UPenn Graduation: Just call me Master

Just over 5 years ago, I graduated from that Southern Part of Heaven, that priceless gem, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a sea of Carolina blue, I wildly waved my tye-dyed mortar board in hopes to catch the attention of my family across Kenan Stadium. I was 21, gainfully employed, with the world at my fingertips.

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Fast-forward to yesterday, May 19, 2014. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. The trash trucks were moving and shaking, because Monday is trash pickup day in my neighborhood. Luckily, I didn’t need their rumbling to act as an alarm. I could hardly sleep as it was. I get the same way when there’s a big trip in my future, or when I have someone visiting…. It was the day I was graduating from Penn and, after 2 years of toiling over projects and papers and field work and research… I was readier than I ever could have imagined. A few tweaks to the basic black graduation cap purchased from Penn, and VOILA! Let’s do this.

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My dear friend Samantha and I suited up (robed up?) and headed towards what might be the most inspiring graduation procession I could fathom. Penn has this incredible tradition called the procession of degree candidates, or simply the procession. Graduates from every school, program, and corner of campus gather together in their robes to saunter through campus which is surrounded by onlookers, faculty, staff, and Penn community members, many of whom come out every year, who are cheering, congratulating, and celebrating right along with us. As the MPH program is rather small, we were placed right next to the med students. 

IMG_9888I’m not a doctor…. but I get the feeling this won’t be the last time I’ll be marching alongside them in my career.

Arguably the most touching aspect of the procession is passing through the tunnel of flags held by Penn alumni from days of yore. As you pass, each and every one looks you in the eye, shouting out congratulations, clapping, and welcoming you to the fold.

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Quakers dating back to the Class of 1944 acted as the ultimate welcome wagon, before we rushed over to Franklin Field for the top show in town. But before we got there, we passed on other living Legend.

IMG_9893See what I did there?

John Legend, biggest man on campus (at least for the day), was our commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music degree. After calming down a bit after spotting John, we waltzed onto the field (ashamed to say this was my first time, where’s your school spirit, JP?!)

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It was a packed house, with robes of all colors representing students in the fields of medicine, design, law, social work, and engineering, as well as undergrads, business school kids…. goodness, the list could go on seemingly forever.

The speeches were incredible. President Amy Gutmann spoke of the soundtrack to our Penn experience, complete with a performance of Gangam Style, because she’s a boss like that.

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John Legend explained to us that they key to happiness is opening your mind and your heart to love… How when you truly care about something, you want to lead. Apathy is no longer cool (I’m not sure it ever was…) And I won’t pretend that we didn’t get a little serenade…. it pays to have 9-time Grammy winners as alums.

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And before I knew it, it was time to turn my tassel, as I’d officially joined the ranks of Penn Alumni myself. Of course, that doesn’t account for the jog I had to make to my own, smaller graduation ceremony, specifically of the Public Health department.

There were a few speakers…. Oh, and I was one of them.

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There was no serenade on my end, but a discussion of absolute truths, the world changers among our group, and, of course, Law and Order: SVU.

I promise, it made sense at the time.

And then, just as swiftly as it began, my time as a graduate student at Penn ended. I was surrounded by beloved friends and family, laughter (and a few tears…. I am a sensitive Sally), and then my folks and I scurried off for some steak, potatoes, and sparkling wine. I can’t think of a better send off into the world of adulthood (again).

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You might be wondering, “What’s next, Jordan?” Well, we’ll keep that a little mysterious. But let’s just say it’ll involve gainful employment, a lot more opportunities for blogging, plenty of adventures…. and it’ll all be in Philly.

I’m sticking around my fair city of brotherly love, and can’t wait to see what it’s got in store now that I’ll be rocking that steady income and that 9-5ish.

Stay tuned, because your girl’s back.

 

 

Confections and Cocktails at Williams-Sonoma

What’s better than dessert?

Dessert when you add BOOZE!

Whoah, did I jump into this too fast? Let me rewind.

Kory over at Aversa PR gave me the opportunity of a new-Philly resident’s lifetime: a chance to join a number of fellow Philly bloggers at Williams-Sonoma on Walnut Street for an event featuring the Executive Chefs at the Bellevue Hyatt and Restaurant XIX and a selection of Confections and Cocktails? You KNOW I couldn’t say no.

Just a selection of the tasty treats!

White turtle cheesecakes, pear pumpkin trifle, mini apple pies, ginger snaps, brownies…. I can’t even.

Kory was moving and shaking, so I tried to make a few moves myself.

Kory was unstoppable.

Williams-Sonoma showed us how they run their in-store classes, and chefs from
showed us the ropes as well.  It was incredible.

Pumpkin bars were first and foremost. And delicious.

Jeff, master chef (err… cook… W-S master of ceremonies.)

Brenda from Williams-Sonoma handing out the finished product!

These were delicious and SO easy to make!! (Link to the recipe)

We also got a chance to meet Judy Ellis-Taylor from the Hyatt at the Bellevue (AND their beloved restaurant, XIX) who shared with us the glory of Pinot Grigio-soaked apples as a cocktail ingredient.

Brilliant

The result was a fresh, tart, sneakily-boozy cocktail perfect for all the tasty apples that are so perfect in the fall season. And Judy was pretty fantastic herself…

Also sweet and tart!

My buddy, Martha, and I are already planning a happy hour trip to XIX for a visit with this lovely lady…

Speaking of which, I asked around and found my ideal plus one in Martha who, despite being gluten-free, enjoyed the heck out of the event. I think she just likes sipping fancy cocktails. And dressing up. And looking fabulous doing both.

Too cute.

After watching Bradley from XIX whip up some gingersnaps (which were SO much better than classic gingersnaps you get in the box that end up being rock-hard and miserable), we enjoyed the event that it seemed every was hyped up for: Watching bartender Nate craft some cocktails!

Atta boy

He showed us how to make the most DELICIOUS version of a whiskey sour I’ve ever had.

Ingredients?

  • 2 oz Jameson
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz OJ
  • 3/4 oz honey
  • 2 pieces of candied ginger
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • pumpkin spice
  • sugar
  • honey

The recipe was pretty simple:

  1. Rim glass with honey, sugar, and pumpkin spice
  2. Dry shake other ingredients to mix well, and add to a tumbler filled with ice

Couldn’t get enough, it was like some sort of apple pie in a glass.

Beautiful, warm colors to compliment any seasonal dessert!

After observing the creation of the confections and cocktails for a bit, we were invited to sample everything… Don’t have to ask me twice.

bottoms up!

Cocktail made with Patron XO Cafe, pear and pumpkin trifle, and chocolate brownie with cream cheese frosting (I think.)

Other highlights? That time that I won a giftcard in the end-of-event raffle!

For ME?!

I know I’d obviously be back to Williams-Sonoma otherwise, but the gift card might make that sooner rather than later…. Gotta get some holiday shopping done, right?

BUT, as a newbie in Philly, I’d never known about XIX or all the tasty experiences I could have just a few blocks away… Looks like Happy Hour planning might ALSO be taking place sooner rather than later.

Thanks to Kory at Aversa PR, Judy and her team at XIX, and Brenda, Jeff and the gang at Williams-Sonoma for my FIRST blogging event as a Philly resident (and HOPEFULLY not my last!)

Cheers!

What’s your favorite seasonal fall dessert?

I once won a pie-eating contest with a pumpkin pie. Get on my level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Likes Me, She REALLY Likes Me!!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but, most of the time, being a long-distance relationship is tough.  You miss your loved one, you wait anxiously for the next visit, you get confused over word choices in texts or emails, you have flights canceled, you might even be in different time zones.  No matter what the situation, LDRs often follow Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.

A lot can get lost in those 400 miles... Including me!

I’m in the 3rd long distance year of a 4 year relationship, so I kind of feel like I’ve become accustomed to the ups and downs. You never really get used to saying goodbye, but you develop a slightly thicker skin (for me, that means not weeping for an hour and a half before he heads off, maybe limiting it to 20 minutes).

You know what else helps?

Romantic Valentine’s Day packages from someone else.  Especially if that someone knows the way to your heart:

You're reading that correctly, do not adjust your computer.

Bacon, toffee, and brownies (if you’re interested in ordering some, ask the baker!)

Cate from Running Foodie and Cate’s Bites packed me the most gorgeous, decadent Valentine’s Day package I could imagine.  It was part of Christina’s brain child: The Valentine’s Day Blogger Swap! Since my regular Valentine was stuck working in a lab, playing with rats and such all day, Cate thoughtfully sent me some goodies to make the day a lot less lonely.

JACKPOT!

I’ll admit, I snuck her a few hints, but she really took the idea and transformed a blogger swap package into a box of joy and rapture!

Cate included a Yuengling, her favorite beer, as she’s been stockpiling it in Boston, unable to get it unless she’s in PA!!  That already touched my heart (and, soon, my liver!)

She remembered my love of not smelling like a locker room and included coconut bath gel (Wish I’d opened it up before my shower!!)

She ALSO remembered my fondness for crazy flavor combinations, and treated me to these gems:

Worth their weight in gold!

Theo dark chocolate with coconut and Hachez featuring Mango Chili flavors.

Holy shit.

Sorry, literally couldn’t contain that expletive, because that was my exact reaction to seeing these two bars.  The hungry beast inside of me wanted to lash out and wolf the entire box in one gulp, but I practiced self control… in the sense that I ate only one bacon toffee brownie.  I’ll save the other two to share with my beau when I see him this weekend, I wouldn’t want him to get jealous of my new blogging friend, Cate, and all the love I have for her.

No need to be jealous, Ry, I still only have eyes for you.

My stomach, however… that belongs to Cate for a little while.

The Blog World is a Wonderful World

Long ago (long = 4 months ago, it’s all relative, right?) I started Food, Sweat, and Beers. It’s obviously my favorite place on the internet, but I never really thought it’d amount to too much.  I figured, hey, a place to write about my 3 favorite things (one guess as to what they may be) as well as an outlet to meet new people and try something out. It’s not like I’d never had a blog before.  There was my infamous tumblr when I started Weight Watchers back in March 2010. But I feel like this is different.

Yesterday, I got a triple dose of awesome to remind me how glorious folks have been/continue to be re: my blog.

First off, a package from the beautiful Laura, filled with all the flavors that Texas has to offer.  Since it was through Foodie Penpals, I’ll save that post for a later date, but trust me, you’re in for a treat. And by you, I mean me. Unless a treat for you is being insanely jealous of someone else’s goodies.

Her packages bring all the boys to the yard.

Second up is the package I’ve been waiting for since my Great Tour De Pumpkin (Beer) Tasting . Hannah mentioned that Schlafly Beer put out a pretty sweet Pumpkin Ale that I simply had to try.  Since Schlafly is in St. Louis and I’m here in Durham, I was at an impasse.

Unless this fancy kilt-man from Schlafly's website intends to bring me some...

You know what that violining vixen suggested?

A beer swap!

Well, who am I to say no to beer from far off lands?

Especially from women who dress like pumpkins

Well, after ripping the (incredibly well-packed) box to shreds, guess what I found?

The Halloweeniest!!

Not only did Miss Hannah send me beautiful Pumpkin Ale, but Pumpkin Spice kisses and my ONLY SEASONAL HALLOWEEN DECORATION!!

Jealous?

You should be.

I’ve already made a serious dent in the kisses (and put them in my Saturday pancakes) and intend to drink the beers once they’ve had some time to relax after their long trip.

In other news, from blogging enablers, my beau and friends decided that they wanted my blog photography to be more “artsy”.  You know what that meant?

Black and White Beer Photoshoot!

Oozing with class

I call this one: Sad cork-toothed walrus

Clearly, it's all about the angles

Three cheers to blogging friends, pen pals, lovers of spice and beer and, as always, my friends and loved ones who support my silly, sweaty, boozy adventures every step of the way.

Got any fabulous blog-love stories?

Thank Goodness for Bloggers!

Hey there everyone!

I’m so happy that you all enjoyed my Live Tweeting: 30 Day Shred Level 1 post! I’ll admit, I’m more than a little proud of that one, and the idea of all of you laughing along with me just brought a smile to my face.  We laugh so we don’t cry from the pain, sweat, and tears, right?

Since I’m getting ready to fly home this weekend for the wedding shower of my cousin (the one that was postponed due to stupid Irene), I’ve been playing catch-up with my produce drawer and trying to eat every veggie/fruit in sight!

Dinner last night

I put together a monstrous sammy on a Sandwich Thin full of spinach, tomato, and chicken. On the side, grapes and a few cucumber slices, though I ate most of them by the time this picture was snapped.

Salad monster. Goodness, I hate knee shots.

Both of these meals were brought to you (er… me) by the masters of pre-cooked chicken.

Truly a short cut

These Perdue Short Cuts were actually purchased a week or so ago via a tip from a local coupon blogger and some Harris Teeter Triple Coupons, ringing up for nearly free (like…. a dollar?) Awesome. They’ve been making up the protein of my past several meals as of late. Not too shabby.

Also, this is the first time in a long while that I’ve eaten spinach right off the stem.  Guess what the result was?

Yummy? Yummy.

I also just wanted to take a hot second to thank a few bloggers who have inspired me lately.  I can’t really give too much away why, secret events and such, but here goes nothing:

Jessica from How Sweet Eats for inspiring my first from-scratch baked good as a one bedroom broad

Other Jessica from Healthy Dairy Land for always being supportive

EVERYONE who writes at Thought Catalog  for writing some of the funniest, most thought-provoking pieces I’ve read in a while

The Bloggess, who tried so hard to Put a Bird On It

Sierra of Posh Meets Pavement for proving to me the power of blogs, even across oceans and continents, in reuniting friends

Are there any bloggers lately who’ve inspired you, taught you, or made you laugh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Living Summit: Cocktails and Tasty Ales

Greetings friends, old and new, and Happy MY BIRTHDAY Week!!

Have you not been celebrating?  Might I suggest a No Pants Wednesday (or Monday) in my honor?  Perhaps crush a cup of tasty beer with a friend.  You just gotta ask yourself, WWJ(ordan)D? (No sacrilege meant here.  I’d really be curious to know what folks did when they thought, What would that Jordan do?)  If you’re new here, check out my 7 Links post for a little more about me!!

I’m currently celebrating my birthday week in style with a private, GIANT booth at Rockfish Seafood Grill (my home away from home).

How many people will be joining you? None? But you need a table? We got this.

Yet again, I can’t thank the folks at Rockfish enough for being so accommodating (always) AND emailing me a gift certificate for my birthday (!!!! FISH IS THE GREATEST GIFT EVER !!!)

Anyway, chances are, you didn’t come to hear about my fish fiesta.  You came here to find out what this whole HLS drama is that I’ve been posting about, tweeting about, and generally abuzz about since…. well since I bought the ticket.

I’ll start at the beginning….

The beautiful Krissie from PhillyNerdGirl picked me up moments after I walked out of the PHL airport, a grin on her face and a bag of tiny pumpkin donuts in her hand.  What a giver!

And a chatter! Love talking blog-talk.

Krissie and I sped crawled through some serious 3:30 traffic in Philly before eventually reaching Chez Ali (aka the Infamous Allison who planned the entirety of the Cocktail Party and saved us all from sobriety).  Without wasting a moment (ok, we wasted several, ogling Krissie’s sexy shoes and eating s’mores crack like it was…. crack), I politely requested hungrily demanded a trip to Wawa.  This Southern girl needed her fix.

Come to Mama. That's the good stuff.

Then, it was time for some Boost Boozy (DAMN YOU, AUTOCORRECT!) Arnold Palmers (I’m sure there’s a real name for them.  But I like to imagine Arnold Palmer himself, all liquored up, hanging out with us.)

Thumbs up for booze, buddy! (Click image for Source)

Krissie, Ali, and Jordy: Sipping

We could only drink and gossip for so long before the itch to primp kicked into high gear.

A Glam Slam! (like a grand slam. I wish this was a real phrase.)

My best friend Ring, who was quite a hit at the party

We took an incredibly easy cab ride over to Reading Terminal Market, a place where I once enjoyed the best roast pork sandwich known to mankind (at DiNics) and the home of the HLS Cocktail Party.  After jimmying the door open with my superior lock picking skills asking a security guard to let us in, we rounded up the rest of the ladies and, like a herd of extremely willing cats, headed to the party spot.

Hell hath no fury like HLBloggers tryna get some snacks.

Guess where I headed, with my two complimentary drink tickets?

Am I really that predictable?

The selection was actually top notch:

  • Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
  • Voodoo Brewery’s Pilzilla
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Fleur de Lehigh
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Kenzinger
  • Some wine (yeah, I had no eyes for that)
  • A YUMMY cocktail made with DrinkChia that was like a creamy daquiri with jelly chia bits

I went straight for the Chicory Stout first. And then I realized that I could still enjoy a few nibblets.

Quite the spread.

Single asparagus spear? Ok.

Also, I wore a tiara.

See, the thing is, with Ryan moving this week (Wahhhhhhhhh! – Snookie) and me having a work training then heading to OCNJ (again) for my cousin’s bridal shower, I wanted to celebrate.  But really, I just wanted to wear a tiara.  That’s What Jordan Would Do.

I met bloggers, large and small.

A lesson in extremes

I tried to meet them, one and all.

That's a lotta ladies.

I even took a picture near a stall!

Class-Act.

There were spider senses,

With the Okie in Pink, Lisa

And some blog-lebrity blends(es? I’m just trying to rhyme here)

Courtney and Julie, two of the women I read before knowing what HL was!

Birthday buddies!

Carly and Michelle finalllllly found some tiaras! (and a really weird fellow who photobombed from within a photobooth. that's skill.)

And my very favorite sponsors of the entire conference, Chandra and Mark from Drink Chia!!

Ch(i)andra!

I also think I found a kindred spirit in Jess, a fancy lady from the heart of dairy land.

Sassy as hell.

There was dancing.

There was not dancing.  This might be my greatest disappointment of the weekend.  There was something wrong with the iPod hookup, or something, and I felt very weird mingling and running around with no (and then, later, very quiet) music.  Sort of like if the cocktail party was hosted in a GIANT elevator (full of food and drinks).

However, they more than made up for it by allowing me to drink as many cocktails as I wanted.  Either there were so many pregnant ladies that their drink tickets somehow all were given to me, or they overestimated how much folks would drink…. or the beer gods were shining down on me (I choose this one.)  Whatever happened, it worked out completely in my favor.

I want them all.

I tried to mingle, I truly did.  I figured the tiara and octopus ring were both great ice breakers.  And some folks were totally happy to chat.  Other ones were either uninterested, or in the zone with their own little groups.  I’ll admit, I’m not very well “established” in this particular community, and I had never met most of the men and women before, so I understand.  But I’ll say that my heart was swollen with joy when Katy Widrick chatted my head off about beers.  Finally, I felt like my two passions were merged and I didn’t feel like the odd girl out.

Then again, maybe I’m just a little too rambunctious to be brought out in public to new people.  Like that time, at the end, that my overzealous flinging of an umbrella resulted in the demise of said umbrella.

JORDAN SMASH!!

Blonde hair, don't care. (Balaguer, 2011)

But, as I’d learn later in the conference from the wisest of all owls….

Thanks, Pauly.

But to see the source of this hilarious picture…. well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.