Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia 2013: Surprise and Delight

Growing up, I used to spend hours in a particular section of Barnes & Noble (or Borders, R.I.P.) While my buddies would shuffle over to the magazine section or the Young Adult part of the store, I would park it in front of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy rows for hours on end. And I wasn’t there for space exploration or alien invaders. I came for the wizards and the dragons, the supernatural and the fairies.

I was in it for the magic.

And while most of the books on my shelf are now either textbooks or cookbooks, I still spend a lot of my free time trying to find the magic in everyday life. I have this idea that Philadelphia is basically a treasure trove of these little pockets of magic. Thursday, August 23rd, 2013, I found the biggest one yet.

Just 2500 of my closest friends

Just 2500 of my closest friends

Getting to that point was a little tougher, though. I was a true first-timer and everything that COULD go wrong did go wrong.

  • I realized JUST HOW LONG it takes to curl my hair, and why I only do it once every two years or so.

    Two hours later...

    Two hours later…

  • I bugged my mom all day that we needed to hurry up, and that she couldn’t forget anything. And then… I forgot my dress. My little brother, thank goodness, immediately got in a car and toted it up to Philly. And then dragged us to our drop off spot at 30th Street Station.

    Just a little light picnic packing.

    Just a little light picnic packing.

  • I cut my hand on our table and had to be careful so as not to host my own bloody Dîner en Rouge. (Next year, pack bandaids.)

But we got to our meeting point at 30th Street Station. And, apparently, so did everyone else. Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Dîner. And unlike the folks who had to drag their accoutrements across town, we just had to walk through the train station, where we were greeted with the most incredible sight…

Are we there yet? Yup.

Are we there yet? Yup.

We shut down ten blocks of JFK Boulevard for the biggest pop-up dinner Philadelphia has ever seen.

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Quite the backdrop.

My tiny miniature mother was my plus one, and looked beautiful en Blanc. And, I’ve gotta admit, the summer’s been pretty good to me. I cleaned up pretty nicely myself. (Spoiler alert: you’ve gotta allow me some vanity here, these are some of my favorite pictures I’ve ever seen of me.)

Price girls whiting out

Price girls whiting out

We went with a beach theme for our table (surprise surprise) and opted out of the catering options, instead choosing to put together our own picnic complete with salmon, lemon orzo salad, broccoli rabe, and macaroons/salt water taffy from Shriver’s.

Beach girls, through and through

Beach girls, through and through

Digging in

Digging in

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After dinner was my favorite part. Traipsing around and seeing all the other Dîners, ogling incredible centerpieces, elegant outfits, and decadent dishes.

And also, a giant white cock.

Oh, hey new friend.

Oh, hey new friend.

As the sparklers lit up the night, and the DJ spun us well into the evening, I felt my heart swell with this enormous love for my city. The people who joined us at our section for dinner conversation and roll-sharing, the organizers who made the magic happen, the musicians who kept toes tapping, and the strangers who shared in this incredible experience.

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I left with an extra twinkle in my eye, and a newfound dedication to discovering future pockets of magic in Philadelphia.

If you’ve got any you want to share, please don’t hesitate to invite me. I’m an excellent plus one, and I make a mean salmon picnic.

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JPreezy Turns Two-Seezy (seezy means six. Obviously.)

Paris Hilton said,

The way I see it, you should live everyday like its your birthday.

If that’s the case, how do you spend your ACTUAL birthday?!

Thanks, internet, for telling me how to spend this momentous weekend.

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Throw down like Dumbledore.

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Feel so many feelings.

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Shake it like the long necks.

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And get SUPER weird, a la my one true love, Jason Segel.

26 will be full of donuts, white water rafting, tiaras, snacks, dancing, and sunshine. And that’s just the first day.

Here’s to another rotation around that sun. Thanks for sticking along for the ride, y’all.

 

Chicago in the Summer

Have you ever touched dry ice before? Suddenly, there’s a searing cold that borders the line between freezing and burning, and you’re not sure if you want to scream or curl into a ball and rock back and forth silently.  That’s the feeling that I associated with visits to Chicago before this weekend.

Yes, I could mostly thaw my bitter heart with the warmth of my friends and loved ones that I was staying with, but as a Carolina girl for seven years, my delicate sensibilities regarding temperature were finely tuned to mild winters and scorching summers. I could handle that. “Cold” in Chicago is a different beast entirely. There aren’t enough layers I could possibly wear to prepare me for outdoor adventures, and I become bear-like in my desire to hibernate in a cave (or near a fire place, if the opportunity presents itself).

I'll just be over here reading. Seeing the sights be damned.

I’ll just be over here reading. Seeing the sights be damned.

This weekend, I emerged from my Chicago cocoon, shedding puffy jackets and elbow-length gloves in favor of thigh-grazing jorts and sheer, gauzy tops that cling to your skin, giving the illusion of wearing nothing at all (I wore bandeaus and tank tops, though, because nip slips aren’t cute in any city). The blossom of the city of Chicago opened up and presented me with a fragrant, vibrant experience rich with sights and sounds. Dogs barking, birds chirping, children pushing the buttons of their handyman father who desperately wanted to use Sunday afternoon to fix that loose step on the deck.

The beautiful backyard at Bang Bang Pie Shop

The beautiful backyard at Bang Bang Pie Shop

Due to some leftover points from Southwest and a freebie I obtained earlier this summer from Spirit Airlines, I managed to visit four airports in an equal amount of days (Atlantic City to O’Hare, Midway to Philadelphia) in a super cheap trip to that old Windy City. True to form, the city continued to be delicious, but the escapes from the confines of Caitlin’s condo were more frequent, and far more enjoyable.

Mmm, pork.

Mmm, pork. 

Our weekend began the way most excellent weekends should: with a giant pile of meat. A trip to Lillie’s Q was in order to reconnect with the gals I met on my last visit as well as my inner cave-woman who likes her meat like she likes her men; served on a slab and accompanied by various sauces and gooey mac & cheese (and now you know what most of late-night fantasies revolve around.) Everything was delicious, and then acted like an edible lullaby as I knocked out the moment I hit the pillow.

Sing me to sleep, sweet potato fries.

Sing me to sleep, sweet potato fries.

The rest of the weekend was filled with delicious treats and lots of outdoor time (a concept that seemed novel in trips previous to this one).

A trip to Revolution Brewing‘s tasting room was inevitable.

Hardcore

Hardcore

Rosa (Hibiscus Ale), A Little Crazy (Belgian Pale Ale), Black Power (Stout, baby)

Rosa (Hibiscus Ale), A Little Crazy (Belgian Pale Ale), Black Power (Stout, baby)

Logan Square Farmer’s Market for tasty treats

Tacos... for BREAKFAST!

Tacos… for BREAKFAST!

Retro on Roscoe, a throwback-style street festival featuring cool jams from the 90s, and shenanigans from NOW!

Thanks, Instagram!

Thanks, Instagram!

I even got a textured football for impromptu back massages.

Looks like it feels good, right?

Looks like it feels good, right?

And we ended the weekend off in the best POSSIBLE way: a jaunt to Bang Bang Pie Shop for (what else) PIE! And a biscuit.

Want this. Stat.

Want this. Stat.

"Summer Pie" featuring a graham cracker crust, sage ice cream, lemon curd, macerated blackberries, and a little of my drool on top because of extreme salivation.

“Summer Pie” featuring a graham cracker crust, sage ice cream, lemon curd, macerated blackberries, and a little of my drool on top because of extreme salivation.

Now that I’ve been spoiled by a Chicago summer weekend, I’m not sure if I could bear to return in the dark hours of winter…. Though there’s one thing that always keeps me coming back.

True Love: Friends since Tockwogh!

True Love: Friends since Tockwogh!

Now, to go bask in the remaining days of my “summer” in Philly (is it summer? Because this weather feels very Autumnal…)

 

 

 

 

 

Spartan Race GIVEAWAY: Almost Makes Me Wish I Liked Running

UPDATE: Giveaway winner is…

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SETH! Sending you your code now!

Almost.

I’m pretty sure anyone who knows me for more than a few days is aware that I’m not much for running. Sure. I can do it for like… a mile. Maybe a little more. But I get bored. I feel like my body is rejecting the motion. There’s never enough shimmying (said like a true Zumba fan). Where am I going? What’s the point?

I’m sure there is a point. Something about fitness and heart and lung health and stress reduction and endorphins and not shooting your husband or something (at least that’s what Elle Woods taught me). But to me, it seems like a lot of silliness.

Yeah, I mean, I’m doing a 5k in a week (WHAT?! how? Why?) and I did run that portion of the Doughman (yes, that IS the coolest relay known to mankind). But mostly I liked it because mid-run, I got to eat a cupcake.

Wait? I have to run again after this?!

Wait? I have to run again after this?!

That being said, I kinda wish I liked it for one reason.

No, I probably won't

No, I probably won’t

I’ve always wanted to be a Spartan. Ever since 8th Grade when we had an in-school “Olympics” and my friends and I choreographed a dance to the tune of Space Jam only all the lyrics had to do with Athens and Sparta and Trojan Horses (thus began a lifetime of being awesome).

Did you know that women in Sparta were known for being the most badass chicks in ancient Greece? They truly followed the passage “Anything you can do, I can do better”, working their butts off in physical training along with the boys. They could also divorce their hubbies without worrying about losing all their personal wealth, but that’s got nothing to do with this.

See, the Spartan Race is this super intense-looking obstacle race. You run. You go through obstacles like:

  • Fire Jump
  • Barbed Wire Crawl
  • Wall Climb
  • Tyrolean Traverse (single rope over a body of water. If you can’t walk across the rope, you fall in the water and SWIM!)
  • Slippery wall (a wall covered in soap or GREASE!! whattt?!)
  • Log Jumps
  • Rope Climbs
  • Object Carry (maybe the object is a tire, maybe it’s a bucket full of ropes, maybe it’s a PERSON! [It’s not a person])

Dude, I don’t even know. This thing looks badass.

And with everyone getting into the swing of Obstacle Races lately, I figured why not share my love of Spartan ideals with someone who DOES want to try the Spartan Race (or the Spartan Sprint) for themselves!

I’ve got one freebie code to give  to a reader (which is a pretty big deal since these events are NOT cheap, ranging from $115-200!!) So why not a contest??

Entering is easy and I’ll choose one person August 17, 2013 at like… 5pm to get a code good for any Spartan Race in the 2013-2014 season in the continental US!  (There’s actually one at Citizens Bank Park in September for you Philly readers…)

Click here to see if there’s an event taking place near you!

HOW TO ENTER:

All you do to enter is tell me in a comment WHY you’d like to win an entry! That’s it.

So if you’ve been thinking about it…. well, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose.

GOOD LUCK, SPARTANS!!

(If you DON’T want to bother trying to win, but want 15% off of an entry, go to this site!!)

Living Social: Swan Song

Ever since December 2012, I’ve been a part of something pretty incredible.

Merry XXXMas from Philly ECs, y'all!

Merry XXXMas from Philly ECs, y’all!

See, when I moved to Philly, I moved with a partner. And then, in October, that partner was no longer in the picture. I was a full-time student and a part-time retail worker bee at Athleta (though that was short-lived… I don’t know how “cut out” I am for life in the world of performance-jeggings and sweat-wicking fabric sales) but I also felt like I had no idea what one did for “fun” in this city of Brotherly Love. Suddenly, as if sent from above, an opportunity fell into my lap. An opportunity to don the Living Social STAFF shirt and take folks in Philly on adventures around our city and suburbs.

My adventures were diverse and exhilarating:

  • Wintery Winery Tour
  • Brewery Winery Distillery Tour
  • Shooting and Drinking (IN that order!!)
  • Running of the Santas
  • Beer Festival
  • Sumo, Sushi, and Sake Tasting
  • Beer Trolley Tour
  • White Water Rafting
  • River Tubing
  • Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ
  • Pizza Making and Beer Tasting
  • Snow Tubing
  • Skiing/Snowboarding (this, for me, meant sitting comfortably in the ski lodge and watching people’s stuff)

If there was a way to maintain a livelihood off of professionally laughing, joking, flirting, organizing, corralling, directing, and hanging out with people, I’d do it in a heartbeat. For anyone who knows me IRL, you know that I’ve been “Living Socially” since I was about 14 years old for FREE! This “job”, if you even want to call it that, paid me for my bliss. And it was a blissful 9 months.

In the middle of July, my world was rocked. In an incredibly abrupt and confusing fashion, my coworkers and I (around the nation) were let go, our department eliminated from the Living Social family. And, in all honesty, I was crushed.

I’m still a little crushed.

Saturday, August 3rd was the last day of my Living Social career. Luckily, I went out with a bang. A totally radical bang.

GNARLY!!

GNARLY!!

Living Social Philly’s Second Annual 80s Dance Party was a TOTALLY TUBULAR THROW DOWN!

My tiniest coworker, Lissy. If LivingSocial was a Disney Channel, we'd be stars.

My tiniest coworker, Lissy. If LivingSocial was a Disney Channel, we’d be the stars.

There were some pretty incredible costumes.

The gang's all here

The gang’s all here

That being said, I only had eyes for my coworkers.

#ecsdontsleep

#ecsdontsleep

And the band played. And we danced. And we sang. And we “worked”. And then, the band announced it was their last song.

Inevitably, it was this song.

Needless to say, I got all kinds of weepy.

Just as Living Social entered my life at the perfect time, when I was a lost little soul looking for friends in all the wrong places, it’s exiting at the right time as well. As the summer ends, I’ve got QUITE the semester coming up. New job at Penn, three classes, internship, and one class that I’m TA-ing for…. there’s a lot on this plate of mine.

Luckily, we’ve got a little ditty that kind of embodies what I hope will happen with this group.

Raise your glasses up high, good friends by your side. Living Social we live, Living Social we die.

Promise, we’re not planning a group suicide. I just truly believe that I made a buncha “lifers”. The friends that will be my forever friends. And if that’s not the case, well…. we’ll always have rooftop parties, wine tastings, beer olympics, Franky Fridays, and ice sculptures.

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Thanks for the memories, Living Social. No matter how awkward our parting of ways was…. you introduced me to a way of being and a group of people that have forever changed my life.