sort. 

I was thrown in the back seat and the blond mentioned something about not eating in awhile.

They stopped and I was whisk out of the backseat and dropped on the floor of some restaurant. 

The girls laughed and ate and made some commitment to each other to “be Totally and fully crazy” no more bullshit, no more walking a fine line… They had made a line in the sand and crossed it. They drove over the line at 100 miles per hour. 

Frankly this conversation scared me as a purse. I’d already been left on the streets of San Francisco and a not so shabby hotel bar in Aspen.  You should have seen the other purses there… little did I know, in a few short years I’d end up on Skid Row. That’s no place for a Louie, I can assure you of that. 

Back to the night at hand… the girls apparently picked at their dinner because before I knew it a box full of French fries had been non chalantly thrown in me. 

Like I had room for that. I may be big, but that doesn’t mean I want to carry every item that could have ever been called for on Let’s Make a Deal either. 

After a short ride in the car more things were thrown in me. I heard the skinny one ask if she could put HER PURSE AND COAT IN ME. I’m a purse for the love of all things holy, not a bellboy. And it’s not like I wasn’t already at capacity. 

We arrived at some place my owner frequents for loud music and after I was rummaged through looking for the poor over used wallet, I was thrown on the floor as My Owner and The Thin One started to dance. 

What seemed like, and I’m sure were, hours later I was being torn through and my guest purse was violently taken out and gone through. After watching that, I decided I didn’t have it as bad as I thought. 

The thin one pulled out what I thought was lipstick… and attacked the one who had been singing. Even as a purse I gasped out loud. 

Instead of helping the singer, My Owner started laughing hysterically. 

To be fair, the singer seemed to be taking it in good stride. He was wearing the thin one’s coat and even took the to go box out of me and started eating the French fries and talking and laughing with blondie and my owner. They seemed to be getting along fine. 

And thanks to that singer taking the to go box out of me and the blond carrying her own purse, I could finally breathe again. 

The finale of my Whole30

I was doing so good. I had made it through the 4th of July AND a weekend a Great Wolf Lodge. It was day 16, of my Whole30 and I broke. I broke when there was nothing going on. it was just July 16th and I didn’t have the kids that weekend and I wanted a margarita. And a taco. I had both. It was a delicious meal.

The next day, July 17th, I was so mad at myself. I could NOT believe I cheated. I was doing so good. I vowed to make the next 15 days cheat free. That lasted until the following Tuesday when I decided I could not let the taco Tuesday go by without participating. And I wanted another margarita.

The rest of July pretty much followed that pattern. Cheat. Feel bad. Do good. Repeat.

And here is my takeaway… Doing the Whole30 for 30 days would have been great. I was really excited about all the energy I was supposed to have by week three. I was on day 2 of week 3 when it all went to hell, and I must say, I was feeling better.

I lost 7 pounds, which I have managed to keep off. This is no small feat for me.  I have been unable to lose weight for over a year. I was unable to stop gaining weight for a while and I was getting really anxious about my appearance. So, while no one else can probably tell any difference in my appearance, I must say, I feel better, and I learned a few things.

So, to recap, the Whole30 is:

  • No added sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • No alcohol
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No dairy
  • No fun

Okay, I added the last one, but it’s true. So, the only thing I didn’t consume on the Whole30 was no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. No Diet Dr. Pepper, no Spark. I’ve had one Diet Dr. Pepper since the Whole30 and no Spark yet… The rest I have tried to only consume in moderation. I’m trying the 80/20 rule, where you eat clean 80% of the time. I must say, this last weekend I was terrible. I was maybe only 30% clean eating, and I am atoning for it this week.

If you are considering the Whole30 I definitely recommend the book. I’m only a few chapters in, and maybe after I read it I’ll try it again. The book is very informative and it’s easy to understand. It’s called It Starts with Food. I would also recommend ordering Chomp Sticks. They are Whole30 approved and delicious. And life saving.

But my biggest takeaway was this… My kids are young. Time is fleeting. I read all those mommy blogs that tell you to get in a bathing suit and get in the water with your kids. Don’t just sit there and watch your kids make memories while you sit on the sideline. Be right there with them. And that’s what I did this summer. I waved my white flag and surrendered. I know I don’t look my best, but you know what? Even though I care, those blogs were right. My kids don’t care.

My kids are happy when I’m with them, just hanging out, being present, not on my phone. Luke, who told me in April that I needed to lose weight, told me the other day that I looked good and he’d rather I eat ice cream with him then say I can’t, because it’s not on my diet.

That kid… I love him more than tacos.


Whole 30 – week 1

Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest of ideas to start the Whole 30 on a Friday, on a holiday weekend, but I wanted to start the Whole 30 on the first day of the month. So I did. To those of you who are not familiar with the Whole 30, it is a Paleo diet plan where you eliminate everything I like to eat and drink. No alcohol. No Dairy. No Grains. No Legumes. This was not going to bode well for my ‘taco and tequila’ diet that I have maintained for many years.

Why on earth would someone like me subject myself to this? Because thanks to many years of bingeing and starving, I have completely screwed my metabolism over. My emotional highs and lows over the past few years haven’t helped. I got divorced. I fell in love. I got engaged. I’m turning 40 this year. I emotionally ate and didn’t work out and gained 30 pounds. I have no energy and I’m not looking so hot, so I thought… What the hell. I’ll give it a shot.{also, apparently the diet makes me want to be a rapper}.

And you know things must be bad for me to give up everything I love.

So I immediately started researching how I could get around the ‘no drinking’ thing. I found that The Whole 30 was just like being pregnant…  No one will tell you it is okay to drink. However, according to a Paleo magazine, you can have alcohol in very small quantities {no not on the Whole 30, but after those 30 days} and champagne was on the approved list. This fact, made me happy. Estatic.With this piece of information, I commited to my trainer and myself that I would do it. And document my journey for all.

The day before I went grocery shopping and posted this picture.

The great thing about the Whole 30 is that there are several foods that I love on the diet. Number one is bacon. Number two is potatoes. And rounding out the top three, avocados. I thought… I’ll survive on bacon and potatoes and avocados. I got this. My chiropractor even told me something I could eat at Chipotle. A bowl with grilled veggies, chicken, mild salsa {pico}, guacamole, and lettuce.

Day 1: Not so bad. I still probably had enough caffeine in me from the day before and I made it through the day eating chicken and veggies and everything was delicious.

I would like to note I also decided to start this on a weekend where I didn’t have my children. I had read stories about ‘detoxing’ and figured my body was going to be exhausted. It was.

Days 2 -4: I spent the weekend acting worse than a toddler having a non-stop tantrum. I was full. I was starving. I was fine. I was exhausted. I slept the majority of the three-day weekend, and I would then usually wake up, forage for something I could eat, and then go back to bed.

I am sure most of the population doesn’t experience these kind of withdrawals, but my body lives on sugar and beans and tortillas and cheese. And I had no idea how reliant I was on ‘fake’ sugar. I use it in everything. I really really miss my fake sugar and caffeine in the morning{s}.

Day 5: I got up and began my ‘new’ normal routine. I poured a big glass or iced tea, and drank it quickly. Hoping it would give me some energy. About 10 mintues later I got sick. And I’m not going to describe it, but it was bad, complete with breaking out in a cold sweat, and thinking I might die.

Day 6: I woke up and didn’t feel like death, and was really excited. I got on the treadmill for a couple of miles and drank a couple of glasses of tea. A few hours later, I’m nibbling on approved beef jerkey and wondering if I’ll ever have energy again.

Sounds fun huh? My stomach does feel flatter {proabably from the puking and almost dying yesterday morning} and according to everything I’ve read, week three is ‘when the magic happens’ So… I’m suffering through and will report back. Until then, I’ll be daydreaming about tacos and cake and tequila.

Local Foods Kitchen

Local Foods Kitchen, aka, my grocery store, is simply amazing. If you haven’t had time to check it out yet, you must. A little over 10 months old, It’s tucked away right off Hulen on Hartwood drive in Fort Worth, and it’s like a little piece of Heaven. I found out about it on Facebook, and, at a time when my kitchen was being re-modeled last summer, it was the perfect place to pull right upfront and run in and grab dinner. It’s a farm to market spot, and, well look… I took a few pictures from tonight when I was grabbing my dinner and talking to owner and friend, Katie

It’s so stinking farm to market precious, and Oh my gosh y’all… it’s so tasty! They have a chef’s case stocked with items that change monthly, with things like grilled salmon, gourmet {and oh so delicious} mac-n-cheese. They have a featured turkey burger, think pesto, goat cheese, and a whole lotta, ‘oh yeah baby’. Right now they have king ranch casserole, grilled chicken, featured fish, featured chicken… trust me, you should check it out.

They also have a menu with soups, sandwiches and salads. I cannot recommend the Pimento Cheese BLT enough… it has rooster sauce and red onion, grilled to perfection and served on sourdough. The Hippie Crunch, with Guac, Sprouts, Tomato, Spicy Lemon Hummus, Cucumber, fried onion and walnut scallion is almost to Hip for me. Not really. It’s too delicious. Too delicious. Get one. The smoked chicken panini, layered with red onion, fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto, and rooster aioli on foccacia… well… after reading that description, I shouldn’t have to say any more. And this is just the tip of the iceberg folks… The Kebab Cobb salad, featuring tandoori chicken, avocado, tomato, smoked bacon, red onion, cubed feta, red and green peppers, mixed greens and pita chips with Greek Tzatziki dressing, is my go to. I can’t get enough of the flavors… the dressing with greek yogurt and dill, is not only amazing, but makes me think the salad is totally guilt free. Speaking of guilt free, the also have many gluten-free selections, including desserts! If you stumble upon the gluten Free Ginger Zest cookies you must have one, whether you can tolerate gluten or not!

Their brunch menu is amazing but be sure you don’t go on a Sunday, they are closed! Also, don’t expect to be eating their late night… they close down at 7:30, so get there early, it’s definitely worth it! I recommend picking something from the chef’s case or menu and while you are nibbling on that you can have them bag up meals for the next several days. And why not drink a glass of wine, Bonus!

And if you are having an event, be sure to contact Local and ask for Katie! I went in one night when I was having girls over to my house at 7. I was there at 6:30, mind you they close at 7:30. “Um,” I him-hawed to Katie that evening… “Can I get a couple of sandwich trays?” “When would you like them?” Katie replied with a big smile. “Now.” I smiled, hoping that would soften the blow. She jokingly shook her head, and said, “What do you need?” Now, I don’t recommend this… I just happened in on a slow night, but she is the best. So accommodating. Not only did she come through… She made simple black catering trays look elegant, decorating them with fresh flowers and greens, for no extra charge. She will also let you bring your own trays up there and arrange things for you. I’m telling you folks… If you need a cheese plate, this is THE place to go. Her goat cheese log… TO.DIE.FOR.

In summation… If you haven’t been to this place, you are missing out. If you have a get together, you need to talk to Katie. She’s the best. If you like to eat food, you will enjoy Local Foods Kitchen. Did I mention at brunch they have a breakfest burrito with a tamale. A FREAKING tamale. Yeah. This place is that good.

Thanks for reading! And if you stop in Local, tell Katie I said hi! xo, Alexis