R and R Travel Guide to Charleston: Southern Charm in the Low Country

public.jpeg

Guide to Charleston

Southern Charm in the Low Country

I recently had to do some traveling for work, and was sent off to the lovely Charleston, South Carolina. My cousin got married in Charleston when I was in college. I hadn’t been back since; so, I’m so glad that I got this opportunity. I was there for three weeks (God, I missed Pepper), so, I tried to make the very best of it. Since my employer provided meals, I only really dined out on the weekends. I have no idea how I was able to complete everything on this list but I did. Charleston is not only gorgeous, but it is a food haven. If you’re watching your weight or dieting, this is not the place for you. As a daughter of a Georgia born and Florida raised man, I’m pretty accustomed to coastal seafood and soul food recipes. What makes Charleston so great and different from all of the rest, is truly its charm. It may sound cliché, but you’re immersed in it.

What fascinates me about the city is their dedication to preserving as much architecture and aesthetic of the pre-Civil War era as possible. When I walked the streets of downtown, I was in awe of the different architectural styles of the homes, dependent upon the year it was built. Walking down King Street, south of Broad Street, you’re surrounded by single family “carriage houses,” where the double porches were designed to face the side of the house to allow more airflow from the winds blowing from the harbor. Even when I would enter some restaurants, the interior designer would make it a point to incorporate traditional style with coastal elements, paying homage to Charleston’s harbor and the history of shipping merchants.

Here is a full list of where I stayed, ate and found things to do during my three week work trip.

Where to Stay

public.jpeg

French Quarter

I loved staying at the Elliott House Inn. Built in 1861 as a private residence, this charming bed and breakfast has 26 hotel rooms, fully renovated. The gorgeous coral B&B is located at 78 Queen Street, next door to the treasured 82 Queen Street, which offers room service. The inn sits at the intersection of Queen Street and King Street, near dozens of antique shops. Full disclosure: the antique stores in Charleston are significantly expensive.

Where to Eat

public.jpeg

Downtown Charleston

The Palmetto Cafe was by far the best meal I had in all of Charleston. Located in the Belmond Hotel at Charleston Place, the cafe offers a delicious brunch on the weekends. The brunch buffet is $31 each, with traditional menu items. I opted for the Seafood Club, which consisted of lobster, shrimp, applewood bacon, smoked salmon and tomato. The bread was perfectly toasted and buttered, probably with one of their house made butters. I paired this amazing sandwich with a mimosa and found my happy place. The lover of home design was also obsessed with architectural design, with plantation shutters all around and a gorgeous mirror wall. The menu is pricey but the food and experience were worth every penny. If you’re going to have lunch anywhere, have it here.

 
public.jpeg

Historic French Quarter

Poogan’s Porch is a true Charleston style restaurant, offering everyone’s favorite brunch option, shrimp ‘n grits. The restaurant is located in a Queen Anne style single family home, initially built in 1891. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1976. According to their website, the restaurant was named after the neighborhood dog, Poogan, who previously belonged to the last residential owners, who chose to leave him behind. Although he roamed up and down Queen Street, this porch was his favorite place to lay his head. The owner of the new restaurant named the establishment after him. I love their story! In terms of the shrimp n grits, I gave it a B+, as I tasted a few other Charleston style shrimp ‘n grits, and Poogan’s seemed a little runny that morning, and wasn’t as flavorful as expected.

public.jpeg

Historic French Quarter

82 Queen, located right next door to The Elliott House Inn, is your go-to Lowcountry bistro. I had initially planned on dining at another restaurant, but the weather had other plans, with a torrential hurricane like downpour. So, I opted to stay close and dine next door. So glad that I did! I ordered the Crispy Roasted Duck over toasted pecan rice pilaf in a raspberry orange glaze. It paired very well with their Muddled Creek cocktail item, which consisted of bourbon, orange slices, orange liquer and a splash of ginger ale.

public.jpeg

Downtown

Prohibition is one of those places, that if you ever come back to a city, you’d make it a point to visit there each time. Quite honestly, I need a Prohibition in Baltimore, D.C. or Orlando, because it was the ultimate food, drink and cool jazz combination. I went to the restaurant on a late afternoon, enjoying tapas until the jazz band came out later that evening. Reasonably priced, you can enjoy several shareables with friends, with live jazz in the background.

public.jpeg

Folly Beach

Gillie’s Seafood and Soul Food is your mom and pop shop, that no one tells you about unless you’re a local and true foodie. My brother found this place and couldn’t stop bragging about his locating skills. LOL. It was delicious! I got the catfish and shrimp over grits, with their special sauce that has a little kick to it — but not too spicey. If you go on a Sunday, just know it does get a little crowded with the after church crowd. The menu prices are very reasonable and the food is truly flavorful.

public.jpeg

The Battery

Pearlz Oyster Bar is near the Battery district. Known for their raw oysters and cocktails, this place is typically crowded during their daily 4-7pm happy hour. The Charleston location is very small, considering it is located on the first floor of a former Charleston carriage house. Thus, seating is tight and you will likely have a wait. I tried the fried oyster slider, which was amazing.

public.jpeg

Park Circle

Park Circle Creamery is an adorable ice cream parlor in a small suburb of Charleston. Park Circle has a little downtown area with eateries, a wine bar and a yoga studio. After you’re done having a yummy flatbread pizza at EVO Pizzeria, walk across the street to the creamery and order one of their homemade items. I’m slightly obsessed with their banana pudding, peach pie (cobbler) and Mexican vanilla flavors.

 

What To Do

Shopping

public.jpeg

Historic French Quarter

The Historic Charleston City Market first opened in 1804. The marketplace offers numerous vendors with a variety of crafts and goods. Most tourists check out the market in search of souvenirs, usually after sweetgrass baskets, where a basket the size of your palm will set you back $100.00. Since I had visited the Gibbs Museum and fell in love with Jonathan Greene’s Corene, I opted to purchase a framed giclee print of this painting, which was also signed by the local Charleston artist. #SCORE.

public.jpeg

King Street Antiquing

Historic French Quarter

If you’re like me and love antiques, and your options of gorgeous chinoiserie ginger jars, then walking up King Street is the place you’ll want to be. There were several antique shops on King. Full disclosure: antique stores in Charleston are immensely overpriced comparatively to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Shop at your own risk.

public.jpeg

Historic French Quarter

Book lovers should be sure to stop by Buxton Books, an independently owned bookstore on King Street. This adorable spot features tons of local authors and books on the low country.

 

Architectural Walking Tour

public.jpeg

South of Broad Homes

South of Broad

When you’re done shopping on King Street, continue on King, walking south of Broad Street, towards the Charleston harbor. While walking on King, south of Broad, you’ll find your variety of Charleston homes in all architectural designs beginning from Georgian homes built in the 1700s, to single family “carriage houses,” with piazzas or porches on the side of the homes. Enjoy the many pastel homes covered in ivy, with amazing front door envy. Best part: this costs nothing except the camera in your hand! For more information on the many historical architectural styles in Charleston, click here.

public.jpeg

Rainbow Row

The Battery

When I got to Rainbow Row, it seemed like every one had a professional photographer in hand and was having a photoshoot in front of the pastel homes. It’s a very popular location to check out homes. Street parking is available.

 

Museums and Other Must See’s

public.jpeg

Anson Borough Homes

During my stay, the city hosted their annual First Day Festival, where they encourage families to come together to receive school supplies, find school support resources, and enjoy live entertainment. On the day of the festival, held every year in August, admission to the South Carolina Aquarium is free. I’m not one for crowded places with hundreds of children (my inner introverted self was screaming), but it was free so I definitely was not going to pass up the offer. The aquarium is nice place, if you’re traveling with small children, as they have dozens of animals and exhibits. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the aquarium is not that large and will cost adults $30 each.

public.jpeg

Historic French Quarter

You cannot leave Charleston without visiting one of their many art museums. Charleston is an artsy city with almost as many art galleries as they have churches. With that being said, check out Gibbs Museum of Art, a short distance from the Elliott House Inn. It’s only $12 to get in; and if you’re frugal and remember to buy your ticket online before you get there (unlike myself), you can get up to $2 off your ticket purchase price. I recently was able to catch their exhibit, Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem. Gibbs Museum received various artworks from African American artists, on loan from the Studio Museum in Harlem, with art as far back as 1930 to present.

Charleston has several house museums, where descendants of former slave owners have maintained and retained their family properties. The Edmonston - Alston home, which overlooks the Charleston Harbor, was originally built in 1825 for shipping merchant Charles Edmondston and his large family. The home has both features of the “carriage house,” with three piazzas appropriately located on the side of the home to allow airflow; but, was built to reflect English regency style architectural design with influences from Greece and Rome. Edmondston eventually filed bankruptcy and sold the property to Charles Alston. The property was maintained by their two house slaves, George and Warley. When the Alston family returned to their home after the Civil War, the house was occupied by members of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Charles Alston had to request (and receive) a pardon from President Andrew Johnson to obtain the return of his property. Since then, the home is one of many family properties of former slaveowners in Charleston, where the homes are passed down via family wills, to the oldest family heir (the homes are not left to widows or widowers as the Alston-Middleton-Smith families only pass down the properties to descendants to keep the properties in the family names).

There were two amazing things about this property: the slaveowners kept a log of slaves and have actual diaries of the slaves’ names, years they were born and years they were baptized. However, the books are badly worn due to their age. Secondly, I couldn’t believe the craftsmanship by slaves that built the property’s library, fireplace mantles and door frames. Since Edmonston was a shipping merchant, it is believed that he had the slaves carve roping like features into the wood to replicate boat rope.

public.jpeg

Northwest Charleston

Magnolia Plantation was established in 1676 by Thomas and Ann Drayton, two English colonizers who resettled in the lowcountry swampland along the Ashley River. The Draytons cultivated the land for rice and purchased slaves from Charleston’s “Old Slave Mart,” the oldest slave port in America, to grow the plantation. The Drayton family continued to pass the plantation down to male descendants over the years, including Thomas’ great great grandson, John Drayton, who owned and maintained the property during the Civil War. The Draytons had 41 slaves at one time, cultivating the rice fields. According to the tour guides on the property, only 45% of Black males were expected to reach the age of 20 years old, due to the strenuous and life threatening conditions working as a slave on a rice field. After the South lost the Civil War, Drayton offered the now freed slaves paid work to assist him in the planting and maintenance of his garden. Many slaves stayed and agreed to work, and Magnolia Gardens opened for public viewing in 1870. The property, now reduced to approximately 500 acres due to previous sales, offers $20 general admissions, and additional $8 tours for their gardens, antebellum home, slave quarters, rice fields, swamp garden and nature tram.

I only participated in viewing the main gardens (general admission), the mansion and slave quarters, costing approximately $36. I arrived early (8:30 am), did the house tour and slave quarters tour immediately (finished by 11:30 a.m.), and then toured all of the gardens until 2:00 p.m. I highly recommend wearing sneakers, hat, sunglasses, and BUG SPRAY. I didn’t realize that the actual property was in the swamp. I swatted mosquito, that had clung to me so well, that when I finally realized I was being bitten and killed him, I was covered in blood all over my hand. (GROSS!) If you remember anything, remember bug spray.

 
public.jpeg

Saint Phillip’s Cemetery

Historic French Quarter

The historic cemetery sits across the street from Saint Phillip’s Episcopal Church. The cemetery has graves dating back pre-Civil War, including the seventh president, John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina native.

 

Parks and Beaches

public.jpeg

Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Historic French Quarter

This gorgeous park has views of the Charleston harbor and a nearby dog park area for your fur babies.

public.jpeg

White Point Garden

South of Broad - Charleston Harbor

White Point Garden is South of Broad along the harbor. There is plenty of street parking at this park and is well shaded during the hot and humid summer.

public.jpeg

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island was my favorite beach because it was the least crowded. I parked near the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, where there was free street parking. Sullivan’s Island is surrounded by beach houses and feels very private. There were dogs allowed on the beach; however, pay close attention to beach rules which address months and times dogs are permitted.

public.jpeg

Isle de Palms

Isle de Palms is a gorgeous beach and quite popular, as it was more crowded than Sullivan’s Island. There are beach resorts available for lodging, as well as local restaurants.

public.jpeg

Folly Beach

Folly Beach was the most crowded out of all three beaches that I visited. Folly Beach also features a large fisherman’s pier, and has signs on the types of fish often caught along Charleston’s beaches. I hung out on the pier one evening and was able to catch glimpses of a dolphin, but forgot to bring my zoom lens for some awesome shots (*sigh*).

 

I hope you enjoyed this ultimate travel guide to Charleston. I found myself dreaming of living there, but then came hurricane Dorian, which is hitting Florida as of the date of this post. I left Charleston with Dorian’s not-so-friendly reminder that the area is called low country for a reason. Hoping that the hurricane doesn’t put the entire city under water, as the place truly is beautiful.

On that note, prayers to all those affected by this massive storm. May you all be safe!

public.jpeg

R and R Guide to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay: Tilghman Island and St. Michael's

public.jpeg

R and R Travel Guide: The Chesapeake Bay

At Tilghman Island and St. Michael’s Island

My girlfriend’s and I recently took a girls’ trip to the Eastern Shore. I suppose this qualifies as a staycation for me, since I’m the Marylander. This was my first time on the Eastern Shore, since the furthest I’ve gone on the Chesapeake was Annapolis. Best decision ever! Honestly, it’s only 2 hours from Baltimore (approximately 3 hours from Washington, D.C.). I’ve been itching to take another trip to Martha’s Vineyard, but just couldn’t do it this Summer because of work constraints. So, a quick three days vacationing on St. Michael’s Island and Tilghman Island were just what I needed for a quick recharge before some serious work travel.

The Eastern Shore proved to be the perfect beach location when places like the Hamptons, Martha’s vineyard, or Cape Cod are just too busy or too expensive. I know that I’ll get a lot of questions about how I mapped out my itinerary for the weekend, so I thought I’d do a quick travel guide for you all.

 

Where to Stay

public.jpeg
public.jpeg

Stay at the Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island

We specifically chose to stay at the Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island because of its location, a little further away from the hustle of St. Michael’s but still easy access to the Chesapeake Bay. The fully renovated hotel has a saltwater pool, is home to Bar Mumbo and Tickler’s Crab Shack, and available daily sailing on the Lady Patty Yacht.

Wylder Hotel has beach bungalows that were recently remodeled. They have porch seating, are a quick walk to the saltwater pool and Tickler’s Crab Shack. The main house has second floor rooms with views of the Chesapeake Bay.

public.jpeg
 
public.jpeg

Day One Morning

Brunch at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club on Kent Island

On the way to our hotel, we first stopped at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club on Kent Island. The beach club has a small restaurant called The Market, which makes decadent sandwiches and pies. I ordered the Italian, which was amazing. The sandwhich was too big to finish in one sitting. We sat on their patio, where they played great music and also had a cocktail bar. I’d drive back to Kent Island just to have one of their sandwiches again.

 

Day One Afternoon

public.jpeg

Relax at the Saltwater Pool at the Wylder Hotel

After touring the hotel in awe of the gorgeous nautical decor and beautiful water views, the ladies and I hung out at the hotel’s salt water pool. The place wasn’t too crowded and we got to soak up the sun all afternoon. There are also some cute lawn activities that you and your family can enjoy.

 

Day One: Late Afternoon

public.jpeg

Have a local ale at Tickler’s Crab Shack

After relaxing for a bit, we stopped at Tickler’s Crab Shack and had a couple of drinks. There was a large wedding party having their dinner rehearsal on the premises; so, we opted to only stay for a bit and have dinner in town instead.

 

Day One Evening

public.jpeg

Dinner at Awful Arthur’s

Our first meal in Saint Michael’s was at Awful Arthur’s seafood restaurant, on the main road. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I couldn’t wait to dive into my fried oyster po’boy, that I started devouring it before I snapped this picture (oops!). The oysters were seasoned to perfection, and their crab cheese dip will melt in your mouth.

public.jpeg

One of the things that you’ll quickly notice about Talbot Street in downtown Saint Michael’s is that almost all of the shops and restaurants are historical homes that were remodeled or commercialization. Many of the restaurants are victorian farmhouses, like Awful Arthur’s, and offer outdoor seating. I also noticed that many of the places were dog friendly and provided patrons with dog bows for their furry pups.

public.jpeg

Ice Cream at Justine’s Ice Cream Parlor in St. Michael’s

After dinner, we stopped at the local ice cream shop that’s been in business since the late 80s.

 

Day Two Morning

public.jpeg

Pick up Snacks at Tilghman Island Country Store

We made a quck pitstop at the locally famous country store on Tilghman Island. The store is simply a convenience store, but also provides groceries and locals. Thus, it was the go to for cold water and snacks.

public.jpeg

Breakfast at The Galley on St. Michael’s Island

We decided on breakfast at The Galley, a local breakfast café on Talbot Street. It was very crowded, so the food took longer than expected; and, I didn’t think there was anything special about the options on the menu itself. If you like a simple breakfast, without any fancy tweaks to traditional menu items, then this place is for you.

public.jpeg
 

Day Two Afternoon

public.jpeg

Shopping in Saint Michael’s

Stuffed, we walked up and down Talbot Street to visit the local shops. There were antique shops, gift shops, art galleries, and home decor interior studios. While you can find reasonably priced souvenirs and t-shirts, the antiques, art and home decor options were on the expensive side, especially nautical art and decor.

public.jpeg

Wine Tasting at Saint Michael’s Winery

Saint Michael’s Winery is at the very beginning of Talbot Street, as soon as you drive into downtown Saint Michael’s. It’s a small winery that opens at 11:00 a.m. each day, and offers $1.00 wine tasting samples. You can taste wine a la carte or taste all of their dry wines for $5.00, or all of their sweet wines for $7.00. If you want to try all of their wines, it’s $10.00 total. Steal, right?

My favorite wines were the Maryland Chardonnay, Gollywobbler White and Gollywobbler Pink. I purchased a bottle of the Gollywobbler White, which was only $15.00!

In the summertime, the winery offers homemade slushies made from their Gollywobbler White and Gollywobbler Red wines. So delicious in 90º weather, I must say.

The winery gets a little crowded, but they were well staffed and we were able to start wine tasting as soon as we got there, not needing a reservation.

 

Day Two Evening

public.jpeg

Stars Restaurant at Perry Cabin on Saint Michael’s Island

First, let me just say that Stars Restaurant at Perry Cabin has $$$$ on Yelp, but it was worth every single penny. Stars is probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. Every single plate we ordered was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

We ordered the Maryland Crab Cakes, and the lump crab meat was sweet and buttery, and were very large, almost difficult to finish.

I personally ordered the rockfish, since I noticed that many of the local restaurants had rockfish on their menu. The fish was flaky, moist but not undercooked. The skin was crispy and well seasoned. Under the rockfish, there was crab meat, golden raisins, capers, pine nuts and roasted cauliflower, topped with vegetable jus. It was divine. Now, I’m tempted to replicate the recipe some how, but haven’t the slightest idea what he seasoned the fish with.

For dessert, we shared a rich chocolate brownie cooked in pork fat. Yes, you read that correctly. Pork fat, not butter, oil, or margarine. The brownie had an outer crust, that tasted something like a pie crumble, with a graham cracker bottom; the center was a moist brownie with cake texture, with small pieces of bacon. OMG. Talk about needing to master my baking skills.

public.jpeg

Finally, Perry Cabin is worth visiting for both the architectural and Chesapeake views. It sits on the bay, a much larger property than Wylder Hotel, with large outdoor seating. Quite honestly, it’s a wedding planner’s dream for a wedding venue.

public.jpeg
public.jpeg
 

Day Three Morning

public.jpeg

Brunch at Limoncello’s Restaurant

After spending the morning at the saltwater pool, we checked out of our hotel and headed back to downtown Saint Michael’s for brunch. Limoncello’s is Saint Michael’s famous Italian restaurant.

 

This trip was the perfect girlfriends weekend getaway. I think as long as I’m living in Maryland, I’ll make a mini vacation on the Chesapeake Bay an annual ritual. Maryland is such a big state, although deceivingly small when people only know Baltimore and it’s neighbor, D.C.

public.jpeg
public.jpeg

Dog Days of Summer: Dog Beach Safety Tips for Your Pup

public.jpeg

Dog Days of Summer

Safety Tips for Taking Your Furry Friend to the Beach

 

I recently took Miss Pepper Mint to Downs Dog Park and Beach and we had such a blast! It was both our first times at the dog beach and this will definitely become a frequent summer outing for us. I don’t take Pepper to the dog park very often, so she seems to suffer from “Napoleon Syndrome” and shows aggression towards larger dogs that walk just a little too close to us. I suppose that’s my fault, thinking trips to the dog park weren’t necessary since we have a pretty nice size backyard. Not to mention the fact that she’s very sociable and friendly with her fur cousins in Florida.

In prepping for our picnic at the dog beach, I made sure that she had a separate beach bag of all of her necessities:

Dog Beach Essentials

  • Leash and collar

  • Food and water

  • Dog bowls

  • Towel

  • Sunscreen

  • Beach umbrella (if no shade)

  • ID on collar

  • Poop bags

  • Chew toys

  • Garbage bags

 
public.jpeg
 

Dog Beach Etiquette

Downs Dog Park is right along the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. There is a large lawn that overlooks the bay, with large trees providing substantial shade. Thus, we found some shade, laid out our picnic blanket, and watched the waves (well I watched the waves) as we snacked on goodies. I made sure that Pepper and I practiced some beach safety and etiquette tips, not to disturb other dog owners and obviously to make sure Pepper didn’t get overheated from being in the sun too long.

Keep Your Dog on a Leash

Per dog beach rules, all dogs must be on a leash so that all dogs can enjoy the beach while in the control of their owners. I brought Pepper’s woven Vineyard Vines for Target leash, and a retractable 10 ft. leash, just in case the beach wasn’t too crowded and she seemingly enjoyed the water.

Pick Up After Your Dog

Don’t be that person that takes their dog to the dog park and beach and doesn’t clean up after themselves. If you don’t clean up after Fido, then you run the risk of local councilmen justifying the closure of dog beaches. Keep it clean for other pups.

Keep Your Dog Away from Other People

Granted Down’s Dog Park and Beach is a place for dog owners and their pups to enjoy outdoor activities, it is still open to the community. It’s important that you maintain control of your dog. Don’t allow Fido to interfere in other patron’s space, while they’re picnicking, beaching, etc. Pepper is a little 10 lb Pomeranian, who definitely suffers from Napoleon syndrome. She doesn’t like strangers, particularly if they get too close to her or I. The good news is, she won’t just run over to a random person and /or their dog. But, it’s still important that she understands basic commands and stays in her place. But I definitely allowed her to sniff fellow noses and greet other pups on the beach, when we had put our food and picnic away.

Don’t Mess with the Wildlife

Fortunately, there wasn’t too much wildlife on the dog beach. However, if you’re at a beach that has wildlife, such as seagulls, seals, etc., don’t allow your dog to chase after them. That’s another reason why local laws require leashing; it’s their habitat. We’re just visiting.

 
public.jpeg
 

Dog Safety Tips

Beware of Hot Sand

Hot sand can burn your pup’s little paws.  If the sand is hot, you may want to purchase a set of paw boots for Fido.  Pepper has some, which I did pack just in case; but the sand wasn’t hot in the beach area and we also picnicked in the morning, before it got excruciatingly hot.

Provide Shade and Water

I knew that there were shaded areas at the dog park, and beach areas.  Since I wanted to picnic first, we sat under a tree the entire time, to prevent overheating.  When it was time to pack up the picnic and head down to the beach area, there were lots of trees close by, for when Pepper was done playing in the water.  If there is little to know shade at your local dog beach, you should bring an umbrella or beach tent to prevent your dog from getting heat exhaustion.  

I also packed a cold large bottle of fresh water for Pepper.  I kept the bowl of cold water out for her the entire time we picnicked. 

 
 

Use Sunscreen

Both you AND your dog need sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Yes, dogs can also develop skin cancer (I had no idea either).  My local pet store did not have dog sunscreen.  However, according to PetMD (https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/can-dogs-wear-sunscreen), I can use sunscreen for adults or children; BUT, only sunscreens that do NOT have zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).  I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (SPF 55).  According to the back label and their website, it is PABA free!  And, there was no indication of zinc oxide.  So, I rubbed sunblock on Pepper’s ears and underbelly.  She has a pretty thick coat, so I didn’t put any on her full body or legs.  I could have put some on her nose, but I didn’t want to chance it since she likes to lick her nose.

If your dog goes swimming, you should reapply the sunscreen after they get out of the water.

Beware of Loose Dogs

At our dog beach, pups must be leashes at all times. However, you will come across an owner or two, that think their dog is the most highly trained and won’t bother other dogs. Whether your dog is well trained or not, dogs are curious creatures. Even though Pepper was leashed at all times, there were moments where I had to keep an eye on her as another owner’s dog would attempt to straggle over and say hi. Not knowing whether someone else’s dog is aggressive or not, be aware of you and your dog’s surroundings, in the even that someone’s pup isn’t leashed.

I hope all of you and your fur babes are having an amazing summer so far! If you have additional tips, leave a comment below!

 
public.jpeg
 
public.jpeg
public.jpeg

My First Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

DEB4F397-24CD-4E01-8894-21F4CA8C9A20.jpeg
 

It’s Clicquot season!

I finally attended my first ever Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park in New Jersey this past weekend! I have seen this event posted all over social media for a few years now, so, I appropriately placed it on my bucket list of things to do in NYC. The champagne dynasty did NOT disappoint! Each year, Veuve Clicquot hosts a polo match for the kick off of summer on the East Coast. Since this was my first appearance — and decidedly will not be my last — I wanted to provide you all with a quick guide and answer all of your questions in the event that some of you’d would want to attend next year’s event, or maybe even check out the West Coast end-of-summer Polo Classic in Los Angeles.

 
96DAFEC1-BBFB-4001-A425-6B4FE9E7A306.jpeg
 

Don’t get left behind!

This year, the polo match took place on Saturday, June 1st from 11:00 a.m. (EST) to 6:00 p.m. (EST). It appears from their website that the event usually takes place on the first Saturday of June. Veuve Clicquot releases tickets every April. If you are an American Express cardmember, you could purchase early bird tickets before general release to the public, for $150 (NYC departure only). For General Admission tickets, there were three price points with the first release at $90; the second release at $110; and, the third release at $130.

For general admission, ticket holders receive:

  • Transportation to and from either Manhattan or Jersey City to the Liberty State Park.

  • Access to champagne bars, merchandise tents, lawn games and food trucks.

  • First come, first serve open lawn seating.

Veuve Clicquot also offers VIP access known as the Rosé Garden for $475. Rosé Garden ticket holders receive:

  • Transportation to and from either Manhattan or Jersey City to the Liberty State Park.

  • Priority boarding lane for transportation shuttle (Jersey City) or ferry (Manhattan).

  • One bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé.

  • Individual gourmet lunch.

  • Dedicated entry and photo moments.

  • Access to champagne bars, merchandise tents, lawn games and food trucks.

I bought a general admission ticket.

Granted, I greatly enjoyed my day at the polo match, in the future, I will be purchasing a Rosé Garden ticket. Why? Because although the general admission ticket was much cheaper, the lines to take photos at large photo props were an hour or more long, with little help from the staff in monitoring photo shoot times (and also people cutting the lines). In the Rosé Garden, it was less crowded (with much more gorgeous props) and you essentially avoid photography lines.

 
16C7A6EF-710A-46B5-A80B-474FE8D0CE36.jpeg
 

Be Picnic Ready

Another reason why I’ll be purchasing Rosé Garden tickets next year? So I can travel light! Don’t get me wrong, my little picnic basket from Amazon is absolutely adorable. And, there are available food trucks on site, in case you don’t feel like packing snacks. Since it was my first attendance, I didn’t want to chance it and depend on the food trucks, so I packed a bunch of fruits, cheeses, salami and a small veggie platter. We also made sure that we had a heavy breakfast in the morning, since we knew we would only be snacking during the polo match and likely be there until dinner.

If you purchase the Rosé Garden, this is something you need not to worry about as you would receive an individual catered lunch. Almost no one ever posts pics of the catering in the Rosé Garden, but Gayle King came through on her Instagram and the food looks amazing!

 
 
IMG_0283.png
 

Game Time!

The polo match starts at 2:00 p.m. (EST) and the awards ceremony starts at approximately 3:30 p.m. (EST). If you paid for general admission, then it is open seating on the lawn (first come, first serve). It is possible to get to the event early enough to set up your picnic blanket as close to the polo match as possible. However, there is a fence that encloses the match to prevent attendees from walking onto the field. During the match, many people gathered around the fence, so if you were seated on the lawn, your view was likely obstructed.

Rosé Garden ticket holders had a view of the field that was not fenced off and allowed ticket holders to be close enough to even greet the players and horses.

Even though my brother and I were on the lawn, we still were able to get these awesome shots!

 
 

The Most Important Part — Pop Champagne!

When you purchase a General Admission ticket, you are provided a wristband with two (2) glass ticket stubs and one (1) bottle ticket stub. This year, Veuve Clicquot offered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne Yellow Label for $105; the Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé for $125; and, the Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame for $275. If you purchase the VIP Rosé Garden ticket, a bottle of Brut Rosé is included. I really wanted a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé, however, it was only available by the glass ($28). One bottle of the yellow label was definitely sufficient for two people.

Each bottle purchase includes a Veuve Clicquot Ice Jacket ($127 value).

 
8B907FE3-350C-4D27-BB81-53D47236E844.jpeg
 

The Fashion

Think southern flair, Kentucky Derby. Everyone looked absolutely gorgeous. Men looked dapper in bright colored suits and button down shirts. The women put on the ultimate summer fashion show with bright dresses, what you would assuredly find at the Kentucky Derby or Preakness here in Baltimore.

We got lucky this past weekend, and there was a thick haze that created an overcast over the NYC skyline. So, the heat was not excruciating and i barely worked a sweat. My maxi skirt from ASOS is very long and the field was muddy from a downpour two days prior. So, most of the time I was lifting my skirt as I walked to avoid the dirt and mud. Now, shoes…I only saw a very small handful of women who wore stiletto heels and instantly regretted it before they even checked into the park. DO NOT WEAR STILETTO HEELS. If you must wear heels, where a block heel or wedge shoes. There is no sidewalk to walk on around the park, since the entire event is gated off from the rest of Liberty State park. I didn’t want to take a chance with any kind of heel so I wore Zara flats and it was absolutely fine.

Another must — wear a hat and bring an umbrella. While the Rosé Garden is adequately tented for shade, the main lawn is not! Even with my sun hat, I needed my umbrella. Again, it wasn’t too hot but the umbrella still helped with keeping us cool as we picnicked on the lawn.

 
 

I can’t wait to go again next year! It was the just the jumpstart I needed to start my summer!

 

Shop My Outfit:

Bodysuit: AFRM Nora Bodysuit | Tiered Pleated Maxi Skirt: ASOS, similar here | Tassel Earrings: BaubleBar (sold out), similar here | Shoes: ZARA (old) | Boater Hat: Evrfelans | Handbag: Rue La La Fallon & Royce Pom Pom Straw Tote.

 

Shop This Post:

Picnic Basket: Amazon SatisInside 4 Person Insulated Basket | Picnic Blanket: Amazon California Picnic Waterproof Picnic Blanket | Umbrella: Veuve Clicquot, also available here.

IMG_3875.png

Easter Trip to the Tulip Farm

5481052A-B8F5-4DD9-AAF3-5BEB66D0A9A3.jpeg

Easter Trip to the Tulip Farm

Our Day at Burnside Farms

My mom and I visited Burnside Farms in Virginia for the first time. It was absolutely gorgeous! Nokesville, Virginia is only 1.5 hour from Baltimore.

We decided to spend our Easter roaming around in the mud, picking tulips, because it was such a gorgeous day!

IMG_1293.jpeg

As you can see from the pictures, the tulips peaked and it was the very last weekend to see these blooms until next year.

IMG_1354.jpeg
IMG_1359.jpeg

I love tulips, and the brightness of each breed’s petals. It’s such a shame that they don’t last very long.

5481052A-B8F5-4DD9-AAF3-5BEB66D0A9A3.jpeg

I wore this Boden “Addilyn Linen Dress” in a canary yellow. One of the reasons why I love Boden dresses is because they are vibrant, just like these tulips. I dress my home, like I dress myself in the sense that I want to live in vibrant color. This linen dress was very loose fifting and lightweight, perfect for a day bending down and picking tulips. And it has pockets! I paired the dress with classic military matte red Hunter boots. Trust me, if you’re visiting a flower farm - or even a pumpkin farm in the Fall - you want to wear your garden or rain boots. Did I mention this dress has pockets?

I will definitely be visiting Burnside Farms again (they have a sunflower field in the late Summer). The farm only charges $1 per stem; and, if you want to keep the bulb, it’s only an additional dollar. I purchased about 5 stems, and 5 stems with bulbs. The bulbs, I replanted in a planter and water every other day. I will replant the bulbs in my garden this Fall.

3D6542B2-F08A-4BB2-8BA8-F5964435967F.jpeg

My Tulip Care Tips:

  1. For replanting bulbs in the Spring, cut the stem above at least two remaining leaves.

  2. Add soil to your planter box. Make sure the soil is loose — if not, use a garden fork or tiller to loosen it up. Plant bulbs deep—at least 8 inches, measuring from the base of the bulb. The bigger the bulb, the deeper the hole it needs.

  3. Place the bulb in the dirt, with pointy ends up. Next, cover with soil.

  4. Immediately water bulbs. Move bulbs to outdoor garden in the Fall.

  5. For planting bulbs in the Fall, plant bulbs in your outdoor garden and repeat steps 2 through 4. In addition, provide your bulbs a tulip fertilizer like, Jobe’s Organics Bulb Plant Food Fertilizer.

  6. Caring for cut tulip stems in a vase? Just give them fresh water every two days to help them last longer!

51FF9AAE-6CA3-419F-A8D8-57C8713D94FB.jpeg
 

Shop My Outfit

Dress: Boden | Boots: Hunter | Necklace: J. Crew (old), similar here | Boater Hat: Zodeys (sold out), similar here and here.

IMG_3875.png

D.C. in Bloom! Top 6 Things to do in D.C. This Spring

IMG_4024.png

It’s Springtime in the DMV! This is only my third Spring in the Baltimore - D.C. area. Springtime is always pleasant in the Northeast because it’s not too hot and not too cold. The mild temps allow us gardening enthusiasts to get the most out of our plants since extreme temperatures in either direction can inhibit plant growth.

Since I have a slightly green thumb, and love to travel, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things to do in the D.C. area this Spring.

 

Have a Cocktail at the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Pub

This year marks the Drink Company’s third annual Cherry Blossom Pop-Up bar. The pub consists of three main bar rooms. After passing the first bar, the two remaining bar rooms are covered in over-the-top floral decor. The fourth room is a ramen room where I had the best creamy miso pork ramen. So good! The cocktails were also light and delicious, embodying Japanese culture with flavorful sakes, and cocktail recipes with hints of honey.

This place was pretty cool. I made the mistake of going Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, so it was extremely crowded. When I went to eat in the ramen room, there was zero seating. Also, keep in mind that because it’s a pop-up bar and seems to be very popular on the weekends, there may be a wait to get into the pub. My friends and I waited on line for 20 minutes (totally worth it) but it was cold that weekend. Nonetheless, there is NO COVER charge to enter the bar. They also have the cutest little photo booth with - of course - more cherry blossom floral arrangements and decor.

B22DE85B-5D7B-490A-82E4-40DAE3073151.jpeg
IMG_0144.jpeg
 

Take a Stroll Under Cheery Blossoms Along the Tidal Basin

If you’re in the DMV this Spring, you definitely have to take a walk along the Tidal Basin at the National Mall leading to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial to view the cherry blossom trees. These hundreds of trees, donated to the U.S. by Japan, are dubbed as “floral fireworks,” displaying different arrays of pinks and whites across the Capital. To visit the local sights is free; however, there are guided tours that charge up to $100. For a map of the cherry blossom trees along the Potomac, click here. And if you want to enjoy the Cherry Blossom festivities, they are happening along the National Harbor until April 14th.

 

Explore Indoor Gardening at the U.S. Botanic Gardens

I love botanical gardens like the Howard Peters Rawlings Botanic Conservatory in Baltimore and the U.S. Botanic Gardens. Nothing like taking in a new season of growth and opportunity than visiting an indoor garden and checking out new exhibits. This Spring, U.S. Botanic Gardens is showcasing their annual and gorgeous orchid exhibit. This is the one flower I probably have the most difficulty in retaining as a thriving house plant. Sigh.

 

Go Shopping at D.C. City Center

Food and shopping. What other reasons do you need to go?

Image 4-6-19 at 10.09 PM.jpeg
 

Sip Vino at the Mount Vernon Wine Festival

Enjoy wine tasting of numerous Virginia wineries all in one place. The annual festival takes place at George Washington’s mansion in Mount Vernon. In addition to checking out the mansion and garden, there is also a slave memorial dedicated to Washington’s former slaves that lived on the plantation. The Spring 2019 Mount Vernon Wine and Sunset Tour has tickets available now!

 

Dine at La Vie

One of my new favorite D.C. restaurants, La Vie, serves Mediterranean cuisine at The Wharf. This place is so dreamy in decor, I’m not sure if I’m just obsessed with the interior decoration or the food.

Image 4-6-19 at 10.11 PM.jpeg
Image 4-6-19 at 10.10 PM.jpeg

La Vie also turned their Lavana Penthouse rooftop bar into a Cherry Blossom Terrace at The Wharf. The pop up bar is open now through April 20th. Checking out this space is not free! You must register online and buy an entry ticket (approx. $15.00).

IMG_0721.jpeg
 

Who’s coming to D.C. this Spring? Hopefully, you make it in time before the cherry blossoms are all gone!

Signature.png