Archive for maryland

Weekend review: Sweetlife festival

This past weekend I crossed another goal off the old 2014 list and went to the Sweetlife festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. It wasn’t the usual 3-day festival, but it met necessary criteria by having a lot of great bands there, so I jumped on board. I went with a friend and we kept the day fairly casual, showing up well after doors had opened and sitting back on the lawn people watching in between bands. See, here’s me being casual…

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There were a few rain drops during the day, but ain’t no thang…

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As the day went on, we managed to make quite a few friends that were seated near us. As it turns out, Sweetlife was riddled with 15 year olds getting high before their parents came to pick them up, so all the “oldies” decided to band together. Ahhh, to not be a teen ever again.

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And of course as the day went on, there was plenty of dancing…

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All in all, a really fun day that was drama-free and quite memorable! Goal accomplished.

Weekend review: Running Hare Vineyard

This past weekend felt more on-the-go than previous ones as I was just trying to tick off all the little to-dos before next Sunday! There were a few dinners with friends, light shopping, a hair appointment, and even a trip to a vineyard with my friend Sandra and my sister.

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My sis and I had planned a vineyard outing awhile back and I was going to find a few in Northern VA for us to visit; however, after finding a deal for Running Hare Vineyard (located in Prince Frederick, MD) the other week, this became our destination. It was almost too good to be true – a tasting for 2, 2 souvenir glasses, and any bottle of wine from the tasting menu for just $20! Mega steal! Plus, you could bring a wee picnic and make a day of it listening to the live music.

On the flip side of that, in an effort to use up most of the food I had before travels, my friend Sandra and I made grape leaves. Since she’s Egyptian and my dad’s side of the family is Lebanese, it was fun to compare recipes and styles. In the end, they came out brilliantly and we knew they would be perfect for our winery picnic.

So off we went to Prince Frederick and enjoyed the fall foliage along the way. We arrived around 1, enjoyed our tasting, and then set ourselves in the sun to enjoy our bottle of wine and our homemade noms. We had so much fun we ended up staying until 5 when the sun started to set and the crowd started to dwindle. It was a beautiful vineyard and one I’d definitely visit again!

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Weekend review: DC bucket list

This past weekend, I put a big dent in my DC bucket list. Last we checked in, I had celebrated Oktoberfest in Reston with a few girl friends and this weekend, I visited the National Arboretum and picked fruit from a local orchard. I’ve even got the pictures to prove it!

First up, The National Arboretum. Located off New York Avenue, this little gem of plants and collections is probably unknown to most tourists and residents. I first learned about it from a friend who learned about it from her sister and while it’s free to visit, it is a bit out of the way. They certainly didn’t make this little retreat easily accessible for anyone without a car.

Of course, the arboretum is best during peak seasons for certain plants, but beggars can’t be choosers when you procrastinate and don’t think of things in advance, so I went ahead and made the trek to check it out. I can always visit again when certain parts of the park are in bloom. The most visited areas are the herb garden, the Bonsai Pavilions, and the Capitol Columns – which seem to be beautiful regardless of season.

I stopped off in the Bonsai Pavilion first, mainly because I love bonsais.

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Without sounding completely nerdy, my mind is still blown by all the ways bonsais grow and how they can be molded. Here is a compilation of my favorites:

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Look at the one that’s practically a tiny forest! And right across from the Bonsai Pavilion is the herb garden with everything from peppers to clementines, to covered walkways that just beg you to sit down and relax.

photo(233)I was slightly tempted to pick a clementine, but I refrained and then listened to little kids debate whether or not they wanted to pick one of the crazy spicy peppers. (They decided not to, in case you were curious).

Just on the other side of the herb garden are the Capitol Columns and probably the most iconic spot in the arboretum.

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It’s pretty much a photographer’s playground; there was even someone doing a modeling shoot at the top. After I saw these 3 main areas, I hopped back in my car to drive around the park. I could have walked, ran, or biked if I had known more but I didn’t have much time left in the day and wanted to see as much as possible. There are small parking areas at each collection which is very handy and keeps things orderly for visitors. I stopped into Fern Valley (slightly unimpressive), National Grove of State Trees, and finally the Asian Collections. There were more, but I decided not to stop in since I knew they wouldn’t be in bloom this time of year.

Maybe it’s my pending trip to Asia or maybe because I’m sure I was Asian in another lifetime, but this collection was my favorite. Filled with downward slopes and paths made from various materials, the Asian Collection looked out over the Anacostia (which if you pretend it’s not the Anacostia, it seems lovely). There’s also a nice little Pagoda you can explore:

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In all, I spent an hour an a half exploring the arboretum and while I definitely didn’t see everything, I think I sufficiently crossed it off my list – at least until the peak seasons when everything will be in full bloom. It’s definitely a little getaway in a busy city that lets you explore and enjoy the great outdoors.

Next up, Butler’s Orchard; because knocking off one bucket list item this weekend just wasn’t enough. On Sunday, my friend Kasie and I headed up to Germantown, MD and while we had originally wanted to go apple picking, neither of our schedules allowed it. Instead, we went pumpkin picking and enjoyed the Fall Festival at the orchard.

Neither of us realized the festival was as large as it was, but we had so much fun! There was a corn maze:

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And a giant slide:

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And of course, a pumpkin patch where you could pick your favorite pumpkin!

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I ended up with a small baking pumpkin and an even tinier white pumpkin to paint (hopefully, I’ll have that to share later this week!), but we did love the imperfect pumpkins that had big wart-like spots and weren’t fully orange with green speckles. Kasie and I chalked it up to character!

After our hayride out to the pumpkin patch, we also petted some farm animals:

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And took some fall cutout pics. We had to wait in lines with the kids, but it was totally worth it:

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We ended the day with pumpkin rolls (they were out of the apple cider doughnuts) and a cup of warm apple cider. Honestly, I knew I’d have fun at the farm, but I didn’t think I’d have this much fun. If you’re in the DC area, get yourself to Butler’s Orchard before Halloween.

So that was my weekend, which leaves me with only 2 more items on my DC bucket list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • American History Museum
  • National Arboretum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard
  • Oktoberfest

I think I got this.

Life: Moments of Happiness

Earlier this year, I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and fell in love with a lot of her great concepts. Not that I was unhappy at the time, but I think you have to be self-aware to really be the best version of yourself. When I picked up her book in January, I also snagged her journal which I’ve been dutifully writing in every day for almost 9 months. It has made all the difference in truly remembering what this year has been about.

I also subscribed to her daily Moment of Happiness newsletter and today I received this:

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest discipline to be simple, and the acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.
– C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

This past weekend, I’ve really been trying to un-complicate things. To simplify my feelings so I can allow myself to heal. I loved that this quote assured me that just because it’s simplified, doesn’t mean it’s any easier.

But in an effort to take a step back and to find those true moments of happiness, I thought I’d share this photo from Sunday’s walk with Sophie and her human. She was chasing rocks in Sligo Creek (I tried to embed a short video from Instagram, but failed. You can watch it here.)

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This was probably one of our last walks as they prepare to move to Boston on Friday and it was reaffirmed for me that change is exciting. It’s thrilling and invigorating. And this is a simple moment in my own life that brought happiness, having a true friend to confide in and to hold me accountable. And of course, the puppy cuddles from Sophie didn’t hurt either.

So, am I there yet? Not by a long shot, but at least I’m not teetering at the top of the roller coaster anymore. I’ve made progress in acceptance and have a conviction that each day I’ll choose joy and look for those moments of happiness.

Weekend review: Hiking with Tessie

This past weekend, I got to puppy sit one of my all time favorite pups, Tessie. She’s part hound and just needs to run and exercise; otherwise, she kind of loses it and gets stir crazy. So when I made plans for the long weekend, I made sure to include Tessie-friendly activities.

On Saturday, I went hiking with Sophie and her human. We’re regular hiking buddies, but it was a little different this time since I had Tessie. We went to Great Falls on the Maryland side and totally rocked Billy Goat B and C paths which put our day’s total at just over 6 miles. We skipped Billy Goat A since you can’t take dogs on that trail, but we still got some great views.

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It’s amazing to see dog’s communicate and to watch how they show each other stuff. Tessie is apparently a total chicken when it comes to water; where as Sophie is part fish. The first beach area we spotted, Sophie was just waiting to chase rocks and sticks and Tessie just wasn’t sure…

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But after a few romps and some encouragement from Sophie, Tessie got her paws wet and even went up to her chest at one point.

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Which gave me time to enjoy the scenery a bit more and take in this view…

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By the end of our hiking day, Tessie was leading us and letting us know she wanted to play in the water a bit more. Of course by the time we finished 6 miles, all she wanted to do was lay down in the back of the car. Sweet pup 🙂

On Sunday, my sister and I had made plans to hike Old Rag but since we both weren’t sure if we were up for the 8 mile loop and rock scramble, we opted for a less intense hike and one where we could bring Tessie along. This time we headed out to Fountainhead National Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Totally different to Great Falls, this trail was definitely in a more wooded area with fewer watering holes. There was no rock scrambling, but there were some hills that put the cardio in cardiovascular. We did a 6 mile in and out hike. Here we are at 3 miles just before we looped back:

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I don’t think Tessie could believe her luck at all the running, sniffing, and exploring she got to do this past weekend. I was pretty impressed myself. I just gotta say I’m loving all the hiking I’ve been doing this year and the old knee isn’t complaining either!

Weekend review: Same love

I recently made a comment to a friend that I felt like a wedding should be epic and they said ‘No, weddings aren’t meant to be epic.’ And I countered with ‘If it’s going to cost me $15,000 (and that’s on the shy side of festivities), the day better be pretty damn epic.’

This month, I’ve been in 2 weddings and while they were both a beautiful testament to love, they were completely different. All the way from the brides down to the shenanigans. Both featured lots of dancing, laughing, and fun pictures, but it can be said (without a doubt) that this past weekend was an epic wedding.

Cue the iPhoneography!

Sam & Mesha’s big day took place in Gaithersburg, Maryland up on a wee farm with a beautiful old barn as the venue. Fairy lights, candles, and burlap made the decorations classic and rustic. But of course, the day started outside of the barn with the wedding. I was honored to be a bridesmaid, but somewhere along the way, my phone was passed off and I was lucky enough to snag a few ceremony photos.

Here’s Sam’s dad giving away the bride to Mesha.

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And of course, the 2 love birds ready to exchange vows. I love that Sam’s laughing!

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Fast forward a few jokes and a memorably ceremony and we arrive at bridal party photos. Nothing too serious, just a whole lot of fun!

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After the photos, we all sneaked away to grab a few noms and some bevvies.

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And while the brides were still taking photos, BF and I checked out the photo booth. This one was snagged before we went in. I think he’s adorable in a yamaka.

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And of course, no wedding is complete without a few rounds on the basketball court (they also had putt-putt, cornhole, horseshoes, and a playground for kids). BF takes on Casey with an unfair height advantage…

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…and just look at my jumpshot! In a bridesmaid dress, no less.

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Somewhere in between all the fun at the photo booths and shooting a few 3-pointers on the court, dinner was served, toasts were given, and first dances were had. Funny side note, Mesha dipped Sam and totally ripped open the back of her dress. Did I say funny? I meant HILARIOUS!

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Luckily, both brides had a spare outfit handy to change into, but not before the bouquets were tossed from the barn balcony.

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Maybe now would be a good time to mention that Mesha plays rugby, so it should come as no surprise that when the bouquet was tossed, there was also a line-out (I think that’s what it’s called).

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And of course, there was a little karaoke done (paying homage to the first summer we all met and sang karaoke like it was our job!).

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Before we knew it, the night was ending and I still didn’t have a picture with the bride, just doing what we do best…being ridiculous, so here you go…

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I’m honestly still laughing at all the fun we had. BF loved it too and it was nothing short of epic. I mean, look at what came out of the photo booth.

photo(212)Epic. Indeed.

ps. and that’s a wrap for August’s adventure!

Weekend review: Birthday celebrations

This past weekend was BF’s birthday and I waited until today to share because we didn’t finish celebrating until last night!

Like years past, BF’s birthday tends to fall on the Mid-Atlantic GAA finals, so it’s pretty easy to get all the lads together because everyone is already planning to go out. After many, many hours of sitting in the sun, we finally headed out in Baltimore for a good laugh. There were loads of birthday shenanigans and I even wore heels! It probably wasn’t my smartest idea, but I looked good. 🙂 Unfortunately, the only pic of the night, was a selfie I grabbed after a few drinks:

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I think we both look funny in this photo, since we’re trying to not act a little tipsy (but I lubs it all the same). I also think I’m biting my lip which isn’t normal at all. All in all, the night was really fun and BF said he really enjoyed his birthday…success!

But it wasn’t over just yet; I’m quite the fan of extended birthday celebrations! Since we both enjoy tasty noms and since it was Restaurant Week here in DC, we visited Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown last night for dinner. I couldn’t believe how good the food was, not to mention the size of the portions! I think we both ate the appetizers, brought home 2/3 of the entree, and at least 1/2 of the dessert. I won’t have to cook for the rest of the week!

I tried to snap a few photos inside, but I hate being that girl with the flash and it was romanticly lit (read: kind of dark inside) for dinner. None of those photos really turned out, but I did mange to get this photo of the “Pasta Mamma” upstairs making pasta as you walk in. Isn’t she adorable?

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So needles to say, if you’re in DC and looking for a really nice Italian restaurant – you can’t go wrong with Filomena!

And Happy Birthday boo, there’s no one else in the world that makes me smile like you!

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