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Howdy First name / friend! Yes, I'm still in a western kind of mood after my my recent trip. If you didn't know, this year, like every year I went on birthday jaunt and for my 38th trip around the sun I ventured to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And HAUTIES, it. was. everything. My journey this year was about starting my new year with peace and surrounded by nature. I've been feeling a pull back outside as of late. Being in proximity to snow covered mountainsides, touching the earth beneath me, and experiencing belly laughter with loved ones was precisely what I wanted. 
Birthdays for me mean so much, largely because I didn't have many parties growing up. My family has no problem celebrating and honoring each other, but lavish events is certainly not our style. But the luxury loving, splendor filled life I longed for has been laying in wake since I was a little girl. I dreamed of days when I could celebrate big. So now, I do. Every chance I get. Fulfilling a promise I made to myself eight years ago now to explore the world, ringing in my existence somewhere new. That has taken me to a tiny surf town Mexico, a palace in North Africa, wine country, and to the top of ancient ruins. What I've learned by committing to this endeavor, is that it is okay to do what you want. Not to wait on people to give you permission to live and experience life grandly. It has broadened my horizons and allowed me to commune with cultures around the world. 
My word for this year is DIRECTION. After a year of seeking clarity and aiming to figure out what it is I was put on this earth to do, I'm now focused on moving in the direction that will allow my gifts to make room for me. In doing that I have asked God, Universe, Greater Spirit to order my steps and would you all know that is exactly what happened? When I touched down in Wyoming my room number was 226. My birthdate. 
I was led to go to the mountains, to go remote, opting for cool air and I was met with a sign. You are in the right place. Needless to say, my great 38 year is off to a phenomenal start. Let's see just how good it's going to get.

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I had to write a resume. 
For the first time in years I sat down to make a document to get a job. I've spent a long time merely using my social and relational skills to make money. And it has proved fruitful for a while. But what I haven't been able to nail down exactly, I think anyway, is leverage. Learning to leverage my space in the room or in the minds of people to secure the next thing. It's felt daunting. I realized when I sat to co-work with a friend that I am leaving too many of my skills untapped. And this led to me writing a resume. 
Not only did the first one suck, the second one did too, and now I'm on iteration three asking myself why the hell I'm doing it. But I'm committed to staying the course. Writing a resume, figuring out how to leverage my experience and skill set into finding new ways to bring dinero into my pockets. In addition to that I've been looking up roles where my skillset could bring value which also brought me to signing up for a Google course on UX design. 
You may be wondering, “Leslie, why on earth are you doing THAT?!” 
But see here's the thing, writing is a muscle that must be exercised and built up. Meaning the more ways I figure out how to write in different ways the better my writing will be for forthcoming novels, television projects, or other brand consulting I want to do. Also, I like learning new shit. 🤷🏾‍♀️ 
Writing the resume has forced me to think about my capabilities and how I can actually utilize them. If you're like me, you may be doing something currently and wondering how you'd ever be able to change paths or if you ever will. Even if you aren't on the job hunt I encourage you to sit and write down five marketable skills that you possess. Inevitably you'll discover ways in which you have been selling yourself short or where you can tap in to do more. 
I haven't had a traditional corporate job in over 13 years and at first I was intimidated by that fact, but the truth is the career I've created over the past decade plus is something that corporations, startups, or small businesses could each find something to glean from. That said, I'm aiming to gather at least two more sources of income by the time we speak again. Let's get to the money!

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Last month I told you about my cooking rut and while I don't think I'm fully out of it, I have settled into a routine that makes it so I pretty much know exactly what I'm making weekly. Usually the menu looks like this: 
  • some sort of pasta, either bolognese or cream based.
  • tacos varying in protein likely beef or chicken
  • a chicken dish; my family is partial to a Chinese inspired one I make using thighs
  • takeout
  • and a restaurant
  • sometimes I'll make go for the gusto and make something no one asked for and hope for the best.
All of it delicious but also I can't always take the risk because 1. kids and 2. a husband that tends to try and eat in a very particular fashion. This month my meal to share comes from my trip to Jackson Hole. The food was SO delicious in Wyoming that I literally pitched a story to Eater to write about it, so fingers crossed that works out. 🤞🏾
coelette,  jackson hole, wyoming
When I was searching for restaurants to host my birthday dinner I had this and a place called, Glorietta in mind. I settled on Coelette because the menu was concise and housed so much imagination that I could feel my taste buds igniting as I read. It was blistering cold when we arrived, the snow covering our shoulders when we stepped inside the restaurant, if you want to call it that. It felt more like a Lincoln log cabin come to life in the best way possible. There was an instant warmth that enveloped us as our coats were passed across a vestibule and we were seated in a great room. Our table was in a cozy corner facing a glossy forest, board and batten wall that lured me in. Flanked by two large leather chairs, a crackling fire, it was truly a living room where all were welcome. 
The team at Coelette thought through that feeling and passed it onto the food. The cuisine was based on dishes that are traditionally served in colder environments and derived from the snow animals that thrive in those places. It pulled from American terrain, had Chinese influence and evoked flavor that was nothing short of transfixing. My party and I ordered nearly everything on the menu with the exception of three items. Each bringing a blast of umami, warmth, and decadence forth in its own way. 
Below you'll see the menu and what's pictured here is the terrine and the beets. Can I just say I LIVE for paté and this on screamed of decadence down to the toast points it was served with. A house made whole grain mustard to spread, each bite was unctuous and amazing. Beets are a vegetable that I grew up despising but learned to love and it's because of dishes like this one. The earthiness of the beets topped with a pistachio crumble and amaranth with cherry? Let me tell y'all I could have slapped every mama in this joint. Not pictured are the sunchokes, congee, linguini, dandelion greens and duck we all had as well. Each dish living up to the one before it. 
I also want to shoutout the GM Wes for giving us the rundown on the crafted cocktails that we each made with a precision and layered flavors magnificently. If you're in JH and stop in, make sure you get a Snow Stag and tell them I sent you.
HAUTE SPOT RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

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Over the past month marriage and the way we think about it, live it, and experience it has been on my mind. Perhaps it’s because my husband and I binged Fleishman Is In Trouble and while I’m not white, a New Yorker, and 8 years Jewish via a Mikvah dip and conversion; I found myself understanding the feelings and woes of Rachel and Libby. Navigating life as a married woman and mother who still desires to be a person of her own accord has proven to be tricky for many a lady for a long time. Especially those with far less privilege and money. While normally I can’t say that I save loads of sympathy for white women I do empathize with any woman feeling the pull of imbalance in trying to deal with that particular plight.
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This show and an episode of the podcast, STUCK With Damon Young; made me wonder about the way that we see the choice of marriage and ask whether or not it really is the best or most natural next step people should take in their long term relationships. In the episode I’m referring to, Damon and guest Elaine Welteroth, tackle a question from a listener who wonders this very thing. She asks, “Though I’m fully in love and love my love — is marriage the thing I’m supposed to do next? What if I don’t do that? What comes after this?” 
Her inquiry left me pondering on if I ever thought about something else other than marriage? And the answer, candidly, is no. Elaine went on to say that she felt similarly and even prior to being married she expressed to her now husband that divorce had to be on the table. But it was his response to that notion that really stuck with me. He said to her and I’m paraphrasing, that he would actively spend all the rest of his days aiming to love her to the best he of his ability but if there came a time that he couldn’t then he would let her go in love.
We think of marriage as this very static thing, something that, in the words of the woman sage Cardi B, once it’s UP it’s STUCK. And the truth is, that may not always be the case. I wonder what marriage could look like if we allowed people the freedom to be married in the ways that serve them without judgement. There is so much talk these days around marital relationships and how they’ve soured. How the women and men in them are like ingredients gone bad. But I don’t think that’s the case, I think times have changed. Statistics have shown that life expectancy drops for most women in marriages while it elongates for men. And I think what that shows is how much women will give at the cost of themselves. That women usually show up bigger and astoundingly more powerfully in the lives they enter than the men that do the same. How do we change relationships so women stop bearing the brunt of the weight of them? This isn't a man bashing post no need to worry, I’m merely just positing. What if, the relationships we engage in, can be more affirming, collaborative, and not so bolted to tradition that was created with the goal of keeping woman underfoot. What if we didn’t view divorce as a failure but merely a relationship, as it stands, ceasing to work. Not the absence of love and the presence of hate or misery.
I love my husband. He's a person who makes me comfortable to be myself wholly, he loves me big and with all of himself. I am never in fear of him not being exactly who he says he is and being a present partner and father. I haven’t ever considered divorce in my relationship, but I also wonder if marriage has to look exactly the way folks have said it does for years? In speaking to many of my married friends we’ve talked about how we never asked or thought to ourselves that marriage wasn’t an option. We jumped in because honestly it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. If so many marriages end maybe we should ourselves if we’re doing it the right way.
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Partnership, long term, and committed relationships that uplift are something I believe in. The kind that feel like home in the best way possible. I’m not of the belief that struggle or hardship are required for love to be real. In fact I think if loving someone is hard, then they probably aren’t for you. And I’m not talking about standard disagreements we’re talking toxicity. My thoughts go even deeper in that I also don’t think a certain number of years, months, hours, and days have to be clocked for one to know that they want to spend life growing alongside another person. What I want for marriage is for it be a place where worrying about showing up equally is not a thing. Where women, even those who have great husbands like mine, have space to grow without guilt. To change their minds, to feel free, knowing that their marriage is a haven.
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This past month I picked up Kennedy Ryan's latest, Before I Let Go. This was my first novel by the author. I'm not sure I loved it as much as I hoped I would but I did enjoy it. As we're discussing marriage this month, this book touched on how the lost of a child can affect relationships and mental health. The couple it follows has gotten divorced but the story is about them finding their way back to one another after the dust settles. It does fall under the romance category because there was a touch of spice but overall the story was a good read. If you've read it, drop your thoughts! 
HAUTE Tip: Prime users get access to Amazon's program First Reads which gets you a free book each month. Sign up HERE. 

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As a writer I watch a lot of TV (research purposes 👀), I listen to a grip of music, and if not that then most certainly a podcast. Living HAUTE means being informed and you can't comment on anything you don't know about. Here's what I've got for you this month:
🎙️POD: Closet Confesssions – Candice and Sarel make me CACKLE. Like scream laugh while also talking about relevant topics that make Black women feel seen and heard. 
📀SONG: Marcus MumfordCannibal" – Marcus' voice makes this song attach itself to your bones but if you listen to the words it ruins you in the best way.
📺 TV: Only Murders In The Building – I know this show isn't new but my husband and I recently started watching and we thoroughly enjoy the shenanigans of Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. It's hilarious, witty, and we always love New York as a supporting character.

HAUTIES, thank you for being here, I was looking forward to writing this all month. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I'm enjoyed writing it. This month I'm celebrating my birthday all month, and yes it was in February but who cares! It was at the end. LMAO. So if you wanna send ya girl a gift, I'm accepting. Consider this my gift to you. 
I can't wait to see you next month! 
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