ShabbyBlogs - Must be Maddie

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Carter Mountain

Probably a month or so ago Husband and I headed to Carter Mountain with the neighbors to pick up some apples.  Since moving to Charlottesville, I have had a lot of people suggest that we visit one of the many orchards near town.  

So one beautiful afternoon we all piled into the Jeep and headed to Carter Mountain Orchard.  I was surprised how close it was.  I think it only took us 20 min or so to get there.  I'm so thankfully that Husband drove because there was a crazy steep, windy, gravel road we had to tackle.  

This post is mainly photos.  :)  

But when we got to the top the views were incredible.  

I really am a mountain girl.  

We didn't get to literally pick apples off the tree but there were barrels of apples available for the picking.  

There was a shop inside the barn that sold all kinds of cute things, like baskets and jams.  

They had "Fruit n Toot VA Traffic Jam."  I thought that was cute especially as a girl who grew up in NoVA traffic

It was a fun afternoon.  We ended up taking home a dozen apples and some apple cider.  It was hard resisting the apple donuts.  

I would love to go back again.  

Monday, December 3, 2012


Even though Husband and I were unable to travel on Thanksgiving, I decided to go up and visit my family on Friday solo.  He was still recovering and I really wanted to see my family so I headed up for the day. 

My brother was home from MD and brought with him a 17lb turkey and a bunch of veggies.  When I got there the turkey was already in the oven cookin' away.  There's nothing like walking into your childhood home and smelling yummy turkey. 

It is always good to catch up with family.  We all head our different ways, throwing ourselves into what we're doing and it's the holidays that remind us to take a break.  Remind us to relax and forget about work. 

This year Bubba (brother) and I prepared the side dishes for the fam.  Mom was doing an art thing that afternoon and LSU was on so Dad was indisposed.  :)  So it was up to us to make the sides.  Nothing fancy for us, just good ingredients and simple preparation.  It was delicious. 

I really enjoyed cooking alongside my bro.  He's turned into such a good man.  I'm so proud of him.  I have to say, our parents did a tremendous job with us.  Of course we have our flaws but for the most part we're normal people.  YAY!  When I was little, all I wanted was to be normal, to fit in with everyone.  And now that I'm grown up I do still feel normal but I know I'm also one of a kind (for better or worse).  Just ask my Husband. 

It was good, quality family time together.  As I get older it's the nights with family that I just cherish and adore.

And now, photo time.  All iPhone pics...I forgot the good camera.

Me and Bubba!  You'd never know I'm the older one.  

One of Mom's newest pieces.  I like it!

Purple cauliflower from Bubba's farm!  It's so pretty! 

 Yummy organic broccoli

Cooked goodness

Collard greens, because we're Southern.  I can only claim 1/2 Southern Belle. 

Not too shabby for Bubba's first time, right? 

I couldn't resist a little PicStitch

Oh and I have to mention that we had a third turkey day on Sunday with the neighbors.  This time Husband did the cooking and it was incredible.  I believe a couple of the guys said it was the best Thanksgiving meal they have ever had.  That's a big compliment.  

More pics! 

It was SO good

Husband makes the best stuffing.  This one had apricots and walnuts.  Mmm. 

And that's sweet potato casserole in the back.  SO good!

Green bean casserole, the classic. 

Pumpkin pie.  Not my finest work, but still yummy.  

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving.  I don't know about you all but I am SO ready for this holiday season and Thanksgiving was a perfect kick off. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Plan B

So you know our plan was to drive up to PA on Thanksgiving, then have a second turkey day with my family on Friday...well unfortunately Thanksgiving morning Husband realized he had food poisoning.  Travel was out of the question.  We were both bummed to miss the big Thanksgiving with his extended family.  Truthfully we look forward to it all year and talk about it numerous times during the year.  With a tinge of sadness we decided to go with a plan B, and have our own Thanksgiving.

I ran to the store and picked up a ham and a few other items.  We already had some appetizers to eat: spinach balls, sweet & spicy meatballs, cheese & crackers.  We had ham and decided to make cheddar chive biscuits for sandwiches.  I remembered a Barefoot Contessa episode where she made cranberry sauce.  So I made that too.  We had all the food we could want and were very thankful for it.

Cooks note - I made the biscuits and with some good direction from Husband they turned out really well! They were light, flaky, and golden brown.  We used one of Alton Brown's recipes from FoodNetwork.   Husband told me the key is to sift the dry ingredients - it gives the biscuit a light, airy texture.  And I read that the less you work the dough, the flakier it will be.  And the cranberry sauce was good too.  It was a bit too sweet, so I think next time I would cut down the sugar to 1 cup, but all in all it was tasty.

On the upside, for the first time in a few years I got to watch the Macy's day parade, which I used to do every year when I was little.  You know, before a Mr. took over my heart and holiday.  :o)  There was a James Bond movie marathon and we had lots in our que for Netflix.  It was a cozy, snuggly day.

Maybe God didn't want us traveling on Thanksgiving.  Instead he wanted us to have our first turkey day together in Charlottesville.  We were/are definitely thankful for the supportive family and friends we have in our lives.  We have so much to be thankful for this the move to Happy Town aka Charlottesville, a good job, an opportunity for Husband to go back to school, a good neighborhood with even better neighbors. The list goes on and on.

Who knows the reason, all I know is that we were happy on Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here!!  This afternoon I need to bake some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and paint my nails.  Not too bad of an evening right?  

This is from the PA Thanksgiving last year. 

I love Thanksgiving.  For the past several years, Husband and I travel up to Pennsylvania to visit his extended family for Turkey Day.  His mom's side gets together and there's a good 30-40 people.  It is just so much fun catching up with everyone.  

I have to say, I am SO thankful that I have such awesome in-laws family on their side.  I love them so much and they make me feel so welcome.  I thank God every night because I know not everyone likes their in-laws as much as I do.  

Anyway, Friday we will drive back to Northern VA and have Thanksgiving #2 with my family.  It's a much smaller gathering but I like it.  My family has always had a smaller Turkey Day. In the past we have gone to the neighbors or family friends, but my favorite is when it's just us.  With me and Husband in Charlottesville and my brother in Maryland, it's good to get everyone back together. 

These are pumpkin cupcakes from VA Thanksgiving last year.  

And with my brother being the awesome organic sustainable farmer that he is, Thanksgiving #2 is going to be delicious.  I got a text from him today that said he got a 17lb turkey, broccoli, purple cauliflower, and collards for dinner.  I. Can't. Wait.  

To add to the fun, when Husband and I come back home on Sunday we are going to cut down Christmas trees with the neighbors!  And we're having Thanksgiving #3 with the neighbors.  

The next five days are going to full of turkey, family, and friends.  

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Safe travels! 

Roast Chicken

About two weeks ago I roasted my first chicken.  As you know I'm a huge fan of Ina Garten and with the help of her How Easy is That? cookbook and watching many of her shows, I felt like I was ready to tackle the chicken.  I wasn't able to find the recipe I used online but she does have a different roast chicken recipe on

Of course I read the recipe about 20 times before I did anything and Googled a couple of things. I got everything as ready as I could, which involved cutting some lemons and onions, and then worked the bird.  

I'm happy to report that my roasted chicken turned out pretty well, especially for my first time.  I even think Husband went back for seconds.  The chicken was tasty and full of flavor and it was moist.  And it was tender!  I went to plate the chicken legs and the bone just fell out.  I took that as a sign of success! 

I forgot to take pics with the nice camera, so these iPhone pics will have to do for now.  And I forgot to take a pic with the delicious lemon onion sauce. 

I think after this first attempt, the process will get easier.  And I learned a couple of things.  

1. Rinse your chicken and pat that chick dry - it will help the skin get crispy.  

2. I learned how to remove a chicken neck - ew gross.  I am really hoping that that part gets easier with practice.
3. When you think the chicken is done, use a knife and cut into the leg meat and make sure the juices run clear.  I was checking the chicken in between the body and leg but Husband informed me that I need to check the leg meat since it takes longer to cook.  

4. A little bit of sugar can cut out and take away the strong acidity of a sauce.  Because I used 3 lemons, the sauce turned out to be a bit...tart.  Just a little!  But Husband added a little bit of sugar which evened out that tartness.  

5. Just be adventurous!  If you're intimidated with a certain dish, Google is your best friend.  I Googled #2 which really helped take away any anxiety or concern.  Knowledge is power people!  And with your knowledge you can tackle anything.  I'm looking at you pot roast!  

And next time I'll save the giblets and have Husband teach me how he makes his gravy.  I will definitely be roasting more chickens in my future.  In fact, Husband came home today with a chicken that we are roasting tonight.  :)  

And because we had leftovers I used another Ina recipe for chicken salad.  Again, that woman can do no wrong.  And the recipe I used from the How Easy is That? cookbook isn't available online, but this chicken salad recipe of hers from is pretty close.  

I can cross off one item on my Winter Bucket List.  

Love & Hugs! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Winter Bucket List

There have been so many Winters where I feel like I didn't do all the fun, wintery things I planned. Hopefully having a list (and one on my phone) will help me remember to do all of the fun holiday, wintery things...and even as I look at this list I have things I want to add

-Make a Christmas ornament
-Listen to Christmas music

Do you have any favorite holiday things you like to do?  

What about favorite holiday movies?  
I am always taking suggestions for holiday movies.  I feel like there are so many I haven't seen.  

And everyone has favorite holiday foods.    
Just this Fall, I have made super soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies a couple times and they have been such a hit.  

And here's the link to a fairly healthy pumpkin pie dip.  It's delish with apples.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eventful October

It's been an eventful October.  

On the 13th we headed up to Husband's parents for Oktoberfest!  This year we brought along our neighbor Erik.  On the way on Saturday we stopped by Leesburg Outlets.  See, Erik is from Oregon and is a Ph D. candidate at UVA and his style didn't quite fit what he was doing and needed a wardrobe update.  :)  It was a fun shopping trip and we also got to show Erik how busy and crazy Northern VA is.  All three of us were really happy to get to Oktoberfest to eat and relax for a bit.  I think my favorite part was seeing both of our parents and eating roasted marshmallows.   Oh!  And my sister-in-law was in town from Americorps.  I heart her. 

The next day we had house guests: Husband's brother, his girlfriend, his best friend K-May, and Margaret (sis in law).  It was so good to see everyone.  Husband's brother, Todd and his girlfriend, Chantal live in Seattle so we don't see them very often.  They're all just such good people.  There was delicious food, lots of music and singing (Chantal has an incredible, operatic voice), and of course laughing and cookies!

Next weekend was our first Oktoberfest.  This time my brother, Bubba, was in town with his girlfriend, Marie, and our family friend Patrick.  I love hanging out with my brother.  He's one of my favorite people and I really wished we lived closer together.  I hoped that he would fall in love with C-ville.  :)  Husband's good friends came down from NoVA and we had the neighbors over.  There was lots of cleaning beforehand and lots of cooking, but it was all worth it.  I think everyone enjoyed themselves which is all I cared about. 

 We went for gelato the day after Oktoberfest.  Pumpkin + Cinnamon = Best. Idea. Ever.

The next week we got to see The Boss.  In a bittersweet turn of events we inherited tickets from Husband's cousins, who are HUGE Bruce fans.  Unfortunately Husband's cousin misread his work schedule and it turned out he and his new wife couldn't attend.  Bummer for them but super awesome for us.  We had never seen Bruce before and it did not disappoint.  We went with Husband's uncle & aunt and their daughter and her husband (a little older than us) - also big big fans.  It was a really fun night and an unbelievable performance.  3+ hrs of non-stop music with a 60+ yr old entertainer.  I'll never forget it.  AND!!!  We were sitting right in front of Carter Beauford's box seats.  Yes, that's right the Dave Matthews Band drummer was sitting five feet away from us the entire time.  We got to shake his hand!!!!! EEEK!!!!  I was so excited.  If you ever wonder, "should I go to the Bruce concert?" the answer is always yes. 

The next day I got sick.  Womp womp.  But seriously, with all this happening within weeks it was only a matter of time before sickness set in.  So for the last week I've been trying to rest and get rid of this cold. 

Also this month I made a wedding photo book after 3 yrs of marriage. 

And I ordered one of the very popular JCrew knock-off necklaces. 

Source: via Allison on Pinterest

And I am going to be Carmen San Diego for Halloween.  Did anyone else love that show as a kid?

Anyway, I'm hoping November is a quieter month.  

Love & Hugs.


This weekend we prepared for hurricane Sandy.  We went grocery shopping, got gash, took out cash, paid bills just in case the power goes out, etc. 

I was under the impression that Ms. Sandy would show up sometime today around lunch time.  I think she got delayed because all day we've had rain, but not the torrential downpour along with fill-in-the-blank mph winds.  It's just a very gray rainy day. 

All I want to do is light candles, make some kettle corn to have with my chai tea, and curl up on the couch watching a movie. 

I think that's exactly what I am going to do. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hair cut/salon review

Back in July I decided it was time for a hair cut.  Hair cuts stir up a mix of emotions for me and probably for a lot of women.  I've had good hair cuts but I have had way more bad hair cuts that end in tears and pony tails.  This time I wanted to skip the tears.

Since it was my first hair cut in Charlottesville, I took to the interweb and searched for someone who knew what they were doing.  In my research I came across Ouidad.  I had heard of Ouidad before and realized they were the first to specialize in curly hair.  Just to clarify, Ouidad is a method of cutting hair and line of products made specifically for curly hair. 

I found a salon, Face Value Salon, out in Crozet, about 20 min from Charlottesville, that had two stylists that were Ouidad certified.  They were charging quite a bit for their hair in some people get a cut, highlights, and style for the price of one Ouidad hair cut.  Crazy I know.  It was way more than I wanted to pay (and had every paid before) but I reasoned that since I don't get regular manicures or pedicures, and I don't get any waxings or massages, and the last time I cut my hair was a year ago, I persuaded myself that it was worth itAnd let me tell you - it was worth every penny.

When the big day arrived, I washed and styled my hair.  I know that sounds silly since my hair was going to be washed and cut just hours later, but I really wanted to show the stylist how my hair behaved. 

Pre-hair cut - mop head

I arrived at the salon early and I'm glad I did.  Will, my sweet, friendly, strawberry blonde stylist gave me a tour of the salon.  No one had ever given me a tour of their work space before so this was a nice change.  And it's a smart move on their part because it helps customers get familiar with the space.  The salon was clean, bright, and well decorated.  The stylists were friendly and seemed happy.  Everyone who worked there was professional and I would happily head out there for anything beauty related. 

After the tour, Will and I sat down and chatted hair.  He asked about what problems I had with my hair, my frustrations, my daily routine, and what I was looking for.  I tried to be detailed to give him the best possible vision of me, my needs, and my hair.  I think we talked for a good 10-15 min about my hair - again something I had not experienced before. 

We decided to keep the length but give it some shape and remove some of the bulk.  Bulk meaning I started to feel like I had a mop on my head instead of hair.  Throughout the entire process Will talked to me about how to handle my curly hair and why.  Apparently I had been washing my hair, styling my hair, and blow drying my hair incorrectly.  Yikes. 

After a very relaxing shampooing and conditioning, he started in with the scissors.  This is why the cut is so expensive, because there is a method for cutting curly hair in such a way that it enhances the curl and removes the excess bulk.  It's called 'carving and slicing.'  You'd think we were talking about meat here, but no...just my hair.

To note:  He told me when washing curly hair to avoid rubbing the shaft and ends of the hair because it disrupts the curl.  And when washing, focus on the scalp and then pull the shampoo through my hair with my fingers.  I did know when conditioning to focus on the ends since they dry out faster than the scalp (for me anyway).  

I asked Will lots of questions - how long has he been Ouidad certified, how was the certification training, suggestions for styling, product recommendations, etc.  He was such a pleasure to be around.  So easy to talk to and obviously very good at his job.  

When he was finished carving and slicing, he showed me how to apply product my hair.  Did you know it is okay to comb wet, curly hair?!  I did not know.  I thought combing would straighten the curl.  But by combing the wet hair you ensure the hair is wet all the way through - great for my thick head of hair.  When he applied the product he did it in sections starting at the nape of my neck and moving his way to the crown.  When working in the product he combed my hair with his fingers, again making sure the product is distributed to each hair.  After he went through my entire head he again combed my hair!  I was surprised and I think he could tell because he explained that by combing the entire head, it ensures the product is distributed all throughout.

Next - styling.  Since my wet, product filled hair had just been combed.  He again styled my hair in sections, starting at the nape of my neck and moving upward.  For each section he would comb the hair with his fingers, smoothing the hair, and then pulling his fingers to the end of my hair he shaked the section.  Weird right?  Not at all what I had been doing with my hair for years. But but smoothing down the hair and then shaking it, it reinvigorates and reactivates the curl.  This is the Ouidad 'rake and shake' method of styling. 

Not going to lie, I was a little skeptical but it made my hair gorgeous.  I also learned that I had been drying my hair backwards.  What I had been doing was drying my hair partially and then letting it air dry.  No ma'am it should be the other way.  Will told me to let my hair air dry for as long as possible and then diffuse it and dry it completely.  Good to know!

At the end of the appointment I had beautiful soft curls, a look I had a very hard time achieving before this cut.  I felt lighter and more beautiful than I had in a while.  And I honestly felt like I made a new friend.  Will was kind and understanding, thorough with his explanations, and he made my hair amazing.  It was the best hair cut experience I have ever had.  There is nothing like a great hair cut to give you that extra pep in your step. 

Post-hair cut - So much better.  Look at those curls!

For the curly haired ladies out there - I would highly recommend finding an Ouidad certified stylist.  For everyone I would recommend the Face Value Salon; they were really great.  They will change your life.  And if you're in the Richmond, Charlottesville area, Will from Face Value Salon is the best.  He is now the only person I want cutting my hair.

 Side by side before and after.

This is a long post.  Hopefully it was helpful to anyone with curly hair.  I hope everyone has a great long, Labor day weekend.

Love & Hugs! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family weekend

Earlier this month, Husband and I headed back home to NoVA for some family time.  His sister was home from AmeriCorps (hooray!) and his oldest brother was in town with his two girls.  He lives in Vermont so any time he's near the VA area, we do our best to meet up with him.  

It was a fun weekend.  The girls are older now and at an age where their little personalities are really shining through.  The last time we saw them I think they were both under four and since we don't see them all that often they weren't quite sure what to think of us.  But this time, they were quite happy to have us around to play with them.  

There was lots of coloring and air plane making and playing catch and tickling and coloring and coloring.  

I think the most fun I had with them was at the playground.  The whole family headed to the neighborhood tennis courts so the boys could get some time on the court so me and MamaH played with the girls at the playground.  MamaH took Samantha (the oldest) to the little girls room and while they were gone I got to play with the youngest, Gracie.  

Like I mentioned before, the last time we saw them both of the girls were younger and slow to warm up to us - especially Gracie.  Gracie is most certainly a daddy's girl.  During our last visit with them, we were all having dinner and she was running around and inadvertently ended up near Husband, when she realized she was next to him she got the most scared little look on her face, and then ran in the other direction.  It was pretty funny to see a tiny child run away from my big, booming-voice Husband since he's a big teddy bear.  Luckily she was never that scared of me; I think it helps that I have dark hair and eyes like her mom.

Anyway back to the playground.  I feel like she really opened up to me.  She wanted to show me what she could do, it was cute.  I enjoyed being there with her and encouraging her to try things (and catch her, just in case her little arms didn't have enough strength).  

Gracie making her away across those pink things

On the fireman's pole... it! 

Samantha on the twirly pole?  Geez I'm going to need play ground terminology before I have kids.

I think they had fun.  

One of my favorites, husband holding Gracie.  Look at those forearms. *swoon*

The weekend had some sweet moments, like being at the playground or coloring with the girls. But it was also confirmed that I am not ready to have kids of my own.  I like knowing where I stand on that issue: I want kids. Yes I do.  Just not right now.  I really like my sleep and free time too much.  But in the future, when I can let go of those selfish things I do want kids.  I could go on for ages about my excitement to have Husband as the father of my future kids.  Gah.  I have this gut feeling that he is going to be a great father.  Strong.  Encouraging.  Real.  Gentle.  Fun.  I'm so blessed.  One day we will have an awesome family.  Until then, we have a lot we need to do being lazy on a Sunday evening.  :o) 

Hope you had a good weekend! 

Love & Hugs!