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 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…)

Continue reading

What to make: homemade body scrub

blood-orange_white-pepper-sugar-scrub_grandeI don’t know a girl out there who doesn’t love to be pampered. One of the first frivolous expenses I got rid of when I found out my company was being sold was my spa membership. It wasn’t as extravagant as it sounds, I promise. But it did allow me a facial and/or massage once a month. And it was lovely. And oh  my, numerous products I’ve tried at home. So many masks, scrubs, serums, soaps, lotions…if only I was getting paid to try them all! I’m currently going through a drawer full of samples, follow me on Instagram (crazylillady) for additional reviews and recommendations.

Though I probably don’t use them as often as I should (I tend to more if there’s a boy in the picture, naturally) I love a good body scrub. You’ll quickly learn I am an enormous fan of both Fresh and Bliss. Specifically the Fresh at NorthPark and the Bliss Spa at the W Hotel. More on both of those heavenly places later, cause let’s just say I’ve been mayor of both places on Foursquare. I’m kind of a big deal, y’all. Anyhow, as you might be aware, both of these brands can be pricey addictions. I think they are totally worth it, but neither have been in my budget recently.

fef990b2077dd1818c6ef27924fb016bSaving money should never mean a decline in personal luxuries. This is where Pinterest comes in handy. Well, let’s be honest, Pinterest comes in handy for many reasons, including that beach house and dream wedding I may or may not ever have (a girl can hope!) And seriously, Pinterest, thank you for the secret boards…I mean really. I don’t need to display ALL my crazy for the world to see. Anyhow, recently I saw a pin for homemade lavender scrub (as pictured) thanks to my friend Rachel, so I saved it to try. I have a ridiculous amount of boards on Pinterest and putting them to increased use is overdue.

photo 4To make this project even more cost friendly, I actually picked up the ingredients at a “dollar” store. A 4 lb. bag of sugar was $2.50 and the baby wash and oil $1.50 each. So a grand total of $5 plus tax. I did the math, if you got two bags of sugar instead of one you could make a total of eight batches, which comes out to…$1 a piece. Come ON. A check on Sephora’s website (which includes both Fresh and Bliss) will show you body scrubs run $20-$65 each. I’m sure there are cheaper brands at Target, Wal-mart, etc. But making your own is still cheaper plus super easy, quick and fun! It seriously took just a few minutes. I was also pleased to discover one batch fit perfectly in a used Bliss scrub container I’d cleaned up. The Dollar General brands I personally used created a creamy, snowy white mixture. The original creation is from the blog Pocketful of Motherhood; she used actual Johnson’s products, so it came out a lavender color. Perfect for gifts. And I know you’re wondering…it feels FABULOUS. Skin so smooth!

bethenny bath saltReally and truly if you had the sugar and baby oil you could use any body wash you wanted…the combinations are endless. If you prefer bath salts (I don’t use those often) Bethenny had a great segment this week on making your own. I’ve included her recipe as well. Either way, salts or scrubs, run a tub of cozy hot water, relax and enjoy! Single or married, working or not, a little girly time does us all some good and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Xo, Nikki

 

What to watch: Her

Her-Movie-Poster-400x600I’m sure the majority of who are reading this right now are aware I’ve spent my entire career (since I was 16 actually) in the  movie/movie theater business. Shoveling popcorn and cleaning up those leftover Goobers and Diet Coke of yours was my very first job. That turned into theater management, which turned into corporate marketing, which turned into three years in Los Angeles. Then a return to corporate marketing, which turned into unemployment when we were sold. But that’s not the point. I still LOVE going to the movies and the business itself, in fact I kind of enjoy it even more now that it’s not my job. I hope it forever remains one of my favorite escapes.

Of the award contenders I’ve seen, I loved Captain Phillips, Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club. Wolf of Wall Street is the most bizarre, offensive, vulgar, yet amazing, cocaine and hooker-fueled trip through 80s wall street you can imagine. It’s shockingly fabulous. I’ve also seen American Hustle. I’m going to get pushback from my fellow industry folks on this, but I was sorely disappointed. I’ve looked forward to this movie for eons (Bradley Cooper, anyone?) so apparently my expectations were just too high. In my personal opinion, it was disjointed and slow. Don’t tell me I don’t appreciate David O. Russell, because Silver Linings Playbook is one of my top 20 movies of all time. Amy Adams’ wardrobe and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in AH however? Both awesome.

Yesterday, one of my girlfriends and I spent an afternoon at NorthPark. Window shopping and a trip to AMC (the worst run theater EVER) to see Her, which just opened in Dallas yesterday.

I. LOVED. THIS. MOVIE.

Technically it is a 2013 movie since it began it’s release last year, therefore I will say it’s my favorite movie of 2013. It’s absolutely fascinating. It will make you think about everything. Your relationships, your life, how you handle your past and of course how much you use technology. As soon as you finish reading this, get off your computer/phone and go speak to a HUMAN BEING. The relationship between Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (his operating system) becomes very real and very painful. And this could really happen, people…and happen soon! What I will say, however, is that as far advanced technology is and what a significant role it plays in life in this film, it made me smile to see how it’s juxtaposed by both the fashion (very 70s) and  Theo’s job. He writes “handwritten” letters for people. His organization stores your handwriting and they compose original letters on your behalf. So although, yes, someone else is creating original words for you, at least they’re some form of “handwritten” letters right? We don’t even do that NOW. That goes to show you, no matter how much changes in society, some things we just can’t let go of. And it’s my belief this lovely film – both in content and visually – serves as a warning to not let humanity be one of them.

My most favorite quote comes from Amy (Amy Adams), which I must share:

We are only here briefly, and in this moment I want to allow myself joy.

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