Annapolis Eats: Fish+Ice Cream

Happy Wednesday! I’m back again for What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW). It’s been a while since I’ve shared some of my eats, and since I just got back from a trip to Annapolis, I thought it’d be fun to share some of the food we ate in Annapolis.

Before I show you some of the pictures, I’ll share with you my goals going into the trip:

  1. Taste the local beer.
  2. Eat plenty of local fish. Especially crab and oysters.
  3. Eat ice cream. Every day if possible.

Spoiler alert – I got to do ALL of the above! Successful vacation in my opinion. Here’s some of the goodness:

Ice cream.

Oysters.

Fish boil.

More ice cream.

More oysters.

GIANT crab cake.

Breakfast hash with CRAB.

Crab soup. Not pictured, sadly. But here’s a picture of one of the few non-crab or ice cream dishes I had- french toast!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to Annapolis?
  • What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • Do you like crab?
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A Weekend Getaway with My Favorite Ladies

I’m writing this after finishing up from an amazing girls weekend with my best friends from high school. Me, Jane, Alisa and Melgar have been friends for 20 years and each year we try to do a girls weekend / getaway somewhere.

SO looking forward to seeing these ladies this weekend!!! #tbt

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This year, we spent the weekend in California, visiting Melgar who lives in San Jose. We did some day trips and spent time catching up at her new house.

The weekend included:

Some hiking in Big Basin. Alisa was our fearless leader (we called her the trail maven).

An overnight in Monterey, which included some day trips and scenic driving around Bixby Bridge, 17 Mile Drive and visiting Carmel.

Relaxing by Melgar’s pool. Her new house is gorgeous AND she has a great walking/running path right next to it, along with a pool!

Going for a little run. Melgar is pregnant and still running!

Some amazing food. Including my first cragel – croissant + bagel – which is waaay better than a cronut in my opinion. And Melgar’s husband Jon cooked us an amazing meal of crispy prosciutto and risotto.

And some baking in Melgar’s gorgeous kitchen!

It wouldn’t be a trip with my favorite ladies without some sort of adventure. We ended up semi-getting lost along our drive (that’s what you get when I’m the co-pilot … thank goodness Jane woke up from her nap and showed us the map!).

But it didn’t matter, because we were all together. Singing the Spice Girls and acting like we were in junior high all over again.

These are the friends that I can just truly be myself with. Share my darkest secrets with. Say what’s on my mind. We can laugh together. Cry together. And we did both this weekend. While we only get together like this once a year, we always pick up right where we left off. I know I am so lucky to have friends like these!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been hiking in the Redwoods?
  • What songs bring you back to high school/middle school?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

A Week in Atlanta

B, FW and I just got back from our first extended vacation as a family of 3! It’s still funny to say that … anyway,  we spent a few days in Atlanta taking in some sights, doing all the touristy things and eating as much southern food as possible.
20170208_180932I’ll first say,  don’t be fooled by all the smiling photos.  Traveling with a 7 month old is no easy feat.  They are not interested in museums,  breweries or nice restaurants.  They’re cranky of they don’t nap and go to bed early (or in our case remind you they want to go to bed early when you keep them out too late).  That being said, it was a great first family vacation.

Some of the highlights-
Checking out the Olympic Park. FW liked the fountains especially. 20170206_163328

Going for long walks and taking photos along the way.20170208_105739

While I didn’t run daily like I do at home, I did get in 2 runs, including one outside one day. It was 60 degrees and humid- so different from Cleveland in February!20170208_110729

Getting in some local beer tasting.20170208_171634

Going to the World of Coca-Cola. 20170208_130122 20170208_140740

The last room features a taste of 100+ flavors of Coke products from around the world! 20170208_142522

Visiting the Martin Luther King Jr home and memorial. 20170207_114116

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Seeing what the hype was about at The Varsity. We ate our weight in hot dogs, peach pie, chicken sandwiches and onion rings. 20170209_131738

A little hotel gym run.20170209_085057

The Civil Rights museum. Also checking out the human rights exhibition.20170209_123331

I love going to local markets wherever we go. Atlanta’s Municipal Market was a small market but I got some tasty tea, pralines and popcorn!20170209_164028

Though we weren’t out after dark too much (see previous statement about baby who likes to be in bed by 7), we did get in a few nighttime walks.img_20170208_185659_051

All in all it was a great trip. It had a little of everything I like in a vacation – some relaxing, good food, walking around, warm weather and of course some runs!

I’m linking up with ErinKatie and the weekly wraps.

Mini Vacation with the Baby

We’re back from a weekend away and the baby’s first hotel stay! B and I got in a quick weekend away with FW in Columbus and enjoyed some good food, drinks and even family time.

The weekend started off with pizza (yup,  every Friday) from Pies and Pints.  We didn’t get in until late, so we ended up not going out. Instead,  I picked up the pizza and grabbed a drink at the bar while B put FW to bed.  #winningmom

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Saturday we had a while day of exploring to do! We started with breakfast and a walk in the Short North.

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And then we spent the day on our feet walking – we walked to the Columbus Topiary Garden, downtown and German Village.

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In front of the statehouse where his great grandfather worked

We also had to stop by North Market.

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And then we were back again to grab drinks at the Short North.

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Saturday night,  we enjoyed dinner at a cute (and baby friendly!) restaurant- Hubbard.

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I had amazing food.  We started off with fried Brussels sprouts and then I enjoyed a cauliflower sandwich with arugula quinoa salad. Jeni’s ice cream not pictured.

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Sunday morning, we got up early and went for a stroller run around the city. We made it to a trail with a nice view of downtown.

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Then, it was time for brunch! We ended our trip with brunch at B’s cousins’ house and FW got to meet his great aunt and cousins.

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B, FW and cousin Pete – the Wolfpack! (I swear FW is howling at the moon, not crying)

And of course, we ended Sunday with dinner with B’s parents. We celebrated B and two of his brothers’ birthdays with B’s favorite – steak, mashed potatoes and chocolate chocolate cake!

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Questions:

  • What is your favorite birthday cake? Ice cream cake!! Love me some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake- Heath bar (I know it’s not called that anymore) or Peanut Butter fudge.
  • Have you ever been to Columbus, Ohio?

And because it’s Monday, I’m linking up with ErinKatie and the weekly wraps.

#TBT: Throwback Thursday – Travel Edition

As you probably know by now, B and I love to travel. We’ve gone to some great places – international and in the U.S. – together and had a great time trying out new meals, meeting new people and getting in as much of the local scene as we can.

We have two more trips planned this year – what we’re calling an “East Coast Foliage Tour” (which will include stops in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York) and a trip to Asia (Hong Kong and Vietnam for now). So as I started to get excited about what’s to come, I began to also think about all the great trips we’ve had over the past few years. Here are some old photos from past trips, 2010 through last year:

2010 – New York City to see my brother play at Carnegie Hall

NYC 2010 Carnegie Hall

2010 – Road trip to Pittsburgh – checking out the city for the first time and of course their Hofbrauhaus

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Not sure if this counts as travel … but we go to upstate New York quite often to see my parents. These pictures are from our engagement shots in 2010 🙂 (thus the cheesiness)

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2011 – trip to Chicago!  We tasted our way through local beers and deep dish pizza, and did a walking tour, tried the architectural boat tour and got in great views.

Chicago + 391 Chicago + 408 Hemmingway Lou Malnottis

2012 Cape Cod – we ate lobster, went whale watching, tried tandem biking and even walked on the beach (even with my boot :()

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Also in 2012 we went to Ireland and England! More hiking, local food and drinks, and siteseeing.

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And we ended the year in Montreal and Toronto. In a snowy winter wonderland! We still managed to walk around, check out some amazing food (crepes, poutine, Chinatown) and had a great time.

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2013 started with a winter surprise vacation in Miami – which meant sunshine, running along the beach, fresh seafood and fruity drinks!

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Also, that year we spent a week checking out another midwestern city – Milwaukee!

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And 2013 ended with a great trip to the West Coast, with stops in San Francisco, NapaSeattle, the Redwoods, Los Angeles and more.

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This year, you probably remember we started off with some travel to Costa Rica. And I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 holds for us for travel!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like to travel or do you prefer to stay home?
  • What’s the coolest place you’ve been – I need more places to add to my travel bucket list!
  • Ever been to Hong Kong or Vietnam? Recommendations?
  • Ever been to Portland, Maine? What do you recommend we do?
  • What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

 

 

Double Header Wedding Weekend

This weekend was B and my first double header wedding weekend. That’s right – two weddings, two cities, one weekend. It was just as fun and crazy and tiring as you may imagine.

Wedding #1: Eric and Julia 

B and I know Eric from college. Eric was in our wedding and one of B’s roommates. We’ve stayed in touch since college and even stayed with them when we visited Nashville earlier this year. We started off Friday with the 6ish hour drive to Virginia, where Wedding #1 was located.  We got up bright and early Saturday morning to go for a run and explore the area we were staying in – gorgeous Old Town Alexandria. If you’ve never been there before, I highly recommend a visit – I’d been there with Melgar and Jane once before but never spent too much time or stayed in the area.

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

After our short run, B and I headed to visit Emily, a friend we met in Cleveland who is now living in the DC area. B went to law school with Emily’s husband and we were bummed to see them move away – but now we have friends to see in DC! Anyway, Emily had a beautiful baby boy less than a year ago and looks amazing – and their baby is 100% ADORABLE. I’m so bummed I didn’t snap a pic – I was too distracted by his cuteness to remember to take a photo.

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien – not pictured – the loads of bread and jams and nutella that came with this

Then, after an amazing lunch in Old Town, it was nearly wedding time!  The ceremony was at Eric’s high school in DC and was emotional and beautiful. And then it was time for the reception – it was at an outdoor celebration at an old plantation in Virginia and gorgeous. Julia’s family is from France, so the reception included some amazing wines and cheeses – in addition to some great dancing and a fun after party.

amazing first course salad

amazing first course salad

B and me outside the church

B and me outside the church

Wedding #2: Beth and Mario

Beth is B’s cousin. We’ve seen her and Mario a few times a year, including our annual family softball tournament.

Despite being out pretty late Saturday night, B and I started off Sunday early with the long drive back to Ohio for Wedding #2. Some DC traffic and getting started a little later than planned meant that we ended up running somewhat late and when we were about an hour away, B told me we probably wouldn’t have time to head back to our apartment to get changed. Uh oh. I wasn’t wearing my sweatshirt and shorts … so we ended up wearing the same thing to wedding #2 and getting changed in the car on the way over.

the  "in-laws" (all of us married into the family)

Jenni, Steph and I – the “in-laws” (all of us married into the family)

Thank goodness we made it -the reception was beautiful and we enjoyed some great specialty cocktails and a ginormous dessert table that I will dream about in weeks to come. Not to mention the photobooth. And the dancing – the DJ played a great combo of “wedding music” for people of all ages to old school 90s hip hop to today’s hits. And the celebration went on until nearly midnight (B and I left a little before then) without people tiring out.

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

Phew!  I need a weekend to recover form my long, fun, dance-filled weekend.

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you have a lot of weddings to go to this year? Just one more 🙂 Which would make our total this year to be 5.
  • Do you repeat outfits/dresses to celebrations? How do you give them a different look?  I wore a different necklace and pair of shoes from one wedding to another this time – the outfit I had planned for wedding #2 didn’t work out because we ran out of time.
  • Ever had 2 weddings in one weekend? First time!
  • What’s your favorite song to dance to at weddings?

Friday Five: Five Things You MUST Do in Costa Rica

OK, this was a really hard post to write. Why? Because I’ve only been to Costa Rica twice, and when I was there I was only able to visit a few cities. So I’m by NO MEANS an expert. AND because there are so many things to do while you’re in Costa Rica that choosing five is nearly impossible! So I apologize in advance if I missed something terribly important … but just let me know in the comments!

In no order … if you are visiting Costa Rica, here’s what I recommend you do:

Try out ziplining in Monteverde.

I had been ziplining once before – also in Monteverde when in high school – so I knew what to expect. And I really enjoyed it again. B, who has a somewhat fear of heights, also enjoyed the zipline – and at the place where we went, Selvatura, the last zipline included a “couple’s zipline” – meaning we zipped holding onto one another for 1,000 m. For those of you Americans, that’s a little more than 2/3 of a mile long. It was so long that we couldn’t see the end of the line but still amazing. And we enjoyed some breathtaking views.

I know other areas have ziplining (including Arenal) but our experience was awesome. And 1,000 m is far longer than the longest Arenal zipline from what I have seen. I did see signs in Monteverde for the “longest zipline in Costa Rica” that was 1,600 meters (aka 1 mile) so there’s always that option as well if 1,000 m is 600 meters too short for you!

ready to zipline!

ready to zipline!

Rappel and try out other canyoneering activities (cliff jumping into jungle rivers, rope/vine swinging)

Let me start by saying I’m NOT an adventurous person. I don’t like to be scared. I have never skydived and have no idea how to waterski (I guess that’s not adventurous but I just wanted to show you how lame I actually am). Using the high-dive at the public pool during summer camp is probably the bravest I have ever been. But when in Rome … (or Costa Rica)? B had booked us for a half-day canyoneering trip and I was scared. On the bus ride to the canyon, the guide was explaining the trip. “First we do a rappel down next to a big rock. You must stop halfway down on the rope, see the rock, and then continue down into the raging river of the canyon. Then we do a tarzan swing on a rope into the river, but be careful because it’s not that deep. Then a longer rappel but you have to be careful on this one because the cave wall is narrow and you can’t swing out or you’ll cut yourself on the rock. Then a zipline. Then a rappel down a waterfall and you’re not allowed to use your hands…” You get the idea. Let’s just say I was not looking forward to it and nearly had a nervous breakdown on the van ride over.

Yup, scared.

Yup, scared.

 

B and me mid-canyoneering trip

B and me mid-canyoneering trip…you can sorta see our matching shoes!

 

jumping into the water after a rappel. yes, we got wet.

jumping into the water after a rappel. yes, we got wet.

 

BUT somehow I REALLY liked it. Was I an expert rappeller? No. But did I have to be? No that’s what our guides were for. The first one made me nervous. But after that? And a few dunks into the water?? I was good as new.

Enjoy the local cuisine and drinks

I am such a fan of the food in Latin America. I know you won’t all agree with me, but my love for spicy food, fresh seafood, amazingly fresh fruit, along with living in Ecuador probably helps my tastebuds. Anyway, here are a few things to try while you’re here:

Casados: Literally it means married (i think?). It’s great. It’s a protein (fish, chicken, pork, etc.) with rice and beans, sometimes plantains, a salad and cheese. I can’t get enough of their queso fresco – my favorite cheese. You won’t leave hungry.

one of the many fish casados i enjoyed. this was at tico y rico in monteverde.

one of the many fish casados i enjoyed. this was at tico y rico in monteverde.

Sopa: I LOVED the black bean and egg soup. I love black bean soup ordinarily, but the Costa Rican version is sublime. Plus it has a hard boiled or even sometimes softer egg in there which is pretty awesome.

black bean soup at don luis in monteverde

black bean soup with an egg at don luis in monteverde

Fried plantains and plantain chips: Sweet or salty/savory, what’s not to like about these banana-like fruits?

Yuca: I love yuca in all its forms. Fried yuca. Yuca chips. Yuca bread. Mashed yuca. YUM!

Guaro: Guaro is the local vodka-like alcohol. Guaro sour is a popular drink and it’s pretty delicious if you like sweet/sour drinks. Local rum is pretty good as well as the local beer.

Ceviche: I love almost all ceviche but the ceviche in Costa Rica that I had was also amazing. I had it about 6 times, so nearly every other day. And that wasn’t nearly enough!

ceviche by the pool at hotel nayara

ceviche by the pool at hotel nayara

All of the fruit: Seriously. Eat it all. Best pineapple I’ve ever had (even B ate it. And he hates pineapple), amazing coconut from the side of the road, the maracuya and guanabana are also awesome.

fresh fruit breakfast at sugar beach

fresh fruit breakfast at sugar beach

There are so many more foods to try, but since I had given up meat for Lent, I stayed vegetarian/pescatarian the entire time so the above recommendations are based on that.

Enjoy some hot baths and hot springs in Arenal

The volano Arenal is not only beautiful, but from what I can tell, it supplies tons of heat for the hot baths and springs in the neighboring town. Tabacon has some of the best hot springs (went there in high school) and B and I also enjoyed the baths at Baldi – there were many options, each pool had a swim up bar, and most had a “cool pool” (of like 65 degrees) so you could heat up in the hot bath, then cool down, then heat up, etc.

sitting outside one of the hot pools

sitting outside one of the hot pools

Snorkel, swim, and enjoy the ocean(s)

Due to time constraints, B and I only had time to experience the western and Pacific coast of the country. But if you go, see both coasts. They are different. See different beaches, swim in the oceans, snorkel, experience black sand beaches and more. I even was able to see a blowfish – and touch it! Yup. You’re in a tropical country – do it all, put on some sunscreen and enjoy!

sunsets along the beach = awesome

sunsets along the beach = awesome

BONUS: Take a coffee tour

Okay, okay, I couldn’t pick just 5. While you’re in Costa Rica, you must see a coffee plantation. Coffee is one of the country’s top 5 exports, so why not se how it’s produced?  I must admit that the coffee tour we went on when I was in high school, while enjoyable and educational, was pretty touristy. We got free coffee samples, walked around the grounds (pun intended hehe) and saw stations that showcased the different processes of making coffee. The tour B and I did – Monteverde Coffee Tour –  was MUCH better and seemed much more authentic – I highly recommend you go on this. We had a nearly private tour of some Costa Rican farmer’s land – saw all of this livestock, learned about what they all did on the farm and how they contributed in some way to the coffee process/circle of life, walked among real coffee and other plants (banana trees, lime/orange trees), and really learned about life as a Costa Rican and a farmer. And more than i ever wanted to know about coffee. They didn’t try to sell us anything at the end (we had to ask them if we could buy coffee) and  we enjoyed some amazing locally made (that day!) goat cheese from their goats.

how our coffee was made

how our coffee was made

pretending to do work

pretending to do work

B participating in the cupping portion of our tasting

B participating in the cupping portion of our tasting

PS – Happy birthday to my brother Greg! This has nothing to do with Costa Rica but I thought he deserved a shout out.