Thursday, May 31, 2012

European Adventure Part 1 - South of France

Well a brief commercial break turned into an eternity, but I am finally back and ready to share! 

Our adventure began in the South of France with Concetta and Christie! Mom and I arrived Wednesday (after a brief train incident) and headed straight to Avignon. Determined to take it all in, we spent the afternoon taking a tour of the town, grabbing a bite to eat and doing a little shopping before heading back to Vers. 

Palais des Papes in Avignon
Vers was the very small, charming town where we were staying. The house we stayed in was something out of a fairytale - complete with winding stone staircases, huge stone rooms, and a terrace with sweeping views. 

The House
Our stairwell

Wednesday is apparently similar to Sundays in Vers and almost every restaurant was closed for dinner. We decided to dress up anyways, have some drinks on the terrace, head into town and go to one of the only open restaurants: a Thai restaurant. Though it was not even remotely French, it was delicious!!

Self timer success
Concetta and I before dinner
We began every morning by waking up, heading to the local patisserie and picking up some breakfast before heading out for the day. 

On Thursday morning, after breakfast, we headed to the Saint Paul Asylum in St. Remy. This asylum is where Van Gogh was held shortly after cutting his ear. It was also where he got the inspiration for, and painted, some of his most famous paintings. I was blown away by the beauty of St. Remy. It was absolutely incredible to see prints of these paintings hanging right next to where the inspiration was taken. 

(**A bit of a side story about St. Paul Asylum - this asylum is still a working asylum and we got a little lost upon entering the museum. We entered some open iron gates and headed towards the clinic. About the time we realized the gates were closing with no other way out, we also realized we were in the real asylum part of the property. We all looked at each other and before Concetta and I had time to react our Moms were already running back through the gates. Hello?! Apparently it was every woman for herself here...even when they are your mom! Luckily we made it back through before we were stuck at St. Paul for good. And they thought it was hilarious! )

Van Gogh's room
Gardens outside of Van Gogh's room
After lunch in St. Remy we headed back to Vers for a kayaking adventure to the Pont Du Gard. During this adventure, we were giving one rule - "stay straight". Unfortunately Mom and I were not the best at following these rules and instead spent 1/3 of our time sideways. We did figure out the steering about halfway through and make it to the Pont Du Gard, which was totally worth the few rock run-ins we had. :)

Before our adventure
Pont Du Gard from our kayak
Thursday night we had a round of drinks on our terrace, headed to a nice dinner, and then decided to try and see the Pont Du Gard again at sunset. We made it about .02 miles into the parking lot and took a picture before the security guard came running after us and said in a not so friendly manner that this was "forbidden". Whoops! And off we went. 

At least it was a successful picture! 
Friday was only a half day for Mom and I before we headed back to Paris, so we spent the morning having some girl talk over pain au chocolats and coca cola lights. It was the perfect way to start the next leg of the trip.

Next up is Paris!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


One more brief commercial break before I relive our wonderful vacation.

BIG NEWS. I have declared myself a hesi-tarian. A what? Basically I am a wanna be vegetarian with a little hesitation....get it.... a hesi-tarian.

It all started one fateful night around the age of eight. Concetta and I were having dinner with Dad at Bill's Barbecue in Hampton. One of us made the mistake of asking what part of the body a hot dog came from, Dad told us about his time visiting a meat processing plant, and Concetta and I never, ever picked up a hot dog again.

Recently, I have become more and more intrigued by the vegetarian lifestyle. A little girl who gave up hot dogs and corn dogs cold turkey can give up anything right? 

Well, sort of. I realized I loved my grandpa's cooking and the occasional crab cake or Subway turkey sandwich too much to give up meat all together. Instead, I have decided to eat completely vegetarian five days a week. That means breakfast, lunch and dinner will have absolutely no meat for whichever five days of the week I choose.

I have been doing this for about a month and a half now (with the exception of a few missed days on our trip) and it has been surprisingly easy!

You can make just about everything with meatless options! I have been making all sorts of things like eggplant parmesan, veggie burgers, veggie meat (similar to veggie burgers) tacos and more!

So far I am loving the change but it is nice to have the option to eat a meat dish too - especially since I am headed home for part of this weekend. Being back on the bay means good seafood is not hard to find, especially when Papa and Nama are back in town. Guess I better choose my two days wisely this week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Again, Home Again.

At the end of every vacation my grandparents used to say "Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog". Now, every time I am heading back to my home, that phrase always comes to mind. For some reason it makes the sad thought of leaving a wonderful vacation a little better, even if you are still wishing for a few extra vacation days to appear out of thin air. 

After some much needed R&R 11 days of running around three wonderful cities - we are all back from Europe! While it is good to be back in the land of oversized portions and weaker currency (haha), I certainly miss my most recent brush with European life.

There is A LOT to write about but for now I just wanted to have a quick pop in while I readjust to real life.  However, I am very glad that returning to that "real life" has meant returning to a great job, seeing good friends, and attending a bridal shower and a graduation party.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their summer! Congratulations to all of the graduates and all of the brides (and grooms) to be. Doesn't it seem like time is flying by?! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


May I just say that I believe this month is going to be the second best month of this least until December rolls around and throws some Christmas cheer in the mix....? 

Why is May going to be so great? Because our family is at off on another adventure!! Katie will be sitting this one out so she can take a summer class in the Bahamas (seriously, how lucky is that?!), but the rest of us we will be headed on a mini European vacation! 

Mom and I will start out our trip in the south of France with Concetta and Christie for some mother and daughter R&R. We will then travel to Paris to meet up with Dad, Jon (on his first international vacation!), Alice and Wayne. After some best friend time in the SOF and some family time in Paris, Jon and I will catch the train to London, which is where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. 

I absolutely cannot wait to spend time traveling with so many people I love (though I will miss my baby sis)! I will be leaving in less than a week, but if you have any recommendations for any of the above countries please send them my way!!!! 

Is anyone else headed on a vacation soon?! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful best friend. It is officially time for a quarter life crisis! I can honestly say strolling past you, your family and your pink panther insulation 19 years ago was one of the best things to happen to me (does this sound like a relationship?). Thank you for always being there through the good, crying with me through the bad, and the many, many laugh attacks.

 I cannot wait to have sprinkle croissants with you in France to celebrate!  Love you!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!

Happy anniversary to the most wonderful parents in the world! Not only are they the best Dad and Mom around, but they have also set a wonderful example of love for Katie and I.  I can only hope that one day I have a marriage as successful as theirs.

I love you both so very much! Enjoy your day of celebration and know that Katie and I are better people because of the immense love we've seen and been shown from you two. Here is to many more very happy anniversarys!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Little Something

Hello from the comforts of my bed! I was just reading this month's Marie Claire and came across a little something in the magazine. It looks like Jon and I's date adventure was a little more popular than I thought!

30 Things You Should Have and Know by 30

While we were in New York my mom cut out an excerpt of this month's Glamour magazine. Glamour had reprinted a list they had written in 1997 called "30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Know by the Time She's 30", and I absolutely love the items they mention. 

Here is the list (VIA Glamour)

By 30, you should have ...
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age -- and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account -- all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. The belief that you deserve it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know ...
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
8. Where to go -- be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat -- when your soul needs soothing.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30

Glamour also has recently published a book based with the same title. The book includes advice from Hilary Clinton, Taylor Swift, Rachel Zoe, Katie Couric and others on how to successful have and know all of these items. 

The book is on amazon here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Date Day!

Every once in a while I am able to convince Jon that it is time for a good ole fashion date day. No "hanging out", no bars, just a day full of things he rolls his eyes at when he hears about them but secretly enjoyed after.

This Saturday was one of those days!

We woke up bright and early and headed to Williamsburg to start our day. Our first stop was Freedom Park where we I had decided we were going to Go Ape. Go Ape is a "treetop adventure"- similar to a ropes course - where you climb up, do obstacles through the trees, ride down on a zip line, and head right back up to the next tree. I had been to a Go Ape in Maryland and was so excited when I heard they had built one nearby! When I told Jon we had to wake up at 7AM on a Saturday to "Go Ape" and do obstacles in trees...he was a little less excited.

The nice thing about Go Ape is that, though you are supervised, you are able to go at your own pace and enjoy the experience without waiting on other groups. Jon and I were selected to go first out of our group and the course took us about an hour and a half to complete. In the end it was Jon saying "I wish there was more!" Needless to say, we absolutely loved it and are already talking about going again with more people soon!

The clearing is part of the final zip line

After going Ape!
After our ape adventure, we made a pit stop at the Williamsburg outlets and then headed to The Cheese Shop for a delicious lunch. If you haven't been to The Cheese Shop, you must go! It is a little piece of sandwich heaven in Colonial Willamsburg.

Seriously, it's delicious. And so is the house dressing. 

We had decided to end our day at the Williamsburg Winery. After hearing so many wonderful things, I was excited to check out the winery for myself. I was shocked at how large the winery was! We started off by doing a tasting and then made our way to the patio of the winery's restaurant to enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

Pulling into the Williamsburg Winery
The restaurant was a perfect option because, unable to decide on a bottle wine we both loved, Jon and I were able to simply get a glass or two of the wine we each liked best (Merlot for him, a blend for me). I soaked in the last hour of our wonderful day with a glass of red wine and was so very happy Saturday turned out to be a successful date day!

Enjoying the patio before heading back to Richmond!

New York, New York

Last week I took a mini break from work and headed back to New York City for the Fast Company Innovation Uncensored event. This was the second year my mom and I have attended this event, and I highly recommend it to any Fast Company lover!

This year we had the pleasure of listening to/meeting a number of speakers including: 
  • Baratunde Thurston, Director of Digital for The Onion and Author of How To Be Black
  • Millard Drexler, CEO J.Crew
  • Stefan Olander, VP Digital Sport, Nike
  • General (Ret.) Stanley A. McChrystal
  • Dr. DJ Patil, Greylock Partners
  • Bob Bowman, President and CEO of MLB Advanced Media
  • Scott Roen, VP Digital Marketing and Innovation, American Express
  • Anna Maria Chavez, CEO Girl Scouts
  • Second City Communications (and Improv Group)
  • Tory Burch, CEO of Tory Burch
  • Paul English, Cofounder KAYAK
  • Mark Crumpacker, CMO Chiptole 
  • Bob Lord, Global CEO Razorfish
  • And More!
Second City Improv Group Performing

Tory Burch
The conference took place on Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers, and I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to hear from some of the minds behind my favorite brands! 

A View from Pier 60
After the conference, mom and I decided to take in a few of my favorite NYC sights before meeting up with my aunt and cousin at Chez Josephine. You know....St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center.....Saks..... :) 

Inside St. Patrick's 
I got a bit distracted by some of those sights and we were running late. In a rush to make the dinner reservation - and with no taxi in sight - Mom got us a pedicab. I would be a little hesitant to board a wobbly wagon on the back of a bike any day but, given we were on 5th ave during Rush Hour, I was very determined to save our lives. "No way. No. Are you crazy?!" We waited for another 2 minutes with our pedicab friend while I desperately tried to get a cab and still no luck. "Fine." I boarded the wagon and desperately searched for a seat belt. It was, of course, no where to be found. One minute into the slightly terrifying ride we passed a nice couple on the side of the road. The man looked at his wife and said "We will never take one of those things in this city...they're a death trap." I looked at my mom (who was having the time of her life by the way), made our driver promise not to kill us as he swerved through 4 lanes of traffic, and decided to enjoy the rest of the ride...just in case it was my last (haha). 
Loving every minute of it!
Luckily we made it to dinner in one piece and headed into Chez Josephine with quite the story to tell!

So happy to be in one piece! (I will was kind of fun...) 
We had scheduled our dinner a bit early because Mom had booked us tickets to see Ricky Martin shake his bon bon in Evita! After two courses of perfection we headed down Broadway to the theatre and watched the show.  It was a short, but wonderful, trip to the city. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

All that Celebrating....

....was because Jon and I have both (officially) started new jobs!!!!

One week into my time at this new company, I can confidently say I could not have made a better career decision. The people, work, and environment make going to work a joy every single day. I could not be happier!

Mom and I will be heading back to New York tonight for the Fast Company Innovation Uncensored Conference, but I will be back later this week to share some more adventures with you all! All of these incredible changes have left little time for blogging. I promise to try harder next week!

April Birchbox!

A little pink package greeted me at the doorstep this Friday and I could not have been more thrilled for its arrival! My monthly Birchbox was finally here! 

The contents of April's Birchbox!
This month the theme of my Birchbox was organic products (based in part upon the survey I answered) and so far I have loved them all! These items were:
  1. Befine Skincare Sampler (Exfoliator and Moisturizer)
  2. Lulu Organics - Lavender and Clary Sage Hair Powder
  3. Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift Perfume
  4. Zoya Nail Polish
  5. Yes To Blueberries - Brightening Facial Towelettes 
In other random Birchbox news, it seems Birchbox has also started a Birchbox Men. For 20 dollars a month the men can join in on the sample fun too! 

Sign up for Birchbox here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

We Are Virginia Tech, 4/16/07

I wrote a longer blog about April 16th last year but, on the eve of the 5 year anniversary, I think I want to let these two videos speak for themselves....

The first video is one of the most vivid memories I have immediately following April 16th and the second is a more optimistic look at the 5 year anniversary.

You can read my blog from last year here:

SO much love to all my Hokies, family and friends. neVer forgeT.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp

Last night I was in the mood to channel Julia Childs, roll up my sleeves, put on my reindeer apron (really) and get into the kitchen. The problems were I had 1. no idea what to cook and 2. no ingredients. To solve the first issue I headed over to my favorite food blog, Skinnytaste, and searched through every possible type of meal. Chicken, pasta, shrimp...there were so many options. To say I was indecisive was an understatement, until I saw the low-cal recipe for Bonefish's Bang Bang Shrimp.

Call me crazy but I am not a Bonefish lover, nor have I ever had the very popular Bang Bang Shrimp. However, Jon loves them. He really LOVES them. If there is a Bonefish in a 15 mile radius of where you are he knows and he will tell you about those silly shrimp. So, all of that loving made the Bangin' Good Shrimp an easy option for dinner last night.

Once I tackled the grocery store (which was an adventure in y'all know where to find cornstarch?!), I headed home and got to cooking. Luckily this recipe was pretty simple - for a beginner like me - and I could make my favorite side dish, Nama and Papa's mashed potatoes, to go along with it.

About 40 minutes later we had this:

As usual, please excuse the poor plating and iPhone photo

I did make a couple changes based on the reviews. Those changes were:
  • I added salt and pepper to the cornstarch coating (recommend this!)
  • I used about 1/4 of the sauce on the shrimp and left the rest on the side in case we needed it (but we did not use it)
  • I added a little extra sirracha to taste (but could have used a little more)
All in all the shrimp were great! It was a wonderful way to try a healthy version of something I have heard oh so much about. And I got my Julia Childs on. Are any of you Bang Bang shrimp lovers?

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools

It is always fun to play a little joke on the unexpecting. So for all you who were successful in the fooling yesterday, congratulations on your engagements, elopements, pregnancies and any other tricks you came up with.

Usually I am pretty aware of April 1st and all the April Fools jokes circulating. However, this Sunday I was truly off my game. I had no idea it was April 1st until it was too late and a joke had already been played on me.  Lets just say my parents got me, they got me real good.

Along with all the good tricks, April 1st also means the start of a new month! I cannot wait to share some of the new adventures this month will bring with y'all, as well as some things from the end of March.

But for now, I am wishing you all a very happy April!