Wedding Wednesdays | 7 Best Wedding Blogs

violet iris studios

violet iris studios

Planning your dream wedding can be so much fun — you’re able to pick out every tiny detail that will make your special day “yours.” But, it can also be extremely overwhelming. There are a lot of decisions to make, and it seems like there is endless “inspiration” coming at you from all angles– family, friends, wedding magazines, TV shows, Pinterest… you name it. Everyone seems to have an opinion. [Read more…]


Book Club | Our First Read Is….



Today, I’m introducing a new series: Sweet Caroline Book Club. I’m always searching for recommendations for my next great read, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the books I’m reading and enjoying right here on Sweet Caroline.

Some book club suggestions will follow along with my real-life Book Club, like this month, while sometimes I’ll offer suggestions for other books I’ve loved (like Make it Happen by Lara Casey). Whatever the book may be, I hope this will become a place for suggestion swapping and book sharing!

Ready to hear what book we’re reading? Find out after the jump….

[Read more…]

Sweet Caroline Book Club | Make it Happen by Lara Casey


I just started reading Lara Casey’s Make it Happen after seeing many, many glowing recommendations for this book on friends’ blogs and Instagram accounts. The book’s cover reads: “Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose.” I love those words and was inspired before I even turned the first page!

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Wedding Wednesdays | 10 Sweet Bridesmaid Gifts

photo credit: violet iris studios

photo credit: violet iris studios

Happy Wednesday, brides-to-be and wedding lovers!

About this time last year, I was in full-fledged wedding planning mode with five months to go until our May nuptials. If you’re reading this post, chances are you have already asked your bridesmaids to be part of your big day, and you’re looking for some inspiration on ways to thank them for helping you get down the aisle.

Here are ten of my favorite bridesmaid gifts! A bonus at the end: the real gifts I chose for my bridesmaids!

1. Matching Kimono Robes

Mint Bridesmaids Robes, Kimono Crossover Robes, Spa Wraps, Bridesmaids gift, getting ready robes, Bridal shower party favors, Floral

Mint Bridesmaids Robes // Etsy

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Sunday Supper | Beef & Veal Osso Buco Soup with Barley


Happy Happy New Year!!!

It’s hard to believe we are already almost a week into 2015. Time is flying, isn’t it??

On Friday night, my husband and I had a wonderful — as always– dinner with our  good friends the Andersons at one of our favorite Richmond staples: Mamma’Zu. Yes, the wait was predictably long (1h45, translating to roughly 3 bottles of Sangiovese), the service was predictably gruff, and the food was predictably out-of-this-world amazing. I ordered the Osso Buco, which is large enough to serve a table of four. It was amazing.

I decided to make a CrockPot Osso Buco soup with the leftovers today, and it turned out really well! I had a little help from the leftover Osso Buco – so you can start from scratch with this great recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.

Here’s what made the rest of the soup so delicious. Make your Osso Buco ahead, toss it in the CrockPot with the other ingredients for about 6 hours, and enjoy for dinner!


-Leftover Osso Buco (or half of this recipe)

-3 cups of low-sodium beef broth

-1 packet Knorr homestyle beef stock packet

-1 onion, diced

-4 heads of garlic, diced

-1 bay leaf

-1 lb. beef brisket

-2 cups dried barley


Put first 5 ingredients in CrockPot on high for six hours. One hour before serving, add barley.



Sunday Supper | Paul’s Thai Peanut Chicken with Udon Noodles

photo credit: everyday food storage


Greetings, friends!

I’m so excited to share today’s Sunday Supper recipe with you! I’ve been dying to share it since my hubby, Paul, made it last weekend. This Thai Peanut Chicken with Udon Noodles is super easy, oh-so-tasty, and economical, too!

Paul is more of an “eye-baller” when it comes to measuring out ingredients. So, if you’re a stickler for exact measurements, you may want to check out this recipe from Taste of Home instead.


  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • Soy sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Sesame Oil
  • 2 bunches of green onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Ginger, diced
  • Cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Garlic Chili Paste
  • Szechuan Peppers
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Udon Noodles


  • Dice 2 pounds of chicken breast
  • Marinate chicken in bowl with soy sauce, garlic powder, garlic salt, and sesame oil for 30 minutes.
  • Dice and set aside:
    • 2 bunches of green onions
    • 6 cloves of garlic
    • ginger, cilantro
  • In bowl, mix 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter, scoop of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, garlic chili paste, ground Szechuan peppers, and rice vinegar.
  • Boil 2 bunches of Udon noodles, drain
  • Fully cook chicken with peanut oil, add green onions and garlic
  • Combine chicken, noodles, and sauce.
  • “Eat”

(That last instruction is my favorite).

Let us know how your Thai Peanut Chicken turns out!


Wedding Wednesdays | 6 Dreamy Virginia Vineyard Weddings

photo credit: patricia lyons photography

Happy Wedding Wednesday, lovelies!

kewsick vineyards wedding | photo credit: cat thrasher

I’m finally bringing back the Wedding Wednesdays series to the blog — the timing could not be more perfect! I’ve always loved looking at real weddings– especially ones that  take place in my home state of Virginia. Over the past few months, however, Virginia weddings have become a big part of my job at Virginia Tourism Corporation as we try to market Virginia as the *perfect* wedding destination for brides-to-be. Talk about making my dream job even more dreamy!

A wedding in Virginia is pure magic — plain and simple. I may be a little biased, but there is no denying that Virginia’s lush countrysides, gorgeous vineyards, historic hotels, miles of sunny beaches and cozy mountain resorts can be pretty enchanting to even the most discerning bride. Virginia has it all, and I’d be willing to bet that whatever type of wedding you seek– you’ll find it here in Virginia.

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our wedding day! photo credit: violet iris studios

We chose a traditional church ceremony followed by a reception in a historic Victorian mansion in downtown Richmond, VA. If we hadn’t stayed in Richmond for hometown nuptials, our wedding would have taken place at one of Virginia’s 250+ wineries. From Charlottesville to the Eastern Shore, Northern Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia’s wineries offer a picturesque rustic-chic experience. Whether you’re looking for an indoor/outdoor option, completely al fresco, or indoors with a view of the majestic mountains, here are six dreamy Virginia Vineyards to inspire your wedding planning.

So enjoy some of my favorite vineyard settings in Virginia, captured by some of the most talented Virginia wedding photographers! Click the title link for each wedding to see more gorgeous photos.

1. marty + jane (pippin hill vineyard) | by candi coffman


 2. laura + tim (castle hill cider) | jodi miller photography

3. laura + josh (trump winery) | once like a spark photography 


4. leah + will (king family vineyards) | by john schaaf


5. melissa + phi (early mountain vineyards) | nat wongsaraj photography

Melissa + Phi | Early Mountain Vineyards Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photography

6. katherine + nate (tarara winery) | katelyn james photography

Did we miss one of your favorite vineyards? Leave your beloved wineries in the comments below!

Tuesday Ten | Sweet Stocking Stuffers Under $40

photo credit: pinterest


Did you hear? There are only 23 days left until Christmas! Cue the panic!!!


If you’ve been busy making your list and checking it twice for all the important people in your life, you may be tearing your hair out to find the perfect gift. While you’re worrying about the biggies – don’t forget about the small, special, thoughtful gifts that can mean just as much (if not more) as the big, expensive ones.

Here are ten sweet stocking stuffers to help you keep your sanity (and your budget) in check this holiday season:

1. giant gem speaker | $40 | shop Giant Gem Speaker - Front

2. ‘party on’ bottle opener | $25 | kate spade saturday

3. ‘good dog’ assorted colors play ball bucket | $29.99 | harry barker

4. starry sky cookie cutters | $14 | anthropologie

5. knit boot cuff socks | $22 | etsy

Knit Boot Cuffs Leg Warmers Boot Warmers | The Redlands | Grey Marble

6. the andy cohen diaries: a deep look at a shallow year | $16 |

7. ‘japanese quince’ pagoda candle | $28 | seda france

8. set of 4 ‘frozen’ quotes pencils | $7 | etsy

Stocking Stuffer - Quotes from Frozen, Set of 4 Pencils, Gold Foil Pencils, Pencils, Engraved Pencils, Quote Pencils, Disney's Frozen

9. ‘i’m so fancy’ coffee mug | $15 | etsy

I'm So Fancy Coffee Mug - Petite Party Studio

10. bite mix n’ mingle lip minis | $12 | sephora

Bite Beauty - Mix N

what’s on your stocking stuffer list this year??? share in the comments below!


Meal Planning Mondays // Week 3

Happy Monday, everyone!

It is gloomy with a capital G here in Richmond today —  just cruel for a Monday, right?

To combat the Monday Blues (and the lack of color and cheer on this grey day), the meals this week are all about color, healthfulness, and nourishment! 


Dinner Menu for Week 3


Monday Night: Naked Salmon Burgers with Sriracha Mayo (via SkinnyTaste)

Packed with omegas and delicious!

Tuesday Night: Coconut Shrimp Soup (via Martha Stewart)

Coconut Shrimp Soup

Wednesday Night: Steakhouse Salad with Grilled Rib Eye and Balsamic Vinaigrette (via Food for my Family)

Steakhouse Rib Eye Salad with Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette

Thursday Night: One-Pot Pesto Asparagus Pasta (via The Glowing Fridge)

Friday Night: “Engagement” Chicken (via Martha Stewart)


Meal-Planning Mondays // Week 1

How to Meal Plan: A Clean Eating Primer from Real Food Real Deals #healthy #recipes #mealplanningHappy Monday, friends!

This week, I’m kicking off a new series on Mondays, called “Meal-Planning Mondays.” I was inspired to do this after actually taking the time this week to plan out our lunches & dinners for this week.

Each Monday, I’ll post the five meals I’m planning to make for dinner that week. The leftovers can be packed for lunch the next day! Since some people aren’t “breakfast people,” I’ll leave your AM meals up to you. I’ll post a link to the recipe, a grocery shopping list, and a downloadable meal planning template for you to enjoy!

[Read more…]

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