Recipe | Chex Mix

chex mix

Chex Mix

In addition to biscuits, chex mix is very likely my favorite food in the world. And when I say chex mix, I mean my mom’s homemade chex mix! Her recipe is out-of-this world delicious, satisfying, and addictive. We’ve been making – and devouring – chex mix since we were little girls, and it’s always been a family staple around the holidays. My mom definitely knows to have ingredients on hand whenever we come home for a vacation! She’s clearly the best mom ever. My mouth is already watering just thinking about the fact that she and I will be making chex mix this week during Thanksgiving break (I promise it’s not the only reason that I’m headed home for the holidays!). I think you should also do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of this perfection! It’s the ultimate blend of flavors & textures – and oh so simple to make.

1 stick of butter

1/4 C worcestershire sauce

1 t Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

2 C wheat chex

4 C rice chex

4 C Crispix

1 C Bugles

1 C broken pretzels

1/2  C peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Melt butter in the oven in a large (11 x 15 or so) baking or roasting pan. Once melted, stir in worcestershire sauce and Tony’s.  In very large bowl, put of any combination of the cereal, Bugles, pretzels and peanuts (about 10-11 cups total).  Pour it all into the butter & worcestershire mixture at once, and then stir the mess quickly to coat everything.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Add extra dashes of worcestershire sauce at the first stir (and try not to eat too much of the chex mix while it’s baking!).  After the hour, empty the chex mix onto paper towels and spread to cool.  I dare you to only make one batch!

Wedding | Country Chic Inspiration

Beth Anne WeddingOne of my May brides is getting married in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is a gorgeous part of the country and a major wedding destination! She is getting married at a farm on the outskirts of Virginia (two of the pictures in this inspiration board are from her exact venue!), and she wanted help pulling together wedding inspiration for a gray and yellow “country chic” wedding. It’s going to be a beautiful celebration of marriage in a few months, and I’m so excited about the countless personal touches we’ve already been incorporating into her overall design and feel.

Though this bride is leaning toward a country chic wedding, she’s not the biggest fan of burlap. It’s not going to be overtly country and rustic, but we’ll have subtle touches of country chic details throughout her wedding to give it a down-home, welcoming, celebratory feel. Yellow is such a happy, joyful color, and gray pairs with yellow so nicely. Billy balls, yellow and white astilbe, baby’s breath are going to be central florals used throughout the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces – simple, country chic, and colorful! We’ll have some lawn games, like the iconic Southern staple, corn hole. And the barn is somewhat vast, so we’ll try to make it feel more intimate with draping, poufs and lanterns, and gorgeous and elegant lighting. I had fun helping this bride visual her overall wedding look, as it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down so many ideas, DIY projects, Pinterest ideas, and more. It’s going to be beautiful & oh so meaningful, I already know!

 

Recipe | Best Brussels Sprouts

As I mentioned about a year ago, I am a little obsessed with brussels sprouts (after 25 years of loathing them). Throughout the last year or so, my friends and I have been gobbling them up right and left at almost any restaurant in DC that serves Brussels sprouts. To this day, I still think Lincoln’s Brussels sprouts are the best I’ve had, time and time again. But I do love cooking up my own at home, which I’ve done about every week for the last many weeks! I was poring through my October 2014 Southern Living magazine, and I knew this recipe was definitely going to be a winner – plus, I’d be able to pull out my fabulous cast iron skillet to make these Brussels sprouts! I’ve made this recipe three or four times recently, and it’s definitely a winner. The blistered, roasted Brussels sprouts combined with the salty-sweet combo of soy sauce & honey is beyond amazing! Definitely give this easy recipe a shot; I think you’ll make it often.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever aka Cast Iron Blistered Brussels Sprouts

adapted from Southern Living, October 2014

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Trim Brussels sprouts, and cut in half lengthwise. Add canola oil to skillet, and tilt skillet to evenly coat bottom. Place Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer in skillet. Cook, without stirring, 4 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle with kosher salt; stir and cook 2 more minutes. Stir together honey and hot water. Stir minced garlic, soy sauce, dried crushed red pepper, and honey mixture into Brussels sprouts. Serve immediately and enjoy!

image via Southern Living

 

Annapolis, Maryland

Though there are countless fun weekend events and activities in the heart of Washington, DC, there are also so many exciting day trips to take, too! Annapolis, Maryland, is one of my favorite places to visit for a little getaway, as it’s only about 45 minutes or so from DC. I first visited when I was in my teens with my family, and I remembering adoring this little coastal town. I’ve since been twice since living in DC, but it was about three years ago that I last visited. Luckily, we went back just a few days ago!

Many of my friends are big runners, and they had a race the next day & needed to go to the race expo. I’m glad we decided to make a day trip of it, as it was a great excuse to spend the day in Annapolis! After picking up their packets and exploring the expo at the Navy Stadium, we headed into town. Annapolis is a quaint town right on the bay, and it’s also the capital of Maryland – and home to the US Naval Academy (where some of my family has attended!). We had a delicious seafood lunch overlooking the Annapolis harbor, ventured up and down the cobblestone streets, enjoyed afternoon red wine flights at a favorite local wine bar, popped in and out of some cute shops, and chased the sunset over the bay. I’m a sucker for chasing sunsets, and this one was so soft and stunning! It was a beautiful and chilly Fall day, and I know we all had a great time exploring this charming coastal town together. These friends are such a blessing to me, and it’s crazy to think that I barely knew many of them just a year ago. They’re so much fun, and I love our time together.

Have you ever visited Annapolis? What are your favorite day trips? I would love to hear!

My Christmas Wish List

Christmas wish list

Though it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet (a holiday I adore deeply), it is time to begin thinking about Christmas shopping! I actually love to give gifts way more than I like to receive them. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting gifts from loved ones, but giving personalized and meaningful gifts and surprises is one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve been corralling ideas for Christmas gifts to give for months… and I also like to start compiling my own Christmas wish list early on in the year, just so I don’t forget anything – and so I only ask for things I’ve been wanting for a while! My family has been asking for each others’ Christmas wish list, and I thought it might be fun to share mine here. I already have more than I need, that’s for sure, but these are some fun extras that I’ve been eyeing. In the spirit of Christmas and in the season of giving, I’ll be sharing more of my Christmas spending and giving plan with you soon! Tis better to give than to receive, don’t you think?!

[clockwise starting at the top]

1. a pretty new bike + helmet

2. Rifle Paper Co. botanical rose iPhone case

3. Camille Styles Entertaining book

4. a lemon tree

5. Kate Spade Places to Go, People to See book

6. Jan Karon’s Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good book

7. a hunter green Longchamp with my monogram

8. Garden and Gun magazine subscription to read alongside by beloved Southern Living

9. a bar cart

10. Lara Casey’s Making Things Happen PowerSheets (& a pretty binder to put them in)

11. a new set of dinnerware (white with raised dots along the edges)

And just as a fun dream… a huge splurge/ultimate Christmas wish would be to attend Making Things Happen!

I would love to hear – what’s on your Christmas wish list? Who are you most excited to give to this year? Shopping for my sister is one of the most fun things to do (it’s hard to stop!), in my opinion. And what are your favorite ways to give back during the holiday season (and throughout the year)? Please fill me in!

Recent Reads | 3

I realized I hadn’t updated y’all on some recent books I’ve read! I’ve definitely surpassed my annual goal of reading 52 books a year, and here is a snippet of a variety of books read in the last month or two. Let me know what you’re reading and loving, as my queue at the library is needing some additions!books1The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

So good! This has been a hot book this year, especially in book clubs, and I really loved it. In fact, I realized how much I enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing style and plot lines, and I’ve since devoured all of her other books this year! The Husband’s Secret has tons of mystery and suspense, and it’s hard to describe it without giving too much of the story away. I would definitely recommend you read this one – it’s an easy chick lit book but with so much more depth and thought than you’d expect. It was hard to put this one down!

Happier at Home – Gretchen Rubin

I really liked The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin’s first book on this subject, and her follow-up book, Happier at Home, is also good! Gretchen Rubin dives into much more depth about how you need your home to be a happy place full of contentment (in whatever way that is for you!). She explores the big and little changes she makes in her home to bring about more happiness – as the home is the most important facet in determining her happiness. It’s a very systematic, research-based approach to finding more happiness within her home, and there is a smattering of great takeaways in this book.

Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

Frog Music is an interesting book, and it’s based off of a true crime story. It was a book club selection for our group, and we’d read the author’s book, Room, for my very first book club meeting years ago. This was a fascinating, twisted story that takes place out in San Francisco during the 1876 heat wave, revolving around a murder mystery and a burlesque dancer. It was pretty fascinating and a good book, but not quite as gripping or great as Room was. I’d give it a try, as it’s really interesting and full of so many shady, intriguing characters.

The Truth about Style – Stacy London

Stacy London’s book, The Truth About Style, was highly recommended by my sister and a couple other people – and I really liked it! I’ve always thought that Stacy, of What Not to Wear fame, was great at what she does, and I admire her style, personality, and reasons & heart behind doing what she does. Stacy shares pretty much her entire personal history, including her struggle with self-esteem, confidence, and her body. She is witty, smart, and innately knows fashion and style – and why personal style is so important for every single woman. Stacy gives so much great insight & shares so much knowledge on the subject, and I loved the depth – and hilarity – of this book. Women would gain a lot of wisdom from Stacy, regardless of who you are!

books2

The Hundred Foot Journey – Richard C. Morias

I forget where I first heard about The Hundred Foot Journey, but it was well before the movie came out! I really liked this book, and I can’t wait to (eventually) see the movie adaptation of it, too. I’ve always loved books that revolve around good food and good cooking, and this book included both so well. A quiet Indian boy’s family moves to a small town in the French Alps, and his loud, rambunctious father opens up an Indian restaurant a hundred feet away – across the street – from a pretentious, high-class French restaurant with a renowned chef. I loved reading about how the two cultures differed vastly… but also shared some commonalities, in the end. It was an easy, inspiring read, and so much of the description made my mouth water! A trip to France is in my near future, I think!

Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables has long, long been one of my penultimate reads, and I love delving into this book over and over again (especially with such a gorgeous edition of the book!). Anne is the ultimate dreamer, and I admire this characteristic of her personality so much. She the eternal optimist (as I tend to be), and Anne is so full of mirth, adventure, some melodrama, and truly finding joy in the world that she lives in. I think we can all learn a lesson or ten from Anne and her personality. I know I certainly have over my lifetime, and re-reading this book always makes me happy and optimistic feeling about life in general. Plus, the flowery descriptions of the landscape and seasons is so beautiful! Everyone should read this classic; it’s been a favorite of mine since childhood!

The Mockingbird Next Door – Marja Mills

The Mockingbird Next Door was a must-read as soon as I heard about it. To Kill a Mockingbird is, again, one of my very favorite books in the world, and Harper Lee, the author has been pretty silent for the last fifty+ years. This is the first time she’s opened up to a reporter since her inaugural, best-selling, beloved book debuted in 1960. Harper Lee has really never talked to or opened up to a reporter since then, leaving her as quite the mystery. She lives an incredibly private life in Monroeville, AL, surrounded by just her closest lifelong friends and her sister. The author of The Mockingbird Next Door, Marja Mills, somehow cracked through and gained some incredible first-hand knowledge of Harper Lee, know to her friends as Nelle. She moved in next door, with the Lee sisters’ blessing, and spent many years of her life becoming friends with the sisters, in which they opened up to her about their lives and history. So fascinating! You should definitely check this book out – and read more about the controversy surrounding the release of this book, too!

Start Something That Matters – Blake Mycoskie

I think most everyone knows about TOMS and its mission (one for one!), and I love this brand! Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, is one inspiration guy, and I’m so glad he shared his thoughts and the deeper story about TOMS in this book, Start Something that Matters. It was a quick read but a great one. The business model behind TOMS is unique, and I love it. It’s a revolutionary business that is for-profit but gives so much back, and the TOMS business seemingly grows exponentially each year. This also means so many more shoes and eyeglasses and money is given back to those who need it! This book was very inspiring, creative, and filled with ideas for doing good, something that I’m passionate about.

toms

Fall Trips to Ohio

All four of my grandparents live in Ohio, where my parents were raised (high school sweethearts!). For a vast majority of my life, I’ve always lived hundreds of miles from my grandparents, but I’m so grateful that I’m so close to them, regardless. I try to visit them as often as I can, which tends to be almost any time I have a three-day weekend from work. Ohio is about seven hours away from DC, and I cherish my trips to visit my dear grandparents (and other family & family friends in town, too!). I made the trek over Columbus Day weekend for a little visit, and I had the best time going back and forth between my grandparents’ home for visits. We always eat great meals & spend time just being together and catching up in person.

With my maternal grandparents, we spent one afternoon on a gorgeous drive around the country, stopping for bird watching and a walk through the woods. What a treasure this afternoon was! I learned so much about Ohio history, had some quiet one-on-one time with my grandma and grandpa, enjoyed the radiant trees, posed for some pictures my grandpa wanted to take of me on his original film camera, learned lots about local birds, and enjoyed the scenery all around us. My paternal grandma and I share a deep love of both books and calligraphy, so we always have plenty to keep us busy. She loves to pass along her calligraphy supplies to me (most of them 20+ years old but in perfect condition!), as well as her vintage ribbons! I love being able to share this gift with her, as I’ve learned so much from my grandma. She’s so encouraging and inspirational, and it is so special to use calligraphy supplies that she’s used for decades. What a treasure! We also always visit the local library (I’ve been visiting that library my entire life!), where they have an ongoing book sale. We love going through the books together and digging up treasures to take home. And my grandpa and I share a bond over Jesus Calling, a daily devotional that we both read daily. I love talking with him about what we’ve learned each day. I’ll always cherish the memories, traditions, conversations, and visits with my four incredible grandparents. They’re so full of wisdom, encouragement, and love, and I’m grateful each and every day for their presence in my life.

Though I visited Ohio in mid-October, I went back just a couple weeks later for a surprise trip! Long story short, my best friend since birth (literally!), Erica, is from Ohio and now lives in California with her husband – and she’s pregnant!! I hadn’t seen Erica since her beautiful wedding exactly two years ago, as visits to the East Coast are few and far between. I was having breakfast with Erica’s mom during my first Ohio visit, and she mentioned that Erica was visiting at the end of the month and wished I would be able to be there to see her. My parents and Erica’s whole family (who are our dearest, lifelong family friends) would be there for the reunion… and I knew I just couldn’t miss out! Especially since this was the only time I’d see Erica pregnant! So we decided that I’d come and surprise Erica during their reunion (and two year anniversary celebration). I let my parents and grandparents know that I’d be making the trek back to Ohio, and I was excited to see so many dear people so much in a three-week span. A 1,000 mile roundtrip road trip is nothing when it’s seeing your oldest friend for the first time in two years.. and sporting a baby bump! It was an incredible, slightly surreal evening surprising Erica and her husband, as well as seeing my ‘second family.’ I’m grateful for them and the countless memories we have together throughout our entire lives! Well worth a little extra driving time!!