Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hot Town! Summer in the City: RVA Summer Staples

I'm now in this cursed inbetween where most of the blogs I want to post are about events that happened months ago.  Besides that making them slightly irrelevant, it means I have to do a little more research bc my memory sucks.  Meggy brain not work so good.  SO, in the meantime, I thought I'd break down some RVA summer hang outs for anyone new to the area, or not so new and just looking for something to do.

The River
I mean, we’re called “River City”.   What do you think everyone’s going to do when it’s 100 degrees outside (feels like 500) and the city is composed of broke college students…or in the case of my friends, broke late 20’s/early 30’s party people?  We grab a towel (blanket, nothing, whatever), a cooler, a dog, a way to play music, and we go lay on some rocks and dip our lower bodies in our semi polluted James River waters.  Once you’ve been sweating for about 15 minutes, you just kinda embrace the filthyness and go with it.  And it’s kinda great.  I’ve met some awesome people and had some great times on Belle Isle (specifically “Dead Rock”), Texas Beach, 42nd Street, and the Pipeline.  I was shocked to meet someone recently who was in his late 20’s, had grown up in Chesterfield, but was on his first river visit ever.  That just doesn’t make sense.  If you’ve lived here for even a year and haven’t been to one of our lovely river spots yet, ask someone (most likely ANYONE) how to get to one, and get down there.  Oh, bring bug spray….like, a lot of bug spray. And DON’T BRING GLASS unless you know you’re cool enough to not break it and fully intend to take it with you when you leave.  Don’t you dare litter or hurt anyone on these blessed spots.

Also, besides white water rafting (which I've written about) and kayaking, companies like Riverside Outfitters and Black Dog Paddle now offer long boards/paddle boards and canoes to rent out.  I'm very excited to try this soon.

For maps and more information on our wonderful river, check out the James River Park System website.

The Beach
One of the main things I love about Richmond is its proximity to both the ocean and the mountains (see section below for the latter).  If there's no traffic (which is a biiiiiig "if" on a Friday evening or Saturday morning/afternoon) you can be laying on sand and feeling the salty ocean breeze in an hour and a half...depending on how you drive.  Virginia BeachSandbridge, First Landing National Park, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and so many other nearby areas can feel like a vacation, even if you only go for the day or a weekend.  With so much to do from mini golf, great restaurants, amusement rides, shopping, go-karts, aquariums, parasailing...I mean, there's no excuse to be bored.  And if you're broke, hey, just go lie on the sand.  Seriously, it's better than being in Richmond all day every day all summer.  IMO.

The Mountains
We live in a concrete jungle, right?  So sometimes it's perfectly refreshing to escape the city on a hot summer day and drive out west to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.  Thanks to the Appalachian Trail, there are numerous hikes with waterfalls, pools to soak in (like, rock pools, not swimming pools), and breathtaking views.  Plus you at least have the chance of being somewhere a few degrees cooler.  

For more info on the Appalachian Mountains and the beautiful (sometimes scary) Blue Ridge Parkway, check out this site.

Busch Gardens
My favorite place in the summer!  If you’re a Virginia resident, you can go once at the very beginning of the season (April) and then get in free the rest of the summer!  Sure you have to pay again if you want to go back for Hollow Scream, but who cares in the summer?  If you’re bored out of your mind but have gas in your car, in 45 minutes you can be riding amazing coasters in the most beautiful amusement park on the East Coast, or cooling down on the log flume, Roman Rapids, or Escape from Pompeii….actually, a lot of the coasters will cool you off (at least for a few minutes).  And depending on how early you go, you may not even have to worry about buying food!  Or do what I do and sneak in a bottle of water and some trail mix and you’re good to go lol.  

For more info, go to the official Busch Gardens website.

Good beer, food, and lots of people (and dogs).  What more can I say?  …well I could mention how every Thursday in the summer they have the Food Truck court starting around 5:30 and it’s an excellent time to go.  At the beginning of the summer, Project Yoga?? Would host yoga sessions in the brewing area, and that was pretty cool.  And besides the bar in the main Hardywood building, they also bought the building next door and opened up another bar with an indoor seating area.  Check, check, check, check it out.  For more info on their events and hours, go to the Hardywood website.

There are also a wide array of other breweries if you’re looking for a less popular/crowded hang out, including Strangeways Brewing and Isley Brewing Company. And I can't forget the classic, and probably my forever favorite Richmond brewery, Legend Brewery.  Also a restaurant now, its patio offers amazing views of the city skyline.  It's just usually a bit crowded on evenings and weekends, just like Hardywood.

Everyone knows "Virginia is for lovers", right?  Well I ask you, lovers of what?  The answer:  drinking. Apparently.   Over the past few years I've been to out-of-town breweries, wineries, and "cideries" more than I've been to D.C., the beach, and the mountains combined.  A few of my favorite wineries include Veritas Vineyard & WineryBarboursville VineyardsKeswick Vineyards, and the Williamsburg Winery (honorable mention:  Trump Winery.  Even though I don't like that man, the views at that winery are gorgeous).  As far as cider goes, I've been to one place out of town called Castle Hill Cider that was just gorgeous.  But we also have our own local cidery called Blue Bee Cider, which just happens to be next door to Legends and boasts itself as "Virginia's first urban cidery".
 Castle Hill

Flying Squirrels Baseball Games
It seemed like everyone was bummed out when it was announced Richmond's baseball team would no longer be known as The Braves.  It seemed like everyone was even more bummed out when it was announced the new team would be known as The Flying Squirrels.   I mean...c'mon, really?  And some people still aren't biting (at least I've personally heard a few people still complaining that it was a poor decision and shitty change).  But I, for one, love the changes made to game days and embrace the quirky new(ish) team!  I don't remember having nearly as much fun at Braves games as I do at Flying Squirrels games.  I also don't remember us winning any more or any less, so who cares?  Go buy yourself a cheap beer (bring cash! while the concession stand beers have long lines and seem a bit pricey, the 2nd floor of the stadium has a beer cart/stand that only accepts cash but gives you a great deal on a large beer).

For more information on game times and when they have promotions/fireworks, check out the Flying Squirrel's site.

Kings Dominion
Buuuuuuut I haven’t been in FOREVER so I don’t have any relevant first hand info for you.  So much has changed their in the last few years.  All I can say is enough awesome changes have been made/things added that I’m making it a priority to get back there this year!

To get more information and check it out for yourself, take a look at Kings Dominion.com.

There are many, many, MANY other things to do in or around Richmond during the summer, but these are what I believe to be the staples that every Richmonder and visitor should try at least once.  But hey, if there's something I missed, by all means, let me know.  And if all this fails you and you're still bored....well, have a cookout or go to DC.  Or wait for whatever free festival or concert is happening next.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pomegranate Revisited: A Brunch So Good It Gets Its Own Post

I told you I’d devote another blog to Pomegranate (3321 W. Cary Street) just to focus on their brunch, so here it is!

This is a testament to using social media as an advertising tool.  I woke up with no plans one Sunday, rolled over and grabbed my laptop, eventually navigated over to Facebook and the first story in my newsfeed was a glorious picture of a brunch item at Pomegranate.  I later found out that it was the first day open for brunch, hence the picture and advertising.  A friend happened to text me during this time and I asked him if he wanted to go to brunch, he said yes and asked where, and the rest is history.  My Sunday morning was literally changed by a Facebook newsfeed post. 

Anyway, we went.  I was shocked at the amount of parking there is in Carytown on a Sunday morning around 11:00/11:30.  The entire block of Cary outside Pomegranate had maybe one car on it.  So that was nice (in fact every detail in this whole experience was actually exceedingly nice, hm).  There was no one else in the building (except for staff of course), probably bc it was the first day ever being open for brunch.  I got the VIP baller table in their little window room so I could watch the foot traffic in Carytown.
You best believe I ordered what I came there for:  the Dixie Donut Burger.  A delicious beef patty, nestled between two Dixie Donut glazed donuts, and topped with fontina cheese and bacon jam (which is somehow MORE delicious than it sounds) for $13.  And it was even more glorious than I expected.  The burger was cooked perfectly, the flavors complemented each other in the best way, and even though the bottom donut soaks up all the burger grease (I went mid rare so there was a lot of that) rendering it useless, I didn’t care!  It just added to the experience…and reminded me of what I was putting into my body and that I should plan a gym visit for later.  It comes with a side of pomme frites, but you may not need them.  I was actually shocked that I was able to scarf down the 1,000 calorie contraption (or close to it) by myself, but it was Just. So. Good.  Seriously, don’t make this an every Sunday ritual by any means, but you have to at least try it once or you’re doing yourself a disservice.
My friend made another excellent choice and got the Biscuits and Gravy.  But this is no ordinary serving of biscuits and gravy, oh no my friend.  These are housemade duck fat biscuits generously covered in a duck confit gravy for $12.  I tried a little taste (since I had my feat to overcome) and instantly knew that the next time I went in, that’s what I was getting.  I’d already had their biscuits at dinner and knew how tasty and moist (sorry if you hate that word!) they were, but that gravy…whew.  I don’t have duck often, so I didn’t know what to expect, but the flavor was phenomenal. 
Add $6 mimosas and $7 smoked tomato bloodys with bacon dust and we were all set.  Anyone would be set with that! Amiright?

Please support this still newish, local restaurant.  Help keep it occupying its spot in Carytown.  Check out their full brunch menu here, and then go check them out on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for an amazing brunch.  And don’t forget their open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. for dinner (with the bar opening at 4:30 p.m.).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My RVA Fashion Week 2014: Part 11 Show #4 Finale Show

Saturday May 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 p.m.

This was the longest day of fashion week, but it didn’t really feel like it to me.  I arrived at The National at 10:15 a.m.  We were in the upstairs area and it was AWESOME (TV with Fashion Police on, chairs, diff rooms, hot tub room…basically lots of room to hang out).
Hair and make-up was very gradual, with people trickling in throughout the morning and there being no real rush to get everyone done right away.  But I went first for hair because Melanie (Dunn) was doing it first to show the other hair stylists what she had in mind.  It was two French braid pig tails that met down near the base of my head/neck and formed a bun.  Very nice.
But then…the make-up theme was “ice queens”.  I didn’t know this until I saw girls coming out with white all around the eyes and green or orange lipstick.  No mascara; no conventional prettiness; no real sense haha.  But I get it- themes keep things interesting.  My only beef is I went into make-up wearing my own shirt that I’d be wearing all day.  It was a deep blue.  However, none of my outfits were blue.  They were grey/green and black with a copper bag, and I showed the artists pics of my outfits so they could see exactly what I meant.  Yet still, they chose to make my lips sky blue.  It looked so weird with my outfits.  I wish they had chosen almost any other color. It wasn’t good weird. It was just WEIRD.

Then for the majority of the day, we had a lot of down time.  We got to park in the parking deck across from The National for free, so since my car was close I went to McDonald’s – don’t know why.  Fast food when I’m about to be in a fashion show? Sure, makes total sense (sarcasm). 
We all just sat around, chillin’, talkin’, laughin’.  It was pretty good times.  And the food selection was MUCH better that day since almost all the models from the week were there.

Run-throughs were done for each store/designer one-by-one.  Then one big run-through and flood practice.  We had to rearrange what some people were wearing, including me, due to the order of the show.  So I had to give up my Fab’rik dress in order to wear outfits from both GlassBoat and South Moon Under.

Some of the girls and I walked around the corner to a hotel bar to get some pre-show drinks, and that was really fun.  We got to see the bike race that was in town, as well as get rid of some of our nerves and just chat it up.  We also had a bottle of champagne back at The National J But then, it was SHOW TIME! (And I swear we weren’t drunk lol No one fell!)
Then the show went pretty seamlessly (at least as far as I know).  We all just walked out, did our thang, KILLED it IMO, did our quick changes, and went out and did it again.  There were performances from a drum group, a blond female singing duo, and (apparently) a local celebrity who basically does a Stomp type show by making music (beats) with just his body.  
(Photo courtesy of JC Vera Photography)     (Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)

One of the performance groups warming up before the show

Then me and everyone around me rapped “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea (it was the song used for the final walk) as we got in line for the flood. 

(Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)
(Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)

Then it was time to give credit where credit is due, and each member of the RVA Fashion Week board of directors, as well as their assistants/helpers, got to come out on stage and get their recognition, appreciation, and round of applause.  Then we were done!  It was time to say “bye” to everyone, exchange the “let’s keep in touch”s, and head out to get that damn blue lipstick off my face lol J 
 Stef'anie Thompson
(Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)
Melanie Dunn (my favorite)
(Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)
Courtney Coco Culbreath
(Photo courtesy of JC Vera Photography)
Erin Brennan
(Photo courtesy of JC Vera Photography)
Jimmy Budd
(Photo courtesy of Roger Walk Photography)

There was the Trunk Showcase the next day, which I stopped by.  But that’s mostly a shopping event and I really didn’t stay long so I don’t have much to say about it.  Sorry lol.  It was cool? :D Yeah!

This was definitely a great experience and I want to thank those who selected me as a model for giving me the opportunity.  The directors did a great job, basically starting from scratch and building a fashion week that was creative and beautiful and successful (and sometimes even fun! Haha).  I’m not sure if I’ll do it again next year, mostly bc of my age and full-time job, but I’m glad I did it this year.  I learned so much and met so many great people! Thank you thank you thank you to the organizers, stylists, artists, models, designers, and everyone who came out to support me.  

Much love <3 <3 <3  Keep lookin’ good bitches ;)