26.12.11

weekend: christmas

what is in that little box, peyton . . . i think those shoes are a little big . . . football in the yard . . . with my aunts . . . christmas crackers - a family tradition . . . the hubs and i with our crowns from the crackers . . . christmas puppy . . . my stepmom's famous lemon chicken . . . a few christmas gifts
~~~~
My weekend actually started Thursday. I had a half day at work so I went to lunch with my friend, Julie, and then headed to Cambridge to visit a yarn shop.

Friday, I went a got a sparkly manicure and pedicure and then ran last minute errands. Friday night, the Hubs, Peyton and I did our Christmas. The Hubs got me a lasagna pan. I have been wanting a thick one for awhile since my lasagna is always over the edges of my pans. Peyton got me diamond earrings. I am still wondering how she did this since she does not have opposable thumbs and does not have access to currency. I just hope she hasn't resorted to turning tricks on the street. After opening gifts, we headed to my dad and stepmom's house and opened presents with them that night.

Saturday, we got up early to run some errands and then my dad's side of the family came over for lunch and presents. It was so much fun to watch all the kids open her gifts. Saturday night, the Hubs, my parents, and I went to see the new Mission Impossible movie.

Sunday, we had a big lunch and then we headed back to Salisbury to the Hub's parents to celebrate Christmas and his mom's birthday. I was so sleepy last night I just had veggies and dip for dinner.

I am off this week so I will be taking a blogging break and only posting every other day. But you can check in with me on Twitter.

What did you do this weekend? Hope your holiday was merry and bright!

25.12.11

merry christmas!

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas so far! We have been at my parents in Silver Spring and then, this afternoon, we are going back to Salisbury to celebrate Christmas and his mom's birthday with the Hub's parents and family. Have a great rest of your day!

{image via my pinterest}

23.12.11

francophile friday: france email #8

This is a continuation of my lost emails that I sent to my family and friends while living in France in 2007 as a student. You can read more about it here. I sent this one on December 22nd and it is the last one I sent before I came home.

Bonjour Tout le Monde!

Well this is my last email from Bordeaux. I have my bags packed and am ready to go. A friend, Jenny, is picking Nezia and I up later tonight and we are having dinner with her family and she will take us to the aiport early tomorrow morning. My flight to Paris leaves tomorrow at 6 30 am and my flight to Dulles leaves at 10 15 am and I will arrive in Dulles around 12 55 pm.

The last two weeks have been pretty normal. I finished up all the work I needed to get finished and got all of my grades. I have been tryng any restaurants or coffee shops I have wanted to try and have been saying goodbye to friends. I really wish time would stop.

I am excited to go home but very sad to leave. This has got to be one of the greatest cities in the world. I am so glad I chose to come here. Bordeaux and I were the perfect fit. I recommend studying abroad to anyone who is thinking about it and to anyone thinking of traveling to France - stop by Bordeaux. The experiences I had I will never forget. I have learned more about French culture than I ever would have in a classroom and I learned so much about myself, too. I have met many different types of people who are not just French which have taught me about many different types of cultures around the world. I don't think Nezia and I would have bumped into eachother on St. Mary's campus but I have learned so much from her about African culture and cooking. If I am visiting Africa anytime soon it is because of her.

I was very open to all types of people and ideas before but I think this experience has opened my eyes even more. I think this has also helped me to take different situations in stride. Sleeping in a freezing cold bus station for over 7 hours - no problem!

I am excited to share my stories with everyone when I return.

Love, Morgan

PS For those who were wondering: When we first got here, Sarkozy (whom they call the "American" president)had just finalized his divorce. He is now engaged to a model. Ah the French!

Did you study abroad? Did you have any travel experiences that changed you?

22.12.11

better-for-you products, part 2

I have been trying out more natural and organic beauty products and I have some more to share with you. You can part one here.

1. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Refreshing Cleansing Gel: I picked this up on a whim at Target. I try not to wash my face everyday because I don't want to dry it out but I love using this with my Oil of Olay Cleansing Brush to exfoliate my skin. I like using this in the morning since the sweet orange fragrance really wakes you up. Vitamin C is the signature ingredient which helps protect the skin against free radicals and also promotes collagen and elastin production. The Avalon Organics brand uses natural and organic ingredients and has an environmental commitment to reduce their footprint.
Would you recommend it to a friend? Yes. The price is right and it smells so good!
2. Naturopathica Vitamin K Brightening Eye Serum: My friend's sister works at Naturopathica and sent me some samples to try out. I fell in love with this product so I had to order it. I have had very dark under eye circles my entire life and I have never found a product as good as this. The serum goes on thick so you only have to use a little bit with each application. It has certainly helped brighten the darkness under my eyes and I think it has taken the puffiness away too. I use it in the morning under my make-up and also at night. The Naturopathica Brand only uses natural ingredients, never tests on animals, and has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
Would you recommend it to a friend? Absolutely! I am in love with this product.
3. DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo: I stumbled upon this when I was in Ulta one day. Since I am so in love with their curl gel product, I decided to give it a try. It is kind of strange at first since I am used to a shampoo with a lather but I like it. DevaCurl products are 100% sulfate, paraben, and silicone free.
Would you recommend this to a friend? Yes. Although I haven't seen a change in my hair, I am sure it has with my curls.
4. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Moisture Plus Lotion SPF 15: I love using this in the morning since it wakes you up with the orange smell. I also feel like this gives my skin a glow. This moisturizer is perfect for winter but I am still on the search for one with SPF 30 for the months when I am outside more.
Would you recommend this to a friend? Yes. I love it!
5. Boots Botanics Organics Lip Balm: At first, I thought this lip balm was weird. It was kind of grainy making it feel almost like an exfoliant instead of a balm. But I accidentally left it out in my car on a a really hot day and the next time I used it, it was really smooth and I liked it.
Would you recommend this to a friend? Maybe. I am confused on whether or not I just bought a dud. If they are normally smooth then I think this is a nice affordable organic lip balm.

Have you found any good natural or organic products lately? I am still on the lookout for a good natural or organic mascara that is inexpensive.

21.12.11

winner of the williams honey farm giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the Williams Honey Farm giveaway is Suzanne from kiddo's shenanigans. Congrats Suzanne! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information.

And special thanks to Jay for this giveaway!

Also, what did you guys think about using Rafflecopter for the giveaway? Would you like it for the next giveaway? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

{image via here}

dominick the donkey

I am super busy with last minute Christmas preparations so today's post is a short one. Since I talk about French things all the time, you may not know but I am half Italian. My grandfather on my mom's side is first generation American. His parents came over through Ellis Island. I also have a little bit of Italian on my dad's side as well. My co-worker, an Italian American from New Jersey, asked me yesterday if I have ever heard of Dominick the Donkey. I had not so he passed this song along to me. I am sorry in advance for getting this song stuck in your head.


Are there any silly Christmas songs that you enjoy?

20.12.11

grilled chicken over quinoa salad

Last week at work, we had "food week" which is basically our week to eat like crazy all in the spirit of the holiday season. Monday was breakfast day; Tuesday was dip day; Wednesday was dessert day; Thursday was lunch day; and Friday was leftover day. I showed no restraint - and I gained three pounds.

This week needs to be a little different or I risk going broke from having to buy an entirely new wardrobe. Enter this healthy but delicious quinoa salad. This is so satisfying but you can feel good about what you are eating too.

GRILLED CHICKEN OVER QUINOA SALAD
serves 4
adapted from here

chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c EVOO
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
ground black pepper

salad:
1 c quinoa, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 c golden raisins, rehydrated in warm water
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled

dressing:
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1/4 c EVOO
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

1. For the chicken, add oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Mix well and add chicken. Marinade for at least 2 hours.
2. To make dressing, whisk everything together in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Before grilling chicken, let it come to room temperature. Cook on medium-high until cooked through.
4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, all of the vegetables, and drained raisins. Toss with feta and enough dressing to lightly coat. Serve with chicken.

Enjoy!

19.12.11

monday giveaway: williams honey farm

Today's giveaway is from Williams Honey Farm, an Etsy shop that sells lip balms and honey from bees that they rescue. You can find out more about their farm and philosophy here. You can feel good about using their all-natural products.

Jay, one of the shop owners, says, "We find beehives that are in imminent danger of being killed. Exterminators, scared homeowners, tree trimmers etc all want the bees gone immediately... We rush in and rescue as much of the hive as possible and give them a new, safe home on a quiet stretch of farmland. We then melt, strain and filter their left behind beeswax from their original hive. From there we add simple organic ingredients to finish it off. The bees get a second chance on life and you get a clean product with a taste you can feel good about."

Jay is giving away a three pack of their all-natural lip rescue. They use organic shea butter, organic almond oil, 100% pure wild beeswax, and essential oils to make each lip balm. The balms come in flavors like Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Summer Honey. I think I would want to try one of each.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter for a giveaway so let me know what you guys think! You can use your Facebook login or just your name and email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

18.12.11

weekend: almost christmas

a christmas cookie buffet . . . a favorite pic from saturday night . . . class of 08 and 09 . . . the two decent christmas puppy pictures i shot out of thirty
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:

perfect party hair - so simple!

i teared up when i read this

have you seen this video?
~~~~
Friday night, I got a little Christmas shopping done and then went to bed early with a really bad headache. Saturday morning, I got a haircut. I don't know how many inches we cut off but it is now above my shoulders as you can see in the pictures above. I think I like it. Then we traveled to Silver Spring to go to our friend's, Devin and Chrissy, holiday party. There was great food, a little of wine, and a lot of catching up. This morning we headed back to Salisbury and I went grocery shopping and got some laundry finished and did some gift wrapping.

How was your weekend?

16.12.11

francophile friday: france email #7

This is a continuation of my lost emails that I sent to my family and friends while living in France in 2007 as a student. You can read more about it here. This email was sent right after I got back from Paris.

Bonjour Everyone!

So the strikes finally stopped last week and classes resumed. Of course this was just in time for Rich to get here last Sunday. Last week I took Rich around Bordeaux. We got a private tour of the Grand Theatre thanks to a friend of mine here. I had to attempt to translate for Rich. Translating is a lot harder than understanding I found considering I understood everything and translated almost nothing. I don’t think I would ever want to do it as a job. We walked down Rue de St Catherine which is the largest pedestrian road in Europe and climbed the Tour Pey-Berland to get a beautiful view of Bordeaux. Then we left for Paris on Thursday.

It was raining when we arrived in Paris. When we finally found our hotel (it was not really where it said it was) we dragged our luggage up four flights of stairs. Rich had brought an extra bag for me to pack so he could take the things I didn’t need anymore back to America. That night we found a Lebanese place and had really good hummus and kebab sandwiches. Then we went to Le Pralin, a bakery right next to our hotel, and got real French macarons and a little cake thing.

Friday, after our breakfast at Le Pralin, we went to the Musee d’Orsay. This is probably my most favorite art museum I have visited since I have been here. It had a lot of impressionist paintings which I like. After that we went to the Eiffel Tower but decided we would climb it later at night (bad idea – explained later). After that we saw the Arc de Triomphe and walked the Champs Elysees which is when it started to rain again. This did not stop us from visiting Louis Vuitton, Chanel, et al. Later that night we met Nezia at the Louvre (she was staying with her uncle in Paris). After that I had an amazing kebab sandwich from a Turk place we found on the way home. He really knew the right amount of tzaziki sauce to put on (and by 10 pm I was starving).

Saturday, we went to Le Pralin for breakfast again (this is when the lady said “get something for my new American friends”) where Rich discovered a very good vienoisserie. After that we took the RER to Versailles. Apparently they didn’t know we were coming because there was construction being done on the building which did not make for very good pictures. But we got to see the Hall of Mirrors which is all I really cared about. After that we came back and saw Notre Dame in the rain. Later that night we trekked out into the rain and went to Nezia’s uncle’s house for dinner and watched part of the Miss France pageant.

Sunday, we went to Le Pralin and then skipped the Seine River cruise because it was freezing and we were afraid of getting stuck in the rain on a boat. Instead we went to Sacre Coeur and saw the Moulin Rouge. After that we decided to walk the Champs Elyees again. Later that evening we decided to go out into what seemed to be a hurricane to climb the Eiffel Tower. Well Eiffel decided to close the top of his tower due to strong winds so we were only allowed to go to the second level. This was still a good view of Paris though. When we got up there we soon understood why they closed the top. On the one side you just got soaked from the rain but if you walked to the other side you seriously could have been blown of the tower. I started to walk over there but stopped for fear of being swept away. We decided since we could not go to the top that we should make up for it by going to the swanky Eiffel Tower restaurant but we soon found out that you needed to reserve ahead of time. So we decided to go back and eat some place close to the hotel. We found a wonderful Greek place and had (yes you guessed it) kebabs. After that, we went to Le Pralin because the snooty French restaurant wouldn’t let me get just crème brulee. So Rich and I compensated by getting two “mini” chocolate mousse cakes and a huge slice of an apple tart. (And yes we ate the entire thing.)

Monday, the shuttle came (in the rain of course) and picked us up from the hotel and took Rich to the airport and then I made my way to the train station. Sadly, for some reason Le Pralin was closed.

I have less than two weeks until I am back in America so be on the lookout for a last email.

Love
Morgan

Have you ever been to Paris?

15.12.11

2011 holiday gift guide: the hostess

1. Every hostess needs a good cheese board. This slate cheese board is made from reclaimed chalkboards from an elementary school in Illinois. It allows you to label the different cheeses right on the board.
2. Make the guest bathroom like a fine hotel WC with pretty guest towels. Plus, these can be monogrammed.
3. These coasters are perfect for a festive party with the bright colors and fun sayings like "dance till dawn" and "give it a twist."
4. These holiday plates could be used for salad or dessert. They are dramatic while still remaining classy.
5. My drink of choice is usually red wine but when I am feeling festive nothing is better than a glass of champagne. This book helps you give the average glass of champagne a little twist.
6. For the hostess that likes to change it up a bit, this tasting party set is a great start. This allows you to serve food in a chic and fun way.

What do you think is a good gift for the hostess with the mostess?

14.12.11

winner of the hoops and hooks giveaway!

I am happy to announce that the winner of the Hoops and Hooks giveaway is Tanya. Congrats! Please email me with your information at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com. And special thanks to Teri for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via here}

2011 holiday gift guide: the kids

1. The Tegu Block set is not your ordinary set of blocks. They have magnets in them so kids can really build some interesting designs. Plus you can feel good about these blocks: they are made from natural, non-toxic materials and the wood is harvested in a sustainable manner.
2. When I saw this huge, squishable owl, I just fell in love. He looks kind of ornery, doesn't he?
3. This set of alphabet crayons are perfect for learning letters, colors, and getting the creative juices flowing. Plus, they are made from recycled crayon stubs collected from local restaurants so they are environmentally friendly as well.
4. Did you know that TOMS makes TINY TOMS? I didn't either but as soon as I stumbled upon them, I sent an email to all of my friends who have or know kids.
5. Our splurge item are these Striped Fleece Backpacks. I really can never resist a good stripe - I really want one in my size!
6. When I came across this fish hotel in the Crate & Barrel catalogue, I nearly flipped. I never had anything this cool growing up. I put my fish in a bowl or a generic tank.

What cool gifts do you suggest for kids?

12.12.11

blogger blitz at urbana

Sunday night was Blogger Blitz DC! It was so great to meet all the fabulous DC area bloggers. I just wish I had more time to chat with each and everyone of them. My camera was acting really funky so I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, but here are the ones that (kind of) turned out.

the beautiful booklets that {av} made . . . sparkly name tags are the best kind of name tags . . . drink: the dc metro . . . jenn from going the distance and pinky from pink persistence . . . megan from the freckled italian and sarah from sunlight after rain . . . {av} from long distance loving, katelyn from the eclectic tradtionalist, courtney from BB to 79th, kelly from washington prep, cara from i dabble, and me!

The night was held at Urbana at Dupont Circle. I definitely want to try it with some friends next time I am in DC. It had a very swanky atmosphere and an extensive wine list.

And, in case you were curious who was there, here is the list of the bloggers in attendance:

ashley from heart of life
ashley from luce
cara from i dabble
carly from college prep
chelsea from life is a sunset
courtney from bb to 79th
gabbi and mandy from we love food
julie from julip made
katie from i'll take two
kelly from washington prep
kelsey from the capital barbie
lauren from dc girl in pearls
leanna from omg i'm back in dc
lisa from bud & leo
mclean from deacon does dc
meg from mimi + meg
megan from freckled italian
megan from deviled megs
melissa from cupcakes omg
pinky from pink persistence
raqel from dream out loud
rosa from rosa loves
shannon from the scribble pad
tina from east.love.west
tonia from the chatty momma
whitney from cheerios and beer
maizie from chic done cheap

And a very special thanks goes out to {av} from long distance loving for putting this wonderful event together!

monday giveaway: hoops and hooks (NOW CLOSED)

It has been awhile since we have done a giveaway but I am very excited about this one! Today's giveaway is from Hoops and Hooks, an Etsy shop that carries adorable embroidery hoop creations. I especially love the stick figure ornaments.

Teri, the shop owner, says, "You'll find embroidery hoop ornaments, cross stitch, and crocheted items in my shop. I love creating items using fabric, thread, felt, buttons, yarn and any other embellishments I can find. I am a stay-at-home mother of three beautiful children, trying to supplement my husband’s income from home. I love Etsy for giving me the opportunity to do that."

Teri is giving one winner a Monogrammed Christmas Ornament with the letters and colors of your choice AND a ten dollar credit to her shop to use at a later date (after the new year.) I would choose a "B" for our last name and navy and gold which were the colors of our college where the Hubs and I met.

To be eligible for the giveaway, you must be a follower of this blog so, if you aren't yet, be sure to sign up through Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin'. And please let me know what name you are following with.

Ways to win:
1. Visit Hoops and Hooks and leave a comment letting us know what your favorite item is.
2. Write about this giveaway on your blog and leave a separate comment with a link to your post.
3. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (making sure to mention me in your tweet) and leave a separate comment with your tweet URL.
4. "Favorite" Hoops and Hooks on Etsy and leave a separate comment with your Etsy name.
5. "Like" Hoops and Hooks on Facebook and leave a separate comment with your Facebook name.

A winner will be chosen at random. This giveaway ends Wednesday, December 14th at 7 pm Eastern Time.

11.12.11

weekend: driving all over

margarita from guapos in bethesda . . . pollo criollo . . . the Hubs and I . . . mimosas at busboys & poets in hyatsville . . . oaxaca omelete with homefries
~~~~
as always, a little inspiration for the coming week:

how to style an LBD for all of those holiday parties

help people get the water that they need

what a beautiful transformation

Toms ballet flats, coming soon
~~~~
Friday, I left work a little early to travel to Hanover, Pennsylvania to visit my grandfather. Saturday morning, I made him breakfast as per usual - scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage. It felt empty in the house without my grandmother there. At one point my grandfather looked up and said, "Dear Betty, please come back so you can visit with Morgan." And then he turned to me, with tears in his eyes and said, "She can't come back." I felt so awful. I don't ever want to know what it feels like to lose a spouse. My heart broke for him.

After lunch with my grandfather at his favorite place, we spent a bit more time together and then I headed to Silver Spring to meet Rich at my dad's house to drop off Peyton. Then we headed to Rockville to have dinner with his sister. My roasted chicken at Guapos was delicious, very moist and flavorful.

This morning, the Hubs and Peyton headed back to Salisbury and I headed to College Park to have brunch with Niki. I loved my Mexican inspired omelet. Really if anything has black beans and guacamole in it, sign me up. Then we went across the street to a really cute pet store across the street and bought a few things for Peyton's stocking.

The weekend isn't quite over yet - I still have Blogger Blitz DC tonight. So I am going to hang out at my parent's house in Silver Spring until then. Maybe I can take a nap. Peyton kept me up all night with her snoring.

How was your weekend?

8.12.11

2011 holiday gift guide: the cook

1. I love this eat sign. It would be a great touch to a rustic kitchen.
2. I received this KitchenAid immersion blender at my bridal shower and it is one of the best kitchen appliances that I own. I use it in the mornings before work for a quick smoothie. (And it is even so portable that I have taken it to work to make smoothies too.) I also use it a lot when I am making soups and I want purée some without having to use the food processor - a lot less clean up.
3. Every cook likes to try different kinds of oils. This set ranges from delicate to robust so you can sample and see what type you prefer.
4. Since most of Salisbury's food stores are lacking in unique produce, I have been lusting after a meyer lemon tree for awhile. This tree, our splurge item, stays in its pot and is placed outside during the warmer months and comes inside for the winter.
5. Most of the spices and herbs that I have are from Penzey's. They are great for finding unique spices and have good inexpensive basics as well. I really love their gift sets. I actually received the "Spicy Wedding" set from my friends for my birthday right after I got engaged.
6. Tea towels are a must in any kitchen so why not have pretty ones? I love the rustic and modern mix of these towels.

What are your favorite kitchen items? What would you add to the list?

7.12.11

2011 holiday gift guide: the tomboy

1. I won a holga camera this summer from the blog, A Beautiful Mess, and I love it! It is very lightweight and it is kind of fun to have to wait to develop the film. I am not finished a roll yet, but I can't wait to see how my pictures turned out.
2. I love the rustic look of the Sydney Hale Co. candles and their unique scents. I am not a huge lover of floral scents so I love that you can find smells like cedarwood and vanilla - a perfect scent for the tomboy.
3. Every girl needs a bag. Our splurge item is this backpack that is perfect for any situation.
4. Keep your tomboy warm this winter with this cute and snugly bomber hat. I think I am going to have to break down and get one for those extra cold days.
5. I love all my Moleskine products. Get her a set of these classic notebooks to jot down her musings.
6. And, of course, every tomboy needs a striped tee. It is a classic, just like her style.

What would you add to the list? What item is your fave?

6.12.11

williamsburg food: a review

I thought I would share some of the places that dined at while we were in Williamsburg, Virginia in case you were planning to travel there sometime in the future.

AROMAS
431 Prince George Street
Williamsburg, Virginia
On our first morning in Williamsburg, we ate breakfast at Aromas which was recommended to us by Diana from les années folles. They have a pretty extensive breakfast menu considering they are essentially a coffee house. The Hubs ordered one of their scrambles and I got the brie stuffed french toast. It is french toast covered in brie fondue. You order at the counter and then they call you when you food is ready. There are not too many tables and it was completely packed at 9:30 on a Thursday morning so beware of that (although when it is warmer there are tables outside.) All in all, I thought the food was solid and the price was definitely right.

THE CHEESE SHOP
410 W Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, Virginia
As I have said in previous posts, I have been to Williamsburg many times before when I was younger. One of my favorite memories was going to The Cheese Shop. Actually, I am pretty sure it was the first specialty food store that I fell in love with. For lunch, the Hubs ordered a cornbeef sandwich (although later he regretted that he didn't get ham considering we were in Virginia.) I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat with havarti cheese, tomato, watercress and, of course, their house dressing. At the shop, you order at the counter and you create your own sandwich. I love that they have a variety of deli cheeses to choose from. After lunch, we headed downstairs to their wine and beer shop and picked up a pretty good Malbec. Then we stood in line at the cheese counter and picked up two cheeses. We used the wine and cheese as a pre-dinner snack during our trip. I also bought a nice thing of grapeseed oil to try out. I highly recommend this spot for lunch or even a light dinner. There isn't much seating inside but there is plenty of seating outside at the café tables. You could even buy some wine and cheese for a picnic. And if you are traveling with kids, it is certainly family friendly.

FAT CANARY
410 W Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, Virginia
This was also recommended to us by Diana and the Hubs and I agree that this was probably the best meal that we had in Williamsburg. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a reservation for Staurday night since we waited until Thursday, it was Grand Illumination weekend, and this is the type of place that you should probably make a reservation at anyway. So we ended up there on Thursday night. Fat Canary is actually attached to The Cheese Shop. To start, the Hubs ordered the romaine salad and I tried the eggplant soup that they had on special that night. It had chorizo, goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes on top which gave a nice tang and spiciness to the mild and creamy soup. For dinner, the Hubs ordered the pork chop which came with gruyere bread pudding and swiss chard, apples and bacon. I had the seared scallops that came with oyster mushroom freekeh and asparagus with preserved lemon. (I will soon be finding where I can find freekeh and figuring out how to cook it.) We also ordered the best priced bottle of Jordan that we have ever seen in a restaurant. I highly recommend this place, especially for a special date night.

BLUE TALON BISTRO
420 Prince George Street
Williamsburg, Virginia
Diana also recommended Blue Talon Bistro to us and we found it perfect for a nicer lunch, especially we had just spent 4 hours in GoodYear tire. The bistro was super cute and very warm and inviting. To start, they brought water in a bottle and both the water and sodas came without ice. I was in HEAVEN! I highly dislike ice in my drinks but I hate being picky and ordering them without ice. I got the French onion soup and it was huge and super cheesy. For our meal, the Hubs got a hamburger with a fried egg on it. I got the grilled asparagus salad with a poached egg. It was great for a lighter lunch and I plan to recreate the salad in the future. I definitely think you should give this place a try. It is a nice place to take a break from walking around and just relax and enjoy good, non-fussy food. (And, although I didn't see any children in there, it can be family friendly.) My only regret is that we left earlier on Sunday and couldn't try it again for Sunday brunch.

SHIELD'S TAVERN
on Duke of Gloucester Street near the Capitol
Williamsburg, Virginia
I had a really good experience about ten years ago when I went to Shield's Tavern with my aunts. They were running a special where you could get a seven course meal for $30 a person. Apparently, they stopped doing that. The Hubs and I thought we really needed to go to a tavern for the experience. We sat by the fire and had a drink while we waited for a table. I had my first Pimm's Cup! We each ordered a salad which were good but over dressed. The Hubs ordered the ale-potted beef and I ordered the dish of pork. At first I thought the Hub's meal was really good but maybe it was the amount of salt they used. My dish was ok. It was missing the mushrooms it was supposed to come with, the grilled polenta was just a teeny, tiny piece, and the pork was kind of dry. The chocolate pudding was good, though. For the price, the food wasn't worth it. We decided that we would not go back unless we were bringing kids - again, "for the experience."

THE SPOON CAFE
1425 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, Virginia
We passed by The Spoon Cafe and decided we should try it one morning for breakfast. I mainly just loved the name. We both ordered the complete colonial breakfast where you basically build your own breakfast. My scrambled eggs were a little overdone for me (I like my light and fluffy) but my pancakes were pretty good, especially with the cinnamon apples on top. The price is definitely right as well - for $7.99 I got two pancakes with topping, two scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon, half of a grapefruit, and a cup of tea. And this is certainly a family friendly place.

GABRIEL ARCHER TAVERN at the Williamsburg Winery
5800 Wessex Hundred
Williamsburg, Virginia
We figured that it would be fun to have lunch at the winery at Gabriel Archer Tavern before our tour and tasting. We were both highly disappointed. We ordered crab bisque and there really wasn't much too it. The Hubs got the Italian sandwich but for the price it should have been much better than an okay sandwich. I was so excited for my duck confit salad but, honestly, it kind of grossed me out. Now I am not an expert chef but I did eat duck confit almost once every two weeks while living in France. Duck confit is supposed to be crispy and a salty and this was just fatty. The skin hadn't been crisped at all - it still had a yellow color to it. I just ate my salad greens and my mediocre piece of baguette. We both agree that we should have just gone to The Cheese Shop for lunch before we headed to the winery.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
1647 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, Virginia
The Hub's parents suggested Food for Thought as a great casual, family restaurant. I think sometimes it is hard to find a family restaurant that isn't the mediocre chain but this place was great. We had a drink at the bar while we waited for our table. The restaurant has quotes and pictures of famous people throughout American history. The menu is extensive and has a variety of different foods as well as a decent amount of vegetarian and gluten-free options. The Hubs and I got mussels to start off and we liked how it was mixed in with mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil to put on top of the bread with the sauce. The Hubs got the meatloaf and asked if he could the end pieces which they gladly brought him. He said that it rivaled his mom's. I got baked panko breaded flounder with creamed spinach and fries. All of it was really good. The Hubs and I couldn't get over the creamed spinach though. It was the best we had ever had. It wasn't overdone with cream. Instead, it had a great parmesan flavor. Although we were pretty much full after our mussels, we made sure we saved room to try the hot apple nachos. They were delicious! I would highly recommend this place, especially for a family. (Also, they do not take reservations but they do priority seating.)

What kind of places do you like to eat when you travel? Any places you can recommend in Williamsburg?