Summer Bucket List: Greenbrier Vacation

On my Summer Bucket List, I mentioned that we were taking a family trip in the middle of July to The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. The Greenbrier Resort is also known as America's Resort because it was the gathering place for the nation's most influential and powerful families in the early 1800s. During the Civil War and World War II, the hotel was used as a hospital and military headquarters but what's even cooler than that is underneath the hotel is a bunker that was built for the U.S. government in case of a war. When you visit, you will have to take a tour of the bunker. 
The resort is famous for the lavish and bold decor by Dorothy Draper. She used a lot of vibrant colors and oversized patterns to make a {signature} statement. We spent hours walking around taking pictures of all the rooms that were decorated in style along with the gorgeous flowers that lined each and every walkway which made the outside of the resort just as picturesque as the inside.  
The weekend was filled with exceptional food, afternoons by the pool overlooking the beautiful golf course, rounds of golf on The Old White TPC which is home to hosting the Greenbrier Classic and {of course} a little pampering at the spa. After a weekend like this one, returning to reality was rough.
If you follow me on Instagram {stephaniechalk08} than you've seen these additional snaps taken from my phone. I have to admit that I wish we were getting ready to pack our bags to head north for another weekend in White Sulphur Springs! :)

Our Honeymoon in Grenada + 1st Anniversary Trip

As I sit here trying to narrow down the destinations for our 1st Anniversary trip, my mind instantly goes back to our tropical paradise where we spent 7 days of pure relaxation. Grenada is located off the Venezuela coast and is widely known as the Spice of the Caribbean. The white sand beaches, crystal clear water, unspoilt landscapes, and the mountainous rainforest are just a few reasons why we loved our time there. Not to mention, the hospitality that we received from some of the friendliest natives has us wanting to return as soon as possible.   
We stayed at Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa which has been newly renovated and was a truly extraordinary resort. On the property, there are 10 restaurants and bars that had delicious food and lots of entertainment throughout the day and evening. We enjoyed a lot of the activities that were on-site as well - beach volleyball, bocci ball, paddle boarding, kayaking and of course an afternoon was spent at the spa.  

Our humble abode for the week was the bottom right suite where we had the most breathtaking ocean views every morning and gorgeous sunsets at night. I was one happy wife! :)
This view from our balcony never got old. I spent many mornings here with a cup of coffee and a good book in my hand. Now, if only I could convince TC that we should book our Anniversary trip back to this beautiful, little island.  
It's going to be difficult to beat that trip but I have my eye on a few places for our Anniversary and would love your help! What other destinations should I consider?
This adorable VRBO property at Rosemary Beach, Florida

Ground Chicken & Basil Pasta with Plum Tomatoes

If I could have it my way, I would eat pasta for every meal and not think twice about it. When I saw this recipe, I knew that it would become one of my favorite pasta dishes. You can't go wrong with a hearty {homemade} sauce and ground chicken which always seems to be light yet filling. Let me tell ya, it was amazing!
8 ounces of Ground Chicken
8 ounces of Basil Fettuccine
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Red Onion
2 Plum Tomatoes
1 Bunch of Basil
2 tablespoons of Mascarpone Cheese
2 tablespoons of Tomato Paste
4 teaspoons of Olive Oil
1/3 cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese 

ONE. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel and dice the onion. Dice the tomatoes. Pick the basil leaves off the steams and discard the stems.
TWO. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the ground chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and cooked thoroughly. Make sure to break the meat apart as it begins to cook. Once it is cooked, transfer to a bowl but leave any browned bits and the left over oil in the pan.

THREE. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the same pan and heat on medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until dark red.

FOUR. Add the tomatoes, cooked chicken and 1 cup of water to the pan of garlic and onion. Increase the heat to high. Simmer and stir occasionally for 12 to 14 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened. 

FIVE. Heat a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Once the tomatoes and chicken have simmered for about 10 minutes, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and gently stir to separate the noodles. Cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are almost al dente. While draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

SIX. In the pan of tomatoes and chicken, add the cooked pasta, Mascarpone cheese, Parmesan cheese and half of the reserved pasta cooking water. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until everything is thoroughly combined. {If the sauce seems dry, you can gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.} Tear the basil leaves in half and stir in all but a few pieces of the basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 to 3 minutes. Divide the finished pasta into 2 dishes. Garnish with the remaining basil and Parmesan cheese.
I can't wait to upload and share all the beautiful pictures from our long weekend at The Greenbrier. The weekend was incredible - the picturesque views that surrounded us, the exceptional service that we received all weekend, and the quality family time that we had with TC's family made for a perfect long weekend. A little sneak peak of a few photos that I snapped with my phone.

Thoughts for Thursday

After having last week off {our company closes all of our offices in the US for a week twice a year}, I thought this week was going to creep by very slowly. To my surprise, it has actually been the complete opposite and I am not complaining one bit because we are off to The Greenbrier Resort with TC's family this weekend!

I am still not ready to admit that 4th of July has already passed and we are half way through the summer. Is anyone else struggling to admit this too? We have hosted a 4th of July party for the past 3 years at our home and it has quickly become an event that TC and I look forward to each summer. This year we had a packed house of friends and 2 new additions - my adorable Goddaughter and another friend of ours also has a 2 month old, little girl. They are precious!
You know that adorable Goddaughter that I just mentioned? I seriously can't handle how cute she is in her red, white and blue to match her sweet mom. I feel like I am the luckiest lady to be able to be such a special part of E's life.  
Even though it poured in the afternoon, the skies cleared as everyone started to arrive {thank goodness} so we could enjoy being outside. The guys spent a lot of time seeing what they could find in the pond - some actually caught a few fish but others only caught sticks and weeds. :)
What's a 4th of July celebration without red, white, and blue, a few festive cocktails and a lot of traditional American food?! I made the Sangria that I mentioned in this post and it was delicious! I had never made Sangria before so I was worried that it wouldn't turn out well but it did and was the perfect cocktail for the afternoon - light and refreshing. 
A few weekends ago, we traveled to DC to meet my sister and her husband. We had such a great time catching up and enjoying all the sites of the city together. A few of my favorite stops during the trip...

The Observatory is a rooftop bar located on top of the Graham hotel in Georgetown, it has the most spectacular panoramic views of DC and Virginia. Their hand-crafted cocktails and wine selection were amazing!

We ate dinner at Restaurant Nora which was by far one of the greatest meals that I've had recently. Nora is focused on providing organic, seasonal, local food that is full of flavor so the menu changes daily. I thought it was neat to hear that Restaurant Nora became the nation's first certified organic restaurant, which means that at least 95% of all ingredients must be produced by certified organic farmers, growers and suppliers.  

After we walked up and down the cobble streets in Georgetown, we stopped for a cocktail and a cheese & charcuterie plate at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown. Martin's Tavern is one of the few restaurants that has been around since the Great Depression and the tradition of hospitality has brought every President from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush to their tavern. By the way, I hope you are enjoying all the fun {and random} facts that I'm sharing from our travels.
I hope everyone is having an awesome week! I'm linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts on Thursday and I hope you join us.

Current Obsessions + Links

Does anyone else have a case of the Mondays?! I certainly do. I have been dreaming of this past weekend and wishing that we could relive it all over again. After such a fun three days, I made sure to keep my coffee cup full because I needed every bit of that caffeine to get me through the workday.
TC and I made these delicious Three Cheese Calzones a few weeks ago and I'm already craving them again. They were packed with flavor and easy to make, it was perfect for a quick week night meal when I didn't want to spend hours in the kitchen or have a huge pile of dishes staring me in the face after we were finished. 
1 Pound of Pizza Dough
1 15 Ounce Can of Diced Tomatoes
8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
4 cloves of Garlic 
1/2 bunch of Green Kale
1/2 bunch of Lacinato Kale
2 tablespoons of Golden Raisins
1/2 cup of Skim Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup of Semolina Flour
2 teaspoons of Spice Blend {Italian Seasons and Pepper}
4 teaspoons of Olive Oil 
2 tablespoons of water

ONE. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Tear the mozzarella cheese into small pieces. Remove and discard the green kale stems and roughly chop the leaves. Remove and discard the lacinato kale stems and roughly chop the leaves.

TWO. In a medium pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium to high until hot. Add half the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 to 45 seconds. Add the spice blend and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 to 45 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until warm. Remove from the heat.

THREE. In a medium, non-stick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium to high heat until hot. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until fragrant. Add the green kale, lacinato kale, raisins and 2 tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the kale has wilted and the water has evaporated. Transfer the kale to a strainer and hold the strainer over a bowl, press down on the kale with a spoon to release as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid.

FOUR. In a large bowl, combine the drained kale, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Stir until it is thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper.

FIVE. Sprinkle half the flour onto a sheet pan. Place the dough on the sheet pan and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll or stretch out each portion into a 1/4 inch think, round, approximately 8 inches in diameter. Divide the filling between the centers of the rounds and fold each round in half over the filling. Using your fingers, press down on the edges of each round to seal. Using a fork, firmly press down on the edges to crimp and completely seal.
SIX. Sprinkle the remaining flour onto a dry sheet pan. Transfer the assembled calzones to the sheet pan and lightly drizzle the tops with olive oil. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Cut the baked calzones in half and serve with the remaining tomato sauce on the side.
I am sure that you have figured it by now...I love a cold, crisp glass of bubbly. I stopped into the new Southern Season store in Cameron Village and was immediately impressed with everything they had to offer. From the wine selection to fresh cheeses that you could try while shopping to the southern sauces and marinades that lined the walls, it was my kind of place. I picked up this bottle of champagne after I overheard a mother and daughter that were raving about it. It is delicious and a great price that I couldn't pass up!
I am obsessed with this Lilly Pulitzer strapless dress for the hot {humid}, summer days that we have been experiencing in NC recently. I have worn this to a variety of occasions from a dear friend's graduation party, date night with TC and even to work with a cardigan. Versatility is key for me.    

A few more links that I am loving - 
+I have to admit that I am dreaming of Fall right now and this amazing list of knitwear from Angela at The Sunday Chapter has me even more excited about those cool October nights.

+Ashley from Turquoise & Teal shared a list of the 10 Best Rose Wines for the summer. I can't wait to try a few of these soon. If you have a favorite Rose, I would love to hear any of your recommendations!

+Does anyone else enjoy finding handwritten script fonts for your blog? If so, Sarah from Venus Trapped In Mars shared a great list of fonts here.