With the warm weather making an appearance, I started wearing sandals last week (God bless anyone what has had to look at my toes up until today). I desperately needed a pedicure, but I don't have a salon that I can rely on.
I'm a sucker for a good deal, so when I was searching Yelp reviews for local nail places and read "$25 mani/pedi"
I was instantly sold (Tuesdays and Wednesdays only). It was peer-reviewed at 4 out of 5 stars - but with a warning that you get what you pay for... so don't set your expectations too high. This place was not Red Door by any means.
I called ahead and made an appointment (which I suggest you do as well). I enjoyed my pedicure and brief massage while it lasted. Since the price was already pretty cheap, I decided to try a Shellac French Manicure for the first time and absolutely loved it! My nails looked great for just about 2 weeks until I started peeling them off myself.
I walked out of there spending $60 after tip: French on fingers and toes, plus Shellac manicure. I'm guessing that if you can avoid the luxuries and just snag a solid color and pass on the Shellac, you could get out of there for $25 + tip.
Looking to eat out, bring the kids, and actually enjoy it? Check out a new review site: Teddy's Table
. Teddy’s Table has a simple philosophy - Restaurant Reviews: By Families For Families.
Teddy's Table offers families and caregivers information on local restaurants with reviews from other families and parents about restaurants that adults and children can both enjoy. Want to know if a particular restaurant is kid-friendly? Teddy’s Table will tell you!
Teddy’s Table hopes to help make planning easier -- to help you find restaurants that are fun for kids AND parents. To help raise awareness of their new site, Teddy's Table is hosting a giveaway for one $25 gift certificate to one of their favorite chains of kid-friendly restaurant groups, The Great American Restaurants! Enter below!
giveaway sponsored by TeddysTable.com
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!
Enterprising moms and local writers, Claudine Kurp, Amy Suski, and Micaela Williamson have combined their talents to create a new must-have book for area parents, Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition
This local guide is a wealth of information featuring museums and historic sites, parks and playgrounds, skating, water parks, nature centers, arts, birthday parties, restaurants, and so much more. Families will also love the insider tips, “Kid Trips Top Picks,” ample seasonal guide, and final chapter, “Family Fun Across the Potomac,” highlighting many key attractions in Maryland and Washington DC. Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition is the most inclusive and thorough book for Northern Virginia families ever published.
“It is our hope that this book becomes an indispensable resource that area families come back to again and again throughout their parenting years,” says author Micaela Williamson. She adds, “I have lived in Northern Virginia for a decade and didn’t even know some of the places in this book existed. It was fun to learn and discover as we researched the book too.”
The authors collectively boast impressive credentials and writing experience. After spending fifteen years in corporate America, Claudine Kurp founded the website DC Metro Mom which includes over 700 blogs and a list of over 4,000 vendors. Previously working as an attorney, Amy Suski switched over to blogging and professional editing and is the co-founder of DC Metro Mom. Micaela Williamson created the award winning blog, Super NoVA Mommy and writes family feature articles for Northern Virginia Magazine.
Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition is now available for purchase in paperback and ebook format at Amazon.com and Smashwords.
for more information. Follow on Facebook facebook.com/GoKidTrips
and Twitter twitter.com/GoKidTrips
I often find myself in a dilemma: I'm hungry and I don't feel like cooking... but I don't want to go out to eat because Lord knows how many calories are coming out of a restaurant's serving window.
A few months ago, I solved that problem by finding one of my new favorite spots to nosh: Zoes Kitchen
. The food is healthy and delicious - literally just an extension of my own kitchen. It's easy and guilt-free eating out when you know there is no fryer or microwave in the kitchen!
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to host a tasting event at the new Zoes Kitchen In Reston
. Zoes Kitchen is a Mediterranean-inspired fast food restaurant with signature dishes that the whole family can enjoy. Along with local bloggers, foodies, and friends - we tried just about everything on the menu!
Jason, the GM, brought out a selection of the most popular menu items: grilled chicken, steak, and shrimp kabobs, salads, chicken rollups, hummus, and even gluten-free options. Zoes Kitchen touts the freshness and quality of their food - and the product delivered on that promise (all the way down to the warm, fresh chocolate chip cookies!).
We are always looking for laid back (aka kid-friendly) restaurants with outdoor seating, so we'll definitely head back when the weather is nicer to enjoy the patio. Check out the pics below of yesterday's tasting event... (my stomach is growling just looking at these!)
Thanks to everyone who came out to the event! If you missed it, you can follow the tweets & pics: #ZoesKitchenReston.
About Zoës Kitchen: Founded in 1995, Zoës Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant that creates homemade Mediterranean-inspired food designed to help you celebrate life with family and friends through providing authentic, better-for-you recipes that are hand-prepared daily with wholesome, close-to-the-garden ingredients and a side of Southern hospitality. Zoës Kitchen is dedicated to delivering delicious, fresh and convenient in-store and takeout meal solutions that allow families to get out of the kitchen and enjoy more time together. All Zoës Kitchen recipes are made using good, honest ingredients that are chemical-free, as well as fresh, never frozen poultry. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are also available. Zoës Kitchen has 75 locations in 12 states across the U.S.
For more information, please visit www.zoeskitchen.com, www.facebook.com/ZoesKitchen or twitter.com/ZoesKitchen.
Have you checked out the new Build-A-Bear store at Fair Oaks Mall
? I'll be honest, this is one of those stores that I'll pass by as fast as I can so that we don't get distracted and dragged in. However, I am actually quite impressed with the new store design and enhanced technology interaction with the kids. We were invited in to take a look at what's new and experience making a "bear" ourselves.
Of course, we did not choose a bear (that would make too much sense) - we chose an Ice Age character (a squirrel or something?) which Build-A-Bear @ Fair Oaks is carrying to correlate with the Ice Age theme of Santa's Palace this year. #Genius! When you walk through the store, motion sensors talk to you
along the way. Almost everything has been transformed to a touch-screen for the kids - for the most part, it is completely do-it-yourself and hands-on (aside from stuffing and sewing the bear together). Our favorite part was giving the animals a bath. The tub was a large touch screen - kinda like an iPad - and the different tub toys had effects on the screen. For instance, if you put the rubber duck on the screen, two little legs appeared under it and you could see it swimming in the water and the boat made waves. If you guessed I was quite captivated... you should have seen the kids.
Check out our pics below for a look at the new store! or, you can take a virtual tour of the store
*I was invited by Build-A-Bear to visit the new store and was provided with a complimentary product. The opinions are always my own!
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory
at Potomac Mills will open its doors to the public on Sunday, November 11th @ 4pm - just in time for the holiday season. Last night, I was one of the lucky few to get a sneak peek of all the deliciousness that they are about to bring to PWC. I took my 4 year old and invited my girlfriend Sheila and her son for mommy/son double date night!To start, Dave, the mid-Atlantic manager, gave me a tour of the restaurant and kitchen.
Along the way, Dave told me about his history with the company - he started when there were just 7 restaurants. He went on to explain how the restaurants are still run like mom and pop shops and founded on fresh ingredients.
We picked up the kids (literally) and were swept through the hustle and bustle of a working kitchen. Have you ever heard that saying "too many cooks in the kitchen"? Try 55 cooks in the kitchen.
Dave took us for a twirl around their prep areas in the back and showed us the super tiny freezer and the amazingly organized refrigerator. I was completely shocked at the size of the freezer for such a large restaurant, but Dave said the only items that are frozen are basically the cheesecakes and shrimp. Everything else is made fresh daily. I had always been under the impression that The Cheesecake Factory served mostly pre-packaged dishes - the word "factory" is a total misnomer.It goes without saying that our food and service was incredible. Even the "Skinnylicious" plate that we ordered was still super tasty - and less than 590 calories.
This may sound strange, but one of the highlights of my night was the uber-clean bathrooms. Maybe I'm weird, but what woman doesn't love a clean bathroom? (esp. public!)I'll leave you with three things I learned tonight that made me happy: 1.
The restaurant will bring about 250 new jobs to the Woodbridge area. 2. Each time a slice of specialty cheesecake is purchased, The Cheesecake Factory makes a donation to Feeding America. 3. Love one of their many sauces? A little-known secret: You can buy a mason jar of any sauce for about $5. Make your Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp at home!Check out the pics below of our meal and follow The Cheesecake Factory on Facebook and Twitter.
(ps, they will be offering valet parking so that you don't have to deal with the crazy mall parking lots during the holiday season!)
*The Cheesecake Factory provided me (and 1300 other guests) with a complimentary meal during their preview events.
Of course, all opinions are my own.
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.
You know that sense of satisfaction you get when you see movies that you loved as a child, but then you finally understood the adult humor at an older, wiser age? (A la Shrek?) Wreck-It Ralph is hilarious for adults and children alike.
I got a chance to catch a pre-screening at Tysons a few weeks ago with B, my girlfriend Sheila, and her son. The movie had all of us laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
Highlights: The 3D scenes are awesome, the hilarious AA style meeting for Ralph with a guest appearance by Bowser, and the land of sweets where the police officers are donuts wearing aviators (and one is named Dunkin') - loved it!
Check it out with your families this weekend - It is definitely my favorite animated film of the year!
*I was invited by Disney to attend the pre-screening. As usual, all opinions are my own.
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!