How to Have a Romantic Valentine’s Day at Home

Posted on February 11, 2021 by Warren Duffie

A lot has changed in the past year. For one thing, staying home became the new going out. That theme is going to hold through this month, at least, which is why you should start planning for an at-home Valentine’s Day. Begin with these creative ideas.

  • Plan a picnic in the living room. It may be too cold to head outside for a picnic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the romantic experience indoors. Lay out your picnic blanket on the living room floor, light a few candles, and serve up a beautiful charcuterie platter and some other simple finger foods.
  • Make a meal together. In the mood for something more gourmet? Make the date about the process of cooking instead of just enjoying the meal. Pick a new recipe, gather the ingredients, and set up your cook station with everything you need to get going (and maybe a glass of wine or two).
  • Have a movie marathon. Do you and your significant other love romcoms? Pick your faves and set up the living room for a romantic movie marathon! Make sure you have plenty of cozy throw pillows and blankets, your favorite snacks and drinks, and your top films all queued up and ready to go.
  • Set up a spa night. One way to show that you care is by pampering that special someone. If you’re not comfortable going to the spa for a couples’ massage, bring the spa to you! Diffuse a calming scent, like lavender, and dote on your significant other with a neck or foot massage.

16 Stay-at-Home Valentine’s Day Date Ideas [The Spruce]
Celebrate Valentine’s Day With a Stay-at-home Date Night [HGTV]
Stay-at-Home Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day [Organized Mom]

Hit the Ice at SkateQuest in Reston

Posted on by Warren Duffie

It’s time to hit the ice! At SkateQuest you can enjoy ice skating without the threat of the elements. Skate rain or shine, even in the snow, with the huge covered arenas found at SkateQuest. The facility is home to two rinks, one Olympic size and one NHL size, with plenty of room for socially distant fun. If you just want to head over for fun, join the public skates! They offer one free skate block a day, two on Saturday’s, so check out the schedule and sign up for a skate.

If you’re looking for a way to pick up a new hobby, brush up on some skills, or keep your kiddos entertained during the colder months, they have options! For adults, consider joining the adult hockey league with bi-weekly scrimmage options or the freestyle or private ice skating lessons. For the kiddos there are a variety of camps and clinics for both figure skating and hockey. Check out their website for all the details and get ready to hit the ice!

River-Sea Chocolates: Your Valentine’s Day Headquarters in Reston

Posted on by Warren Duffie

If you’re someone who values experiences and giving back, consider River-Sea Chocolates for your Valentine’s Day gift shopping this year. This local chocolate factory is owned and operated by a local husband-wife duo who were inspired to open a bean-to-bar chocolate factory after a family trip to Brazil in 2017. Since their return, they’ve built a sustainable chocolate empire, right in Chantilly.

Cacao is sourced from small-scale farmers in the Amazon Basin, and each purchase supports their sustainability efforts. In fact, River-Sea is one of the only companies that ships via a wind-powered cargo ship to enhance their sustainability efforts and decrease their footprint. It’s a company you can feel good supporting.

At their chocolate factory, they offer fun classes like make your own chocolate bomb or chocolate bar. You can also take a tour for just $5 to see their whole process firsthand. It’s a sweet gift for your Valentine’s Day celebrations this year!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Winter Workouts

Posted on January 14, 2021 by Warren Duffie

Working out in the warm months was pretty easy, even with gym closures and other restrictions. The great outdoors always beckoned with sunshine and balmy breezes, inviting you to go for a run or maybe join an outdoor fitness class. But with the colder temperatures moving in, staying active has become more challenging. Here are a few ways you can do it anyway—and keep those resolutions.

  1. Head outside (just bundle up first). Fresh-air workouts are still an option, you’ll just have to spend a little extra time getting ready. Bundle up in weather-appropriate, reflective gear before you head out, like these top-rated items. Don’t forget sweat-wicking pants and layered tops in synthetic or wool materials, a warm hat, and gloves, and sunscreen!
  2. Stay hydrated. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you don’t need to stay hydrated. In fact, dehydration is harder to notice when it’s colder out. Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after your workout, even if you’re not particularly sweaty or thirsty.
  3. Try online workouts. Online fitness routines are having a real moment right now, and for good reason. With everyone staying at home more, virtual workouts provide a convenient alternative to in-person sweat sessions. Pay a monthly fee to access a large library of workout videos, like BeachBody On Demand, or see if any of your local fitness studios are streaming classes. YouTube also has lots of options for free.
  4. Get into at-home cycling. By now, you’ve probably heard of Peloton and its pricey in-home spin bikes. But did you know that you don’t need to splurge on one in order to access its library of pre-recorded and live-streaming classes? Snag one of these more affordable spin bikes and then subscribe to Peloton’s classes ($39/month) for a full-fledged fitness studio at home.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Over Chocolate Fondue at The Melting Pot in Reston

Posted on by Warren Duffie

Indulge in a delicious, romantic meal this Valentine’s Day at The Melting Pot in Reston. If you’ve never been before, the Melting Pot offers an interactive dining experience. You’ll cook your food right at your table and the dinner offers the chance for you to treat your special someone to a fancy, fun meal.

The pre-fixe, five-course menu is varied and offers something for everyone. The cheese fondue is one of the highlights of the meal — you’ll have the choice between loaded baked potato cheddar cheese fondue and sparkling gruyere fondue, and will receive bread, vegetables, and fruits for dipping.

The cupid’s feast entrée includes high-quality, tender meat like filet mignon, lobster tail, and strip steak that you’ll cook right at your table. For dessert, you’ll receive a champagne toast and your choice of chocolate fondue.

The meal is $80 per person. An ultimate romance package is available for $245 and includes a bottle of champagne, a dozen roses, and rose petals on your table.

Reservations are being accepted from 3 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 14.

Bring a Hearty Appetite to Chi McKorean Fried Chicken, Now Open in Vienna

Posted on by Warren Duffie

KFC should only stand for one thing in your vocabulary, and that should be Korean Fried Chicken. And the place to get it in Vienna is at newly opened Chi McKorean Fried Chicken on Branch Road. This recent location follows popular spots in Alexandria, Annandale, and Chantilly, and offers the same perfectly crispy chicken with soy garlic or spicy sauce. Order your favorite pieces, and have the kitchen give you half and half of each sauce so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Other options on the menu include pork belly buns, bulgogi, and sticky ribs, but no matter what you order, the Korean fried chicken should be what you start with. Get your KFC in a lunch special with kimchi slaw, or on a signature sandwich for under $9.

Even though this location is relatively new, the folks on Yelp have consistently praised the restaurant for its consistent product and great service. Give it a try for yourself to see what all the buzz is about.

Set Yourself Up for Holiday Cookie Success With These Kitchen Organizing Tips

Posted on December 8, 2020 by Warren Duffie

Getting into the holiday spirit in your home? Perhaps your annual traditions include baking! Before you whip up the first batch of cookies, you might want to rearrange the kitchen to make the process a bit easier. These expert tips can help.

  1. Stow spices on a turntable. Turntable, Lazy Susan, whatever you call it, these contraptions make it simple to quickly locate the spice you’re looking for! You can also use them for go-to baking supplies like flour and sugar. A mini turntable should fit neatly and easily into any spare cabinet.
  2. Quickly boost your storage space. There’s probably some spare space in your cabinets that you don’t even realize is there! That’s the dead air above your canned goods and spices. Double your storage space instantly by adding wire shelving, which sits right on top of your permanent shelves. Similarly, small drawers under the sink or in other underused spots can work wonders.
  3. Stash your cookie sheets differently. Instead of keeping your cookie sheets in a haphazard pile, use tension rods to get them in order. Line up tension rods from one side of a cabinet to the other and store your cookie sheets vertically.
  4. Use the back of your kitchen cabinets. Did you know that parchment paper tubes are super easy to hack? Stick a wooden dowel through the hole in the center of the tube, and you can hang it instead of trying to stuff it in a drawer alongside cling wrap and aluminum foil. Just affix two temporary hooks to the back of a cabinet door, thread the dowel through them, and voila! Parchment paper at your fingertips.

The 52 Best Kitchen Cabinet Organization Ideas of All Time [Apartment Therapy]
The 35 Most Brilliant Organizing Ideas of All Time [The Kitchn]
22 Smart Storage Tricks for a Small Kitchen [Good Housekeeping]


Get in the Holiday Spirit at the Bull Run Festival of Lights

Posted on by Warren Duffie

Holiday fun and social distancing is going to be hard to mix this year, but not at the Bull Run Festival of Lights! This yearly tradition is a safe way to get in the merry mood, right from the comfort of your car. To get the party started early this year, Bull Run Festival of Lights is open for an additional three weeks (it’s open now!) to get you thinking about your gift list and humming a happy holiday tune. Just load up your car, pack plenty of cocoa and snacks, and wind through the 2.5 miles of impressive lighted displays. And while some of the normal attractions are closed this year, including the Snowflake Stampede and Holiday Village & Carnival, there will still be plenty of family photo ops amidst the dazzling displays.

For the most manageable crowds and a $5 discount per car, plan your trip on Monday through Thursday. Visit the website to purchase tickets, or to see the hours of operation for each evening.

Ice Skating at Reston Town Center: A Holiday Tradition Returns

Posted on by Warren Duffie

After this difficult year, we could all use an extra dose of holiday cheer. And there is no more picture-perfect and downright fun way to spend an evening than Ice Skating at Reston Town Center. The rink is practically movie quality, complete with a full canopy of lights and charming shops surrounding the ice. Bring the kids for a fun winter activity, or make a special night of it with your significant other. There’s plenty of dining and shopping near the rink, so it’s really a great spot to take advantage of this busy time of year.

Be sure to visit the skate shop for tons of new merchandise or to rent the popular double-blade, flat edge skates for beginners. To keep guests safe this year, Reston Town Center has expanded their operating hours and is offering ticketless entry and reserved time slots. Visit the website to hold your time, and to learn about free parking options and more.

Fall Sweets to Bake in November

Posted on November 5, 2020 by Warren Duffie

Sweet potato, pumpkin, apple—these are a few of the ingredients that flourish in the fall, so it makes sense they’d also play a starring role in your baked goods. If you’re looking for some sweet autumn treats to make this month that are a little more creative than pumpkin muffins and apple pie, try these recipes.

Gingery Sweet Potato Pie [Country Living]
The distinct addition of ginger lends a rich, complex flavor to this otherwise traditional sweet potato pie. You can make your own pie crust or buy one pre-made to cut back on prep time. Then bake about four small sweet potatoes and mash them with milk, eggs, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and, of course, sugar. Fill the pie crust with the sweet mixture, bake it, and top with homemade (or storebought) whipped cream.

Pumpkin Crisp [Delish]
Sure, pumpkin pie is delicious, but pumpkin crisp in a cast-iron skillet? You really can’t beat that. This recipe guides you in mixing together pumpkin puree, eggs pumpkin pie spice, heavy cream, and vanilla with ample amounts of sugar. Next, you’ll craft a crumbly topping using flour, brown sugar, salt, butter, and pecans. Pour the creamy mixture into a greased cast-iron skillet, sprinkle the buttery crumbs on top, and bake for about 45 minutes—then enjoy a slice a la mode.

Apple Dumpling Bake [Taste of Home]
This recipe is much easier than apple pie, and it features one unexpected ingredient: Mountain Dew. Apple slices wrapped in crescent rolls simmer in the sweet, bubbly beverage with sugar, butter, and cinnamon for about 35 minutes. The result? Flaky, golden-brown rolls bearing the perfect balance of tart Granny Smith apples and sweet soda and sugar. For an extra-delicious dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.