Fall Fun

It’s been a marvelous autumn filled with endless adventures! I think I managed to cross a significant portion of items off of my annual fall to-do list. Here is a snippet of some smaller events, scenes, and activities that happened this Fall, in addition to everything else:

Another trip to the apple orchard & a pumpkin patch in the mountains of Virginia…

surprising the family to join in on the #FridayNightMeatball fun in Charlottesville…

Carter Mountain’s infamous apple cider doughnuts…

Fall showing off her radiant colors…

a trip to Eastern Market, a DC favorite…

a leafy walk downtown…

an outing to Union Market + Arlington National Cemetary…

What’s been your favorite memory from Fall this year?

 

 

Gratefulness

gratitude2

Gratitude and thanksgiving are two of the most important foundations in life, I firmly believe. I discussed ways to sincerely cultivate gratitude in your life, something I have been passionate about for a very long time. If we’re not giving thanks for the things we have and the blessings we have received, then we’re being ungrateful or complaining or always desiring more. I have so much. SO much. And yet it’s easy for me to slip into the downward spiral of comparison or envy or greed or simply wanting more and more. But when I stop and take a hard look at my life, I am overwhelmed with all that I do have. Being continually aware of all that you have in your life (big things and little things alike) is a critical piece in gratefulness and gratitude.

I stumbled upon this quote when the incredibly inspiring Lara Casey sent out her November newsletter, and it hit me hard. I love the simplicity – and the eloquence – of this: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” YES! I am in no way perfect, but I try each and every day, and in every moment, to be deeply and profoundly grateful for all that that I have and all of the blessings that I have so graciously received from the Lord. Without Him, I am nothing. Without his love and his grace and his generosity, I have nothing.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and in to-do lists, but I want to try to stop and simply be. To think and remember and reflect on the extravagant ways that I am grateful and thankful. To reflect on the people in my life that I love tremendously and who love me back. For the sunrises and the bountiful Thanksgiving meal and the warm home and the laughter and the steady paycheck. I am blessed, truly – and I am so very grateful for it. And there are things that I want, things that are deep desires. But we are commanded to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.” So even when something is missing or I feel discontentment or disappointment or rejection, I am GRATEFUL. I want to remember, all the time, to give thanks to the Lord & to rejoice in Him. Instead of worrying or comparing or complaining, I want to reflect on and give deep thanks for all that I do have in my life, as I have abundantly more than I could ever ask or receive. I do not need more _____ (whatever it is you think you want!) to live a full life. I thankfully have a very full life, indeed. When I am grateful for what I do have, I no longer need more because I realize that what I have is enough. It’s more than enough. Truth! I am giving due praise and thanks when I stop wanting more just to want more. Gratitude is a definite way of praising Him from whom all blessings flow.

gratitudethanks

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!