Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner to participate in their Stay, Play and Write campaign. My mom and her girlfriends were already planning a trip to Tysons Corner Galleria to do some holiday shopping - so I figured it'd be the perfect time to coordinate with them and have a girls getaway. My mom and her friends arrived from Richmond early to get their shop on, so I wasn't surprised when she called to tell me that they had already checked into the room. I was surprised, however, when she said that we had THE RITZ-CARLTON SUITE... like... all 1800+ square feet!
All I could think is that I might be sleeping in the same bed that Harry Styles
The suite greeted us with double doors, a foyer, three bathrooms, king bed, formal dining room with seating for 8, kitchen, and a spacious living room with fireplace. Also -- the suite offers club access to the concierge lounge with 5 food and beverage presentations each day.
I was treated to a seat at the last class in the Fall Epicurean Series on Saturday with the Executive Pastry Chef, Fred. I posted this before, but each Saturday in October, The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner offered opportunities to cook with their team. I actually ran into a nice lady at the cooking lesson who said she was there because she read it on my blog... pretty cool! If they start this series up again in the future, I'll be sure to post the schedule. For now, you can check their calendar of events
for more happenings.
Anyways, the class was 3-4:30... and I probably would have a lot more to say, but they paired three of the four desserts with cocktails in those 90 minutes and I was just happy I didn't fall off of my bar stool. Chef Fred was pretty amazing and he made everything look SO easy. I am inspired enough to try to make creme brulee at home - his tip was to go straight to home depot and get a blow torch. I think I can handle that! Check out the sweet potato bread pudding, milk chocolate and caramel rounds, sweet potato pie, and pumpkin spice creme brulee:
Aside from enjoying the complimentary food and beverages in the club lounge, we also dined in ENTYSE Wine Bar & Bistro. Since there were 5 of us, we went ahead and made a reservation for 8pm. Good thing we did because it got packed. There was an awesome Latin trio performing - and I've been told that it's one of the only upscale places in the area with live music on the weekends.
For dinner, everyone in our party ordered surf and turf or the filet... you can't go wrong with either option. For breakfast at ENTYSE Bistro on Sunday morning, I had their famous eggs benedict with jumbo lump crab cakes. It was supposed to be a "shopping weekend" in Tysons... but I think we did way more dining then shopping.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway - so close to home, but so far removed from the busy hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia.
I was provided with a complimentary stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Final Cut: Petite Filet
Between my dad being quite the poker player and my brother being the luckiest man on Earth, there was no better destination to celebrate their birthdays (50 and 25, respectively) than Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
. To make the night special, we made a reservation at Final Cut
. The high end, contemporary steakhouse was hidden like a gem inside the flashy casino.
Before we even made it to the casino, we all gave my mom hell about wasting her time on the nickel slots. They are her absolute favorite. Of course, she had to play "just $20" before dinner. This time, my mom sat right down and won FOURTEEN THOUSAND nickels. That's quite the return on a $2 bet!
We headed over to Final Cut and sat in the lounge until our table was ready. After being greeted and seated, we were directed to the iPad on the table to preview the drink menu and place our orders. The wine list
was extensive -- over 9 pages long and 300 selections. I was a little overwhelmed... so I ordered Grey Goose Martinis and domestic beers from the iPad and awaited their arrival. Insider Tip: All Martinis are $5 Wednesday-Sunday 5pm-7pm at the bar.
For appetizers, we selected the Shrimp Cocktail and the Seasonal Oysters. The oysters at this time of year are from the Choptank River (what a coincidence as I've vacationed on the Choptank twice already this summer!). They were very fresh and paired perfectly with the bold horseradish in the cocktail sauce.
For our meats, we went with the traditional Filets and Prime Rib. At Final Cut
, all of the steaks are hand cut to order, seasoned with kosher salt and tri color peppercorns, then broiled at 1600 degrees to create a thin charred crust that seals in the natural beef juices.
Our waiter suggested a few sides to pair with our main courses: Truffle Mac and Cheese, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, and Creamed Spinach. All items were a la carte.Insider Tip: Every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, Final Cut is offers a special three course Chef's menu that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for just $39.99 per person.As we enjoyed our meals, we had a chance to meet the chef who explained to us his philosophy behind the restaurant. The best part -- he took a piece of the land at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and reserved the space for an on-site garden. The staff at Final Cut takes turns tending to the garden and many of the ingredients in the menu items come directly from farm to fork compliments of the green thumbs of the staff!
We hardly had room to finish our meals when we realized we still had to check out the desserts. We slowed down with a cup of French press coffee before completely enjoying Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries and Sweet Cream & Chocolate Lava Cake with White Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse. We were so full (and some of us were pretty broke after losing a large amount of coin at the roulette tables) that walking back to our cars was almost like a chore. Insider Tip: Complimentary Valet is offered for guests at Final Cut.
While we weren't so lucky at the table games, we definitely hit the jackpot with the family birthday celebration at Final Cut. Our pockets may have been empty, but our tummies were very full!
*special thanks to Final Cut for inviting me out to dine at their restaurant and providing dinner for my family.
all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I don't know why, but I was determined to have B on two wheels before the day was over yesterday. We sat in bed in our PJs and watched YouTube videos of little kids learning to ride bikes all morning - one kid was only three years old and tackling a dirt bike course. After seeing that, I knew that my child could do the basics.
About three weeks ago, we took the training wheels and pedals off of his bike. I read online that if you can first get your child to balance and "glide" on the bike - adding in the pedals is easy. In the last three weeks since we took the pedals off of his bike, he has not gotten on it. Not once.
We made promises over the moon of things he'd receive if he learned to ride a bike on two wheels. He said he wanted "a new helmet that would cost one hundred and thirty five dollars" along with "lunch at Outback where you found a fly in your food last time". Oh, AND he wanted a motorcycle like his dad. Not a bike with a motor because that would be "hideous". You can't make this stuff up.
We all were up for the challenge. We had our hopes high, cameras charged and pedals in hand just in case he figured out how to glide. As we walked down to the tennis courts, I thought to myself "If he learns to ride this bike, this will be the beginning of his freedom and me worrying about where he is..."
On his first try, he glided down the hill with complete ease. Then he did it again, and again. After three times I said the hell with it and I put the pedals back on myself. And just like that, he got it. Something clicked and it was so natural for him. He didn't fall once, he just took off and never looked back - well, he did look back just to show us the huge smile on his face!
About 15 minutes after figuring it out, he yelled "Hey guys, watch this!". I was 100% sure he was going to show us how to apply the breaks to stop. Oh, no, who was I kidding?
A WHEELIE. My child is 4 years old, just learned to ride a bike, and he's already doing wheelies. I absolutely could not believe it. I was the PROUDEST MAMA EVER!
Yesterday was a day that I absolutely had not been looking forward to. I, myself, had anxiety over B getting his shots for kindergarten. I didn't know if I should warn him or not or how to handle it, so I posted to the group to get all of your feedback
. Great adivce was given and shared.
I wasn't sure if I should tell him or not - but since he's a big boy, and I'm always so proud of him no matter what, I thought I'd go ahead and tell him on the way over. To my surprise, he actually handled it really well and didn't seem to care at all. I asked him if he wanted to get ice cream afterwards or even a slurpee. He said "no thanks". WHAT? Is this my child?
The nurse came in while I was reading him a book on my lap. She had three needles in her hand and asked him to hop up on the table. I told him I'd finish reading him the book while he was up there. I stood next to him and continued reading while he looked at the illustrations and didn't flinch once. Before I could turn the page, the shots were over and I proudly declared that he was a CHAMP.
When we got in the car, he asked me to take him to Wendy's to get a grilled chicken wrap. I did, and ordered him a frosty too! :)
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.