Delysia Chocolatier Tasting

Note: This post was written back in April. In between studying for finals and planning a trip to Ireland, I completely forgot to post it. Glancing at my blog drafts, I realized I have been withholding my readers from chocolate euphoria. My deepest apologies, dearest friends.

Hidden in an unassuming warehouse lot is a building that is half in Cedar Park, half in Austin. From the outside, you would never guess that this is one of the top ten chocolatiers of both North and South America. Walking inside, it’s not so hard to imagine. Welcome to Delysia Chocolatier, y’all.

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Delysia’s brings the taste of fine European chocolate to the Austin area, and the interior says as much. Simple but elegant, colorful but refined, the chocolatier immediately sets itself apart from its neighbors. Stepping into the doors of Delysia’s is what I imagine it must have been like for Hansel and Gretel to find the house made of candy deep in the forest. Except there is no evil old lady, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

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No, in this shop of chocolate you will find Nicole, the business owner and chocolate-maker who, in fact, does not eat chocolate. “It gives me migraines.” she tells me. Wait. Like, do you need a permanent taste tester? Just to keep you in the best of health? Because I’d totally be down for this gig.

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Nicole began dabbling in chocolate at eight months pregnant when her husband had an office party in need of food. She didn’t feel like leaving the house to buy groceries, and had recently been bingeing on Food Network. This is where her chocolate experimentation began. Years later, the divinity that is Delysia Chocolatier was born.

An engineer by trade, Nicole is now using her talents to design the loveliest and tastiest of chocolates. The exquisite flavors melted and danced in my mouth, and I somehow managed to fight the urge of jumping up and down whilst saying ‘OH MY GOD SO GOOD.’ But there is more to Delysia than just deliciousness. Nicole has turned the business of chocolate making into a work of art. The entire experience, from walking through the doors to eating little pieces of heaven to touring the facility, was like witnessing a masterpiece. I’m talking a fried chicken-baked potato-bloody mary-merlot chocolate (Yes, these are all actual options at Delysia) masterpiece. Excuse me while I go dream about bathing in truffles.

Pst-  For all my non-Austin friends, you can order Nicole’s chocolates online! They make a great gift if you can refrain from eating them all first. If you have the level of self-control that I do when it comes to delicious things, the empty boxes would make a pretty gift too.

 

Summertime and the Living Is…

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It’s summertime and the living is managerial accounting. And by that I mean, help me, I’m a grad student. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever taken summer classes, and I’m a little surprised by how much I’m not totally hating it.

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It does help that I get to spend every Tuesday evening with my cohort family, and that our nights are laced with laughter and a list of other shenanigans. Pictured above you can see my gifting British friend Sam his very first jalapeno popper. If you haven’t ever had a jalapeno popper, you should do so immediately. It’s a gutted and halved jalapeno, stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon. I wrap it with maple bacon because I enjoy the taste of happiness. If you can’t tell by co-bro Samuel’s face, he most definitely approved.

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In between classes and studying, I’ve been able to squeeze in a few summer adventures too. Road-tripping Ireland with my cousins wasn’t too shabby a start. From hiking the Austin 360 Bridge for the first time to spending a poolside and margarita Memorial Day with my fam, the past couple of weeks haven’t sucked either.

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As for work, this month I’ve had the chance to help give away a $33,000 check to Susan G. Komen and to produce and star as Justin Timberlake in a Can’t Stop The Feeling music video parody. Spoiler Alert: I am a terrible JT and can’t dance to save my life. But dude, this social media director had such a blast making a dancing fool of herself.

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It’s summertime and the living might not be easy. But it’s fulfilling, and fun and so full of love. Dare I say those things are much better than easy?

Ireland 2016, Part 1

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.
― Anais Nin

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Note: I started writing this post in Belfast, Ireland and ended it back in Texas.

Greetings from Ireland, y’all!

I’m currently writing from the quaintest of cottages in Belfast, where I have turned a pool table into a makeshift desk. Rain is gently pelting the roof and I’m typing with a glass of wine by my side.

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I arrived early Friday morning to meet my cousins at the Dublin airport, and already so much has happened. This was my first time to fly to Europe solo, and it was just as magical as I’d hoped it’d be. I made two new friends along the way. One on my seven hour layover in New York, who was a dog whisperer of sorts and on her way to England to attend an animal communication course. On the plane ride to Dublin, I met an aspiring rapper from Seattle who was catching a connecting flight to backpack Europe. One of my favorite things about exploring the world has always been the friendly and intriguing souls I meet on my way.

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My cousins and I road-tripped from Dublin all the way to Belfast. This meant we changed countries, currencies and politics all whilst remaining on the same island. Road-tripping Ireland was like a dream. The rolling country sides, the stops for a pint of Guinness, the beaches and the bakeries and the cliffs and even the perfectly spotted cows? It all seemed too beautiful to be real.

Even getting lost in Cork and driving around in circles for an hour seems like a mesmerizing mishap in hindsight.

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On our day spent at the Cliffs of Moher, we eventually found our way to the riskier parts of the cliffs. This area is traced with warning signs, and there is no one to whistle you back to the safety zones. I may or may not have been whistled back to said safety zones at other points of the day, so these whistle-free zones were my favorite. I sat down and scooted as close to the edge as I still felt safe. I thought to myself, “I would fall if I moved just this much closer.”, and that was both terrifying and exhilarating to know. Shannon joined me, (Janna had peaced out right before noting that she saw our lives flashing before her eyes) and we sat there and talked as the wind blew through our hair, just trying to take in the astounding beauty all around us. A few minutes passed before a few young guys appeared, one plopping down inches in front of me. Not to be outdone, (which could quite literally be the death of me), I scooted a few inches forward as well. “Whoa.” the dude said, reaching out his arm as if to protect me. I laughed. “You did it first.”

This is what traveling feels like to me. It feels like the wind blowing through my hair and life rushing through my veins. Like scooting just a little too close to a cliff’s edge while arguing with a complete stranger as if he is my kindergarten crush.

And what a feeling that is.

When Life Sparkles

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“I had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you.”

Long Live, T-Swift (Duh)

This is a season of my life that is sparkling in its goodness.

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I’ve just finished my second semester of grad school. I survived with the help of my cohort, otherwise known as my academic support system, partners in MBA crime and the best of drinking buddies. I started this program with the main goal of furthering my education, but in the process I’ve gained a second family. Graduation is a year from this August, and I know most of us will be a messy mixture of emotions when that time comes. It will be the most bittersweet of days.

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With an entire week of freedom before summer classes start again, this is when I greedily binge on books, family moments and Netflix. I’m in the process of watching Mad Men for the first time and everyone can find me crying in a corner when I finish season 7. But I digress. This has also been a week for reflection, and I’m reflecting on the pure magic that has been the month of April.

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Out of town best friends have visited, and the laughter and long talks are still lingering in my mind. There was one evening spent in a hotel room that quickly led to the kind of laughter that makes tears form and stomachs hurt. I’m so grateful to have people in my life that induce the happiest of crying and belly aches.

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We also celebrated Bryn’s second birthday earlier this month. My talented, practicing photographer grandma snapped some family pictures pre-party. (I think I just made a tongue twister.)

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I’m still constantly amazed by this little person that my favorite guy and I created together. Bryn is sassy and goofy and wildly independent and even more extroverted than I am. She’s this fierce little firecracker who sees the wonder in absolutely everything. I’m forever grateful that she calls me mom. And also that she sleeps until 9 every morning. You’re my bae, Brynlee Mae.

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The ‘rents hosted Bryn’s party at their house, and it was a day to remember. My mom made her famous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and my friend Amy drove out to the boondocks of Texas to spend the entire day with us. We drank mimosas and celebrated my cute kid whilst my sweet pal got to know the entire fam. By the end of the day, she was gossiping with my grandparents and trying to trap my brother in a closet. It’s safe to say she’s one of us now.

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Speaking of ‘us’, a family girl’s trip to a gorgeous resort in the Texas Hill Country was another April gem. This trip wouldn’t have been complete without the usual Cirotto shenanigans. My cousin and I both suffered burn wounds from our attempts to light the outdoor fire pit. It attacked us, really. I lost some arm hair but heartfelt conversations around said fire made it more than worth it.

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There was a hot tub and late night jumps into icy cold pool water, because my fam knows Tina simply can’t turn down a dare. There was also a lovely winery and tasty three course dinners, and stunning sunsets with the loveliest of company. And trying to teach Jackie how to take a selfie. And prank calling other members of our family at all hours of the night, because isn’t that what mature adults do at family gatherings? Let me not forget the last night at the resort, when my aunt, cousin and I attempted to scare my poor grandma in the next room. I thought I might die of laughter-stifling when Jackie started army crawling across the floor towards her mom’s- my grandma’s- bed. My cousin and I followed not-so-stealthily behind until we were discovered and yelled at to go to bed. More manic laughter ensued.

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So much of who I am today is a result of all the ladies I grew up with. Woman power runs strong in my clan, y’all. I got really lucky, being born into this crazy, beautiful family of mine.

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I can already tell that this is a time of my life that I’ll be wishing I could have back one day. While it’s here, I’m just doing the best I can to treasure every precious moment.

Cryotherapy is Cool (And Cold)

The weather in Austin is warming up but last weekend I had a chillingly good blogging experience.

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Ever heard of cryotherapy? I hadn’t until just a few weeks ago so I’ll give you the lowdown.

Cryotherapy is the use of extremely low temperatures – we’re talking up to -130 degrees – to aid in a slew of health issues. Decreased fatigue, better sleep, less body pain, weight loss,  a boosted immune system… .Really, I could go on with the long list of benefits all day. As a runner, I was personally interested in cryotherapy when I learned it can help heal injured joints. My knees are starting to take note of my decade of jogging, so I loved knowing that cryotherapy could help heal my old lady parts. That and it just sounded like such an adventure. And oh, was it.

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I walked into Cryo Body Works admitting I was a little nervous about the extreme temperatures that I would be subjecting my near naked body to. The sweet gal at the front counter comforted me. “Have you ever taken an ice bath?” No, no I have not. “Oh. Well, it’s a lot better than that!” Good? Gulp.

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Guys, let me tell you. If I took the coldest I’ve ever been and multiplied it by like, fifty-five and a half, this is how cold I was entering the cryosauna. They recommend you go in with nothing but your undies and these adorable little booties they let you borrow, so this is exactly what I did. No bra even! It got a little nippy in there, if you know what I’m saying. I stepped inside and the cold, dry air immediately welcomed me. It was exciting. AND SO COLD. I was told that the normal session lasts for three minutes, but that newbies usually go for two to two and a half. Two minutes went by much faster than I thought it would. I think maybe my brain was partly frozen too, so that was helpful. Through chattering teeth, I asked to stay until 2 minutes, 30 seconds. I cannot be the weak newbie!

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I felt like a frozen warrior princess walking out of that machine. I survived! I had burned 500-800 calories just standing there! I did a new thing that made me feel like a human ice-cube! And really, I loved every frigid second of it.

Cryo Body works was the perfect place for me to dabble in cryotherapy for the first time. First timers get an amazing deal for their session, so I would definitely recommend trying it out, y’all. The staff was friendly and accommodating, and I was smitten with the relaxing, spa-like environment. The whole experience was invigorating, refreshing and made me feel just a little more alive. And also cold. Did I mention cold?

Note: I received my cryotherapy session free of charge, but Cryo Body Works did not otherwise compensate me for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A best friend is like a bra….

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Welcoming my 27th year this month has been magical and has left me feeling so loved and lucky. I had most of my original birthday blog post written and ready to post before I picked my best friend of fifteen years up from the airport this morning. Then she gifted me with a $50 Victoria Secret gift card paired with a sweet note comparing me to the perfect bra. I should note now that she knows I have a tendency for buying bargain everything. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. Even now as a grown-up with a full-time job, I just love the thrill of a good buy. Meg knows I would never buy a fifty dollar bra on my own. I should also note, if it’s not already obvious, that I have very small boobs. So when I recently went into a department store and found a set of bras for a great price with the label ‘large’ and THEY FIT, I knew I had to buy them. I walked out happy and with a slight ego boost from my purchase. When I got home, I finally realized what had just happened. I had bought large CHILDREN’S sized bras. That fit perfectly. Goodbye ego trip. I swallowed my pride and still wear those bras to this day.

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This is where Meg comes in to save the day with the gift card and note comparing me to the ideal bra. I’m going to share that note now, paired with snapshots from my birthday month that make me feel incredibly grateful.

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“Happy Birthday Tina Wina!

I got you this gift card to Victoria’s Secret, not only because I know you’ll never leave the junior’s section for bras on your own, but because I think it’s a befitting gift for you because it represents our friendship in so many ways!

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There’s a cliché expression that a best friend is like a bra– supportive, reliable, all those great things. That describes you. But you are far more complex than that. Plus, we don’t really need much support because we’re such long-standing, proud members of the itty bitty titty committee (althought you took about a 9-month sabbatical during your pregnancy. I forgive you by the way.) So the explanation doesn’t really fit us. In honor of an age of being offended, I take offense that we do not have a cliché bra metaphor that perfectly describes our friendship as women with small breasts. #smallboobsmatter

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So I’ve come up with an explanation that fits your uniqueness and lets us use the bra metaphor.

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You’re like my best bra. Really, my dream bra because, although I’ve found a friend like this in you, I don’t think I’ve found a bra like this. Picture this: I walk into Victoria’s Secret; I’m immediately intimidated by all of the voluptuous ‘Kim K. types’ clearly more fit to be shopping there. I, of course, head straight to the clearance section expecting to find a bra that is under $20, practical, but probably an ugly shade of green. This is worth it because it fits me and makes my boobs appear larger than they are. Suddenly, my eyes are drawn to a 32B bra hanging on the rack. It is glowing among the other 32DD bras that are left over since all the other skinny girls have sucked the sales rack dry. It is bright, it is vibrant, I don’t even have to worry about buying matching panties because it has so many colors it will match with everything I already have (not that I usually match my bra and panties, but if I shop at VS I’m clearly expecting company so maybe I’d step up my game for the night.) I don’t have to change or add a thing about what I already own! I try on the bra and it’s a perfect fit! If my boobs were saggy, it would be supportive, which is comforting to know, but this isn’t the case at 24 so it’s just extremely uplifting! Suddenly my boobs look and feel better than ever before! I’m ready to hit the town and take on any and all adventures; adventures I wouldn’t explore without this bra helping me feel comfortable and my best. It makes me feel more myself than I do with other bras! It’s uplifting, vibrant, exciting and adventurous. And the best thing? It expects hardly anything in return except for a little bit of money, a little fun, (because this is not the type of bra you don’t take advantage of how it makes you feel) and only red wine because it’s just not a white wine type of bra. The wine thing is probably the biggest downfall, but I drink wine most often without a bra on anyway so I don’t care too much.

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LOVE YOU! Thanks for being my best friend for 15 years.

Love,

Meggie Moo.

P.S. Don’t share this on social media though I know you might want to– alongside a picture of the gift card and maybe a TBT picture of us– because someone might get offended that I said #smallboobsmatter and talked about being skinny vs. voluptuous.”

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We decided that sharing to my blog was okay, by the way. I would like to take a brief moment to clarify that Meg is amongst the most unoffensive of people that I know, and that our sense of humor is just clearly very strange.

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This life I share with the people who love me is just the very breast.

Cupprimo Cupcake Tasting

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Having a cupcake tasting at Cupprimo felt like the perfect way to kick off my birthday month.

You guys. Go here. RIGHT NOW. Eat ALL of the things. Don’t tell me I never gave you good life advice.

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Cupprimo makes their cupcakes fresh every single morning. They have a rotating cupcake menu and also a permanent one, and you’re going to want to stuff them all into your mouth immediately. We’re talking flavors like Salted Caramel, Boozy Pineapple and Coconut Crème Pie.

They taste like pure happiness. Also they have great coffee.

The love and fresh ingredients used in the baking process are truly evident in each and every bite. It didn’t really surprise me at all that they’ve been featured on Food Network and often sell out of cupcakes. Though it did tempt me to buy every last morsel and hoard them all to myself until I fell into a cupcake coma.

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I tried more than one mini cupcake where my response was, “Oh my God.” immediately after taking my first bite.

But it’s more than just their incredible baked goods with orgasmic icing on top. The real icing on the (cup)cake are the fantastic folks who work at Cupprimo.

They are funny and charming and kind. They made me feel like I was at home with family. A family with a home full of small, scrumptious cakes.

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The owner, put simply, was such a bad-ass and is also kind of my new hero. Amy has FIVE kids, looks like a rock-star and has owned her massively successful (and tasty) business for eight years. She makes a point to always give back, donating to everyone from elementary school bands to the LGBT community. Amy and team often give leftover cupcakes to the homeless, and she volunteers weekly at a local shelter.  She shared one story about a homeless man who was sleeping under a tree near Cupprimo. Shortly before Christmas, she had gifted him and others resting under said tree boxes of cupcakes leftover from that morning. Recently, this man came to Cupprimo to order an Americano and to thank her. He was living in a permanent residence and had found a steady job, but hadn’t forgotten how Amy and family had fed him when he was down on his luck. Not only was my stomach happy during this tasting, my soul was warmed too. We fell off the subject of cupcakes quite a few times during our chat, and with each digression she inspired me a little more.

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I felt lucky to have spent my afternoon chatting, laughing and developing a serious cupcake addiction at Cupprimo.

It is sweet places like this one, overflowing with heart and yum, that make me so proud to be an Austinite.

Excuse me while I go dream about Dirty Girl Scouts now. Um. That’s a Cupprimo cupcake. I swear.

(Note: I was given this cupcake tasting free of charge, but was not otherwise compensated to write this review. All opinions expressed belong to me!)