Over the Memorial Day weekend, I took a road trip with my son to central Pennsylvania to visit my grandma and family. There is something so beautiful about the fresh air in Happy Valley that you just don't get to experience in this fast paced life in Northern Virginia. My uncle owns 100 acres on the top of a mountain, and since I had never been to the property before, we decided to check it out and go for a hike... not once, but twice. It was a gorgeous view and we made it to the top landing with ease in the Radley Acura RDX. What a beautiful day we were able to enjoy!
Last week, I partnered with Toyota to check out the brand new 2014 Camry SE.
On Friday, the Camry was dropped off and first thing Saturday morning we packed it up and took the trip down to the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Speedway! The Camry SE is the Toyota model that was circling the track during the race, so it was neat to get a personalized experience with the vehicle.
First things first, the Camry SE had the technology package, so we spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to set up the navigation and bluetooth. Once we figured it out, we were on a roll and cruised down to Richmond.
We got to the race right on time (traffic and parking at a NASCAR event is INSANE!) and went to the Toyota Pit Pass display where we got to meet Toyota Driver Brian Vickers. B LOVED it! And, he even got a signed hat from Brian. Pretty cool!
We mingled around outside for a while and checked out all of the vendors. Naturally, there was a mechanical bull which we stopped and watched for a while as people were tossed all around. Afterwards, we entered the stadium in time to see RG3 drive the Toyota pace car and start the race. I had never been to anything NASCAR before, I hadn't even watched it on TV....but I have to say, it is REALLY neat to see it in person. The TV does not do it justice.
We left the race at lap 300/400 to try to beat the traffic heading back North. B fell asleep within minutes of getting in the car and I cruised home comfortably in the Toyota Camry SE! As I pulled into my house back in Fairfax, I realized that I had made the round-trip on just a little more than 1/4 tank of gas! How crazy is that?
Thanks to Toyota for sharing the experience with us!
Naturally, when you travel to the most beautiful city in the Middle East your first stop should be for Pho.
We ate on the hotel property the first night at their Southeast Asian restaurant, Lao, and ordered the beef pho and beef short ribs. The service and restaurants at the property were delicious. We tried just about everything except Social by Heinz Beck.
Afterwards, we took a stroll around the property to see how beautiful the beachfront was lit up at night.
On Saturday, we caught a taxi to Dubai and checked into the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeriah. The hotel is brand new and just opened to the public at the end of December. Our room was super clean, very modern and included a private outdoor patio with a water view and the Burj Al Arab in the distance. Check out the pics of our accommodations below.
The first stop on our trip to United Arab Emirates was in the capital city of Abu Dhabi to stay with our friends Vanessa & Martin. Vanessa suggested that I make reservations for "Bubbalicious Brunch" at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort for a "Friday brunch like you've never seen". She wasn't kidding.
The brunch was all inclusive with everything from whole roasted lamb, fresh sushi, imported fresh shucked oysters from France, jumbo king crab legs, and all the bubbly and beverages you can drink for FOUR HOURS.
Friday in Abu Dhabi is the first day of the weekend -- so everyone was out to celebrate and enjoy the gorgeous weather. After brunch ended at 4, the party was moved to the Fairway and we enjoyed beverages and Cohibas on the golf course.
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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!