thanksgiving 2013

For the second year in a row, we hosted friends from D.C. for the Thanksgiving weekend. Alex insisted we cook our turkey using Alton Brown’s recipe and it was both beautiful and delicious! Kudos to him for making it happen while I managed SBJ. SBJ weathered the weekend rather well, taking good naps and all, but he was awake through all of dinner which meant that I had to eat a few bits and then entertain him by walking around and then repeat. Life of a mama with an almost two month old I suppose.



All in all, it was a great dinner, a fabulous time visiting with our friends (despite the cold weather!), and a great first {real} holiday in our new home.




Do you know what the above picture is an homage to? {here’s a hint, it’s the reason we serve turkey at Thanksgiving!}


I really enjoy cooking and (I love having a nice big kitchen in apt. #2!), but I really hate meal planning and often find myself in a rut. Do you ever feel like that?

I know there are a lot out there, but I recently discovered an online meal planning service that we’ve been using for about a month now and I’m loving it. It’s called and it’s $15/3 months of weekly meal plans and corresponding shopping lists. They’re designed with busy (lazy?) families in mind and they provide you the means to prep 5 dinners for $80 or less with fresh ingredients, limited sugar and little to no preservatives. (if you’re good about coupon-ing, etc. for pantry staples or have a garden I can imagine it’s often much less!).



A few pros we’ve enjoyed so far:

  • the corresponding shopping lists, you literally can just print them and take them to the store
  • the ease at which meals are actually created. If you follow their prep steps you can prepare the meat and veggies in advance (Sunday afternoon or whenever) and then your prep is minimal in the evenings to actually cook dinner
  • the leftover mentality. Again, on the ease theme, it doesn’t happen every week, but twice now we’ve had meal plans that make a new meal with leftovers from the previous night (ex. a pasta became a soup by adding stock and beans or a chicken dish became a pasta by just adding veggies and pasta). I love this because its adds variety and saves time!
  • the meals are designed for a family of 4 so we either get leftovers or I just make less and then actually spend less making my wallet happy!

Of course, if you’re a picky eater (which we kind of are) some of the meals just don’t sound good so I still make a few tried and true Vlk family favorites to augment the plan when I don’t think we’d enjoy something but so far it’s worked like a charm and has added variety and simplicity to our life.

*Not an official endorsement* But certainly worth your time to check out, I think you can even try it free for a week!




Love, love, love this holiday! It such a glorious celebration in the lives of those who know Christ as Savior. The last two years we’ve spend the holiday weekend with my aunt and uncle in Maryland but this year they’re in Australia (and celebrated Easter some 16 hours ahead of us or something crazy like that) so we were on our own and decided to have friends over for brunch.

{no food pictures, forgot to get any of those – just one of the pretty flowers that I found a Trader Joe’s yesterday. They turned out to be the brightest spot in the house today since the weather was rainy and overcast}

We had two new couple friends over that we’ve gotten to know since January (such a blessing to have new friends) and even though they didn’t know each other before today, we had a great time eating and laughing together.

“Ours the cross, the grave, the skies…Ah-ah-ah-ah-le-lu-ia!”

PS – one Easter tradition we will not be continuing, resurrections rolls…they made an absolute mess in my oven and just weren’t as good as a cinnamon roll.

Hosting our First Thanksgiving

We hosted our first Thanksgiving this year and I’m a little bit late on the synopsis but it was a ton of fun. It was an idea that Alex had as soon as we moved to Williamsburg or maybe even as soon as we had decided on the apartment that we were going to live in. The Kelley clan and two sets of our friends from D.C. all came which made us 12 adults and a baby at dinner. Most of the group pictured below:


On our menu (served on our wedding China!): Southern Living’s Savory and Sweet Cured Turkey, Honey Glazed Ham, Sweet Potato Casserole, Better Homes and Garden’s Fruit and Nut Stuffing, Mashed Potatos, Peas, Trader Joe’s Cornbread Muffins, and Green Bean Casserole. A colorful and delicious meal with a little bit of Southern flair. Oh, and all of the wine was purchased from the Williamsburg Winery – local fare ftw. Dinner was followed by a game of Diplomacy for the guys and conversation and a movie for the girls…and some “Midnight Madness” at the Williamsburg Outlets.



My little bit of decorating – a fireplace banner that read “Give Thanks”. Which my sister turned into this:


All in all, a ton of fun, worth the sniffles that everybody left with and a good time together being thankful.

lions & rainbows & babies & arks

This weekend it was my joy and great pleasure to co-host a shower for a dear friend who is having her first child in June. The party theme we chose was Noah’s Ark because she and her husband have decided not to find out the gender of their baby in advance.  I found the super-cute plates below at Party City and took my color inspiration from them. The stripes on the table are pieces of scrapbook paper.


Our menu was also bright colors and included fruit skewers, this awesome mango quinoa, funfetti cake, quiche, meatballs, tea sandwiches, and monkey and banana bread to go with the theme.

As for decorations, my co-host made this super-cool rainbow and found these cute rainbow lanterns. And we had Baby Noah on the TV to top it off.

 The shower was a lot a fun and I believe that this friend got items she needed and after spending so much of her energy reaching out to and creating friendships with so many of the women of our church was able to see how much she means to our community.

One last picture from the day. The ladies below are the dear women of the married small group Alex and I joined six months after moving to D.C. It’s been 2.5 years since we first met and it’s amazing to see the ways that we’ve grown individually, the ways that our families have changed and the things that we’ve faced as families. Through all – God is faithful and I think that this picture is wonderful testimony to that fact.

Merry Christmas from 307 Duke!

This Christmas I’ve been struck by the reason we celebrate this season and why decorating and singing carols and getting together with family is so important. We do this to mark in our lives the birth of Christ, when God literally set his salvation plan into motion.

Hark! The herald angels sing…God and sinners reconciled! Joyful, all ye nations rise Join the triumph of the skies; Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!…Light and life to all He brings…Born that man no more may die! Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. 

So it was in that spirit that we finally bought ourselves a Christmas tree – yes we’ve been married for two years and this is our first tree. Momentous. We spent a fun afternoon decorating, punctuated by stories of the various ornaments that we placed on it. And although Alex is in the midst of wrapping up his semester and writing final papers, we’ve still found time to watch all of the Christmas movies we own, make some cookies and prepare for a trip to Chicago in a few weeks.

Love this season. Love these traditions. Praise the Lord for Christ’s birth and my second birth!

mantle credits: stocking holders – Hobby Lobby, stockings – Pottery Barn, signs – homemade, wood and paint from Home Depot, stickers from Michael’s.

Following me on pintrest? you might recognize these cookies! They’re fantastic!

We’re Trying to Become A Little Southern

Even though we moved to the “South” we’re Northern’s – born North of the Mason-Dixon line. We say “you guys” instead of “y’all”, we prefer IHOP to Waffle House, and Southern food is a little bit of an enigma to us, even though I do have a some Southern heritage on my mom’s side.

So, we decided to give one more chance (see our recent post about our last experience) and try making their Popeye’s Fried Chicken Recipe It turned out well and we give this one a good rating.

Up next, okra and cornbread!