Well, That Was a Disaster.

I guess I picked a bad month to stop drinking. (Is there ever a good one?)

The first time I cheated on the #SoberSeptember challenge, it was Labor Day and it was gorgeous. My friend and I decided to put the dogs in the convertible and head out to the countryside to pick up my wine club allotment at Breaux Vineyards. Well, it would be just rude to not split a bottle of rose on a day that perfect.

Cheat once and it's a easier to justify.

But, I did drink a lot less. I explored mocktails, which is most definitely a first for me at DC's finest restaurants. Oyamel's agua frescas and the bartender at Birch & Barley made missing a margarita or a Manhattan less painful. When I guiltily related to a friend that I'd cheated and had about ten drinks, she replied, "That's awesome. Normally, that's a couple of days worth for us.!"
Ginger beer and grapefruit mocktail at Birch & Barley
The hardest part, which for the most part I just didn't do, was happy hour. DC's a happy hour town. It's where business gets done, you celebrate wins with your team, you meet for a first date, or you hang with your besties. Standing in a crowded bar sans cocktail... not my favorite activity.
Cucumber Agua Fresca at Oyamel

My favorite part was subbing friend happy hour meet ups for friend work out meet ups. Thanks to Natalie, Rachel and Anastasia for all of the Soulcycle and Solidcore hangs. I want to keep doing that!
Cult. <3

So, since I put my stake in the blogosphere that I was doing this... I felt obligated to report back. There you have it. I didn't complete it. And, I kind of don't care. Life is too short to worry about a few pounds or missing out on a great glass of wine over a meal with your friends.


Sober September

I've been working out two to three times per week at Solidcore and Soulcycle for a few months, and while I'm seeing some great tone and feel fabulous, I'm not seeing those numbers tick downward on the scale. Same result happened when I had a personal trainer. One of two things is happening: #thisis40 or it's the intake.
Club soda with limes
If #thisis40, that's ok. I feel pretty good about how I look and live. But, I'm curious what the impact will be on my body and on my budget if I give up alcohol.

So, September. It's on. Post in the comments or tweet me your tips on staying active and seeing friends sans booze using #SoberSeptember and I'll share what's working for me.


I Have a New Favorite Virginia Winery: Early Mountain Vineyards

Full disclosure. My friend Rachel just got a job working at Early Mountain Vineyards. And, I want to quit my job and be her social media manager after spending 24 hours here.

I mean, I have the qualifications: many years experience managing social media, a deep love of wine - particularly the rose - and my dog and I look damn good on the farm.
Barns for days...
I love exploring Virginia's wine scene, but Early Mountain differentiates itself in a few ways. First and foremost, this is a destination. It's not just about the wine made on the property, rather Early Mountain seeks to elevate the entire Virginia food and wine scene. 

The tasting room is so civilized. There's a stand up bar if you like, but I loved that they also have table service and a full menu.

General Manager, Dave Kostelnik gave us a tour of the vineyard on his Gator while regaling us with tales of bears and brides. He talked us through all of the varietals on the vineyard, introduced us to the winemaker and talked about the plans for the future (glamping, anyone?) I love that they also have such amazing event space for concerts (I saw Gallatin Canyon play while I was there), corporate retreats and weddings or parties.

One of the coolest parts of the Early Mountain experience is that you have your choice - taste a flight of their own best wines... or try the best of Virginia. That's right, you can get a sampling of the best reds, whites or sparklers from across the state at Early Mountain. And, there's a full menu made with local ingredients. Find something you love? Make sure to check their local Virginia goods market to see if you can take it home with you. I really loved the whipped local honey that came on the side of the chevre.

Flight of Early Mountain wines
In the summertime, I can drink Early Mountain's rose all day long, so I bought two bottles. And, one of the Foothills red, which is perfect for Bolognese night.

The Barns of Early Mountain
I knew I'd be back, so I went ahead and joined the wine club. I'm already looking forward to my first winemaker dinner. 

NOTE: Special thanks to the Early Mountain team who allowed us to stay on the property. Extra special thanks to everyone for not getting married there the weekend I was there so that I could use the cottage. The view waking up was amazing... almost as amazing as the ham biscuits we bought the night before at the bluegrass concert.
Ham Biscuits for Early Mountain Breakfast
Early Mountain Vineyards is located at 6109 Wolftown-Hood Road, Madison, Virginia.  My AirBNB WishList for Virginia Wineries has some pretty good places to stay that are nearby enough, but also check VRBO or stay in nearby Charlottesville.


I Fell In Love With White Moose Inn

Last Thursday, I made a snap decision that laundry could wait and I needed a road trip to cruise Skyline Drive in Virginia's Shenandoah Mountains. On the way there, I saw a sign for Washington, Virginia (home of the famed Inn at Little Washington) and I turned in to see what it was all about. I made a left and saw this yellow door pop out at me... The White Moose Inn. As I pulled out of town, I couldn't stop thinking of it. 

I drove Skyline Drive, took in some amazing vistas. And even though there were hotel rooms available there, I had White Moose on the brain, so I aimed the car back to Little Washington. 
The White Moose Inn
The cell service is terrible out there (or fantastic if you're trying to be unreachable, which I was), so it took me a few tries to get a call through to see if there was a room open. It was my lucky day because the cottage was available - and I had Ike with me, so bonus, it's pet friendly.
The Cottage at White Moose Inn
Carlo greeted me at the door and I instantly wanted him to be my new best friend. He gave me restaurant recommendations, the wifi code, walked me through the in room technology and went on his way promising to see me at breakfast in the morning. 
Bedside Table at White Moose Inn
I poured myself a glass of Early Mountain Vineyards' Foothills, popped a few of the bedside peanut m-n-ms and turned in for the night.

The next morning, I made myself an espresso (after finding a Nespresso YouTube how to video on my phone) and settled on the sun-dappled private patio to finish reading The Knockoff.

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Meanwhile, Ike decided to take a nap. 

Happy Dog
Carlo brought over breakfast -- Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, a delicious Gruyere and summer zucchini quiche and a blueberry muffin, plus fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. I didn't want to leave. 

Breakfast al fresco at White Moose Inn

Alas, new guests were coming in, so I packed up and promised myself that I'd come back another time. It's the perfect spot to stay if you're eating at Inn at Little Washington, visiting Skyline Drive or popping around local vineyards... or if you just need to treat yourself.

White Moose Inn's backyard

White Moose Inn is located at 291 Main Street in Washington, Virginia. I do recommend calling ahead for reservations -- the Inn doesn't have very many rooms and I'd hate for you to miss out.

PS. Carlo heading to Australia to study abroad. Give his blog - Black Ink - a follow


Taking a Break

It's been a really tumultuous year. And after several things that were really important to me capsized, one thing was glaringly obvious. I needed a break.

I was dreaming in PowerPoint slides and Twitter feeds.

I was neglecting friends and family for work. Hell, I was neglecting *me* for work.

I couldn't separate myself from social media.

And, my just picking up iPhone was giving me shoulder and wrist pain from so much repetitive use.

So, I've been taking some time off. A lot of time off. I've caught flights and taken impromptu solo road trips. I've shifted back to paper books. I have become one of those Solidcore, SoulCycle people. I joined a pool. I visited wineries and fantasized about moving to the country. I have spent more time with people I love, people I want to get to know better and, of course, Ike.

As the summer comes to a close, I hope I can retain some of this zen, while continuing to be inspired by my team and this amazing time we live in. There is so much to be excited about ahead, so much to learn, so many ways to grow and lead and laugh and live well.

Sometimes you just need to step away to see it.


Caipirinhas for Breakfast in Puerto Rico

I've been a lazy beach rat, explored gorgeous Old San Juan, tasted as many local foods as I could fit into my day (mofongo, red snapper, mallorca with guava butter)... but the decadent St. Regis Bahia Beach vacation is coming to a close.

I'll share my favorite photos, moments and restaurants with you once I get home, but I'm going to be spending the last few hours in Puerto Rico soaking up sun, drinking Caipirinhas at breakfast and looking forward to seeing my dog when I get home tonight.

Cheers y'all.


Favorite Things I Ate This Week in DC: July 2015

Beef Bourguignon and a Luberon rose at Le Diplomate in Logan Circle:
Le Diplomate
Spicy lamb meatballs over supergreens with feta, harissa, hummus and quinoa at Cava Grill in Bethesda:

Cava Grill
Breakfast Bowl (for lunch) at Slipstream on 14th Street, along with a must read, Station Eleven:



What I'm Listening To: The Ike Reilly Assassination

Back when CDs were a thing, my brother would burn me these mixes of bands I'd never heard of but immediately loved. Thats how I first heard Ike Reilly and I immediately went out and bought his album, Salesmen and Racists. I'm not sure where those CDs are, but it's been in high rotation on my Spotify, iTunes and Pandora playlists.
Signed CD. *swoon*
So, when my brother told me he was going to be playing Rock and Roll Hotel, I was all in. The guy is an amazing, fun, gritty, smart ass performer. I loved the back stories he told about the songs. He gave a shout out to the AFL-CIO to rousing shouts and I quickly realized all of the good looking guys in the audience were laborers -- and Ike was singing their anthems.

Reilly's songs are great stories that make you smile or smirk even when grappling with heartbreak, addiction and getting older. Give the title track, Born On Fire , a listen below. It's going on my morning playlists to give me some feel good mojo to start tough days.

Download or buy my two favorite albums through the Amazon.com links below. I'll get a few pennies tossed my way so that I can go see more live music. 


Farmers Market Haul: Peaches & Sweet Corn

This, plus Maryland blue crabs, is what summer in the Mid-Atlantic is all about. 

Some of these peaches have a future in cobbler, others in smoothies, and others will end up in a peach and sweet corn salad. 

Ah, summer love.

Dupont Circle Farmers Market Haul: Peaches and Sweet Corn


Dog Friendly Patios & Cafes in Washington, DC

I was just chatting with Maura Judkis of The Washington Post about Ike's favorite places to hang out when the weather is nice.

Mostly, I'm just looking for a spot that has a patio large enough for me to grab a table on the outside perimeter. I like to make sure Ike stays out of the way of busy servers and fellow diners. Beyond that, I love it when they are sweet to him. Stopping by to say hi, bring him a bowl of water and maybe a treat.
Ike, hanging out at Blind Dog Cafe
We live in Cleveland Park, which is super dog friendly, where space allows. Ike especially likes the patio at Medium Rare where owner Mark Bucher always has a water bowl to welcome him, and perhaps a bite of steak if he's being particularly good. He also likes hanging out with the other neighborhood dogs on the picnic tables outside of St. Arnold's, cruising the nearby Wylie Wagg pet store that just opened at Cathedral Commons and visiting with friends during wine tastings at Weygandt Wines.

Outside of our locals, we like to visit 14th Street for dog-friendly patio spots like Cafe Saint Ex, Lupo Verde, Le Diplomate, Cork Wine Bar and Ghibellina. The unofficial headquarters of DC pups is probably Cantina Marina, which hosts dog-friendly happy hours. And, we'll cross the Potomac river for my friend Javier's paper thin slices of jamon on the patio at SER in Ballston.

Here's my running list/map of dog-friendly restaurants, bars and wine stores (just click on the red dots to see what they are - and use the +/- to zoom in and out):

What are your dog's favorite spots? Let me know where Ike and I should go next in the comments or on Twitter. 

PRO TIP: Ike's tiny, but part of the key to staying out of the way at a restaurant is making sure that he has his Sleepypod. If I need to I can zip the top so that he's contained, but comfortable. And the mesh top makes sure that he can feel like he's still part of the action. People ask me all the time where I got his Sleepypod, so here's a link to it check it out: Sleepypod (Jet Black)

Sleepypod - Ike's favorite way to travel
NOTE: If you purchase through that Amazon link (above), a percentage comes my way. So, thank you in advance if you purchase through my links! It helps keep Ike in the fancy dog food he's become accustomed to.