Growing up: signing up to volunteer as your birthday activity. I spent the evening volunteering with a nonprofit at their local urban farm. It’s interesting getting into the weeds (literally) of food access and education in DC. I will also be at farmers markets throughout the summer to help low-income community members access fresh produce. With all of the conflict and negativity in the world right now, how could I sit at home waiting for change? I’m looking forward to continuing to take action in my community. Baby steps.
What to do when you return from Paris and London? Invite your closest friends over for “a casual yet proper afternoon tea.”
**It helps if your friends are incredibly talented in cooking and baking.**
We had homemade treats including scones, palmiers, and a Pinterest-worthy pink champagne cake. Add dainty cucumber sandwiches a variety of the finest Twinings tea, and you have the perfect afternoon staying in and catching up.
I scored the three-tiered stand at Miss Pixie’s the morning before the event. Fate.
After living in DC for a few years, it’s easy to keep going out to the same places. But sometimes you have to mix it up. A Choose Your Own Adventure night, to be exact.
Claire and I came up with a list of places we wanted to try and a few old favorites outside of our neighborhood. Then we organized everything into three phases: dinner, activity and a bar. We came up with clues for each place, and I wrote them on index cards.
We told the group where to meet at 7:00 p.m. to decide where we would eat.
The restaurant options included a mix of new and nostalgic places that we thought everyone would like and wouldn’t need a reservation for. We
printed a map wrote a list of locations that represented the type of cuisine or theme and had the group guess the corresponding restaurants:
- Japan (Raku)
- Texas (Hill Country)
- Mexico (Guapo’s)
- France (Bistrot du Coin)
- Italy (Pizzeria Vetri)
- South Africa (Nando’s)
After a solid discussion about Texas, Mexico and Tex-Mex, we identified all of the places and each voted on where we wanted to go. We decided to head to… Japan! Or, Raku by the National Cathedral.
We also prepared a list of challenges to do throughout the night during each phase and in transit. The idea was to rotate through and each complete one in order until we finished the list, but sometimes we (*cough* most of us *cough*) ended up all completing the one at hand. At Raku, the challenge was: Text a friend from high school and express how much you value your friendship. Leave voicemail if the person does not pick up. Basically, we spread some love to our friends back home. Everyone can use some extra love, right?!
After finishing dinner, I revealed the cards for the next group activity. Clues were all song lyrics or albums:
- Quit playin’ games with my heart
- Board games at the Board Room
- They got a brand new dance (come on) / You gotta move your muscle
- Shuffleboard at Buffalo Billiards (throwback to the time we were all on a shuffleboard team)
- It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday / The regular crowd shuffles in
- Red velvet, vanilla, chocolate in my life / I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean
- Dessert at The CakeRoom (because eating cake obviously counts as an activity)
- 21 (Adele)
- Bocce ball at Black Jack
- Oh, I wanna dance (and sing) with somebody
- Karaoke at Muzette
I wrote the neighborhoods on the back of each card just in case they couldn’t guess it based on the songs, but the extra clue was only needed for Black Jack, where we ultimately decided to go. The result: a highly competitive game of bocce.
The winning team:
Congratulations to Claire, who completed this bar challenge: Hold eye contact with a guy across the bar for 10 seconds, then wink at him (if you can’t wink, blow a kiss). A+
For the last part of “Choose Your Own Adventure” night, we had to choose what bar to go to. The bar clues included a mix of riddles, memories and general hints:
- Jack, will you accept this ____? (for Jack Rose — and the Bachelorette fans)
- The name of this 14th street bar has two words. One of them is “bar.” How original. (Bar Pilar)
- Kelsey went on a date here and dropped her drink. Ok, it “slid off the table.” (McClellan’s Retreat)
- Retractable glass roof + views of U street. Kelsey and Beth reallllly know how to dance it out here. (Hawthorne)
- Rooftop beer garden in Shaw. (Takoda)
There was also a wild card with five new spots we hadn’t been to. If this card was chosen, we had to pick a number from one to five without knowing the list of options:
We went with the wild card. The number four was chosen, so we headed to Quarter + Glory. It was a great choice since none of us had been there. It was also on 14th street, so it was a quick walk from Black Jack. The space is open yet cozy, and we all agreed it’s worth coming back to.
The choices and challenges created a fun activity that encouraged us to explore new spots. Who knows what adventure we’ll choose next?
I recently spent a few days in Charleston, South Carolina. Believe the hype—it’s a cute town with a lot of history and amazing restaurants. Take a tour to see the charming houses, browse the Charleston City Market and shops on King Street and stop for dinner at Poogan’s Porch for the pimiento cheese fritters and pan roasted duck. Or Jestine’s Kitchen for fried oysters and sweet tea. And drinks on the roof of the Market Pavilion Hotel (NYT approved!). The food in the city alone is worth a second trip.
More photos on Instagram: @lesleysiu
Happy National Coffee Day! I’d say I’m quite the coffee
snob addict. Bold statement? Well, when I broke my French press, I almost cried—and not over the spilled coffee. Whenever I move somewhere new, I make it a point to find the best coffee shop(s). It’s kind of a necessity. Here are a few of my favorites in the cities I’ve lived in over the past two and a half years. I might need to have some trips brewing after this…
New York, NY
Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Arguably the best coffee in New York. If I lived near 29th and Broadway, I’d be there every single day. It’s connected to The Ace Hotel, too—cool vibes all around.
Kooka Boora: My favorite café for coffee in my favorite city—and not just because they have iced coffee (rare in Paris). This Australian coffee shop also has good music, free WiFi and indoor/outdoor space to do work (and people watch). It’s in the 9th arrondissement, one of favorite neighborhoods.
Caféothèque: Lovely lattes in the heart of Paris and right in front of the Seine. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a little pricey, but the espresso and cozy atmosphere are worth it.
Filter Coffeehouse: I love the charming Dupont Circle location. Bonus points because they have a flat white on the menu. And it’s the best I’ve found in DC (so far).
Baked & Wired: Cappuccinos and cupcakes = a match made in coffee heaven. They also have Stumptown Coffee. Dreamy.
S’Mug: Their vanilla chai tea lattes kept me going through the Scottish winter. And that says a lot.
Brunetti: Excellent coffee and heaps of delicious desserts. The City Square location is convenient, but the original one in Carlton is iconic.
You bet I was all over that free iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts today. Can’t go wrong with an American classic, right?