Spring Cleaning on the Blog

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This spring is bringing about some exciting new changes for me and my blog. I’m moving to a new hood and my blog is about to get a makeover.

Soon, I’ll be focusing less on writing about my whereabouts in Baltimore and DC and will focus on writing about one thing that inspires and excites me no matter where I am or what I’m doing (Don’t worry – it’s not wedding planning!).

Stay tuned :)

Happy Hour: Boardroom

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Where to Drink:

Last week, I got together with some of my AU Alumni friends at Boardroom in Dupont (I swear, I’ll be branching out to happy hour locales outside of Dupont after the weather improves).

This get-together was extra special, because we were celebrating the brief return of a good friend who currently lives in Austria.

Boardroom totally sets the stage for a relaxed and fun happy hour. For as little as $3, you can rent a board game of your choosing to keep your group entertained. Drink specials include $4 rail drinks, house wines, and select beers and the place boasts 20 draft lines to please your beer-connoisseur friend (everyone has one).

Boardroom doesn’t have a kitchen, but you can feel free to pick something up to bring inside if you’re looking for more than just drinks.

What to Wear:

Boardroom has a relaxed and casual vibe, but since this is happy hour the fashion will run the gamut between the suited-up-corporate type to the work-from-home-in-jeans type.  Since I work from home on Fridays, I’d wear something like this:

Gap JeggingsDark skinnies (you saw the above in my BLT Steak HH post).

 

Abbeline Scarf Bib Blouse, available at South Moon Under. A bit dressier than a t-shirt, but a little bit fun an different.

 

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Assuming it’s a little bit warmer, I’d wear a pair of neutral sandals with this look. Sam Edelman’s Gigi sandal is a safe bet. I like this metallic version, but you can’t go wrong with the original saddle color, either. If it’s still cold out, I’d round out the outfit with a pair of brown riding boots and a neutral cardi.

Who to Bring:

Your favorite beer geek or a big group of friends. It would also be a good spot for a date or double date since the games and wide beer selection automatically provide plenty of conversation topics.

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Beauty: Naked2

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I am addicted to beauty palettes. They’re a great buy because you get so much more value and you can mix and match colors to make countless combinations.

For all these reasons, I love the Naked2 eye shadow palette from Urban Decay. A follow-up from the best-selling Naked palette, Naked2 shows that neutrals can be both professional and polished or sexy and dramatic.

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Mason Madness

I dutifully filled out my bracket for March Madness this year and, just as I predicted, there have already been a lot of surprises. This is both good and bad – good for general entertainment, bad for my bracket.

Even though my team, George Mason, isn’t in the tournament this year, you’ve heard me mention my nostalgia for Mason’s historic run to the Final Four in 2006. This tournament has not been without Mason news though! I’m excited that my school has joined the A10 conference and will again compete with old rivals VCU and new rivals GWU in what I hope to be an epic orange line rivalry.

A10

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Brunch: 8407 Kitchen Bar

This weekend my fiancee and I enjoyed catching up with our friend Sarah over brunch. Sarah is one of my few fellow MoCo friends (most live in the District or NoVA), yet we’re always busy with opposing schedules.

Brunch at 8407 Kitchen Bar was the perfect way to catch up and relax. The restaurant, located near the Silver Spring metro station, has been mentioned in several local going out guides and food features and I’d been dying to try their brunch.

After sitting down, our group was pleasantly surprised to see beignets on the menu. We were even more excited to see that they are automatically served with brunch in lieu of the standard bread and butter.

I tried the Shrimp Scrambled Eggs which were served with home fries. The dish sounded great in theory, but the fishy shrimp flavor and sauce were a bit overpowering. The potatoes were nice and crisp and also seasoned well.

My fiancee ordered the Aged Cheddar and Roasted Apple Omelet. He ate most of it, but didn’t appreciate that it was also made with kale (read the description!).

Sarah tried the Country Fried Steak which she liked but said she probably wouldn’t get again because it was a little bit tough and a lot more decadent than something she would normally eat.

Since we all ordered savory entrees we also tried the Challah French Toast which was served with lavender butter and roasted plums. I really liked the french toast, which had a great texture and flavor. The lavender butter sounded good on paper, but wasn’t quite sweet enough for any of us.

Our server was very pleasant and kept our coffee cups brimming. When we asked for recommendations, he was very honest about his favorite dishes (a quality I always find refreshing).

8407 Kitchen Bar has a nice relaxed atmosphere, great service and good food at a good price. Our group’s only complaint is that for brunch, the kitchen tries a little hard to serve inventive dishes that sound good on paper but don’t execute as well on the plate. For quality of food, service, atmosphere and price I would give it a 2.5/4.

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Lunch Break: Tortilleria Sinaloa

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It’s great to take a leisurely lunch to bond with work friends, but usually there’s no time for that. When you only have time for a quick grab and go, food trucks and fast food are good options to get you back to your desk.

Instead of going to a traditional fast food joint, I like to look for local places to get a good (and hopefully healthy) meal that I can take back to my desk. Fells Point’s Tortilleria Sinaloa is the perfect place for that.

With delicious homemade corn tortillas, tamales, and perfectly seasoned meat, your lunch will be the envy of the office. Don’t forget to pick up a bag of freshly made tortilla chips to take home!

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Happy Hour: Bar Dupont

Where to drink:
Now that the weather is (finally) showing signs of warming up, my thoughts are turning to spring time and outdoor activities. A favorite of these activities is sitting outside and enjoying a relaxing happy hour with girlfriends.

A great location for this is Bar Dupont. Right in the heart of Dupont Circle, Bar Dupont offers patio seating and a perfect vantage point for outstanding warm weather people watching.

As a nice touch you can forget about traditional bread and butter, and look for interesting snacks like spiced nuts and wasabi peas on the table.

From 4pm-6pm, order one of their specialty cocktails (I like to ask what the Bartender’s Choice is for the week) for $7, a glass of wine for $6, or a draft beer for $5.

I also highly recommend rounding out the happy hour with an order of warm cookies and milk. What could be better?

What to Wear:
While the weather is still climbing, I’d wear a brightly-colored sweater in a lightweight fabric, white skinnies, and a cute pair of flats or sandals (change into these after work, of course).

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This pink striped sweater from Anne Taylor Loft is made with a comfy, lightweight sheer fabric that will comfortably transition you through the cooler spring days. Wear a nude or pink cami underneath to keep things office appropriate.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.27.31 PMOn the bottom I’d put on a comfortable pair of white skinnies (This pair from The Gap happens to be a ‘jegging’ type of material – perfect for a tailored look). These are also great for the in-between weather, because they give you a bright warm look, while keeping your legs warm once the sun starts to go down.

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The Sam Edelman Gigi sandal is a comfortable classic, perfect for a late afternoon meetup with girlfriends. Looking for something a bit dressier? A nice wedge would create a dressier look, while keeping your outfit relaxed and cute.

Who to Invite:
Your girlfriends for an evening of catching up that could lead to a longer night of cocktails and gossip.

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How To Build a Winning Bracket

The deadline for your NCAA Championship bracket is tomorrow at noon. Just in case you’ve waited until the last minute, Yahoo! Sports has created a handy guide to help you win your office pool.

One of my favorite tips:

Defense wins championships … most of the time

Of all the attributes a team possesses, defense is the greatest factor in predicting a team’s potential tournament success. Schools that force turnovers, guard the glass and generally frustrate opponents are almost always in a game, regardless of how good/bad it may be performing offensively. According to the ridiculously addictive KenPom.com, 2011′s VCU team is the only school to reach the Final Four with a ranking of 40-plus in defensive efficiency. When in doubt, use the data located here to determine who should advance on your sheet.

While I’ve known plenty of ladies – and a few gents – who suddenly and suspiciously become HUGE college basketball fans right around March, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on X college’s defense or Y player’s life history. I just love a little friendly competition and generally enjoy watching the NCAA championship because it’s so exciting and unpredictable. I remember how proud I was of the men’s basketball team at George Mason when we went to the Final Four – and every season I just know that we’re going to make it again.

I faithfully fill out a bracket every year, and though I’ve never won a pool, I somehow always come close. My method involves a bit of casual research, educated guess work, and some intuition (to try to predict a couple of upsets!). While Yahoo!’s guide is sure to get you far in your pool, my number one rule is: don’t get too bogged down in the details when filling out your bracket, because half the fun comes from unexpected outcomes (unless of course, you were expecting your team to win).

And if you need any more proof:

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Beauty: How to Wear a Bight Pink Lip

I don’t often wear lipstick, because I prefer to play up my eyes. Sometimes it’s nice to change things up and pink lipsticks are very popular this spring.

My best recommendation for anyone considering trying a new makeup look is to watch a tutorial so that you can see how the professionals do it and then try it at home.

This tutorial from L’Oreal is quick and simple and has a lot of good tips.

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Brunch: Mon Ami Gabi

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Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day! I proudly donned green yesterday in honor of the big day, but instead of partying it up with my fellow ‘Irish’, I enjoyed brunch with friends at a french restaurant – Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda.

Mon Ami Gabi boasts a great selection of brunch drinks – Including a build your own Bloody Mary bar, and a champagne cart that rolls around to satisfy your cravings for Mimosas and Bellinis.

The brunch menu, in my opinion, was sort of lacking in actual breakfast options. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a lot of people prefer to eat lunch food at brunch, but I strongly prefer a brunch full of delicious breakfast foods.

I enjoyed the eggs benedict, which came with a side of breakfast potatoes. My brunch dates had the chicken and brie sandwich which is served with caramelized onions and granny smith apples and comes with a bucket of french fries. Also deserving of an honorable mention is the waffle bananas foster, an incredibly decadent and sweet brunch treat.

The service was friendly – the hosts were gracious when we realized that I accidentally made our 1:00pm reservation for 1:30pm and accommodated us with only a few minutes of waiting time. Our server seemed friendly at first, but after we failed to take her up on any of her upsells she seemed to regard us with a little less enthusiasm. She also tried to sell us hard on the restaurant’s loyalty program in the middle of our meal, which was a little annoying as we were trying to eat. My guess is that this is restaurant policy, and something that she has to do, but it was annoying nonetheless. Finally, she made us feel a little bit rushed to pay our check and when I paid in cash she asked if I wanted change (An incredibly annoying practice of servers which is another way of asking if you’re going to leave a tip. Just bring the change unless the person tells you not to).

Overall, the service was quick and efficient and our food was delicious.

If we’re rating on a four point scale for atmosphere, food, drink and service I’d give Mon Ami Gabi a 3.5.

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