clothes-minded: duo.

Duo shopping bagIt’s human nature to want what’s commonly called “the best of both worlds” — that rare occurrence when two seemingly opposing phenomena merge in a most happy way, like dining at a French restaurant (in actual France) and getting a free refill. Or weight-loss beer. Or Nerf guns and pillow fights — you can shoot and hit people as much as you want, and all they’ll do is giggle.

There is a place in Harrisonburg where such magic happens. It’s not a place where you can “kill two birds with one stone.” No — that’s not happy, nor does it result in giggling. “Having your cake and eating it, too” is also not an appropriate description, because it suggests a level of deprivation: cake is meant to be eaten, not kept. (Yes, all you people with wedding cake in your freezer — you’re weird! And now I’m thinking of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine pilfers tiny slivers of her boss’s antique cake from King Edward VIII’s wedding in 1937…) No, this place is truly the best of both worlds. It’s called Duo, and it’s a very happy place.

Duo rack collageIt’s so simple, really: a clothing store that sells new AND carefully selected, gently used clothing. So every time you go, you can get something stylish AND well made AND inexpensive! Which saves you money, so you can splurge on a new item. I purchased two items for a whopping $13, and then found something else for $6. If there’d been cake in that store, it would have been the best of three worlds and more happiness than I could’ve handled.

Duo access Duo arrivals Duo earringsDuo jeans cubbyThey also sell jewelry, accessories, hand bags, even shoes. We tried on a whole bunch of items…Duo try onDuo K collageAnd I reeeeaaallly want to go back for that dress on the left. Aaaand the one on the right. Ha.

Right at the register, in a matter of seconds, you can join their Customer Loyalty Program and receive updates, incentives, and coupons for your next visit! Even more cake!

Duo is located at 108 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, and in their original location on Elliewood Avenue in Charlottesville.

Duo front

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

your presents requested: beyond restaurant and lounge.

This is one of those posts where the photos tell more of the story than the words. Because in a crowd of people, one can only observe so much. The camera, though–well, nothing escapes it. Here’s a little foreshadowing, heh heh:

The plan was conceived weeks earlier. Danielle and I were completely idea-less for birthday gifts for Brandy. She’s not really a materialistic person–she lives simply, she doesn’t have a lot of stuff… Last year I got her a gift certificate to The Studio Salon and Day Spa, which she liked, but I didn’t want to repeat that. And really, she appreciates people and experiences more than objects or possessions. I figured a group of us would go out to eat somewhere, probably get some sushi… And that’s when I thought of it–a gift that contains people + food + experience.

So I emailed Praserth at Beyond Restaurant and Lounge, and–what the heck, it was worth a shot–asked if he or one of their sushi chefs would come to my house and teach Brandy to make her favorite sushi. And to my delight and squealing excitement, he agreed! WOW!!

Danielle and I went about inviting some folks (I really only had room for about ten people for this kind of thing), all of whom very enthusiastically accepted AND showed up, and we picked up a few appetizers and such around town. All Brandy knew was that her birthday present was “happening” at my house at 5ish. A few days earlier she had somehow tricked me into playing twenty questions, and before I figured out what she was doing, I had answered like ten questions… but thankfully she still didn’t figure it out and I managed not to flake and spill the beans.

That day, Anneke and Danielle came over early to help set up. :)

Then Praserth rolled in and took over my kitchen like he makes sushi in strangers’ houses every day.

All the guests arrived including the birthday girl, and the party started. First Praserth told us what rolls we’d be making: the Dukes, New Orleans, Japanese Breakfast, California, and White Knight. Then he gave us some pointers.
1. It’s easier to roll sushi with gloves on.
2. Lube up your glove with oil so it doesn’t stick to the sticky rice.
3. Pressure is important. Apply too little pressure and the roll will fall apart; squeeze too tight and stuff will come out the end (oh lawdy).
4. When you cut the roll, dip your knife in water first. Cut til it gets stuck ( ! ), and then dip your knife again.

Wait, now I know what everyone was giggling about! Geez! Poor Praserth–in front of an audience of women+Todd Yoder.

Anyhoo, after the demo, we all got a turn, and then we got to eat what we’d made! It was sooooo much fun! :)

Around seven, Praserth was done with the lesson; we thanked him and bade him farewell. We sang “happy birthday” and ate yummy cake.

We sat around and giggled. Brandy opened her presents. Then someone broke out my copy of Cake Wrecks (if you haven’t seen this book and/or website, stop reading this and do it now) and we laughed our butts off at that for a while. Rachel Herr especially liked it because, well, she’s a baker, you know.

…if that IS your “real name”

I also have Awkward Family Photos, which is so awkward at times it’s almost hard to laugh at it. Well, not really. We laughed pretty hard. And then we started googling “awkward” everything and anything and found all sorts of things. I highly recommend “awkward graduation photos” and “awkward pet photos.”

Ultimately, those who remained ventured downstairs to the basement where we had a pillow fight. Ha! Just kidding. But I did end up wearing my pet rabbit in a sling.

what??

I guess the moral of the story is that you don’t have to go anywhere fancy or exotic to provide a memorable experience for someone’s birthday. You can stay right here in Harrisonburg and see what services our local businesses are willing to provide, even if it’s something they don’t usually do. Thanks again to Beyond for going above and… beyond. What a treat!!

Photo credits: Brandy Somers, Danielle Campbell, Rachel Herr, Todd Yoder. Stay tuned for more photos!!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

beers, burgers, and broads no. 17: capital ale house.

Not everyone knows this, but I struggle sometimes when making decisions. This is why I hate to shop–I love everything and it’s hard for me to choose. I’ve gone to shoe stores and tried on twenty pairs, only to walk out empty-footed. I’ve had eight paint samples taped to my living room wall for two years. Recently I had to buy a TV to replace my old, broken Sony, and the only thing that saved me from complete paralysis was that the store was closing in twenty minutes and I had to decide.

So when presented with the beer menu at Capital Ale House, I felt a smidge overwhelmed. You can see it here–it’s a freakin’ PDF, for Pete’s sake. Thankfully, it’s organized by type of beer, so as not to make my party wait thirty minutes while I read every word, I went straight to the IPA department and chose Devil’s Backbone. Very nice. Brandy ordered an Allagash and we were on our way. Crisis averted.

The charming and hospitable Griffin Johnson delivered our brews and told us a bit about the place. We had a minor debate about whether we could truly call it a “local” business–that is the focus of this blog, after all–but, as the restaurant originated in Richmond ten years ago, and as we liked it an awful lot, and as we’d already ordered beer and taken photos, we decided it was local enough. Turns out there are three other locations: Innsbrook, Midlothian, and Fredericksburg, all opened after the original downtown Richmond store. At our Capital Ale House, you can also make use of their banquet space, darts and billiards, and rooftop deck.

While we waited for our food, Brandy asked Griffin if she could get some exclusive shots of the heart of the establishment: the coveted Keg Room. Griffin replied, “Oh, yeah. I’ll take you back there.” Rowl. No, not because Brandy was alone with the charming and hospitable Griffin, but because she got to be alone with ALL THOSE KEGS.

The food arrived and it was delicious. Brandy had the Smokehouse Chicken Burger, which draped abundantly over its bun, and I had the Baja Burger, which I affectionately renamed “Guac-a-Mobile.”

I love guacamole and any vehicle that delivers it to my mouth. It was so good, I laughed: “BAJAJAJAJAJAJAJA!” Oh, dear. Actually, it was so good that we got window-stalked by a couple of passersby. What are YOU lookin’ at??

Just kidding. We know them.

And just when we thought we were wrapping up our evening at Capital Ale House, the lovely Sarah Murphy appeared and joined us.

So we ordered another round and, after much lively conversation, found ourselves hungry again and shared this giant piece of chocolate cake.

And by the end of the outing, I was feeling quite smitten, with my friends and the conversation we shared, with the warm radiance of the bar and my full belly, with the sin of chocolate cake, with my sweet city, and with that glorious keg room.

Thank you, Capital Ale House. We’ll see you again soon. That’s an easy decision to make.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.