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.
Over the weekend, I was invited up to NYC for an all-expenses paid trip to catch a taping of the new Bethenny
talk show and launch party. I was treated to a quick flight and a beautiful room at the W Hotel in Times Square. Here are some pics from the weekend -- check out Bethenny's new talk show airing this week!
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.
Although my little man is almost 5 and now into a booster, I remember when we struggled to squeeze him, his chubby thighs, AND his winter coat into his infant car seat. I'd alawys loosen the straps in the colder months to make sure he could fit comfortably. But, is loosening the straps always the safest for baby? Local mom, Cherlyn Jenkins, has figured out a way to keep kids warm and safe with her new product: the Cozywoggle
"When I learned that young children shouldn't be placed in car seats while wearing their coats, I had a newborn and a toddler. I needed to find a way to keep my children warm, while also keeping them safe," said Cherlyn Jenkins, entrepreneur, CEO of CJ's Kids and mom of two. "I couldn't find any coats or jackets that were proven to be safe in car seats, so I created one myself. The Cozywoggle is a regular coat that keeps kids warm, is easy to use and has been proven, through crash-testing in a lab, to be safer in an accident.
is an all-in-one solution for travel in the colder months - replacing the need to carry around extra jackets and blankets. If you'd like to snag a Cozywoggle for your child, enter to win the giveaway below!
*Sponsored content provided by CJ's Kids.
1. Enjoy a Brewery Beer Tasting: Capitol City Brewing Company
, Mad Fox Brewing Company
, Sweetwater Tavern
, Dogfish Head Alehouse
, Lost Rhino Brewery
, Gordon Biersch
2. A macho guy's dream date: Blue Ridge Arsenal
followed by a steakhouse with Guinness on tap.
3. Grab charcuterie/cheeses to go from Red Apron Butcher
and relax in Strawberry Park
while watching the Epic Mosaic concert of the week
– you could even cap it off with a unique movie experience in Angelika
4. Split the mussels and an entree at Cock & Bowl
& try a new Belgian beer. Then have a Belgian waffle for dessert.
5. Let him be a pilot for a day and arrange a flight lesson at Freeway Aviation
. Pack a picnic to share afterwards. (We did this for Father’s Day – it was awesome!)
6. Monuments by Moonlight Tour
7. From Old Town Alexandria, take a boat ride across the river to catch a Nationals Game.
8. Walk through Clifton and read the historical markers along Main St. Have dinner at the Clifton General Store
followed by drinks at Trummer’s on Main
9. Dinner at J&G Steakhouse
at the W Hotel in DC followed by dancing and drinks at the rooftop POV Lounge and Terrace
10. Join the weekly New Balance run together
on Thursday night or hike Great Falls National Park
11. Taste and tour the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition: Catocin Creek Distillers
12. Get your swing on at Top Golf
13. Comedy club and then Czech pilsner and sandwiches at Lost Dog in McLean
14. Dinner at Iron Bridge Wine Company
in Old Town Warrenton. Afterwards, walk over to Molly's Irish Pub
for beer and listen to the band play. And then walk down to Claire's at the Depot
for coffee and dessert.
15. Visit Old Town Alexandria for a walk along the river followed by cocktails at Chart House
16. Arlington Drafthouse
for dinner, drinks, and a movie.
17. Adult Go Karting
– no kids allowed!
18. Take a short trip over to Shepherdstown, WV. Stay the night and have dinner at the Bavarian Inn
where the meals are hearty and the wine and beer list robust!
19. Dinner at District Chophouse and Brewery
...then a midnight tour at the Crime and Punishment Museum
in DC. The best way to experience a museum with your date: handcuffs!
20. Metro down to the Verizon Center to catch a sports game. Afterwards, take a quiet walk to either Fogo de Chao
21. Take a trip over to The Organic Butcher
in McLean and then prepare a meal at home together.
22. Pack a picnic and walking shoes, and head to the base of Reagan National Airport to Gravelly Point Park
. Lay on a blanket by the Potomac River and watch the planes take off/land right above you.
23. Atlas Arcade in DC
: Old school arcade games, 80s music and movies playing, and a bar.
24. One word: Chima
25. Nosh on the Fried Chicken while enjoying the art and poetry at Busboys and Poets
26. Hop on his motorcycle and take a ride through the countryside to Middleburg, VA. Enjoy drinks outside at the Red Horse Tavern
or a fancy meal at Red Fox Inn
27. Cozy up at the Illy Espresso Bar
or at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Or, stop by on Thursdays for the fresh sushi bar at Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge
28. Take a CulinAerie
cooking class together.
29. If he’s the outdoor type, surprise him with a daytrip to Bass Pro Shop
in Ashland, VA. Have lunch at Islamorada Fishing Company
. For dessert, enjoy a treat from the fudge shop.
30. Go fishing at Riverbend Park
. You can rent a fishing pole and a row boat right at the park. All you have to do is show up!This list was compiled with the help of some of my lovely readers. If you have a date night idea for him that's not on this list, please share in the comments below!
While there is plenty of shoreline in Virginia to enjoy, sometimes it's nice to get away to explore new beaches. And, since we were meeting family from Pennsylvania, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was our destination of choice last week. Unfortunately, we "lost" two days of our trip to bad weather and chilly temperatures. But you probably know that when family and cousins come together, no weather is going to hold us back on having fun.
We stayed at The Bellmoor Inn and Spa
. The decor was absolutely beautiful and the service was fantastic. We arrived just as the front of the derecho was hitting Rehoboth and we sat in the hotel's study and watched the clouds roll over us. Yes, we can make an event out of changes in the weather forecast. For some reason, weather REALLY excites my family. (I can vividly remember sitting in my grandparents' living room in Lamar, Pennsylvania listening to the weather band radio as a child -- This could have very easily been the highlight of my Gram's trip.)
We checked in with 4 kids in tow -- and knowing that we couldn't leave the hotel, a nice man working the front desk, Drew, offered to provide us entertainment in the conference room. He set up a projector showing Madagascar and brought us a poker set and Scattegories. It was brilliant on his part -- it kept my jovial family out of the study and well-occupied for the rest of the night.
A hot breakfast buffet is served each morning until 10:30 with menu items for both kids and adults to enjoy. On Saturday and Sunday morning, there was an omelet station with two chefs working their magic. Coffee was available around the clock, and fresh baked cookies and tea were served from 3-4 daily. Also, The Bellmoor offers two pools: one adult only and one family pool. One gripe I had was that some adults were not very happy with the kids jumping and splashing and playing in the pool because it interrupted their reading. Two ladies (who were not traveling with kids) even got snotty with B and his cousin. REALLY? Isn't that what the adult pool is for? UGH.
The beach was beautiful and the boardwalk was CLEAN and full of families. Sometimes, when staying at Virginia Beach... I just don't get a great vibe on a Saturday night on the boardwalk. I felt completely comfortable walking around alone with B until we met up with my uncle and his kids later in the night. I had no qualms with Rehoboth and we stayed out and played in the arcade until almost 11pm.
The foodie highlight of the Delaware trip was my stop at the Henlopen City Oyster House
which was less than a block from our hotel. OH EM GEE. This place was a gem! They had a sign out front that boasted a happy hour from 3-5 so my uncle and I decided to check it out. This place was not a tourist trap at all -- and I'm pretty sure that there were even locals hanging out and enjoying the salty goodness of the raw bar. If you go, you must treat yourself to a mason jar of the house punch (or two, or three or four). Go here. You will love it.
With the input from local experts, here's a pocket style dining guide if you decide to venture out to Rehoboth:
While out and about, be sure to check out Penny Lane
, a quaint little shopping street just off Rehoboth Avenue. We found some really artsy and one of a kind boutiques there. For more travel information, you can check out downtownrehoboth.com
If you have a favorite spot that I missed above, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section. We had a great time and will definitely be back :)
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!
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 email@example.com with your contact info so that we can connect! *sponsored content provided by The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.
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
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: