Cheery & Charming Shop Small, Shop Local Stroll – 12/15/2020

You all know how passionate I am about this city, especially my small town neighborhood of Federal Hill ever since I moved here 7 years ago. And, given the latest restrictions imposed upon Baltimore City, I’ve been racking my brain as I work on ways I can give back and support in lieu of these turbulent times.

So, introducing the, “Cheery & Charming Federal Hill Shop Small, Shop Local Stroll,” happening Tuesday, December 15th from 4 – 7PM !!!


I am so, so, SOOOOO excited and grateful for the local businesses that eagerly jumped on board for this super fun and creative way to drive traffic to local businesses in our neighborhood right before the holidays. Help me to make their holiday season EVEN better!

(not to worry – all capacity guidelines, masks, and social distancing to be followed.) #MaskOnMaryland

Need last minute gifts for the holidays?

A bite to eat?

And excuse to get out of the house?

A special treat for yourself?

Support local THIS Tuesday and be entered to win an AWESOME prize for doing so!!

HOW IT WORKS:
1. Visit the participating business in the images below
2. Shop (or EAT) til you drop!
3. For every visit and/or purchase you make, receive a raffle ticket to the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY
4. GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY includes a basket containing goodies from all of the participating businesses, valued at est. $250+.

Check out the gallery of images above to get the full scoop, as well as all the safety rules and regulations. PLUS – – what better way to make the holidays a little warmer this year than supporting your favorite Fed Hill spots?!

Here’s the list of currently participating businesses (subject to add more):
101 Baltimore
Banditos
Berries by Quicha
Brightside Boutique
Cans Filling Station
Cheese Galore & More
Don’t Know Tavern
Dulceology
Pandora’s Box Boutique
Phina’s Fine Linens
Pizza di Joey
Rowhouse Grille
Taco Love Grill at Cross Street
The Book Escape
Wayward Smokehouse

Questions?! Reach out to me!
And please, PLEASE share!!
Let’s make this event one for these incredible businesses to remember!!!

xoxox
Brittany

Live music streaming, virtual tip jars, home cooked meals to-go, and bar madness – how the restaurant industry in Baltimore is handling the recent crisis and what to do if you want to support local!

It’s been a mere 16 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the recent Coronavirus as a global pandemic. It’s shifted lives, businesses and general daily practices to a new level of ‘normal.’ As much as I like to joke and use more informal lingo on my page, it’s serious business when we consider that vast majority of our U.S. and global population awaits puzzled as news and updates are provided on an ad hoc basis.

Those that know me personally, know my hubby owns and operates a local bar & restaurant in the historic Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. It’s been a tough learning experience for us, and equally as tough, if not even more impactful for our fellow hospitality friends. 

I encourage those reading to do what you can to support those striving to maintain an income – whether it be via moral support [ [ check in on those you love! ] ] , or financially if your situation allows.

In this entry, I’m providing a number of fun and creative ways you can support local!

  1. Live Music Streaming

Musicians alike, have been severely impacted by government mandates to suppressed gathering, closed bars and restaurants, postponed weddings, and the like. In response, and frankly not a surprise from these innovative folks, a number have launched live music streaming initiatives to not only engage with their fans, but also provide a positive and uplifting activity for those being responsible and bunkering down in their homes.

TONIGHT, I’m plugging my all-time favorite: Chris Diller. Catch his live stream on Facebook at 9PM sharp by clicking on his profile!

2. Virtual Tip Jars

Shout out to local cocktail enthusiast, bartender and DJ pioneer herself, Abby Hopper, who led the charge in setting up the Baltimore Tip Jar for enabling patrons to continue support of their favorite bartenders! You can access a full listing of Venmo handles for individuals employed by the hospitality industry that have been impacted by the recent economic change. Various campaign initiatives have been circulating – from dedicating (2) tips a day to (2) random bar staff on the list, to a variety of other ideas and cadences.

3. Home Cooked Meals & Drinks To-Go

If there’s anything learned through the transition of working from an office to home atmospheres, it’s that it’s been [ [  T O U G H  ] ] to keep up with the expectation of providing dinner and general meal prep with no breaks in what’s now non-stop home life. In response, a number of restaurants have stepped up to provide more creative means of their offerings to go for continued enjoyment at home:

Blue Agave Baltimore:

Is offering their famous house and spicy guavarita mixes! You can stop by their location at 1032 Light Street and pick up your favorite. The house sour mix is just $10 for a 28 oz size that makes about (7) margaritas. The spicy guavarita ( ( my favorite! ) ) also comes in the 28 oz size, and includes tequila for just $35! UMMM… YUM!! And, you’re welcome for this Friday celebration tidbit!

Don’t Know Tavern:

Let’s be honest – working from home, PLUS grocery shopping, PLUS meal prepping/planning, PLUS cleaning the house, PLUS dog walking, PLUS homeschooling kids that have been suspended for yet another month before returning to school… can be ROUGH. Don’t Know Tavern is offering a different pre-prepared platter daily on special that serves 2-4 for just $20! Just pop it in the oven for 15-20. While demand fluctuates, availability is driven by preorder/demand, so be sure to call to reserve yours in advance!

4. New Swag!

HUGE shout out to Matt Berry, who has helped SO many local businesses advertise NEW t-shirts via the Baltimore Neighbors page. You can find a slew of bars/restaurants to support including:

NOTE: For every t-shirt purchased, Matt is generously donating $10 BACK to that business throughout the shutdown!

5. Bar Madness

First off, let me give the biggest shout out of this entire post to @bmorebetches, who over the past few days, have quite nearly, [ [ shut. down. instagram. ] ] They’ve owned the social media game in the Federal Hill, Fells Point, Canton, and other surrounding neighborhood network – some comments reigning in from across the country! All orchestrated by their setting up a March Madness-like bracket of 16 local bars and basing round advancements off of tagged business comments!
Have you been following your favorite bar through the brackets?! If you’re looking for a little fun & local competition, tune into their page to see who ‘takes all/wins all’ in their ‘BAR MADNESS’ competition here. Next up: the final championship round!

P.S. Throw in a vote for Don’t Know Tavern if you can, haha 😉

Anddddddd, that’s a wrap! I’ll be sure to monitor and post new ideas and ways to support in the coming weeks.

Talk soon!
xoxo
Brittany

You Betta Belize It! Check Out Cheery & Charming’s Must See Spots (+ What You Need to Know) if You’re Considering A Visit to Ambergris Caye’s Great Barrier Reef!

This past New Year’s Eve, we decided to celebrate a little ‘less’ traditionally: we planned a trip to Ambergris Caye, Belize!!

Some of you may know this trip was our second time visiting Belize; our first adventure being on our honeymoon! Throughout our first visit, we realized quickly we loved the country, the scenery, the water, and especially the people and culture so much so that we simply couldn’t get enough. We knew we wanted (and needed) to go back and, after this most recent trip, we still haven’t gotten our fill!

If you’re looking for a new spot to add to your travel bucket list, please do yourself the favor in adding this gorgeous destination to your vision board. While it’s relatively affordable and easier to get to than other exotic options, there are a few tips and pieces of advice I’m sharing here to get the smoothest experience out of your travel, and start building your list of MUST sees!!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. Southwest flies here! This makes booking travel super easy and fairly affordable to most. Even better – get yourself a Southwest credit card! I was able to hook us up with free flights using points from my everyday purchases. While I haven’t been able to find a direct flight via any airline just yet, most layovers are a mere hour or so.
  2. Arriving Checklist:
    – You’ll fly into the mainland (BZE airport). From there, you will have needed to arrange travel in advance for getting from the mainland to the island, Mon! Options are by air or by sea.
    OPTION 1: There’s a water ferry that transports guests to the island for about $40-$50/way, but PSA: it does take a little over 2 hours from point A to point B, not including the time it takes to get to the boat port from the airport.
    OPTION 2: Personally, our preference is to save a few extra pennies and splurge for the puddle jumper plane to and from San Pedro. Thankfully, there are only (2) airline options, so it makes your decision easy between Tropic Air & Maya Island Air. While this option is a tad more expensive alternative, est. $170/pp/way, you’re there in only 20 minutes, and you get to see the gorgeous clearwater views on your final stretch.

    – Once you’ve landed on the island, there isn’t much, if any, public transit available. You will want to pre-schedule some variation of pickup of yourself and your luggage with your resort/staying accommodations from the San Pedro airport.

    FUN FACT: There are little to no cars on the island! The most common method of transportation is via gas-powered golf carts, which you’ll want to be sure you reserve in advance for getting around town/around the island. Last visit, we used Sam’s Golf Cart Rentals and couldn’t have had a better experience! They even were super flexible with us in extending our golf cart rental at the last second for a few additional days. 🙂

YOU’VE ARRIVED! …. now what?

While everyone has different vacation agendas, here’s a list of my favorite spots compiled from both visits! While there’s still a ton to see on this little gem of an island, I sure my list barely even scratches the surface in regards to unique finds 😉
I hope to be able to update and/or add a new entry the next time we make it back. The island is full of new business development, so there’s always new shops and concepts emerging as well as restaurants popping up. If you happen to stumble on a favorite or two, please comment at the bottom of this article so I can keep adding to my “MUST-see list” !!

  1. Estel’s Dine By the Sea
    THE breakfast spot in Ambergris Caye! It’s downtown on Front Street/right on the beach front. You’ll want to arrive early, or earlier than starvation mode as this spot is always packed, but the food is 100% worth the wait!
  1. Crocs Sunset Sports Bar
    In town during football season? This is the coolest spot to post up for any sports game watching on the island. If you’re sweet to the staff, they’ll ensure the game you’re there to watch is streamed on the nearest TV to your seat 😉 PLUS – don’t miss the stunning views of the lagoon side of the island at sunset!
  2. Matachica – Mambo Restaurant
    Incredible dinner spot on the Matachica Resort! While it’s a little further out from town – think 20 minutes or so of golf cart riding, it’s worth the hike. You may want to head this direction before the sun sets though, as this restaurant is well past where the more formal road paving ends and there’s limited lighted streets.
    You can’t go wrong with the menu! It’s MUCH larger and filled with more seafood options when you arrive in person versus what’s noted on their site. We enjoyed the authentic Italian bruschetta, tenderloin carpaccio, calamari fritti, and spicy gazpacho from the app section! I don’t see the fresh seafood entrees we went with on here, but everything we had was mouth watering.
  3. Secret Beach – Maruba Beach Klub
    We actually missed going to this spot the first time we made it to Ambergris Caye and man was I bummed once we did made it!! It’s quite a drive (about 4 mi north of the downtown bridge, and then west another 3.5 mi), but a really unique area filled with restaurants, beach chairs, bars, massage and pedicure options – IN THE WATER! (does it get any better than that?!), colorful swings, local shops and more.
    P.S. While it’s called ‘secret beach,’ it’s far from a secret anymore, as it’s likely one of the most touristy spots on the island, but totally worth the visit 😉
    Maruba Beach Klub was my favorite place we saw with great service, yummy drinks, tasty food, and comfy adjustable lounge chairs for posting up in right on the water . Although we really wanted to make it back a second day to explore the other spots!!
  1. Rain Rooftop Restaurant
    Beautiful view! We spent our New Year’s Eve dinner here, before heading down town and enjoyed the vibrant decor, live music and friendly staff. Also a really great location, as part of The Grand Caribe Resort – you don’t have to go far!
  1. PUR Boutique Cabanas & Taco Bar
    Loved this little gem! Really great tacos! PUR Boutique Cabanas is new since we last had been to Ambergris Caye. A cozy & tranquil spot just south of The Grand Caribe resort, this boutique hotel is adorned with 6 queen & king suites – some even with their own private plunge pools!
    While we didn’t stay here (maybe next time!), we enjoyed dinner al fresco adjacent the multicolor LED lit pool. They had both vegan, low-card and gluten free options available!
  1. Carambo Restaurant & Bar
    THIS. PLACE. WAS. THE. BOMB. !!!
    We had no idea what we were getting into at Carambo. We stumbled on this as a local recommendation by one of the bartenders we befriended at Crocs Sunset Bar and it absolutely was NOT one to miss.

    The decor and family heritage made me feel similarly to if I had stepped into an island version of the legacy Tio Pepe Baltimore restaurant. After being greeted by our server, we were prompted escorted outside – yes, outside – to pick out our dinner!

    Lining the front of the restaurant was an open, market-like spread of all the fresh caught seafood you could imagine: lobster tail, shrimp, red snapper, yellow snapper, scallops… enough to make your stomach full just by looking at the spread!! How to order you ask? By simply walking with your server down the line to hand pick exactly what you’d like prepared on your plate to perfection!
    Seriously one of the coolest spots we’ve found to date on the island!!
  2. Palapa Bar
    Into night life? Palapa bar is a fun, happening spot in the center of downtown in you’re looking for a little post-sunset fun! While most places tend to wind down earlier on the island (think 9-10PM), this is a great option for keeping the fun going. There’s typically a live DJ every night and a lively crowd. If you visit during the day, they have inner tubes tied by the dock that you can float on in the crystal clear water while you enjoy your snacks and bevvies 🙂
    PPSSSTT… there’s also a buy 1, get one FREE drink coupon on their website!

I think that wraps it up!

Got questions? Reach out to me! I have even more photos over on my instagram and ove connecting with my readers!

Check me out at @brittanyleighxo

Cheers & talk soon!
xoxo
Brittany

The Best InfuZed Bottle You’ll Ever Buy

Recently, I was surprised & delighted to win the pre-launch/kick off contest held by The Infuzed Bottle and I couldn’t’ have been more thrilled! (Lizzie was pretty intrigued as well 🙂 )

I’ve had on my radar to check these little ‘infuser’ guys out, read reviews and find the best one for me, but in typical fashion, I kept putting it off. While I’m not much of an adventurer of anything outside of drinking water, I do love to mix up my water – from a fizzy sparkling water to a variety of fruit infused water blends. Having these combination options helps me to not get bored of my water, while keeping up my hydration consumption!

Today, I’m sharing my review of The Infuzed Bottle and why you should or why you shouldn’t invest in one.

It’s So Pretty!

How could you NOT want to strut around the office, the gym, your daily errands, etc. without this little beauty in your hands? From day one when I started using the chic, gold topped, fashionable glass bottle, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E I saw wanted to know where I got it from. It’s a show-stopper!

It’s Easy to Clean! (AND – It’s good for the environment)

With an elegant glass structure, you have to be delicate. BUT – I personally always feel I’m able to get glass clean or sanitized versus plastic. Plastic harbors Bisphenol-A, a chemical known as BPA, which can mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogens, androgens, and thyroid hormones. A.K.A. TOSS/RECYCLE YOUR PLASTIC BOTTLES FROM YOUR KITCHEN CABINET. As quotes by The Infuzed Bottle, “Friends don’t let friends use plastic!” Exposure to BPA is a concern because it creates possible health effects on the brain, can have a direct correlation to high blood pressure, as well as health effects related to behavior and prostate glands. Yikes!

For Infuzed Bottle, you can get it sparkling clean by simply hand washing your bottle in warm soapy water. AND – know you’re being socially responsible!

It’s Easy to Keep Tabs on Your Hydration!

The Infuzed bottle holds 500 ML of water, equivalent to approximately 17 fluid Oz, so if you’re one to aim for the ideal of eight 8-once glasses of water in a day, you only need four full helpings to exceed your goal.

It’s Healthy!

I know what you’re thinking … of course it’s healthy, Brittany, it’s W-A-T-E-R for goodness sake! But, I mean even more than that – Don’t fall for flavored waters, vitamin waters, etc. that can be filled with artificial sugars and sweeteners! Maintain your nutrients and vitamins by using FRESH fruits and veggies. PLUS – they’re a great snack afterwards J

There are SO Many Ways to Use it!

Not in the mood for cold infuzed water? Try a hot mixture! The Infuzed Bottle has both hot and cold functionality. Don’t worry – whatever you decide to mix it with will get caught in the stainless steel strainer. That means so extra seeds, chunks or tea leaves for you! Not sure where to start? Here’s a few of my favorites combos for you to try:

  1. Strawberry + Cucumber + Mint
  2. Lemon + Lime + Splash of Ginger
  3. Grapefruit + Pineapple
  4. Raspberry + Lemon (tastes like pink lemonade!)

HINT HINT: It’s always best to chop, slice or dice your fruit into bite sized chunks before adding to your Infuzed Bottle. It helps to get the natural juices released and flowing! If you’re adventuring into berries, you can even try muddling them before you add them in for some extra bold flavor!

Still need some convincing? Try it for yourself! They’re on sale for a limited time – just $39! PLUS – if you use code BRIT10 you can get an added 10% OFF!
I promise you that you will fall in love <3 <3

Until next time!

xoxo
Brittany