Friday, January 18, 2013

Game Day Parties

First and foremost GO RAVENS!!!!  Now that we've gotten that out the way lets get to business.  If your team is still in the hunt, I'm sure that you or someone you know is knee deep in party prep for this weekend. Party planning can be stressful no matter how small or large the crowd and house parties have a tendency to bring out the freeloaders.  No worries, as always I am here to help:-)  These next five tips will help save you time and money no matter what team colors you bleed.
  1. Ball on a Budget - Your budget determines everything from the guest list and menu to decorations and beverages.  Make sure your guest count matches your budget.  You can't entertain 25 people on a $100 budget, but you can show 8-10 guests a great time.  I always tell my clients to be realistic about their financial situation before they consider throwing a party.  
  2. Dips are your Friend - Dips can help you stretch every penny of your budget. You can feed 10-20 people, depending on the recipe, and the ingredients don't typically cost more then $15-$20.   You can even make dips the theme of your menu.  I like to serve at least two dips and some kind of meat dish when I throw small parties.  You can find great dip recipes at and
  3. Show Team Pride with Jello Shots-  I love love love jello shots, especially for game day parties.  They are cheap, easy to make, and you can buy flavors that match your team's colors.  My private recipe calls for one 5th of cheap vodka, on 5th of triple sec, six boxes of jello and 4-6 cups of water.  Always pour a tester shot and put it in the freezer for about 20mins to make sure it sets up.  
  4. BYOB- My basic rule has always been if I provide the house, food, and TV then my guests provide the drinks.  This doesn't just apply to alcoholic beverages, soft drinks fall under this rule too.    
  5. Frozen Appetizers are a Gift from God- Finger food is always the best way to go on game day.  They help diversify your menu and they're inexpensive.  Not to mention all you have to do is heat them up. Place them on a nice platter with some curly kale and grape tomatoes and you're good to go. You can find frozen appetizers at your local grocer, however, Trader Joe's and Sam's Club usually have a better selections. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Things to Do

When I create itineraries for my clients they are always amazed at the amount of options I provide.  Most of them can't believe the services or events I've selected are even available in Baltimore.  I often hear people complain that they can't  find anything to do in the city and my response to them is always, "That's because your not looking." The only things that limit your entertainment options are your budget, transportation, and your willingness to step outside your comfort zone.  I'll admit, events don't exactly jump out at you the way the do in D.C or New York but, you can find whatever your social life needs right hear in good old Charm City.  You just have to know where to look.  Here are four tips to help you find exactly what you need to spice up your social life:
  1. Pick up a Free Paper- The City PaperBaltimore's Child, and B are packed full of traditional and eclectic events.  You might event discover a new hobby or favorite place.  
  2. Keep an Open Mind- You can't find something new if your not willing to try something new.  Don't write off an event or venue because your friends never heard of it, distance, or because it has a couple bad reviews.  Everything isn't for everybody.  Just because one or two random strangers online didn't like it doesn't mean you wont have a great time.  Remember, people tend to post and spread complaints faster then praise.  
  3. Ride Shotgun- If your always the driver, take the passenger seat or public transportation.  You'll be amazed at how many event advertisements and venues you never notice while you were driving.  
  4. Hire Me- Shameless plug I know, but it is part of what I do folks. My company can crate an itinerary tailored to your personality and preferences to help you celebrate any occasion. Itineraries start at $60, logistics and day of support are additional.  If my services don't fit in your budget no worries:-) You can subscribe to this blog, follow me on Twitter (@Slplanning), Facebook (Lovelaceplanning) or Google+ (Sherria Lovelace) for tips, reviews, and recommendations. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ballin On a Budget

It's FRIDAY!!!  Congratulations, you've survived the first week of 2013!  Hopefully, your New Year's resolutions did too.  Now while I can't help you maintain your weight loss goals, (sorry, cookies are my weakness) I can help you trim your entertainment budget.  Here are five tips to help you maintain your social life and trim your budget without limiting you to the $1 at McDonald's.

  1. Don't be afraid of discount sites- Websites like Groupon and Living Social can help you save big time on dinners, concerts, parties, and dance lessons just to name a few.  They are also good for finding events and activities outside of your normal routine. Try something new in 2013! 
  2. Join the email list at your favorite places- I know everyone hates junk mail but establishments often offer deals that are only available to their email subscribers. 
  3. Check the City Paper- You would not believe how much free and almost free stuff there is to do in this City!! I've found everything from free concerts to free food and wine tastings :-)  
  4. Take public transportation- There really is no reason to ever drive downtown for anything! The Charm City Circulator, Subway and Light Rail are all you need.  Yes, you may have to leave the party a little early but you'll save a ton on parking fees and gas.  Plus, not having to deal with downtown traffic is priceless!
  5. Take advantage of Happy Hour- In addition to traditional Happy Hours, more and more establishments are offering "reverse or late night" Happy Hours.  Most start around 9pm and run till close.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Dark Spot in the Room

     One of the biggest challenges my African American clients face is finding eclectic entertainment that also caters to their demographic.  More often then not, local venues provide interesting themes, great atmosphere, and quality customer service but the entertainment leaves a lot to be desired.   The crowd can also be a bit one sided.  Leaving Black folks feeling like the dark spot in the room.  Believe it or not, this issue will stop many Black people from attending events in curtain neighborhoods, counties, and venues.

      Now don’t get your panties all in a bunch White folks! This doesn't mean we don’t like you or don’t want to be around you.  Y’all are lots of fun! Your, “just out to have a good time,” attitude and willingness to pick up the tab always makes for an interesting night outJ But sometimes we simply want to be around people that look like us, talk like us, and understand our unique experiences. 

     So how does one get over being the dark spot in the room?  The answer is simple, own your position and get others in on the act!  Business owners cater to their customer demographic. Therefore, if you want them to cater to you consider becoming a regular patron.  Stage a good old fashioned sit in with 10-20 of your friends, family, and co-workers.  It’s best to do this on non-peak days (Monday-Thursday) that way your crowd really stands out. These gatherings can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.   Each time you visit make sure you have a five minute meet and great with the manager or owner.  Introduce him to his new patrons and share what you would like to see more of as well as what you love about the place.  Trust me, if management values your patronage and sees an opportunity to grow profits, they’ll make the necessary adjustments to keep you coming back.  

How to become and MVP (Most Valuable Patron):

  1.  Tip appropriately -Don’t leave a $5 tip for a $100 bill! If the service met or exceeded your expectation  15%-18% is the rule.
  2.  Bring in new customers – Host a happy hour, dinner, party, etc.
  3.  Patronize regularly- Preferably twice a month.
  4.  Introduce yourself to management.
  5.  Invite the right people- We all have, what I like to call, a “Ghetto Bird” friend or two.  Everything isn't for everybody. 
  6. Be friendly and express your needs up front- Let the staff know if your party needs separate checks, has any food restrictions, preferred seating or if your celebrating a special occasion.   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

National Harbor Food & Wine Festival: No Longer Worth the Drive

     As you may have noticed by now, I have a great affinity for food, wine and alcohol in general.  So, it should come as no shock that The National Harbor’s Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite annual events, or at least it use to be.  I’ve only missed one festival since the Harbor started hosting it in 2008 however; I think this may be my last year. The first year offered limited wine tastings and food samples but, none of the vendors really paid attention to whether or not attendees had tasting tickets so it worked out really well. Plus there were amazing mixology demos where I learned all about the wonderful world of Hendricks Gin and how much fun magic and martinis could be. By the second year, it seemed like they had gotten it together.  There were unlimited tastings and restaurant quality samples from premier chefs and local restaurants.  Attendees enjoyed sautéed mussels from Timothy Dean, signature desserts from the Gaylord Hotel, food and wine parings from Robert Mondavi and a host of other mouth watering treats. You left the festival with a full belly, awesome buzz, and great stories. Year three was kind of touch and go. I started to notice a gradually decline in the food offerings which, I made up for by participating in the Fosters Clam Bake.  I missed year four L so you can only imagine how excited I was to be back in action for this year’s festival. That excitement was quickly stifled when I discovered that the Food and Wine Festival had turned into the Wine, Sauces, and Cheese Festival.

     Where had all the food gone?!?!? It had been designated to this new made up wackness area, also know as the VIP pier.  There hadn't been a VIP pier at any of the previous festival I attended.  The entire pier was open for attendees to enjoy and partake in the deliciousness.  Now you had to pay a special price to get the same yumminess that use to be included in the general admission ticket.  Granted, I did notice the general ticket price was much lower this year but, I didn't realize that meant my food tastings would be limited to oils, sauces, cheeses, and Chipotle.  I would have happily paid a higher general admission price to enjoy the same quality of food and amenities offered at previous festivals.  The fact that I had to purchase food from a food truck, though delicious, is simply UNACCEPTABLE !!!!!!!!  No one should ever be hungry at a FOOD & WINE festival, that’s just dumb.  The only thing dumber then that was the 100 feet of no drinking space that you had to pass through in order to reach the other half of the festival.  You literally had to finish your drink before they let you cross to enjoy the rest of the festival and get another drink (SMH). The drive hour drive from Baltimore to the Wine festival simple isn't worth it anymore folks.  Unless they can find a way to provide the same quality experience at a standard ticket price I’m afraid this will be my last year. L

Suggestion to Organizers:  Just call it a wine festival.  That way no one feels ripped off when they discover there’s not any real food to sample.    

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Kool-Aid Wine Dilemma

My friends and I are at a crossroad in our wine selection process.  Possessing a culinary background has helped me develop an appreciation for the many wonders the world of wine has to offer. However, my friends are just beginning this journey. Whenever I ask what kind of wine to bring their reply is always "I don't care as longs as its sweet." Which with them, translates into Riesling, Moscato, or some other dessert wine.  Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against dessert wines, but not for casual consumption.  After a while it's just too sweet and makes my stomach hurt.  It reminds me of when I first started drinking alcohol and the only thing I would drink was MD2020 and wine coolers smh. Lucky the good folks at Chesapeake Wine Company came to my rescue.  Once I explained I was looking for a happy medium to my kool-aid wine dilemma, they introduced me to my new friend Adesso Cagnina Di Romagna. Adesso has a bit of sparkle and moderately sweet fruit notes, which provide the perfect gateway into red wine for newbies that struggle with the dry flavors of traditional red wines.  It can be served at room temperature or chilled and I think it would make a killer Sangria.  So if you ever find yourself caught in a battle between sweet and dry remember Adesso maybe the solution to your problem.       
  Btw: You can normally buy a bottle for under $15. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Spa Week!

Hey Folks! In case you didn't know April 16th-22nd is Spa Week in the DMV. If you're thinking who cares or what is this made up holiday; let me enlighten you my friends.  This week allows spa junkies, like myself, that are ballin on a budget to take advantage of their favorite services for up to 50% off.  It's like Christmas in April for spa feens! Ladies, if you're an advent spa goer I suggest you use this week to try a service that you've been curious about or is typically out of your price point. If you never been to a spa (shocking I know but some folks haven't) then now is the best time to treat yourself and/or your boo to a pampering session.  Fellas, please don't feel left out.  There are plenty of services out there designed with you in mind.  Deep tissue massages are great if you play sports or lead an active lifestyle and regardless of any preconceived notions you may have, pedicures are gender neutral fellas.  Trust me when I tell you we find men with well kept feet just as attractive as you all find women with well kept feet.  I'm just saying, no one wants to cuddle up next to eagle talons *Kanye shrugs*.  So don't let this week pass you by without at least checking out some of the great deals available at hundreds of local spas (, I promise you wont be disappointed.

Here is a list of my favorite services for my spa virgins:
Hot stone massages- Most spas will let you add hot stones to any massage for an additional fee
Body Scrubs- Ladies you will walk outta there "lookin feelin like a million bucks"
Spa Mani & Pedi- Pretty self explanatory
Mineral Soaks- Not sure what they put in the water but you step out the tub feeling so relaxed
Facials- Not always the most soothing treatment but your skin will thank you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mirage Night Club

As you may or not night know, I have a love hate relationship going on with Downtown Baltimore. The combination of tourist, college kids, limited and over priced parking is just a bit too much for me to put up with for a night on the town. After much procrastination,  I finally bit the bullet so I could find out what the hub-bub at Mirage Night Club was all about and the venue does not disappoint.  The space provides a nice break from the typical converted rowhouse club layout you find in Baltimore and looks like its original use may have been a post office or bank.  Graphic wall paper, leather couch seating, and gorgeous glass chandeliers help balance out the high ceiling and provide a nice mix of contemporary elegance.  The ceiling gives the space a big open feel and good acoustics for live music.  The VIP balcony is a slight upgrade from the traditional roped off dance floor tables that establishments like to pass off as VIP.  However, I was a little underwhelmed with the alcohol selection.  The club has no specialty drink list and definitely isn’t a place for my wine connoisseurs but, the bartenders do a superb job of mixing up anything your little heart dream of.  All in all, the venue lives up to the hype and is worth the trip downtown.     

Parking: Sucks!

Cover: Not sure what it is normally but it was $20 the night I went

Drinks: 3 stars

Price:  $$$ The martinis are a little pricey ($12) but they’re worth it.

Good for: Dancing, out of towners, freakem girl dress or fresh to death night on the town, live music

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blue Hill Tavern

One of the highlights of my job is getting a chance to check out the full spectrum of entertainment.  My escapades land me in every kind of venue from grand ballrooms to new age happy hours and neighborhood watering holes.  Finding an upscale venue that offers great food and drinks at ballin on a budget prices is always an extra bonus.  I recently made such a discovery at Blue Hill Tavern (BHT).  It wasn’t my first time there but it was the first time I got to take advantage of their happy hour specials. The happy hour menu at BHT features half price appetizers and cocktails from 4pm-7pm.  You might be thinking, “That sounds pretty standard Lovelace”, trust me when I tell you the selection, décor and service are anything but normal.  If you’ve never been to BHT let me paint a picture before I jump into all the yummy deliciousness that awaits inside.  BHT is located in Canton and is one of the few spots in the area that offers complementary valet parking, which is a lifesaver in Canton.  They decided to take the literal approach with interior décor.  I know it might sound a little wacky, but I assure you you’re not walking into smurf village.  The muted gray wall color helps to balance out the blue accents that run throughout the restaurant and the hard wood floors give the space a rich feel.  The blue accents also bring a spa like atmosphere to the venue. In my humble opinion, the bar is one of the sexist (Yes bars can be sexy) in Baltimore.  Two big screen mirror incased golden framed televisions and a waterfall can make almost anything sexy. The restaurant offesr two levels of indoor dinning, terrace dinning, and an outdoor patio space.  Sooooo, with all this ambiance happy hour prices must be a little lack luster right? WRONG! Appetizers and cocktail average out to about $5-$6 per item during happy hour.  We’re not talking Buffalo wings, French fries and rail drinks here either folks!  This happy hour serves up treats for foodies that have eclectic palates with options such as Calamari Salad, Artisanal Cheese Plate, Seared Tofu, Painkiller Martini (my new personal favorite), and Pear Chai Mule cocktails.  The only thing that seemed a bit lack luster was the crowed.  Definitely one of the quietist happy hours I’ve been to in a while, but even that was a nice change.   BHT gets my vote as a Ballin on a Budget happy hour top contender for friendly service, awesome food and even better drinks.

Good for: Happy hour (obviously), lunch, dinner, private events

Parking: Complementary  valet

Gotta try it: Mac&Cheese, Painkiller Martini, Mussels, Bread Pudding, Pear Chai Mule, Hell try all the drinks you won’t be disappointed! 
Pricing: $$

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boordy's Autumn Winefest

Looks like the weather is going break just in time for Boordy’s Autumn Winefest tomorrow from 1pm-5pm. The vineyard is celebrating its 66th vintage with wine tasting, live music, activities, Halloween prizes and a costume parade.  Fun for the whole family or great for a Sunday evening date.