Welcome to an Awesome Life

If you love coffee and food, and appreciate dry humour and childish antics then we're off to a good start. If you are interested traveling, DIY, home remedies, and random nonsense to you I say: Welcome :-) And I suggest you start by reading About Me to see if you'll want to punch me or not before continuing. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mother/Daughter Road Trip Part 3: Cape Cod & Foxwoods Resort Casino

After leaving Portland on Sunday afternoon, we made our way even further to the South East, and ended up in Cape Cod. We had a spot booked for the following day at a local Parasailing club, but hadn't yet booked a hotel. 

Pretty little patio
We drove around for a bit, looking for a hotel and enjoying the beautiful scenery, before finally settling in at the Clarion Inn in South Yarmouth. I've stayed at Clarion hotels before, and they are definitely on my list of preferred "lodgings". This hotel is clean, the beds are comfortable, they have on-site coin laundry, their staff is very friendly, and the rooms come with a fridge and wifi. We had a patio off our room (all rooms do) which opened up into a courtyard with an outdoor pool and poolside bar. Although it isn't included in the room price, they do serve a delicious (albeit expensive) breakfast just off the side of the lobby, in another bar area. 

Mmmm foooood

Once we had checked into our hotel, we went across the road to Hearth 'N Kettle for some dinner. Our server, Corey, was knowledgeable & efficient. When she didn't know an answer to our question, she made sure to ask the cook directly. I ordered the Baked Stuffed Flounder, with (real) mashed potatoes and baked beans. The flounder was a bit too sweet, but the potatoes & beans were very delicious. Mom ordered the Grilled Flat Iron Steak, with rice pilaf and butternut squash. She said that the rice pilaf was delicious and she enjoyed the squash, but although I liked her steak, she wasn't a fan. She is also very picky with her steak and typically only eats tenderloin, so don't let that deter you. All in all, it was a good find!

The following morning, we got a call from the parasailing place right before we were to check out of our hotel. Their boat had broken down, so they had to cancel. We asked if they could recommend any other places in the area, but they just played stupid and pretended as if they didn't know of any others. We immediately called Dennis Parasail, the other parasailing place in Cape Cod that we knew of, and they made sure to fit us in at the same time as our original appointment. We chose to do the 600 foot sail (the lowest option) and it was AMAZING. It was so peaceful up there, and really actually quite comfortable despite being strapped in like a nutter. Toward the end of our "sail", they sent us for a dip in the ocean which was super refreshing given the ridiculous heat we have had all summer. If you find yourself in Cape Cod in the summer months, you have to go see these guys! They were a blast, and caught a lot of our adventure on camera for us. Oh ya - my mom and I both had parasailing on our bucket lists so there's another thing checked off for each of us!
What we saw, only we weren't quite this high.

Mom & I, and our smiley 'chute :-)

Our next adventure after Cape Cod was to visit Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, another item on my mother's bucket list. I'm not a big gambler myself, but my mom likes to play on slot machines so we decided to check this place out for a night. Am I ever glad we did! There are 5 hotels, several casinos and an insane amount of high-end shops and restaurants all throughout a massive complex. You drive in, you hand valet your keys, you disappear inside and don't have to come out until you leave. I've never been to Vegas before, but I can tell you that this place was about as awe-inspiring as Vegas probably is. 

Our hotel: Grand Pequot Tower, which seemed to be at the center of it all. We were on the 2nd floor from the top and had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. Our room was large and clean and we had all of the amenities we could need, but our beds weren't exactly the most comfortable. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. 
Beautiful view

Usually on our getaways, mom and I have one really good, fancy, expensive meal. For this trip, we chose to eat at David Burke Prime, one of the many restaurants at Foxwoods. Oh. My. Food. God. I had their Petite Filet Mignon (to die for!) with Crab Oscar, and my mom had Caesar Salad (prepared table-side - quite a show!), Petite Filet Mignon and a Lobster Tail. At the end of our meal, they brought us fluffy pink cotton candy (you get it after every meal, apparently) and as an apology for bringing our steak out before my mom was done her salad, they gave us Cheesecake Lollipops that came with Bubblegum whipped cream for dipping. Steak? Seafood? Cotton candy? Cheesecake lollipops? Bubblegum whipped cream? This place spoke to my taste buds. I'd for sure go again if I ever found myself at Foxwoods again.
I completely forgot to take a photo of my meal, but I sorta got one of dessert!

Next stop: NYC. For those of you who know me, you know that New York City is my absolute most favourite place to be, ever. I took so many photos and did so many things that I may have to do a 2-part entry. Stay tuned because I have some AMAZING NYC stuff to share with you!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mother/Daughter Road Trip Part 2: Portland, Maine

After leaving Burlington, we drove South-East to Portland, Maine. This was to be our "home" for the next two nights.

Specifically, our home was the Howard Johnson in South Portland. While it would have been nice to be right downtown, all of the rooms that were left were much more expensive than staying a 5 minute drive away. However, I may just suck it up next time, as the Hojo left a LOT to be desired. From needing a serious facelift (it was incredibly worn out and grungy), to having to pay an extra $5/night for a fridge that looked like it had been dragged behind a car for several miles and smelled like it was picked up from a swamp, I can't say I was impressed. They did offer free parking, free wifi & free continental breakfast, but the breakfast room was very cramped and not laid out in a very useful way, and breakfast ended far too early (9am on a weekend!). Needless to say, I wouldn't stay there again unless they got that overdue facelift. 

Moving on!

On the first night, all we wanted to do was eat. We wandered the streets for a bit, taking in the sights and smells, and eventually decided on eating at Bull Feeney's Irish Pub (no website), because Mom saw batter fried lobster on the menu. It is as the name implies - an Irish pub. Aside from the obvious Irish-pub-fare, there is a rather large selection of whiskeys on the bar menu, and they even serve you Irish soda bread before your meal. To be honest - I was not a fan of the bread... it tasted like soap to me, but apparently everyone else loves it so what do I know? Either way, the service was fast and friendly and the food was tasty. I'd go back!

The next day, we decided to explore downtown Portland some more, which has enough to see and do that it's a reason in itself for visiting the city. Here is what we found: 

1) A 24 hour liquor store, right in the heart of it all. They had an incredible selection of Belgian beers, and just about any kind of alcohol you could want. 24-heavenly-hours-a-day. This is very good to know if you find yourself in Portland at 3am.

2) I don't normally love popcorn, but holy Sweet Mother of Taste Buds, this place is AMAZING. We tried a few including Root Beer Float and Lemon something-or-other, but Key Lime Pie won us over. If you even sorta like popcorn, GO HERE. You will not regret.

3) Let's talk about bucket lists for a second here. Has anyone ever watched Man Vs. Food? No? So sorry to hear! Yes, you have? Wonderful, you get a gold sticker. Now, let's continue... One time, I saw Adam Richmond eat bacon dusted fries. Bacon. Dusted. Fries. I had an incredibly hard time trying NOT to lick the TV. Putting those very same bacon dusted fries into my mouth was immediately added to my bucket list. And then, I went to Portland. Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself in Portland and you do not go to Nosh Kitchen Bar, I will hunt you down and punch you right in your face. Plain and simple. The creation of bacon dust is second only to bacon itself. And then, when you add in the Apocalypse Now Burger... you better be prepared for death by awesome-induced heart attack. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. I dare you.

The drink menu made me chuckle a smidge.
Behold: bacon dusted fries. Shitson.

4) It was supposed to be cooler on Saturday, buuuut that didn't work out according to plan, so we hit up Maine Mall to beat the heat and locate some shorts. And a birthday present. And a flask. This mall was only about a mile from our hotel and had all of the stores you could want. And in it, I found the flask that I had been searching EVERYWHERE for. I actually did a little happy dance. Also, I may have been slightly inebriated at this point in my day, so that just made it even more exciting.
Sounds about right... right???

5) Later on Saturday evening/night, we wandered around the waterfront, taking photos of a few of their sailing vessels that had come into port. Something about that mix of canvas sails and wooden masts makes my heart happy and my brain a little nostalgic. *sigh*

6) In a never-ending effort to beat the heat, we searched for a place to have a beer or 5 on a patio. Before finding a suitable patio (not that there weren't any... there were actually too many for either of us to handle choosing) we stumbled across this place. It had great music playing very loud, not many people were inside (yet) and happy hour that included cheap vodka Redbull. Sold. If I ever go back with any girlfriends, this is the first place I will be headed to on a Saturday night.

....After all of this, I apologize, but everything was a bit fuzzy. 

Verdict: I would go back to Portland in a heartbeat. It would really make a perfect stop on a BFF road trip (only the next time, I'd be sure to add Rockland to the itinerary so that we could sail on this beauty sloop).

*Part three of four to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mother/Daughter Road Trip Part 1: Vermont

Every year my mother and I embark on a "Mother/Daughter" adventure. Usually we escape for 2-3 nights, but this year we chose to go for 8-9 nights to make up for not going anywhere last year (thanks to that oh-so-joyful job I had). Many locations were tossed around and after much deliberation, we decided to start planning a road trip around North-Eastern USA. Fresh seafood was at the top of our list to indulge in, so Maine was a given. When it was decided that we were driving instead of flying, I made sure that NYC was added to the list (I've been in love since I first went there at age 14). After that, a few other locations were tossed in, taken out, and shoved around. Our final itinerary ended with us visiting (or at least traveling through) 7 states, sleeping in 5 hotels and driving for roughly 30 hours in total. We tried to cram in as much as we possibly could, and both of us even managed to cross some items off our bucket lists. And here is how it went down: 

On Thursday July 12th, we left our town in the rear-view mirror and headed for the border. Our first stop was Burlington, Vermont which was about 8 hours from home and another 4.5 from our next stop in Maine. If you've never been to Vermont, let me tell you one thing: it's simply breathtaking. There are rolling green mountains and sparkling lakes all over the place. This would be a spectacular place for a fall drive, and I'm seriously thinking of doing just that later this year.
From-the-car-iPhone-photo, but still - so, SO pretty. 

Anyway, our first mission upon arrival in Burlington was to set up camp at our hotel. We chose to stay at Sheraton Burlington, where our room was clean, comfortable, and average-sized. We didn't have a fridge or microwave in the room, however there was in-room wifi, complementary hors d'oeuvres that night & a great complimentary continental breakfast the next morning, both in the club lounge. We had a sliding glass door off of our room that opened up to a sort of indoor courtyard which was actually quite pretty. We'd have much preferred the view of the mountains, however it really wasn't a huge issue for one night. We ended up not being quite as close to downtown as I had hoped, but we just drove there the following morning after checkout.
Great continental breakfast - Starbucks coffee too! 

There are a lot of nice shops in downtown Burlington, so we took a wander around for a few hours on Friday afternoon, and this is what we found:

I can think of several people who may find this to be of entertainment value - we stumbled across a glass blowing shop, where you can actually take lessons on how to make your own glass pipe. How fun is that? Also, once a year, they host a competition that involves making the coolest fully functional pipe. It's actually a pretty big deal in the industry, from what I understand. Check it out - Official Website and Facebook Page.
Hookah display in front of Bern Gallery

If you're into fancy food like I am (okay, just food in general), then you have to visit Saratoga Olive Oil Co. They are a family owned business, who's mission is to provide the freshest of extra virgin olive oils. They do that, and much more! They have flavoured oils, vinegars and sea salt - and you can taste them ALL, just like you'd taste wine at a winery. Mouth. Heaven. The decisions were hard to make, but I settled on a delicious Peach Balsamic vinegar and their Smoked Bacon Chipotle sea salt. Make sure that you visit these guys if you're in the area! 

Cherry Garcia St, for all you Ben & Jerry's lovers :-)
One of the most genius things I have ever tasted.

We didn't eat much while there, as we got in after dinner and had breakfast at the hotel. I did grab a free magazine before leaving though, and found a lot of delicious-looking/sounding places to eat at, so I have lots of ideas if I ever go back!

Would I return to Burlington, Vermont? Yes, I would. I feel that there was a lot more exploring to be done. I'd return for probably 2 nights, but I'd try to find a hotel closer to the waterfront and downtown.

*Part two of four to come tomorrow. Until then, Cheers my friends.