Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Iron Gate and St. Yves

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This past weekend, in what felt like the first time in forever, my other half and I got out for date night.

As most of you know, I love trying new restaurants/bars/clubs in D.C., as there are so many, it’s practically impossible to repeat!  So, we ventured out to a D.C. favorite, and a new spot that just opened a month ago: Iron Gate and St. Yves.

“We’re Coming Here Often”

Is what I told my other half when we were half way through our meal at Iron Gate.  It’s on par with our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik, Grill Markadurinn, in terms of impeccable service, beautiful atmosphere, and absolutely incredible food.  In the case of Iron Gate, it celebrated my Greek/Sicilian roots with beautifully plated Mediterranean food.

The above are three of the five dishes we ordered, not realizing the meat and potatoes platter could have fed us for the night!  Pro tip: If you get the platter, order one more dish, per person, to try, or save room for dessert (which we didn’t get to).

As for drinks, both the Greek orange wine and rose were amazing!

St. Yves

St. Yves is a tough one to review, because the owners are friends of mine.  We attended a birthday party in the “Cloud Room”, before heading into the main room.  It might have been the sheer amount of people there for the birthday party however, the spaces were hard to move around in, the other clientele there (not part of the party) were a bit undesirable, and the sound system was far too loud for the space.  If you want to get a drink at the main bar, it’s not navigable with the large ramp (complete with railing) that takes up a lot of available foot space.  On a positive note, the decor is beautiful!  Pro tip: It’s great if you can rent the whole space out for just your party.

SO – my recommendation is to definitely try Iron Gate and perhaps, skip St. Yves if you’re looking for a club with elbow space and good music.

Events/Performances, Fun

Dreamscape Festival 2017

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I have never been to a music festival, as typically, larger crowds of people (for more than an evening or afternoon) aren’t my thing.  Friends of mine that have made this a side hobby, say that it makes you appreciate not just what you have in your own life, but those around you as well.  They weren’t wrong.

Naturally, the “stigma” associated with a festival, especially an EDM one, is that it’s drug and alcohol-fueled, which many chalk up to dangerous behaviors, and unsafe environments.  While the first two were present, the last two weren’t seen even once.  Instead, this is what I saw:

  • People dancing everywhere, smiling and laughing
  • These same people celebrating themselves and others, for who they are, not what they looked like
  • These same people bringing their artistic talents to life
  • These same people actually said “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” if they bumped into you (politeness)
  • More security than all rappers combined
  • Enough music in every direction to not feel as though you’re being overcrowded

Sure, there was a lot of people watching, and the majority of the festival-goers were not my brand of style.  However, there wasn’t a moment of feeling unsafe, judged, or otherwise bothered.

As for the Music

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My friends and I were there to support DJ MLEM, which if you are an avid reader of this blog, know who he is.  He played three sets in two days, which allowed us to not only spend time listening to his great mixes, but also allowed us to meet (and hear) some of the most talented EDM artists, such as Chris Lake, Destructo (thanks for letting me dance on the stage – I finally got to check something off my bucket list), Autograf, Keys n’ Krates, Bad Ginger, and many more.

Take a look at some of the videos from their performances below, as well as a slideshow of pics.  At the bottom of the post are some recommendations.

DJ MLEM and Julius Jetson B2B in the VIP Lounge

Chris Lake at City of Dreams, Hosted by Nu Androids

Keys n’ Krates on the Main Stage

Autograf at City of Dreams, Hosted by Nu Androids

Note: For a full set of Dreamscape videos, click here.

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Recommendations:

  • If possible, either book a cabin early or book a room at Days Inn Perryville.  The hotel is a 14-mile drive, but if you have a DD, it’s worth it.  It’s also about $70 a night.
  • The parking passes are $40
  • Get the open bar VIP package, skip the food (Super VIP package).  They never listed cafeteria times, so we always missed the food.  They have a food pavilion instead – you can also bring your own.
  • Take out lots of cash, and do it off site.  By Day 2, one of the ATMs was broken
  • Bring extra toilet paper, or even the travel rolls – you will thank me later
  • If you end up booking a room in Perryville, the Hollywood Casino is one mile away.  The Green Turtle restaurant is 24 hours.  (You could also win some cash like I did!)  Walking distance from that hotel is also Denny’s (breakfast) and a large Exxon Tiger Mart.
  • Bring a battery pack to charge your cell phone – one of the smartest things I did!
  • Definitely attend at least once – while it’s different than most festivals (so I’m told), the music was worth the attendance
Events/Performances, Fun

The Weekend Comes to the Verizon Center

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6lack warming up the crowd

(Note: There is an image slideshow at the end of this post.  All videos can be found on my YouTube channel.)

On Thursday, May 18th, 15,000 people were treated to a dance party by Belly, 6lack, The Weeknd, and some surprise guests, including Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane, to perform “Black Beatles”.

One to make an incredibly strong entrance, the crowd went positively insane when The Weeknd appeared in the middle of the runway stage, to perform “Starboy”.

His set list included all of the crowd’s favorite hits, including “Party Monster”, “Often”, “I Feel It Coming”, “Six Feet Under”, “I Can’t Feel My Face”, “Reminder”, and “Secrets” (amongst others).  Which, whenever he began another song, he had to shush the crowd, due to the deafening roar.

But the special touches are what made the show amazing – he performed along with a live band the whole time, which when you look at the overall stage shape, made you realize he was walking along a futuristic guitar.  The floating stage morphed into so many different origami-ish shapes, including a spaceship, a plane, and an X (amongst others).

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Overall, I kind of wished I had bought floor seats, as opposed to my 200-Level ones, as it would absolutely have been worth the ticket price.  If you’re on the fence about spending the money, do it!  If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would!  (Click here to access his tour dates.)

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Fun, Other Things I Like, Style

OMG – I Bought a Home!

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March 16, 2017 – greatest/scariest day of my life

Okay, so this post is a couple of months late, but that’s because there was no way I could share any pictures until my home had all the furniture I ordered, actually in it. 🙂 Plus, there’s a lot I learned about the “joys” of homeownership, that I’d be remiss not to share.

45 Days of Impatience

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As you saw in previous posts, on my home buying experience, if there’s two things I don’t have much of, it’s patience… and eyeballing measurements.  When I put an offer on my home, and it was accepted, it took 45 days for closing, which is a short amount of time, compared to the standard (60 days).  This meant I was moving out of my apartment a full two months early, which meant breaking my lease (guess who won, financially, from that situation – hint: wasn’t me).  It also meant having two weeks to pack up as much as I could, trying to sell almost all of the furniture that wouldn’t fit (note: I sold more than I needed – who doesn’t like new stuff anyway), and buying all of the paint I needed to begin painting, the minute I had my keys in-hand.  Being a planner, it was the most painful experience, having to wait close enough to closing, to make absolute sure all of the financing went through.  If you don’t have thick skin (mine is still in development), you’ll end up with a few breakdowns, panic attacks, and bouts of “I want to buy that couch before it’s gone, oh my god, it’s gone”) impatience.

To add to this, the last time I got to see the place was one week after I put the offer in, which meant the proper thing to do would be to take great measurements and pictures.  In my excitement, my handwriting was chicken scratch (with the notes I took anyway), and no photos were taken because at the time, I though “I can totally eyeball this”.  Thank God for the MLS listing, and being able to save the seller’s photos!

Moving Week

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If there was any time to have a reality show, it would have been “moving week”.  First, I never should have said the words, “Watch it, it hasn’t snowed all winter, and it’s gonna snow the week of my move.”  Guess what happened?  Second, I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to paint extremely old walls.  My house was built in the 40s and while cozy and charming, the layers of paint, spackle, divots, holes, and bumps, were no match for my paint rollers and brushes.  (The upside, going up and down ladders for days, made for a tighter glutes.) And while I was cursing up a storm, getting paint everywhere, my saint of a boyfriend underestimated the time/strength it would take to move my stuff in simultaneously (which he thought he could do alone).  After some reinforcement was called, and everything was in one place, we survived the following:

  • Snow, ice, mud
  • One back injury
  • One old knee injury flare up
  • A few hundred man hours of moving help
  • 16 hours of painting
  • 8 coats of paint
  • A lot of junk food consumption because the kitchen wasn’t unpacked
  • One sad pup who was passed off to family for a week, coming “home” to a different place than where he started

That Moment When you Realize You’re Responsible…. for Everything…

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I knew that when I bought the place, I’d be responsible for anything that broke, needed maintenance, renovating, etc.  However, like anyone that brings home a baby, a puppy, or anything else delicate for the first time, everything freaks you out at first, and I mean EVERYTHING.

When is a Leak a Catastrophe?!

Week two and I find a tiny drip coming from the hot water heater, and you would have thought I thought it broke.  “What if that slow drip turns into a bigger leak?  And, what if that leak turns into a puddle, which turns into a flooded basement?”  Were the questions I asked to my mom, before getting the name of her plumber, and calling my dad. My dad (who is the BEST Mr. Fixit), took one look and said, “You just need to tighten it.  Go buy the wrench and some Teflon tape, just in case.”  After I got over the shock that I didn’t even think of that, I took my ninth trip to Home Depot in two weeks (side question: When do they start customizing carts for repeat customers?), bought what I needed, and fixed it.  I was proud of myself for being responsible (and now having enough tools to be the community’s handy-woman).

I Hate Bugs, No Seriously…

One and a half months in, and it’s spring, which means unwelcome “visitors”.  Anyone ever seen a Centipede?  Anyone see one RUN on 100 legs, about 5 feet from your bedroom?  Yep… mama Centipede was squashed (by my own personal hero, my boyfriend, because I ran to my room and shut the door, screaming) but it turns out… she had kids, which when I found one in our bedroom, it went something like this:

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Thank God my sister is my Realtor, and she could hand me the name and number of the Pest Control Inspector (Pest Now) we used for inspection.  They have become my own personal heroes.  For $89 a quarter, Pest Now is coming out and spraying because God knows I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with a scene, straight out of Arachnophobia.

Realizing If You Break a Window, You Have to Pay For It… So Move Furniture In Gently

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Not an exact depiction… but it did take four people to get it in…

If I was renting this place, I’d never give a second thought to popping out a window, in order to move furniture, in.  I’d chalk it up to being part of the deal with moving into an old house with tight corners, and if it broke, no big deal.  BUT, since this is MY place, I’ve twice had to enlist the help of three people to carefully remove the windows, so two couches could come in through it… which begs the question of why I never thought to do it, while moving…

P.S.  I’m pretty sure two sets of furniture delivery men hate me now.

The Fun Part…

Regardless of all the money you “bleed”, the sweat, tears, swear words, ripped/stained clothing, and physical pain you go through, to start turning a house into a home, it’s so completely worth it!  I’ve already got renovation projects and small touches, on schedule for the next two years (take note of boyfriend’s total patience and encouragement, here).

In the meantime, while still a “work in progress”, I’ve managed to make our house a home.  Below are before-and-afters of the rooms I’m sharing for now.  Stay tuned for the myriad of decorating ideas, renovation projects, and any mental breakdowns that will come with this 🙂

Guest Bedroom to Chic Office

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Design Notes: Still searching for just the right artwork to complete this room.  The paint is by Behr in Island Aqua, lamps from Safavieh, rug from Houzz, desk from Overstock, bookshelf from Overstock.

Drab Bedroom to Cozy Bedroom

 

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Design Notes: Pain by Behr in Espresso Martini, nightstands form Pottery Barn, lamps from Home Goods, bedding from Pottery Barn, fur throw from Z Gallerie, area rug from Home Depot, artwork from Home Goods.

Comfortable Living Room to Cozy Chic 

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Design Notes: Floor lamp on order, followed by two side tables, a mirror, and centerpiece display.  Pain by Behr in Perfect Taupe, Dryden couches custom made by Crate and Barrel, coffee table, drapes and rug from Z Gallerie; painting by Maggie O’Neill, media console by Z Gallerie, travel books made by me on Shutterfly.

Multifunctional Dining Room to Dedicated Space

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Design Notes: We are refinishing this dining room wall with stone next year!  Table by World Market, dining chairs by Pier One, artwork by me, candles/candlesticks by Pottery Barn.

Outdoor Functional to Chic Outdoor Space

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Design Note: Next year there will be flower pots!   Outdoor set by Houzz.

 

 

 

Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Other Things I Like

Celebrating Love, Friends, and New Adventures!

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On top of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I had a couple of messages this morning, asking me if I stopped meditating, since I’ve not posted in close to five days.  I’ve definitely had my morning practice however, I did not finish the 21-day Meditation Challenge.  So much of what I shared, over the last 2 1/2 weeks, was already shared.  I felt as though a bit of it was too repetitive and thus, I’m not comfortable writing a blog post if I can’t give unique, applicable content. So instead, I’m going to show you proof of what “hope” looks like…

This past weekend (includes Thursday) was filled with celebrations of love, new milestones, and great friendships.  It’s one of those rare weekends that I was constantly on the go, but so happy to share in the joy in so many other people’s lives.  Below is a peek into my weekend, and what I am most grateful for because of it:

Thursday: A New Year, and New Connections

My “weekend” kicked off with the birthday of my BFF, and a date auction.  (Yes, I’m taken but I also happened to throw a male friend up there, and wanted to be there for moral support.)

I am so grateful for my girlfriend (pictured below).  While I have so many amazing women in my life, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We often joke we’ll be living together at age 80, watching Star Wars movie marathons, while knitting.  Thus, a year hasn’t gone by where I’ve not celebrated a birthday with her.  In fact, it’s also the anniversary of when we met!

For her celebration, a bunch of us girls took her to Cafe Milano for dinner (complete with a firework slice of cake).  (If you have never been there, I HIGHLY suggest it!  It’s home of the power dinner, where the “who’s who” goes to dine.  It’s also home to some of the best gluten-free pasta and rosé in D.C.)

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While her own personal celebration had concluded, we weren’t done with the evening.  We all headed over to Capitale for our friend Sher Mathew’s date auction.  She is in the running to be LLS Woman of the Year, and she’s knocking it out of the park with about three events A WEEK!  It was there it felt like one, big friend reunion, complete with stage takeover to sing my friend Happy Birthday!

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Photos, courtesy of Vithaya Phongsavan

Friday: Celebrating My Most Favorite Person in the World

My other half is seriously THE BEST.  Between the move into our new home, my compulsive behaviors to get everything unpacked, put away, and decorated; AND putting up with my work schedule, he’s a complete rockstar.  Thus, I wanted to surprise him with a dinner outside (check out Cactus Cantina if you want some great Mexican food and drinks, on an outdoor patio with a view of the National Cathedral) and a quick stop at a private Tiffany’s event in Chevy Chase, to buy him something he’s always wanted” a Dog Tag.

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Saturday: Celebrating New Beginnings

Last year, my mom, sister, and myself held an annual Bags, Baubles, and Bubbles fundraiser at Westwood Country Club, to raise money for the Stroke Comeback Center.  I wrote about the Center last year when we were getting ready to hold the first annual event.  It’s a wonderful place for Stroke and Trauma victims to rehabilitate, and certainly, there have been some amazing comeback stories because of it!

This year was bigger and better, with a private fashion show, hosted by Bloomingdales; hundreds of auction items, a beautiful luncheon, and even more attendees!  I was so grateful to be a part of it again!

When it was over, I was down for a quick nap and then onto the last event of the evening: Saying goodbye to one of my close friends and her husband (plus pending baby), as they are moving to San Antonio!

It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening, atop the Watergate Hotel (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check this out), with the sun setting (everyone was grateful for being able to witness the most perfect sunset from the best view in DC), being surrounded by good, close friends.

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Sunday: Celebrating Love

To cap off the weekend, we were grateful to be able to celebrate two amazing people who are the absolute epitome of true love.  It was so special to be amongst our close friends, and both the bride and groom-to-be’s respective families, in one of the most beautiful historic homes in D.C.

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It’s weekends like these that make me thankful for the friends, family, support, and love I have in my life!  Stay tuned for Mother’s Day weekend, when I take you all down to Williamsburg, VA with me!

 

Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

TJR and Knife Party at Echostage

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The masses getting sucked into TJR’s EDM vortex.

My exact Facebook comment to my friend’s check-in at Echostage, “TJR!  Holy mother of…” I later found out TJR saw that and it put me over the moon.

Last night was one of the best EDM shows I’ve ever been to, and I’m still smiling from it.  Never has Echostage put a better opening act, that could absolutely SMASH any hopes of Knife Party being able to top it.

Quite often, I comment to people about how I’m so over DJs mixing other people’s music. HOWEVER, there was something so infectious about TJR’s mixes, combined with his use of graphics, his energy, the lights/lasers/smoke, and the crowd’s response, that all of us were on a euphoric high for close to two hours (and we wished he could have kept going).  There wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t dancing, cheering, jumping up and down, and grinning from ear-to-ear.

Then came Knife Party…

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Last year, I heard their laser show was ridiculous, couple that with great hit after hit that they turn out, and I had to see this for myself.  It wasn’t a bad show but it didn’t wow me either (see TJR for more on why I think I might have had way lofty expectations).

The first issue was the time it took to recalibrate the soundboard and set up.  I’ve never seen a pause in between performances like that at a club.  It was definitely too much down time.  The second came down to it being a completely different style of music, so it was hard to shift into that mode of hardcore EDM.  As for their light show, they mostly did away with lasers, in favor of strobe lights, which if you’re sensitive to that, don’t go.  Even for me it was a lot.

They did, however, play some of my favorite hits, which you can watch below.

All-in-all, if these two acts come to your hometown, definitely grab tickets.  It’s completely worth it!  The rest of the videos can be found here.

And oh yeah, shout out to TJR for favoriting my tweet 😉

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Washington Nationals Opening Day 2017

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Every year I’ve lived in D.C., and so long as D.C. has had the Washington Nationals in our backyard, I’ve wanted to go to Opening Day.  There’s something so special about taking the day off work with a few thousand other people, meeting up with friends, having a few drinks (and plenty of ball park food), and watching one of America’s oldest sports.

This past Monday, April 3rd, my other half and I were lucky enough to snag two suite tickets to watch the game (in style).  We were even luckier to wander the stadium and run into friends, making it one of the most memorable games (and Mondays) I’ve been to (had).

If you have never been to a game here, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best baseball stadiums in the country!  Not only is the park itself so beautiful, but the surrounding areas of Navy Yard/Waterfront – are being built up to include some really great bars and restaurants.  Walking distance from the stadium, you can visit The Bull Pen, Scarlet Oak, Cantina Marina (my favorite, and where we ended up after the game), as well as many others.

If you don’t have time to explore the neighborhood, note that there are so many food and drink options to choose from, within the ball park, that you truly don’t have to leave.  Note that for those who are gluten-free they have two gluten-free stands in the park, including one by Centerfield!

Happy baseball season!

Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

Partying With the Masses at Anjunabeats @ Echostage

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I will be the first to admit, I hate being in a crowded place with no viable way to escape.  It’s why I’ve always had a fear of festivals, and other venues, that require acceptance of no personal space.  It’s also the number one reason why I always opted for a table at  large venues.

But, this past weekend, as a last minute “sure, why not?” my other half and I went with some friends to Anjunabeats, General Admission at Echostage, and HAD. A. BLAST!!! There was something so infectious about being in a crowd, filled with happy (albeit, probably medicinally) people that were all there to have a good time and dance.  I also considered it a “warm up” to Dreamscape Festival in June 🙂

Check out some of my videos below:

While it was totally fun, and certainly a different experience, I’m looking forward to my table, overlooking Knife Party, this weekend!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Compass Rose

Okay, while this wasn’t a date with my other half, it WAS a date with my girlfriend for her birthday!

Compass Rose has long been on my list of places to try in D.C. and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint!  It’s a place I definitely want to go to again and again – especially if I’ve got a hankering to travel to another country 🙂

Compass Rose’s menu is amazing – allowing you to sample small plates from all over the world, while being in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of any Western or Southern Asian countries.  Bonus points for them bottling and serving their own FABULOUS rosé!

My suggestions on what to order, especially if you have a soy and/or gluten allergy like we do:

  1. Pasteles (El Salvador) – ask for a side of rice, as opposed to the sides listed on the menu
  2. Broccoli Rabe (Italy)
  3. Bhel Puri Chaat (India)
  4. Asado (Argentina)

For dessert, we ordered an orange creme brûlée from Catalan.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 10. I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

Fun, Healthy & Beautiful, Recipe Box

Recipe Box: Grilled Peaches

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This recipe makes for a great, healthy dessert, or even as a snack!

Serves: 6

Ingredients: 

  • 1 spray cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 3 large peaches, pitted and halved

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill. Off heat, coat grill rack with cooking spray.  If you do not have a grill, preset the broiler on low.
  2. Mash cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl with a fork; stir in honey until smooth.
  3. When grill/broiler is hot, grill peaches cut-side down until marked, about 1 minute.  If you are using the broiler, broil until the peaches are soft.
  4. Place peaches cut-side up on a platter; top each with 1 tablespoon sweetened cheese mixture. Yields 1 peach half per serving.

Notes:

  • If you prefer soft peaches, microwave for 1 1/2 minutes
  • Sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon once the halves are filled