Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Countdown

I don't know what's wrong with me. I've never felt like this before. It's November 20, and I desperately want to buy a Christmas tree. I usually wait until December, sometimes even after my birthday (Dec. 6), but I might have to break my own rules this year.

Something about this house makes me want to go overboard with twinkly lights and boughs of holly and candles that smell like pine trees. I have a real mantle for the first time in years, a bannister that's just begging for an evergreen garland, and room for a 12-foot tree if I want it. And Christmas music? It's been on heavy rotation since last week.

When do you start decorating for Christmas? I'll try to restrain myself until after Thanksgiving, but after that — no promises.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thirty-something: 7 Things

I'm turning 30 in a few weeks. I haven't really thought too much about this milestone, but every now and then when I say it out loud or write it down, I start to feel like ... an adult. This means I can no longer make fun of my husband for being "old." I can no longer call myself a twenty-something.

I'm happy with where I am at almost-30, but I have been thinking about who I've always imagined I'd be as a 30-year-old. Who would have thought I'd still be feeling like an awkward teenager every now and then? Here are a few 30-year resolutions I'm keeping in mind as I enter this new decade.
  1. Get comfortable in the kitchen. As much as I love food, I'm really not a great cook. I have a few dishes that I can make without a recipe, but I want to branch out and try new things, and add some more complex recipes to my repertoire. 
  2. Be nicer. I tend to be a little snarky and sarcastic. I think 30-year-old me should be nicer.
  3. Expand the fam. I love our furry babies, but tiny humans are starting to sound fun to me, too.
  4. Refine my wardrobe. Last weekend I threw out nearly a third of my wardrobe — some stuff with tags still on it, some stuff that doesn't fit, some stuff that just doesn't suit me anymore (so many strapless dresses!). I want to open my closet and only see things I love, and if that means having a small wardrobe, that's OK with me.
  5. Refine my home. No more disposable furniture. It's time to fill the house with quality, long-lasting pieces that I actually love — even if that means it'll take a lot longer for it all to come together.
  6. Be more drink-savvy. I love cocktails, but I rarely make them for myself at home. I want to have the fixins and the skills to make a few of my favorites myself. I want to learn more about wine, too.
  7. Get more national bylines. Time to kick the freelance game up a notch.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Favorites: Puppy Love

It's been a fun week here at Casa Curran. We celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary (with dinner here), took in a sweet, sweet puppy that we found in the park (temporarily!), and basically soaked up Richmond's glorious fall foliage (including at Maymont, above). A few other things on my mind this week:
  • I wrote this article about Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout in The Local Palate. This limited-release beer has been known to sell out of stores within hours!
  • Alton Brown was in Richmond this week and he managed to visit an impressive number of local restaurants in one day. Putting all of these places on my to-do list.
  • 15 slow-cooker recipes.
  • I love how the couple behind The Fresh Exchange hosts a dinner party.
  • These cake toppers are cute.
  • Also I wish I had $451 for this mailbox. Darn.
  • One more Maymont photo below! Stupid pretty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Green Thumb.

I come from a family of gardeners. Growing up, my mom would spend hours at plant nurseries, or digging around in the backyard, or thumbing through landscaping books. Botanical gardens were worthy of a day trip. When we visited my grandma, they could spend all day walking around her beautifully landscaped yard, talking about plants and digging up a car-load to take back home.


I used to think plants were incredibly boring, but as I've gotten older, I've found my thumb turning greener. It started with two or three houseplants. Then my grandma passed along a few cacti to me. Now that I have a yard, I fantasize about herb gardens and raised beds and banks of hydrangeas. I've got a lot to learn, but luckily I have some amazing teachers.


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Wedding Weekend in Charleston

I'm heading down to Charleston this weekend for a dear friend's wedding. I can't wait to spend time with old friends, eat at some of my favorite restaurants, and see what's new in the city. By the way, did you see that Charleston was once again voted the best city in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler readers? I've gotta vote for Richmond now, but this video makes a pretty compelling argument.

A Love Letter to Charleston from Charleston Area CVB on Vimeo.

P.S. My Visitor's Guide to Charleston.
P.P.S. I'm doing some writing for Wedding Paper Divas, and got two articles published this week: How to Brand Your Wedding on Amorology and The Weatherproof Bride on Smitten.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Travel Journal: Spain's Costa Brava

It's been awhile, but I realized that I never shared any photos from the last leg of our Eurotrip: Spain's Costa Brava. This little stretch of scenic coastline wasn't even on my radar before I started planning the trip, but I'm so glad I found out about it. It's dotted with medieval villages, stunning little beaches, and hilltop castles. (All photos were taken on my iPhone.)

We began our road trip in Barcelona, where we rented a convertible Mini Cooper — because if you're going to be driving through a region as jaw-droppingly beautiful as this, you better do it right. We checked into an old-school family-run hotel hugging the cliffs in Aiguablava.

See those dogs? They were wandering around the village near our hotel when we arrived. As Todd and I started exploring the nearby coastal trails, they joined us, walking just ahead of us as if they were enthusiastic tour guides. They would run ahead a few yards, then stop and look back to make sure we were following. When we got back to the hotel around sunset, they both disappeared into the twilight. It was pretty surreal.

We spent the next few days lounging by the pool and beach, taking walks along the shore, and exploring nearby villages like Begur and Pals. We had one of the trip's most memorable meals in the courtyard of the Hotel Aiguaclara's restaurant, where we shared a bottle of cava and enjoyed a view of the village's castle. The next day, we returned to the town square around 5 p.m. and watched it come alive as the locals wrapped up their work day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Favorites: Southern Food and 'Merican Dreams

Happy Friday, friends! Got any plans for this perfect fall weekend? I'm challenging myself to knock out a big ol' list of projects around the house, including painting the mudroom, making a Roman shade for the kitchen, planting some herbs in the backyard, and, if I'm ambitious, painting some yellow stripes in the laundry room. We'll see how that pans out. Here are some things on my radar from the past week:
  • Esquire said that Virginia is the food region of 2014. After living and eating in Richmond for just a few weeks, I have to agree.
  • On a related note, I love this Saveur article about the amazing eats you can find on Skyline Drive.
  • My neighborhood grocery store has a pretty decent wine section and a really helpful wine expert on staff. This is both awesome and dangerous — I usually walk out with a couple of new bottles. Bookmarking this article for next time.
  • I need this welcome mat. I think I'll try to DIY it.
  • Has anyone tried Spanish fried eggs? They sound amazing. Related: My egg obsession continues in full force.
  • Sean Brock's pimiento cheese recipe. Can't wait to try this.
  • Our new chalkboard wall has inspired me to brush up on my lettering skills
  • Ordered this dress for a friend's wedding. I hope it fits!
  • The new issue of Charleston Style & Design is out now. Be sure to check out the bridal section, 100 percent written and edited by yours truly.
  • This song's on repeat.
Have a lovely weekend, y'all!