DINNER LAB Birmingham

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So, if you HAD to pick one thing BIRMINGHAM is known for, what would you say?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Maybe it’s being a pregnant foodie, but I would have to say FOOD!  Having traveled all over the country, I have to say that BIRMINGHAM has a pretty legit food scene.  It can compete with most big cities and truly boasts a uniqueness that nowhere else can emulate.  From Frank Stitt to Chris Hastings, Birmingham is fortunate to be the home of so many legendary chefs.  SO, what is the latest FOODIE trend to hit Birmingham?  DINNER LAB.

What exactly is DINNER LAB?  Their tagline is EXPLORE NEW CUISINES AND COMMUNITY in a space that exists for 24 hours.  The concept is super cool.  Basically, you sign up for a DINNER LAB membership.  Then 24 hours prior to the POP UP dinner, they will let you know the top secret location in your city of choice.  Think of a LOCAL, FARM TO TABLE dinner being hosted on a helipad on a rooftop in New Orleans by one of the hottest chefs around or in a warehouse that’s home to vintage firetrucks featuring an Asian-influenced local chef.  The dinners take place all over the country (see a map HERE) and can feature local or national chefs in a unique location specific to the city in which it’s hosted.

The first one I attended was in BIRMINGHAM at The Southern Vintage Fire Apparatus Association and featured Chef Josh Hayes.  Josh is a local guy, whose current gig is opening up Alloy Thai (location in BHAM TBD).  His menu concept focuses on AUTHENTIC, Central Thai food, featuring small plates influenced by royal cuisine.  And my favorite part?  He focused on local farms and proprietors, creating a true farm-to-table dinner.  Josh took us through 4 courses, all served family style, highlighting the flavors of Central Thailand.  My FAVORITE course was a red curry of chicken, featuring White Oak Pastures (our FAVORITE chicken farm out of GA).  He accompanied the dish with a crispy tilefish topped with pickled garlic and cilantro, in addition to an AMAZING heirloom bean salad.  He paired with a local Kiwi Kolsch from Cahaba Crewing Company to complete the “Samrap” (meal set).  Perfection.  Dessert was very simple.  He calls it Loy Kaew, which means floating jewels.  And floating jewels is was!  You guys know how hot it has been lately, so the blackberries and peaches were perfect for a sultry evening.  The honeysuckle syrup and hibiscus ice took it to the next level, and it was a perfect ending to a fabulous meal.

Here is the FULL MENU from the DINNER:

FIRST COURSE

Lon Tao Jiao (coconut cream relish of salted soy beans)

wild betel leaves | green mango | deep-friend quail egg | arugula


SECOND COURSE

Samrap (meal set)

Plaa thawt krathiam dong (crispy fish)

crispy tilefish | pickled garlic | cilantro | white pepper

Kaeng Daeng Kai (red curry of chicken)

White Oak Pastures Chicken | summer bamboo | kaffir lime | basil

Yam Thua Boraan Naam Dam (heirloom beach salad & black dressing)

roasted chile jam | Fall Line Hills farm beans | toasted coconut

paired with Kiwi Kolsch | Cahaba Brewing Company | Birmingham | 6% ABV


THIRD COURSE

Tom Jeut Muu Sap (clear soup)

minced Fudge Farms pork | Chinese celery | green onion


FOURTH COURSE

Loy Kaew (floating jewels)

Witt Farms blackberry & peach | honeysuckle syrup | pandan & hibiscus ice


How often are you surrounded by 70 of your friends, in a super-secret location and treated to LOCAL, GOURMET food?   Dinner Lab will be frequenting Birmingham about once per month, featuring a new chef each time.  The next DINNER LAB in BIRMINGHAM is July 31st and features Chef Russ Bodner from Kansas City.  His menu is inspired by time spent in a Michelin starred Greek restaurant in NYC.  He is currently the Executive Sous of Aspen Mountain Club, and guess where one of his favorite restaurants is located?  HOT AND HOT Fish Club right here in Birmingham!  I don’t want to give away the menu, but imagine Mediterranean flavors, local purveyors, and a modern touch to a well-respected restaurant of the past.  As I mention earlier in my post, members will be notified of the location 24 hours prior to the event.  Can’t WAIT to see you there!  For more info and to SIGN UP, please visit the DINNER LAB website HERE.


Love Always LL

 

 

 

 

 


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Nordstrom Sale $860 Giftcard Giveaway!

TOP LEFT BAG Chloe | T-SHIRT Current/Elliott Camo Tee | SNEAKERS Joie | MOTO Paige | BOTTOM RIGHT BAG Rebecca Minkoff | CROP TOP + SKIRT A.L.C | HEADPHONES Frends | JEANS J Brand Love Story (featured in ROCK THE BUMP: Flares


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TOWEL Little Giraffe Luxe Hooded Towel | CRIB Nuna Travel Crib | SHOES Michael Kors Crib Shoes | LOUNGER Nuna Leaf Baby Seat | BOTTLES Como Tomo | CAR SEAT Maxi Cosi Pria 70


Happy Sunday y’all!  Who else is excited about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?  Nordstrom is actually putting their FALL NEW ARRIVALS on SALE, instead of at the END of the season like other retailers do.  So, you get access to all the NEW, FALL items before they are picked over.  What does that mean for you?  Well, if you are a Nordy cardholder you get EARLY ACCESS now.  Click HERE to shop.  If not, the sale will open up to the public on JULY 17th, so mark your calendars and bookmark the event.  Even if you are not a cardholder, you can shop the PREVIEW, save the items in your cart, and return on the 17th.

And what’s even better?  I have partnered with some AMAZING bloggers from across the country to bring you a chance to WIN an $860 Nordstrom Gift Card.  I mean, what?!?!?  It’s really simple.  All you have to do is enter the contest at the end of this post…there are 134 ways to enter!  Obviously, I recommend you enter them all, but if not, start with Life Lutzurious and pick and choose your other entries.  The more tasks you complete, the more entries you will get.  The contest runs through JULY 16th, so hop on it to be ready to shop on THURSDAY!

Since I am in MAJ baby-mode, I went through the baby section of the sale.  WHOA.  SEVERAL of my favs are listed, including the Nuna Travel Cot, my FAVORITE bottles (Como Tomo), these PRESH Marc Jacobs Crib Shoes, and the oh so popular Nuna Leaf Baby Seat.  Don’t worry, I have linked up all these goodies to take you directly to Nordstrom to SHOP.  Also, be on the lookout for my women’s fashion favs TOMORROW!


 

ENTER THE CONTEST!


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Love Always LL


SHOP THE SALE!


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Can you say 20% off?  BLING BLING!

BLING BLING DIAMONDS DIRECT

BLING BLING DIAMONDS DIRECT

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IMAGES BY: Jennifer Hagler Photography


Yesterday I had an absolutely BLAST learning all about that BLING BLING at the Diamonds Direct Summer Designer Showcase.  As soon as I walked in, the place was ROCKIN.  I am talking strobe lights, a DJ, and mimosas…at 9:45 am on a Friday.  Now THAT sounds like a Friday to me!  So, what is the Summer Designer Showcase?  You will have access to some of the TOP DESIGNERS in the industry, such as Henri Daussi, Verragio, and A. Jaffe, to help answer any questions you may have.  Both the staff and the designers were AWESOME!  While I was there, I had the opportunity to pick their brains about WHAT IS HOT  RIGHT NOW in both fashion jewelry AND engagement rings.  And the BEST PART?  Almost the ENTIRE STORE is 20% OFF.  And some designers have even deeper discounts they are offering (such as Amden mentioned below).  Lastly, Buffy from The Style Gathering, Lauren from B-Metro, and I all had a STYLE-OFF using various pieces of jewelry we picked up throughout the store to style our fabulous model Casey.  Now that was fun!  You can see my ROSE GOLD + BLACK DIMOND COMBO in the styling portion of this post.  The sale lasts through SUNDAY, so head up there this afternoon (open until 8pm) or tomorrow (from 12pm-8pm)!!

BLING BLING Diamonds DIrect


HENRI DAUSSI

I have always been obsessed with their jewelry, so having the opportunity to get the scoop from them was pretty awesome.  Their engagement rings were always an inspiration to me, so seeing the goods in person and speaking to their rep was VERY cool.  We looked at engagement rings, stackables, and LOT’S of rose gold (SWOON).  So, what did she say is TRENDING right now?

  1. Stackables (stacked bands are hugeright now).  And make sure you mix it up some.  The bands do not need to match exactly, and it’s totally cool to mix metals and colors.  Avoid being matchy-matchy.
  2. In term of engagement rings, she mentioned 3 things: CUSHION CUT, WHITE diamonds over colored diamonds, and a BAND instead of a traditionally set ring.  Their cushion cut rings are their specialty and appear over 30% larger than a traditional cut., especially if you choose a halo-type setting.  She still loves the colored diamonds but has noticed people trending more towards the traditional diamond.  Another thing trending right now is the band/band combo for an engagement setting.  She showed me a GORGEOUS band with approximately 5 carats of diamonds paired with a simpler, thinner band.  When I asked where the engagement ring was, she quickly explained that the larger band acted as the engagement piece.  It was VERY hip yet timeless.
  3. Rose Gold is STILL huge right now, and their selection was absolutely stunning.  Did you see the combo she and I put together in the first image of this post?  Black diamonds + rose gold is the PERFECT mix of edge and style.

BLING BLING Diamonds Direct

Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

BLING BLING Diamonds Direct

BAND Engagement Ring

AMDEN

As I was walking around the store, I could not help but notice how sparkly the back corner was.  I mean it was literally on fire!  So, I headed over to check out their bling.  This is a designer I had never heard of but, WOWZERS, his stuff was legit.  He was featuring their SEAMLESS COLLECTION, which is a patent-pending jewelry collection that features diamonds that go all the way around the rings, bracelets, etc.  Even when looking from the side, all you see is diamonds.  You won’t see any gold.  The pieces truly were stunning.  What are the advantages to this collection?  Easy to clean, durable, and timeless.  Check out these pieces!!!!  PS, the pink ring is on sale for around $9K and is made of diamond cut rubies and 18K white gold.  Look, i realize that sounds like a ridiculous amount of money, but if you are in the market, go check it out.  The price tag said $17K, so this is a steal.

BLING BLING Diamonds Direct

STYLE-OFF

Now to the fun part!!!  As I mentioned above, Buffy, Lauren, and I decided to have a little jewelry styling competition.  We each were challenged to go around the store to pick out pieces to style our model.  I IMMEDIATELY ran back over to HENRI DAUSSI to piece together a rose gold +black diamond stackable ring set.  The rep and I put together a PERFECT combo.  I then paired with some FABULOUS black diamond earrings and 2 delicate (so on trend right now) rose gold necklaces.  Casey looked awesome all blinged-up!!!   You can also find Buffy and Lauren’s fabulous ways of styling her on B-Metro’s Facebook Page  HERE.  So, which is your fav???  Make sure you vote!

BLING BLNG DIAMONDS DIRECT

BLING BLING DIAMONDS DIRECT

BLING BLING DIAMONDS DIRECT

The store has increased their loose diamond and on-hand merchandise JUST for this event.  You will be BLOWN AWAY at what they have to offer.  I was literally in Heaven.  I am sure the hubs hates me right about now.  If he has to hear the word push present one more time, he may lose it!  Ok, so head up there this afternoon or ALL DAY TOMORROW!  You won’t want to miss it! xoxo

Love Always LL


 

ROCK THE BUMP: Flares

ROCK THE BUMP Flares

Happy Thursday, y’all!  One more day until the weekend.  YES!!!  So, what has been one of the BIGGEST trends this year?  Can anyone guess?  FLARES (I totally called this back in December, by the way.  See post HERE).  Anyways, I LOVE a good flare…whether it’s jeans, Bam Bam Bells, or a comfy knit pair, I have been rocking these since ‘nam.  They are super flattering and VERY COMFY.  Which is always key.

When the #babybump started showing, I immediately began looking for a pair of maternity flares.  Um, they don’t exist.  I found ONE pair that were super cute, but they were way too short on me.  They are the Citizens of Humanity Drew Maternity Jeans and can be found HERE.  It was frustrating to say the least.  So, I started brainstorming to see how I could pull this off without a maternity band.  I then ran across these adorable FLARES from Free People.  They are stretchy enough to wear over the bump but comfy enough to wear under the bump.

ROCK THE BUMP Flares

ROCK THE BUMP Flares

Another idea I found that worked?  SUPER low rise flares.  This is more difficult than you think.  Most flares rock the higher-waist, but I was able to find 2 pairs that work well with the ingrid & isabel Bellyband (click to purchase) and are both cute and flattering.  They are the JBRAND Love Story. I am carrying #babylutz rather high, so you may need to try a few pairs on to see what is most comfy.  PS, if you have not purchased a belly band of some sort, I highly recommend you do so ASAP.  This is a 1st Trimester MUST HAVE.  For other 1st Trimester Survival tips, check out my last post HERE.

Anyways, back to the outfit!  DISCLAIMER: Those photos were taken a few weeks ago during the 2nd Trimester.  My bump is MUCH bigger now.  I have not tried on the pants recently, because frankly, it’s too damn hot to wear pants right now.  BUT, Fall 2015 is starting to hit the stores (Nordstrom Anniversary Sale early access HERE), so I want you to be prepared and armed with outfit ideas before heading into my favorite fashion season.  I paired the flares with my FAVORITE LAMARQUE fringe jacket, long t-shirt from Helmut Lang (another pregnancy staple by the way), my Christian Louboutin Hippik sandals (sorry sold out everywhere…shop similar HERE), and the Janessa Leone Wright Fedora…a great mix of high priced items and lower priced items).  In terms of accessories, pair with a fabulous long necklace like this one from Manhattan South, mixed metal Vita Fede bracelets, and perfectly ROUND Sunday Somewhere Sunnies.  This outfit can be worn from day to night and pretty much all year.  In the summer, throw on a fringe vest or in the fall, throw on the jacket shown here.  Don’t worry, I have linked up everything mentioned in this post at the end.

ROCK THE BUMP Flares

ROCK THE BUMP Flares

Hopefully, these ROCK THE BUMP posts are giving you a little inspiration to look super cute throughout your pregnancy. OR even if you are not pregnant!  Know someone that is pregnant?  Please share this post!  I would love to get your thoughts…how do you feel about FLARES?  Have a GREAT weekend!  Love you ALL!


 

SHOP!!!!


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Love Always LL

HOW TO LOVE YOUR PREGNANCY: 1st Trimester Survival Guide

HOW-TO-LOVE-YOUR-PREGNANCY-1st-Trimester-Survival-Guide

First, CONGRATS on your pregnancy!  It will be one of the most amazing times in your life…I promise!  I was one of those people that DREADED pregnancy my entire life.  But it does not have to be bad…it truly is one of the best things you will experience.  I know what you are thinking: how will I ever make it through the 1st trimester?  Well, it does not have to be completely miserable…so, consider this your 1st TRIMESTER SURVIVAL GUIDE.  The 2nd part in my HOW TO LOVE YOUR PREGNANCY series will feature product must haves, lifestyle changes (or lack there of), and extras to make you comfy! (Can you say prenatal massage?)

Now, I do want to preface this post with a disclaimer.  Some women are VERY SICK during their first trimester.  And I don’t mean the occasional bout of morning sickness.  If this is you, I am SO sorry.  This article probably won’t apply to you, but maybe you can find a few things to get SOME relief.  I am not an expert on this topic but simply want to let you know what worked for me.

1) Find a PRENTAL VITAMIN that does not CAUSE nausea.  You may not even realize it, but your prenatal vitamin could be causing your morning sickness.  I tried 3 or 4 different types before I found that worked for me.  I chose to go the “raw, natural” route, and I SWEAR by these: Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal. They support healthy digestion AND ease nausea, in addition to providing you and your baby nutrients you need.

2) Eat the RIGHT foods.  I know, this is the LAST thing you want to hear.  But honestly, eating tons of fattening, greesy foods will only make things worse.  Not only will you suffer from indigestion, but your energy levels will be brutal, especially if you are not used to eating this way.  I learned this the hard way.  When I would tell people that I had not changed my Paleo diet much, I always got the same lecture: “Are you crazy?  Now is the time to splurge and eat what you want.”  Well, I tried it for 2 weeks…and I felt AWFUL.  So, what should you eat?  I absolutely loved FRUIT during the 1st trimester.  It was so refreshing and delicious.  While it can have a lot of sugar, fruit is very nutritious and can satisfy your sweet tooth.  Another great “sweet splurge?”  DARK CHOCOLATE.  Make sure you check the labels and look for chocolate that is at least 72% cacao and only contains a few ingredients.  Here are 2 of my favs: Alter Eco – Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate and Equal Exchange Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate. When you don’t feel well, you will crave carbs.  Although I ate pretty-Paleo, I did incorporate more carbs into my diet.  I loved RICE, POTATOES, and QUINOA.  All were healthy options that filled me up and kept my nausea at bay.  AVOID carbs in the form of processed foods.  If you absolutely need crackers, just find a healthy option.  I LOVE the Absolutely Crackers (Gluten-Free).  You can buy them at Whole Foods or online: Absolutely Gluten Free Original Crackers.   So, we all know that VEGGIES are our friend.  Stick to veggies that do not cause gas and ones that you do not have an aversion to.  I had an aversion to cooked greens, so I avoided them like the plague.  Veggies that cause gas?  Broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  The best way to figure out which ones do not cause discomfort is through trial and error.  Keep a food diary to help you rule out foods that make you sick or gassy.  Lastly, LEAN PROTEIN is very important.  A lot of people have aversions to meat during the 1st trimester, but find one that works.  I really loved wild caught salmon, pasture-raised rotisserie chicken, and grass-fed flank steak.  If you do not eat meat, find a source of protein that will fill you up.  For more healthy eating ideas, check out the first part of my HOW TO LOVE YOUR PREGNANCY series HERE.  I even provide a sample menu to give you some food inspiration!

3) Eat small, frequent meals.  I can’t say this enough.  It makes ALL the difference in the world.  Eating large meals to the point of misery will not help your situation.  Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and make healthy choices.  I LOVED apple slices dipped in almond butter, a small handful of grapes with some almonds, or half an avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper.

4) Belly Balm.  Look, no one knows for certain if belly balm helps prevent stretch marks or not. But why not use it?  It feels GREAT on your tummy and if it helps you worry less about stretch marks, then I highly recommend it!  My bump twin and one of my best friends, Lauren, purchased me the Honest Co. Organic Belly Balm, and I have LOVED it.  You can purchase HERE!

5) Prenatal Massage.  Treat yourself.  As often as you can afford it.  Trust me!

6) Wear clothes that make you feel NORMAL and CUTE.  I am not going to lie…shopping for clothes in the first trimester can be difficult.  I PROMISE YOU DO NOT LOOK FAT!  I constantly struggled with this, but looking back now, it was silly.  Wear things that make you feel good and treat yourself to something new.  Don’t worry, I linked up a bunch of cute, flow dresses at the end of the post!

7) Belly Band.  If you do not buy anything else, invest in one of these.  Not only will it help you stay in your regular jeans longer, it will also smooth out the bumps in your tummy as it grows.  Life saver.  Purchase this immediately!  You can buy the Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband HERE.

8) Lemon Water.  I absolutely despise drinking water, but it really is crucial to stay hydrated.  I have heard so many different “rules” about water consumption.  Some people swear by 8 glasses of water per day; others say to drink half your body weight in ounces.  The half my body weight was easy to monitor and adjust throughout pregnancy, so that’s what I went with.  Since I do not enjoy the taste of water, I added freshly squeezed lemon juice to it.  It actually helped a ton!  Get a cute water bottle (S’well is my fav!  You can purchase HERE) and drink up!

8) Exercise.  Y’all, exercise saved me.  Honestly.  Make sure you discuss with your doc prior to starting or continuing any exercise program, but if he/she gives you the go ahead, get up and move.  Whether it’s a walk, a swim, or your favorite exercise class, I promise you will feel better.  Even on my tiredest days, I would try to do SOMETHING.  I would instantly feel revitalized and could make it through the night without crashing.  Find something you enjoy doing, not something that you dread.  Additionally, if you are SO tired you can’t function, then take a short nap.  Anything under 30 minutes will keep you refreshed without causing you to be even more tired.

9) Fun pregnancy books and apps.  I absolutely loved getting my daily and weekly updates.  Some apps I love are OVIA, BABY CENTER, and WHAT TO EXPECT.  OVIA even shows you a picture of the size of your baby’s little hand.  It is so cute!  Books that I love:

10) Date Night or GNO!  Get out and live your life.  The more normal you can keep your life, the better you will feel.  Even if I was a little tired, getting out and about helped a ton.  Get dressed up…head to your fav restaurant…splurge a little…and have fun!

11)  Stay positive.  Embrace the changes.  I know this sounds silly, but it really does work.  How much easier is it to make it though a difficult time when you have something to look forward to?  Just think, you will have a PRECIOUS little to love and cuddle with at the end of your pregnancy.  What other time in your life will you have people (even complete strangers) doting on you, offering to help you, and telling you how beautiful you look?  You can seriously be having the fattest, worst hair, terrible skin day ever, and SOMEONE will tell you how great you look. It happens.  AND, in just a few weeks, you will feel AMAZING!    Honestly, the 2nd trimester brings so much energy, happiness, and strength.  You CAN make it through the 1st trimester, and the reward is pretty awesome!  ENJOY IT. EMBRACE IT.  AND TAKE ADVANTAGE of all the LOVE you are receiving!


 


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Love Always LL