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Thanks to Hip2Save, I’m discovering all sorts of fun sites lately.  Yesterday, I saw a notice about House Party on the Facebook feed.  After some exploration of Hip2Save’s blog post and the House Party site, I thought it would be a fun site to share.

The concept is pretty cool:  House Party lists a number of different events sponsored by various brands that are looking to get the word out about their products.  As a member of the House Party site, you apply online to act as host for the various events.  If you are chosen, you get some free stuff and great products to use.  All you have to do is host the party!

So what’s the catch?  Parties do have to be hosted on a specific day, so if you’re booked for like months on end like we always seem to be, it might be hard to find something cool to host.  Also, there is no guarantee you’ll be chosen.  Basically, it seems as if you have to meet certain requirements, and there are only so many party packages to go around.  Also, you are expected to be an active part of the community, sharing photos and information from your party.  Fun for a blogger like me, but probably not a real incentive for most other people.

I’m super into this concept.  Number one, because I like free things, and number two, because it’s a great excuse to get people together.  My only concern is not getting enough people to attend!  While most of the upcoming parties are on dates that I wouldn’t be able to host, I’ll be on the look out for some fun ones.

Who’s in??  Would anyone come to something like this, or is it annoying?  Feedback, please!  Otherwise, I’ll update once I have my first party 🙂

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We all know how this goes.  Things are running smoothly with your diet and exercise plan-you’re losing weight, working out more than ever before, and just feeling fantastic.

Then Friday sneaks up on you.  One look at the weekend’s calendar, and you know trouble is looming.  After all, Happy Hour, followed by a dinner party followed by Sunday brunch with your in-laws can’t possibly be doing you any good.

If you’re anything like Jared and I, you typically spend an average of 3 waking hours at home over the course of any given weekend, making it hard to control what you’re eating.  After all, all of our social activities with friends simply can’t revolve around my dietary needs.  So, how do you strike a balance between losing weight and keeping up with an active social life?

Fitness Magazine recently ran an article called “Weekend-Proof Your Diet“.  Here are some of the main takeaways I took from reading this:

1.)  The more you drink, the more you munch. I’ve always known this to be true.  I mean, who doesn’t remember carrying pretzels in our bags in college to fend off the munchies?  The same holds true for an evening out with the girls, or simply drinks with my husband at a nice lounge.  My main goal on the weekends is to work toward enjoying a single glass of red or white wine without eating everything in sight or having a second round.

2.)  Stick to my guns. I’ve found that I’m embarassed to tell people that I’m on Weight Watchers.  Why?  Well, having suffered from some disordered eating, any time someone I’m dining with mentions they are on a diet, I instantly feel guilty for eating whatever it is I’m about to order.  The article recommended finding a partner in crime, who was following the same plan as you, or simply ordering first so that you’re not swayed by the decisions of others.  Self control plays a big role in this, and that’s something I need to focus on heavily over these next 6 weeks of weekend trips.

3.)  Plan Accordingly.  My survival strategy when I know we’re going to be heading off to a calorie fest, whether it’s a restaurant or a friend’s party, is to eat like a rabbit alll day, to allow myself the extra calories later.  I can’t say this ever works out well, though, because then I just end up over indulging because I’m hungry.  By sticking to my regular schedule, the article suggests that I’ll avoid arriving ravenous and over indulging on things that may not fit into my plan.

4.)  Share and indulge. When discussing Sunday brunch, the article mentions that it’s ok to order something that you really want, like chocolate chip pancakes, that the table can share.  By having a few bites, you satisfy your craving without giving in to a poor food choice.  That cupcake I may want to have?  As long as I don’t eat hte whole thing, it should satisfy my need for sweets.

How do you fend off temptation and stay healthy when you’re out of your routine?

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s more that goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond eating right and exercising.  Relationship health is a major contributing factor to staying on the right path.  If you’re not happy in your relationship, a lot of other areas of your life can suffer as well.

I recently came across an article that described the 6 habits that keep couples happy, and was happy to see #3 on the list:  Nurture your separate selves.  I’ve found through various message boards and other couple related sites that we can be a bit cruel to one another when it comes to desiring independence.  We often accuse those that desire to remain slightly independent from their partner of being selfish.  In fact, there are a lot of people that believe that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, all interests must be shared 24/7.  Forget going off alone for a girls weekend-if you’re not bonding with your partner over every turn, something must be wrong.

I’ve always been a big advocate for having individual interests and activities.  As the article states, taking “couple breaks” relieves your partner from having to “provide” happiness and enhances your relationship, allowing you a deeper appreciation of one another and your talents.  Imagine that…

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy to take time for yourself.  Since I’m away at the office for 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week, it can be tough to justify running off to a  solo shopping adventure or drinks with the girls.  However, it’s important to let go of that guilt and remember how refreshing independence can be.  In fact, I feel most refreshed in my relationship and personal life after a girls weekend or any other independent activity.  And that doesn’t make me a bad wife, or mean that Jared and I are drifting apart.  In fact, in the end, it only serves to bring us together. Even just an hour or so once a week spent doing separate activities can make a big impact on how you feel about one another, and ultimately, yourself.

If you know anything about the changing social landscape, it will come as no surprise to you that the 55+ demographic on Facebook has become one of the fastest growing segments, followed closely by the 35-54 audience.  While Facebook originally began as a way for college students to connect and was only open to these users, the growth and expansion of Facebook has served as a blessing and a curse to those in their late teens and twenties.

Countless news articles have run stories focused on the fact that many teenagers are leaving Facebook because their parents are now joining and “embarrassing” them with comments and photos.  Teenagers have been up in arms about parents being able to join, as they feel it causes a loss of privacy and doesn’t allow them to interact with friends in the way they’d like to without being “policed” by over eager parents.

In my opinion, the teenagers can leave.  I personally am friends with both my parents as well as countless aunts and uncles and have never felt as if my privacy was being invaded.  Now, I’m about 10 or more years older than any teenager these articles have interviewed, but for me, the opening of Facebook to varying demographics has been a godsend.

I’m not much of a phone person.  I would certainly never call relatives just to see how they were doing.  It’s just not my style.  In fact, I have a hard time calling close friends just to chat.  Facebook allows me to connect with family members I previously lost touch with and stay involved in their lives.  This has been such a blessing to me, that I can’t imagine not having them in my life.  If it wasn’t for their presence on Facebook, I’m embarrassed to say these connections never would have taken place.  Imagine everything I would have missed out on!

Additionally, I’ve found as I get a bit older, I reflect often on friendships that carried me through my younger days.  In college, it’s easy to keep in touch with the people around you, but as people move, get married, have children, etc., it’s so easy to lose touch.  Without Facebook, I never would have been able to reconnect easily with some very dear high school friends, or college friends, for that matter.  Being able to stay in touch virtually has allowed me to foster so many more relationships than simply emailing or picking up the phone.  If the doors to Facebook had closed to me after college, I can’t imagine the types of relationships I would be missing out on.

The argument made about people like me is that Facebook and other social networks hinder our ability to make in person connections.  I completely disagree with this, and believe Facebook is the mechanism that brings us together in person.  The connections I’ve re-established virtually have allowed me to take these connections offline through lunch/dinner dates as well as invitations to my wedding.  Without the means to get in touch, these in person meetings never would have happened.

In turn, many are leaving Facebook over privacy issues.  In my opinion, if you’re smart about the way you set up your profile, this is a non-issue.  If you don’t have the “geotracking” feature enabled, who cares if it’s really there?  If you’re smart, privacy isn’t really an issue at all, and is certainly no reason to miss out on connecting with friends and family.

Does the older demographic sometimes post messages that would be better suited as novels all over our walls?  Yes, there is no question about that.  However, in turn, teenagers certainly could use a lesson in appropriate online posting from time to time.  I’d rather have long, mushy messages from my relatives than curse filled diatribes about how awful a teenagers life is for no reason at all.

If the teenagers want to leave, let them leave. They can go back to MySpace, or some other spammy, teen focused site.  Leave Facebook for those of us that truly want to connect with family and friends of all ages.  We’re getting way more out of this than you’ll ever appreciate.  Until you become our age.  😉

My girlfriends and I recently spent a fabulous Friday evening at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach. The band playing this past Friday night, Drop Dead Sexy, had to be one of my all time favorite cover bands I’ve ever seen. From the “Boy Band” medley to a number of awesome hip hop songs, Drop Dead Sexy really knows how to work a crowd.

There aren’t too many cover bands I would get so into that I’d visit their Web site first thing Monday morning and look into seeing them again, but Drop Dead Sexy was just that good!

Check them out! And check back for pictures from Friday night’s show. We were front and center, and hopefully you’ll see our smiling faces dancing the night away. 🙂

What are you doing this weekend?  If your answer was nothing, then you’re missing out!  On Saturday, my friends and I will be hitting up the 2010 Manayunk Arts Festival.  It’s our fourth year in attendance at the Manayunk, PA festival, but the festival has been running for 21 years.

The festival takes place along Main Street in Manayunk.  Manayunk is just a really cool town, with Main Street being a primo location for great shopping and dining.  Manayunk was named a National Historic District in 1983 and its adorable Main Street borders the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River.  It’s also offers very convenient access right into Philadelphia from the R6, which stops right in Manayunk in walking distance from Main Street.

I think the best part about the festival is that it offers something for everyone.  For the past 3 years, we’ve made it a girls trip, but this year, Jared’s going to join us.  Even though a lot of the vendors are local artists and jewelry makers, there are still a lot of great things that men can enjoy too. Like great food and free drink samples!  Not to mention the fact that the Manayunk Brewery is right along Main Street, making it a great option for lunch along the way.

Another great year at the Manayunk Arts Festival!

The festival runs on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm Saturday and 11 am to 6 pm Sunday.  We’ve always gone on Saturdays, and while it’s certainly crowded, I still feel like there is enough room to see what you want to see-and to buy it too!  Parking has never been an issue, and we’ve never paid more than $10 to park and walk a short distance to Main Street, however, the train is super convenient as well.  While eating establishments do fill up quickly and there’s often a long wait, we’ve never had too many problems finding a great place to grab a drink or some food.

Prices for the various vendors obviously vary from the very expensive to the reasonable.  I’ve bought something almost every year, whether it’s a piece of small art or decorative wine glasses-good stuff that has lasted through a few moves!  So, bring your wallets and get ready to experience the best in arts that the Philly area has to offer!  See you there!

There are a lot of stereotypes I disagree with.  I mean, who doesn’t?  But the biggest one that I’ve run up against lately is this notion that now that I’m engaged and going to be married, I won’t make time for my girlfriends anymore.

This is just not true.

I am well aware of the fact that many engaged/newlyweds fall into this happy and easy state of existence where they feel like they don’t need anyone else now that they have each other.  I can totally see how this could happen.  But there’s something to be said about the power of girlfriends.

I’m not saying that I don’t value my relationship with Jared.  However, I truly do not believe that any woman can survive without a strong group of female friends who have known you at your best and, of course, at your worst.  My girlfriends have helped me weather a lot of storms, and I’d be lying if I said I could give that all up just to spend time with a husband.  It honestly would not be enough: with girlfriends, there is just a different level of love and trust and silliness that cannot be replaced by any man.

Jared and I are really close-there are no topics that are off limits.  However, humans are complex creatures and one person cannot possibly meet all of our needs.  There are things that my friends may understand that Jared might not have any experience with, just solely for the reason that he’s never been through it.  And that’s ok!  It’s not “wrong” to turn to other friends to vent or ask for advice.  By staying only focused on your relationship with your fiance/husband, your focus becomes narrow, and your worldview starts to close.

I’ve always vowed to never be “that friend” that has to bring her significant other everywhere.  Although I’m sure I’ve made mistakes along the way, I do think I strike a healthy balance.  After all, it’s not fair to your girlfriends that may need time alone just to be a girl to always have to deal with you bringing your companion.  You may feel comfortable discussing everything under the sun in front of him, but maybe she doesn’t.  And what kind of friendship can you cultivate when your girlfriends feel like they have to censor themselves in front of you?  That’s why I’m a big advocate of girls-only weekends.  I’ve gotten a lot of flack for doing this so often from people that think it rude of me to leave Jared behind, but I have to say, these times away are healthy not only for my relationships with my friends, but also my relationship with Jared.  Screw the critics.  😉

I hope that as my marriage grows, my relationship with my girlfriends will continue to stay strong.  Kelly, Jenna, Ann, Christina, Cate, Sharon, Tracey, Laurie, Devon,  you all are my life blood, and I am looking forward to growing old with you as well.  🙂

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