Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Club Entertaining

Once a month I get together with some really great girls at wine book club.This month I chose to host because I felt like our house is really starting to come together and it would be fun to share it with this group.


And just in the nick of time, my new couches came that day too!! More on these lovelies later...


Oh and triple bonus, we chose to read Jen Lancaster's novel Twisted Sisters as our April book and she'll be in Richmond this Wednesday for the Junior League of Richmond's Book and Author Event. Jen is one of my absolute all-time favorite authors so I was excited to read this one after reading Tao of Martha for book club previously.


I always like to pre-plan how my spread will be set up a day or two in advance. Here's how this one looked before (with Chex Mix, crackers and mints already out). It helps for week night events where I know I'll be rushing in between getting off work and everyone arriving.

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Here's the after with all the goodies out and ready for the takin'!

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I went right to my go-to party favorites, but substituted my mini chicken and waffles (see them here) for a healthier option of chicken salad apple bites! I found the idea on Pinterest naturally.

First, you slice some apples so that they're nice and sturdy but still get the most out of your apple and feel like you had a hearty snack.


Aren't the stars in the middle of these apples gorge! I was sad to cut them out right before adding the chicken salad.


I grabbed my favorite chicken salad from Libbie Market down the road and scooped it on top of the apples and garnished them with a pecan. Easy peasy!

I refrigerated them until a few minutes before so they stayed cool and firm.

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Next I baked one of Ryan's favorites, a Pecan Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix. I was out of bacon this go-round though so I broiled some Pepperonis to crisp them up and put them in the mix instead. This is always an awesome snack to have in a couple places around the house for people to munch on as they mingle, you can also make it well in advance!


Always a favorite, I had to do my Bacon Cheese Ranch Sourdough Pull.


Ok, so I admit my baked Brie was not the best (or prettiest) ever, but its a favorite ever since Allie introduced me to her version for the Bachelor viewing parties.


Veggies with Ranch for a healthy and easy grab. I love those crispy little peppers!


I finished it all off with this rich and sweet Red Velvet Cheese Ball and Nila wafers for dipping.


As for beverages, I always like to have a fruit or veggie infused water out along with red and white wine and a selection of beers and sodas.

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These plates and napkins are from the always reliable Target!


Shout out to my Mama for the chalkboard art! Thanks Mom (see her blog here)!

Overall, it was a successful night, can you tell we were too busy having fun and didn't take any pictures!

Here's some of our other reads from past months:

The Tao Of Martha, Jen Lancaster - as I mentioned before, a favorite read, if you're looking for a light and funny summer read, this is perfect

The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty - honestly, haven't finished this one yet, but I'm loving this twisting tale set in Australia

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak - I'm dying to see the movie, I would say this one has the most substance and truly heart-felt story of the books I've read so far with this club


Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight - this one was surprisingly a favorite, I'm not usually a fan of murder/mystery novels like this one of a woman trying to figure out the murderer of her teenage daughter, but it rocked!

The Revenge Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger - a good read, but as most follow-up movies or novels go, I still go back to the OG (original gangsta, that is - aka The Devil Wears Prada) as a favorite


Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling - very funny, easy to read, but I had to take it in small doses, its good if you want something light-hearted to read in small intervals before bed for example


So what else are you guys reading?! I'm always on the lookout for great book suggestions.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Everything Really Is Bigger: TX Visit, Part II

Even though my Dallas trip may be almost a week behind me at this point, I'm definitely still in a Texas state of mind! If you didn't catch part one of my trip, check it out, it was amaZAing (wink, wink).

Now, you didn't think I was gunna leave you without sharing food pics galore did ya!? Nope!

The first night in town we ate at one of my new fav restaurants, Whiskey Cake in Plano. The food, drinks and especially the whiskey cake was out of this world! I mean c'mon, my favorite bourbon (Buffalo Trace) was made into cake - genius!

I immediately love any restaurant that pays tribute to one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. My colors are "blush and bashful"... I had to send this to Jess and Allie (of Alexandra Bee Blog) as it reminded me of girls weekend (see that here)!

Love the lightbulb and rosemary vases!

This Local TX Goat Cheese Fondue was UN-believable!

Best Fried Green Tomatoes I've ever had. Ever.

The Local Board was awesome too. I love how they write on their chalkboard where everything came from locally.

BBQ smoker-style fireplace outside!

The bar was awesome, obviously because of all the whiskey, but also because you could see right into the kitchen too!

I ordered the Brisket which came over White Cheddar Poblano Grits and Tomatillo Apple Salsa.

A little dessert drink called The Nuts! It was like a creamy bourbon on the rocks with candied pecans on top!

How cool is this light? I'm thinking its totally man cave material.

Yep, that was the main attraction... the Whiskey Cake! It was made up of toffee torte, Buffalo Trace Bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans and whipped cream! Perfection!

Check out the full menu here.

The next night in Dallas, we had dinner while we played at one of the coolest places ever, Top Golf. I'm not a huge fan of golf per se, but this putting range turned basket/target game was the  The full bar, awesome weather and atmosphere also made it a big win!

Essentially, its a double deck putting green where you play either against each other or against teams in different bays. You win points by getting your golf ball (that's tracked via RFID) into the baskets in those different targets. The farther away and closer to the flag, the more points you get.

You could really spend time just hanging out elsewhere too, like in the lounge, playing yard games (including giant Jenga) and putt-putt too.

The food was pretty delish too, including this mexican flatbread (you're killing my diet here TX!).

I found out the nearest Top Golf to me is in Alexandria, VA. I think this summer I'll have to gather my friends, hop in a bus and have a day trip out there!

Needless to say, my first time in Texas was a success. I already can't wait to go back to Dallas and try all the other cool places that I heard about too. Some other suggestions I received included Milk and Honey Boutique (via the lovely Caitlin of Southern Curls and Pearls), The Truck Yard and Taverna (via local Texan Marie of Progression By Design).

Now I'm going to go drink my lemon water, eat some broccoli and dream about the deliciousness and fun I was having a week ago from today...

PS: I would love more Dallas suggestions for my next visit! What are your favs?
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