Thursday, December 29, 2011


Take a look back to my 2010 review here.

Unlike last year, all of 2011 was spent living in Richmond. By January I had finally figured out how to navigate the one way streets, learned the dining "hot spots" and even determined what "100 block" I lived on. It may seem like a small accomplishment but, trust me, it is more difficult than it looks.

To finish out the first month of the year, and take a break from my Richmond accomplishments, a few of us headed to Blacksburg to celebrate Reavis' birthday. This was my first time back since graduating, and man was it long overdue.

All the girls in Blacksburg

The next few months were filled with new people, places, and activities, as well as a lot of trips to DC. And I certainly do mean a lot of them. Jon and I did every touristy thing you could think of, and probably more. We visited a number of museums, saw the Lincoln memorial at night, took multiple trips to the National Zoo, cheered on the Capitals, sang along to the piano at Mr. Smiths, attended the National Harbor food and wine festival, and much, much more. It was a great introduction to big city life, and certainly allowed for many great dates.

At POV, in front of the White House

In between all of those dates in the city, Jon and I headed off on our first mini couples vacation to Duck, NC. We once again became instant tourists, and even crafted a fiercely competitive Minute to Win It competition. It was such a relief to be away from real life for three days, especially because this was the first time Concetta and Will got to meet Jon!

This trip is also when I realized I am dating the male form of my best friend. At least they got along, right?

Outside of "Inn Like Flynn"

Concetta and Jon bonding before Minute to Win It

The first few months of the year were also filled with many exciting announcements and celebrations: My cousin Whitley's wedding, Emily and David's engagement, Ryan and Gina's wedding, and Reavis and Sarah's engagement.

At the end of June my family headed off on a little celebration of our own, a trip to South Africa and Zambia! This trip was something I had been looking forward to for an entire year, and it certainly did not disappoint. The people, sights, and animals were extraordinary. Have I mentioned I love Africa??? I do, however, understand that many families have no interest in visiting countries that can sometimes be considered "third world" or "dangerous". In our travels I have found that these countries are the ones that leave you with the greatest lessons and memories, and I could not be more fortunate for having the chance to visit them.

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Lions outside of our Safari vehicle in Zambia

When we returned from Africa, time seemed to move twice as fast. July, August and September are such a blur.  During these months we had a hurricane AND earthquake threaten Virginia, Jon moved to Richmond, he and I traveled to Atlanta, and much more.

MY month October was certainly one of the more exciting months this year, and it all started with a visit from Concetta and Will! It is always great to have your best friend in the same city, but it is even more fun when you get to become best friends with a few hungry giraffes at the zoo! The rest of the month included a return to Blacksburg for Hokie football, birthday celebrations, Reavis and Sarah's engagement party, a trip to see Wicked on broadway, a special birthday dinner with my family, and LA with Jon!! Not only was LA Jon's first trip outside of the East Coast, but it was our first big trip together. In. love. with. LA. We had the best time, and I am hoping there will be many more trips like this in the future.
Will, Concetta, Me and Jon at Richmond Metro Zoo

Reavis and Sarah's Engagement Party

LA- Sitting on the FRIEND's couch at Warner Brothers Studio

The holiday season is the one I look forward to the most, and the one that always seems to escape in the blink of an eye.  This year November and December were filled with family gatherings, seasonal activities, and lots of love and laughter. Concetta, Jon and I saw Taylor Swift in concert (amazing!!!), Pauli's Girls once again were Top 3 fundraisers in Purplestrde 2011, Katie turned 20, Concetta and I joined our moms in New York (one of my favorite traditions), our family headed to Atlanta for Christmas with the Brysons, we did a tacky light tour, and had an amazing Christmas.

Taylor Swift in Raleigh!
New York City

Tacky Light Tour!
Christmas in Atlanta
With the final few days of 2011 right around the corner, I would be crazy not to be appreciative for the great year I've had. Our family is healthy, I have amazing friends, and I have a whole year of adventures to reminisce on. I hope that you all have had a blessed and exciting 2011, and are looking forward to an even better 2012!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas Blues

Well, the weather obviously knows how I am feeling today: gray skies, rain, rain, and more rain.


Our family had the absolute best Christmas, despite a few unexpected hick ups, and I'll be back to share it with you later this week! As for now I will be finishing up a few tasks before heading to Kroger to pick up some dinner supplies** ! A rainy night like this calls for homemade chicken tacos, a glass of wine, and lots of How I Met Your Mother! Only NPH and Jason Segel can get me over the post Christmas blues. ;)

** That's right, supplies! IE to cook, NOT microwave....maybe there is some culinary hope for the New Year....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

As I crawl into bed on this wonderful Christmas Eve, I want to wish you, and your families, a very merry Christmas and happy holiday! I hope your Christmas is filled with lots of joy, laughter and love...and maybe even a visit from Santa...

...Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking Forward to 2012

With the constant Christmas chatter (at least on my part), it is easy to forget that the New Year is right around the corner. Instead of trying to figure out a silly, fast lived resolution, I am going to focus on appreciating every moment and the blessing of all the exciting things ahead. I have a feeling 2012 is going to be a good one!!

Here are a few of the events 2012 has in store:
  1. Ringing in the New Year in Nashville with Jon, Concetta and Will.
  2. Weddings for two of my good friends, and all of the festivities that come along with them :)
  3. Lion King on Broadway, again!
  4. Family Vacations (our very own version of where in the world is Carmen Sandiego the Lockwood family?!)
  5. France with my best friend and our Moms
  6. My little sister's 21st birthday!!!!!
  7. And so, so much more.
Here is to many more wonderful memories and a very, very happy new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Very Bryson Christmas

This past weekend certainly gave meaning to the lyrics from one of my favorite Christmas songs:"When loved ones are near, It's the most wonderful time of the year"! 

I always look forward to seeing everyone for our annual Bryson Christmas, and having over fifteen family members running around the same house is quite the adventure. This year, Atlanta proved to be the perfect balance of crazy family time and relaxation, which certainly made it hard to leave.

I arrived around 5PM on Thursday night. Note to self: Never, ever, ever arrive to ATL airport at 5PM ever, ever again. Holy traffic. As I told my cousin Amy, my Papa could have given me a piggy back ride to the house faster than we drove there. Didn't all those city goers know I was in a hurry to see my family?! Not to mention eat a home cooked meal by Papa?! Jeepers. An hour and a half later we finally arrived to happy family members, delicious chicken and mashed potatoes, and room to stretch our legs!

Friday was full of errands and more family arrivals (and, of course, another delicious meal by Papa) before the big Bryson Christmas day on Saturday!

One of our errands: Colton's haircut!
Our "Christmas day" began with a little relaxing and quickly picked up the pace with the arrival of our final family members. From there the day went something like this: cook a delicious meal, eat a delicious meal, open presents, and participate in a few family friendly competitions.

Katie, Mom, Dad and Me
Daughters (/Mom and Aunts) with their Mom and Dad (/Nama and Papa!)

Grandkids and In-Laws!
Annual Poker Tournament
In addition to our traditional poker tournament, we decided to also have a cranium battle. Things got a little crazy, but Katie, Amy and I ultimatly prevailed. Looks like the granddaughters are quite a talented bunch ;)

The winning team (taken before we knew we were winners, haha)!
It all came and went far to fast, and Sunday morning we woke up to say our goodbyes. I was so sad to hug everyone goodbye (especially my little bff, Colton) , but I know it wont be too long before we see them all again.

Saying goodbye to Colton :(
So to any of my family reading this, love you all and thank you for another wonderful Bryson Christmas!

Tacky Light Tour!

One of my favorite things about Richmond is that many of the residents enjoy Christmas almost as much as I do. How do I know this? Well, the Tacky Light Tour of course! If you are ever passing through Richmond for the holidays, this is a must do! These homeowners have not only been recognized throughout the city, but in national news as well!

One of the Incredible Houses!
Two weeks ago a group of us put on our best tacky Christmas outfits and boarded a limo to embark on our guided tour of some of these houses. It. was. incredible. Blasting Christmas music in a limo full of your friends, looking at incredible light displays, while enjoying a few adult beverages....seriously, what Christmas lover wouldn't like that?

Our group in front of two of the houses
We booked our excursion with Love Limousine (which I HIGHLY recommend), but there are multiple companies in Richmond which offer the tour. One word of advice: you may stop at the Jefferson at the end of your tour. Make up fake names if you are dressed in tacky gear, or just happen to be as crazy festive as our group.

Jon and I in the limo

Our group in front of the Jefferson
 Here I was in one of the nicest hotels in Richmond, dressed in Santa boxers and booties! I was having such an amazing time that I failed to notice the people dressed in their top designer duds. Instead, I decided to strut around the hotel in my tacky gear as if Alexander McQueen had designed it himself. Hey, that's what the tacky light tour is about! 

In front of the Jefferson's tree!
I hope you all have a very tacky merry holiday!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let the Holidays Begin!

Well it is certainly that time of year again and this afternoon I will be jetting off to Atlanta! My mother's side of the family always meets the weekend before Christmas to catch up, eat Nama's Christmas cookies, and exchange gifts. It is something I always look forward to, and I am so excited to get there and spend time with them!!

I have been really getting into the holiday spirit here in Richmond and cannot wait to share tales of our family filled weekend, tacky light tour, and a trip to Lewis Ginter when I return. I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays as much as I am! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Time in the City, Part 3

Well Sunday sadly came and we woke up knowing it was our last day in NYC. Luckily we had the whole day to run around the city since our planes weren't leaving until 9PM!

After breakfast we met up with the rest of Mom's friends who would be joining her on the remainder of the girls trip (they were all staying until Wed), and headed over to Christie's Auction House. Christie's is currently doing a 2 week exhibit of Elizabeth Taylor's possessions and then auctioning them off to the public for charity. Mom somehow found out about this and we were lucky enough to get tickets to see one of the most iconic jewelry collections in the world! It was truly extravagant. Even her clothes were unbelievably beautiful. I spent the majority of the exhibit trying to fathom how one women was fortunate enough to have all of these beautiful things, and then kind enough to use them to raise money after her passing.

Elizabeth Taylor Exhibit
In front of Christie's
All of those beautiful things must have gotten us into a shopping mood because afterwards we headed to Bloomingdales to brave the crowds and take advantage of their last day of sales. We once again shopped until we dropped and then headed towards Bergdorf's to make our last dinner reservation.

As we were eating dinner we were lucky enough to see Rachel Zoe, Rodger, and her beautiful baby boy walk past us out of the restaurant. For as much as people criticize, she is absolutely gorgeous in person. She also seems incredibly down to earth. We were totally star struck and somehow ran into her two more times before leaving the store. 

We stood in awe as she walked past us once again, smiled, and called "hey babe" to Rodger right before we headed back to the hotel and packed our bags in a taxi.

In the cab to the airport
Hows that for a great ending to an amazing weekend?

Flying back to Richmond :(

Christmas Time in the City, Part 2

On Saturday we woke up bright and early, ate some breakfast, and got dressed for the day. We had one goal for the morning and afternoon: shop til we drop - and we certainly accomplished it.

We started off by walking down Madison Ave and stopping in some of the boutiques like Tory Burch, Dolce and Gabbana, and J Crew - as well as doing some major window shopping. Each boutique was more elegant than the next and, in some cases, made you feel like you were walking straight into the designer's home.

Outside of Tory Burch (Mom likes to zoom in)
Another thing we wanted to do was stop by some of the designer consignment shops in the city. We found the ones that were walkable from Madison Ave and headed to Michael's Consignment Shop for Women and Second Time Around. Man did we hit the jackpot! Over the course of two stores and three hours Concetta and I came out with: two dresses, two tops, 6 pairs of shoes, and one clutch!! The deals were incredible, and we were beyond excited for our new additions!

Our Finds!

Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Cole Haan, Christian Louboutin and an Oscar de la Renta Clutch!

After all of that shopping we had managed to walked about 5 miles and were dying for some food. We decided to stop at Serafina on Madison Ave., which has been frequented by celebrities like Lady Gaga, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and the Kardashians. It. was. delicious. If you are looking for Italian food on Madision Ave, you must try Serafina.   

Serafina on Madison

Mom, Christie, Concetta and I stopped by a few more stores after lunch, and then headed to the hotel to shower, rest our feet, and get ready for another fun night.

In our secret elevator, ready for a night on the town

That night we had another delicious dinner, this time at Firebird Restaurant (try the salmon!), and then walked through Times Square to our broadway show, "Anything Goes". I now know why "Anything Goes" won a Tony for Best Musical. It is the perfect combination of great music, stellar acting/dancing/singing, and a beautiful set. Plus I don't think 5 minutes went by without another laugh, and who doesn't want a broadway show to make you happy?!

All of the girls at Firebirds!
Concetta and I in Times Square
Scene from "Anything Goes"
We left smiling ear to ear and headed towards Rockefeller Center to end the night taking pictures in front of the tree. I. was. in. heaven. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
The tree!

Momma and I in front of the tree

Christmas Time in the City, Part 1

Every year my mother and I spend the first weekend of December in NYC, and it is by far my favorite tradition we share! There is nothing better than 5th Avenue windows, the Rockefeller tree and a good broadway show to put you in the Christmas spirit!

This year Concetta and Christie decided to once again joined us on our mother - daughter weekend. The second I stepped off the plane on Friday, I immediately felt a sense of relief. The stress of work and life have seemed to build up over the past month so a weekend in the city with my mom, best friend, and her mom was exactly what I needed.

After juggling two bags, a purse, and two jackets, I hobbled over to the cab stand, caught a cab to our hotel (the same one my mom has been staying in for over 20 years on her annual trip), dropped off my bags, and jetted off to Bergdorf's for some shopping R&R. The sheer beauty of BG's always seems to amaze me, and not having to navigate through hundreds of people always seems to make it more enjoyable. I had a few hours before I had to meet mom and Christie at Saks, so I walked around the store in awe and made sure to leave with enough time to take in a few christmas windows and get a glimpse of Rockefeller center before our set lunch date.

Bergdorf Window
Tiffany Windows

Concetta arrived around 3 o'clock so, in order to get ready for our night out, we all met her back at the hotel. When Concetta and I were younger we used to take this trip with two other mother daughter couples and sometimes, when we got annoyed with everyone else, would choose to make a bed and sleep in the closet. My mother has stayed in the same room every year since our closet beds, so we decided we would test our old space out the second we stepped in our room.

We still fit!

Ten two outfit changes and a little hair straightening later, we were finally ready to start our night.

We started off by visiting the new 9/11 memorial. Tickets to the memorial are free to the public, but must be booked in advance. I booked ours back in October and chose 5:30PM, in order to insure we would see the memorial lit up. It was truly an incredible, emotional, and surreal moment to be surrounded by so many names of those who had lost their lives, and many who had sacrificed theirs to save others.
9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial
We finished the memorial a little earlier than expect and deceided to head somewhere nearby, with a view of the memorial, before catching a cab to dinner. The W hotel was only a block away and, after Jon and my great experience in LA, I was ready to give the NYC location a try. What a perfect choice! One delicious drink later we were on our way to dinner at The Spice Market.

Concetta and I at the W
Mom had booked our dinner reservations over 3 months ago, and was able to reserve a private room for us to eat, drink and be merry :). We had a wonderful time sharing stories and trying so many delicious dishes. Lentil chips from The Spice Market? divine. We were not quite ready for the fun to end so we walked around the meat packing district, peered in Alexander McQueens storefront and had post dinner drinks at Buddakan before calling it a night.
Our table at The Spice Market
It was, for sure, another amazing first day in the Big Apple.