Murphy’s LoveMay 16, 2012

May 16, 2012

**Dear Stacy:
I am married to a smart, beautiful woman. We have a young daughter and live in the city. We met in law school and my wife now works for a medium-sized law firm. I am a government attorney. We always knew that in taking our respective paths, she would likely be the primary breadwinner in our family. But now, with our expenses getting higher (daughter will start private school this fall) and the frustrating federal government pay freeze, the disparity is too much for me to ignore. She makes twice what I do and I seem to be thinking about it all the time. We have discussed my feelings a few times, but I know it is hard for her to even humor me, when we both knew this would be the situation when I took a government job. So I try to ignore it, but I know it ?s coming between us. She knows something is off with us, too, but I don’t think she sees it as a financial issue. She asked me if I’m falling out of love with her. I don’t think I am, but it?s very hard for me to feel like a man when I have to ask her permission to buy a song on iTunes.
-A Plummeting Testosterone**

Dear Plummeting:
I appreciate your honesty here, and am hoping you will consider being as honest with your wife during your [inevitable] conversation about the situation. But first, I need some clarification.
Is your frustration about the more abstract concept of who wins what bread and where, or is it that you are actually being nickel and dimed, RE: asking permission to buy a song on iTunes? Does Wife really demand that you preauthorize all purchases? Or have you started asking her permission as a passive aggressive way of acting out against the frustration of this arrangement? Or did that just sound good when penning an anonymous letter to an advice column? This distinction is important. Choice #1 suggests you are living with a tyrant, while #3 reflects the joy of anonymity in an online society. But #2, in which your rage seethes behind thinly veiled deference to Wife as Head-of-Household, is cause for serious alarm. If this is the case, you are dead on that she thinks things are off between you.

Contempt and defensiveness are two of John Gottman’s ?four horsemen of a relationshp?s apocalypse. When present and allowed to grow, these traits poison a marriage. Not talking about your feelings and self-censoring just because you knew you might have them when you made a certain career choice years ago is sabotaging your relationship and this has got to stop. It is completely natural to struggle with this [somewhat] countercultural power dynamic. Pretending you are ok with it, no matter what, is disingenuous and debilitating. Get yourselves into dialogue (please consider allowing a neutral third party to help: counselor, clergyperson, etc.) so you can let yourself make room for these emotions and find healthy ways to release them.

**Dear Stacy:
My husband of five years is clinically depressed. He has struggled with this condition since high school and manages it with medication and weekly therapy. This has been the case since we met, so it ?s something I’ve always accepted. But lately, I feel like his therapist is interfering in our personal lives too much. Any disagreement we have comes around to him saying, “Well Nancy says… I don’t know how to react to this. First off, Nancy is not a part of our marriage and I don’t care about her opinion. Second, she has never even met me, so she ?s getting a very one-sided view of the story. I have drafted a letter to her that I would like to send, explaining my side on some recent conflicts in our household. I think she needs to hear both sides before making these declarations about how our family decisions should be made. Do I have to show it to my husband before I send it?

Dear Letterwriter:
As a therapist myself, I’m taking a deep breath before jumping into defend Nancy?s honor here. You have every right to feel frustrated that Husband invokes her name whenever you face a disagreement. That must be an absurdly irritating little tic Husband has developed. But it also seems absurd at least to me that Nancy would have an opinion about every little family decision you are facing. The 50-minute therapy hour, even weekly, is not enough time to cover that much ground. Let me propose a different scenario.It sounds like Husband is using the standard blame the therapist? technique to insert opposing points of view into his conversation with you. I?ve prescribed this method several times ? why have a therapist if you can?t blame her for contrary ideas once in a while? Nancy should have a confidentiality policy (one which would likely require her to show your letter to Husband before any response, by the way) making it impossible for anyone to fact-check whatever he says she said. In other words, taking this up with her is a non-starter. Lets focus on what you can do instead.
The next time Nancys opinion is inserted into your argument, try and take a moment to mentally reframe the statement as being what Husband really, really wants you to hear. He wants you to hear it so deeply, that he is willing to give up ownership of the position, just so that you might actually take him seriously. It?s not a great method ? it obviously has you more defensive now than ever ? but it?s the way he?s choosing to tell you what he needs most. If you are able, in the moment, mirror what he ?s saying and then gently ask him if that is what he really wants. See if you can get back to conversing one-on-one. If you need a little help, feel free to have Husband ask Nancy for a referral to couples therapy.

***Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is and you can follow her on twitter @StacyMurphyLPC. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to [](***

The Switch From Processed to Fresh in School Lunches: Harder Than You Think

May 3, 2012

Three years ago, Sarah Wu, a speech pathologist for Chicago public schools, didn’t have time to pack her own lunch. Not thinking anything of it, she left home, drove to work, taught her students and when the lunch bell rang, she walked down the hall towards the cafeteria. As she read the menu options, Wu was not impressed. Soggy bagels, tater tots, mushy over-microwaved frozen pizzas. Feeling the gurgle in her own stomach, she was thinking more about the 90 percent of kids who qualify for free lunch and consider these options to be the best they’ll get all day.

These lunches are provided by the National School Lunch program which feeds students in more than 101,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions across the country.

The government claims that it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each and every school day. Are those meals truly healthful?

Wu went home angry and started a blog, Fed Up With Lunch, in which she ate in her cafeteria every day for a year and wrote about the meals. At the same time, First Lady Michelle Obama was beginning her Let’s Move campaign and chef Jamie Oliver was beginning his television show, Food Revolution, bringing national attention to the problems in our school cafeterias today.

In the U.S., 12.5 million children are obese. Could Congress be to blame since it has claimed pizza as a vegetable and have tried removing the potato from the program all together?

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) fought to keep the vegetable on the menu and won. “Here is the federal government trying to teach people to eat whole foods, to eat locally grown foods — there are all these farm-to-school programs to teach children where food comes from — and to try to get them to eat it in a way that is not processed heavily and [removing the potato] is contrary to all of that,” she said.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) fought alongside Collins on the issue. “Can you imagine not having a potato in the school lunch program?” Snowe asked. “I don’t understand it.”

Andrea Northup, director and founder of D.C. Farm to School Network, a coalition of stakeholders working to incorporate more healthful, local foods into D.C. school meals, has revolutionized the food in school cafeterias across the Washington area. She says that despite the potato fiasco, there has been a huge positive shift in the cafeteria thanks to programs like her own. “We’ve gone from prepackaged airplane style meals, Frosted Flakes and Otis Spunkmeyer, to minimally processed meals prepared from whole ingredients.”

The Farm to School Network connects students with where their food comes from, provides health, food and environmental education opportunities and supports the local food economy. The network, which began four years ago in D.C. serves two-thirds of all school-aged children in the city. Each of the 63 schools — participating and serving meals approved by the Healthy Schools Act, a local law that went into effect in 2010 which sets nutrition and serving standards for D.C. schools participating in the federal school meal program — receives supplemental funding from the local government.

Northup does face daily challenges. One example involves getting the kids to eat these foods. “There are a lot of issues now where the kids are not familiar with a roasted sweet potato when they are used to eating french fries or sauteed broccoli when they’re used to green beans in a can,” she said. “School menus now look more like a restaurant than what you particularly think school meals would be. If you looked up the menus, you’d be flabbergasted at the words you’d see like ‘chipotle roasted,’ ‘lemon sauteed,’ as you think of these words when you think of restaurant meals. It is really impressive what the institution and community support of all of us has been able to do.”

Another drawback is funding. Northup has been fortunate enough to have incredible partners, such as Sweetgreen, a salad and frozen yogurt restaurant establishment, which contributes financially as well as works with the children on salad-making classes in the schools. Northrup adds that it is up to D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to decide whether funding D.C. Farm to School and feeding the children locally and sustainably is worth the check.

“You’re getting what you pay for when you invest in healthier school meals,” Northup says. “Even slightly higher costs in the short term, in my opinion, pay off in terms of higher attentiveness of the children, better outcomes for the children, higher productivity in school and in life. We are preventing these more costly diseases materializing in the future by investing now. It is something that doesn’t resonate well with someone like the chancellor who is in charge of balancing the books now, and you can’t blame her for that.”

Northup says that because of the Healthy Schools Act, the law which was just recently passed by the D.C. Council, providing funding incentives and institutional support to schools that serve healthful food, Farm to School has gone from a “Huh, what’s that?” notion to a household name.

Farm to School programs are popping up all over the nation, some larger and some smaller than the program established in D.C. While many boggle with how to pay for the newer food choices, the menu seems to be pleasing. Susan Wu, the blogger who took matters into her own hands to fix the lunches her students were eating, is thrilled with the changes taking place in schools across the country and believes that the more involved communities are, the more successful the outcome will be. Wu says she can’t imagine kids going back to what they used to eat and has even made a menu of the future on her blog to show how food is evolving for student lunches, available at [](

For Northup, the real bottom-line choice is this: “Are we willing to look long-term and look strategically at food service because we see that it is very important to health and success of our children, or are we not?”

College Kids Don’t Know How to ‘Do It’

First, Rush Limbaugh was shocked that Georgetown law students had sex (much less found time to). Then, just last week, I was giving a lecture to a class on sexuality at Lynchburg University and the students seemed surprised to learn that people are still having sex—often better sex—after 50. There are 6.8 billion people in the world and yet everyone seems taken aback that there are people engaging in sexual intercourse.

Face the facts: Most everyone interested in sex is having sex—from the children in high schools that we try to prevent from doing it, to college kids who think that just because they can do it and are doing it that they’re doing it right, to those of us in our prime who know what and how we like to do it.


Supply & Demand
The younger generation today doesn’t know how to value sex. The boys will try to mount anything that moves (and some things that don’t) and the girls will lift their skirts at the first hot guy that gives them attention. Just because it’s right in front of you doesn’t mean you have to take it. There are thousands of potential mates in this city, many on your campus, so make the effort to not have “I wish I wouldn’t have slept with ________,” moments and more, “OMG, _______ rocked my world,” moments.

Quality over Quantity
Keeping with the “rocked my world” train of thought, many guys think the game is over when the girl (or guy) says “yes” to sex. Au contraire! It’s not enough to just have the opportunity to have sex, you need to make it meaningful sex. Sure, a quickie in the morning or a sneak-away study break after lunch is fine, but when one of you reaches a point where you’re just going through the motions and not giving it 100%, it’s time to switch it up a bit. If all you want is an orgasm, you can take care of that yourself. Sex is about the experience…the adventure, and the often forgotten reality of a relationship. Explore each others’ sexual interests and fantasies, divulge in opening up to new ideas, and keep unfulfilling sex out of the game!

Safety vs. SAFETY
Condoms, birth control, pregnancy, STDs, HIV, AIDS—they’re all common place words that, in the heat of the moment, rarely seem to make it through to the intelligent parts of the brain when hormone-driven sex is at hand. But these are real issues! And there really is no excuse not to use protection. Even the most extreme sexual encounters can be grounded in safety—it doesn’t matter if you’re having “before bedtime sex” in your apartment on a Thursday evening or if you’re three hours into an all night orgy, you’re good to go as long as you’ve established a safe word, everyone uses protection, and the harness is securely fastened to the ceiling with eye-bolts and anchors.

If you want to take it back old school and skip the necessary precautions, you do so at your own risk, but don’t put your partner at risk. Know your status and communicate with your sex partner. There are several places in DC that offer free and anonymous STD and HIV testing, so Google one that’s convenient for you.

The bottom line: I’ve been around long enough to know that, regardless of cultural or societal opinions of sex, people will continue to engage in sexual activities. However, there is never a reason to devalue sex. Sex is your birthright—a wonderful, powerful experience shared between two people—sometimes more—and if you’re going to have sex, please, have safe and fulfilling sex…the kind of sex that makes life worth living!

Newport Rhode Island, the Ocean State

It’s the middle of summer and the heat is rising. What is the best way to escape? Traveling north to Newport, Rhode Island. This coastal city, located in Aquidneck Island, is not just a relaxing getaway with resorts, restaurants and amusements, but also an area that is rich in history. Enter through Bellevue Avenue and you’ll instantly see how history effortlessly converges with the present.

Activities and Eateries
One of the first aspects of Newport you are bound to recognize are the grandiose architectural structures. After the Revolutionary Era, the city entered the Gilded Age and flourished with summer retreats like the The Elms and The Marble House. In the 1980’s, these estates were estimated at most, $11 million dollars. Now, reappraised at double or even triple the amount, the Vanderbilt mansions are open as historical landmarks.

In addition to the Mansion viewings, there is also the Newport Art Museum and Art Association, located just a short distance from the mansions, at another historical landmark called the Griswold House. There, you will have a chance to see the current work and versatile skills of other Newport artists.

To get an in-depth view of the mansions plus Newport’s natural surroundings, it is highly encouraged to leisurely walk along the Cliffwalks. Along this eastern shore, you will also catch refreshing, ocean breezes and breathtaking views of the water.

There are more recreational ways to appreciate the city besides walking and site seeing. Visitors can golf a full round of holes at Newport National Golf Club, play tennis at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, or participate in sailing tours leaving Bannister’s Wharf.

There are lists of unique Newport restaurants, each set apart very differently from the next. David Ray’s Clark Cooke House, located by the Bannister’s Wharf, is a perfect example. It is a quaint, five-level restaurant famous for tender meat and fresh seafood. You can choose to dine in your own fashion: eat privately in The Club Room or eat and dance it off at the discotheque in The Boom Boom Room. A second place is La Maison du Coco’s truffles and French pastry shop. Because the shop is found only in Newport, it’s the perfect excuse to try one of pastry chef Michele Luca-Verley’s delicate sweets. Make the dessert trip even more exciting and exclusive and ask to learn how to make a puff pastry.

The resorts in Newport are impeccable. If you wish to stay at the bucolic Castle Hill Inn, a beachside 19th century mansion, then you will have six different types of rooms to choose from. In addition to its award-winning resort, the Castle Hill also has a fine-dining restaurant for guests. With their food, diners can enjoy a complimentary view of the sunset.

Forty 1° North Marina Resort is indeed “not just a location, it’s a destination,” as their tagline states. The Marina is also located next to the water, however unlike Castle Hill, it has a more modern flair. If the interior décor does not show it enough, then maybe the Apple iPads placed in each guest room will. During your stay, take advantage of the resorts two restaurants: The Grill, which provides a more up-scale dining experience; or Christie’s, where the atmosphere is filled with lively color.

A third hotspot is the Viking Hotel, which is re-vamped and better than ever. This past March, the hotel completed the last of their renovations. Now, if you are looking for something that encompasses both traditional and modern elements, this luxurious hotel is a good choice. An added bonus to this hotel is that it’s found to be particularly accommodating because of its easy accessibility to other fine-dining restaurants and amusements.

The Best of Both Worlds
While the once family owned mansions remain as public attractions, there are other Victorian houses like Thomas Quinn’s Laurelawn, also along Bellevue Avenue, which are still homes. Quinn, a lawyer and Georgetown resident, was born in Rhode Island and grew up spending many summers spent in Newport.

Though he says that he holds D.C. close to his heart, he cannot deny the other weight of sentiments attached to his private summer getaway. It is where five Quinn generations have shared memories, such as engagement parties for his two sons and a post-debut party for his niece. He summed up Newport saying, “It’s not just one thing, but a variety of things including the weather, the old world charm, architecture, the variety of interests, the colorful people, top notch golf, tennis, sailing, and most of all, the fresh air and ocean.”
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Matha’s Vineyard & Nantucket

Like Georgetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island are two New England destinations where rich history, boutiques, food and culture all come together. These two islands are unarguably ideal for any Georgetowner to visit. While both are havens for travel, they are also uniquely different. Which destination is a matter of personal preference, but who knows, you may like both, so why pick just one?

Martha’s Vineyard Island
Also called “The Vineyard,” the island is accessible by boat or plane only. Traveling by a ferryboat takes approximately 90 minutes, depending on the port and weather conditions.

Within the island are six towns, each area possessing something to call its own. Just to list a few, in Chilmark, there is The Yard, a seasonal live-performing theatre; Farm Neck Golf Club, an 18-hole course in Oak Bluffs; and a boat cruise to watch the sunset from the waters at Charter Cruise, located in Edgartown. The island’s compact size is in the traveler’s favor. With communities located so closely together, visitors can walk, take a bus, or ride a water taxi to navigate through town.

You will instantly find other reasons to fall in love with this northeast Atlantic gem. The Vineyard is also packed with world-class accommodations for families and couples. Travelers should look into Hob Knob, a boutique hotel located near the coast in Edgartown. This resort encompasses everything from guest rooms to bed and breakfast villas.

The Hob Knob’s Rejuvenation Spa also provides incredible therapeutic services. If relaxation is what you’re looking for, then you can’t possibly leave without a Hob Knob Signature Facial or Ocean Deep massage.

Winnetude Oceanside Resort is another great place to stay. Conveniently located just 250 yards from South Beach, guests will be inundated by the resort’s activities, accommodations, and dining experience (Lure Grill’s). From Winnetude, Guests can get a taste of nostalgia by taking an antique fire truck ride, go bicycling, or take a yoga class out on the lawn.

The panoramic views also serve as a perfect backdrop for any occasion and often serve as the setting for family reunions, weddings and reception at the Oceanside.

But the island’s biggest attractions are its beaches – a total of six sandy shores ring the island:Joseph Silva, Moshup, Menemsha, South Beach, Lighthouse Beach, and Norton Point. Each beach is exclusive and private enough for visitors to enjoy the surrounding waters and sun with minimal interruptions.

In addition to these natural attractions and recreational activities, there are many other events and restaurants. Fine dining attractions such as The Atlantic not only serve delicious meals, but also host bands for entertainment. The Sweet Life Café, an eatery serving French-American infused cuisine, and The Grill on Main, a participating Martha’s Vineyard’s Restaurant Week establishment, are other great “must taste” restaurants. For a full listing of events and participating Restaurant Week locations, visit

Lawrel Spera, the public relations and marketing manager of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce described this vacation getaway, saying, “Nantucket has so much to offer and is the perfect combination of the old and new, the historic and the modern sophisticate. More than 800 pre-Civil War homes line the cobblestone streets of town among world-class lodgings, restaurants, shops and galleries. Beyond stretch miles of bike paths, pristine beaches and conservation lands to explore – there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.”

Nantucket is a bit farther out, about 26 miles from the coast, and is the only official historic district on the water. Like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is accessible by a ferryboat or airplane; however, unlike The Vineyard, the area is more spread out, allowing ocean breezes to sweep the island.

Just because summer is almost over, do not hesitate to visit Nantucket and its ten beaches in September or in April. Associating this destination only with the warmer seasons is a commonly made assumption, but it is in fact temperate throughout the year. Because Nantucket is located in the ocean’s jet streams, the waters are actually cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Regardless of when you visit, the Union Street Inn is a Fodor’s Gold Choice Award bed and breakfast boutique that is sure to keep you warm or cool, depending on the season. It is designed with a rich combination of past and present and also comfort that is undeniable. The calm and family-oriented getaway draws visitors in like a cozy home.

Another quaint stay to consider is White Elephant Hotel Residences. Picketed in by a white fence and porch, this luxury hotel is Nantucket’s latest accommodation. Everything about White Elephant, the fine interior touches, the pool, cabanas, and last but not least, the spa, all factor in to make this resort picture perfect.

Depending on your vacation’s timeline, there is also a plethora of events and activities that take place such as: The Nantucket Wine Festival, fishing, and boating, four-wheeling down The Wildlife Refuge Natural History Excursion and other specified events listed in a calendar of “Special Event Weekends.” In addition, Nantucket is the home to award-winning James Beard restaurants and other fine-dining restaurants such as Brant Point Grill or Galley Beach, which overlooks the harbor and sunset. Be mindful though, that these dining opportunities are limited. Some restaurants like The Topper’s are open seasonally from May to October.
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Last Taste of Summer: Crabs

You can’t experience a real summer in Washington without covering a few bases. First, you need to sweat all the way through your work clothes in the August humidity. Second, you need to head to Meridian Hill Park on at least one Sunday evening to hear the weekly African drum circle. Third, you need to walk around the Dupont Circle Farmers Market to experience the bounty of summer produce. Fourth, you need to pick up a wooden mallet and whack the bejeezus out of a freshly steamed blue crab leg—and eat whatever you find inside.

There may be a few things we forgot, but there really is no Delmarva summer experience as quintessential and satisfying as digging into your very own bucket of Chesapeake blue crabs. While perhaps it used to be that a meaty, blue pincer was hard to get without driving all the way out to a crab shack on the Chesapeake waterfront, there are enough authentic crab houses in the Metro area today to satisfy even the most stringent crab purists.

Corn, hushpuppies, coleslaw, a wedge of lemon, a pair of nutcrackers, and a large roll of butcher paper is all that friends and families need to experience this summer treat at its finest. And now is the last chance to enjoy these crustaceous hallmarks before the season winds to a close. Whether eating out or going down to the Wharf to pick up your catch alive and fresh, here are some choice places in and around town to get some quintessential Maryland blue crab and enjoy the end of summer the way everyone should.

Dancing Crab Restaurant
Wisconsin Ave., NW
Tony Cibel, a native Washingtonian, is kind of the seafood king of northwest Washington. He is responsible for Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, Rockfish Raw Bar & Grille and Nick’s Riverside Grille, to name a few. The Dancing Crab, a Washington institution for over 20 years, is also within his seafaring domain. And it’s as authentic as a Maryland-style crab house comes. The restaurant only serves Chesapeake crabs when “the big ones are available”—and if they’re not, they ship their catch fresh from Louisiana, helping out the area’s recovering economy.

But as crabs go, The Dancing Crab is tops. It’s also a happening place, filled with regulars that have been coming since the place opened. They do karaoke on Saturday nights, trivia on Wednesdays, and Ladies’ Night specials every Friday. 4611 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202.244.1882

The Wharf
Maine Ave., SW
If you’re brave enough to cook crabs on your own, the Wharf on the southwest waterfront off Maine Avenue, is a wealth of fresh daily catch. You can get most fish that you’re looking for there, and in the summer months their specialties are shrimp and crab. The Maryland blue crabs this season are piled in monstrous twitching towers on beds of ice, fat and blue and beautiful. There’s no big secret to cooking them. Throw them in a big steamer with plenty of Old Bay – make sure there is vinegar in the water – and steam until they turn red.
Still, if you’re too impatient to cook them yourself, you can get them steamed from some of the vendors and eat them there on the spot. Either way, you won’t go wrong. 1100 Maine Ave., SW

Bethesda Crab House
Bethesda, Md.
Imagine your favorite dive bar. Now add picnic tables and mountains of steamed crabs and you’ve got the recipe for the Bethesda Crab House. A long-established institution in the area, the menu is short and sweet: crabs, crab cakes and crab legs. But they do them right. Their crab cakes are what will really get you coming back time and time again. As they’ll tell you at the cash register, it is nothing but heaps of crabmeat with a little mayonnaise to bind it together. This is the real deal.

There are no french fries at Bethesda Crab House, as the space is small and the fryer would take up too much room in the back. Plus the establishment believes that potatoes would just fill you up so you wouldn’t be able to eat as much crab—and who wants that? This is the perfect antidote for your crab cravings. And don’t forget to get an order of corn on the cob. 4958 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, Md., 301.652.3382

Quarterdeck Restaurant
Arlington, Va.
Hidden among the high-rise apartment buildings not a mile from the Key Bridge, the Quarterdeck is easy to miss. Built into an old house, the interior atmosphere with its wooden plank siding and worn, beachy furniture, would lead you to believe you were somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay or in a low-key seafood shack in Virginia Beach. The patio is double the size of the indoor dining room and the buckets of crabs tumble out of the kitchen until the restaurant runs out.

As delivery status of the crabs are day-to-day, the restaurant encourages patrons to call at the beginning of the day to check for availability and make crab reservations for that evening — if you wait to walk in for dinner, there often won’t be any left by the time you show up. Quarterdeck Restaurant has a policy to serve steamed crabs only when local crabs are in season, so you know you’re getting the freshest catch every time you go. 1200 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington, Va., 703.528.2722

Ernie’s Crab House
Alexandria, Va.
Most quality seafood restaurants don’t do all-you-can-eat crabs, and most crab houses don’t usually dabble too much with the rest of the ocean’s bounty. Crabs have a trend of taking over the entire menu of most restaurants that specialize in them. At Ernie’s Crab House, you get the best of both worlds. On top of killer steamed crabs, their menu offers a wide selection of traditional East Coast-style seafood. Their oyster po’boy and crab cake sandwiches are fantastic.

And they serve up steamed crabs with the best of them. This is the place to go for those who want a little bit of everything the ocean has to offer. 1743 King Street, Alexandria, Va., 703.836.0046 [gallery ids="99225,103529,103540,103536,103534" nav="thumbs"]

A History of Luxury The Greenbrier Resort

In the small community of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, nestled safely within the Allegheny Mountains, lies one of this country’s most longstanding and luxurious resorts. Since 1778, The Greenbrier has hosted distinguished guests from around the world, setting the standard for luxury accommodations nationwide, while continually reinventing itself. Once known by the Southern elite as the “Queen of the Watering Places,” this sprawling estate in the lush foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, spa treatments, leisure pursuits and world-class cuisine, The Greenbrier brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct history and character of the region.


The wide variety of accommodations can facilitate any combination of guests, whether a couple on an intimate retreat or dozens of corporate employees on a not-so-business trip. With an endless variety cottages and suites, guests will find intimate single guest houses and seven-room suite, equipped with wood-burning fireplaces and private porches and patios overlooking the surrounding area. The staff’s attention to detail is impeccable, with no detail overlooked, ensuring an elegance that strikes the right balance between class and comfort.


Once settled in, The Greenbrier offers enough activities to keep guests returning with every season. Once winter blankets the grounds in snow, you can explore the crisp outdoors in a horse-drawn sleigh ride or go ice-skating at the resort’s private skating rink. In the summertime, guests go kayaking, rafting, fishing or swimming. From bowling and croquet, to culinary demonstrations and the ancient sport of falconry, there is truly something for everyone.

The highlight, however, is the resort’s collection of four 18-hole signature golf courses, all of which compliment the surrounding mountainous landscape. The Greenbrier mixes spectacular scenery and PGA Tour-tested challenges to golfers why they fell in love with the game. The championship courses—The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier, The Meadows and The Snead, a private resident’s-only course—are skillfully designed to challenge and captivate golfers of every skill level. The resort also features a full-service clubhouse, award-winning golf shop and expert instruction by The Greenbrier Golf Academy.

The resort’s 40,000 square-foot luxury spa is another signature offering, providing an elegant setting to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Relax in a whirlpool bath or soak up the healing properties of the native sulphur waters. With their wealth of exclusive spa treatments, there are endless reasons to visit this award-winning spa.

The Bunker at The Greenbrier

While The Greenbrier itself is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast, the resort has long housed its own amazing secret of national significance. But after 30 years the secret is out. Carved deep into the mountainside beneath the resort’s West Virginia Wing is an emergency Cold War fallout shelter, once a top secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress. The declassified Bunker at The Greenbrier is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes of a fascinating period in the history of the resort, as well as the country. Now open to anyone interested in reliving a legendary piece of history, Bunker tours provide a unique and in-depth look behind the hidden doors of an American epoch.

In order to enhance the experience of the Bunker, The Greenbrier worked with the Virginia Historical Society on an on-site exhibition gallery, featuring artifacts and reproductions representing the security and communications area, dormitories, VIP lounges and medical clinic on top of old photos of the facility and a video on the history of the Cold War. Guests will learn about the groups who met there and enjoyed theme parties and dinners without ever realizing they were in a top-secret government facility designed to be the workplace for Congressional staff in the event of an emergency.

And the event space is still open. If you’re looking for a nontraditional meeting space or event location, The Bunker at Greenbrier might just be the place.

The Greenbrier Clinic

Formed in 1948 by progressive business leaders, The Greenbrier Clinic is based on the philosophy that a healthy executive is the cornerstone of a healthy business. The Clinic’s founders reasoned that taking good care of company executives is a solid investment in the company’s future. Today, thousands of visitors come each year to combine a relaxing, luxurious holiday with the Clinic’s unparalleled diagnostic evaluation, care and unparalleled personal attention.

Over the years, this sensible concept has proven itself with executive patients. And visitors to the Clinic still have ample time to enjoy all of the resort’s luxurious amenities. But above all, The Greenbrier Clinic delivers the highest quality diagnostic health care. The Clinic’s state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment assures maximum comfort and safety to patients. And a friendly relationship between doctors and patients is encouraged by the medical staff, fostering trust and enhancing personalized care. The Clinic’s emphasis on preventive health counseling encourages healthy individuals to safeguard their most valuable asset: their wellbeing.
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Between the sheets: The Secret World of STDs in Assisted Living Facilities

For what seems like forever, I’ve been working to raise awareness about the alarming increase in STDs in the over-50 population. The biggest semi-secret is the supposed safety of Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs). All too few are neither aware of, or want to openly acknowledge that our parents and grandparents are still having sex! It’s like when we were kids and we said “yuk” at the idea of our parents “doing it.” Even with Alzheimer’s and dementia, though recent factual memory fades and inhibitions wane, desire remains.

I recently met with an RN who works in an ALF in Florida who confirmed my fears. “People are shacking up all the time,” she said on condition of anonymity, “but nobody really talks about it. It’s often innocent…there are a lot of ‘lost husband/wife’ cases, people pretending to be married because they don’t know any better…They can’t help it. They forget who they are and where they’re supposed to be sometimes. It’s an issue that everyone has come to know, on some level or another, but nobody’s taking any action to discuss it, much less help prevent it.”

Education and acceptance are the keys to unlocking a safer future for our older population. Many people over the age of 50 have never been tested for STDs, much less feel the need to. The majority of safe-sex programs are for the younger generation and statistics show that they work. Our well-seasoned population didn’t grow up talking about STD’s, and they still don’t. They’re often unaware that they could get an STD and, more often than not, doctors don’t consider that these elders are having sex. As a result, they often misdiagnose STD infections.

To find out what is being done about it, I contacted the Executive Director of one of the most respected ALFs in the DC Metro area. In addition to providing leading health and residential support to their residents, she explained the main priority when addressing residents’ sexually active lifestyles is “to protect the residents that cannot make their own decisions.”

While facilities like this one maintain a high degree of resident care, the unfortunate reality is that many facilities don’t, or can’t because of budgetary and staffing circumstances. And though we can’t fight the staffing problem, we can increase the educational element.

Ideally, ALFs could incorporate safe-sex education programs into their activity schedules, similar to those taught in high schools. Also, a conversation about sexual activity and STDs should become a standard part of every ALF intake interview.

It would be easy to blame the health care industry, but the truth is that those actually doing the work are doing the best that they can with what they have, under the legal guidelines set for them. For now, the responsibility of protecting our grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters ultimately lies with us—as family members, as friends, as a community who cares—to talk to our loved ones and to have “the conversation” about STDs and safe sex.

Autumnal Romance: Plan Your Getaway to These Virginia Inns

Autumn is sneaking up on us. The nights are growing colder and the clouds are holding back the sun’s warmth to prepare us for the coming season. In these precarious weeks between the end of summer and the onset of winter, it is the perfect time for those of us itching for a relaxing weekend getaway. Pastoral bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels surround the D.C. area. The landscapes of these mountain and riverside resorts are in a state of autumnal serenity, and the weather is still warm enough to enjoy nearby attractions.

Within 100 miles of the District liea a wealth of vineyards, rustic Inns, elegant cuisine and pastoral countryside to keep you satiated through the winter.

Keswick Hall at Monticello
Just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, lies the Keswick Hall at Monticello. A little more than two hours away from Washington, this Hotel is a great combination of a romantic Inn and a large resort. Guests travel here from all over the world to stay at this intimate haven, rated the number-one small resort in the country by Conde Nast. Located in the heart of Virginia, it is the perfect spot for a long weekend getaway.

The Keswick Hall at Monticello offers a range of activities designed for couples. From couples massages and private cooking classes with the estate’s Executive Chef Dean Maupin, to private golf lessons, fireside billiards and couples tennis matches, there are countless activities to suit any mood. For wine enthusiasts, the Keswick has its own private vineyard and offers tours of the other renowned Charlottesville vineyards nearby. Having all the amenities of a large resort with the intimacy of home, you can spend an entire weekend exploring the wondrous fall terrain of Keswick Hall.

The Homestead
Resting on 3,000 acres of Allegheny Mountain terrain, The Homestead is a luxury mountain resort that has been spoiling their guests since before the American Revolution. This National Historic Landmark of a retreat is ranked among the world’s finest spa destinations, and has enough activities to keep you busy through the entirety of winter.

There are a variety of suite accommodations from which to choose, including pet friendly rooms. Their world-class spa alone would nearly be worth the trip—even more so in the autumn months, when skin is particularly sensitive to the dry, cold atmosphere. Revitalize the mind, body and spirit with a hydrotherapy treatment, and then, if the mood is right…go see a movie at the in-house theater, or swim in the naturally heated indoor pool, play tennis on the indoor courts, ice skating, bowling, snow tubing. To say the least, The Homestead understands how to make the most out of any season.

With nine restaurants to choose from, guests can dine in almost any manner they please. Put on your evening’s best to enjoy French American cuisine at 1766 Grille, or enjoy a poolside lunch wrapped in a beach towel with a view of the snowcapped mountains just outside the window.

With so many unique opportunities just hours away, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the intimacy and the solitude of fall.

Goodstone Inn and Estate
The Goodstone Inn, with 18 rooms spread about a rustic estate, is a choice romantic destination, and fall is its peak season.

There are many different activities available at The Goodstone. The estate grounds hold possibilities for hiking, biking and canoeing, all of which are included in the rates. For explorers, The Goodstone Inn can arrange activities such as hot air ballooning, horseback riding and history tours, while the many wineries in the area are a good choice for those seeking a more gastronomic experience.

As fall season is the peak season for The Goodstone, they are already almost fully booked for October and November, but limited vacancies are still available.

The Inn at Willow Grove
Moving south, The Inn at Willow Grove is located close to the town of Orange, Virginia. Just under two hours’ drive from the District, this eclectic country inn presents itself as an upscale, luxury retreat. Recently renovated, the Inn has 11 rooms and a gourmet restaurant. The surrounding scenery combined with the beauty of the Inn attracts guests throughout the year.

With heated floor tiles, soaking tubs and fireplaces, the accommodations are worth the trip alone. You might find yourself not wanting to leave the room. But should you want to explore, there are plenty of things to do. Guest favorites include horseback riding and wine tours to the various wineries in the area. Additionally, the can help arrange hot air balloon trips, civil rights and historic battlefield tours and even skydiving for the brave at heart.

The Inn at Willow Grove is almost fully booked for the weekends in October and November, with some availability in the weekdays.

The Ashby Inn and Restaurant
In the town of Paris, Va. lays The Ashby Inn and Restaurant. Just an hour outside the city, this popular travel destination offers respite for those jaded city dwellers seeking nature’s tranquility. A small Inn with 10 double rooms, it still has a restaurant of 70 seats that fills up every Saturday.

For adventurous couples, nearby Sky Meadow State Park, which can be seen from the porch of the inn, offers great hiking and other outdoor activities. If you are looking for less strenuous quality time, the nearby town of Middleburg is well known for its antique shops and local stores, and it’s historic downtown is worth just strolling through. Another great activity for those who want to relax but explore is a trip to any number of the over twenty local wineries located within 30 minutes of the inn.

As this resort is tremendously popular, they are almost fully booked during the weekends leading up to November, so call in to see what’s left!

The Inn at Monticello
Just a stone’s throw from Monticello proper, The Inn at Monticello is a five-acre Bed & Breakfast, and a convenient base of operations while exploring all that nearby Charlottesville has to offer. Just far enough outside the city to enjoy the rolling landscapes from your private porch or cottage, and down the street from a handful of vineyards, the Inn is still only a ten-minute drive from the center of town.
Once in Charlottesville, across the street from the UVA campus, visit the Corner. A stretch of coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and nightspots frequented by the academic and local community, the Corner is a local watering hole, and a perfect place to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with a good book, grab dinner, or have a few drinks. Among the scenery, UVA’s historic chapel and the “Academical Village” are noteworthy sites particularly beautified by the autumn foliage.

Restaurants to check out around Charlottesville include The Ivy Inn Restaurant and Hamilton’s at First and Main. Producing cuisine inspired by seasonal and locally grown ingredients, The Ivy Inn offers classic American fare with modern twists, such as pumpkin ravioli or veal osso buco with sautéed local bok choy. At Hamilton’s at First and Main, inventive pairings such as roasted halibut stuffed with chèvre, or crab cakes with lemon-basil aioli are the highlights of the menu.
The Inn at Little Washington

When discussing luxury dining and accommodations in Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington garners the same reactions that one gets if mentioning Disney World to a four-year-old. The love child of renowned restaurateur Patrick O’Connell, a self-taught chef often accused of having “perfect taste,” and a pioneer of the local, organic movement, The Inn at Little Washington is one of the most highly decorated restaurants and hotels in the country—and just about the only nationally lauded two-for-one.
This time of year, O’Connell’s celebrated kitchen is honoring the bounty of fall, one of O’Connell’s favorite occasions to have fun with the season’s best ingredients. [gallery ids="100310,107972,107983,107979,107976" nav="thumbs"]

‘Fowl’ play in easton, Md.

Every year for the last four decades, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has opened its doors to the world, inspired by the winter tradition of migrating wildlife. But the Waterfowl Festival in Easton is not just about ducks and geese anymore. With such a broad range of attractions offered at the festival, it might well be called the Waterfowl-Art-Eating-Strolling-Shopping-Watching-Learning Festival. Celebrating its 41st year, the Waterfowl Festival kicks off with a donor party on Thursday, Nov. 10 and runs through the weekend.

The festival is billed as many things. It is a homage to the migrating Canadian geese, soaring southward overhead throughout the weekend’s festivities. It is a showcase for local Chesapeake Bay area artists. It is the home of the World Championship Calling Contest, complete with stunt dog demonstrations and decoy auctions. And if, like me, you’re a city dweller through and through, you can only imagine what a Calling Contest entails—but that’s why you need to go! (I don’t think it refers to calling for takeout, at which I might already be the World Champion.)

According to the festival’s organizers, the calling contest—which, for the record, is a duck calling contest—attracts audiences of over 600 people, and covers six contests, setting the stage for an exciting evening. Whether a novice or a master quacker, anyone is welcome to try their hand. Proud duck and goose callers representing at least 16 states and Canada make the journey to Easton each year in order to compete for the coveted titles. And one of last year’s winners was Easton local Mitch Hughes. Watching Hughes defend his title is surely worth a look—or a listen.

The festival is also a dog-lover’s daydream. Some of the biggest attractions at the festival are the featured dog events—particularly dogs in motion. Judges measure so-called “Dock Dogs” on the distance they can jump from the dock into water. Divisions range from novice, an under ten-foot leap, to super elite, which constitutes jumps over 25 feet. And a few lucky Labs and Retrievers get to show off their fetching and swimming skills as well.

In addition to things with wings and tails, 400 exhibitors will be offering everything from master classes in painting and photography, to wine and food tastings, to a fishing derby for kids. Needless to say, ducks are a pretty dominating theme. There are decoy carving and waterfowl painting classes, a duck stamp exhibit and competition, and a chance to view antique “waterfowling artifacts,” some dating from as early as the 19th century.

Another reason to visit the festival is for Easton itself. The town goes all out dressing up for the festival, as volunteers decorate the old streets and historic buildings. Organizers expect Easton and the surrounding area to draw about 15,000 visitors during the festival. But the volunteers are as diverse as the festival-goers. Many come from Talbot Country and throughout Maryland, but still more come from other states around the region to help out; they are business leaders, teachers, government officials and members of volunteer groups.

And perhaps most importantly, the non-profit Waterfowl Festival, Inc., helps to preserve the life it so vividly celebrates. Over the past four decades, the festival’s organizers and volunteers have raised more than five million dollars to protect water birds and their habitats. The money goes to projects throughout the Atlantic Flyway, with a particular focus on the Chesapeake Bay.

“Whether you buy a cup of soup or a sweatshirt or a piece of art, it is the waterfowl that are benefiting,” says Megan Miller, the festival’s events and communications coordinator.

But the weak economy has hurt sales, and this year’s success hinges on whether the stock market is up or down and what the weather is like. Tickets sell after a good week on Wall Street, with blue skies and temperatures in the 80s. And what’s good for the festival is good for the birds. It costs ten dollars to get in, though the classes and the competitions are extra. But no matter what the outcome, one thing is for sure, says Megan Miller: “It’s all about the birds.”

For more information, visit on the event visit
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