Ho, Ho, Holy One week 'til Christmas!

Christmas is a week from today~
 Cue the choir of angels!
 (and by that I mean, shove-Santa-back-up-that-chimney~
I haven't finished shopping!)
I digress...

Is it just me, or has it been a while?
This time of year the days just fly~
I can't believe 4 weeks have passed sine we had a good chat.
Far too long, in my opinion.

The past four weeks have been great. I celebrated a wonderful, laughter-filled Thanksgiving, made a quick, weekend trip to Williamsburg, hosted a successful holiday wine tasting, and celebrated five years with my guy. 
Add that to hours and hours of meaningful, creative discussions with my students, and you have yourself one happy girl.

I am currently on the train back from New York to DC.
And may I just say, this is the way to travel.
No checked luggage, no security, and what do you know, I can walk right onto the train with a bottle of water.
Yes please!

We went to New York for the weekend for our annual holiday extravaganza. 
And, as usual, we soaked in all the sights.
We meandered down 5th Avenue to scope out shiny window displays, squeezed ourselves between thousands of people for a shot of the Rockefeller tree, and oohed and aahed at the carolers who convened on several street corners around the city. 
I even got a last minute ticket to my brother's show this morning, and got to play the part of proud sister.
All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.

Now, New York City is just one of my Mandatory Holiday Traditions, and I am gearing up for my big week ahead in which I will do things like drag bring my family to the National Christmas tree and make inspire my brother to design prize-worthy gingerbread houses. 
Before they start complaining, I'd like to remind everyone that if it weren't for me, we wouldn't keep up half of our Christmas traditions.
And I am at least ten percent sure that my family would miss every single one.

So here's to the final holiday countdown and all of the magic of this time of year~
For now, I must get back to my last minute, online very thoughtful Christmas shopping.


CA Adventures

A few weeks ago I went on a California Adventure!
Our friends Steph and Brian joined us across the United States~
 to visit San Francisco, the place our friend Cara calls home.

It was a 3-night, whirlwind trip of pure fun.
Below, our trip in a nutshell:)...

We spent all day Friday exploring the city.
We started with brunch at Little Griddle (incredibly delicious) and then headed to 
The Painted Ladies,
aka the Full House house.
We reminisced about Joey and his cut-it-outs, and then walked through Haight Ashbury and caught a taxi to Fisherman's Wharf.
After a small bout of cab-sickness (and the genius purchase of Tums),
 we were up and at 'em again, soaking up the sunshine along the water.
 Next we found the sea lions, and we may or may not have observed them for a good 45 minutes.
And imitated them all.
Using different voices.
 We also grabbed snacks at a seafood stand and ate lunch with the seagulls.
That evening we went out on the town and got a taste of the San Francisco nightlife. 
We had appetizers at a Belgian bistro called La Trappe,
and dinner at Tony's Pizza in North Beach.
Both were awesome.
 The next morning, after another brunch from Little Griddle (obsessed),
it was off to wine country in our rented Crown Victoria.
We spent Saturday and Sunday in Sonoma and Napa. 
We visited 5 vineyards and a brewery and I loved every single second!
Late Sunday night it was back to Virginia, with a full heart and a great big smile.
What a wonderful weekend!


She Said YES! (and to the Dress!)

Yesterday was a big day.
Yesterday I helped my best friend find her wedding dress.
Over the past few weeks I have been with her as she's tried on many different dresses.
And while at the time I thought I loved more than one, they all faded away yesterday, the moment she tried on her dress.
I knew it was hers because I immediately started crying.
And while I won't say too much about it, 
(her fiance will read this immediately when he finds out he's featured~ can you say #1 Blog Fan!)
I can tell you that it is absolutely stunning.

Stephanie got engaged about a month ago to wonderful Jack.
And as soon as I heard the news (and stopped screeching into the phone) I went into full on planning mode. I mean this is what you call 
We may or may not have spent hours over the years researching diamonds and analyzing hypothetical weddings just for fun.
So the fact that I get to help her plan her real life wedding is just awesome.

Stephanie and I have been best friends for 25 years, and no, we are not eighty years old.
We met at an audition when we could hardly tie our jazz shoes, and little did I know, I would never be the same.
We have spent the majority of 25 years in separate states and even countries,
but our friendship and loyalty to each other have stayed constant and unwavering. 
She's my girl.
Next month she will move North to be with her guy.
And that, I know, will take some getting used to.
So for now I will revel in the excitement that is helping her plan her dream wedding.

Last month I had the pleasure of taking their engagement photos.
And while it is easy to capture the love between them, it was actually hard to make them stop laughing :).
Here are a few of my favorite shots.
Jack and Steph~ I am so excited for you, and for all of the fun and laughter that will come with planning your amazing wedding.



To all of my friends in the Richmond, Virginia area:
If you are ready to sink your teeth into the best cupcakes you've ever tasted,
then you must discover my cousin's new company,
The Ashland Cupcake Car.
I had the pleasure of tasting 3 different kinds of her cupcakes this weekend, and take my word for it~ they're all DELICIOUS. 
She has close to 20 different cupcake creations on the menu, each filled with luxurious surprises such as jam, buttercream frosting and peanut butter cups.

So contact Caitlin here for details and order information!
Your taste buds will thank you!


Weddings, NOLA and SNOW?!

So...It's snowing in Pennsylvania.
Yes, you read that correctly.
SNOWING. In Pennsylvania.
And Pennsylvania is one state away from Virginia, where I live.
What is going on?!
5 days ago I was romping around in jeans and a t-shirt!
Now it's 37 degrees and raining, and you'll be lucky to get me out of my pink, fluffy robe before noon.

October has been a full month.
And I haven't come to the drawing board in a few weeks. 
But I'm back~
with pictures and memories and adventures to share.

We rang in the month celebrating my mom's 62nd birthday. We had a 3-hour dinner at a fantastic restaurant, and laughed the night away, just like us.
I came away from the evening thinking one thing~
I love my family so much.
The following weekend we headed south to Ashland to watch my beautiful cousin, Tara, marry her love Andrew.
Tara planned out all of the little things~
The things that really make a wedding memorable.
She walked down the aisle to the theme song from Forest Gump, and from the moment we laid eyes on her until the DJ closed up shop, the evening was one, big, sentimental dance party.
It was perfect.

 Congratulations, T and Andrew~
I can already imagine all of the fun you two have together for years and years to come.

The day after we returned from the wedding was Columbus Day, which we had off, so I dragged took Chris hiking near Bull Run battlefield.
The hike was strenuous, but the view from the top was worth it. 
He may or may not agree :).
I felt like I was looking over all of beautiful Virginia.
Next up was our trip to the Big Easy!
We had originally been scheduled to go to New Orleans to celebrate Chris' 30th birthday over Labor Day weekend.
But Tropical Storm Lee had also decided to swing on by Louisiana, and his visit trumped ours.
So we had to cancel our trip and cross our fingers for good weather there another time.

Well, our wish came true, and the trip was well worth the wait.
New Orleans is an enchanting, vibrant city. 
It's the city of jazz, of Creole culture, of a relaxed way of life. 
It's the kind of place that just makes you want to lean back and let the surroundings filter through all of your senses. 
There's live jazz bands on street corners, Motown booming from the bars, and the smell of beneigts wafting through the air.
There are wedding guests marching through Jackson Square, swinging napkins in celebration of brides and grooms.
There are trolleys and Po Boys and cemeteries and swamps and energy.
October also brought with it my best friend's engagement(!!!!!), my annual pumpkin carving party, and up next, Halloween!
So I'll be back soon to fill you in on the rest of the October highlights.
For now I better get myself out of this robe, before the neighbors start talking.
Try and stay dry!
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