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Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!


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It’s December!

It’s December and that means a free for all in the cinnamon-cloves-cranberry department! Oh, and the holidays too! My favorite smells/flavors are warm cinnamon/cloves and cranberries. I count down the days in late fall every year, until a time that is appropriate to put on a pot of my favorite stove-top potpourri. Usually a good freeze or snow fall is the turning point. It is my absolute favorite and love to keep it simmering all day on my stove, while lounging indoors on a cold winter day. It came a little later this year with all the traveling and activities we have been doing, but it was worth the wait! All it takes in an orange, a handful of cranberries, a few cinnamon sticks, a sprinkle of whole cloves and a dash of nutmeg in a small pot. Fill the pot with water to just cover your ingredients and make sure the water doesn’t boil off completely, or else it will scorch your pot (experienced that!).

So easy to throw together!

So easy to throw together!

We had an awesome, casual weekend, part of which included friends coming over to watch the U.Va. men’s basketball game. I could’t resist making some mulled wine in the crockpot. I had a nostalgic bottle of red wine from my hometown, MisSOULa Red and was encouraged to make a spiced wine with it. I had a great recipe for a quick and easy Cranberry Orange Mulled Wine in the crockpot, made with cranberries, cinnamon sticks and brandy, which I happily poured from a bottle purchased for a summer sangria.

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients...

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients…

It was a hit! We had to throw in an extra bottle of red and crank up the crockpot again to simmer a second batch! My house smelled amazing all weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season, more sharing and festive recipes to come!

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Out on the Town

I received the most pleasant surprise during work today – a good friend from MT texted around noon and reminded me that he was visiting Madison this weekend, or rather tonight! His family is from Wisconsin and he and his girlfriend are visiting with his family for an extended vacation around his cousin’s wedding. His first stop was Madison! He’s quite the beer connoisseur so he visited a couple local breweries before meeting me in downtown Madison.

A quick recap of the first part of his trip – Ale Asylum was the first stop, the brewery is location yards from the Madison airport and I believe gets a lot of airport traffic! My BF’s favorite is the Hopalicious, an American IPA, super hoppy! My friend highly recommended the Belgium IPA, which is made with a Belgium-yeast and lots of hops. Next was the ever-popular Wisconsin brewery, New Glarus Brewery. The brewery doesn’t export beyond the Wisconsin boarder and is up there next to Miller as the most popular cold one in Wisconsin. Spotted Cow is their biggest seller and the brewery expanded into a new location recently, it’s like a castle, a really neat trip to rural central Wisconsin to visit.

From there I met up with my friend and his family on the Capitol Square, at The Coopers Tavern. I had a great Blanche De Bruxelles, Belgium Ale and the crew split a local cheese plate and traditional soft pretzels. From there we moved on to the Tipsy Cow. My friend walked by and was so intrigued by the name, we had to stop. He chose well on the menu and got a Mokah stout, a chocolate and coffee stout beer. It wasn’t my style, but he was impressed. I went for a Heartland Wheat, from Lucky Bucket Brewing. Then it was finally on to dinner, I had picked out a list of some of my faves near the Square and we decided on Graze. This was one of the first restaurants I tried with the BF on the weekend we were apartment searching in Madison, and the mac and cheese has kept me coming back! The place has a great view of the capitol building and the square looks so nice lit up at night. We had a great meal, I got the mac, made with 10 year cheddar, and my friend also opted for the mac too, but topped with pulled pork! His mom and sister split the Graze burger, which was made of fresh ground bacon, sirloin, ribeye & short ribs! My friend’s GF was feeling adventurous and ordered the Bibimbap – marinated ground pork, crispy rice, sunny-side-up egg, market vegetables, and a spicy sauce. She raved about it, the radishes on top looked delicious too. It may go on the shortlist for next time I visit Graze.

It was a fun the evening with old friends and we made quite the tour of downtown Madison. It was awesome to connect with a friend from MT out in Madison and visit with him and his family. Sorry, no pictures, we were having too much fun!


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A Trip to the Bourbon Trail

I made a quick trip to Kentucky this weekend to attend a family friend’s wedding reception. The happy couple got married in Salzburg, Austria last month and are now hosting two state-side receptions for friends and family who couldn’t make it to Europe. Thankfully Louisville is about an equal trip from Madison and Charlottesville, so the BF joined me in KY.

It was my first road trip in a while, but it was a pretty trip on the way down, heading straight east.

A shot from the solo drive through Indiana.

A shot from the solo drive through Indiana.

 

We made the most of our time in Louisville, one stop was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Our first stop was Marker’s Mark. This tour was recommended by our family friend and it did not disappoint! The grounds of the distillery were amazing and the tour lasted well over an hour, we saw how the grains were combined, the fermentation barrels bubbling and the bottling center, which was the coolest. We saw the bourbon filling the bottles, labeled and the hand-dipping of the top of the bottle in the signature red wax!

View from the courtyard at Maker's Mark

View from the courtyard at Maker’s Mark

Bourbon Wagon!

Bourbon Wagon!

The barrels hold the good stuff!

The barrels hold the good stuff!

We even dipped our own bottle in red wax in the gift shop! We also visited the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, home of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig bourbons, but after Maker’s Mark we’d had our fill.

Saturday night was the reason for our trip, a wonderful reception celebrating an awesome couple! It was so fun we didn’t take a single picture until the last minute of the night, in the driveway, on our way out.

Party People

Party People

The reception had great Kentucky BBQ, some bourbon, awesome homemade carrot cake and great conversation! Then Sunday it was back on the road, heading north to Wisconsin, with my heart thankful for good times with the BF, friends who are like family and enjoying a new place.

 

 


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4th of July Weekend Extravaganza

What a week it has been! Sorry for being MIA, between the move, an impromptu visit by the BF back to Madison, work and the holiday weekend, it’s been hard to find time to keep up! First up, July 4th festivities!

The BF made a surprise visit due to a job interview in Madison today. He was lucky enough to be able to fly in early and be around for the weekend. He flew in early on July 4 and we spent the rest of the day celebrating with my friend from work, her husband and family. Her husband took us all out on their boat! It was a perfect day in Madison, high 70s, no wind and barely a cloud in the sky.

Snapshots from July 4 celebrations!

Snapshots from July 4 celebrations!

I tried wakeboarding, I got up but not for long, haha! It was really fun. We sipped on white sangria throughout the day, it was delicious!

White Wine, vodka, simple syrup, triple sec and fruit - strawberries, blueberries and apples, cut into stars!

White wine, vodka, simple syrup, triple sec and fruit – strawberries, blueberries and apples, cut into stars!

I found the recipe on Pinterest, adapted it a little, and put a couple batches over ice for the day. We had a great BBQ on the patio as the sun went down and caught the fireworks over Blackhawk Country Club in Madison. Memorable 4th of July! I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday!