Feels Like Falling for the First Time…

I’m feeling those little tingles and jingles that I haven’t felt for 7 years. There is a change in the air, and it’s not just the pollen. I’m getting lost and spending far too much money on textbooks, and all of the sudden, I’m on the same level as the 2,500 17-19 year olds scampering around the campus of University of Pennsylvania… Where on EARTH is my Trapper Keeper?

Yup, I’ve found a new love and, though there’s a bit of an age difference (try 247 years… rob the cradle much?) I think we have a solid future ahead.

Ben Franklin – Founder of UPenn and general badass extraordinaire

I spent yesterday doing typical first year things…. I panicked when I couldn’t get into a building, I stumbled over the uneven bricks, I took a campus tour, and I checked out some frat boys (totally platonic, I got my own frat boy at home).

Delta Psi ’til I die

Visiting the UPenn chapter of my OWN fraternity (though, at UNC, it’s co-ed and basically 100% different from the UPenn chapter) brought back so many feelings of excitement and anticipation, feelings I never thought I’d have again after graduating from UNC.  And, of course, I picked up the standard amount of Swag for any new student to campus.

Praise be, this shirt’s free (other than that massive tuition bill I paid…)

Hell, I even got a LANYARD!

(Anyone else remember how attached they were to their first-year lanyard? And how devastated you were the first time you lost it/it broke? So many feelings…)

I’m too excited for words. There’s this feeling I get exploring my new home for the next few years… an electricity in the air, a general “anything can happen” vibe that fills the air. And even though I spent this morning shelling out some more bucks for textbooks (that’s one semesterly purchase I did NOT miss) and going over all the readings I have to do before classes even start (What happened to syllabus week being for parties and free foods?), nothing is going to bring me down.  I gotta get some notebooks, some highlighters, and a few reinforcers I’ll never use, and invest in a solid chunk of Lisa Frank goodies.  It’s back to school, baby, and this makes it official.

Too Legit.

What is/was your favorite thing about going back to school?

Best school supplies?

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DIY Chipotle’s Salsa

Just another perk of living in the city of Philadelphia (or, I assume, any city) – Sometimes you come across something like this:

Fancy meeting you here.

A mid-day salsa tasting and technique class in the middle of the garden?  Don’t mind if I do.

I’ll admit, I’ve attempted to make salsa before. It involved a food processor and resulted in a big watery mess, which I tried to remedy with some hot sauce… Hot sauce in salsa?

I know, I recognize how ridiculous this is in hindsight.  Luckily, I let the pros show me how to do it right before this attempt.

First cut is the deepest….

The Chipotle employee showed me that the best way to chop an onion is by not cutting it all the way apart at the end, that way it stays together when you cut the other direction.

Like this:

Safety first, she had a chain-mail glove on

She dumped a perfect pile of chopped onion into the bowl before moving onto the next ingredient.

That’s how she gets her jollies 

She sliced the jalapenos into itsy bitsy bits, not bothering to remove the seeds. I’ve never heard of such a practice, but who am I to argue with greatness?

I forgot to snap shots of the chopping of the tomatoes, distracted by this little jewel.

Freebies flock to me on my birthday

A miniature order of chips and salsa distracted me just long enough to miss the (vine-ripened) tomato chopping BUT don’t worry, I developed laser-like focus when it came time to watch the cilantro be chopped finely as I’ve ever seen cilantro chopped.

Beautifully green, and grown in Jersey!

Apparently, Chipotle’s done a great job of trying to focus on as much locally sourced and organic ingredients as possible. About 80% of the cilantro they use is organic, so you know it’s good.

Let’s mix it up!  Squirt some lime in there and….

Got that cilantro sprinkle…

Since they couldn’t serve me the good stuff they’d just showed me how to make, I had to take matters into my own hands. Luckily, the Rittenhouse Farmer’s Market was the next day and, since the Chipotle folks gave me my own little recipe card, I went to work.

Ingredients from the market!

I got everything but the cilantro from the market, and got to chopping.

I love how Chipotle uses red onions (my favorite of the onion family) for color and taste, and all that chopping, though tedious, resulted in a MUCH more successful salsa.

The final product!!

I halved the recipe here, but here’s the version they gave out:

  • 6 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (which I did not use in my version)
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Dice the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos (and go super fine with those jalapenos). Combine all the ingredients and season to taste!

Serve with your favorite chips or do as I did and top your favorite taco salad with this chopped salsa.

Or, if you’re tired and lazy, go to your nearest Chipotle and get the pros to serve you some…

Tomato, to-mah-toe.

Ever make your own salsa? What’s your recipe??

If not, where do you get your favorite salsa?

 

 

 

 

The Bracket Jump Birthday

On Thursday night, after being in a car for approximately 18 of the previous 48 hours and sending my baby brother off to college, I found myself a little weepy. Maybe I was a bit grouchy, my emotions were running fairly high, and I was exhausted. This, as everyone knows, is an ideal time to have a quarter life crisis.

Jealous of my Ugly Cry?

Since my 18th birthday, I’ve always been one of those chicks that makes her birthday a national holiday. Whether it’s jumping out of a plane, having a “That’s So Jordan” themed party, or dragging my buddies to a food and craft beer tour-de-Raleigh, I make sure my birthday is a true celebration. But, being in a new, unfamiliar city and knowing very few folks with whom I could celebrate, I was feeling a bit lost. I also couldn’t get the “bracket jump” out of my mind. No longer was I going to fall in that “18-24” age group. Nope, I was shifting into the “25-29” bracket. It seemed symbolic of some big change, which is ridiculous and very demonstrative of how I read far too much into things. Whatever it was, I was not my typical JOYFUL JORDAN.

Then, I woke up on Friday morning (August 24th, the day of my birth 25 years ago) to my mom BLASTING 50 Cent’s iconic “In Da Club”, with the telltale lyrics:

Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, shawty
‘Cause it’s your birthday
We gon’ party like it’s yo birthday
We gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday
And you know we don’t give a ****
It’s not your birthday!

She danced into the room, and any fears of a bland, “blah” birthday where whisked out of my mind.

We U-Hauled the last of my junk into the apartment and I was on my own for the day.  I headed to one of my favorite spots in the city, the PHS Pop-Up Garden by Rittenhouse Square.

Rainbow in the garden!

I nabbed some free chips and salsa and learned how to make Chipotle’s tomato salsa (which I’m attempting later today), and then grabbed something I’ve been dying to try for a while.

Little Baby’s Ice Cream!

Ever since being scarred for life by their (viral and terrifying) commercial (you’ve been warned), I was itching to get some of the good stuff (though preferably not scooped from someone’s skull.)

Sweet treats and reads

This chai snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich filled with coconut chai (non-dairy) ice cream was much more my style, and I toted it along to the book store for a bit of light (re)reading.

After getting through a serious chunk of the book (and demolishing the sandwich), I decided I wanted some pampering and some girl time.

Burt’s Bees and Say Yes to the Dress: Match made in Heaven.

Scandalous! (I was wearing a towel, I promise.)

I wasn’t trying to star in an off-Broadway performance of the 1997 classic, Face/Off (tempting as that sounds), just enjoying a cooling Cucumber Aloe mask. It was just what I needed before I left the pampering to someone else.

Enter: Nail Bar. Simple concept. Salon, offering manis, pedis, and complimentary bevvies!!

All I need in this life.

Thanks, random stranger, for snapping my picture!

I came out with a sparkle on my nails and some bubbly in my belly. But, other than the ice cream sandwich and some cereal earlier, I didn’t have too much else in my belly.

YELP ELITE TO THE RESCUE!

Sweet spread, right?

Yelp’s Great American Happy Hour, hosted by ING Cafe, was my very first Yelp Elite event, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I considered the whole night a surprise party for me. The surprise, of course, was for Yelp, who didn’t know they were sponsoring my party!

There were delicious Underdogs (which, as I already mentioned, I’m a huge fan of…)

Dog bonanza!

My favorite was the My Thai (with spicy peanut sauce and green papaya slaw), and I even tried the mustardy Chicago style. Delicious, despite the fact that I am not a fan of mustard.

I got a chance to meet some new folks and, surprise surprise, there were two other birthday babes at the party.  Despite the event limiting attendance only to the Yelp Elites, it didn’t feel elitist at all, and I was so amped to get myself out there and meet new people.  For a social butterfly like me, an event like this is the ultimate adrenaline rush, so I jumped at the chance to join the after party at Devil’s Alley for a baby flight of beers.

Yummy x 4

Maggie M. and I, the birthday girls!

I rounded out the night the only way that made sense… My beau, a bottle of Epic Brewing’s Big Bad Breakfast Stout, and a pint of Butterfinger ice cream.  And was treated to this little present when I checked in on Untappd:

DOUBLE BADGED!

500 unique beers? That makes me LEGEN (wait for it…………..) DARY!

I went to sleep with a buzz, not just from the booze (though that helped), but from a night spent with new friends and the love of my life. And though it was DEFINITELY a little different from some previous birthdays (Tequila balls and feather boas, anyone?), it was a successful bracket jump. And maybe I’ll get a little silly tonight with Krissie… Who’s to say I can’t celebrate twice?

And there’s nothing in the rule book that says a 25 (or 46) year old can’t wear a tiara on her birthday…

 

 

 

Six Pack Sunday: Philly Geek Awards

Philly is FULL of geeks. I don’t know if I was aware of how many before this Friday, but, throw a red carpet out in front of The Academy of Natural Sciences, and you’re bound to catch a few.  Most of them will be in tuxedos. That’s just how the Law of Attraction works.

Luckily, despite Geekadelphia’s  Philly Geek Awards being sold out for weeks, this chick won a pair of tickets. And, since I’m the kind of geek who will spend an hour painting my nails to look like Poké Balls, I couldn’t pass up the chance to join the rest of the geek nation.

Geek much?

I nabbed the hottest date I could find (my little brother) as my plus one, grabbed a fancy dress from my closet (which is still in shambles post-move), and hit the town!

 

Red Carpets make everyone look good. But me especially.

And, in true Six Pack Sunday fashion, I’ll break down some of my favorite bits of this event.

1. Geek’s Paradise

This event couldn’t have been held at a better venue. The Academy of Natural Sciences has everything any geek could want in a party venue.

Dino buddy!

Dinosaurs with party hats!

 

Gross.

NEW BUTTERFLY BESTY!

Black widow: Terrifying.

TONS OF BUGS! Some living, some dead, but luckily the Nature’s Assassins exhibit was well protected. Because those pink toed tarantulas would NOT have made good fellow party guests.

And tons of excellent exhibits showing animals  in eerily realistic settings.

Thanks, taxidermy tools!

It was truly perfect.

2. Brews and Booze

You know what makes ANY event better?

Hello there!

Craft beer. And, for those who don’t love the beery goodness (blasphemous fools), there were other options.

Jameson Apple Whiskey, who knew?

Ginger Beer is a delicious treat. Noted.

There were also Tootsie Roll-tasting cocktails made with Spodee Wine.

Don’t worry, I tried it all.

 

 

Don’t worry, this underage stud was just holding my drinks, he didn’t consume any!

3. National Mechanics and Whipped Bakeshop: Feeding the Frenzy

National Mechanics catered this event, and, despite the long lines, I went back for seconds of their delicious pork, veggies, and (my favorite) empanadas!

Party platter

And what would a geeky party be without Internet Meme Cookies (courtesy of Whipped Bakeshop).

McKayla was not impressed

And though I thought I was stuffed from the spread from earlier, I managed to force one down I gobbled the heck out of mine.

Mmmm.

Tasted like JPEGs.

4. The Awards Themselves

Too cool.

Who WOULDN’T wanna win that?

Also during the ceremony, hilarious podium activity AND wonderfully clever video introductions to each segment.

Bahaha.

Trust the nerds to put on the most technically savvy and well-designed show together for a true crowd-pleaser of a show.

5. Stan Lee Surprise!

Guess who gave a shout out to Geekadelphia and the Geek Awards at the end of the ceremony?

The ULTIMATE Geek!

Stan Lee. The one and only.

Jealous yet?

6. Noah’s Ark? No, just Friday in Philly.

Murphy’s Law: If you’re forced to park three and a half blocks away on a gorgeous Friday night for an event held entirely indoors, you will inevitably be faced with a torrential downpour when you attempt to leave, knowing full well neither of you brought an umbrella.

Drowned Rat!!

Despite my drenched dress (and person), the experience was AMAZING. I hope I’m lucky enough to purchase tickets next year and, though I hardly mingled much due to spending some QT with the little brother, I KNOW that the geeks of this city are some fantastic folks. I can’t wait to meet more.

 

 

 

Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll: Bang for Your Buck

I’m pretty sure that, as I was plugging in my “dinner” to MyFitnessPal last night, the little elves that work inside the website were asking themselves “WTF, where IS this woman, and how is she eating what she’s eating?”

Samosa, spring roll, vegan cookie, mac & cheese, pulled pork, a banana whip, stuffed grape leaves… Nope, I didn’t sneak into a multi-cultural food court and run around grabbing everything in sight. Instead, I hit up the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll to spend the best and most diverse $9 I think I’ve ever dropped.

This particular stroll allows shops and restaurants on Baltimore Avenue from 42nd-50th Street to offer small bites, toys, treats, and trinkets for a buck each, as well as allowing attendees to rock out to some fun live music.

I went to visit an old buddy from college, Kurt, for a trip to West Philadelphia, a virgin area to this Philly newb.  According to Kurt, it’s a lot of Penn alums, hipsters, and cool kids. The Carrboro or Brooklyn of Philly, perhaps?  I don’t know, I’m not an expert, but that’s definitely what it reminded me of, down to the skinny jeans and PBR cans everywhere you looked.

Since I arrived around 6:40ish, the party was already in full swing and the lines were nothing to laugh at…

Hey there, 50 new friends!

Luckily, we had nothing but time and, since Kurt had done a lap already, we began to make the rounds.  Up first?

Better than the Olympic Village?

Fried Foods are Friends

The Samosas from Desi Village were warm and a little spicy, a great first few mouthfuls as we took our initial steps onto Baltimore Avenue.

Aksum, noted for future reference.

Mediterranean melee!

While I didn’t think that the hummus and pita from Aksum were worth shelling one of my precious dollars, the stuffed grape leaves called my name. I answered, greedily grabbing some covered in tzatziki and gobbling them both. I was licking the cucumber yogurt sauce off my fingers as we moved onto the next line. Luckily, it was long enough to allow my tummy to settle. But not for too long…

Not my finest photography… Sorry.

It’s probably the paper thin wraps, or the general off-white coloring, but these spring rolls refused to look good in any pictures.  What they lacked in being photogenic, they more than made up for in being DELICIOUS! These were honestly probably my favorite bite of the evening. Cool, crisp, and surprisingly vegetarian, Vientiane Café’s fresh spring rolls were off the chain. I’ll be back for more of these next time, no doubt about it.

 

Truly the Gold Standard…

…in pulled pork sammies.

Juicy, with soft white buns that soaked up the tangy sauce, these pulled pork sammies were small enough that I wanted more, but large enough that I knew I didn’t need any more if I didn’t wanna be stuffed!  We also got lucky here with no line, which I think is RIDICULOUS considering how delicious they were… Then again, if no one else wants to wait for them next Stroll, that’s A-OK with me.

 

They had Soul, but no chicken.

As I’ve always said, a failure to plan is a plan for a ridiculously long line of hungry, annoyed patrons.  (I’ve never said that, but maybe I should start…) Elena’s Soul was offering dollar portions of yams, peach cobbler, mac & cheese, and fried chicken. Only, after waiting in arguably the longest line of my trip, they were all out of chicken. And it was going to take them at least 15 minutes to make more.

Jojo don’t play that way, so I grabbed a mac & cheese to go. It wasn’t bad, but it was NOT worth that line. Lesson learned: Confirm chicken before subjecting yourself to the never-ending line.

 

Hello, new friend!

That’s right, dollar craft beer!

While the cups were small, the flavor was big in Dock Street Brewery’s offerings, especially their Summer Session.  I’ll be honest, I was double fisting these beers (long line, didn’t wanna wait again) SO I didn’t get a picture of the actual beer itself BUT it was light and summery, with a citrus hint and a lip-smacking lingering that left me wanting another one.  But, my sweet tooth had other ideas…

Whipping those bananas into shape.

Vegan?! For ME(gan?)!

I never thought I’d type this but: This totally vegan dessert was AMAZING! Mariposa Food Co-op was offering vegan chocolate chip cookies and banana whips, so I decided to get creative and go with an open face vegan “ice cream” sandwich topped with coconut shreds.  I was so pleased and never ONCE thought “Ew, this tastes far too vegan for this carnivore.”

I’m not saying a tiger’s gonna change it’s stripes, but maybe this tiger will occasionally head over to nibble on some grass.

I don’t know, that’s a horrible metaphor. I couldn’t help it, I was remembering tasty memories…

I didn’t even break $10 with this meal, and left full as full can be. And, so you know, it’s happening again September 20th…. Anyone wanna join me?

Maybe we could even make this spring roll look pretty:

Don’t mind the hair, just call me Pinky.

If you’re feeling courageous, check out the listing of all the foods they had this time around and share what you’d spend your first $3 buying!

If you’re not, are there any nibbles and bits from a favorite restaurant you wish would only cost a buck for the night?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Philly Finds

Being in a new place without a job or schoolwork leaves you with a lot of time to explore. And, since my roomie is off being a lab rat, I’m fending for myself.  Luckily, I got a good pair of walking shoes, so I’ve been hoofing it around my little neighborhood. I’ve found a few bits and pieces worth noting.

  • I found that one of the perks of strolling around the city is that, more often than you’d like, you end up being a cigarette puffing co-pedestrian. And, though that sucks, sometimes they’re smoking cloves, and that’s the lesser of the evils.
  • I found out that Shake Shack makes delicious custard. And it’s even more delicious when it’s free and served in a pop up garden.

    Yummy.

  • I found myself spending three hours in Barnes and Noble reading a Young Adult novel.  Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, the second book in a little series I started this summer. Yup, it’s a little silly, but it’s nice to read some pleasure literature before things start getting grad school-y.
  • I found my first Philly craft beer event to be delicious, though I also found that I shouldn’t attend an all-you-can-drink event on a fairly empty stomach.  The Brew and Chew at Cavanaugh’s was a tasty foray into some new River Horse beers and a few tasty tapas. I also met a few folks, and feel like there could be a Philly Beer Family out there, just waiting to fill the void in my heart that exists ever since leaving my beloved NCBeer crew.

    River Horse Hop-a-Lot-Amus

    Special Ale paired with a short rib flatbread topped with Havarti cheese, tomato, and arugula

    Double Wit paired with a Mahi Mahi taco, purple slaw, avocado (yay) and a spicy lime drizzle

  • I found Heaven in a hot dog bun.

    Ay, chihuahua!

    Oh, sweet delicious sausage.  Underdogs is this tasty little joint on 17th Street.  I got the Chihuahua, a chorizo sausage with sautéed onions, chipotle mayo and queso blanco and fries with that same chipotle mayo.  My GOODNESS, talk about delicious. And yes, I chowed every one of those french fries soaking that bag with grease.

    Chapel Hill friends, imagine a hot dog version of Buns. Amazing fries + dipping sauces, every topping imaginable, and friendly employees. If you try every single one of their 23 dogs, you get your name put on the Wall of Fame.

    First Philly goal, made.

  • I also found that sleeping in a new place with odd hours makes me want to nap constantly.

Gooooood night (good afternoon? Good grief.)

Pardon Our Dust

20120813-124123.jpg

As this is the current state of my apartment (and I have no Internet and am posting from my phone), you’ll have to pardon me for not posting so much.

I’m (getting) settle in Philadelphia, started getting groceries (!!), and HOPE to get my Internet set up shortly.

Until then… It’s time to unpack.

Gross.

Sup, “SUP”? Stand Up Paddleboarding!

This truly is the Summer of Joj (not to be confused with the Summer of George, which is an entirely different beast.)

I’ve traveled to Costa Rica, Florida, NYC, and (exotic) North Jersey, I’ve spent oodles of time at the shore, I’ve been hanging with my family (especially my little brother and sister!) AND I’ve had some QT with the beau. I also just signed my lease to my new apartment in Philly and will be moving this weekend!

Within this jam-packed summer, I’ve also been lucky enough to have some solid time to myself. I don’t know about y’all, but I personally need a little alone time every now and then, especially after living alone for a year, and then jumping into my family household with at least two siblings at all times, my parents, my dogs, AND a box turtle (he’s a real chatterbox).

Yesterday, I decided to really take some “me time” and cash in a Living Social deal I’d been holding onto for a while.  I boogied from OC over to the (not-so-scenic) West Atlantic City until I found Extreme Windsurfing, home of my stand up paddle boarding adventure!

One of these bad boys was MINE! At least for the day.

Lakes Bay was pulling out all the stops for me

The day was perfect, no real wind, sunny without being blinding, and, since it was a Tuesday, the bay wasn’t crowded.  According to Jim, the master of Extreme Windsurfing, this was the perfect day to try Stand Up Paddleboarding (a.k.a. SUP)!

He was running a little late, so I had some time to explore.

I’d hate to see the lifeguard who was in charge of this shack!

My pink hair matches the pink deck!

I was given a brief introduction on how to stand up, how to balance, turn, and kneel. After my less than successful TERRIFYING rafting experience, I was worried that my lack of balance was going to doom me but, before I knew it, I was up and paddling like a champ!

I had an hour alone, and the entire Lakes Bay was my oyster, so I paddled and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I made challenges for myself

  • “See how fast you can paddle around that buoy!”
  • “Weave between those two flags!”
  • “Scare that bird away!” -This was the easiest, by far.

And, by the time I was done, I was hungry, my arms were tired, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Such a Champ!

If you’re even thinking of trying SUP, DO IT! It’s a blast alone, it’s a solid workout if you want, or relaxing if you’re into it. I bet it’d be a blast with a group, too, or as a perfect summer date. I hope I can try it again in the not-too-distant future.

Big thanks to Jim at Extreme Windsurfing for snagging some pretty awesome shots, and for being such a cool guy.

Victory is Mine!

With move-in this weekend, the summer of Joj continues! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings…. and I think I’ve got a little Friday Funday brewing.

How do you enjoy “me time”?

Are you happier surrounded by folks, or more of a one (wo)man wolf pack?

I like a little of both.

 

 

How I Won a New Belgium Cruiser: #EnjoytheRide

If you never enter, you’ll never win, right?

Right.

So it’s been my M.O. the past few years to enter… well, everything. And, with all those entries, I was bound to win something.  In this case, it was probably the best something of my entire life.

Gorgeous.

Yup, I won a custom New Belgium cruiser through New Belgium’s Enjoy the Ride campaign.  I’d use more exclamation points, but this happened quite some time ago and, for whatever reason, I never blogged about it.  Maybe I’ve just been too busy riding it.

It all started with a tweet. 140 characters (or less) to tell a story, using the hashtag #enjoytheride.  Here was mine:

with this picture attached:

Long time readers may recognize it from this post, following a long bike ride with my sister and mom on a perfect summer day.

Not too long after that tweet, I received an email asking me if I was old enough to legally enjoy craft beer (I am) and if I lived in a place where New Belgium distributed (luckily, I hadn’t moved to Pennsylvania yet, so as an NC resident, I did!)  After that, it wasn’t too long until a giant box of bike parts showed up at my door (well, my apartment complex’s office door, it was too big to drop at my personal door.)

Since this special bike required a special bike shop to put it together, I toted it up to New Jersey with me and hit up Margate Bike and Beach Shop, where the fellows were both excited to put the bike together and enamored with my new wheels.  I was also enamored. Here’s a shot of me when I first got the beautiful finished product:

Pure, unadulterated rapture

And, just to make it official, I decided to recreate the original photo.

Then and Now!

A HUGE thanks to New Belgium for seeing something in a young lady’s tweet nice enough to reward her. I can’t stop riding it up and down the boardwalk, and I’m pretty sure it’s the best looking bike in Jersey.

#GMANoDoubt: No Doubt in Central Park

Since it’s been a week and, as obvious from the last post, I’m doing diddly squat (until Zumba at noon), I think it’s only right that I discuss one of the highlights of my summer year. And, if it weren’t for those major moments like graduating from college and getting my first job and falling in love, it might be one of the highlights of my life.

I was lucky enough to see the one and only No Doubt perform LIVE in Central Park! Sure, it was only four songs, and I had to wake up at the booty crack of dawn to get there…. but it was SO worth it.

Good morning, New York

Although I had other fun adventures on this trip to NYC, the BIG pull to visit my brother on this particular weekend was the reunion of No Doubt.  And if you’ve been reading for some time, you may know that I’m a BIG fan of Gwen Stefani. And maybe definitely dressed up like her for Halloween this year.

Well, who am I to say no to another opportunity to use that shirt?!

I didn’t go QUITE as all out as I did for Halloween (I had a workout class immediately following the show, and didn’t wanna show up in plaid pants, bindi, red lipstick and all) but actually felt a little under dressed when I got there, as many folks had dyed their hair, dressed to the nines, and gone into mohawk mode. We were all just so excited to see Gwen and her boys rocking on Good Morning America!

Good Morning, America.

We had a long wait ahead of us, and the on-stage comic who was there to like… keep us motivated(?) was not what I’d call hilarious. But it was something, I guess.  We tolerated it for the real stars. And when they walked out onto the stage, the crowd went NUTS!

HOLY MOLY!!

Swag.

They were on fire, performing Settle Down (their newest song) as well as fan favorites, Underneath It All, It’s My Life, and (my personal fav) Spiderwebs.

One of the funniest parts of the show was when, during a verse of Underneath It All, Gwen forgot all the lyrics. She just rolled with it, shouting “It’s all good, you know the words!” We did, so we sang along.

It was only after this that she screamed out “Just so everyone knows, this is a sound check. Get ready, because the real show is gonna blow you away!” I was pleasantly surprised that the sound check was all four songs they were going to play live on the show (probably so they can shake out glitches like the lyric-amnesia).

We got your back, Gwen.

After the sound check, we had a bit more to wait and THEN we got to see some other famous people! Well, famous to me, and anyone else who watches morning talk shows from 7-9 a.m.

OMG ALL THE BEST BLONDIES!

Lara Spencer and Sam Champion doing what they do best: being blonde and beautiful.

George Stefanananapoaolololous (unsure on the spelling)

I think, at this point, I screamed out “ROBIN ROBERTS IS LOOKING HELLA GOOD!” because… I’m obsessed with Robin Roberts.

Gwen was right, the real show was even better, more intense, more exciting, louder than the sound check.

Too cool.

As always, Gwen’s style was on point:

Do these boots come in a size 13?

She had the crowd rocking, the boys backed her up like a family would, and it was perfect.

Straight on fire.

We ate it up.

Amazing.

After standing for about 3 hours with a painfully heavy backpack and dancing in the brutal heat, I was sore, I was sweaty, and I was ELATED! Seriously, this was a mind blowing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world (though, at the time, I thought I’d trade it for a massage).

Nothing a little food, a solid steam at Equinox, and some night time shenanigans with my cousin, brother, and besty couldn’t fix.

Just what the doctor ordered

Any groups that you loved as a young’n that you still geek out over?