All the Candy

One of my favorite parts of holidays is….the after-holiday sales.

In particular, the post-Valentine’s Day, post-Halloween, and post-Easter sales.

I like to peruse CVS two-three days after the holiday passes. Candy, and some toys or gifts, are usually 50% off. Today, I picked up Hershey’s chocolate eggs, a Russell Stover bunny (already lost his ears, poor guy), Reese’s for M, and a variety bag of chocolate.

But even more exciting – I found a set of 16 eggs that have stickers in them for $2.49 for Little Baby’s Easter next year! Plus, scannin my bonus card gave me $1.00 off, so I could have gotten them for $1.49 if I wasn’t a greedy candy hog.

The after-holiday sales are usually great for stocking stuffers, hang-around gifts, and work gifts. Hang-around gifts are those that you keep handy in case of a last minute birthday. Wine, gag gifts, that sort of thing. The work gifts are for Secret Santas or White Elephants – we like tacky gifts for these.

I also have picked up a lot of my holiday decorations atthese types of sales. Pier 1, Target, and Big Lots have been pretty decent sources. I think the vast majority of our Christmas decorations came from Target the first year we bought our house, and most of our Halloween knick-knacks are PIer 1.

Anyhoo….I like candy. I like saving money. And I like knowing I have something for Baby’s Easter Basket next year, already!

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You had a Baby, not a Lobotomy

I say this fairly often. Officially “trademarking” the phrase for my future baby book! or something…

Before Baby was here, M and I talked a little about our expectations for our lives after Baby arrived. We both agreed we planned to continue being socially active. Why would we suddenly turn into hermits?

We had a baby, not a lobotomy. Who we are, and what we enjoy, is still fundamentally the same. We like seeing our friends. We like trying new foods and going out for a drink.

So…we still do it. We bring the little one along with us. It was super easy when she was still teeny-tiny. She’d sleep through anything in her car seat. Now that she’s older and more active, it’s definitely more work to keep her happy and safe. But it’s worth it.

Our friends are one of our happy-makers. For me, seeing them, catching up on the happenings, and laughing with our friends recharges my batteries. As a stay-at-home Mom, I also enjoy the experience of speaking real words and sentences to someone who will not respond with “pbbbblth” or “bahmnmamnanana”.

It’s the little things like coherence.

M and I also went to two craft breweries on Saturday. We would have also gone to a winery, but 95 was completely shut down for hours, so we postponed. We went to Rusty Beaver, in Ladysmith, and Center of the Universe near Ashland. M is the beer fan, so he did his tastings while munchkin ate puffs, waved at strangers, and clapped to herself. At COTU, we met up with an old friend I have not seen in 20 years. Munchkin proudly grabbed Friend’s beer glass and dumped it all over Friend. She’s generous and giving in that way….

The trick to going out with babies is to know your child and your own limits. If Lil Miss starts acting up and I suspect a meltdown, I take her for a walk around the room or to a quieter spot and tell M to get the check. We try to leave before she loses it. She usually only loses it if she wants to nurse but is too distracted, or has been fighting naps all day.

M and I also know what we’re comfortable with her doing in public. Chewing on a straw or occasionally squawking? Sure. Screaming, throwing food? No.

We also make sure we communicate ahead of the outing. Who’s driving? How are we going to juggle the meal? I remind him sometimes – if you get X, you need to wash your hands as soon as you’re done eating so you can hold her while I eat. If you get Y, we need to alternate back and forth so we can both eat while the food’s hot.

I’m always befuddled by people who say “Oh, forget having a social life! You’ll never go out again! 18 years before you can have fun!” Really? Why is anyone locking themselves up and becoming a hermit? To each his own, of course. There is no benefit in judging others, but I freely admit I do not understand the logic.

Anyhoo….If you enjoy being social and going out before baby, you can continue to do so afterwards. You just make adjustments. More Happy Hour, less (or no) late nights. More casual locations, less formal restaurants. More 1-2 hour outings, less 4 hour events. Less fabulous sparkly clutches, more big roomy bags capable of holding toys, puffs, and diapers!

It’s a baby, not a lobotomy. You can be Mom and still be You.

I’m jealous

Totally jealous.

One of my dear darling friends is starting a website that I totally wish I had done myself!

http://drinkfxbg.blogspot.com/  – The plan is to review Fredericksburg, VA’s great watering holes. A sort of where’s where of downtown Fred, with thoughts from several contributors who will consider the merits of the locale’s atmosphere, beerosphere, and general sphereosphere.

It’s probably going to be mostly brew-focused, which may leave poor Perky out. Unless I can suddenly muster an enthusiasm for beer? Unlikely. Extremely unlikely.

But I do hope to be a family-friendliness critic! So keep an eye out, follow the page. Drink FXBG is also on Facebook – follow them! I just might pop up with my best tips for diaper changes during happy hour!

Restaurant Week – La Rosetta

Hurray, Restaurant Week has returned to Fredericksburg!

Last night, I joined a few great ladies downtown at La Rosetta. None of us had been here before, so we thought it’d be a great place to try.

La Rosetta (Street Caroline)

La Rosetta is right across the street from the Marriot, so a few of us met up at the Marriot for a drink first. The lobby is huge, open, and contemporary. Definitely appealing for the 20-30 crowd, businesspeople, or events. The bartender was quick, and my cosmo was delicious. They also serve very full glasses of wine!

We marched over to La Rosetta for our 6:30 reservation. Our table of 6 was seated upstairs. The restaurant is in an old home, which is a neat vibe. The restaurant was pretty full – appaently Restaurant Week is setting records!

The food was good, overall. The butternut squash bisque came with a goat cheese ‘mousse’, which was essentially just a layer of melted foam on top. It was smooth, light, and delicious. For an entree, I had the pollo alla genovese: a nicely portioned chicken breast topped with eggplant, a slice of tomato, and a slice of mozzarella. The chicken was bathed in a light, tasty pesto cream sauce. I could have had another plate! It was accompanied with slices of zuchinni and carrots, which were also good. For dessert, I had a canneloni – I’m not a big fan, usually, but this was airy, flavorful, and just plain good.

Unfortunately….the service was incredibly slow.

As I mentioned, our reservation was at 6:30. I texted M at 7:30 checking in on the baby…we still hadn’t gotten our appetizers yet. When we finally got our bills, the waitress took our credit cards and disappeared for 20 minutes. I asked the waterboy to find out the status, and she came back quickly after that.

I noticed other tables upstairs with us also had similar waits – there were quite a few unhappy campers at tables of two waiting for their next courses or checks.

The waterboy, by the way, is probably the busiest person in the place! He was very attentive, polite, and unobtrusive. He must be exhausted at the end of the night!

Overall, I would go back to La Rosetta. Hopefully on a quieter night, the service is much faster!

Blue & Grey Brewery

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Fredericksburg is (fortunately for us!) in a great spot for people who like wine, bourbon, and brews. We have many nearby wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

Last night, M and I went to Blue & Grey for dinner. M had a coupon from Restaurants.com, and it was Happy Yappy hour. Dogs were welcome – we did not bring ours because Pickles skews more towards tazmanian devil clown dog than well-behaved quiet dog, and Chutney would be terrified at the number of inanimate objects, much less people.

Blue & Grey is a little out-of-the-way, but it has a nice outdoor eating area and a decent-sized interior space. The weather was phenomenal Thursday, so we ate outside.

 

M got Blue & Grey’s Stonewall Stout and Falmouth American Pale Ale. He prefers the APA, which is more of a refreshing summer beer. I had Reisling (I forgot which one!).

M ordered the Black & Blue steak, which is smothered in a creamy gorgonzola portabello mushroom cream sauce, and served with a side of delicious creamy mashed new potatoes. His steak was good, and he cleaned his plate. Which he always does, but still. This dish is also recommended to pair with Stonewall Stout.

 I had the Shepherd’s pie, which was essentially a deconstructed shepherd’s pie with a tiny lamb chop on top. The sauce for the meat was really good, and the potatoes were phenomenal. We both agreed, however, the chef seemed to be a corn-fanatic. The sheer quantity of corn kernels was a bit overwhelming.

Overall, we enjoyed our food. We liked seeing (well-behaved) dogs, and speculated Pickles will be society-friendly when he’s approximately 12. Chutney will need massive quantities of doggie anxiety meds.

Capital Ale House

Last night, I was itching to go out for dinner. I had absolutely no preference – really, my suggestions were Chipotle, Ruby Tuesday, Chinese, Indian, Thai, noveau American…. all over the place.

We wound up going to Capital Ale House, located on the main happening street downtown. On Mondays, CAH does Burger Night! We both opted to do the special. M got a beer, I got a glass of wine, both slightly discounted due to Happy Hour. We also ordered a side of fries.

The burgers themselves were delicious! Smothered with cheddar, and sandwiched in a pillowy golden delicious bun. M also opted for jalapenos on his, and made a nice festive sandwich. Image

I love randomly going downtown, just the two of us, and especially when it is still light out We were in and out in about an hour, and had plenty of time to come home and keep enjoying the daylight!

Oh my Yum…

I skipped lunch today and purposely drove home after work starving, tummy-growling hungry. Why? Because I knew my dinner of left-overs was going to be amazing.

Last night, M & I went to Peter Chang‘s, a restaurant that opened in Fredericksburg a couple of weeks ago.  First, I’d like to roll my eyes at M’s failure to communicate: I was fully expecting another Chinese buffet or Hibachi: Fredericksburg clearly needs more of those.

Our server’s name was Susie, and she was great. She was attentive, pleasant, and gave us some background on the dishes (served in clay pots the same way they are served in the markets in China).  She also mentioned, unfortunately, that most people are asking for the General Tso’s chicken. This is NOT a Gen. Tso’s kind of place. If that’s what you want….head to Fortune’s or order some takeout.

The restaurant is wide and open, and had a steady flow of diners. The me

nu is pretty substantial, broken down by appetizers, soups, types of meat, noodles & rice.   And….it has puffed pancakes.

Puffed Pancakes!The size of his head!

 

A puffed pancake is kind of like Roti on crack. It’s basically thin layers of dough pressed together, then dropped into super-high heat, and the end result is a hollow, magical balloon of deliciousness. You pop it, tear it into pieces, and dip it into a nice yellow curry sauce (not spicy). The dish comes with two puffs, and probably should be split between 3-4 people. M & I managed to kill ours, of course.

This puff was the perfect way to start off: it reminded me of traipsing around Malaysia on a hot muggy night with M’s Grannie yelling directions in Hokkien to find the best late-night Roti spot. It’s a fun, happy, inclusive type of food.

M ordered a cilantro-fish springroll. Another dish meant to share (seeing a theme?), these were thing, cigar-shaped eggrolls stuffed with cilantro and seafood. M enjoyed them, but they could use a sauce for dipping/moisture. Cilantro-fish Egg Roll

For our entrees, we knew the dishes are meant to be shared, but we both wanted different things. M got a clay pot of mixed seafood in spicy black

Seafood

bean sauce. It was one Pepper on the menu and was a pleasingly tingly spice level. The seafood included shrimp, squid, fish, and scallops, as well as garlic cloves, mushrooms, and red peppers. A warm, soupy family.

 

I got a two-Pepper dish – Chicken with Onion and Chili served in a strainer-type basket over a flame. You stir every 2 minutes until the flame goes out, keeping it hot and making it fun! This dish had a nice burn that sticks to your lips, but is slightly addictive. That “but it hurts so good!” kind of deal. Spicy Chicken

We both had fried rice for our sides – well made, a nice blend of soy, veggies, and well-cooked rice. And Diet Pepsis. We were being boring on the drinks.

Friends, be warned: I am going to demand this place for my birthday dinner in October.

April – a Whirlwind of Wheeeee

M and I spent a lot of time out and about this April.

We went to Happy Hours almost every week, dinners together, and lots of time with friends.

Much of that time involves Kybecca – we met our new favorite bartender, Eugene, on a slow Friday night.

 

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He shakes drinks faster than your eyes can follow, and is personable and pleasant.

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He mixed up an amazing whiskey and elderflower drink for M,

Orange Fizzand a creamy orange fizz for me.

 

 

We also went to Mussel Mondays at Kybecca. Each Monday, mussels are all you can eat and come cooked in two different broths.  The broths change every week from a spicy chorizo tomato broth to a creamy buerre blanc. M managed to eat 72 mussels in one evening, an astounding and disgusting gastronomical feat!

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We are moving on to May, and it is already off to a great start!

Firebirds

We all have different tastes, but I’m willing to bet every one has a restaurant (or more!) that never fails. I have a few, but tonight, I went to Firebirds.

Firebirds opened a few years ago in a newly revitalized area behind Fredericksburg’s mall. They emphasize their wood-burning grill, set in a cozy brick-lined open dining area off the entry way. When you first walk in, you see my usual spot: the bar.

Firebirds has a great happy hour. Monday through Thursday through 7:00 p.m. It includes half off bar snacks, $5.00 martinis, and half-price glasses of wine. I always, 99% of the time, always get the Double Black Diamond martini. It is a perfect drink – winter, spring, fall, summer, Armageddon. Simple, but sweet, the Double Black Diamond is shaken at your table and poured into a glass topped with a slice of fresh pineapple. The ingredients are few – pineapple juice and vodka, but they are wonderful friends.

My go-to meal item is always the same: Grilled Tenderloin Salad. I occasionally (maybe twice?) mix it up and get the Prime Rib. But usually, I’m all about the salad. Grilled beef tenderloin (I like mine Medium) sliced on top of a heaping bed of mixed greens, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, and covered with crumbled blue cheese. Diced tomatoes add a little extra juice, which melds with the vinaigrette and cheese to create a warm peachy creamy dressing. The salad is big, and with the meat, very filling. It is meant to be savored, and I often find myself taking a full hour or more to eat it. The combination of talking to great friends and a desire to savor make it last!

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http://www.firebirdsrestaurants.com/fb/locations/fredericksburg-va

Firebirds consistently has great service, and the food is always well-prepared. I have been there close to 20 times, and have not had a single complaint!

FoodE

Fredericksburg has a great new(ish) restaurant called FoodE. Nestled in a snug alleyway, FoodE is a cozy gourment restaurant serving a seasonal menu that changes weekly. They source the majority of their food products from local growers and producers. More importantly, they make delicious food!

Mike got the crispy braised pork belly, which sits on a small mountain of fantastic cheesy grits. I loved both items – considering I am a picky eater who would never dream of touching either of those things, this is a serious testimony! The grits had amazing texture and perfect flavor, with the cheese being a great highlight that didn’t overpower the palette. The belly was crispy adn the meaty part of it was like eating the best part of ribs – tender and luscious. He ordered a glazed pork loin chop which came with sauteed spinach and honey and cherry glazes.

I had pimiento bread ($1 per piece), which had just the right dash of spice from the peppers. The cheese was melted onto crispy bread and was a satisfying appetizer. I also ordered the Chicken Puttanesca – this was really nice. The pasta tasted homemade, and the sauce came with tomatoes, capers, olives, and a sprinkling of freshly shaved parmesan. Having just spent two weeks in Italy, I can attest the sauce was authentic with the same earthy, calming flavors of the restaurants in Italy.

For our beverages, I enjoyed a chardonnay that was fruity but clean. Mike liked his Fruity Blonde IPA (I think that’s what it was) that came with a FoodE coozie.

All in all, a great meal, a lovely restaurant with a down-home personality, and we will definitely be back!