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Chase Away the Winter Blues in Bethesda

Lemon Almond Cake at Praline Bakery

Lemon Almond Cake at Praline Bakery

After the epic blizzard, Snowzilla, last weekend many Bethesda residents are experiencing cabin fever!  We found today that a delectable dessert like Lemon Almond Cake at Praline Bakery in Bethesda chased the blues away!

Sick of the melting snow everywhere?  There’s nothing like a sunny slice of heaven melting in your mouth to make your day a little brighter.  We highly recommend a slice…or maybe the whole cake!

 

Praline Bakery is located at 4611 Sangamore Rd, Bethesda, MD 20816 in The Shops at Sumner Place.

The Westbard Vision

ConceptImage

Concept Rendering of the New Westbard Ave in Bethesda from Equity One

Equity One, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust specializing in neighborhood retail shopping centers, acquired Westbard Shopping Center, Westwood Center II, Westwood Towers, Springhouse by Manor Care, Bowlmor Lanes and two Citgo gas stations on Westbard Avenue in Bethesda.  The properties stretch over 22 acres.

The company states that their mission is to create a “modern, comfortable gathering space offering convenient shopping and dining integrated with community spaces, green places and a walkable streetscape.”  While their “vision” for Westbard/Westwood is still a conceptual one, plans are moving forward rapidly towards approval of a Final Master Plan from Montgomery County slated for the Spring 2016.

The vision includes a complete renovation of the area including redesigning traffic flow from adjacent River Road and Massachusetts Avenue, including pedestrian walk-ways, street redesigns and more.  There is a plan to add about 600 residential units which has created elevated concern from area residents about the already overcrowded schools and local streets.

Through a series of community meetings in the Summer and Fall 2014, Equity One gathered comments and feedback from area residents.  In addition, on March 4th, 2015, they completed a traffic analysis using Wells + Associates, their traffic engineer.

Their analysis determined that “even with all of these changes, the identified intersections will still allow traffic to flow at a satisfactory level measured against the nationally recognized standards employed by the county.”  Montgomery County will also conduct a traffic analysis in the near future.  Incidentally, residents may like to hear that the plan includes a shuttle to the Metro Red Line.

In February of 2015, Equity One shared its initial concept plans for the redevelopment of the area and provided a power point presentation on their website including renderings of the proposed changes.  Click here to view the presentation.

Upcoming important dates include a public hearing of the draft plan currently scheduled for May 14, 2015.  In the Fall of 2015, the County Council will hold a Public Hearing.  The Final Master Plan is slated for approval in the Spring 2016.

For a full list of dates and activities see the Montgomery County website at: www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/westbard.

Facebook.com/PlanWestbard

Information hotline at 301-495-4567

To track Equity One progress including their presentations, proposed plans, blog posts and Frequently Asked Questions page, visit: WestbardVision.com

As for us, we will be closely tracking the progress of these activities.  Feel free to Contact Us to discuss opinions and thoughts on the big changes ahead for our community, including impacts to residential home values.

Spring Has Arrived in Bethesda!

Rita's Crepes on Woodmont in Bethesda

Rita’s Crepes on Woodmont in Bethesda

As the sweet smell of cinnamon and sugar wafted around me this evening on Woodmont Avenue, I realized that spring has indeed finally arrived in Bethesda!  Rita’s Crepes is open for business!  Now the hard part…how to choose just one!

Top 5 Things to do in Bethesda in October

Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Crescent Trail

October is, in my opinion, the most wonderful time of the year.  It started at a young age for me…my birthday is in October.  At my current age however, that is no longer a good thing.  Yet the month remains my favorite of the year!  Football season is in full swing, the weather is wonderful, the leaves are changing color, Oktoberfests abound, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie and all things pumpkin are aplenty.  What’s not to love?!

Bethesda has some great October fun to offer as well.  Here is our TOP 5 things to do in Bethesda in October:

1.  Taste of Bethesda is usually the first Saturday of the month; this year it’s Saturday, October 5th from 11 AM – 4 PM.  Ticket sales end at 3:30 PM.  Over 60 restaurants will offer samples of some of their best treats while music lovers can enjoy live performances on five stages.  Kids have face painting and art & crafts to look forward to as well.  The event is held across several streets at the Woodmont Triangle area.

2. The Bethesda Row Arts Festival is being held this year from October 19-20th, 2013.  With over 190 artists from around the world featuring works ranging from the sublime to the surprising, you can’t beat a stroll through the streets of Bethesda for this amazing show.  Of course, no event in Bethesda is complete without food, music and fun, and this Festival is no exception!  Admission is free; however, bring your checkbook or credit card.  It’s awfully tough to leave empty handed when you can find some fantastic art to fill your hallowed halls.

3.  A walk on the Capital Crescent Trail in the month of October is different every week as the leaves change color and alight upon your path.  Walk, run, bike or stroll and enjoy the fresh, fall air as you appreciate one of the great features our town has to offer!  One of our personal favorite spots ranges from Little Falls Parkway (mile marker 4.0) down through the Dalecarlia Tunnel at Mile marker 6.5 just before the DC line.

4.  Bethesda abounds with cuisines from around the world!  One of our favorite activities in October is eating lunch or dinner outdoors at one of the 180+ restaurants in downtown Bethesda.  Bethesda Row offers an array of outdoor eating establishments including Mon Ami Gabi, The Mussel Bar, Assagi, Redwood, American Tap Room, Raku and many others!  And if you don’t want to eat outdoors, you can always just enjoy a nice drink at happy hour!

5. Halloween in Bethesda is an event!  From school festivals to neighborhood parties to late-night parties for the big kids, there is something spooky around every corner!  If you want to dress up and let off some steam, try a bar crawl to Union Jack’s, The Barking Dog, Tommy Joe’s or any of the other dozens of sports bars and pubs who are sure to be offering some freaky fun. Hitch a FREE ride around town on the Bethesda Circulator!

October in Bethesda is definitely the most wonderful time of the year!  What do you enjoy most?

~Amy

 

Date Night at Whole Foods Bethesda

Have you ever tried to find a parking spot in Bethesda at 7 PM on a Friday night?  You may have better luck with the lottery!  After an unsuccessful double pass around the garage on Bethesda Ave and a precarious pass up and down a few streets weaving around pedestrians, we decided this evening to set out for less dense surroundings and an alternative plan for dinner.

Date Night at Whole Foods Bethesda

Date Night at Whole Foods Bethesda

We found ourselves on River Road and on a lark decided to share a meal at Whole Foods Market in Bethesda!  They have many freshly prepared options available: pizzas by the slice, a sushi bar, an extensive soup and salad bar and of course fresh fruits and veggies.

We opted for sushi, selecting some of our favorites including spicy tuna crunch roll and salmon nigiri roll combo.  The picture only shows the last few bites!  We dove in before the picture idea came to mind.  For accompaniments we selected shrimp summer rolls with sweet chili sauce (so fresh and tasty!) and edamame.  The sushi bar even offers free chopsticks and small packets of organic soy souce and wasabi – a must-have for any sushi excursion!  As chocoholics we finished with chewy mini chocolate chip cookies. Ahhh!  After making our purchase ($41) we camped out at the tables up front and chowed down.  Who knew that a Friday night date at Whole Foods could be so much fun?!  And the free parking was the bomb!

Belly Up to the Chocolate Bar in Bethesda

Store front of the new Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

Store front of the new Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

Looking for a fun date night idea or a unique venue for a birthday party?  A new and original bar coming to Bethesda Row has the solution.  Unlike Max Brenner’s other restaurants in Philadelphia and New York, this new location has been dubbed a chocolate bar and will be serving just dessert all day long.  A little piece of heaven may have just arrived in our town!

The menu includes everything from cocktails topped with marshmallows to a chocolate chunks pizza.  The french fries come dusted in cocoa and they even have a chocolate syringe if you are in need of a quick fix.  As a chocoholic, I am intrigued!

Located at 7263 Woodmont Avenue it was originally planned to open in mid to late June, but has hit a few delays and as of early July we are still waiting..and drooling in anticipation.  We could see doors opening as early as next week. Open! Open! Open! Open!

POST SCRIPT: Max Brenner Bethesda is open as of July 31, 2013!  Check out pictures of some of their delectable treats on this recent article from the Washington Post: Max Brenner Chocolate Bar Opens….

New UPS Store on River Rd

For those living in the 20816 area of Bethesda, in Kenwood (Chevy Chase) and around Somerset, it’s good to know that there is a new UPS Store that just opened recently next to Whole Foods located at 5237 River Rd.  You no longer have to pay to park on Hampden Lane in Bethesda or drive out to Democracy Rd.   The new shop doesn’t even show up on Google yet, but it’s there and open every day except Sunday.  Hours are posted as 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM Mon- Fri and 9:00 AM – 5:00 on Saturdays.  While you’re there you can stop by one of our favorite places, Georgetown Bagelry, and grab a bite too!  Enjoy!

UPS Store on River Rd Bethesda

UPS Store on River Rd Bethesda

FREE Cone Day at Haagen-Dazs Bethesda!

Calling all ice cream lovers!  Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14th is free cone day (4 oz.) at Haagen-Dazs Bethesda.  Yep, that’s right, you don’t have to pay for your little scoop of  ice cream, gelato, sorbet or frozen yogurt…but come prepared because you know you’ll want more!  The deal is limited to one per customer and is only available from 4 – 8 PM. Cheers!Haagen-Dazs Bethesda

Step into History while you Enjoy a Sandwich

Wagshals Deli Spring Valley

Wagshals Deli Spring Valley

One of the great benefits of living in Bethesda is the proximity to Washington D.C. and all that the Metro area has to offer.  Today reminded me of that perk.  Brian and I were out touring homes for sale during Tuesday Broker’s Open Houses in Bethesda and afterward popped into Spring Valley for lunch.  We decided to grab a bite at Wagshal’s Delicatessen located at 4855 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20016.

Wagshal’s has been a staple in D.C. since 1925 when the founder, Sam Wagshal and his then 13-year-old son, Ben started their first shop.  Wagshal’s is woven into our history books as many a President, Supreme Court Justice and celebrity have become regular customers!  Presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower were Wagshal’s customers, among other famous names they list on the story board out front.  I loved to learn that Wagshal’s was the first to apply for a beer license in DC after prohibition.  That Mr. Wagshal knew his customers well and didn’t waste any time delivering just what they wanted!

Soup Bar at Wagshals

Other than its noteworthy clientele, the place is famous for its prepared foods, extensive wine selection (also noticed some nice whiskeys and brandys today), fresh sandwiches, pastries, and cakes.  They also offer outdoor tables so you can sit right down and enjoy your fares.  I indulged in the soup bar today which offers four different selections daily.  The cream of broccoli was delicious!  Brian met someone in line today who said they lost 60-pounds eating Wagshal’s chicken noodle soup every day!  Now there’s a testimonial for you!

The Jelly Belly Joint in Bethesda

The Jelly Belly dispenser!

The Jelly Belly dispenser!

So have you ever thought to yourself, “Now where would I go to get a good bag of jelly bellies in Bethesda?”  No?  Well, neither have I but hey, now you might be thinking that!

The answer is: Bradley Food and Beverage located at 6904 Arlington Ave.

I recently bagged some beans for my daughter who is away at college as a sweet treat from home.  Of course, I had to sample a few of my favorites!  The beans are paid for by the pound so you can select any combination of flavors you like.  I loved knowing that not a single bean would go to waste because I could bag only the best ones!  They also have some pre-made assortments too for those who would rather be surprised or who may find these types of decisions to be too daunting.

Bradley Food and Beverage is also a great stop for a fresh made sandwich or soup from the deli counter.  They have a great selection of wines, beer, snacks and offer catering services too.  They have a few tables in the back so if you’re stopping in for a quick bite you can sit right down and enjoy your snack…and perhaps a few Jelly Bellies too!  What’s your favorite flavor?

All Fired Up on our Anniversary!

Our Memento from All Fired Up

Our Memento from All Fired Up

Recently we celebrated our wedding anniversary.  While our plan had always been to escape the cold in February and seek sunny shores for our special day, it just wasn’t in the cards this year.  Instead, we ended up in our favorite town, Bethesda of course!  After a nice lunch at one of our local haunts that we affectionately call “The Pain Restaurant” (because we can’t actually pronounce it’s real name) we found ourselves on Elm Street loading into our car and wondering what else to do to make the day both enjoyable and memorable.  As I looked over my shoulder, I noticed “All Fired Up” the do-it-yourself ceramics shop.  I had an idea…let’s make something to commemorate the day.  Brian eagerly agreed (I love that about him) and we were off on a creative adventure.  After getting the instructions from the helpful staff about how the process worked, we rolled up our sleeves and began painting a serving dish we selected.

We learned a great deal about the ceramics process while there – about the paints and how drastically the colors change after firing – about the tricks for writing words with paint and giving things texture.  But one of the best things we learned about “All Fired Up” is that you can drink wine while you work!  Who knew?!  Sadly, we did not know until we were almost finished with our two-hour project but NEXT TIME, we come prepared!  We laughed and talked while we created our little artsy memento of our special day and it was the perfect way to celebrate…despite the parking ticket we received from Montgomery County.  Bummer.  We highly recommend All Fired Up for little or big people who like to create and want to share some time doing something a little different.  The dish we made was $22.  I can’t think of a better experience we could have had for $22 and we have something we will keep forever to remember it by.

All Fired Up in Bethesda is located at 4923 Elm Street conveniently located near the Metro Red Line (Bethesda Station).  Their phone number is: 301-654-3206.

Day 342: Voila! It's Vino Volo!

Vino Volo Bethesda Row

Vino Volo Bethesda Row

Voila!  There it is!  The perfect place in Bethesda to share some wine and good eating with friends.  Like Goldilocks seeking the perfect bed, I have sought the perfect place to tip a glass of red or white that doesn’t come with sports TV blaring in the background or in a cramped, standing-room-only wine shop.   Vino Volo is just right for any type of gathering.

Meeting a friend for happy hour and a small bite?  Perfect!  Try sampling their wine flights while seated at the bar.  Looking to create a wine tasting event for friends or special clients?  Vino Volo’s wine tasting room evokes the feeling of a rustic winery in the heart of Bethesda Row.  Meeting a small group of friends for lunch or a business meeting?  Look no further.  Vino Volo has plenty of room to seat your group comfortably in their restaurant and they offer a delectable menu to accompany their unique wine selections.

Tasting Room Bethesda

Tasting Room Bethesda

Vino Volo has won a place in the hearts of many a weary traveler who found solace in their airport retreats throughout the US.  In fact all of their other locations are situated on concourses.  Their airport wine bars offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of travel and a place to relax and refresh your spirits.

The new Bethesda location is their first departure from the gates of the airport halls.  Someone must have known that Bethesda was a safe bet for their first “baggage-free” location, as we are lovers of good food and drinks in this town.

The wine list at Vino Volo is quite unique -a refreshing change from the same ‘ole wine list I have noticed elsewhere.  The food choices are intriguing with menu options at this location that are more extensive than what their airport shops can offer.

Sample their creatively named wine flights during your visit or opt for wines by the glass or bottle.  The staff is helpful and friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed and warm.  Vino Volo is an exciting addition to our Bethesda restaurant and bar scene.  For more details about Vino Volo check out their website at www.vinovolobethesdarow.com.

Cheers,  Amy

Vino Volo Bethesda

Vino Volo Bethesda

Day 137: Calling all Bethesda Fashionistas to The Front Row!

The Front Row May 17-19, 2012

I keep seeing signs all over the Bethesda Lane/Bethesda Avenue corridor about “The Front Row” coming May 17-19th.  Curiosity finally got the best of me and I looked it up.  Glad I did because you will either want to avoid the chaos downtown or seize the opportunity for what may be some great buys, good meal deals and a great time with friends over the next 3 days – your choice!

The Front Row will be held May 17-19, 2012 and offer 40+ fashion events plus special menus and happy hours at local restaurants, celebrity guests, family fun and other events.  Some of the highlights include the following:

THURSDAY –  Washingtonian Magazine fashion editor Kate Bennett hosts a special film screening at Landmark’s Bethesda Row Theater of the award-winning documentary God Save My Shoes.   There will be a Q&A session afterward with the film’s producer.  The event kicks off at 7:30pm at 7235 Woodmont Ave. and is first-come, first serve, although the  Bethesda Row web site lists an RSVP at: [email protected].  Jaleo, Mussel Bar, Assaggi and Mon Ami Gabi will have happy hour specials before the film.  PLUS there will be trunk shows and sales at Urban Chic, Urban Country and Ginger.  Top it all off with a shoe cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake. 

FRIDAY fashion fun continues with a runway show at 7:30pm.  The VIP guest, Andy Cohen (who is the host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live) will be there and has offered to sign his new book at Redwood Restaurant.  Cocktail specials are being offered at Redwood to make your time waiting in line a little less tedious. There will be extended hours on Bethesda Lane to shop the specials offered by local retailers until 9pm.

SATURDAY from 11 AM – 2 PM is a day all about your junior fashionistas with fashion trunk shows, sales and specials plus family fun including balloon animals, art projects, and cooking classes for the kids.  Equinox will also offer a free class EQ360 (no membership required) at 3 PM.  My advice is to get there early.

All the details for the three-day event can be found at the Bethesda Row website at: http://bethesdarow.com/events/specials 

Have fun either enjoying the events at The Front Row or avoiding downtown Bethesda and sticking around the back 40 for 3-days!

~Amy

Day 357: Sweet Gifts from Cookies By Design

CBD Logo - 4913 Cordell Ave

Today is Friday, December 23rd and is there a special someone for whom you just never found the right gift?  Do you fear he/she will be left without a little something from you that says you care? Perhaps this person has a sweet-tooth?  If you answer yes to these questions, never fear, Cookies By Design is here!  There is still time for hand-delivery in and around Bethesda if you order today.

Sample Cookie Basket - Photo from CBD website

Their web site is full of beautiful bouquets of designer cookies – reindeer, snowmen, ornament and holiday designs of all kinds.  You can add a dozen or two of assorted gourmet cookies to the arrangement as well and your own personal greeting.  It’s a fun, unique gift that’s sure to please.   Check out their website at www.cookiesbydesign to view all of their creative treats.  I love the New Year’s arrangements too!  Great fun!

The CBD business began in 1983 when its founder, single mom Gwen Willhite, became suddenly employed.  Undeterred she put her creativity and ingenuity to work and started her first cookie bouquet delivery business.  Her efforts were rewarded and she opened her first franchise location in 1987.  Now 25 years later, there are over 200 stores throughout the country, including our Bethesda location at 4913 Cordell Ave.  The cookie bouquets are sure to bring a smile to anyone and are ideal for any occasion.     ~Amy

Day 355: Nice Buns in Bethesda

Yep, that’s right.  You can find some amazing buns in Bethesda.  Interested?

Buns at Spring Mill Bread Co.

Well, head on down to Spring Mill Bread Company at 4961 Elm Street!  Perfect for your upcoming Christmas dinner, the homemade buns and breads at Spring Mill are always a hit.  We had a family gathering for brunch at our house recently and served cinnamon swirl bread as toast.  The cinnamon aroma was a mouth-watering prelude to the bread that filled your palette with flavor on the very first bite.

Entry to Spring Mill Bread

Spring Mill also has bread rolls and wreaths but be sure to call ahead to order yours with two-days notice.  That means if you want them in time for Christmas, you should order today (301-654-7970) for pick-up on December 24th.  They will be open on Dec. 24th until 3 PM.  Or better yet, you can just stop by and check all their stock of holiday delights.  Be prepared that you won’t escape without a soft bundle of something to enjoy later!  The jumbo gingerbread men are cute and they also have packaged and wrapped freshly baked gift items too – a good option for a last-minute treat for a friend or party.

Learn more about why we love Spring Mill Bread Co. on our Day 69 post “Bread the Way Grandma used to Make It.”  We wish you all a happy holiday season!     ~Amy