Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July Recommendations

Skimmers, recommendations are in bold. Anything underlined is a link you can click on.

Aside from me, this month you get recs from my BFF Kim (Boston) and Kelli at Just Beachy blog. Kelli is one of my favorite reads. Links to her social media accounts are under her recommendations. I hope you check her out and follow her all the ways or one of the ways. Go forth and enjoy!

1. Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Shampoo/Conditioner: If you have wavy hair this shampoo and conditioner is for you. I can put my hair up in a bun at any time after using this and when I take it down loose beautiful waves happen with no effort on my part. Who doesn't want no effort hair?

2. Kong Stuffable Dog Toys - The perfect way to distract a chewing puppy, the old dog doesn't hate it either. Keeps both dogs entertained for hours and the Kong website has yummy recipes your dog will love.

3. Coppertone Oil Free Faces - Perfect for sensitive and combination skin types, doesn't clog my pores or cause the breakouts I've had with other sunscreens. It's lightweight and perfect for everyday use.

4. Sargento Tastings - If you love cheese but don't want to buy (and by that I mean eat) the entire block/wedge/wheel, these snack sized servings of some cheese favorites are a sure bet. 

I've been living in the Boston area for over ten years now and one of my favorite summer time trip planning tools is the show Chronicle.  They do different episodes that showcase places around New England to visit that are "A Tank Away" or explore "Main Streets and Back Roads." 

In New England, the choices abound to covered bridges, beaches, mountains, and the coast.  Each year, I try to add a new spot to my list and this year it'll be Lake George, NY.  Other favorites are Nantucket, MA, Newport, RI, Portsmouth, NH, and Portland, ME.  I keep meaning to get to Block Island, RI as well. Without a doubt, my favorite "Tank Away" go-to summer getaway is Martha's Vineyard, MA.

Disclaimer:  I'm that friend that doesn't really take pictures and if I do, you will never see them because I will never send them to you.  Naturally, this drives Steph crazy!  I've attached a few, but if you really want to see MV in all of its glory, you need to come to MA!

1. The Island Queen - It's a quick 35 minute ferry ride from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs and it's the only way to go.

2. The Painted Ladies -  Small Victorian Gingerbread Houses.  They are fun, festive, and historic and make my wonder why we all can't paint our houses a variety of colors.
3. Offshore Ale Co-  I love beer!  This place has a lot of it brewed locally.  My husband and I always stop her for a quick beer and mayhem ensues.  You can also eat whole peanuts to your heart's content and throw the shells on the ground.  I'd never do that because it's a big mess, but I like that I can.  Obviously, if you have a peanut allergy, this isn't the place for you.

4. Cliffs of Aquinnah - AKA Gay Head - Completely gorgeous red clay cliffs.  You can climb Gay Head Light for a bird's eye view.  It's worth the trip and you can spend the day on the beach with the cliffs towering behind you. Disclaimer:  There's a nude beach that you pass on the way to get your beautiful, tranquil cliff shots.  This makes me feel good because it reinforces that anyone can go to the nude beach.

5. Chappaquiddick Island - Besides the Ted Kennedy incident of 1969, it's a little island with great beaches that can be reached in short time with an enjoyable bike ride. Trust your instincts when you see huge black clouds looming.  I didn't and ended up crouching in terror against a random fire station door during a thunder and lightning storm.
6. Lighthouses - It's an island, so there are lighthouses everywhere, five in total.  I'm a big fan: lighthouses possess a quiet solitude, are a constant beacon, and bring people home safely. These are a few of my favorite things. I also got engaged at the Edgartown Lighthouse, so it clearly holds a special place.
1) Steve plying himself with some liquid courage before the proposal 2) Edgartown Lighthouse
What's your favorite "Tank Away" get away?

1. Books: Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a beautiful story full of sads and coming of age truths and I didn't want it to end. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams - I thought this was a delicious summer read, much like her other book was for me last year (A Hundred Summers).

2. Gain car deodorizer. Lord, lay me down in a field of Gain scented anything. Michelle got these for me about a year ago, and Target finally started carrying them. Hallelujah and Amen. 
3. Nordic bakewear. See this pan? It was just used. It's not new, and there are no marks anywhere. I detest cleaning baking sheets. Nordic bakewear comes clean like a dream with no elbow grease required. I always find mine at Marshalls or HomeGoods, but they're available on Amazon too. 

Thanks to Kelli & Kim for sharing your musts of the month! 

What about you? What do you recommend this month?

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Not Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions but you should.

 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Linking up with Liz for Fitness Blondie's Blog Hop:
The Hump Day Blog Hop

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

10 Items of Note for my Teenage Self

I’m not a person who would like to go back and erase every bad choice or mistake I’ve made. I believe that our reaction to mistakes and fuck ups shape who we are and that every choice we make, good or bad, leads us to where and who we are right now. And I'd never change that.

I also know that sometimes you have to touch the fire to know it burns. Even if Current Me told Teenage Me these things, Teenage Me would give Current Me the finger and keep on doing what she was doing. That being said, if I was going to tell my teenage self some things, these would be those things.
  1. Keep that Polaroid camera you got when you were 11. You’ll really want it when you’re 36 and it will cost eleventy billion dollars which you will have a hard time justifying.
  2. Remember: people who talk shit are simply shit talkers.
  3. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. Talk to them about what it was like when they were young. Soak up the time you have with them.
  4. Savor every second of not working, having bills, or being responsible for anything.
  5. All things end: good and bad. Appreciate what you have when you have it and hang in there when you don’t. 
  6. Whatever qualifies as a huge deal now will not even be on your radar in 10 years. It’s not worth the angst or the stress.
  7. Record every single episode of Beverly Hills 90210. Never get rid of your VCR.
  8. In regards to college: don’t eat and drink whatever you want, study abroad
  9. In regards to college: Go to a state college. You’ll save a ton of money. Better yet, go to a community college for a year or two, then a state college.
  10. These are not the best years of your life as some people will tell you – but if you make it a goal to have the best time of your life every year, then you’ll always technically be in the best time of your life.
Advice. I have some.
Teenagers say "no thanks" though
Bastards would take cash.
Speaking of teenage selves, happy happy birthday to one of my favorite friends since we were teenagers friends - Frank!

What would you tell your teenage self?

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Linking up with Jana, and you should too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Cult of Positivity

I can't take Debbie Downers. They suck the air right out of the room, are never happy or satisfied, and they piss me off. But the people who smile so hard they look like their face might crack pain me too. Acting like nothing is ever good and acting like nothing is ever bad are two extremes that don't ring true to me or fit into my worldview.
Today's society is very into applauding the overly positive people. Is it possible to be too positive, to get to the point where you totally disregard anything negative? Are people shoving themselves into that positivity mold at great cost to their emotional well being? I've seen positivity bullies out there too - no one can say a freaking thing that's not shining like a diamond without being called out for being negative. Seriously? Are we so caught up in appearing positive that we're missing learning how to thrive and exist despite the negative? How do you grow if you don't contend with anything hard? The tough one wants them, but they do build character. The dark times put you in a better position to appreciate the light.
For me, the trick is not to never get upset or pissed off, it's to make negativity work for me. To channel negativity and make it my bitch. I don't know about you, but anger fuels me to improve, to hang in. It tests my mettle. Sadness and grief teach me about overcoming obstacles and learning to live with things that will not change. Disappointment shows me how well I deal with failure. Good results can come from bad situations and negative emotions. Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well. You can't ignore problems or become estranged from reality just so you remain a beacon of positivity when shit hits the fan.
To me, accentuating the positive means holding up in the face of adversity, focusing on what I have rather than what I don't, seeing/seeking/finding the good, maintaining serenity when things are falling down around me, rolling with it...all of those are integral to how I live my life.

But when something goes wrong, I don't force a smile onto my face and I don't care about how the outside world views me or my struggle. I feel like some people are afraid to acknowledge hardship for fear of being branded negative. Acknowledging the suck is not negative and doesn't make you a negative person. Daily life has good and bad in it. To pretend it doesn't isn't real life. The cult of positivity leaves no room for reality. There is a place that exists between delusionally positive and Debbie Downer full time negative.

I think like this: There's good. There's bad. In all good things, there is something bad. In all bad things, there is something good. I choose what to look for and I choose where to place the emphasis. Sometimes there is no initial choosing and my choice lies in how I react. I'm responsible for my own balance.
I hate when people  beat themselves up on down days for not being positive. Everyone hits a low once in a while. It's okay. Give yourself the permission to feel what you feel and work through it, the cult of positivity be damned.

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Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.

 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Linking up with Liz for The Hump Day Blog Hop
The Hump Day Blog Hop

Friday, July 18, 2014

Philly Favorites

Have you ever been to Philadelphia? I grew up in the suburbs, have worked in Center City for the past six years, and live in the far Northeast. I could list 101 things to do here in town, many of them much more cultural than the things on this list, but if I was a tourist in my own town, here are some things I'd do...

1. Pose with the Rocky Statue and take pics on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I've never seen a town identify a movie character with itself like this one does. When you're finished with the Rocky stuff, wander into the Museum if that's your bag.
2. Walk the Parkway and pause in front of The Thinker at The Rodin Museum. You can see the Gates of Hell and The Thinker from outside the museum. Go in for more.

3. Stop in and tour The Barnes - make a reservation if you can. This eclectic collection and non-Museum feeling display are worth the trip in.

4. Visit LOVE Park and Logan Square (Swann Fountain) and get pictures taken in front of the fountains.
5. Pop in to see what's playing on the Video Wall at the Comcast Building, which boasts the largest four mm LED screen in the world.

6. Walk around City Hall to see William Penn at all angles, and go up to the City Hall Tower & Observation Deck.
7. Visit The Wanamaker Organ in Macy's. All of Macy's inside is actually a grand old store. I remember going to see the Christmas Light Show in Wanamaker's when I was a little girl.
8. Wander the aisles of Reading Terminal Market, eating freely.
9. Catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell. I wouldn't wait in line for it though. It's a bell with a huge crack in it. What more do you need to know?

10. Walk down Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continuously occupied residential block.

11. Visit Independence Hall and tramp around Independence National Historical Park. During the summer of 1776, 56 men gathered here to defy the King of England by issuing the Declaration of Independence. Eleven years later representatives from 12 states gathered here to shape the U.S. Constitution. You can see the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence as well as a draft of the Constitution here. You need a ticket to enter but the admission is free, unless you want to time it. Then it's a buck fifty.

12. Throw a penny on Ben Franklin's grave in Christ Church Burial Ground. As Ben himself said, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and even though you're throwing a penny away, what the hell? It's customary.

13. The Italian Market - 10 blocks along Ninth Street in South Philly - is one of the oldest and largest open air markets in America. You need cheese from DiBruno Bros. You can check out the infamous Pat's and Geno's while you're in this area too.

14. Go through the Magic Gardens - three lots on South Street, it's the biggest work of the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. Even if you're not into art it's cool to travel through the outdoor labyrinth. Cost: $7.
15. People watch in Rittenhouse Square at lunch time.
16. Check out Boathouse Row at Twilight.
Photo taken by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
17. Watch out for murals. The Mural Arts Program is celebrating 30 years this year. You can even take a tour of the murals around town, touted as the world's largest collection of outdoor public art.

18. Have a cheesesteak. My favorite is at Jim's on South Street. Ask any Philly person and they'll give you a million more options. The best cheesesteak is a highly contested, feverish battle. However! If you come to this town and at Subway, we are through.

19. Soft pretzels - get 'em hot.
20. Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square Park.

A whole list with only mention of a cheesesteak and soft pretzels for sustenance? Shameful, I know. Philly has a ton of excellent restaurants. It truly has become a food town. Some of my favorites are Zahav, Honey's Sit 'N Eat for breakfast, Parc. I could go on and on because there are really so many good ones, but I won't.

There's much more to do here than this list - both higher and lower brow. I love this town and all of its history. I hope you visit from out of town or spend a day being a tourist in your own town and love it too. Fellow Philadelphians, what did I miss that would be on your must do list?

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Linking up with

Helene in Between

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm the person who...

Emerges from the car looking like a hot mess with knotty hair...the perils of driving with the windows down.

Prefers that you choose the restaurant.

Hands the coffee back if it's not right - a splash of cream means darker rather than lighter. Do not hand me white coffee, beeotch.

Would rather not speak in front of a large crowd.

Gets pissed when other people inconvenience me.

Always has a wish list.

Stays up late to read a gripping novel.

Loves getting shit done. People often ask how I do so much - the end result is that something has been completed, and I love that. But, I'm also the person who...

Has to consciously remind herself that resting and relaxing are necessary and good (read: not idle or lazy). Just as there is a time for doing, there is a time for not doing. Balance, Daniel-san. Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
Seen in Real Simple mag
Wishes people would not overshare on Facebook.

Never eats ribs in a restaurant but will eat them at home or someone else's house.

Takes a LOT of pictures (and if you follow me on any social media, when you read that you said DUH).

Dislikes when people dance around things instead of just saying what they think.

Will help in almost any situation in which I can be helpful.

Married someone who's whimsical and spontaneous because I'm severely lacking in both departments.

Is never the most stylish person in the room and is accepting of that fact.

Hates when someone does something half-assed.

Feels ugly when my nails look terrible.

Thinks there's nothing wrong with being interested in sports mainly during playoffs and championships (and also thinks that those who sneer at that should know there's no award for being the biggest/longest time fan)

Always wears shorts under my dresses. I've seen two many exposed asses climbing onto trains.

What about you? Fill in the blank: I'm the person who ______________.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Salads: Asparagus Corn Salad

I tried some new to me salads this weekend. Two are veggie based salads. Sometimes I get sick of your run of the mill garden salad, you know? But I mainly just want to eat veggies together so I needed an alternative. This was my favorite of the three I tried.
Original recipe from Fat Girl in a Skinny Body

3 ears corn, shucked
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper (I used white)

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. When the water reaches a boil, add a big pinch of kosher salt, then add the corn to the water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove corn and set it aside to cool. Do not dump the water or turn off the heat.

In the same water, add the cut asparagus and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside to cool.

Once the corn is cool enough to touch, cut off the kernels with a sharp knife and add the kernels and asparagus pieces to a large bowl. I broke the corn pieces up with my fingers a bit.

In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well to combine. Chill before serving. This can be made two days ahead of time.
Cover salad and store in fridge, cover leftover dressing and store on counter top for up to two hours. Before serving, add more dressing if desired, then store in fridge.

Asparagus pee...
Big topic of discussion.
Oh, it's not? Well then.
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Martinis & Bikinis

Friday, July 4, 2014

Stars and Stripes Forever

Happy Fourth! Here's some July 4 trivia for my fellow nerds:

-Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe all died on July 4.
-July 4 was not declared a National holiday until 1941.
-July 4 is the date the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. It could have easily been July 2, the date the Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution for independence from the Brits.
-Philadelphians celebrated that first year on July 8, and George Washington's troops didn't even know about it until July 9. And the British didn't receive word of it until August 30. No email back then and all.

Unfortunately for Geege, July 4 means fireworks out the wazoo, a tradition that originated right here in this fair city, the birthplace of the nation:
Have a banner day!
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