August 14, 2016

Product Review: Tieks by Gavrieli

It’s been about 4 months since I attended the 41st Annual Oncology Nursing Conference in San Antonio, TX. It was my first time in San Antonio and I had such a fun time! I learned so much and was able to validate a lot of the practices that we currently practice at my hospital.  And of course, I ate a lot of great food :)

I anticipated doing a lot of walking so before I left for TX I bought myself some “dressy” looking tennis shoes that I could wear with work clothes. What I didn’t anticipate was that a few weeks before the conference Tieks, in partnership with the Oncology Nursing Society, sent out a promo code for $75 off any pair of Tieks for conference attendees!

I had my eye on some Tieks for a long time, but really couldn’t justify buying a pair because of the price. I couldn’t pass up such a great deal so I jumped at the chance to finally order a pair.

Two issues I ran into before ordering:

1) What size do I order?
It is extremely hard to find stylish and comfortable shoes for my flat, wide, plantar fasciitis suffering, bunion ridden feet. I usually wear between a size 6-6.5 in shoes and Tieks only come in full sizes. I read two especially helpful reviews that led me to order a size 7.

2) What color do I order?
I think this one actually took me more time to decide than what size to order. Tieks come in so many beautiful colors that it was really really hard to choose, but I wanted something that would go with almost anything in my closet so I ended up ordering the color Taupe. The packaging is so darn cute. Inside was a hand-written thank you note, a bag for storing your flats, a fold up tote bag, and of course my Tieks!

Tieks are made of soft leather and can be folded up for easy travel. Since I received them I have worn them numerous times. They are super comfortable and do not bother my bunions at all! Some reviewers noted that their toe/toenail poked the top of the shoe and it bothered them that you could see that. I have not experienced that issue, but I do keep my toenails on the short side which could be why? With some shoes, flats in particular, my bunions stick out, but I have not noticed this with my Tieks. In fact, I was looking at my feet in them the other day and thought, “wow, my feet don’t look wide!” I’ve had no blistering or rubbing on the back of my foot either.

I love my Tieks and can’t wait to get another pair! Click here to enter for your chance to win a FREE pair of one-of-a-kind Tieks!


August 2, 2016

Ellicott City Flood Relief Events & Information

Photo: VisitEllicottCity (instagram) via Peat Byrch

Last week a deadly flood rushed through downtown Ellicott City. No one could have predicted that this particular storm would cause a record breaking rainfall and have the impact that it did to Main Street, Ellicott City.

Living in HoCo and specifically in Ellicott City, it was surreal to see the destruction that the flooding caused to such a historic and iconic place. I frequently go to downtown Ellicott City and was actually there the weekend before last walking along the very same sidewalks that were washed away.

There has been a huge outpouring of support for the relief efforts to restore Ellicott City and for the people effected which shows how strong of a community there is in and around the county.

Below is a list of some fundraising events and links to organizations who are helping to support the disaster relief. If you know of any other events or organizations dedicated to supporting the relief efforts please leave them in the comments!

List updated 8/5/16

Manor Hill Tavern and Land Design & Development are challenging all Howard County businesses, associates, supplier partners, and friends to join us in raising funds for the Ellicott City Partnership to assist those that were adversely affected by the recent flood.

August 27th from Noon - 4PM
Beer Festival at Victoria Gastro Pub. 150 Tickets will be sold at $60 each. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Ellicott City Partnership. Manor Hill Tavern and Land Design & Development will also each match, dollar for dollar, every ticket sold.

General Admission Tickets for the Event are on sale at
Ticket price includes Commemorative Glass, Beer Tastings & Passed Heavy Hors D'oeuvres
More details to come on participating breweries.

Heavy Seas Tap Room
Donating 50 percent of revenue made this weekend to the Ellicott City Partnership as well as accepting donations of materials to help clean up Main Street.
Aug 6 Noon - 10PM & Aug 7 11AM - 5 PM
4615 Hollins Ferry Rd, Halethorpe, Maryland 21227

The Pottery Stop
Paint this week and they will donate 15% of all sales to the Ellicott City Partnership
9050 Baltimore National Pike Ellicott City, MD 21042

Whole Foods Columbia
Donating a portion of its whole pizza sales Thursday 8/4 through Sunday 8/7 to Ellicott City's recovery. Customers will also be able to donate to the Ellicott City Partnership at checkout.
10275 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044

Sonoma's Bar & Grill
Donating 20 percent of its sales Friday 8/5 from 7 PM - Last call to Ellicott City's relief fund.
Owen Brown Village Center, 7284 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21045

Chef Paolino both locations
Donating 10% of proceeds made on Friday 8/5 (dine-in and carryout) to the ECStrong fund set up by the United Way of Central Maryland.
726 Frederick Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228 & 3419 Plum Tree Dr, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Flying Dog Brewery
Donating proceeds from beer sales at its tasting room to the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership throughout the weekend. The brewery is open Friday from 3 PM - 8 PM, Saturday from Noon - 8 PM and Sunday from Noon - 6 PM
4607 Wedgewood Blvd, Frederick, MD 21703

Noodles & Company
Donating a portion of their weekend sales to the Ellicott City Partnership. On Saturday and Sunday the restaurants at Columbia Crossing (6191 Old Dobbin Lane) and inside the Mall in Columbia's food court will donate 25% of their sales to the organization. The fundraiser coincides with the chain's Family Weekend, during which all families can receive a free kids' meal with the purchase of a regular entree.

White Oak TavernDonating a portion of the proceeds from Flying Dog Beer and food sales to the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership.
Sunday 8/7/16 4 PM - 8 PM
10030 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Great Sage
Donating 10% of its sales on Sunday 8/7/16 to the Ellicott City Partnership.
5809 Clarksville Square Dr, Clarksville, MD 21029

Daniel’s Restaurant and Open Air Bar
On Monday 8/816 they will be matching 100% of its burger sales with donations to Ellicott City relief.
5854 Washington Blvd, Elkridge, MD 21075

BGR The Burger Joint
Donating 15% of its sales on Tuesday 8/9 to the Ellicott City Partnership.
6250 Columbia Crossing Cir, Columbia, MD 21045

Black Flag Brewing CoHosting a HopAsana Yoga Fundraiser Sunday 8/14. The class is donation-based with a suggested $20 donation at the door, and all proceeds will go directly to the Ellicott City Partnership. Yoga runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the brewery will be open after the class. Attendees over the age of 21 will each receive one free pint of beer.
9315 Snowden River Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21046

Ledo Pizza
Wednesday, 8/10, Ledo Pizza Columbia will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the Ellicott City Flood. A portion of sales from open to close (11 AM - 10 PM) will go to the ECStrong Fund. This applies to Dine-In and Carry-Out orders and is exclusive to the location at 6955 Oakland Mills Road Columbia, MD 21045

In addition to the overall sales contribution, the Wednesday waitstaff will also be donating a portion of their tips earned from the day!


December 29, 2015

HomeSlyce Columbia

When eating dinner out, my husband are finding ourselves going to the same places. Since one of the reasons why we love living in Howard County is for the diverse dining options, we are trying to eat at restaurants that we haven't been to before or haven't been to in a long time. Sunday night we revisited Noodles Corner and last night for dinner we went to the newly opened HomeSlyce in Columbia.

Columbia is HomeSlyce's 4th location. They are also located in Canton, Federal Hill, and Mt. Vernon. Walking in it felt weird because the layout is exactly the same as Azul 17. The hostess told us that they opened a little over a week ago. Besides another couple, we were the only other people dining in. While we were there we did hear a few calls for carry out come in.

Their signature is known as the "Slyce- a boat shaped pizza" which is meant for one. We decided on the 10" HomeSlyce Classic (HomeSlyce sauce goat and mozzarella cheese, walnuts, eggplant, spinach, caramelized onions, roasted peppers) and added soujuk (beef pepperoni). You can also create your own pizza or calzone.
Baba Ghanoush appetizer
The HomeSlyce sauce is really interesting. Per the menu it is made with spicy herbs, walnuts & oil. A little research on the place and apparently the owner of Cazbar, a Turkish restaurant in Baltimore also owns HomeSlyce. That explains the Mediterranean appetizers and use of nuts, spices, and proteins such as soujuk and lamb. I love that the Turkish influence added something different that you won't find at other pizza places.

10" HomeSlyce Classic
The other couple in the restaurant ordered a pizza with vegan cheese and we overheard them tell their waiter that it was one of the best pizzas they've had in the area.
Happy hour was still going on so my husband got $1 off a draft beer and $1.95 off of our appetizer. Everything was delicious. To me, the crust tasted like a mash up of Mellow Mushroom's and Pub Dog's crust. We will definitely be back!

Check out HomeSlyce Columbia's Facebook page for updates and specials!


9400 Snowden River Parkway 

Columbia, MD  21045             


December 21, 2015

Christmas Is Coming, Are You Ready?

Today is the official first day of Winter. Hard to believe that they are predicting that it will be 60+ degrees on Christmas which is in 5 days! Are you ready?

Each year I vow to get my shopping done early and not stay up all night on Christmas Eve wrapping gifts and so far this year looks promising. I'm proud to say that I am 100% done with shopping and I wrapped everyone's gifts except for my husband's.

Getting my shopping done early and not doing all of the wrapping on Christmas Eve has definitely helped to reduce my holiday stress and increase my time to actually enjoy it. Another way that I am able to reduce my holiday stress is preparing a make-ahead breakfast casserole that I just pop in the oven on Christmas morning.

I was surprised to find that I hadn't shared this recipe on the blog before. I have been making this for a few years now and believe that out of all the breakfast casseroles I have made (which is a lot) this is probably my favorite and by far the easiest one to make!

The original recipe comes from kevin {&} amanda. Another reason I love this recipe is because it lends itself so well to adding other herbs and spices to easily change up the flavor. I adapted the recipe to give it an Italian flavor.

kevin {&} amanda's Breakfast Casserole adapted by CupcakeRN

1 pkg crescent rolls
1 lb mild sausage, browned and drained
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk (I find adding milk adds to the creaminess and fluffiness of the eggs)
1 tsp oregano, rosemary, and sage
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese (I used Sargento)

1. Brown the sausage and drain the excess fat.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and unroll the crescents and evenly press them in the bottom of the baking dish. It's fine if there are gaps/holes in the dough and if you want to press the dough up the sides a little that's fine too.

4. Spread the sausage over the dough and sprinkle the cheese over top.

5. Beat the eggs, milk, oregano, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper. Try to pour the eggs over the sausge and cheese as evenly as you can. 

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

I did have a picture of the one I made on Thanksgiving morning, but in my haste I deleted the picture before it was actually uploaded to Dropbox (sigh). 


November 29, 2015

Royal Taj: New Location, Same Delicious Food, & Amazing Customer Service

I searched through all of my posts and couldn't believe that I had never written about Royal Taj before! My husband and I both agree that it is, in our opinion, the best restaurant in all of Howard County. Royal Taj's food is the best Indian we have ever had and the service is top notch.

We decided to do their lunch buffet so I checked online to make sure that they do buffet on Sundays (they do) and noticed that Yelpers were commenting on a new location. The last time we went which was a few months ago the owner/manager told us that the Columbia Restaurant Park location was going to only be used for banquets due to some issues with the management that owned the property. Apparently things must have changed in Royal Taj's favor because they are fully up and running at the new location. The new location opened on October 7th.

We arrived at 11:29am. The lunch buffet starts at 11:30am. There were already people lined up outside before the doors had even opened and there were plenty of people waiting in their cars.

Walking in to the new location, my first impression was "wow!" The new location is at least twice the size of the old location. The decor is much different than their old location, it is very bright with huge crystal chandeliers, white walls with gold trim everywhere, fireplaces, a much larger bar than previous with plenty of seating around it, and multiple dining rooms.

The buffet is set up in the middle of the restaurant and it is nice that you can access it from both sides which greatly cut down on any waiting. I thought that they had the same amount of food as they did at the previous location, just a lot more room to spread it out. They are still doing some work on the right side of the building- it looks like they are installing a patio for al fresco dining.

The food was delicious, our water glasses were never less than half empty, our chai was always hot, the owner/manager stopped by our table to  check on us, and when we were getting ready to leave an employee opened the doors for us. Royal Taj figured out how to do it right. With the high quality and flavor of the food to the customer service, it is no surprise that it was recently named one of Yelp's 2015 Top 100 Places to Eat in the US!

Royal Taj
8335 Benson Drive
Columbia, MD 21045