In West Philadelphia Born & Raised

Lets kick this week off right, with a blog post!

So, did I mention I went to a big marketing conference in Philadelphia a few weeks back? Of course I didn’t, because I suck at blogging lately. The conference was great, I learned a TON, but the networking dinners were where it was AT. Think swanky penthouse overlooking the city (Exhibit A above), and then an event where I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was called “Taste of Philadelphia” at the Reading Terminal Market, a giant indoor market in center city, the entire place was open only to conference goers.

All the food vendors were handing out samples, each thing better than the last, and I think I shed a tear somewhere between my chicken cheesesteak and my DiNic’s famous italian roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone. Don’t even get me started on the pumpkin ice cream or ginger molasses cookie.
After I gained 10 pounds the conference wrapped up, I decided to go on a little “Tour de Family” to visit my grandparents, cousins and aunt who live outside of Philly (shout out to Jackie and Julia for an awesome Friday wine night!). I also did a little creeping past the house I was born in. While I have a hard time deciphering what real memories I have from this house versus what memories I’ve created from old photos and videos, seeing the house made me feel quite nostalgic. I think it’s because now that I’m seeing my friends welcome babies into this world and how special it is to bring those babies home, I realized this is the house my parents brought all three of their babies home to and what a special and sacred thing that is. I had an urge to go knock on the door and just say, “Do you realize the memories that were made in this house?” But then I remembered I’m a solo traveling female in a strange neighborhood I really know nothing about, so I did the smart thing and decided to just keep on driving.

Advertisements

It Starts with Food Part II: Setting the Standards

So now that you’ve had time to digest Part I (pun intended), I’m back with Part II to explain what those foods that make us ‘more healthy’ look like compared to those foods that make us ‘less healthy.’ Here’s how Dallas & Melissa Hartwig lay out their “Good Food Standards” in In Starts with Food.

The food we eat should:

1. Promote a healthy psychological response.

2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.

3. Support a healthy gut.

4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

Are you asking yourself what foods fit those standards? Great question! And here’s the answer: meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit and the right fats. NYCathy sent me a text after Part I asking about olive oil, and yes olive oil falls into the ‘right fats’ category, along with avocado, avocado oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olives and more. Hungry yet?

So what should you be limiting and/or cutting out completely to make yourself more healthy? Sugar, sweeteners, alcohol, seed oils, grains, legumes and dairy. Basically, there’s a reason you can’t eat just one salty, greasy potato chip and there’s a reason I could eat an entire bowl of Starbucks whipped cream covered in caramel drizzle (wonder what the Barista would think of that order), and to further that there’s a reason that indulgences like those don’t leave us feeling satiated, but rather leave us wanting more, more, MORE.  It boils down to the psychological and hormonal responses these foods have on us, which in turn impact so many other things associated with our overall health (ie high cholesterol, diabetes, headaches, allergies!).

Again, this is the high level stuff and if it interests you, and you want to understand more about the science behind it all, I recommend you read the book. Of course if you have a more general question, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to explain!

I’m looking forward to Part III, where I get to tell you about what’s called the “Whole30” and maybe even convince some of you to try it with me starting Aug. 1! Until then…

Women vs. Food

image

Not being ones to accept defeat, this morning’s mission had us back at Chick and Ruth’s in Annapolis to take on the Colossal 6lb Milkshake. The chocolate milkshake didn’t stand a chance against us. The defender pictured above. The challengers:

 image  image image

In order of appearance: Pam “Don’t Mess With Me, I’m From Pittsburgh”101, Spice aka The Reinforcement, and Diana “If a Milkshake Had an Ass I’d Kick It.”

We started out strong, confidant that between the three of us 6 pounds of Milkshake would be a walk in the park (or a couple of hours on the treadmill). Armed with breakfast, our strategy was “Sip, Sip, Pass.”

image

Halfway through and our confidence remained strong, our determination unwavering…

image

Going, Going….

image

GONE…

image

The last frothy bits were scooped straight from the chalice. Victory was ours, and it was…..well…uneventful really. I expected confetti and balloons, or at least a few slow claps from the peanut gallery, but really it was just us girls cracking up and realizing that maybe this isn’t something you really should be proud of.

Nah! We’re totally proud. And the little kids at the surrounding tables definitely want to grow up to be just like us now.

I mean, who wouldn’t. Hope your weekend has been equally as successful 🙂

What Drives You?

image

I was speaking with someone on the phone today and she asked me, “What drives you?”

It was a great question. Definitely not something I think about every day. But maybe I should.

The conversation we were having was centered around my job, and I gave some rambling answer about loving to be challenged, feeling like I’m learning new things all the time, and having respect and admiration for the work of others around me. All very true, and these things definitely drive me. The question stuck with me though as I made my way home after work.

What drives you?

I started thinking about all the things I told her, and figured out that the common theme was that I’m driven to just Be Better — to know more, to understand more, to be more efficient, to keep up. To always find ways to do things better than I did before, and to the best of my ability. I wondered if enough of that drive translates into every day life though — the life outside of work. Am I working to Be Better in other aspects of things I do? How can I Be Better tonight?

The answer to that was to stop by the grocery store, and pick up some ingredients to make a nice dinner. Steak, homemade mashed potatoes (got to use my new potato masher, yay!) and my favorite salad — arugula with goat cheese, blackberries and pine nuts sunflower seeds (couldn’t find pine nuts tonight). It felt good to put effort into dinner, it’s not something I’ve had a lot of energy for lately, even though I very much enjoy being in the kitchen. After dinner, all the pots and pans got cleaned, the dishwasher got loaded, and the counters got a good 409 wipe down. Kitchen’s cleaned, belly’s full and I might even have time for some hot chocolate and mindless television.

With a little extra thought, and a little extra effort, I was better. And I think I’ll revisit this question from time to time — What drives you? — in my work and in my life, to make sure I’m not just settling into familiar patterns but rather always striving to reach the next mile marker.

So, what’s driving you?

Major Brownie Points

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you — that really is a dessert that consists of cookie dough, topped with double-stuffed oreos, topped with brownie batter. I found this sinful recipe on Pinterest (originally from here), and of course couldn’t wait until all my bridesmaid duties were over (aka my butt fit into all the dresses without causing a wardrobe malfunction walking down the aisle) to try my hand at making these. I cheated and used store-bought cookie dough, but man-oh-man do these things deliver. I suggest eating them warm topped with vanilla ice cream 🙂

Speaking of things that are freaking awesome — a post on Kacie’s wedding is coming soon to a blog near you!

When in New York

This weekend is “Joey & Diana’s Big Apple Adventure” aka Joey’s Christmas gift coming to fruition.  We’re off to NYC Saturday morning with little on the agenda except for having a good time. We both like to plan as we go along, Joey more so than me, but I’m learning to enjoy his ‘figure it out as we go along’ style of travel.

Of course, since this will be my first time playing tour guide in New York and Joey’s first time in the city that never sleeps, I’ve had to organize myself a little so we maximize our weekend and don’t waste time doing circles. It’ll be like a Choose Your Own Adventure book – where there’s a framework built but the story is what you make of it.

Here’s my list of possible things to do and see, we’ll revisit next week to see how much we accomplished:

  • Visit Rockefeller Center (Maybe do Top of the Rock, but someone, not saying any names here, is scared of heights…so it’s a big maybe.)
  • Visit Times Square
  • Eat at one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants (Bar Americain is right near our hotel, I may or may not have made a brunch reservation that I may or may not tell Joey about.)
  • Get a slice of authentic NY pizza
  • Check out a Museum
  • Go to FAO Schwarz
  • Walk around Central Park (I may or may not be plotting a way to get Joey to agree to a carriage ride. So super touristy, but something you need to do once in your life.)
  • Eat at Eataly (Hazlenut Gelato here I come.)
  • Try and score cheap tickets to a show
  • See St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Visit Little Italy
  • See the Flatiron Building
  • Get a Gray’s Papaya hot dog

Should I start fasting now? Stay tuned for more!

You Scream, I Scream

Remember way back in April of 2010 when I made my 16 in 6 list – things I wanted to do in the next 6 months. Well, I know it has been more than 6 months, but today I was able to cross out # 14: Get the giant milkshake at Chick and Ruth’s. Better late than never!

It’s called the Colossal Shake from Chick and Ruth’s Delly in downtown Annapolis. And when I say GIANT milkshake, I mean 6 pounds…yes pounds…of ice cream in a trophy sized glass. Exhibit A:

My partner in crime for this important mission was none other than the always-up-for-an-adventure Pam101. Exhibit B:

Notice how we actually had to stand up in order to reach the straws! This baby was huge. We went with a classic vanilla shake, and didn’t really think we’d finish it – our goal was to finish half. I say we finished more than half, 4 pounds would be my estimate. But there comes a point in everyone’s life when they just have to bow down to a giant 6lb milkshake and say, “Ok shake, you win.” Exhibit C:

Well, maybe not in EVERYONE’S life, but you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, since Pam101 is the resident photog, check out her blog for more pictures of our milkshake adventure (and our entire Annapolis Adventure) and learn how we set the trend at Chick and Ruth’s today.

Now please pass me a tums.

Take Me Away

Post Challenge: Describe your dream vacation.

Prepare yourself, because if I’m dreaming, I’m going to dream big – but also within reason so I can imagine that YES maybe ONE DAY this could actually come to fruition.

So in my dreams, I’m able to take a month off from work for this three-part dream vacation. The first leg of the trip would be the adventure portion – an African Safari. Having done little more than a Google search in preparation for this part of my dream vacation, I can’t tell you exactly which country I would go on Safari in, but it doesn’t matter as long as I could see Lions, Tigers and Bear Giraffes, Elephants and maybe a Rhino or two.

I would definitely want to stay in rustic-cabiney-tent type shelter, like this one. See me sitting on the outdoor chaise? I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to an elephant. Pass the bug net!

So after about a week in Africa, I’d hop on the plane for the Greek Isles! This portion of the vacation I call Re…lax…ation. I’d want to stay a few nights in Santorini with a view like this one – soak up the sun, eat delicious food and run up and down the windy cliff-side roads belting out Abba tunes pretending I’m in “Mama Mia!” (Christine, please tell me you did this while in Greece.)

After that I’d charter a yacht (because we’re still dreaming a bit) to cruise through some of the Greek islands. I’d snorkle in hidden coves and relax on deserted sandy beaches. Ahhh…are you falling in love yet? Because I am.

After about a week of heaven-on-earth, I’d be off to Italy for a food and wine tour – Ciao bella! This portion of the trip is all about the culture. And it’s a strategic move to do Italy last because I fully intend to gain at least 10 pounds and I can’t be running around Greece with that extra baggage. How amazing does all this food look? Pizza in Italy is other-worldly.

The cheeses, the meats, the sauce, the herbs, the LOVE. I’m drooling. Literally, pass me a napkin.

In addition to the food and wine, I’d explore the art, history and culture of Florence, Tuscany, Sicily, Naples, Rome and Milan.

You know what, I think I need to add some extra time to this dream vacation. Make it 5 weeks. I’ll need at least 12 days for my tour of Italy.

After 5 weeks I’d return home fat, happy, tanned, and enriched. Now I’m off to play the lottery! O, and who’s watching the dogs???

Your turn! What would your dream vacation be?

Whitney Avert Your Eyes

I warned you Whitney, look away. These beautiful baked eggs are going to gross you out, but make everyone else salivate! (You see, Whitney hates eggs. Even a tiny bit of eggwash on a soft pretzel makes her run for the hills! How we’re friends, I don’t know.)

How amazing do these baked eggs look? I would never have thought to bake eggs in a cupcake tin, but I think it’s pure genious. I found this picture, and idea, on a great food blog called Epicurean Bliss. Check it out for the step-by-step guide to making these perfect little pods of delicousness. I know what I’ll be having for breakfast Sunday morning!

((PS: Whit, if you’ve made it this far, I’m going to need that cupcake tin back haha))

My Goodness My Guinness

This one goes out to NYCathy, who has a super-chic N-Y-C A-P-T, complete with a murphy bed (aka The Murph) and no oven – AH! Which means this gal needs to get creative with her cooking. Cue the crockpot! And what better to crock up during these bitter cold winter months than some good old Guinness Beef Stew (sorry veggo friends!).

I found this recipe somewhere online, but tweaked it a bit to make it more of a “D friendly” recipe (aka, as easy as possible). 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 3 pounds cubed stew meat
  • 1 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, halved
  • 16 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 can low sodium beef broth (15 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 envelope lipton onion soup mix
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces Guinness Stout (Might want to double in case you get thirsty)
  • Whatever other spices strike your fancy

What You Do:

  1. Brown meat
  2. Throw everything in the crock pot
  3. Turn crock pot on low and ignore for 8 hours

Don’t forget to make some biscuits to go with it! Yum yum!!