Friday, December 28, 2012

{Recipe} ~ Sparkling Apple Sangria

I tried a delicious, easy sangria on Christmas Eve and couldn't wait to share it with y'all! It's perfect for the holidays and looks really festive, too!

Sparkling Apple Sangria

2 bottles of Riesling (can substitute Pinot Grigio)
1 red delicious apple, julienne
1 Granny Smith apple, julienne
1 bottle of brut champagne, chilled


Pour Riesling into a large pitcher and stir in the apples. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Add champagne/sparkling wine, stir and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Merry!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
My holiday has been filled with family traditions!
Christmas Eve included a feast of Mom's chicken casserole, Katie's deviled eggs, and my sparkling apple sangria!
We had our candlelight church service at 8 pm, and then put on our Christmas pajamas, poured some hot chocolate, and drove around town to look at the lights.

Katie and I always sleep in the same bed on Christmas Eve, and then wake up early to open our presents. Mom and Dad spoiled us this year, as they always do, and I'm now blogging from my new iPad!!
We had a scrumptious brunch of sausage casserole and Katie made gingerbread with lemon glaze!

We finished opening gifts by digging into our stockings, then everyone took their places on the couch to watch our annual mainstay:
We're off to Virginia tomorrow to visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins!

Hope you all are having a blessed Christmas also!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Liebster Award

Anna, the author of the cute blog My Semi-Charmed Life was sweet enough to give me The Liebster Award!


The Liebster award is given to an up and coming blogger who has less than 200 followers. Blogs are nominated by fellow bloggers, and while there is not an official organization that runs this or chooses a winner, it is a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other and discover new blogs.

Here are the rules:
1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Nominate 11 blogs that you love (also with less than 200 followers). Link them to your post and let them know they have been nominated.
5. No tag backs!

Here we go!

11 Random Facts about me:

1. I love milk. And not in the "I used to drink it a lot as a kid" kinda way. In that, I love it and still drink it with every meal I eat at home (I don't order it in restaurants to avoid the funny looks) kinda way. My mom even has to buy a gallon when I come home because the half-gallon she keeps in the fridge for her and my dad will be gone in an instant once I get my hands on it.

2. The movie, Radio, is based on the true story of my high school, T.L. Hanna. The movie was filmed while I was in school there, so I got to meet Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris at a pep rally before the movie's premiere. People always think it's so crazy that I actually know Radio, but he was at school every day so I spoke to him like I would anyone else. Oddly enough though, I've only seen the movie once.

3. I'm unhealthily attached to my iPhone. There's very rarely a minute that I don't have it within arm's length, even when I'm sleeping. My must-have apps are Songza, Foursquare, TripIt, Yelp, Kindle, ESPN, and CNN.

4. I never wash my face. I know. When Sara asked me for a washcloth while sleeping over this past weekend, I coudn't even think where they were in my bathroom. I was blessed with good skin and just never got into the habit of washing my face before bed or in the morning. It's not uncommon for me to wakeup with yesterday's eyeliner still in place...

5. I can never find a hair tie/bobby pin when I need them. I swear I buy a pack of the Goody hair elastics every single time I go to the store, but yet they stay under my bathroom sink. I tried recently stashing them everywhere (my car, my desk at work, my wallet, Ryan's apartment) but I've managed to use all of those and they've migrated back under the bathroom sink. How does one fix this problem??

6. I have no less than 6 macaroni and cheese recipes saved on my Pinterest boards. A life without cheese or pasta is not a life I'd want to live.

7. I'm dying to write a 101 in 1001 list before 2013, but I'm afraid I'm running out of time. Maybe I could have one written by the time my 25th birthday rolls around?

8. I broke my leg when I was 5 months old. It was 2 weeks before Christmas and my mom was putting away the dress I had worn to church. The second she turned around, I rolled right off my changing table. There are pictures of me in a full leg cast stuck beside the Christmas tree in my stroller seat. Quite hysterical (although I'm sure my parents didn't think so at the time)! It's the only broken bone I've ever had. See #1 for the reason why.

9. I'd like to think I'm a morning person. Once I wake up, I'm wide awake. An ex-boyfriend of mine once asked if I slept in a toaster, since I seemingly "popped out of bed" the second my alarm went off and wanted to chat. This was not a trait of mine that he enjoyed. Oops.

10. I'm always cold. Always. I keep a blanket at my desk at work and always take a sweater or coat with me to the client's office. It's not unusual to find me under a blanket with long-sleeves and pajama pants and socks in the middle of the summer.

11. In line with #10, I have to be covered up when I sleep or take a nap. Even if I have to resort to a pillow or a cardigan on the couch as a "blanket," I just need to have something draped over me. I must have poor circulation...

Anna's 11 Questions:

1. If you could listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Oh, this is a tough one. I absolutely love The Civil Wars, but their CD can be a bit depressing if you're not in the mood (it's perfect for a rainy day, though). If I had to pick just one, I'd say John Mayer's Continuum.

2. What's the first website you go to when you open your browser.

Easy - my email. At work, it's Microsoft Outlook, but I also open my Gmail, too. I obsessively check my calendar several times a day for fear of missing a meeting or something else important.

3. What's the background on your phone?

This festive picture from our tour of the Maker's Mark distillery.

4. What are you currently listening to? Music? TV?

Nothing. It's hard for me to focus if there's noise in the background. This was always a problem when studying in college, as I needed complete silence. I've gotten better about it since I'm constantly with people at work and can hear anything going on in the cubes around mine.

5. What is one thing you would love to have in your dream house?

A huge porch with a fireplace and outdoor kitchen/eating area. Very similar to this one we saw one our tour of the Inspiration home in Greenville:

Or the porch/backyard at Ryan's dad's house in San Antonio:


6. Biggest pet peeve?

Haha, I think I have a lot of these. But the main one is probably slow drivers in the left-hand lane. Get out of my way, people!

7. What something crazy/exciting that you'd love to do but are too scared to do?

Skydiving. I think it would be so cool but I'd be an absolute wreck leading up to the actual jump. I think someone would have to push me out of the plane to get me to do it.

8. Are there any songs you know 100% of the lyrics to by heart?

I'm sure there are a few, but the only ones I can think of right now are NSync's a capella version of "O Holy Night," The Civil Wars "Poison & Wine," and Adele's "Turning Tables." Just some favorites.

9. If you could invent something, what would it be?

Lauren and I discuss frequently how awesome it would be to shower and then magically be dressed, hair fixed, and makeup applied. Getting ready is one of my least favorite parts of my day. I'd wear my hair in a ponytail and my pajamas to work every day if I wouldn't get fired for doing so.

I don't know what I could invent that could accomplish this, except little elves maybe who were my personal stylists.

10. You win a contest to create a new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. What would be in it, and would you name it?

Uhh, I'm probably the wrong person to ask this question. I don't really love ice cream. Yes, it's refreshing on a hot summer day, but my teeth are too sensitive to enjoy it properly (I have to turn the spoon upside down and lick it off that way). However, on the rare occasion that I do eat ice cream, I love to top it with gummi bears. Spill the Beans in Clemson used to fill up my cup with too much yogurt by accident, so they'd have to give me the gummi bears in a separate cup so I ended up with much more than was standard. Yum-o.

 But if you had asked me what kind of nachos I would create, I'd be all over that.

11. What is your current ringtone?

I keep my phone on vibrate 99% of the time, but my alarm ringtone is "Strum" in the iPhone settings. It's chipper and wakes me up. Ryan's alarm used to be the sound of dogs barking, and it made me want to punch him when it went off at 5:45 am. I know, I'm such a sweetheart.

Unfortunately, I don't have any blogs that I follow that have less than 200 followers, except for the ones that have already been tagged or tagged me.
Thanks again, Anna, for the award! I had a ton of fun answering your questions!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dream Come True ~ Dave Matthews Band Concert

I can't believe it's been a week and a half before I could post about one of the greatest things ever that has happened to me! Okay, a tad dramatic, but I'm a girl. Go with it.

A friend mentioned to me a few weeks ago that the Dave Matthews Band was touring with another favorite band of mine, The Lumineers. The particular concert she was referencing happened to be in Philly, so I didn't think too much about the tour coming anywhere close to SC.

Rewind a few years: I've always wanted to see DMB in concert. As most kids my age, I fell in love with him in high school, jamming out to every CD I could get my hands on. When he toured every year, he always came to Charlotte, but I was never able to make it. My senior year of high school, he happened to be playing the same week I was on a mission trip with my church, so all of my friends decided to go to the concert without me. So of course, when he was touring the following year, no one wanted to see the concert again. Bummer. I made another failed attempt to go with Ryan in May this year, but he didn't want to spend money on a concert so close to his trip to Bonnaroo. Double Bummer.

So after my conversation with Sarah, while I was wasting time on the internet, I happened upon DMB's website where I find out they're playing the following week in Duluth, GA, a mere hour and a half away from Greenville. I almost jumped out of my chair and immediately called Ryan telling him we had. to. go.

Like the fabulous boyfriend that he is, he didn't skip a beat and said "Sure babe! Sounds like fun! I've never seen DMB live." I purchased the tickets on StubHub and just had to wait one short week before seeing DMB!

The Lumineers put on a fantastic show, albeit a tab short, and then it was time for the main event!

Dave played a lot of his new songs, which I didn't know as well as some of his older songs, but the concert was still a great time.

We got a bonus surprise when Zac Brown (from the Zac Brown Band) made a guest appearance to sing "All Along the Watchtower." The crowd went nuts.

Dave played for over 3 hours, and it was certainly worth the 1 am bedtime and multiple cups of coffee at work the next day!

I think I'm still likely to say that John Mayer was my favorite concert of all time (simply because I could sing along to every song he played), but I certainly got to cross something off my bucket list by seeing Dave Matthews live!

Time to share: What's the best concert you've ever been to?!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Recipe} ~ Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bread

I have so many holiday recipes to share and only a few days before Christmas to share them! Sorry I'm not sorry for posting two recipes in the same day :)

One thing I love about having house guests is the opportunity to make breakfast! I hardly ever go through the process of "cooking" breakfast for myself, unless you count pouring a bowl of cereal or toasting an English muffin and poaching an egg "cooking."

Having girl sleepovers makes breakfast tricky though, because I knew they probably wouldn't appreciate sausage balls (my fave) with extra crispy bacon, either. My mom and I whipped up a pumkin french toast bake at Thanksgiving (which I just realized I forgot to post the recipe, dang it), but I didn't want something that sweet for breakfast this time around.

Since I was trying to stick with my festive cranberries, I started searching cranberry bread recipes online. I stumbled upon the one below, realized I had all the ingredients, and went to work!

It wasn't until I adjusted the recipe for 1 loaf that I realized the recipe was actually for mini-loaf pans. No wonder it called for 2/3 of an egg. So mid-recipe, I had to pull out all of the ingredients and start measuring things again to what I assumed would make one regular sized loaf. All of this to say, this recipe was very forgiving. It came out smelling yummy and still tasted delicious! Serve with a pat of butter and some fruit and you have a very satisfying brunch!

There's nothing worse than having 4 hungry girls sitting around your kitchen island while you stare through the oven door saying, "Well, it's starting to resemble bread, so that's a good sign!"

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bread
Yields 3 mini-loaves


    • 1 cup Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup fresh cranberries or 1 cup frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange rind
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 3/4 cup orange juice
    • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour three 5 3/4x3 1/4x2-inch miniature loaf pans.
  3. Stir together chocolate chips, cranberries, pecans and orange peel in small bowl; set aside.
  4. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; with pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Stir in orange juice, egg and reserved chocolate chip mixture just until moistened; divide evenly among prepared pans.
  6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

{Recipe} ~ Cranberry Gin & Tonics

Boy, have I got a fabulous holiday cocktail for you!

My parents' dear friends, and my second "Mom & Dad", sure know how to mix a drink! Becky gave me this recipe a few years ago and I've been making it at Christmas time ever since. You don't even have to like gin and tonic, but trust me, you'll love this!

I ended up using a little less than a whole bag of cranberries because I was reserving some to make Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bread, which is why they look paler pink in the photo below. It typically is a deep, gorgeous red when you follow the recipe as written!

Cranberry Gin & Tonics
From the Divine Mrs. M

2 (12 oz) bags fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
3 1/3 cups chilled tonic water
1 ¼ cups gin
3 TB plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Bring cranberries, sugar and water to a simmer in a 3 to 3 ½ quart saucepan. Simmer
uncovered, stirring occasionally, until berries just begin to pop, about 2 minutes (I cook about
4 to 5 minutes). Drain cranberries in a fine mesh sieve (or colander) set over a big bowl. Reserve
2 cups cranberries and force remaining berries through sieve into syrup (I squish them through
with a coffee mug). Discard solids remaining in sieve, then add reserved cranberries to syrup.
Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a pitcher and chill until cold, about 2 hours. When ready
to serve, add remaining ingredients to syrup, stirring gently to combine. Serve drinks over ice in
8 to 10 oz. glasses.

You can make multiple batches of berry syrup (store in Tupperware container) and squeeze
lime juice (another container) ahead of time. Then just dump the berries, lime juice, tonic water
and gin in a pretty pitcher as needed. A 750 ml bottle of gin makes 2 batches. Serve with thin
sliced limes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Weekend Update ~ Annual Girls' Weekend

It isn't until after college that you realize you have to make a concerted effort to spend time with your friends.

In college, whether you lived in a dorm, on the sorority hall, or later, in an apartment off-campus, all of your best friends were only minutes (or seconds) away.

Enter graduation and "the real world."

I'm lucky enough to share an apartment with my bff and partner in crime, Lauren, but don't get to see my other best friends near as often! The last time I saw Sara was back in June and my other smarty-pants best friend, Rachel, is in med school, and I hadn't seen her since March.

Both completely unacceptable lengths of time and we were way overdo for some quality girl time.

Rachel and Sara were both able to visit Lauren and me in Greenville this time last year, so I think we're making it annual tradition! Rachel was finished with exams and Sara is staying with her family in Rock Hill, SC, for the holidays.

Our weekend went down like any girls' weekend should: gossip over cheese and cocktails, wine and more gossip at dinner at Adam's Bistro, a slumber party in our Christmas pjs, and early morning girl talk over coffee in the kitchen.

I don't think much has changed since college, except Sara has gone and gotten herself married and has the most adorable baby girl. Give Caroline a few more years and she'll be able to join in on the girl talk with us!

It's great to be able to pick up right where you left off, because nothing is more important in life than the people with whom you surround yourself.

 And after the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last Friday, it felt really great to feel the outpouring of "I love you's" from people you've known for years.  No words can express the sadness I feel for the victims' families of that horrific tragedy. We'll never know "why?" or "how?" and instead, all we can do is pray. Hug your friends, family, significant others. Life is too precious and short not to.

Festive Christmas recipes coming soon, and I'm working on my answers to Anna's Liebster Award!

7 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!! <--- How is that even possible??

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekend Update ~ Tis the Season!

We had such a festive time last weekend!

It's finally starting to feel like Christmas. Lauren and I spent Friday afternoon (with the help of my mom) getting our little tree set up and wrapping presents, so our place would look cozy for the holidays. Last year we got a real tree, but with both of us traveling home for Christmas, we wouldn't even be home to enjoy it!

We got all tacky-ed up for a Tacky Christmas pub crawl on Friday night, and had so much fun (and drank a few too many beverages). I haven't been awake that late in a long time!
Saturday was our work Christmas party - one of my favorite events of the year! I know most people probably think work Christmas parties are lame, but ours happens to be one of the biggest parties with the motto, "What happens at the Christmas party, stays at the Christmas party" (yes, shots of Fireball included). There's an awesome DJ, and there's probably nothing better than singing every.single.word of "Baby Got Back" with your coworkers. See? Accountants do know how to party.

There were a few photo booth pictures taken at the party, but I can't figure out how to upload those to my computer without a scanner. Boo! (It's probably better they stay off the blog anyway, for blackmail purposes, haha!)

We had a low key Sunday, cheering both the Panthers and the Packers to a victory! Lauren, Sarah, and I toured an Inspiration Home in Greenville that was 11,000 square feet!

The kitchen? The outdoor porch? I die.
And now, happy Wednesday, since I'm a little late with this post...

Friday, December 7, 2012


Reading work emails, my Google Reader, and 11/22/63 by Stephen King (not all at the same time, obviously)


Watching The Today Show

Listening to cars outside our apartment and what seems to be a neighbor's fire alarm (oh, the joys of apartment living)

Working from home, in bed. A bad habit I don't indulge in too often or I'd never get anything done!
Writing this blog post and a to-do list for work next week
Hoping Ryan's Christmas present I ordered online gets here soon!
Excited about several things: Tacky Christmas pub crawl tonight, Office Christmas party tomorrow, and tickets to this concert next week (eeeeek dream come true!)
Thinking I really need a mani/pedi for tomorrow's party, but don't want to spend the $$
Wearing yoga pants and an old ZTA Semiformal long-sleeve tee
Sipping/Eating a cup of joe and a bowl of chex cereal + banana
Everything tastes better in a festive mug, no?
Loving that it's almost the weekend! Fridays never get old :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kentucky ~ One Year Anniversary Trip

When I think of Kentucky, I immediately envision horses, rolling hills, bourbon, and bluegrass music.

After Ryan and I visited Kentucky for the first time this past weekend to celebrate our one year anniversary, I must say my imagination was spot on.

Kentucky really is a beautiful state, and even though we went in December after all the trees had lost their leaves, I can only imagine what it looks like during the spring, summer, and fall for prime horse-racing season.

I never really thought of Kentucky as a destination spot, but became interested when a sorority sister of mine posted about her and her husband's trip to Louisville, KY. I did a little research, and knowing how much Ryan loves bourbon, posed the idea of taking a little road trip for our anniversary. Ryan jumped right on board and I began planning the trip! Ryan defers all planning to me because he knows how much I love it and can be a tad OCD about these things. I may or may not have printed out an itinerary for the trip.

But really, planning things like this are so much fun for me and gives me something to look forward to! I read reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor before making reservations and booking hotels. And if it hadn't been for my hyper-organization, we probably would've gotten lost or missed a tour or two, so that was certainly a plus!

Our initial thought was to do the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where you get a passport and have it stamped at each visit to 6 distilleries in the state. Since we were just going for a weekend, it was overly ambitious of us to think we could stop at all 6 distilleries in 2 days, especially with shortened hours on Sunday for tours and the drive back home. After reading some advice from other reviewers, we decided to skip the Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Heaven Hill distilleries and added a "must see" that wasn't on the list, Buffalo Trace Distillery. I'm so glad we did this because Buffalo Trace was probably one of our favorites!

We both took the afternoon off on Friday, gassed up Rhonda (my affectionate nickname for my Honda Accord. It rhymes...get it? #nerd), and hit the road. Ryan did the driving on the way up, while I talked incessantly until my half-hour nap just after we passed through Knoxville, TN. It only took us about 5 1/2 hours from Greenville, which was much better than the GPS's prediction of 6 1/2!

I have a Hilton Honors account since I travel pretty frequently so I'm always trying to rack up points when we're on vacation. I stumbled upon this DoubleTree in downtown Lexington. This place was a gold mine! It was a steal for what we got: a "suite" with a king-size bed and the biggest bathtub I've ever seen.

My roomie's response to this picture when I texted her: "Haha, you would"....What can I say? I love a good bath!
I was showering and getting ready for dinner when Ryan surprised me with a glass of champagne and this gorgeous LAGOS bracelet:

I thought the trip was our present to each other, so I stuck with the bourbon theme and bought him a leather flask. He sure outdid me with his gift! He's too good to me!

I made reservations for dinner for us at Jonathan at Gratz Park. The reviews were good but I was sold when I saw this review from Garden & Gun. Give me "southern cuisine" and you better believe I'm going to love it!

 After staring at the menu for what seemed like an hour, we finally ordered appetizers and Ryan chose a bourbon from the extensive list. We had fries with bourbon mayonnaise and Sea Scallop Hot Browns.
The drink list was printed on a wooden slat from a bourbon barrel
We had to ask our waitress what a "hot brown" was and wasn't surprised to find it's a Kentucky classic.
I found this explanation online: "A hot brown is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY. It's an open-faced sandwich with turkey and bacon, covered in cheese and baked or broiled until the cheese melts. Other variations include ham and tomatoes."
Our Sea Scallop appetizer was obviously a twist on the original and it was unbelievably good. Ryan and I both agreed we could've ordered 3 of these and made it our meal.
Onto the main course: Ryan and I shared the Bourbon Barrel Ale Braised Short Ribs and the Mushroom Dusted Beef Tenderloin. They were both extremely tasty, but I think the tenderloin was our favorite!
We couldn't make room for dessert but I would've loved to try the bourbon banana pudding. Yum!
I highly recommend this restaurant if you're ever in the area!
The waitress also suggested a few bars nearby at the Pavillion, but we were both so full and tired, we headed back to the hotel instead. Hopefully next time we'll be a little more lively and check out the downtown scene! Lexington is where the University of Kentucky is, so it's got a bit of "college town" vibe.
Successful start to our anniversary trip!
Saturday was full of activities! I had mentioned to Ryan (who loves basketball) the possibility of trying to go to a Kentucky basketball game while we were in town (UK basketball is HUGE in the state), and we lucked out that UK was playing Baylor (where Ryan's brother went to college) at 12:30 pm on Saturday. When we first checked, tickets were pretty expensive, so we checked again on StubHub on Saturday morning and the price had dropped dramatically! We purchased 2 tickets for $17 each and printed them in the hotel lobby! Score!
However, this made our bourbon touring for the day a little tricky. Our first stop was Buffalo Trace which had a tour bright and early at 10 am! We grabbed bagels at Panera nearby and made the trek out to the distillery (as a side note, most of these distilleries are in the middle of nowhere, so we were prepared for a drive anywhere we went!)
While all the trees had lost their leaves and everything looked a little dead, all the distilleries were decorated for Christmas, which I loved. It really got me in the Christmas spirit!
We went on a brief tour, learned about the process of making bourbon, and then had a tasting. This tour was pretty informal and more conversational since the group was smaller. Fun Fact: Buffalo Trace is one of only 4 distilleries that was allowed to remain open during Prohibition and produced bourbon for "medicinal purposes" (haha, yea right). Those other distilleries have since shut down, so Buffalo Trace is the longest operating distillery in the country!
After the tasting, we were back on the road to Lexington to make it to the basketball game in time.  UK plays in Rupp Arena, one of the most famous college basketball arenas in the country (next to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, I'd say). This place was insane. It's attached to a mall, which is kind of strange. You walk into the food court, then take escalators 2 floors up to the arena. Strange, but it works. As Ryan and I were entering the arena (and getting dirty looks for Ryan's Baylor shirt), we kept saying, "Oh my gosh, this place is huge!" I felt like we were going to a concert or something! The arena holds 23,500 people! That's 2.5 times the amount of people of Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum.
We were so high up in the arena that we had TVs to see the action better

They shoot off fireworks INSIDE when they announce each player.

Both teams played pretty poorly in the beginning, but Baylor ended up winning and snapped UK's 55 home game win streak! We made sure to book it out of there before the game was over so Ryan wouldn't get mobbed by angry UK fans (I'm exaggerating a tad; everyone was very friendly to us).
The reason we had to leave early was so we could make it back to the car and drive out to the country again to make it to the last tour of the day at Woodford Reserve. We had heard this was the "fanciest" of the distilleries, and it was obvious once we pulled into the parking lot.

I kept telling Ryan I felt like we were at a winery in Napa instead of a distillery in the middle of nowhere in Kentucky!
This tour was the most informative, taking you step by step through the process. Fun fact: Even though no one mentioned this during the tour, Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby!


We even got to keep our shot glass after the tasting! Every distillery served these bourbon balls with the tasting which were delicious and served as a little chaser to your shot of bourbon!
As we were leaving the distillery, I captured this shot of quintessential Kentucky:
Then we were off to Bardstown, KY for the rest of our trip!
The other two distilleries (Jim Beam and Maker's Mark) are about an hour drive from Lexington, so we just decided to move hotels to make the driving easier for us on Sunday. But believe me when I say Bardstown is a small town, which strangely enough, was named the most beautiful small town in America by USA Today. Honestly, I wasn't too impressed, but maybe we didn't actually get a good look at "the town"?
The restaurant choices were pretty limited, but we settled on The Rickhouse Restaurant for dinner. The food was good, we got to try Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale on tap (delicious), and got a little taste of the local life sitting at the bar while watching the SEC championship. All in all, a good evening!
Our first stop Sunday was Jim Beam, the largest distributor of bourbon in the country. It started raining right when we got to the distillery but we weren't going to let that damper tour #3!

This tour was probably my least favorite, simply because the machines weren't running on Sunday so there wasn't much to see, and the tour guide seemed a little disorganized when discussing the processes. Since this was our third tour, the information started to get a little repetitive, but it's still interesting to see how each distillery makes the process "their own." We had quite a few question askers on our tour and were cutting it close to get to our last tour at Maker's Mark, so we rushed through the tasting (a fancy vending machine type tasting) and jumped back in the car.
Maker's Mark was by far the most remote location and for awhile, I wasn't sure we were ever going to make it there! We were driving on roads the width of a driveway and just praying we didn't meet an oncoming car.
It was certainly worth the drive though because the grounds were beautiful (and it's Ryan's favorite bourbon). Seriously, families could take their Christmas card photos here.

See what I mean? So pretty!
We learned a lot of interesting facts on this tour: the founder's wife is the one responsible for the shape of the bottle and the design of the label; every label is handcut and each bottle is hand-dipped in the famous red wax; the S IV on the bottle is for Bill Samuels, IV, the one who made the brand it is today; and the star represents the Star Hill farm, the family farm before they moved to the distillery.

The wreaths in the top windows spell "Maker's"

This was also the most informative tasting of our trip. Our guide explained each sip and how it was supposed to taste on the tongue, etc.

Another highlight of the trip: you can buy a bottle in the gift shop and dip it in the wax yourself! A must if you ever visit the distillery!

That concludes our bourbon tour of Kentucky!

One year in the books!

This trip was so fun! I'm thankful for the best travel buddy, Ryan, who lets me plan everything to a T and he just comes along for the ride! My type A personality and his type Z personality work perfectly together :)
If we ever make it back to Kentucky (which we will!), I think we'll go to Louisville, visit Churchill Downs, and do the Urban Bourbon Trail!
For visual reference, here are the 177 miles we covered while in Kentucky!
  • A: Our hotel in Lexington, KY
  • B: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY
  • C: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
  • D: Woodford Reserve, Versailles, KY
  • E: Our hotel in Bardstown, KY
  • F: Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY
  • G: Maker's Mark, Loretto, KY

Who doesn't love a good road trip?!

Disclaimer: After this trip, I'm still not a fan of bourbon. Give me a glass of wine anyday! Haha!