So Two Thousand and Late

2012 was an epic year. Epic like an epic poem. And, for those of you not in a 10th grade English class right now, that means 2012 was lengthy and narrative (since I did blog about it), and was mostly concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation (well…. we may be stretching on that last part, but I’m pretty sure my post on the joy of drinking a Shower Beer was one of the more significant pieces of literature in our modern culture.) And, despite the fact that 2012 was jam-packed, it’s funny how it can be summed up with a lot less words than the 133 posts that my 2012 WordPress Report tells me I wrote (Jokes on you, WordPress! Here’s #134.)

So many drinks to choose from...

So many drinks to choose from…

I drank a lot of beers. BUT I also branched out. A little bit. MixologyWine. And then wine again. Luckily, I mostly got that out of my system early in the year. Beers are still the key to my heart.

I ran my first race. It involved eating a vegan tako. So just call me a Dough(wo)man.

Yummy.

Yummy.

 I went Pescatarian for Lent. It was surprisingly easy and, since then, The best part of that experience was that, after Lent was over, I never really went back to eating meat at every meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it. But simply pulling it from the menu for a while led to no longer depending on it as the base for my food intake.  I like that a lot.
I moved out of my North Carolina apartment. It was one of the most stressful days of my life. And, despite the fact that I was moving to a place I love more than anything, I was also moving away from my former home for seven years. I was leaving my friends who had become my family, and it was tough. I miss them like hell every day.
I fell in love. With a city. Namely, the City of Brotherly Love.  I’ve never wanted to explore a place, soak it up, and breathe it in more (though sometimes this means breathing in some less than appealing aromas). I’m so happy to be where I am.
True true true

True true true

I also fell out of love. That was one of the hardest parts of the year. But guess what? Ending a long relationship, despite what you might feel at the time, isn’t the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the year. If you’ve gone through something similar, you know what I mean. If you are currently going through something similar, stay strong, find all those other things that make you happy, follow them with passion, and I’ll see you on the other side with a beer.
And, if you’re REALLY lucky, you already have a friend waiting (in Denver) with ALL THE BEERS… And a Great American Beer Festival. I firmly believe there is no better way to recover from heartbreak than surrounding yourself with great beers and the gorgeous bearded men that brew it.
Just what the doctor ordered!

Just what the doctor ordered!

I started (and finished!!) my first semester of grad school. And I think I killed it. We’ll see when the final grade trickles in… but it’s looking good.
Live Socially now. It’s incredible.
I haven’t drank soda during 2012. I think one time I had an LIT with a splash of Coke, and once, when I was sick to the point of unable to move, I was nursed back to health with some ginger ale. I don’t think I’ve missed it.  But, I’ll be honest, though I haven’t missed it, I think that I’ll ring in 2013 with a fountain soda. And some sort of sandwich from Wawa. And one of my best friends in the world who’s coming to Philly for a glorious fiesta. And, let’s be honest, if this year’s any indicator of what’s to come, I might need the extra boost of energy. 
Bring it on.

Bring it on.

If you’re reading this, thanks for being a part of my life. 
Happy New Year, y’all.
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Darlin’ it’s better, down where it’s wetter

Know what’s the best thing about the aquarium?

FISH ARE FRIENDS!

FISH ARE FRIENDS!

Everything.

It’s been a few months since I’ve been to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, and since I had two free passes that expired at the end of 2012, it was time to get busy living going to the aquarium or get busy dying.  But really, I don’t need a big excuse to go.

I LOVE the aquarium. I love fish. Wait. Let me elaborate.

I have a tiny tattoo of a wave on my right ankle. I love the ocean and fish so much that I kind of have this secret fantasy that if I ever get another (or several other) tattoos, I could make them all fish and sea-related. And then, my body would sort of be like a walking “Under the Sea”-themed party.

…ok, I know, that’s a little much. But real-talk. They’re the best.

Sting Ray BAY!

Sting Ray BAY!

Adventure Aquarium is especially fun because just about every single section has a different ‘Please Touch’ area. Rubbing and feeding sting rays, tiny sharks. starfish, sea anemones, everything good and fun. And, if you have the opportunity to touch sea critters safely, I’d fully recommend inviting your little brother and sister. They’re the ultimate plus two.

Little Loveys

Little Loveys

Kiley and I even dressed for the theme.

Jellyfish and Jaws

Jellyfish and Jaws

We take aquarium visits seriously.

Highlights this time:

Hunter was attacked (he made it out alive).

Danger is his middle name.

Danger is his middle name.

It was pole-feeding Thursday, so they were feeding the sharks fishies on a pole. And we got to watch the CARNAGE.

Delicious fishies.

Delicious fishies.

The penguins (who weren’t handling the cold Camden weather too well.)

Note they're all cowering in the warm closet. Wusses.

Note they’re all cowering in the warm closet. Wusses.

ALWAYS my favorites, those creatures with tentacles.

Jellyfishing: The most dangerous game

Jellyfishing: The most dangerous game

We were traipsing through his garden. Sorry, bro.

We were traipsing through his garden. Sorry, bro.

And, of course, staring down sharks.

 

Come at me, brah.

Come at me, brah. 

He did not, in fact, come at me.

And, since it’s the season and all, Scuba Santa made an appearance.

Ho, Ho, glubbbb

Ho, Ho, glubbbb

Oh goodness.

The aquarium. I can’t get enough….

But, as I’ve been loafing at my family home for the past week and some change, it’s time to get my act together and head back to Philly. This New Year’s Eve isn’t going to celebrate itself…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Generation

I had every intention of taking LOADS of pictures on Christmas night. Really, I did. Pictures of the food, pictures of the presents, pictures of the fun… That was the plan.

See, look, I even started!

Festive Filet! Yes, sir-ay!

Festive Filet! Yes, sir-ay!

But, as it’s been said before, “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”  Admittedly, I am neither a mice NOR a man. But something got in the way of my picture taking.  Actually, it was more someone. Enter Whitney, my eldest female cousin (of my 10 cousins on my mom’s side of the family).  If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember her getting married in NYC last year and me visiting her not too long after that in the city. If you’re not, here she is, interrupting Christmas dinner:

Rude, right?

Rude, right?

She had the GALL to ask everyone to quiet down, interrupting crucial appetizer consumption time.  I looked over her way, intrigued, but still hungry, and instinctively started snapping pictures.  She claims that she had a full speech planned out, ready to wow the crowd with her eloquence.  What it really went like was something like this:

Hey! Everyone. [we all stare at her, she momentarily looks like a deer in headlights.] I…. Um…. I’M PREGNANT!!

GLORIOUS!!

GLORIOUS!!

Cue total rapture from the 30-something family members in the house at the time. There was laughing, there was crying, belly-touching, and joy. We demanded to know the due date, how she was feeling, the details (we’re a little bit of a TMI family)… Everything.

Love is all around.

Love is all around.

And, in the hooplah and hullabaloo, I set my camera aside to give my cousin all the love and support I could (and hand over some presents, of course).  I did get my brother to snap one picture though, so we’ll just consider it a toast to the next generation of our family.

Slainte to the little one and his/her happy parents!

Slainte to the little one and his/her happy parents!

Beyond that, break has been full of relaxation, great foods, and delicious beers. And, inevitably, loads of excited chattering over the baby-on-the-way.

Can’t wait to find out even more and, eventually, meet this little one!!

Any insane Christmas news and announcements on your end?

I feel like Facebook and Twitter erupted with news of engagements and pregnancies. Tis the season, eh?

 

 

 

Single Surprises

I was single before. In fact, I’ve been single for over 80% of my life. But, for four and a half years, I’ve been off the market. Those years were at a pivotal point in my life. A point during which I studied abroad (translation: no scoping out for foreign strange as I shouted “molto molto” in response to any and all Italian questions aimed at me), turned 21 (translation: no “Make out with 21 guys before 2am” or “Do a ‘blowjob’ shot off the bartender’s lap” dares), graduated college (translation: no final undergrad flings where the challenge is to hook up with someone from all four years of school, and a bonus for the victory lap senior looking so fly in his second commencement robe). Hell, I even missed the boat on moving to a new city as a single lady. Translation: I ended up renting an apartment slightly too big for one (but, apparently, too small for two) which I’m now living in alone.  Other than some basic life differences between living with a romantic partner and living alone/being single (i.e. cooking for one, lots more closet space, the occasional pang of feelings when you remember or see something that reminds you of them), there have been a few things that have surprised me in these past few months of being single.  Pleasant surprises, and, inevitably, a few not-so-pleasant ones. And, since I’ve shared very little personal information about my life post-breakup, I figured this was as good of a place as any to start. Sharing is caring, right?

1. Ms. Fix-It
This one definitely falls into the “not-so-pleasant” surprise. Maybe I just imagined myself a handy lady back when I had someone to fall back on after realizing that I wasn’t very handy. And, now, when stuff breaks, I’m on my own.
The most recent manifestation of this? When my Wireless dropped out, after sitting with the wires and the router and the modem and the directions for over an hour, I came out looking something like this:

Only slightly more disheveled.

Needless to say, I didn’t really “fix it”. But I DID get wired internet. And that’ll suffice, for now.

2. Beloved Bed

I’ve fallen deeply in love already. Only it’s a lot bigger than your average significant other.

I want to be on you.

I want to be on you.

A few days after the breakup, I went out and bought a new bed from Ikea (which was a MISERABLE experience, Ikea alone. Led to crying in the middle of the checkout line and utter exhaustion). LUCKILY, I got the bed of my dreams out of it. And, when Macy’s was having a bedding sale, I figured New bed, New blanket, right?! The combination of the two has confirmed my belief that there is no better way to “Treat Yo’ Self” than a good night’s sleep. And who would’ve thought that my first love after a breakup would be Swedish (and made of wood)?

3. No Guilt November (or October. Or December.)

Living in a new city, starting a new school, there are infinite opportunities to go out and try new things. That being said, I often felt guilty leaving my apartment knowing that my partner at the time was not a part of all those new things. This is definitely a personal fault, and I’m sure bothered me a lot more than it bothered him. But that being said, it had me feeling bad a lot, or choosing not to do things because I didn’t want to ditch him. Now, if someone throws out the idea of an impromptu happy hour – I’M IN!

Bonus shift with Living Social starting in 20 minutes? Lemme grab my coat.

A latke party in honor of Hanukkah? See you there.

Homemade Hanukkah House! So festive, eh?

Homemade Hanukkah House! So festive, eh?

I’ve realized that I am a person that not only wants these new experiences, but craves them. I want to meet everyone in Philly, I want to make new friends, I want to dine at new places, I want to see pop-up shops and hit up new neighborhoods to explore. And, as selfish as it sounds, maybe it’s for the best that I’m not doing all of that with a partner who isn’t as interested in those kinds of trips and adventures.

4. NEW FRIENDS!!

Since all of that internet drama went down (and I had a minor meltdown since I had a paper due in an hour), I had to rush to a nearby cafe to get my work done with free wifi. I was lucky enough to sit down next to this lovely person:

Oh, Philly

Oh, Philly

No shoes, no actual shirt (it was just like… some cloth, wrapped around the chest region), maybe no sanity.

This isn’t really DIRECTLY related to being single. But it was still hilarious and ridiculous. And I wanted to share.

5. Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen.

I’ve probably blow-dried my hair more in the past 2.5 months than I did in the previous 6 years. And, despite my memories of being younger where I was CERTAIN that blow-drying took 2 hours to complete and was an experience full of pain and agony, it’s actually more like a 15 minute process with MAJOR payoffs.

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

I think I never wanted to blow-dry it living with someone, as it is loud and mostly obnoxious. But now, living alone, naked blow-drying   has become a favorite pastime.

Don’t judge me.

6. Best Friends Forever

The initial outpouring of support post-breakup was overwhelming. If a friend in need is a friend indeed, I was everyone’s friend. I was in need of love, of ego stroking, of funny memories, of hugs, and of grilled cheese. And I received each and every one of these.

But after the dust settles, after the Facebook notifications have tapered off and the phone stopped blowing up with texts and calls, there’s a lot of alone time. And it’s during that time that you realize a very important concept. And, despite Carrie Bradshaw hitting on this long before my first heartbreak, it took until now to really “get it”, and it kind of surprised me how hard it hit home:

The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.

I’ve heard it countless times, but it’s never resonated more than this year.  And here’s the follow-up part, the piece that makes me giddy just thinking about it.

And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous. -CB

I'm SURE someone out there will love this lunatic.

This chick….

In the meantime, I’m feeling fairly enamored with that white-haired, PBR-loving lunatic. So, you know, no hurry.

Less about me, more about YOU! What’s an aspect of yourself that you’re MADLY in love with?

Bacon, Bacon Everywhere (And not a drop to drink)

Even though we can’t actually drink while working our Living Social Adventures, we CAN eat. And tonight…. we ate bacon.

We ate SO MUCH BACON.

Touring Queen Village with bacon and beer as our goals, we were living socially all night. We started the night at Ela with some of the most delicious “noodles” of my life. Diver Scallop “noodles” (so inventive, carved from scallops)  with bacon cream, wild mushrooms, and shaved bacon with a little rye toast bite. HELLO LOVAH!

Not the most gorgeous picture. But hello lover is right.

Not the most gorgeous picture. But hello lover is right.

Creamy and rich, the bacon cream was savory and cut nicely (I assume) by some Ommegang Hennepin. The presentation was adorable in little tin cans, and this was an ideal way to start the night. After a little stroll down a ways, we hit up Village Belle for what was absolutely my favorite dish of the night.

Let me go back a bit. Remember that time that I went Pescatarian for Lent last year? Of course you do.

My “last meal” as a meat-eater before 40 days of boycotting pork, steak, chicken, lamb, deer, etc. was a DELICIOUS pork belly sandwich from Tyler’s in Durham. And that might’ve been the last time I had pork belly. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Don't worry, that beer isn't mine.

Don’t worry, that beer isn’t mine.

Maple glazed pork belly with a parsnip puree and a parsnip chip. And, lucky for me, a young lady at the table was a vegetarian (not lucky for her, especially considering there wasn’t a veggie friendly dish in sight). So guess who got TWO SERVINGS OF PORK BELLY?!

This lady. All the pork belonged to me. And paired with the parsnip puree, which was just as smooth as any mashed taters, and SO HEALTHY! I mean, the double portion of pork belly probably wasn’t the healthiest. But moderation and balance is key. Like how that parsnip chip balanced proudly in the puree.

Our next dish was wolfed down too fast to snap a shot. But it was from a very very secret place…

TOP SECRET COOKIES!!

TOP SECRET COOKIES!!

A bacon chocolate chip cookie. YUP.

Cookie Confidential was SO generous giving us not only bacon chocolate chip sweets BUT tiny, perfect little cupcakes. Beer Cakes to be specific.

Philadelphia Pale Ale cupcake!!

Philadelphia Pale Ale cupcake!!

Craft beer cupcakes is not a totally unique concept, but these mini cupcakes were next level tasty. The beer isn’t only in the cake itself BUT ALSO the frosting. And they’re all locally brewed beers, so you know they’re fresh.  I almost went back for seconds, but there was something else waiting for me.

They all want that sausage game.

They all want that sausage game.

Sausage, sauerkraut, and beer mustard from Brauhaus Schmitz. Also, a DELICIOUS-looking beer that I yearned for…. if only my professional moral standard weren’t so high!

If you’re into this kind of thing, it’s a Living Social Adventure in Philly, and I know that I’ll personally be working a few more after the winter break.

If you’re a vegetarian, I also encourage you to come. And then I will eat your pork belly. You can drink the beer, though. Fair’s fair.

Now, I think I’ll slip comfortably into a salty pork coma…

 

 

 

 

#ecsdontsleep (Neither do Grad Students)

Oi, what a week it’s been. Papers, take home exams, a REAL exam. I am WIPED. I’ve spent more time in the library the past two weeks than I think I did throughout my entire undergraduate career. It feels like the only way I can really focus, surrounded by my fellow strung-out students, fueled by energy drinks, Wawa hoagies, and the threat of a dip in the GPA. But, after giving my hand a cramp writing so furiously fast on my exam last night, I had only one thing on my mind.

IMG_8948

Last night was my first night out as a full-blooded Living Social lady. And, though worked a few events so far, I hadn’t actually met most of my coworkers yet. And, at the lovely Trestle Inn , a whiskey-a-go-go bar nestled at the corner of 11th and Callowhill, we convened in our holiday finery to exchange presents, sing carols (Thrift Shop is a carol, right?), drink eggnog (and many, many other bevvies), and make merry.

90% of the tales from the night are the “you had to be there” kinds of stories. But, since the holidays are all about giving, I’ll give a FEW key highlights which made last night (to quote Macklemore) F*cking Awesome.

First of all, it’s incredible to find a group of people who are as supportive of theme parties as myself. You might remember what happened the LAST TIME I went all-out for a theme party (awkward.) Last night, though, my fellow ECs came dressed to impress.

Sexy, can I?

Sexy, can I?  

Christmas Sparkles

Christmas Sparkles

We learned that, when in doubt, the gift of booze is always appreciated.

YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE!

For ME?! You shouldn’t have!

And, if booze doesn’t work…. might I suggest ballpark franks?

That was my present. You're welcome.

That was my present. You’re welcome.

I’ve never seen anyone get as fired up over a rock paper scissors tournament as my fellow ECs. Then again, I’ve literally never seen anyone else have a rock paper scissors tournament so…. there’s that.

Such intensity.

Such intensity.

And, as we danced the night away, using the sequinned gowns as human disco balls and tossing back tiny Beercakes to keep our blood sugar high, I had a strange feeling come over me.  I’m pretty sure it was the feeling that I belonged.

But it could’ve just been sheer terror at the worst best gift of the night.

This mask will likely haunt your nightmares from now on, sorry.

This mask will likely haunt your nightmares from now on, sorry.

And, by the end of the night (translation: the beginning of the morning as it was well after 2:00 am), I finally understood what everyone meant when they say “ECs Don’t Sleep.”

Luckily, since my exam’s over, I’ve got plenty of time to make up for lost slumber this weekend.  And pray that my dreams don’t involve that horse head mask….

Best White Elephant gift you’ve ever given/received? How about worst?

Last night’s half-eaten advent calendar was pretty bad.

Last year, I ended up with a six pack of fancy, new-to-me beers not available in NC. That was probably number one.

 

 

Yelp Philly’s Freedom to Party

Sickness, school, and sleep have really gotten in the way of me writing this post (doesn’t my life sound fabulous?), so it’s about a week late. But that comes with the territory, right? The grad school territory, the cold season territory, the winter in Philly territory… I feel like a hibernating bear. But I did manage to come out of my lady cave for a few choice hours last week to head over to Revolution House in Old City for Yelp Philly’s Freedom to Party!!

Yelp goes hard in the paint.

I brought my pal Martha after her demonstration of being an excellent +1 at the Confections and Cocktails party at Williams-Sonoma and, moments after we hopped off the El, we rolled into Revolution House. Once inside, we were treated like VIPs (VIY[elpers]?) as we enjoyed some of the finest food and drink that Revolution House had to offer.

Rev Dog - beef hot dog, guacamolesweet & sour peppers,  cheddar cheese, carmelized onions

Rev Dog – beef hot dog, guacamole
sweet & sour peppers, cheddar cheese, carmelized onions

 

Pizza and Beer - My kind of joint

Pizza and Beer – My kind of joint

IMG_8710

Sexy Sangria

Other than just a-MAH-zing food and drink (seriously, those Rev Dog bites were decadent), this event had it all. Feats of strength (watching Chef Luca lift trays full of salmon), excitement (As the sandwich chalk-board tumbles towards us all, imminent doom looming, will we be saved?!), laughing, crying (don’t worry, it was just from laughing), chills (from icy cold beers), heat (from the dreamiest heat lamps known to mankind), and, of course, the gorgeous movers and shakers of Philadelphia’s chosen ones: The Yelp Elite. I’ll admit, before this event, I’d only ogled Revolution House as I walked to various bars in Old City, assuming it was just some restaurant. How wrong I was….

You know what you can’t see from walking past Revolution House? THE HEATED ROOF DECK!!

Is there anything better than a nice warm deck on a chilly Autumn night?

I submit that there is not.

IMG_8734

Don’t mind the bushy brows, I’m channeling my inner Frida.

From a champagne toast to start the night to a decadent Winter warmer of boozy cider, Revolution House brought out the heavy hitters.  The tiny ladies pouring the wines and beers downstairs were an ABSOLUTE JOY, and started my night off the right way. But, as things started dying down in the bottom of Revolution House, I wondered what mysteries awaited me upstairs. I followed a tray of crab canolis (the only dish that I tried which didn’t excite my palate and awaken all of my other senses like a rapturous alarm clock inviting everyone to the party) up the stairs and was excited to see even more treats.

Gimme that fishy!!

Gimme that fishy!!

And, despite Martha spilling and making a GIANT MESS (tsk tsik), we both left full of the holiday spirit (or holiday spirits? Jeez, there were a lot of bevvies….) It was a glorious way to celebrate the end of my FIRST HALF of final projects. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more finals where those came from…. guess I’ll have to head back to Revolution House for their Mad Elf/Mad Dreams party next Friday. Shucks….

Tiniest tenders ever.

Tiniest tenders ever.

Thank you, Revolution House and Yelp Philly. You sure know how to show a girl a good time.

Off to study. Or nurse this cup of Theraflu…

What’s your favorite type of bar to hit up during those chilly winter nights?!

 

Six Pack Sunday: Living Socially

Wait a minute, wait a minute.

I know a lot of big things happened this week.

Movember/No Shave November ended. I mourned the lost of beardy men all over. I had the best grilled cheese of my life. MTV’s Buckwild trailer premiered. News of Girl Meets World swept the internet. But, for me, there was something even more momentous that went down.

I Lived SO Socially.  In fact, I lived socially TWICE this weekend. Winter Winery Tour followed by a Brewery, Distillery, and Winery tour. Too cool, right?

There were highlights from both.

1. A Match Made in Heaven

Cheese and Chocolate: Wine's best friends!!

Cheese and Chocolate: Wine’s best friends!!

2. Road Wine

Ever think that you’d like wine a lot more if it tasted and smelled like apple pie and Christmas?

Both ALPINEY andddd Spicy!

Both ALPINEY andddd Spicy!

Alpine Spice, from Sand Castle Winery in Bucks County. Serve warm in the winter. Consider yourself educated. Get this wine.

3. New Friends

I made a few, but I don’t wanna start blogging about them without clearing the air. However, I did meet this one stud…. He was the strong, silent type, but I think he liked me.

Cute hat, right?

Cute hat, right?

4. Pasta Salad

Yeah, that doesn’t always sound like a highlight. In fact, at most silly picnics and potlucks, I don’t really get excited over pasta salad at all. But, if it’s oriental pasta salad…. all bets are off.

Feast your eyes on THIS!

Feast your eyes on THIS!

Making this, POST-HASTE!!

5. Whiskey Wednesday (or Sunday. Or every day.)

I don’t even like whiskey. 90% of the time, the sound of the word “whiskey” makes me feel like running away in fear. But what about when the words BEFORE whiskey are “Salted” and “Caramel”?

Yup, taking you home with me.

Yup, taking you home with me.

Here’s hoping there’s a boozy cider night in my VERY near future. Because I brought a bottle of this bad boy home with me. Courtesy of Philadelphia Distilling… CRAFT LIQUOR, Y’ALL!!

6. THE BEARD LIVES ON!!

So, for some fancy beer guys, No Shave November is more than a fundraiser. It’s a lifestyle.

Here’s to one of the best beer beards I’ve seen in Philly, a la Yards Brewery.

Sweet, brah.

Sweet, brah.

Love it.

And, with the end of the semester looming quite menacingly on the horizon, it’s back to reality.

Oh goodness, it was just so nice to not be in a library for a weekend…..