New year, new projects

Goodness, my little blog has not seen much blog lovin’ lately. The final months of 2013 were filled with grad school final project work, wrapping up my amazing year of being the Social Media Director with Ladies DC and getting caught up in the usual hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season.


Now it’s 2014 and I have tons of restaurant, store and event reviews to share with you, as soon as I get to it ( this weekend, perhaps?). Even after 5 years in the city of DC, there is so much to discover, see, taste and experience. Before I get to sharing all of it with you however, I wanted to draw your attention to a new website that I’ve created as an additional resource for You.

This little website was an idea I had back in 2008 when I moved here- why was there not one good, comprehensive website that would list all the ‘stuff’ in DC that I was looking up? I kept bookmarking websites but never remembered to go back to them so I needed a better solution. Inspired by all the tech entrepreneurs in DC, I set out to build my own website, as best as I could.

The result today can be seen on Head on over to check it out, and let me know what you think. Your feedback and input is important as I have big dreams for this little resource of a website.

Happy 2014 to you and yours and come back here soon to read more of my ‘DC diary’.



‘Boutique- Where Art Meets Fashion’ opens at Embassy of Finland

Picture by Valentina ‘n Me

I had the opportunity the other day to attend the opening of the Boutique – Where Art meets Fashion exhibition at the Finnish Embassy- a real treat since this is not your average art exhibition and I had a chance to channel my inner ‘Gallery Girls‘ persona. Yes, there is a dark bohemian artist deep down under the pearls and sometimes pink on pink outfits.

There is so much art and definitely a lot of fashion in DC but rarely do we get to see and experience the two combined. Boutique – Where Art Meets Fashion will be on display during the weekends at the Embassy of Finland in DC until November 3rd. The exhibition is a pared down version of the original Helsinki based exhibition at the Amos Anderson Museum back in 2012 and features works produced in pairs by traditional artists and fashion gurus.

Picture by Valentina ‘n Me

At the opening event we heard from curator Annamari Vänskä that the idea for the exhibition came from her desire to merge art and fashion and discussing ideas how to do so over a cup of coffee with the Director of the Amos Anderson Museum. When big minds meet over a cup of coffee, big things can happen.

Check out the free exhibition in the cool space that is the Embassy of Finland across from the Naval Observatory. I would suggest combining the visit with a trip to the pop-up pumpkin patch down the road at Wisconsin and Garfield or lunch in Glover Park. Public transportation by bus will take you pretty close but you might also find parking on 34th Street.

Link love to read more:

Boutique – Where Art Meets Fashion

Embassy of Finland

3301 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM through 4 PM

October 12-13, 19-20, 26-27 and November 2-3.

Vigilant about Vigilante Coffee

Let me present to you, how I discovered Vigilante Coffee at Hogo in true DC social media fashion:IMG_20130911_090409

I met my friend Laetitia (@FrenchTwistDC) through Twitter

Laetitia introduced me to Creative Mornings DC 

I was lucky enough to sample free Vigilante Coffee at Creative Morning DC events

I found out that Vigilante Coffee is hanging out at Hogo  in the form of a pop-up coffee shop thanks to Instagram

I know of Hogo because I live in the ‘hood.

Today, therefore, I walked to Hogo for my Vigilante Coffee caffeine fix and I don’t want this relationship to end. But alas, it will. Vigilante Coffee is moving to a cool, adequately hipsterish place on H street when Maketto opens in full force in the late fall/early winter 2013.

So neighbors, travelers and anybody else who enjoys a cool coffee bar vibe with chilled beats, awesome decor and the ambiance of a hip bar without the smell of stale beer or spilled cocktails, head to Hogo before it’s too late for a cuppa of Vigilante Coffee!





Red Bull Flugtag in DC September 21st

Red Bull gives you wiiiings…or maybe not? On September 21st you can be part of the spectacle at National Harbor to see if any of the home grown flying machines manage to literally take off. This is the first ever Flugtag in DC and the first ever national Flugtag held in the good ol’ USA.

The Red Bull Flugtag technically started in 1992, perhaps just as a brilliant marketing ploy or maybe somebody really just wanted to see if they could become what Leonardo Da Vinci once was in the world of man-made flight apparatus. Either way, us DC folks are in for a real treat, because even if I can’t advocate for the advantages of drinking Vodka-Red Bull at age 30 anymore, they sure do know how to put on a good show. Just watch this video  and you’ll see.

I can’t wait to see the contraptions and be part of the energy at National Harbor. Tickets include a metro shuttle and if you don’t work in the nonprofit world like I do, you might even be able to afford the $80 VIP deal. For the rest of us, tix are $15, so not a bad deal.

Now, without further ado, you can buy tickets here, check out event details here and read more about the event here.

See you there!

SUP fun in DC

07-15-2013 3-37-52 PMThe Potomac may not be the turquoise waters you love to frolic in on vacation but there is something calming aout a body of water, no matter how murky it may look.

In addition to the available water options of the Pirate Ship, sightseeing tours, the water taxi and kayak rentals you can now also rent a Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) in DC. These are great for a fun new way to work out on the water or just an option to look way cooler on the water than in a kayak.

I tried SUP yoga in Laguna Beach last year and loved it. I’m stoked that it’s now offered here in DC too. Keybridge Boathouse has lots of classes you can sign up for, $35 gets you 1 hour 15 minutes of board bliss.

If yoga is not your thing, try the SUP Fitness class that will have you balancing your way to an awesome core workout. You can of course also just rent a board and paddle around by yourself- an intense 1 hour paddle session can burn up to 500 calories. Just being on the board for an hour and paddling around ‘tourist style’ will still earn you a burn of about 250.

If you have a car and have time, you’ll find SUP Yoga and more rental options in Annapolis too- the water will not be turquoise there either mind you but it’s an option if you need/want to get out of the city for a fun workout.


Stand Up Paddle DC Facebook Group 

SUP mag article on DC area options

Washingtonian article on SUP options in DC

Lock up your pompoms- encouragement at work


In the midst of meetings, project deadlines and a million emails, it’s not perhaps a priority to grab your pompoms and play cheerleader with your coworkers. Luckily, encouraging a colleague doesn’t have to consume more than a few minutes of your busy day.

We’re not talking about throwing a pity party or digging deep for true empathy when you have a packed scheduled too. There’s no need to channel your inner cheerleader and bust out a ‘you can do it’ complete with coordinated dance moves. A simple ‘Hey, hang in there’ or ‘I know you’ve got this’ let’s your colleague know that

a) you’re aware of their current workload, project or timeline  and that

b) you care without being cheesy, overbearing, judgmental or too emotional.

You may already offer encouragement on a regular basis to close colleagues or to employees whom you directly manage. What about encouraging UP? What about making a new employee on a different team feel welcome ‘again’ on day 5? What about checking in with the summer intern on a monthly basis or as time allows?

I personally enjoy encouraging UP. While overly complicated compliments may seem too cheesy in the workplace, recognizing that your boss is uber busy and offering a quick phrase of encouragement is just a nice thing that you can do as a person who just happens to work for or with somebody. Use timely encouragement opportunities to balance 360 reviews, one-on-one meetings and employee feedback to create a healthy, straightforward and positive work atmosphere.

Try it out today- find two colleagues who have a lot going on and let them know you’re rooting for them even if you leave your pompoms out of it.


Brunch at Shaw’s Tavern

DC sure loves to brunch! Here’s a great neighborhood spot with a sunny patio, good food and friendly service. What more could you ask for on a sunny weekend?


Shaw’s Tavern is a more recent addition to the Shaw neighborhood but as new places keep opening, this tavern will soon seem like it was just always there.

Can we talk about friendly service? We’ve visited for happy hour, brunch, lunch and dinner. Our request for a table outside and inside have always been worked out despite a packed house. Our servers have always been friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. At brunch, the mimosas just kept coming, and coming and coming. t as new eateries keep opening, this tavern will soon seem like it was  always there.

The menu is a great combination of that greasy good stuff, dessert like items and light sides so that you don’t have to feel too guilty after brunch. Fried green tomatoes, fluffy pancakes, a mountain of mushrooms on a burger, a salad with the omelet. Something for every guest and a varied menu like this is so appreciated.

So come for brunch, stay for dinner and then have a drinks accompanied by live music in the rustic but upscale Tavern.  I bet you’ll have a good time.

Find out more online at Shaw’s Tavern website.





Star wigs at the Italian Embassy

Thanks to Laetitia of French Twist DC, I ended up checking out these wigs at the Italian Embassy. The wigs and dresses are on display as part of a ‘Year of Italian culture in the US’ campaign.  It’s a free exhibition but you have to make an appointment and check them out before May 11th.

The wigs are spectacular and it’s fascinating trying to imagine wearing and walking around in one…they definitely look heavy and itchy.

For more details, read this article and check out the pictures below.







Nicole Kidman Moulin rouge

Georgetown French Market

detail_event_image_7After years of missing this event in DC, I finally had the chance to go on this sunny Saturday morning.

In true Bianca fashion, I only had about an hour to explore the market when it first opened before heading over to my Dance Trance class that started at 11:00am. Since the market is held in the Book Hill neighborhood (Wisconsin Avenue between P Street and Reservoir Road) it was only completely natural to start the day with a coffee and a mini croissant from Paul. I discovered their upstairs space this time and can’t wait to come back…maybe to blog, maybe to catch up with a friend.

wpid-IMG_20130420_091656.jpgWith said Paul coffee cup in my hand, my friend and I moseyed our way up Wisconsin. We stopped at each table lining the sidewalk to see if we could score some good deals. I was pleased to find that the discounts were deep enough to count as a discount- those who shop with me will inevitably hear me say ‘25% off does not count as a legit discount or sale!’.

By the Ella-Rue table I found some great jewelry pieces on sale and I snagged some earrings and a necklace in turquoise  I’m crazy for turquoise, light blue and mint at the moment. In the bins outside of Sassanova I found discounted Spanx products ($10!) and a bracelet (another $10) that came home with me too.

The galleries and antique boutiques along Wisconsin all had lovely merchandise displayed in the street. I usually just walk by these places without paying attention so it was nice to stop and dream of the pieces I’ll have in my luxe house one day.

Sherman Pickey had festive dresses and scarves on display at great prices and the air was filled with the lovely promise of a nutella crepe and other goodies from Patisserie Poupon. We kept walking and left many adorable items from the French Apartment, A Mano, Nectar Skin Bar and Urban Chic for the lucky shoppers to arrive after us. The only item I wish I would have purchased was a gray pillow with the word  ‘LOVE’ stitched in the front. I passed on it and not long after saw a woman scoop it up. It wasn’t meant to be this time for me and the LOVE pillow. Maybe next year.







DC Tech Meetup at 6th & I Historic Synagogue

Last night I had the chance to finally check out an event at the 6th & I Historic Synagogue in my local DC neighborhood, and not just any event. The DC Tech meetup had the place packed, on the floor and up on the 2nd theater-style seating section. Talk about a ‘full house’!SAMSUNG

The theme of this meetup was interesting because it differed from all the other ‘pitch fest’ events I have attended so far. The audience was treated to traditional pitches by DC based startups but also to ‘reverse pitches’ by angel investors who have a particular love for DC entrepreneurs. We certainly felt the love in the room last night!

You can find all the pitches listed here, but my favorites were:

  • Partyista – Cool web-based free(!) service that matches party planners with event space in DC. Awesome! 
  • Luminate Health – making sense of your lab work in smart way. I love graphs, so this is a no-brainer.
  • K Street Capital – pitching over dinner. I would be OK with that.
  • Dingman Center Angels – what’s better than a whole group of angels linked to an academic setting?


I came across a video on Facebook yesterday: a quick recap of the 2012 Starbucks Global Leadership Conference. The event seemed to be half inspirational TED talks, half TV evangelist-style preaching, an odd but winning combination. Le’ts explore why:sbux

The TED style talks worked well for the grand revealing of the new Starbucks Verismo System. For good measure, an Oprah moment was thrown in when staff found out they would be receiving their own as a gift from the company. Starbucks created a magical moment on stage, talking about innovation, technology and the future. From a leadership standpoint however, technology and fancy stainless steel apparatus can only create a soulless facade of a company.

You need faith, human faith. Enter the evangelists.

Not to be confused with messages of a religious nature,  the evangelist speakers help rally the staff to recognize, and celebrate the passion and purpose of the company. They help build the faith: in the products,  the business model and in any customer service ideals.

If the mix of technology and faith is blended well enough, staff should leave inspired enough to share the gospel of the company with their teams and educated enough to help support and sell any new products. How does this translate into a leadership lesson then?

Believe – Without faith in your product, there is little convincing customers to buy it. Without faith in your staff, there is little convincing to produce quality work. At the top, you need to be the one who believes the most.

Lead – Show your faith in the company and inspire others. Follows the old cliche: lead by example. But also lead by encouraging others to lead. Lead without intimidating, lead in a kind yet effective way.

Live – Sure, ‘live your brand’, but find a way to make it fun for you and others. Life is for living. Engage your staff in fearless fun, invite them to enjoy your leadership and faith in the company.

Watch the video here:

2012 Starbucks Global Leadership Conference Highlights from Touch Worldwide on Vimeo.

A little bit of (Hill) Country Backyard Barbeque


So how are your weekend plans shaping up? Have you checked out every museum in town? Shopped at all the cute farmers markets already? Tired of the preppy waterfront in Georgetown? Then Hill Country Backyard Barbecue is just for you!

Head on over to check out a cool exhibit or to play some mini golf at the Building Museum in the afternoon, then stay wpid-20130531_220436.jpgfor dinner and drinks in the front yard of the museum where Hill Country has set up shop for the summer. Complete with hay bales used as seats, rustic tables and red checkered napkins, this is as authentic ‘country’ you’ll get smack in the middle of the city.

Feel free to wear your cowboy boots and I’m sure nobody minds if you dig out those super short jean shorts/skirts you once wore back in college…unless you already donated them to Goodwill. The menu is simple enough to choose from but I bet you’ll want to try all options since the portions aren’t huge and the food is pretty good for a remote no-real-kitchen-on-site kinda deal.

The drinks didn’t disappoint in flavor but rather in size to price ratio. Nick’s Riverside Grille used to have these same cocktails for $5, anything above that served in a plastic cup seems preposterous. The beers are moderately priced and you have a few options here too. Bottom line is, pick whatever works for you but be ready to dig out the cash.

So come for the novelty of feeling a little bit ‘country’ in the big city, grab some food and drinks and chill on the hay bales before the summer is over.