My 21st Birthday

Between work, school, and trying to maintain a social life I haven’t had any time to post about my 21st birthday. It’s funny how when you’re genuinely enjoying life you aren’t as worried about social media as usual. I mean, I went out just last night and didn’t post not one snap chat, didn’t check in on Facebook, and literally did not take one photo. Which is cool. I didn’t feel the need to brag about what I was doing. It’s nice to just live in the moment sometimes.

Alright, so back to my birthday. Firstly, I have to say my best friend Kate really went all out with planning it. Everything was perfect and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We decided months before to get a room at the Monaco in Old Town, Alexandria VA. If you’re familiar with the area then you know that the Monaco is right in the heart of Old Town on King Street. The atmosphere of the hotel is very welcoming, despite the fact that I was told it was haunted by a man formerly known as James Jackson. [History Fact] James Jackson was the proprietor of a boarding house during civil war times (Late 1850s early 1860s). This boarding house just so happened to stand on the same exact property as Hotel Monaco, and Mr. Jackson just so happened to be killed in that boarding house. So rumor has it that he roams around the hotel haunting people. Fortunately for us we didn’t have any paranormal encounters.

The birthday festivities commenced on my actual birthday, which was Thursday, April 7th. We went out to a local bar and celebrated with a small group of friends and family. It was great and that night there just so happened to be live music. It was a couple with a girl known as Jessica Jane Flowers who was singing, and her boyfriend known as Juan John playing the guitar, and occasionally singing as well. Their chemistry radiated throughout the room and I was awestruck by how strong their love for one another effortlessly showed. It was amazing and on top of them being amazing in general, they were also extremely talented. The whole bar sang me happy birthday, and Jessica even shared the mic with me once to help her sing “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.

A few pictures from my birthday night.

   I took the day off on Friday because I knew I would need that time to recuperate and also get things done for the big day Saturday. I felt like it was my wedding day. So Friday I spent the day exchanging my license at the DMV, shopping for a last minute outfit, and getting a mani/pedi.

Saturday I arrived at the hotel and to my surprise Kate had the whole room decorated, including the door to our room. It was so cute!

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Before entering the room!
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I thought that chair accented the decorations perfectly. There was a banner that read “Happy 21st Rachel” and cute confetti circles on the beds.
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I like to think that it was my throne for the weekend 😉

The hotel knew we were celebrating my 21st, so they left a complimentary bottle of champagne along with two cupcakes from Lavender Moon that I ended up eating for breakfast the next morning.

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Kate and I!

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Kelly on the left and Carly on the right ❤

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Jessica and myself 🙂
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Jessica by herself 🙂

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Pictures at the hotel before the dinner party!

The absolutely stunning dinner table at Virtue Feed & Grain where all of my closest family and friends gathered to celebrate.

More pictures from Virtue.

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Photos from Magnolia’s on King where we had the cocktail party and also where I had my first legal drink of the night. Probably the best mojito I have ever tasted. They also made me 2 cakes! The atmosphere at Magnolia’s was very intimate and the servers/bartenders were extremely welcoming.

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Kate, Kelly, and I recovered the next morning with brunch and mimosas at the restaurant attached to Hotel Monaco–Jackson 20. Afterwards we took a stroll down King Street, ordered some coffee from Starbucks, and sat by the water for a while. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. I am so blessed. It has already been one month since this weekend and I have been filled with nothing but happiness and love ever since. I keep telling everyone that I wish every weekend was my 21st birthday 🙂

Toki Underground

If you are a lover of food like I am, then you will know that recently all the food hype has been about ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle and broth bowl that consists of anything from pork, chicken, soft-boiled eggs, seaweed, spinach, etc. Basically it’s a bowl of deliciousness.

Since I’ve only ever had the American college-style ramen, I was interested in trying the real thing. But let’s face it, Southern Maryland is full of nothing but chain restaurants so I’d specifically have to travel into the city to get authentic ramen.

My new beau, Anthony, suggested we go to Toki Underground since they have some of the best reviews for ramen in the Washington DC area.

Located in Northeast, Toki Underground seems at first to be a “hole-in-the-wall” joint. When you enter the building you have to walk up a narrow set of stairs where you will meet the hostess, typically there is a wait so she takes your number and texts you when your seats are ready. This is exactly how our experience went. Luckily the street that it is located on has a variety of bars to choose from to pass the time. We ended up at Granville Moore’s for a half hour before we received the text that our seats were ready.

Once you get into the restaurant it is very small with a bar that sits 4 people located in front of the cooks, and seats at a bar that is wrapped around the wall. Our seats were perfect. They were in front of the main window that overlooks H Street so we could people watch while we ate. And of course it made for great photo lighting 😉

When we first sat down our server gave us two glasses and a vase of water. Maybe it was because we were in the city, but the water did not taste very filtered, so naturally I asked for sparkling instead of still. Anthony ordered hot saki, a rice wine that is served hot. I wasn’t a fan.

The atmosphere of the restaurant has an urban, New York City-style feel/aesthetic. With stickers on the wall and skateboards that trail the floor underneath the seats. The music playing was the newest rap, it was loud and unedited, which gave it that New York vibe.

As far as pricing goes, it is about $15 for a bowl of ramen at Toki. I thought that was reasonable considering the area. When it was time to order we decided to get the popular fried chicken with steamed buns as an appetizer. Surprisingly this was priced the same as the ramen, $15. Personally I wasn’t impressed by the steamed buns. They were tasty for sure, but not worth $15.

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Shown above is the curry chicken ramen that I ordered. It was probably all I expected and then some more. It was delicious! The only thing I did not necessarily care for was the chicken that was in it. The chicken was cooked the same way as the chicken that came with our steamed buns and I would have liked to seen it cooked in a different style, maybe shredded. Other than the chicken, everything else in the bowl was amazing.

Overall I would give it an 8/10. If you are ever in the area or if you just want to try good ramen, I would definitely recommend this place!