As a wedding planner, I really thought that poor Dan wouldn't be able to surprise me with an engagement because I was convinced that I'd be onto him. In some ways, I was onto him and did guess the day that it'd happen; however, he still caught me totally off guard and I love that he did!
You see, he's not much of a planner (which he completely admits!) and I'm often the one to make us plans, so when he suggested weeks ago that we visit Chanticleer Garden on Saturday, May 12, I knew something was up. He even went as far as to recommend we go mid-morning ... I was convinced that this meant he was going to propose there!
I was wrong.
It was a normal Saturday, except for I woke up like a kid on Christmas because of course I was convinced that I would be getting engaged within the next five hours. I was wrong again. It was within two hours.
After breakfast, Dan suggested we walk our dog before heading to the garden to let him get some energy out before we left him for half the day at the garden. I agreed and slipped into some unattractive yoga pants and a tank top thinking that I'd have time to get cute when we got home. Wrong again, LOL!
We walked Rufus and when we got home, I realized I couldn't get in the front door because Dan had the keys. As I turned to hold the door open for him, I heard him say my name and when I turned around he was on one knee on our porch (which couldn't have been a more perfect spot!).
He made a lovely speech, though frankly I remember only the very beginning of it because I was in complete shock and couldn't stop crying. He doesn't remember much of it either and said he was so nervous the whole walk. I didn't sense a thing!
I couldn't have asked for a more special moment between us to share, and I'm so excited that I'm going to be marrying my best friend (we've been together 5.5 years). I hope to share my wedding planning journey with all of you, and hope that you enjoy coming along.
Last year, we launched our Summer Camp Guide, and we were so excited to bring it back again this year. You can check that out here if you haven't already! As we construct our guide, we always get to connect with new camps from the region that continue to impress us and stand out, and one of these was Camp Jamison.
While I didn't go to an overnight camp until I was a teenager, it stands out as one of those memories that I think everyone should have. Like many others, I got a little homesick at first, but quickly realized that one of the things that makes overnight camp so special is that you build a family. In my late twenties now, I still have folks who I met through overnight camp as a kid that I'm in contact with today. How special is that?!
Just like I do, the folks at Camp Jamison firmly believe that overnight summer camp is a rite of passage for all children because it helps them to develop into independent, confident, and curious children who appreciate nature.
There's an energy to summer camp that you can only understand if you've experienced it for yourself. I can attest to the fact that being outdoors with people who I didn't know initially, forced me outside of my comfort zone in the best possible way and encouraged me to try new things and make new friends. We were all sharing the same zest for new adventure and craving the simplicity of getting back to basics. It's refreshing to be able to show our children what summer camp is all about through an old school lens. Camp Jamison an overnight summer camp that wants kids to experience impactful tradition.
Camp Jamison's team does everything that they can to ensure that their campers (ages 8-14) can attend their diverse, inclusive, and affordable summer camp program. No matter what your child might be interested in, they are sure to find it at Camp Jamison. This year, the camp will run from July 16-20, 2018 and will feature hiking, swimming, arts and crafts, basketball, soccer, canoeing, drama, and environmental education. Kids will also enjoy ice cream socials and campfires (I'm drooling just thinking about s'mores). Camp takes place at the Pocono Environmental Education Center, but transportation is available (and included) from Northeast Philadelphia.
You just had them home for Spring Break, and now you're thinking about how you'll entertain your little ones when summer vacation rolls around in a couple of months. No worries! We've rounded up some of our favorite Summer Camps for this season in the area that cater to just about every interest. You're sure to find something they'll love!
For ... the budding performer.
With offerings for K-12, your child can act, sing and dance to their hearts content. Whether they are being introduced to musical theatre, or are veterans of the stage and want to brush up on their skills, Wolf Performing Arts Center's Summer Theatre Camp 2018 is going to make them feel like the budding star that they are!
Wolf Performing Arts Center | 1240 Montrose Avenue, Bryn Mawr | 610-642-0233
For the ... water bug.
Whether your child is fascinated with local history or simply loves a good adventure, the Seaport Summer Camp is a unique experience tailored for ages 6-12. Campers will tour the National Historic Landmark ships, will have hands-on on-water programming (in the Delaware River!) and can learn about the science and history of Philadelphia's waterways.
Independence Seaport Museum | 211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia | 215-413-8663
For the ... traditionalist.
If your child daydreams of an traditional overnight summer camp experience complete with nature, arts and crafts, and campfires, than Camp Jamison is for them! They believe that overnight summer camp should be a rite of passage for all children because it helps them develop into independent, confident, and curious children who appreciate nature. Camp Jamison works hard to ensure that as many children as possible can attend their diverse, inclusive, and affordable summer camp program.
Camp Jamison | 1 302-990-2267
For the ... child with a social cognitive deficit.
If you have a child that has High Functioning Autism or ADHD, Camp Pegasus might be for them this summer. Camp Pegasus merges social skills therapy techniques with creative art therapies and traditional summer camp activities. Through social, physical, and creative activities, your child will build their self-esteem with new friends.
Camp Pegasus | 600 Haverford Rd., Haverford | 610-649-1080 x3
For the ... artist.
Children ages 4-15 can partake in PAFA's infamous Summer Art Camp! From Printmaking to Illustration, students can learn from talented instructors and will get to experience fun themes each week that will keep the educational program lighthearted. Each day will include a morning and afternoon session with a break for snack and lunch.
PAFA | 118-128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia | 215-972-2054
You know how when you're planning out your day and attacking goals they say to swallow the frog first? Well, consider my kitchen the frog of my home.
I love to cook, and spend a lot of time in our kitchen whether it be prepping, cooking or cleaning up after a meal. With all of that activity, our kitchen could definitely use some TLC and a nice deep clean.
For most of these challenges I'll be sharing images to show my own before and after; however, we're actually getting ready to renovate our kitchen so I'm going to be posting our challenge now and doing some of the cleaning, but not all just yet. I'd rather wait until we make our changes and then share it with all of you!
If you're kitchen is the heart of your home though too, I highly recommend starting with it. It can be daunting, but is definitely necessary. Grab your cleaning supplies and let's get to work!
Before moving in, I swore up and down I wasn't going to have a junk drawer in my kitchen, but here we are six months later and our island drawer is officially full of junk and random things that don't require a home of their own.
We purchased a 1940's Colonial, and our home doesn't have a pantry, so our cabinets hold a lot of those non-perishable items as well as some of our cookware and dinnerware. Go through the same process with your cabinets as you did with the drawers. Also take time to organize them neatly so that they are easily accessible (yes, even that pesky Tupperware).
Whether or not you have a pantry, we're going to focus on food here. As I mentioned above, a lot of my food storage is actually in my cabinets and a bakers rack that I have against one wall.
I can't wait to replace the counters that we currently have, so much so that I'm not even going to bother deep cleaning them until I can rip them out and replace them with something we love. If you already love your countertops, you'll obviously want to make sure that you're taking good care of them!
Sink & Dishwasher
These bad boys help us so much, that we might as well give them a little TLC, right?
You store most of your food here, so make sure it's clean so that your food has a safe and tidy home too!
Oven & Stovetop
I hope that this helps you to kick-start your Spring Cleaning, and look forward to seeing the progress that you make!
I know that the temperatures are back down to the 40's, but after those tastes of Spring over the past few weeks all I can think of is flowers and sunshine. I'm basically a Lisa Frank journal right about now.
Being a new homeowner, I've quickly realized the importance of Spring Cleaning, not just from a physical standpoint, but mentally as well. Yes, it's going to be great to know that our home is as clean as the day we settled (probably more clean actually), but it'll also be nice to mentally clear the air and transition into a new season.
As a 26-year old female, I wear a lot of hats right now. I'm a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a girlfriend and dog mom. I'm a boss, mentor and leader. I'm running three businesses and getting dinner on the table every night. Being self-employed alone means I've added hats to wear: admin, marketing, sales, etc. I'm not alone in this, and I know so many of you can relate even if instead of businesses you're juggling children and all of their activities and needs.
That's why I decided to do a Spring Cleaning Challenge for our Philadelphia Housewives following. Whether or not you complete the challenge each week, I hope that in some way you're inspired to make positive change this season.
We'll be focusing on physically cleaning our homes, offices and cars but will also be making sure to spring clean our lives emotionally and mentally as well. I hope that you'll follow along, and will share your progress with me if you do using #PHLWivesSpringClean.
I'm a firm believer that a breastfeeding mother should be able to feed her child wherever she is, even if it's in public; however, I'm personally someone who is pretty reserved and I don't have a child yet but I foresee that I'd be a little more uncomfortable than some in public.
If you prefer a more quiet setting to breastfeed or pump, you'll be pleased to learn about the new installment at the Philadelphia Airport in Terminal F. The Mamava Lactation Suite is a free self-contained pod with comfortable benches, a fold-down table, electrical outlet and a door that locks for privacy. While it's designed for individual use, you could fit another person/children and your luggage inside as well.
In order to use the pod, you'll need to have the Mamava app downloaded on your phone, and just need to swipe it to get inside. Once inside and locked, the pod registers as "in use" on the app. You'll find a second pod inside of the Minute Suites at Philadelphia International Airport.
Fingers crossed for more installations throughout the airport just like this ... what a great resource!
If you're sick of all of this snow and ready for a little Springtime inspiration, be sure to catch the Philadelphia Flower Show in its final weekend! The 2018 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show's theme this year is "Wonders of Water" and features tropical jungles, native woodlands and arid landscapes.
Hours: Friday (March 9) 10AM-9PM, Saturday (March 10) 8AM-9PM, Sunday (March 11) 8AM-6PM (last entry at 5PM).
It's always this time of year that I start planning my next trip, and what better place to do that than the Travel & Adventure Show at the Philadelphia Convention Center (Hall D)? Here, you'll be able to discover hundreds of vacation destinations worldwide and connect with travel experts who can make the planning seamless. Perk: Travel celebrities will be in attendance!
Hours: Saturday (March 10) 10AM-5PM and Sunday (March 11) 11AM-4PM.
Don't forget to join us for our Girls Night Out at Teca of West Chester on Monday, March 12! It's free to attend, but please register in advance through our Facebook page.
As someone who likes to stay on top of trends, I didn't know that Hygge would be something that would become so popular in 2018, but it certainly has. If you haven't heard of it before, it's a Danish term (pronounced Hoo-Ga) that means coziness, and in many ways is actually a lifestyle infusion which encourages folks to enjoy simple moments and to view ordinary experiences through a different lens. Coming from a world of non-stop running around and a very hectic lifestyle, this concept greatly appealed to me.
Today, I'm sharing some easy ways to incorporate a little hygge into your daily life, so that you too can slow down and enjoy life's ride.
1. Make your home a sanctuary.
When you're home, it should be your happy place, a place you can relax and feel comfortable. Surround yourself with aromatic candles in your favorite scents, add twinkle lights around the space and live plants. If you don't love it, don't keep it!
2. Eat comfortably.
Not just until you're full, but actual comforting foods and beverages. This time of year is perfect for a hot mug of cocoa or hot herbal tea and it's even better to pair it with an indulgence like a homemade cookie or slice of cake. Moderation is key! While I think it's safe to say that we're all pretty excited for Spring, soak up the last of these colder nights with a hot bowl of soup for dinner.
3. Spend quality time doing ordinary things with your loved ones.
Sometimes we get in the habit of thinking that if we aren't going out and doing something, we're being boring. Or at least I have the habit of thinking that way from time to time. But let's be honest, sometimes the best memories are those made with family and friends in our own homes or at familiar places. Host a game night at home or watch a new movie together on Netflix, On Demand, Amazon Prime or whatever other source you use. Rather spend some time alone? Curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace or take a walk.
If you haven't already caught on, this is all about being present, grateful, sharing, being comfortable in a safe space and being ok with treating yourself.
Sign us up!
If you're an avid follower of my blog or social media pages, it's not surprising that I'm talking about food again. If you're new here, welcome. I'm Allie, and I like food.
Over the summer, I developed an intolerance to gluten which seriously affected my diet. I love to cook, so eating at home hasn't been an issue; in fact, I find that some gluten free recipes are actually better than the wheat-based "originals". The big thing that has proved an issue for me though is eating out. Dan and I always would go out to eat on Friday or Saturday evenings for a date night. Being homeowners now, we sometimes just crave a chance for a change of scenery, but my diet really hinders that opportunity because there's a constant fear of getting sick, which just isn't worth the trouble. NO LONGER.
One of our favorite restaurants is The Melting Pot in King of Prussia, and we'd assumed (you know what they say) that I wouldn't be able to eat there but we were informed that it wouldn't be a problem. We had an opportunity to go in last night to test out their Restaurant Week Menu a little early, and friends, I was in heaven.
For those who might be interested, The Melting Pot in King of Prussia will be participating in King of Prussia Restaurant Week from March 5-11, 2018. Their special menu will be only $30 per person option to add on the chocolate fondue dessert for an addition $5 per person. Not only that, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit CHOP. You heard me right. You can give back to the community by eating cheese and chocolate. That's a win if I ever saw one.
Now, let's get to the good stuff ... what will you get?!
Kick off your night with the Monterey Alpine Cheese Fondue (or any other cheese fondue that suits your fancy). What it is: Gruyere, Raclette and Fontina cheeses blended with Rose wine, fresh spinach, Gorgonzola crumbles and shallots, topped with honey-roasted almonds.
The Monterey Alpine was really good though, and I thought had a unique flavor that paired well with the fruit dippers especially. I was extra excited when they brought out a bowl of gluten free crostini for me to dip as well!
Next up was our Spring Spinach Salad. I'm not a salad person, but The Melting Pot's salads always have me convinced I'll convert.
What it is: a bed of fresh spinach topped with Roma tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, golden raisins, roasted red peppers and candied pecans, finished with a balsamic glaze (or choose another salad).
You'll dream about that balsamic glaze.
As usual, the entrees were amazing. The third course of the Restaurant Week Menu allows you to choose from The Wayne (jalapeño filet mignon, pacific white shrimp, featured pasta & herb coated chicken), The King of Prussia (cold water lobster tail, filet mignon & sriracha lime shrimp) or The Audubon (sesame wasabi ahi tuna, pacific white shrimp, atlantic salmon & herb coated chicken).
Dan is a big seafood guy, so he opted for The King of Prussia. I on the other hand, am all about the land, so they customized a plate for me that was seafood free and gluten free (they even offered to give us a separate burner in case I didn't want to mix them in the broth we cooked them in!) and it was a mix of the chicken and jalapeño filet. SO GOOD!
These were served with fresh veggies (the mushrooms are my favorite, I let them soak for a while) and so many dipping sauces your head will spin (all delicious). You can cook the meat yourself, so it's cooked to your preferred temperature and we had so much fun doing this. It never gets old.
Naturally, we had to get the chocolate fondue as well, because THE MELTING POT. We opted for the Chocolate S'mores (milk chocolate melted with marshmallow cream and USUALLY topped with graham crackers). Because of my allergy, we omitted these, but our awesome server brought a dish of them to Dan so that he could still incorporate them into his.
Have you ever dipped a marshmallow into marshmallow? You really ought to try it, because as it turns out it's the best thing ever.
Throughout my experience, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything because they had substitutions for just about everything (including gluten free brownies for the chocolate fondue) and still made sure Dan got everything he wanted (aka. all of the wheat).
You can't go wrong with The Melting Pot, and their Restaurant Week Menu was delicious. Make sure to visit March 5-11, 2018 to test it out for yourself!
If you're thinking about visiting the Philly Home + Garden Show this weekend (February 16-18) at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, you're in for a treat. Wondering what you'll be able to see and do? We've got the inside scoop!
1. Get inspired by the HGTV celebrities
If you haven't already heard, Trading Spaces is coming back (insert happy dance here), and its host, Paige Davis, is going to share her experience as well as some tips and tricks on design trends she has seen during her career. Rachel Street, who will be the host of a new DIY Network show will be sharing her experience into buying, renovating and decorating homes in and around Philadelphia.
2. Check out the new Smart Home
As a guest at the Philly Home + Garden Show, you'll have an opportunity to see the newly expanded full-size model home built by Rudloff Custom Building that is paired with cutting-edge home security and entertainment technology from Comcast.
3. Put up your feet
Make sure to visit the Backyard Lounge, which will be furnished by Pine Creek Structures and sponsored by Belgrade.
4. Get Garden Inspiration
If you're like me, you're plotting (no pun intended) your plans for this years garden, and the Feature Gardens are sure to give you plenty of inspiration. From koi ponds, outdoor television setups, a beer tap and more will make your backyard this years hotspot.
5. Pick Up a Bouquet
Is it a garden show without fresh blooms? I think not. Support Phoenixville florist Cameron Peters at her cut flower booth where you'll be able to grab a beautiful bouquet and gain insight into how to decorate with flowers in your home. Did you know that by shopping local vs. online you're not only supporting businesses in your community, but you're probably saving money?
6. Learn about Edible Landscapes
Did you know that you can incorporate vegetables and herbs into a perennial garden? Scott Baldelli Landscape and Design will show you how to create the perfect edible garden for your yard.
7. Visit Crafted
Looking for unique handmade household items that'll set your decor apart from the rest? Make sure to visit Crafted, a market-style area of the Show Floor.
8. Upcycle Challenge
We LOVE that the Philly Home Show incorporates an Upcycle Challenge, and this time around it's the Habitat for Humanity Garden Decor. Local DIYers are transforming old furniture into functional and cute backyard decor. We all have that one piece we don't want to part with in our basement or attic, so why not put it to good use??
9. Make-it, Take-it
Looking to get hands on? Participate in a hands-on demonstration at no extra cost that you'll get to take home with you!
10. Hero Day
On February 16, all teachers, nurses, first responders, firefighters, police and all active or retired military personnel will be admitted at not charge to the Philly Home + Garden Show.
11. Local Blogger + Designer Presentations
We live in such a creative area, and some of the those masterminds are going to be presenting their knowledge and experience with all of you at the show! Visit the Pottery Barn Main Stage to check it out.
12. Phoenixville Night
Support a local town and visit the Main Stage to see some of the finest goods and services from Phoenixville.
13. Take Action
The Philly Home + Garden Show is truly about the experience and inspiration. Get engaged with the professionals and feel free to ask the designers and exhibitors questions so that you feel confident moving forward with the project of your dreams!