Is there anything better than celebrating your parents' 30th wedding anniversary? How about celebrating it with roulette, exotic cuisine, and dragon fire in your martini glass? That's what I call a celebration!
My brother, parents, and I hit up Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
on Friday for a night out on the town. Only 50ish miles away, the drive was not too bad on a typically-horrendous Friday rush hour. I kinda-sorta wasn't feeling so lucky. My brother, on the other hand, is eternally lucky. He wins, and he wins often. He spent the entire car ride psyching me up and trying to get the luck flowing through my veins.
I was a rookie at roulette. My brother's enthusiasm worked... for a short while. Before I knew it, he was up $700 and I was still placing $15 bets just trying to break even. In my non-casino life, I live by the motto "go big or go home" - so I figured "why change now?" and I started playing like a high roller and betting $100 chips. That worked three times until I was wiped out - completely. I'm not sure if he felt sorry for me (or just because he loves me so much), but my sweet sweet father then let me play with his chips - which I also promptly lost to the house. And I hadn't even started drinking yet... Meanwhile, my mom was playing a PENNY slot machine and somehow managed to turn $5 into $75.
We decided it was time to eat and headed over to 9 Dragons
- the space is newly renovated and boasts an updated menu of authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine and a selection of fresh sushi. The decor of the restaurant was so beautiful with deep reds and dark woods. Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, it didn't even feel like we were in West Virginia.
If you go to check out 9 Dragons - you'd probably be set ordering from their specialty cocktails (I suggest the Drunken Dragon) and sushi menu. Since we were out celebrating a special occasion, we went ALL out. The service, presentation, and quality was extraordinary. I recommend the Wonton Soup, Hot Mama (spciy tuna, jalepeno) roll, and... well, everything else. Our waitress, Li Ling, took excellent care of us. Although 9 Dragons didn't offer dessert, we mentioned my parents' 30th and she said she'd get us a special surprise. Her surprise came in the form of a jumbo slice of fresh cheesecake made at The Final Cut Steakhouse. She literally walked across the casino to another restaurant to get us the best dessert in the building! Totally blew my expectations - and kinda made me forget that I had just lost $250 on the tables down the hall! Win or lose, it was a fantastic night out with the family! Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad!
*Special thanks to 9 Dragons for inviting us in to taste the menu!
The beginning of April marks the kick-off of the second annual Festival of Tulips at Burnside Farms in Haymarket, VA. The mother and son team of farm owners, Leslie and Michael Dawley, worked tirelessly through the winter planting 90,000 tulip bulbs in more than 50 different varieties. Their field will soon come alive with a variety of vibrant colors and blossoms that proclaim spring’s arrival.
Late March/Early April when the flowers are in bloom, local residents and tourists alike will be able to stroll through the fields during the three-week Festival of Tulips and pick their own blooms. “Once our tulip field is in bloom, it’s truly a sight to behold,” said Michael Dawley. “Tulips come in so many sizes, shapes and colors and to see them all together truly is an indescribable experience. The Festival of Tulips, offers everyone the chance to take some of that beauty home with them.”
The tulip field is an amazing location for spring photos or a peaceful picnic lunch. Families, schools or groups of all sizes are invited to visit the farm for their first outing of spring. The entry fee for the Festival of Tulips is $3 per person and tulips cost just $1 per stem. Festival timing is dependent on mother nature, it is not possible to give the exact opening date at this time. Typical timing is late March/Early April. Visit facebook.com/burnsidefarms for field reports as spring approaches.
About Burnside Farms:
Burnside Farms is a family-owned business of three generations located in Haymarket, VA. The family focuses on growing flowers and plants sustainably and organically. A farm stand, open seasonally throughout the year, offers locally grown and produced items for sale at competitive prices. To learn more about the farm, visit facebook.com/burnsidefarms . Burnside Farms 4905 James Madison Hwy. Haymarket, VA 20169
We recently spent a weekend in beautiful Shenandoah County, Virginia. It also just happened to be my birthday weekend. I was looking forward to experiencing the falling leaves, green pastures, and the quiet pace of life that can be found just about an hour west of Northern Virginia. We left Fairfax at 2pm on a Friday and headed towards the mountains. With no traffic on 66, it only took us about an hour to land at our first destination: the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. We met with the Director, Natalie, who had our whole weekend planned for us. To top it off, she had a swag bag packed with
Shenandoah-style goodies! We snagged a copy of our itinerary and headed into the mountains towards our first stop. We arrived at Bryce Resort just before dinner and were greeted by Rob, the General Manager. Rob gave us a walking tour of the beautiful resort and newly fitted ski lift for the 2012 season. Bryce Resort offers skiing, tubing, ski-wee (think pee-wee ski camp for the little ones) and more for the winter season.
We came inside for dinner and a drink - I was totally caught off guard. The food was amazing - so good that we wanted to come back later in the weekend for seconds! I never, ever, ever eat ribs. but Rob kept encouraging us to try them... and for a good reason. Delish! If you make it out this season and are looking for something lighter - try the chicken drumsticks with homemade ranch paired with a spicy bloody mary. #lush!
Saturday morning, we say goodbye to The Feathered Nest B&B and headed to Shenandoah Uncorked at The Yellow Barn
. I was excited to check out the wineries located a little further south down I-81. The neatest part of the wine tastings was that since it was getting chilly outside... all of the wineries brought their own version of muddled wine for tasting. And most were being served out of a crock-pot -- such a comforting feel. Of course, we couldn't leave before taking a one hour walking tour of the Caverns.
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i think this formation @ the Caverns looks like Capitol Hill
On the second night, we stayed at the AC Stickley Bed and Breakfast
in the heart of old town Strasburg. AC Stickley is a beautifully restored home within walking distance to the downtown scene. Donna, the inn keeper, was so welcoming even though we arrived a little after schedule. We were invited to a gorgeous suite with two fire places, beer in the mini fridge, and a delicious breakfast the next morning. Donna loves to cook - and she is always changing up the menu and snacks. Our fruit in the morning was a warm apple crisp with a spoonful of vanilla bean gelato. It didn't stop there... Check out her southern trifle made with layers of grits, sausage, cheese, hard boiled egg, garden tomatoes - topped with cheese, sour cream, and chives. Served with baked bacon.
I told Donna to start pinning her recipes so that I could follow!
a few other stops we made along the way --
We walked to dinner at Hotel Strasburg
after checking into AC Stickley. Fine dining, white linens, but with the comfort of a small town.
| |Ran into Sarah, the leading lady behind the successful Route 11 Potato Chips brand. Swing by and take a tour of the factory!
We had a fabulous time - special thank you to Natalie Wills @ Shenandoah County Tourism
for putting together our itinerary and inviting us with opportunity to experience everything Shenandoah Valley has to offer.
If you're planning a trip out, here are a few other recommendations:
The ice skating rink at Pentagon Row is now open everyday, including all holidays, until March 18th - even in warm weather!
If you or your child is a winter baby - check out their birthday parties too! 1201 South Joyce Street Arlington, VA 22202 703-418-6666
by Kylie Hamaker
So, Kevin and I have been married for one whole year now. Since the first anniversary is supposed to be “the year of paper,” he got creative. Kevin wrote down 10 different places to visit and put them all into a box. He then blindfolded me, and had me pick out one. Whatever I picked would be what we did for our anniversary weekend. The first thing I pulled out was Apple Picking!
So………We went to Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA! It was a gorgeous day and so much fun to get out and enjoy the Fall weather with the hubby. It was the end of apple season, but there were still plenty of delicious apples to be picked. After picking, we bought apple butter & honey. We learned that the darkest honey had more of the apple flavor, so we thought we would give it a try. Everything we bought is delicious! We also tried a freshly dipped caramel apple and apple cider. AMAZING! I cannot wait until it is time to pick peaches at Stribling!
After the Orchard, we made our way to Hershey, PA so we could pretend we were kids again at Hershey Park in the Dark! (Because, of course, I ended up peaking at all 10 places after I picked the first piece of paper). While this is not NOVA, I thought I would still share a few pictures.
**Thanks to Dana for her comment on my first blog post about going to Stribling Orchard! It made for a wonderful afternoon and a great start to our Anniversary weekend.
A few weeks ago, I was looking for an adventure in Fredericksburg. I posted on our facebook page
and someone recommended hitting up Belvedere Plantation
... I checked the reviews online and it looked "just ok" to me. And, the charge is $16/person. Eh... might as well go to Cox Farms.
But then someone else commented and posted a Certifikid
deal for 50% off tickets which made the day trip a no-brainer. We packed up and headed out. Due to the constant ridiculousness of this delightful area we live in, it took me over two hours to actually make the 40 mile trip south on 95. I'm pretty sure that any cost-savings I incurred by buying the tickets at a 50% discount were severely offset by a SUV that only gets 14mpg on a good day.
We parked in a field and walked to the gate to check in. A simple X on your hand with a Sharpie was your pass to enter (oh, how the trust in fellow man exists in the South - no stringent wrist bands needed). From that point onward, I had a good feeling about this place. Here are the highlights of the FREE stuff: huge inflatible pillow for kids to bounce on, big red barn filled with hay and rope swings, zip lines for kids of all ages, pig races, petting zoo, pumpkin launcher, hay stacks to climb, potato sack slides, pedal car race racks, tractor ride, etc.With a FEE: pick your own pumpkin (although, you could enjoy the pumpkin patch without actually taking them home)pick your own flowers (my personal favorite part of the trip): buy a cup for $5 and fill it with as many flowers as you can. they provide the cup and a pair of scissors and you cut your own flowers from their garden.
paintball shooting @ targetsThe best part of the whole trip: NO LINES. Belvedere Plantation was busy - but there were no lines for almost all attractions. If there were lines, they were modest. I appreciate the reader-recommendation to give this place a try - I think it will be added to our list of Fall traditions! Check out our pics to see for yourself!
Last weekend, B was swept away and spoiled by my parents. In turn, I, too, was spoiled with a whole day of freedom. We ended up snagging DREAM SEATS to the skins game! HAIL YEAH! We usually go to one or two games a year, but this was probably the best game we had ever been to. RGIII ran his record-setting touchdown right into our end zone. The crowd was insane! Since it was a 4pm game, the night was still young when we left FedEx and we decided to further our date by stopping by one of our favorite sushi spots in Shirlington. Bonsai has a great outdoor seating area and it was the perfect night for it. Of course, being kid-free, we couldn't end the night there. There has been such great hype about the World of Beer that opened up in Ballston so we checked it out... however, I was not impressed. At all. I guess if I wanted to spend $10 a beer, receive bad service (i'm pretty sure our waitress was drunk and/or high), and eat from their menu of basically pretzels and sausage.... no thanks. Regardless of the last stop, what an awesome Sunday Funday we had! huge shout out to my mom and dad for making it possible! xo
I finally tried hot, fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts right at the factory in Fredericksburg.
by Kylie Gay Hamaker
The hubby and I have been in the transition of moving all of our things from a 1 bedroom 700 sq. ft. apartment into a 2 bedroom apartment. So of course with all of this going on, we decided to eat out quite a bit during move in week. Which added yet another thing to cross off of my NOVA Bucket List, experiencing Wegmans!
Kevin and I walked to Wegmans on what seemed like our own private trail. When we got there we starting looking around at all of the breakfast choices - the hot bars are AMAZING! We both decided to get the breakfast buffet (scrambled eggs, French toast, sausage, etc.) and some tasty coffee from the coffee bar.
We then took our trays and decided to people watch, so we sat upstairs where we could look out over Wegmans. The food was tasty and it was a great Sunday morning with the hubby!