Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

I hope all of you leap day babies out their enjoyed your single digit birthdays, and that the rest of you took advantage of some of the many hotel/food/clothing deals out there!! As for me, I enjoyed my last Febru-any sub :( $5 dollars for a meal that lasts both lunch and dinner? yes mam.  (Although Jon has informed me that the turkey sub is always $5 dollars, but it just won't be the same.)

To send February out properly we attended the Virginia Wine Expo this past weekend with a group of friends. It was fabulous! 70+ wineries doing tastings, wine goods for purchase, delicious food, great friends...I was one happy girl. Not to mention, Ryan and Gina made the trek up from Virginia Beach to join us! 

1/2 of the out of town visitors :)

The Group minus Elyse and Nelson

We decided to attend the Expo on Friday in order to beat the crowds, and I sure am glad we did! There was still a large number of people there but we never had to wait more than 5 minutes to taste a specific winery. They also had just about every kind of wine you could imagine. From red to white, sweet to dry, warm to frozen...the Expo had it all! 

wine lovers

Such a wonderful night!

I hope we keep up the good momentum in March, and that more weekends are filled with good wine, good friends, and some good ole fashion college headaches in the morning. :) Happy March!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Next 100!

First and foremost, I cannot believe I am over the 100 mark in blog posts. A huge, huge thank you to all of you who have read this, laughed a little, put up with my crazy posts, challenged cooking, and so much more. You have no idea what it means to me :)  When I started this blog I had no idea how much I would cherish it. How many people have a basic account of their post college life that they can look back on for years to come? And the fact that people actually read and enjoy it, that truly blows my mind (in a very great way). SO thank you, thank you, thank you for reading the good, the bad and the ugly. You are the best.

Secondly, can y'all believe this weather?! I have been trying to take full advantage of these spring like temperatures because I just love this type of weather. Who doesn't? One of my favorite past times is to throw on some shorts, lace up the tennis shoes, and head out for a walk around the Richmond neighborhood of the day. Normally this means alternating between Libbie/Grove, Carytown, Monument, River Road and those areas in between.

I recently took one of my favorite routes and ended the walk with a trip through the grounds of the VMFA. As I turned the corner and headed home, I was left with this image:

What a perfect way to end a day, and begin the next 100 blog posts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Burch vs. Burch and 100th Post!

Two in one day? And my 100th blog post? And Wine Expo Tonight? Woohoo!

I am back so soon because I wanted to share an article I just read with y'all. I was a bit slow to jump on the Tory Burch train, but now I am in love with her flats, handbags, clothing, etc. So in love, that I even made sure to stop by her Madison Ave. shop while we were in NYC.

In front of the Tory Burch Door (Mom loves to Zoom.)

This morning I read a very interesting article about Tory and her ex-husband, and I wanted to share. Tory's ex, Christopher Burch, has recently started a brand called C. Wonder, which looks strikingly similar to Tory Burch in every aspect. The difference? C.Wonder sells at a lower price point than Tory Burch.

C. Wonder Left. Tory Burch on right. (Image from New York Magazine.)

Tory Burch Store

C. Wonder Doors and Entrance (Image from Design Library)

Love it? Hate it? The tale behind these former lovers, their rise to fame, divorce, and new competition, is highlighted in the New York Magazine article (found here).

Some will see this as the magazine described:

"To Tory Burch, he might as well have erected a giant lacquered middle finger in the front window, directly facing the orange-lacquered doors of her eponymous store a few blocks away."

Others, in an era of continued success by stores like H&M and Forever 21, will see this as a great way to get fashion for less. 

What do you think?

Wine a Little

Happy Friday!! I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful weather!

Tonight a group of us will be heading to the annual Virginia Wine Expo for a night full of wine tastings and good friends. Seriously, what could be better than wine and friends? This will be my first year attending the show, and I cannot wait to experience this Richmond tradition.

Image VIA
For the event, wineries from all over Virginia come to the Richmond Convention Center to do tastings/offer more information about wine. This year about 70 Virginia wineries will be exhibiting, and I cannot wait to try them! (Responsibly, of course, Dad and Mom.) :)

If you all have any interest in visiting the Virginia Wine Expo this year, you have until Sunday! More information is available here. Or simply purchase tickets here (about $30-35 online, $40 - 45 at the event).

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christmas in February!

Last night I received a surprise inbox delivery from Birchbox! After multiple days of stalking my g-mail account, I have finally been taken off of their waiting list!! I did not talk to anyone for the next 5 minutes as I excitedly signed up, filled out my beauty profile, and basked in the glow of being a Birchbox member.

For those of you who have not heard of this company, Birchbox is reinventing the way people perceive and use samples. They changes them from something you toss into a drawer, to a wonderful surprise that you cannot wait to try. Each month a Birchbox will be waiting on your doorstep. The box is filled with 4-5 samples they think you'll love, based on your beauty profile. When you find yourself in love with one of your new samples, you can even buy the full size version right off Birchbox's website!

Another added bonus: Good bye TSA problems, hello travel sized beauty.

Image Via

I have been on the subscription waiting list for about two weeks and am so excited to finally receive my first package next month! These subscriptions are perfect for yourself, your bridesmaids, your friends, and more. Sign up today at Birchbox!

Birchbox offers yearly ($110), monthly ($10 per month) and gift subscriptions.

Stay tuned for my March Birchbox!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?!

Last night, Jon and I had a date with Raffiki at the opening night of The Lion King. I was so estactic about this date!! Like in the singing Hakuna Matata and Circle of Life all day kind of way. Out loud. To people. And it is my fourth time seeing it. (Hi my name is Jessica and I am an addict).

Wednesday Night Date <3

I will admit that I have always found the acoustics at the Landmark to be sub-par. It is a bit disappointing to know the capability of these performers and not hear it as perfectly as you would in other locations, but the show must go on.

And go on it did. It was incredible!!  The Lion King is visually amazing, heartwarming, and full of talent. Not to mention, the songs are perfect in every way. I truly get chills just thinking about the opening act. I now have new aspirations to be a giraffe or elephant in the show, because goodness knows I can't sing. 

Oh and to become best friends with Raffiki. Seriously. She's beyond fantastic.


When the show ended I asked Jon to stop and wait for me to buy a CD. Luckily, he so nicely agreed. I am so happy I made the purchase! You can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be listening to that bad boy while driving/showering/hula-hooping/sleeping/etc.  AND it came with a free behind the scenes DVD!!! I'm. in. heaven.

My New CD/DVD!

 In all seriousness, if you live in Richmond, you must take advantage of this incredible opportunity. Of all of the shows I have seen, The Lion King is by far my favorite musical. I am positive you will not be disappointed.

Tickets are still on sale here. The show will be here until March 11.


Someone got a new job and it definitely calls for a big blog-o-sphere congratulations!

Congratulations, Concetta!!!!  

I am so proud of you/excited to visit/hope you will become friends with T Swift/need to find a private jet so I can visit more often/cant wait for 1000 more hours of hours of house tours with you!!!!!! OK, I might have been kidding about that last one. 

Love you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We're All Fired Up!

Well, I did the impossible. After six months of begging and pleading, I finally convinced Jon to take me on a date to the pottery place in Carytown. Oh yes! My sports loving, beer drinking, boyfriend was finally going to paint pottery with me. Not only that, we got Mike and Amanda to come along too! It was such a successful Saturday!

All Fired Up in Carytown (Image VIA)

When we arrived, we each picked out blank canvases and let our inner artist shine (especially Jon!). And by that I mean we annoyed the heck out of the staff there, but it was worth it! Amanda and I got to have some good ole girly fun while the guys were convinced they were racking up some serious good boyfriend points. Win-win for all.

After an hour of pure creativity, Jon and Mike started to get antsy so we painted our final touches, signed our names, and handed over our works of art. It takes a week for them to glaze and fire so we had to wait until this Saturday to go back and pick up our masterpieces!

Here they are!

Mike's Bowl and Amanda's Wine Glass
Jon's Plate

Inside of my bowl
Outside of my bowl

The VMFA will probably be calling us soon to display them. Don't worry, I'll make sure all blog readers get in free!

PS. Opening night of the Lion King tonight!!!!! I am so excited!!! Anyone else going while it is in Richmond??

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!  This holiday is always a bit controversial to the world, but I thought I would share my (way too many chocolate covered expresso bean induced) thoughts with y'all.

As I mentioned last year, my family has always celebrated Valentines Day together. So, whether Katie and I were single or not, we still got excited about the day. Especially because of my Dad's annual ding dong ditch. Dad would always ring the doorbell, leave us a small present, and sneak back in the back door before we found it. For years we really thought we had a secret admirer and, even after we knew it was him, we loved every second of it. It always made the day a little extra special.

Since Katie and I are both away from home now, my family has found new ways of celebrating. This morning, after a not so great morning at work, I received a call from the receptionist saying she had something waiting for me. When I arrived I saw a bouquet of flowers from my little sister. So beautiful, and so perfectly timed.  My parents also sent up a little gift to us (which I am waiting to open this afternoon).

The flowers

You see, it doesn't all have to be about being single or taken. It also doesn't have to be the worlds largest annual stoplight party. Valentine or not, commercial holiday or not, it is nice to take the time to tell people you love them. Sure, maybe we don't need to have a day that forces us to do it. But isn't it nice to have a day in the middle of the week that is a little more special than normal?

You can celebrate with your friends, family, boyfriend/girlfriend, anyone. Celebrate with the people you like (or love) and enjoy it. Or, if you chose, celebrate the fact that you all mutual hate it. Just celebrate in general. And eat a few chocolates while you're at it. :)

So, happy valentines day everyone! Whether you love it or hate it, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quick and Easy Valentines Day Treat

Need a last minute treat for Valentines Day, but don't want to buy a typical heart shaped box of chocolates? No problem! This recipe allows you to make something quick and easy for your loved one!

What you need:
  • A bag of small pretzels - preferably the circular or square kind
  • One bag of Hersey kiss (can use any kind) or Rolos
  • One bag of M&Ms (any kind/color)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place the pretzels on a cooking sheet
  • Unwrap Hersey kisses/Rolos and place in center of each pretzel
  • Once each pretzel is covered, place the sheet in the oven for 1-2 minutes
  • Take out of oven
  • Press M&M into the center of the Hersey kiss/Rolo
  • Allow to cool for 30-45 min
  • Wrap up in Valentines Day box and you are ready to go! (Or simply serve them to your guest!)

An example of the finished product (from Disney's Family Fun Website). I foolishly forgot to take a picture of the completed work!

I made these last night to give to Jon and his roommates, and they were ready in under an hour. Not to mention, they were delicious! It is the perfect last minute (or not so last minute) treat!

Stay Tuned

Not only is tomorrow Valentines Day, but this week is also the week I get to see the Broadway production of the Lion King for the 4th time. I could not be more excited! Can you tell it is my favorite??

I also have a lot to catch you up on! Here is an idea of some of the things that have been going on around here:
  1. We got in tune with our artistic side at All Fired Up, and have the new pottery to prove it!
  2. We had a nice birthday dinner for my dad in Williamsburg
  3. I made a quick and simple Valentines Day treat for Jon and his roommates (post coming very shortly!)
  4. I found two small Valentines Day treats at a wonderful little shop in Richmond for my roommates (shh don't tell them yet)
  5. LION KING. Oh don't you worry, there will be a post about it.
  6. And more!
Until then I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dining Out - Richmond

I don't know how or why this happened, but review and "top ___ list" websites/articles are my new best friends. Before I go anywhere, I like to know all of the best places, read if they live up to that hype, and then plan out which we might visit and which we wont. This goes for attractions, restaurants, hotels, anything.

Having lived in Richmond for over a year now, I have found some restaurants I absolutely LOVE and want to share with you! So any of you random list lovers like me, listen up! This might help you make your next Richmond food selection!

(I should note, I am not much of a chain restaurant person. At all. Unless it is Chipotle or Febru-any at Subway (does anyone else have that song stuck in their head?!), you will rarely find me there. With so many options in Richmond, why not try something more original. I am also not much of a dining out breakfast person, so unless it is brunch, you wont find that on here either.)

Lunch in Richmond:
  • To-Go Options
    • Cuisine A La Carte
      • Location:  5606 Patterson Ave (just past Willow Lawn)
      • Hours: Mon-Fri: 8AM-5PM, Saturday: 10AM-3PM
      • Opinion: This is one of the most unique tasting sandwich shops I have ever been to, and I absolutely love it!! My go to is the ABC Box lunch (Apple, Bacon and Cheese Sandwich with your choice of side and dessert), but the options are endless! Though the shop is small, this is certainly a sandwich lovers gem on Patterson Ave. (*They also have a few tables if you would like to eat there)
    • Street Deli
      • Location: 10th Street and Byrd (Downtown)
      • Hours: Monday - Friday, 11AM-2PM
      • Opinion: I, like many not born in a city, was a little put off by the idea of eating from a food cart. Until living here, all of my experiences with them have been at fairs and festivals, and no where near gourmet. However, Street Deli completely changed my opinion!! This cart has a wide array of sandwiches, salads and wraps, as well as a build your own option. It is my go to when trying to get a delicious, but quick,  lunch. I strongly suggest that all of you Downtown workers check it out.  
  • 30min-1 hour Sit Down Lunches
    •  Shockoe Expresso
      • Location: 104 Shockoe Slip
      • Hours: Please see website
      • Opinion: As an extension of Mill Mountain Coffee, you will think you have simply walked into an average coffee shop, but they offer great food options as well. It is an excellent choice if you are downtown and looking for a good, semi quick salad or sandwich.
    • Urban Farmhouse
      • Location: 1217 East Cary (Downtown/Shockoe Bottom)
      • Hours: Mon- Fri: 6:30Am - 8PM, Sat: 7:30AM - 9PM and Sun: 7:30AM- 8PM
      • Opinion: The Urban Farmhouse has fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients according to their website, and simply delicious food according to me. I stumbled upon the Urban Farmhouse when I had left work to search for food in the cold,pouring rain (yes, this is Survivor). I finally reached the doors of this beautiful restaurant and took solice in their cozy ambiance. I was not expecting the food to be more than average, but man was I wrong. So very, very wrong. Since that day I have been back multiple times, including once with Jon for brunch. The Urban Farmhouse has quickly gone from a place off my radar screen, to one I insist people visit. Including you :) 
  • Longer Lunch
    • See Inexpensive/Moderate Dinner places
      • all offer delicious lunch menus
Dinner in Richmond
  • Fairly Inexpensive (*all of the following are also great options for a longer lunch)
    • Plaza Azteca
      • Location: 6623 West Broad Street or 12020 West Broad (two locations)
      • Hours: Please see website
      • Opinion: Ok, ok to be fair, this one can kind of be considered a chain. But it takes me back to my roots since it started in Hampton Roads and has followed me here to Richmond. Cheap, but good, mexican food. Fresh made guacamole at your table, quick service, and more. Not to mention, this was one of the only restaurants open during the the hurricane this year and I believe they fed half the city of Richmond, so they are dependable as well!
    • Joe's Inn 
      • Location: 205 N. Shields (Fan)
      • Hours: Mon-Thurs and Sun: 8AM - 12AM, Fri-Sat: 8AM-1AM 
      • Opinion: Joe's happens to be the first "real" Richmond restaurant I visited when I moved here.  Their menu is mostly Italian, but also features an all day breakfast, wide array of entrees, and many sandwiches.
  • Moderate (* all of the following are also great for a longer lunch)
    • Stellas
      • Location: 1012 Lafayette St. (Near 3900 block of Monument)
      • Hours: Please See Website.
      • Opinion: Stellas is a Richmond institution that recently reopened in a new location. Big portions, delicious food, great ambiance, what more could you want? How about affordable carafes of wine? They have those too! I have never had a dish here that I disliked, which is saying a lot from a picky eater like me. You almost always have to have a reservation to get into Stellas, but just head over to OpenTable and easily make one! You are missing out if you don't give this one a try.
    • The Hill Cafe:
      • Location: 2800 Broad Street (Church Hill)
      • Hours: Please See Website
      • Opinion: A great, quaint location in Church Hill with all of your dining favorites. There is a wide array of options for all types of eaters, from seafood lovers to vegetarians, and each meal seems to impress even the toughest critics. I have been here for both lunch and dinner and enjoyed it for both.
  • Nice Night Out
    • Pescados China Street
      • Location: 626 China Street (Oregon Hill)
      • Hours: Dinner: Mon-Sat 5PM-10PM (also serve lunch, please see website for times)
      • Opinion: The location of Pescados is very unassuming. In fact, when I first arrived, I was sure I had gone to the wrong place. But the delicious array of seafood options certainly speak for themselves.  My favorite is the scallop dish, but I have heard nothing but good things about the rest of the menu. They offer cheap date night on Tuesday and half price wine on Wednesdays. They do not currently take reservations.
    • Ironfish by Pescados:
      • Location: 3061 Lauderdale Drive (Henrico)
      • Hours: Tues-Sat 5PM-close (closed Sunday and Monday)
      • Opinion: Ironfish's menu is very similar to Pescados, with small variations. The interior of this location is beautiful and open, and perfect for those looking for new options in the West End. Again, the scallops here are delicious, as are their fried oyster app! Ironfish does not currently take reservation.
    • The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing
      • Location:4708 East Old Main St (Rocketts Landing)
      • Hours: Opens at 5PM for dinner
      • Opinion: Location, location, location! Who doesn't like dining with a view? Especially when that food is on par with the beautiful location. If you want to take out of town guest somewhere, you can have a view of the city, the James, and a great meal all at once! You must try the fried oysters here, they were some of the best I've ever had. Reservations may be made on OpenTable.

      • Amuse at the VMFA (Only open Thursdays and Fridays for Dinner)
        • Location: 200 N. Boulevard (Museum District)
        • Hours: Thurs/Fri: 5PM- 8PM (Open for lunch daily)
        • Opinion: Amuse is located inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and overlooks their sculpture garden. Since they are only open two nights a week for dinner, it is sometimes difficult to get a reservation. However, the food is certainly worth the wait. If you are unable to get a reservation, you should at least stop by for a drink at their (semi-small) bar. Reservations can be made on OpenTable.
    Weekend Brunch:
    • Saturday and Sunday
      • The Water Grill
        • Location: 3411 West Cary St. (Carytown)
        • Brunch Hours: 10:30AM-3PM
        • Opinion: I love this place for brunch. Seriously, I have been here at least 20 times. I love having the option of choosing between breakfast and lunch, especially at a place with so many types of options. Pancakes, eggs, salads, sandwiches, seafood, etc...they have it all. And they are all good enough to keep you coming back time and time again. Looking for something unique? Try the Fried Green Tomato BLT. Reservations can be made on OpenTable.
    • Sunday Only
      • Conch Republic
        • Location: 11 Orleans St. (Rocketts Landing)
        • Brunch Hours: 10:30 AM-2PM
        • Opinion: At Conch Republic you not only get multiple breakfast and lunch options, but you get the view as well. This restaurant is located right next to the Boathouse and, though it is not as high up, the views of the city are still impressive.  In addition, each brunch is a "Jazz Brunch", complete with a live Jazz Band. Great food, incredible views, and live music...its the perfect brunch trifecta. Looking for a lighter option? Try "The Hippie"!
    Looking to stay in??  You must stop by the Carytown Kroger and pick up some sushi! I think it rivals most of the sushi restaurants here in Richmond

    Do y'all have any dining suggestions here in Richmond? If so, leave a comment! I am always looking for new places to try!

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Happy Birthday, Dad!

    Happy birthday to my wonderful father!!

    My dad has been nothing but an inspiration to me and my sister. He has spent the last 23 years making sure we grow up in a world where all of our dreams come true, while insuring that we truly value the work that went into making those dreams possible. Dad is also, by far, the smartest person I know.  He has always taught me to "never give up", and could not be a more perfect example of the success that mentality will bring you.

    Dad and I on the Marta!

    So Dad, Happy, happy birthday!!!! Thank you for making each year of mine more special than the next, and being the best father any girl could have!! I hope you have an amazing day! Love you!

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    My Achy Breaky Heart

    Have you ever woken up in the morning, deeply relieved that there are only 8 hours standing between you and your wonderful weekend, to come to realize that it is in fact Thursday instead of Friday. Those silly little 8 hours just doubled with one measly look at the date on your cell phone.

    Well, as you have probably guessed by now, that happened to me this morning. Friday led me on and then broke up with me all before 7AM. To convince myself that this heartbreak was simply just a bad dream, I forced my eyes closed for five more minutes, checked my phone again, and realized it was really over. My dream day had been replaced by his half as amazing rebound.

    As opposed to eating tubs of Ben and Jerry's behind my desk, I thought I would just share this sad news with y'all.  Anyone else going through the same thing?

    On another note, the Super Bowl is right around the corner. Though my beloved Tyrod's team did not make it to the big game, I am excited to see the commercials game unfold. I will be trying to take home the title of Susie Jessie Homemaker this Sunday, so stay tuned for what recipes I try and tackle (pun intended)!