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. 

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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!  

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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Monday Motivation: What are your Intentions?

It’s amazing that in this technology driven world we forget some simple basics. I too had to go to the old landmark of writing down my goals and the steps I was using to achieve them. It’s okay to have technology but don’t forget to be clear with intentions.

Intentions are goals that you set for yourself. It’s not a list of stats that a lot of folks use for instance when they are dating. It’s super clear goals and an action plan. For instance if you’re losing weight you write where you are, where you are headed, and your action plan. As much as speaking your intentions matter so does writing them down and being pro ACTIVE!

This notion of simply having a good idea but not wanting to do the work is so backwards. Rarely do businesses, desires, or dreams just happen without hard work, failure, and sometimes rejection but we daydream it could just happen so easily!! Take the time to write your vision and then begin looking into how to make it happen for you! You will then get linked to the right people and places, etc.

Intentions and actions plans is what separates the talkers from the doers. So where do you stand? Are you a slick talker whose been saying for years you are gonna, but have no action plan in place?! Are you a doer whose been just trying things but don’t have things written? You can be a runaway train doing the most and frustrated cause you’re doing things out of sync. Writing things down will help you focus your steps!

This Monday, be clear in what you want and where you want to be and not just at New Years Eve. Go back and review your written goals. Instead of being mad and down about what you haven’t completed, find ways to renew your goal or sit and think if this goal was outside of what was to happen foe you. If you find it’s still a dream you want to accomplish then roll up your sleeves and make it happen. Be clear in your goals and put some ACTION behind it!

Cleaning Up

Now I know some people are either on team resolutions or they feel like it’s the dumbest thing ever to do.  With that being said, we still need to take the time to finish some loose ends.  If you are against resolutions that’s fine but to be truly successful you must have the mindset of making goals even if its daily and making it happen.  Nothing happens by accident.  Things that you want and need out of life do not simply just fall out of the sky. You have to work hard.  It has to be in your mind and heart and often times will need a little elbow grease to take off.

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We just celebrated and are still celebrating the holidays.  It’s also time to change focus. Yes the new year is coming, it comes the same time every year.  What I have been doing is tying up loose ends of 2016.  Making sure the things on my vision board that I actively been working towards achieving are all lined up.  Checking over the family goals and seeing what I can put in place NOW not waiting until January 1st.  Yes I know the new year is coming in a matter of days, but honestly the mindset for change has to be renewed daily.  There is at least one thing that can be done daily to reach your attended goal. No one is perfect so that means with goals there is going to be good and bad days.  The bad days aren’t the end all be all, failure is only when you don’t make any moves.

So what are you needing to clean up besides some holiday decorations?  I am focusing on paperwork.  I am a stickler for organization and to be honest its honestly just a down send when you have papers all over the place.  It’s not necessarily a trait that my husband and I share.  So often times it takes me going in and making sure things are very organized to get things done.  I plan on making sure I know where I stand in the most important areas of life.  Paper in the way is usually in the form of bills, or things for the kids.  So my plan is to reorganize it all so a plan can be in force.  You don’t know where to begin if you don’t know what is on the table to get done.

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Another area that I am always tweaking is relationships.  It  is so much harder to navigate holding onto dead relationships.  Regardless if its romantic or not, some things and people need to be let go.  If the relationship is making you negative, hurt, or angry re-evaluate the level by which you have placed the importance.  Sometimes we do things out of habit or comfort.  Sometimes it may take you being uncomfortable to make change.  When I was dating my husband in college he was my first.  You couldn’t tell me there wasn’t another man greater than him.  I wouldn’t have believed you.  It had nothing to do with sex.  I was totally infatuated with him.  I wasn’t willing to see what was out there.  The men that I dated after him became a comparison game.  It wasn’t until I decided to knock this behavior off.  How could I know for real if my ex-boyfriend was my dream guy if I wasn’t willing to take the breaks off and try.  So I did.  I can say that when my husband and I came back together this last time that it was because he was the ONE.  I had to venture out and do some self-love, travel, enjoy my days of being single.  I had to stop looking at being single as a death sentence.  I met some great men that have and will make great husbands but they weren’t the one for me.  Also dating even when you are wanting to settle down doesn’t have to be looking at everyone and evaluating when you will get proposed.  I was never that extreme but there are some that first dates turn into interviews for rings.  Stop. You put too much pressure and not able to find out all you need to know about a person. Do you know how many men are great for giving rings but it doesn’t mean they are the ones that make great husbands.

What about some of the bad habits.  If you picked one bad habit to stop, that in itself can cause great change.  We all know about the outward ones like bad eating habits, etc.  They are great ones to change but the ones like lying, talking about folks in the name of prayer for my church babies, or keep up drama.  These are the things that a lot harder to break especially if you have “always” indulged.  However these bad habits evoke the most change.  These changes help to place you in the right place in your life.  These are the ones that make the difference in your life.  Once you make several of these changes, it will bleed into other areas too.  It changes how you respond to others, it causes you to definitely be more calm, and it in general will be the stopping place for why some people can’t excel. Take more inventory to your inward person when you keep trying your hand at positivity and it seems to not work.

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As we embark soon on 2017, began now to put an action plan in place for your goals.  Don’t just let this year come and go with the same excuses and lack of plan like in years past. Make the difference between a normal resolution and jump into life changes,

How to Have the Best New Year’s Eve…

First of all this is one busy night.  There are a lot of preparations to make it perfect, but let’s keep it real there’s no such thing as perfect.  You have to set aside what goals are most important to you.  They say how you bring in the New Year is super important and it is.

Here are some of the ways you can bring in the New Year:

For Couples:

It’s important to attempt to spend it together.  Yes some people have to work and that is totally understandable.  However if you are a couple there are a million ways to spend it. You can go to a hot party and get all dolled up.  This would require that you and your partner book ahead of time.  Going out on New Years means having a party plan.  Will you use a taxi, Uber, Lyft?  What are the prices?  Everything is super expensive on that night. Do you even want to go out and deal with other party goers?  Decide early because after Christmas if most clubs and establishments haven’t already posted prices they definitely will.  Remember anything where you can pre-pay ahead of time is better.  At the door the price will usually go up from $20 to 100 per person.  Ouch.  So plan ahead.

If you and your boo do NOT want to go out, opt hosting a party get together.  You can do this by having other couples come and share in the purchase of food and drinks.  This will cut cost down dramatically.  You can have a great night in.  You can do things like play games, watch movies, whatever you want to do.  It’s all your choice.  This is a great option for a laid back night with others.

If you say Toi, I really just want a quiet evening, than do that.  I know couples who dress up and cook a meal together.  This can turn into something if you want it to trust me. Nothing is sexier than your partner in the kitchen.  Make a meal that you both can try that you wouldn’t have normally tried before.  This way its something out of the ordinary than your normal pasta dish at home watching tv.  You can do a vision board together as a couple as well as an individual.  You can play games and make it fun.  Spice it up.  You can just spend some quality time with the one you love as you bring in another year.

For Singles:

You can do the same thing as above as far as going out but make it a great group effort. You aren’t the only single one in the whole world no matter how much your mind tells you. Get together and reconnect with friends that you may not have been able to catch up with during Christmas.  This is a great time to travel.  Some of my friends are out of the state so if I was single you could travel to their state or pick a new destination altogether. The same rules apply, have fun and be safe.  If you want you can have the ultimate girls night.  There are a million and one ways to have a group of women come together and have a great time. You can pick a theme.  It doesn’t have to be just the New Year.  You can have a makeover night.  Everyone brings make up, wear cute pajamas, etc. The sky is the limit. Be open-minded.

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Travel

Like I said I remember hitting Miami up one year.  I had the BEST time with my girlfriends. We went to a great club that had open bar for a price and food.  We danced so much I can’t tell you how bad my feet hurt.  However when I look back at the pictures I smile.  We really had a great time and even walked a little on the beach.   You’re single not dead.  Enjoy life. There is so much to experience that is beyond your backyard.  Now that I am married a few of my single friends have even gone out of the country.  Imagine that.  If you have a passport, isn’t it time for some new stamps?

For Parents:

My husband and I have been parents for 7 years and the ONLY time we have had a night out for New Years has been this past year.  We ended up going to Chickie and Pete’s.  We had no immediate plans.  We made none.  We decided to just get dressed up and head out. As we went to a few places, we noticed how super crowded and how limited space was open to be out.  So I did what any woman would do, I goggled.  I found that Chickie and Pete’s had a special for a flat rate you could eat and drink top shelf liquor all night. I said let’s give it a try.  Let me tell you, it was worth every penny.  Not only was the crowd hype, there was dancing, our own table, and did I mention all you can eat and drink on food we knew would be good?  Yes we had hit the jackpot.  It’s hard to get a sitter and last year we lucked up.  So what do you do when you have no sitter and you have little people?  You make your own party. I have always done a party at home.  I had adult drinks and kiddie mock drinks, New Year’s gear, and we had a full party.  Dancing, music, the countdown all of that. Guess what it was low-key, loads of fun, and I didn’t stress bed time either.  I let them stay up until they fell out.  It was a great time.  Oh and my kids can hang.  They loved every bit of it.

Another option for parents is to invite other parents that are in the same boat.  You can have a kid and parent party.  This is a good idea for parents who want to interact with others but can’t find a sitter.  Everyone can come together and split food and drinks. Everyone can have a great time in a safe location.  Parents can interact with other adults and the kids can get some time out as well.  Trust me the ride home will be quiet, your little ones will be knocked out no matter how late or early you go out.  Also during the day on New Years places like aquariums etc will have specials for the little people and a special count down too. This way if you are venturing out you can tire them out before you go and have some fun too.  Check prices and get tickets early as well.

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New Year’s night can be as much fun as you want it to be.  You have to be willing to step it up no matter what your status in life is.  Yes I didn’t mention church, but you didn’t think this fellow PK (preacher’s kid) would forget.  Yes watch tower or midnight services are fun too.  It does depend on where you go.  I am sorry church folks but you can make New Years fun.  Yes have a good message, preach, have choirs but have some fun too.  Nothing is worst is dragging your family out in the cold to church and having them wanting to gnaw their arms off because the service is no different from any other day.  It’s a fun night of celebration.  Just because you in the church you don’t have to cut the fun out. Incorporate something into the service. Have food.  Do something out of the box and bring folks into the church.

I do not have my plans set yet.  Whatever I do it will be fun.  Whether that’s out and about, a night at home, with friends I will have the same joy of beginning the New Year as I have always have even if I have to create it.  That should be a part of your new goals.  Creating happiness in your circle. Trust me the situations I was in I should have been sad but I turned them around and made the best of it and so can you.  Enjoy the New Year celebration as well as make your own mark going into 2017.

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Evaluate my life when I feel in Shambles…

Self evaluation of your life should happen often.  How often is up to you.  For me I always have a plan so I may look at things weekly if not daily.  It’s not that I am attempting to carry the weight of the world on my shoulder.  For me it’s always keeping things fresh and always working toward my goal.

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Today is national evaluate your life.  So no doubt many will take the time to think about what they are doing and need to do and haven’t done.  Let me say before you cue in the sad choir, that evaluation can take a lot of mental stimulation.  I know there have been plenty of times in my life where I would evaluate my life than I would go into a deep depression. All I could see was the negative things.  It was a slap in the face of what my potential was and what was actually happening.  I would in my mind want to find the ugliest of clothes and just walk around with nappy hair and sadness.  However in the real world while I was in my pity party, life was moving forward.

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I had to go to work for fear of not paying my bills and the fear of having to come home and say to my parents I couldn’t cut it. So even at my most lowest moment when even Ramen noodles seemed like Red Lobster, I had to keep going.  So how do you pick up the pieces of a shattered life or the life that was meant to be but still hasn’t shown up to greet you?

  1. Make bigger tasks smaller.  You have a plan of what you want.  Always know what it will take to make that plan pop and then find ways to make that happen daily.  If you aren’t doing one thing daily towards your goals you are already losing.  Small goals give you a mental relief until the main goal is achieved.
  2. Give yourself a break.  It is true that those who hustle hard win.  However even in hustling there are days when you are burnt out.  You have to find some time to be gentle to yourself.  You will beat yourself up harder than a fight in the boxing ring.
  3. Know that failure is when you stop not when you get knocked down.  If your goal is to workout 3 days a week and you only made it to 2 days, be grateful and try again.  If you allow your mind to have its way next thing you know you are back to no workouts at all.
  4. Focus man.  Yes that’s for the ladies too.  So many times you focus on what others got, what others are doing, etc and you are losing because you keep comparing.  It’s great to find someone who is at a place you want to be. But let’s keep it real you spend more time comparing yourself to people you never want to be like just because they seem to be temporarily prospering right now. All gain ain’t good gain.  Focus on you.
  5. Learn to find an activity that reduces stress. Let me just say that its hard to do that if you are seconds from losing it all. However its important.  I know plenty who are on their seemingly last leg but they ran, walked, journal, listen to music, etc something to keep their wits about them.  Most of the issues we face in our life has to do with her mind. If you can change your mind and how your mind has you seeing the things around you, half the time you can make more happen for yourself.

So today while you are evaluating all that life has thrown and feel like you too are being thrown, take a few steps back.  Do NOT quit.  Quitting is the biggest result of failure.  You could fall a thousand times before reaching your goal and have others consider you as a failure but when you believe it and allow it to happen you have failed yourself.  I know plenty especially in the relationship category could use this nugget.  They date a few frogs and meanwhile their friends are married, engaged, and having babies, so they immediately they cry when is it their time?  One re-evaluate yourself from the inside out.  We spend a ton of time and money on the outside and very little on the inside. Then we wonder why we attract what we attract. If you won’t date you than no one else will.

Take some time to get a plan and work your own plan.  You can’t simply say I want to move out of my family member’s house but didn’t include a savings plan, haven’t looked at your real budget and not your wish I could budget. You have to do all of those things and more. Step out and work your plan.  Be strategic.  I mean winging it hasn’t served you so get more of a definitive plan in motion.

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I have shared this before but let me say it again if you want to win you will.  I watched my mother who had my twin and baby brother and I as she walked us to the sitter.  She then walked to work and then back to the sitter and then we got the bus  home.  If the bus was late we walked.  We did whatever was necessary.  I also remember being in a homeless shelter for women and kids and thinking to myself how lucky I was.  I didn’t know that we were living below our means.  I had no idea that this wasn’t okay.  My mom never allowed us to believe that.  She never allowed us to be ashamed.  She took on that shame.  So now when I see bratty kids or even worst bratty adults who complain I just smile.  I know how to live and make things work when things were at nothing.  Some people around you have no idea of the things you been through that will get you to your destiny.  I am grateful for being on welfare as a child.  I don’t take for granted. Although I don’t have that in my pathway now, I never will get too big to remember those low days.  I remember when I had done some of the worst things in my life and knowing that at the time I didn’t see a way out and everyone was talking and saying I am this and that and how even with all of that I just kept on and keep on going.  The times you had or will have is preparing you for what is to come.  I don’t allow my very blessed children to take for granted what they have.  I make sure that they give back constantly.  Trust me it’s apart of the bigger picture of their life.

While re-evaluating things today, write some things down.  Don’t just keep it in your head.  Ask questions to the right folks that can help you get to where you want to be. Sometimes the life you think you want isn’t even the life you are supposed to have.  Stop forcing a square into a circle hole.  Sit quiet and know that the plan you are forcing may not be working for you for a reason.

Too much egg nog, too little regrets!!

Holidays brings about some of the best parties there are.  Really it’s something about the holidays that makes folks step their game up.  With that being said one thing you don’t want to happen is to over drink and say things you can’t take back.

It’s often said that kids and drinkers speak the truth.  It’s a true statement.  When people drink they get loose lips.  However at a holiday party isn’t the time to use your alcohol muscles.  Alcohol muscles gives you the courage to tell someone at a party how you really feel.  Well the problem with alcohol muscles is that once the alcoholic high wears off and it will, you’re left with broken relationships.  You often don’t get to take it back.  It’s out there.

It goes without saying that if you’re attending a patty whether for a job or friend related that less is best.  I know companies that have alcohol to no end, but the quickest way to lose your job and be in the faith line is to start some office drama because you can’t hold your liquor.  The rule of thumb is to have one drink that you sip on lightly before eating and then one after you eat.  Also try to eat a small snack before you go so if there’s time in between courses you aren’t getting drunk or tipsy.

After that it’s safe to stick to a limited amount of drinks so you can know what’s going on around you.  I’ve seen plenty of hook ups at office parties that have ended marriages and ended good relationships at work.  Now if you are at your girlfriend’s house and partying hard you want to limit the drinks as well.  Even if you’re staying overnight you don’t want to be the one that was doing too much and have all of the guests talking and whispering.  Trust me they will.

Have fun by all means but watch the amount of alcohol you consume during the season.  Also even you are married and you go somewhere together still be careful as arguments can ensue and that can be uncomfortable for others to witness.  Know your limit and If you notice that you’re getting to your limit by all means get a cab, Lyft, or Uber home.  You don’t want to drive in that state.  Have a plan in place so you can maintain some type of decorum.  The last thing you want to do is have your “fun” night turn into an instant tragedy.

Have a safe and happy holiday!!

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