Philly’s Own Women’s Summer Camp!

I remember it like it was yesterday…

Imagine one week to focus on yourself. A better body, confidence, lessons learned, fabulous food and fitness, inches and pounds lost (without going hungry), and unparalleled results.

The first time I ever seriously considered a “Wellness Retreat” was through the former Golden Child of the Philadelphia fitness scene, Lithe Method, their “lithe escape“. It sounded great… until I saw the price point.

 

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Not including the flight there, the time taken off work for a week vacation, etc….

 

Having only recently finished grad school, my bank account (and accrued vacation time) could NOT handle that.

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Luckily, the gang from Rise Gatherings knows that, though luxurious, these week-long tropical yoga- or fitness-retreats are NOT for everyone. And they managed to bring the best parts about a retreat (i.e. gorgeous natural scenery,  healthy foods, opportunities for fitness, workshops focused on body and mind) and pack it into 42 hours just down the road from Philadelphia (well, about 120 miles down the road, but no flights required!)

Rise Gathering is a summer-camp-for-women experience “designed to promote personal growth, enhance overall well-being, inspire collective connection and share some serious fun.”

Sounds good, right? Well, there’s more.

What’s got me excited about Rise Gatherings?

  • 305 Fitness – This insane NYC-based dance fitness class is 90% cardio, 10% toning and stretching, and looks 100% badass. Like Zumba turned up to 11. I’M IN! (especially since the class hasn’t yet made it’s way to Philly)
  • Kayaking and Waterfall Hike – Since Rise takes place at Camp Canadensis, we’re actually going to be able to do things as if we were at summer camp. HECK YES.
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  • Bonfire – The night you arrive is kicked off with a bonfire celebration to welcome everyone. I only pray they have enough s’mores for the rest of the women….
  • Options – I like yoga, but I’m not obsessed with it. I could use some more mindfulness in my life, but I don’t want to spend the whole weekend focusing on it. Plant-based cooking is a part of my life, but not a HUGE one. Rise Gatherings is offering you the chance to make this weekend exactly what you want. By bringing in a number of women all focused on different practices and specialties, it’s like a “Choose-your-own-adventure” book.
  • Connections.

According to one of the producers:

Rise Gatherings is much more than a one time event.  We are launching a community of empowered women of all ages who want to raise their voices, spirits and hands.

There are few things more inspiring than a community of empowered women of all ages. This is why I’ve already convinced my mom and sister to join me May 12-14 (That’s right, it’s Mother’s Day! Bring your mom!)

AND because I’m slightly obsessed with the concept and wanted to share it with everyone, I reached out to Rise Gatherings and got a special code in case you’d like to come along.

Use code: food_sweat_beer at Checkout for a $50 discount off your ticket OR a double ticket for you and a friend/mother/sister/soul-sister.

I can’t guarantee there will be enough s’mores to go around after I get a crack at ’em, but I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be an amazing weekend!

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The Top 5 Things You May Have Missed at the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower Show is a tradition like no other. Every year, right at the tail end of a dreary winter, the Philadelphia Convention Center transforms into a taste of spring with millions of blossoms (okay, I don’t know if it’s actually millions, but the entrance bridge had over 30,000 so I’m ballparking).

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Bulbs and Bulbs – GET IT?!

This year’s theme was “Holland: Flowering the World” and, no surprise, the show had Philadelphians and out-of-towners alike tip-toeing through the tulips for nine straight days. And though a “snowstorm” did make for a bit of a hiccup on day 4, the Philly Flower Show went on without a hitch.

I’ve been to the PHS Flower Show before. once during grad school and once on a pretty ridiculous date sponsored by Yards Brewery (long story, but click away if you’re curious.) But every year I go, I find something new to love. This year was no different. So yes: there was the epic flower bridge at the entrance… but some of the bits and pieces that were my favorite, a lot of my friends missed. SO here you have it:

The Top 5 Things You Might Have Missed at the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show

  1. PEDALS: The White Bike Plan
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    While you may not have MISSED this exhibit, it is possible you didn’t realize exactly why there was a huge exhibit all about white bicycles in the middle of the show. Turns out, it was an ode to Witte Fietsenplan (translation: The White Bicycle Plan). This was actually part of a Dutch counter-culture movement from the 1960s called Provo, and  one of the very first bike-sharing plans in the world! We’re all newly spoiled with Philly’s Indego, turns out Amsterdam had the idea over 50 years ago!

  2. Open Bar
     

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    Let the St. Germain flow!

    Truth be told, I learned this little gem from a fellow student during my income-light grad school years. Never underestimate the ability of a grad student to find free (or deeply discounted) drinks. If you’re looking to channel your inner bee and go through the Flower Show with a buzz, the folks at Fine Wine and Spirits are ready to pour you an endless array of samples from 2pm-7pm.

    Seriously. It’s the ultimate pregame.

  3. The Philly Belle

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    Well, if you missed this flower, you missed something pretty special. This gorgeous, unique tulip is named the Philly Belle, and is a one-of-a-kind tulip bred specifically by Remarkable Tulips for the show. I recognize that geeking out over a flower is not something I’d normally do, but this vibrant, fringed tulip was like nothing I’d ever seen.

  4. The Design Gallery
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    Yup, that is a flower.

    I really don’t know much about gardening. I have kept an air plant alive since I moved to Philly nearly 5 years ago, and that is what I consider my greatest green-thumb feat to-date. That said, the Design Gallery is probably the most impressive portion of the Flower Show to me. The things people are able to make with plants, seeds, flowers… from jewelry to sculptures to miniature scenes, it’s insane.

  5. Butterflies! Loads of ’em

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    This could’ve been you, but you were playing (Image courtesy of PHS Flower Show)

    Did you see the 1,000+ butterflies floating around at the Philly Flower Show? Probably not, unless you strolled out of the main expo hall and over to Butterflies LIVE!. Just imagine… hundreds of butterflies flitting around, landing on you, giving sweet butterfly kisses to your face because they think maybe you’re a flower. It cost $5 and yes, there was a line.  But if you’ve never had a chance to be a butterfly landing pad…. just saying.

What was your favorite part about this year’s show? Did I miss anything spectacular?!

Major Key: Philly’s Florida Keys Cookoff

In 2014, I saw a very long line for a photo opportunity. It was at the Southernmost Point of the continental United States. Luckily, I was able to push my way to the front by letting the line know something especially important:

Hello, everyone. In three years, I’ve got this cooking competition I’ll be doing. If I win, I get to come back. Would you mind if I snapped a quick shot?

And, just like that, the crowd parted and I nabbed this gem.

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Finally, last week, the time had come.

I, along with 23 other hungry bloggers, radio hosts, and news anchors, filled the kitchens of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College  for tours, tastes, and tests of skill. Our assignment seemed simple enough:

  • Cook up two dishes.
  • One will be seafood.
  • One’s a Key Lime Pie.
  • You can bring ONE special ingredient for your Key Lime Pie.

Now, I’ve gotta say, this event is not WHY I got into blogging… but my WORD it was easily the most fun, and certainly the type of event that keeps me putting all these words out into the ether. (P.S. Thanks for reading. Seriously.)

The team from the Florida Keys and Key West, in hopes to encourage us chilly Philly folks to head south more often, wanted us to bring a Taste of the Keys to town.

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My very official station

We started with dessert. Because we’re grownups and we can.

My secret ingredient was a way to bring a taste of Philadelphia to the Keys: Pretzel Crust! The crust recipe was loosely based on The Gold Lining Girl’s Recipe, but I pulverized my pretzels at home and added a teensy bit of cinnamon to my crust.

We had 50 minutes. We were given all the other ingredients.

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Almost no one drank the “cooking wine”. We all tried to avoid mixing the seafood ingredients with the pie ingredients.

At times, things got a little sticky…

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Probably flexing for the camera. Definitely cramming butter sugar pretzel dust into a pie tin.

I’ve never made a Key Lime Pie. It’s SO easy. You should try the Florida Keys Key Lime Pie Recipe at home. I personally would recommend the pretzel crust but (spoiler alert) that probably won’t win you a trip to the Florida Keys.

While our pies cooled, we were able to sample some of the cocktails downstairs AND mingle. I even got to mingle with the most petite chef of the night, Emily of HerPhilly!

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And then it was onto the seafood. In this case: SNAPPER!

My dish was a blackened yellowtail snapper with a mango and lime salsa. I didn’t have an exact recipe but I’ve linked to a similar one.

Things really heated up…

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Moments later, I switched to a cast iron skillet, making this a simply useless photo

In the end, I was pretty pleased with what I produced:

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Sure, I didn’t win. But I did immediately look for flights back down to Florida ($98 RT to Miami from PHL, in case you were wondering…)

All in all: I LOVED living my TopChef dreams. In case you weren’t sure if I had fun…

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The MOST fun

Thank YOU to everyone, from Aversa PR  for the invite to the Restaurant School  for hosting us to the Florida Keys crew, for bringing the heat to West Philly!