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.

I See A Lot of Lawwww Breakers

When your out of town guests show up at your door with a dozen of the most amazing doughnuts, a box filled with Pittsburgh themed goodies and a mission to giggle like 12-year-olds during Magic Mike, you just KNOW it’s going to be a good weekend.

The kind of weekend where a random guy gives you free bottles of unopened beer when you’re pulling out of the parking garage simply because he’s an “Army guy in a Navy town” (my mom is definitely freaking out right about now), and you come home late at night to find your husband making homemade meatballs for everyone and cucumbers at each place setting dressed up like the characters in Magic Mike.

*Let the record show the cucumbers were not Joey’s doing, but rather my silly mother’s.*

We’re not even taking into account yet the bottle of champagne during a sunset sailboat cruise on the Chesapeake Bay.

Yes, the laundry is completely piled up after a weekend of indulging with friends. And our guest room bathroom still doesn’t have a proper mirror since in a haste to finish it before company arrived I didn’t measure closely enough. But looking at pictures of happy friends and beautiful surroundings reminds me that those things will get done eventually, and I spent this weekend doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.

We all need to stop and watch the sunset every now and again.

Preferably from a sailboat. With champagne. And three of your most awesome friends.

(PS: Check out Pam101’s blog for more stories from this weekend.)

We Decided to Come Back

After a lot of thought, we decided to come home after our weekend in North Carolina. I could have stayed. Forever maybe. But that’s a conversation for another day.

In all honesty, after a whirlwind weekend and a 7 hour road trip North, it felt really good to be home last night. Still feels good this morning, minus the whole “have to go to work now” thing. I’ll be back soon with more pictures from our weekend that included boat rides, beach trips, barn visits, friendships and lots of Labs.

Happy Monday!

Scenes from a Saturday: Bayside

As the ancient proverb states, “When in doubt, call your mom.” Ok, you caught me, not an ancient proverb, but definitely a phrase that’s worth putting on a bumper sticker. I had to get my car’s emissions inspected this morning and after I passed the test with flying colors, I realized I had no real plans for the rest of the day and no real desire to head home. So I called my mom, and made a hard left in the direction of the Bay.

On the way there, I did something I haven’t been able to do for the past several years. I turned into our old neighborhood and drove past our old house. It was weird. A little emotional. But I’m glad I did it. Hey NYCathy, I know you recognize this…

More from this beautiful Maryland day…

Found the most perfect housewarming gift for a certain someone at this cute consignment shop. You’ll have to wait and see though!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Party Like It’s Your Birthday!

Happy Happy HAPPY Birthday to an amazing friend, and fellow blogger, Pam101!!! Girlfriend’s turning 25 (again) ;), and I highly suggest you hightail it over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday. I mean, lets talk about someone who just grabs life by the horns. I think in the past 6 months alone this girl has moved from DC to Pittsburgh, taken an amazing cross country road trip that should be the envy of everyone, went to Nepal, started a new job that she loves, bought a fabulous new house and in a few weeks she’s off to Paris! I’m tired just thinking about it.

Pam, have an amazing day and may each year just keep getting better and better!!

Act 3, Scene 5: Pittsburgh

If I could describe this weekend in one word, it would be Perfection. My trip with Alex to Pittsburgh to meet Christine’s little man was just a perfect weekend from start to finish — the friendships, the laughs, the FOOD (we ate A LOT, and by A LOT I mean non-stop for three days), and of course the star of the show, baby Connor.

I loved every second of our trip, and as I took a bite of my “gob” on the way home (Thanks Pam101!), I thought about a card my mom gave me when she dropped me off at the dorms my freshman year of college. It read, “Learn all you can, and surround yourself with wonderful people.” A decade later, I look at my life and feel truly lucky to have such an amazing group of girlfriends who are strong, independent, smart and compassionate people who influence me to be the best version of myself.

More to come on Pittsburgh this week. Tonight, I leave you with photos. Prepare to have your heart stolen!

 

For Mary: Guide to the Mayan Riviera

Color me jealous – our fabulous D Spot reader, Mary, is headed to the equally fabulous Mayan Riviera in about a month with her main man. The Mayan Riviera was my first tropical vacation, and the first time Joey and I ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort and let me just say that Mexico is spectacular. But not as spectacular as Mary on 80s night, of course:

Debbie Gibson Eat Your Heart Out

(Sorry Mary, couldn’t resist! I thought people should get a proper introduction :))

Back on track now, there is so much to see and do on the Riviera. The best part about this portion of Mexico is that you can be lying on the beach drinking margaritas one day, and go exploring ancient Mayan ruins the next.  Here are some of my must-see, must-do things.
 
Must see: Tulum, one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans. If the ruins don’t impress you (impossible), their location overlooking the most torquoise waters I’ve ever seen most definitely will. (There’s also Chichen Itza for Mayan ruins, but we didn’t get a chance to go there.)
 
 

Must do: Xcaret, an eco archaeological park. I will tell you that parts of this place feel very touristy, but the snorkeling more than makes up for it! Lots of big tropical fish, and caves you can swim into. We had a blast. There’s a similar place called Xel-ha that we didn’t go to. I remember someone recommended Xcaret to us over Xel-ha, but I’m sure you can’t go wrong at either!

Must-use: All Tour Native excursions. I read about this company before our trip, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. We booked an excursion through our hotel, and in one day we went ‘off-roading’ in the jungle, swam in cenotes and explored dark caves, ate lunch in a Mayan village, and kayaked out into the ocean to snorkel. They have a variety of day excursions and they’ll pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Worth looking into!

One last piece of advice, be specific with your drinks at the resort! The best part about all-inclusive places is that you can eat and drink non-stop around the clock if you so choose. Some of the reviews I read online about our hotel said that “the drinks were watered down/not strong/not good.”  Someone responded saying, “All you have to do is ask for the kind of liquor you want.” I can say with certainty that’s absolutely true. We didn’t stay at a fancy resort, instead we opted for a longer trip at a mid-range place, but every margarita we ordered was a “Jose Ceruvo Margarita” and they were happy to oblige. If you don’t specify, expect the generic stuff.

Ok, I lied, one more thing. Don’t forget the sunscreen!!!!

Workin’ For the Weekend

TGIF everyone! As you know, I’m off to NYC with my favorite guy this weekend. My house is (not at all) ready for our dog-sitters, my bags are (not at all) packed but I’m treating myself to a mani after work anyways. Hey, ya only live once and I’ll clean when I’m dead…or maybe that’s sleep. Eh, whatever.

Fingers crossed for decent weather this weekend. Rain, rain go away.

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!