Tuesday, March 27, 2012

30th Birthday Ladies Luncheon

These are some of my most cherished friends in the whole world! They are beautiful ladies, inside and out, and they got together to surprise me and help ring in my 30th birthday! My husband was the instigator behind this secret plan. Andrew enlisted the help of Christy and Kimi (sitting with me on the bench) to arrange a beautiful and unforgettable ladies luncheon. All for me! I was so surprised, very blessed and enjoyed every minute of it!  

It was Saturday, March 17th, 3 days before my birthday (also St. Patrick's Day). I was led to believe I was helping host a bridal shower - not so! Kimi's four season room was gorgeously decorated with a long table dressed with white and blue linens. The sun shone through the windows. We gathered around the table to share a delicious meal, laugh and enjoy each others company (and stories). It was a perfect afternoon! 

The girls thought of everything - fine china, linen napkins, beautiful tulips. So pretty and classy! 

They even made place cards.

And candle favors with soy wax and re-purposed glass baby food jars. Love these!

The food was amazing. Ina Garten's Curry Chicken Salad, Traditional Chicken Salad, Croissants, Spinach, Strawberry and Pecan Salad, Corn Chowder, Cheese Tortellini, punch, lemonade - all of my favorite things!

And the desserts - Vanilla cupcakes and fruit tarts! Thank you Mrs. White and Susan for helping prepare the food. It was delicious! 

And of course coffee and chocolates! Everything was so special. 

On top of all that, I received beautiful cards, gifts and gift cards to some of my favorite stores! You ladies know me well. My heart was overwhelmed. I was feeling so loved and so thankful for such wonderful friends, who are truly gifts from God. 

Photo courtesy of BA Photography

I couldn't have imagined a better way to celebrate this milestone year. Thank you ladies, for making my birthday so special and for being the beautiful, creative, thoughtful, talented, encouraging and inspiring women that you are. I love you and I'm grateful I get to share life with you. Kimi, thank you for hosting us in your beautiful home. You and Christy, aka "RoMaglio", outdid yourselves and should seriously go into business! You are both so talented and have a gift for throwing outstanding parties! 

And a big thank you to my husband for pulling off such a wonderful surprise! You are too good to me, and I know it. I love you with all of my heart and I'm so glad you're mine. You'll be 30 in a few months...

For more details about the ladies luncheon and yummy recipes, visit Christy's blog.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Virginia Recap Part 2

On our day of site seeing in Richmond, Virgina, we spent a considerable amount of time driving around, trying to find our way and deciding where we should go. Before our trip, I emailed John and Sherry, from Young House Love, since they're natives to the area, perhaps they could recommend some good spots. Sherry kindly emailed me a blog post with their Five Richmond "Top Fives". On the list was Maymont, a beautiful expansive park with historic buildings, botanical gardens, gazebos, fountains, a nature center and a petting zoo. And it's free! 

We decided to check it out. However, as we entered through the iron gates at 4:30pm, the loud speakers began to announce "THE TIME IS NOW 4:30. THE PARK WILL BE CLOSING AT 5:00. THE GATES WILL BE CLOSED." At which point, we made a mad dash, trying to see as much of the park as we could while capturing a few photos! It was a 30 minute scramble to soak in the beauty surrounding us. We didn't even make it to the petting zoo, Japanese garden, or set foot inside the mansion. 

It was beautiful nonetheless. Scenic views, flowers and rolling hills. 

There were a couple photo shoots actually taking place. Definitely a perfect location. 

I'm glad we got to see it, and if given the chance, I'd go back and enjoy a more leisurely tour. 

After making it out of the iron gates in time, we drove by the Richmond Raceway Complex, and snapped a couple pictures for my Nascar loving Nephew, Elijah.

On Sunday, we left the hotel and headed for home. But not without stopping at IKEA in Woodbridge, VA! The mother ship of home furnishings, textiles, organization and all things Swedish made and affordable. Why, oh why won't they come to update New York? I have been to IKEA before, but this one felt like a college campus. The place is huge.

We took home a cheese grater (no ordinary cheese grater) and a portable wardrobe closet organizer. Ok, two portable wardrobe closet organizers. I got a little overzealous as I tend to, when it comes to bargains and organization. One of these is already helping my husband to corral his clothing off the floor.

As if that wasn't enough, my husband proved his love for me once again by taking me to the newly opened Fredrick, MD Wegmans. A beautiful store with a packed parking lot (of course). It felt like home. We got lunch and hit the road. 

It was a nice little trip to Virgina. Here are a few takeaways: 

1. "We're in the South" - what John and Andrew kept saying whenever we discovered something good, different or better about life in Virgina. 

2. People are nicer in Virginia. There definitely seemed to be a greater sense of common courtesy and chivalry. People opened doors for you. Store associates went out of their way to help you. Even in the not-so-good areas of town people were kind.

3. Why on earth are there random toll stops on sections of the highway requiring .30 cents EXACT CHANGE? Who keeps .30 cents on them? We're pretty sure we'll be receiving a ticket for .60 cents.

4. How does CiCi's Pizza Buffet make money? All you can eat pizza, salad and soup for an adult is $5.49. Kids under 3 are free. ALL YOU CAN EAT. If I had a family of 12, I'd be eating there at least once a week. I saw a few of those families doing just that.

5. Last but not least, it's always fun to travel to new places and make memories (even crazy ones) with good friends.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Virginia Recap Part 1

Our little trip to Virgina was two weeks ago. We saw quite a bit in about 3 days. I'll do my best to share the highlights, but as you know, my travel recaps tend to be a bit long-winded. I try not to leave anything out! 

The whole point of driving to Ashland, Virgina, was to tag along with my husband who is the assistant coach of a boys soccer team. Our friend, John, is the head coach, and his wife, Heather, is one of my oldest friends. We piled our stuff into one rental car, and they piled their stuff into another rental car, along with their 3 kids, under the age of 4. Road trip! 

Here's the breakdown: 2 cars, 4 days, 3 soccer games, 4 adults, 3 children, 1 hotel suite. Yes, that's right. We all roomed together. It was an adventure to remember! This was not a trip for catching up on sleep, but we sure had a lot of laughs and made a lot of memories. As usual, when Heather and I get together, it is guaranteed that there will be tons of laughing. And a few mishaps. And more laughing.

John and Andrew did their coaching thing, and we watched one of the three games. It was muddy. It wasn't as warm as we thought it would be. It was crowded. There wasn't anywhere for the kids to play. Needless to say, it wasn't the greatest morning. 
But the kids were troopers, we made it through, and the team won that game!

On to some fun stuff. A Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World was located right across form our hotel. Truth be told, I've never set food inside one of these manly-nature-outdoorsy stores before. Hunting, camping and "roughing it" are not really my type of thing. But, the store was enormous, filled with interesting displays, a cool elevator, a giant fish tank, bears and other (deceased) animals on display, a "shooting range" and game area, a general store, furniture, and more than I could have imagined being for sale in there. 

Tacoma and Kash, testing out the ATV's. 

The best part was getting to hang out with this little sweetie pie! Emerson is such a good baby girl. Look at that smile and her adorable outfit! I loved holding her. 

On Saturday, Andrew and I ventured off to explore Richmond. The sun was bright, not a cloud in the sky, a perfect afternoon for walking around and site seeing. 

I instantly liked the character of this part of the city, and it's cobble stone streets. 

And knitted tree trunk cozies? There's a new craft. Not sure how that would work. Or why.

What is it about ivy growing wildly on a wall that's so beautiful to me? Anyone else drawn to it?
We followed the James River Park and trails. It was a really great walking path along the river, under bridges, through a tunnel, winding along the railroad. Very pretty.

It actually led us right near the Virginia Holocaust Museum. We decided to take the tour and were transported to an unimaginable time in history. The museum strives to provide guests with an interactive experience through life size replicas, such as an actual hiding place, cattle cars, concentration camps and video and written accounts of survivors. It was extremely overwhelming and difficult to see their faces, read their stories and envision the absolute torture that millions of people suffered and endured. People like us. People with families and children. People that were persecuted, tormented and disposed of. I was reminded how much evil is in the world, how sinful mankind is and the depths of depravity of which people are capable of. How desperately we need a Savior and how merciful our God is! I was in tears when we left.

We walked outside, reflecting and talking about what we just saw. It definitely cast a sadness on the afternoon. We continued our site seeing, with a greater sense of gratitude and thankfulness to God.

Later on, we found a little restaurant called City Dogs, where they serve all kinds of "fancy" hot dogs. Andrew and I were intrigued by the menu. 
We ordered corn dog bites, Andrew got the Philly dog with peppers and onions, and I got the Southwest dog with jalapenos, guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips. That's right, I proved my ability to take on the jalapeno. Until I bit into one that made my throat burn and my face sweat. Lesson learned.  

My handsome date. He's even hotter than those jalapenos! (cue bad joke drum beat)

There's still a little more of our trip to share, but I'll save that for another post. I think I crammed enough information and photos into one for now! Extra points for you if you're reading this. Stay tuned for the rest!