Friday, January 25, 2013

The Black Bean Diaries - Souper Soup

Both M & H are always looking for quick & easy meals that pack a nutritional punch. We've posted a couple of bean-centric dishes before here and here, but it's cold and rainy this week, so we figured a soup would be the perfect comfort food for a rainy night.  Ohh, and this is probably one of the healthiest  recipes you'll ever make -- you remember that childhood rhyme, beans beans, they're good for your heart.....we'll stop there....moving on...

M assembled this recipe after searching high and low for a black bean soup that had the different flavor layers she was looking for.  The difference in this one over those she'd previously made, is adding tomatoes, avocado & a pinch of nutmeg.  She has to give credit to
Shape Magazine, Runners World, Ina Garten, and many, many others (ahem, Pinterest).  Here's what you do...


2 cans of black beans, drained
1 yellow onion, peeled & diced into small pieces
5 garlic cloves, crushed, then minced
4 carrots, peeled & chopped into small pieces
1 cup tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil

Optional Toppings

avocado, (make sure it's ripe, there's nothing worse than an un-ripe avocado)
red onion
corn bread/any bread really
tortilla chips


Paprika - 1 tablespoon
Cumin - 3 tablespoons
Cayanne Pepper - 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon (some like it hot, some don't)
Cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
Nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt & Pepper - to taste

What you'll need:

Dutch oven or large-ish pot
Cutting board & knives
Food processor or blender


To cut down on instructions, I listed what you need to do to the fresh ingredients above so that I don't have to list them here.
1. Once you've finished slicing and dicing above, slowly heat the olive oil in your dutch oven/large-ish pot until it's hot, add the onions, cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add carrots & garlic to the mixture, cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Add your spices & tomatoes, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the veggies are soft.

4. Add the black beans to the mixture, then add water to the pot until it reaches about a 1/2 inch above the vegetables.

5. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered.  Make sure to check the pot every once in awhile to stir or add more water if necessary.

6. Remove the cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

7. Pour your soup into a blender and pulse until you get a consistency to your liking.

8. Serve in bowls with whatever topping you like, my favorite is with a few slices of avocado and corn bread on the side.  Enjoy!

*Sidenote - I took pictures with my iPhone and unfortunately NONE of the finished product pictures came out good enough to post (lame) so I'll make it again next week and take better pictures, I promise!

Do you have any go-to black bean recipes?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green Monstah Juice - Easy & Refreshing

Both H & M like to cook savory, nutritious meals but sometimes we crave something simple and refreshing.  M has been experimenting with green smoothies lately because they're easy to make and loaded with nutrients.  Plus, green smoothies, depending on what you add, can taste *almost* like dessert!

The below recipe is M's favorite combination of fruits and veggies.  After working late, or going to the gym, this juice is the perfect light meal to have when you get home at 8 or 9pm and don't want to eat a huge dinner before going to bed.  Don't let adding veggies scare you, we promise you'll dig this green monster!

-Cucumber (about 1/2 an english cucumber)
-Spinach (2 cups)
-Celery (2 stalks)
-1 Grapefruit (peeled)
-Frozen Blueberries (1 cup)
-2 Apples (peeled & cored)
-Ice (about 2 cups)
-Water (about 12oz)

1. Drop ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. 
2. Pour juice into glasses and serve immediately.  This recipe makes about 4-6 servings, so feel free to refrigerate leftover juice if you aren't going to drink it all.  Just make sure to pulse the juice in the blender for a few seconds before serving after refrigeration. 

This is also a great juice to have in the morning before heading to work, or as a pre-run juice too.  You can substitute kale for spinach or strawberries for blueberries if you want.  Bananas can also be added to thicken the juice so it's more filling.  

Do you have any good smoothie or green juice recipes?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Perk - It's a Hoot!

If you've been following this blog for a couple of months you may have noticed from the posts here and here that I (H) have a little bit of an obsession with owls.  I don't even know where this came from, but as I look around for design inspiration I find myself drawn to items featuring these cute little birds.  So I figure I might as well embrace the trend, so here are some fun owl motif items that I am currently loving and trying to resist buying.

Ruche Twisted Owl Ring
My love of owls is not limited just to home decor items.  This sweet little ring is a cute way to add a bit of whimsy to perhaps a casual Friday look or for the weekend.

Quiet Owl Indie Print
 I love how this print combines the owl with a geometric print.  After finally outfitting my home office with artwork I'm ready to start looking for some pieces to take into my office for my full time job.  I know having this guy to turn and look at during stressful moments would surely brighten my day.

Calico Owl Knob
Speaking of offices, how about this little drawer knob.  Switching out a plain, boring knob with this guy would add a fun bit of character without being over the top. 

A Real Hoot Canister
Oh my!  That was my initial reaction when I saw this little canister.  It's just so adorable with the bright colors and the cute wink!  Anthropologie appears to have entire series of owl canisters and jars, unfortunately my kitchen is currently at capacity leaving no room for me to add any for myself.

Mod Cloth Owl Say Necklace

This necklace is so lovely with the enameled look and beautiful colors, it would be a great way to add some interest to a basic outfit.

The owl theme has been trendy for a while now, and if you follow animal motif trends like I do it looks like foxes will be the next big one so don't be surprised if you start seeing some on the blog down the road.  What's your favorite woodland animal trend?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Down for the Count

So M and I usually use the weekend to write up several posts, and the hope was that a 3 day weekend would give us tons of time to works on lots of fun posts.  Unfortunately M has been busy with work and inauguration events, and I (H) am finally having to admit that I am just plain sick.  I've been trying to fight this off for days, but the fact is I am down for the count and the only thing that will make me better is rest.  So, there are some posts for this week, but not as many as we would have liked.  Hopefully laying on the couch with medicine, gatorade, Vogue, and the Hunger Games movie will be just what I need and M and I will be back to regular blogging next week.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Moodlifter - First Lady Inaugural Gowns

So today is a big day if you live in the DC area, it's inauguration day!  While it also happens to be a national holiday today, even if it weren't, on inauguration day the city of DC basically shuts down to enjoy the festivities and celebrate.  Any business that won't be making money from all of the tourists and viewers typically closes giving employees an extra day off, mostly because commuting is virtually impossible with road closures and massive crowds on the metro.  While the event is to celebrate the swearing in of our President and the spotlight is technically his, the fashion world is really more focused on the First Lady and her fashion choices.  Michelle Obama has become somewhat of a fashion icon herself over the past four years, so everyone is excited to see what she will be wearing tomorrow, and of course the highlight of the day will be her inauguration gown.  So in honor of the excitement here are our five favorite First Lady inaugural gowns in order from most to least recent.  The choices are purely based on the dress, not political party, personality, or overall fashion sense, as a result there might be some surprises, Laura and Nancy you saucy ladies!

Image via
Ok, remember the order is simply most recent to least recent, so please do not read anything extra into the fact that Michelle happens to be first other than that this dress is fantastic.  Michelle floored the fashion world in 2009 by choosing a young, new, lesser known designer for her first inaugural gown.  Her choice was impeccable though.  After seeing her most of the time is tailored, structured pieces, this more flowing design was a breath of fresh air.  It made her look young and carefree.  She set the bar really high with this one, so we can't wait to see if she manages to top it tonight!

Image via
We'll be honest, when we started looking through pictures of First Ladies' gowns we didn't really expect that Laura would make the list.  We just don't remember her fashion typically being that memorable, and definitely not this sexy!  Our eyes lit up when we came across this picture of her from the 2005 inauguration.  It's so flattering and sexy, but it's still age appropriate with the sleeves, neckline, and height of the slit.  Laura looks so young and fresh in this dress, such a perfect choice and quite a contrast from her first inaugural gown.  Way to go Laura!

Image via
At first Nancy was also a surprise to us, but when we thought about it she actually makes a lot of sense.  Mr. Reagan was a movie star prior to winning the presidency so it's only natural that Nancy brought the Hollywood glamour with her.  Unfortunately we couldn't find a good color image of this lovely gown from 1985.  We love the fairly modern one shoulder style combined with the opera length gloves.  And while it's hard to tell from this image, we're fairly certain the swirl design is beaded, providing some lovely shine and sparkle.  Nancy wisely kept her jewelry and hair simple, allowing the dress to be the star.

Image via
No list of fashionable First Ladies, no matter what your criteria, would be complete without the lovely Jackie.  Her overall style was always classy and elegant, so it's only natural that her inauguration taste was just as impeccable.  The straight, close fitting skirt, balanced by the bloused overlay up top is just lovely.  The opera length gloves keep the look demure and formal.  A lovely gown for a lovely lady.

Image via
Lastly we go all the way back to the 50's to Mamie Eisenhower.  The color of this dress, as well as the gloves was a lovely blush pink, apparently sparking a major trend for the era.  The choker style necklace help balance the love V of the neckline, and we have to add that we LOVE that beaded clutch she is holding.

Do you have a favorite inaugural gown?  How about First Lady style in general?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ramona Lucille Worley - My Grandmother

Five years ago today I got a phone call that I was wholly unprepared for, the details of it are forever etched in my memory.  It was a Friday morning, I had gone to the grocery store already and was busy alternating between cleaning and studying.  My phone rang showing my sister-in-law's name, I answered to the voice of my actual sister.  She asked me if I was sitting down.  Not sure what in the heck she was getting at I kind of rolled my eyes and said "Sure."  Then she said these words "Grandma Worley died today".  Suddenly all of the air rushed out of my lungs and I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach.  I didn't know what to think or feel, all I knew was that I hadn't said a last good-bye or "I love you".

Her passing was a complete shock, she was not sick and was not experiencing any significant uncontrolled health problems that anyone knew of, it truly came out of the blue.  I still miss her every single day.

I think she was about 16 in this photo
My grandmother was a sweet woman.  She was born in 1926 in Northern Arkansas and her family eventually moved to Southern Missouri.  Her father owned and worked a cotton farm, as a result her family actually weathered the Great Depression better than most.  She often told stories of her father taking in other families for short times during this period of history.  She clearly was not completely unaffected by the Depression, though, I remember a rather interesting furniture shopping trip where she had to excuse herself to the restroom prior to paying for the couch she had picked out.  She only ever shopped with cash, and my mother later told me with an amount that large she very likely had to go to the restroom to retrieve it from her bra.

Yes, this is a picture of her I found from the 1930's
The story of her name is one of my favorites.  Her father had apparently met a Native American woman at some point in his life named Ramona.  He was quite taken with her and thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, that is until his daughter was born.  The first time he saw this baby girl he felt she deserved the name of the most beautiful woman in the world and so Ramona was passed on to her.

My grandmother on the left in the white dress, and her family

Playing a guitar
To my knowledge she only ever completed the sixth grade, but that would not be abnormal for a farm girl in that part of the country at that time.  She may not have been educated, but she most certainly was not stupid.  She definitely knew math, probably even better than I currently do because of her sewing.  Growing up she made me, my cousin, and sister numerous dresses.  She also was a superb quilter, and all of her quilts were 100% hand done.  Piecing, quilting, binding, every stitch was from her hand.  When my family sorted through her belongings they were kind enough to save the quilt she was in the process of making for me, along with all of the uncut fabric she had collected for it.  I am slowly working on completing it, however it will take quite awhile because I am determined to complete it the way she would have, by hand.

At some point in her young life she got a job at a jewelry store in the local town.  It was here that she eventually met my grandfather.  The story is quite sweet, I only hope I can tell it remotely accurately.  My grandfather had a pocket watch and he would frequently bring it into the store for repairs and strike up conversations with my grandmother.  Finally the owner of the jewelry store pulled my grandmother aside and informed her that the watch never really needed repairs, the gentleman was just bringing it in constantly to be looked at so he could have an excuse to talk to her.

In the jewelry store where she met my grandfather
Eventually they began seeing each other, however because my grandmother was actually older than my grandfather his family did not approve of the relationship.  Rather than break things off though, they decided to elope and thus their life together began.

My grandparents together
They started a family with my aunt coming along first.  My grandfather then did a deployment for the Korean war, and shortly after his return they added my mother to the family.

My grandmother with my aunt sitting next to my grandfather's military portrait, their wedding portrait also sitting in the back
This is how you dress for making dinner
My grandmother was a perfect homemaker.  She could cook, bake, clean, sew, and care for a baby with class.  June Cleaver had nothing on this woman.  I am so lucky that she was able to teach me so many things in my life, like how to make an apple pie with fresh picked apples.  I don't know how many times in the fall I would go visit her and end up leaving with a whole grocery bag full of apples from the tree in her front yard.
One of my favorite pictures of her

A lot of my favorite childhood memories involve my grandmother.  I remember one house she and grandfather lived in that had some acreage which my aunt kept horses on.  I loved going to that house because I always got to go out the barn to visit the horses.  The day I discovered an almost complete collection of the original Nancy Drew series was one of the best in my life.  I was so into the Babysitters Club at the time, and of course Claudia was my favorite character and she loved Nancy Drew books so naturally I wanted to read them.  Each visit my cousin and I were allowed to pick one book to take with us after returning the previous ones we had borrowed, it was always a treat to browse through and pick the next one I wanted to read.  

She was also the typical grandmother, always telling me I was too skinny and needed to eat more, always sending me home with one more slice of pie, or at times a whole pie.  She may have been somewhat traditional and "old-fashioned", she never would have been one of those grandmother's retiring to Florida playing Bingo every Thursday.  She never drank alcohol and never swore (at least not in front of me).  She had a big heart though, she always looked for the best in those she loved never willing to believe the worst.

Cradling me as a baby

One of the best times of my life came while I was in college.  One year my schedule worked perfectly so that every Tuesday I had a large chunk of time with no class and no work.  I used this time to go visit her every week.  Sometimes we just had lunch and hung out at her home, other times I would drive her into town to let her run errands.  Never having learned to drive herself, she had to rely on others to take her out.  I also loved being able to treat her out to lunch on these outings, she had always given so much to me it felt nice to be able to give something back for her.

Celebrating my college graduation
She never really understood why I wanted to go so far from home for grad school, but I know she was so proud of me.  She would tell all of her friends and relatives what school I had gotten into and what I would be doing with my life, clearly showing off in her own way.  

While I eventually recognized that she might not be around for any children I might have, there were events in my life that I had never actually contemplated having to experience without her there.  My mother and I were already trying to figure out the best way to get her to DC for my grad school graduation, she didn't like planes so a long road trip was looking like the only option.  I also just always assumed she would be there with me on my wedding day.  Sadly, she missed both.  

Ultimately I found little subtle ways to have her there at my wedding.  I had been given a locket of hers with her first initial engraved in it, which also happened to be the same initial for my new last name, so I wrapped the locket around the stem of my bouquet.  A few weeks before my mother came out for the big day my aunt found an almost finished heart shaped pillow she had been working on, my mother took it and finished it and it became our ring pillow.  Despite not having her with me for these moments, it does help me to know that she did get the chance to meet more than one of her great-grand children, and she even got to know that one more was on the way.
With her first two great-grand children

The hardest part of her passing for me was the fact that I never got to say good-bye or one last "I love you".  You see, after moving to DC I got very bad at staying in touch with people.  I was so busy with school that I felt like I didn't have time to make phone calls.  I always told myself I would call the next weekend thinking I had plenty of time.  Even harder was that the same morning she passed away was also the first morning in weeks that I had actually picked up the phone and dialed her number, and she never answered.  A few hours later the call from my sister came instead.

Knowing that I could have had one last opportunity to talk with her closer to the loss if only I had made her more of a priority leaves me with a deep sense of guilt and regret.  I'm still working on letting go of these feelings.  It helps to continue putting many of the skills she taught me to use, it almost feels like she's sitting with me while I crochet or quilt or bake an apple pie.  I frequently joke that these hobbies make me a secret 70 year old, but really I can only hope that I am half as talented as she was.

My grandmother was a truly amazing and surprising woman.  I am so lucky to have had her as a part of my life.  I only wish that I had made her the priority she deserved to be, but I can't change that, I can only move forward and aim to live my life in a way that would continue to make her proud.

The essence of who she was, a sweet farm girl from rural Missouri
The take away from my story is this, never assume you have more time, never put off calling someone you care about to say "I love you" or even just a simple hi.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Healthy Banana "Ice Cream"

Yes, you read that correctly, you actually can make ice cream "healthy," let us, as you've read over the past couple of weeks, both M & H are on missions to Be Better in 2013.  Like a lot of people do during the New Year, we've re-committed to our healthy routines, and are stepping it up a notch in almost every aspect of our lives.  While M's goal is to lose weight and get back to her normal size, H has had to say goodbye to most dairy and is focusing more and more on vegan recipes.  However, both of us have a soft spot for sweets...

Enter: healthy ice cream!  It's not actually ice cream at all, it's actually more of a frozen banana whip cream, but it sure tastes like ice cream!  M found this recipe on one of her favorite blogs, That's So Michelle.  All you need are bananas, almond milk, a food processor, and whatever other fruit, chocolate, or other flavors you want to add.  Yes, you read that correctly, you can count the ingredients on one hand.  Here's how you make it!  *please excuse the crappy iPhone photos, M is without a camera at the moment...

1.  Cut about 4 bananas into slices, place into big plastic freezer bag. If you're adding other fruit, slice other fruit you'll want to add, and put it in a separate freezer bag.

2.  Place in freezer for 2-3 hours.

3.  Dump bananas and other fruit into food processor, pulse until you get this consistency.

4. Little by little, add almond milk to the mixture, until you start to see this (see below, like banana whipped cream).  Quickly add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cinnamon, vanilla, shaved coconut, berries, or whatever you're adding, pulse a couple more times to completely mix.

5.  Pour entire mixture into tupperware container and put in freezer for an hour or two.

6.  Remove mixture, put in bowls, garnish with berries or a little shaved chocolate or coconut & serve!  I like mine plain or with a couple of chocolate chips.

Do you have any healthy recipes you use to satiate your sweet tooth or cravings to share?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Perk - Inauguration & Inaugural Balls!!!

It's no secret that we both live and work in Washington DC, and every four years, that means the city shuts down on the third Monday in January for the inauguration of our new President!  Both M & H were here for the last inauguration, and we're looking forward to this one as well.  Inauguration day is usually cold, we mean really cold, as in get out your warm sweaters, winter coats, leggings, hats, gloves, and even Hot Hands.  We've watched from the National Mall and at work parties, but the fun part might be the celebrations that go on throughout the weekend.  In anticipation for this year's inauguration, we've got some suggestions for inexpensive dresses to wear to the big events.  Enjoy!

Long & Elegant
Hayden cobalt silk chiffon strapless ruffle gown - $125 - bluefly

This cobalt silk gown is STUNNING and could be worn again to almost any formal wedding.

Sophisticated Long Black Dress
Notte by Marchesa black silk embellished one shoulder gown - $250 - bluefly

Arguably a splurge at $250...but when you consider it's on SUPER sale down from almost $900, it's more justifiable.  Just be sure to pair your shows appropriately so that you do not end up showing your full foot like the model here.

Short & Sparkly
large image view
MICHAEL Michael Kors Short Sleeve Sequin Wrap Dress $90 via Bloomingdales

Probably meant for NYE, this short dress has enough sparkle for the big event., and better yet, it's on sale right now!

Sexy Black Dress
via Rent The Runway

Ok, so its hard not to look at black dresses when you're going for formal wear...but this one is pretty amazing, and it's different from everything else you'll see out there!

And, even if you aren't getting dressed up to dance the night away, you can still celebrate the inauguration by wearing your party panties..... (we're so clever)

Patriotic Hanky Panky's = fun for both parties via

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Beauty Finds - RECOVERY!

There is really no other reason for this fumble recovery .gif than the fact that  it is AWESOME....and the fact that these recent face finds below are a total touchdown in the beauty department!

Ole Henriksen - Truth Crème™ Advanced Hydration
via Sephora
Moisturizer -Ole Henriksen Truth Creme Advanced Hydration
I'd never heard of Ole Hendriksen products, but one of the bloggers I read has raved about their products for awhile, and I needed a heavier moisturizer for my face, so I decided to give Ole Henricksen a go.  Before I bought the full size, I got my little hands on a couple of samples.  The sample I was the most impressed with was the Truth Creme Advanced Hydration.  It goes on smooth, and feels almost souffle-like as it sinks in.  I love that it doesn't make my face feel greasy, I can apply it before bed or in the morning under makeup, either way it feels (and smells) great!  I've also noticed that after using it for a month, my skin is much better (less flakey, smoother, and less acne = winning).

Miracle Skin Transformer - Vanish Instant Imperfection Corrector
via Sephora
Skin Corrector - VANISH Instant Imperfection Corrector
I know I've talked at length about my problem skin, but a year shy of 30, I'm still too embarrassed to leave the house without some type of makeup/cover up because its so bad.  I received a sample of this product in my monthly Birchbox (if you don't get Birchbox or BeautyBar Sample Society, I highly recommend looking into them.  I think I've found almost all my beauty products through these sample services).  VANISH is smooth and silky feeling, you put it on clean skin, or after moisturizer.  I tried putting it on a clean face before doing errands a couple of times, and found that I barely needed foundation or cover-up.  This product makes imperfections less noticeable and smooths the surface of the skin - I like using it on its own with a little concealer, or as a primer.

Smashbox - High Definition Healthy FX Foundation SPF 15Smashbox - High Definition Concealer

Smashbox High Definition Foundation & concealer
I realize that I raved about Laura Mercier foundation in the last makeup post, and the product was great for my skin throughout the fall and into the winter. For some reason though, about a month ago I started to find that my foundation made my skin look incredibly orange.  I'm not sure why this happened, so I went in to see my favorite Sephora makeup girl.  She told me that it was probably because I was spending less and less time outside, so my skin lost all of its color and it was time to find a fair foundation for winter/spring, or at least until I start spending more time outside.  This foundation/concealer combo makes your skin tone look clean, even, and covers blemishes and imperfections pretty well (not as well as i'd like, I have to apply a couple of dabs of concealer & let them dry).  I was really surprised with how light this foundation feels on my face, which is a welcome feeling after the heaviness of the Laura Mercier foundation.

Smashbox - Complexion Perfection Kit
via Sephora
Smashbox Complexion Perfection Kit
So, since I've raved about 3 of the 4 products in this kit ($49 right now on I figured I'd include it in my review.  You've probably gathered that I travel quite a lot for work, and am always looking for smaller versions of the products I use.  The fact that this set actually contains a LOT of product for the money really impressed me.  When used together (primer, foundation, concealer, setting powder) the result is nearly flawless skin.  The smaller containers are also nice because you can try them all together for the price of 1 regular size before you commit.  Further, the set is EXACTLY what I was looking for in terms of making my packing list shorter for work trips.

Fresh - Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15
via Sephora
Fresh SUGAR Rose Lip Treatment
This product was a complete surprise find for me.  My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I received a free Fresh Sugar mini lip duo from Sephora with my order.  I'd seen Fresh lip treatments before, but always balked at the price because I go through lip gloss like you wouldn't believe (I don't actually ever finish one, I just tend to lose it in one of my purses, totes, gym bag, desk drawer, etc. than find it again months later).  Anyway, I have both the Rose and Clear treatments and really like both.  I neglect my lips big time, so this is big for me to suggest it to friends.  After a couple of days of use, I found my lips were more hydrated and less flakey, which is a welcome change!

Do you have any recent face finds you want to share?  What beauty product can you not live without?  Try anything lately that you would NOT suggest?  Tell us about them!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Moodlifter - Weekend Getaways

So we're getting into mid-January.  The weather is cold, or it's doing that weird dance where it gets unseasonably warm and suddenly drops back down to freezing.  After this coming weekend there is only one three day holiday weekend left (President's Day in Feb.) and then we enter that looooong dry spell of holidays until Memorial Day at the end of May.  This time of year it's easy to start getting blue with the weather and the short daylight hours.  So what better way to cheer up a little bit and create some excitement than to think about a fun weekend getaway, perhaps to take full advantage of that last three day weekend coming up next month.  Here are five ideas some far, some near, some warm, and some cold.

Image via
We have known several people who hop down to Puerto Rico for three and four day weekends.  If you're coming from the East coast the flight is a little under 4 hours, and if all you are looking for is some lounging on a beach, drinks with umbrellas, and good food this just might be the perfect place.  Hotwire has some flight and hotel package deals available for 2 people for 3 nights in the $1,300-$1,500 range.

Image via
I have been reading Kelle Hampton's blog Enjoying the Small Things for almost 3 years.  She lives in Naples, FL and she paints it as a picture of cute small town charm with various markets and orange groves, topped off with amazing beach sunsets.  Knowing other people who have turned Naples into their getaway haven gives us confidence that this is another great option for relaxation in the sun if you prefer to stay within the continental US.  You will have to fly into the Fort Myers airport so you will probably need a rental car making this a little bit more expensive getaway, but there are flight, hotel, and car packages available in the $1,800-$2,000 range for 2 people for 3 nights.

Image via

If you still want some slightly warmer weather, but don't want to go all the way down to Puerto Rico or Florida, why not try Charleston, SC.  The historic district is full of cute shops, museums, and historic homes and gardens.  Don't forget to bring an appetite, this is the South so you are sure to find some delicious southern style fare.  If you choose not to rent a car  flight and hotel packages are available for around $1,500, but adding a rental car only increases the trip to around $1,600 for 2 people for 3 nights.
Image via

If you prefer to stay closer to the DC area and have an interest in skiing, or simply lounging around a nice resort try the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania.  The drive is just a little over 3 hours, and not needing a plane means you can save that money for the room.  The resort offers snow activities as well as a spa for those of you who are less adept on the slopes.  The rooms are pricey, but it is a vacation after all, for Feb. 15-18 you can get a lodge room for 2 people for about $1,000 total.

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Another close to home option with skiing or snowboarding opportunities is the Homestead resort in Hot Springs Virginia.  The drive is a little under 4 hours, and you get to check in to a lovely, historic hotel which has been visited by 22 US Presidents.  Just like the Nemacolin Resort, you can choose to play on the slopes or relax in the spa or one of the hot spring fed pools.  For the same February weekend for two people you can get a room for about $1,000 total.

Are any of you planning a weekend getaway sometime soon?  Do you prefer beaches and sunshine or snow and mountains?