Memorial Day at the Lake

Happy Tuesday!  I hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend, I certainly did!

Before getting to the weekend highlights, I'd like to say congrats to the UVA Men's Lacrosse Team!  Yesterday they beat Maryland 9-7, earning the national title!  Wahoowa!

In other news, I spent the holiday weekend at Lake Gaston.  One of my best friends, AMF, joined me and we had a weekend filled with fun in the sun and relaxation.  

Friday night we had a delicious home-cooked meal by my godmother (my godparents retired on the lake) and kicked off the weekend with a midnight boat ride.

I tried snapping a picture of my godparents' pooch, Sadie, but she was not having it!  Every time I would point the camera at her, she would turn away as if to say "No pictures please!"

Saturday morning AMF and I went on a very long walk (probably about 5 miles) and then hit the grocery store.  We thought it would be nice to cook my godparents a meal while we were there and Saturday was overcast so it was perfect to stay inside and cook.  We decided on 2 types of kabobs:  Mango-Chicken Kabobs and Honey-Mustard Chicken Kabobs served with salad and rice as a side.

Chopping up zucchini and squash for the Honey-Mustard Kabobs 

Chopping the Chicken

Honey-Mustard Glaze

Skewers ready for the grill


Finished Mango-Chicken Kabobs

The honey-mustard glaze on these was delicious!

This is a framer for sure!
Allie and AMF

Such a pretty view (the wine AND the lake!)

After dinner we made some daiquiris and took a boat ride to visit some friends in another cove.

Strawberry Daiquiris?  YES, Please!

Night cruising!

Sunday and Monday were spent soaking up rays and going out on the jet ski and boat!

My godparents have a pillow that says:  "Heaven is a little closer in a house by the water."
In my opinion, that statement couldn't be more true!

Allie and AMF

Did you do anything fun for Memorial Day?


Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!! 

Hope y'all are having a wonderful holiday!  I'll be back to my regular posting tomorrow.


Italian Sausage & Wild Mushroom Risotto

Happy Friday everyone!!

Remember on Monday I mentioned that over the weekend I made dinner for my whole family? 

Well, today I am going to share that recipe with you.  All last week I was craving risotto and wanted to try something different.  I did a little internet searching and found a recipe that sounded delicious on Epicurious, here.

Ingredients:  (Serves 4)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed, crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces (I used Johnsonville mild ground Italian sausage)
  • 8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
  • 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups Madeira (I couldn't find Madeira at the grocery store so I substituted Marsala wine)
  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I left the onion out)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice or other medium-grain rice (about 13 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese* (I substituted an Italian blend of shredded cheese that included Asiago)
The ingredients
Since there was 6 of us, we doubled the recipe and had plenty of leftovers!

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add all mushrooms, thyme, and oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Madeira; boil until almost absorbed, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Bring stock to simmer in large saucepan; remove from heat and cover to keep hot. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira; simmer until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot stock; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more stock by cupfuls, stirring often and allowing most stock to be absorbed before adding more, about 25 minutes. Stir in sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Pass cheese separately (I also threw a handful of the cheese into the risotto).

Additionally, I opted to not combine the sausage mixture and the risotto.  Rather, I allowed people to serve it how they liked it.  I think almost everyone, except me, mixed the sausage into their risotto.

the chopped up mushrooms

first stages of the risotto

italian sausage

italian sausage + the mushrooms and herbs

italian sausage + mushrooms and herbs + wine

the final product
my plate without the sausage and risotto not mixed

This recipe turned out DELICIOUS!  If I were to do it again the only thing I would do differently, would be to get Italian sausage that is already in the shape of bratwursts and just cut it into slices.  It took forever to put the ground sausage into the little balls and was a pain to do while also trying to get the risotto going!

Do you like risotto?

As a side note--Happy Memorial Day weekend!  I am headed to Lake Gaston this morning for some R&R.  I'll also be guest posting over at Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous on Sunday while Cait is traveling around Europe, so be sure to check it out!  I'll be introducing myself to her readers by sharing a few of my favorite things! 

Do you have any Memorial Day plans?


DIY Grad Gift

Wooohoo, it's Thursday, and that means--tomorrow's FRIDAY!!

With graduation season upon us, I thought for today's post I would share a really easy, do-it-yourself high school graduation gift idea:  a personalized bulletin board!

I received one of these from my best friend ARS for high school graduation.  Her hint to me before receiving it was:  "It's something almost every college student has, but yours is going to be more special."

ARS bought a basic cork bulletin board with a wooden frame and then painted and personalized it.

She used letter and flower stickers as well as a wooden sun.  ARS spelled out my first and middle name as you can see:  "alexandra bennett" and then also put one of my favorite Emerson quotes on it:  "Live in the sunshine."

This bulletin board was a part of each room I lived in during college and will surely have a place in my future home.  

After move-in day, first year, I realized I had a big open wall for another bulletin board, so my dad made me a second personalized bulletin board.

This was it before I added pictures.

For this one, he painted the wooden frame pink and drilled holes in all four corners.  He put silver grommets around each hole and then put ribbon through each hole.  He also added silver letters that hang from the top of the frame and spell out "ALLIE".

This also was incorporated into my room each year of college and will have a place in my future home!

If you want to see each bulletin board larger, just click on their respective pictures!

What I love about this graduation gift is:  Not only is it easy and inexpensive, it is also a very personal and memorable gift.  Gifts like these, which are from the heart, always mean the most.

Do you have any great graduation gift ideas to share?  What was your favorite graduation gift?


Garnet Hill

I have always loved decorating.  I could spend hours flipping through design magazines and will often envision a room in my head.   I joke that my dad just needs to build a shed in our back yard so that I can buy all the things I like and want for my future home.  For a while now, I've known that in my next "big girl bed" (once I get my own place), I want a white matelasse bedspread.  I love the idea of a white bedspread with pops of color through the use of coverlets and pillows.  I'm also a huge fan of Euro shams and the layering of many pillows.

My bedspread for all four years of college was a green matelasse bedspread I actually ordered from Pottery Barn Kids.  My favorite detail of the bedspread is probably the scalloped edges.

College bedding--if you look closely you'll notice the scalloped edges.

Well, knowing that I want white matelasse and like the scalloped edges, I always have my eyes peeled for that perfect bedspread.  A few nights ago I was doing some online window shopping and decided to check out Garnet Hill.  And what do you think was on the homepage??

THE EXACT BEDSPREAD I HAVE ENVISIONED:  white matelasse, Euro shams, and scalloped edges--AND, drumroll please, it's on sale!

Isn't it lovely?

I've decided to order it now and incorporate my current bedspread (which I still love 7 years after I first got it) kind of like the green spread and pillows are added in the picture.  I'll post pictures once it comes in!

After finding the quilt I continued to peruse the site and was not disappointed.  Here were some of my other favorite finds:

Of course some Lilly:

I would love sheets in this print!


I prefer the green!

They also carry tons of fun sheets!

Aren't these precious?

Love these robots for a boy's bedroom!

GH also has gorgeous rugs galore...

I'll take everything in this picture!

These would be perfect for my future rivah house!

Arent' the flowers lovely?

Oh, and did I mention--they also sell clothing for women and kids?

Love the ruffle and ruching detail.

OBSESSED with this cardigan!

Not sure if I could pull it off, but I love this vest!

This would be perfect with my bright yellow chino shorts!

I have been dreaming about these rings for a few days now!

Do you like Garnet Hill?  Where are some of your favorite places to find bedding?


Classic Cuff

Hello everyone!

Today, I wanted to share one of my absolute favorite pieces of jewelry--a monogrammed silver cuff bracelet.  It can be found here at The Silver Goose.

I got it for my 19th birthday first year:

On the phone thanking my godparents for the bracelet!

I then lost it at this SAE Foam Party, second year:

It slipped right off of my hand and into the foam!
Allie and CAE

Luckily, my good friend JEB found it and it has been worn on many occasions:

Big Night 2008

Please don't judge--I thought y'all could use a good laugh at my expense!
DLC and Allie

DLC and Allie

Keg Kill Champions (no thanks to me--I hate beer and was just a cheerleader at this event!)

DJC and Allie

LEE and Allie

It even is the perfect fishing accessory!

What I love about this bracelet is its classic timeless look.  It can be worn fishing or to formals!  

This would make the perfect gift for any special lady in your life (or yourself!).

And here's the kicker-- it's only $59!!! Click here to order it!

What are your staple jewelry pieces?