Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Anniversary Toast...

My sister became Mrs. Bailey two years ago today. I was her Matron of Honor and was excited to give the toast on her big day. I thought I could just get up there, grab the microphone, and speak from the heart without a hitch. However, I was quickly proven wrong when I couldn't find all the words that I wanted so badly to say. That is why today, I am honoring them with an Anniversary Toast...

"We've known each other whole lives..."

It's a phrase we all hear often, whether it's someone introducing an old friend or sharing memories from their past. But if you ever stop to think about it, very few people can say this about someone and actually mean it.

For those of you who don't know, Danielle and I are twins. From the first moment we existed we were together, and that's when our lives began. So when I say, "we've known each other our whole lives", I mean it. It's the one thing that we share with each other that we'll never share with anyone else - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

We grew up playing outside and enjoying many of the same hobbies. We were girl scouts, we swam, we danced, and we even had our own "Mystery Club" with the other kids in the neighborhood. We built forts on the front porch to watch it rain and we rode our bikes down the gravel road we lived on. We went on secret adventures in houses that weren't completely built yet and found new hang out spots in wooded vacant lots, which are now covered in houses.

I think middle school is the time in most kids’ lives that they start figuring out who they want to be. We remained close, even though we started being interested in different things. We were sisters and we always had each other, no matter what friends came and went between us. Middle school is where Josh entered the picture and it was the last day of our eighth grade year that they officially became "boyfriend and girlfriend". (For those of you doing the math, it was June 2000.)

They got to experience a lot of life's ups and downs together, as well as a lot of teenagers' best memories. They went to Junior Prom and Senior Prom together, and all of our homecoming dances. They finished high school and graduated together in 2004. They found their careers and became adults together, and Josh proposed on Valentine's Day 2008.

Josh became part of our family long before their wedding day. We always knew they would get married, it was just a matter of time. "High School Sweethearts" never have an easy path to the finish line - most don't even finish the race. Yet here they are, as husband and wife, showing all of us that true love wins out every time.

Dani and Josh: I love you both and I am lucky to call you my sister and brother-in-law. I am so happy for you and I wish you absolutely nothing but the best because you deserve it. Happy Second Anniversary! <3

                              Junior Prom 2003                    Wedding Day 2010

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Wine Tasting Map

After an afternoon of wine tasting, I picked up this 2012 Virginia Wine Brochure at our last stop. I opened it up to find a huge Virginia map on the back with every winery in the state listed on it. I had an awesome idea to find a bulletin board, attach the map, and start pinning it for every winery we visit. We already collect the tasting glasses & display them in the kitchen, but I wanted another way to document our wine tasting adventures. My plan is to hang it up by the bar for some wall art.

I hope to visit every winery in Virginia - no time frame really, just in my lifetime :). My goal for summer/fall 2012 is to visit all of wineries in Rappahannock & Fauquier.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Menu for Gold Cup

I've been to Gold Cup many times, but I've always worked it! Ross used to go before him & I started dating, so he wanted to go this year - & he wanted me to go with him. I explained to work why I wouldn't be working it this time around & bought my get-up. One of the most important decisions, besides what to wear, was what to make! I went to Pinterest (of course!) & found my awesome Gold Cup menu.



I made this "sangria" with 2 bottles of white wine (Reisling), a 2 liter of Sierra Mist, & sliced strawberries, limes, & peaches. It wasn't strong at all - perhaps even a bit too "punchy". I wasn't a huge fan of this drink, but it served it's purpose. The overall taste of it was good, but it could use some tweaks. Maybe less soda? More wine? Some kind of sparkling something...if you make this & figure something out to make it awesome, let me know! :)
These crackers are AWESOME. The recipe calls for regular size saltines, but for tailgating I thought the mini size would be easier to manage (plus it'd make more servings!). I suggest making these the night before because the oil needs time to soak into the crackers. I did it the night before & it came out great. They're definitely spicy, but in a very good way. You can tweak the recipe to make it less spicy if you prefer it differently, but I recommend that you try it the original way first.


The shrimp salsa! I had to put it back in the cooler a couple times because direct sunlight + seafood = bad news. I did a test run of this last weekend for my father-in-law's birthday & it was a hit. I did find some ways to tweak it though so it'd be even better this weekend. First off, I doubled the recipe. Then I added 2 cans of black beans (drained & rinsed). I only used 5 tomatoes & I used extra jalepeno. Using less tomato was perfect because that means more shrimp! This time around I think was even better than before. I bought the organic blue corn tortilla chips from Target - they're awesome. My new favorite dip chips!

So there it is - my Pinterest finds for Gold Cup! With summer coming up that means more picnics & tailgates which means more opportunities to make fun stuff I've found online. Let me know if you have luck with these recipes! :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Night in a Dump Motel

Have you ever experienced something so bad that you think back before your experience & you think that you never even would've imagined that it would've been that bad? Welcome to my night at the Days Inn in Bedford, VA. I was only there 14 hours, but it's something I won't soon forget.

To catch you up, the first week of March I signed up for a training happening in Bedford this week. There are only 3 motels in Bedford - Super 8, Bedford Motel, & Days Inn. I checked out pictures online through the websites & chose the Days Inn. Hotel booked, class booked, ready to roll. Fast forward to Saturday. On my way home from a separate work trip, I was all over Yelp & Trip Advisor checking out my motel. (Why did I wait until the last minute?? I don't know, that's just what I do.) -- I start reading reviews about "bugs" - "scary" bugs, "smelly" bugs. First bug that comes to my mind when I think of a motel is roaches. I start to get a little nervous. But as I read on, I see that these people are talking about stink bugs & they're from so far out of town they had never even heard of these things. I said to myself, "I can deal with stink bugs - that's no big deal". So I read on.

Next, I notice they're talking about the place being "outdated". Well, I've never known a Days Inn to be high quality, & I wouldn't imagine Bedford to have a state of the art motel. Outdated I can deal with. I continue reading on...by the end of it all, I decided I'll just take my own pillow/blanket & flip flops for shower shoes, just in case. NOW we're at Sunday evening. About 6:30pm I roll into the motel parking lot. Just from the outside I can see that the pictures were stock pictures - not pictures of this actual hotel. But no big deal - the outside of these motels are typically about the same anyway.

I check in & the man tells me I'm in room 36 on the other side of the building. I drive my car around & park in front of my room. It's a one level building with the doors that open to the outside. Awesome. Straight out of a scary movie, right? I take a look around & head into my room. As soon as I open the door, I'm met with a musty stuffy smell. Outdated is a compliment when I see what I've gotten myself into. The place is a dump - old wallpaper peeling off in random places. Dirty baseboards. A flyswater readily available (for the stinkbugs, I assume?). The fridge is dirty & the microwave looks like it's from the 50's. The bathroom is dingy & when you turn the light on, the fan sounds like a jet landing. The place is such a surprise that I actually start to tear up. If you know me, you know I'm not that dramatic - so tears are a big deal over a stupid motel. I call mom immediately. (Of course! Not only is she my mom, but she is an accountant at the office - someone who can help save me from this place!). I tell her how horrible it is & she knows it's not like me to cry over something so silly - so it must be pretty bad. Then I call Ross, he can't believe it can really be that bad but I assure him it is. Of course there's nothing that can change until morning, so I have until my alarm goes off at 7am to deal with this...

The sheets aren't even fitted, they're regular sheets poorly tucked under the stained boxspring. I put my blanket on top of the sheets so I can't even touch them. I watch TV, read, & play on the computer. I decide I can't actually sleep in this place so I'm going to have to stay up all night long. I start smelling cigarette smoke around 1am & peek out my window - the man standing 2 doors down is outside smoking. I look to my door to see a gaping opening where some type of seal should be. This just keeps getting better. Around 2am, I start thinking about Criminal Minds - you know the episode where the guy at the creepy back woods motel has a back entrance into the room & attacks the couple? Yea, I knew my obsession with crime books/shows would bite me in the butt one day. I start thinking that could so happen at this place. Nobody would even know if someone went missing from Bedford. The cabinets under the sink would be a great entrance into the room. Now I'm just freaking myself out - right? Ugh.

Around 3:30am, I seriously contimplate sleeping in my backseat. So seriously, in fact, that I peek outside the window to see what it's looking like out there at this time. I stand there for a second thinking about it, but decide that my tint isn't dark enough. I sit back on the bed. I read & read until my eyes start getting heavy. Then my air unit starts making howling noises every time it turns on - jolts me every time I shut my eyes. FINALLY my alarm goes off at 7am & I can get ready to get out of here! Overnight I've decided that no matter what happens - I'm not staying in that place another night. I'll pay for it myself if I have to. I get up to reluctantly get in the shower (thank God I brought flip flops!) & the water doesn't turn on. SERIOUSLY?! I go to the front desk - tell him I have a class to attend & I need to get ready. He comes back with me & jiggles something around to turn it on. Gee, thanks. I take the quickest shower ever & get ready so I can leave.

I get to my class & the subject of motels comes up - where is everyone staying? A representative from a nearby agency (won't call out names) tells the class if anyone is staying at the Days Inn or Bedford Motel - they need to move. ASAP. There was a prostitution ring busted at the Days Inn "not that long ago". YUCK. Seeing how at work I deal with the very people that I picture being involved in that drug/prostitution cycle - I'm ready to leave class to get my stuff right away. I call my mom again & update her on the situation. She says the office is going to get me out of there. By 11am, I have the go ahead to get my stuff & check out of the Days Inn. I went during lunch & I didn't even turn the car off - I had it packed up in less than 5 minutes! They got me a room in Lynchburg which is a little drive - but I'd drive 100 miles every day before I spent one more second in that room. My room now is amazing & safe & clean & I can't wait to actually SLEEP tonight.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Hobo Dinner"

After a discussion at work about my recent Pinterest dinners, a coworker suggested I make what he calls "Hobo Dinner". It sounded easy so I thought I'd give it a try...it was good! I used the ingredients it called for, but I made 2 mini dinners so that we could personalize to our own taste.

What You Need:

-Tin Foil
-1 lb Beef Cubes (like what you use for stew)
-Soy Sauce
-Dry Rub (or other preferred seasoning)
-Red Potatoes, Chopped
-Baby or Sliced Carrots
-Onion, Chopped
-1/4 stick butter, sliced


Get a decent size piece of tin foil & spray it with Pam. Put beef cubes on the bottom (mine were previously marinated in soy sauce), sprinkle with dry rub. Top with chopped potatoes, chopped onions, baby carrots, & sliced butter. Wrap it up in the tin foil (I put an extra wrapping on in case it leaked). Place it on the grill on low heat for 45 minutes-1 hour.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Some Culinary Adventures, Courtesy of Pinterest!

Needless to say, the husband has been getting spoiled with these recipes the past couple weeks! I took to Pinterest again this week to find some new stuff to make. I've been having a lot of fun with it AND my crockpot is enjoying being used again! Here are some of my recent recipes:


Lemon Dill Roasted Potatoes

I really really liked this dinner! The potatoes were really yummy, probably my favorite potato recipe yet. The BBQ was really good too. The only thing I did different than the recipe is I only used 24oz of BBQ Sauce, I didn't add the additional sauce at the end. I felt like it was plenty of sauce as it was.


This was good too! My only recommendation would be to let it cook longer after adding the biscuits, as some of mine were still a bit doughy. It smelled delicious & tasted better. There will be plenty of leftovers if you're making this for 2, which is great for tomorrow's lunch!


I made the jambalaya as the recipe called for except I used 2 packages of Garlic & Butter Rice instead of 1. It made enough for 4 people + leftovers. I used a package of 8 Pillsbury crescent rolls for the mini pesto rolls. The 1 package made 21 mini biscuits. They were awesome!


I don't have a linked recipe for the blackened tilapia - we just took tilapia and blackened it using Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning and a cast iron skillet on the stove top. For the pasta, follow the recipe above - it called for chicken, but we used fish instead. Use whichever you prefer!


This was pretty good, but not as good as I was hoping. The husband really liked it, but I just couldn't finish my bowl. I feel like maybe if we made it as a side to go along with grilled cheese or something, it'd probably be better. I made it as the main dish, so it was a little too...??...for my liking. I wish I knew what it was about it so I could maybe fix it, but the only thing I can think is maybe it was the cheese. Next time (if there is one), I'll try 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup. We'll see if that makes a difference!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pinterest Dinner Week!

So, this week I decided to make a bunch of the recipes I've pinned on Pinterest. There are so many good ones, but I picked a few of my favorites & made up a menu. Not only did a menu make grocery shopping MUCH easier, but it was nice to get home from work & know exactly what I was going to make. Plus, I think the husband is pretty excited about all these new dishes! ;)
Cilantro Lime Shrimp & Rice

This was probably my favorite meal of the week. I love cilantro so that was an easy win, & the lime isn't overpowering at all so it's a nice compliment to it. The rice is actually their version of Chipotle's rice, & I think it tastes pretty similar. It's pretty easy to make & I'll definitely be making it again.

Crispy Honey Mustard Chicken with Roasted Green Beans

Tuesday, I made this chicken & green bean dinner. It's baked, not fried, so it's healthier for you! I loved the chicken, but be careful if you try to make it - it takes longer than 15 minutes to cook. It had great flavor & I'll definitely make it again. The green beans left something to be desired, but maybe with a little tweaking it could be better. If you find something that works, let me know! ;)

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Asparagus Parmesan

Wednesday night brought Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Asparagus Parmesan. Again, not thrilled with the side dish. I definitely won't make that again, but I hope to find a really good asparagus recipe soon! The tilapia on the other hand, was really good! It didn't take any time at all to cook and it was awesome.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

Thursday night I got home late from work so I was happy to see that this didn't take a lot of time to put together. I hated the idea of ruining my week streak of Pinterest dinners - haha! This was pretty good, but not what I expected. First off, it's definitely spicy. I love spicy food, & this had quite a kick. I also put extra crushed red pepper on mine, which added a lot of the spicy flavor. I probably wouldn't make this again, or if I did, I'd tweak it a little. I will say too though, that my picture doesn't look like the picture on the website. I followed the recipe perfectly (except we left out peas), but their picture looks a little more creamy alfredo where mine looks more marina based.  
                                      Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

Thursday, January 12, 2012

& now I blog...

Alright, I've jumped on the bandwagon...now I blog! I've seen a few of my friends pick up blogging and I enjoy reading what they have to say. I thought it could be sort of "therapeutic" to have a place to vent, to share, and to throw ideas out there.

It's the beginning of a new year, so why not start something new? It's not a resolution, it's a new idea. I don't like the idea of "resolutions". First off, as soon as you tell someone your new year's resolution is to...., they tend to lose a little bit of belief that you'll actually stick with it. Resolutions got a bad reputation and now people don't take them seriously. I think it's a good time to get your priorities straight, because a new year feels like a new slate. Wipe the old one clean and start over. It's a good way to re-evaluate your life and what really matters to you.

I've decided to re-evaluate the time I spend with the people who matter most to me. I know that life gets hectic and crazy. I know that plans get made and things come up. I know that as we get older, our lives change and not everyone is on the same page. We need to make time for what and who is important to us. I want more coffee catch-up dates with old friends. I want more dinner (or sweet frog!) dates with my best friend. I want more "just us" dates with my husband. I want to spend more time with my family, and with his.

I'm going to get back into church. When I was younger, it was Sunday School, Church, Youth Group, Acteens, etc. Now that I'm an adult, I can't even set aside 1.5 hours a week for church? Give me a break. I've been making excuses to myself for almost 5 years, but I'm done.

I kinda like the feeling of this already...writing it all down for whoever to see. It makes me feel like I'm one step closer to making it happen. I don't know how often I'll write, but I think it'll turn into something I enjoy doing. Thanks for reading!