Acrobranch – Tree climbing adventures for all ages.

IMG_1909 copy

We are very slowly getting back into our old routine living here in our beloved desert homeland. By slowly, I mean snails pace. I think that may be due to an extended period of humidity which has been challenging, but we’re getting there. What the kids miss most, other than family, are the trees… climbing the trees to be exact. I keep going back to the time when we went to Acrobranch in Centurion, South Africa. If any of our South African readers have not yet been to Acrobranch, please read this post.  It is an aerial tree top adventure that caters to the whole family. All ages from children as young as 3 to adults of all ages.

IMG_1902 copy

IMG_1899 copy

IMG_1905 copy

I went there with my three minions, plus their cousin and her mom, and we had such a wonderful afternoon. The kids were climbing for over an hour and we then settled in to The Big Red Barn for lunch. It was truly a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Side note: The next time you find yourself there over lunch do yourself a favour and order the house fries. I may or may not have eaten the entire plate #sorrynotsorry.

IMG_1997 copy

“Acrobranch is Kid Heaven! Swinging through trees, dangling from branches, balancing in the air. But wait, Acrobranch also takes care of every parent’s fear and tucks those kids safely into snug harnesses, hooked into secure lines all through the course. It’s all with adult supervision, but the children are encouraged to go at their own pace and move their own clips themselves.

All courses are designed with specific ages in mind to keep your kids entertained…and safe. Check out your desired park for more info on our kids course age and height requirements.” – via Acrobranch website.

IMG_1974 copy

IMG_1970 copy

IMG_1968 copy

IMG_1964 copy

IMG_1959 copy

IMG_1954 copy

Now what I appreciate the most about this concept is the benefit to a child’s physical development.  A child is constantly thinking about which hand they need to put where, which foot they need to move first, and which clip goes where. They work on balance, how the brain interprets where the body is in the environment it is in, they need to orientate their whole being to work as one to navigate the course safely, they build core strength, and improve flexibility and reach.

The next time I go, I promise to take more grownups with me, which should leave me hands free to carry my ‘big’ camera and get proper photos, but hey, they say the best camera is the one you have with you, so thank you iPhone.

Acrobranch – super affordable rates and fantastic for kids parties, I can only imagine how much fun it would be for team building too. You can contact them on +27 86 999 0369 or visit their website for more information. I highly recommend it.

If anyone has tried them out and would like to share your experience with our readers, we would love to read your comments below.

Cheers.

la

Fall in Israel – Rosh Hashanah

IACW_9763.jpg

The weather, the holidays, and the spirit of Fall in Israel are all definitely different from our beloved Virginia, but we are enjoying the adventure. This was a big weekend for us and the country as we celebrated the New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. Until last year, I used to be unfamiliar with the Jewish/Israeli holidays, aside from their dates pre-labeled in my calendar over the years. For all of you like me, living in Israel means three days off of school, celebrations and toasts, religious observances, lots of new traditions, and it is a great time to travel or explore for us non-observant expats.

IACW - camping.jpg

Since we have missed our Fall traditions from back home, we took the long week and went camping at Horshat Tal in the Golan Heights with a few of our favorite outdoorsy friends.  We also toasted the new year at our favorite Israeli winery, Pelter Winery and one of our favorite Israeli craft breweries, Galil Brewery (they have pumpkin ale!). It was a wonderful time to be removed from the pressures of school and work and just be together and laugh a lot. Plus, I checked a few things off our Fall bucket list!

IACW_9806IACW_9471

I know I say it all the time, but experiencing the cultures of the country we live in (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and those of the people we befriend is truly one of my favorite things about living abroad. It makes me so happy to listen to the boys sing holiday songs, share the salutations in the language, and try traditional eats and treats. Their favorite Rosh Hashanah treat is apples dipped in honey, eaten to symbolize a sweet new year.

IACW apples_9780.jpg

It is especially fun to experience each of the holidays through our youngest at a local Hebrew gan (pre-school). On the Friday before the holiday the parents were invited to join a toast to the new year. The littles all wore white, the traditional color worn on Shabbat (the Sabbath) and for holy days. There was a rabbi who talked (in Hebrew of course) about the holiday and blew the shofar for us. We sat and watched the children sing and clap to songs they had clearly been learning leading up to it. I couldn’t help but smile at the tiny hands holding up glasses of tirosh (children’s wine) toasting and shouting “Shana Tova”!

Our big kid had his own Rosh Hashanah celebration at the international school and learned about the holiday in Israeli Culture class, which is one of his favorite classes. He just loves the teacher too! She has them singing fun songs, speaking in Hebrew, and excited to share it all at home with us. Let me tell you, we have learned a lot because of it! Fun fact, similar to our beloved Greeks, the Israelis see the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity, health, fertility and happiness and they are particularly important and given as gifts at Rosh Hashanah.

IACW_pm3179.jpg

To learn more about the holiday check out this fun video. I can really get behind the heart of starting fresh and walking into the new year on a sweet note!

Here’s to a sweet (and intentional) new year!

Shana Tova!

kdg

Origami birds courtesy of fellow gan mom, Noa, check out her blog post: I’m on Leave

Reflection: 2 months on

 IMG_1852 copy

It’s been two months. Our South African holiday is coming to an end. It has been a very special time for the kids and I, perhaps a little less so for my dear husband who held the fort in the desert for most of that time. While time flew by for us, I can only imagine how it must have dragged for him.

1IMG_2387

He will never really understand how thankful I am to him for this time at home. We went on road trips, remember Moolmanshoek and Kiara Lodge? I got to catch up with life-long friends and make new special memories with family. We started building our home here and were there on the day they broke ground. I got to fetch my nephews from school, we went for all our necessary health tests that were long over due, (YAY, I was cleared of lymphoma). I got to be present when my brother launched his very own high-end security company. What a Blessing….all of it!

1IMG_2427

The hardest part of living an expat life is living away from family, my husband and I are both very close to our families and they add such richness and quality to life.

1IMG_2424

Two days ago I was there to pay my love and respect to my dearest grandfather who passed away in his bed at home at the ripe old age of almost 89. He was the head of our clan! The patriarch! Strong, wise, funny, a family man, confidant, and kind. These are the qualities I will hold onto when I think of him. A good man who is finally at peace.

We have packed up our big cargo box full of family favorites that you can only get in SA and it should arrive in Kuwait the same day as us. And this weekend will be a weekend of warm wishes and fond farewells.

It’s bittersweet going home. We are looking forward to seeing our international friends again, to getting back to having our own space again, and above all else seeing our beloved little dog again.

This was literally me yesterday trying to go to the toilet by myself:

YES – I NEED MY SPACE!

1IMG_2426

While my head is getting back in the game and preparing for our long journey home, I’m also trying to silence the heart that has started missing my South African home, family, and friends. I’m so thankful once again for our families who have welcomed us into their homes for weeks at a time, it’s not easy adding 5 extra human beings into any given household, yet you did so graciously.

I have many more stories out of Africa to share with you all and I can’t wait. But for now, I need to get back to packing. We are at the end of our laundry, the kids have zero matching socks and I’m pretty sure they’ve grown a dress size in the last two months as well. We are all looking a little wrinkly and mismatched, but we are happy and content and full of love and life.

As the Northern hemisphere welcomes fall, I come to you from Sunny SA and wish you all:

Happy Spring Day.

1DSC_7548

xoxo

la

Fall {Event} Planning

If you caught my post a couple weeks ago about my love of Fall and planning, it will come as no surprise that I have a knack for booking my friends and families weekends up with fun, Fall specific outings. Our friends back home in Virginia tell me they miss having me around to schedule get-togethers, especially our annual Fall ones. In the spirit of being intentional and spending quality time with your people, here is my Fall Outings Bucket List. Special bonus for those of you in Virginia: I added our favorite spots for you to check out. 

IACW_apple picking.jpg

Apple Picking  – A fun, and healthy, outing for all ages.

Virginia Recommendation: Stribling Apple Orchard – family owned and operated, it hosts a great orchard to pick your own and a shop to purchase all the yummy apple things and more. I’m particularly loyal to them because I also went to high school with a couple of Striblings, and they are some of the nicest and kindest people.

IACW - pumpkin.jpg

Pumpkin Patch – This Fall tradition is one of my particular favorites. A day spent on the farm where you can find the perfect pumpkin for carving into a Jack o’ Latern.

Virginia Recommendation: my favorite is Belvedere Plantation. They have a hay barn with swings, a corn maze, and games, in addition to a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Cox Farms is a staple in NoVa, and Great Country Farms also has fun slides and rides, too.

IACW - camping.jpg

Camping & Hiking If you’re outdoorsy, this is the perfect time to be in the wild, with cooler weather and gorgeous scenery.

Virginia Recommendation: Shenandoah National Park and beach camping at Chincoteague National Park.

IACW_3976.jpg

Wine Tasting Wherever you are, this a great annual tradition to start in any season. We just happen to do it while the leaves were turning. Also, for a fun, cool, cozy evening, I recommend you try mulled wine.

Virginia Recommendation: Did you know Loudon Wine Country is booming!

IACW - brew

Brew Tasting Again, any season is a great opportunity to start a tradition of brew tasting with friends! I encourage you to enjoy all the seasonal brews, especially all Pumpkin and Oktoberfest ales! The hubby is already planning for our annual pumpkin homebrew and I can’t wait!

Virginia Recommendation: check out my post on VA craft brews.

IACW - CLO Halloween party.jpg

Fall Shindigs Local festivals, parties, and Oktoberfests are great ways to get involved in your community and enjoy the season. Of course, you can always throw your own themed celebration – with or without the kiddos. {Cookies by Festoon Baking Company}

Israel doesn’t really celebrate Halloween or Fall, however we will definitely be crossing a few of these items off our list this year.  I will report back for all you interested in doing Fall right in Israel. That’s one of the best things about being expat; we get to share our traditions with others as we learn about theirs. On that note stay tuned for a post recapping the Israeli Fall holidays and traditions later in October.

Hope this list helps you be intentional with your Fall weekends. If you do try any of these outings or recommendations, let us know what you think.

Happy Fallin’ –

kdg

Vintage Rose

1DSC_7516

This past weekend we had the joy of spending an afternoon celebrating a special little girl at this gorgeous venue, Vintage Rose.

What a beautiful venue! In the heart of Pretoria, South Africa, the older homes boast larger grounds and vintage architecture. This old Pretoria home has been converted into a venue which hosts receptions for weddings, birthdays and pretty much anything your heart may want to celebrate. It has beautiful large trees and plenty of grass for high energy children. This child friendly, charming place has an incredible eye for detail. Anyone who knows me knows I have a vintage heart and this heart was not disappointed.

I was in my element. So many pretty things for my eyes to feast on. A self catering venue allows themselves the opportunity to focus on design and detail while the client focuses on food and family. A beautiful afternoon was had by all and love became the true hero of the day. Love for this special child, love for each other, and for me, love for good design.

So if you are in the Pretoria, Centurion Johannesburg areas and you are looking for a beautiful venue full with love and details. I highly recommend this little treasure. After all, art really is in the detail.

Shout out goes to my assistant photographers, Jarod, Dylan and Mia.

1DSC_7918

Much love from this vintage girl,

la

 

 

Happy Women’s Day from South Africa.

1DSC_6404

On the August 9th, 1956, over 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to protest the ‘Pass Laws‘ during the Apartheid era. The women stood there in absolute silence for 30 minutes and then started singing the protest song, Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.)

An adaptation of this phrase…

“You strike a woman, you strike a rock”

…has since come to represent a South African woman’s strength and courage.

National Women’s day has been celebrated every year on August 9th, since 2004.

It was then even more special that I had the privilege of photographing Deolandre: a strong, confidant young lady, on the eve of National Women’s Day as she prepared for her Matric Farewell.

(For our international readers, a Matric Farewell is South Africa’s version of an American Senior Prom.)

It marks the end of her high school career, the ceremonial coming age, the growth of an independent woman, the flourishing of hopes and dreams, the world in the palm of her hands. In South Africa it is a gift longed for by many, yet awarded to only a few. The moment I was tasked with, to freeze in frames for a lifetime. A blessing and a privilege indeed.

Camera: Nikon D4S

Lens: 50mm

Location: Clients home, Centurion

Time: 3 – 4:45pm

Lighting Conditions: A few indoor photos with good natural light, althogh most of the photos were taken outdoors with good natural light but before sunset. No flash.

Kids in tow, but I’m super thankful for the client’s little brother who did a superb job of keeping my 3 minions entertained and out of harms way.

1DSC_6499

1DSC_6719

1DSC_6895

It’s a delight for me to be able to share a few of these photos with you. To celebrate this strong, confident woman and shine a light on many like her who are going through life changing moments. As women we need to lift each other up. We need to be each other’s biggest fans. We need to appreciate our differences, while at the same time enjoying our similarities.

This is one of the greatest parts of the friendship I share with Katie. She is always the first one to offer advice, guidance, and a prayer. She encouraged me even though we were in the same industry, she never once saw a competitor, she saw a friend and ultimately – a partner.

So, if you have a woman on your heart who has played a significant role in shaping the person you are today. Give them a call, give them your words, give them your love. It goes a long way.

Happy Women’s Day, wherever you are.

la

Virginia is for Craft Beer Lovers

In honor of Virginia Craft Beer Month, I thought it would be fitting to share some of the amazing craft breweries we have visited. We have yet to make it to every region of Virginia, but we will one of these days! This is a booming industry with lots of talented brewers and a culture all it’s own. At the heart of It’s a Colo{u}rful world and DGRCP is community over competition and that this what I love most about the craft brew culture. There are so many fantastic stories of established breweries helping up-and-coming brewers. There is even a tradition of handing out stickers and having a spot for other breweries’ stickers, fostering a feeling of togetherness. That is the type of stuff I can get on board with and support! Here’s to all the amazing craft breweries in Virginia making some amazing beers to be enjoyed and experienced with family (kids and dogs welcome) and friends! Don’t forget to tag #ToastVA #VAcraftbeer #LoveVA when you visit.

IACW - VA REGIONS BEER.jpg

Northern Virginia (aka NoVA) – 

IACW - BRB -8274

Brew Republic Bierwerks – It was a real treat to meet head brewer and one of the owners of Brew Republic, Darcy. She is passionate about the process and shared her experience of moving from a homebrewer to a real brewery (and taptoom) as she prepared to open her own – see community! We really enjoyed tasters of their patriot ic beers paired with sliders and pretzels, yum! For a non-acoholic beverage they offer their own root beer on tap. Standout brew: Patriot 212 Helles Lager | 5.0% ABV |18.0 IBU Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag | #ToTheRepublic #ANationOfBeer 

IACW - CC_3372.jpg

Capitol City Brewing Company – The first brew pub in DC post-prohibition has deep roots in the DC Metro area and is located in both the Capital and Shirlington, VA. It has also been a long standing favorite for our family. Plus, complimentary pretzels – need I say more? Standout brew: Award winning Amber Waves American-style Amber Ale | 5.6% ABV | 31 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers & swag #CapCity 

IACW - FW - 8253.jpg

Fair Winds Brewing Company – Voted DC’s Best Local Brewery for the second year in a row. The taproom is intentionally airy and light with a stack of board games, in house snacks, and food trucks outside, all inviting you to come taste and stay awhile. The designer in me just has to say I really dig that their nautical branding is consistently carried from their logo to the names of their brews. Standout brew: Howling Gale IPA West-Coast style IPA | 7.2% ABV | 80 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

IACW - FBC_3088.jpg

Forge Breworks – This no-nonsense brewery is perfectly located in an industrial park, where they forge both Belgian Ales and German Lagers that pack a punch, some coming in as high as 11.5%. There is something for every adventurous beer drinker. Standout brewBrown Dwarf Star Quadruppel | 11.5% ABV | and The Empress Imperial Pilsner | 9.2% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag 

IACW - HB_3298.jpg

Heritage Brewing Company – We have visited both the brewery and taproom in Manassas and their new brew pub in Arlington, and both sites perfectly house these flavorful, revolutionary-themed ales. I truly appreciate their attention to detail in the decor and food choices, as well as their beer – seriously all of their flagship brews are great. They also serve and sell Veritas Cold Brew coffee at the brew pub for those need a caffeinated pick me up. Standout brew: American Expedition Honey Ginger Wheat Ale | 4.5% ABV | 15 IBUs and  Double Taxation Imperial Indian Pale Ale | 9.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans (of both beer and coffee),  & swag #heritagebrewing

IACW - OBH - 6816.jpg

Old Bust Head Brewing Company  The first time we visited OBH we became fans of this brewery’s mission, crafting inventive and flavorful beers while nodding to their Fauquier County roots. They are so creative, using a myriad of ingredients including a variety of fruits and vegetables, even chilis!  It is even a treat for the underage crowd with their delicious root beer floats. Standout brew: The Graffiti House West Coast-style IPA | 7.5% ABV | 75 IBUs and Watermelon Bright Prospect mixed with Margarita Gose  – a creative sour concoction! Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag #oldbustheadbrewingcompany #oldbusthead

IACW - PC_3388

Port City Brewing Company – This fantastic brewery won Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2015 and is one of my personal favorites. I just love their motto “We put the ‘ale” in Alexandria!” They definitely deliver great award-wining year-round brews, as well as tasty seasonal ales, including Tidings one of my favorite Christmas beers. Standout brew: Optimal Wit Belgian-style White Ale | 4.9% | 15 IBUs and Colossal Five English-style Old Ale | 9.8% ABV | 55 IBUs  Take aways: Kegs, growlers, bottles,  & swag #PCBC

IACW - WE_1284.jpg

Water’s End Brewery Aptly named because indeed at some point “water ends and the beer begins.” A laid-back and easy-going atmosphere with a separate play area for children including toys, games, and coloring books (THANK YOU!). Outside food is welcome and the Paisano’s pizzeria across the way seems to be a regular guest at the brewery and they don’t charge a delivery fee. They even have a Beer Club that we would definitely be members of if we lived close by, it truly is a neighborhood brewery! Standout brew: Hop Drop Double IPA and Damn Beer Golden Ale|5.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag #webrew


Central Virginia – 

IACW - WW_2915.jpg

Wild Wolf Brewing Company – A true family brewery led by a mother-son team, Wild Wolf wowed us with their tasty brews and their “farm-fork” and sustainable story. Their site is close to the Shenandoah mountains and surrounded by beautiful landscapes making it a truly picturesque place to sit and sip awhile. Standout brewBlonde Hunny Unfiltered Belgian style Blonde Ale | 6.8% ABV | 21 IBUs Take aways: Kegs, growlers, cans,  & swag #wildwolf #wildwolfbrewingcompany


Hampton Roads (Coastal Region aka the 757) – 

IACW - Alewerks_3169 copy

Alewerks Brewing Company – The oldest brewery in Williamsburg with a great history of creating crowd pleasing ales. They also brew exclusive beers based on historic recipes in collaboration with Colonial Williamsburg. They have a large range of brews from classic IPAs to the more extreme barrel aged ales. Standout brew: Jubilee X Belgian Strong Dark Ale | 12% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #Alewerks

IACW - BC_3012.jpg

Brass Cannon Brewing Company – The atmosphere is carefree with its yellow and green paint job, shelves of board games, and chalkboard wall. Brass Cannon invites patrons to join in their challenges and draw on the wall. The beers were surprising and full of flavor. Standout brew: Angry Scot Scottish-style Wee Heavy Ale | 7.8% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag 

IACW - ComBrewing - 6163.jpg

Commonwealth Brewing Company – Ever since we first walked into this refurbished firehouse, this brewery has been one of our favorites. The beach vibes definitely lend to a laid back atmosphere with outdoor games, board games, and inventive Belgian inspired brews.  Being walking distance to the Bay certainly doesn’t hurt! Standout brew: Big Papi Double IPA | 8% ABV | 61 IBUs, Wapatoolie Tropical IPA | 6.4% | 90 IBUs, and Cheval Au Soleil Belgian Wit | 7.6% ABV | 17 IBU  Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & (FANTASTIC) swag 

IACW - OCB

O’Connor Brewing Company  Just like their logo of the tree, this brewery’s roots go deep in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk brew scene collaborating, mentoring newer breweries, and hosting events. Their space is definitely conducive to hosting large events with a stage at the back and plenty of seating. They have a wide variety of ales, promising that there is something for everyone.  Standout brew: Discovery Scotch Ale | 9% ABV | 32 IBUs and Spyhop White IPA | 7% ABV | 65 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #OBCBeer

IACW - SB_0368-.jpg

Smartmouth Brewing Company – One of the original breweries in the area and a fan favorite among our VA Beach family.  Their cheeky, in your face brand lends to the vibe around the tasting room where you can check out their craft on tap, in a can, or through the windows. Outdoor games are a big draw and a fun way to pass the time with friends (and kids!). Standout brew: Murphy’s Law Amber Ale | 5.8% ABV | 35 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

IACW - VBC_2983

Virginia Beer Company – Two College of William & Mary grads opened the brewery a little over a year ago and have enjoyed impressive success in a short time frame. They have a wide range of well refined beers and are truly taking a foothold in Williamsburg. We are excited for them and look forward to our next visit. Go Tribe! Standout brew: Wrenish Rye Amber Ale | 6% ABV | 39 IBUs and try a bottle of Barrel Fermentation Saison. Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans,  & swag #VirginiaBeerCo


Check out Virginia Tourism’s list of Breweries here to discover all the other great local breweries we cannot wait to visit! Please let us know what you think when you visit these, we hope you enjoy yourself!

Cheers!

kdg

 

Home is where {a piece} of your heart is

LOVE.jpg

“I have so many feelings!” This is my exclamation when my beloved husband asks what’s up? I am a jumbled up, hot mess of feelings these days. We are heading back to Tel Aviv soon and I’m excited for this next year and the adventures awaiting us there and of course getting to see our pup – every dog makes us miss her. That said, my heart is breaking just a little, all over again.

They say “home is where your heart is.” If that is true, my heart has been left in pieces around the world in the hands of our family and treasured friends, with most of those pieces in Virginia. Oh, the bittersweet life of an expat!

I’m typing as we weave our way around the the streets of our old neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia pointing out favorite spots to the boys and my nose is tingling. It was a good life we lived here. Our boys were born here. As you can imagine, there are so many memories flooding back. We truly loved living off the beautiful George Washington Parkway, all the colonial brick buildings and streets of Old Town, and the small town feel right outside the metropolis of our Nation’s capitol. Oh the feelings!

IACW_Alex.jpg

Although Alexandria was a literal home for us and holds our little family’s history, there are pieces of our heart scattered across the state.

IACW - VA love.jpg

Warrenton, VA is where our love story began and where I tearfully moved for my senior year of High School from Kansas. It’s where I started Young Life and grew so much of my faith. It is a quaint little town that is simply booming! From old town and Main St. hosting shops and restaurants to the bustling businesses and amenities we didn’t have 15 years ago. Driving west on Route 66 to Warrenton may be a nightmare some days, but once we arrive it has so many good memories for us. Not to mention, it is on the way to the mountains.

IACW - blue ridge.jpg

Visiting the Shenandoah Valley is like a family tradition. It is where I experienced my very first hike and camp adventure. There is a lot to appreciate up there including the glorious views, walking and hiking trails, well kept campsites, flora and fauna, local shops and restaurants, and the knowledgable rangers, staff, and volunteers – a couple of which we call family. I highly recommend Fall up there it is simply awe-inspiring to see all the warm tones!

IACW - Fburg

Fredericksburg, VA was my home for 4 years while I attended the University of Mary Washington. Those were great years full of laughs, learning, and growing up. Another growing town with new things every time we visit. The old town streets are charming with shops and restaurants, including one of our post college favorites, the Capitol Ale house. The college itself expanded in the decade since I graduated with new buildings and a pedestrian bridge across Route 1, and new amenities. Go Eagles!

IACW - Wburg.jpg

Williamsburg, VA holds a big chunk of our hearts from our college years. The College of William Mary, Colonial Williamsburg, Bush Gardens, and Water Country USA, are all attractions that keep us coming back annually. Williamsburg is a part of the Colonial Triangle, along with Jamestown and Yorktown and we definitely recommend checking them out and diving into all that history. In Colonial Williamsburg (CW) we visit the Cheese Shop for Virginia ham sandwiches with their special house dressing, stroll around the historic streets, and visit the W&M bookstore. Go Tribe!

IACW - VA beach.jpg

South of the Colonial Triangle is Virginia Beach and some of our favorite beach bums. From the Bay to the boardwalk there is a ton to do! We particularly enjoy playing on the shore and going mini golfing with our family and friends. Meeting at Chick’s Oyster Bar for a meal is also one of our family traditions. This is one stop on our usual tour we sadly didn’t get to make this year.

IACW - woodbridge.jpg

A couple of years ago my parents moved to Woodbridge, VA near Occoquan and although I didn’t grow up in their new house, it is where one of the biggest chunks of my heart lives, which is why it feels like home just being there with my family. We spend our days relaxing and spending time on the Potomac River. It is glorious!

IACW - Orange.jpg

Out near the mountains between Fredericksburg and the Charlottesville is Orange County, VA. This picturesque county is full of small towns and history. For us it is where our boys experience farm life – running in fields, feeding a horse, working in the garden, climbing trees, getting dirty, and a cookie jar filled with Grandma’s cookies.

IACW - VA bench.jpg

This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to visit in Virginia, there are so many other towns and cities in Virginia that make the state a great place to live, explore, and adventure. There are wine and ale trails, fantastic eateries, arts and crafts, music, museums, and outdoor activities; all covered in warm hospitality with rich history. I highly recommend visiting or touring the state for lovers of all the above! For more information or help planning your trip check out the tourism site. #LoveVA

I am so thankful to call Virginia home and for all the people who loving keep the pieces of my heart here with them – I miss you all dearly!

Do you have pieces of your heart scattered around the world? How do you cope with leaving home? Travel safely everyone and cherish each moment in each place you call home.

from Virginia with love,

kdg

CrossFit with a view

1DSC_5793

This past weekend we had the opportunity to experience CrossFit culture in all its glory. We ventured to the little town of Clarens for the Clarens Winter Games. And what a gorgeous setting it was.

We have close ties to the CrossFit Tiger Valley Box here in Pretoria and it was amazing to not only watch the members compete, but also passionately cheer each other on. As Katie noted in her post Strength and Beauty, it’s not just a physical strength that is at work, it’s very much a mental strength too.

1DSC_55601DSC_57101DSC_57401DSC_5727

It was hugely inspiring to watch individuals who have trained up to 2 hours a day performing with machine like abilities, and it was equally inspiring to watch the beginners in their first ever competitions leaving all of themselves on the open fields.

Well done to all those who took part.

My biggest challenge of the weekend was trying to photograph the event while keeping an eye on 3 rather needy minions. The lens I favoured was the Nikon, 105mm prime. If I was able to bring my 80-200mm that would have been the ideal lens for this event, but the 105 was a pretty decent 2nd choice. My 80-200mm was simply too big to travel with on this trip.

We had the privilege of staying in self catering units at Kiara Lodge, which was about a 10 minute drive past Clarens itself. This family friendly accommodation is set between the Maluti Mountains and Golden Gate. Another true gem of the Free State. Being only a 3 hour, 30 minute drive from Johannesburg, it really is an ideal getaway for a long weekend, especially with little children who don’t sit well on long road trips.

1IMG_1754

1DSC_5598

The kids had an absolute blast at the lodge. They were in kiddie heaven. Giant blow up floor bouncy pillow, large colourful wooden climbing frames, large hanging tree swings, miniature golf, trampolines, and the highlight of the weekend – bunnies everywhere.

Note: If you do make your way there, please take lots of carrots for hungry bunnies, they are very friendly and this little activity keeps the kids busy for hours.

1DSC_55881DSC_56041DSC_56061DSC_5918

I have come away from the weekend with a greater understanding of the CrossFit culture and a better appreciation for the depth of their passion. I come from a sporting family and have been involved with sports all my life, however I now manage an auto immune disease which limits my abilities and if it wasn’t for this, boy, I’d be right along with them.

If you have ever been tempted to give CrossFit a try, go for it! It will change your life for the better – this I am sure of!

Cheers from SA,

la

 

 

A Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Pilgrimage

IACW - DFH - 1919.jpg

A Dogfish Head ale flight was one of our first tastes of craft beer. We were hooked. For about a decade our crew of friends would meet us at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church and Fairfax for dinners and a much needed catch ups. While each of us has our own favorites styles, DFH is famous for using weird ingredients in their recipes so we almost always started with a taster flight. My favs include the Namaste White, Rasion D’Etre, and the Punkin Ale.

“At every turn, our restless desire to create what hasn’t yet been imagined keeps us bringing new stories, new tastes, and new experiences to you.” – via Dogfish Head website

Sam Calagione, the owner and founder of DFH, started his homebrew journey with a cherry ale, a rather ambitious recipe for a first timer, back in the mid-1990’s. The brew got rave reviews from his friends and coworkers and he decided that rather than following his English major path he was going to be a craft brewer. He won a homebrew competition later for his Punkin’ ale and has been winning awards and aweing brew enthusiasts ever since. Sam even  hosted a television show called Brew Masters were he traveled the world with his genius brew team to discover new (and old) brewing techniques, recipes, and inspiration for new beers. It was really fascinating for us as homebrewers as we were able to watch, learn, and get to know DFH. Talk about brand loyalty, ha! You can read more about their story here.

IACW - DFH - 1985.jpg

For years, our closet friends Melissa, Joy, and Kyle, have walked this craft brew journey with us. Kyle and Tom have become quite the brew snob bros. The five of us have been talking about taking the trip from Northern Virginia up to Rehoboth, Delaware to the original brewpub. This summer we finally made it happen. Our “pilgrimage,” as we are referring to it, included a tour at the brewing facility, happy hour at Chesapeake & Maine, dinner at the newly constructed brewpub, and finally a stop at the original brewpub where it all started to shop.

IACW_DFH crew 2856.jpg

At the DFH brewery we partook in our 4 free tasters as we waited for our tour of the facility; also free. The team behind the bar was friendly and willing to chat about their favorites as we tried some of the exclusive offerings and newest brews. We sipped the decidedly sour cider first, followed by the SeaQuench session sour, which was like a margarita in a can, then Flesh & Blood IPA (not as citrusy as I imagined it would be), and the Fort.  Others in the group also tried a barrel-aged version of DFH’s Olde School Barley Wine and a cask version of their English Strong Ale. All were unique and complex in their own right.

IACW - DFH tour.jpg

When our fabulous tour guide Marge (pictured above) called us to attention we found our way to the cubbies of crocs and safety glasses. We did not anticipate the need for closed toes shoes (it is summer at the beach after all), so we found the thoughtfully provided crocs that fit to protect us from the various puddles and spills we may encounter along the way. Armed with corny, but funny brew puns and anecdotes, Marge took us through the beginning of DFH and showed us where the magic is made. We learned that Sam and his team were the first to incorporate continuous hopping into their brews, having been inspired by a cooking show. Also, most of the pieces of equipment have been named by Sam, including their very own continuous hopper, Sir Hops-a-Lot – “he likes big hops and he cannot lie.”

IACW_DFH crew 2 2856.jpg

To an English major, names and symbolism are important and Sam takes the naming process very seriously. Marge relayed that the DFH team does help with the creative process as bit, as well. In addition, their mission statement  is rooted in a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, which is where they derived their slogan “off-centered ales for off-centered people” and it is painted on the facilities wall to remind the team what is truly the heart of their work.

IACW - DFH - 1945.jpg

Once we left the brewing area of the facility my crew wanted to go drink all that delicious well made beer at the bar, however I had to see the packaging and shipping department so I continued the tour alone. The designer in me had to know more! What I learned was that the font DFH uses was originally a stamp set that Sam used to label his brews and has since then been converted to an actual font called “doggie font.” They have an in-house graphic design department that creates the labels and packaging, however they have used illustrations by artists they admire to create the label art. Pretty cool!

IACW - DFH - 1947.jpg

Marge also shared that that the original homebrew bottling process took Sam and his buddies about 8-10 hours to bottle 100 cases. Now in 2-3 minutes their state of the art bottling line can bottle and package 7,200 cases. Mind blowing right?!

IACW - bottling.jpg

Once the tour was over we made the trip south from Milton, DE to Rehoboth. The original brewpub, where until recently one could exclusively taste test small batches of experimental recipes and paired with a delicious and very intentional menu, now stands between two newly constructed restaurants.

IACW - DFH - 2023.jpg

I love intentional and cohesive design, so as you can imagine it was not lost on me that the design of the restaurant buildings mimics the brewing facility in Milton, to include the circular windows reminiscent of bubbles and the wood and metal materials used. Read more about DFH brewing and eats here.

 “We’ve learned from working with Dogfish Head for the past nine years that the company has its own special culture and loyal fan base, so we set out to design a space to provide the background of the unique Dogfish experience,” says Chris McAdams, Project Designer at DIGSAU. “It’s a very raw, wooden, naturally finished space, built with a few special off-centered quirks, like the barrel booths and the nook by the bar – spaces where people can say ‘that’s my spot’.”  (found on the DFH website)

We thoroughly enjoyed our cocktails at Chesapeake & Maine, where they focus on the DFH liquors rather than the brews. You can also do tastings of the liquors at the brewing facility and learn more about the process there as well. We said cheers with a Bloody Mary, a couple of  Sun Salutations, and a Sea Shanty. All delicious and refreshing. I loved all the attention to detail in this nautical fantasy design, including the oyster chandeliers, sea monster map wallpaper, and the rope tying station to practice your skills while you wait.

IACW - DFH C&M.jpg

From Chesapeake&Maine we made our way to the new brewpub for some fantastic eats. Our favorite plate being the the soft pretzel bites. In our collective book, they are must at every brewpub – seriously pretzels and beer are made for each other!

IACW - DFH brewpub.jpg

It was a fantastic day full of DFH geeking out, the only stop we did not make on this pilgrimage is the newly designed Inn. Which we will hopefully make it to sometime in the next decade, ha!

IACW - DFH - 1893

We would love for you to share your DFH experiences with us in the comments below! What’s your favorite off-centered ale? Have you made it to Milton or Rehoboth? If not we totally recommend it!

Cheers,

kdg