2.11.2016

Maine Getaway

Happy Thursday, lovies!

I have a busy day ahead! Meetings all morning, a work event tonight, and preparations for my Valentine Making Party tomorrow! I will definitely be sleeping in a bit in the morning!

Today I am excited to finally be sharing our Maine getaway with you!

This past August, one of Bryce's very best friends Chris got married in Kennebunk, Maine. I had never been to Maine before, so I was very excited for the trip! We decided to extend the trip by a couple of extra days after the wedding to make it our vacation for the summer. It was a fabulous trip and posting this has me wishing I was headed in Maine right now. Well...maybe not right now in cold February, but y'all know what I mean!

We left the house around 3:00 am on Friday morning and flew into Boston. After a long day and a rainy drive from Boston in the rain, we decided that our first priority was, you guessed it, getting a "lobstah" roll! We were pleased to learn that The Clam Shack, located in Kennebunkport, was home to America's best lobster roll by Food & Wine Magazine! What sets The Clam Shack apart is its round, hamburger bun and also the option to have butter, mayonnaise, or both added to your bun. We, of course, had them slop both on our buns!


With full bellies, we then walked around Kennebunkport. It was a rainy, foggy day, but that didn't dull the beauty all around us. I loved this Lock Bridge across from The Clam Shack. Tradition has it, that lovers are supposed to place a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the water to symbolize unbreakable love.


Later that afternoon, we headed to the wedding rehearsal. The bride has family that lives in Kennebunk and was lucky enough to be able to use their gorgeous historic home for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception.


The rehearsal dinner was in the home's garage or "barn" and was a traditional lobster boil! We feasted on lobster, clam chowder, corn on the cob, and potatoes. For dessert, we had homemade blueberry cobbler.
This might be my favorite pic from the weekend!

The next day, Bryce was tied up with groomsman activities, so he treated me to a spa day! 


I visited the Cottage Breeze Day Spa and got a body scrub and facial. I am not exaggerating, when I say it was the best spa visit I've ever had. The staff was all very friendly and thorough. I left feeling so relaxed and rejuvenated!

I then grabbed a quick lunch at Market Day before getting ready. Market Day was a really cute gourmet sandwich shop, and reminded me a lot of two of my Virginia favorites Bel Air Market and Taste. In addition to their delicious sandwiches, they had a great selection of prepared foods, cheese, wine, and craft brews. I SO wish we had a place like this in Richmond!



The wedding was at 3:00 pm at the most beautiful little chapel by the water, Trinity Chapel. The bride, Allison, was nice enough to allow me to share a few of her professional photographs from the wedding with you. The credit goes to Closer North Photography.







The ahhhhdorable lobster cake was one of my absolute favorite details from their wedding. I also really enjoyed the late night mini Maine blueberry ice cream cones! 

I also snapped a few pics myself:

At the ceremony, the bride, groom, and party faced outward toward the congregation. The priest's reasoning for this, was that a marriage is also about those loved ones that support you, so it is important to include them in the ceremony. I really loved this element and am saving the idea in the back of my mind...

The chapel was right off the water!





Another aspect of the wedding that bears mentioning is the food. Chris and Allison had 3 main food stations: a Virginia/Southern station, a Maine station, and an Italian station. It was delicious, and I, of course, had to sample a little bit of every station!


The next day, we headed to nearby Freeport, Maine. We had lunch at an old classic, Jameson Tavern! Bryce had a lobster roll and clam chowder and I feasted on the seafood scampi.


After lunch, we shopped around a bit and the highlight was definitely the L.L. Bean flagship store. It was incredible! I, of course, got a photo by the boot!


We had an ice cream snack before heading back to Kennebunk, and I loved all the Maine themed flavors at the shop. My favorite was the Muddy Bean Boots!


Upon making it back to Kennebunk, we relaxed for a bit and then freshened up for dinner. We were a bit over lobster at that point, and decided some yummy pasta was in order. We ate at Ports of Italy and had an amazing experience! Our service was superb, and the food was out of this world delicious! We also struck up a conversation with a couple from Atlanta at the table next to us, which was fun. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend the pappardelle which came with smoke duck breast, cherry tomatoes, and chanterelles. I am drooling right now, just thinking about it!


The next day was the last day of our trip. We headed to Snug Harbor Farm, a nursery we had passed on our way into town the first day. Gardening is one of Bryce's passions and from the road, the place looked like a gardener's dream. I am so happy we stumbled upon this place, because the visit there may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. I am going to do a whole post on Snug Harbor, but will share some teaser photos with you now!



I felt as if I had set foot in a Beatrix Potter story!


We also popped into a charmy teeny tiny little antique shop across the street!


These dahlias were the size of Bryce's head!

I swooned over all this coral!

We then headed back to Kennebunkport for one last lobster roll and a bit of shopping before making our way back to the airport.


We ate lunch at Federal Jack's and Bryce enjoyed getting to do a flight of their beers. 

Kennebunkport had so many cute shops. One of my favorites was Abacus Gallery.


Have you ever traveled to Maine?

What are some of your favorite vacation spots?

Have a great day!
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2.09.2016

French Goat Cheese Salad

Happy Tuesday chickies!

Did y'all have a good weekend? Mine was nice and very low key! Friday night, Bryce cooked a favorite recipe: Thai Chicken which we served over mashed cauliflower. It was delicious! Saturday, I went to my cousin Callee's wedding dress fitting. It was a great chance to get to know some of the bridesmaids and her dress was absolutely gorgeous! Saturday night, we cheated on the diet a bit and headed to Pearl for dinner. Finally, Sunday we slept in, ran errands, and watched the Super Bowl at my parents! Slow paced weekends like these are my favorite!

Today I am excited to share a new favorite salad with you! It is so simple and so good. We first had the salad about a month ago, and have made it at least 5 or 6 times since then.

The recipe was shared with us by our friends, Alec and Allison. They made it for us while were all away for a couple's weekend at the guys' hunt club on the Eastern Shore. Alec and Allison spent their honeymoon traveling in Europe and enjoyed this salad several times while they were in France. It is standard fare on French menus and the simplicity is what I think makes it so good! It pairs really well with beef and is a crowd pleaser!


Ingredients
1 oz balsamic vinegar
2 oz olive oil
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1 large head of green leaf lettuce
half of a 10.5 oz package grape tomatoes, quartered
4 oz package of goat cheese

Directions
Combine balsamic, olive oil, worcestershire, dijon mustard, salt & pepper in measuring cup and mix

Wash lettuce and tear into bite sized pieces. Add tomatoes and toss with dressing.

Top with 2-4 oz of goat cheese (according to your preference). When I've made this salad, I prefer to just buy crumbled goat cheese, but Bryce thinks crumbling it yourself is better. To do that, simply open the package, and crumble the cheese by scraping it with a fork.


Enjoy!

What are your go-to salads?

Do you have any recipes that have been inspired by travel?

Have a great day!
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2.05.2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday readers!

Have any fun plans for the weekend?

Tomorrow I am headed to a wedding dress fitting for my cousin. I'm excited to see the dress and get together with all the other bridesmaids before her bachelorette party next month. The rest of the weekend I'm hoping to just relax and get things done around the house.

Today I'm linking up with the lovely Five on Friday ladies.

ONE
Valentine Making Party Prep

You may remember from 2 years ago, that I threw a Valentine Making Party for my girlfriends (full recap here). It was such a fun event and I had hoped to make it an annual thing. Last year I was so overwhelmed with school that I dropped the ball on the party, so I am excited to bring it back this year. Yesterday I grabbed the adorable balloon "BE MINE" banner below (first spotted on Andrea's blog) and plan to hang it in front of the dining room behind the table where all the craft supplies will be set up. They don't seem to sell them online, but mine was found in the dollar section. I also love this XOXO version. This weekend I'm hoping to get the house cleaned and all my crafting supplies prepped for next Friday's party. I also hope to finalize my menu plans for the evening!


TWO
Boyfriend Jeans



I haven't bought a new pair of jeans in a while, largely, because I haven't needed a new pair. Since starting my new job, however, I find myself wearing heels more often for both work and play. I really love the look of slouchy boyfriend jeans with fancy heels, and have been on the hunt for a good pair since this fall. I was really excited to order the Rag & Bone pair (farthest to the left above) on major sale on Black Friday. When they arrived, I loved the fit, but the whiskering at the thighs wasn't the most flattering on me, so I returned them. Does anyone have a recommendation? I'm not the biggest fan of rips or tears, which limits my search a bit. 

THREE
Those that follow along on Instagram may have already heard about Bootay Bag, but I wanted to be sure to share it here! There's nothing like a new pair of undies to put a little pep in your step, so I was excited when Bootay Bag reached out to me requesting a collaboration. For just $12 a month, Bootay Bag will send you 2 fun pairs of panties! I received my complimentary bag on Wednesday and it certainly brightened a dreary, rainy day! The packaging you can see above was very cute and inside were two pretty pairs of lace boy shorts! You can select your panty preferences (Mix It Up, Only Thongs, or Never Thongs) and shipping is always free! I think all the subscription sites available now are a fun way to shop!

FOUR
The BFG...the movie!


Anyone else here a huge Roald Dahl fan? I fondly remember my 2nd grade teacher reading The BFG to my class, she had a big comfy chair and lamp and would turn out the overhead lights for a cozy reading time each day after lunch. Throughout the rest of elementary school, I re-read the book a few times, and even dressed up as Sophie for a book report in 4th grade. If you can't tell, it was one of my absolute favorites and I am really excited that it will be coming to theaters in movie form this summer! I think I'm going to have to find my worn copy and re-read as an adult!

FIVE
Cardio


Y'all know I love a good eCard! Now that I've completed my barre challenge (Woot! Woot!) of 20 classes in 30 days, I want to start adding in some cardio workouts 1-2 times per week in addition to barre. I really want to get back into cycle classes (see one of my first ever blog posts Cycle 101 here), but don't know if I can justify paying for both barre classes and even more expensive cycle classes. The other option, seems to be running...which I've never really been a big fan of. Any running tips? Or at home cardio workouts I should check out?


Have a great weekend!

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2.03.2016

Alexandra Bee Approved Low Carb Recipes

Happy Hump Day, readers!

I hope you're having a great week!

I mentioned in my New Year's resolutions post, that Bryce and I have been doing the low-carb, low-sugar diet. We've basically cut out all carbs, sugars, and alcohol. That being said, we haven't stuck to it 100%. We've spent two weekends away with friends and the last two weeks have been full of social obligations. Overall, I've been really proud of our efforts though, and we are both already noticing results. Our end goal is to eat this way most of the time.

I will say, aside from social situations (I don't want to be that girl who barely eats at a dinner with friends, because the meal the hostess prepared isn't to my diet standards), the diet has been much easier than expected. Because we've been cooking really delicious meals I haven't really missed carbs that much. What I have missed, however, is the convenience of carbs. Quick and easy meals often involve carbs, and there have been a few nights where I just don't feel like taking the time to cook an elaborate meal. Another key piece of our success has been meal planning. We have always really struggled with this in the past, but the diet has forced us to stick to it. It's not easy to dine out on our diet, so we are forced to cook most meals and stick to our planning.

That being said, I have been taking note the recipes we have loved, so that I can compile them in one post to share with you.

First things first, I want to share that cauliflower is my new best friend. If you had told me I'd be typing this prior to starting the diet, I would have laughed at you. I've never been crazy about cauliflower and find it to be kind of bland. Because of its texture and the fact that it's bland, however, cauliflower really has turned out to be an amazing and versatile carb substitute.

And now for the recipes!

MASHED CAULIFLOWER
Mashed cauliflower has become a staple in our diet. Bryce actually prefers it to actual mashed potatoes. I will say, however, that it reminds me more of a risotto than a potato. I have used the process described in this recipe, but have doctored things up on my own adding butter, cream cheese, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

CREAMY SHRIMP WITH SAUTÉ
This meal was not only delicious, but ready in a snap. I don't have an actual "recipe" but will share how I fixed it. I started by roasting grape tomatoes in the oven that had been tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, I sautéed minced garlic in a very small amount of cream with a little bit of butter and salt, pepper, and herb seasoning. Next I added a bag of organic, frozen shrimp and a small container of mushrooms to the skillet. Once the shrimp was nearly finished, I added a bag of spinach and cooked just a few minutes until wilted. Next I mixed in the roasted tomatoes, seasoned the heck out if, and finally served with fresh grated parmesan. Moving forward, I will always serve this with mashed cauliflower! The next day I mixed leftover mashed cauliflower with the leftovers from this sauté and it literally tasted like a shrimp risotto. AH-mazing! 

AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
I had been dying to try this recipe long before starting our diet, so was glad to finally get around to it. I really love chicken salad so was intrigued by this lighter version using a rotisserie chicken. Served wrap style using bibb lettuce, this was a great simple meal. As a note, I think it was better after chilling overnight in the fridge.

PEPPERONI PIZZA WITH CAULIFLOWER CRUST
Again, if you told me I would become a cauliflower convert, I would not have believed you. But, I was amazed by how good this pizza turned out. We've now made pizza a few times on our diet using this recipe for the crust. And I'll daresay, it is just as good as the standard at-home pizzas we cook with a pre-made crust.

MINI TURKEY MEATBALL VEGETABLE SOUP
We have been making soups a lot this fall and winter which I love. It's an easy way to pack a lot of veggies into your meal and also makes enough for 2 meals. This recipe did not disappoint. I left the breadcrumbs out when preparing the meatballs and they were still delicious. I am looking forward to pulling the leftovers out of the freezer for an easy dinner one night this week!

ONE SKILLET CHICKEN WITH LEMON GARLIC CREAM SAUCE
This meal was really delicious and definitely one of our favorites from the low carb journey so far. I followed this recipe, but also sautéed some spinach with the chicken and served it with mashed cauliflower and grilled asparagus. 

CROCKPOT CARNITAS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE IN A CAULIFLOWER TORTILLA
And folks, I saved the best for last! This recipe which I shared last week has been our absolute favorite low carb meal so far. I am thinking we'll be making our second batch very soon!

Have you kept up with your New Year's resolutions?

Any low carb recipes I must try?

Have a great day!

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2.01.2016

Starting a Book Club

Happy February chickies!

Did you have a good weekend?

Ours was a fun one, as we spent it with several friends at the river, celebrating one of Bryce's longest friends, Will's birthday! The guys got in lots of hunting time during the last weekend of the season, we stayed up late playing drinking games, and just enjoyed the beautiful weather in a beautiful place!

Today I'm excited to share a recent venture with you--starting a book club!


You probably know that I've been in a book club for quite some time that would more aptly be named a wine club. I really love this group of girls and our monthly meetings, but have always wanted to also be in an actual book club that includes...well...discussion of books!

In December, I finally got around to creating this actual book club and thought I'd share my process and how we're organizing things with you!

First things first, what was most daunting to me, was recruiting enough people to start the club. I often felt overwhelmed by finding enough friends that would be interested in an actual book club. A friend, Cassidy and I had been talking about it for a while. It wasn't until after discussing it with another friend, Meg, who I learned coincidentally also knows Cassidy, did I figure out how I wanted to do it. To me, groups like this are most fun when they bring different types of people together. I got to thinking, that to remove the burden of recruiting everyone and to add some diversity to the group, Cassidy, Meg, and I could each recruit 2-3 friends. When I ran the idea by them, they loved it and our book club was formed!

We recruited a group of 12 girls and I hosted the first club at the beginning of December. Because I only provided about 3 weeks notice for our initial gathering and it would be our first time meeting one another, I put the book on the back burner for this time. I picked the book Where They Found Her which I mentioned in this post, but told the ladies to not feel pressure to have to finish it. The main purpose of our first meeting was to meet, mingle, and make a plan for our club moving forward.

Our first meting was so much fun. I made these ham biscuits (always a crowd-pleaser), this salad (a new favorite!), and a modified version of this potato soup (I added an extra can of chicken broth, halved the cream cheese, and added a bag of shredded cheddar cheese at the end)! And you didn't think I forgot dessert did you? I made everyone's favorite cookie dough rice krispie treats.

On that night, we had lots of girl talk, but also decided how we wanted to run the club. This is what we decided:
  • We will take turns hosting and meet every 4-6 weeks based on book length (longer books need extra time)
  • The hostess of the month will send out an email polling members on dates and 2-3 book options; this will give the book selections variety, while also avoiding choosing a book that many girls have already read
  • The hostess will provide drinks and munchies and also create or find a set of discussion questions
  • Each meeting will include book discussion as well as fun girl time
  • We want to also sometimes do book club field trips, where we meet outside of homes (wine bar, anyone?)
  • We want to occasionally pick books that are coming out as movies so that we can go see the movies together as a club
Two weeks ago, we met for our 2nd time, and discussed All The Light We Cannot See. Our overall consensus of the book was that it was a beautiful work of literature, but not the most riveting or exciting read. I appreciated the book and was glad to have read it, but at the same time, didn't love it. During the snowy weekend, I flew through The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls which had been one of the other polled choices for our January meeting. Highly recommend that! Next up is The Secret History, which is another long one so I need to get reading!

When previewing discussion questions before our last meeting, I came across this recap of another All The Light We Cannot See book club meeting! Can we say #bookclubgoals? Talk about a swanky, sophisticated event!

And because, I can't leave y'all with such a pictureless post, I am sharing some pictures of last week's wine book club meeting at Emily's. Emily is a sorority sister that I reconnected with last year and have become really close friends with! She is now in both book clubs with me. She is a huge blog fan and has amazing design taste, so I couldn't resist snapping some pics of her home to share with y'all!






Are you a bookworm like me?

Any books you recommend for our club?

Have a great day!

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