Young(ish) Year in Review

Wow, it has been quite a year in for us in Baltimore. Good times and bad, quite a few big moments and a lot of delicious food. Before we move forward into the new year, let’s take a quick look back at our 2015.

January – this year started with a bang: I began a new job in Baltimore (which I can walk to from my house!!), my amazing baby nephew was born and I traveled to the Bahamas on a cruise for my bachelorette party. In sports new, I went to my first Maryland Big Ten conference game and the Ravens, who were actually good last year, beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs only to lose to the pre-deflategate Patriots.

cruise two nauti shirts bachelorette turnt up for the tropics bachelorette cruise

February – included an Abby and Jeanette Galentine’s Day date at Papi’s where we feasted on tacos and skinny margaritas before meeting the fellas at Max’s Belgian Beerfest. February ended with a beautiful bridal shower thrown for me by my cousin, aunt and bridesmaids, but the month will always be remembered for an epic nine hour drive to Atlantic City in a snowstorm. Our amazing friend navigated the icy roads and Jeanette and I hopped out of the car multiple times to push us out of snowbanks on 95-North. While it probably wasn’t our smartest move, the drive was ultimately a success and we got to AC in time to celebrate our friend’s bachelorette.

bridal shower art atlantic city bachelorette 2

March – the month I married my best friend and love of my life. Our wedding weekend at the end of March was like a dream (albeit an unseasonably cold dream), we celebrated with a rehearsal dinner at the Rusty Scupper before saying our vows in front of family and friends at the Royal Sonesta.

elevator mirror pic baltimore wedding wedding baltimore

April – In April we traveled to Turks and Caicos for our honeymoon and enjoyed a week soaking up the sun in paradise with fish tacos, frozen drinks and our first time scuba diving. After we returned to Baltimore, the city flipped upside down. Freddie Gray was killed, riots broke out and the city was occupied by the National Guard. It was a weird time for our city. The sound of choppers overhead was incessant as 4-6 media/police helicopters were constantly circling around downtown. My office in the Inner Harbor was closed for an entire week. They played an O’s game two blocks from our apartment in front of zero fans. We obeyed the 10pm-5am curfew which felt particularly surreal – especially when last call was at 8pm so bartenders and staff had time to get home before 10. Hopefully, everything that happened in April was a wake-up call and the start of change and healing for Baltimore.

turks and caicos seven stars resort honeymoon national guard baltimore

May – we started this blog with our very first post! Adam and I also celebrated our five year dating anniversary on 5/15/15 at Cinghiale, enjoyed Memorial Day weekend at Breaux Vineyards and dressed like mustard (and Jeanette relish) with our bocce team. We also saw O’Malley announce his candidacy for president.

IMG_7528 baltimore social sports bocce federal hill

June – officially meant summer, the return of happy hour and going to quite a few O’s games. I also spent a weekend in New York for a friend’s baby shower, went for a jog through Central Park and had a delicious brunch at Hundred Acres.

Baltimore Orioles Game New York City Brunch

JulyIndependence Day in Baltimore brings parades, fireworks and celebrations. Also in July we went to a wedding, more O’s games and Kastles matches, had a staycation in DC and had two amazing meals at Parts & Labor and Salt.

fourth of july baltimore cocktails Salt Baltimore

August – and September brought some travel. I spent a day at the beach in Rehoboth and visited a friend in Williamsburg. Jeanette scouted a great groupon for kayaking in Essex at Island View Waterfront Cafe where we spent an awesome afternoon on the water followed by the best half and half crab soup. And let’s not forget that Tiger Woods lost his 20th major since 2010 when I bet Adam that Woods would win a major other than the Masters in the next five years. Boy, was I ever wrong on that one.

rehoboth beach kayaking in essex

September – Birthday month! I felt like I was everywhere but Baltimore in September: NJ for a wedding, a long weekend at Bethany Beach and a trip back to New York City. I celebrated my birthday with dinner at Wine Market Bistro, a day trip to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, and brunch with family at Crepe Du Jour.

baltimore wedding New York Pizza

October – was non-stop falltivities: A trip to pumpkin patch, a pig roast, tailgated at a Maryland football game, went to the Renaissance Festival (where we ate literally everything: corn dog bites, mac and cheese on a stick, gyros, s’mores on a stick, warm cookies, and probably other things on sticks) and dressed up for Halloween.

Halloween maryland rennaissance festival

November – During Maryland homecoming, Jeanette, Adam and I returned to the freshman year dorm where we all met ten years ago. I’m pretty sure we also forgot that we aren’t in college any more since we spent the entire day drinking and didn’t even go the game. We also celebrated Adam’s birthday at Food Market and traveled to South Carolina for Thanksgiving with my mom’s family.

Turkey Balloon Food Market Cocktail

December – closed out the year with quality time with family and friends celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas. Jeanette and I exchanged gifts and had a festive day skating at the Pandora Ice Rink followed by lunch at Cheesecake Factory. Adam and I spent Christmas Eve with his family at Grano Emporio where we had an amazing Italian feast including antipasto, lasagna and a blood orange martini. After dinner we walked over to 34th Street and saw the fantastic light display and an equally fantastic cross-section of life in Baltimore. The block was packed with families and couples, groups of friends and several dogs, everyone was smiling and in a good mood because it was Christmas and it was Baltimore and it was over 60 degrees. What a perfect end to 2015.

34th street lights hampden baltimore 34th street lights hampden

What was a highlight of your year?

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The Holiday Party Circuit

Just in case I haven’t made it clear, I love the holidays. Christmas carols, Christmas cookies, Christmas lights and definitely, definitely, Christmas parties. The past few years, Jeanette and I have thrown a joint holiday party and once again enjoyed celebrating the holiday season this past weekend. We reserved private space upstairs at Ropewalk – which was free with a guarantee of 25 guests – brought in our own holiday decorations, photo booth props, mistletoe, candy canes and Hershey kisses. We encouraged everyone to dress up in silly holiday attire and gave prizes for the best outfits (and coal to the guy who didn’t bother dressing up). Since we’re young(ish) and poor we did a cash bar, but bought a couple rounds of shots for friends.

Toiletry Donations for Baltimore Station

We also wanted to give back a little this holiday season and encouraged our guests to bring toiletry items to donate to Baltimore Station (a program supporting veterans and other who are transitioning through the cycle of poverty, addiction, and homelessness to self-sufficiency). Our friends are amazing and brought a ton of stuff so we can make a nice donation.

If you’re looking for space to hold a party but can’t afford to bankroll a big room rental fee then Ropewalk is a great option along with several other Federal Hill bars including Brewer’s Cask (site of last year’s party) and Social.

Holiday Decoration Baltimore Party Holiday Party Ropewalk Baltimore

Not every holiday party involves sloppy drinks and silly sweaters, I’m also attending a couple of secret santa potlucks and meeting my high school girlfriends for a holiday lunch at Ted’s Bulletin before we go back to the house for coffee, dessert and gift exchanging. I also love the idea of a cookie or ornament swap though I’ve never been invited to one (side note: I’m still accepting invitations for this holiday season). Of course, I’m also going to a couple of family Hanukkah gatherings complete with fried latkes, menorah lighting and dreidel spinning. Of course, it’s not all about the parties, it’s about spending quality time with my favorite people.

If you’re still in the planning process for a holiday dinner or get together, Baltimore has a ton of great options: my team at work is going out to Cinghiale and Adam is having a work dinner at Roy’sWoodberry Kitchen always seems delightfully festive (and delicious) or go to B&O Brasserie and enjoy the gorgeous holiday decorations at the Hotel Monaco. Last Christmas Eve, Adam and I had dinner at Birroteca and then soaked in the holiday goodness of 34th Street which made for a wonderful night. If you’re looking for something more casual, I think Atwater’s would make a great holiday brunch location and the Canton location has some lovely holiday cocktails on their menu. In past years, we’ve done holiday brew tours at Heavy Seas and Flying Dog – the tours are inexpensive and include samples of their seasonal varieties.

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Are you going to any holiday parties? Does your office do anything special? 

Currently December

Linking up with Jenna and Anne today for  a little snapshot into life currently. Be sure to visit their pages and see what other bloggers are currently doing and read on to find out what I’m currently wishing, remembering, wrapping, baking and decorating!

Wishing | I was back in college, but not for the reasons you might think! I actually quite like being out of college, but still young(ish) however, the Maryland basketball team is just so, so good this year that I am wishing I still had my free student tickets, could walk from my dorm to the games and could go out and celebrate at the bars afterward. They lost to UNC last night, but it was still a great game and I know there is just more excitement ahead. Luckily, we’ll see them in a couple of weeks when they come to Baltimore to play Princeton at Royal Farms Arena.

Remembering | past holiday parties and preparing for this weekend. Jeanette and I have thrown an annual holiday party since our sophomore year of college. It started out as a Pilgrim and Indian theme party where everyone wore costumes and has morphed into a holiday party where we still encourage guests to wear wacky outfits. Last year, we reserved the upstairs bar at Brewer’s Cask, had mistletoe and photo booth props and  it was a ton of fun. We’ve switched the location this year and have a ton of decorations and fun prizes for the best outfits. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

holiday party baltimore brewers cask

Wrapping | Hanukkah gifts! The eight crazy nights begin on Sunday and I’m looking forward to a holiday get together with my mom and cousins. Gimme those latkes! If you are still doing your holiday shopping, be sure to check out Jeanette’s Favorite gift shops in Baltimore and my favorite gift ideas.

Baking | Christmas cookies!  My Grandma always had tins of fresh cookies ready for us every time we visited her house on Long Island for the holidays. She is Italian and seemed to have the BEST cookie recipes like these Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies that I’m going to try to attempt this year.

Decorating | the house for the holidays. Is there a different answer for this one? I grew up celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas and while we never had a tree or Christmas lights, I’ve always loved putting out a few festive decorations and burning holiday scented candles.

What are you currently wishing, remembering, wrapping, baking or decorating?

 

Friday Five (Favorite Holiday Gift Ideas)

hanukkah

Sure, Thanksgiving is next week, but with Hanukkah hot on its heels (yes, that’s my Winnie the Pooh menorah) I am already knee deep in my holiday shopping! If you’re like me and chomping at the bit to do some holiday shopping, check out the ideas below and Jeanette’s favorite gift shops in Baltimore (be sure to hit them up for small business Saturday)!

  1. Adele’s new album! 25 drops today and maybe people don’t buy CDs anymore, but it’s probably worth it for this long awaited  gem.
  2. Maryland Flag accessories. Everyone loves to represent their favorite state and I know this scarf from Route 1 Apparel has been on Jeanette’s wish list for a while now.
  3. Tickets to  Phantom of the Opera at the Hippodrome in January, the Beach Boys who are coming to Baltimore February 17 or for Monster Jam at Royal Farms Arena if that’s, you know, your jam.
  4. Work out gear. New running shoes are on my Christmas list, but I also love giving (and receiving) cute leggings and pullovers that are always in demand during the winter. Old Navy has surprisingly cute active wear that is often on sale.
  5. Holiday scented candles make a great hostess gift as you make your rounds through the Christmas party circuit: Christmas Cookie, Holiday Votive, Birchwood Pine or Frosted Cranberry.

I also love giving personalized photo gifts from Shutterfly, home baked treats and taking someone out to dinner rather than giving them something material.

Linking up with Heather for Friday Faves.

What’s on your Christmas shopping list this year?