Archive of ‘Oh The Places We Go’ category

Viva Las Vegas


Vegas. A place I had no intention of visiting nor the pulling desire to empty my wallet into a Mad Men themed slot machine. Friends would go and come back on a natural high (a high I would soon experience for myself), demanding me to commit to a trip. I think I was concerned about the amount of luxury offered in one city and if I too would fall victim to its alluring pull. Bright lights, all you can eat everything, stores that offered so many expensive things you needed to put a deposit down before even looking at the items, and of course, the gambling. Why wouldn’t I want to go there? So I went. (more…)

I describe my short time in Vegas as a first-time meet up between pen pals who have been writing to each other for years. So many aspects of Vegas took me by surprise but at the same time, I felt a familiarity with Vegas I hadn’t experienced with other new places. I knew what she had to offer and I wanted it. All. Of. It. Chris and I wandered the casinos with wonderment at how over the top every detail was. We went with friends, who have been many times and honestly, I was so grateful for them and their guidance. Otherwise, you may have found me grazing a tuna melt from the Earl of Sandwich every night, out of sheer feelings of being overwhelmed. But the food though, I will return to that in a bit.

Vegas is a destination for people of all incomes and walks of life, to be able to let go of penny pinching and bill pay anticipation. Your biggest worry is not seeing that beautiful bonus pop up on your slot machine and even if you don’t (we lost big time), you still enjoyed the experience of controlling where you literally put your money. Vegas is an oasis to all, leaving any kind of troubles miles away and indulging every desire you ever had. I’m not condoning addiction to sex or gambling or the perverse sexual options one has in Vegas; that’s a fight for another day. I’m insinuating that maybe, sometimes, indulgence is needed and even healthy. I welcomed Vegas with open arms and I felt like, in a way, Vegas hugged me back. But don’t be fooled, I still didn’t win any money.

Now, between drinking strong cocktails and walking miles of casinos, I tried to take pictures. There were amazing things we ate and did that my buzzed self didn’t even think of grabbing my phone.


This is a cinnamon crepe, also called a skinny pancake, Chris ate it for breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. This delicious thing looked small but literally unfolded into layers and layers of light, tender, sweet crepe.

 


This was my breakfast at Mon Ami Gabe and my first Croque Madame. I literally have no idea why I have never ordered one before, except for maybe the fear of my mind being blown (and it was). I need all the ketchup.

 


Casino lighting. The best kind of lighting when your cheeks are blushed from drinking too much alcohol before dinner. After the pic, we saw the show, Absinthe.

 


I tried to figure out how to replicate these flower balls with whimsical, twinkling lights for my house. To be continued…

 


We took a cab ride to Downtown Vegas, where time has stood still. So many beautifully vintage casinos that take you back in time just by entering their doors. But, of course, I didn’t take any pictures of that. I DID take pictures of this lovely Container Park; a sweet little “mall” of local stores and restaurants built out of large containers. There was a fun playground area with a very tall slide that was just begging for an adult to slide down it.

 


At the Container Park, we were given the best lunch recommendation: Carson Kitchen.. It had so many delicious options, we weren’t even hungry for our buffet dinner that night. I guess you can’t have it all in Vegas but you can have this amazing Mac and Cheese!

 


Or these amazing bison meatloaf sliders! Not pictured: greek tacos, deviled eggs with caviar, and spicy tater tots! Give Carson Kitchen a visit on your next trip! Totally worth the cab ride!

 


It’s Vegas! This is the obligatory cocktail picture. No matter how hard I bribed, that plate would not move out of the way!

 


This! This is what I will always remember when I look back on our trip. The view from our room. I’m spoiled but enjoyed every minute of it!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of my favorite meal from Vegas. Maybe it was the cocktails or maybe I was in food nirvana, I didn’t think of it but if you EVER go to Vegas, check out Blue Ribbon for dinner. I cannot begin to describe how amazing your meal will be. I won’t even be able to recommend a dish to you because every thing was utterly perfect!

The Best Christmas Present

I’ve neglected you this holiday season and I am sorry. This is the busiest December I have ever experienced but in such a good way. I have been to Williamsburg, I have celebrated my best friend getting married, and I’ve been up to my elbows in Christmas movies, cookies, and parties with dear friends. I will have some good stuff for you in the new year and maybe I can get my act together here. (more…)

I was at a Christmas party the other night, playing white elephant. One gal suggested that before you pick your gift, you should say what your favorite or least favorite Christmas gift has been. I kind of feel like the good gifts get lost in the not-so-good gift’s memory. At least for me, it’s easier to remember the gifts I wasn’t too keen on than the ones I loved. I guess that’s a good sign of being blessed with great gifts! As I was awaiting my turn to pick my gift, I was nervously trying to think of any gift I have gotten in past Christmases. I looked down at my hands and remembered! Here is my favorite Christmas memory/gift.

It was 2 days before Christmas 5 years ago (still with me?). I had just graduated college, although due to a snow storm, the ceremony was cancelled and broke my heart. Chris and I had planned to visit New York City in honor of me attaining a Bachelor’s degree. Let’s not mention that around this time, I was a crazy girlfriend, who was desperately looking for a ring on her finger. Poor Chris! Anyways, we took a train to the Big Apple and our first stop was the Empire State Building. Chris is deathly afraid of heights so I knew this was going to be a challenge. He barely made it out of the elevator that takes you up 100 floors in less than a couple of minutes. Well, we go outside to check out the view and the next thing that happened was totally unexpected. I love this memory of us and the best part is, we got it all on film thanks to Chris’s dear friend. I am including the link to watch the video of my favorite Christmas memory. Have a very Merry Christmas, friends! What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Click here for video!

Williamsburg

Chris and I love escaping to small, old towns whenever we get the chance. Williamsburg, Virginia became an annual escape since it’s so close to Maryland but just far enough that it makes you feel like you’re on a relaxing vacation. We love the history of these old places and try to even check out a ghost tour wherever we go (there’s bound to be some creepy history the day tours won’t tell you). Last year, we were graced with the presence of my brother and sister-in-law for their babymoon. We are making it a tradition that the four of us go to Williamsburg to bring in the Christmas season. This weekend was full of laughter, beer, delicious food, Christmas lights galore, and a grand illumination of sorts. Here is an overall of our trip. I highly recommend a trip to Williamsburg if you have never been or if you are like me and went as a kid. One thing you’ll notice is Williamsburg definitely pays attention to detail. (more…)

Our first must in Williamsburg is Christmastowne. Busch Gardens closes down (most) of their rides and literally covers the whole park in lights making it a Christmas wonderland. They even had snow falling when you walked in! Make sure you get the S’mores and the Cinnamon Roll Funnel Cake!

We stay at a Bed and Breakfast, Magnolia Manor (picture above) about 1 mile from Colonial Williamsburg. We woke up Saturday morning to a small town parade, wherein all of the local businesses, schools, rescues, etc., create their own Christmas themed floats. Can we move here, please? This was one of my favorite floats.

This tree is proof miracles exist. It’s glowing orange in the beginning of December when all of the other trees have been bare for weeks. So lovely.
Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has a small garden where you can buy fresh veggies, fruits, plants, and real holiday decor. It’s the end of the garden’s season obviously but it’s still lovely to visit.

These are a few of my favorite things…

I’m in love with these peppers. So vibrant.

Williamsburg was decked out everywhere with Christmas decorations. I love this color palette.
Williamsburg

At night, the streets came alive with the Fife and the Drum marching band. My hands and feet were frozen by this time.

And alas, the main reason why we came to Williamsburg: the Grand Illumination! It’s Colonial Williamsburg’s way of kicking off the advent season with fireworks. I know what you’re thinking: colonial and fireworks don’t go together. But man, this show definitely was worth the hour of waiting in the frigid cold for. Definitely a must if you’re in town for this weekend!

I hope you get the chance to experience Williamsburg’s festivities this time of year. It’s so worth it. Happy weekend, friends!

Disney in the Fall

If you know me or if you don’t you will easily learn, Disney World is a special place to me. It’s the only place I can visit that’s covered in cheesy tourism. In fact, I fully embrace the tourism and join the herds of people who want to experience all of the magic that is Disney. Chris took me there for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and it was nothing short of magical. I have always gone in the summertime but I am leaving those days behind me, along with the humidity. Here is a glimpse of my trip. I am going to be the worst mother in that my children won’t have too many pictures from their childhood. I never think to take a picture until after the fact so enjoy! (more…)

This is the number one reason anyone needs to come to Disney in the Fall. Unreal.

We spent a lot of time (and money) at the Food and Wine Festival. There are so many countries offering you sweet and savory treats along with drinks that represent their country. You see how this could get dangerous?

This was taken when we were half way around the world showcase in Italy. We were very happy and giggly.

Chris loves Disney and his Woody Mickey ears. Isn’t Mainstreet just adorable?

The Magic Star. Our favorite drink in Disney. It’s hardly enough alcohol to feel anything but we get them anyways. We have a collection of light up ice cubes from our many magic stars at Disney.

The Magic Kingdom goes all out for Halloween, making it extra special. I loved this view of the castle.

They also have a special set of fireworks for Halloween.

Among all of the magical Halloween fun, we also experienced some amazing food at some of our favorite spots. Here are some must eats if you are in Disney. I’m sure there are more I am leaving out but my wallet and tummy are thanking me right about now.

Jiko the cooking place is some of the best food and ambience in Disney. Located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko offers you the best wine options in Disney, along with food that will blow you away. It’s African themed so we were a little nervous if we would like our meals but once our first course came out, our nervousness turned into full blown foodie excitement. What to get at Jiko: Wild Boar Tenderloin and the Tour of Africa for appetizers, and the slow cooked short rib or filet mignon for dinner. We were way too full for dessert but I saw the desserts on other guests’ tables and I was a little jealous.

Trails End Breakfast Buffet is a tradition but for the money you spend and what you get, it’s worth it. Plus, the adorable frontier theme always sends me back to my childhood. Their pulled pork eggs benedict is featured on the buffet and is by far the best item on the menu.

Ohana is our favorite place, wherein you are offered a plethora of meats, veggies, and noodles until your tummy is about to burst. The meat is in a delicious marinade and is always cooked perfectly. If you get dinner reservations close to the fireworks time in the Magic Kingdom, you can watch them from your table at Ohana. Plus, you can get a tropical drink served right out of a pineapple.

Le Cellier is located in Canada, which is part of Epcot’s World Showcase. The cozy, steakhouse atmosphere makes for a romantic spot if your dinner reservations are past 7. As with all of the Disney restaurants, earlier dinners mean eating with a lot of children who are hungry and getting on their parents’ last nerve. What to get at Le Cellier: the poutine with red wine reduction and canadian cheddar as an appetizer, the filet mignon with mushroom risotto for dinner, the loaded mashed potatoes and burgundy mushrooms for sides, and the creme brulee for dessert.

There are so many other restaurants and experiences I didn’t mention but if you are ever given the chance, check out Disney. It’s pure magic.

Around Charleston in 5 days

When going to a city I’ve never been to before, the first thing I research is places to eat. Sure, I will also need a place to rest my head at night but finding a place to stay is more daunting to me than finding a superb restaurant. So I did my Trip Advisor research and then some. We were only staying in Charleston for 5 days so that meant I had to narrow down my search to only 4 places for dinner! I decided to pick 2 places and the other 2 I left to chance (because there is nothing better than coming across an adorable hole-in-the-wall dive on a random stroll through the neighborhood). I wish I could go back and do it all 2 more times but if you ever find yourself lost in the streets of Charleston, I can point you in the right direction.

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The Charleston Grill caught my attention, due to its large and very creative menu, their nightly jazz band, and its exquisite decor. Chris and I went here for our anniversary dinner and it was everything I dreamed it would be! The menu is split up into 4 themes. Within those themes, you can choose appetizers and entrees. You can also mix and match those themes (please!) so you can get a bunch of different bites. The menu makes it easy for anyone’s eating lifestyle to find something they can truly feel good about. The menu does change but I have a feeling if I go back in a year from now, I will be just as thrilled with the menu choices as I was last week. I would recommend the crab cake as a starter and then pick anything with lobster for your entree. Oh and for a cocktail? Get the Effen Good because that is exactly what it is!

This is the amazing crab cake appetizer. No Old Bay and still the best I've ever had!

This is the amazing crab cake appetizer. No Old Bay and still the best I’ve ever had!

Our favorite place to lunch in Charleston is Butcher and Bee. We were told about this place by a friend who had visited Charleston and couldn’t stop raving about it.Butcher and Bee is a cozy sandwich shop but with a gourmet twist. As you walk up to this unlikely eatery, you notice it’s a local favorite because every seat is taken and there is a line to place your order. Stepping into the restaurant, you are met with smiles from all of the employees and a big waft of butter hits your nose. Do you really want to be anywhere else? Their menu also changes daily but in such a very good way. Our first visit consisted of a Pickled Shrimp Po’ Boy and Roast Beef Sandwich with Chimichurri and smoked onion jam. We went back the next day and encountered the best fried chicken sandwich we have ever had. It sounds like a simple thing but when you have had many a fried chicken sandwich in your life, originality isn’t what comes to mind when thinking about them. This deliciousness was topped with a special garlic aioli and dill verde sauce. You need this in your life! This is the kind of place you can go to a hundred times, never get the same thing, and be perfectly content every time. Also, when I call a restaurant cozy, that means you will be sitting next to or across from a stranger. Think of this as a chance to embrace the southern hospitality and strike up a conversation! Tip: The house brewed sweet tea is served in ice cold mason jars. Adorable!

These are the most amazing fries! Perfectly seasoned with an irresistible homemade ketchup. The little cutie in the back is a Pork Cuban.

These are the most amazing fries! Perfectly seasoned with an irresistible homemade ketchup. The little cutie in the back is a Pork Cuban.

Another fun lunch spot is Home Team BBQ. We stumbled across it after a very hot but pleasant visit to Sullivans Island. We showed up in bathing suits and sand dusted hair and were treated very kindly. Start with the BBQ Chips and Queso with Smoked Sausage for an app then indulge in the BBQ of your liking.

Good Ol' BBQ Pork Sandwich

Good Ol’ BBQ Pork Sandwich

We stayed at the Fulton Lane Inn and as I was peeping out of one of our third story windows, I noticed a quaint restaurant across the street with an Italian flag hanging above it’s black awning. Chris and I both are BIG Italian food lovers so we knew this place would be perfect for our last night in Charleston. And friends, it was. Fulton Five has been voted Charleston’s Most Romantic Restaurant for the last 17 years! We were lucky to score a late reservation for a Saturday night (I highly recommend making reservations in advance). The room is small and dim, with a decor that looks untouched since the 1920’s (in a charming way, not in an old, musky way). We indulged in Squash Bruschetta, Italian wine, lamb and sausage tortellini, lobster and fennel orecchiette, and of course, tiramisu. It was truly our best Italian dining experience to date. We WILL return!

Walking up to Fulton Five. Don't you just want to go in?

Walking up to Fulton Five. Don’t you just want to go in?

Although these places were my favorite to visit, I have a few honorable mentions:
Hank’s Seafood has a Casablanca feel being located in an old building close to the water. The Fried Oyster appetizer is definitely a must and if you haven’t had your fill on Southern fried food already, get one of their fried seafood platters (fried oysters for days). They also have more “mature” options if fried isn’t your thing. My husband isn’t a seafood fan but couldn’t stop praising the beef tenderloin.

We become quite the ice-cream connoisseurs on vacation and found Jeni’s to be our favorite. Their flavors are original (Riesling Poached Pear sorbet? C’mon!), and their ingredients are high quality. Good news: they sell pints of Jeni’s at my local Whole Foods.

If you are ever looking for a fun, relaxing, yummy vacation, look into Charleston. You might just run into me….or Bill Murray.

Adventures in Charleston

I recently read an article giving reasons why couples should vacation over spending money on “things”. This has been my philosophy for the last 4 years and has been pretty easy to stick to…until we bought a house. We bought our first house a few weeks before our fourth anniversary and of course, with moving from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 story townhouse, there are a millions things you literally need. I didn’t want to do anything for our anniversary. I just wanted to stay in and fill up our new home. But we have had a busy, and at times, very stressful year so taking a mini-vacay had to make the list of priorities. So what if my newly painted walls are empty and we don’t have a full length mirror? What we are getting in return will give more water to our ever-growing marriage than knick-knacks ever will. Plus, drinking a Gin and Tonic (with extra lime) and indulging in fried oysters by the water isn’t so bad either. I like to look at anytime we spend a little extra money or time with one another not as a waste or even a hit to our budget, but an investment in our marriage. One thing that has always brought us together and has centered our marriage is saving money to spend lavishly. We make sure to always do something “just for us” for our anniversary but that hasn’t meant an expensive, exotic vacation every year. Our first anniversary was spent in my Mother-In-Law’s house, when she was away visiting family. Our dinner was homemade Fettuccine Alfredo and a shared pint of Ben and Jerry’s. It was special because it was time spent together with the finances we had. Since then, we have been able to upgrade to places like Colonial Willamsburg (love it!) and Disney World (my happy place!) This year we decided to take a road trip to Charleston, SC. And that, my friends, is where this adventure begins.

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Charleston is full of charming homes and structures that have history literally nailed to their doorways. It’s also hard to describe the place: Georgetown meets Rodeo Drive meets New Orleans?? Regardless of your vacationing style, this place satisfies the simple getaway craving we all get around this time of year.

One of the many absolutely beautiful houses on Kings Street.

One of the many absolutely beautiful houses on Kings Street.

 

I will be posting later about the fabulous places where we enjoyed a bite to eat. I’m still in food heaven. But the moral of the story is to find something that works with your budget to do and love with your significant other. There are few things that bring a couple together more than experiencing a place, hand in hand. Also, I want to move to Charleston.

Chris can't (won't) smile in pictures so this is the best I could do.

Chris can’t (won’t) smile in pictures so this is the best I could do.