Nintendo Wii U, a sneak peek in Chicago

Posted by susan on August 19th, 2012

Last month I was one of the lucky Nintendo Brand Enthusiasts to attend the Nintendo Wii U sneak peek party in Chicago. It was somewhat of a spontaneous decision. Get on a plane in a few weeks and travel to a city I’ve never explored without really knowing who’ll be there or what this top secret weekend will entail? Sure! I was about to board the plane when I saw Lacey Bean check-in to an airport and began to piece together what would be a fun and crazy 24 hour adventure.

Once me and fellow my enthusiasts were unleashed onto the party, we hopped from game to game to test out what’s set to launch “around the holidays.”


I tried a lot of new games like the Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition – which was so cool – and the New Super Mario Bros U. But my favorite games were for the Wii Fit U. One game, called Waiter Wabble, turns you into a waitress (or a waiter) as you balance the Wii U GamePad as a food tray to serve the guests.

What I couldn’t get enough of were Just Dance 4, and Sing (I think the name is a work in progress). Both games are perfect for parties, at least if you’re like me and my friends. With Just Dance 4 you simply mimic the dancers on the screen in front of you, except it’s interactive and competitive. The game rates how well you match your moves.

Sing lets you and your friends sing and dance with the characters on the screen – you can opt to have it rate your vocal performance or just have fun. There’s a main performer and the game prompts your friends to sing backup, dance and clap along.

The best part of both games is that the songs available are just what the cool kids are listening to these days. Yes, you will be party rockin’.

wii u fit

After an awesome night packed with what I can only describe as true, unabashed fun, Justine from Brand About Town took the group to the amazing Blackbird Restaurant. I know, I couldn’t believe it myself.

chicago restaurant

We started with this work of art salad…

blackbird in chicago

I enjoyed a chicken and an a egg with a delicious risotto…


And ended the meal with an incredible dessert that I’m still dreaming about…

dessert at blackbird

Of course, I couldn’t have asked for better company.

We ended the evening with a fireworks show over the beautiful Chicago skyline…


Disclaimer: As a Brand Enthusiast for Nintendo, I was flown to Chicago and provided accomodations.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

boston harbor cruises wants you to create your perfect day, and then give it to you

Posted by susan on August 1st, 2012

One year ago Labor Day weekend Mike and I spent our one year anniversary eating and drinking our way through the North End. Then, we ended the evening like this…

sunset whale watch

If you’ve been reading for a while you know how much I love whale watches, or really any type of nautical adventure, whether I’m home or far away. So when I was updated about a new contest from Boston Harbor Cruises I didn’t hesitate to share it. If you’re unfamiliar, BHC is behind the sightseeing tours, whale watches, ferry rides and – ready for it – the Codzilla adventures you can take out of Long Wharf in Boston.

The contest is run through their brand new “Perfect day out” Facebook app that lets fans create and customize their perfect day on the harbor to win tickets each week. To participate, you can go to Boston Harbor Cruises Facebook page and click on the “Win a Boston Harbor Day Out” tab to begin personalizing your day in just a few steps. Once you’ve completed your day, you’re automatically entered to win tickets to it. Winners will be selected each week this month.

boston harbor cruises perfect day out 

At the end of the contest, one grand prize winner will receive a prize package of four BHC tickets, a hotel stay at the Marriott Long Wharf and a restaurant certificate for four to the Chart House.

It’s really easy to enter and even if you don’t win I think the app will open your eyes to activities and adventures that may not have been on your radar.

So, what would be your perfect day?


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, but will receive two tickets to a sightseeing tour around the harbor – an experience I will clearly enjoy given the embarrassing number of links pointing to my love of nautical adventures I was able to share in this post.  All thoughts my own.

homemade mac and cheese, post travel comfort food

Posted by susan on July 26th, 2012

Last weekend I flew to Chicago for a quick trip thanks to Nintendo and Brand About Town– I’ll be blogging that soon. It was an awesome weekend packed with game playing, eating and sightseeing. But alas, it was only a weekend and when I started my workweek on Monday I felt like I had traveled for weeks.

Thankfully, Mike was happy to indulge my craving for some comfort food to help settle back into my weekly routine. I posted the below photo on Instagram and Facebook and got a lot of responses about how good it looks, so I thought I’d share it here.

mac and cheese recipe

Mike got the recipe the old fashioned way – the Interwebs – selecting one from for homemade Mac and Cheese. We did step 3 wrong – by we, I mean I “helped” by hovering over him while he cooked, most likely serving as the distraction that led to the mistake. “We” forgot to melt the butter to mix in the bread crumbs, but we sprinkled Italian bread crumbs on top anyway before baking. We also used paprika from our Budapest trip.


Prep Time: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

Ready In: 50 min


  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pinch paprika


  1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux. Add milk to roux slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick. Put macaroni in large casserole dish, and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well.
  3. Melt butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and brown. Spread over the macaroni and cheese to cover. Sprinkle with a little paprika.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Serve.


What’s your favorite post travel comfort food indulgence?

strolling through saratoga springs

Posted by susan on July 18th, 2012

Have you ever visited a new place that for some reason reminded you of an entirely different place to which you’ve never even been?

I did that a couple of weeks ago in Saratoga Springs, New York. This charming little hotel reminded me of Savannah, Georgia.

Who knows where I got that idea. Hopefully, one day I’ll see if it’s true.

Mike and I went to Saratoga to celebrate the marriage of our good friends Jesse and Mike, who hosted a gorgeous wedding.

I once blogged about seeing opportunity in wedding season while trying to balance work and travel, a philosophy I still believe in today. Luckily, our friends Karl and Leann feel the same way. Before heading home, we decided to spend the day exploring Saratoga Springs.

Downtown is a long strip of endless possibilities, whether you walk into the its many shops or not. In between window shopping, we found ourselves eying these yarn bikes parked on the sidewalk. Evidently, they are the aftermath of World Wide Knit in Public Day.

yarn bikes in saratoga
One of my favorite stops was the Saratoga Olive Oil Company. Upon walking through the door, we were instantly greeted, given a quick tour with thoughtful recommendations and an invitation to ask as many questions as we’d like – and taste as many  samples.

olive oil tasting
Each kind of oil is organized by country of origin and strength. They also offered different vinegars for pairings, which we could also taste to our hearts’ delights. And in between tastes, we had the option of sipping refreshing lemon water to cleanse our palettes.

It was lovely.

olive oil in saratoga
We also visited the farmer’s market. One of my favorite stops was getting to take in a creative spin on recycling.

recycle dunkin donuts cups
Before hitting the road we stopped for lunch at Maestro’s at the Van Dam. If you can’t guess from the Clams Bienville that we sampled as an app, the entire meal was amazing.

lunch in saratoga
When’s the last time you turned a weekend away into an adventure?


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happy fourth of july

Posted by susan on July 4th, 2012

hungarian food

Posted by susan on June 26th, 2012

Before we went to Budapest we didn’t know the food would shape our trip so much. Sure, we knew we would try some Hungarian goulash and wine, but with every meal it became clearer that Hungarian cuisine is a force with which to be reckoned – no matter where we went.

When we first arrived we were tempted to order traditional Hungarian dishes to properly immerse ourselves. Our first dinner was at BorLabor (wine lab), just around the corner from our hotel, Hotel Erzsébet.

We started with a large plate of Hungarian meats and cheeses. Yes, it’s similar to spreads in other countries, but it’s the flavor and spices that make it truly Hungarian.

hungarian food

For dinner I had chicken, which rested on top of what I guessed was gnocchi, except it was much lighter and fluffier.

Mike went all out with a massive pork knuckle, equally delicious.

One of our jaunts across the river in Buda took us to Ruszwurm, Budapest’s oldest cafe, a perfect pit stop between sites. It was small, welcoming and from what we read, not quite as touristy as some of the other locations closer to Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Mike and I enjoyed a potato scone…

…and some cheese scones with our cappuccinos, which – no matter where we went – were always accompanied with a shot glass of water and something sweet.

pastry in budapest


While we never traveled to any of Hungary’s vineyards, we would have been remiss to not find a proper place to enjoy the country’s unique and tasty wines. The history of wine in Hungary is complex. Most recently it was homogenized under Communist rule, but it’s making a serious comeback.

We experienced that at innio wine bar, where we enjoyed a bottle of Bikavér, or “Bulls Blood,” from the Eger region.

We accompanied our wine with another spread of Hungarian meats and cheeses…

…and some Pâté.

I can’t stress this enough. Hungarian chefs aren’t messing around.

Whether you order a traditional Hungarian dish or a bore it up with a plate of chicken (which I’m realizing as I write this post is something I apparently did a lot), you are going to be impressed. I discovered this fact when Mike and I first visited a place based on its affordability.

Gerlóczy Kávéház is an adorable restaurant at the foot of a hotel that has an outdoor patio, mood-lit and fenced in by a string of bulbs and decorated with a charming, old-fashioned bike hanging from a tree. We went twice. Despite the fact that it was incredibly affordable, the quality, presentation and deliciousness matched, and in many cases exceeded, the quality of more expensive restaurants and cafes.

On our first visit, I got some sort of game. It wasn’t a chicken and I don’t think it was a hen, but even though I ordered something that to me was so exotic I can’t remember the name, from what I can remember, it did taste like chicken. But it was a God damn good chicken.

Gerlóczy Kávéház

Mike got the duck.

hungarian food

One one of our last days we returned for lunch. I got a bisque adorned with a delicious fried clam…

…and this pocket of goodness – chicken, tomato sauce and more – wrapped in filo dough.

After a long walk around the city and a visit to the House of Terror, Mike and I stopped in for dinner Két Szerecsen. I started with a bowl of noodles…

…followed up by some chicken. The mashed potatoes sold the dish for me, which had sauteed onions for some Hungarian flair.

Mike tried the rabbit.

Of course, everything was delicious.

I’ve never been to a city where just a few restaurants convinced me that every future meal would not fail to impress.

Budapest did that.

Have you ever been so pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised by the food in a city?


why i keep blogging

Posted by susan on June 25th, 2012

Some people ask me why I started blogging and I’ve got a slew of reasons for them. I love to travel and I thought that tracking my travels would be a great way to hold myself accountable.  It would be a way to not let my all too practical side get the best of me. So far, it hasn’t, well, not all the time anyway.

Those reasons still stand, but they’re not why I keep blogging.

I keep blogging because of the community.

The first place that taught me about real community was twenty something bloggers, which incidentally is celebrating it’s 5th year. Why don’t you go over and say Happy Birthday! I’ll wait….

That community encouraged me to bring my digital relationships to real life. Back in 2008 I discovered these things called “blogger meetups” and after a few emails and blog comments, found myself nervously wandering into the Pour House alone to meet people that I had met online in person for the first time. I was a little scared.

Today, I’m happy to say those people aren’t just bloggers I met in 2008, they’re my friends.

Two weekends ago I to celebrated the marriage of Susie and her now husband, Chris, alongside Chelsee, Becca and Julie Q. My best blog buddies turned real-life friends.



Why do you keep blogging?

there’s so much to see out there

Posted by susan on June 12th, 2012

You just have to look…


Happy halfway through the week!