Friday, May 25, 2012

Preakn' Out

Ahh, Pimlico, Home of the Preakness.  It's where I, along with 121,308 of my closet friends, spent last Saturday and it was a fabulous day.

Like I mentioned before, we pulled a Jeffersons a couple years ago and moved on up to the Grandstand seats.

I got to rock the look I put together last week, and see my boo in his seersucker suit for the first time since our wedding.

Thank you fascinator for not squeezing my melon-sized head
I love all of the energy of being at Pimlico and the fanfare that goes along with the race.  This year it included a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales (and dalmatian).

A very patriotic parachuter, which I of course loved

And what we all agreed was the coolest part of the day, a fly-over by a Stealth Bomber

But I really adored seeing everyone in their Preakness finest

The girls
Mad props to pregnant Pam for being such a trooper.

The boys

Group picture, sans Doc

Obligatory Preakness cat picture

And I was a big fan of our seats that were only a few rows back from the rail; we got to see all the Preakness action.

The start

The second time around:

Amazing how much distance I'll Have Another made up in the final yards.  It was crazy being there in person and hearing the record-breaking crowd go absolutely bonkers for this horse.

We'll all be pulling for him to be saying I'll Have at the Belmont next weekend (had to do it).  But seriously, it would be awesome to say we were there when the first Triple Crown winner in Lord knows how many years (I could look it up but I'm too lazy), won the Preakness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, I'm one of those people who loves their birthday and today is mine.  I just love birthdays in general though, and celebrating them.  There could be some stranger in a restaurant, and while the wait staff sings their birthday song, I'll be singing and clapping right along with them. And then there's the cake.  Mmm...cake.

I just strongly believe that everyone should get very special treatment for their birthday and I love that there are companies out there who feel the same way. I figured I share some of the birthday deals I've received this month, so others can get the birthday props they deserve, too:

25% off at Amaryllis Jewelry
10% back in rewards at Office Depot
Double A+ rewards from Airtran
Saving on booking vacations at Delta Vacations
FREE gift from Sephora
FREE drink from Dunkin Donuts
FREE class from Bikram Yoga Baltimore
FREE class from Bikram Yoga Raleigh
10% off any products and services from Zina's Day Spa

There's also a much more comprehensive list of birthday deals here.  Evidently I could eat for free all day today by hitting up Denny's, Fuddruckers, Baskin Robbins, and Famous Dave's but I think I'll pass as I would like to be around to celebrate my next birthday, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Preparing for Preakness

With the Preakness coming up this weekend, some may wonder how it's any different from the Kentucky Derby, and since I've been to the race a few times now, allow me to explain.  They both have grandstands where folks dress up in their finest and sip cocktails while watching the horses race by, but unlike the Derby, the Preakness has an infield party featuring a Maroon 5 and Wiz Kalifa concert and a half-man, half-horse, and possibly alcoholic mascot named Kegasus.

I liken the Preakness to a tuxedo t-shirt, it wants to be formal but it's here to party.  And that is why I love it, but also (and mostly) because it was at this race that I met my boo so many moons ago.

Back when we first met, we were slumming it in the infield but have since moved up to the grandstand seats for the past few years.  Both vantages have their virtues but I'm glad that we now class it up a bit, especially because I get to dress the part.

Tonight I'm going shopping with a couple friends to outfit ourselves for Saturday, so my mind has been, ahem, racing with ideas.

 A lot of ladies like to go the Maryland flag/Black Eyed Susan themed route in the spirit of the race
And last year I saw a few fellow race-goers rocking with the black and white look, and I have to say it looks quite chic

Preakness Possibility 3
White Seersucker Dress  (Similar here),  Michael Kors Jet Set Zip Tote, super cute Horse Bit BengalLanvin Sunglasses,  Pedro Garcia Wedges
However the hubs is wearing his tan seersucker suit and I'd like to wear something more complimentary plus my head is roughly the size of a prize-winning watermelon so finding a hat that fits can be quite a challenge.

To save myself some hat-trying-on grief I already took it upon myself to buy a fascinator which tends to be more forgiving to us big-headed ladies, so I am going to be building my outfit around that.  Here's one option:

But since I already spent a tad too much on my headware (didn't realize my order was in GBP and not USD until I already purchased it, oopsies), I don't think a new dress is really in the budget.  I probably will follow the sage advice of fellow Tar Heels, Meredith & Gwyneth, and shop my closet instead.

Now if I only spent as much time researching the horses as I do on what I'm wearing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oh, the (Brunch) Possibilities

This Mother's Day, to avoid the crowds and add that extra bit of homemade love for the hubs' mom, we'll be hosting brunch at our house with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  Last night, we discussed what should be on the menu, and while we haven't made any final decisions as of yet, there are all kinds of fantastic brunchy possibilities.

I am loving the idea of bite-sized anything for some reason, like these Egg, Bacon and Toast cups from Kayotic Kitchen:

And these mini quiches from the Kitchn.

Or the cutest little darned pancakes I've ever seen.
So cute I could just eat them up, literally
I do love a basket of breakfast breads at brunch, too, and we could make it even more special by adding a trio of flavored butters, like this strawberry butter from Half Baked

It's nice to have some fresh fruit at the table as well, to help offset all of that buttery, eggy, bacony goodness, and I think this spin on the fruit salad is a cool way to mix it up
Who doesn't love food on a stick?
Or we could even add some veggies to the mix, like these Zucchini Rounds from Health Magazine

But this also counts as a vegetable, right??

Bloody Mary with Old Bay
Old Bay = mandatory
I think yes.  Cheers to all the moms out there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

House Guest Prep

When you have guests like L&B coming to visit, you do not want to disappoint, so in order to make sure I was properly prepped, I did my research y'all.  I turned to a couple experts like Martha and Carolyne Roehm, as well as about half a dozen google searches.

In all the tips I read, there were definitely some common themes, so here's a summary of what learned to make Chez Tar Heel as close to the Four Seasons as possible.

Tips to Prepare for House Guests:
  • Make your guest room feel like a nice hotel room by adding the amenities you've found yourself appreciating from your travels, like bottles of water with drinking glasses or some fresh cut flowers in a small vase.

  • Leave fresh towels out on the bed so there is no need for your guests to go searching for them.  I didn't get around to this myself, but you can make the towels look even more special by tying them up in some twill or placing in a decorative bag or basket.

  • Keep a good reading light next to the bed.  There's nothing worse than turning off the main light in a strange room and then trying to navigate your way to the bed in the dark.  A good alarm clock and a box of tissues nearby are also essentials.

  • Your guests probably won't feel welcome if they feel like they are staying in your home's storage unit.  Clear out the clutter and leave out welcoming touches like a selection of books and shared photos, or even their favorite brand of mineral water.

  • During our honeymoon in Greece, I loved how each place we stayed at set out a bowl of fresh fruit, so I did the same.  Fresh baked cookies or other local fare would work nicely as well.

  • Even if you are using the guest room closet as your own overflow space, make it as neat as possible and clear out some room for your guests so there is ample room to hang their own items.  Leave at least one empty drawer in the bureau for them to use as well.  One tip I saw suggested leaving the guest towels in a drawer so when you take them out to set out for your visitors, you automatically have that storage space to leave them as well.

  • Set out a luggage rack so no one feels the need to be placing their dirty bags on those fresh linens you just laid out.  We don't currently have a rack so I just left a storage ottoman at the end of the bed that bags could be set on.  

  • Make sure there are plenty of pillows and blankets provided on the bed.  That way your guest can adjust their sleeping space to their needs.   
  • Don't put anyone in an awkward situation.  Stock the bathroom with plenty of supplies so that there is never a need to ask for more.  And always leave a fresh bar of soap.  If I was smart like my mom, I would save the hotel toiletries that I never use during my travels, and then I would be able to leave them out for guests, again adding to that hotel-like comfort.

Not only will your guests appreciate all of your effort but you will also get a lot of satisfaction out knowing what you've done has made them feel welcome.

I'm still waiting for the Trip Advisor review, but L&B did seem to be big fans of everything we did.  

Now, who wants to come visit next? *

*Cannot guarantee all amenities pictured above will be provided during said visit, but I'll do my best.

Getting my link on:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Derby de Mayo

On Saturday there were decisions to be made.  Like how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day all at once.  You know, important stuff.

So what was my solution?

Eat guacamole while watching the race of course.

 And I also might have sung "Cinco de Mayo" to the tune of La Cucaracha while making said guac.  I was feeling festive, okay.

Anyhuways, there are more guacomole recipes out there than hairs on my head (and that's a lot, trust), and everyone seems to have their fav, but this one is mine:

Cinco de Guaco 
modified from Food Network

3 Ripe Haas Avocados
2 limes, juiced
1/2 tsp Cumin (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
dash of Texas Pete
1 slice of a large Red Onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

Slice and scoop out avocado meat from rind, save one pit for later.  Combine lime juice with avocados, and mix.  Add cumin, sea salt, cayenne and Texas Pete and mash together, leaving some chunks of avocado intact.  Add onion, garlic, tomatoes and mix together.  Place reserved pit in middle of guac (some say this keeps it from turning brown).

And the most difficult step of this recipe:  Set aside at room temperature for one hour before serving.  (This may or may not have happened on Saturday or 75% of the other times I have made this.)

Why must you taunt me with your deliciousness??

Personally, I could eat this stuff with a day-old rice cake and still finish it in one sitting, but these are my preferred method of guacamole delivery:

Hopefully available at a super market near you.

Not your typical chip, but oh so good.  

I'll Have Another indeed.

Getting my link on:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weekend Preview

There's so much going on this weekend, especially in Baltimore, it's going to be hard to pick one thing to do.

Festival Season problems.

For starters, on Saturday, there's the Kinetic Sculpture Race, where vehicles made to look like just about everything under the sun propelled by nothing other than human strength race their way through both the harbor and the rest of town.

These things are quite a sight to behold, y'all.
The Kentucky Derby is also on Saturday, and to help get into the Triple Crown Spirit, there's a viewing party at Pimlico, home of the Preakness.


And FlowerMart is this weekend, which I've always wanted to go to, but have not yet made it in my 5 years here.


Not to mention, Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, an event in itself.

So what's it going to be for me?  Well, only one thing is for sure, I'm getting my hair did Saturday morning. (Trust me, it counts as an event).

That and the most important event of all going on this weekend (no offense, Cinco de Mayo), these two are coming to visit:

Photo by Rachel Barker
I love me some L&B.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Quick Guide to Southern Grammar

I saw this on a friend's facebook feed and I thought it was worth sharing, especially since I do run into confusion over my use of the word y'all from time to time living in Baltimore:


That is all...y'all.