Chicago The Wind Down; May 9, 2017

So I just had the most amazing time with my girls.  To say that I had fun would be an understatement.  If you are looking to come to Chicago but don’t like to eat or walk this is not the city for you.  There is so much to do and no time to do it all.  I really can’t stress the food enough.  I am glad I came now that I have gotten my weight under control.  The amount of food and good food we had was on overload.  I didn’t eat at an eatery I didn’t like.  The reception from Chicago natives was so warm and welcoming that I felt like I was in the South.

First of all let me send my most heart-felt condolences to the two victims of Chicago gang shooting that took place on Sunday.  I nor my girlfriends were in the area however we definitely kept watch of our surroundings. Let’s be clear, watching our surroundings had nothing to do with us being in Chicago but it was more of a common sense issue.  At no time regardless of where you live or visit should you let your guard down.  I also pray a speedy recovery to those 10 victims who were shot as well.  Chicago is not the mecca of violence as they have been described.  Violence happens everywhere.  However its important for the city of Chicago to come together because the violence definitely needs to stop.

I was the first of the girls to get into town.  I was able to check in without any issues.  If you are ever in the city please stay at the Kimpton Gray.  Is it pricey?  Yes, but if you want to have a relaxing stay with an upgraded flare they are the ones to provide it.  I was greeted with a mimosa.  Drinks are always a great way to start a girls trip.  The room itself was spacious, clean and very eye-catching.  Although I arrived at almost 11 am they allowed me to check in right away where I was able to catch a quick nap before the others arrived.  The staff was amazing throughout our stay.  The free happy hour daily was always a good plug too.  They treated us well.

Our first stop once most of us got situated was to the Broken English restaurant.  It was Cinco de Mayo on Friday so finding an authentic restaurant with good food and good margaritas was a must.  They didn’t disappoint.  It was a bit crowded but to be expected.  The drinks were strong and tasty.  We had a great time.  We did a lot of walking and ended up in Millennium Park.  However not before we discovered that we needed some chapstick due to the winds that Chicago is known for. The joke of the day is that we were able to share one of our girls chapstick aka the dickless chapstick as none of us had any near us or near our mouths before we came.  Hey who else can you talk junk with if not with your girls?!

We loved it at the Millennium Park.  The “bean” or the cloud as it is officially is called was my favorite.  I love the city’s architect.  The buildings were larger than life.  You could see the flare in each building.  I spent so much time looking up and admiring everything.  We decided to end our night with a late dinner at RPM Italian which is an Italian restaurant that is a collaboration that includes celebrity Bill and Giuliana Rancic.  The restaurant is beautiful.  I loved the food and the drinks. The portions were all you needed and it wasn’t over bearing at all.  We didn’t say anything at first that we were there celebrating mine and my girl Toi’s birthday.  The hospitality was great.  Once they did know it was our birthdays they brought us the most amazing gelato mini cones.  I did order orange sickle gelato.  Let me say it may have been my new favorite dessert. I have never had it at any other restaurant and it definitely is a memorable dessert to have again if I can.

The next day it was off to the Bongo Room for brunch.  Their drinks were amazing.  Yes I told you there was a lot of eating and drinking on this trip.  They had a little wait so we went to walk around and ran into a gem of a clothing store called Personal Priviledge (www.personalpriviledge.com) and if you are looking for trendy pieces but don’t want to spend a lot I would recommend them.  Ladies, they have ALL sizes from the small to the beautiful plus ladies too.  We were all pretty much walking out of the store with something.  I got 2 little items that I can’t wait to wear and have a little fun.  Oh did I mention they made each of us feel like we were the only ones in the store and of course the mango margaritas while shopping was a great touch.  Back to the Bongo room where the food was so good.  We took the L and the bus and headed over to the Navy Pier.  We took a ride on the ferris wheel and it overlooked the city. Did a little shopping as well as stopped at Margaritaville for some drinks before heading to happy hour at the hotel.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at the South Water Kitchen.  I am telling you we looked up all of these places and read reviews.  Why go somewhere and know you may have bad food?  This was a mini vacation.  We weren’t about to cook a meal and we wanted good food and drinks and like I said Chicago’s DNA fit what we needed.  We walked, took the L, bus, Uber and Lyft.  The only form of transportation we didn’t take was the horse and carriage that we passed during our food tour.

Another stop was the Skydeck located at the Sears Tower.  So being up at literally the highest point in the city without a helicopter was such a treat.  The Skydeck was fun.  We had a great time and yes the ledge was everything you read and more.  We had a little time adjusting even the ones who don’t have height issues.  However we made it through and it made it some instant fun as we went to our Tastebuds walking food tour.  I was full by the end.  Our first stop was to Pizano’s for deep dish that Chicago is known for.  This location was the original location.  I am a fan of the deep dish cheese.  We had sausage too but the cheese had more of a kick to me.  They do have thin crust as well.  Apparently people don’t realize that Chicago makes a mean thin crust but they do.  Next stop was to More cupcakes (morecupcakes.com) where they have some of the best cupcakes I have had in a long time.  I am talking about flavors like bacon maple to everyone’s favorite red velvet.  Oh and I included the website because these beauties can be shipped all over the world.  They are worth it.

The next place was the Drake hotel where the ambiance is amazing.  The way that this hotel goes out of its way to excite your eyes with their floral designs is a game stopper.  They also have a beautiful tea room.  Oh let’s not mention their women’s bathroom was nominated for best bathroom and it’s not like any bathroom I have ever been in.  It was off to have one of the best hotdogs I have ever eaten.  My girl Cicely doesn’t even eat beef and was going to just try a bite but at first bite she said if I get sick it was worth it, it was one “damn good” hotdog.  By the way it was at Downtown Dogs that you can find it.  We ate the hotdog at Pippins Tavern.  The bartender was amazing.  I ordered a beer and then my girl Cicely bought me a shot.  However when the bartender found out it was my birthday he gave me a shot of Malort. Malort is what sets you apart from being a true Chicago native.  Apparently they give this to tourist to give them a “taste” of Chicago.  I was the only one who had it and it was awful.  I can take a shot but this was on another level.  I can’t begin to put into words how bad it tasted or smelled.  All I know is that I got through it.  The next stop was the Billy Goat.  This is a hamburger spot that was made famous by the owner, William Billy Goat Sianis.  He befriended a goat and was denied entry into Wrigley Field with the goat and he cursed the Cubs therefore the Billy Goat curse.  It was made further famous due to the SNL skit, “Cheezeborger, cheezeborger! You want a doublecheeze.”  Just a FYI, the cheeseburger themselves are thin so ordering a double is super necessary.  Next up, Fannie May which is chocolate heaven.  I was surrounded by so many different options it was hard to catch up.  Who doesn’t like chocolate though?  We even had a little to try to take home so you know I was a happy camper.

Did I mention that I also had some of the famous Garrett’s popcorn.  I mean if I am being a little foodie here why not?! So all in all we hit the main attractions.  We ate well.  We drank and was responsible so no hangovers and no visits to the hospital.  We were on our grown women level of traveling and more importantly as friends we were able to reconnect, talk crap and help each other through some difficult conversations.  We brought up some old stuff to get clarification, reconfirmed some girl rules and celebrated me and Toi’s 15th anniversary of our 21st birthday.  So as this doesn’t end #toibration but it does make it a great highlight.  The party will not stop until May 10th.  I asked some of my friends and family to send me some things about me and I will include them in my annual birthday year recap.

My favorite part was just being there.  I left the husband and kids at home, didn’t have a wake up time, no alarm, no work, and I had the choice to share my food.  I love my family and life but getting away is something I plan on making more time for.  I am an amazing mother and wife but I will be even more amazing with a little down time and play time.

My recommendation is to come to Chicago ready to eat, enjoy the scenery and the arts and expect to be wowed.  I have said and will continue to say that connecting with your friends is a must and I for one have plans to do more of this year and in the years to come.

Advertisements

Makhani Modern India: First Indian Food Experience

So I have a list of things that I want to experience.  Indian food has not been conquered.  I had the honor of being invited to the preview for the media night for Makhani Modern Indian.  Makhani is a BYO modern Indian restaurant and it opens today, Friday January 25, 2019. Located in Old City, it definitely sets the bar high for freshly made Indian food with modern flare. 

Shafi Gaffar, owner, has definitely got a winner on his hands.  He’s personable, hard-working, and along with Executive chef, Sanjoy Banik, their made from scratch and made to order entrees sets them apart from other Indian Restaurants.

Executive Chef Sanjoy Banik

Owner Shafi Gaffar

From the time I walked in and until the time I left, the staff at Makhani made me feel like family.  FYI for the grand opening this weekend, all guest will receive complimentary wine and mimosa as well as give aways. We started with drinks and appetizers. It was so hard not to get full on the appetizers without even trying.  Everything was off to an amazing start. Once the entrees came, I really had been calling my friends asking them what to expect.  I got such variety of advice but nothing prepared me for dinner until dinner actually came. I was impressed from plating all the way to the last bite. The food was fresh and from the first to last bite there’s no denying.  Each bite had me wanting more. The serving was generous yet I still kept wanting to eat.  I left nothing on my plate.  I knew that I was happy because I wanted more to take home and I definitely can’t see myself going anywhere else for Indian food but here. Also they included a belly dancer. My night was made! We ended with the mango cheesecake which is a must have! So how can you get in and experience the same?

Chicken Makhani and Chicken Vindaloo not pictured olive oil naan bread

Mango cheesecake

Visit

Come to Makhani located at 7 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia PA 19106.  They are open 7 days a week.  For the opening launch they will be open 11:30am to 10:00pm daily through Sundays. It opens daily Thursdays through Saturday from 11:3am to 11:00pm. Lunch runs from 11:30am to 3:00pm and dinner from 4 to close. Orders will stop 15 minutes before close daily.  Reservations can be made by calling 267-534-5097.  So what if you can’t stop in but you want to enjoy Makhani?

Delivery

You can have it delivered by logging onto to Eat Makhani

Delivery is available throughout Center City, Old City, Northern Liberties, South Philadelphia and beyond. You can also order at all major delivery hubs such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub, Caviar, and Door Dash.

 Follow Makhani on their social media pages:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Thank you Makhani and Aversa PR for an amazing night!!! I look forward to coming back very soon!!

 

 

Cry Baby Pasta; No Tears Necessary It was Amazing

Ever hear of Monday Funday?  No me neither until yesterday when I had an elite pleasure of dining at Cry Baby Pasta.  Think really good pasta and some awesome wine and know that when the two merges, it’s a celebration.

Triumphant after Tragedy

Cry Baby Pasta had their grand opening, this past Friday January 18, 2019.  If you’re a Foodie you may remember owners Bridget and husband Paul Rodriquez who also owned Bridget Foy, burned after a tragic fire in 2017. After some regrouping and a little research in the form of date nights, they saw the need for an Italian eatery that provided affordable eating options that kept a modern and fun atmosphere for others to be able to enjoy. FYI Bridget Foy will be back soon so don’t fret. In the meantime, add Cry Baby Pasta to your go to eateries.  You know I love anyone who can take a tragedy and turn it into a positive.  Cry Baby Pasta’s owners teamed up with husband and wife Chefs, David Gilberg and Carla Concalves, and together have hit a home run.

So now to the best part, my favorite food is Italian food hands down. Cry Baby Pasta had an amazing selection to choose from. I was impressed.  2000 square foot of 55 seat dinng room with 12 seat oak bar with a five seat drink rail provided the back drop to amazing Monday Funday. Cry Baby Pasta’s goals is to provide great food, fun and a shareable atmposphere and they hit it out of park.  This is a great spot to have food and drinks with your colleagues for an amazing happy hour, date night,catch up with your girls or boys or just to kick back with new friends and enjoy.

One of the dishes I really enjoyed was, Campanelle. Campanelle is made with brocoli, rabe, bread crumbs, and fiore sardo. Amazingly good and it had such a fresh veggie taste that made me forget the guilt of eating pasta while attempting to work out.

Another dish I enjoyed was,  Rigatoni. It definitely has a kick of spice to it. Mad up vodka sauce, pancetta, smoked chicken, and cherry peppers.

One of the best part of the night was the meatballs. Now I know I am trasitioning over to vegan, but they were absolutely amazing.  They were super well cook, and definitely well seasoned.

Enjoyed the night with my amazing date, my husband Marques. It was great to be able to get out, enjoy a few drinks and also be able to enjoy the ambiance at Cry Baby Pasta. It’s definitly on my list to bring a few girlfriends along.

 

So I definitely give Cry Baby a thumbs up. No need to cry, make sure you tell a friend and take a friend and enjoy!

Cry Baby Pasta will be open seven days a week, with the bar opening daily at 4:00pm and the dining room opening daily at 5:00pm. Sundays through Thursdays the kitchen will stay open until 10:00pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays look for the kitchen to stay open until Midnight. Potential weekend lunch or brunch service may come down the road. Weekday happy hour will launch later this winter. Look for catering and potential delivery down the road as well. Look for outdoor cafe seating to launch when the nice weather returns. 

For more info check out Cry Baby Pasta

Also you can make a reservation through the Resy app and trust me its super easy and quick and will connect you to Cry Baby Pasta, show up and let them take make your eating experience one you will never forget.

Tinsel Philly: Happy Hour Meets Christmas

So if you love Christmas and you love drinks and getting out this is your bar. This pop-up Christmas bar is the envy of anything holiday that I have attended. Tinsel Philly Pop-Up bar is your go to. What is Tinsel and how should you prepare? Bring some friends, be ready to drink, bring a fun attitude and leave the decorations, great fun and awesome Christmas atmosphere to Tinsel.

tinsel.jpg

First of all you are going to want to be in the holiday spirit from the door until it’s time to leave. From the window display to the bathroom, there is no corner or ceiling that is left unturned. I loved it.  The ceiling even has real drop down presents.

It is an eye pop of happiness. If you had the unique opportunity to attend last year, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that its bigger and better. It features a 33 foot bar. Say it with me, dranks!   I was impressed. Being a lifestyle blogger I feel as if it is my job to be able to bring anything that makes your life fun, easier, and gets you out and about and this had all of that. I am going to start from the front of the venue to the back.

IMG-2911

I found super convenient street parking. I only had to walk less than one block away. This was not a turn off for me. Tinsel is not hard to find. Once you are on the block it literally sets itself apart from all of the other venues around it. It’s the most lit Christmas display and that itself reassured me I was in the right place. Once inside, I walked into an overhead of lights. Lights engage me. Once inside, the 33 foot bar is undeniable. The bar was absolutely wonderful. Now I am going to keep it real. Bars sometimes for me can intimidate me, but not at Tinsel. The staff was warm and welcoming and let me know their favorites off the bat. Now I had my sight set on the Tinsel Snow Globe. It is a keepsake.  Let me say the inner child kicked in as I shook my globe and enjoyed the tastings of Grey Goose La Vanile, White Cranberry and the best part edible snow. Yes, you read that correctly, edible snow. The slew of drinks that Tinsel has to offer has something for everyone. From cold Christmas drinks and specials to hot drinks and wines and beers, you are sure to be pleased. I was super happy not just with the themed drinks having great names but making sure it didn’t lack in quality. At Tinsel, that is not the case. You know I love to be on point and if I am spending my coins, I want my drinks to be worth it. You will find my personal stamp of approval. I love adult juice so when I am out and about I want to be able to get out and know that I am getting what I paid for.  Knowing that last year’s Tinsel Philly was packed nightly I can definitely see why.

IMG-2906

So let’s hit you with the Logistics:

Where is Tinsel Located:

116 S. 12th Street, Philadelphia PA, 19107

What drinks Does Tinsel offer?

Like I stated above there is something for everyone. The coveted Take Home souvenir drinks include the Tinsel Globe, Canned “Good” which is what it sounds like, a canned good can that is filled with your choice of either Deep Eddy’s Vodka or Bacardi Cuatro, Cranberry or Cinnamon (proceeds benefit MANNA) and Makers Mark Stocking Shot or the Neat X-Mas Ornament. I personally tried the Tinsel Globe, the Canned “Good” and the Makers Mark Stocking and they all were worth their price because one the bartenders were awesome and they didn’t short change me on the liquor.

IMG-2884

Tinsel Philly is donating $1.00 for every “Canned Good” drink to Manna who prepare and deliver meals to those are in need and are battling sickness and would otherwise not be able to have nutritional meals. Learn more about MANNA.

They have cold and warm drinks like the Hot Toddy, and the spiked hot chocolate that was made with either Stillhouse Mint Cocoa or the Bacardi Coconut. Absolutely everything that the holidays drinks  are about.

IMG-2890.JPG

There is also an assortment of holiday beers, wines and what we all need to know about the happy hour which is Monday-Friday from 5-6 pm with $2 off most drinks.

IMG-2901

Oh and for my Mall or any other professional Santa, you get one drink free and 50% off at all times. You must be wearing your full attire and credentials may be asked to verify.

Music

No bar is complete without music. When you come into Tinsel you will be welcomed by Philadelphia DJ Robert Drake aka Mr. Christmas. He also in addition to spinning at Tinsel will host his 26th year on XPN which is the Night before Christmas with 24 hours of nonstop sounds bringing everyone into the holiday spirit. You can check out his music takeover on XPN

Tinsel Holiday Take overs

DJ Drake will be spinning Monday Mixers on December 10 and December 17 from 5-7pm where there will be prizes. Yes prizes.  That means you can have some fun, dance, drink and win a gift for you or for someone else and have one less gift to purchase. Come on out!

Letters to Santa

This year Tinsel will have brand new post cards to the first 500 patrons. Tinsel staff will take these postcards that can be sent to Santa, or to spread holiday cheer to others. Staff will take these cards and mail them off for you!

Santa’s Throne

This was one of my favorite spots. It was a great place for that coveted Instagram pic! I had to make sure I got one! The room attached to the Santa Throne was well decorated and completely inviting. So make sure you bring someone who can get that great shot and angles for you. Definitely well worth it!

IMG-2892

Holiday Events Coming Up:

Saturday December 22, 2018: Jingle Bars Holiday Crawl. For tickets and more Info

Follow Tinsel and keep yourself updated you don’t want to miss, The White Elephant Party where you bring an unwanted gift and exchange it for something else. Also they will announce Day parties and New Years Eve Party and you don’t want to miss out!

Shout out to Craft Concepts Group which includes,Teddy Sourias (owner of Trademan’s BRU Craft, and Wurst, U-Bahn, Cinder Cooper and Lace, Uptown Beer Garden, Finn McCool’s Ale House) and the local artist  who worked to make sure that they opened up the space to exceed the space from last year to this year’s bigger, and definitely decorated open space. The intrict detail in all of the artwork was mesmerizing and appreciated.

And as always thank you Kory Aversa and Aversa PR for having me.

Make sure that you don’t let the holidays over take you, take some time to have a drink at Tinsel where you can have a drink and leave the cleaning and stress up to them. You deserve to have a ball and celebrate. Grab your friends and family and Pop-up to Philly’s Christmas Pop-Up at Tinsel. You will not be disappointed!

Holiday Etiquette

The holidays are high time. Between happy hours, holiday parties, and company parties the list is endless in how to celebrate it. One of the things we must tackle today is holiday etiquette.

Invites and the NO Game

We know that for most of us we are going to get swamped by so many invitations. Keep in mind that you have to understand that not all invitations will be a go. I used to be the type that felt like I had to spread myself thin trying to accommodate everyone’s event. That is not the case now. Between working, my family, blogging, friends, it is impossible to be everywhere at the same time. For that my NO muscles gets worked extra during this time of the year. I get so many people caught in their feelings but what I remember most is that others will do the same so I have to take care of me and mine. Do Not feel obligated to attend all events. Do you know how much it cost? You may need an outfit, transportation, a hostess gift, a regular gift depending on the event, babysitter if you have kids like me and everyone wanting no kids to be included, and just man hours to juggle it all, someone is definitely getting a NO. I have the holidays to prepare for on top of all of that and my own traditions to uphold too. Juggle but don’t break or break the bank attempting to be something to the very folks that wouldn’t extend themselves to you.

beverage blur candy candy cane

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts

I love giving gifts. However instead of buying for everyone I find ways to one cut my cost. I stick to my budget and I always come under it. I hate attempting to feel as if I am overspending. I have goal and none of those goals will be accomplished if I am feeling guilty and having to recover after the Holidays from spending too much. There are ways to get around the whole spending too much. Instead of attempting to give each kid a gift in the family, make family baskets, filled with holiday classic movies, popcorn, candy, etc.  What you have created is a great family day in. The snow is going to come and that is the gift that keeps on giving especially where little kids are concerned. I also like to give the gift of entertainment. I can get families with children a gift card to an activity that I know they would love. Trust me with 3 kids of my own, someone paying for my kids on activities they know I am already going to attend is a savings. I also elect not to do gifts. If I am meeting up with friends, having dinner or drinks, sometimes just the gift of time is priceless. This means that us getting together and me spending time brunching, etc is a gift in itself. I have one friend that we meet up New Years Eve and do an early dinner.

Dranks, Pour it Up!

Be careful who you are around and the company you are keeping as you indulge. If you are at a company event, be smart. Have a drink or two but never more than that if you know that you are the type that has loose lips or will behave out of character. Worst than a one night stand walk of shame is the walk in shame the day or weekend after the holiday party where you got a little too loose. Don’t let this be you. Get a Uber or Lyft or have a designated driver. Do not drink buzzed or drunk. Trust me the price is more than you are willing and can afford. The most devastating time is having someone die at the hands of a drunk driver and around the holidays. Be careful.  Limit the amount of drinking you plan on enjoying. Make sure that you know your limit. Do not test your limit in a mixed crowd.

four champagne flutes with assorted color liquids

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Pot Lucky Unlucky Moments

Please do not be a hero making a new dish to bring to the potluck and it’s a meal that hasn’t been approved. This is not the time to flex. Opt to bring the adult juice or at least something that is edible. Also if you have pets, for the sake of all of those involved even if you think it’s a great idea to have your cat or dog in your kitchen, leave them out while you cook for others. This is an issue as to why I always ask, who made that? Why? Everyone ain’t as clean and pet hair in my food is not what I call a Holly Jolly Time. Please practice hand washing and make sure you aren’t cross-contaminating with the food or cooking utensils either. How you cook is just important to what you bring to the potluck.

This is a small list. Like I could have included re-gifting items you don’t want. If you plan on doing so, make sure it’s at least a gift thar a person would actually like. Don’t give gloves just for the sake of not having a gift. Put some thought. Gift like you would want to be gifted. There are so many price points to keep in mind. If you are attending an event, attempt to go to the event. I have had times when emergencies have come, but be sure that you aren’t RSVP to something you have no plans on coming. Also be sure to limit your drinks. Nothing is worst than having to figure out as a hostess how to get your guest home.  Be considerate of others. They may have said no to your invitation because it’s too much for them. They may not want to come or they may just been bombarded by so many invites that it could be too much for them to handle.

Have some fun. Show holiday spirit but be considerate of others around you!

Christmas Village Experience 2018

So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!

I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village.  Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others.  If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:

  • TEXT PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy will go towards helping Philadelphia Parks
  • TEXT BOOKS  to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books. 
  • TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness

Inside “The Present”

“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside!  I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized. 

So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied.  As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go. 

This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!

As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein.  It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.

Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.

Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!

I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.

Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.

If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.

For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.

Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared. 

mike hot

girl

sign

Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!  

helmut

cherry

One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good. 

truffle

One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments. 

blown

So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List. 

Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find. 

Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me. 

So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and  have an experience to remember!

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Christmas Eve: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Location:
LOVE Park, 1500 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

What I love about Thanksgiving

This is not a drill. We are exactly one week away. I can’t wait. I love to eat. I love Thanksgiving for a few reasons. A lot of them has to do with how people act. It’s like the one time of the year for the most part that others around you lay their issues down. Now I know some folks turn up and like to ruin the day, but the folks and family I am around these last few years especially come together and celebrate what it’s all about.

We generally have no rules for Thanksgiving. We usually go to our uncle’s house where he graciously does all the cooking. I usually still cook my own meal at home too. Got to have more food for later in the week. Nothing is better than Thanksgiving food days later. We also started a new tradition where we go to the movies the day off too. I love it because it’s not crowded and we can see what’s coming out for the rest of the holiday season too. Also its about coming together and relaxing and enjoying one another’s companies. It’s a time to catch up before Christmas comes. I love it. I love to sip my wine pretty much all day. Thanks to my husband for being that designated driver because by end of the night we always end with a final glass together. It’s our way to tell each other how thankful we are for what we have. Its our own couple’s tradition. We  have a lot to be grateful for.

I love the traditional food. You know turkey, mac and cheese, greens, etc. However the only thing I don’t like is the struggle plates folks want to post. We all eating generally the same thing. No one’s plate looks great. It is a plate with every piece of food that could fit on plate number 1. I don’t post my plates and try my best to scroll past the other plates that day. I love how happy everyone is. I love how people give the best hugs that they must have been saving all year because hugs just feel warmer this day. I love watching my kids interact with family and how happy they are.  I love seeing my grandpa do his yearly dance and all of the kids try to teach him the newest and latest moves. I record it every year. I know eventually it will be a memory that we will hold on to. I love calling my family and hearing about what they are doing. We generally stay in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving so I call the Lancaster family or FaceTime them .  It’s always good to check on them and to see how much potato salad my mom made. I love talking to my friends and checking in on them. We have one set of friends this year who will be parents. So baby watch is in full effect. I love waking up to the smells of the kitchen.  The only thing about the holidays that we miss is my Mother in Law, Deborah, my great grand parents, Beverly and Olivia Sims, and my maternal grandfather Fred McGinnis. I always wake up and remember them on these big holidays. I wonder what they would be doing if they were. I know their memory will live on.

download (1)

I hope that as you prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving that you remember what it’s about. That you take in the moments that you can. That you remember how grateful you should be on that day and everyday. I hope that you will have a great Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. I hope that it’s not ruined by anyone. If you know you are bound to cause issues don’t go to someone else’s home starting stuff. Stay home. Thanksgiving isn’t the arena to air out differences. It’s a time to come together. Go to those you need to make it right with, and do it before the dinner. Don’t come to the dinner table ready to start the mess that could have been worked out before the day. Work it out or find another home by which you can have a good time. Drama and holidays don’t have to mix. Also to some of my friends who I know the holidays trigger you, you don’t have to be the one to start issues to not go to a function that will further trigger you. I would rather you do a Friendsgiving than a family one if the family one is going to make you all kinds of upset. I don’t spend my time holidays or not around folks that I feel I can’t get along with. Life is too short to spend it with miserable people.

Also I know some deal with anxiety of getting together with others. I would try to take someone with you if you can. Also if there is a family member you get along with more, stay around them until you get comfortable. Especially if you haven’t seen others in quite some time. Be prepared for the 3rd degree. Those family members that’s asking others a thousand questions, leave folks alone. It’s no ones business why they aint married or have kids yet, worry about your own mate and kids. These types of situations make it hard for some folks to be around your nosey behind. Eat your turkey in peace and leave other folks lives alone.

Let folks come and enjoy their time together. That is what I love, the coming together without the issues. Eat and have a good time-sharing your gratefulness!