Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Long weekends are wonderful. They always pass a little too quickly, but they are a great way to get a break from work without using up lots of vacation days. The best long weekends are the ones that also have a federal holiday at the beginning or end. :)

For Memorial Day weekend, Dan and I started off with a date night at the new Alamo Drafthouse theater in One Loudoun. If you’ve never been to an Alamo theater, I highly recommend you check it out. They are a combination of a movie theater and a restaurant. You purchase tickets for specific seats (so you don’t have to show up really early for the good ones), and you can order all your food and drinks (including alcohol) directly from your seats, even during the movie!

Dan and I have been to the theater three times since it opened at the beginning of May. We love the food, the funny previews before the movie, and the friendly staff. This past Friday, we saw the newest Star Trek movie, and we had yet another great visit at the Alamo. Here’s a picture we got at the theater before the show:

On Saturday, we stopped at two different parties. The first was a very yummy crab feast at a friends’ house. The crabs were delicious, and Dan had fun scaring people with the crabs before throwing them into the cooking pot.

After the crab feast, we headed west to have dinner with my family in Martinsburg. It’s always fun getting together with my cousins. Only your cousins truly understand the kind of crazy family that you come from. LOL We seem to be getting crazier as we get older too. Heehee…

Sunday brought a beautiful sunny day, and Dan and I got to clean house and watch some episodes of Castle before heading out to a VA Wine Mafia meet up. The “godfather” of our group, Kurt, had most generously opened up his pantry and basement to share some wines before they got too old to drink. The other mafia members also brought wines and snacks to share with everyone. Dan and I brought a bottle of Fox Meadow Freezeland White to share. Mmm…

There were many favorites being passed around. Some of my favorites were a Breaux rose, Crushed Cellars Merlot and Meritage, and Berry Hill’s 2010 Petit Verdot. Kurt even broke out a few special bottles – Keswick’s 2009 Cab Sav, Clarksburg’s 2010 dessert red (from Cali), and Corcoran’s special white port.

VA Mafia meet ups are always a blast, and we enjoyed every minute spent with this fantastic group!

No weekend would be complete without spending time gardening, so Monday was spent working on our veggie garden at my dad’s house and the potted garden at our house. We started with a trip to Home Depot for mulch, insect repellant, and a couple flowers.

Our veggie garden was growing, but slowly, and the zuccinni, squash, and cucumbers were getting seriously attached by some nasty yellow striped bugs. At Bluemont nursery, a worker said he had seen the same kind of bugs that we had and gave us some repellant called Eight. It is a product that has been used for years, and part of the mix comes from the extract of crushed mums.

After weeding, applying the insect repellant, and putting down some garden mulch, our garden looked much better.

The last hours of sunlight were spent cleaning up our own backyard. We moved my little maple tree into a big half-barrel pot, put down a bunch of mulch, and did a general clean up. We even gave the puppies a bath, much to their disappointment.

Dan and I thoroughly enjoyed our Memorial Day weekend. It was a great mix of relaxing, fun, and outdoor activity. Cheers to wonderful long weekends!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Garden is in!

With the weather starting to stay on the warmer side, Dan, my dad, and I decided to plant our garden. Taking into consideration how things grew last year, we decided to plant the following veggies:

  • Sweet 100s cherry tomatoes
  • Beef steak tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Chili peppers
  • Thai Dragon peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Sweet Banana peppers
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Chives

It’s going to be a BIG garden this year, and we are dying to see how everything grows!

To prevent our squash, zucchini, and cucumber from growing into the other plants, I suggested making some wooden fixtures for them to grow over. After looking around, I found a great idea on Pinterest that made a fixture out of old wood pallets. The pallet fixtures turned out great, and we are looking forward to seeing how the plants take to them.

We did have one last frost scare earlier this week, but we protected our plants by covering them with all our old tupperware and lego containers. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fenway Park

Last year, I wrote about visiting the Nationals stadium in Washington, DC. While I will forever remain a big Nats fan, I decided that I would also show some support for my fiancĂ©’s team, the Boston Redsox. Even if I did not like the Redsox, I would definitely want to visit Fenway Park, which is an iconic stadium to any baseball fan.

During our visit to Boston, Dan and I snagged some tickets to a section behind the Redsox bullpen. The weather was perfect when we showed up for the game – lots of sunshine with an occasional cool breeze.

Before the game started, we wandered through the shops and bars outside. We were able to sneak into the Bleacher Bar, which has a viewing area of the Fenway field from inside the bar, and we loaded up on Redsox paraphernalia at the official team store. I also got a huge laugh when Dan’s cousin got kissed by a giant lobster. LOL

The Bleacher Bar view

Getting kissed by the lobster

After grabbing a beer, we found our seats and managed to get a picture in front of the field. :)

The game itself was a lot of fun. The Redsox won, and the right fielder made an awesome catch at the end of the game!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sam Adams Brewery and Doyle’s Bar

One of the hardest things about going to Boston is deciding what to see during your visit. There are tons of great historical sites, especially if you love old graveyards. Delicious restaurants and shopping areas are everywhere, and the Boston common is always a great idea. For my most recent trip, I decided to add something new to the list: Brewery.

As many of you know, I usually write about Virginia Wines (Go VA wine trail!). However, sometimes, it is good to break from the normal routine and expand into new venues. That was why I suggested visiting the Sam Adam’s brewery while Dan and I were in Boston.

What makes this a great event (apart from the free beer) is that it is easy to fit into any schedule. It is not an all-day event, and therefore, it can be a great stop for a long or short visit to the city.

Dan and I decided to visit the brewery with two of his cousins. We were lucky enough to grab a parking spot close to the entrance and wandered around the greeting area while we waited for our tour to start. The greeting area was full of fun displays about the brewery’s history, and you could smell some of the different hops that are used in the Sam Adams beer.

When our tour guides (Tod, Alice, and Stew) greeted our group of visitors, we were very sad to learn that the brewery itself was not open because of construction. The guides were quick to cheer us up by announcing that this simply meant that our tour would be free and that we would be skipping right to the free beer. Who could be upset after hearing that?!

In the tasting room, Tom and Alice walked us through the three important steps of beer tasting, giving us two full tasting glasses to test out the concepts:
  1. Look at the color, clarity, and head of the beer
  2. Inhale the aroma of the beer
  3. Taste the flavors within the beer

Next, Stew told us about how Sam Adams had its specialty glass designed to bring out the very best in their Boston Lager. He gave us a glass of Hop Citra Pale Ale (a new beer that they have just developed and is not in stores yet) to enjoy as he described the process. After his explanation, he demonstrated the glass’ perfection by downing a full glass of beer way faster than I could ever drink it. LOL

As our tour ended, our guides told us about a party trolley that takes visitors to and from the bar that first started carrying Sam Adams beer. Visitors to the brewery can bring their tickets to the bar, called Doyle’s, and get a specialty glass to take home if they purchase a beer. Since we had plenty of time before our next appointment for the day, we decided to take the trolley and check out Doyle’s.

When the trolley pulled up to the brewery, the music was cranking! We all piled on and were greeted by the trolley driver, who was hysterical. He was telling us all about the relationship of the bar owner and the brewery, and every time he said “Doyle’s”, he would do an overly exuberant air grab. If you don’t know what an “air grab” is, I was able to catch a snapshot of it:

Our drive over to the bar was funny and goofy with lots of music and air grabbing, and we arrived at Doyle’s just in time to grab the last two open seats at the bar.

Doyle’s is one of the oldest Irish bars in that area. It has a nice big bar and lots of tables and booths for customers who do not want to sit at the bar. We had heard a lot of their food was good, but since we just wanted a snack, we ordered their onion rings, which are marinated in Boston Lager. Mmm… were they ever good!

Our trip back on the party trolley was just as much fun as our first, and we had entirely too much fun. :)

If you are ever in Boston with a few hours to spare, I definitely recommend stopping at the Sam Adam’s brewery and Doyle’s bar. It’s a lot of fun; it’s great to experience with of-age family and friends; and how can anyone say no to free/discounted beer?!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boston Strong

If you ask me where my family came from, my first response will be upstate New York, because that’s where my parents and their siblings were raised. However, if you trace my father’s family back a little further, you will discover that my relatives first arrived in Boston before moving west. Very few live there now, but that is where my family began our lives in the US.

Now that I am engaged, I am getting closer my fiancĂ©’s family, who also come from Boston. It is always fun when we get the chance to travel up to Boston for a visit. One of my favorite things about visiting Massachusetts is getting to see Dan “go native” (ie: get his old accent back). :D

It was very scary when news of the Boston marathon bombing appeared on my twitter feed on April 15th. I immediately messaged Dan, so we could contact our friends and family in that area. Luckly, no one was hurt, but some of them had been only blocks away from where the bombs went off.

This past weekend, we visited Boston and stopped by the memorial that has sprung up. The scene was very moving with crowds of people walking slowly through the area. There were even volunteers offering overcome visitors a free hug and service dogs eager to smile and cuddle with any sad face.

Tragedy always tends to bring people together, and I was very touched to see how quickly the people of Boston got together after this sad event. While some people ran from the scenes, just as many ran towards the destruction to try and help anyone they could. These people’s act of steadfastness makes me very proud to be even a small, distant part of them.

Dan and I wandered through the memorial with his cousins, leaving some small tokens behind to honor those who were hurt.

As we walked away to make room for others, my thoughts turned back to the brave souls who ran to help instead of hurt. More than anything, I hope their deeds are memorialized and remembered, rather than those that caused it.