Friday, May 31, 2013

Greek Festival 2013

So every year for the last 38, the Greek Festival has been a staple of Richmond life.  I remember going to this festival as a child and here I am 20ish years later still enjoying it!  The food, the dancing, the friends, what's not to love?  This year was no exception, it was a good time!  The only downfall?  The heat!  We arrived last night when it was sitting at about 90 degrees and no wind at all, I guess summer has finally arrived!

Me, CJ, and Kristi

So I normally get a soulvaki, but last night when I ordered it, I think they must have thought I wanted a gyro cause that is what I got!  Not my favorite but I was already sitting down and was not excited about going out in the heat again to switch it out, so I had that for dinner!  Then dessert was none other than BAKLAVA!  A Greek staple...soooo good and sweet and honey-ish!  Seriously, does that not look yummy?

Me and Andy--sibling love!

Overall, it was a great time.  Some quality time with friends, and my brother even stopped by to say Hi!  And just to make you feel like you are right there with us, here is a video of some Greek dancing:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial day Recap

So GAP decided to have 50% off their entire collection at the outlet store and so I was sold!  I asked my mom if she wanted to go shopping on Monday to Williamsburg.  Of course, she said yes, so off we went!  We got there right at 10am when they opened and began our shopping excursion.  We found some good deals but not a ton of stuff!  After a full morning of shopping, we headed to the cheese shop for lunch (my favorite restaurant ever--they have the best tuna sandwich, for reals).  

Well by the time we had lunch, it was 2pm, so we needed to get on the road to come home after we finished.  Turns out, I did not account for Memorial Day traffic---whoops!  So we got stuck in some traffic on the way back but finally arrived home about 4pm.  I changed quickly and headed off to a memorial day cookout with some friends!

Hokie Girls!
It was a great day and I am forever thankful for the men and women and families who so faithful serve our country to allow us the freedoms we have!  In particular for those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. 
Representing the Navy for my Pop!

And what did I pick up at the outlets?  Well the shorts in the picture above (yup blue and white stripped seersucker) and this dress (my first ever selfie on this blog):

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just like on "Little House on the Prairie"

So I had planned to have a somewhat low-key weekend with lots of time to relax and you know read and stuff.  Well that went out the window Friday afternoon (as it does most ever other "relaxing weekend" I plan--dang extrovertedness)!  I meet up with some friends on Friday night for dinner and conversation.  Then it was back home because I had an early Saturday planned.  CJ and I decided to go strawberry picking on Saturday, so we got on the road at 8:30 am, had breakfast, hit up a cute (small) farmer's market, then it was off to the berry patch.

CJ as a farmer

Me as a farmer


They were soooo yummy!

picking berries!

On the hay ride.

So I already had in mind to make some strawberry jam, but while we were out in the fields picking berries, this mom says to her little girl, make sure to pick the good ones and if we get enough we can make strawberry jam like like on Little House on the Prairie....ummmm what?  I mean I know back in the day people did a lot of canning, but guess what?  TONS of people make jam every year!  I am not the lest bit like Little House on the Prairie and I jam it out every year!  So that gave me a little laugh.  I thought about it multiple times that day as I made strawberry jam, and its just so coincidental that my name is Laura, cause that makes it even MORE like Little House on the Prairie!

Anyway, after the berry patch, I had a lunch date with Nannie, and since CJ was there, I invited her to come along too!  Well we were in for a great surprise, Nannie had white necklaces (that she had gotten from the dollar store) for us to wear.  She LOOOOOOOOOOOOVES these necklaces and wears them daily, so we put them on and suddenly became the Ladies who Lunch!  

Check us out in our cute necklaces!

CJ sporting her necklace and Burger King Cup!  Classy Ladies!
Saturday afternoon was full of jam making, fixing up my room, and preparing for Tiffie's baby shower (more on that later).

When all was said and done I ended up with 2 big jars of jam, 1 medium jar, and 9 pint size jars!

We be Jammin'

Plus a bunch of chocolate covered strawberries....AND of course may more fresh berries to enjoy quickly! Ahhh strawberry season, my favorite time of year!

Friday, May 24, 2013

What's next?

Since I love to travel, the question I get asked most is "where are you going next?"  Well the short answer is no one really until later in the year.  But since that wont do for a blog where I talk about my adventures, I thought I would give you a look into my upcoming semi-adventures!

* Next Friday, I am going to a short track raceway here in Richmond with some friends
* The following weekend will be the long awaited twin baby shower for my sister.  I am sticking with a Thing 1 & Thing 2 theme, stay tuned (probably within a week or two) for a post about the shower and theme!
* Mid June, it is off to one of my favorite places--the Chesapeake Bay--I know, I know, not as exciting as you were thinking, but there is something about this place that will always remind me of my childhood and the peacefulness of a beach where everyone knows everyone is pretty epic!  Plus who does not love small town Virginia?
* The last weekend in June, I will be heading up to Baltimore to visit my friend, Sara for her birthday!
* Then July will officially be the "wait until the twins arrive" month.  Since twins often come early, we are anticipating their arrival toward the end of July/early August!  I am so excited to meet those little guys!
* Throw in another baby shower in August, my 30th (oh my!) birthday, a few trips to the Lake (hopefully) and there is my summer!
* One last big adventure!!!  This fall, I am going on an eight-day cruise to the Caribbean with my mom--should be fun and RELAXING!

What exciting adventures are on your calendar?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The face of angels!

 So my mom is on vacation, which means that I am on dog-duty.  Aren't these little guys so cute?
Cuddy time with mommy!

Gizmo's face here is priceless, like What are you doing to me, Lollie?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This is a picture of a few of Jessica's & my youth group girls!  We are like proud mommas, they grow up so quickly!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A down week!

This week future Laura LOVES past Laura!

If I could go back in time, I would say, "Thanks self for making my life easy this week!"

Most weeks I am practically hating myself by Thursday!

Lake Anna in the Rain

Well it was not exactly the bible study summer retreat we had planned months back.  We were optimistic about the warm weather and time to get tan while relaxing on the floats in the lake water.  FYI, none of that happened.  This is a better idea of what the weekend entailed:

Cuddling up with friends in the cool, rainy afternoon air.

Bundled up in sweatshirts for the 15 minutes that we were outside all weekend.

Since the weather decided not to cooperate, we had to make due with the games and fun we had brought with ourselves.  Overall, it was a great time to relax and just be with each other, maybe next year the weather will decide to cooperate!
The four of us! Me, CJ, Charlotte, and Kristi

Friday, May 17, 2013

It's been too long...

Lake Anna, here I come!

Corbin riding his bike

As promised, here is a brief video of little Corbin riding his strider bike. 

Oh my goodness, what a cutie (I know, I know, I am probably biased, but tell me that is not one of the cutest boys you have ever seen!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Corbin Time

My sister, her husband, son, and dog all came in town this weekend for a little visit.  Her husband spent the days helping a friend with some work at the house, while us girls got to hang out with this cutie:

Corbin getting into whatever was on TV

We got up early, went for walks, played and had a good time!
Gaga and Corbin on a walk

On Saturday morning, my mom (Gaga) and I went with Corbin up to the local gas station to get him a muffin for breakfast.  While there, Corbin discovered the Landshark and tried his best to pick it up.  He did not succeed but I thought a quick picture should be in order. 
Like father like son.

Here is Corbin and Auntie Lala--he was so distracted by the muffin on his hand!

Saturday afternoon, we went over to a local outdoor mall to shop around.  This mall is dog-friendly so they have all these dog statues all over the place and Corbin loved him.  

He also loves his mommy!
Loves his mommy

Snuggle time

Sunday morning, we were up early again, this time for a bike ride to the duck pond.  He is on his strider bike here (stay tuned, a video may be forthcoming):

Loves his strider bike

Safety and hydration are key!  LOOK AT THAT FACE!

Shoney's Eat your heart out!

Shoney's hot fudge cake

I feel a little bit like this could go on a "Pinterest, are you drunk?" post but alas, looks can be super deceiving as this was A-mazing!  So a few years ago, my mom was talking about how much she loved Shoney's hot fudge cake and me being a girl that loves to cook thought to myself, "Challenge, accepted!"  Well that was a few years back, I tried and successfully made my knock-off Shoney's hot fudge cake and now my mom wants it for every birthday and mother's day.  So not to disappoint her, we had it for mother's day dinner dessert.  It was equally as good as every time before!

My remake, a little sloppy but equally as yummy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

To all the wonderful mothers in my life!

Me and my mommy (and Brutus)!  She is the best!

Me and Nannie (my grandmother)

Me and Tiffie (my sister and soon to be mother of twins)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Helping Hands

So I have not yet used this blog as an outlet for things I feel strongly about or organizations I support, but I wanted to take a moment to change all that (what's life if there isn't a little drama?).  I think so often we all get wrapped up in our 'happy world' that it is hard to think about what is going on outside of our little bubble.  I am just as guilty as the next at the "Whoa is me" complaints about work, family life, or having to move yet again, but in all honesty folks, we have it made.  If you are able to read this blog post alone that means you have access to a computer, which is only a dream for some areas around the world.  So I wanted to take a minute and reflect on just how blessed we are and propose a way to lend a helping hand.  

(As an aside, I started this post about a week ago and have been editing and tweaking it, but last night I watched the movie "Mary and Martha" with my mom--not the happiest Mother's day flick but it was an amazing story--and so after seeing the film, I felt the time had come to post this sucker.)

So I have sponsored a child through World Vision for about 7 years now.  It was actually through a  chance encounter that this even came about.  I was with my uncle at a bluegrass concert to see The Isaacs perform and during their performance they talked about their work with World Vision and showed a brief video about the work that was going on throughout the world.  I felt heartbroken and knew back then that it would be tight for me to monthly support a child, what with a mortgage and my first real job out of college, but I figured there were ways that I could pinch pennies to come up with the $35 a month.  So after the concert, I went to the foyer and hand picked my little guy from the names listed.  I was excited to have a visual image of someone's life that I was going to be able to help change.  It is a powerful thing...CHANGE!  So I got to work, writing a letter to little Ernest and was overjoyed with what I was going to say until I began the letter, it was only then when I paused in my tracks.  How can I tell this little guy about the wonders of my life when things like clean water, education, and even a simply toy are probably only dreams to him.  It was harder than I anticipated, but I told him about my family and about my dog and about the weather and sealed the envelope to head his way. It felt good!  It felt real good to know that instead of wasting that $35 each month on clothes or caramel apple ciders (sorry I do not drink coffee) or a new CD, that it was going to better the life of a little boy across the world.

So why does this matter?

Well allow me to tell you!  Each quarter I get a magazine from World Vision, talking about what their programs are doing, highlighting relationships between sponsors and their child, and talking about what more can/needs to be done.  This month one page stood out to me.  It was a page about vaccinations, and why it stood out to me, I don't know.  Maybe because it is something so simply in the U.S.: you have a child and at your 6 month check-up (or whatever, bear with me, I don't have any kids), they get vaccinated.  It is not second guessed, it is not out of the ordinary, it is pretty much a guarantee.  Which is why diseases like smallpox and polio no longer even exist in the United States.  It is all because of vaccinations.   

Here are a few statistics for you to ponder:

* About 20% of the world's tuberculosis infections are in India (approximately 2 million cases annually), where as many as 320,000 people die each year from the infection.  
* Through targeted programs, Malaria mortality rates have fallen by 26% between 2000 and 2010, meaning approximately 1.1 million malaria deaths were averted.  This is in large part to intervention efforts (mosquito nets, etc), but the malaria control is still below funding to meet global targets and this disease is one that is solidly linked to poverty.
* Dengue is the world's fastest spreading tropical disease, infecting 50 million people annually in more than 125 countries.  This disease is transmitted through mosquito bites and is closely linked to natural disasters like flooding.
* Cholera, a disease that has not existed in many countries for years (Haiti since 1960 and Cuba for 130 years), has come back with vengeance after the earthquake three years ago.  The unsanitary and crowded conditions of encampments have killed 7,750 people in Haiti since October 2010.
* Worldwide 22.4 million children failed to receive the Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT) vaccines, with more than 12 million of those children living in India (32% of children fail to receive all doses), Nigeria (14% of children fail to receive all doses), and Indonesia (7%).  
* A glimmer of hope: in 2012, there were just 218 cases of polio worldwide.  This represents a 60% reduction from 2011.  This decline has been attributed to the global eradication efforts which have distributed 2 billion doses of vaccine to 429 million children last year alone.  Currently Polio cases have only been reported in 5 countries worldwide: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Chad, and Niger.
***facts and figures found in World Vision Quarterly report***

What can you do?

Well I am glad you asked!  There are so many programs set up to help kids and families around the world and I do not claim to be an expert, but here are just a few ways you can get involved:
* Sponsor a child: for $35 a month you can provide education, nutritious food, improved health care and hygiene and help the child's family strive for self-sufficiency.
* Give a gift: world vision allows for one-time gifts of animals (a goat for instance provides milk and eventually meat for a meal), clothing, a hope kit for a child coming out of sex trafficking trade, medications or other necessities
* Provide a Micro-loan: provide small loans to empower self-sufficiency
* Make a donation to an area in need: a one-time dollar amount donation to an area that is in dire need.

To put this in perspective:

* Instead of getting a new shirt for $18, you can provide a family with bed nets (this helps to prevent mosquito bites which spread malaria)
* Instead of two movie tickets for $25, you can provide a family with 2 chickens (which will provide eggs and eventually meat to feed the family)
* Instead of two meals out for $35, you can provide $350 (because of corporations sponsorship programs) worth of new toys which helps children nurture their imagination or $350 worth of medications
* Instead of that new dress for $75, you can provide a goat for a family in need
* Instead of a new outfit for $200, you can provide a foot powered pump for clean water
* Instead of that weekend away for $420 you can can provide sponsorship for one child for a year.

Note: There are so many great organizations out there that can help, World Vision is just the one I chose.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Seriously, I thought this week was NEVER going to end.  But alas it has come to a near end.  My mom and I went out to lunch today and then I dragged her to a bead store with me to see if I could find JUST THE BEAD I WAS LOOKING FOR....believe me, such things do not exist!  So I had to settle for second best, but in happy coincidence, my favorite ice cream store Gelati Celesti happens to be in the same shopping center as the bead store (okay so maybe that was not a coincidence after all).  So I treated the Bons to her first Mother's Day treat, fresh homemade ice cream (she got oreo, I got Chocolate PB).

Tonight my sister and nephew come for dinner and to stay the weekend, so we are doing Mother's Day this evening!  I get to see that cute little boy, yup this one:

So feel free to be a little jealous (I would be too if I were you!)

I hope your Friday is as sweet as mine is shaping up to be!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

North Dakota vs. Virginia

So as much as I hated getting back in the car to go to Blacksburg after having just spent 10 days in and out of the car the week before, there was one great benefit: GREEN STUFF!  No I am not talking pollen here (although I am sure some was present), I am talking trees and grass and loveliness.  I was so enthralled by it that I snapped this picture while on my way to the 'Burg:

Look at how pretty that is!  It was such a vast improve to the sights I had been used to only a week before:

North Dakota

Good old Virginia, it has it's good qualities, which is why I call it home :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Guess what?

We got HAIL yesterday!  See those little white dots on the steps below, yup that is hail.  How crazy is that, Richmond?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

13 states: PROOF!

13 states in 10 days, really guys?  Really?  Yup!  And here is the photographic proof!

So our journey started with an early morning flight to Kansas City, Missouri (so technically that was the first state but we did not get the picture of the sign until the end of the trip).  So here it is in order of our drive:


We went into downtown Omaha and tried to find like 4 restaurants on Yelp!  But ended up failing miserably and eating at a Jimmy Johns.

Next, we stopped at Sergeant Floyd's museum, which was actually on a boat!!!

South Dakota!
We stayed the night in Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the Corn Palace (yup the exterior of that building is changed every year with different ears of corn).

Me at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Why hello, Wyoming!

Montana: looks like RAIN!

North Dakota: not really sure what is so legendary here??
Oh yeah, me and a Buffalo (this was actually taken at the Madison, WI Zoo, but no one is counting)

Minnesota welcomes us!

Off to the Mall of America in Minneapolis

Hello Wisconsin!

And Hello State of cheese!  YUMMMMY  They even have a Cheese Castle!


Illinois (yes we did have to go through Illinois to get to the two above states but this is when we really stayed there)

Hello Chicago!

Hello Bean!

Me completely freaked out on the skydeck...DO NOT look down!


St. Louis, Missouri Arches

Kansas!  Home of Gates' BBQ.
Hope you enjoy the states through pictures!