Flashback Friday: Cape May

It’s summer time dreaming around here. Just last weekend we commented that we skipped spring. Scott said it with dismay, and I said, “Good! That is what I grew up with!”  Northern Virgina skips rainy springs and skips straight to hot and humid.  I love hot, so I love that about it.  Well, the weather decided to drop 25+ degrees and rain for the past week here in Jersey.  Blergh.  And brrr.

So we’re looking back at our vacation to Cape May, NJ last summer.  The past 2 summers Scott and I met my family there as a sort of halfway meeting point.IMG_2002

The beaches there are just beautiful and never too crowded.  We stayed right across the street from the beach that year and that made ALL the difference.

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These two.  Always with the playing.IMG_2020

Our vacations are pretty low-key.  Lots of reading while sitting on the beach.IMG_3454

I started the Outlander series on this particular vacation.  I’m now on book four (five?).  I am happy to have a series and I love the show on Starz.  They brought it to life just like I imagined it!IMG_2102 IMG_2101

Here we have an Irishman not in his natural habitat (under the portico).IMG_2100

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We try to do a couple outings because not everyone has my skill for sitting in a beach chair for a week straight.  I highly recommend Cape May Brewery.  IMG_2028

They have great beers (not all IPAs which is my complaint with most microbreweries).  And their complimentary glasses are always a unique shape. IMG_2030

And they grow their own hops on the outside of the converted airplane hangar where they set up shop.IMG_2032

We also like to have at least one seafood dinner out.  IMG_2005

And new last year – SUPPING!  Or Stand Up Paddle Boarding.  No pics, since only “the kids” went and no one wanted to chance a dropped phone.  We did celebrate with post-supping bloody mary’s.IMG_2039

I earned mine.  I ran into a pylon. Twice. IMG_2042

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We have a family fantasy football league.  We got to do the draft together in-person that year, which is always fun.  My sister had her manager on the line, just like in Draft Day.  It doesn’t look like he’s happy with her choice.IMG_2037

Cape May has quite a few wineries, so we decided to try one.  I’d prefer not to type the name.IMG_2060

I don’t think the East Coast will rival the West Coast or Europe (or New Zealand – Sauvignon Blanc for the win) for wine anytime soon, but the winery was beautiful. Our sommelier/host was phenomenal and the sangria was good (mom and I took it home and mixed it with sprite!).

We asked everyone their favorite part of the vacation. Megan chose stand up paddle boarding.IMG_2078

Scott said his favorite part was getting a “shiner.” He and my sister were horsing around and Megan clocked him in the face.  Or he walked into her fist.  There was much debate.  Runner up was supping.IMG_2068 Mom appreciated that every single day was “paradise.”  I’m not sure we could have asked for better weather.

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And winding out the group, Dad and I both voted for the winery.  We both have a slight fascination with France and love to try cheese and wine pairings, so I’m not surprised.IMG_2079IMG_2084We visited the Cape May Lighthouse on our final day.  IMG_2116

It’s nice. You get a workout climbing 5,325,8754 stairs.  And you get to feel like you are on a field trip again.  I mean, there was bird watching.  Come on. IMG_2118

It was beautiful, I’ll give it that.IMG_2114

And I can always count on this one for comic relief.IMG_2107 Good vacation, family!!

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A Love Letter to Maria

I meant to post this last week.  But then I had to whisk away to Vegas, take 2 days off work and you know, still get all of my work done.  So posting about my friend Maria BEFORE she got married did not happen.  But I still wanted to post this little love letter to her anyways.  And then post all of the pink and sparkly pictures from her wedding next week!

Maria and I went to the same middle school, high school AND college (Go Hokies!).  But we had to go all the way to France to become friends.  We were both Hospitality majors and were mentored by the same fabulous man, Pierre.  We were some of his “shining stars.”  So when he organized a trip post-graduation to the South of France, we both jumped on it.  At one of the planning sessions, Maria approached me and said a shy hello.  And then we ran into each other at the airport where Maria and her mom were frantically unpacking Maria’s {overweight} luggage.  She stored her hot rollers and comforter in my luggage and the rest is history!

10400681_600286334273_5542_nWe roomed together across St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Antibes.

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10400681_600286464013_2669_nWe discovered a love of walking up and down docks admiring boats and yachts.  We each even found the boats named after us.

The Silly Goose.

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We ate our weight in olive tapenade, cheese, bread, pizza and more pizza (there is a large Italian influence on the food in the South of France, being so close to Italy.  We embraced it.)10400681_600286518903_5468_nAnd gelato, of course!!

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Our routine was to each get a cone with two scoops of different flavors.  We would then switch cones half way through as we strolled/power walked along the coast for hours.

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We enjoyed the sweet, leisurely way of life in France. We watched old men play bocce ball, we read, laid in the sun, went to the market daily to make the world’s BEST salads for dinner.  1923885_601013886253_4935_n

We shared life stories, our dreams for the future and talked about the men we would both eventually marry.  I was there when Maria told her now husband she loved him over Skype, only to have the connection short out directly after.  That is what lasting friendships are made of, people.  At the end of the trip, we gave ourselves the title, “Best Couple.”  And we were 🙂

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Back stateside, we supported each other through good and bad jobs, moves, new pets and continued to power walk whenever possible.  She taught me the ways of bronzer when my French tan faded.  She taught me it was ok to wear olive green instead of pink, black or white.  I taught her the reverse.  She lets me borrow her clothes at the drop of a hat.  And no one can talk hospitality and service like we can.

When I got married, Maria stood up beside me and was so sweet and supportive through every shower, bachelorette party and little detail. It was even her idea for my hot pink cocktail dress with the rest of the girls in black.  Love.

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She made the trek to Newport, didn’t complain about the windy weather and even let our friend Billy throw her bouquet.   Reception 6

She and Josh visited us in New York and I have such good memories of that trip.  IMG_2101

Still best couple.IMG_2120

And then it was my turn to shower her with pink and sparkle at her bridal shower (she really took to my pink lessons well!), wear sparkly temporary tattoos at her bachelorette and stand up beside her at her wedding.   IMG_4260I love you, Maria!

Easter

I hope everyone had quite the happy Easter.  Ours was full of family, jelly beans, good conversations, a great church service and eggs (dying, rolling, throwing, hunting). We spent the weekend in PA at Scott’s brother’s home.  Their church held multiple Easter services all weekend.  We went to church on Saturday afternoon and it was crazy convenient!

We went out for a family dinner after church in our Easter best.

IMG_4317IMG_4321Would you just look at Scott’s jacket?  He’s getting ready for the country club, it seems.

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IMG_4329Dying Easter eggs is a must with littles around.

IMG_4335It’s always fun spending holidays with the little ones.  For one thing, Uncle Scott gets to help them get ready for bed.  And picks Santa pjs for Easter.

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But you also get to be a part of the magic.  Where did those bunny tracks come from!?

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CANDY!  IMG_4348

Little Man takes after his aunt Rebecca’s love of gummy anything.IMG_4355

And Little Miss obviously inherited the sparkle gene.IMG_4349

Easter egg hunt!  We asked Avery how tall the Easter Bunny is.  She guessed 9 feet.  But it looks like he’s about Uncle Scott’s height…IMG_4362

This is the next big thing in strength training, I’m sure of it.IMG_4380

Who needs Cross Fit?

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So I’m pretty sure that Steph and I did the lion’s share of the cooking.  And yet, look who gets the glory.  Obviously kidding.  The family was very appreciative.IMG_4367

After a delicious brunch, the games began.IMG_4368

The Easter egg roll was my contribution.  Here I am facing off against the reigning champion.  My mother-in-law.  IMG_4382

She won our round.  IMG_4386IMG_4384

And the ultimate winner?  Mark, for the win!IMG_4389

Well.  The next game was an egg toss.  With raw eggs. Partnered with your spouse.  We did two rounds and Scott asked for a new partner after our first round.  #truelove. IMG_4394

Needless to say, we did not go far and I had yolk on my hands.  Or I did not throw far enough and Scott’s new shoes almost bit the dust.  The wind was against me!

But look at that form!  My sister-in-law and her sister started talking about their days playing softball.  To which I say, pffft.  I’ll challenge you to a ballet duel any day. IMG_4393

Your Hair Looks Like an Easter Egg!

That quote has nothing to do with anything, besides Easter.  I just love Grease.

Since we have a rather early Easter this year, I took a look back at our first Easter in our house.  I never shared anything here about the first big holiday we hosted for MY side of the family at the house.  It was a really nice weekend with my parents, my sister, her boyfriend and some Fitzgeralds and friends peppered in for good measure.

First off, food.  There was much and it was good.  My sister’s favorite blueberry muffins are always a hit.  They are super time-intensive but oh, so worth it.

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We had to get fresh bagels for our NJ visitors.  We tried a new place and I’m a fan of the proximity to our house and the fact that the gentlemen behind the counter gave me a 13th bagel for luck (Baker’s dozen? Yes, please.).
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Barefoot Contessa Greek Panzanella. You must do this, immediately.Easter20

I loved having the whole family in the house. We are always very low key when we are together and this weekend was no different.  The boys golfed, the women lunched, shopped and walked on the beach.

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Our lunch view.

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Have I mentioned I love where we live?

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When the boys returned, much more sunburned than when they left, we grilled and played games.  Every time we have a full house, I feel so blessed that we have this house that fits our family comfortably and that we are able to host.

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My family is big on games and we brought our friends in on the tradition.  Heads Up is our new favorite, mixed in with old favorites like Cranium.

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We also dyed eggs.  It’s an Easter tradition!Easter18

I don’t think Justin was ready for the intensity of dying eggs with the Burtch family.

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And then we satisfied man’s desire to build things and burn things.  We now have a make shift fire pit as a place holder until we can get a real one.Easter17

On Easter Sunday we went to church and then had to get down to business.  The business of football.Easter14

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And my preferred business.  Cooking.Easter13

Our feast included ham, Ms. Leslie’s green beans and “Rebecca’s potatoes” (and lots of bread, of course).  You know you’ve made it in our family if you have a side dish named after you.

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And then. You must know about this.  The Annual Easter Egg Roll.  It’s a tradition in my family since before I was born.  Basically, you choose your best, most favorite hard-boiled, dyed Easter egg.  This should be done during the egg dying process.  Mine is always a shocking shade of pink.

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Then, you pair up, oldest against youngest, get down on the floor and roll your eggs across the floor at each other.  The goal is for them to crash into each other.  Only one will break!  I promise! Try it, you won’t be disappointed.Easter8

The winner from each round advances to the next round, and so on and so on.Easter6

There will be losers.
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And one ultimate winner.  Bragging rights included.Easter9Happy Easter, everyone!

Flashback Friday: NOLA

Airplane photos? I’m not usually a fan.  Cloud pictures always look the same to me.  But would you look at that New York City skyline?  photo 4

I couldn’t stop snapping.photo 5

She is just the prettiest.  I may have been feeling sentimental, since I was on my last trip as a working-in-New-Yorker.photo 3

While New York is the Queen, I was stoked that my farewell trip took me to New Orleans.  It’s southern, it’s irreverent, it’s got serious soul and a music culture like nowhere else on earth.  And they put dilly beans on everything!  Salad? Put a dilly bean on it.  Bloody Mary? Garnish with a dilly bean!  It’s such a special city.  Again, don’t let these photos fool you, I was working while there.  But a girl’s gotta eat! And drink sweet tea.  Lots of sweet tea.photo 5

Best oysters I’ve ever had, hands down.  At Cochon.  They were wood-fired with chili garlic butter.  After Wednesday’s post, I might be in danger of having an oyster-review blog…photo 4

Well, hello, Bourbon street!

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I love a city that wears her jewels.

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And that has not one, but two signature drinks.  I was able to sample both.  The first was the Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s.  I’ve had them before at a bachelorette party, while touring a cemetery.  Never thought I would type that sentence.photo 5

New Orleans also boasts the Sazerac.  The Sazerac is “America’s first cocktail” and you simply must have one while sitting in a leather chair at The Roosevelt.  Key word for me being one.  That thing is strong!  It was all I could do to not make a yucky face after every sip.

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Cafe Du Monde. Need I say more?  photo 2

The beignets are the most delicious thing ever. Best served warm with plenty of dips into the bag for extra powdered sugar and a cup of chicory coffee with a generous serving of cream.photo 1 If you ever have the chance to go to New Orleans – GO!  I heard some people compare it to Vegas.  Sure, if you seek out that atmosphere on Bourbon Street.  But I don’t. I enjoy the amazing music you can find in every type of restaurant at all times of day.  And the supreme quality of the food and drink.  And how everyone there clearly loves their city and want to make sure that you leave loving it as much as they do (see: the amazing conversation I had with my cab driver on the way to the airport).  I mean – you can hire your own parade there!  I may have followed a bridal party dancing down the street with their own band!

So yes, please go.  And invite me to come with you!

A Very Full Valentine’s Day

We celebrated {love} this Valentine’s Day, that is for sure.  Love of Family.  Love of Friends. Even a little bit for each other.  Scott and I had a lovely meal at our new favorite restaurant.  It’s called Mezze Cantina – or maybe the Gas Light – depending on who you ask.  But regardless of it’s identity crisis, the food is always spot on.  These are broiled oysters with lemon, garlic and butter.  Oh, yes.

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Valentine’s started on a high note with pork roll and my favorite rook coffee.

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But quickly devolved into changing a tire in the freezing cold.  Oh well, real life marches on – even on Valentine’s Day.

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For the rest of the day we had a bit of an impromptu reunion with my mother-in-law’s family.  We had people in from Ohio and North Carolina and the local contingent, of course.  We had lunch at the same restaurant – in the same room – as my surprise bridal shower!

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It was loud, crazy and fully what I would expect from this clan.10959834_10204748175536313_5800384933182324611_n

Look at this little Valentine sweetie!  Can you even handle the awesome-ness that is his shirt?  Is my Jersey showing? Because I want one in my size.

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After lunch, a group went to a local brewery (Carton Brewing).  It has a great vibe and is only $5 for 6 beer samples.  I can’t finish that many, but enjoy my time there whenever we go.  Probably in part because we are always there with a fun group of people.

I wish we lived closer to Scott’s cousins from North Carolina.  We always have the best time with them!  Although we do have a Virginia Tech vs. NC State game in the works and I could not be more thrilled!10420424_887636894593189_3409804528201068084_n

After yet another group get-together at dinner, Scott and I snuck in a drink a local bar, where the mood was anything but romantic.  Lets just say we encountered a couple who had discovered a love for chocolate martinis who wanted to tell us ALL about it.  We couldn’t do anything but laugh.

We ended the day with dear friends.  Scott and Stu are forever friends.  You know, the kind that fight in the snow on Valentine’s Day.

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Leslie and I lucked out that we get along famously.  As Scott says, “It makes things so much easier.”  He’s right.  I love doing life with these two.  IMG_3948

I hope everyone else had a love-filled, if not quite as FULL Valentine’s day!

Things I Learned in January

I learned quite a few life changing, earth shattering things this month.  Not really.  But they are fun!

MOST importantly.

Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) {<–Imagine that part said in a Julie Andrews voice} apparently likes Haribo sweets.  AS DO I!  I’m obsessed with gummy candies and buy them WAY too frequently.  She also has a cocker spaniel (I grew up with a cocker spaniel).  Can you even handle the similarities?  I sure can’t.

Check it out HERE.

This goes in the “remembering things I had forgotten,” category.

I grew up with MLK as LJK day – as my bestie reminded me recently.  Here’s an article.

L= Lee.  Like The General.

J = Jackson.  Mr. Stonewall himself.

K =  King.  As always.

Only the Commonwealth of Virginia even HAD such a day.  And they didn’t change it to simply MLK day until 2000.  2000!!  Sometimes Scott makes fun of me when I imply I’m from the South.  Being raised by Midwestern parents (and living ages 2-6 in Michigan) can make one’s husband believe you have nothing Southern about you.  But then a little gem like LJK day pops up.  Take that, Scott!

When in doubt, just be do your thing.

We had Stu and Leslie over a few weeks ago and in prep for their arrival I was trying to figure out what music to play. They always have great, chill, cool music on at their house.  Ray LaMontagne, etc. So I tried to replicate that, because I thought that was what they liked. But I’m clearly not as chill and cool as them because it wasn’t really working for me.  And I kept wanting to change the song cause it wasn’t…right.

As I mentioned yesterday (Eric Church obsessed much?)  Scott and I always listen to country music.  Within 15 minutes, Scott took over as DJ and had country music playing and I was so much happier and relaxed.  And Leslie said, “Oh, I always know I’m going to hear great country music when I’m over here!”  Umm.  Truth.  Of course I should just play what we like and makes us most comfortable so we can focus on our friends, not the music, right!?  That’s what makes our home feel like US.  If we are comfortable, they will feel comfortable in our home.  I’m a hospitality major who over-analyzes, can you tell?  Anyways, this really applies to SO many things in life.

Show up. Even if it’s just for the ceremony, not the party.

Our dear friend got married last Sunday evening in DC.  Scott and I didn’t have the time to take Monday off, so we knew we couldn’t make it to the reception.  I was debating if we should make the trip at all since it would just be for 30 minutes and wouldn’t even get to talk to the bride and groom.  And we would miss the party!  Well Scott, in his infinite wisdom said, “You show up for your friends.”   So we did. Have I mentioned he is a better person than I am?

Good thing, too.  Cause I got Tony’s!

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But the best part was getting some great time with my parents, our VA friends and some of my lifetime friends at the wedding ceremony.

photo(2) And I AM SO GLAD WE DID.  It’s such a special thing to witness your friends getting married.  So LESSON: just show up for what you can, even if it’s just the 30 minute ceremony.  Congratulations, Ryan and Brittany!  Thank you for letting us share in your special day.

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