Friday, January 6, 2017

Crowne Plaza, Houlihan's, and Hooligans (Review and Giveaway)

I work all over the Eastern United states and that means mainly the Northern Virginia and Richmond areas. It sounds more important to add on states though, so I count that I've been to them and gloss over the rest.

I found myself near Herndon December 28th after traveling almost 9 hours. By that time, I had tired myself by standing in the cold and watching two men move a heavy cabinet for me. It's really hard being in the Jeep that long and having to sit in traffic and go over bridges with water or that still look like The Jetsons to me. So tiring.

My husband would rather drive 5 hours at night and get home at 11 PM than stay in a hotel. I would rather stay in a hotel because I don't feel guilty for neglecting to tidy up (I don't feel bad about that at home either) and I work too much to go on vacation. Working is my vacation. Vacation to me consists of eating at new places and staying in hotels. I understand some people go to the beach and think it's the best thing in the world. My aversion to heat, crowds, filthy water, and tourist traps limit my choices in that vein and I'm nowhere near Alaska or Maine (I haven't been up the ENTIRE East Coast ok?) which is where I really want to go. When I get there I'm going to embrace the cold, sit in a hotel, eat seafood, and watch bears or moose.

(puffins and I understand one another)

One time my mother and I went on a tour of the Shenandoah Valley and 4 bears crossed the road in front of us, three of which were babies, and she urged me to please get out of the car and take photos. I hope this explains the money I've invested in therapy.

Speaking of my therapist, she told me to write more often so I am. I'm not calling this a review, which it is more or less, but more of a commentary and observation of my relationship with the world around me and since I've recently married, my observation of how my husband compliments everything that is probably very wrong with me but I enjoy thoroughly and have no plans to change.

I'm am a member of both and so I booked through both sites to get points from both (if you're interested, I've made $175 in cash in the last 30 days from in bank--and used it for 4 years but please allow me to send you a promo link) so we parked at a local McDonald's (great for free, fast WiFi) I found the first hotel that looked nice and affordable, and less than 10 minutes later we were at The Crown Plaza in Herndon, VA.

Now here's one thing you have to understand: I almost always look like white trash, I'm overweight, and I have no concept of caring about how other people perceive me based on this alone. My last job before self-employment was at a retail call center and although I started off looking fashionable and damn sexy, my mental health and overall high esteem for comfort unraveled that cocoon of image as I sauntered into work in sweat pants and baseball caps (and always on time). The people who model perfection get the raises and promotions: the people who don't give a shit either stay where they are or own the business one day. I'm sure of it.

Since I've added Chuck to my entourage, I have become more self-conscious but that is mainly due to his unruly and embarrassing behavior. I haven't really determined if it's really me that's embarrassed or that sometimes I don't want other people to be embarrassed just so I can selfishly continue to be entertained. I'll let you know when I arrive at a conclusion.

I work all over the Eastern United states and that means mainly the Northern Virginia and Richmond areas. It sounds more important to add on states though, so I count that I've been to them and gloss over the rest.

Everyone up here is foreign and by "up here" I mean not Lynchburg, Virginia or any of the surrounding counties who voted for Trump. 

Drat. I swore I wouldn't bring politics or controversy into a simple review/this-is-what-my-life-has-become blog, but what I'm saying is, it's so refreshing to see people of color (and by "people of color" I mean more than just black) having jobs and speaking foreign languages all without the obligatory harassment by an obese man wearing camo, spraying spittle into their faces, sputtering something about pressing one for English. 

So a lovely (I'm guessing French) young lady checked us in and offered to upgrade the room without us asking. The marker of a good hotel is always a hostess who will upgrade a room which you booked through without you making veiled threats and causing a huge scene. And she gave us free TOOTHBRUSHES (yea...I know), while the manager of the restaurant shamelessly flirted with the other clerk who was Iraqui (I tried to tell her she was from the Czech Republic but she insisted she was from Iraq and that perhaps I had heard of a war in the nineties).

The room was nothing to write home about, but it was clean and had a desk and that's mostly my requirements besides having a tub, but I do always notice how many toiletries they offer and this time I really enjoyed this little spa packet by Temple Spa.

This relaxation packet included Repose, an overnight moisturizing cream, Quietude, a calming mist for the air and bedding, and AAAHHH, a stress relieving massage gel for aching muscles. They are all made with essential oils, including the spray, which contained patchouli which smells like a dirty hippy but can also do an adequate job of masking cigarette smoke in a non-smoking room. 

(scraping the lettering off a smoke because I wasn't paying enough attention to him)

I did have a hard time trying to figure out how to turn on the lights. I unplugged the heating unit and it still kept working, and then I kind of figured it out, and then I woke up the next morning at it was -7 degrees in the room which isn't actually a huge problem because I stay hot all the time due too being fat and probably some terminal illness that I have yet to discover.

They had phone charger outlets and that made me more happy than I should be, then I realized I'm poor and simple so it all made sense.

So let's talk about dinner.

Houlihan's is a Leawood, Kansas-based American casual restaurant & bar with locations operating throughout the country, 60% of which are franchised (I totally ripped that from Wikipedia). I was hungry and wanted a martini which was, by the way, not good, and the bartender appeared to have an attitude but this is because I am fiercely judgmental about my martinis because only 15% of restaurants ever get them right. 

Our waiter was Ken Jeoung and by that I mean he looked and acted like him and I thought I was in "The Hangover 4" for about 2.5 seconds and started looking for a tiger. 

I ordered the mushroom appetizer since it seemed to be famous (it was pretty impressive) and then split a fish and chips meal with Chuck. Not too bad for the cost. 

(shrooms have never done me wrong)

Houlihan's is also part of the Recork Project

The next day, after Chuck made sure everything was nailed down, we took a little tour of the hotel. Since it was before New Year's Eve, we took pictures of the regular AND Christmas decor and Chuck said and did embarrassing things within earshot of strangers. 

At breakfast they offered a buffet, but I hate buffets, so I ordered a turkey sausage sandwich with Gouda and fruit and I'm pretty sure our waiter was also French but Chuck very loudly called him Iranian within earshot and then when he left our check, Chuck yelled something to him in French which, when translated, meant,"Are you going to the mountain?" The elderly couple behind us were appalled by more than several things he did, including but not limited to bringing in his portable coffee cup and refilling it 10 times, loudly asking if the buffet were free, and farting.

Then I had to do a little work so Chuck disappeared for about half an hour (never a good sign) and apparently found things that were not nailed down.

I won't need shampoo until spring. 

In summary, some of the good things about The Crowne Plaza are:

  • Guests enjoy complimentary 24-hr access to Life Fitness lifecycles, elliptical machine, treadmills, dual cable cross machine, free weight equipment, and medicine & stability balls. While exercising, watch your favorite show on the Flat Screen TV.
  • Restaurant and bar attached (obviously, the most important besides free WiFi)
  • Valet parking
  • Airport Shuttle
  • Languages I've never heard of are spoken here
  • Business services like copiers and printers (we learned that when we got the corporate rate)
  • There's an IHG club (the brand of hotel) that has pretty high ratings if you travel

There is a giveaway involved and I know you didn't read that blog that I spent 3 hours writing just so you could get to it. So here it is:

You will win a $25 gift card (by mail or email) and a sample of Temple Spa's products (by mail). 

1. You must go to (which is not pornographic and I'm sick of having to say that) and join my brokering site on Facebook to qualify.

2. An added entry is commenting on one of the items for sale.

I don't require you to tweet or like anyone else on Facebook because these companies give me nothing and I review them completely for free without any compensation. You'd realize that if you read my reviews on because a lot of them are deservedly mean and totally hilarious. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Barrell of Fun this Week

Coming up THIS week:

August 12 @ 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

 It’s time to pick the hops, and we need your help!  Volunteer for two hours and lunch is on us!  Enjoy live music while you pick.

August 14 @ 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Friday Night Bites - new small plate menu is available every Friday 5pm-10pm! $5 per plate. Regular menu also available.

--Koda and Marie from Chamomile and Whiskey. 

On tap now at the Arrington Barrel House:

Classic Lager
Local Species
A Hopwork Orange
Full Nelson
South Street Satan's Pony
Dark Hollow


Afton Brewpub:

Classic Lager
Kolsch 151
Blue Toad Hard Cider Blue Ridge Blonde
South Street 365 Shandy
South Street Satan's Pony
Full Nelson
A Hopwork Orange
Dunkel Lager
Original Nitro Porter
Special Bottle Offering: Dark Hollow

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Colleen Drive-In

I can remember the Colleen Drive-In as a staple when going to visit great-grandma Tinsley in the early 1980's: we'd stop for ice cream or corn dogs or sundaes. I'd always throw up on the way back home. But that had nothing to do with the ice cream--I got terrible motion sickness.

What you may not have known is that the Colleen Drive-In started out as a chain of roadside stands originating in  Wooster, Ohio called The Dairy Isle in 1951. It eventually grew to 160 locations although today there are only a few scatted across the East.

Colleen had it's name change in 1964. You can find a similar stand in South Boston, except no ultra cool giant cone, so why even bother?

This ultra awesome website takes you through the history of a few other roadside stands in Virginia. I suggest you check it out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pints O Plenty Pick-O-Da-Week

Erginger Pikantus:

What the website says:

For some people, Erdinger Weissbier Pikantus 'dark bock beer' is a delicacy to be enjoyed in the colder months of the year. For lovers of strong beer, however, the season for Pikantus lasts a full twelve months.

At 7.3% alcohol, this specialty wheat beer has a considerably higher alcohol content than other varieties produced by Erdinger Weissbräu. The dark bock beer owes its sharp and full flavor to the use of selected dark wheat and barley malts and a significantly longer maturing process.

In contrast to many bock beers, Erdinger Weissbier Pikantus 'dark bock beer' does not taste too sweet. Despite its higher alcohol content, Erdinger's master brewers have succeeded in retaining the smooth Pikantus flavor.

What I say:

A toffee, banana scent with an equally, unoffensive sweet amber finish. Four out of five.


This old heathen is aged in whiskey bourbon barrels. Please enjoy this clip of Grandscrew getting pissed about me buying beer. She advised all the patrons I was going to hell, never mind the implication for their own souls.

Heresy is a decent imperial stout, a little heavy on fruity tones for me but most def a nice port brandy finish. I say three out of five.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout:

What the website says:

This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. In the 18th century, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, ordered a stout to be sent to her from England. This beer was brewed strong and hoppy to survive the sea voyage, and it arrived in perfect condition. Soon "Russian Imperial Stout" became the toast of the Russian aristocracy. Brewed since 1994, our Black Chocolate Stout has itself become a modern classic, heralded the world over. It achieves its dark chocolate aroma and flavor through the artful blending of six malts and months of aging. Properly kept, it will improve in the bottle for many years. This stout is the toast of the winter season in many countries, and there is nothing better to enjoy with chocolate desserts, cheesecake, ice cream, fine cheeses and roaring fireplaces.

This is your basic chocolate/coffee stout. You can't go wrong with it. But nothing special. Thick, rich, and dark. Three out of five.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Village Inn

The Basics:

You won't find a coffee maker or shampoo. They've give you towels, small bar soap, an ice bucket and 2 plastic cups. The ice is inside the office. There are 2 soda machines and news paper stands. I don't know anything about the channel offerings because they have free, fast wireless and I bring my lap top everywhere. I also didn't care about the other toiletries because I bring my own so who cares?


It's fairly clean. I lifted up the mattress and checked. Nothing suspicious or gross--no bugs. Clean floor, clean tub, well lit sink area. Not a lot of lighting otherwise but not a big deal. You get an extra blanket but again, I bring my own pillow and blanket so no big deal.

It's fairly cheap. The owners were gracious and provided a discount when I pointed out I paid more through a partnership site than they offered directly. The owner even came to my room to confirm this.

It was quiet and there's a big field out back. You can watch wildlife if you're so inclined.

It has a retro feel and it's a nice staycation for someone who wants to get a little peace, write, think, read, visit a small town.

There are quirky paintings on the wall. Mine was a mermaid.

They have smoking and non-smoking rooms.

The water pressure in the shower is fantastic. I wanted to have an affair with it.


There is no breakfast, just coffee.

The outlets have been poked and prodded past their prime. My phone charger kept falling out if you glanced sideways at it so I woke up to a dead phone.

I've driven by this place at least a dozen times on my way to Charlottesville and I've always wanted to stay. I felt like it would be a sweet, quaint little place and I was right. It's own by a precious little family and I felt safe. I also felt like--based on my own needs--I got a good deal. I wanted to have a local, quiet, effortless experience and that's what it was.