Fall/Winter Menu Preview: The Order at Hotel Vandivort

I love Instagram. And I LOVE #foodie Insta-posts. Facebook, on the other hand, I barely pay attention to and have an embarrassing two likes on my Page. Yes. I said two. So imagine my surprise when I received a message from a real-life person via my Happily Midwest Facebook page. A wonderful, exciting message from the Sales & Promotions Coordinator at Hotel Vandivort, inviting me to taste and preview the newest menu for The Order.


Of course, I jumped at the opportunity, and I'm thrilled to share my personal take on this new menu dropping this week at The Order.

Disclaimer: I don't recommend reading this if you're hungry!

The Order

"A nod to the masonic history of the building, The Order features upscale cuisine in a sophisticated yet approachable atmosphere. Located on the lobby level of the hotel, the space was designed to create a lively social experience. " - theordersgf.com

Image Source: theordersgf.com

"Sophisticated yet approachable." I can't think of a better way to describe The Order. The mixture of cool and warm textures, classic and modern design, and trendiness intertwined with coziness, creates one of my favorite atmospheres in the Midwest. The food? Delectable. Hearty. Delicate. Local. Beautiful. Lively. Tantalizing. Mouth-watering. Basically, ALL THE THINGS.

After a lovely introduction from The Order and Hotel Vandivort staff, the first course was presented compliments of Chef Zach White:


Chef White describes his Taters & Gravy as The Order's take on classic French poutine. As with every ingredient, every plate, and every glass served at The Order, emphasis is given to their commitment to sourcing all local products. House fries are perfectly seasoned with salt and smoked paprika. (Smoked paprika!) Coating the fries, their veal bone marrow gravy, (incredible on its own) is partnered with aged cheddar fondue and aged diced cheddar from Southwest Missouri's Edgewood Creamery. A sprinkle of green onions give the dish a perfect amount of color and the finishing flavor touch. 

The flavor combination of this dish was ahh-mazing! I was hooked by the smooth, earthy texture from the aged cheddar and the rich, creaminess of the gravy. A beautiful, sophisticated appetizer that is sure to be a hit with foodies, non-foodies, and kids alike. It's comfort food at it's finest.

Paired with Lumberjack’s Punch

Grappa Piave, Smoked Apple Gastrique, Ancho Reyes, B&B, and garnished with a smoked rosemary sprig.


I love a good salad and I love winter vegetables - maybe even more than summer veggies! This next course was as beautiful as it was delicious. Their lovely root vegetable salad combines locally sourced lettuces and baby kale, roasted carrots, roasted celery root, sun chokes, and roquefort. Tossed in their house made hazelnut vinaigrette with roasted Brussel sprouts, Hammons black walnuts and perfectly poached figs.

Ok. Fresh roasted veggies + hazelnut vinaigrette. Seriously? Seriously! This salad is SO GOOD. So good. I need one right now! The dressing was perfect and really enhanced the slight crunchiness of the vegetables. Love.

Paired with To-marrow, Tomorrow

Bone Marrow Washed Chateau Arton Haut-Armagnac, Cnia Mata Vermouth, Maraschino Cherry Simple Syrup, Smoked Orange Juice. Oh-so-pretty. Oh-so-good!


Don't let the colors fool you! This is, in fact, a seasonal salad full of fall/winter goodness! Locally grown greens, spiced pecans (yum!), mandolin-sliced radishes, fresh beets, and carrots. All of this vegetable goodness is tossed in a buttermilk-tarragon (with a hint of lemon) dressing and topped with Tomme cheese and brightly-colored edible flower petals. 

Aside from being a looker, this salad is a fantastic combination of flavors! I have never been a fan of radishes OR beets (is anyone?!) but these nutrient-rich vegetables are a great match with the slightly creamy dressing. The subtle lemon zest really brings out the crisp freshness - and makes me think I'm on a warm patio enjoying Spring brunch. 

Paired with Grammy’s Yammies

Spiced Sweet Potato infused Vodka, Lustau Fino Sherry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Simple Syrup, Jerry Thomas Bitters. Served with a toasted marshmallow made at Springfield cafe, European Cafe. PSSweet potato infused vodka! Brown Sugar Cinnamon Simple Syrup! Homemade marshmallows! All the things!


Duck? Did someone say DUCK?! I absolutely LOVE duck, but it's seemingly hard to come by in Springfield. After college, I lived in Minnesota for about four years. Pheasant and duck hunting were commonplace, and I learned so many incredible duck recipes...I will dig them up and share sometime! 

Apparently, Chef Zach White also shares a love for duck and seeks out ways to use it on the menu. This succulent seared duck breast sits on top of a duck confit herb risotto. Try-colored carrots cooked in a brown butter with Pinot Noir poached cranberries round out this TO-DIE-FOR dish. 

Duck. Risotto. Pinot Noir Cranberries. I mean, really. Do I need to say anything else?! Go to The Order - and ORDER this. You can thank me later.

Paired with Ozark’s Gully Wash

Coriander infused JRieger & Co. Gin (from Kansas City!), Coconut Milk, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Simple Syrup, Lime Juice. The Order's take on a popular Bahamas cocktail. If you're needing a winter escape, this will do the trick!


At this point in the menu preview, I was certain there couldn't be more. The Duck was the icing on the cake and I was feeling full, happy, and plotting date night reservations with my husband. And then Chef White makes another appearance with The Pig. Let me just say that this is hands down the largest and most beautiful pork chop I have ever seen. (No, I am not getting paid to say that! It truly is beyond incredible.)

For this dish, Chef White selects a double-cut pork chop locally raised in Seymour, MO. A Southwest Missouri favorite, Circle B Ranch is known for their pork - 100% pasture and humanely raised Berkshire Pork from the Ozarks. As if more is needed for this stand-alone beauty, the chop is drizzled with a horseradish and brown sugar glaze. A creamy butternut squash puree highlights the plate with roasted Brussel sprouts, celery root, cauliflower, sun chokes, and is topped with crispy carrot ribbons.

Slicing my knife through this was exhilarating. I'm not sure that I've ever experienced this much excitement over food! And here I thought the Duck was the grand finale. Because of the size, Chef White encourages your appetite to not be in a hurry, as this masterpiece is cooked to order and takes a little time. It is beyond worth it. Trust me! Order this. And the duck. 

Paired with Smoked Old Fashioned

Buffalo Trace Bourbon, simple syrup, house bitters, served in a maplewood smoked glass. This drink right here is EVERYTHING! This drink made me a bourbon girl. This drink is perfect on it's own or with a great meal. A great happy hour cocktail or the perfect nightcap. It is hands down one of my most favorite cocktails from anywhere. Try it!

Smoked Old Fashioned


And the medley of perfectly prepared meat concludes with this classic, yet reimagined dish...

So this is a winter menu. And when I think winter + food, I think warm, fill-me-to-the-brim-becasue-it's-leggings-season comfort food. And The Big Cow is just that. This hearty 16oz USDA Prime grade strip loin is first seared in a cast iron skillet. It's then finished on the grill and served with roquefort cream and bacon hasselback potatoes, hunter sauce, and roasted asparagus. So tender. So good. So comforting.

Ladies, if you have a meat-and-potatoes significant other and would love a date night experience beyond Texas Roadhouse - put on your sassiest red lipstick and go on a DATE at The Order. Ask your sever to review this feature. Order. Eat. Enjoy. I don't need to know the details of what happens afterwards. You're welcome.

A huge THANK YOU to the entire staff at The Order for the lovely invitation and the incredible food. Our growing corner in Southwest Missouri is making a huge impact on the foodie scene - and it's because of places like this.

If you're in Springfield for a weekend, or a mid-week visit, make plans for dinner and drinks at The Order. You'll leave feeling impressed and wanting more. Oh - and don't forget to capture your visit with the trending #hotelvandivortbathroomselfie!


Laura, xoxo




Easy, Breezy Patriotic Spritzer

Red, White and Blue Patriotic Spritzer Cocktail

With only five ingredients, this Americana hued spritzer makes the perfect summer refresher - with or without a splash of vodka!

The star ice cubes really make this drink super fun and "instagrammable!" I snagged a star-shaped silicone ice cube tray (doubles as a great chocolate mold, too!) from the seasonal aisle at HyVee. There's also a great one available on Houzz. *Hint, make your ice the night before! This ensures your ice will freeze and be ready when it's mixing time. I really wanted to make my stars red, however, my husband and I are not juice drinkers - so no cranberry juice or fruit punch in our house. On the flip-side, we are definitely cocktail drinkers! Haha!  I had a jar of Marchino Cherries in the fridge and added a few drops of the cherry juice into my star tray with the water. Voila! Red star ice cubes.

For the drink I used one can of La Croix Grapefruit Sparkling Water (I seriously use this as a mixer for EVERYTHING!) a splash of club soda, a 2 shots of Tito's vodka (one in each drink), and frozen blueberries. Definitely easy, breezy.

Red, White, and Blue Patriotic Cocktail Spritzer


  • One 12oz Can La Croix Grapefruit Sparkling Water
  • Two shots of vodka (or go virgin-style and skip the booze!)
  • 4-6 ounces of club soda
  • Star ice cube tray
  • Red juice of choice (optional for red star ice cubes)
  • Frozen blueberries for garnish


Pour 1/2 of a 12oz can of La Croix Grapefruit Sparkling Water into each glass. Add 1 shot of vodka into each glass. Add star ice cubes and a sprinkle of frozen blueberries. Top with club soda. *Note, you could easily just use La Croix and skip the club soda, however I am always trying to cut the sweetness and I personally enjoy the extra fizz from the club soda.

*Note, you'll notice that I ended up with a pink/red drink. I didn't anticipate that the cherry juice in my ice cubes would bleed, but it made that much prettier :)

Literally, any flavor of La Croix makes a great mixer for at-home cocktails. It has zero calories and zero sugar making it my absolute go-to favorite drink in the entire world. And did I mention that it's delicious?! Ha. (If you can't tell, I love this stuff!)

Hope y'all enjoy this easy drink recipe! Let me know what you think and if you end up making one, tag me in your pics on Insta! I'm always looking for easy fun drink concoctions, so share those, too!

Have a safe and happy Memorial Weekend!


St. Patrick's iPhone Wallpaper

Add a little green to your mobile with this fun St. Patrick's Day mobile wallpaper!

Happy St. Patty's!

St. Patrick's iPhone Mobile Wallpaper

On an iPhone, first click the "Download" button above. The image will appear in a new tab on your phone. Next, hold your thumb down on the image. A menu will appear at the bottom of your screen. Select "Save Image." Next, go to your "Photos" app. The download you just saved should appear in your Camera Roll. Select the photo. In the bottom left corner, select the blue icon with an arrow pointing up. Scroll left and select the option, "Use as Wallpaper." Finally, select "Set."

Turks & Caicos Caribbean Getaway

Nestled in the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Dominican Republic and directly west of the southern tip of Cuba, the British territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands is a true Caribbean gem. Literally, I have never seen water as aqua and crystal clear as the waters in Turks. Without a doubt, a dreamland.

View ACROss the water at long bay beach. // no filter!

View ACROss the water at long bay beach. // no filter!

Turks and Caicos Island Map

Last fall, just after our wedding and before we had actually gone on our honeymoon, my husband and I spontaneously booked two flights to Providenciales (Provo for short), Turks & Caicos. We knew that we wanted to start thinking about having a family sooner rather than later, but I was still feeling anxious, like I needed to mark a couple of things off my bucket list before I started making baby lists!

I had first heard about Turks several years ago from reading about it in a travel magazine. Just the name, Turks and Caicos, sounds intriguing and exotic. Turks and Caicos. I want to go there. The turquoise blue water that filled my Pinterest feed only solidified my desire. So after a little convincing and a few group emails to friends, we nailed down our flights (We flew American Airlines from Springfield to Charlotte, NC, and from Charlotte directly to Providenciales.) and began the search for a place to stay.

Accommodations // aka Dream Villa

Boy did we luck out! We rented a vila through Airbnb - our first Airbnb experience - and not only was it perfect, it was a pleasant experience from the moment we confirmed our reservation until we said our goodbyes. The property wasn't rented to us by the actual owner, but by a property management company, TKCA Vacations. Again, super smooth process and great customer service. (They manage other properties in Turks, and I would definitely rent from them again!)

We stayed in one of four Windchaser Villas, on the south side of the Provo on Long Bay Beach.


If you're looking for resort accommodations - and a resort crowd - the famous Grace Bay Beach is the place to be. We were only about 4 miles away, directly opposite of Grace Bay, and we really enjoyed our own semi private oasis away from the heavy tourist areas.

View of Grace Bay Beach from a boat when we headed off on our snorkeling excursion.

Ok, back to Long Bay Beach! Not only did we have our own little piece of paradise away from the crowds, but our villa also included a private pool and BBQ grill, plus an outdoor storage space that was stocked with beach lounge chairs, umbrellas, coolers (on wheels!) and a convenient cart to tote it all down the path to the beach. (About a minute and half walk, along a beautifully landscaped path and you'll arrive on the shores of Long Bay Beach!) It was the perfect setup! The Windchaser Villas literally made our vacation a dream. We will definitely be returning!

Food & Libations

Because our villa had a fully equipped kitchen, we decided to hit the grocery store upon arrival to stock up on essentials like fruits, veggies, brats for grilling, the local beer - Turks Head - and plenty of libations for cocktails! Prices were definitely higher than what we see in the Midwest, but I didn't feel it was outrageous (except "domestic" beer!). It was about what you would expect to pay at any resort-style destination. The noticeable price gouge was definitely the beer. A 12-pack of Miller Lite was $33! On the flip side, a 12-pack of their local beer, Turks Head, was about $12-$13. We are always in search of local beers when we travel, so we didn't mind this at all. *Note: Currency in Turks is the US dollar. Convenient!

It was super convenient and very affordable for us to have coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, snacks, and drinks at the villa, and then splurge a little on dinner and drinks out. We enjoyed our coffee and bloody marys every morning on the balcony, and then loaded up our cooler and headed to the beach each day!


Most of the research we did ahead of time indicated that taxis were a little on the pricey side, so we opted to rent a van. There were seven in our group, so at a minimum we figured it would be convenient to at least have transportation to and from the airport. We rented through Grace Bay Car Rentals at the recommendation of TKCA Vacation Rentals (the villa) and received a referral discount. We paid just a little under $500 for an eight-passenger van for five days. Of course smaller cars were much cheaper, but we divided the cost amongst all of us, so it was affordable for everyone, and proved to be very convenient. *Important note: You drive on the left side of the road in Turks!

While on the island, we concluded that the majority (if not all) of the taxis were large passenger vans. It seemed that they all charged per person rather than by the trip. We utilized a cab one night, when we decided to bar hop. It was $16 per person round-trip.

Things to Do

Hang out on the beach. Duh.

Haha. We really did spend the majority of our time relaxing on the beach. There were some cute, boutique style shops near the resorts and plenty of what I like to call, trinkets and trash souvenir shops as well.

Water sports are also offered just about everywhere. Stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, horseback riding on the beach, kite surfing lessons, snorkeling and diving adventures, and so on. We opted to do a snorkeling excursion one afternoon, and it was honestly my favorite part of the entire trip!

We booked our excursion through Island Vibes Tours and had the time of our lives! I would highly recommend this company for any excursion in Turks! Super friendly captain/staff, open bar, lunch, and just an overall great time. They definitely provided the real Island Vibe experience!

In addition to snorkeling on the excursion, we enjoyed time swimming and diving in the crystal clear waters and the crew prepared a fresh Conch ceviche salad (Turks is home to the only Conch farm in the world!) as part of our lunch. We also explored Iguana Island - yes, lots of iguanas - and frolicked along the famous Half Moon Bay Beach where many Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated photo shoots have happened! (Hello celebrity status! Ha!)

The experience of island hopping on such pristine water was truly breathtaking and I loved every minute of it!

Island Style

So, here's where I'm shifting gears a little bit and throwing in my, albeit minimal, fashion tips for a Turks and Caicos (or any island) getaway!

I don't consider myself a fashionista by any means, but I do have a special place in my heart - and closet! - for accessories! One can never have too many accessories! (Can I get an AMEN!) When traveling to the beach (or the lake) I stick with basic, easy maxi dresses, jumpsuits and coverups, and then accessorize to the MAX with bright pops of color!  The amazing turquoise water in Turks is the perfect companion for baubles as beautiful as the sea.

In February, (just before we left, thankfully!) Target launched a new line, SUGARFIX by BaubleBar. And all I can say is, OMG. Seriously. The best accessories. The best prices. (Order soon because they're selling fast!) These colorful accessories will add a tropical vibe to your everyday wear and are easily paired with multiple outfits. Pair with a bright maxi dress, or dress up a simple solid colored tank and cutoffs. *Note, I have not mastered the fashion selfie, nor have I figured out how to pose for my "Instagram Husband" to take a trendy styled picture. So, until I can master the use of a tripod, and build a little more confidence,  I've included product shots direct from Target's site. 

Turquoise Tassel Earrings by BaubleBar
Turquoise Beaded Wrap Bracelet by BaubleBar
Dark Turquoise Tassel Earrings by BaubleBar
Turquoise Beaded Collar Necklace by BaubleBar
Pink Seaglass Necklace by BaubleBar
Hot Pink Jeweled Geometric Rings by BaubleBar
Gold Layered Pendant Necklace by BaubleBar
Hot Pink Beaded Tassel Earrings by Baublebar

And Shoes!

Good grief, don't forget Island-style, swoon-worthy shoes! Once again, a bright sandal or wedge will add a fun pop of color to simple, comfy outfits. I am anxiously awaiting for summer temps to return in Missouri, so I can wear these beauties again!

I actually have a pair of the Chinese Laundy sandals with charms, but I found a very similar pair for a steal at Target! And the orange wedges are probably going to be my go-to summer shoe this year!

Multicolor Laceup Gladiator Sandal
Multicolor Slide Sandal
Orange Lace-Up Wedge Sandal

Beach Towels!

I recently became a brand ambassador for Sand Cloud Towels (did you see them on Shark Tank?!) and absolutely love their style and their mission. Made of 100% Turkish Cotton, these towels are so lightweight and luxurious - and easy to fold and travel with. I love using mine as a sarong, too! A percentage of all their sales is dedicated to preserving oceans and marine life, so I feel it's a win. win.

A couple of my favorites:

And for all you Instagram photo stylists...these towels are awesome for photo shoots! The little fringe on the end is super cute and the colors and patterns are perfect for summer themed photos. I've used mine lately for several pics that I have scheduled!

This post was so fun for me to do! It captures two of my most favorite things; the beach and beach accessories! Seriously though, this trip was a dream come true. I would highly recommend Turks and Caicos to anyone!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my adventure and also found some helpful information! This is my first time writing any sort of travel post/review, so I'm anxious to know what y'all think. Any tips for better posts in the future are always welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers, Laura