Free Fitness in Philly All Summer Long

Philly is really blossoming lately, isn’t it? And I’m not just talking about the revolting trees that make me feel ill when I get a whiff of them. Nope, Philly has become a social butterfly’s dream, from street festivals to beer gardens to outdoor parties and al fresco dining, it’s clear that we’re all out of our cocoons.

Unfortunately, if I simply enjoyed every single one of these events willy-nilly, I could end up like a chubby butterfly who can’t get too far on her wings. Like our dear friend Heimlich, the star of A Bug’s Life.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Luckily, I’ve been squirreling away some information and compiling it into a list that’s perfect for anyone. ESPECIALLY:

  1. Folks who wanna save their hard earned dollars to spend on those super fun summer parties.
  2. Folks who wanna fit into their sexy summer swimsuits down the shore (or even just at North Shore).

I’ve been working on a Free Summer Fitness in Philly spreadsheet (that is definitely a work-in-progress) listing all the recurring summer workouts that you can join in for free (or, for a low, low, “pay what you can” cost) that hopefully can help all of you stay fit AND ball on a budget in your bitty bikini!!

Sure it’s a little run and yoga heavy…. but don’t we all wanna get sweaty and stretchy in the summer?

Weekday options are plentiful:

Click image for hyperlinked version

Click image for hyperlinked version

And, on the weekends, when you’re not playing dramatic games of beach volleyball in cut-off jorts and dog tags, you can check out a few of these:

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Also, if you’d like to hit up a few workouts in the meantime, I’ve assembled a little pu pu platter of free introductory classes or trials at local gyms to investigate (I’m pretty sure most of them come with air conditioning, a bonus.)

Free Class and Trial Memberships

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That sauna at Weston is so clutch.

I invite y’all to share this list with your friends and family that’s trying to stay fit this summer, and welcome input from anyone that knows of run clubs, bootcamps, free intro classes, or anything of that nature. I’ll update the post if I hear anything from you. So, ya know, if you’d like to shoot me a suggestion or invite me to join your sweaty beach volleyball team, hit me up in the comments or Twitter!

See you on the sand, SUCKAS!

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Philadelphia: City of (M)otherly Love

A fondness for Philadelphia runs in my family. I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother move in across the city and my parents are frequenters, though they maintain suburban roots. I must say, though, no one has embraced this incredible city I’m lucky enough to live in quite as much as my mother.

Our first Diner en Blanc!

Our first Diner en Blanc!

She spent much of her life living within spitting distance of the city, but since my move, she’s been itching to try anything and everything that makes it all so very PHILADELPHIA. And, in case your mom is the same, here are a few of my favorite “Mom Friendly Finds” for the City of BMotherly Love.

  1. Bird’s Eye View at XIX at the Bellevue 

    Find a time, ideally during the day (whether it’s Sunday brunch or lunch any other day, or teatime), get on OpenTable (still reservations for Mother’s Day!!), and grab a reservation for 2 (or 3, or 6. TRIO OF MOM/DAUGHTERS [or sons!]), and request a table by the windows at XIX. And prepare for one of the most picturesque meals of your life.

    Photo yanked from DrinkPhilly

    Photo yanked from DrinkPhilly

    It’s quality food on a very reasonable budget, and the ambiance just kills it. If you grab lunch or tea, splurge and get a glass (or bottle) of bubbly. Your mom is worth it. And so are you.

  2. Na-MOMs-DAY! (Yoga. IN case that wasn’t clear)
    Ok, that was sort of supposed to be Namaste. Whatever.
    Did you know that, during the summer, you can do yoga EVERY SINGLE DAY, overlooking a body of water, for free?!
    Race Street Pier – Morning and Evening M-Thurs, and mornings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!
    Schuylkill River Banks – Tuesdays at 7am and 6:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-12pm

    Photo courtesy of Yoga on the Banks Facebook!

    Photo courtesy of Yoga on the Banks Facebook!

    What mom wouldn’t wanna see you resume your former role as a “Happy Baby” overlooking the Delaware or the Schuylkill? Chase it with a

  3. All the World’s a Stage 

    When I was younger, my mom absolutely loved checking me out in some of my theatrical performances (started as Sneezy from Snow White, then peaked playing Ms. Goose, a psychiatrist for the characters of Grimm Fairy Tales who have gone crazy). While my days on the stage are over, our appreciation of the arts continues.

    Photo snagged from Theatre Exile's Facebook!

    Photo snagged from Theatre Exile’s Facebook!

    We checked out Theatre Exile’s performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and it, frankly, blew my mind. I laughed, I was deeply uncomfortable and, bonus, mom and I scored a drink upstairs at the in-house bar during intermission. Win-win-win. But if that kinda thing isn’t your bag, you could check out the Kimmel Center’s programming (dancing! singers! Broadway!) or the Society Hill Playhouse, great location for dinner after the show.

  4. Festivals for the Restival(l of us!) 

    What better way to show your mom a real taste of Philadelphia than to literally let her taste bites and sips of Philadelphia?! While she’s at it, she can scope out retail tents, local artists, and music, all in one place surrounded by the real “salt of the earth” Philadelphians that live and breathe this city daily?!Outdoor festivals, IMHO, are one of the coolest ways to explore the city surrounded by tens of thousands of your closest (potential) friends. They’re also happening ALL summer long!! And while I’ve already spoken about how to survive them, I’ll go ahead and say that I invited my mom to venture out this past weekend to the South Street Spring and Rittenhouse Row Festivals this past weekend, and she had a blast.

    And who knows, after eating and drinking your way through the crowds, you might end up getting matching piercings at South Street’s very own Warrior Piercing.

    Because the mommy daughter duo that pierces together.... is... awesome together?

    Because the mommy daughter duo that pierces together…. is… awesome together?

    Philly REALLY is a city ripe with opportunities to bond with any family member, whether it’s over food, drinks, performances, fitness, or simply shopping your way down Walnut Street. And, if you’re lucky, your mom can be the ultimate plus one/buddy/guest whatever you end up doing.

Wishing your mom, and really ALL moms, caregivers, and ladies out there, an incredibly Happy Mother’s Day full of all the best things.

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What’s your favorite “Mom-Friendly” activity to enjoy with your mama?

My mom proved she can handle just about anything, so I think my next goal is getting her out to Bob and Barbara’s for their Drag Show.

Dream big, right?

Surviving South Street Spring Festival (or any Street Festival in Philly)

South Street’s Spring Festival is this Saturday, May 2nd from 11am-8pm. This, along with last Sunday’s Flavors of the Avenue and I think it’s safe to say that Street Festival season is upon us. Philly really flourishes as the weather gets warmer, and all everyone wants to do is be outside.

The only problem is that EVERYONE wants to be outside. These festivals are packed, and with good reason. Over 35,000 people have already RSVP’d to the 3rd Annual South Street Spring Festival and there are over 30 restaurants participating, musical performances, arts and crafts, and a genuine German Maifest at Brauhaus Schmitz. All the things you’d need for a killer Saturday. That said, festivals like this can be overwhelming, intense, and INSANE. Here are some tips and tricks from a seasoned pro (I seriously can’t get enough of giant outdoor eating parties) who ALSO got a little preview of the event last week.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

DO have a game plan

Like I said, there are a LOT of options. Check the list here. I’m not saying you need an itinerary… but know where you REALLY wanna go, and you won’t have to waste valuable time, money, energy, and stomach space on spots you either visit regularly or you’ve got no interest in.

Redwood Bistro: NO JOKE! Their sliders and Spanish fries are, as the kids say, "on fleek"

Redwood Bistro: NO JOKE! Their sliders and Spanish fries are, as the kids say, “on fleek”

DON’T go it alone

Round up a posse. Divide and conquer. Split up to minimize queuing time and maximize noshing time. You find your foodie friends, split up, and reconvene armed with tacos, cheese curds, popsicles, sliders, and daiquiris. Spread the wealth, and everyone wins!

Don't have to earn these beads, Fat Tuesday's will give them to you!

Don’t have to earn these beads, Fat Tuesday’s will give them to you!

DO pace yourself

There’s plenty of time. Trust me. But if you fill up within the first hour on booze and burgers, you’ll miss out because of your food baby fatiguing you. Consider it a marathon, not a sprint. Too many banana puddings can take out even the strongest contender.

I'll take three. Err... wait.

Sweet Life offers… I’ll take three.
Err… wait.

DON’T limit your experience to the food alone

The downtime between bites can be an excellent opportunity to check out the CONSTANT stream of music on three different stages. And if you’re not ever unsure of who to check out, might I recommend these rockstars in lederhosen?

unnamedDO try new things

Some spots will be offering things that you don’t normally see on the menu. I, personally, am a sucker for something exclusive. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for cocktails made with cream of coconut.

Maybe it’s both.

The Staycation: A Tattooed Moms Festival EXCLUSIVE!

The Staycation: A Tattooed Moms Festival EXCLUSIVE!

DON’T skip dessert

Three words. Cracker Jack Sundae. Bridget Foy’s has the tastiest ice cream treat I can recall in recent history.

Popcorn and peanut butter ice creams/caramel popcorn/caramel peanuts/chantilly

Popcorn and peanut butter ice creams/caramel popcorn/caramel peanuts/chantilly

I seriously can’t speak highly enough about this sweet delight. That said, there’s seemingly endless options to satisfy any sweet tooth, so if Cracker Jacks aren’t your style a) you’re a lunatic b) you’ll be able to find something to enjoy, I promise.

My final tip actually isn’t mine. But I think it’s valid, so I’ll leave you with the wise words of the folks at Sweet Life.

You've got it.

You’ve got it.

Cheers, and I’ll see you on the streets.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up! Watermelon cooler from Bistro Romano!

I’ll be the tall blond with a drink, and probably a taco, in hand.

Blindfolds and Brown Butter: Cooking with Campbell’s

I love the cooking process. The chop of vegetables, the sear of meat, the sizzle of oil, and the aromas filling the kitchen. Unfortunately, my “kitchen” is actually just a stove in a hallway and bumping into hanging pots and pans when I turn to grab the salt makes the whole experience a lot less pleasurable. When I was presented a chance to try my hand in something a little spacier, I jumped at the chance.

When can I move?

When can I move?

Sure, the folks at Campbell’s aren’t technically in Philadelphia, but just a quick trip over the bridge in Camden, you’ll find the Campbell’s Campus complete with kitchens, cafeterias, and kettlebells (well, I’m not sure about the last one, but they do have a gym for the employees). Their kitchens are where the magic happens, and thanks to a partnership with Camp Campbell’s last year, I was able to visit this cave of wonders with the wizards themselves. Certified Master Chef Tom Griffiths, Executive Chef Maria Gamble, and Chef Carrie Welt brought the heat (get it?! kitchen humor!) teaching us about how and why the chefs at Campbell’s “Own the Flavor”.

The Master at work!

The Master at work!

We started out discussing the importance of the entire sensory experience, and there was even a little sniff-off.

Half of us were blindfolded, and the other half administered “the test”. Guess who didn’t miss one?!

50 Shades of... Smell?

50 Shades of… Smell?

Wanna know my secret? Every single ingredient has been in a cocktail I’ve enjoyed lately. Finally, being a part-time cocktail queen pays off!

Thank you, Volver, Sassafras, and 1 Tippling Place for all the help.

Thank you, Volver, Sassafras, and 1 Tippling Place for all the help. Ginger, lemongrass, limes (“This smells like shots!”) and lemons!

My prize was yet to come, but I did get a hint…

I see you, baby.

I see you, baby.

Before we got too sweet, though, we had to get a little savory. And, for savory, we went to the sea. Namely: Scallops.

My buddy KT making fast work of these little suckers. And there were a lot of them.

My buddy KT making fast work of these little suckers. And there were a lot of them.

We learned how to yank the muscle out of the scallop and we prepared these bad boys for cooking two ways:

  1. Poached in green tea
  2. Sautéed in brown butter

I know.

Poaching is something that I typically only equate with eggs, but Chef Tom let us know that it can create a clean, fresh take on seafood. Green tea poaching was something I’d never considered, and the scallops came out of a brief bath with a hint of earthy lightness (think the suggestion of grass).

So fresh and so clean

So fresh and so clean

We were momentarily sated.

And then the butter came out to play. Sorry, green tea, but you really didn’t stand a chance.

What's that you say? You need to be tastier?

What’s that you say? You need to look tastier?

You got it.

You got it.

I ate more scallops this evening than I may have ever consumed in my life, total. And I thought I couldn’t eat any more. But when Chefs Marie and Carrie let us know things were about to get sweet, I somehow found some room.

After discussing the differences between dark chocolates, and how well they pair with Port (spoiler alert, very well), Chef Marie got to serious business. The business of honey tuile cups and macerated fruit, of homemade ricotta (and the subsequent homemade ricotta ice cream), and of washing it all down with sweet, rich Port.

(I had some trouble telling them apart. I had to try a lot of each one...)

(I had some trouble telling them apart. I had to try a lot of each one…)

Take me to this Dessert Island

Take me to this Dessert Island (notice the Port glass has magically refilled itself)

The trip was, to say the least, incredible. Eye-opening. Decadent. We saw the kitchens where products I’ve eaten my whole life were tested (I practically grew up putting way too much Prego in my pasta!) We met the folks who eat, sleep, and breathe food innovation and creation.

These aren’t the chefs that are touted in magazines for using molecular gastronomy to create the most sublime tasting menu (for a paltry $300 [$450 with wine pairing]). These are the men and women who are striving to make flavorful and nutritious accessible to everyday men and women cooking for their families. Sure, they served us scallops. But they demonstrated how the same techniques could make a piece of cod sing with flavor. Chef Tom proved that cooking time and proper seasoning makes the difference between green beans that taste like they’re from a can and those that are crisp and zippy.

Real food that matters for life’s moments. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.29.06 AMThanks, Camp Campbell, and here’s to many happy returns.

And brown butter.

Win a Chance to Spartan Up with a Spartan Race GIVEAWAY!

If you know me at all, you probably know I hate a few things.

Mushrooms. Miniature golf. Cookie cakes (OMG DECIDE ARE YOU A CAKE OR A COOKIE YOU CAN’T BE BOTH!!)

Oh, and running.

So many of my best buddies have incredible pictures of them completing races. And I’ve scoured my photo archives. I think this may be the only one of me running:

ya like this face of misery?

ya like this face of misery? Yup, that was in 2012.

But with a spring thaw slowly and surely taking place in Philadelphia, I had a thought.

Maybe I should run a little bit. It’s time for a new challenge.

I just needed the right incentive to train myself. To pound the pavement, if you will….

Be Well Philly’s Underground Growler Run gave me my first chance to get some miles in with a 2.25 run ending in…. BEER!

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Alas, that was just a one time affair… I still needed something to get my butt in sneakers and hit the ground running (literally). And then, like gritty, muddy, hardcore angels, the folks from the Spartan Race reached out with an opportunity. An opportunity to try one of their races. So in a mere 32 weeks (and two days, but who’s counting?) I’m going to head to the Citizen’s Bank Park Sprint to Spartan Up in Philadelphia!! It’s a sprint, which means 3+ miles and 15+ obstacles throughout the course. And for most folks I know, that would be chump change. But for me, it’s something to work for, and I can’t wait to see how it goes. I’ve been rocking out to the Spartan Up podcast to get hyped up. But I think I’d feel even more hype with a buddy.

Less scary with a friend

Less scary with a friend

SO the folks at the Spartan Race ALSO gave me a code for one of my readers! If you’d like a chance to win an entry in ANY Spartan Race’s open heat (non-confirmed start time) in the continental US, enter in the comments belwo. The only mandatory entry is:

Tell me one challenge you’re tackling this year!

For bonus entries, follow Spartan Race on Facebook, follow @foodsweatnbeers on Twitter, or subscribe to the Spartan Up Podcast and leave separate comments for each.

Again, you don’t have to be in Philly to win this. You’ve got a week to enter, and I’ll select a winner April 9th at noon!

Let’s Spartan Up!

(PS: For 10% off any race, enter the code SPARTANBLOGGER in case contests aren’t your bag.)

UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS TO JANE, COMMENT NUMBER FOUR! She’s training for her second marathon, hopefully this race will help!!

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Juniper Commons: Who wouldn’t want brunch with Tom Selleck?

I was born in 1987. Despite the fact that this technically makes me an 80s kid, I have virtually no memories of my tender first few years. I do know, however, that I look damn good dressing to the decade (thanks for the memories, LivingSocial).

GNARLY!!

GNARLY!!

But Kevin Sbraga, Philly’s original Top Chef… he was born in 1979. Chances are, he probably gets it a little more than I do. Good thing, since his newest venture, Juniper Commons, channels the era through atmosphere, edibles, and attitude.

Photo credit to Yelp user Margaret W. Click for profile

Lounge in the evening! Photo credit to Yelp user Margaret W. Click for profile

Lately, I’ve been chin deep in hitting up classes all over Philly courtesy of ClassPass so, on Saturday, my brother and I decided to treat ourselves, post-Spin class, with a time-traveling trip to the JC. The walls are covered in a wallpaper made up of 1980s newspapers, there’s a gin-centric bar at the rear, and the open kitchen vibe feels homey and warm.

While I’m typically a savory breakfast babe, the description of the pancakes (complete with peanuts, bananas, & toasted marshmallow) had me requesting insisting my brother get that, having me stick with their take on Eggs Benedict (with country bread, roast beef, and hollandaise [Ideal for a gal who would take roast beef over ham in a second]).

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The slightly toasted puffs of marshmallow fluff were TOTAL game-changers, making these pancakes borderline s’more-like.

This characteristic is a VERY good thing.

Brother bear and I both agreed, though, the winner was the savory.

My very own skillet? Why THANK YOU!

My very own skillet? Why THANK YOU!

I think the country bread over an English muffin was right up my alley, and they did NOT skimp on the roast beef, served juicy, salty, and hot. And while I rarely get into brunch bevvies without some sort of reason, a quick trip to the bathroom before brekki gave me more than enough reason.

Hey there, handsome.

Hey there, handsome.

Yup, this dapper dude, this mustached man is just waiting in the ladies’ room… probably waiting for your call.

By the time breakfast began, I was so hot and bothered I had to cool off. And what’s cooler than being cool?

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Wine Coolers. That’s what.

Juniper Commons makes their OWN wine coolers! This Pinot Noir (can’t even type that without thinking exclusively of Kimmy Schmidt’s Titus) was fizzy with hints of blackberry and apple brandy (or so I was told. It mostly tasted like bubbly wine juice, which I’m into).

I took a gander at the dinner menu and, truth be told, I think it’s a little pricey for what the descriptions of the dishes sound like. But for a semi-schmoozy, little bit boozy brunch and/or lunch, the vibe would bring me back and the price point seems pretty level with the rest of the Philly scene.

Found in the heart of the city, you can’t beat the location. Throw a burly, shirtless Selleck in the midst…. I’ll be back again.

Juniper Commons
521 S. Broad Street
Tastemade Philly: Juniper Commons

National Puppy Day (or: Gratuitous Great Dane Puppy Pics)

Once upon a time, in June of 2014 (which practically feels like an eternity ago and WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO FEEL MY FINGERS AGAIN?!), a new man entered my life. Only instead of really being a man, he was just a baby. And actually…. he was a puppy. His name was Cornwallis (though he immediately became Wally) and it was pretty much love at first sight.

Hello little man, welcome home!

Hello little man, welcome home!

He’s not even a year old yet. But, since it’s National Puppy Day (sure, that’s a thing!) and I love him even though we recently discovered I’m allergic to his saliva (lucky me, he is the drooliest dude in the kingdom), I figured…. why not?

He puts the Dane in Dainty (you just have to sound it out)…. Wally Dog, Beast of the East.

Just for scale, this is the first picture we have of our little baby.

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I know. I really do.

And now… some recent snapshots.

Sometimes he’s sleepy. Must be all the growing.

Supporting his favorite rugby team, the Rabbitohs. That is a queen sized bed.

Supporting his favorite rugby team, the Rabbitohs. That is a queen sized bed.

Sometimes, he is a gentleman.

Please, have a seat in my office. Would you like a water bottle to chew on?

Please, have a seat in my office. Would you like a water bottle to chew on?

He is never a scholar, because he is actually quite a fool.

Most of the time… he is trying to play with my mother. Who, for the record, is 5’4″ on a good day.

Dwarfed by the dog

Dwarfed by the dog

But, no matter how big he gets (last measurements, he’s taller than she (easily) and weighs about 145 lbs), he will always be our little puppy brother.

Our first meeting. I'm smitten.

Our first meeting. I’m smitten.

Happy National Puppy Day to all you dog lovers out there, and thank you for tolerating my excuse for gratuitous Great Dane pics.

The Best App You’ve Never Heard Of

Here’s the thing: I’m no Craig LaBan, my favorite Philly food critic. But, as Marc Vetri implied and Sandy Hingston supported, perhaps traditional food journalism and critique are a thing of the past. It’s no surprise to many of you that I’m a wildly active Yelper. I’ve been known to review restaurants on my blog, and I’ll talk about the Philly food and drink scene with anyone who will listen. And probably some people who don’t want to listen.

No, seriously. The lamb at Zahav will NOT QUIT, stranger on SEPTA! You feel me?!

Because of this, when a friend of mine mentioned off-hand some app coming to Philly looking for “tastemakers”, I was intrigued. What I stumbled onto (thanks to Google and a few email forwards) wasTastemade, an app I was shocked I’d never even heard of before. And, with a quick download and a few clicks of some buttons, I was on it like brown and cilantro on rice (can you tell I’m hungry?)

Photo from the Tastemade Site

Photo from the Tastemade Site

Tastemade basically seems like a way to rave about your favorite food spots in Philly or BEYOND! However, instead of mere photos and words to paint the picture, you’re able to take videos, mash them together with some built-in bits and pieces like music and filters, and VOILA you’re a regular producer.

You can either choose a quick take (just a few quick snippets) or a “Full Scoop” video, which only ends up being about a minute long.

Gimme that full scoop!

Gimme that full scoop!

If you do a “Full Scoop” you’re expected to get on film (read: SELFIE VIDEOS!) and take a bit of footage to capture the ambiance and the food. You can choose different themes for different spots, and there’s matching background music to pair with each (that’s all the words on the bottom, like Quartet, Postcard, UP LATE, etc).

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Apparently this is a real spot in Camden!

I’ll admit, it took me a minute to knock away the initial oddness of filming myself in random places (‘Scuse me? Miss? Are you filming those vegetables or can I take a squash?) but once I got past it, it kinda felt like being a hot shot Food Network champ for a few seconds. And who better to share the best spots to eat in a city than the folks that are experiencing it RIGHT THAT MOMENT?!

I’ve so far done three videos but, after hitting up the Philly Tastemade Launch Party last night, I’m feeling pretty stoked to do more. PLUS with the impending trip to NYC to visit my best buddy for her birthday, we’re dining at a buncha spots unreviewed. As Claire stated: They’re MINE FOR THE TAKING TASTING (see what I did there?)!

Wanna see me talk about hummus? Interested in capturing moments like this tasty screenshot?

Precious moments

Precious moments

Scope out the @foodsweatnbeers Tastemade Page! Join and let me hear how weird YOUR voice sounds on camera! HELP NORMALIZE VIDEO SELFIES!

(And don’t blame me when folks start walking into tables at your local restaurant whilst trying to capture selfie ambiance all at once…. I recommend sitting or standing still.)

The 5 Devices and Services That Changed My Life

Life is full of crossroads.

Some are Blues inspired musical dramas

You know that’s not what I mean.

Britney gets it

Nope. Not even close.

Bone Thugs get it.

Oh, come on. Now you’re just being silly.

Nope. They’re those points in life where you make a decision, and everything changes. I’ve had quite a few. The joyful decision to head to Chapel Hill for undergrad and the terrifying one to leave North Carolina 7 years later.

The most heartbreaking decision that was made for me, not by me.

And, of course, the most important, life changing decision of all that I made almost 5 years ago today (March 21, 2010, at 215 lbs). It’s insane to look back at what can change over 5 years. And, though I know that it takes a strong, independent woman to take that leap, I also recognize that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be who I am without a little help. Some helpers were monumental, and some may seem small, but all 5 have one thing in common: they brought me where I am today (and, in case you didn’t catch it, that’s a place where I am blissfully happy.)

  1. The Big One: Weight Watchers
    I was never one for dieting, growing up. I actually didn’t realize I had put on a ton of weight until I felt like a balloon. I’ve written about my success with Weight Watchers in the past, but I’d be extremely remiss to not mention it. Because it not only changed the way I look and think about food, it made me begin cooking and falling in love with food. So that’s a given.
  2. Heart Rate Monitor / FitBit
    It’s like two generations of the same big change. My initial Garmin FR60 was actually a prize from an online contest. And it changed the way I worked out. Suddenly, I was competing again, even if it was just against myself. I watched my efforts steadily increase, I could see improvement in my workouts. And now, with the FitBit, I actively strive to walk and hit my step goal every day. I am sure it’s pretty apparent, but I love technology. And being able to utilize it to improve my physical fitness, to me, is the bees knees.
  3. Vegetti
    Wait a minute. Does everyone know of the power and glory of zoodles (zucchini noodles)?
    Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.25.31 PMTruly, these, the next generation of spaghetti squash, have totally rocked my world. I got a Vegetti sometime over the summer, and I never looked back. I probably eat zoodles about 3x a week (spaghetti squash almost that often when it’s in season) but all of the sudden I’m able to have filling, nutrition lunches that taste wonderful and can take the spot of spaghetti.I know, it seems like a little thing. But goodness, it’s just… everything.
  4. Untappd
    So life is all about moderation, right? There was a time, at the beginning of this journey, where ALL I could think about was food-in, exercise-out, and almost no extracurricular activities. And then I found Untappd, my favorite beer-tracking app, and the craft beer community. And it added some spice back into my life.

    Ahhh remember June 2011? I was just a baby!

    Ahhh remember June 2011? I was just a baby!

    Now, I track my brews religiously, I socialize with friends near and far, AND it’s given me a great hobby and brought my into this pretty fantastic beer gaggle. All work and no play makes Jordy a dull girl. And craft beer variety…. well, that’s the spice of life.

  5. ClassPass
    Sure, initially I started writing about ClassPass because they gave me a free month to try it out and I wanted to review.

    Nope. That's not me. I get way sweatier.

    Nope. That’s not me. I get way sweatier than these chicks.

    Now, all the sudden, I’m scheduling two-a-days. I’m throwing my entire body into my workout instead of visiting a bland Zumba class and feeling whiny about the slow music and repetitive moves. I’m getting bendy at yoga, I’m leaving it all in the studio at FlyWheel, and, as I just recently purchased my OWN ClassPass, I’m actually down almost 10 lbs since I started. Not only this, my pants are fitting better and I think the switch from pure cardio to strength, cardio, stretching, and tiny muscle movements like Barre classes…. I can feel my body changing. My mom and dad noticed it, I even braved my winter bod to try on/buy some bathing suits at Target!

    I know. You can hold your applause until we’re together in person. This ClassPass thing has just brought a renewed excitement into my fitness regime.

It’s been a pretty incredible 5 years. And for those of you who have been reading for a while, thanks for sticking with it. For everyone else, so glad you’re along for any of this ride. Who KNOWS where the next five will take us?

What’s the biggest change in your life that’s occurred over the past 5 years?

That Time Yards Brewery Took Me on a Date

Who would’ve thought that an abysmal “attempt” at a date in college would’ve led to a night on the town courtesy of one of my favorite local breweries, Yards? In honor of Valentine’s Day, love, and (most importantly) their malty, rich brew, Love Stout, Yards hosted a contest online for the entrant with the worst date they wish they could “do over”. And I can’t tell if I should be proud or ashamed of this, but yours truly was the lucky winner!10404855_10153025475933070_5522467349947890047_n

However, the misfortune of 19 year old Jordan proved the boon for the Jordan of today! And after shooting a few congratulatory emails and scooping around to find a suitable date partner, I was treated to a #LoveStoutDoOver Date this past weekend! Our first stop was the PHS Flower Show, one of Philly’s signature yearly events that brings visitors from all over to bask in floral glory at what blooms can be transformed into by talented horticulturists, florists, and gardeners alike.

GUESS THE DISNEY MOVIE!!

GUESS THE DISNEY MOVIE!!

This year’s theme was “Movies” (namely, Disney flicks) and it was truly impressive to see this flora recreate some of my favorite flicks. My top two favorites (pictured above)included a beloved movie (left, can you guess?) and one I hadn’t seen (right, a little tougher, and it’s NOT Aladdin!) But the best was yet to come. Because, considering how well their annual Pop-Up Beer Garden has been going the past few years, PHS decided to establish one inside the convention center!

Yards treated us to eats and, of course, beverages.

Roast beef and cold Philly Pale Ale -- Can't beat it!

Roast beef and cold Philly Pale Ale — Can’t beat it!

I tried (and surprisingly enjoyed!) the PHS Horticulture Cider whipped up by Wyndridge Farm especially for the show, but knew we had bigger fish to fry (oysters are fish, right?)

We boogied home to change into some more “date night” appropriate attire and digest our late lunch, in order to clear some room for a romantic trip to Pennsylvania 6… that NEARLY turned into another date that needed doing over!

If you’ve never been to Pennsylvania 6, it’s a pretty cozy establishment. At night time, the tables have tea light candles, and it’s all very cute. Know what that’s not good for?

A 6’1″ oaf rocking a puffy coat and trying to be “dainty”.

Upon my arrival do you think I:

a) ran into the table?

b) bumped into a water glass having it fall on the table?

c) accidentally dipped my coat into a neighbor’s drink?

d) nearly burnt a menu?

If you chose: E) all of the above, CONGRATULATIONS!

Sorry candle. Sorry water glass.

Sorry candle. Sorry water glass.

All was forgiven and forgotten (except by the table got the jacket dip, I’m pretty sure they’re still pretty ticked.

And then, our oysters (fried and raw) and Love Stout were dropped off, complete with adorable miniature Tabasco sauce. So I felt better.

Pardon that camera tilt, I felt so awkward snapping shots with a DSLR in a tight squeeze like PA6!

Pardon that camera tilt, I felt so awkward snapping shots with a DSLR in a tight squeeze like PA6!

My dish was the winner, IMHO, and was a slow roasted bone-in short rib that just fell apart at the mere suggestion of a fork.

Yup.

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We took our “dessert” (a six-pack of Love Stout) and some Yards goodies home, and they even treated us to cab fare (because they’re classy like that).

SO despite my clumsiest, best efforts at ruining a date on my own terms, Yards in fact took me and my date out on a lovely evening and treated me like a lady.

….I hope they call soon.