Philadelphia Zoo and Chase presents: LumiNature

What do you do when you mix the holidays with one part light show mixed with interactive galore? You have LumiNature. This 12 zone adventure will light up your world allowing you to create the most magical experience you didn’t know you needed…until now!

I try to keep my blog life separate from my family life but last night I mirrored the two and it was the best mix of both worlds. I’m the biggest kid but having my actual kids and niece was the best thing I’ve done all week! So let’s dive into this exhibit. The Philadelphia Zoo has invested a lot of time and effort to make this brand new exhibit into a dream. FYI like I had to explain to my kids this is not the time to visit with animals. This is apart of but semi separate fun. So if you have tickets for the Zoo you will need to get separate tickets!

Without giving you all 12 zones I’m going to give you my top 4 zones and why I loved it!! Tickets to the exhibit is timed and can be purchased online here! Parking prices can be seen there as well.

Wonder of Slumber

This is at the very entrance of the Zoo! It’s airy illuminated flowers are extremely magical. Here is the pic of when it was still some daylight available:

Here is the picture of it in its nightly glory!

It’s visually stunning. Also keep in mind as you guide your way through the zones there are interactive things to touch and play. There are also actors who are dressed and of course in lights to make it a night to not forget. Have your camera or phone ready!!

My kids with the lion doing their best ROAR!

Northern Lights

This is where the big show is. You get to meet Polaris the 35 foot polar bear who brings you into dancing and awe. The shows are timed at about every half an hour. You are going to want to be front row and center!

You can see a snippet of Polaris in action on my Instagram stories or in my highlight at More Philly! This show has some of the classic holiday and dance songs you will love to hear. It was nothing but smiles and awe from start to finish! Trust me you and your guests will absolutely love it!

Flamingo Fancy

This is one dazzling exhibit. It’s pink is so illuminating and I wanted to stay here for some time. Just take a look:

Hand crafted flamingos make up this beautiful tree! Even the walkway to it is stunning!

Peacock Spectacular

You can turn yourself into your own peacock! Peacocks are always known for their beautiful color and last night was no different!

There were a lot of extra things to see along our journey!

Since last night was the grand opening, the Philadelphia Zoo and Chase had a media and friends opening party!

Great food, hot chocolate bar, chocolate wine aka hot chocolate with wine, a regular bar and a great parting gift!

You will not be disappointed! Make LumiNature your new addition to your holiday plans. The light exhibits are out of this world. 2019 has been a great year for the Philadelphia Zoo. From the new additions to the park and upgrade food, LumiNature is your go to for memories and all of the feels!

5th year Blogiversary

This has been an amazing year. I believe I’ve touched the surface of what I plan to do and I have no choice but to keep going. I’ve been intentional, asked for help, leaned in on my mentors, outsourced to professionals what I couldn’t do and learned a lot in the process! The journey has been one of the best!

I’ve learned a lot more about myself. I realize that I’m not an island. I learned that I’m strong enough to handle fluctuating schedules. I’ve had the most productive year. I’ve been to all kinds of events, managed my family, my health, and my sanity. I love where I’m headed. There are already some amazing things lined up this next year!

I also want to thank the brands who helped me celebrate this year. Not just in prizes but in hospitality all year long. A special thank you to Eat Banza, Chima, Blessing Manifesting, and Nicole Lapin! I’m honored that you took the time to help me collaborate! Also I want to give an extra shout out to Aversa PR for allowing me the opportunity to be at so many wonderful events and openings. It’s actually been one year working with Aversa PR.

Thank you to my family who put up with me having a wonky schedule. I’m out in the field for almost 3-4 days a week some weeks more than that. I get asked how do I do that with 3 kids under 10. The answer is simple; they love and support my efforts. As long as I keep meal prepping they are good to go! I don’t book anything during their Girl Scout or soccer events and I make time to keep the spark alive with my husband.

Thank you to the network I’m with in TCP! The Cultured Professional has been an amazing network. They are family! “We Working over here!” is a lifestyle and definitely not a moment! These hardworking individuals have meant and continue to mean the world to me. Check them out here!

I want to say a special thanks to the many blog friends I have. There are a quite a few but I’ll highlight a few; Phillyfoodgal, Kingston Jael Michaels, Cocoamommy, Vidafashionista, and PR Brandon Szeltzer!

There are so many collaborations that took place to name! So many wonderful brands I wouldn’t even have known about without having an amazing network behind me! It’s been one amazing ride!

Thank you to every reader! One thing about it is even when Twitter or Instagram shuts down for hours you keep on reading my content and for that I’m honored!! It’s been a great transformation these 5 years! Thank you to everyone who submitted an Ask Toi!! You’re ability to be vulnerable is appreciated!

If you notice I’ve begun branding. This will continue! This has always been a goal for me! Now that I’m learning how to do it more consistently my promise is that I will always brand with companies that I believe in. They need to be products I’ve used in the past or use currently. They need to be what I would stand on. Something that I want my daughters to be proud of as you ladies! Brands that my son can feel good knowing I’m not compromising myself just to make money or sell my name for!

Let’s rock it out this year and make it happen!!

Non Traditional Thanksgiving

There’s nothing wrong with going against the grain! Making the holidays what you want it to be is really special if you ask me. There’s no rule that says you just have turkey, you just dress up, etc!

You can dress your day up or down as much as you like. When we first had our oldest we were super traditional. We tried to split the holidays. We dressed in super traditional clothes, we watched the Thanksgiving Day parades, etc. We have kept a lot of the traditions from our childhood and merged them together. Fast forward to today and I can tell you we have love in the center of us but we make it whatever we would like it to be and on our own terms.

When you don’t like to keep in line with traditions here are some amazing ways to change the perspective:

Friendsgiving

You can do this in a numbers of ways. Over the weekend my friends and I did a Friendsgiving brunch. This was a way to come together, brunch, and connect! I’ve seen some that incorporate non Thanksgiving Food. You can do a themed dinner or luncheon. I’ve seen where people bring leftovers and put a spin on it. This gives you a way to get rid of your leftovers and spend valuable time with your friends!

Themed Dinner

Yes turkey might not be your thing. You could always opt for something else besides ham or a turkey. There’s always a themed dinner. A themed dinner takes the whole Thanksgiving day dinner to another level. As long as you’re thankful it shouldn’t matter what you have on your actual plate. So eat to your desire. You could always mix both traditional with non traditional too.

Thanksgiving Mixes

This is when you take a traditional dish and flip it. Like a switch up on the day. I’ve had some amazing meals that I wouldn’t have known existed by eating some mixes. For example a sweet potato soufflé. It’s amazing and something my family wouldn’t traditionally have. The spin is still Thanksgiving but has a different level to it.

Thanksgiving Brunch

So a few people I know are having a brunch that day and then spending the rest of the day drinking and Ubering to shop and having a dinner out later in the day! It’s genius and with less clean up. I would only caution if you make this option to secure reservations early. Especially if you want a nice sit down meal. There are a lot of options here in Philadelphia. If you follow me on Facebook I have and will continue to highlight some amazing restaurants that have great options!

So again make the holiday as big or as as small as you would like. Focus on what you want to see happen for the day. Don’t compare yourself to others. There are people fighting major to stay connected with themselves let alone others.

Mystery of Irma Vep; A Penny Dreadful

The Mystery of Irma Vep is a 2 actor whirlwind of fun, chaos, tragedy, and a love story all wrapped into one. In my mind I kept watching all the clues and I thought I knew how the ending would go but I was pleasantly surprised and hugely WRONG!

So now that we know I am the last one to come and help you on a murder mystery dinner spin let’s talk about what is right. This amazing witty production is by Steven Wright and stars Paul Kahn and Rich Bradford! These two actors’ ability to play multiple roles is nothing short of amazing. I was expecting some choppy transitions being that two actors are playing at least 2-3 roles a piece but it was the most hilarious but smooth transitions I’ve seen in a long time.

Let me give it up to the set director also Paul Kuhn this set I loved! I loved the detail in the little things like the transitions between the hanging pictures of the Lady in the house. I loved the Egyptian set as well. This was well thought out. The colors were bright and amazing.

So what exactly is the play about we follow the story of Lord Edgar and his transition from his First Lady (wife) Irma Vep. He has already moved on sort of to his new wife, Lady Enid. In this twist of who done it, we are introduced to the maid Jane who seems to be of Caribbean descent. She knows where all the bones lay. Most maids know the secrets of the home. We also meet Nicodemus who we need to watch a little closely as he may or may not be “after” Lady Enid. So what happened to Lady Irma Vep? How did she die? Why can’t Lord Edgar move on properly? What is wrong with Nicodemus?!

This production in its entirety is full of explosive acting. There was nothing but laughs the entire time. I was surrounded since I went to the matinee show with a mixed crowd. There was a smile on every last face. This production from start to finish including a 10 minute intermission is about 2 hours. To be honest I didn’t realize the time because I had to keep watching to be sure I caught the clues.

This is the last week as the show ends on November 23rd. You can purchase tickets here! Be prepared for strobe lights, laughs, some adult content as they are some not so subtle talk that may not be suitable for a younger crowd. I would recommends this for anyone 16 and up with adult supervision!!

I so want to tell you what the actual mystery is but if I did how would you get the full story?! Check it out for yourself!

Curio Theatre is located in Baltimore Avenue and 48th Street. They have a love for acting and do things within the community as far as discount tickets and no student will ever be turned away from a show just because they can’t afford it!! Parking is street parking but let me honest I’ve never had an issue with finding a spot and I’m the type that doesn’t do well with finding great spots on the regular! Get there early you will not be disappointed!

Remember there’s nothing wrong with a man dressing in a dress when he’s acting his but off!!! I loved this! It will make sense once you see it!

Thank you Curio Theatre for having me. Thanks to Carrie Gorn for always making sure I’m in the right place at the right time!

Alone on Thanksgiving

This is a lonely time of the year. From missing loved ones who have passed, to failed plans, to even having no plans at all, from here on out its especially important to check in on friends and family. For Thanksgiving it can be very triggering for some who are alone. By alone that could mean without companionship, newly divorced or that could mean simply no family or friends to spend it with.

Holidays bring out the best and the worse in feelings. Those feelings surrounding the holidays really can feel overwhelming. Some people tend to be short, angry, or even depressed. Also understand that simply telling someone that they SHOULD get pass how they feel, is insensitive. Grant it feeling alone doesn’t mean that someone can be mean to others but that doesn’t dispute that an outside person can dictate how someone should feel.

You Have Me…..

I love when I see people reach out to others to let them know that they are there for others. That’s a beautiful thing! We need more people speaking that to others. However keep in mind that may not be enough. That might not make the one who has deep rooted pain overcome. I find it interesting the amount of folks super offended by not being received by the ones who are in hurt or pain. Be there for someone and don’t do it to gain a response. Do it because you are sincere. Eventually the person possibly could be receptive.

It’s never the same

Some people can’t get over that the holidays have changed. Certain smells of the holiday or lack thereof can trigger deep feelings! If you miss your mom for example a favorite meal duplicated by someone else can be hard to deal with. It triggers the loss of not having her there to make it for you. It may never be the same. It won’t feel the same. It won’t taste the same. The holidays could be forever changed.

Not wanting to Participate

It’s perfectly okay to decide that due to the lack of immense joyful feelings, you may want to sit out this Thanksgiving. Some people change how they celebrate or if they celebrate at all. I know some who don’t cook. They do to the movies or purposely eat non traditional food to have it feel differently for them. That’s perfectly okay. The year we loss my mother in law; we went to dinner with family but it was after we had our own dinner for breakfast, put our tree up, and went to the movies! We changed traditions! Should you take food over to someone who may not want to participate? I would say ask. Ask if that would be okay. Also not only ask don’t stay too long. If you get the green light to bring food don’t turn it into a stay over and chat moment. Do a quick drop off.

Be a Friend

Thanksgiving should be whatever you make it. For those who are feeling lonely one of the things that bothers them is not having the traditional family to spend it with. If you are alone but aren’t open to new environments I would open up your horizon. You might find a new joy to hanging out with friends. Again it’s not that you have to but you could find being open to a new way of seeing how holidays can be is key. One thing I love about friends which is different from family is that you get a choice. You have a choice in who you make friends with! Friendsgiving is not a new term. It’s how some replace the traditional ideals of the day.

I wish no one to spend the day alone. Eating alone is good when you desire it but when you want companionship or family around and can’t or don’t it’s heartbreaking. I would hope that you have someone you can connect with. I hope you can find ways to turn the day around or if you want that quiet that the day is all that you wish it to be. Nothing is worse than being in this world and feeling completely alone. I send peace ahead of this super social season!!!!

Happy 1st Anniversary Lokal Artisan Foods!!!

It’s a beautiful thing to have a dream. It’s another to take a chance on yourself and literally leap. I met Charisse a year ago at the Philadelphia Christmas Village. She made me the best French Toast bites of my life.

One of a Kind

If there is anyone who knows me from a kid they know I do not like french toast. I might have eaten a piece or most likely a bite to be courteous but you ain’t ever seen me finish a serving like I do these amazing French Toast Bites. They are the most crispiest French toast I’ve ever had. Even with going vegan I don’t even have to miss them because they are vegan approved!

Tenacity

Charisse quit her job to pursue this dream full time. The type of quit where your items are mailed to your home type quit. Not many would or could pull off such a great jump. When I met her at Christmas Village it wasn’t just about a tasty treat. From the beginning I saw someone who believed in hard work and practiced what she preached. She’s a go getter. Someone who doesn’t wait for doors she creates them! You can’t help but be impressed.

Piazza Pod Park

If you haven’t been to the Piazza Pod Park and you live in Philadelphia I have to question what you have been doing. It’s the home of some amazing businesses including the French Toast Bites. The Piazza is my go to for all things fun. They have had an amazing Summer and Fall. Let me tell you what I saw when I went on a random Summer night. I saw Charisse serving a customer with the same vigor as she would a large crowd. I saw a business owner working hard and making it happen. She’s also in school to get her Masters by the way!! I was there attending a nearby event and I just wanted some peace and quiet. The Piazza is where I went and as I enjoyed my French Toast Bites I saw Charisse just grinding hard.

Lokal Artisan Foods which is home of the French Toast Bites, fresh pressed lemonade and the amazing French toast seasonings-yes you can buy it for your personal use at home brand is one to contend. As it expands I plan to follow, buy, and always lend my support.

Today’s one year celebration was one for the books. Guests were greeted by some amazing food, adult drinks and you know I love a good mulled and spiked cider, kombucha, and CBD Delight Drinks!

You know the drill the camera always eats first!

Special shout out to Wild Kombucha! They had some of the best Fall favorite flavors and my favorite was the apple spice!!

Today’s celebration motivated me especially after hearing Charisse pour her heart out! I felt motivated to a thousand! There’s nothing we can do when you push past that place of being uncomfortable!

Shout out to the Piazza for having these amazing fire pits! I loved the s’mores that were made today!

Charisse’s team is hands down the type of team we all need in our corner! We need the ones who run with us and ask questions later! We need the type of team members who believe in the dream just as strongly as we do! Having that type of fire with you makes a huge difference!!!

Made in America

Hearing how she even got to be a vendor at Made in America was super inspiring! Who would have known one cold call and some persistence could open a door?! Not many can say they have spoken on anyone on Roc Nations team but Charisse has and isn’t stopping any time soon!

Anywhere Lokal Artisan Foods is you can count on me with my notebook, debit card, and camera! To many more years Charisse! I’m so proud of you!!!

Follow Lokal Artisan Foods on Facebook so you don’t miss an event!

Follow them on Instagram so you can always remind yourself of the cravings you need and you can get to them ASAP!

Order the French Toast bites seasonings especially with the holidays coming up. This perfect blend will take your French toast to another level!!

You can see where I posted my first video of Charisse a year ago here!

Monday Motivation: Coachability or New Coach?!

It’s another Monday! Another reset! Another week to make better plans and amazing achievements. Time to get focus! Last week we talked about Burn out and this week we need to talk about being coachable!

Being able to be coached is key to any success. No one is just born with all the tools. As a blogger there are other bloggers that I look up to! I am always willing to ask questions. I’m willing to listen AND receive criticism. These are just the basics of being able to be coached. If you think that you can’t humble yourself and get tips to be better it’s a quick down fall coming your way. We all can improve.

It’s okay to be able to ask the hard questions and be willing to receive the answers we say we seek. Some of my blogger friends have sent suggestions my way that I do my best to immediately implement. When I went to the Blogher conference recently I learned tips and tools to make my blog stronger to increase visibility. It wasn’t a matter of “I’ve been doing this for 5 years.” 5 years or 5 minutes I still have the ability to listen and change!

Have you ever seen a know it all? They get defensive the minute you offer a suggestion even they are the ones who asked! They get mean and loud as if what you are giving them means they can’t be better or that you want to tear them down to nothing! Criticism can either hurt your feelings and tear your dream or hurt your feelings and make you better-you have a choice. I had someone say “why you!” That hurt my feelings but it helped to push me not leave me wounded and stagnant! Every last one of us has the ability to coach the next one behind us and the ability to have someone coach us. It should work hand-in-hand.

Don’t let criticism bind you and the gift inside of you. It’s like a person who can sing but allows someone who thinks they can’t stop them. Trust me the gift inside you wants to come out. You can hide for a long time but eventually someone is going to hear you sing and remind you of the gift you keep locked away out of fear of criticism. Being coached is like having someone in your corner being a backbone of love and encouragement! That’s the way it should be. Even if a coach delivers a hard blow it should still feel like love!!!

Coach or Hinderance

I said above that even when you have a coach that has to deliver bad news it should feel like love be careful when you have someone on your team who get joy out of delivering the bad and don’t follow up with love. Tough love is beautiful but it should come from a vessel who has the ability to know the difference between pulling back and going forward. I’m amazing of the amount of people who have people on their team that they KNOW don’t mean them well so they can be seen as loyal. If your loyalty to them is dependent on you taking each and every hit that’s not a coach that’s an enemy in your camp! Clean house! Get these types of folks off the team!

Is your Coach Qualified?

Being able to listen and take in change is key but having the right balance of a coach is equally important. Being coachable also means not selecting a coach based on favorites. Make sure that the coach you believe in your life is also qualified. Would you have a fitness coach that ate wrong, overweight, and showed up when they felt like it lead you to a weight loss journey? Would you allow someone who was known to have public financial problems be your financial advisor? Would you let someone who couldn’t swim teach you to swim? No! Stop letting unqualified folks take you places they have no authority being in. You might not even have a problem being coached you might have the wrong coach in your life. Be clear!

Start this Monday asking some serious questions. Ask yourself if you’re not able to allow someone to help you because you need to humble yourself to receive. If after you deem yourself coachable ask yourself is the coach in your life authorized to take you to a new level? Don’t waste your time only getting the folks who never challenge you to be better. The ones who spend more time breaking you down but not being able to ever speak love into your life.