Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunshine, Asian art and the Eastern Market

The weather yesterday was delightful, and lots of people were out to celebrate the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which kicked off with kite flying near the Washington Monument. We took the train in to Union Station and took a leisurely stroll to the Freer Gallery, one of my all-time favorite museums. Along the way, we walked through more groves of cherry blossom and magnolia trees...the air smelled so sweet!

I got to show Carli the Peacock Room at the Freer and some of my favorite Whistler and Dewing paintings, but the Thayer angel paintings weren't on display (or I couldn't find them). Carli started not feeling well, so we never made it to the Sackler galleries below. 

We headed to the area near the Eastern Market to grab lunch and then browsed the stalls, which were a smaller version of Cleveland's West Side Market. We bailed on a play we were going to see at the Woolly Mammoth since Carli looked like death. Poor girl almost made it home before puking (if you're walking on Colesville Road today from the Silver Spring metro station, stay clear of the flower beds).

We watched the West Virginia v. Kentucky game and a movie and then called it a night before Carli went to bed with her bucket. 

Today's a little gray and I'm hoping that the rain stays away for my drive. Phil had his softball banquet last night, so I'm also hoping he's not curled in the fetal position in our bed. :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Everything's better with cherry blossoms


Last night I had the privilege of experiencing Carli's infamous evening monument tour. She was right -- they look amazing at dusk and in darkness. It was chilly last night, but definitely bearable from all the walking we did. Oh, my piggies were oinking.

Today starts D.C.'s two-week long Cherry Blossom Festival. This year marks the 98th anniversary of when Tokyo gifted the trees to Washington. I read on the train yesterday that the festival is the district's highest-grossing tourist event, but we barely saw anyone as we walked around the Tidal Basin. I'm sure today will be a different story.

I can't believe my Japan trip was a year ago. Walking around the Tidal Basin reminded me of when Gina and I walked around the moat surrounding the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, which was lined with cherry blossom trees (and young professionals wining and dining on tarps beneath their branches). I hope Carli and I see tarps filled with people today!                                                                                                                                                           
She's been spoiling me with her new domestic diva skills -- homemade guac when I arrived, pesto pasta last night and now hashbrowns this morning...mmm! She's a girl after my own heart (love you, Jen)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's time for cherry blossoms! (this time in D.C., not Tokyo)

I just read that Tokyo's cherry blossom season has officially begun. Last year, I had the fortune of timing my Japan trip to coincide with the opening (Kyoto) and closing (Tokyo) of cherry blossoms. It was such a lovely experience. The impermanence of the cherry blossom season, which appears and then vanishes within 10 days every March/April, always reminds me that life is short and should be seized and treasured. 

This year, my friend Carli invited me to visit her in D.C. to view the cherry blossoms for our National Cherry Blossom Festival. I've been on bloom watch via this site and looks like this weekend will be perfect for a visit. Carli said she's been seeing blooms here and there, so hopefully it warms up and they're all in full view soon.

I haven't been to D.C. for fun since college when my roommate and I would stay at her aunt's in Maryland and take the train in to go to our favorite museums like the Freer Gallery and the National Gallery. (I've always been a museum nerd. Most kids spent all their money on booze in college and I was the dork buying prints to frame.)

Can't wait for this weekend!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2011 March Madness takes a spin through Cleveland

Even though right now I am in severe bracket mourning (effing Kansas), I'm pumped that next year's tourney will make a stop in Cleveland for the first and second rounds. Find the 2011 schedule here.

We had a blast in Dayton last year and got to watch two of my favorite teams: Ohio State and Louisville. If you're interested in scoring tickets, start stalking the NCAA site once the championship game in Indianapolis is over. Last year, you could apply for tickets about two weeks after the end of the tournament. I detailed instructions about how we scored our tickets in this post, in case you're interested.

Hope your brackets are faring better than mine. :(

Friday, March 19, 2010

Move over key lime pie in Key West! I want some Strip House 24-layer chocolate cake too!

I have been salivating over Key West dessert options based on the guide books I've been perusing as we prepare for our trip next month. Our hotel supposedly serves up a good Key lime pie, so you know I'll be actively sampling. I was also thrilled to realize that there's a Strip House in Key West, which serves up an AMAZING 24-layer chocolate cake (or so I've heard from the Food Channel). Cleveland's The Greenhouse Tavern was featured on a Guilty Pleasures episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and the show also highlighted this dessert.


Watch The Best Thing I Ever Ate tonight at 10 p.m. to see Cleveland Heights' Lopez featured by Michael Symon for its yummy guacamole. Lopez is one of my favorite restaurants, and I've written about it here in The Heights Observer.

Friday, March 5, 2010

My fav hotel reward programs

When I travel, I'm all about maximizing rewards...airline miles, hotel points, etc. When it comes to hotels, I heart Kimpton boutique hotels because of their fantastic amenities. I also participate in Marriott's rewards program, and have redeemed their free hotel rooms when in Paris, Raleigh for the Krispy Kreme Challenge and Dayton for March Madness (woo hoo). I'm "this close" to a Kimpton redemption.

While in Chicago a few weeks ago, I stayed at Hotel Monaco. I’ve never stayed at this location, but I’ve stayed at other Hotel Monacos in other cities (and other Kimpton-branded hotels) and loved them. I was cheerily greeted when I arrived, upgraded and given a card to redeem two mini bar items for free…despite my already steeply discounted rate. How's that for a welcome?! My room was immediately available and had a pretty bay window with a nice view...see above (the circular condos/parking building near the House of Blues has served as my beacon many times when visiting Chicago).

Many Kimpton hotels are green and they always offer great products like Aveda and L’Occitane in the room. Plus, they have daily free wine receptions, fun animal print bathrobes and offer complimentary items like fashion tape by request. I love staying in their hotels because they have a boutique feel, yet offer all the amenities and services (and then some) of a major hotel chain.

What about you? Where do you like to stay when you travel? Any travel reward programs that stand out to you?

Monday, March 1, 2010

How can we not be happy in Cleveland w a Man v. Food visit?

I usually write about my travels away from Cleveland, not my adventures in my hometown, but I want to make an exception because of this b.s. that has Clevelanders in an uproar. Saturday was an AMAZING day, and I think it's a great illustration of awesome things that happen in our city.

First, Man v. Food filmed at Melt, which was incredible enough in itself, but I also got to meet Adam Richman! Phil and I have been huge fans of the show for the past two seasons, and even visited Hash House A Go Go when we went to Vegas in December because we salivated over the waffles Adam sampled on the show. So, I was pumped! (However, there is no way ever that I could eat 4 lbs. of grilled cheese, which is the Melt Challenge that Adam attempted.)

From Melt, we scrambled home to get ready for PlayhouseSquare's Jump Back Ball, an event I helped to plan (I was co-chair of ticket sales for this year's event). What a great night! The Spazmatics played some dynamite 80s tunes and everyone's outfits/costumes were great. We also ate delightful appetizers by Zack Bruell during the V.I.P. party before the event (even though I was still really, really full from our Melt outing). Mmmm.

So, a great night and a great example of how awesome Cleveland is! Holla!

UPDATE: read this blog for a great account by one of the Melt tattoo brothers of his experience during the filming Saturday: