lately: brew-do weekend 2015!

Another beer festival for the books! Although we’ve been a bit behind the curve with festivals this year {we’ve been busy!}, we make sure to never miss one of our favorites. The best part?! – it’s local! While we love travelling far and wide, especially in the name of craft beer, it’s nice to be just a few minutes away from such a celebration. We had glorious weather, delicious food, and of course…SO.MUCH.BEER.

The weekend was extra special this year, too – we had a surprise visitor on Sunday! My youngest sister was in the area, so we met up for a solid 8-mile Sunday hike, followed by {you guessed it!} more beer at one of our favorite local breweries. It was a fabulous weekend, and sister time made it extra special. 

Here’s a look! 

Alicia xo

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lately: 3rd anniversary weekend celebration

Last weekend, the hubs and I celebrated our three-year anniversary. Our original plans {a weekend of camping at one of our favorite spots, full of hiking, winery hopping, and cooking delish campfire food} was foiled by the awful weather – but nonetheless, we made a marvelous weekend out of it! In true form, I documented the time we spent together celebrating and it couldn’t have been more fun. Here’s a peak into how we spent it! 

Alicia xo 

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lately: winery hopping

Because the hubs and I just cannot get enough of exploring local wineries and breweries, we took advantage of a free weekend last month and made our way up to Charlottesville, VA. Being only a mere 2 hours {and that’s a bit of a stretch!} from our home, it is the ideal weekend getaway – a Saturday afternoon spent exploring venues we’ve not yet been to, dinner down at ‘The Corner’, and a little bit of bar exploring before calling it a night! And, you know us, we couldn’t leave enough alone…we made sure to squeeze in a hike on the way home Sunday morning! Here’s a peak into the places we visited, many of them recommended by my dear friend {and wine connoisseur} Suzanne : ) 

Enjoy! -Alicia xoxo 

Saturday Afternoon: Hopping 

{Bold Rock Cidery, Fly Fox Vineyard, Blue Mountain Brewery, Pollack Vineyard, Loving Cup Vineyard, Albermarle CiderWorks}

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Saturday Night: Out and About {Mellow Mushroom, Basil}

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Sunday Hike: Humpback Rocks, Appalachian Trail

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Sunday Afternoon: {Barren Ridge Vineyard, Rockbridge Vineyard}

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lately: labor day weekend fun!

Another Labor Day weekend for the books! The hubs and I spent a fun weekend at home, full of activities – both indoors and out! We spent Saturday afternoon enjoying some wine at our favorite local winery, followed by dinner and cocktails out in the downtown area. Sunday was spent outside! – a great, new-to-us 7 mile hike, followed by a wine tasting nearby. The evening was spent out on the back porch; grilling, fire pitting, and roasting marshmallows! Monday was full of FOOTBALL – go hokies! Even though the outcome of the game wasn’t what we were hoping for, it was a fabulous day with fun and friends. Hope that y’all enjoyed yours! Here’s some snapshots of our adventures : ) 

Alicia xo 

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lately: family visit!

I am beyond blessed to have such awesome parents! My mom and dad were in town to visit recently, and with the gorgeous weekend weather we made the most of our time together! A delicious dinner was on tap for Friday night (one of our favorite local places}. Saturday was spent outside; we all knocked out our early morning exercise and proceeded north to get in some paddle-boating action! Not wanting to miss out, we stopped by two of our local breweries for flights and bites. The evening was spent al fresco on our deck; grilling burgers, enjoying cocktails, and winding down with a fire pit. I was so sad to see them go on Sunday, but with the promise of fun activities in the upcoming months, I have those to look forward to!  Love you, Mom and Dad!

Alicia xoxo

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thirsty thursday: cheers, & happy birthday to the hubs!

Today is a very special “thirsty thursday” – it’s the hub’s birthday! So instead of posting a recipe, I wanted to do a special shout-out to him, a cheers of sorts…

I am beyond lucky that I get to celebrate his birthday with him today, and even more blessed that we are sharing our lives together! Not only is he an excellent cocktail producer, but my best friend, and the best husband a girl could ask for!  

We’re enjoying a special meal tonight {stay tuned, recipes will be shared soon!} and of course, some fun beverages! 

Happy Birthday, Ross – I love you! 

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love this man! < 3 

thirsty thursday: bulleit rose sangria

Sangria. Need I say more?

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Not too long back, a good friend of mine {hi, Suzanne!} and I were chatting about summer time and some of the fun things that I should be whipping up. When she mentioned “sangria” I was instantly sold. A self-proclaimed wine lover, I have been known in years past to whip up a mighty fine sangria. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve shared one with y’all {this one, so far back?! gee whiz!}, I determined that I was well overdue for a new recipe. After time spent pouring over ingredients ::and perhaps a few poured glasses of wine, cough cough:: the hubs and I came up with a winner!

I am particularly excited about this one because not only are we using tons of fresh, in-season fruit, but we’re marrying two things the hubs and I love the most – WINE & BOURBON! Woohoo! In all honesty, I had no idea that the two spirits would pair so nicely together, but let me tell you…they are indeed kindred spirits. Dry rose wine and spicy, warm bourbon dance so nicely on your palette; it is indeed a thing of beauty. And when you get to the bottom of your glass, those wonderful bits of fruit have leeched all the glorious tastes from said spirits. You’ll find yourself reaching for another  glass…and perhaps another…

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Let’s not waste any more time, shall we?

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Bulleit Bourbon & Rose Sangria 

A playful twist on sangria, this pitcher is sure to pack a punch to your taste buds! A perfect summer drink, ideal for long evening spent sitting around the fire pit, chatting and catching up with friends. And by all means, feel free to swap out fruits for whatever you might have on hand/like better/what you have in your garden!

Ingredients:

1 bottle rose wine {we opted for a drier version}

1 pint of strawberries, washed and hulled

1 orange, sliced thin

2 Anjou pears, cut into wedges

1/2 cup bourbon {we used Bulleit, but feel free to use your preference!}

1/4 cup Triple Sec liqueur

additional fruit wedges for garnish, if desired

optional “toppers” for the drink: non-alcoholic {or alcoholic!} ginger beer, lemon-lime soda, tonic water, plain club soda, flavored club soda, sparkling water. **keep in mind that these are used to provide an effervescence, but can also be used to help dilute the drink to your liking..and potency : ) 

To Prepare:

Combine the rose wine, bourbon, triple sec, and sliced fruits into a large pitched with a tightly fitted lid. Stir to combine; you want the fruits to distribute and the different alcohols to merry together.

Chill for at least 4 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Serve over ice with additional fruits for garnishes, and fill as desired with liquid “toppers”.

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Cheers!

summer seafood soup

Summer is a celebration of all things fresh and lovely; bursting forth with vibrant colors, herbacious notes and strong flavors. And, obviously, it’s a time to eat things that are lighter – not only because we’re no longer bundled up in layers upon layers of sweaters {I miss this part of you, winter!}, but because…let’s face it…who wants to be standing in a hot kitchen for any longer than they need to be?

Enter this soup.

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I mean, who wouldn’t want to dive in, spoon first?

You all know by now that I have a huge spot in my culinary heart for all things soup – it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, how hot or cold it is…I will never, ever turn down a bowl. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…and sometimes that means making a soup that is “summer friendly.” So when this idea popped into my mind not long ago, I knew I had to make it happen. It’s as simple as utilizing a quality bag of your favorite seafood medley {where I live, fresh seafood is not always choice/easy to come by} and jazzing it up with LOADS of freshness – we’re talking crisp white wine, simple chicken stock, and a plethora of fresh herbs and vegetables. It comes together in one pot, and is the perfect summer weeknight meal – especially when eaten al fresco : )

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~~~

Summer Seafood Soup {original recipe}

A fun twist on a classic seafood stew, this dish utilizes many pantry staples and can easily be manipulated to suit your particular tastes. Make a double batch and have dinner ready for the next day – serve atop pasta or rice with a smathering of fresh herbs, and you’re all set!

Ingredients:

1 lb. seafood medley {our local Kroger has a great blend you can get, right in the freezer department}

1 large white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minces

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 – 1 cup white wine

olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

crushed red pepper, to taste

fresh basil leaves, for garnishing {should equate to 1/4 – 1/3 cup once julienned}

**optional: if a thicker broth is desired, you can combine 1/2 T. cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Slowly whisk into the soup until thickened to your liking**

To Prepare:

In a large nonstick sautese pan, generously drizzle in olive oil until the bottom is nicely coated. Once heated through, add in the diced onion. Cook over medium heat, 6-10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add in the minced garlic and saute 3-5 minutes more, until the garlic has softened {the onions may be starting to turn slightly golden – that’s ok!}. Season the vegetable mixture with salt and pepper, as well as the crushed red pepper, to taste.

Add in the liquid ingredients {stock and wine} and bring to a slow simmer.

Add in the seafood medley, and cook according to the package directions {mine took about 12 minutes}.

Now would be the time to add in the thickening mixture, if desired. Once drizzled in, stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until you can see the difference in texture.

Dish into large soup bowls, and top with the julienned basil leaves. I also like to add a bit of extra crushed red pepper flakes, too, for a bit of extra heat.

Serve with toasted bread for dipping. Enjoy!

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how to: a romantic date-night in

…I’ll admit, I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a “how to” kick lately! But it’s also something that I feel is important to take the time to do – as busy people {whether working, parenting, or being a student} with extracurriculars and other daily activities that take up much of our time, it’s a breath of fresh air to be reminded to have fun; setting time aside for ourselves is just as necessary, no? 

With a lot of trips/visits/activities packed into our schedule over the past two months, the hubs and I have prioritized a weekly “date night” practice that really has turned into, I’ll admit, somewhat of a new tradition. We pick one weekend evening where we stay home and go through all the musings: nice outfit, special dinner, cocktails and drinks. Heck, I even put some music on while I’m preparing dinner and the hubs is on the other side whipping up drinks! It’s the little touches that make nights in so much more special; today, I thought I would detail a bit more of our routine : ) 

-Alicia xoxo

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How To: Have a Romantic Date Night In

  • as i mentioned above, get dressed up for the occasion! it might not feel like it matters much, since you’re at home, but i’ve found that it really helps elevate the mood. when you feel good, you look good!
  • set up a designated “happy hour” from the point where you and your significant other are both “ready” for the date; enjoy a few cocktails or, perhaps your beer lovers – make a point to run to the store beforehand to pick up some specialty craft beers you’re both dying to taste!
  • music. have some fun tunes playing lightly in the background – it gives you more of a restaurant/bar vibe, but since you control the channel, you both will always be happy with the selection! {we even like to switch genres to a more subtle tune for when we sit down to dinner}
  • candles. i am a HUGE fan of candles, and have them lit whenever possible. i may go a bit overboard for occasions such as this, but it really adds a special touch; plus, the lighting is super warm and inviting…much nicer than bright overhead lights! & keep the blinds in your home up for bonus natural light.
  • when it comes to dinner, we gravitate more towards a tapas-style approach. i think small bites are more fun, not only because you can enjoy more of them {hehe}, but it makes preparation much easier! i focus on one larger place {think crab dip, or wings} then  set out lots of little snacks with it – olives, nuts, a nice block of sharp cheese, dried fruits, crackers. that way, you can build and customize your plate exactly as you’d like.
  • pick a fun activity for post-dinner. whether it’s watching a movie you’re both itching to see, playing some board games, or even just sitting down and catching up on the week, make sure you end date night on a high note!

I’d love to hear how you make your nights spent in with your loved ones{s} special! Leave me a note in the comments! 

lately: easter weekend

This past Easter was spent at home with some special visitors – my youngest sister & her boyfriend! We enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner on Friday night, followed some winery & brewery hopping on Saturday. Though not pictured, our slightly modified Easter dinner was enjoyed on Saturday evening – grilled lamb burgers, roasted asparagus…and of course, some chocolates! We took them to one of our favorite local brunch spots before their Sunday departure; take a peek into how the weekend looked : ) 

-Alicia xoxo

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How was your Easter?!