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Celebrations is a 125 acre secluded waterfront property perched high above Swift Creek Reservoir. Celebrations offers breathtaking views and 5 distinctly different venues.
Sponsored content and giveaway provided by Celebrations on the Reservoir.
I'm traveling overseas next month, and while most of my stay will be in a 5-star hotel, I'll also be makling a few pit stops at lesser known destiantions before I get to Dubai. I've been reading so many traveler reviews stating that no matter where you go, you ALWAYS have to check for bedbugs. I've never seen any and don't know much about them, so I asked Patty Pierleonardi from Pest Management Services, Inc to give me the inside scoop of how to avoid bedbugs while traveling.
With all of the snow outside... all I can think is that I'll be at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah in 6 weeks! Can't wait to escape to warmer weather!
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 slept in...
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.
The Cozywoggle 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 or Jaleo.
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!