Celebrations Lately

We have been celebrating a lot of birthdays over here. Between friends and family members we have been celebrating a lot of birthdays lately, throw in two weddings and we have been very busy! Since everyone loves a festive celebration, I thought I’d recap some of the things we’ve been up to:

Sky Zone Trampoline Park – a group of friends recently hit up Sky Zone for a celebratory bouncing session. I met up with the group in the afternoon after running the Sole of the City 10k in the morning. My legs were pretty spent but I had a good time and the whole process was very easy and casual. I purchased my ticket and signed my waiver online in advance, spent $2 on special trampoline socks and simply checked in and picked up the socks when I arrived. Most of the other bouncers were kids, but our group of 30-somethings had a blast.

Black Flag Brewing Company – post trampoline park, we headed to Black Flag Brewing Company for a drink! Adam and Maya met up with us there and we enjoyed a couple of beers and chatting with everyone. It is a big open space and was totally fine for an exploring toddler (with supervision). There was a grilled cheese truck out front that some of our group got food from. We skipped it since we were heading to dinner but were a little jealous because the sandwiches looked fantastic!

Olney Winery – we recently met a group at Olney Winery for a surprise party. Like the brewery, we had Maya in tow and she did great walking around exploring and munching on the snacks we packed. Activities like the brewery and winery are preferred to a big group meal where Maya is confined at the table the whole time. The rose I tried was really nice and we all had a great time!

Yappy Hour – the Waterfront Partnership hosts a monthly “yappy hour” for dogs right near my office building and Maya and I checked it out at the beginning of the month. We had dinner with Jeanette at One Eyed Mikes (shout out to them for great service and accommodating a toddler!) then made our way over to the Yappy Hour. There was live music, beer and wine and a bunch of dogs! Maya loves dogs or as she says when she sees them “dogga dogga dogga”. We enjoyed hanging out in the grass for a bit and petting a few of the friendly pups.

El Rey and the 930 Club – I listen to Elliot in the Morning every day on the way to work and a few weeks ago I called in and won tickets to see Judah and the Lion at the 930 Club! The concert was on Jeanette’s birthday so I knew it would be a fun way to celebrate. The concert was a Monday night so we waited until after traffic died down a bit before driving into DC. We parked in the garage right across from the venue, picked up our tickets from Will Call and walked down U Street to find some dinner and a drink. We ended up at El Rey for tacos and had a great time catching up, sipping margaritas and munching on shrimp, fish and carne asada tacos. We had the best bar tender and chatted away for a while before heading back to 930 Club for the show. Colony House was the opening act and we caught the end of their set which was really good. Judah and the Lion were also super fun and put on a really good show. We didn’t know too much of their music beforehand but definitely enjoyed ourselves and particularly appreciated their cover of Mr. Brightside! Mostly, we felt pretty great about being out on a Monday night! See, we’re still young(ish)!

Now that the weather is so nice, most celebrations involve cook outs and yard games like corn hole and bocce. What have you been up to lately? 

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DC Day

Adam and I haven’t had the best wedding anniversary celebrations. We went to Azumi for our first anniversary and had a memorably bad experience. We spent our second anniversary in the hospital last year when Maya was sick. The bar was low this year for our third anniversary but I’m happy to report we had an amazing day in DC to celebrate.

We dropped Maya at my in-laws and headed to the Georgetown waterfront where we parked our car for the day (only $13 in a garage). We started our day with brunch at Fiola Mare. After a couple of incredible meals at the original Fiola, we were very excited to try this location. We did the fixed price brunch – three courses + a brunch cocktail + fresh baked croissants. It was more food than necessary but so so good.

I’m not sure what was up but the service was really slow. Like insanely slow – people were complaining (rightly so). But we had nowhere to be and just relaxed and enjoyed.

I had a Bellini and burrata for my first course and Adam had a Bloody Mary and a smoked salmon dish. Then they brought out the croissants, warm, freshly baked with honey in the center. They were probably the best thing I put in my mouth all day and one of the best croissants I’ve ever had.

For our main courses, Adam had the crab spaghetti and I had a succulent crab roll on brioche bread. I wouldn’t expect a restaurant like that to have outstanding baked goods but they do!

By that point we were super full but managed to have a couple bites of dessert: zeppoli with a maple dipping sauce.

After that enormous meal, we needed to walk it off! We strolled through the main drag of Georgetown before walking up 30th Street to Tudor Place. We paid $3 to tour the gardens of the historic home and spent some time walking around the property. Georgetown has so many hidden gems and it was fun to explore the beautiful grounds.

From there we walked down Embassy Row to Dupont and visited the Phillips collection. We arrived at the museum thirty minutes before they closed and were delighted to learn that for the last half hour museum entry is free! We started on the top floor with the visiting Klee exhibit but preferred the impressionists on the second floor. They have some famous paintings (Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party) and some beautiful paintings by Van Gogh, Matisse and Kandinsky.

After plenty of walking and exploring, it was almost time to eat again! We walked through Dupont Circle, popped into Gap and then made our way to Iron Gate for dinner. I had a fantastic whiskey cocktail and we started with the feta chili spread with fennel crackers and an odd selection of crudités.

For out main meal we shared the mixed grill: quail, bison steak, ground lamb, cheese burger and pork sausage with pistachios. The meats were accompanied by smashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with raisins. Everything was delicious and we loved our cozy table in the back room by the fireplace.

After dinner we took a cab back to our car and made our way home after an exhausting but wonderful day in DC!

Friday Five (Summer Favorites!)

I love and hate this post because yay it’s fun to recap our favorite parts of summer, but boo because a recap usually means summer is ending. I guess I can’t resist the inevitable arrival of fall, but since I no longer go back to school I feel like summer lasts a little longer.

Baseball – I went to a lot of O’s games this year and plan on going to a few more this fall (ah the joys of living two blocks from Camden Yards!). Back in June, I listed baseball as one of the things I was most looking forward this summer so I feel like I checked the box on that one. And I saved that cash money by using Jeanette’s ballpark tips.

Staycation in DC – My girlfriends and I spent a super fun weekend in DC. We booked a cheap hotel room on Jetsetter and spent the day by the hotel pool, had a great dinner at Smith Commons (rave reviews for the salmon and the scallops) and had brunch the next day at Art and Soul (where we shared that banana caramel waffle masterpiece).

SMith Commons

art and soul

Baltimore – Since we went on our honeymoon to Turks and Caicos in April, we didn’t do any big vacations this summer which meant I had plenty of time to soak in all that Baltimore had to offer! Jeanette and I went to the AVAM’s Flicks on the Hill last night and remarked about how much we love having events and activities that we can walk to. Other highlights included the summer social at West Shore Park and our summer corn hole league.

wizard of oz

le tote 2

Le Tote – I signed up for the clothing/accessories rental service in May and am head over heels in love with it. For $50 a month I have access to a ton of clothes, jewelry and bags (like the clutch above). Le Tote send me 5 pieces at a time based on my style profile and items I’ve favorited in my virtual closet. I have 24 hours to swap out the items the stylists choose for me if they aren’t to my taste and two days later the box is on my doorstep. I can keep the items as long as I want and once I get it in the mail another tote is sent my way. I almost always love the style and fit of at least 4 of the pieces in each tote. It keeps my wardrobe fresh, allows me to try pieces I wouldn’t normally buy (ahem, romper) and I don’t have to pay for the dry cleaning since they take care of the cleaning. You also have the option to keep any item from your tote and they charge you a discounted price – I’ve kept a couple items so far but I’m trying really hard not too since it defeats the money-saving purpose. If you want to sign up, use my referral link for $25 off your first month (and I’ll save $15 so win/win amiright?).

Golf – I literally hadn’t swung a golf club since high school, but this summer I dug out my clubs and hit the driving range for a series of golf events through work. I have continued to practice semi-regularly and have played a few rounds of nine holes at Pine Ridge. I’m not sure I have the patience for golf or the dedication required to keep improving, but it has been a lot of fun so far!

golf

 

Today we’re linking up with Courtney, Mar and Cynthia for Friday Five and Heather for Friday Favorites.

What has been your favorite part of summer? 

Summer Weekend Getaways

Mondays after a long weekend are rough. We all know it. What makes me feel a little better is planning some more summer fun. I love Baltimore, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city for a change of scene. Since vacation days are in short supply, I usually try to go on a couple weekend getaways rather than a full on summer trip. Luckily, Baltimore’s conveniently located with a number of fantastic destinations 1-3 hours away.

Day Trips – at around one hour from Baltimore, these locations are great for a day trip.

sandy point

1. Sandy Point State Park – or as we affectionately call it, fake beach. This sandy, rocky outcrop at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is not a beach but it’s a decent beach substitute – especially since it’s less than 40 minutes from Baltimore. Bring your towel, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day soaking up the sun and taking a dip in the bay. Cost is $5 a person for Maryland residents. Make a full day of it by stopping for dinner and drinks in Annapolis or a Bowie Baysox game before heading home.

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2. DC – This is an obvious one, yes, but it’s surprising how infrequently Baltimoreans make it down to DC. If you’re going to make the drive, you should try to pack in as much fun as you can. On Memorial Day weekend we did a DC day and started with a couple hours of kayaking on the Anacostia River outside Nationals Park followed by drinks at the Fair Grounds before heading to the baseball game. If baseball isn’t for you, you can also kayak in Georgetown and spend time shopping and dining in one of DC’s poshest neighborhoods. Or, check out the museums on the National Mall, hit up Spike Mendelson’s Good Stuff Eatery for lunch and have dinner at Jose Andres’ Jaleo. The possibilities are endless!

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3. Wineries – You can find many great wineries within 1-2 hours from Baltimore. We like to make a day out of it and aim to get to the winery around 12pm, do a tasting and buy a couple of bottles to drink. Everyone brings some food to share – baguette, cheeses, sliced meats, hummus and crackers – and we picnic while sipping our wine and taking in the beautiful scenery. Most tastings are $10-15 and usually wineries let you bring your own food to eat outside on the property. Hit up Breaux Vineyards and the nearby Maggie Malick Wine Caves, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, or Black Ankle Vineyards among many others.

Overnights – these places are a little further away but perfect for a weekend visit. If you’re traveling North of the city note that both Wawa (yay) and tolls (boo) are plentiful – depending on your route you can pay as much as $30 round trip in tolls.

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1. St. Michael’s – St. Michael’s is across the Bay Bridge, abut an hour and a half from Baltimore. This quiet little town on the water is gorgeous and is absolutely perfect for a relaxing weekend away from the city. Start with steamed blue crabs and a piña colada at the admittedly touristy Crab Claw before walking down Talbot Street and visiting the local shops. If you feel like splurging, stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin where they filmed Wedding Crashers, but for more affordable options try Harbourtowne or St. Michael’s Harbor Inn – you can sometimes find discounted rooms on Groupon or LivingSocial. There are also a number of local rentals on VRBO that are a short drive from the town – we stayed in one that had kayaks and stand up paddle boards to keep us entertained. St. Michael’s also has a winery and brewery so stop in for a tasting.

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2. Philadelphia – I lived in Philly in the summer of 2013 for an internship and spent quite a few weekends doing the easy two hour drive to Baltimore. Philly has a lot more to offer than cheese steaks (though definitely get one from Jim’s while you’re there). There’s a ton of history including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, great museums and some seriously good eats (and many places are BYOB). Check out Reading Terminal Market, an historic covered Farmers’ Market with countless vendors and tasty treats including the best hot, fresh doughnuts from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Take a walk through Old City and Rittenhouse Square and for brunch hit up Sabrina’s or Parc. If you’re looking for a more unusual dining experience, try Cibo Ristorante. Formerly Walnut Street Supper Club, Cibo has continued the “supper club” concept and the waitstaff at Cibo entertain the crowd with show tunes throughout the night.We were very impressed with the quality of the singers and had a great time!

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3. Atlantic City – Ooooh AC. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more lively for your summer getaway, then look no further. I’ve done quite a few weekends in AC over the years and always had a blast. In our younger days we would pack 12 people into one hotel room, but now that we’re just young(ish) we definitely prioritize bed space and so we look for discounted rooms on Jetsetter and daily deal sites. Friday and Saturday nights are considerably more expensive so save money by going midweek if that’s an option for you. I recently stayed at Harrah’s and loved it – the casino has a lot of dining options and a great pool (pictured above). Three evenings a week, the pool becomes a night club with drinking and dancing, and if you’re feeling it – a late night swim. You can also take a walk along the boardwalk and play carnival games (there’s a free shuttle form Harrah’s or take a limo since they are as prevalent as cabs and not much more expensive). On another recent trip we stayed at the Taj and went to the nightclub Mixx at the Borgata. I’d recommend doing some research in advance and planning where you’ll eat and go out since some parts of AC are a little run down and if you’re with a large group many restaurants require a fixed price menu.

What trips do you have planned for the summer?

Are there any other good summer getaways that we missed? 

The FIRST Post

Going on day 6 with no air conditioning. Life is great in Baltimore. And by great I mean humid and sweaty. Since our A/C is broken and the Mid-Atlantic weather has been unseasonably warm, we tried to spend as much time out of the house this weekend as possible. Friday night I squeezed in a quick post-work gym trip before joining Jeanette, her mom who was visiting and her boyfriend, K, for a casual dinner at Mother’s.

Saturday morning, Adam and I were up early to head down to DC for Race for the Cure. It’s a tradition that we do with my mom since she is a breast cancer survivor and this was my 7th race! We usually walk the 5k course, but this year my mom had a foot injury and is in a walking boot so we just joined the crowd on the mall for the post-race festivities. I love the high-energy, celebratory feel of the event and it’s always amazing to see so many survivors (designated by their hot pink shirts) and groups walking in memory of those they have lost. Afterward, we headed to Poste for brunch and I had a tasty cheese omelet. I think calling it a cheese omelet was misleading though as it was heavy on the spinach and mushrooms and light on the cheese.

Mom and me at Race for the Cure DC

Mom and me at Race for the Cure DC

Saturday afternoon we returned to our hot, hot apartment to do some cooking for Sunday’s Mother’s Day get together. Adam’s brother and sister-in-law were hosting a lunch and I made a pasta salad and some funfetti cake batter blondies. I used this recipe for whole wheat pasta salad and it was a big hit! It was really easy to make and full of tasty roast vegetables: asparagus, mushrooms and red pepper. The cake batter blondies were also out of this world and crazy simple. You just combine vanilla cake mix with vegetable oil, one egg, milk, sprinkles and white chocolate chips. It is those white chocolate chips that really take these bars to the next level.

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies

Sunday morning we picked up my mom and went to Potomac for the Mother’s day gathering. In addition to the dishes I brought, we munched on quiche, salade niçoise, chicken wings and plenty of cheese and crackers. After we spent some quality time with our moms, Adam and I took the metro into DC for the Caps game. It was game six in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Caps had the chance to win and advance in front of a home crowd. Unfortunately, the game got off to a rough start and the Rangers scored about forty seconds into the game. The Caps ultimately lost 4-3. Even though the game didn’t go our way, we still had a good time. I do some work with the NHL for my job so I was given the tickets and before the game we met up with friends at Rosa Mexicano for skinny margaritas and chips and guac. Free tix + mexican food = a winning combination! Quick side note – as much as I love Rosa (it’s right around the corner from my old office and we ordered many a lunch and spent many a happy hour there) the fact that they charge $14 for guac is outrageous!

Adam and me at the Caps game

Adam and me at the Caps game

So that ended up being a very DC weekend for the first post on a Baltimore blog, but doesn’t it just illustrate how great Baltimore’s location is? Easy breezy to spend the day in DC or Philly!