I was honored to be invited by The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner
to host a Blogger Night Out Event for local social media influencers and their +1s. It was great to connect with old friends and meet and see new faces too! In the world of social media, you can never know too many people!
Iman, the marketing director, graciously invited us into Entyse Bar and Lounge
for a spectacular night of networking, laughter, and of course, food and beverage. I have to admit that Vincent, the wine director, had us all feeling quite fine with his luscious assortment of vinos (my new favorite is the White Haven Sauvignon Blanc
- try it, you won't be disappointed!). The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is not just a swanky hotel for out of town guests - they offer so much more! For example: there are classes for kids in the kitchen, manicure and martini events for women, and sushi nights every Thursday! Check out the pics below of the night out - Special thanks to The Ritz-Carlton for hosting!
If you're a social media influencer and you'd like to be invited to an event hosted by Real Housewives of Northern Virginia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact info so that we can connect! *sponsored content provided by The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.
Early Sunday morning, I hosted the Sensory-Friendly Santa event at Fair Oaks Mall
. The event could not have been possible with out the gracious support of Fair Oaks Mall (thanks, Ed!). The children and families were so wonderful!
Thank you to Corner Bakery, Sears, and Dunkin Donuts for helping make the event possible. There was such a great turn out - I hope that we can make it an annual event. Special thank you to Valerie Bey Photography for donating your time to photograph the event.
My phone died yesterday by means of internal malfunction. In the past two days, these are the things I've had to do with no "smart phone" at my fingertips:
1. Use my laptop.
2. Look at a map and actually hand-write directions to someone’s house.
3. Use a display phone at the Verizon store to call my grandma.
4. Plead with my child to bear with me at the grocery store – no Netflix to keep him happy.
5. Miss several picture-worthy moments: B with Santa, tacky light tour, sorority alumnae gift exchange.
6. Run without Pandora or my running app.
7. Walk to the neighbor’s house to ask if they wanted a playdate.
8. Mentally calculate my gas mileage after filling up at the pump.
9. Skip talking to my mom every day :(
10. Skip calling and ranting with customer service rep after a shipment I ordered is missing several pieces.
Hopefully, I will get a new phone delivered by noon tomorrow.
Does anything on this list hit home with you? What what you miss if you didn't have a smart phone for a few days? Leave a comment or Join in the convo on my facebook page.
My friend Wendy came into town to visit me after a whirlwind trip to DC. She was in town for the Kennedy Center Honors
weekend - and got to hit up the most fabulous parties, State Department Dinner, White House reception, and of course, the Kennedy Center event and supper. I lushed at hearing all of her fantastic stories! She is so fancy! Her driver
dropped her off at my house... and after her stay at the Four Seasons, I can't really even compete... but we had so much fun getting together and reconnecting! She showed up with some delicious Georgetown Cupcakes at my front door.
How sweet is that?
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:
Thank you so very much to everyone who came out last week to make my blogiversary (and my birthday!) a night to remember! Huge shout out to AT&T
for sponsoring the event and supporting Mission Sleep
. If you missed it - you can check out photos of the event thanks to Valerie Bey Photography.
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.
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
by Jenn Plant
What a beautiful day to travel to Millwood, Virginia for the Shenandoah Valley Wine and Music Festival. I fully expected a crisp autumn day but as the sun broke through the clouds, it warmed up nicely and ended up being absolutely perfect.
For our third date, David and I made our way to the fenced off area where the local wineries had set up their tents. There were ten Virginia wineries on location that day, none of which I had ever had the pleasure of drinking before. And was I in for a treat! David, being a chef, had already tried a few of the local wines, but most were new to him as well.
It was $20 for a commemorative glass and unlimited tastings. From super sweet whites to extra dry reds and every possibility in between. One winery had us try the “Kiss of the Devil” made from 30 varieties of peppers, including ghost chilies! They claim it’s “better for basting than tasting” - David and I tried it anyway. It was definitely hot and would be great in a chili recipe. We also discovered the beauty of mulled wine. Think hot apple cider and your favorite red wine. A few of the wineries had their own spin on the sensational drink, but all with the same basic ingredients.
Red Wine. Apple juice. Mulling spices. Keep on low in crock pot. Quick. Easy. Fantasticly delicious. Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I plan on making large quantities of this and I may or may not share with my family.
After sampling most of the wines, David and I walked around the beautiful property at Long Branch. The paved walkway took us around the historic home and we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful and picturesque places we’d ever seen. Rolling hills, a small pond and horses running in the fields before us; it was absolutely gorgeous. We sat under a tree and simply enjoyed each other’s company and the scenery for almost two hours. Whether it’s another wine festival or maybe a tour of the historic home, I’m hoping that we will be able to visit Long Branch again very soon.
Here’s to an amazing third date and hopefully a fourth. Cheers!
A few of our favorites from the day:
Amissville, VAwww.unicornwinery.com We liked their Traminette 2011 and Chamboucin 2010
Barren Ridge Vineyards
Fishersville, VAwww.barrenridgevineyards.com We loved the 2011 Red Barren and 2010 Harmony
Gordonsville, VAwww.hvwine.com Mix their Chocolate and White Chocolate dessert wine for a bit of heaven in your mouth!
Peaks of Otter Winery
Bedford, VAwww.peaksofotterwinery.com If you dare – Try the Kiss The Devil Chili Pepper Wine
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Every bottle of wine on Giant is on sale at their Manassas/Centreville Rd. location. The store is going out of business on November 1 and wine is marked down 40% off! Plus, if you buy 6 bottles, you get an additional 10% off. Being the savvy consumer that I am, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I had let this sale pass. So, clearly, I picked up a very necessary 18 bottles of wine. Gracias (and adios!), Giant.
Also, my friend Laura over at BeltwayBargainMom
said there is another Giant selling 50% off discontinued wines in Manassas. (I think it's the Sudley Rd. store?)