• Simple pleasures don't have to cost an arm and a leg!

    Simple Pleasures

    Yesterday I spent the afternoon with three high school friends that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. We met at Great Falls (the Maryland side) and spent two hours catching up over a modest picnic of trail mix, chocolate chip cookies, and fresh farmers’ market peaches. I hadn’t been there in years, maybe a decade or longer, and it was a quick and happy reminder that even near the city there are beautiful spots to absorb nature. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have a little fun, and I’d wager that most areas have lots of day trip options within a hour of your neighborhood.…

  • Out and About: Isabella’s

    I was watching 24 Hour Restaurant Battle the other day, and one of the chefs created a lengthy menu filled with lots of little portioned entrées. In Spain they call these tiny meals “tapas,” and it made me think of my favorite local restaurant: Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar, in downtown historic Frederick. Before I go on, one thing: Volt would probably be my true favorite local restaurant, except for the fact that it costs a small fortune to eat there. I’d like to think my favorite restaurant is one that I can visit on a whim any weekend. Volt is definitely a planned visit, at least for my wallet. The last time I went…

  • Musings: Road Trip Essentials

    We leave to go home from vacation this morning, and as I’m getting the kids’ things together the one thing that keeps running through my mind is, “Do I have enough snacks…the right kinds of snacks?” We have a five year old and a one (almost two) year old, so this year I’m finally able to simplify the assortment of snacks since they can pretty much eat the same stuff. Here are my must-have road trip kid-friendly snacks: Sippy Cups: Juice boxes seem easier, but even with those plastic holders they are MESSY in the car. Specifically, we use the Playtex Sipster cups because I think they do the best…

  • Coffee!

    Musings: Coffee, Glorious Coffee!

    Coffee. Some days it’s more glorious than others, and today is one of those days. We’re on day seven of our vacation.  We’re also on day seven of Jack, our one year old, waking up before 6 a.m. And if that wasn’t difficult enough on its own, Jack has also decided not to sleep through the night (except once) this entire week. So, this Friday’s post is dedicated to coffee. It’s just a simple brew, but made via the automatic timer setting (YES!) and with a splash of half-and-half, this mug-full is nothing short of magic. Seriously!

  • Eat, Pray, Love

    Eat, Pray, Love

    Not since Under the Tuscan Sun have I read a book that has made me want to cook, travel, and eat every simple Italian dish in sight. That is, until I picked up Eat, Pray, Love the other day at the bookstore. I’ll be honest, I want to see the movie, it actually looks good. Plus, I do really like Julia Roberts, and the fact that I want to see the movie is the main reason I chose the book (I’d like to read it before watching it). But so far the book is proving to be very good, especially the first third, which mainly takes place in Italy where Liz eats…

  • Out and About: Copper Fish

    My husband, Todd, and I don’t get many date nights with two small kids and busy schedules. One of the benefits of vacationing with extended family is that you have ready-to-go babysitters! The grandparents were eager to watch the kids, which gave me and Todd the opportunity to go out. Our choice? Copper Fish Restaurant in West Cape May, NJ, operated by Chef Geoff. Seated in an enclosed outdoor patio off the back of an historic home-turned-restaurant, our dinner began with warm sliced soft baguette and olive oil dipping sauce. This in itself was delicious, but it wasn’t until my appetizer that I realized the true beauty of what that…

  • Out and About: Homemade Grilled Pizza

    Well, sort of. Today “out and about” takes me to our vacation house’s back patio, where Josie’s boyfriend, Shawn, made the most delicious grilled pizza I’ve ever had. He made the dough by hand, literally since the house doesn’t have a stand mixer or bread machine. And once placed on the 600 degree grill, it became crispy…and…chewy…and…soft, with a smokey-char-grill flavor. In word: Amazing.  Though he makes his own pizza and sauce regularly, Shawn decided this time to follow a recipe from a Cooking Light magazine we found lying around the house. Surprisingly (I say this because you always wonder with a “light” recipe, how delicious it will actually be),…

  • Consider bringing local fruits and veggies for a farm fresh vacation!

    Farm Fresh Vacation

    Consider bringing local fruits and veggies for a farm fresh vacation! We’re on vacation this week in Cape May, New Jersey. The drive up from Maryland was fairly uneventful, except for a few stretches about 20 miles out from the shore where we averaged 5 mph. Painfully slow, especially when you have a five year old and a one year old in the car and there’s no A/C. But there was one good thing that came out of the slowwwwwwwww drive (60 minutes to drive 10 miles, to be exact!), I was able to take in all the local produce stands on the side of the road. Seriously, there must…