Blushin’ & Brushin’

Happy Monday, friends! I know there may be some of you anxiously awaiting the announcement of the Pure Protein prize pack giveaway, but you’ll just have to hold on a liiiiiiitle bit longer — sorry! First up, I want to tell you about part of the awesome weekend I had! Actually, the entire weekend was pretty stellar, but I’m just going to tell you about Friday today. Yep, that’s how good it was — it deserves its very own post.


So the evening kicked off when I met my friend Rachel for dinner in Georgetown. We met up at Clyde’s, and shared a cheese plate. Obviously, this means that things started out well.


For my entree I got a sea scallops dish with roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, and some kind of raisin/current sauce. It. was. awesome. I’ve only been to the Clyde’s in Tysons Corner before, and it was fine, but I can definitely say I enjoyed both the service and the food a TON at the Georgetown location. But! Dinner wasn’t the main event of the night. In fact, it was merely a precursor to…


A boozy painting class! Okay, so I know that it probably sounds lame that I am so excited over a painting class, but I have wanted to do one of these things for FOREVER, and I am just soooo glad I finally did. It definitely lived up to my expectations. Which, okay, to be fair, were to A) paint and B) drink wine, both of which I did so… not that hard to meet. BUT IT WAS STILL SO MUCH FUN!


Rachel and I went to Blush ‘N’ Brush in Georgetown, which was a little studio tucked off of Wisconsin Avenue. For those of you who may not be familiar, the way these painting classes work is that you are mimicking another painting, and you’re allowed to drink (yay!). You can bring your own wine, of course, but they also sell wine there, so we just purchased a bottle.


They had blanke easels set up for everyone in a long time facing towards the front, so you could see both the instructor, who showed you what to do throughout the whole process, as well as the finished painting we were copying.


This is the painting we were all aiming towards replicating. Blush ‘N’ Brush posts what painting each class will be doing on their calendar online, so you can actually specifically choose your class based on what painting you’d like to do! Pretty neat. Rachel and I had actually originally planned to do this a couple weeks ago, but then I got the flu, so we had to reschedule. Because of that, I wasn’t actually sure what the painting was going to be until we got there! I got a little nervous when I saw that there were people in the painting (anything realistic is a novice artist’s nemisis, hahaha) but it ended up working out okay, I think. Well, I guess I’ll let you guys be the judge, hehe.

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Ta-da! The class was a little over 2-hours long, but the time honestly FLEW. Maybe it’s because I just had so much fun with it (I used to LOVE to paint and do art when I was younger, even though I’ve never had much talent for it) but really, I was so surprised how after we finished up the background the instructor told us we’d already been painting for an hour.


The instructor gave us the option to add in a little Washington (or whatever city you wanted, I guess) monument in the background, and I kind of messed mine up and made it super ginormous and fat, but thaaaat’s okay. I mean, you know, it’s just like… city pride… or something? Hahahahaha.


And even my little silhouette people turned out moderately okay! I tried painting a little dog walking alongside them, but it didn’t really work out… so I painted over it, haha. Guess I need some more practice before I can attempt to freehand stuff. Or maybe I just need to drink less wine while doing it…

Naaaaaaah. πŸ˜‰


So yes! If you’ve been on the fence about trying one of these things out, I heartily recommend it. I had a great time, the instructor was really cool (she said my work was “strong” woot!) and the whole atmosphere was just fun and relaxing. This being my first time, I can’t really compare Blush ‘N’ Brush to any other places in the area, but I would definitely go again. It is a little bit pricey ($60) though, so just something to keep in mind. In my opinion, it was totally worth it, but I know some people might not want to pay that much to copy someone else’s painting, haha. Me though? I’m super proud of it, and will absolutely be hanging it up.


Though hopefully I’ll be able to hang it straighter than I am able to hold it…

OKAY! So, that little giveaway thing, let’s get down to it! And the winner is…

1635744 Aileen! Whoo-hoo! And not only do you win the protein prize pack, but you might also possibly win the best comment ever prize. Since many of you probably recognize the name anyway, I feel the need to disclose that Aileen is a friend of mine — however, as you can see to the left, the plugin that I use to pick giveaway winners is completely random. Congratulations, Aileen!

Have you ever done a wine & painting class before? Are there any other fun, creative things, similar to this, that you would recommend checking out?


Alas, I have nothing really to update you with regard to this weekend, unless you’d like to hear about the epic hangover I had yesterday — the aftereffect of an equally epic wine & cheese party that Sean and I attended Saturday night. And, yes, it was indeed a wine hangover. Which if you’re lucky, you haven’t experienced for yourself. But if you have, you know it’s the very, very worst kind. Nothing that some Sprite, crackers, and back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes of Nikita couldn’t fix though. Heh.

My distinct lack of healthy living (what, it’s not like I’m a healthy living blogger or anything!) aside, I do have some pretty exciting news to share. Er, that is, provided you’re not totally, 100% sick of hearing about my book yet! (It’s okay if you are, though. I won’t be offended… probably.)

Here’s what it’s regarding…

Ignore that weird printed line in the middle…

Thaaaaat’s right! Cover is DONE thanks to the amazing Cassie from Back to Her Roots, who is a true graphic design genius. Head on over to my writing blog to see the final product, and I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

B&B (& B… & B)

Saturday, 17 ladies climbed into a bus to celebrate the bachelorette AND birthday of the loverly Miss Anne P. B & B. Get it? (The second and third “B”s come into play later in the story…)

The bride to be!

My older sister, Jenny, is Anne’s maid (matron?) of honor, and so is the one who organized the whole thing. The plan was to take in a couple of wineries as a group o’ ladies, and then head back to the house we met up at for a birthday barbecue that Anne’s fiance Matt was hosting!


And SPEAKING OF MY SISTER… guess what?

Preggo Jenny!

I’m going to be an aunt!!! I shot this pic of her this weekend (after crying — er, twice — upon seeing her newly popped li’l baby bump) and then our brother worked some of his Photoshop magic to edit the sign. Her husband Dan wasn’t able to make the trip back to DC with her this time (they recently moved to Houston), so mentally I just superimpose him somewhere in the frame, hahaha. Little Baby Robinson (or, as Jenny so dotingly refers to him/her, “Blob”) is coming to the world in March!! Eeeeeep!!!!! πŸ˜€ So there you have it: the 2nd “B” stands for… BABY!

Oh, and remember this post about the birthday wine tour that we all went on for Jenny’s own 30th birthday? Well, as it turned out, the little minx tricked us all. She had JUST found out she was pregnant and didn’t want to tell anyone yet… so she FAKED all her wine tastings! None of us suspected a thing — we even caught her “drinking” on video! Tricksy, tricksy hobbitses sister. Deception must run in the Powell blood. Haha!

Nope, I’m not excited to be an aunt. Not at all. I’m not going to spoil that baby rotten or anything. πŸ˜‰

Okay, okay, back to the post at hand (I say as I wipe yet another round of happiness tears from my cheeks, keke). Unfortunately, we got off to a little bit of a late start, as the bus that was coming to pick us up broke down on the way to us (womp womp) and they had to send another one. So, the 1 PM kickoff got pushed to 2 PM, but eventually we were off!

There was wine drinkage on the way to the wineries, obvi.

The first winery we hit up was called La Grange, in Haymarket, VA.


The wines were good but the experience was kind of blah. There was a wedding going on at the same time, so the group-organizer-lady-person didn’t have a lot of time to pay attention to our group (which is understandable!). The wine was delicious though, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

The woman of the hour(s) and me

After La Grange, we piled back into the bus and headed over to Pearmund Cellars in Broad Run, VA. Now, here we definitely got our money’s worth!


They gave us a private group tasting back in the fermenting room. Our tasting guide was super friendly and really knowledgeable AND we got to try unfiltered wines straight from the steel vats! They tasted like grape juice. Delicious, slightly fizzy, cloudy, amazing-tasting grape juice. Mmmmm.


Several bottles of wine were purchased post-tasting, and eventually it was time to head home. We had a party to get back to, after all! Unfortunately, however, that’s when the night hit a bit of a snag…

Believe it or not, the bus that we had been riding on (the SECOND bus that the transportation company — Access Limousine, I do NOT recommend — had sent, let me remind you) BROKE DOWN. Right on the road outside the winery. We had to wait over 90 minutes for them to send another bus out to us (since we were almost an hour outside of DC) and take us back. It was definitely a huge bummer and a big break in the momentum of the day. Of course, we all tried to make the best of it!

At least the scenery was beautiful!

So the third and final “B” stands for “bus”. Or “breakdown”. Or “bus breakdown”. The Pearmund Cellars people were SO nice and sympathetic to our plight. They gave use free crudite platters and let us chill on their porch until the rescue bus came. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to drink any of the wine we had just purchased due to county laws, but they were still very hospitable. The poor employees stayed until we left, sacrificing part of their own Saturday night so that we could have bathroom access!


Finally, around 8 PM, the third (oy!) bus came to get us, and we arrived back at the BBQ just before 9. Granted, it was about 3 hours later than we had originalyl planned but all’s well that ends well! Hopefully Anne still had an amazing time — I know I was certainly thrilled to have been able to celebrate with her! We will all be reuniting at the wedding in less than 3 weeks, too. SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING!

Jenny’s 30th Birthday Wine Tour

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had fun and/or relaxing weekends. Mine definitely fell squarely in the former category! It started out Friday night with a late showing of The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX. The Air & Space Museum out in Chantilly has a real IMAX screen (in actual IMAX dimensions, as opposed to the IMAX screens that are usually installed in regular movie theatres, which is just bigger) and they show some of the big blockbusters there sometimes. Unfortunately there was a bit of a fiasco with the seating and even though Sean & I got there an hour and a half before the movie started, we still ended up in the 2nd row! Oof. We also had met up with a whole bunch of my friends, but we all ended up separated and spread out through the entire theatre. My neck wasn’t thanking me much afterward, but the movie was awesome so it ended up being okay.


My opinion of the movie is that it was really great, although slightly less great than The Dark Knight. Definitely go see it! Also, I am generally flabbergasted as to how they made gorgeous, beautiful, hunkalicious Tom Hardy look so repulsive as Bane. Movie magic, I tell ya!

Saturday was the really big day of the weekend. My older sister is turning 30 on Thursday, but as some of you already know, she recently moved to Houston with her husband. Well lucky for us (but not so much for her), she’s still coming back to Baltimore occasionally for work, so we took advantage of her being nearby and celebrated her birthday a little early. How? Why, with a limo-chauffeured winery tour, of course!

I have a recently discovered appreciation for wineries and wine tastings, and it was a total blast to get chauffeured from one to the next. There were 10 of us total: Jenny, her husband Dan, our brother Ben, his fiancee Taylor, Jenny’s BFFs Anne and Lara, her friends Scott and Amy, and Sean & yours truly. We hit up three separate wineries out near Middleburg/Charlottesville area: Chrysalis, Piedmont, and Quattro Goomba (best winery name ever, btw).

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great (drizzly and misting all day long), but it could have been way, way worse. I took about a zillion pictures and got fairly drunk, so I’d say it was a success overall! πŸ˜‰ Brace yourself for photo overload!

Jenny made sure the limo was stocked with snacks aplenty from our beloved Trader Joe’s, so we had all sorts of fun things to munch on during the car ride. Then before we knew it, we were at Chrysalis!

Taylor and I were the only ones stupid enough not to wear flats, haha. Our platform wedges looked pretty sweet, if I do say so myself, but they did not FEEL sweet on the rocky gravel that is apparently a requisite for all winery paths. Taylor ended up switching shoes with Anne about halfway through, the lucky duck. Unfortunately, nobody else in the van shared my sasquatch-sized 9.5s, hahaha. Oh well, at least I looked cute?

I also didn’t feel so bad being the photo-nut, since fellow blogger Anne was right there with me! She and my sister are besties from high school, and now she and I are friends in our own right through blogging. Just another reason why this li’l ol’ blogosphere rocks so much.

Siblings ahoy!

Yeah, that 2nd picture right there is why you don’t often find me in heels/platforms (though I’m getting better about embracing my Amazonianness!). Can’t you tell who the big sister and who the little sister is? Hahahahaha. Jenny’s also usually wearing much, much higher heels, to be fair. πŸ˜›

Piedmont was probably my least favorite of the three. They’re in the process of being sold to new owners right now, so they don’t have much Piedmont wine available. We only got to try two from Piedmont — the rest were all from other wineries. Hopefully they’ll still be open for wine tasting once the property changes hands though. Piedmont is apparently one of (if not the?) oldest vineyard in Virginia!

Quattro Goomba was probably my favorite. Chrysalis was very pretty (and the wine was very nice, especially their whites!), but Goomba was just so much FUN. They had live music, homemade pizza, and tons of people just hanging around, eating, drinking, and having fun. It was like a big party! I really dug the vibe.

And there you have it! One very fun, awesome, pretty unique way to celebrate my “big” sister turning the big 3-0. And for me to continue my wine education too, of course! I’m still working on softening myself to the reds (the only red I really like is pinot noir, hehe), but I’d say that I am officially a full white wine convert — even Chardonnay has grown on my palette.

Are you a white wine or a red wine drinker?

DC Food & Wine Festival 2012

Okay, before I say anything else, let’s pay special attention to the most exciting part of my weekend:

My brother proposed to Taylor, and she said yes! SQUEEEEE!! He whammied her with a proposal on her birthday — and she was COMPLETELY surprised. Though I had a hunch it was coming soon (I have a sixth sense about these things, hehe), I was blown away by Ben’s sweet and thoughtful proposal. Knowing how much she loves hidden object games (where you click around a screen to uncover items), he created one especially for her! He also videotaped the entire thing, so watch the video below if you want to know how it all went down. Fair warning: I totally started crying.

(Click through to the blog to see the video if you’re reading this via email!)

Okay, as I try to get my composure back, let’s recap another one of the weekend’s events, shall we? We’ll skip over the fact that I did not end up running the Love the Run You’re With 5K on Sunday (and with no good excuse as to why not), and instead flash back to Saturday, pre-proposal, where Ben and Taylor accompanied Sean and me to the DC Food & Wine Festival!

The face of someone who has no idea that she will be engaged in less than 24 hours…

It was my first time attending this huge wine-tasting event, and it was awesome! There were tons of people there, as you can see from the photo above, but as long as you were willing to finagle your way between folks and stand in the occasional line, well, there was plenty of wine to go around. I even ran into a familiar face there (Hi Amanda!) between sips of wine and bites of food. Not going to lie, I was definitely a little sloshed by the end, haha.


As you know, I’m not the biggest wine connoisseur (yet!) so this was yet another opportunity for me to suss out my likes and dislikes.


While I’m still definitely a white wine gal right now (especially a SPARKLING white wine gal, keke!), I think I’m coming around to some reds. I really like pinot noir, and even the occasional shiraz. Also, I now can say with absolute certainty that I dislike chardonnay. Hooray! I’m learning!


The food situation was fun for me too (obviously, haha). There wasn’t a TON of food, but the pickings were pretty good. There were general stations with bread, cheese, and hummus set up all around, and then there were vendor-specific booths offering samples as well. My favorite was the slices of filet with blue cheese sauce from the Old Hickory Steakhouse. I was VERY tempted to go back for seconds fourths. Heh.


Overall, a pretty fantastic weekend! Excitement on the family front and wine in mah bellah — not bad, not bad at all. Of course, this is still a mere prelude to the MAGICAL TIME that awaits me this coming weekend. I am now mere DAYS away from going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a Christmas present from the ‘rents!) so hold onto your hats when it comes time for next week’s weekend recap! *high pitched squeal*

Oh, and for those of who you (accurately) think I’m neglecting my race training: the passing of my Harry Potter World visit will also mark the end of my half-assery. (Confession: I haven’t run more than 2.5 miles since, er, December? Eep.) This means I really will have to literally hit the bricks if I want to survive the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April and the Reach the Beach Relay in May. So that’s coming, worry ye not. Just let me just enjoy this final ring of freedom while I can, mmkay? πŸ˜‰

What’s your proposal story? Or, if you aren’t engaged/married, your dream proposal scenario?