Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Worm

Over the summer, I read a couple of great books and thought I would share. I love being swept up in a good story and always want to get into a good rhythm of turning off electronics and reading for 30 minutes before bed, but it is harder said than done. I track all my books on GoodReads and love how easy it is.
Firefly Lane (4 Stars) and Fly Away (3.5 Stars)
After hearing all the hype surrounding these two books, I dove in. Firefly Lane is great story about friendship and what it means to care for someone no matter what. Fly Away, is very tragic and while the stories were told excellently, it was hard not to be sad. Both books ended a little abruptly in my opinion.
Girls in White Dresses (3 Stars)
Another book with a lot of buzz. A very easy read (I read it simultaneously with another book). It was not exactly what I was expecting and the story line was a little choppy at times. But I recommend for women in their 20’s, very relatable and funny.
I’ve Got Your Number (3 Stars)
Sophie Kinsella is one of my all-time favorite authors. She is quintessential chick-lit at its finest and this was another example of her witty writing. It is easy to like her characters and while the story line is predictable, it is a great girly read.
The Expats (4 Stars)
My best friends Mom lent this book, so I was a little skeptical to begin but loved this book. The Expats is such a great thriller for those who are new to that genre. Plus I loved the aspect of European adventures and twists throughout. I will most likely read this again!
Up next, I am starting on The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen and cannot wait for Kim Greunfielder’s new book, Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink. I loved her previous books A Total Waste of Makeup and Misery Loves Cabernet. And of course Sophie Kinsella’s new novel Wedding Night. What good books have you read recently?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blogtember: Life Lately

For today's Blogtember it's all about Life Lately! I love looking back on these types of posts and remembering all the fun times I have had. (PS - I love the timehop app to see what happened a year ago on your social media) I decided it is always fun to do a large photo dump, so here is what I have been up to lately!

"We are the Millers" at the Drive-In Theater, complete with wine!
Enjoyed refreshments while cruising on my friends boat one afternoon.

Love lazy Sunday mornings on my porch with a good book and frappe!

Lots of pretty runs and walks outdoors, taking full advantage of beautiful weather in Richmond.
NASCAR tailgate and racing at Richmond International Raceway!

First Ravens game of the season!

Late night wiffleball games are even better when you win!

My company's employee appreciation day at Kings Dominion with friends!

Brunch with sorority sisters at my new favorite place, The Black Sheep!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Favorite Fall Treats

So I was really trying to hold off on jumping into Fall so early in the season but the recent cooler weather here in Virginia has pushed my cravings for all things pumpkin, apple, and candy corn! So I picked a few of my favorite fall recipes from my Fall Pinterest Board to share with you all.
All the recipes I choose were easy to make and most of the ingredients you should have on hand. I like my dessert prep time low so I can start enjoying in the tastiness sooner!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blogtember: A Memory I would love to relive

This is definitely a hard one. But for where I am now in my life, the memory I would love to relive is my college graduation. Graduating college was such an accomplishment and the weekend cumulating it all combined all my loved ones in one special place.
My family post-graduation
Graduation was a complete whirlwind and came and went without a full realization and acceptance that I was leaving the people and place I spent the last 4 years (about 1/5 of my life). Now I do miss college, mainly the people, the campus/mountains, and the food, but I also love post-grad life. However, graduation was one of those special moments where you just feel different than every day, normal world. I felt so special and loved, and nothing can replace that anxious, nervous, excited, “I can’t believe I am doing this” feeling of hearing your name and walking across the stage at graduation. 

We Graduated!

We did it! 
Going back I would try to 100% live in the moment, not be worried about what is to come, or what I would be missing but enjoying in the present (plus I would like to be healthy, I had walking pneumonia at the time).

Best friends at our graduation party! 

Celebrating our last night in Blacksburg

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend Recap!

Happy Monday Friends! My weekend was great, one of the best I have had in a while. It was one of those weekends filled with perfect weather, great fun, and the best friends and family. 

 Friday night, my boyfriend and I headed up to Northern Virginia to celebrate our friend’s birthday. I hadn’t been up in a while and was so happy I got to see one of my best friends for the first time in 3 months.

 After sleeping in and enjoying some breakfast with my boyfriend’s parents, we headed to Maryland to see my family. In typical fall Saturday fashion, we opened up all the windows (loved the crisp autumn air), watched college football, and snacked most of the afternoon. 

 My mom and I took a little break from football for a quick trip to Kohl’s. I have been eyeing this J. Crew look-a-like button down and my Mom has a Kohl’s card (extra 20% off!) so we went and snatched one up! (I sized up 2 sizes FYI)
Elle Top

 Sunday we were up bright and early for Raven’s tailgate filled with grilling, corn hole, and lots of beer. While the Ravens did not play that well, they still came out with a win. Plus, I was so excited to be back in Baltimore for football and introduce my boyfriend to his first Raven's experience.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Atlanta Recap

Hi Friends! I decided to take a little break from Blogtember to tell you a little bit about a recent trip to Atlanta. Back in August, I headed to the Atlanta suburbs for work. My company is great about providing training classes for their employees, and I have been able to travel to Philadelphia and San Francisco in the past.

Side foodie note: If you are in the Alpharetta neighborhood, try Noche. Some of the best sangria I have ever had, great specials, friendly staff, and good tapas.

Luckily, my Mom and sister had not started school back up yet, so they joined me for the latter half of the week when we had all the fun!

Wednesday – We attempted to go to a Braves game, but it was rain delayed (they didn’t end up starting til after 9pm). So we grabbed dinner at a restaurant nearby, as a recommendation from a friend. I highly suggest Six Feet Under. My mom and I split fried green tomatoes, and then I devoured their specialty fried catfish and jalapeno cornbread. I also tried some Sweetwater Beer (would have been a great brewery trip, but my sister is 17). ‘Six Feet Under’ is aptly named for the famous Oakland Cemetery it is across from; if it wasn’t raining I would have loved to walk through.

Thursday – We headed straight from my class with Chick-fil-A in hand to the Georgia Aquarium. (They have later summer hours, so be sure to check their availability before going, and weeknights meant less crowds) It was excellent and had some great interactive exhibits for kids.

My syster and I in front of the stingray tank

All the girls at the Aquariam

Touching an anemone!

Friday – I had a half-day of class and an 8:30pm flight, so we had plenty of time to explore the Coke Factory before heading home. The Coke Factory was by far my favorite, if you are in Atlanta GO!

There were so many cool Coke bottles around the exhibits

We saw the 4-D show about Coke's "Secret Formula"

At the very end you got to taste Coke products from all over the world!

It was a great time, I wish I could have seen a little more but am thankful for my opportunity to travel!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blogtember: Life Takes Turns

Describe the distinct moment your life took a turn.

The first thing that came to my head when I read this was my college move-in day. I applied to 6 schools, all out-of-state and fell in love when I stepped foot on Virginia Tech’s campus. I sent in my acceptance shortly thereafter, and anticipated moving in, making friends, going to football games, joining a sorority, etc. However, it really hit me when I unpacked the last of my items into my dorm room that, to begin at least, I was completely alone.

Being an out-of-state student at a large public state university, meant most kids had a few (if not a lot) of their high school friends as security blankets for the first few weeks. I knew no one. And to help, my roommate had already moved in and went back home until school started 3 days later. I felt like I had zero friends. But soon after I met a girl on my hall, in a similar situation as me and met more and more girls. Some of my favorite memories of college take place with those girls in that dorm.
Hallmates the first football game
(apparently jean skirts were still in as 3 of us were sporting them)

My very first college class, Geology (Rocks for Jocks, y’all), I slid into an empty seat next to a girl and struck up a conversation. We ended up becoming great study partners and friends, and even planned to take our next semester of geology together. While I didn’t end up remaining close with her throughout the rest of our 4 years (she took two co-op and we lost touch), meeting her and becoming friends that first day gave me confidence to strike up conversations and meet more and more people.

My geology friend and her roommates

Nowadays, my friends will tell you how I introduce myself to people before people can introduce me. And I will not lie; it is much easier to do when you have a great support group around you. If you do get shot down or the person turns out to be a total weirdo, it makes a great story to laugh about with your friends. I think I took a large step out of my comfort zone those first few weeks at school. And it prepared (*pushed*) me to continue to step out of my comfort zone to take opportunities and create experiences I will cherish forever. I could have taken the easy road and went to school close to home, with friends but I choose my own path and I could not be happier with my decision.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blogtember: Personality Test

Today's Blogtember post is all about the Jung Typology Test concerning your personality. After answering the questions, I found my results to be "ESFJ" Type or Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging.

To help you get a little idea of what ESFJ's are like, we are known as the caregivers and Monica Gellar/Bing from FRIENDS is a famous ESFJ. (Although I am no where near her level of clean freak)

"ESFJs at their best are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful, down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized, enthusiastic, and energetic. They enjoy tradition and security, and will seek stable lives that are rich in contact with friends and family."
My favorite part of the ESFJ's description is that we love being around friends and family, and I feel the same way. My best memories and favorite moments are spent around loved ones.

We enjoy and joyfully observe in holidays and traditions.
I love holidays and thrive on traditions. One memory that sticks out to me for this item, is my tradtion of always watch "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (with Jonathan Taylor Thomas!) on ABC Christmas Eve. They stopped airing it sometime when I was in college but my Mom found me a DVD copy so I could watch!

ESFJs have had the benefit of being raised and surrounded by a strong value system that is ethical and centered around genuine goodness.
This rings true with how my Mom and Dad raised me around the ideas of hard work and family first. My dad put himself through college and my mom worked part time jobs all through high school and college, they gave me the idea of strong work ethic from an early age and that things are not handed to you, you work for them. Additionally, they highly value family, and stress the value of qaulity family time.

They demands structure and organization with a strong focus on the details of life.
I thrive in a structured and organized environment. I love lists, keep my calendar up to date, and plan for things (probably too) far in advance.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Five and Blogtember

TGIF, I am so thankful it is a short week. But sadly, I know next week will seem extra-long in comparison. Luckily I have fun things to look forward to the rest of the fall! Today I'm teaming up for a combo Friday Five and Blogtember!

Ever since moving to Richmond a little over a year ago, I have wanted to participate in the NASCAR events. Luckily, my company sponsors the event and gets discounted tickets so a few friends and I are hitting the tracks Saturday. Anyone have any advice for a first time NASCAR-er like me?

Tailgate Food
Speaking of NASCAR, no fall event is complete without tailgating. Now usually I am spoiled by my Dad who has his “tailgating boxes” and grill packed every weekend for NFL or college football. Any suggestions for easy, must try tailgate recipes?

Fall TV Premieres
All the Fall TV promos are out! I am thinking of picking up “Hostages” on CBS (where the wife has to kill the president during a surgery or her family will be killed) and “Super Fun Night” on ABC (Rebel Wilson and her two best friends always get together Friday nights). Are there any fall shows I must see? Also, you better believe I will be catching up on Season 2 of Scandal now that it has hit Netflix.

Rifle Paper Co. Calendars
Rifle paper is offering 15% off all 2014 calendars through September 10th with code “JACKPOT15”. I having been eyeing their calendars for quite a while now and bite the bullet on the America’s and Herb’s Calendars. I can’t wait to display these and frame some of the fabulous prints in the future.

Blogtember (A story about a time you were afraid)
The closest thing I can think of right now to being afraid was my “day-trip” to Belgium. Quintessential American girls abroad story right here. While in Paris this past February, my friend and I took a train into Brussels. We made the mistake of buying the return ticket for the day later, so we headed back to the train station (it was snowing and I was wearing flats by the way). When we got to the train station, the clerk would not let us return our ticket because we bought it online. I tried buying a phone card and calling to change for about an hour, but alas neither I nor my friend speaks a lick of French. After attempting to get on 3 trains by asking the conductor if we could pay the difference in ticket prices (75 euro each, to which we had a measly euro to spare – remember we were only supposed to be there 8 hours) he finally let us. We ran around the train station for about 3 hours before finally heading back to Paris, it was absolutely draining and I was really afraid to be stuck in a city where I didn’t speak the language and had no money. But looking back it is quite the story, but I don’t think I’ll be back to Brussels anytime soon.

In Brussels 2/2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blogtember: Useful Advice

Today's topic is one of my favorites, "Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remember." I raked my brain for a lot of advice, but this one seemed very appropriate for where I am now in life.

Haven’t we all gotten a lot of advice? Especially during our scary ‘transition years’ from carefree college student to motivated post-grad. Some of that advice is good, some iffy, some just plain weird. But I have come to find, that for me useful advice tends to focus around making you live a better, happier, easier life. One thing that has really resonated with me recently is this quote by Robert J. Sawyer.

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace” Robert J. Sawyer

There are so many little things in life that take up unnecessary, precious space. I have a nasty habit of holding onto grudges and overanalyzing certain situations. In the end, all these little things are affecting my mood for the worse. Learning to brush all those little annoyances, helps you reach that inner peace.

Yes, it may be frustrating to be live with someone with differing views or when you can never find parking. Or to be compared to other peers at work, but learning to let go, and eventually ignore (baby steps) really benefits you in the end.

I have found one thing that really helps me is long walks (many times paired with a long phone call to my Mom). Fresh air, exercise and a little distance from the situation can bring you to that place of letting go and onto the path of inner peace.

I would love to hear any of your useful advice!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Hope everyone had a fabulous Labor Day Weekend! I had no plans, and spent the weekend relaxing, catching up on some chores, and preparing for the rest of September.
In an effort to start blogging more, I am participating in Blogtember with The Story of My Life. The first topic is "Describe where or what you come from."
The older I get the more I realize how much my family and upbringing has influenced my life and where I am now. I am the oldest of 3 girls, and 14 cousins (both my Mom' and Dad's side), and I am the quintessential first born. Growing up I tended to get along with my youngest sister (we are six years apart and she is my "baby sister") better than my middle sister (2 years apart). We definitely have a healthy sibling rivalry since we competed in just about everything (school, sports, etc) growing up.
My sisters and I at the Clemson vs. Tech Game 10/12
Sisters post soccer games
(couldn't find the original, stole from my sister)
Speaking of sports, I played soccer competitively and it was my life growing up. I usually had practice or games 6 days a week. Both my sisters played too, so no matter the day or time, someone was playing in my family. My dad is a certified coach and coached my travel soccer team. He instilled so many great values in me not only as a Dad but a coach. The two biggest things my Dad taught me (I realize it more as I am in the working world), is that you need to work to live, not live to work and to be confident and believe in yourself.
My Dad and I after a big soccer win in the 4th grade!
I think having such a big, crazy family has lead me to want to live a big, crazy life. I get bored sitting at home by myself, don't get me wrong some days that's just what the doctor ordered but usually I love being around people or running around doing stuff. I am a super planner who loves to fill her weekends with fun, new events (I also love to travel). And want to live a full life!