heart-candle-image1I’m so sad about the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Ct. Every time I see the sweet faces of those children, or hear the heroic tales of the teachers who tried to protect them my heart just aches.

I can’t help but feel we live in a very scary world. And I worry that this is the world my future children will live in, and how if things don’t change they’re only going to get worse.

You may have seen this article making the rounds on Facebook, but I finally stopped to read it this morning and I’m glad I did. It’s a reminder of the beautiful things that are happening all around us too. Click to read:

26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year

This holiday season I hope we all remember to love each other more, cherish the moments with family and friends and realize that, even in it’s hardest moments, life is truly a gift.

That’s What’s Up…

imageI haven’t been picking up my camera enough lately. Instagram, yes. Real camera, not so much. That being said, I was so incredibly flattered to receive the most lovely baby announcement from Sara the other week featuring one of the photos I took of Charlotte at 6 days old. Her little lips just melt me. Note to self: Keep practicing! Take more photos of something, anything, just do it! Note to Sara: I miss you, mama, and need to cuddle Charlotte asap!

Hubby and I had a date night Friday after spending the week apart. Date nights are exponentially more fun when there’s something called a “Beer Paddle” on the menu. We tried a slew of new beers, but the only one I can remember is “Laughing Dog Ale” because it had the head of a yellow lab on the tap. Hey, I buy my wine for the labels and choose my beer based on the tap. Don’t hate.

Speaking of dates, I had an awesome lunch date with my bestie Alex the other day. The fall weather was delivering and we enjoyed sitting outside, talking about life, laughing way too loudly and taste testing the selection of mini-cheesecakes from the cafe. It was a much needed reprieve from an otherwise jam packed week. A reminder amongst the hustle of life that it’s important to step away from the never ending t0-do list and carve out time for the people and things that truly matter.

Did someone say never ending to-do list? I guess the whimsical lunch dates and fun nights out with my husband need to be balanced with something. Does anyone else feel like a freakin’ domestic goddess when they reach to bottom of the dirty laundry basket?! I totally do. It ranks right up there with putting a knife into a brand new jar of peanut butter on the “Life’s Little Pleasures” lists.

And that’s what’s up.

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.

Art Imitating Life

I thought that if I opened this post with an adorable picture of my homegirl Emily, that you’d forgive me for my lack of blogging lately. Did it work?

It’s officially fall, which means it’s that point in the year where everything starts to move even faster than it was already moving until you find yourself ringing in the New Year wondering where the past 365 days went. You know what I mean, right? It’s as if the second the cool weather comes and the leaves start to change it’s Halloween->Thanksgiving->Christmas, bing bang boom — hello 2013.

Work life is so busy right now, which doesn’t help the speed of things, and I find that instead of having time to cultivate my little hobbies (blog, gym, photography) I’m finding the truth in the cliche of “not enough hours in the day.” When my art imitates life, and life is speeding by so fast I can barely grasp it, well then the art is somewhat lacking.

All this is not to say that life isn’t good. It is. In fact, it’s great. In the midst of the craziness I do take time to appreciate all the blessings, even stopping to count them every now and then. Even if it has to happen while I brush my teeth in the shower.

So some things I’m loving on at the moment…

Fall Centerpieces. I filled up my lovely Kate Spade New York crystal bowl (shout out to NYCathy!) with dried beans, stuck a candle in the middle, added some pine cones and viola! Table runner is from Homegoods last year and the mercury glass votives are from Michaels.

Starbucks Seasonal Drinks. I’m a huge fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Salted Caramel Mocha, but I’m also aware of what a calorie trap those drinks can be. So, did you know you can order a “short” at Starbucks??? It’s smaller than a Tall (which for those who don’t speak Starbucks is a small), but you won’t find it on the menu board. I love the short size because I still get a satisfying dose of my favorite coffee concoction without a side of guilt. Plus it makes me rap 50 cent in my head the rest of the morning, “Go shorty, itz ya birthday, we gonna party like itz ya birthday…”

Puppy Dogs. Clearly I’m always loving on my four legged children, but I especially appreciate them when the hubster’s working bizarre shifts or out of town jobs. My furry dudes keep me company, force me to play outside and always listen to how my day was 😉

Hope you’re having a great week! I’m working on not being so MIA.

Scenes from a Weekend: Friendship

This weekend was another Pittsburgh adventure, but this time it was extra special because Hilary is back from Africa! Girlfriend has been gone for 2 years, so we decided a girls reunion was in order and it was high time baby Connor met his world-traveling Auntie!

I swear this little man gets cuter every time I see him! We had a blast loving on him the entire weekend, and catching up with each other on life’s happenings. It had been four years, FOUR YEARS, since the four of us were all together and it was amazing how it seemed like no time had really passed at all.

I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing women in my life, the kind of friends that cheer you on, pick you up, encourage you, listen with their whole heart and truly wish for nothing but happiness in your life.

It doesn’t hurt either that they know me so well they bring me Eataly goodies from a recent NYC trip, and make funny signs for the guest room door because they know cats make me sneeze.

We got to celebrate an early first birthday with Connor and life in general with each other. It was just what the doctor ordered.

“Yay Connor” because Happy Birthday was too long 😉 Alex, you’re a genius!

The new answer to, “What time is it?”

The photo-bomber in the background makes me love this picture even more!

Hope you had a great weekend!

More of the Usual

Somewhere along the line I forgot to introduce you to this little heart breaker. Meet Henry! His mommy is a friend of mine who I met on the second day of my very first job out of college, and she’s pretty much the sweetest person ever (plus she can make a killer meatloaf and sweet potato fries while nursing a baby, so basically she’s a superwoman). She’s also Japanese which explains where this little guy gets his exotic good looks 🙂 Henry and Connor might have to have a baby-off in the category of most squishable cheeks ever.

So now that we’ve got the baby talk out of the way, it’s time for my other most blogged about subject — weddings! As in we went to a wedding this past Saturday of one of Joey’s best friends, and I’ve decided that we’re officially old. We may or may not have broken our no drinking Whole30 rule. Ok, who am I kidding? We definitely broke it. Exhibit A:

This is in fact the only picture I have of the two of us from the wedding, and in a true reversal of roles Joey looks completely normal while I look…well…completely drunk. Awesome.

Back to the fact that we’re getting old. I swear it took me two days to fully recover from a weekend that included a rehearsal dinner on Friday, wedding on Saturday and birthday party for my Mom on Sunday. We’re so out of practice with these marathon type social engagements! Despite the achy bones and breaking out my walker, this weekend was pretty freakin’ awesome given I got to spend time with awesome family and friends. Can’t complain about that.

You know what else I can’t complain about? The dentist! After putting off going to the dentist for more years than I care to admit, I finally got my teeth cleaned a few weeks back and my one sad little cavity filled this evening. All those dental fears were for nothing! The hygienist that cleaned my teeth was so nice and straight-out-of-Jersey funny. She said she’d pronounce my last name like the Italians intended — Tro-EEE-Zeeeee. Love that. Then today when I went to get my cavity filled the dentist said it would hurt less than a flu shot, and he was totally right! I didn’t feel a darn thing, not even the needle to give me novocaine. Had it not been for the post-cavity-filled crooked smile, I would have sworn there was no needle involved.

You know that’s a good look.

So what’s going on with the usual in your life? Any cute babies or party hardy weekends? Do you see the dentist every 6 months? I’m totally starting.

Whole 30: Week 3 In the Bag

Week 3 of our Whole 30 is in the bag (if you’re new, check out week 1 and week 2 recaps), and I’m still going strong. My main feeling after realizing we only have one week left to go is…umm, this is easy! I’m starting to think about what things look like post-whole30, and I can honestly say I think I’ll be making some long term changes to the way we buy our food, what we buy and how we cook. And I’m super excited about all of these things (and yes, that’s in a dorky way just like it sounds).

Full Disclosure: I told you about my breaking the no-alcohol rule for a bachelorette party. Well, Joey broke it too during a recent work trip out of state (cough cough and maybe a few other times too cough cough), and there may or may not have been late night taco bell on said work trip (GASP!!), but I have to give the man credit for sticking to the program even when I know he has been ready to give up and eat a pound of pasta. He’s a guy. He has a (enviously) fast metabolism. And he works out. I think his body seriously craves, and needs, that carb energy to keep him going. He depends on those quick, filling meals and sometimes a can of tuna and a sweet potato just don’t cut it.

I also have a bit of a leg up since I have access to an awesome salad bar/full cafeteria 5 days a week at work, where Joey doesn’t. And instead of ‘cheating’ on the Whole30, he’ll eat a meager lunch of whatever he can throw together quickly. But Joey + small meal + crazy work schedule = Mr. CrankyPants (Love you babe! smooch smooch!).

Moving along.

How am I feeling? My update is much the same as last time. More sustainable energy throughout the day, can forgo my morning coffee without getting a headache, and my body just feels…better. I don’t feel, however, like I have any superhuman, health food induced powers. It’s not like this amazing, SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS, transformation of body and soul. I  just simply feel good about myself and my food choices.

Food Discovery of the Week: Cauliflower rice is AWESOME! I don’t have a food processor, so we put ours through the blender a little at a time to break it down into rice sized pieces (see photo above, not my photo but it’s a dish using cauliflower rice). Joey sauteed it with olive oil, garlic and other spices. Added some of this awesome andouille sausage we got from a local natural market, and a green pepper and zuchinni from our favorite produce stand, and holy cow was this dish awesome. I went back for seconds…and thirds. We were so stuffed we couldn’t even think about yonanas for dessert 😉 Need to make this one again asap.

For Your Instant Queue: Some food for thought documentaries if you’re interested in making some changes to your diet, or understanding more about our food industry and food’s role in our overall health. I highly recommend you watch Food Inc. and Food Matters. I know you have to be careful of what you take as gospel, but starting to question, research, and understand is never a bad thing.

Oh, and if anyone is planning on trying a Whole30 (I know Campbell is!), or switching to a paleo based diet, I’d love to hear updates on how it’s going!

Happy Happy Friday, All!

Simple Things Sunday: Hello, Baby

I got to spend my Sunday afternoon snuggling up with this little cutie pie. Baby Emily had me at hello. And seeing Kacie as a mommy for the first time just made my heart happy. She was made for this role.

As my circle of friends continues to expand to include these new little lives, it somehow has a way of putting everything else into perspective. It’s a reminder of how important and precious life is, and how we should remember every day to be good to one another, live optimistically, laugh more and love more fiercely. Lets get all Ghandi up and here and just remember to Be the Change, people. Be. The. Change.

Welcome to the world, baby Emily. We’re all so happy you’re here.

Whole 30: OOooo We’re Halfway There

I’m having a little Bon Jovi moment as I realize that we’ve hit the halfway mark on our Whole30 journey. I may or may not be doing some Jersey Shore-esque fist pumps from this side of the computer screen.

But let’s focus now because I have a confession. As I mentioned in my last post, I was in Philly for a bachelorette party this past weekend and I did enjoy a few alcoholic beverages :). Yes, that is a Whole30 No-No, but I gave it a ‘whoops, sorry about that’ and moved right along. Haven’t broken any other rules, I promise you that, and I’m not going to let one little indiscretion throw me completely off track.

Wednesday, for example, was a huge test of my willpower. First, I spent my lunch hour in a meeting where there was free lunch, but it was all “sandwichs, cookies, soda” so I rode it out with a bottle of water and grabbed a grilled chicken salad post meeting. Normally I would have had at least 2 cookies, and maybe taken one for a late afternoon snack. And speaking of my sugar monster, later that evening we had consumer marketing research sessions where we’re put in a client lounge with bowls of mini-chocolate bars, cookies, and M&M dispensers at every turn. And to top it off there were gourmet cupcakes to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. It was so tempting to say, “Oh just one cupcake, it’s a special occasion,” but then I channeled my inner badass, reminded myself that I’m stronger than a f**kin’ cupcake (sorry, my inner badass has a potty mouth), and grabbed some cashews and a cup of decaf hazelnut coffee.

I think back to all those sugar temptations and if I wasn’t doing this Whole30 challenge, I realized I probably would have easily consumed somewhere around 1,000-ish additional calories. That’s a ton of sugar- fat- zero-nutritional-benefits calories. Sugar is such a slippery slope for me, where one little cookie turns into 3 cookies and a cupcake, so knowing that it’s all off limits somehow makes it easier.

Here are my other thoughts/discoveries from this past week:

  • Definitely feeling like I have more sustained energy throughout my day. No peaks and valleys, because I’m not experiencing over-carbsumption or sugar related highs and crashes.
  • I skipped morning coffee three days in a row and MUCH to my surprise I had no caffeine withdrawal headaches. Amazing.
  • Eating Kale makes me feel like Popeye. Why did it take me 28 years to discover Kale?
  • I made some awesome blackberry glazed pork chops on Monday, and some bangin’ homemade thai coconut chicken soup on Tuesday. I have more culinary superpowers than I knew I had. (PS: I need to do a post with recipes, but my way of cooking is usually 1/3-recipe + 2/3 improvising, so it might take a little time to put that together)
  • My go-to breakfast has been a sunny side up egg (two egg whites, one egg yolk) over a bed of arugula. Yum.
  • Raw cashews are AH.MAZE.ING.

15 days down, 15 days to go. Thanks for coming along for the ride even if you’re all calling me a hippie soul cleanser behind my back 😉 Yeah, you know who you are!

Whole30: One Week Down, Three to Go


High-five to week one of our Whole30 being complete (if you’re not sure what the Whole30 is, read more here)! And I can happily report that we haven’t touched any grains, dairy, processed sugar or alcohol — so far, so good! Since we’re already generally healthy people, I will say that it wasn’t as hard as some of the things I read claimed it would be. Honestly, the only thing I’ve been craving is Pop Tarts, which is especially weird given I very rarely eat a Pop Tart, so that was just my sugar habit talking. Other than that, I don’t feel deprived at all. I do think Joey is missing his pasta and rice though!

I’ve learned that the key is to be prepared! As in, stock the kitchen with tons of healthy options, hit up the blogosphere for Whole30 approved recipes and know that you will be spending a lot more time cleaning pots and pans. I put up this little chalkboard menu in our kitchen on Monday to help plan our dinners for the week, and it was a huge hit.  It keeps us both on the same page with what the expect and helped us plan for a variety of meals/flavors so things don’t get boring.

It also helps that Joey and I are doing this together. And we’re both so competitive that we would LOVE to see the other person be the first to break the Whole30 and drink a beer, or eat a noodle :). I just realized that sounds like we have no interest in the other person succeeding, which isn’t entirely true. However, we have been known to make the Dentist determine whose cavity is worse than the others in order to win some hygiene-bragging-rights. (Mine was wider, his was deeper, Dentist said that meant it was a tie. I think it means I win.)

So how am I feeling? I would say after 7 days I don’t feel like I can jump tall buildings in a single bound or anything, but I also haven’t gotten any, what I’ve long suspected are dairy related, stomach aches. I do feel a sense of confidence though that we’ll be able to make it through the 30 days. Stay tuned!