Tag Archives: restaurants

Ready for Christmas!

It’s beginning to *feel* a lot like Christmas…

1) Christmas shopping is done!!

I finished up the last of my Christmas shopping this afternoon. Yes, I know, I cut it very close this year! I don’t really have a good excuse, except that December seemed to fly by even MORE quickly than usual this year. And I’ve never really been one of those people who starts picking out Christmas presents for people in July. ๐Ÿ˜› I’m not a procrastinator in most other areas of life, but when it comes to Christmas shopping, I’m almost always squeaking in at the last minute.

I still have some wrapping to do tomorrow (Christmas Eve, yikes!) but at least everything is bought!

2) Amy and I went on a “Christmas Lights Run” on Saturday evening around my neighborhood, in order to enjoy the bright, colorful displays. Of course, we talked for most of the run so we didn’t really notice the lights a whole lot, but it was still a festive activity to do together. ๐Ÿ™‚

3) Christmas cookies have been baked!!! These are just one of the numerous favorites we bake each year. I baked these on Wednesday with a friend, while listening to the Christmas station on Pandora. ๐Ÿ™‚

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4) The “Wild Lights” display at the St Louis Zoo! Friday night, I headed down to the zoo with a few friends, as well as my sister and brother-in-law. Although it was bitterly cold, we lasted about an hour (thanks to thick scarves and Hot Hands!) and enjoyed walking through the huge lights display at the zoo!

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5) Watching Christmas movies! On Thursday night, I had a friend over for dinner and we watched A Christmas Carol – the Jim Carrey version, which I had never seen before. I liked it; the CGI stuff was really impressive! I’ve also watched White Christmas and A Christmas Story over the past few weeks, but I have yet to fulfill my annual viewing of my favorite Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life!! I guess that will be happening tomorrow!!

6) Treasuring time with family and friends:

Because my sister and brother-in-law will be with his family on Christmas Day, we decided to have a special family celebration TODAY that lasted all day long. Since my best friend Amy is practically family, we invited her to join in the festivities too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We started off with church at 11am…our church always does an amazing Christmas service and they definitely did not disappoint this year! The message was really good and the music was incredible. They sung my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night, which always gives me goosebumps.

After church, we visited with friends for a little bit and then headed over to TGIF’s for a delicious lunch. We have a family tradition of eating at TGIF’s on the Eve of the Eve every year (the 23rd). I ordered the cobb salad and also nibbled on some of Amy’s sweet potato fries. Love me some sweet potatoes!

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After lunch, Amy and I finished up my Christmas shopping and then met my family back at our house for some games and relaxation. We also gave our presents to my sis and brother-in-law and opened theirs in return. Around 6pm, everyone started to get a little hungry and Mom brought out some smoked trout, cheese and crackers, cocktail shrimp, and other munchies for us to enjoy. Then we migrated into the family room to watch A Christmas Story, which I had never seen before! It was definitely a very unique movie…not my favorite, but it did make me laugh several times. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Amy just left and now we are relaxing some more and watching football. ๐Ÿ˜€

So excited that Christmas Eve is tomorrow!!

I hope you’re enjoying these final hours before the holiday! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Goin’ to the Chapel…

My sister will be tying the knot on Saturday! Wedding Countdown: 4 days!

This past week has been crazy – a frenzied mixture of cleaning, running errands, making phone calls, and other last-minute details! I can hardly believe my sis’s big day is almost here!

The beautiful bride-to-be!

Saturday night, the bachelorette party commenced! First, the girls all gathered at our house and we started with wine and presents:

Around 6:30, we headed over to Maggiano’sย for dinner, which was delicious! My sister and I both ordered the Grilled Salmon Salad and were delighted this meal! A lot of the girls ordered pasta dishes and we all raved about how much we enjoyed our dinner. Maggiano’s is a great restaurant with a very peaceful and elegant atmosphere – perfect!

One side of the table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a couple hours of giggling, wedding discussion, and delicious Italian food, we hit the road again and ended up at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar inย Lafayette Square. I had never been there before, but so many people have given it great reviews. My sister is a huge chocolate fan, so this was a perfect place to get dessert and drinks! The menu at the Chocolate Bar is amazing – unique, homemade desserts, fun drinks like Dark Chocolate Martinis, and much more! The lower level is more of a bar atmosphere but upstairs is very quiet more of a restaurant feel. The Chocolate Bar does also have a full dinner menu, although we stuck to dessert and drinks. I split the Flourless Malt Cake with my friend Sarah; it came with a scoop of coffee ice cream in the middle! I nibbled away at the cake for the most part, and Sarah took care of the ice cream – perfect set up for dessert sharing! The cake was rich and filling…just the way I like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sporting our tiaras at The Chocolate Bar!

We made it home around 11:30…not the latest bachelorette party in the world, but we were all pretty tired and had almost lost our voices from talking and giggling for 6 hours! Sunday morning, I woke up with the worst headache, even though I didn’t drink at all at the party! (I was one of the drivers) I joked with my dad that it was a hangover without the alcohol. Not fun at all! I lazed around most of the morning and finally got dressed to join my family for lunch at Senor Pique. I felt so out of it during lunch and my stomach felt a little off, so I stuck with a marinated tilapia appetizer dish that was served with pico de gallo and avocado.

I knew I would feel better if I got in a short workout, so after lunch I headed to the gym to spend a little quality time on the

Spinach smoothie

elliptical. I ended up feeling inspired to pump some iron, so I knocked out a great upper-body workout that I made up as I went along. It felt so good to sweat and clear my head!

I came home and made another great spinach smoothie!These are my new go-to refreshment!

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Despite the craziness with the wedding preparations, I’ve still found time to take pictures of the Beagle…

“Are you seriously taking ANOTHER picture of me?!”

Squirrel Sighting!

I’ve also managed to get my health coaching website set up! Check it out: HopeDarby.com! ย I’m accepting clients now! So excited. ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m off to edit and finalize my Maid of Honor speech for the reception on Saturday! Eeek!

Weekend Happenings

It’s been a full and fun weekend so far!

Friday evening,ย I went out to dinner with my friend Megan who was in town for the weekend. She was craving Chili’s, so that’s where we went! I chose the grilled salmon and it was surprisingly delicious! Often when I order fish at restaurants, they cook it too well-done for my taste…and I always forget to order it medium-rare. This salmon was cooked perfectly, though – win, win! After dinner with Megan, I drove about 40 minutes to a completely different area of town to attend an event for International Crisis Aid. I’ve volunteered with ICA in the past and I really love the work they are doing.

Here’s a blurb about ICA, from their website:

“International Crisis Aid’s mission is to assist in sustaining life, bring encouragement to those suffering and collaborate with other relief organizations in bringing necessary foods, materials and medicines to people in times of crisis, particularly where life and death situations exist. Additionally, we attempt to bring public awareness to these situations and to solicit citizen involvement whenever and wherever possible. All assistance and resources are traditionally secured in the country of need when possible, so as to develop relations with the local business people and foster a true spirit of cooperation.” ย (source)

Specifically, ICA is doing a lot to stop human trafficking – both overseas and here in the States. Human trafficking is a huge – and sickening – problem. It’s basically a form of slavery and it’s still going on in our world today.

The stats on human trafficking even here in the U.S. are unbelievable; here are some links I found online:

Human Trafficking: The Facts

The FBI on Human Trafficking: “It’s Sad but True”

Sex Trafficking in the United States

On Friday night, Pat and Sue Bradly, the founders and directors of ICA, spoke briefly about the work they are doing and the new safe home they are opening here in St Louis for victims of sex trafficking. A couple months ago, I visited the safe house with a group from my church and helped paint and clean the house in preparation for its opening. Pat and Sue stopped by while we working and my friends and I got to meet them and hear more about the work ICA is doing.

With the founders of International Crisis Aid, Pat and Sue Bradley

Saturday

On Friday afternoon, I sent a quick text to my mom, asking if she was interested in a Saturday morning hike together. She responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” so Saturday morning we hit the trails at Queeny Park, with Cocoa in tow. ย ๐Ÿ™‚ ย The temps were brisk but not miserably cold by any means…my favorite kind of weather! We had a great 4 mile hike and fun conversation on the trails as we walked. Love my mom!

Enjoying the fall weather!

And of course, no post would be complete without a picture of my Beagle love… ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

Saturday afternoon, my sis and I went shopping for dresses for her wedding rehearsal and dinner! I came home with two amazing dresses but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep either one because I just don’t feel like spending the $$$ right now. I did get them both on sale (at Dress Barn) but still…I keep asking myself how much I’ll really wear them or if I truly need another dress. ย Will probably end up taking them back, haha. ย  ย ๐Ÿ˜› ย  ย The sister and I had a great time together, though. After our shopping expeditions were completed, she took me out for a late birthday dinner at a new-to-me restaurant: Big Sky!
Can’t rave enough about Big Sky! It’s an amazing place and I will definitely be recommending it to everyone I know. haha. The food is from local farms, the meat is grass-fed, free-range, etc etc. Everything tasted so fresh and healthy – the health coach in me was in heaven! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย I was in the mood for fish (again) so I went with the pan-roasted trout and my sis got the swordfish. Both of them were delicious and mine came on a bed of fresh spinach with goat cheese sprinkled on top. Goat cheese is one of my absolute favorite foods, which I largely why I chose the trout! And it did not disappoint.

I didn’t get to take any pictures inside the restaurant, but I did snap one of this cute wood plaque that came with the check:

Good rule of thumb! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Not only is the food delicious at Big Sky, but the decor and ambiance is delightful as well! They also have great service and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. I would definitely give this place 5 stars! I wish I could eat there more often, but because of my current budget, it’ll probably just be a special treat, reserved for celebrating birthdays and such. Oh well. I can still dream aboutย relish the memory ofย the amazing goat cheese and delicious trout… ย And if you’re ever in the St Louis area, I definitely recommend you take me there you stop by Big Sky!

This morning, I completed my “Burnin’ Leg Workout”ย in the comfort of my basement…and it definitely did the trick! My legs are still feeling wobbly and weak after all the lunges and squats. Love that!

Went to the late service at church today with my siblings and a few friends. It was good; the main thing that stood out to me was what the pastor was saying about being a leader. He said that we can each be a leader in some capacity – whether it’s at school, at work, in our families, among our friends. We always have opportunities to be a good example to others; to lead in a godly, humble way. This was really thought-provoking for me because I can easily grow lazy about this kind of thing and just go through the days without much thought of how my life can be a blessing and example to others. Good stuff to think about!

Off to watch some Sunday afternoon football and hang out with my fam!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend! ย ๐Ÿ™‚