Let’s Visit Nashville!

All y’all ready to learn how to do Nashville (and its ‘burbs) in a day or less? Let me first warn you that I called basically everything I saw in and around Nashville adorable or the cutest thing ever – Kyle was getting annoyed! Be prepared for lots of “OMG, that is the most adorable {insert noun} I’ve ever seen!” in this post.

Now, let’s recap Nashville!

Kyle and I arrived at the Nashville airport after quick flight around 2pm last Friday. We found our rental car and then made our way to the Aloft in Franklin, a suburb of the city where we were staying.

After facing somewhat of a fiasco trying to check into the hotel – we were checked in and given keys to someone else’s room (one of the guests was showering when we opened the door…) then we were told they didn’t have our reservations (WHAT??! How did you give us keys the first time??!) but they had an extra room they could spare – we finally got upstairs and were able to freshen up for my cousin’s rehearsal dinner!

Gift Bag Collage

On a positive note, look at this adorable welcome bag from my cousin and her {now} husband! I was super excited about the little treats inside :)

Needless to say, I would NOT recommend staying at that Aloft. The staff wasn’t friendly (where’s that Southern hospitality?), they obviously have issues understanding the reservation and room process AND they double charged my credit card so I had fun with that after returning to Chicago… Luckily, there are many other hotels in the area that I heard great things about from the other wedding guests.

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Since we were ready before it was time for dinner and we were both STARVING since the only thing we had to eat that day were donuts from Glazed and Infused (oops…), we drove to historic downtown Franklin to check out JJ’s Wine Bar for some wine and cheese pre-dinner.

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JJ’s was the most adorable wine bar I have ever seen! Seriously, y’all. The wine bar and café was in a converted old farm house (Do they still call those plantations in the South?) and each room housed a different wine dispensing unit along with comfortable seating for us vinos. One room dispensed red wine, one room dispensed white and another room held more expensive vintages of red. There was also a traditional bar in the back of the house that served beer and liquor in case anyone in your party wasn’t feeling wine.

JJs Collage

Kyle and I filled our glasses with some new-to-us wines, ordered a cheese and cracker plate and then headed outside to relax on the large, wrap-around porch in the gorgeous fall weather. Our server was super sweet as well and gave us a list of restaurants and bars in the area along with the scenic route to take to Nashville the next day. Again… So. Freakin’. Adorable. I can’t even stand it.

DEFINITELY make a trip to JJ’s Wine Bar on your next trip to Nashville!

After relaxing with vino and cheese, we walked over to Mellow Mushroom – a local salad and pizza restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. Mitch’s (the groom) family was very welcoming and invited EVERYONE who was in town to the rehearsal dinner which I thought was an extremely nice gesture for us out-of-towners!

We enjoyed more wine and salads and delicious appetizers and pizza AND desserts (the plural is for Kyle’s dessert plate below). So much deliciousness! It was also great to see my family since it is hard to get the big group of us together very often.

Rehearsal Collage

After dinner we walked across the street (literally, I actually think we jaywalked ;) ) to Gray’s on Main, a honkytonk/restaurant for some live music and cocktails. Again, it was adorable and served prohibition-style cocktails – my favorite!

Friday Night Music Collage

The rest of the night involved more live music – even an Irish band! – in downtown Franklin.

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Apparently live music (or the drinks that are involved with it ;) ) leaves you realllllyyy hungry because the next morning Kyle and I woke up and were in need of brunch ASAP! Luckily, after receiving some jam in one of my first Foodie Pen Pals packages and after a recommendation from Katie, I knew where we were going to go – The Loveless Café!

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The Loveless Café is a MUST if you visit Nashville. We arrived at the café around 8:30am, just before the weekend rush, so we were seated right away (thank goodness!) Not even 5 minutes after we sat down, all of the remaining tables were full. I highly recommend calling ahead if you plan on dining at The Loveless Café.

loveless Collage

Anyways, we were immediately brought a plateful of biscuits and like I mentioned on Tuesday, I ate ¾ of the plate. They were obviously perfectly buttery and flaky! For brunch, Kyle ordered the chicken fried steak along with cheesy hash brown casserole (super healthy) and I ordered BBQ pork atop cornbread served with eggs and fried potatoes (again, crazy healthy, right?). The portions were huge (our server congratulated me on finishing half of it… and I’m not sure that’s a good thing!) and the food was very Southern – aka unhealthy deliciousness!

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Again, this restaurant is a must-see in your Nashville travel plans! You can even watch biscuits getting made through a window in the café :)

After we were happy and fueled by biscuits and fried goodness, we took the Hillsborough Road route into Nashville. The houses along this route are absolutely incredible and if we hadn’t just moved to Chicago, I would have considered moving down to Nashville!

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Once we got into Nashville, we walked along Broadway (the main street) to take in all Nashville has to offer. I kid you not, the layout of the shops/restaurants on Broadway goes like this: Candy/Soda Shop, Boot Shop, Honkytonk, Candy/Soda Shop, Boot Shop, Honkytonk… repeat. It was – you guessed it – SO ADORABLE! I even treated myself to a real Coke in a glass bottle because it seemed like an appropriate southern behavior ;)

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Kyle and I tried on a few pairs of cowboy boots, decided they weren’t our style and then headed a few doors down to a honkytonk for some live music.

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All of the performers were amazing and sounded just the like band they were covering! Kyle and I wished we could have spent more time in downtown Nashville but knew we both needed naps before the wedding that evening.

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Fast forward to the wedding! My cousin Neysa held her wedding at Mint Springs Farm – a quaint, gorgeous venue that set a romantic mood for the evening. It felt amazing to “slow down” and be outside of a city, even if just for an evening.

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The bride and groom both wrote their own vows and after a tearful ceremony, the guests enjoyed an outdoor cocktail hour overlooking luscious green hills and a little pond.

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All of the details were perfect – sushi, mini eggrolls, cheese and crackers, wine and beer were all served on beautiful mirrored platters. There was even a game of bags (or cornhole – whatever y’all call it!) for the guests to enjoy!

Cocktail Hour Collage

Once we had all gathered inside, dinner was served and then came the dancing and photo booth fun! We danced the night away with cousins and aunts and uncles and called it an early night since we had to be at the airport bright and early the next morning.

So there’s Nashville in a day! If you make a trip out of it, definitely spend an evening or two checking out the honkytonks and also make sure to head a little outside of the city to visit the smaller towns in the area. Their hospitality is lovely and you’ll find yourself falling in love!

Have you visited Nashville? What would you recommend to do in the city?

HLS13 Saturday and Sunday

Okay, I think it’s time to continue on with my HLS 2013 recap! If you didn’t catch my recap of Friday, you can find it here.

After a not-so-great night of sleep on Friday, Katie and I were up before the sun (literally) to embark on an 8-mile run. I led her around my old running paths and it felt great to be back running along the Mississippi!

HLS Run Collage

Following the run and some a gallon of coffee, I joined the HLS bloggers for breakfast at the hotel. We had a great buffet full of eggs and potatoes, cheddar-pepper biscuits that were to die for, fruit, yogurt and pastries. Everything was delicious!

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Throughout the day, I attended 4 conference discussions – Blogs in Transition: Embracing Your Blog, From Blog to Job: Utilizing Your Personal Blog to Elevate Your Career, The Organized Blogger and Blogger and the Brand: Building Relationships – and visited our amazing sponsors’ booths.

I didn’t take a single note during any of the conference sessions (oops) plus I’m not great at educational recaps… HOWEVER, if you’re interested in reading about what we learned, both Caroline and Amanda have great recaps of these sessions!

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I mentioned that I visited and talked with our sponsors, right? Well, I am just going to get it out there and say that our sponsors were freakin’ AMAZING! We snacked and snacked and snacked some more throughout the day on delicious things like Driscoll Berries and Blue Diamond Almonds and homemade Nutella via a Ninja Blender and Wild Harvest popcorn and Sargento cheese sticks. In addition to some serious snackage, we also had some fun opportunities for photo shoots (had I known this, I would have actually done my hair and worn makeup…) and giveaways – we seriously could not have had better sponsors :)

Photo Op Collage

Oh and my recap wouldn’t be complete without mentioning lunch! We had a tasty fajita salad buffet along with a Diablo Chocolate Cake – I was tempted to eat 5 pieces but then decided that I shouldn’t do that at a healthy living conference ;)

HLS lunch Collage

After a full day of sessions, the roomies and I had plans to go out for dinner and drinks. The idea of showering, putting on makeup and real clothes along with the rain storm outside had us thinking that staying in the hotel room for a girls’ night was a much better option. We trekked out into the storm to grab some wine (obviously) and Chipotle (of course!) and headed back to our room for some girl time. It was great to spend a Saturday night without make up and bras (oh wait, that’s just me that hates wearing ’em, hehe!) and talking with my ladies :)

HLS dinner Collage

On Saturday night, I found out that I won the contest for a Ninja Ultima Blender!! I was so freakin’ excited, I couldn’t believe it! My old blender (that was probably $15) died just before I made the move to Chicago and I haven’t had the chance to make smoothies since. I can’t wait to receive a ($200-ish) blender and make soup and smoothies and pestos and other deliciousness that I can share with you all!

As a little side note – and to keep you awake for the rest of the post, I will be hosting a Ninja GIVEAWAY in the near future! Get excited!

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Sunday morning was welcomed after a much better night of sleep with a cup of Starbucks (my beloved downtown Dunn Bros doesn’t open until 9am on Sundays – whaaa??! People need their coffee, Dunn!) and a walk to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with the whole HLS group. I had a great time chatting with Hannah, Casey, Sam, Chelsea, Gina and Kim along the way!

Next came a sleepy breakfast followed by more giveaways. Us bloggers love things to review on our blogs ;) I didn’t win anything but Katie did and she gave me her HUGE bag of EnergyBits (another giveaway that I’ll be having soon!).  Thanks Katie!

Energy Bits Collage

Before packing up to head to the airport, I said my goodbyes to SO many amazing women including Amanda and Katie (who were at our dinner on Friday but I didn’t get to talk with them that much since they were on the other end of the table – bummer!), Kelsey, Tara, Katie and Katie (who lives in Chicago!).

P.S. If you ever forget a blogger’s name, just go ahead a shoot for Katie – you have a 72% chance of getting it right ;)

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Once I was all packed, I hit up Target for some Phillip Lim action with Jen and then she was kind enough to drive me to the airport. I stopped at my favorite MSP hangout (go here the next time you’re at MSP!) – Surdyk’s Flights – and ordered a flight of reds along with the Minneapple panini – turkey, brie and apples.

HLS Surdyks Collage

I have yet to sort through all of my swag although Kyle is quite excited about some of the Wild Harvest snacks I brought home ;)

Phew! It was a whirlwind of a weekend and I’m so excited and happy that I was able to meet and spend time with so many wonderful and inspirational women!

What was your favorite session if you attended HLS? How many Katie’s do you know? I think I’m up to at least 150 ;)

#5 WIAW – Oprah and a French Date

Happy Wednesday!

I want to first of send out a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who participated in my first Treat Yourself Tuesday link up yesterday! I was so happy to see so many of you link up the first time and to see how you all treated yourselves :) If you didn’t get a chance to check out the self love yesterday – head on over right now!

A big thanks to Jenn and her new little chickpea (baby girl for those that don’t read her blog…) for hosting!

Peas and Crayons

For those of you new to WIAW, here’s the scoop according to Jenn:

“What WIAW isn’t about — Comparison – Judgement – Restriction – Guilt

What WIAW is about — Celebrating one of the glorious things we all have in common: We all eat!

WIAW is about food and fun! It’s about making new friends, breaking out of a food rut, noting changes in your diet/lifestyle, inspiring yourself & others, embracing fruit & vegetables, nourishing your body with the foods that work for you, finding new ways to eat your favorite foods, and so. much. more.”

Per the usual, I’m going to recap my Tuesday eats! Are y’all ready for a Treat Yourself Tuesday par-tay??!

I’ve been waking up bright and early with Kyle each morning (5:45!) – I figure that I might as well stay in the routine since I go back to work in less than 2 weeks.

Anyways, I was pretty hungry right when I woke up so I was happy that I had prepared Hannah’s Banana Pumpkin Breakfast Cookie the night before. It was simply delicious, easy, full of pumpkin and it kept me full until lunch! I topped it with a peach and my new favorite find – Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter. It’s my favorite because it’s good but not good enough I want to eat an entire jar, like my sad obsession with Nutella ;)

WIAW 5 breakfast Collage

After breakfast, I headed to the gym for what I thought was to be an easy, calm “Core on the Ball” class over at East Bank Club. Haha… so NOT easy. A 60ish-year old woman taught (more like kept us all in line boot camp style!) the class and my abs were not just burning, they felt like they were going to be ripped apart after the first 10 minutes. Yikes. Needless to say, it was a great workout and I will be going back… Once I regain feeling of my abs ;)

After a bit of blogging and planning out my afternoon to go shopping downtown with my girlfriend, I made my lunch! I’ve been obsessed with everything BBQ for awhile now and I knew I wanted some sort of a light lunch that incorporated the sweet and tangy sauce. It was over 100 in Chicago yesterday with the heat index plus Kyle and I had a date night planned so I didn’t want to eat too much and feel sick walking around Michigan Avenue or not be hungry for dinner!

WIAW 5 Lunch Collage

I settled on a BBQ Chicken Salad – Organic Mixed Greens topped with a sprinkle of ground flax seed, black beans, corn, chicken and homemade BBQ-yogurt dressing. I followed lunch up with an apple and half of a homemade peanut butter cup (recipe coming your way Monday!) because lunch just isn’t lunch without chocolate and peanut butter ;)

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In true “Becky” style, I spilled the bag of frozen corn on the floor while making lunch so Mitchell was able to enjoy some organic corn kernels too!

After lunch it was time to head downtown to find some new work clothes! I won’t go into much detail (that’s for a future post) besides that I was very successful and had some amazing salespeople creating outfits for me! I sipped on a Dunkin’ Donuts iced tea and may have purchased a Carrie Bradshaw-esque skirt from Anthropologie before heading home :)

WIAW shopping Collage

Shopping for 5 hours straight in 100-degree temps makes a girl hungry so I snacked on a KIND Bar while waiting for Kyle to get home. If you haven’t tried the Almond and Coconut flavor yet – GET IT NOW!! It tastes just like an Almond Joy… Almond Joys have nuts, Mounds don’t ;)

kind bar

I quickly got ready for dinner (wearing one of my new dresses) and we were out the door and headed toward a new-to-us local French restaurant, La Sardine, once Kyle arrived home!

If you quit reading this post now, just know that YOU MUST visit La Sardine on your next visit to Chicago. Both Kyle and I agreed that it was one of the the best places we have ever eaten. Their French food rivals that of the French cuisine we have eaten in both France and Switzerland. Absolutely amazing!

On Tuesdays, La Sardine offers a 3-course (appetizer, entree and dessert) prix fixe menu for $27.50. Kyle and I assumed that the portions were going to be smaller since the price was so low but they were full-sized portions. Needless to say, we were SO full but also so happy because we each got to try 6 things (we shared!) from the menu along with a bottle of wine for $100 – score!

sardine starter Collage

We started with a bread basket and a bottle of 2011 Sancerre – a nice, dry white wine for a hot summer day.

I decided to be very French and go with the Moules au Vin Blanc (mussels for you non-French speaking folk) for my appetizer, Steak Tartare and Pommes Frites for my entree and the Cheese and Almond Plate for dessert.

La Sardine Meal CollageSO. MUCH. GOOD GREAT FABULOUS BEST THING I’VE EVER EATEN – FOOD! But seriously, if you come visit me on a Tuesday, I will be taking you here. I hope you like French cuisine ;)

On our walk home we passed Harpo Studios! How cool would it be if Oprah was still filming here??!

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Another successful Treat Yourself Tuesday in the books!

What did you eat yesterday? French food – yay or nay?

 

 

What a weekend!

Whew! What a weekend! THANK YOU to everyone – especially my in-laws!!! – for all of your help with the moving process. We couldn’t have done it without you! And thanks to my friends for all of their support during my emotional breakdowns over the past few weeks, haha ;) I love you all <3

Even though I wasn’t planning on posting today – lots of unpacking left to do! – since I’m up before the dawn, I’m going to share a little photo recap of the weekend with y’all while I wait for Kyle to wake from his beauty sleep.

Thursday night: Silver Jeans VIP Event at the Mall of America with Jen. Free jeans + a girls’ night? Yes, please! (Jen has a great recap of the event plus an awful photo of me on her blog.)

silver jeans collage

A happy hour was in order after scoring some free denim and to celebrate my last night in Minneapolis.

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Friday morning involved pre-signing our closing documents for the condo and opening some champagne that wouldn’t fit into the moving truck. Sometimes you just gotta make a sacrifice ;)

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After arriving safely in Chicago, I was treated to a mani-pedi and dinner with my in-laws! Freshly painted fingers and toes plus a salmon salad makes for a happy Friday night.

Friday Night Collage

Saturday morning involved yoga and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee before picking up the keys to the new apartment!

Saturday AM Collage

I made sure to pick up some essentials before the men arrived :)

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The calm before the storm…

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Kyle brought in the most important box first. Priorities, people!

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“No one appreciates your very special genius like your dog.”

Our housewarming gift from Kyle’s parents. Mitchell-like copper art! As a side note, we’re still accepting gifts – anything in the form of cookies or healthy, homemade dinners would be appreciated, hehe!

Housewarming Gift Collage

Speaking of Mitchell, he really wanted to help with the move…

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Happiness is…

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To end the night, we celebrated Gabi’s (Kyle’s sister) birthday! Chicago style pizza – look at all of those black olives, swoon! – and a birthday cookie were in order :)

Birthday Night Collage

I only broke down in tears once yesterday throughout the moving in process. That’s pretty spectacular if you ask me…

The rest of today is going to involve unpacking – the apartment is a disaster and we actually stayed at Kyle’s dad’s house again last night – and then a birthday dinner out for Gabi.

What did you do this weekend? More importantly, what does your schedule look like this week? And how are your unpacking and organizing skills??! ;)

Chicago + Milwaukee Fun!

It’s Sunday night??! Where did this weekend go?

I don’t know about you but I had a BLAST the past few days :)

On Friday, I flew to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. Of course I had to make a stop at my happy place, my favorite Minneapolis airport wine bar – Surdyk’s Flights. I enjoyed a delicious caprese sandwich along with a flight of red wine. SO good!

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In case you’re wondering (and even if you’re not…), I am all about traveling in comfort and sported my Ellie leggings along with my hot pink lululemon jacket to look fashionably fit on the way to Chicago ;)

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Once my plane landed in Chicago, I pushed my way through the crowds to get outside to find Kyle. I was secretly hoping that he would bring Mitchell with him to pick me up at the airport and I was right! I was so excited to see both of my boys!

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I think Mitchell was more excited for the car ride than the fact that he was reunited with his momma but that’s okay, I still love him ;) AND he’s been sleeping in his own bed while living in Chicago. What a spoiled boy! That habit is going to be fun to break when he gets back home…

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After I got in a few snuggles with Mitchell, Kyle and I headed out for a walk and stopped to enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate. Apparently all I consume since Napa is wine, cheese, nuts and bread – Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with this.

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We went to bed fairly early since we knew Saturday night would be a late night out with friends.

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I woke up early Saturday morning and enjoyed a quick, 30-minute run before heading downtown for brunch with Kyle and his dad. I ordered a delicious egg white, veggie omelet with a side of fruit and some of the best whole grain bread I have ever tasted. YUM! After brunch, Kyle and I headed up to Milwaukee to begin the wedding festivities!

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The ceremony started at 2:30 and was over in less than an hour. Since the reception didn’t begin until 6, Kyle and I headed to our hotel, the Marriot Residence Inn in downtown Milwaukee to check in and freshen up before the party started. After touching up my makeup, we still had 2 hours to kill so we decided to walk around downtown Milwaukee since it was my first time visiting.

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We didn’t make it too far because 1) it was windy and I didn’t want to look like a wind-blown crazy person when we arrived at the reception and 2) my feet hurt. Why must all pretty shoes be painful??!

Anyways, we attempted to go to The Safe House – a spy-themed bar that requires you to tell them a password to get in or they make you do ridiculous things like pretend you’re a mime. You guys, I’m not kidding – I played along for about 5 minutes and then said F$%! it and we walked out – my feet hurt and all I wanted was a beer! Kyle and I are either not fun or were just not in the mood to deal with weird stuff (like pretending to be mimes…) to get into a bar, haha! – so we walked around the corner to The Newsroom Pub.

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The bartender there (I think his name was Nick…) was super friendly and gave us a great brunch recommendation for the next morning  plus he didn’t make us pretend we were mimes stuck in a box in order to drink a beer. Two thumbs up for Nick!

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the reception at Lakefront Brewery! I never would have thought to have a reception at a brewery but it was such a great location for a party. They had a big, open room that made it perfect for a lot of tables and a dance floor.

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The bride’s decor choices were absolutely beautiful – rustic and simple, plus she incorporated the beer-theme into the centerpieces. Love!

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I didn’t do a great job of snapping photos at the wedding but I did happen to get a great Instavideo of Kyle dancing to Cupid’s Shuffle. Head on over to my Instagram to check that gem out!

The wedding was a blast and it amazes me that Kyle and his high school friends are still all so close! It is such a fun group to hang out with.

After a bit of a cab debacle, we got back to the hotel around 1am and crashed. Dancing for 3 hours is such a workout and I definitely woke up sore Sunday morning from some of my killer dance moves! I’m kidding about the dance moves, BTW. I dance like a one-legged frog. I’m sure it is quite the show when I am out on the dance floor ;)

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This morning, Kyle and I slept in until the late hour of 8am, packed up and then headed to Corazon – the brunch restaurant recommended to us by Nick, our bartender.

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Corazon is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican restaurant and bar that serves out-of-this-world Mexican food! I ordered chicken empanadas with a side of papas (potatoes for all of you non-Spanish speakers out there!) while Kyle decided on the breakfast burger with papas. Holy delicious unhealthiness, it was just what we (especially Kyle) needed after a late night out!

I definitely recommend Corazon if you are ever hungry in Milwaukee!

lake

Since we consumed about 3 days worth of calories during brunch and I still had a few hours before I needed to arrive at the airport, we headed to Lake Michigan for a long walk. This morning was the perfect temperature to do some walking – about 62 and sunny!

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After walking along the lake for 2 hours and taking in the sites of Milwaukee, Kyle dropped me off at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee because I have this thing called a job. Have you heard of them? They apparently require you to show up on Monday mornings… Boo. Luckily for Kyle, he’s currently on a project in the Chicago area so he didn’t have a long drive to get where he was going for the week!

As a side note, I LOVED Milwaukee! I had driven through before on the way to Chicago but had never spent time there before. No offense to all you Wisconsinites out there but I was expecting something similar to umm… well… rural Wisconsin which just ain’t my thang… and I was more than pleasantly surprised! I will definitely be back for a longer visit!

No other exciting things to report on after I got back to Minneapolis unless you count a 10-minute bike ride to the grocery store where I was planning on buying things for the week and ended up leaving with a sweet potato, some cherries and asparagus. Sometimes I question where my sanity and common sense go when I walk into a grocery store… #foreheadsmack

Whew – long post for a super quick weekend!

What did you do this weekend? How many weddings are you heading to this summer/fall?

THANK YOU + Wine + Vega + Ellie Goulding

1. First of all, I want to thank ALL of you for your sweet comments on yesterday’s post! No need to worry, I’m not quitting my marathon training – I may need to walk some of the race but I will get to the finish line, darn it!

2. I’m leaving for California TONIGHT!! I’m so freakin’ excited to see Carly and Katie and Sarah, I’m about ready to combust. BLENDS – YAYAYAYAY!!!! Plus, Mama Snack Therapy is picking me up at the airport – I’m excited to have some bonding time and get some dirt on Carly on the way to Davis ;)

3. On Monday night I found this amazing poem on Pinterest. I need it framed in my kitchen/bar area ASAP.

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(Image Source)

Carly, being the poetic genius that she is, was inspired and came up with a haiku for the weekend:

Wine Wine Wine Wine Wine

I want wine up in my grill

Wine Wine Wine Wine Wine

Yep, I think that is going to be Friday all right ;)

4. The wonderful team over at Vega graciously sent me a case of Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer a few weeks ago! I’m not a huge sweetened water fan so I’ve been throwing this into my smoothies (it is AMAZING in both my Strawberry Smoothie and my Coconut-Mango Smoothie!) post-workout and they have given me a great boost of energy to keep me going for the rest of the day!

5. On Monday, I did a guest post for Jackie over at Nacho Average Runner. It’s all about how I’m incorporating yoga and rest days into my marathon training! Since I was pretty much ready to quit my marathon training yesterday, I am obviously full of great advice ;) I kid, I kid… For real though, head on over and check it out!

6. I’m obsessed with Ellie Goulding’s new song, “Burn.” I was extremely bummed yesterday when I discovered that it is only for sale on iTunes in the UK. SERIOUSLY??! Get with it, Apple! So, while this song is not on my playlist, I have a YouTube link bookmarked so I can listen to Ellie on repeat :)

7. Speaking of playlists, do you want to know what I’m listening to on the way to California??! No? Well, you’re going to get it anyways!

Summer 2013 Music

8. I am apologizing in advance for the obnoxious Instagram photos and Tweets throughout the weekend. It is bound to happen. At least they’ll provide some sort of entertainment, right? ;) Make sure you’re following me to track my wine drinking and debauchery over the next few days!

What random things do you have going on in your life right now? What’s your favorite Summer 2013 song? Any ideas of what hashtag Carly, Katie, Sarah and I should use for our weekend? I’m thinking something along the lines of #blendvinofest or #winedrunkblends :)

Famiglia Meschini Wine Review

Today is not just any old Friday, it is Wineday Friday! Are you excited?

This Friday I have not one but TWO amazing wines to share with you.

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Last Saturday, Katie, Melanie and I had the opportunity to meet with Teresa Meschini – owner of Famiglia Meschini Wines! Over decadent pastries and desserts – it’s a hard life that of a blogger ;) – we learned all about Famiglia Meschini – from their vineyards and wineries in Argentina and Chile to their family history to how and where they sell their wines in the United States.

Being the wine lover that I am, I asked Teresa approximately one bajillion questions about their wine business – how their wines were aged, where their vineyards were located, what food pairings go best with each wine, what companies they work with in Minnesota and if they were hiring <– I’m actually serious about this last one. I would LOVE to be in the wine business (hint, hint…)!

Blogger Wine Tasting

After a great conversation, Teresa left us girls with 4 bottles of wine – The Famiglia Meschini Malbec Reserva, the Pinor Noir, the Unoaked Chardonnay and the Torrontes Premium.

Right off of the bat, we had a dilemma… 4 bottles of wine divided by 3 girls isn’t an even number. We contemplated spending the afternoon at Patisserie 46 downing all 4 bottles but decided that probably wasn’t the best idea given that we were all driving and that Katie had her anniversary date that evening. So, we each selected a bottle that we would most enjoy and then both Katie (who selected the Torrontes) and Melanie (she picked the Pinot Noir) were so kind to send me home with the “extra” bottle – the Unoaked Chardonnay. Apparently a blog titled “Olives ‘n’ Wine” makes others think you’re into wine or something ;) Thanks again ladies!

So, what’s a wine blogger to do when she gets home with 2 bottles of wine? Open one! (Is that even a question??!)

On Saturday I was in the mood for a red wine so I opened the Malbec Reserva and oh my goodness, was it ever amazing! Kyle’s rule of thumb (that I have too adopted) is to not open a bottle of red unless it was produced at least 3 years prior – so for 2013, that would be a 2010 vintage. The Famiglia Meschini was a 2011 so I was breaking his cardinal rule but he wasn’t home so I didn’t get any grief ;)

Regardless of the year, this wine is a MUST try! Easy to drink (maybe too easy?) and easy to pair with many foods. Famiglia Meschini’s website recommends serving this with meats but I enjoyed it with my vegetarian black bean burgers and it accompanied my meal very well.

This is how Famiglia Meschini describes their wine (FYI – Eugenio is Teresa’s husband):

Malbec Reserva

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Okay, now onto the Unoaked Chardonnay. As I am typing this, I am currently sipping on a glass of this wine <– again, the life of a wine blogger is extremely difficult… you shouldn’t be jealous, it is pretty hard work.

To be honest, I’m not a Chardonnay fan. I have never cared for the buttery flavor or the sweetness of this type of grape so when I took home this bottle, I was happy but I did not have high expectations.

However, after I opened the chard for The Bachelorette on Monday (this season NEEDS wine, who’s with me on that?), I was surprised and delighted by the flavor of Famiglia Meschini’s Unoaked Chardonnay! This wine is crisp, clean, slightly sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc but not too sweet and again, much too easy to drink.

Teresa, congrats – your family has officially made me a Chardonnay fan! And for all of you Chardonnay lovers (or haters) out there, the Famiglia Meschini bottle is another MUST try! Seriously, get out there and find it – you will LOVE it.

I’m not sure on food pairings with this wine because, well, I enjoyed the bottle by itself! It doesn’t need to be paired with anything to be enjoyed and is the perfect summer BBQ or patio party wine. Bring this to your next neighborhood party and your friends will want you to be their wine selector for years to come – yep, it’s just that good!

This is how Famiglia Meschini describes their wine:

Unoaked Chardonnay

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So what’s my overall review? I wish that Famiglia Meschini had come into my life much sooner than last Saturday! Seriously y’all, get a bottle, you won’t be disappointed.

Have you ever tried Famiglia Meschini’s wines? Are you a Chardonnay fan?

Wine Review – Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

**Mitchell Update: We visited the vet yesterday and after a needle aspiration procedure (basically a reverse injection), the vet determined that Mitchell’s lump is only a benign fatty tumor. Thank goodness! We are going to continue to monitor it to make sure it isn’t growing too quickly but he doesn’t need any major surgery or medical intervention at the moment. Kyle and I were both relieved to hear the news and Mitchell was happy that he got a car ride ;)**

It has been far too long since I have posted a review of wine so today I am going to share with you my absolute favorite summer wine! This is the first wine I grab when I walk into Surdyk’s and whenever I see this wine on a menu at happy hour or at a restaurant, Kyle tells me that my eyes brighten and I get the biggest grin on my face.

Obviously, I love this wine.

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Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.

If this Sauvignon Blanc, from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand, isn’t already in your local wine store, it should be soon since it has been rising in popularity in recent years!

kc logo large 294x300 Kim Crawford Free New Music Downloads

(Image Source)

From my perspective, its popularity is driven by three things:

1. It is affordable! I have never seen a bottle over $16 and typically it is on sale for around $12. Considering the aroma and flavor (I’ll get to this in a moment!) of Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon Blanc, $12 is a steal.

2. Its flavor! It is fresh. It is crisp. It has a wonderful note of grapefruit paired with a hint of pineapple. I could go on forever about the refreshing aspect of this wine! Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is also super easy to drink (is this good news or bad news?), especially if you’re on a patio in the summer.

3. Its pairing possibilities! This wine tastes great with almost anything. It goes well with grilled fish or sushi, with roasted asparagus or fruit salads, with mozzarella or fresh bread. You name it, this Sauvignon Blanc will most likely pair well with it! It is also quite satisfying when enjoyed by itself on a warm summer afternoon.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is an affordable, delicious, easy to pair and easy to pronounce (bonus!) wine that needs to be in your basket the next time you find yourself at your favorite wine shop!

Have you tried Kim Crawford? What is your favorite summertime wine?

No-Spend April Update

To keep myself accountable, I am going to be doing “No-Spend April” updates throughout the month. My hope is that this keeps me honest with myself and that it will inspire you to put a few extra dollars into your savings this month :)

Shopping ecard 2

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First, I would like to call out that I am very responsible with my money. I don’t think I clarified that in my original post. I have never been late paying my bills (normally I’m a few weeks early…), I put a good chunk of my income into my 401K and into savings and I would never put myself into a situation in which I would buy something that would put me into serious debt.

Shopping ecard 1

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I do, however, love to shop and could be saving even more ;) So, this month is more about me refocusing my current spending habits and not splurging on impulse items that I really don’t want in the first place.

So how have I done so far?

1. I have brought my lunch to work or walked home over lunch every day! Success.

2. Although I have enjoyed a few decaf iced Americanos, I have only used the gift cards my sister gave me. I REALLLLY wanted a soy latte from my favorite coffee shop (Dunn Bros) this weekend but I somehow managed to resist. Success.

3. I spent $70 on wine last Thursday. I KNOW. I’m not supposed to be buying wine but I had a $100 voucher for Naked Wines that was going to expire plus, with my Angel’s Member prices, I got 18 bottles of good wine for $70. That’s less than $4 a bottle people!! Since I was running out of whites and summer should be showing up any day now, this is an investment in my future. Or so I tell myself. Fail.

Naked Wines

4. I went to the mall with Kyle this weekend because he wanted a new shirt for the Derby. This was followed by a trip to Target. FYI – Do NOT torture yourself with a trip to Target when you are not spending money. Luckily, I was able to avoid buying anything besides a few food items for my menu plan this week. Success.

5. I forgot to cancel my Ellie membership for April and was charge the $49.95 for this month’s outfit. To make up for it, I am going to cancel my May shipment. Partial Fail.

Now, onto things I can spend on in April…

1. I am glad I allowed medical expenses this month. I got an eye infection from my new contacts and had to make a trip to urgent care to get antibiotics. Thankfully, I didn’t go blind (drama queen…) but I did have to pay $4 for my prescription and I’m sure I’ll have some sort of outrageous copay show up in my mailbox next month. Yay.

Mitchell 1

2. Mitchell Man has to go to the vet on Thursday. Kyle found a fairly large lump on his abdomen while he was getting a belly rub this weekend :( Mitchell has been acting like normal… Stealing food, asking for peanut butter, wanting to go on walks and jumping around like a crazy animal when Kyle gets home after work so I’m not too worried but I want to make sure it is nothing immediately life-threatening.

I really don’t like our vet in Minneapolis and he’ll probably try to talk us into a $10,000 surgery and make me feel like I am an abusive animal owner when I tell him no. I have a philosophy/limit on how much I’m willing to spend on animals (please don’t judge me… but I do not think it is worth going into debt for an elective vet procedure) so I hope we find out that the bump is just a benign/normal Labrador thing. Obviously, if Mitchell was in pain or had a serious accident, I would get him medical attention immediately but for something that is more of an elective/nice to have/would extend life for only 1 year then I would most likely pass on a procedure or an expensive drug.

On that note, does anyone know of a nice and affordable vet within an hour of Minneapolis?

3. Although I allowed myself to spend on groceries this month, Kyle bought groceries this week!! Woohoo! I am going to say that this evens out my wine purchase to make myself feel a little bit better ;)

Overall, I would give myself a B- for my spending as of right now. I really shouldn’t have bought the wine and I’m disappointed that I forgot to cancel my Ellie membership. I have, however, been really good at avoiding my day-to-day expenditures – coffee, snacks, lunch, Target impulse trips – which can add up really quickly!

Do you have any tips on how to avoid buying on impulse if you see a sale or coupon? Would you have purchased 18 bottles of wine for $70??

Wine Wipes Giveaway!!

**This giveaway is now closed.**

The winner is….

Kate at Quarter Century Southern Living!!

Congrats! :)

Contact me at becky@olivesnwine.com and we will get your package out to you!

 

I’m about to add some MAJOR excitement to your Wednesday!

A few weeks ago, I posted my “Top 10 Beauty Products of the Moment” and all of you, my lovely readers, went CRAZY for the Wine Wipes product! Many of you had never heard of Wine Wipes and wanted to know where to find such an ingenious item.

Well, my friends, today is your lucky day. I’ve teamed up with Borracha – the maker of Wine Wipes – for an awesome giveaway!

Wine Wipes Giveaway

The giveaway package includes:

  • One Wine Wipes Compact
  • One Pearly Whites Compact
  • Ten Wine Wipes Single Packs
  • One Borracha Corkscrew

The Wine Wipes Compact is what I raved about in my beauty post – it is awesome for brightening your smile on a dinner date ;) The Pearly White Compact is made with the same formula as the Wine Wipes but is peppermint flavored and meant for everyday use when you don’t want to pull out your “wine” labeled whiteners – Say, after a huge mug of coffee in a meeting with your company’s execs! And finally, the Wine Wipes Single Packs are individually wrapped Wine Wipes – perfect for putting in your pocket when you don’t want to carry a bag!

Wine Wipes Giveaway 2

You can check out these fantastic products and more on Borracha’s site!

Borracha is also offering a 10% discount for Olives ‘n’ Wine readers! Just enter the code “olivesnwine” at checkout to receive your discount.

Borracha has a hilarious Valentine’s Day version of their “Vinquiz” on their website where you can take a short quiz and are prescribed a wine remedy for your “ailment of life.” It has fun ailments like “Wine Snob Stumper” and “F**k it was a long week” along with delicious wine recommendations – I took the quiz and received a prescription for a Tempranillo as “The Notebook Fantasizer.” I’m a true romantic at heart ;)

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment below about your favorite type of wine. I LOOOOOVE suggestions :) (Mandatory entry)
  2. Follow me (@olivesanwine) and Borracha (@Borracha) on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway: “I just entered to win @borracha Wine Wipes from @olivesanwine http://wp.me/p2Tr5M-en ” (Optional Entry)
  3. Like Olives ‘n’ Wine and Wine Wipes by Borracha on Facebook (Optional Entry)

Please leave comments below if you enter the two optional entries! Contest will be open until Monday, February 11th at 12noon and I’ll announce a winner on Tuesday!

**Open only to U.S. residents, ages 18 or older.**

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