Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Year I'll Keep My New Years Resolution


Guilty as charged. Year after year I have the best intentions. I make resolutions to be healthier, or more understanding, more charitable, or less sensitive. On the 2nd day of the year I have clearly delineated means to achieve my seemingly realistic goals. By the 2nd week of the year I'm slipping, and when the 2nd month of the year roles around, I've fallen off the wagon. I always feel the same - let down, disappointed, and overly self-critical.

My resolutions are never overly-ambitious, they are typically good lifestyle goals. I, like many others, use the new year to jump start the me I really want to be, next November, next year, or ten years from now. So, why am I so overwhelmed and destined for faltering?

Management expert Peter Drucker recommends the acronym SMART when formulating your new year's plan.
S - think of specific, not general, goals.
M - measure your success
A - set achievable goals
R - be realistic
T - timing, in other words, set time lines.

Instead of approaching my new years resolution with lackadaisical effort and setting myself up for disappointment, I plan to treat my endeavor as carefully as I would an important assignment. After all, if I'm willing to commit to it, it better be important. Otherwise, it is a waste of time. Here's to 2009! Good luck.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pack 'Em Up!

I am always overwhelmed by packing. So many things to remember - phone charger, contact solution, my favorite lip gloss, bobby pins... You get the point. Packing for New Years is pretty simple, but I always find comfort when I refer to the Real Simple packing list. It's no secret that I'm somewhat of an organizational freak, but these travel lists are really wonderful.

See for yourself.

I suggest, making your own and saving it on your computer for repeated printing.
Happy Travels!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Style Pedicure


I love a mani and a pedi. Usually, I splurge on starbucks (extra shot, one equal, skim cappaccino) and then head to the salon, slip into a massage chair with trashy magazine in hand. At the end of my self-indulgent soiree, I'm fifty dollars poorer, but feeling pampered. Unfortunately, after the holiday spending, I can't rationalize spending that kind of dough. Especially, when my toes are either clad in closed toe pumps, or my favorite ugg slippers. Here is at home instructions for an at home pedi.

Pedicure
  1. Remove last week's OPI color with nail polish remover.
  2. Fill a shallow basin with warm water and add baking soda and massage oil. The mixture will thoroughly clean and soften your feet. Or, if you are a milk lover, add about a quarter cup of milk. (The lactic acid in milk softens skin).
  3. Soak for about 7 minutes or in between commercials while watching Lipstick Jungle or Law and Order.
  4. Trim your nails with a high-end nail clipper by first cutting across the center of the nail. Be sure to cut straight, otherwise you may be producing the catalyst for ingrown toenails which don't pair well with your favorite Prada Heels.
  5. Next, file your nails. First, use an emery board to soften the edges by only filing in one direction. Then, take the file across the top of the nail to smooth any edges created by the clipping.
  6. Apply cuticle cream to the based of your nail. Rub across and then up along the sides. If you don't have cuticle cream, I have found conditioner is a great, always on hand, substitute. Use cuticle clippers to remove the loose skin. Don't get clip happy.
  7. Use an exfoliating scrub and pumice stone to smooth your foot, focusing on the ball of your feet and the heels.
  8. Now, you're all set to apply this weeks hot color from Essie. But, be sure to remove the oils from your nail by swabbing each nail with remover, before applying polish.
Voila, a pedicure from the comfort of your couch, while watching your favorite tv show! You don't have to worry about scuzzy foot baths or germ infested tools. Put away the 50 dollars you saved for flip flop season. Since you don't have to drive, feel free to throw in some vino.

For an at home manicure use the same methods for your fingers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays!


After a very painful internet hiatus, I would like to wish you and yours happy holidays. I hope that chrismukkah filled your closets, wallets, and apartments with everything you desired and, of course, needed.  But more importantly, I hope that the spirit of the season filled your hearts and your living rooms with family, loved ones, and joy.  





Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stemware Identification

What would college be without memories of Red Solo Cups littering an apartment apr├Ęs fete? I remember how convenient it was to label that red cup with a magic marker so that I could claim and identify my cup in order to avoid swapping spit with the “accomplished” rugby team. But we’ve graduated from college and now it is time to upgrade from Solo Cups to stemware.

Applying a sharpie to a wine glass may upset some, so, instead, use a wine tag. In light of the recent financial situation and numerous holiday obligations, may I suggest making your own or bringing them as a lovely hostess gift. You can find all of the materials at any office supply and craft store.

Use beading wire to create a coil which can easily slip around the wine stem. String various beads onto the coil, and then slip on a metal rimmed circular price tag with a name or cute symbol/picture/stamp on the paper portion of the tag. Follow with more beads. Be sure to loop the ends of the wire so that the beads don’t fall off. Or, ditch the beads and the wire, and just use the price tag with string. Voila, vino identified!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Root!

Dave is always seeking new eclectic restaurants which force me to stretch my pallet's comfort zone. Last night we finally got to try Root located at 10th and Spring Garded.

I had read some promising reviews, so I was excited and expectations were high. With 2 bottles of wine in hand (It's BYOB) we entered through the high gloss orange doors into an insanely intimate setting. The only electric light is from the kitchen, but each table is illuminated by tea lights. The setting is minimalistic, but not cold, and the owner-chef, adds personality and emotion to the setting, as well as the amazing food. Top it all off with great, soft playing music and I would say this place has it all for a 1st date, 52nd date, or dinner with friends.

We started with a tar-tar flight, foie gras, and a mushroom flat bread with bacon and scallon chutney finished with a poached egg. For my entree I had a risotto with arugala and crispy pork belly. Dave had the goulash. Dessert was delicious and light, not too overwhelming, but I forget the exact dish. I do remember Dave's dessert had a full-sized milkshake that would have made me lick th glass if my tongue were long enough. Each bite was so complex with fresh, perfectly paired flavors that you just wanted to chew a bit longer.

The food is local, extremely fresh and organic. It seemed to me that the organic quality was not to be with the times, but rather to optimize flavor.This was confirmed when Chris, the owner, amended the menu according to the availabilty of quality items this week.

All the items were reasonably priced considering the cullinary expertise they displayed and quality ingredients they contained. Why go to a repeat restaurant with predictable dishes and obnoxious service when you could go here? Also, there are rumors weekend brunch is to begin. I can only imagine.

We will certianly be returning and not just because I left my wine tote there.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Crackberry?

As earlier stated, verizon fios and I had a very nasty break up. Luckily, unlike most dissolutions, I was able to get out of our temporary union with de minimus monetary penalties and virtually no hard feelings. In the wake, I am left with no internet, just my faithful blackberry, which short of laundry does it all. But can it blog?

Grillz Cheez

I love grilled cheese. There is nothing better than slapping some bread and cheese on the foreman and then indulging in gooey deliciousness. Nonetheless, I am somewhat embarrassed when I have to admit to someone that I had grilled cheese for dinner the previous night. When the situation arises, I think of my friend that requested grilled cheese for her wedding reception, and I have the courage to come clean. (She's my hero.)

In the name of growing up (at least pretending to...) Here are several suggestions to force maturity on your grilled cheese.

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/4-easy-ways-to-dress-up-your-grilled-cheese-323411/

(I do aplogize for not properly linking. Verizon and I had a fight and I'm waiting for Comcast to pick up the pieces. In the meantime, I'm posting via iGoogle from a remote location.)

Follow-Up: Good Bacteria

Several people reacted positively to my article about immunity boosting good bacteria. But who knew that the same yogurt that claims to be good for your stomach is also good for your immunity? Well...lots...I just didn't. DanActive yogurt which boasts being good for your digestive system is also a great source of teh good bacteria that helps you fight those pesky winter colds.

Arm yourself with a spoon and some yogurt.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tacos!

Yesterday afternoon, after overdosing on Thanksgiving fare and Chinese food (a/k/a Jewish Thanksgiving), I told Dave I wanted Mexican, but not commercial Mexican. Leave it to him - he knew just the place - Jose's Tacos.

Set back from Spring Garden, on 10th street, the neon side made me skeptical, but my chimichanga was delicious - not greasy with the perfect mix of chicken and cheese. The food was reasonably priced and perfectly sized, leaving your full, but not stuffed. And, their salsa actually has quite a kick. Quite the discovery, if you ask me.

If the Spring Garden scene isn't your thing, they do deliver ($15 minimum).

(215) 765-2369 * 469 N 10th St * Philadelphia, PA 19123

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Smokey Eyes

I love look of charcoal smokey eyes.  But, I often find the charcoal liner and eye-shadow to be unforgiving in application and appearance, especially when juxtaposed to dark under-eye circles. Just in time for the holidays, Real Simple recommends a four-minute a twist on the smokey eye. Instead, of a dark gray, try usinItalicg a soft neutral shadow.  Pewter is especially popular and looks good on everyone.  First, use a brush to apply powder shadow from the lash line to just above the crease.  Blend the edges with a finger to soften.  Next, dip a wet liner brush into the same shadow and line the upper lashes.  Use a dry brush to line the lower lashes.  Top it all of with some mascara.  

If you don't already have the tools, I recommend brushes from MAC.  They are a bit pricey, but makeup brushes are one of those things that are worth the expense.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Hangover

I know, I know, we really stuffed our faces last night.  One Thanksgiving, as an adolescent thinking weight gain was not an issue, I put myself on the scale after devouring several plates of Mom's good stuff.  That was the last time I went on that diabolical measuring device within two weeks of the waist-expanding holiday.  But, Thanksgiving has passed and we are in the thick of a calorie ambush, a.k.a. the Holiday Season.  So, you could either pull out the "comfy" jeans or do damage control.  

So, what about today? May I suggest the following...

If you are experiencing a sugar rush from the amount of desert you inhaled do a fat blaster interval workout.  

If you are feeling rather sluggish from the dopamine try a relaxing yoga routine.  

If your think your hand to mouth exercises last night made your arms gobble like a turkey, try a cardio-centered weight routine

If you think you deserve to be whipped with the dish-towel used to dry the platters last night, think again.  An abnormally intense workout to ease the guilt of consumption may land you with an injury and side-line you straight through new years.  Punishment and guilt won't correct the mistakes of last night.  But, re-centering your routine will help mitigate them. 

Lace up your sneaks and be thankful for your gym membership.  

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gratitude Revisited

After writing a piece about gratitude, I began preparing my thanksgiving toast. I'm sure if you polled families across the country tonight, you'd find many of us toast to similar things: family, friends, loved ones, health, hapiness, and success. But, I assure you not many families toast to setbacks and weariness. Maybe they would after reading this poem...

BE THANKFUL
Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,because it means you've made a difference.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.A life of rich fulfillment comes to those whoare also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,and they can become your blessings.
~~Author Unknown.~~

I wish you and those close to you a year of blessings in whatever shape they may take.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time when we are supposed to express gratitude for all the wonderful things we were given during the past year.  Although, you may think it is an obligatory step before enjoying the traditional bird with a couple sides of starch, there actually are many benefits to giving thanks. 

1. It helps you feel in control. Acknowledging the things you are thankful for helps you take credit for the good things that have happened to you.

2. It improves your health.  A study by Robert Emmons, Ph.D. showed those who kept gratitude journals tend to exercise an average of 33 percent more a week and sleep a half hour more each night.  They also reported more energy and vitality.  

3.  It helps you cope better with trauma.  If you are focused on what is good in your life at present, you are better able to neutralize negative emotions from the past.  

4.  It bolsters self-worth and self-esteem.  If you can count your blessings, rather than focusing on the negative during difficult situations, you can concentrate on things you value the most.  

Instead of just passively participating in the toast and then gobbling up the delicious fare, try offering a few words of thanks.  It may do a lot more then making your grandmother cry.


Adapted from Real Simple, November 2008, 4 Benefits of Giving Thanks, by Nykia Spradley and Lesley Alderman

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday

If you are crazy or dedicated enough to endure Black Friday, I want to toast to you and offer a bit of advice courtesy of Real Simple.  To preview the day's bargains, view leaked deals at bfads and gotta deal.  If you prefer to sit back and rub your tummy on Friday, but attack on Monday a/k/a "Cyber Monday" try Cyber Monday and Best Cyber Monday Sales.

Whatever you do, watch out for those ladies with the crazy eyes.  And, if you are so happy to have this blog to read, I would love a new digital camera.  

Cheers!





Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Financial Yoga

As a kid, I was taught to work hard for what I
wanted, and that I would be duly rewarded. My
parents implemented this method through
college and law school, trying to give me
reasonable funds to supplement rigorous
studies. Because of their monthly donations to
the Anne Fund, there were always greenbacks
to go out to dinner or pick up a new outfit. But
just as the Dean handed me a diploma sporting
Anne J.D., they felt their charitable obligations
had ceased and my self-help obligation began.
After a long discussion with my tough-love
mother, I felt guilty for mourning the loss of my
eating-out fund. She encouraged me to take my
anxiety by the horns and gain control of the
situation much like you would a bad relationship
or an argument with a friend. After all, did I want
to live in an apartment forever or be writing a
check to educational services in 20 years?
Plainly, no. So, why would I let a new pair of
jeans stand in the way of my financial stability?

Over the past couple of months, it has certainly
been a process, neither perfect nor disastrous.
Every month I learn a little bit more about my
spending habits and find hidden opportunities to
save. There are small victories, like only
buying coffee once during the week, or turning
down a friend's invitation to dinner while there is
plenty of sustenance in the fridge.

I know I'm not the only one that feels this way,
so I imagine you'll be equally happy and inspired
when you read Whole Living: Body + Soul's
article entitled, "Find Financial Balance." It
completely documents my mother's precious
advice, but is supplemented by professional
authority. As the Sex in the City generation, we
are so quick to demand authority and
competence in our professional lives and
personal relationships. So, why shouldn't we
command the same from our checkbooks?

P.S. At the risk of sounding like a stalker, this
article is another Martha contribution.

P.P.S. I hope Katie isn't mad, but this article is
worth printing out and having on hand to rea
repeatedly or passing along to friend who may
need a little help.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sick of Being Sick

Since Thursday, I have slept a ridiculous amount, sampled chicken soup from every eatery in a 2 block radius, and managed to fit into those once too snug True Religions.  Hopefully Mr. sickness has kicked my posterior for the first and only time this cold-season.  

Maybe you can avoid his wrath with these helpful tips to optimize your immunity. The first four are obvious: (1) Manage your stress; (2) Eat Well; (3) Prioritize your shut eye and, (4) Move for 30 minutes a day. The last is not so obvious and took me by surprise:  go for good bugs.  Try to eat a yogurt containing active cultures several times a week.  If you are not a yogurt fan, try miso soup or sauerkraut.  If none of the above floats your boat, try a supplement with active cultures.  

As the holiday season approaches at lightening speed, we may find ourselves knee deep in veggie dip holding a glass of vino, on 6 hours of sleep and sans a work out for weeks.  I am going to make an effort to prioritize my routine even in the face of the holiday bustle.   

If you have already fallen prey to some illness, be sure to get lots of rest, fluids, and vitamin C.  Most importantly, and of great difficulty, be patient it take time to get back to 100%.   

Saturday, November 22, 2008

See Jane Work


The Container Store is my version of heaven. But, when I recently ventured there to find office accessories for the small desk occupying a corner of my bedroom, against all feng shui principles, the items utterly lacked personality. Dave had suggested a discount store such as Home Goods, but those places usually end up in some unnecessary purchase.  

Thankfully, I discovered See Jane Work, in a magazine I stole (er, borrowed) from the office. The company was started by a stay at home mom that didn't have time to scour flea markets for cute desk accessories.  Her philosophy is that a busy woman's office should look just as good as any other room in the house.  (I am not so secretly in love with her).

Although I'm sure physically visiting the store is an OCD fantasy, the virtual/internet visit offers several surprises, such as an eco-friendly section, a tip page called "Pulling It All Together," and gift options at minimal price points.  Although the desk accessories aren't bargain priced, they are unique enough to make it worth the expense.  With all the distractions, it could be several days until I can commit to a coordinated, well-planned purchase. 

*Please note, I do not condone the purchase of a $145 stapler as pictured in the above image.  You'd have to be stapling a whole lot of stuff to make it worth it.  While stapling your pant hem may be necessary in an emergency situation, it should never be a reason to buy an expensive stapler.  



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tattered Magazine Contained


During this week's apartment purge things were chucked, but my stack of dog-eared magazines remained. I am addicted to magazines. Recently, in the name of frugality, I have imposed a ration: two magazines a month, that's it. The rest I must borrow or steal. Now, I can't seem to trash them until I have combed through them with the exactness of a bar study prep course. So, in the name of clean lines, and clutter free shelves I searched for a solution to my little "problem." Of course, once again, Martha pulls through with another Good Thing.

Yesterday, I went to Ikea and bought a package of 5 cardboard magazine holders for $2.99. Now, all I have to do is find a decorative paper that ties in the colors I plan on using in the main living area. Prices begin at $2.50. Basically by the weekend I'll have an eye-pleasing organizational solution for about 6 dollars.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Those Pesky Little Stickers!

There is nothing worse than purchasing a new glass or ceramic item only to get home and ruin your manicure peeling the price sticker off the bottom. No more anxiety about bringing your new find home! Just soak a cotton ball in alcohol and saturate the sticker. It will come off like magic and your manicure will stay chip-free!

"You look exhausted!"

Do you pretend to be grateful for their concern over your obviously exhausted appearance? Or, do you fantasize about throwing your extra-hot, extra-shot, skinny mocha in their annoyingly chipper face? No amount of satisfaction is worth wasting a good coffee. So in order to save the espresso, and your look here are some tips to look more awake.
  1. Rim your upper inner lash with navy liner to make the whites of your eyes appear brighter.
  2. I have also hear of rimming your upper and lower lid with a shimmery pink to detract from the heaviness of the eyes.
  3. Pull your hair back into a tight pony tail or bun. It gives the impression of an instant face-lift and allows you to sneak in a couple of extra minutes under the covers.
  4. After you save your brew from meeting your co-worker's face and there's only a drop left, dip a cotton ball in some espresso and place it against your eyes to lighten the dark circles and puffiness.
  5. Run an ice-cub over your face before applying your make up. Not only refreshing, but it will wake you up and decrease the dreaded tired puff look.
Obviously, nothing can replace your actual sleep, so be sure to catch some serious Zzzz's so you don't get sick.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Menage a Trois, Anyone?

Everyone loves a good glass (or bottle) of vino from time to time. Menage a Trois, produced by the Foile a Deux winery of California's Napa Valley, is an amazingly likeable, reasonably priced, red blend that could serve as a fabulous compliment to most dishes. A mix of merlot, zinfadel, and cabernet, this overachieving wine surely delivers well beyond expectations.

In a city like Philly, known for BYOB restaurants, it is imperative to have a versatile bottle of wine on hand for an impromptu dinner with friends. Your friends will certainly appreciate your contribution to the meal and, with a name like menage a trois, the conversation.

At $12 a bottle it is at least worth a sniff and a sip.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kleenex Meet Martha

Since I have some free time this week, my apartment is being overhauled! We're talking unpacking (the last of it, I swear); purging; organizing; a little painting; and a lot of cleaning! First on my list was my bedroom. I swept under the bed, added a cute off-white bedside table, cleaned out the clutter, and stepped back to adore my work. I scanned the room, impressed with how fresh it all looked, when my eyes happened upon an atrocity. (A minor exageration). The essential bedside box of Kleenex was such an eyesore! I know it may seem crazy, but I'm a woman on a mission. Who would know how to resolve this issue better than Martha Stewart? I know, she's annoyingly chipper and snippy at the same time, but you have to admit, when she's good, she's good. I'm not referring to an early release on good behavior, I'm talking about her Kleenex solution.

It's cheap ($1.14), fast (3 minutes), easy (Ari did it for me) and simple (no cutesy tissue box with embroidered initials, eh-hem). Check it out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Move Over Ebay...Hello Shop Housing Works

One of the things I detest about ebay is how I have to diligently search pages upon pages of drech to find a diamond in the rough.

But, a friend recently introduced me to Shop Housing Works, which at first glance is ebay on steroids. Further inquiry reveals that it is so much more than just a place for fashionistas on a budget to lay claim to prized items.

Housing Works is an organization committed to helping homeless men, women and children diagnosed with HIV/AID. Housing Works Thrift Shops, the Housing Works Book Cafe and the auction site all help to fund this extremely worthy cause.

Cute, fun, and entirely unnecessary, but must have items adorn the pages of this fabulous site.

If you still need to rationalize your spending I'll give you three excuses: (1) You're helping a good cause, not just feeding your insatiable lust for more tchatskis (2) You're engaging in financially responsible activities by buying at a thrift site rather than retail. (3) You're helping the environment by ensuring no longer needed items end up in a home and not a landfill.

Get to it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Philadelphia Craft Show

Last night Dave and I had the pleasure of attending of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Preview Party. Besides promises of delicious desserts, drinks, and nibblets (in that order), we were promised many sumptuous varieties of art. I certainly was not dissappointed by all the visually stimulating displays of artistry featured in one booth after another. Over 1,000 artists submitted work for consideration, but only 196 were chosen. While I sincerely love most forms of art, I don't have enough of an oppurtunity to roam galleries and museums. The Craft Show is one-stop-shopping for art enthusiasts. All of the items shown are for sale and in many cases, browers and shoppers alike have a rare opprotunity to even meet the artist. If, like me, your change purse doesn't allow for fantastical purchases, it is worth it to browse and appreciate ridiculous piece of jewelry or a simple, yet studnning rocking chair. This year the Show features many Israeli artists, which is a characteristic very close to my heart. Proceeds from the show are used for acquisition of fine art to further enhance he Philadelphia Art Museum's permanent collection.

It is surely not to be missed. Information can be found here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ikea 2009 Catalog Release


Last night while Dave was reading the Economist, I languidly flipped through the most recent Pottery Barn catalog. When I asked Dave for his opinion on a $500 coffee table, he kindly hinted more affordable options by saying that the 2009 Ikea catalog had just been released.

Thoughtfully, redirected, I ordered it. You can do the same here.

Frugal Living

If you think your bank account needs a fitness plan check out Frugal Living.

The website encourages a financial make-over by assigning daily tasks each day for 30 days. After browsing the site, I was impressed by how inclusive and thorough the program was. The assignments ask the tough questions forcing you to seriously re-evaluate your money situation, but don't leave you feeling empty like a fad diet. Some of the tips and tools don't apply to a 20-something lifestyle, but are worthwhile nonetheless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore
from Motivational Quotes of the Day

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Money Tip: Establishing Automatic Payments to Reach Goals

It is wonderful to have friends that share money-management trials and tribulations. They are a never ending source of tips and secrets to manage those meager paychecks in light of so many available temptations.

Here is one, that was imparted over lunch yesterday:

Dedicate a manageable automatic payment toward a current goal (i.e., paying down a credit card; saving for a trip; or, saving - period). Once, you have sufficiently paid down the balance or accumulated enough savings to reach your goal, re-dedicate the amount to your next endeavor. If implemented, you'll never miss the money because it was never really yours for the spending in the first place. Plus, the goal busting experience will be far more positive then solely watching your balance diminish and your aims remain unfulfilled.

I will add, this tidbit of advice: If you decide to use your online bill pay to make the automatic payments, always make sure there are available funds in your checking account. If not, you may be charged the $35 dollar overdraft fee.

The Urban Saloon: Brunch; Reasonably priced

I was pleasantly surprised after stumbling upon this newly established gem. A friend, in from NYC, and I decided to venture into Fairmount for lunch this Sunday afternoon. First, Bishop's Collar's kitchen was closed until 4pm. Next, Jack's Firehouse was hosting a private brunch and was therefore closed. So, we tried Urban Saloon.

I wasn't expected much because the frontage and interior were sparse; reeking of that newly-opened flair. But, the menu is very reasonably priced ($4 french toast) and features surprising ensembles (peanut butter and bacon burger). The portions are just right, leaving you full, but not overwhelming so. Our server was pleasant, polite, and constantly refreshing our DC. Also, I must mention that every bathroom stall had a small table for a woman to place her purse upon. Do you know how much that means? The owner is obviously owns some compliment worthy bags.

While nothing about the Urban Saloon was earth shattering, I will be returning for the laid-back feeling, comforting food and flat screen tvs, and supposedly notable beer and wine list.

2120 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Gym-ing


In an effort to get myself together, I am breaking down and getting a gym membership.

First, I had to work out the financial aspect of a gym membership. When all is said an done, the membership will cost about $700 a year. That's a pretty large chunk of change. But, think about how many other expenses equal $700 a year: 1 nice dinner out monthly; a haircut monthly; a pair of shoes monthly; 4 Starbucks cappuccinos weekly; eating lunch out 5 times a month. You get the point. The truth of the matter is, I don't seriously ponder spending during those individual situations, but they are probably costing me a lot more then my gym membership. Further, a gym membership has added bonuses that those expenses do not. One, a fitness plan is healthier and more rewarding then any of those purchases. Two, if I am spending time on the elliptical, I will have less time to spend money on dinner's out and shopping sprees.

Next, I researched what I needed to know before getting a gym membership. These are things I normally went to my mother to figure out, but we all have to grow up sometime.

Questions to Ask:
  1. Is there a free trial membership available for those thinking about joining. I want to make sure that I enjoy the gym before making such a commitment: are the facilities up to my standards; is the staff helpful and friendly; is it too busy to enjoy a workout when I am available; etc?
  2. What kind of a contract am I signing - 6 months, 1 year, 2 years? Are there savings for signing on for longer?
  3. Are there get-out clauses? If I move to a different city can I get out of the contract without a penalty?
  4. Can I suspend my membership if I become injured, sick, or take an extended vacation?
  5. If interested in training, are the trainers certified?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Realistic Detox: Cleansing on a Budget and a Schedule


After celebrating the Phillies World Series win,  I thought a real, full-body detox would be a great way to "get right" and "back in order." Authorities suggest yearly detoxing to cleanse the system.  But, if you are feeling sluggish, unusually tired or are suffering from irritated skin, allergeis, bags under the eyes, or mental confusion, detox may also be warranted.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with detox, some acknowledged benefits are: improving blood circulation; stimulating liver and organ function to flush and eliminate toxins; and restoring healthy nutrients in your body.  

When I looked into the process it was extremely time consuming, schedule limiting, and expensive. Unlike celebrities or Housewives of Orange County, I don't have the luxury of hiring someone to help me purge in tortuous and unpleasant ways.  The demands of a full detox program would be an extreme shock to my system and involved obligations that were grossly unrealistic considering all of my other social and professional commitments. And, I must add, most of them demand you give up coffee to which I say, no way! 

So, I've compiled a list of ways to realistically detox one day at a time
  • Aim to drink 8 glasses of water at room temperature with added fresh lemon juice.
  • Begin or get back into your fitness routine.  According to Body + Soul magazine,  an activity that creates a sweat "glow," for 15 minutes, but ideally 30 minutes a day is sufficient for detox purposes other sites required 1 hour. 
  • Finish your morning shower with alternating between the hot and cold water.  The change stimulates circulation, which stimulates the lymphatic system.  
  • Make an effort to remove stressful stimulus from your life
  • Add  yoga and meditation (see previous blog) to your morning or evening routine. 
  • Eat plenty of fiber rich foods. 
  • Focus on your breathing  before you get out of bed, before you drive your car,  or whilst sitting at your computer during the day. 
  • Stretch 10 minutes a day.
Good Luck!




Friday, November 7, 2008

Confession to Make?

Need to get something off your chest about an ex-boyfriend? Are you dying to share a secret about a love interest without repercussions?

Do it here!

Just make sure the person/people you are keeping it from aren't fans too!

Quote of the Day

"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree."

Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stop and Smell the Now.

Many of us our self proclaimed all-star multi-taskers, but whatever happened to living in the moment? It is well recognized that the routine practice of living in the moment will lead to a fuller more satisfying life.

Today’s WikiHow suggests consciously focusing on an individual task to truly live in the moment. While performing even the most mundane chore be attentive to your senses and experience. As a result, you will savor the present rather than flying subconsciously through it. The practice of focusing on the present is prevalent in Buddhist and Jewish meditation. Buddhism refers to the practice as mindfulness, while a form of Jewish mediation uses a single phrase to begin the practice. By repeating “Ahyeh Asher Ahyeh,” translated to mean “I will be as I will be,” one is meant to acknowledge one of G-d’s promises: I am and remain present.”

If the thought of meditation makes you think of Madonna’s poorly aging face attached to her sickingly fit body, I plainly suggest just living in the moment. Rather than seeking satisfaction and fulfillment through choclate or a shopping spree, why not take conscious steps to achieve a longer lasting, more satisfying result?

Random Quote

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

Colette (1873 - 1954), in New York World-Telegram and Sun, 1961

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Plastic bags are going to the Dogs.



I am proud to say I diligently use my re-usable totes for shopping excursions, but sadly, I have been ignorant to the number of plastic bags I toss along with Ari's business. If I'm using an environmentally responsible alternative for shopping, why not buy bio-degradable waste bags? Thus, Bio Bags an environmentally friendly option!

At just 10 cents a bag, they aren't outrageously priced and you can feel even better about cleaning up after your dog.
When I'm done with the batch I recently purchased at the Container Store (primarily because of the nifty holder), I'm placing my order.

P.s. if you don't have the re-usable grocery bags, get on it! You can either pick them up while checking out at most grocery stores. Or, if you want a cuter alternative, without the store advertisement check these out at Walmart, American Apparel, and Cafe Press.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cafeteria? No, it's a Cafe.


Mere mention of the Comcast Building prompts thoughts of the Philadelphia Phillies reversing the curse that long-loomed over the city. But in the wake of the Championship, as we hopefully detox, I presume 'Comcast Center' will become correspondent to 'Professionals lunching in Center City.'

One of the beauties of working for the government is I get holidays like "Election Day" to plan catch-up lunches with less-fortunate friends who had to work. Upon entering the cafe I began to salivate at the sight of so many great options in one place. We finally settled on LaScalas, but not until we had made the full loop, scoping out all the options: DiBrunos, Sushi, Fresh Fish, and Produce Market, to name a few. I can imagine the selection is a pleasant break from the usual Saladworks and Liberty Place fare. Admittedly, such finery is normally out of my "pack your lunch" budget. But, the Market at the Comcast Center is definitely worth the occasional, well deserved splurge. I may even go out on a limb and recommend it the next Saturday the ladies meet for brunch.

Due to increasing popularity, I have heard the lunch crowds can become a bit overwhelming. So, if you are inspired to make the trip and peruse, go before or after the lunch crowd. The entire cafe seemed to empty out within five minutes of the lunch hour ceasing.


Location:
1701 John F Kennedy Blvd Philadelphia, PA 19103




Hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Sat 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Hello, you!

As I have recently discovered, graduating Law School school and entering the professional world brings on new challenges. I must figure out how to balance my debit card account to cover real-life expenses (enter, new brake pads) with the splurges that make saving fun (can you say cole haan?)

But, as they say, with new responsibilities come new freedoms. Finally able to move downtown, I can to enjoy the city I've always called home, but never actually lived in.
With the help of some friends and my golden retriever, I plan to enjoy and share my Philadelphia explorations. As a Jewish girl from the suburbs obsessed with coffee and expensive shoes, but who craves eclectic eateries and art collections, I am sure there will be more than enough to keep me quite busy and you, hopefully, interested.

As I see it, Forrest Gump was wrong. Life is not like a box of chocolates, it's like a "Cheesesteak With Whiz." The whiz is what makes life, and a cheesesteak, so sinfully delicious. So, here's to, Life with Whiz.