It seems that whenever I write about post about gift ideas, Ted always asks what I’m going to get him. I like to think that me being his Valentine is enough, but nevertheless, he has… More
This time last year we were celebrating Christmas as new parents. Tad was barely two weeks old, and we weren’t able to manage getting Christmas cards out. I always enjoy receiving them from friends and family and like to display them on our mantle, so I wanted to make sure to send them out this year. Ted kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas so I told him I wanted pictures – a nice family photo, a one year old photo of Tad, and a picture with Santa. We were pretty ambitious in trying to knock them all out in one day, but we made it through and managed to get a few good shots, thanks to Amanda Donohue and her husband who is professional at getting little ones to laugh.
To our friends and family who were sweet enough to include us in their Christmas card list this year – thank you! We’ve enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures and reading about your year for those that included letters and milestone events. Even though I planned ahead for photos, I didn’t actually get them in the mail until we left town for the holidays, but they are on their way so please don’t cross us off the list for next year!
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Photography by Amanda Donohue
Ted’s outfit: Ledbury shirt, Nordstrom Rack sweater and scarf
Rather than taking Tad to the mall to see Santa, we attended a brunch with Santa. It was the perfect opportunity for him to see the jolly old fellow and watch other kids he knows sit on his lap first. He devoured all sorts of treats like Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream while we waited our turn. There were also plenty of Christmas trees with bright, shiny ornaments for him to explore. He’s not really talking yet so I’m pretty sure he asked for a dadada and a nuh-nuh (what he calls our dog, Nutmeg), but hopefully Santa speaks baby babble because Tad’s been an awfully good boy this year. He loves going to school, reading books, and crawling all over the place. He’s learned to wave bye-bye, give kisses and high fives, and is a little speedster with his walker.
Okay, so, maybe not all day, but it was the varietal of the day for my sister’s bachelorette winery tour. I’m so glad that rosé is becoming somewhat en vogue, as I’ve been a fan ever since traveling in the south of France for my honeymoon. We had three stops lined up for the day, and agreed to try the rosé at each. While the wine at the first, King Family Vineyards, was my favorite (a dry rosé, named after the small town of Crozet in which the winery is located), the atmosphere at our third and final stop was unparalleled. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is nestled just outside of Charlottesville and offers pristine views coupled with rustic elegance. A joint effort of husband and wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill combines their wealth of professional experience in luxury properties and bespoke events. It’s no wonder that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were rumored to have been married here! As I imagine is the case most Saturdays, they were busy setting up for a wedding later that evening. Though I don’t have any weddings to plan anytime soon, I would love to come back here for a special occasion, like an anniversary dinner, to try their “vineyard to table” cuisine. While it was the perfect way to celebrate my sister’s final days as a single lady, I was surprised to see many young families with toddlers in tow at King Family and and Veritas Vineyards. It actually makes perfect sense as there are big grassy knolls to upon which to spread out a blanket where adults can catch up with friends over their vintage of choice, and the little ones can run and play. I can’t wait to pack a picnic, round up a few friends, and head back to Virginia wine country. I’d love to hear any recommendations of other Virginia vineyards or wineries that are worth trying. I know Virginia isn’t especially known for great wine, but it still makes for a nice day-trip and the scenery can be simply stunning. Salut!
After five glorious months of maternity leave, I’ll be heading back to work next week. While excited about getting my professional life going again and seeing all the great people I work with, I’m a little anxious about my new role as a working mom. My nearest and dearest, myself included, weren’t sure how I would handle maternity leave. Would I be bored? Would I go crazy spending so much time alone with just my little one? No and no! I have absolutely adored being home with my little man, and have kept myself plenty busy with projects big and small from cleaning out and reorganizing to gutting our master bathroom.
I have truly cherished this time I’ve had to focus on learning to be a new mommy and am amazed by how quickly my tiny baby is becoming a little boy. It seems like he learns something new every day! I got to be there the first time he smiled, laughed, rolled over, and tried to give me a kiss. He currently loves grabbing my face and planting a slobbery wet one on my cheek, and I love it! I know that preschool offers great stimulation, socialization, and other development opportunities, but it’s still going to be hard leaving him.
To my mom friends that have gone back to work…I would love to hear any advice you have to share on how it went for you, and any tips to make it easier!
Horse racing, fancy hats, and mint juleps in silver cups…what’s not to love? Every year, I look forward to Derby weekend and Bowties & Belles because it’s a chance to dress up and have a little fun with fancy millinery while benefitting a good cause. I have to admit that it snuck up on me a little this year since the past few months of staying home with Tad have absolutely flown by. I have an aqua and gold Lilly dress that I bought last year, just before I found out I was expecting, that I really didn’t get to wear. Given that gold is so popular right now, I figured I would have no trouble finding a gilded, shimmering hat to match. After striking out, and realizing things were getting down to the wire, I was happy to find a fascinator style headpiece on Nordstrom’s website in a pale aqua shade with a shape that I liked that I thought would pair perfectly. Unfortunately, the shade was a bit more of a seafoam green in person than it looked online. With mere days before the event, I grabbed a can of spray paint in desperation and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it covered the sinamay, and even the feathers! Though I was pretty happy with the result, the resulting hue was a more muted gold than I had hoped for so I went back to digging in my closet and pulled out this old favorite pink and gold dress that seemed new again after not having been able to wear it last year.
My sister was sweet enough to come visit and to watch Tad while we headed off to Bowties & Belles, a Kentucky Derby party to benefit the Campagna Center. It’s always great to spend an afternoon catching up with old friend and making new ones, but even better when it benefits the community as well. The Campagna Center offers educational and social development programs for children, teens, and adults in the community. Soon after moving to Alexandria, I was introduced to the Junior Friends, an organization that partners with and supports the center. It has been an amazing way to get to know some phenomenal women, and get involved in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time doing everything from arranging flowers for the Anniversary Gala to planning and decorating “Santa’s Workshop” for Deck the Halls, one of the signature events during Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. If you live in the Alexandria area, I highly recommend checking out the great things the Campagna Center is doing for the community, and coming to a Junior Friends meeting if you want to get involved!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!
Since having Tad, traveling home for holidays has been tough given that the drive home to North Carolina is no easy task with an infant and dog in tow. He did great on our trip back in February, but I was worried we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in the car with all the stuff! Staying home in Alexandria has given us the chance to create some of our own family traditions. For me, those traditions mainly focus on activities that I grew up with associating with major holidays (trimming the tree, a special Easter outfit, etc.). For Ted, it means a meal.
The Easter Bunny stopped by our house and left a basket for Tad with new playsuits (here and here), an Easter bottle, and books including an old classic, Peter Cottontail, and a new favorite, I Love You Night and Day. Since I can’t sing, I found a recording of Peter Cottontail to help me read it to him last night, and Ted and I took turns reading I Love You Night and Day. It’s the sweetest!
After changing out of our church clothes, Ted started whipping up a classic Easter feast complete with glazed ham, green bean casserole, and sweet potato soufflé. We like to add a bit of bourbon to the glaze kit that comes with the ham, and I insist on sweet potato soufflé at Thanksgiving and Easter. Below is the recipe that my Mom’s family has been making for years from an old church cookbook.
Sweet Potato Soufflé
Mix together 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, 1 cup white sugar (I reduce to half), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 1/3 tablespoons melted margarine (we use Kerrygold Irish butter instead), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour mixture into a baking dish.
Chop together 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 1/3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, and 2 cup of shredded coconut. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
I always love hearing about other family traditions. Do you do anything special to celebrate Easter?
Since I spend so much time at work or traveling for work events, I shop for pieces that easily transition from day to night. Simple sheath dresses are a great option that can be dressed up or down, but this statement necklace is truly a versatile piece that’s lots of fun! I was drawn to the mixed media design of the soft chiffon and leather petals against the heaver metal chain. The petals detach for a simple necklace that is office appropriate, and easily clip back on to transform a boring work ensemble to something with a little more interest for evening. Despite spending so much time in dressier, more polished outfits, my favorite way to wear it is dressed down with jeans and a jacket.
I pulled pieces that I already had in my closet to style this necklace, but love the current styles below to complete the look as well. The necklace, tote, and clutch are all available from Stella & Dot.