Word of the Year: INTENTIONAL

Happy Hump Day, readers!

I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.

I had to pop in before the first of February to share my New Year's post.

At the end of the year, I went back and reread all my past New Years' posts and got super pumped up for 2018. (I really do love having this blog as a journal of my life.) Still feeling pumped, though my ambition didn't result in a timely blog post. Whoops!

You can read, in my New Year's post that never was, here from last year, that I really wanted to have a word to define 2017. I struggled to come up with a word last year, because I couldn't quite find the word to encompass my focus for the year. That being said, I had no problem picking a word this year and that word is INTENTIONAL.

This word came to me with quite a bit of clarity, I think because of the phase of life I'm in. It's a phase I'm really, really loving, but it's also a phase that feels a little like a crossroads. It's as if I'm up on the high dive, inching my toes to the edge, about to leap.

Side Note- Anyone else ever love this movie as a kid?

It's a nice spot to be. On the precipice of the next phase, but still able to enjoy the comfort of the board, and the beautiful view of what lies ahead. I'm on the verge of next steps particularly in the areas of career and family. The two, somewhat intertwined.

Having been a fund development professional for nearly as long as I was a teacher now, I'm starting to feel settled in. I've identified my strengths, passions, and a clear focus of where I want to head in my career. I have a view of the future ahead, but am in a good place to grow and learn in the meantime.

In terms of family, now married, Bryce and I are talking more concretely about the particulars of starting a family. If you'd asked me a few years ago, I'd have told you I'd be leaping to have a baby right now, this very minute. If you asked me today, I'd say we're thinking of starting a family in not the immediate future, but also the not so distant future. Again, it's nice to be up on the diving board, feeling a rush of the dive ahead: Motherhood and all the ups, downs, and in-betweens that come with it. It's always been my greatest dream, but for now I'm really happy dreaming of it, and borrowing some of the joys of it from friends who are new mamas. It's nice to embrace being selfish a little while longer and to have Millie as our one and only baby for the time being.

So where does "INTENTIONAL" come in?

These two areas discussed, career and family, are my biggest focus right now. They're intertwined. My career is of course a livelihood, but, it's also an independent side of me, and an area I seek to find fulfillment. Since leaving teaching, the passion I have for education has only continued to grow, and has been fueled with positivity as I've seen the really great work non-profits are doing to address educational issues here locally. I want to be a part of that. My ultimate career goal, at this point, is to use the fundraising skills I've developed in an organization focused on education. The two modalities I enjoy most in development are major gifts fundraising (ie: building relationships) and, what will probably come as no surprise to you, storytelling. Having found more of a laser focus and defined goal means that every decision I make in my career from this point on, needs to be driven by intention. The projects I tackle and create in my current position, the educational opportunities I take advantage of, and the missions I choose to support. It's an exciting place to be!

In terms of family, as I shared, we want to start a family in the not so distant future. That decision means the choices we are making now need to be guided by that. This covers all areas. When the time does come that I'm ready to become a mom, and Bryce a dad, I want for us to be at our very best. How do you define that, though? I think it encompasses all areas of life. I'll elaborate on a few. The first, and I think one of the most important, is finances. Kids are expensive. And yes, I realize there's never going to be a time where you feel 100% ready for anything in your life, but I want us to be in a place that we can feel confident and prepared for all the costs adding a bambino to the mix brings. Secondly, and I also think of high importance, is indulgence. You might be thinking, how exactly do financial readiness and indulgence work together? They work together if you have INTENTIONAL as your guiding word. When I say indulgence, I mean the selfish things we want to experience before kids. A trip to Italy is probably highest on my list at the moment! Once kids come, we know these indulgences like travel become a lot harder to justify, much less coordinate and execute. I want to be intentional that we use this time, just the 2 of us, to nurture our relationship and indulge some while we can. Finally, the third main area I want to be intentional when looking ahead to family, is health. Bryce and I have actually been talking a lot about this. Ideally, we both want to be in our best shape when the time comes that we want to start "trying." Let's face it, after pregnancy, it's only going to get harder to be fit, so you might as well try to start ahead versus behind. More importantly than the vanity side of being fit, I want to be healthy so I can best nourish a growing baby and later be in a position to model healthy habits to my little ones. I want to do everything I can to ensure my someday babes have a healthy mama! That being said, we're choosing to be much more intentional in our habits: cooking more, eating better, exercising daily, prioritizing sleep, and practicing self care.

This first month of the year has been really wonderful so far. I do feel that I, along with Bryce, have been living with more purpose. Being intentional has really felt good so far!

If you made it to the end, bravo! Heck, if you even made it here despite my absence of late, bravo to you, too!

Do you have a guiding principal or word for 2018?

What are your most pressing life goals?

Have a great day!


2017 in 12 Pictures

Happy New Year!

I'm back to work today, but really enjoyed some nice time off to refresh and fuel myself for the year ahead!

I'm hoping to put together my New Year's reflection/goals post for ya this week, but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of the year by selecting just 1 picture a month. This was tough, as some months were filled with many great events, so I'll be sharing some honorable mentions on Instastories today!

Millie's First Snow! Millie ran and ran all around the yard and loved
to put her nose down in the snow and eat it.

We celebrated our engagement with a party hosted by my mother-in-law and a 
"Something Borrowed, Something Blue & White" shower hosted by my fabulous bridesmaids.
{full post coming in 2018}

Bryce turned 30 and we had a 1987 wine dinner to celebrate!
{full post here and recipes here}

My bachelorette weekend in Amelia Island, Florida! 
This sunset booze cruise was one of my favorite parts of the weekend!
{full post coming in 2018}

Millie turned one on May 8! And like any crazy puppy mom
I ordered her this birthday crown and served her a pupcake...her first 
dose of sugar and carbs, which she promptly threw up!

We got MARRIED!!!
{lots of posts coming in 2018}

We hosted a couple's weekend at Bryce's hunt club on the Eastern Shore  
and our Millie girl LOVED the marsh!

My mother-in-law closed on a new house and joked 
she bought it just so Millie could have this fabulous pool...
I'm certainly not complaining!

Had a progressive girls' night with one of my besties, Amanda, to 
celebrate her birthday! We started with cocktails on the Quirk rooftop
followed by dinner at Pasture and dessert at Shyndigz!

We burned our first fire of the year and celebrated the occasion
with a fireside picnic dinner and a nice bottle of red that was a wedding gift!

We had the most amazing impromptu day date to Barboursville Vineyards!
{full post coming in 2018}

We celebrated our first married Christmas and kicked off the
Christmas season with a trip to NYC! It truly is magical at Christmastime!
{full post coming in 2018}

Wow! What a year! 

2018 has big shoes to fill!

What were the highlights of your 2017?

Have a great day!


Dinner Party Recipes: Kale Caesar & Beef Tenderloin

Happy Tuesday friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Our first married Thanksgiving was nice, albeit tiring! I was glad we were able to fit in all the families, and it was so nice for Bryce and I to be together (we did Thanksgiving and Christmas apart when dating), but I went back to work exhausted yesterday, haha!

We visited Bryce's grandmothers Thursday-Friday and I think Millie had the most fun of us all, as she got lots of play time in the wide open outside at their houses in the country! We then came home to Richmond Saturday, and got visits in with both of my grandmothers and parents the rest of the weekend. In between all the family time, we squeezed in buying a Christmas tree (though it's still in a bucket of water outside) and I began to work on some of our other Christmas decorating. I also took advantage of some of the crazy Cyber Week deals and bought a few gifts. If you haven't checked out my gift guides yet, be sure to check them out: Here for ladies, and here for gents!

And now for today's post! When I jumped back into blogging a couple weeks ago, I got some requests for recipes! I always love posting tasty, and attainable, recipes on here. I thought as a follow-up to my recap of Bryce's birthday dinner party (here), I could share a couple of recipes we served that night!

I'm a bad blogger and don't have pictures for the beef tenderloin, and my salad pictures aren't the best, but I know you'll forgive me!

First up is the Kale Caesar with Toasted Breadcrumbs from the cookbook Host that I received as a bridal shower gift. This recipe was perfect for a dinner party, as it was easy to prep ahead. If you ask me, the toasted breadcrumbs were the best part! As always, my personal comments are italicized.

Kale Caesar with Toasted Breadcrumbs
serves 4 (this was not our main course and kale is hearty, so I actually served 8!)

for the breadcrumbs:
2 tbs olive oil
2 slices country bread, roughly torn into chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
6 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the salad
1 large gunch kale
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
toasted slivered almonds (this was not in original recipe, but I'm nuts about nuts in salads and decided to add them!)

Make the breadcrumbs
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bread pieces and toast until crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate an season with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the toasted bread until pea-size crumbs form (about 15 seconds).

Set aside.

Make the dressing
In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the sald
Toast the slivered almonds. I put mine on foil in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes, until slightly browned.

Remove the stems and ribs from the kale and slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch ribbons. in a serving bowl, toss the greens with all of the dressing and using your hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds to help tenderize it. Let the kale rest for 5 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and toss. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of pecorino cheese and almonds and serve.

Next up might be the simplest recipe I've ever posted! It's actually one of Bryce's Nana's recipes. You might remember her Peach Cobbler recipe, here! I have no picture, as I was enjoying wine and company too much for photos by the time we got to the main course, but trust me that this is a crowd pleaser! Even better, prep is easy peasy and once you put it in the oven, you have pretty much 0 work to do until it's time to serve, meaning you get to visit with your guests!

Easy Beef Tenderloin
serves 4 (I obviously doubled the recipe, as we were serving 8)
1 lb raw beef tenderloin
butter, softened to room temperature
garlic salt (I also think truffle salt would be amazing here!)

Wash and trim tenderloin. Pat dry.

Let it come to room temperature, usually takes about an hour and a half if cold from refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 500F.

Place in foiled pan (2 layers of heavy duty foil).

Cover with soft butter and lots of garlic salt (I know this is not technical, use your judgment!).

Bake at 500F for 18-20 minutes and turn oven off. Do not open oven door!

Leave in oven for additional 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with foil. Let rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing.

Voila! Yumminess abounds!

What are your go-to recipes for dinner parties?

Have a great day!


Holiday Gift Guide: GENTS

Happy Hump Day friends!

I don't know about y'all, but I'm ready to gobble gobble and have some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Thanks for some great feedback from the Ladies Guide on Monday (here, if you missed it!). I was glad to hear that many of you look forward to my guides each year, just as I do!

I'm excited today to be sharing the Gents Gift Guide with you today! Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of myself for making the time to actually get you this post today!

As always, this is inspired by Bryce and includes many of his own favorite belongings! Again, I condensed it down to one big guide and worked to include mostly items under $100! This post does include affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

This list has me swooning! I've always had a type...good thing Bryce embodies it completely!

What do you tend to gift the men in your life?

After the expenses of the wedding and honeymoon, we've decided to keep things simple this year and just do some small stocking stuffers! 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Holiday Gift Guide: LADIES

Happy Monday, friends!

Did you have a good weekend? 

Ours was lots of fun. Bryce and I had a weekend full of quality time together, which was so nice, as he has been traveling quite a bit for work this fall.

I also was thrilled to have plenty of time this weekend to create my ladies' holiday gift guide. I decided, rather than doing several separate guides, to condense it into one bigger guide this year. I still worked hard to come up with an assortment (mostly under $100!) to please all the ladies in your life, though! I did skip the little lady version this year. I always enjoy creating that one, but now being a few years removed from the classroom and also not a mama yet, I thought it best to leave the kid guides to the "pros." 


I hope you have some great new shopping ideas! I do love creating these each year, and usually end up making my Christmas shopping list in the process! This guide has many items I already own and love, and then, the rest is filled out with items I'd love to have myself! It does have affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking, however, as always, you can be certain that what I share here is genuine. You'll also see that some of the items I share have no affiliate link, because I want to share great gift ideas with you, regardless of whether or not I make a dime!

I'm hoping to have time tonight and tomorrow night to put together a gents guide, as well! I always try my best to have these created in time for Black Friday sales (some of which I noticed have already started early). 

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Who do you have the hardest time shopping for?

For those of you longtime readers, do you like this new condensed guide? 

Have a great day!