Wooderice Holiday Soirée

Thank you to Wooderice for inviting me to your holiday soirée. The theme was ugly sweater or holiday pajamas! You know if you follow me I love a themed party. Any excuse to alter my wardrobe is a plus for me. So you know I got into the holiday spirit!

The soirée was at none other than Photo Pop Philly, one of Philadelphia’s premiere photo experience! I have been to all of the installations and so it was befitting to attend and get my holiday shine on! Now if you’re looking for me to release a bunch of my holiday shots you will have to wait as I use the shots to count down to Christmas. Little blogger fact, I wasn’t allowed to watch the Simpsons growing up. My parents weren’t having it. I saw this sweater online and that inner child said hit the button! Oh and if you’re wondering where you can grab it; go to my favorite store-Target! It’s on sale this week! I was able to grab it and pull up to the Drive Up and leave in a matter of minutes!

Wooderice is an online Blogizine. A mix of a magazine and a blog wrapped in one. They are to me much more. They are Philly’s need to know for any and everything. They have their ears to the ground from podcasts, hosting shows, and everything in between. Wooderice has a team of super dope individuals who collectively run the city and do a great job showcasing what the city has to offer!

Hometown Flare

Hector who is the Founder of Wooderice and I go back to Elementary school. Yup you heard it right! We are long time friends. Before I became an adult and we attended rival schools we were simply kids. Kids who didn’t have a full plan! We knew we were going to go to school and figure it out from there. With that in mind when I moved to Philadelphia I don’t think I realized he was here. We reconnected on Facebook and then I would see all of the Wooderice coming on my page. I immediately followed and whenever they would post I would repost. As I became a blogger and became more consistent our paths crossed. We wound up in the same arenas! Who would have thought it would even happen like it did!

Hector in 7th or 8th grade on his way to a class trip-sorry Hector I had to do it!

Hector is dedicated, particular, and a visionary. He sees what he wants and goes after it. His team is dope and they all work well. There has never been a time when I would see any of them representing the brand in an off putting way. Since I liked to observe and hang back at times often they had no clue who I was or my connection with Hector. They all have genuinely been super gracious.

Candid picture of the team as they get the shot

Hector and Wooderice continue to smash glass ceilings and are respected in and out of the city. They have had major projects such as working with Roc Nation and other major projects. When I say 2020 is going to be a movie for their team I mean it. Wooderice has everything to be proud of! I can’t wait to see what else they do!

Last night was amazing from getting amazing pictures, great vibes, great food-someone tell Wooderice to get me more banana pudding ASAP, to just celebrating; I left tipsy and grateful! Grateful to not just know of Hector and what he is doing but know him well. To see him grow up and accomplish big things and remain humble is absolutely beautiful! To the whole team: keep grinding! Y’all killing it and thank you for letting me see you shine!

I always post Wooderice on my page. So if you have been wondering why now you know! I always support the home team! You need to follow Wooderice and sign up for their emails! If you live in Philadelphia and you seem to feel you always miss the dope events-your follow game isn’t as strong as you think. Follow Wooderice for all things Philly and beyond!

Pictured is Hector and I

And if you want amazing photos especially holiday shots run and grab them at Photo Pop Philly! You should know by now they have more than 30 Instagram installations and for their holiday themes it features more than just Christmas. They have Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well.

Monday Motivation: Switch it Up

Schedules and consistency is a great thing! Not being able to move unless you are on a schedule isn’t. In this life the ability to adjust is what makes those appear stronger not those who have the best resources. Some people get stuck. They don’t ever change because the fear of change is real! You need change in your life.

I had a situation where I was confronted with change and going with the flow was the only way for me to push through. Had I been stuck in my stays it would have left a bad taste to those around me. It’s one thing to not like a plan. It’s another not being able to adapt because a plan deviates from what you are used to! I love plans. I thrive with plans but I also have to be able to deal with life’s blows one situation at a time! So adjusting is a life skill that many lack!!!

Switch things up! You don’t have to do the same things all the time. Go a different route home. Get up at a different time. Eat something different. Do things differently some times. Don’t be so rigid. You can become super stagnant living in comfort. There’s always something new outside of your comfort level! That’s the one thing or I should say one of the things that I learned in blogging. You have to do what’s best for you but you also have to come out of a comfort zone!! Don’t stay stuck claiming you want something new when the newness can’t come in your comfort zone!

This Monday be about your routine but realize you might have to reinvent yourself. You may have to try something different so you can stop getting stuck with the same results that you’re not happy with! Push but switch it up!

Sonesta Philly: Staycation Goals

I love trips. They are so rewarding, relaxing, and worth the time. We make so many plans to take trips from the city that we forget the gems in our back yard and that’s where Sonesta Philadelphia comes in. There’s something special to stay within your own city but I would advise not just going to any hotel. Go where you are made to feel like you’ve taken a flight but keep the sentiments of your city.

I knew this staycation was off to a good start when I checked in. I love red as it’s my favorite colors. As biased as I am you can’t help but see the stunning

Here are my personal reasons for a staycation:

  • I’ve had a lot of movement at home. My twin has major brain surgery a few months ago and I’ve been her caretaker along with my niece. To say that I’ve been overwhelmed is an understatement.
  • The holidays has me on high alert. Between making memories and shopping for my family has been crazy. Shout out to the stores who have that drive up and keep moving option!
  • Rest has been far and few in-between I just wanted to relax

Sonesta has the perfect staycation spot here in Philadelphia. Located in Center City it’s the perfect location to everything that Philadelphia is made of. If it wasn’t for being so tired I would have explored but instead I decided to keep it inside and take in all that Sonesta has to offer. Let’s go inside and show you the high elements!

Bedroom Goals

Now I have the same size bed at home but it doesn’t sleep the same once you add the cat, 3 and kids who like to climb in and out as a moments notice you don’t get the same sleep. Sonesta’s room has that modern feel that is clean and comfy. Take it from a bust blogger and mom I slept like a queen!! I even woke up at my normal 5am thinking I had overslept! That speaks volumes. It’s something about being cared for that allows your sleep to be that wonderful.

When I checked in I had ZERO issues and as I observed from other patrons Sonesta makes checking in seamless! Not one time did I have to assert myself. Staff on hand was attentive even though it was a crowd upstairs having an event. From the start I was asked how can we make your stay better!! They made me feel like it was true.

Surprise Cassatt Room

So as a blogger I literally work from anywhere. I’ve always stated that I can be super creative in great spaces. Even when I’m home I make sure my creative space is super clean and organized. It’s very seldom I can do any work in clutter! I was pleasantly surprised when I realized my room was cojurned to Cassatt Room. It’s stunning and talk about having space to be creative!!!

This is a great meeting space. It’s open, artistic, and modern. Who couldn’t get through a to do list in this much style? I wasn’t expecting it but it was a great addition to my stay. The Cassatt room makes for a great space to have a small meeting among coworkers if you’re traveling and staying at the Sonesta together. Having the ability to separate privacy of a room with a convenience of this room makes for an upgraded business trip.

One thing I love about a staycation is the ability to decompress. If you follow me you know I am like a wine connoisseur. I love wine of all kinds. No better place to have wine dreams than the Art Bar. I know the name comes from the fact that they have amazing local artist works that is not only stationed there but in the lobby as well. They rotate the art so you can catch the essence of the city from the view of local artist. You know I’m all about supporting local artist!

Art Bar

Travelers and locals fill the Art Bar alike. It’s a great place to unwind as well as have a classy turn up. All walks of life sit in the Art Bar and enjoy their favorite beverage. The staff doesn’t disappoint. They made sure my request were fulfilled and even even I had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse they allowed me to take it over with me. Oh and they have a great selection of wines that’s for sure!

I elected to keep it simple with an amazing Chardonnay.

The Art Bar is known for their “food is art” mantra so if you are not as hungry you can elect for quick bites along with your beverages! They also have a great to go menu perfect for early morning coffees and sandwiches!

Bathroom Goals

Growing up I was taught that a kitchen and bathrooms the the first places you check when you visit someone. When at a hotel the bathroom can make or break an experience. I check behind toilets etc to see how attentive the staff are. If they check and clean the hidden areas you’re in good hands-Sonesta passed my test! The bathroom is completely sleek and modern! I loved how the shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel is in the shower inside of a dispensary. It takes the ability to have just those little sample sizes so you can actually get a good amount to use. Go to my Instagram to see my live tour in the highlight labeled as Sonesta!

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

This was my first time eating here. I’ve seen it, passed by it, but never stopped. Not sure why to be honest but they are joined to the hotel and I was glad I could cross it off of my to eat list! Let me tell you that they would have gotten a lower review but they turned it around for me and let me tell you why! Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse y’all made my night!

Wine goals for sure

Every restaurant has busy nights. Sometimes restaurants are so busy that they forget about the customer! I was almost a bit irritated because we put in our order and it seemed to be distance in between the courses. However the same care they took in getting us seated, was the same care they took in recognizing and being proactive in their slowness. Before I could even say anything our waiter made sure to acknowledge that the kitchen was behind and complimented me and my husband with a glass of wine. Let me say I hadn’t even finished the first glass!

The food was worthy of the high accolades I’ve heard. The food was hot my entire time eating and I wasn’t eating fast. Each bite was good. I was impressed!

My husbands portion:

Lobster Mac and cheese

Shrimp and steak

Here was my portion

Barbecued Shrimp and mashed potatoes

Sweet potato casserole

Dessert…

Praline bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream

I needed rest after eating but not before I stopped by at the Art Bar for more wine!

Workout Anyone?

Now I didn’t work out my Husband did but look at the workout facility! 24 hour access and space enough to get the job done!

Look at this artwork:

The Holiday Spirit

Sonesta didn’t just decorate the lobby;

On the floor I stayed on they had beautifully placed trees!

I took a trip on the 2nd floor where they host events! Beautiful trees as well.

I think I counted 10 trees and I know I missed a few!

Oh how sad it was for me to check out! I really felt like I had escaped! It wasn’t until I got back to the lobby that I remembered where I was! All good things had to come to an end. You need to have this experience! You need to not think it selfish to feed your soul with the things that matter.

To me it was Sonesta taking care of my quiet time. It was Art Bar making sure my favorite wines filled my cup! It was a great meal at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It was shutting the world out and realigning myself. A break is only as good as the location you take and Sonesta has my highest stamp of approval!

Back home I have more energy to do what I do! I can push through the holidays with grace! I’m less frazzled and less stressed. This experience meant the world to me! Thank you Sonesta for making my downtime the gift that keeps on giving!

Book your stay at Sonesta now! Trust me you won’t be disappointed! You can save 15% if you book 2 nights! A save is a save and the amount you put out won’t be enough for how you feel after your stay!

Christmas at Craft Hall

Sooooo it’s not often that my own kids have been to a location that I haven’t but last night at Craft Hall they showed me up. If you never been there let me tell you it’s a cozy spot for a great night out with a boo, friends, or a great play date spot for friends with kids. Craft Hall pulled out all the stops for the holidays!

Massive Seating Areas

This is a very open space restaurant and beer distillery. I was really shocked. It didn’t looked as if it would be as big as it is but I was wrong.

You don’t have to feel like you’re walking on others to get around. A great space to hold a corporate party of some sorts. This is like an old school feel especially in the play area of which my kids love the most.

This is me looking back from the lobby. Again the spacing here is amazing. With open spaces they decorated nicely and didn’t feel the need to go overboard with each spot keeping the cozy feel to it!

It’s Santa

Who doesn’t love Santa? I know I do and I’m grown! We were greeted last night by Santa and my kids eyes just beamed! That’s what it’s really about the Christmas spirit!

And you know I love taking pictures with all so I asked Santa if I was on the nice list-he let me know I am so with that I’m going to 2 step it all the way through the season! I even got a candy cane too! Hey adult kids need love too!!

Let’s Play

My kids said hi to everyone they saw and kindly let me know I didn’t need to escort them to the play area because they knew where they were headed. Don’t worry I hovered right over the looking area to be sure. I was shook at the fact that there’s a video game area, a playing area, a bar for the adults located in the play area (on behalf of all parents thank you Craft Hall) and an area for sitting. Do you know how many times kids just want to take bites and run? Well now they can!!

Craft Hall that right there pushes you to the top of my must go list! It’s everything I need in one place. Tire the kids out and let them release all that energy. FYI my kids were out in 10 minutes at bedtime for the win!! I think the combination of food and play did them in!!

While the children played

It was time for the adults to have a little tour of where the magic happens to give us the amazing beers they had on tap. Let me also mention they have great selections of wines and cocktails too!! While touring we could see live action of the beer being made!

Christmas Tree Lighting

Well what’s Christmas without a tree? They had one of the biggest trees I’ve seen all season. You know I’ve been to quite few events just this week! I was blown away. Even with me standing on the top of the steps the tree still towered me. Let me also mention they have several trees located throughout the restaurant!

Holiday without Food what’s that?

Craft Hall made sure they covered everyone’s taste points with amazing food!

Deviled eggs

Chicken Wings

Cheese Boards

There were also tuna melts, hush puppies with a spicy sauce, pizza, cheeseburgers, panini sandwiches, etc. Enough food to feed everyone and than some.

Desserts

Yesterday was national cookie day and all day I wanted just one cookie to celebrate and I got my chance!

They also had an assortment of the pretzels cookie that wowed me from first bite!

The only regret I have is that I’ve left the house and forgot to grab one for my run around today! They are THAT good!

Other Craft Hall News:

They will have Santa in Sundays for you to take selfies with during 10-2pm. Santa will also pass our candy canes as we walks around! There are opportunities to make an ornament as well as story times etc. Be on the lookout for Crafty the Craft Hall Elf!! And for the adults happy hour just got better with holiday themed drinks, $5 bites, and $10 mainstay pitchers!

Let’s Brunch

Did you know they have brunch? Yess! I did but I didn’t realize how nice it is. With a brunch item you can get bottomless mimosas for $20!!! So not if but when you see me just smile and wave because I will be all into my mimosa while I eat. They have food from their menus that include vegan and vegetarian options as well as gluten free for the win!!

Last night I had the beat time. Even on events where I can bring my kids I usually opt out. This was a great event for the whole family and it allowed me to relax. I was the most relaxed at an event with my kids and I loved it!

Sooo yes everything about Craft Hall is a yes for me and my entire family yes! I will definitely be back!!! This is an entire 2 thumbs up!!

2019 Christmas Village

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas..everywhere you go and that includes Christmas Village!! Oh the sights you will see, the food you will eat, the drinks, the nostalgia, and most importantly the culture and memories you will make!!

I took a trip to my now 3rd year to Christmas Village and even in the rain and cold I had a blast of a life time!! Let’s recap and get you ready!

Mulled Wine Please

It’s no secret that I love wine! I like to think of it as my super power or even just simply a reward for mulling through my day. However nothing is better than mulled wine on a cold night. Christmas Village not only has mulled wine but they have variety of mulled wine!!! Having options is the name of the game!

Hot Chocolate Please

I don’t discriminate against chocolate so of course I had a warm cup. Keep in mind although mine wasn’t spiked this particular time or if it was the mulled wine didn’t allow me to pay close attention you can have your hot chocolate spiked as well! Nothing is better than hot spiked chocolate. For those who would rather pass on the alcohol you can have it with whipped cream or marshmallows or both!

Here’s Phillyfoodgal with her hot chocolate

So on our first stop of the media tour we stopped at the Present!

One of the first things you notice that’s different than last year is the colors. If it could be possible it’s brighter and more vivid with hints of green when it’s dormant! See my Instagram to see it change colors! The Present is a gift from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation! Just like last year the Present also serves as a reminder to give to others. You can support Philadelphia Parks and Recreation by visiting and donating $10 right inside of the Present. Your donation will go towards either the organization to help with green spacing or to Project Home to help end homelessness!

You will also with that donation be able to control the lighting of the Present for 30 seconds!

You can’t miss the Present!!! Trust me!

You got to love the I Love Philly Display!

Feeling Hungry?

You know there’s nothing better than good food! Christmas Village brings the German culture to life at the Grill!

Options! Look at the options! Bratwurst, Schnitzels, Kartoffelpuffer aka potato pancakes, Spätzle aka egg noodles, etc are at your disposal! Served nice and hot you won’t be disappointed!

Bratwurst and sauerkraut

Potato pancakes and applesauce

Thirsty?

After you eat you may be thirsty. Grab a beer at the Alms! You will be met with variety!

Raclette Cheese

The Christmas Village favorite hasn’t disappeared it’s tucked inside of the Alms next to the Grill! This will help get longer lines through easily. It’s such a favorite part and everyone knows why. Hot gooey cheese on fresh bread is like the grown up grilled cheese. This year you can have it topped with prosciutto or salami.

To see the cheese in action go to my Instagram page and see all of the behind scenes videos under PhilaChristmas highlights!

There is plenty of seating available to take a break from all of your shopping and drinking!

Bacon Jams

I’m going to highlight a few of the shops. Bacon Jams is a favorite at the Christmas Village. Spoonable bacon jam is the gift you didn’t know you needed. It makes an amazing gift to a foodie! As with most things in life it comes in varieties and sizes that not only fits your budget and tastebuds!

John and Kiras Chocolate

These special handmade chocolates are a real beauty to see. They taste even better. You can get them in flavors that you hadn’t even dreamed of! A sea of chocolate awaits you! If you can’t get to the market, you can order online!

Torch Bearer Sauces

So you like it hot? Try your luck at Torch Bearer Sauces. From the small tickle in your throat to the point of asking for water you have your sauces at every level. These sauces make for great dips or even marinades or just a chill day of chips and dip!

German Strudel

I love a good strudel! Not like the commercial grocery store that comes frozen with a frozen sauce, German Strudel is fresh and packed with flavor!

Tranquility Please

Park and Madison makes their debut in the market this year! Candles and scents is what we stopped at next. As soon as you walk in the hut the aromatherapy fills you. It was almost as if it wasn’t cold and raining. These candles are made of soy and so they last longer. They also have diffusers, room sprays, and essential oils!

Mikes Hot Honey

I love visiting. First last year when I did the media tour my throat had a slight tickle. One taste of the hot honey and I was literally cured. The sweet honey mixed with the hot sauce is really something you have to try. This sauce can be put on just about anything! If you’re unable to attend the Christmas market don’t worry you can get your honey in a lot of sizing from packers to jugs! Order online here!

Eagles Pro Shop

I know it may be too soon especially after that devastating lost to Miami this past Sunday but making its debut to the Christmas Market is the Pro Shop. You can get your official Eagles gear and holiday flare. From ornaments to socks to stockings to jerseys you are covered. As a die hard fan you are going to want to be prepared for all things Eagles why not get it here?

So from some great walking, shopping, drinks, and eating Christmas Village will help you take a little break and help you create memories! In the meantime enjoy this snippet but take your family out and enjoy it yourself. Make it a day and enjoy some ice skating near by or the new Ferris wheel that I will be experiencing next week! Until then thank you Philadelphia Christmas Market for such an amazing time and experience! Thank you Aversa PR!

Pictured are me friends Elle and Cherryl

Also don’t forget about Santa and other special appearances. Log into the website to follow the schedule. Don’t wait until the last minute Christmas Village will be here until Christmas Eve located at 1501 John F. Kennedy Blvd!

Monday Motivation: Let’s Clean House

I really can’t believe it! We literally are in the last few weeks of the whole year left. As many are preparing for Christmas the reality is above that is the New Year!!! What?!

I know I get that just the mere acknowledgment of the end of the year sounds crazy. However it doesn’t change its reality. My oldest was in my room where I have my vision board and she reminded me how most of my items listed I had actually accomplished. That not only made me feel good but it made me feel even more amazing that my daughter was the one who pointed it out to me. Now with the last few weeks to go I don’t plan to just celebrate the holidays, I want to start shifting into my what’s next! What do I want to do now? Where do I want to go and what will it take to get there?

You don’t have to wait for 2020 to start shifting towards new set of goals. And….there is zero shame in saying that there are some goals that haven’t come to fruition. You can pick them up and add them back onto your radar!! Everyday is a day of new beginnings. So I take each day and attempt to make it better than my next!!

Time is going super fast. It’s not waiting for anyone! So it’s time to position ourselves around the right crowds and have the right folks on the team!

Let’s clean house!

Here’s a listing of a few people you don’t need in your life as you clean house and you absolutely should always be about cleaning your house at all times:

Contentious Folks

Please for the sake of mental and emotional peace cut out contentious folks out of your life. They are super draining! They are life suckers and they don’t mean you well. It’s something about someone who argues just to argue. A spirit of disagreement is just unnecessary. If you’re not an attorney and you’re not being paid to argue it’s not necessary to literally be combative with your word choices daily for no reason! I have a few friends who are like this who I must say I’ve withdrawn from because there is no space in my life to hold them! I can’t entertain people who argue about the smallest of things.

Doubting Dawn

No disrespect to any Dawns but it’s irritating to dream and work towards that dream to only have a few folks that always have the notion to doubt your existence. “Why you?” “You ain’t nobody!” These type of folks are super motivating for sure but to have them on your team day in and day out just for the sake of having them in your life is really not where you thrive! Stop telling these folks your move. To be honest they really don’t have your best interest in mind they are waiting to see you fall. So let they need to either be eliminated or kept at bay. Change the seating of your life. Front row seating need to be reserved! They aren’t the ones who pay top dollar. They are the ones who got in because they know someone and don’t plan on helping to promote you. Leave them in the dust!

Why not Me Whitley

It’s one thing to believe that someone is living your dream AND you are working and putting in the work to get there but when you have that someone who just wants to reap the rewards; leave them behind. These types of folks are actually hard to spot. They usually play their position of support for years. They are the ones that shoot in the gym with you but after you get called and their names are simply in the background the real them peaks. They are cool with your success AS LONG as they can either tag along or use your name to build their own agendas!!

You need to clean house. The type of cleaning where you move and dust off a few things to reveal true cleanliness! You are going to have to clean house and clean it often! People shift life flour and your longevity with someone can’t be the only sustaining power of a relationship. Not only that your growth has to come from growing up. With that maturity comes discernment!

Happy Monday and hopefully happy thinking, cleaning, and clearing!

Breast Cancer Awareness Is Not Just for October

I have since the existence of my blog made sure to talk about the realness of life and not just about pretty pics and filters! Life throws many curve balls. One of those life altering changes hit me a few weeks ago when I found a large lump in my breast. It scared me. Is shook me to my core. I am a woman and a mother-what would happen if my diagnosis came back to speak of the unthinkable?!

Recently I had pain in my right breast. The type of pain that would linger. With breast cancer being extremely prevalent in my family it scared me. Instead of ignoring it I called my doctor. I had found a lump and it wasn’t decreasing in size. The pain and the lump sent me into over drive. Watching my mother’s journey with breast cancer and two friends currently fighting, I knew I had to be my own advocate.

When I went to the doctors they told me to just watch it. Not only did I not listen to them but I got a new doctor. No health care professional that knows your family history, and know you’re in pain should encourage a wait and see. Breast cancer for the most part can be preventable if caught early. Often times mammograms are an easy way to detect an issue and should be done once you hit the age 45 or even as early as 40 if you don’t have a history. My mother and grandmother both had it so there’s no question that I should be screened regularly. The last mammogram I had was 2 years ago and I had to come back because even then I had a lump that they had to monitor closely.

So about a few days before Thanksgiving I went to have a mammogram that blessingly I was able to obtain the results of before I left. I had been cleared. A number of factors I watched and often times I watched my caffeine intact and chocolate which by the way I don’t consume. I knew whatever was going down it wasn’t based on those factors. I’m so happy to report that the lump I had went down and wasn’t detected on the mammogram. The worse wait of my life. As I sat in the radiology department holding onto that locker key I kept saying “whatever happens give me strength.”

As a mom of 3 I have been vigilant to be clear about being transparent to my young kids and mostly my oldest about her feminine health. Would I have to be a walking testament like my mom was?

Ladies it’s your right to know what is happening with your body? Fellas it’s a duty to encourage and support the women in your life to be there for the women in your life so that they can tested and ready for all that life brings them.

Breast cancer awareness is not something you throw a bunch of pink and do a Warrior walk to-you have to also be sure that you live it. You get checked, you see about your health and you encourage the women around you to do the same!!!!!