Wearing: My Favorite Halloween Costume

The Black Ballerina

The Black Ballerina

The Black Ballerina

The Black Ballerina

shirt: gap, leggings: f21, flats: target, tutu: discount dancewear

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Four years of blog writing and I think this is the first Halloween costume that I’ve ever posted. And guess what, it’s definitely my favorite Halloween costume as an adult. It may be because I knit those leg warmers myself two years ago (yea, that’s why they’re kinda funky). Or it could be the amazing black tulle tutu. Or it could be I’m living out my ballerina dreams. Either way, I am loving this holiday this year.

When I was a kid I had some pretty cute costumes. One Halloween where I dressed as a cat and my brother dressed as a dog. I think we were maybe 7 and 3 and we were just as adorable as you imagine. Also one year my mom got all crafty and referenced a copy of Martha Stewart living and I ended up as a flower. It was pretty crafty of her but I was in fifth grade so thank goodness I went to a small all-girls school where every girl kind of did her own thing. I’ve never been into scary Halloween costumes; even when I was a witch I was a darn cute witch.

Sadly enough my school does not allow students or teachers to wear their costumes on Halloween. Something about costumes becoming too violent and scary. It’s too bad because Halloweens at school are my favorite memories. Teachers used to be able to wear costumes but not this year. I’d been thinking about this Halloween costume for months so I was kind of bummed. Nick offered to take me out for Halloween and we’re having a very adult Halloween visiting a few of our favorite bars in Philly that are having Halloween parties. This will be my first time in Philly for Halloween and I’m kind of excited, though it could just be that I get to wear a tutu all night. Anyone have some good Halloween plans?

Brew Jersey, New Jersey: Touring More Local Craft Breweries

 

This Saturday was perfect: blue skies, warm breezes, and beautiful fall leaves. So why would Nick and I want to spend it inside? Because we were touring some local breweries, of course. To celebrate five years together we decided to spend the weekend doing our favorite “together” activity. Since we had our first sips of Yards Philly Pale Ale at a .fun concert (we’re just so hip you know) we’ve loved getting to try different craft brews. Our region is great for craft beer. Thanks to New Jersey loosening to antiquated liquor laws, more and more breweries have started to pop up all over this great state. In the spring Nick and I ventured towards the north Jersey shore to visit Carton and Kane brewing companies. Now it was time for us to make a much-anticipated trip to three South Jersey breweries: Riverhorse in Ewing, Flying Fish in Somerdale, and the brand new Forgotten Boardwalk in Cherry Hill.

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

The first stop was River Horse Brewing Company at their newer Ewing, NJ location. I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get to visit their original location in Lambertville, a converted factory right by the Delaware River, but this location is so close and convenient to where I work. Can you say “happy hour tours”?! Super weird/annoying fact about New Jersey breweries: NJ law requires that breweries offer tours before they are allowed to serve anyone. It has to be an educational experience. But free samples are free samples so I’ll sit through a tour. Our tour there was actually one of the best that I’ve been on; very thorough but informative and engaging. It was also a great tour since we got to sample the new IPA and they had a firkin of hippo lantern vanilla bean. Overall it was pretty quiet there and seemed like more of a place to pop in to fill a growler but I do consider this one of the must-try NJ beers so it’s worth a stop in if you’re passing by Ewing.

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

After finishing up at River Horse, we headed south on 295 to Somerdale, NJ to visit the also new-ish location of the veteran Flying Fish Brewing Company. It was just last year that Flying Fish moved from their office park location in Cherry Hill to a brand new, shiny location of their own in Somerdale. What a great space. On our second educational tour of the day we learned that Flying Fish is the largest brewery in NJ and their owner helped pave the way for more craft brewing in New Jersey. Cheers to that! This is a significantly larger location than their last and it’s exactly how a great and growing brewery should look. I didn’t take as many pictures of the inside as I wanted but that’s because I was focused on trying some really great beers like NJ 350, a special beer to celebrate the 350th anniversary of New Jersey. The pine and molasses notes in it made it a great afternoon beer. Also any opportunity to have their F.U. Sandy beer to support families who are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy two years later. The interior space is large and spacious with huge wood tables. I was most excited for their outdoor space, though it was full so we’ll have to come back. Is it too soon to return this weekend?

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

Brew Jersey: Touring More Local New Jersey Breweries

The last stop of our great New Jersey brewery tour was Forgotten Boardwalk. This was the brewery I was most excited for. It opened just a few weeks ago in the old Flying Fish location in Cherry Hill. The concept is great and definitely crafty beers based on old boardwalk legends. Nick and I walked in and our first remarks were that it was nothing like what it had been when Flying Fish was there. Picture old fun house mirrors on the walls, black and white photos of the golden olden days down the Shore, and a boardwalk-ready spinning wheel right behind the bar (seriously have to spend less time sampling and more time snapping!). Oh and skeeball! How could I forget the two custom skeeball machines that only cost $1 with proceeds going to charity?! Yes, I was certainly in heaven at Forgotten Boardwalk. We tried both flights, one of their flagship beers and one that was a variation on their flagships. My first sip was of the Funnel Cake ale. It was sweet but not too sweet and a nicely hopped ale but really, I got to try a funnel cake in a beer glass so that made my day. What put this trip over the top was their Directory for Gentlemen, a chai saison. Ever since Philly Brewing Company decided to stop brewing Rowhouse Red I’ve been on the search for a new favorite beer. I finally found a replacement in this tasty saison. It definitely has a good flowery chai flavor with the light yeasty saison taste. Just talking about it makes me contemplate a quick drive south.

Forgotten Boardwalk is the kind of brewery that you can stay awhile, which is a great accomplishment for a new brewery in a small space. They created a “beer garden” in a pebbled area out front and encouraged food trucks to set up shop every weekend. We were there when PB and U was parked out front. I was less than impressed with my Honey and Apple sandwich (stale potato roll for a peanut butter sandwich, really?!) but Forgotten Boardwalk has figured out a great way to get around that “NJ breweries can’t serve food” lunacy. Nick and I spent some time outdoors but I loved sitting inside on the swinging bench right next to the skeeball machine. It’s definitely a must-visit if you’re thinking of sampling some fine New Jersey beers.

Interested in hearing about some of my other brewery adventures? Check out my trip to Main Line breweries Tired Hands and Conshohocken Brewing Company and my other NJ brewery tours at Kane Brewing and Carton Brewing. Or take a peek at our first ever beer adventure: Philadelphia Brewing Company, Yards and the old Flying Fish!

Halloween Inspiration

 

I know I’m a little late since Halloween is Friday but it’s never too late to get in a little holiday inspiration. Last year I went all out with the Halloween decor, bats and cobwebs and all sorts of pumpkins. This year I didn’t do anything and I kind of regret it. So off to Pinterest I go, trying to find some inspiration for the season. Here are some things I loved in my search:

How amazing would it be to make a pumpkin vignette? I’m wondering if I did a more “country fall” scene I could get away with keeping it up through the whole season.

Enchancing Nature

A fall wreath that works for the whole season

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Love this beautiful Halloween banner (a freebie!). Now I just need to find and distress a piano.

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Pumpkins with a little bit of “bite” would be so cute nestled out front of my apartment!

When candy corn is just a little too sweet (if that’s even possible!)

Simple orange and black works too.

Did you decorate your house/apartment for the season?

Come share with me on Pinterest!

Monday Links to Love

fall pumpkin display

* Food for thought on how we’re teaching our kids today: learning by doing

* I’d love to start planning a girlfriends’ getaway to any of these places

* So sad that ABC decided to cancel Manhattan Love Story just as it was getting good (only to replace it with more of Selfie, ugh). Yahoo did a great interview with the star Analeigh Tipton about life in NYC and her beauty routine

* Grilled cheese goodness, thanks Glitter Guide!

* If only my life was not jam-packed with wedding planning, grad school, and work because I’d love to participate in NaNoWriMo. Check out Chelsea’s great tips for being successful in NaNoWriMo if you want to give it a try

* Hilariously accurate: what your bun says about you via The Man Repeller

* Who do you write for on your blog?

* Writer’s block? Cait gives you five tips for finding inspiration

 

Wearing: Like a Fall Afternoon

Like a Fall Afternoon

Like a Fall Afternoon

sweater: f21, jeans: target, booties: dsw, necklace: vintage

It’s finally starting to feel like fall around here. I mean it’s only October after all. Don’t get me wrong though; I’m loving this milder temperatures. This great weather means light sweater like this one are all I need on a fall afternoon. Catch me on any given weekend afternoon right now and this is my go-to: slouchy sweater, boyfriend jeans, booties or moccasins, whichever feels right. This is the official look of hayrides, pumpkin picking, leaf pile jumping, and pie making.

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today is officially five years with my love. When we celebrated our first few anniversaries we took trips, mostly road trips to not so far places, but we loved spending those weekends away together. Now we’re much more content to go out to one of our most loved restaurants and spend some time just talking. Much easier with our full schedules. It seems like just yesterday we were 22 and 23 just starting out. We’re up in the air for tonight but we have scheduled some of our favorite kind of fun for tomorrow: trips to breweries! Some things will never change. We’re especially excited for these tours since we’ll be visiting all New Jersey breweries. We can’t wait to check out the new location for Flying Fish, the newly opened Forgotten Boardwalk (opened in the old Flying Fish location with skeeball!) and Riverhorse. If you want to know more about the breweries, check back because I’ll be taking lots of pictures this weekend!

Five Years Later, Part Two

Five Years Later, Part 2

Five years ago I opened the door on a rainy and stormy night, holding back a much fluffier and energetic dog than the geriatric model I have now. Standing in the dim porch light was an auburn-haired guy, nervous in his grey and light blue striped waffle shirt. I was so busy trying to make sure that Claude didn’t run away that I didn’t have time to acknowledge any first date nerves. I was wearing a cream colored shirt with short handkerchief sleeves and thankfully grabbed a jacket (both of which I still have) since the temperatures had dropped considerably after the crazy nor’easter storm that had blown through early. I got in the dark grey Jetta with him, even though we’d only talked on the phone and texted. I was much crazier in my dating years.

The roads were dark because power had been knocked out nearby neighborhoods and I acted confident as I directed him down some windy back roads. We made it to the restaurant I thought would be perfect: candlelit tables, live jazz music that night, and delicious food. We walked into a mob scene of people. “We won’t be able to talk,” he told me. I could barely hear him, much less the jazz music.

Back on the dark roads I decided to take him into my hometown. My preppy, pretentious hometown that I loved. I settled on an established new style Italian restaurant that wasn’t the least bit romantic but it had been the scene of end-of-school-year dinners, birthday celebrations, and special dinners. It was a special restaurant to me. Sitting across from one another we didn’t stop talking. He was polite enough to not give me funny looks for my sunny-side up egg pizza while I pretended to be sophisticated. There was the typical first date talk but there was also the deeper stuff like future plans and dreams and all that had led us here.

Talk and talk and talk. We couldn’t and didn’t want to stop. So after I ate that whole egg pizza we walked and talked and got ice cream. Sometimes in my mind I play it over like those romantic comedy montages. When it got too cold to sit outside on the park bench where we landed, we drove around in the car. Funny to think that our love of road trips and hanging together in cars started with that late night drive around the neighborhoods of my town.

When he finally dropped me off, it was close to midnight. I remember sitting in my car and thinking, it’s over already?! We didn’t make plans for the next time; we didn’t even kiss. But I knew there would be a next time and I’m pretty sure he did too. Maybe I knew too that I had just met the guy that would become my fiance and who I’ll called husband next year.

Five years later I am a different, better person because of the relationship Nick and I built. We met at exactly the right time. I remember meeting him and getting to know him felt like a home coming. Suddenly all of this craziness, all of the trying and failing, all of the uncertainty of not having a job or much of a plan actually seemed manageable. He was like my rock in a storm. It’s hard to describe the moment you meet the person you’re fairly certain you’ll spend the rest of your life with. It just felt right like a pair of perfect jeans (leave it to the fashion blogger in me to think of this analogy). What I cherish the most about this love we’ve built is that it’s based in never ending support. The day may be hard and long and the struggles may seem insurmountable but when we’re together it’s all possible. He is my biggest cheerleader, my greatest fan, and I’m his. I’ve read maybe a million posts proclaiming how happy girls are to be marrying their best friend. I think of Nick as something so much greater than my best friend.

Here’s to the many, many more years to come!

 

Five Years Later, Part One

college graduation

Twenty-seven doesn’t feel old. It can’t even be considered old. Unless you’re ten because when I was ten I remember thinking that twenty-seven years old seemed ancient. But I suddenly felt old when I received an e-mail from my alma mater telling me “it’s time to celebrate your five year reunion at Homecoming 2014!” Seriously, has it been five years already?! How can it be just five years ago that I was dressing up in blue and white, cheering on our teams, and hopping from party to party? I remember how we joked about sneaking into the alumni tent because they had the “good stuff”. Now I can legally get into the alumni tent and I’m not sure I’m ready to go.

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Let me tell you a little bit about my college experience and be quite frank about it: it wasn’t the best four years of my life. Actually I contemplated transferring several times. It just wasn’t the college I thought I’d be at; I wanted football teams and guys in polo shirts and life in a big sorority house where everything would be pink. I watched a lot of movies before I went to college. And while I got some of that, there were also periods of loneliness and heartbreak and doubt. Looking back, sometimes I wish I went to another more “traditional” school with a football team instead of an intercollegiate rugby team and a losing soccer team. I would have loved to spend homecoming at real tailgates instead of in the basement of a rented off-campus house. I wish I had been less anonymous and created deeper friendships instead of being the out-of-state girl in a sea of locals who all went to rival high schools. Even if it wasn’t the sparkly, Elle Woods experience it still taught me a lot. I learned how to be alone, how to heal a broken heart, how to create confidence, how to pretend to have confidence even when you don’t. Not having the “perfect” college experience prepared me to have a not so perfect post-college experience.

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Did you imagine that when you graduated from college you’d get that perfect entry level position? The one that was a lot of work but it was fulfilling and you had an amazing boss and a great group of work friends who loved to go for happy hour. There would also be the perfect apartment that you didn’t have to share anyone because you deserved not to after a slew of horrible college roommates. And if you weren’t attached, a great guy would bump into you in the coffee shop around the corner and then, well, happily ever after. Did I mention before that I watch a lot of movies? When I walked up to the university president and shook her hand and received my diploma, I didn’t have a plan  but I was sure that it was all going to work out alright. I was right about that, it did work out alright, but not the way I ever thought it would.

Five years later, I can put those five years into perspective. While I thought I grew a lot in college that was nothing compared to post-grad life. I struggled to find a job and when I did find a job, I struggled to make ends meet even living at home. Just like college, it was nothing like what I thought it would be. Unlike college it was so much more. Five years later I have grown from being a naive, insecure, freshly minted grad who in hindsight was deeply insecure and totally unprepared to being a confident, happy professional teacher who is getting married in a little under a year (oh my goodness!). The end of my college journey was the beginning of another journey which has been tough sometimes but is mostly absolutely amazing and has brought me to a place five years later I never imagined, or hoped, I would be.

 

But more on that Thursday…

Monday Links to Love

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* Watch this video of second graders enjoying a $220 tasting menu at one of the best restaurants in NYC, it’s fantastic!

* Naturally straight hair? Yes please!

* I know it’s trendy to like donuts right now but if you ask Nick, I’ve been a donut girl for a long time. If you’re in the Philly area, here are the best places to grab a round one in the city

* October is Mural Arts month in Philly. Get out there and enjoy some free fabulous public art!

* Great interview with Leandra Medine and pictures of Man Repeller’s office

* Instagram is such a great medium for design and artistic interpretation of the every day. I’m loving the new series on Glitter Guide talking to some great instagrammers like Amy Stone

 

Wearing: Floating on a Cloud

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

a touch of French charm

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

tank: anthropologie, jeans and necklace: f21, cardigan: new york and co.

I always have the worst time coming up with a title for my outfit posts but not this one. As soon as I saw the photos I thought “this is my “cloud” outfit” because that white ruffle paired with the prettiest shade of pale blue reminds me of the sky on a perfect day. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to start talking about the weather again in my outfit post but it seems I can’t help it. Clothes and weather just seem to go together. Plus I’ve been pretty into the weather since I was in elementary school. I used to sit and wait for the weather to come on and then compare the weather across the country and track the weather for the week. Maybe I liked having a little extra knowledge about my day. Maybe I liked trying to make sense and order out of the unpredictable. Or maybe watching the weather is way more entertaining than the news any day of the week.

My weekend plans involve a whole lot of picture taking. Nick and I are getting our engagement photos taken this weekend and I’m both nervous and excited. I’m excited to have photos to document this very special time in our lives and to have professional photos taken for the first time since my graduation portrait in high school. I’m nervous because I’m used to just having Nick take my photos. I get nervous around other people but the nice thing about this photo session is that it will give us a chance to become more comfortable with our wedding photographers. We’re going to wander around Philly and hopefully get some fantastic shots in the city we love.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

The Anatomy of a Street Festival

Winter has twinkle lights and snow storms. Spring has blooming flowers and rain showers. Summer has fireworks and carnival rides. Fall, fall has a lot of things from leaves to pumpkin beers to digging out those boots and knits. Fall also means it’s festival season. You already knew I was going to say that? Yup, I’m all about those fall festivals.

Nick and I have made it our goal this fall to spend time at many of our favorite new and old fall festivals. I can’t say that our tour of festivals was extensive; we’re busy creatures after all! But we did get to quite a few and that got us thinking: what makes a festival a good festival? Believe it or not, not all festivals are created equal and there’s definitely an art to creating the perfect fall festival.

1. Bring on the crowds. This is probably the one and only time you will see me excited about crowds. The less people I interact with on the weekends the better but a good fall festival should definitely bring in a crowd. Bring in a few overly excited types to hype up the crowd and say, “OMG, this is SO much FUN!” so that people start thinking, “yea, this is great!” A little excitement and few extra people never killed anyone.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

2. Make it more than one block. If your festival is not taking up a street, don’t even talk to me. Street festivals are the best, especially if you’re over 21 and are not stroller-prohibited (though I’m pretty sure that’s not going to stop me when the time comes). Farm festivals are great for the under 10 set but real festivals happen in the street. Make it more than one block and you’re golden.

3. Delicious food and drinks for the masses. I am not about to get myself out of bed and dressed up for an art festival unless Henri Matisse himself strolls down the street. Nope, I need food and drinks and plenty of both. There’s something about eating in the street that makes my fall day that much better.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

4. Weather perfection. This is a tricky one; you simply cannot control the weather. But I’ll be totally honest that the weather makes the festival. Sunny skies, a gentle breeze, and some orange leaves make me say, yay fall! Then I start thinking I never want to leave and five hours later when the sun is going down behind the buildings I have spent all my cash and eaten my weight in soft pretzels and gourmet tacos.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

5. Entertain me! When I first became a frequent visitor of fall festivals a few years back I did not want music. It clogged up the street and usually it was pretty crappy music. Someone somewhere read my thoughts and found some musical acts that sound fantastic. I’ve heard nothing but good music this year and my ears are happy.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

6. Keep it free…but not too free. I love free stuff but when it comes to fall festivals, there is a fine line. I am still young enough that I get apprehensive about buying a ticket to a street fair but I am old enough to realize that anything that offers totally free entertainment or drinks or food can bring in a totally different element. So there needs to be a good split; admission should be free but food and drinks might require some cash. It keeps the festival from being overrun with sketchy people just looking for freebies. Keep that in college people!

‘Til next year, fall festivals!

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival