Sunday, September 30, 2012

White wine sangria

We had friends over for dinner, yard games, and a bon fire last night. I brought out our watermelon tablecloth for the back porch, and decided to make white wine sangria. I had to convince our friends that, despite my actions, I knew it was fall. 

Many of my posts recently have been about fall, yet my heart still lives in summer.

So - for a little change of pace, I have to share this easy, inexpensive, and delicious recipe for white wine sangria. I found the recipe here, but made a few modifications. Here’s what I did:

White Wine Sangria

1 bottle of white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 can of Ginger Ale (I used Trader Joe’s Hanson’s Diet Ginger Ale – because its delicious)
1/3 cup of sugar (half of the original recipe)
1 lemon
1 lime
1 oranage
1 kiwi

Add the sugar to the room temperature bottle of wine (so it will dissolve completely). Add the fruit – and let sit in the fridge for 4 or more hours. Add ginger ale just before serving.

Very simple, and does not require a trip to the liquor store. I added all of the fruit because I like the rainbow of colors. If Trader Joe’s had blackberries, I would have added them for some purple.

I wish I had remembered to take pictures, but we set out wine glasses – each with a different colored ribbon (because I don’t own wine charms). We put some fruit and ice in each wine glass and let guests serve the sangria themselves from our drink dispenser.

Between that, the pork barbeque, and the watermelon table cloth – you have the perfect summer party :).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apple picking 2012

It all started with a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Pumpkin Spice Latte, cowboy boots, and a high of 74. Could a fall day get any better?

Why yes. You could throw in a roadtrip to Sky Top Orchard for some apple picking.

We packed some trail mix, a cooler with sandwiches and fruit, and the cutest puppy we could find in our house and headed to Hendersonville, NC. I wish it were later in the season, when the leaves have changed, but with apple season being so early this year, and the gorgeous weather this weekend, we couldn’t risk it. This was our weekend.

We grabbed two red buckets and started picking.

It is so beautiful out here, with the mountains in the background, and the rows and rows of apple trees and grape vines.

I couldn’t get too many pictures without crowds of people in them, so you might have to make a trip to Hendersonville to see for yourself!

We chose some Jonagold and a few Granny Smith (too sour for me, but Dan likes them). Then, knowing the Fuji section was closed, we headed to Gala.

Interestingly enough, we saw that Fuji was only closed from the front. When we headed up the row to find Gala apples, we were tempted by the trees full of ripe Fuji apples right next to us. We couldn’t resist. Shhh. Don’t tell Sky Top Orchard. But we grabbed almost half a bushel of the best tasting Fuji apples, and went on our merry way.

After all the picking, we needed some good hydration and choose two apple cider slushies.

We took our slushies right in line for some fresh made-within-the-last-minute apple cider donuts.

Coated in cinnamon and sugar, these are a must when you go apple picking.

While we were in line, Koda showed a little boy her high-five trick, the crowd gushed over how cute she was, and she was in heaven.

Although not too cooperative for photos.

After a few hours out at Sky Top, some clouds started rolling in and we decided it was time to head home.

We threw our loot in the car, (forty pounds of apples!), and started scheming about what to cook first.

Fall bucket list cross offs:

  • Go apple picking: We go to Sky Top Orchard in Hendersonville every year.
  • Drink a Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pinterest: fall wreath inspiration

We crossed a few things off our fall bucket list this past weekend:

40 pounds of apples puts a HUGE smile on my face. More to come on this.

Since Saturday is the first official day of fall, I should really get a move on, on my fall wreath.  Here is my Pinterest inspiration:







Edit: The fall wreath that I ended up making is here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Date night: pumpkin challenge

Dan and I found ourselves very confused when we realized that we didn’t have plans last Saturday. What do we do with ourselves? If I get bored, it usually becomes a complex endeavor – like “let’s re-do the mancave!” I still owe yall pictures from that, by the way. Either that or I pout to Dan that I am ‘in a rut.’ Dramatic much? Nope.

What went from “lets go to this bar” to “lets go to dinner” to “lets go to Total Wine and pick out our own beer to save money,” got very interesting when I became overwhelmed by the number of pumpkin beers at Total Wine.

How would anyone choose?! You don’t just keep cases of pumpkin beer around. But when it's fall, and you want a pumpkin beer, which six pack do you get?

Challenge accepted.

We grabbed every pumpkin beer that they sold as a single.

Nine. Nine pumpkin beers were about to compete for our affection. It was going to be a glorious night.

On the way out of the store, something attempted to throw a very large wrench in our plans. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. 4 pack. 

How can we pass it by? The rules: 1) Must be pumpkin, not harvest or fall. 2) Only singles. 3) Buy all of them. No singles anywhere to be found. We left Dogfish Head and its deliciously-orange case behind, to not break rule 2, and proceeded with our night.

The line up of fierce competitors:

Our set up was elaborate because, if you are going to do a pumpkin challenge, you have to do it right.

Fall candle? Check.

In-depth scoring sheets? Check. 

Pumpkin-orange shirt for Dan? Check.

I don't mean to brag, but we are connoisseurs when it comes to these tastings and know all the correct terminology when discussing beers.

Trust me, “night ruined” is not a good tasting note to receive.

Each beer had to be tasted, scored on a scale from ‘yuck’ to ‘yummy’ and could be re-tasted as many times possible until we ran out. Then, a favorite had to be chosen.

Dan easily went with “Shipwrecked.”

I apologize for the picture. He apparently confused “Here, pose with your favorite beer!” with “Quick, I’m taking your high school hockey photo, if you smile, you’ll get beaten up.”

I, shockingly, couldn’t decide.

I like most all of them! Cottonwood was delicious, but a little light. Sam Adams was delicious, but a little heavy. Shipwrecked was great, but had so much of a clove taste, that I could only have one. Blue Moon and Buffalo Bill were, as always, delicious. UFO did disappoint. But I liked the Unita, and didn’t think my night was ruined, as Dan so eloquently put it. 

Approximately 4 days later, Dan came home with the temptress herself: the 4 pack of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.

She's beautiful.

Winner. Done. Hands down. Our favorite.

So there you have it. Our super professional opinion. Dogfish Head is not ‘nooooo’ nor ‘night ruined.’ When describing a beer of this caliber, we like to use the technical term ‘delicious.’ It’s not sold in singles because, trust me, you will want all four.

If you don’t believe me, have your own Pumpkin Challenge. (It’s capitalized now, because it’s a thing.) Let me know what you decide.

Happy fall, yall!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My birthday

I love birthdays. Mostly because of the cake. Any excuse for a cake. And when it is my birthday, I get to pick out the cake, and that’s the best of all.

I was lucky enough to extend my birthday almost a week. It started the day before my birthday with my friend Sam decorating my cube with those ecards. Have you seen them? They are pretty funny.

These were all geared to being old, and birthdays. My favorite said, “Due to budget cutbacks, we’d appreciate you not telling anyone when your birthday is, so we won’t have to buy you a cake.” … well.. its funny if you work where we work.

She made lime green and pink cake pops, with funfetti cake inside. It was all vanilla, the exact opposite of what Sam likes. THAT, my friends, is a good friend.

The guy in the cube next to me is absolutely brilliant at what he does, but English is not his first language. So he stops by my cube and says, “Ohhh. So funny cartoons.” And leaves… And every time he walked by, he said,“Ohh. Cartoons. Very very funny.”

He had no idea that it was my birthday. And Sam and I laughed every time he did it.

Then he sees the cake pops, and goes “look at those lollypops! Did you make them?” And I said, “Jose, do you think I would make my own birthday lollypops?? Sam made them for me.” And he smiles, “Ohhh congratulations Sam” ….. still no idea it was my birthday. Made us laugh.

Then my actual birthday started with Starbucks and Chick-fil-a for breakfast, followed by opening presents.

Dan wrapped every one of his. And then flipped them to the ‘good side’ before I took pictures. Reason #584395 why I love him.

My friend Shelley was passing through town and brought a huge shiny balloon, champagne and Hershey kisses. She knows me so well.


So Dan and I had champagne.

And went to Zebra for dinner. If you are ever in Charlotte, and have an excuse to spend too much money on dinner, go. It is honestly the best restaurant I have been to. I wore a lime green dress, because I am a firm believer that no matter how old you are, it is socially acceptable to wear a lime green dress on your birthday.

Take 1. Proof that I should invest in a tripod.

Take 2. Much better.

We came back for ice cream cupcakes from marble slab.

How brilliant is this? Have you ever wanted to try 4 different ice cream cakes? Because this is your chance.

Or you can order 4 full cakes, just invite me over. Please.

On Monday, my friend Landon brought by cupcakes for the Bachelor Pad. Can you believe it’s the season finale? What am I going to do with my Mondays? And I might have eaten a cupcake for breakfast the next morning.

My parents were in town Wednesday. (We are camp for their dog, Lily). So we went out to dinner with them, and opened a few more presents.

It was such a wonderful week and I am so thankful to all my friends and family for the birthday wishes.

I hope my next 25 years are just as perfect as the first!