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This past weekend I headed to the Philadelphia area for a much needed girls weekend with my college ladies.  Always a good time!  On Saturday, we headed into one of Philadelphia’s wine bars on 18th and Sansom:  Tria.

I’m a newly converted wine fan.  I never used to enjoy drinking wine, until I found that there were some that really did suit my taste!  Great discovery.  I know there are a lot of people who don’t like wine, but I really would recommend trying a few different types before you write it off for good!  Anyway, back to Tria.

Though small, Tria is the perfect atmosphere for a wine bar.  When we arrived, we were told we would have to wait 20 minutes for a table, so we proceeded to the bar!  The wine list is extensive, and in situations like that, I tend to ask the bartenders for recommendations based on what I like.  (Rose, blush wines…)  The bartender recommended a wine they had nicknamed “Pink Floyd”.  It was perfect based on what I had told him!

Five minutes later, our table was ready!  The food list was pretty long, and it took us awhile to narrow down our choices!  I chose:

  • Carmelized Onion with Feta Bruschetta
  • Sliced Italian Meats with Red Pepper, Caper Berries and Spicy Garlic Oil

As a note, the bruschetta comes in pairs.  So, the order I got was a portion appropriate for me.  The sliced meats tray was good, and larger, so we were able to share that.  These plates were fantastic, and I would certainly recommend them to everyone!

To be honest, we were still hungry after round one.  So, next I ordered:

  • Dessert wine
  • Cashel Blue Cheese

The dessert wine was a recommendation from the waiter.  Dessert wine is one of my favorite things in the world, so a wine bar with a great dessert wine menu will always win in my book!  The cheese was listed under the “racy” category, and was honestly not my style, but we still ate it.  It came with some kind of chocolate sauce on the side, and that ended up bringing out the flavors of the cheese.

Overall, this was a great pit stop on our way to party in the city.  There are SO many great clubs in the same area, so make sure you hop in for a pre-game snack next time you’re in the area!

My rating:  10/10

Tria
Rittenhouse Square
18th & Sansom Streets
Philadelphia, PA
215-972-TRIA
http://www.triacafe.com

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Happy Friday!  As a tribute to all of the wedding web sites I’ve been visiting to help me with my planning, every Friday I’ll be reviewing some of the 5 most helpful features on each site.  I decided I would start at the top!

Even before I got engaged, I knew TheKnot.com was a go-to resource for all things wedding! From free planning tools to pictures and articles, TheKnot.com should really be every girls first stop once she gets engaged!

Some of my most-used features are:

1.)  The Checklist

This is a feature that a lot of planning sites have.  I looked into a few, but I couldn’t beat the simplicity of The Knot’s checklist.  Once you log in and click on the Check button at the top, you will see your to-dos for that month, and only that month.  Wedding planning can be overwhelming, so only seeing the most pressing items is definitely a stress reliever for me.  However, you can also click through to see all the items still on your list if you’re working ahead.  I love checking things off!

2.)  My Notebook

I bounce around to a lot of sites during the day.  Whether I’m searching for vendors or researching hairstyles, I am always in need of a repository to keep all the great things I’m finding.  The Notebook feature on The Knot lets you save articles, pictures, vendors and other resources right on the site so there is no digging around later.  Of course, you have to have found all of these items on The Knot to begin with in order to save them, but with the wealth of resources available, that’s really not a problem.  Great way to store all the awesome ideas I’m seeing for hairstyles!

3.)  Article Library

Every wedding Web site has them:  mountains of articles related to every detail you can possibly imagine, and even those you didn’t know you needed to imagine!  The articles on The Knot are succint and easy to read, yet also very informative.  Besides being able to save them to my Notebook, I love the email function:  perfect way to send my sister a list of MOH duties!

4.)  Wedding Shop

This was a feature I just started exploring the other day.  I’m not really a fan of online wedding stores, as I typically find their items excessive.  I had been receiving emails from The Knot about their store that were annoying me, until I went to check it out.  Even though I likely won’t buy anything from it, it did give me some ideas regarding bridesmaids gifts and other special items to purchase.  Worth a look, if only for brainstorming!

5.)  Dress Search

When I first got engaged, after looking at my first bridal magazine I was dead set on wanting an Alfred Angelo gown.  However,  I decided to play with the dress search on The Knot just for fun.  Now, I’ll be visiting 4 stores for my search!  The ability to pick and choose what you like and find vendors right on the same page is awesome and helpful.  Just what I needed to branch out!

Any other features people use frequently on The Knot?  What are your favorites?

I’ve been getting annoyed lately with the recommendations people have been given me related to our wedding.  I am fully aware that everyone means well, but to say “Well, you really have to do it this way” in one breath, followed by “But it’s your day” is hypocritical.

I came across “A Practical Wedding” today and was struck by the advice in the post linked to.  This line in particular stuck out to me:

“So they’ll tell you that you need to wear a big poufy dress, or have a steak dinner, or throw a garter, and and and and and. But you don’t. And you shouldn’t trust people who say you need X to have a wedding, just like you shouldn’t trust people who say you can’t have X to have a wedding. You shouldn’t trust people who tell you how much or how little you need to spend, or what you need to wear, or the vows you need to make.”  Original post here

This blogger truly hits the nail on the head:  it’s our day, and yes, we are going to have to say no to people to get the things we really want.  If something truly doesn’t fit my personality, there are no rules saying I have to do it because that’s what “everyone” does.  When the advice givers and naysayers and pushy Web sites/vendors  have their own weddings, they can do whatever they want, but if we don’t stick up for ourselves now, we’ll end up with things that truly are not us.  And what’s the point in that??

Here’s to all the brides out there learning how to make their own voice and style heard!  I’m with you!

Loosing weight is a constant battle in my life.  For some reason, I can never get myself on a schedule where every day of the week I’m eating right and exercising.  Part of it is my fault for not doing more to manage my schedule so I can work out every night.  But I also have to be honest that it’s extremely unmotivating to gain and lose the same 5 pounds month after month.  You would think the idea of squeezing my buns into a wedding dress and taking millions of pictures would be motivation enough, but even that doesn’t hold up in the face of dining out and baking!

I’ve tried a lot of methods to track my progress:  I’ve been a member of Livestrong for awhile now, however, it’s something I have a hard time keeping up with on weekends when I’m not sitting in front of my computer all day! I downloaded their iPhone App, but at the time, it wasn’t synched with my online profile, which didn’t help.  A few years ago, I joined Body By Glamour, a free weight loss tracking system sponsored by Glamour Magazine.  I’m an avid reader of the magazine and am always impressed with their fitness and health tips.  When I completed the program for the first time a few years back, I even won a free workout DVD and ab ball!  Oh, and I managed to lose some weight, too.

So, I have enrolled again on Body By Glamour to see if I can stay motivated enough to manage to lose a few pounds before our wedding day, and to manage my weight overall.  I was happy to see some new features on the site to enhance user experience.  The interface was a lot more advanced, and even features some food options saved in the database, similar to Livestrong.  While the list of saved foods is not that long, I’m able to enter my own information by consulting Livestrong, ensuring I’m tracking calories properly.  Additionally, I like the Progress feature that shows if you hit your calorie “range” for the day.  I feel as if the range is much easier to use rather than seeing that hard number every day with no wiggle room.

Another great feature of Body By Glamour are the customized strength routines.  My main problem with a lot of weight routines is that they require fancy gym equipment or machines.  Seeing as I work out at my own home gym with free weights and a stability ball, those routines never last long with me.  The routines designed by Body By Glamour are challenging, but not to the point where I can’t do them at all.  And trust me, I can certainly feel it the next day!!  (Inner thighs are experiencing a beat down, currently!!)

While I’m sure I’ll continue to make mistakes (eating out on weekends is my biggest one so far!) I’m hopeful that using Body By Glamour again will help me keep things on track until our big day and beyond!  I would recommend the program to anyone looking to make some changes without the pressure of paying for an online program or having to eat frozen foods for the rest of your life!

Anyone else have any tried and true methods for weightloss and excersise?

I’m a huge fan of coupons.  In fact, Jared and I started subscribing to The Star Ledger so I could get my Sunday coupons.  (And because we enjoy reading the Sunday paper!  Really!)  In fact, I believe it would be safe to say that manufacturers make coupons with people like me in mind.  While I am brand loyal on a few accounts, I am more likely to buy something if I have a coupon for it.  Hence my purchase of SOYJOY Peanut Chocolate Chip bars.

SOYJOY Nutrition Bars

SOYJOY Nutrition Bars

My coupon was a BOGO for these nutrition bars.  The other flavors did not look as appealing to me (mostly fruit-flavored) so I bought two Peanut Chocolate Chip.  The whole benefit of SOYJOY is supposed to be the fact that the all natural ingredients are converted into energy your body uses throughout the day, instead of just crashing at 3 p.m., for instance.  I’m always looking for snacks that will keep me full until dinner time without adding too many calories to the plate, so this one seemed perfect.

The first bar I tried, I was in the car heading to a client meeting and knew if I didn’t eat before our 1.5 hour session, my stomach would take the reigns of the meeting instead of my brain.  I was excited to try the SOYJOY Peanut Chocolate Chip bar, but have to admit I was sorely dissapointed when I bit into it.  To be fair, I’m used to very moist and chewy granola bars, and this was certainly not moist or chewy.  I could taste the peanuts, but not so much the chocolate chips.  In fact, the chocolate chips tasted more like raisins to me than the chocolate I was hoping to eat to satisfy my always nagging sweet tooth.  I discovered that the raisin I was tasting was indeed raisin, but where were the chocolate chips?

From an energy perspective, I’m not really sure how effective the bar was.  However, I have no real way of determining that in a true test enviroment!

At 140 calories, this bar technically makes for a great afternoon snack.  However, in my opinion, there are tastier 150-calorie (or less) snacks that are much more satisfying for me!  Also, the price of the bars is much more than I would pay for anything on a regular basis!  While the commercials and coupons are attractive, the bar did not live up to my expectations for a nutrition bar!

This weekend, we headed up to Cranberry Township, PA for Laurie and Robert’s wedding.  The wedding was beautiful and very classy!  Laurie looked amazing, and it was very clear that the group of people at the wedding were close family and friends, making it a more intimate celebration that just filled the room with love and joy!

I actually happened to catch the bouquet, and started wondering where that tradition came from.  I found this great list of traditions and where they originated on Brideorama.  Great read!  There are a lot of traditions I don’t plan on incorporating into my own wedding, so it’s reassuring for me to know that the reasons behind them don’t have personal meaning to me.  They are still fun to participate in at other people’s weddings though, with the right crowd!

Happy reading!

A few months ago, Jared and I were out shopping when 2 cookbooks caught my attention:  “Hungry Girl 200 Under 200” and “Hungry Girl Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt Free Eating in the Real World“.  As most of you know, I’m constantly looking for great things to eat that are low in calories but still filling.  These books are the answers to all my prayers!

One important factor for me when buying a cookbook is the recipes themselves.  Not only do I want them to be healthy, I also want them to be semi-simple so I can make them with ingredients I already have after work.  Getting home at 6 and working out at 8 doesn’t leave too much time for lengthy preparation, so these factors are paramount.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with the recipes I’ve found in these cookbooks.  Last night, I made the Red Hot Chick’n Salad. I have yet to taste it, but it was very simple.  I did leave out the hot pepper spice, since I’m not really a fan of it, and from my taste test last night, it still tasted just fine.  For 142 calories a serving, you can’t beat it.

Last month, I made “Swirls Gone Wild” Cheesecake brownies for Jared’s uncle’s birthday party.  Jared loved the name and requested them.  They were also a hit.  The most interesting thing about prepping them was the use of pumpkin with the dry cake mix instead of anything else.  While my swirls weren’t perfect, they still tasted pretty amazing!

I would recommend these cookbooks to anyone that wants to eat healthy and still eat.  Also, make sure you subscribe to the daily emails full of tips and more!

Happy Eating!

I receive a lot of emails from the various bridal sites I’m registered on.  As most of you can tell by now, there are things I care about when it comes to weddings and things I think are absolutely silly and archaic.  I’m not trying to offend anyone who is into this stuff.  After all, everyone gets their own chance to plan their day.  So, without meaning to insult anyone, here are some ideas I saw recently that made me laugh out loud.

1.)  Photobooth. For those of you not familiar with the lingo (and I can assure I was not), apparently a photo booth is something very similar to what you would see at the beach where your guests pose and get a strip of their photos from the machine.  I love these things at the beach.  But at a wedding?  Why would I want this?  The kicker was the following line:  “Have large figures of you and your groom created for your guests to pose with.”  Just what I need.  All my friends and family posing with fake cardboard cut-outs of Jared and I.  I can’t think of anything more perfect.

2.)  Mother of the Bride Dresses. My mom is extremely important to me.  She’s supported me through everything I’ve gone through, and is the best person to go through wedding planning with since she truly lets me decide what I want without inserting her own opinion.  Obviously I want her to have a special dress to wear.  But why so formal and fussy?  My mom will look great in whatever she wears, and truthfully I could care less if her color coordinates with my theme or not.  She’s my mom, and she’s awesome no matter what she wears, whether its my colors or not!!

Once again, I’m not trying to offend anyone who truly does care about these things.  There are doubtless things I care about that you do not.  I’m just having a little fun.  🙂

In lieu of a full-blown wedding Web site, we’ll be putting information about our wedding right here on Adventure Ales and Trails.  The information we want you to know, anyway.  😉  So, here is a wrap-up of some of our vendors and details to date!

Date
May 22, 2010
11:30 ceremony
12-1 Cocktails
1-5 Reception

Venue
This was a tough choice!  We happen to be blessed to live in an area with a lot of options.  They were all very beautiful, and we met some wonderful wedding coordinators.  However, our decision came down to the fact that we wanted the ceremony and reception in the same venue, but in separate rooms.  One of my stipulations that I refused to budge on was not wanting to get married outside.  Those of you that know me know that I worry about everything anyway-why spend the next year worrying about the weather?

For this reason, we chose The Madison Hotel in Morristown.  The Madison Hotel allows us to hold our ceremony in The Conservatory and our reception in the Grand Ballroom.  We really could not get past the natural beauty of the conservatory.  Even if it rains, how cool will it be to hear the rain on the ceiling?  The rooms at the hotel were also much nicer than I expected!  And the lobby will allow for some very classy pictures!

Officiant
Since we decided to do a ceremony void of any religious symbolism, the officiant was important to me.  I didn’t want a ceremony that lasted only 15 minutes and was deeply impersonal.  After doing some searching, I came across Rev. John Graf, Jr., who actually happened to be the officiant on record at The Madison.  We met with Reverand Graf and just LOVED his personality and the personal elements he brought to our planning.  I’m really looking forward to planning more with him in these upcoming months!

String Trio
Since we’re not getting married in a church with an organ, I wanted our ceremony music to be special.  We looked at a number of string trios, and found The Rose Trio on TheKnot.com.  Very friendly manager and very professional services.  They will play a half hour before our ceremony and will also play at the cocktail hour.  Classy!

DJ
This was a tough choice.  Jared and I both love music, however, we’re not into embarassing DJ’s that start calling people out on the floor to make a spectacle of them.  We came across Primetime Entertainers, and were impressed with both their pricing as well as their ability to work with us to create the perfect atmosphere.

Currently, we’re interviewing photographers-another tough choice!  We’ll keep you posted.  🙂

Happy Friday!

I know, I know.  It’s been awhile.  I’m going to blame this hiatus on work and the craziness that comes with being engaged.  😉  This is why I procrastinated having a blog for so long, since

A lot of power in this tiny tube!

A lot of power in this tiny tube!

I knew these long pauses would happen…I promise I’ll try to do better!!

I needed to take the time to write about a product I’ve been using.  Every now and then, I get the occassional zit still.  Nothing too alarming, but still annoying.  Due to my past battles with acne, I can assure you I’ve tried pretty much everything under the sun.  Some of them have worked, and some of them have not.  However, I’ve never used a productive as effective as this.

Neutrogena 2-in-1 Fight and Fade Gel comes in a tiny tube that I thought surely could not be worth whatever it was I paid for it at the time.  I was sorely wrong about that!  The first time I used it on a small pimple, I woke up the next day, and the pimple was virtually gone.  GONE.  This never happens to my skin.  Those suckers usually hang on for days.  I can honestly say that each time I’ve used it, whiteheads have dissapeared overnight!  The product claims it will diminish pimples in 8 hours time, and I can honestly attest that this is true!

My one complaint:  I apply the product directly to my freshly washed skin (as you should do with any acne product) and then I apply moistuerizer on top of it.  Applying the moistuerizer causes my skin to flake in the areas where the product has been applied.  NOt a huge deal, but not so pleasant looking if you plan to wear makeup over top of it.

Also, be sure to shake the tube a bit before applying.  The product gets pretty runny in the tube when not used for a few days!

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