Celebrate the Holiday Season in Baltimore

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My husband and I usually spend the holidays waxing nostalgia with family traditions and driving long hours visiting his side of the family, followed by a trip to visit my family. However, this year we’re taking a lovely break from all the hustle and bustle. We’re planning to relax and celebrate the holiday season with just our kids for a few days in the wonderful city of Baltimore.

Consider taking your family to celebrate the holiday season in Baltimore! Here are just a few of the highlights sure to get you and your family in the holiday spirit!

Where to Stay

Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor has several packages for the holiday season including Christmas Village, Ice skating Fun, Christmas Carol Package, New Year’s Eve Live and Ultimate Romance. The Royal Sonesta’s special holiday rate offers 20% in savings and Brookshire Suites is offering an Inner Harbor Winter Holiday Escape deal, complete with hot cocoa and Baltimore’s signature Berger cookie upon arrival.

Festive Sights To Explore

The Polar Express 4-D Experience at National Aquarium, Inner Harbor

Treat your family to an immersive movie experience and 4-D adventure with special effects like snow, wind, enhanced lighting and seat vibrations. The Polar Express 4-D Experience is based on the inspiring and beloved Caldecott Medal children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

PANDORA Ice Rink at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Break the ice with the season’s best outdoor activity. The PANDORA ice rink is open daily, with special programming and events happening throughout the season including several holiday-themed events and programs including Costume Skates, Frost Fest, Pajama Skate, and SkateFest.

B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, December 1 – January 3

B&O’s Magical Holiday Express is a holiday spectacular celebration devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities.

Christmas Village in Baltimore, West Shore Park in the Inner Harbor, Now until December 27

Modeled after the traditional Christmas markets in Germany, like the famous Christkindl Market in Nuremberg, Christmas Village in Baltimore offers a delightful Christmas shopping experience. The charm is enhanced with 60 German- inspired wooden huts and a heated festival tent, with vendors selling traditional European food, holiday gifts and high-quality arts and crafts. New in 2015, the village will be decorated for the first time with the traditional Herrnhuter Moravian stars imported directly from Germany.

Miracle on 34th Street, 34th Street, Hampden, Through January 1

One block in Hampden puts on a Christmas light display that is surely visible from space. Neighbors in this block of row houses string Christmas lights across 34th Street, inflatable snow globes, musical trains and blinking angels adorn homes – and a few even allow visitors to peek inside! The lights are on every night from Thanksgiving weekend to January 1, including all night on Christmas Eve.

 

The Holly Jolly Trolley, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, December 4 through January 3

Step aboard the holiday trolley and enjoy the splendor of Baltimore’s holiday lights beginning in the Inner Harbor. The Holly Jolly Trolley will take you on a festive tour of Baltimore’s most decorated neighborhoods and attractions, such as Hamden to see the world famous 34th street annual Christmas Festival of Lights and the first monument to George Washington in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

 

12 Days of Science, Maryland Science Center, December 20 through December 31

Deck the halls, journey to the Arctic, build a winter wonderland—at the Maryland Science Center, kids will be able to participate in workshops, live demonstrations and hands-on building. If midnight is past your child’s bedtime, then the 8th annual Midnight Noon celebration will be the perfect way to ring in the New Year, with activities and a performance by popular kids band Milkshake.

Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular, Inner Harbor, December 31

Celebrate the beginning of 2016 with friends, family, live music, a light show and spectacular fireworks. At the stroke of midnight, a bounty of color fills the sky above downtown Baltimore, leaving residents and visitors in awe.

New Year’s Eve Charm City Fireworks Cruise, Inner Harbor, December 31

Ring in the New Year with a cruise on Raven, the newest yacht in the Inner Harbor. Enjoy a night of dancing and celebrating with a view of Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve fireworks from the sparkling water.

{Special Thanks to Hampton Inn & Suites and Baltimore.org for partnering on this post!}

Go Nuts for the Holidays with Cashews From The Sunshine Nut Company

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Sunshine Nut Company makes gifting for the holidays easy! Great for snacking, holiday entertaining or relaxing at home, Sunshine Nut Company’s Cashews are the greatest tasting cashews under the Sun!

They have four packages of cashews to choose from — and they are the freshest, creamy, most delicious cashews I’ve ever tasted. Cashews are also considered a “green food” and are very healthy. Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 66% of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to those found in olive oil.

Grown and roasted in Mozambique, their cashews are the freshest,  most delicious nuts on the market! Cashews are roasted in sunflower oil and lightly seasoned with natural flavoring for excellent taste. Never size sorted, the cashews come in the sizes nature intended, just as they’ve grown on the tree. Not only is there a real difference in taste, the story of the Sunshine Nut Company is truly inspiring!

Sunshine Nut Company is transforming lives in Mozambique through offering opportunity, dignity, and fairness to the people there beginning with the crop grower. The roasting facility in Mozambique allows the nut company to deliver the freshest product while training and employing adult orphans.

Their profits are re-invested in Mozambican communities with a total of 90% of their proceeds financing transformative initiatives! Of the proceeds, 30% supports farming communities through ‘hand-up’ assistance, 30% increases care for orphans and vulnerable children, and 30% funds creating new food companies. They are very proud of their beliefs that the “Sunshine Approach™ Philosophy” has the potential to do great things!

Sunshine Company Cashews are the perfect holiday gift for teachers, mail carriers, clients, neighbors and friends — two packs cost about $10 and are available locally at all Giant stores in the DC/MD/VA area.  There’s a great holiday promo offered right now.

For more information about them & to find out locations to purchase, please visit www.sunshinenuts.com.

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post courtesy of Sunshine Nut Company.Thanks to KB Concepts for partnering on this post!}

 

Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta: An Arlington Staple

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I’ve lived in Arlington Virginia for almost ten years now and had never visited Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta until last weekend. Upon entering the restaurant, I was immediately transported back to a time when families had a neighborhood restaurant. A local place where everyone knew everyone and the servers knew what you were ordering before you were even seated. This place just felt like “home”.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Joe’s was bustling. The staff and fellow patrons were super friendly. And everyone there seemed to have come hungry. There’s an All-You-Can-Eat Lunch Buffet for only $10! The buffet turns over within minutes and includes several types of fresh, New York Italian style pizza, a hot bar that consisted of baked chicken, eggplant parmesan, baked ziti and more. The cold salad bar had very fresh ingredients and the most delicious homemade bacon bits ever! If you’re in the mood for more specialized items, the menu at Joe’s has over a dozen Italian entrees—something suitable for everyone in your family.

Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta is a neighborhood classic in Arlington. The food is delicious and the ambience is warm and inviting. The service was impeccable. My husband went to the salad bar at least five times. The kids ate everything on their plates. We rewarded them with a serving of gelato at the end of our meal. This is a restaurant that has won the hearts of my family and me and we can’t wait to return for another fun, family dining experience.

For more information about Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta, visit www.joesplacepizzaandpasta.com. And to see more of our dining experience, check out our Tastemade Video Recap by clicking HERE.

{Special Thanks to KB Concepts and Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta for partnering on this post!}

Bob Evans: Best In Class Breakfast (Fresh Matters)

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{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post courtesy of Bob Evans. All opinions are my own.}

It’s never a challenge to find a good weekday or weekend breakfast if you live close to a Bob Evans. Bob Evans offers new breakfast entrees featuring cracked shell eggs, fresh rather than frozen sausage, “fresh-baked” brioche breads and biscuits, not-from-concentrate orange juice and hand-scooped butter instead of margarine packets. There are also fresh hotcakes and omelet recipes.

Over the weekend, my family and I enjoyed an early morning breakfast at Bob Evans. It was the obvious choice because of the following:

Best In Class Breakfast: “Breakfast so fresh you can taste the difference”

  • Fresh-Cracked Eggs: 100% fresh eggs collected daily from Midwestern farms
  • Fresh Sausage: Bob Evans famous original recipe Fresh, Never Frozen Sausage Patties and Links
  • Butter Blend: Creamier and scooped just for you
  • Fresh-Baked Buttermilk Biscuits: Baked Fresh every day!
  • Fresh Potatoes: Shredded Hash Browns and Golden-Brown Home Fries

New! Breakfast Blend Coffee

  • A balanced roast with chocolate and caramel notes and a clean citrus finish
  • Try it with one of our flavored creamers; Hazelnut, French Vanilla or seasonal Cinnamon Vanilla.
  • Also available: Signature Harvest Roast and New! Harvest Roast Decaf

Apple Cinnamon Griddled Breakfasts:

  • Apple Cinnamon Brioche French Toast: Two slices of Freshly Baked Brioche Bread topped with thick-sliced cinnamon apples, baked streusel crumble, cream cheese icing, powdered sugar and whipped topping!
  • Also available: Apple Cinnamon Sweet & Stacked Hotcakes, Apple Cinnamon Crepes, and Apple Cinnamon Waffle.

For more information, visit www.bobevans.com.

#GTBloggerCrawl: Pinstripes in Georgetown

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Photo Credit: Kristyn Alysse of Primp & Proper.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure and honor of participating as one of the blog ambassadors for the Georgetown Blogger Crawl (#GTBloggerCrawl) hosted by Spicy Candy DC and Guest of a Guest. The Blogger Crawl was founded by Carlis of Spicy Candy DC and Jessica of Guest of a Guest as an awesome way to better acquaint some of the DC area’s most successful social media influencers with a selection of businesses (many of which we’ve already become familiar). We’re invited to learn more about their particular brands, services and products. The Blogger Crawl is also a fantastic way for each business to learn more about how partnering with bloggers can increase their exposure by promoting brand awareness and marketing thru our social media channels.

I represented Pinstripes, Georgetown’s bowling, bocce and bistro. I take my husband and kids there frequently for family game nights. It’s kind of a date place for me and my husband, except we actually enjoy sharing that date with our kids. It is a really fun place for family time, bowling, bocce and food! We were given a fantastic tour of the large venue and enjoyed some gal pal time together sampling the delicious Italian American cuisine, playing bocce and enjoying a round of bowling.

The menu is incredibly kid friendly! It includes delights such as flat breads, pizzas, pastas, baby back ribs and crowd favorite, tenderloin sliders. I’m getting excited just thinking about how much fun we have there! It really is one of the best places in DC for family and friend get togethers, date night and celebrations! They even offer private parties!

Pinstripes is located at 1064 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC. For more information, click here.

Bob Evans Family Meals To Go: Take the Night Off

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{This is a #sponsored post courtesy of Bob Evans. All opinions are my own.}

November and December are the busiest months for my family and me because it includes a lot of travel and hosting visiting guests. I cook my family’s meals most of the time, but I have to admit that I tend to take a break from all the cooking towards the end of the year. I discovered an amazing deal at Bob Evans—offering a mail program where you can receive offers, discounts, coupons and more! Who doesn’t like receiving actual mail in a mailbox that isn’t meant for email? The kids and I love to see what goodies arrive in our mailbox.

Bob Evans offers an awesome Carry-Out Menu (Family Meals To Go), providing a ton of options to feed your entire family and guests beginning at only $19.99.

  • Slow-Roasted Turkey and Dressing
  • Slow-Roasted Pot Roast
  • Slow-Roasted Pork and Mushrooms
  • Grilled or Crispy Chicken Breasts
  • Slow-Roasted Chicken–N–Noodles Deep-Dish Dinner
  • Grilled or Crispy Chicken Strips
  • Wildfire Chicken Salad
  • Cobb Salad
  • Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
  • Broasted Chicken options also available where Broasted Chicken is available.
  • All served with choice of one or two family-sized sides and choice of bread

For more information about Bob Evans program and find locations near you, click HERE.

You’re Invited: The Best of SnobSwap Thursday, November 5th

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I’m happy to announce that I will be partnering with SnobSwap on The Best of SnobSwap event in DC next month!

SnobSwap was recently named one of the best consignment websites by Harper’s Bazaar and is my absolute favorite place to shop for luxury brands including: Celine, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin and more.

Details:

  • Click HERE to purchase your tickets! $20 Early Bird/$30 at the Door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Operation Turbo’s mission to send care packages to deployed sailors, marines and other service members.
  • Join me as I’ll be offering FREE styling tips!
  • Shop high end designers like Balenciaga, Burberry, Christian Dior, Gucci, Kate Spade New York, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch and more for up to 80% off from Chic to Chic, Ella Rue, Reddz, Fillmore & 5th, N’Used and more!
  • Enjoy amazing food and beverages from DC’s most talented and newest innovative chefs.
  • First 50 guests to arrive get a free swag bag
  • $20 credit for new Lyft riders. Use Code: SNOBSWAP
  • Chance to win a $500 SnobSwap shopping spree

SnobSwap is offering a generous 20% discount (up to $100) right now thru November 30th. Use the code: ClarendonSXSS (Valid on Boutique Purchases only.)

I can’t wait to see you all there!!

 

Wash Club DC: Clean Your Clothes With a Tap of an App!

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Attention all moms, dads, college students and time strapped professionals, I have a solution to your laundry and dry cleaning woes. It’s called Wash Club DC!

Wash Club DC picks up your dirty laundry and dry cleaning with a mere tap of an app! This service is as easy to use as UBER is to grab a cab. Wash Club DC offers professional and prompt door to door service at a very affordable price! Your clothes are picked up directly from your home, office, school or business. Then they’re taken to the Wash Club facility where they are sorted and colors are separated from whites. Laundry attendants wash and dry your clothes in separate machines for each customer and according to the preferences that you setup on their website or app. Next, your clothes are neatly folded, socks are matched and the clothes are neatly wrapped up nice and tidy like a present. Your clothes are delivered directly to your door cleaned, neatly folded and smelling fresh in a cute laundry bag! What I enjoy most about this service is the folding element of it. Washing and drying are easy for some, but it’s the folding aspect of doing laundry that is the most time consuming and my least favorite chore. All you have to do upon receiving your laundry from Wash Club DC is put the clothes away, easy peezy!

Wash DC offers state-of-the art laundry facilities that can accommodate large, soiled loads. Their ultramodern machines ensure that your laundry comes back to your home or business spotless and ready for use.

Their dedicated WashClub DC staff is focused on YOUR CUSTOMER SATISFACTON.

  • Highly skilled laundry attendants are trained to wash commercial loads sullied by heavy lotions and oils.
  • Specialized laundry attendants to track and monitor large individual wash and fold loads from schools and institutions.
  • Proprietary folding techniques are used to ensure loads and clothes remain unwrinkled upon delivery.
  • On call staff available 24/7 to answer your questions or help you throughout the processing of your order.
  • Prompt, professional, courteous WashClub DC drivers to deliver your loads on time when you need them.
  • WashClub DC will professionally and expertly take care of all your laundry needs so you can focus on the more important aspects of your life.
  • You can set up your personal or business account on a regular service and delivery schedule or on an as-needed basis. They offer pick and delivery service Monday through Friday from 6:00AM to 6:00PM. Weekend service is available upon request.

In addition to their amazing laundry service, Wash Club DC offers impeccable dry cleaning service. Laundry has a turn around time of 24 hours, Dry Cleaning Service has a turn around time of 48 hours.

For more information, visit www.washclubdc.com.

{Thank-you WashClubDC.com for sponsoring this post.}

Bob Evans Farms: 3 Course Dinner $9.99

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{Disclosure: This is a #sponsored post courtesy of Bob Evans Farms. All opinions and experiences are my own.}

If you haven’t been to your local Bob Evans in a while, you’re in for a real treat! Bob Evans has delighted guests and consumers with farm fresh goodness for over 50 years! My parents used to take me and my sister to Bob Evans while we were growing up in Ohio and now, I’m passing on the tradition by taking my own kids to the farm fresh eatery. Whenever we’d want our parents to take us, my sister and I would just start singing the jingle on the Bob Evans commercial all week long to “butter up” our parents. It went a little something like “Bob Evans, Down on the Farm”.

This All American restaurant not only offers a great selection of comfort food, but it also has some really “good-for-you” options like the potato crusted flounder. Look for the grilled chicken tenders (instead of fried) for the kids. Try the fresh broccoli florets and the fresh fruit and enjoy old-fashioned family meals in a modern, nutrition-forward way!

My Pick: 3 Course Dinners for $9.99, an amazing value and excellent choices.

Click HERE to see my family’s Tastemade Video Recap of our Dining Experience at Bob Evans.

Top 16 Kids Birthday Venues 2015

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TOP 16 Kids Birthday Party Venues 2015

1. Jumping Joeys North Arlington finally has a birthday party venue very close to most residents where children 2 to 13 can go bounce and celebrate their birthdays. They have several giant inflatables as well as a rock climbing wall for hours of endless fun.

2. Busy Bees Located just a short drive from Clarendon in Falls Church. This cute, indoor playground is suitable for children 48 inches in height and under. Everything at this cute little place spins, moves and flies.

3. Dynamic Gymnastics Don’t flip about the mess in your own house, take the party to Dynamic Gymnastics and they’ll bend over backwards to make your party memorable. Their birthday party planning team will work with you to plan the perfect party for children turning ages 3 to 12. Certified gymnastics coaches will lead your partiers through 45 minutes of age-appropriate gymnastics activities in a brand new, fully-equipped gym featuring the longest tumble track in Arlington. Either before or after the gymnastics, enjoy 45 minutes of refreshments and revelry in one of two party rooms.

4. Fort Meyer Bowling Center Have all the fun and none of the fuss by planning your child’s next birthday party at Fort Meyer Bowling Center located on the Joint Base Meyer Military Base in Arlington, Virginia. Perfect for a group of 12 guests at only $11 per person, this party includes a meal, one hour of bowling, bowling shoes, reserved separate party room with decorations and a gift for the birthday boy or girl. Most suitable for ages 4 and up. It isn’t a requirement to be a military family. This venue is open to the public.

5. Tennis Birthday at Army Navy Country Club One of the best Kids Birthday Party Celebrations I’ve ever been to was hosted here. In order to host a party, you either have to become a member or have a member sponsor the party for you. The office is very helpful and if you don’t know a member who can sponsor you, the staff is very accommodating and will work with you to locate someone interested in sponsoring you. Prices vary. Contact Rebecca Pipkins for more information at 703-521-6800 ext. 1265. Perfect for ages 4 and up.

6. National Building Museum The National Building Museum offers exciting birthday party opportunities for children turning ages 3-11. Parties at the Museum feature hands-on, interactive activities with construction and building themes. All parties include use of the Museum’s party space including tables and chairs for the celebration, party favors for child guests, a Museum t-shirt for the birthday child, and complimentary tickets to the Museum’s exhibitions like the latest PLAY WORK BUILD Exhibit, an absolute favorite. A Museum teacher is present at all parties to lead the activity, read a story, and help supervise children. Birthday parties are a member benefit and can be booked by Museum members at the Family Level or higher. It is worth the price of membership to host your child’s birthday party here.

7. Ultrazone Laser Tag Step into a high-techlaser tag adventure where identity is limited only by imagination. Dodge lasers, and strategize with teammates as you compete for high scores and glory in this futuristic version of Capture the Flag. Whether it’s a business meeting, Birthday Party, or Club Fundraiser, Ultrazone® transforms the routine into the extraordinary. Click here for price packages.

8. MOBU KIDS This is my absolute favorite place to throw birthday parties for my kids between the age of 1 and 3. This is a huge venue with plenty of room for kids of all ages to play while offering a big party room for the parents to take a break and enjoy themselves too. The place smells fresh, clean and is completely “green”. My children have taken classes there and have attended many parties including their own there. They’ve never caught any communicable illnesses there. I believe it’s because of how clean the venue is. The staff is always passionate about what they do and are especially fantastic at time management, organizing the activities and taking care of the small stuff. Located in Falls Church, this is definitely worth the drive. The price is unbeatable beginning at less than $300 for up to 20 kids for 90 minutes to 2 hours of worry-free fun!

9. JW TUMBLES This is is one of the most popular venues in the area to throw birthday parties and take classes. JW Tumbles in Arlington is a very cozy venue offering both the party area and the play area within the same room for little ones. They offer music, zip line swinging, bubbles, sport play, dancing and more for ages one to nine. You get 90 minutes of joy and excitement for your child’s birthday.

10. Sport & Health Kids Club This is my second favorite place to host birthday parties. The party includes: invitations, pizza, juice boxes, decorations, candles, party supplies and party favors. They offer two to three large, spacious rooms for your kids and your guests to spread out. This is the only venue where you have the option of dropping your children off and leaving while your children enjoy themselves under Sport and Health’s staff supervision. There aren’t any venues where you’re able to have “drop off privileges” and not that many other venues that offer to take care of the food and beverages. All you bring is the cake.

11. Kettler Capital Iceplex offers a package for $185 that includes party room rental, admission for 10 kids and 2 adults to the public skate session, skate rentals, food and drinks, party host, and party supplies. More guests can be added for an additional fee. Perfect for those winter birthdays.

12. Sprinkles Cupcake in DC I had the opportunity to see first hand how fun a party at Sprinkles Cupcake in Georgetown is while attending a Mother’s Day event in 2012. This is a fantastic place to host a Cupcake Decorating Party complete with dozens of cupcakes, generous cups of frosting and sprinkles. They offer vegan cupcakes by request too. The upstairs party room is very feminine and beautiful, just perfect for a birthday party.

13. Buzz Bakery in Ballston/Arlington I was surprised to find out that this cute, cozy bakery near Ballston Mall offers Birthday Party packages. You can choose to host a very small party in the very back of the bakery or on their outside patio next to the water sprinkler playground. Buzz offers cute cupcake and cookie decorating kits for only $5 per child. This is a steal compared to the price at Sprinkles. The decorating kits include: 2 mini-cupcakes, a tiny container of frosting and a tiny container of very stylish sprinkles. This is the perfect place to order cupcake decorating kits and host a party at your house or at a larger venue.

14. American Girl Cafe Tyson’s Corner The all-inclusive package features: a delicious meal with signature pink-and-white cake and ice cream, special goody bags featuring doll tiaras for each guest, a commemorative keepsake for the special birthday girl, a set of invitations and matching thank-you notes. Parties begin at $30 per child and $20 per adult, excluding tax and gratuity. Suitable for ages 3 and up.

15. The National Zoo Kids love the animals and Washington DC’s premier zoological park is a great place for a birthday party. For children ages 4-8, FONZ (Friends of the National Zoo) will provide an indoor party room and expert tour guides. Parties are held Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon, subject to availability.

16. Nationals Park Baseball Stadium Is your child a huge baseball fan? The local ballpark is a great place to host a birthday party. Nationals Park has a family picnic area that is ideal for small groups and the Family Fun Area is a kids-oriented play area that features interactive games including the Exxon Strike Zone, Build-A-Bear Workshop, GEICO Racing Presidents, and Jungle Gym.