What to do: afternoon at the INNER Beauty Shop

o65_99gSThe events we get invited to via Facebook are quite numerous. Birthday parties, showers, girls’ nights out, and countless from organizations and places of businesses whose pages we “like”. I”ll be honest, unless it comes from someone with whom I am truly friends and it’s a personal event such as a birthday gathering, I rarely pay attention. Don’t deny it…you’re the same way! However, a couple of weeks ago I received an invite from one my favorite yoga instructors that immediately caught my attention, the event popped up as “The Inner Beauty Shop” and was being hosted at Karmany Yoga here in Dallas.

It was described as thus:

“The Inner Beauty Shop™ is an interactive workshop for girls or women, ages 12 – 100, that allows participants an opportunity to find the beauty within themselves and those around them. Each beauty shop is a transformative experience that includes several interactive and embodied activities, including yoga.”

If you know just one iota of the purpose behind this little blog, you should know I had to RSVP immediately. Having attended this past Saturday, I cannot tell you how incredibly happy I am that I went. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I will say this was the most life-altering experience — in a GOOD way, not the I was laid off/my grandmother died and this ass hole just broke my heart bad way of last year — that I’ve had in a significant amount of time. Given what I know about Jayme (the aforementioned yoga instructor) and the positive spirit and juju she brings to her classes, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

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Where to sweat: bodybar Studios

origFor me personally, working out is about much more than trying to be fit, losing weight or any additional health-related reason (though those are on my list of reasons I do, of course, not to mention heart disease runs spastic through my mom’s side of the family). However, without a doubt, the number one reason I workout as much as I do is to keep me from punching people in the face repeatedly. Or crying my eyes out on a daily basis. Basically, it keeps me as close to normal and sane as I possibly can be. If you’ve met either of my parents you certainly know I naturally come by multiple forms of crazy.

Getting into a rut with workouts is extremely easy to do. I overdosed on P90X two years ago and still can’t make it through an entire week of that bloody program anymore without screaming at Tony Horton. And I know a lot of people who are over going to standard, run-of-the-mill boring gyms. Can’t say I blame them. I am a member of one just because it’s, well, cheap. Trust me, if I had my way I would frequent boutique fitness centers only: Flywheel, American Power Yoga and bodybar Studios. Of course, if I had my way I would also be dating Seth MacFarlane. But that’s…clearly off topic.

I have been super excited to write about bodybar for quite some time. I am 150% biased when it comes to these workouts and this Pilates studio. Up until the end of June I worked for them regularly, which is why I held off writing this. In full disclosure, I will still be working there on occasion when someone needs me to fill in; I couldn’t bring myself to leave it all together!

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What to download: Parqer

1403026087905There are two things I’ve completely lost the ability to do since moving out of Los Angeles: carry cash and parallel park. It’s like I left both of these skills – yes, consistently carrying cash in the age of plastic is most definitely a learned skill – somewhere in the desert between Palm Springs and El Paso. Better those than my sanity, which is quite easy to forfeit on that particular mindless, drab, dreary, BORING drive. There is one stretch of I-10 (or The 10 for you people out left) in New Mexico that I swear is how and where all horror movies ultimately begin.

I could go on for potentially 16 posts about how bad parking sucks balls in LA. It’s no secret. And as Dallas continues this freakish growth phase, it’s certainly no better. Henderson. Katy Trail. Uptown. Downtown. Lowest Greenville. Northpark on the weekends. All nightmares. If it wasn’t for Uber my girlfriends and I might never leave our houses. However, as much as we all love us some Uber, it’s not always a necessity. (Read: you don’t necessarily plan on drinking that much). Nor is it always an option. Maybe you’re headed straight from the office to a dinner meeting, office happy hour or an early date you’re super anxious to get to (it happens, I hear). It’s 5:30 p.m., 75 is a disaster (shocking!) , you’re beyond irritated and in need of a cold, frosty beverage. You pull up to the Ice House and there is of course no parking to be found this side of Cedar Springs and you have exactly 62 cents in your cup holder.

We have all been there. It’s the worst. But just like Uber has saved the cashless from avoiding taxi rides like the plague, Parqer is now rescuing the non-cash-carrying-hopeless from avoiding valet or having to park six blocks away and most likely illegally.

Parqer, a Dallas-based organization (and in full disclosure, founded by a friend) has partnered with three area valet companies and numerous trendy spots including the Katy Trail Ice House, Three Sheets and Northpark Center, to offer their brilliant cashless valet option. Once users download the app to their smartphones and store payment info, they need only open it up upon checkout and select the location at which they’re participating and confirm the charges. It works for valet fees + tips or tips only. Easy breezy.

Though Parqer is currently available in DFW only, have patience dear friends, it’s expanding to Austin and Houston soon. And from there? In my personal, yet biased, opinion, I see this expanding to all the places in all the country.

The app for my increasingly crappy parallel parking skills, much like my bug killing abilities, is called Find A Husband. Good luck with that, Nikki.

Xo.

 

 

Where to eat: Hibiscus (with a side of Victor Tango’s)

photo 2Not every one of my Friday nights go from Hibiscus to Victor Tango’s to The Library Bar at the Melrose to Round Up and end with two strange gay men at Cafe Brazil at 3 a.m. But when they do, they mean business. And you’re welcome, Uber. These shenanigans all went down last Friday and I’m still trying to figure out how it all happened. It all began with three of my friends and me having a celebratory dinner at Hibiscus and…just went from there. I mostly blame the drink(s) I had a Victor Tango’s. The Start Me Up? Smash Me up? Turn Me Up? One of those. Well, really it was all of those things. It had whiskey in it. I don’t drink whiskey, y’all. But the manager who made them was cute so I would’ve said yes to Everclear at that point. (Side note, I just threw up typing that). Anyhow, the friends I was with and I all have really fun and exciting things going on in our respective lives, both personally and professionally and three of us just completed cleanses/challenges. Plus, we all used to work together, live in the same neighborhood and typically try to get together often. At this point it was both special and overdue, so might as well go big and go Hibiscus.

There’s this lovely restaurant and hotel group in Dallas called Consilient Hospitality. They own the majority of the deliciousness on Henderson and some of the absolute yummiest restaurants in all of the city: Hibiscus, Fireside Pies, Victor Tango’s, The Porch and CBD Provisions to name most. I seriously don’t have a single negative thing to say about any of them. I’ve even had birthday dinners at VT’s and Fireside. And just an FYI, I have recommendations at all of them should you ever be in need. Although they’re all extremely nice establishments and can get a little pricey, Hibiscus is definitely the classiest (and most expensive) of the group. So it’s not somewhere I go often. In fact, I’ve only been one other time and that was during Restaurant Week. And unfortunately I had a sinus infection and couldn’t taste a THING. It was awful. So this time around I had to go; I’ve not treated myself to a nice dinner like that in eons (for the love of all that’s amazing, get the yellow fin…and the mac-n-cheese!) And there is nothing like a night out with some of your most favorite people, eating a genuinely good meal, drinking wonderful craft cocktails and then…things getting questionable.

My crazy nights out in LA and the first couple of years  back in Dallas were many. Over the past year things have quieted down significantly (I know some of you are laughing…stop that, it’s true). Part of that is due to everything that happened and the other part is personal choice. And by personal choice I mean I was forced to because IT HURTS. Slurpees and Sonic breakfast burritos don’t seem to cure anymore.

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Where to shop: a Fabletics invite for fabulous you

FableticsI am a sucker for a membership program. I was one of the first people I know to sign up for Shoedazzle, loved it when I could still wear heels. I used to have a spa membership and a membership to Drybar (more on both of those places later). Needless to say I had to put those all on hold until the career situation gets itself sorted. However, I just landed a much desired part-time gig at one of my favorite workout studios in Dallas, bodybar. This means I have to buy new workout clothes for WORK. Amazing, right?

I happened to just come across an ad for Fabletics on Facebook, a wonderful women’s workout clothing boutique co-founded by Kate Hudson. We love her. I just got my first outfit (yes, outfit…THREE pieces!) for $34.95. That’s unheard of. A shawl, tank and capris. I can’t wait to see how it all looks in person! Until then, here’s an invite exclusively for you, readers, so check it out – you get 50% off your first order: Fabletics invite for fabulous you.

Update! Hey ladies, I just got my first delivery today (Jan. 31) and I absolutely LOVE it. I noticed this post is getting some traction from search engines so I wanted to make sure my review was included. The quality is great, the sizes are spot on and it’s all absolute comfy! I will no doubt continue to order from Fabletics! Let me know if you have any questions. Visit the link above for 50% your first order!

Xo, Nikki

Where to shop: Fresh at NorthPark Center

Fresh 01Towards the end of my LA days, a friend of mine introduced me to SpaWeek. If you’ve not heard of or participated in SpaWeek, you really should; I’ve taken full advantage of it then in LA and several times since in Dallas. Twice a year, in April and October, participating locations offer around three of their signature services for only $50 each. It’s the perfect opportunity to dip your toe in the spa waters (literally or figuratively) if you’ve never done so. Or, if you’re addicted like a lot of us, it’s the chance to try out some of the more pricier establishments you normally wouldn’t dare. This is how I was introduced to Hiatus Spa in Inwood Village (and became a member) and the Fresh store at NorthPark.

According to their website, there are only 14 standalone Fresh stores in the world; the majority are of course in New York. NorthPark has the only one in Texas, which isn’t a surprise to anyone familiar with the magnificent place that it is. People fly in from all over the globe just to shop at NorthPark, it’s THAT awesome. It’s Texas’s version of South Coast Plaza (for my SoCal friends) and without a doubt my favorite place in the city. It was late one SpaWeek that I decided I needed to partake of it before it was over, but knew I couldn’t get an appointment at any of the actual spas, so I thought I would give Fresh a try. I figured since it was a retail store and at the mall (NorthPark despises being called a mall, by the way) and late on a Friday I had a shot. And I was right. It’s a super tiny store on the first level near the escalators one takes to AMC or the food court, you might overlook it but I dare say you won’t once you actually go in there. They have, without a doubt, the best customer service of any store I’ve ever been into from New York to Los Angeles. My first experience that SpaWeek was great and I was super pleased to find out whatever you spend on the facial (SpaWeek is $50, otherwise it’s more) you actually get back in credit towards product. It’s a win-win situation and definitely not something other places offer!

Last year three of my girlfriends and I decided to do a Fresh facial party for my birthday. The year before is when I’d broken my ankle leaving my birthday party, so we figured a spa day was much more safe. Fresh blocked out an entire Saturday morning for us and pretty much rolled out the red carpet. They had mimosas, a fruit and cheese platter and delicious cake balls. Who doesn’t love cake balls? If I recall, they made around $1,000 from us that day. Every single dollar was worth it and we’ve all continued to buy their products. They even had little gift bags full of samples for each of us and for me, a gift box full of even more. Screw Tiffany turquoise, Fresh powder blue is officially my favorite blue box or bag to get now! (Please note, I will not turn down the turquoise…)

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Where to shop: World Market

letterI absolutely despise junk mail. I am by no means wealthy, but somehow in LA and now in Dallas I’ve resided in rather shiny zip codes when it comes to advertising (over 10 years in marketing has at least taught me that). So the amount of crap I receive each week borders on ridiculous. Oh wait, the 473 loyalty programs and email lists of which I’m a part don’t help? Anyhow, I’ve never really taken time to look at it until yesterday. Desperate times (unemployment) call for desperate measures. And turns out, there are a lot of good coupons and bargains in there! Who knew?!

Yesterday’s haul included a coupon to World Market. It was just 10% of your total purchase, but given that I haven’t been able to buy anything but necessities for quite some time, this coupon might as well have been pure gold. I’ve learned to appreciate the small gestures. This week I’ve worked on one of my January Cure projects, which is sprucing up my workspace. Originally I was going to focus on deep cleaning the kitchen cabinets (sexy!), but this blog came about. I figured if I was going to put a legitimate effort into it, I needed an organized and Nikki-fied space in which to do it. Beforehand, my desk was a cross between a purse and mail vomit receptacle and a cat bed. One wouldn’t have called it inviting. I also do most of my morning rituals sitting here, so I wanted some sort of small spiritual token and a new candle to add. What better place to find these lovely objects than World Market?

I love the one on Greenville in Old Town, though the one on Oak Lawn is also nice. Truthfully, I could spend hours walking around any World Market. It sounds ludicrous, but this place just makes me happy. If you love to travel or have an affinity for any specific foreign country, you know you’re bound to find some small treasure or food stuff reminiscent of it. This is where you could find Orangina and Nutella before they were mass marketed in the United States. It’s where I finally found the delicious tea served in the hostel at which my friends and I stayed in London in 2004. This is where you can find beers from quite possibly every country (except Brazil, why no Brahma beer, World Market?!) and this is no secret, it’s where you can find some fabulous wine, both in quality and cost. My only warning is this, it’s like walking the home aisles at Target, you’ll want to redecorate your entire life.

Below are pictures I snuck of some of my favorite things. Maybe some Valentine’s inspirations for you people who have people.

wine tea collection sweetheart tea napkins meditation collection his and hers mugs happy tea chairs card blood and honey

Aren’t those his and hers coffee mugs ADORABLE? The last pic is one of the current, most popular local craft beers. Craft beer has exploded over the last year in Dallas. And I know I’m not alone in my love for Revolver’s Blood & Honey. So good. Some time soon I’ll take us on a virtual visit to my favorite craft beer joint on Lowest Greenville. You know, when I can drink.

Until then, here is my new desk companion, a little Ganesha. He was the perfect addition!

ganeshFrom Wikipedia: Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions.

Xo, Nikki

One step out of the comfort zone

NikkiOne of my most cherished memories was attending the NBC Universal Golden Globes party in 2007. It’s held on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton (where the Globes are actually hosted) and was co-hosted that year by – wait for it – Cartier. I know I don’t necessarily have to spell out why this particular memory is held so high on the list of my greater life events. However, it’s not entirely obvious. Yes it was glamorous, yes I saw the entire cast of The Office and Entourage. Yes I told Adrian Grenier I love him. Yes I dined on sushi and Cartier champagne all night long. Oh and yes…I won a Cartier watch, which was presented by the President of Cartier in front of EVERYONE. Although I am a female and do naturally love shiny things, I don’t actually put much stock into material goods. In fact, this blog will be a testament to that. But I can’t lie, that watch means the world to me. Because it’s symbolic of that evening and the way it made me FEEL. And it makes me smile.

I have never been and will never be a size zero, a beauty queen or quite possibly know how to put together a stylish outfit. I didn’t go to prom, I only had one homecoming date and we both wanted to be there with other people. I am divorced, have yet to conquer the dating world and find my person. I love sports and have often been a guy’s girl. By no means should you think this is a pity party (though I’ve been known to throw a good one!) This is an elaborate and biographical way of saying I am not your typical Dallas girl. And, for the record, at the doorstep of 34 I am finally learning to LOVE who I am. I am certainly an expert in down in the dump moments. We ALL have them. And I’m determined to keep us away from the Phish Food and Chinese takeout to make them better (Lovers Eggroll has to know my order by now). There are much better alternatives in the world of mental health and emotional wellness. If I’ve not been there and/or tried them already, I’m definitely willing.

So whether it be a phenomenal facial, a fab new Essie color, the perfect red lip or an amazing yoga class…I adore all the lovely things that a girl can DO or participate in to make herself feel wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, I know that happiness begins and ends with what’s inside.  But you know what a mani/pedi or a walk at the lake can do for your spirits! And it’s often been said Dallas women know how to take care of themselves. I do not dispute this. I’ve called it pretention in my crabbier times. But I now choose to use the pretention for good.

This blog will be a journey through Dallas via spas, nail salons, yoga studios, gyms, as much NorthPark as I can manage to squeeze in, down the Katy Trail and much more. I think you get the gist. Don’t be surprised, though, if I throw in some wine and cocktail reviews as well as some Pinterest experiments and what to watch on Netflix. And MAYBE a pair of shoes or two. Maybe.

This is a huge transition for a former sports blogger. But a lot of thinking, experience in trying to feel better about my ridiculous self, encouragement from one of my oldest friends and an addiction to Gabrielle Bernstein have led me here. I hope you enjoy!

Xo, Nikki