Cooking for the Ronald McDonald House

Hey there! Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been MIA lately, time has just gotten away from me I guess. Now that Christmas decorating season is here though I have plenty of projects and things to write about, so I’m back! :)

While I was away I had the amazing opportunity to tour Richmond’s Ronald McDonald House and learn more about the phenomenal organization that gives families a place to stay while their children are in the hospital. The Richmond House is in a gorgeous older home on the historic Monument Avenue. I toured the house before Thanksgiving, and they were already in the Christmas spirit. Richmond Ronald McDonald HouseThe function of the Ronald McDonald House is to offer families a place to stay when their children will be in the hospital for an extended time. Rather than staying in a hotel the families get to stay in house complete with a full kitchen, living rooms, laundry, and a play room. Ronald McDonald House living roomI didn’t get a picture of the kitchen, but it was recently remodeled and absolutely gorgeous. Various groups and people volunteer to work in the kitchen each night to provide the families with a hot home cooked meal. There are also a variety of snacks and a fully stocked fridge for the kids.

This particular location has nine bedrooms for families to stay. There are also several rooms at the local hospitals for families to stay if they need to be close by for dire procedures or circumstances. Each room is simple and homely, though you wouldn’t think so after seeing all of the fabulous Christmas decorations. A local Christmas decorator (yep, wouldn’t you love to have that job?!) did all of the decorating before she got busy for the holiday season. Ronald McDonald House mantleNow, many people think that the Ronald McDonald Houses are funded by McDonald’s, but the fast food restaurant actually only pays for a fraction of their expenses. The rest of the money is raised through various donations and fundraisers. One of those is through can tabs. You can drop your tabs off at your local Ronald McDonald House, then the house will recycle them for money. Pop topsAnother fundraiser is through the sales of the holiday cookbook. The cookbook is put together by Southern Living and is sold exclusively at Dillard’s department stores. It’s only $10 and 100% of the proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House cookbookWe decided to have people over to try out a recipe from the book, because you can’t write about a cookbook without taking it for a test drive! Since the book is by Southern Living there were plenty of southern comfort food recipes so we went super comfort and made chicken pot pie. Chicken Pot PieThe pie was made with chicken, potatoes, mushrooms, shredded carrots, onion, and peas in a cast iron pan. It was Jesse’s first time making a southern dish but he did a fabulous job. Southern Living made it way easier to follow the recipe by including refrigerated pie crusts. Plop one on the bottom and one on top after you make the filling and boom! Cast Iron Chicken Pot PieNow, I could just give you the recipe, but then you wouldn’t buy the cookbook and the Ronald McDonald House wouldn’t get your money, so too bad. ;)

We also made dessert from the cookbook, which were these amazing fluffy chocolate chip cookies with a chocolate Bourbon ganache. Oh my gosh. Southern Living Chocolate Chip CookiesThe recipe originally called for the ganache to go between two cookies, like a sandwich, but we preferred the drizzle. It was just the right amount of chocolate. Southern Living Christmas cookbookOur friends were big fans of the meal and even texted me afterward for the cookie recipe. They were seriously amazing. I’m definitely making these again as soon as the Whole Life Challenge is over! Chocolate Chip CookiesNot only is the cookbook filled with a ton of recipes for the holidays, from breakfast, appetizers, entrees and desserts, but it also includes a bunch of ideas for hosting other gatherings. There were a few pages on bridal showers, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July that even included ideas for place settings and centerpieces.

I’m planning on picking up a few of these cookbooks for Christmas gifts, because it’s killing two birds with one stone! I will be donating to a charity that I love and buying gifts for people that I love at the same time. I’m so efficient.

*I received a complimentary cookbook from the Ronald McDonald house, but was not paid or compensated for this post.*

Whole Life Challenge Progress – 1/3 There

Hey there! I hope everyone had a good Monday, or as good as a Monday could be. Jesse and I have started getting into the Christmas spirit and pulling out the decorations. I know some of you may be upset that I’m skipping over Thanksgiving, but I really see it as adding a little extra festiveness to both holidays! :)  Christmas time is hereAside from decorating for Christmas, and a bout with the flu last week, the main thing that we’ve been up to is the Whole Life Challenge. Yesterday marked the start of Week #3 (technically #4 for me) so we’re getting close to being 1/3 of the way through! It hasn’t been as tough as I thought it would be and I’m already feeling amazing! I’ve lost a few pounds, my jeans actually fit again, and I’m loving my time at the gym. I’ve gotten a few questions about what I’m eating on the Challenge, so I thought I’d share a few meals I’ve been eating. WLC ChipotleThe most important thing is that I have not given up Chipotle. I get almost the same thing, minus cheese and sour cream. My typical bowl is brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, chicken, mild salsa, corn, guacamole and lettuce, and it is still absolutely delicious. Power Breakfast BowlI’ve also been spending a lot more time at Panera ordering off of their “hidden menu.” Everything on the menu is WLC friendly. Now I haven’t tried it all, but I do love the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl. It has spinach, cucumber, tomatoes and chicken topped with hummus and lemon juice. Panera also has some great breakfast options. Pictured above is the Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Turkey, which has spinach, roasted red peppers, egg whites, turkey and pesto. Yum! Homemade soupSoup is also a great meal, this one is tomato based with chicken, sweet potatoes and tons of veggies. Unfortunately Jesse got the stomach flu, so he is anti-soup for awhile. (Sorry if that was TMI) HummusHummus has also been a life saver! I’ve been eating it with veggies and on salads and with delicious sweet potato chips! Yep, I can have chips, but only veggie chips or sweet potato chips. Campus CafeteriaMy biggest challenge has been meetings at work. Since I work on a college campus, my office likes to go to the campus dining hall for lunch meetings and there are SO many options. There’s pizza, pasta, burgers, nuggets, desserts, it’s ridiculous. Last week I had a grilled chicken breast, sweet potato fries, a salad topped with hummus, quinoa and an apple. It was delicious, and I didn’t feel terrible afterwards, which is rare after eating at a cafeteria.

For breakfast, I usually have two eggs, an apple and black coffee. My snacks are usually nuts or fruit (especially if I want something sweet).

My favorite thing about the challenge so far is that I don’t get bloated after eating. That may seem small, but I was a “button popper” after meals and now I’m not. It’s liberating.

Weekend Recap – Happy Halloween

Happy Monday folks! Ok, it’s not really happy, but I only have a half day at work today so my spirits are up. ;) I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween weekend! Jesse and I had Friday off from the Whole Life Challenge, so we took full advantage of eating candy, sandwiches and drinking delicious beverages with our friends. I even tried out a new local restaurant called Toast with a friend for lunch. I can’t wait to go back when the Challenge is over! Lunch at ToastAfter work I headed home to get on my costume for our friends’ Halloween party… and to pass out candy. I also recruited Jesse to help me finish decorating our yard for the trick or treaters. I made some floating candles using toilet paper rolls, led candles, paint and hot glue. I really love the way they looked hanging in the tree over the driveway. Floating candles for Halloween

While Jesse was hanging the candles in the trees, I was inside getting my costume together. I love dressing up for Halloween, party or no party.Death Eater costumeIn the past I’ve been Hermione, a character from Harry Potter (for you non-nerds), but this year I wanted to do something a little different. I pulled my inspiration from Bellatrix Lestrange, even though I wasn’t quite her. I ordered the tattoo (Dark Mark) from Amazon and the hat came from JoAnn, I owned everything else so it was a cheap costume. Jesse went as Captain Kirk, we were an unlikely pair. Captain Kirk and the Death EaterWe had a blast at a party with our friends after we passed out candy at our own house. We seriously have the best group of friends ever. Halloween partyThe costume winners of the night were definitely my friends K and D and their adorable baby. They dressed as the Incredibles and it was awesome. I didn’t snag a picture of all three of them, but I did get this one of K and Baby. Incredibles costumeOn Saturday we slept in and I spent the afternoon at a baby shower for one of my friends. We went to another local restaurant for dinner, called The Answer Brewpup. They have 36 different beers on draft and serve a variety of Vietnamese food. I had an amazing pork fried rice dish with a side of pho broth, which I didn’t get a picture of because I devoured it in less than 5 seconds.

Sunday was a cleaning/cooking day. I made soup and finished all of our laundry, which is never ending.

How was your weekend? Did your family have a fun Halloween evening? If you dressed up I want to hear about it! I love costumes!

Weekend Recap – Bonefish, Bonfires and Pumpkin Carving

Hey there! It’s been crazy around here lately! We are still working on the bathroom, Jesse is still working on his grad school, I’m trying to get in exercise as much as I can, and we started the Whole Life Challenge on Monday. Before we started our challenge we went on a fantastic date night to try out the new Fall menu at Bonefish Grill on Thursday. Bonefish Fall SpecialsWe met at the restaurant on our way home from work, so the date felt a little more special and out of the ordinary for us. We were both still in work clothes and had a ton to talk about over our happy hour cocktails. Normally we talk on the way to the restaurant and are pretty quiet during dinner, so it was a great change of pace. We also had a fantastic server, Mike, so if you’re local I recommend him at the Hull St. location.Date night selfieTheir fall menu looked delicious, more on that a little later, but we stick with the regular menu for appetizers. I know normally people go for the Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish, but Jesse and I love mussels so we went with the Mussels Josephine for our app. And we have zero regrets about that decision, they were delicious! Bonefish MussellsWe both wanted to check out the Fall menu for our entrees, because it was so full of delicious looking options. I was so jealous of Jesse’s roasted snapper with shrimp. It looked amazing! Pan Roasted Snapper and ShrimpI, unfortunately, have an allergy to fish (nothing else, just fish itself) so I got the Malbec marinated steak with shrimp with mashed potatoes and broccoli. I wasn’t really too sad about missing out on the fish after eating this steak though! The Malbec created a rich, earthy and sweet sauce that was great with the steak and the shrimp. Malbec Steak and ShrimpOne of the best things about Bonefish’s Fall Crush menu is the wine pairings they have to go with the entrees. Each meal is paired with a wine that compliments the flavor of the dish. For my steak that wine was the Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec, big surprise since that’s also the wine in the sauce itself. I’m a HUGE fan of Malbec, so I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Bonefish Malbec specialI definitely recommend checking out the Bonefish Grill website to see if there is one near you, then treat yourself to a date night! And I also recommend getting the steak with Malbec sauce! OH! And for dessert we tried their pumpkin creme brulee! It was the stuff Fall dreams are made of! You have to try it!

We kept the good times rolling on Friday by going to our friends’ annual farm party. There’s nothing better than a crisp fall night with a bonfire and good friends. Farm Party 4.0My husband even pulled out his guitar and led the group in a few campfire songs, like Livin’ on a Prayer, Ignition Remix and Dashboard Confessional, you know the classics. The World's Handsomest HusbandWe also carried on our other annual tradition of carving pumpkins together this weekend. Jesse and I like to be a little complicated and a lot nerdy with our pumpkins, like you can see in 2012 and 2013. This year was no exception. Jesse’s pumpkin is the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter, which actually ties into my costume for this year. Follow me on Instagram to see that on Friday! ;)  Deathly Hallows pumpkinI went the Disney route again this year and carved Olaf. Then I proceeded to prance around the house singing “Do you want to carve a pumpkin?!?!” The details of his face were really difficult and intricate and his mouth actually fell out. I used floral pins to hold all the details in place and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Olaf pumpkinSo, that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’ve got one more project I want to finish before Friday (Crunch Time!) and I’m helping a friend decorate her house for a Halloween party on Thursday night, so things are going to stay busy this week. I’m definitely looking forward to a break soon!

How has your fall been going? Is it just me or does October bring a whole new wave of busyness that lasts until the holidays? Are you looking forward to Halloween?


Chic to Shriek – Frosted Mason Jar Lanterns

There’s nothing I like more than throwing a party. I love having guests over and preparing a fun environment to entertain them. Everything is better with decorations and a theme! I recently had a girl’s night at my house, complete with decorated wine bottles, napkins, and some fun lanterns for the front porchMason jar lettered lanternsI’m a firm believer that a party is the whole experience, which means that I don’t skimp on the decorations. Since I was hosting a fall/Halloween craft party I really wanted something to set the mood as people showed up at the house. It’s too early to carve pumpkins because they will rot, but these mason jar lanterns are pretty close to the same effect. Plus they were super easy to make! Opaque letter jarsWhat you’ll need to make these opaque lanterns is a couple of smooth mason jars (you want some without the label or texture), large letter stickers, battery LED candles, and some frosted glass spray paint. I recommend using Rustoleum, because it’s the best. When working with this stuff you’ll need to pause and shake the can to keep it coming out smooth. I have a few speckles on my jars from air bubbles in the can when I was spraying. Rustoleum Frosted Glass spray paintI started by cleaning my jars using rubbing alcohol. Sometimes tape and stickers don’t stick well to glass, but the rubbing alcohol helps with that. Plus it gets the jars really clean for when you spray paint. After the jars are clean, and try, add your stickers. The size of your letters will determine how many you can stick on your jars, but don’t make them too small or your guest wont be able to read your jars.Frosted glass jar lanternsAfter your letters are in place you’ll want to spray paint the jars using the frosted glass spray paint. It will take at least 3-5 coats for the perfect level of opaqueness. You’ll want to add the coats before the paint is totally dry, it looks better if you do wet coats. After you’re done with all your coats let the jars dry for at least half an hour before peeling the stickers off. Then turn on your candles, plop them in and voila! Glowing mason jar lanterns!Frosted glass lettered lanternsI added the glowing lanterns to my front porch with the rest of my decor to set the tone for my fall craft night. I also picked up a few party decor items, by Martha Stewart, at JoAnn to help decorate the snack table, like these awesome Halloween themed wine labels. Decorated wine bottlesAnd since no craft night is complete without food I also made some snacks for the occasion. I gave the food some super corny names on adorable tent cards. Three things to know about me: I love to eat, I like red wine and I’m really corny. Chic to Shriek batty bruschettaThis week I’m really looking forward to Jesse and I carving pumpkins to complete our front porch decor and finish getting ready for Halloween. I’m planning on buying some really gross candy, or at least candy I don’t like so that it’s not hard for me to resist since I’m doing the Whole Life Challenge.

What fun crafts did you work on this Halloween? Be sure to share them using #DIY4Halloween on social media and they could show up on the JoAnn share site! What do you think we should carve for our pumpkins this year?

**I was not paid for this post. I was given a gift card to JoAnn Fabric and Crafts to purchase my supplies, but all opinions and ideas are my own.**

Whole Life Challenge

Hey there! I hope everyone had a great weekend! Jesse and I took a little trip to get out of town and recharge for a few days. It wasn’t exactly the trip we were expecting, but it was still nice to spend a weekend away with my husband. I also took today off to work on some house stuff that we put off since we were gone. Had to make up for that lost time vacationing! ;)

One of the highlights of taking a vacation is always the chance to eat lots of new foods, especially non-healthy ones. I treated this weekend as a “last meal” of sorts, before I started the Whole Life Challenge. The Whole Life Challenge is an 8 week online game that challenges you too make healthy eating changes while competing against friends. Each day you start with 5 points and you can earn more points by drinking water, working out, stretching and taking vitamins. You can also lose points by eating foods on the restricted list. This allows space for splurging every now and then, which is perfect to not completely lose my mind or social life. WLC-Facebook-Banner-3

Now, the reason why I’m doing this challenge: it was all thanks to a physical. One of the perks of my new job is that they offer employee wellness sessions for all employees. I had my first session, which included a full physical, on Friday afternoon. My results from the physical did not come back the way that I expected… I have slightly elevated blood pressure, my cholesterol is off and my body composition is not what it should be. My body is apparently several years older than I actually am, which scares me. I’ve been coasting on a “high metabolism” and a few days of work outs here and there, but I was only fooling myself. This challenge is all about me getting healthy and in better shape.

Jesse and I will be competing against each other until Christmas, and even threw in a few extra cash incentives to keep us both motivated and away from all the cookies and treats that the holidays have to offer. After Christmas we will also be competing with a group of friends in another more official challenge. I want to do this several times instead of just once to help the changes last longer and to really make an impact on my health in a more lasting way.

So wish me luck! And if you have any Paleo or WLC approved recipes to share, please pass them on! I dont want to just eat chicken and rice for the next 8 weeks!

“Playful” Front Door Makeover

Ever since we moved into our house I’ve wanted to really put our mark on the house. Something that makes me really think “This is our house.” For me, that meant painting the front door. Our neighbors on either side of us have fun front doors that bring personality to their houses, so I wanted the same thing. However, painting the front door was super low on the priority list. Like SUPER low. So I kind of just let the idea of painting the front door go, until I met the folks from Modern Masters at Haven. Jess and I had some fun in the photo booth and I found the perfect plum color, “Playful.” IMG_1841Well, the folks at Modern Masters were kind enough to send me a quart of “Playful” a few weeks ago, so I finally got to makeover my front door! Which you saw in my Halloween wreath post. Plum front doorLet me tell you, not only is the color amazing and everything I ever wanted, but the paint is amazing to work with! This picture was taken after starting the first coat. I don’t really have a lot of progress pictures because I was, well, painting. And the color is way off because I took the picture with my phone.Modern Masters first coatI ended up doing 3 coats to make sure I had the best coverage possible. I used a short handled brush for more control and started by painting the little square/rectangle details (like in the above picture). Then I moved on to the rest of the door. The paint didn’t really stink that bad either, it smelled kind of like hair dye. And when you color your hair as much as I used to you get kind of used to it. And after 3 coats of paint I barely used any! I took this picture after I was done painting and you can see I barely made a dent in the container. Modern Masters Front Door PaintThe other great part of this paint is that it dries in an hour! Well, two if you need more coats. I slapped on a coat of paint, cleaned the house or worked on something else, slapped on another coat, made dinner (and ate it), then threw on the last coat and shut the front door an hour later. Even better, it cleans up with soap and water in no time! Shut the front door! Quick dry front door paintI love the contrast between the plum and our oil rubbed bronze hardware too. I was worried it would blend in to the darker color, but it doesn’t. Modern Masters Playful front doorThe color is just what I’ve been wanting and looking for since we moved in. Now I can’t help but smile when I pull into the driveway and walk up the stairs. Plum was one of Jesse and I’s wedding colors, so the color itself has meaning to us. It doesn’t hurt that it’s just gorgeous in general. Front door makeoverNow that the front door is painted, and since I have so much paint left, I’m planning on painting our French doors in the back and our door that comes in from the garage too. It’s been raining, so I haven’t had a chance to do that yet. I’ve also been thinking that I may paint the inside of the front door too. I think our house could use some more “playfulness.” ;)

If you’ve been thinking about painting your front door, then you need to check out this line from Modern Masters. They have 24 different colors to choose from and there’s even an app! Download the Front Door Paint app (it’s free), take a picture of your door and you can get an idea for how that color will look on your door.

*I was not paid or compensated for this post. I did receive my quart of Modern Masters Front Door Paint free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions are my own*

DIY Wood Pallet Projects

My absolute favorite thing about blogging is the great relationships that I’ve made over the years with other bloggers. One of my first blogging friends was Karah of The Space Between. I joined her Pass It On Project in my first year of blogging and I still have my gift from her, it hangs on our gallery wall in our bedroom. Book pages picture frame from Karah

I was so excited in July when I FINALLY got to meet her at Haven. We had a blast chatting in person and she gave me a little a lot of help when my strapless dress/bra wouldn’t stay up while I was on the dance floor. Me & Karah

So, imagine how excited I was when I found out she was writing a book. How cool is that?! I know a famous author! DIY Wood Pallet Projects book review

If you’ve ever followed Karah’s blog before then you know that this lady is amazing at recreating spaces and building gorgeous things for her home. She has used pallets in a lot of ingenious ways, so it makes sense that she wrote a book about DIYing with pallets. I have a few pallets in our garage, but I can’t decide what to do with them. There are so many options. Of course, a wine rack would be right up my alley… Pallet book - wine rackI’ve also been wanting a full length mirror for our master bedroom, but nice ones are so dang expensive! This project seems a little daunting, but I think I could handle it. Maybe. It is gorgeous though! Maybe I can get Karah to come build me one. ;)  Pallet book - full length mirrorThis fun American flag is definitely something I could handle! I kinda wish I would have seen it before our big 4th of July ‘Murica party. It would have looked great hanging up over the drink table or on the front porch! Pallet book - American flagNot only does Karah provide great projects with step-by-step instructions, supply lists and fabulous pictures, she also recommends tools, shows you ways to disassemble pallets and even gives suggestions on where to find pallets. This book is an absolute must-have for all you DIY lovers out there! DIY Wood Pallet Projects by KarahI keep my book in my basket of blankets and magazines next to the couch. I love that when we have company over and people grab it and flip through it and I get to tell them about my friend Karah. It makes her seem less like one of those “imaginary blog friends.”

If you’re interested in purchasing Karah’s book DIY Wood Pallet Projects (which you should be) it’s available on Amazon. *And that is NOT an affiliate link* 

This is Halloween

Like I mentioned on Monday in my glitter pumpkin wreath post, I’m a little bit of a cheesy person. This is especially true when it comes to the holidays. Give me glitter, ribbon, and every cliche in the book and I will use it to decorate my house. The past two years in our house I’ve only decorated the mantle and the front door for Halloween, but this year I had to do more. So I bring you, my Halloween Home Tour! *que Harry Potter theme song* Halloween mantle 2014Per usual I decorated my mantle first. I used a lot of the same pieces from last year, like the pumpkin, Harry Potter books and “Spooky” statue, but I also added some candles, my owl statue and a fun bat and ghost garland. I kept the mirror from my fall mantlescape up because I really love having a mirror up there to bounce the candle light around. And I know I keep saying it but I’m still totally in love with the way we beefed up the mantle and painted it white. It just makes all my decorations “pop” that much more. Spooky Halloween pieceOf course, I had to add more faux spider webs to amp up the spookiness. I’m not really big into things that are actually scary, so faux spider webs are about as far as I go. Halloween window vignetteIn the dining room I reused my BOO wreath from last year, because I love it and had to incorporate it somehow. Our window has a broken seal, hence all the fog, but it doesn’t look too bad as a Halloween backdrop. I kept the window sill simple with a leaf garland and vase full of leaves and hay. Fall Bentwood stylingOver in the corner of the dining room is Poppy’s Chair, my new Bentwood that I’m obsessed with. I wanted the chair out on display until I can get my new desk and set up an office space for myself, and it works perfectly here in the corner. And since I was on a decorating spree, I had to let Poppy in on the action. Bentwood Halloween vignetteHarry Potter is about as scary as I get for Halloween. Jesse and I have been rewatching all the movies this month, and so I really wanted to bring the books out too. I couldn’t resist adding a witch’s hat to the stack of books, too. It looks like Hermione has been doing some light reading in the dining room. ;)  Spooky branch candlesBack in the living room, next to the tv, you’ll find my other find from Sweet Clover. I loved this awesome silver branch candle-holder thing and when I first saw it I thought it would be perfect for Christmas. After I started playing with the faux spider webs I also realized that it would work great for Halloween. Creepy houses always have candelabras covered in spider webs, so it works.

I’ve also been working on getting the porch ready for Halloween, but we need to go out to the pumpkin patch and get some pumpkins and mums before I can call that project done. You’ll just have to wait and see! I’m having a girls’ craft night at my house on Wednesday, so I’ve got motivation to get it done before then! I’m hoping the more I decorate my house, the more trick or treaters will come by.

Do you decorate for Halloween? I never thought that I would be that person, but now I’m so glad I am. Do you like actual spooky stuff, or are you more Harry Potter and Nightmare Before Christmas?

Do the Hometalk Hustle

I know I said I’d have more Halloween decorations up today, but I’m still working on it. Instead, I’m sharing a little bit about the awesome blogger event I went to over the weekend, the Hometalk Hustle. The event was sponsored by Hometalk, Sweet Clover Barn, Silk & Burlap, and a bunch of other shops in Frederick, MD. It was a lot of fun and provided some great bonding time with other bloggers, and of course, shopping! The event started at 10 am on Saturday morning, so I was up bright and early! Frederick is about 3 hours north of Richmond, so the solo road trip called for a lot of coffee. photo 1

I ended up being a little late to the breakfast the had at the Hilton Garden Inn, but it was a great spread! When I got there they were doing a little presentation on Downtown Frederick which is full of locally owned shops and restaurants. It kind of reminded me of some sectors of Richmond, but super condensed. It was fun to meet other bloggers from the VA/MD area, and to put names and faces together. Some of the bloggers that were there included:

After breakfast we loaded up into a few shuttles and headed to Sweet Clover Barn. I was so excited to finally check it out since I’ve been following Cassie’s blog, Primitive and Proper, for years and I got to meet Sarah at Haven back in July. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed! I was so lucky that we were packed out in the shuttle vans, otherwise I may have come home with quite the credit card bill! (These ladies are so smart and take cards!) photo 3

There was such a wide array of things to choose from, furniture, tchotchkes, jewelry, art. You name it! I bought an awesome silver branch candle holder, which you’ll see in my Halloween decor on Friday. Oooo, suspense! ;)  photo 2

After about an hour perusing Sweet Clover we loaded back into the vans and went to Downtown Frederick. They dropped us off at Silk & Burlap first, which was filled with so many pretty things! photo 5

The ladies at Silk & Burlap were amazing hostesses and they even served wine while we shopped. More stores should considering serving wine to shoppers, it was so relaxing and I felt like I was at a party instead of in a store. photo 4

After Silk & Burlap we split into smaller groups and continued to explore other stores participating in the Hustle, and a few that weren’t. I really fell in love with one shop, so much so I forgot to take a picture, called Whidden Hill. Their catch phrase is East Coast Chic Meets Western Flair, which is apparently my style. They had cute clothes, fun cowboy boots and lots of gorgeous jewelry, plus they served us chocolate.

After that we went to The Muse, another eclectic shop full of locally made pretties. photo 1 (1)

There was even a leather demo going on while we were there, which was very fascinating to watch. photo 2 (1)

We also went to the Velvet Lounge, which was another apparel store and I wanted so many things. I really want to get Jesse up to Frederick sometime soon so I can get him to buy me things.

Our last stop was a fun furniture store, very similar to Restoration Hardware but local. Their furniture was gorgeous, but WAY out of my price range. photo 3 (1)

I did enjoy the interior design inspiration boards they had on display around the store though. It’s always fun to see other people’s visions and creative processes. photo 4 (1)

After that we headed back to the hotel to pick up our cars, it was around 2 pm at this point and we were all getting tired. Since we left Downtown Frederick early there was still about an hour before Sweet Clover closed, so I drove back to buy this gorgeous Bentwood chair I had been eyeing. She needs a little love, but I’m excited to use it in my future office nook. There is a sticker on the seat that says “Poppy’s Chair,” so I really hope I can do Poppy proud. photo 2 (2)

I also got to spend a little more time chatting with Cassie and Sarah, which is always a good time. Now I just need to get them down to my neck of the woods for some shopping! photo 5 (1)

On my way home from Frederick I stopped off south of Leesburg to visit a friend from college. I took a kind of back road to avoid DC traffic and the drive was just gorgeous! I went right through Northern VA wine country, so now I’m hoping I can get Jesse back up that way for a weekend of wine tasting. My friend and I had an early dinner in Warrenton at the Black Bear Bistro, where I had an amazing pizza. It had bacon and an arugula salad on top and it was to die for! I’m hungry just thinking about it! photo 1 (2)

The event was such a blast. It’s always nice to hang out with like-minded people, aka bloggers, and walk around shops listening to their opinions and ideas. I find it super inspiring and revitalizing! Which is probably why I went home and immediately started redecorating for Halloween! :)

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