Friday Five (things I’m looking forward to this spring)

Ahh 80 degree temperatures. You’re finally here! How I’ve missed you!

Here are five things I’m looking forward to this spring:

1. Baltimore 10 Miler – Okay to say I’m *looking forward* to this is a bit of a stretch, but I have been training with two of my friends at work and will be running this race on June 2! This will be the farthest distance I’ve ever run and I’ve heard it’s a hilly course so wish me luck and hope that June 2 will be cool and windy. The best part about the race is that it’s on Wear Orange Day so I can call attention to gun violence awareness and the need for sensible gun reform.

img_16072. A winery day – I have been waiting for consistently nice weather to plan a leisurely afternoon at a local winery. I love checking out local wineries that let you bring food with you so I can pack a tasty assortment of cheese, crackers and charcuterie that doesn’t break the bank. Set out a blanket, buy a bottle of wine and relax all afternoon. Bonus that this is a toddler friendly activity! Maya loves being outside and I think a winery day would be perfect for her as long as we brought plenty of snacks and entertainment.

img_73063. Dinner and drinks on the water – Outdoor dining is one of the things I look forward to most every spring. Grilling, picnics and restaurants with outdoor seating and a view of the water. Hoping to return to have dinner at Rye Street Tavern, crushes at Boathouse and crabs at Nick’s Fish House. This is the view from the lawn outside Rye Street Tavern – isn’t it great?

 

 

img_17854. Orioles Games – The team has been *struggling* a little bit lately, but that doesn’t mean going to a game isn’t still super fun! Check out our post on how to save money at Camden Yards. It’s from a previous season though so it doesn’t include the O’s awesome new kids cheer free policy where the purchase of an adult upper deck ticket gets two kids under 9 in for free!

 

 

 

 

 

img_02685. Kid Friendly Activities – Now that we have a toddler on our hands, it seems like the opportunities for kid friendly summer fun are endless!  We recently went to the Maryland Zoo and  Clark’s Elioak Farm, but Maya has never been to the aquarium or the science center and she hasn’t been to Port Discovery since she could walk. Last weekend we made the trek to Sesame Place which was amazing! I feel like that could use a recap post of its own…

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to this spring? 

 

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Friday Five (Favorite Recent Reads)

I love reading and have been working hard to carve out time for it! I’m going to try to recap my recent reads more frequently over the coming year. Interested in past book review posts? Check out my favorite reads of 2016

 

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Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

I got hooked on this book after randomly buying it in a Chicago airport. I devoured it and the two sequels in no time. These are easy, engaging reads giving you a glimpse into the world of Asia’s uber rich and their antics. The fashion, the wild escapades, the private jets – these books were super fun. They also made me really want all varieties of Asian food – the descriptions of everything from Singapore street food to Malaysian delicacies had me drooling!

American Housewife Stories by Helen Ellis

Meet the women of American Housewife. They wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies from the oven. 

Taking us from a haunted pre-war Manhattan apartment building to the unique initiation ritual of a book club, these twelve delightfully demented stories are a refreshing and wicked answer to the question: “What do housewives do all day?”

I normally don’t care for short stories so I probably wouldn’t have booked up this book (or downloaded it to my kindle as it were), but it was this months book club pick and I ended up really enjoying it. These twisted stories were all linked in theme as they centered loosely around “housewives” though that term was mostly used ironically. I enjoyed the variation in length and levity of the stories and my favorite was “Dumpster Diving with the Stars.”

Retrograde by Kat Hausler

On a warm summer day in Berlin, Helena is hit by a truck while crossing the street. She awakens to the loving face of her husband Joachim. In addition to a few broken bones, she realizes she can’t remember anything about the accident, or even the last few years leading up to it. Retrograde amnesia the doctors call it, and assure her that with time, she should regain her memory.

At loose ends after another botched relationship, Joachim doesn’t intend to lie to his estranged wife, Helena. But when he realizes that she doesn’t remember their separation, he can’t bring himself to tell her. So he does what any rational man would do: he takes her home and pretends they were never apart.

As the lies accumulate, Helena senses something isn’t quite right―that her husband is hiding something. When the outside world encroaches, Helena must face an unsettling truth and decide what the past will mean for their future. Is the past binding, or can she go back and change what went wrong in their relationship? And if given the chance, would she even want to?

I’m a little biased because this book was written by one of my best friends, but it was also objectively good! 🙂 Retrograde is a haunting, realistic portrayal of a second-chance relationship. As the book unfolds, you understand the conflicting motivations of the main characters and how they handle an opportunity to fix the past and re-write their story.

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Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow them. But apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage, and Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, holds out hope for lasting love. In this wise, witty, and hilarious novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their tumultuous thirty-third year as they deal with sibling rivalry and secrets, revelations and relationships, unfaithful husbands and unthinkable decisions, and the fabulous, frustrating life of forever being part of a trio.

I love Liane Moriarty’s books and this one did not disappoint. Her character development is great and I always feel like I’d want to be friends with at least one if not many of the characters. I also appreciate how her books usually have interesting twists and almost always neatly wrap up everything at the end. I enjoy a good resolution! If you watched Big Little Lies on HBO last summer, I highly recommend you start there and then read the rest of Liane’s catalog.

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?

This was a free Amazon First Book that I downloaded to my kindle (and it’s currently free with kindle unlimited if you have that). I went through a brief period of reading suspense/mystery books after we read Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris for book club. That book scared the BEJEEZUS out of me so this one seemed much more mild in comparison. It was full of suspense and intrigue as the main character struggles to find out what happened to her sister of a mysterious disappearance. I feel like this book has one major flaw that doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t take away from the story (no spoilers so I can’t go into it here…).

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? 

Friday Five (Mother’s Day Style)

Coming atcha today with an ever so relevant post for all you slackers out there with no plans for Mother’s Day! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the mom in your life here are five ways to make her feel special this Sunday or any day.

  1. Paint Night – If your mom is artsy, sign the two of you up for a Paint Nite or Pub and Paint event! Enjoy some wine, quality time with your mom and the chance to let out your inner artiste. If you’re looking for Baltimore-themed paintings, check out Todd Conway Art’s
  2. Visit a Winery – If I were a mom I think this would be top on my list. There are family friendly wineries for mom’s with little ones, but if you really want to treat mom, find a sitter for the kids and give her a day of wine tasting sans children. My mom and I have plans to visit a winery later this summer when the weather is more consistently good. My fave is Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard.
  3. Brunch – the Mother’s Day standard! You might be hard-pressed getting a reservation at the last minute, but could try your luck at some of the local places that don’t take a res like, Spoons and Blue Moon.
  4. Something Active – play tennis or a round of golf. Take a walk. It’s all about spending time with your mom and doing something she enjoys. Our family tradition is to participate in Race for the Cure – we’ll be walking in our 8th race tomorrow.
  5. Spa Day – Get your mama some much deserved pampering! I can’t imagine a more relaxing Mother’s Day than a trip to the spa for a massage, mani/pedi or facial.

Do you have plans for Mother’s Day? What’s your favorite way to celebrate Mom?

It’s Friday so we’re linking up with Heather, Courtney, Cynthia and Mar

 

Friday Five: Favorites in New York City

I ❤ NY. Well, at least for a weekend. I frequently make the trip up to New York to visit the handful of family and friends I have living in the city. I love the hustle and bustle of the city for about 48 hours and then I’m happy to head home to dear ol’ Baltimore. That being said, I’ve been to New York two out of the last three weekends and had a blast both times. Below are my favorite things we did:

King and I broadway playbill

  1. The King and I at Lincoln Center – We made the trip up for my mom’s birthday and took in a matinee of The King and I. My mom said it was the best Broadway show she’s ever seen and I have to agree that it’s up there in my top five (for me, nothing beats seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music). The music was fantastic, led by Tony winner Kelli O’Hara, and the dancing, costumes and set design were all top notch.

Tuna Tartare Abby Jessie New York

  1. This tuna tartare – We met up with my friend Jessie and celebrated my mom’s birthday with dinner at Brasserie Congnac. I thought the food was good, but nothing remarkable. The exceptions were the cocktails and this incredible tuna tartare. After dinner we ventured down the street to Tanner Smith’s, a speakeasy-type bar in Midtown.  They had a fun cocktail menu, great atmosphere and live music!

Central Park

  1. Central Park – I lucked out with awesome weather both weekends and spent some time with my mom and friends walking through Central Park. If you are a dog lover, there is no better place to see dogs of every size and shape and some in sweaters!

New York Pizza

  1. Italian meal at Rosina – On my most recent trip to NYC, I spent time with high school friends and we had an amazing meal at Rosina. We shared a bottle of white wine, a salad and three delicious entrees. The eggplant penne and chicken pesto pizza were both delicious but the show stealer was definitely the pappardelle with clams, salmon, shrimp and scallops in lobster cream sauce. So rich and creamy and the seafood was fantastic. Our night didn’t end there, we walked off our meal by venturing a few blocks downtown for drinks at Penrose. We told our friend that we wanted a bar that felt “New York-y” but had drinks in the $12 range as opposed to the $20 range. Penrose definitely fit the bill!

New York Bagel

  1. Real NYC Bagel – Sunday morning started with a trip to Sable’s for bagels and cream cheese. My friends got lox which looked delicious but I took things a step further with some of their whitefish salad. My husband got me hooked on the salty fishy spread and though I don’t get it often, there’s something about a real New York City deli that just demands I order it. Turns out it is the perfect hangover food! After we fueled with bagels and coffee we were ready for more exploring!

Other NYC highlights? Meeting my friend’s baby for the first time! Baby Frankie is just a couple months old but was a very well behaved boy at brunch at the Dutch (where I had a delicious but overpriced $18 turkey sandwich). Manicures and shopping with my girlfriends and visiting family in Brooklyn.

What do you like to do in New York?

Linking up with Heather for Friday Favorites.

Friday Five (fave summa time drinks!)

It has been hot, hot, hot in Baltimore and my favorite way to beat the heat is with a nice cold beverage. Thanks to Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for hosting a Friday Five linkup ALL about our choice summer libations.

1. I am a sucker for a good margarita paired with chips and salsa. Unfortunately they are like a million calories, luckily Papi’s Tacos in Fells has a skinny rita on the menu and it is fantastic! And the tacos aren’t half bad either.

strawberita

2. Okay scratch what I said about calories, I make an exception for my beloved Strawberita. This Bud Light Lime beer margarita is not for everyone, it is wickedly sweet and quite alcoholic and most of my friends turn up their noses at it. I however happen to adore it and think a strawberita tall boy is the perfect drink for an afternoon picnic or day at the pool.

starbucks frap

3. Back in high school, before I liked coffee, I would always order a frappuccino anytime we went to Starbucks. In the subsequent years I have hardly ever indulged in the frozen treat, but this summer I have been craving them like crazy! Adam and I both walk home from work and occasionally meet up at Starbucks for an evening “frappy hour”. I am all about the new s’mores flavor – have you tried it?!

summer shandy

4. I am a big fan of wit beers and summer is the best time to enjoy the lighter, slightly fruity taste of a Hoegaarden or Allagash White. My favorite beer bars in Baltimore: Max’s and Ale Wife. And when I want something even fruitier, Jeanette has got me hooked on Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

5. Good ol’ H2O. Obviously there is nothing more thirst-quenching and refreshing than a nice cold glass of water. I have definitely been getting my recommended eight glasses a day!

 

What (and where) have you been drinking this summer? Anyone know a good place to get a spiked lemonade in Baltimore?