For the past five years, I've been going to Sea Isle with Dan's family on their annual week-long vacation, and it's always so much fun to spend time together and relax. I love the low-key vibe of Sea Isle, but also enjoy that if I do want to go out to do something the options are there.
This year, we were sitting in one of our favorite spots along the bay, reflecting on how much has changed for us since last years vacation. Dan's in a Master's degree program. We purchased a home together. We're engaged and planning our wedding. By next year's vacation, we'll be married! This year was also special because we had our nephews there, Noah and Rodrick. Last year, my best friend (and future SIL!) was pregnant with her son, so it was so fun to get to see him experience the sand and ocean for the first time. Nothing like seeing the world through a child's eyes! Noah on the other hand is just over 2 years old and has been there before; however, this was the year he really got to enjoy it as a toddler. I've never seen two little boys who love the water so much!
With the boys, it's much easier to eat in the house rather than going out, so that was something new for us. In the past, we've gone out a few nights and cooked in the rest. The nights that we did order, we chose to get some of our favorites .... Mike's Seafood, Marie's Seafood, Manco's (on our boardwalk night in Ocean City), Hank's Sauce, etc. I'm not a seafood eater, as I just don't have a preference for it, but I did try a bite of scallops and didn't mind them! Still not a fan of lobster though.
One of the nights, Dan and I decided to take some time to go on a little date, so we opted for Doc Magrogan's Happy Hour. We were not disappointed! If you are down in Sea Isle, or even Avalon, and are looking for a happy hour in an upscale yet still "beachy" restaurant, I highly recommend. The flatbreads were good, but the potstickers were great. Order them if you have the chance! I also got the blush sangria, which was heaven on a hot and humid day. It started pouring that night... the only rain that we got!
Whether you're craving a vacation or want to take your family on a unique weekend away, we want to remind all of you Philadelphians and suburban-Philadelphians to keep Lancaster in mind. While it's known for it's rural landscape and Amish culture, there's a side to the Lancaster-area that many haven't had a chance to see yet, but one that shouldn't be missed. In recent years, Lancaster has begun to flourish as a food and arts town, and makes the perfect getaway for couples or families alike. Take a day or even a whole weekend to get out and explore the city of Lancaster, or its fun surrounding towns that are just a short drive from your own backyard.
219 E Main St., Lititz // 717-626-4354 // email@example.com
Philly isn't the only place you can go in PA for a great pretzel! The Sturgis' have been in the pretzel business since the 1800's, which means they've had plenty of time to perfect their technique. As a visitor, you can tour the original bakery, learn how to twist a pretzel like the pros or simply shop in the bakery for your favorite variety or souvenir.
Eat + Experience
firstname.lastname@example.org // 717-473-4397
In three hours you will experience the vibrant food scene in the City of Lancaster or the small town of Lititz. Our experienced guides will lead you on a culinary adventure that includes local recipes and tastes from around the world.
Eat + Shop
41 S Broad St., Lititz // 717-627-0088 // email@example.com
Olio Olive Oils & Balsamics is a family-owned and operated store and since they aren't a franchise, they have the freedom to shop the globe for the best of the best. All of their balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy and their olive oils come from a variety of countries worldwide. When searching for product, they are keeping your budget in mind and sample each product before they even purchase it to ensure that they are guaranteeing the best flavors for their customers. Stop in to shop and grab free tastings of oils and balsamic vinegar!
3526 Old Phila Pike, Intercourse // 717-768-8093 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Deep in the heart of PA Dutch Country, there is a place that celebrates curiosity, adventure and the thrill of a treasure hunt ... a shop where locals and out-of-towners alike delight in an ever-changing mixture of old and new, vintage and heirloom and charming and whimsical. The Treasure Place is a family business with a history of craftsmanship that goes back many generations. Though they retail high-quality products, they haven't forgotten that heritage and they continue the legacy that was started years ago and pride themselves on their quality, integrity, honesty and value.
Explore + Shop
335 N Queen St, Lancaster // 717-431-8706
The PGC's mission is to create opportunities for traditional and contemporary artists, makers, craft lovers and collectors through education, patronage, advocacy and community ... and that they are. With a variety of art shows, there is always something to see or learn and they offer all sorts of enrichment year-round.
Stay + Play
38 Deborah Dr, Route 23, Leola // 717-656-7002
The Inn at Leola Village holds a AAA Five Diamond Award, holds a Forbes Four Star Experience (the only Lancaster hotel that has this!) and is part of the Historic Hotels of America. If that isn't enough to entice you to schedule a stay at this luxury boutique hotel, we don't know what is! It's the perfect respite after a long day exploring, but is also a fabulous spot for a romantic weekend away (or a treat yo'self weekend at the spa!!).
Looking back on my childhood, I feel fortunate to have been able to experience broadway shows and musicals and think that all children, regardless of their personal struggles should have the same opportunity. I'm thrilled to announce that the Kimmel Center has announced sensory-friendly performances throughout the 2018-19 season, including Broadway Philadelphia and three of the resident companies including Pennsylvania Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Philly POPS.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: Merriam Theater
Performance Schedule: December 19-29, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 22, 2018 at 11:00AM
This performance will include lowered house lights, adjusted sound and a designated quiet area within the theater.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker presented by the Pennsylvania Ballet
Where: Academy of Music
Performance Schedule: December 7-31, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 27, 2018 at 12:00PM
This performance will include adjusted lighting and sound, lowered house lights and a designated safe/quiet area within the theater. Additionally, guests will be able to talk, leave seats and move freely throughout the performance.
Sound All Around presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Academy of Music Ballroom
Sensory-Friendly Performances (10AM or 11:15AM): September 15, 2018, October 20, 2018, December 1, 2018, March 2, 2019, or April 6, 2019
Full Orchestra presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: The Mann Center
Sensory-Friendly Performance: July 24, 2018 at 8:00PM
The Animated Orchestra presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall
Sensory-Friendly Performance: May 11, 2019 at 11:30AM
Through it's HEAR (Health, Education, Access and Research) initiative, TPO strives to share live orchestral experiences with the diverse communities that make up the region. Sound All Around concerts for music lovers 3-5 and their families, as well as full orchestra performances for all ages, with many featuring relaxed house rules, online pre-visit stories, fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphone, a quiet space and trained staff.
A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season
Where: Verizon Hall
Performance Schedule: December 1-22, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 5, 2018 at 8:00PM
This performance will create a welcoming musical performance that is judgement-free and inclusive of guests with a range of sensory, learning and communication difference. Guests are free to vocalize and move about freely, take breaks on the bean bag chairs outside of Verizon Hall, utilize noise-cancelling headphones and fidget toys, etc.
I love beer. Specifically, I love Yuengling. Being a native Pennsylvanian, I've always felt a loyalty to their brand, almost like that urge to root for hometown sports. Over the weekend, we decided it was finally time to head out to see what all the fuss was about.
Dan, my Dad and I all went to visit the Pottsville location, which is actually Yuengling's oldest and original location. Upon arrival, we headed into the Store + Tasting Room where we told the front desk that we wanted to participate in the tour. It's completely FREE to participate in their brewery tour, so the next time you're stumped trying to think of something affordable and unique to do this Summer or Fall ... keep this in mind.
Since Yuengling was started by David G. Yuengling in the mid-1800's, refrigeration didn't exist which meant that he had to get innovative with the beer fermentation process. Many often wonder, why the brewery is housed alongside a mountain, and that is because there are actually caves dug into the mountainside that acted as refrigeration back in the day. I believe they said it took ten years to complete those caves by pickaxe by close to four hundred men. Talk about a project! Seeing the caves alone was reason enough to come out to the brewery.
Throughout the remainder of the tour, we got to walk through the rest of the facilities and see what the progression of the company was, which was fascinating. Since we went on a Saturday, the brewery wasn't running, but if you go on a weekday you'll actually be able to walk around with everything up and moving. How neat!
The history buff in me loved that the integrity of the company's past was so well-preserved. Around every corner, even in the caves at some points, there were details pointed out that we were able to focus our attention on and it truly felt like we were in a museum. I loved the fact that we were able to get two experiences out of one visit - we learned about the brewing process and the backend of the business but also got to take a lot of historical knowledge home with us (and a few t-shirts!).
Of course, the tour saves the best for last ... the tasting room! Before going to the brewery, I actually didn't realize how much variety they had. I was used to their traditional lager and had also sipped a Premium a handful of times, but didn't know that they had others.
At the tasting, we were each allowed two (well-sized) samples of the beers from the tap. This was definitely the most exciting part for a couple of different reasons.
We learned on our tour that the four Yuengling daughters are preparing to take the company over. As a female, I was of course excited to hear this and felt empowered to learn that they'd be one of the only (if not the only) female-owned brewery in the country. Boom! The four women are the sixth generation of brewers, and just created their first product.
Yuengling's Golden Pilsner will be launching into stores this month throughout the state of Pennsylvania, so keep an eye out! The Golden Pilsner is not going to be a seasonal beer, but rather a core product; in fact, it's the first new core product in seventeen years.
I did get an opportunity to sample the Pilsner, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I'm not someone who enjoys a super hoppy or bitter beer, and this was a smooth blend that didn't sacrifice flavor. It has a distinct Yuengling taste to it, but is light enough to sit outside and drink on a warm day.
My second sample I wasn't sure what to get, but I wanted to try something I hadn't before. I kept hearing good things about the Black & Tan, but was hesitant because I don't enjoy dark beer too much. Since it's a combination of the Porter and Premium, I thought I'd give it a chance. Y'all ... this might be my new favorite (now tied with the Pils). Black & Tan was smooth and easy to drink, with subtle caramel flavors that weren't too sweet. Dan and I both agreed that we'll need to pick up the Pils and the BT after our vacation ... or maybe on it!
The Brewery Tour hours are M-F 10-3 on the hour and on Saturday's they begin at 10:30AM and run every 45 people until the last tour leaves at 3:00PM. If you're going with a large group of 15 people or more, it's required that you call ahead and make a reservation. The tour itself lasts just over an hour, and then you wind up spending a bit of time in the tasting room as well. Make sure to wear closed shoes for this ... the caves can be slippery! I wore Sperry's and would probably wear a sneaker if I did it again. In all, we had a great time at the Yuengling Brewery and I highly recommend that you take some time to visit if you get a chance soon.
Let's be honest ... being gluten-free and liking to bake can sometimes feel like a curse because it really can be tricky to find that perfect recipe that everyone will love, is the right consistency and the right flavor.
Your gluten-free baking woes are going out the door my friends! I had the chance to try the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix from Mom's Place Gluten-Free and it was so good. Not only was it well-received by my whole family that was over this weekend, but it was super easy to make.
The mix and other ingredients come packaged in this nice big bag. When you open it, the sugar and chocolate chips are actually separately packaged in their own bags inside of this one. All I had to do was pour it all in a bowl with some butter, eggs and vanilla and then bake it. Doesn't get easier than that!
There was more dough than I needed for this weekend, so I was able to make two dozen and then freeze the rest which is going to make entertaining a breeze in a couple of weeks. Of course, the thing we all want to know is ... how did it taste?!
SO. GOOD. Friends, even my non-GF family was digging into these with gusto. To give you an idea of just how good these are, I came home from a couple of meetings yesterday and one of the first things Dan told me was "I saved the last cookie for you". That's love y'all. It also meant we polished off a whole lot of cookies in not a whole lot of time. Not sorry about it!
There's really nothing better than knowing exactly what you're eating, especially when you have food allergies and need to be mindful of every ingredient that's going into your body. As someone who has tried the GF baking thing, it's honestly really frustrating because you have to supplement with so many different kinds of flour. If you're like me, you get a little tired of having to replenish four different varieties of flour plus other obscure ingredients and so this was really a godsend because it was pre-packaged and safe. It took me a half hour to make two dozen cookies from start to finish. That's gluten-free baking I can get behind.
I highly encourage you to check out their other selections as well, because they offer so much more than baked goods.
On Sunday, Dan and I spent the day working on some things around the house (endless projects ... anyone else?) and then went to one of our favorite antique shops to peruse. We didn't find anything we loved enough to purchase, but we still enjoyed walking around treasure hunting. After that, we stopped for sandwiches at a local spot and then headed back home to our fur child, Rufus.
With temperatures hitting nearly one hundred degrees (our temperature gauge read 99 at one point in the afternoon!), I didn't want to use the oven, but I was also salivating for this delicious and super easy recipe so I did it anyway!
Behold, my Summer Veggie Quinoa - yum.
3 Medium Tomatoes
6 Bacon Slices (cooked + crumbled)
2 Handfuls of Baby Spinach
Brown Rice/Quinoa (I used two small boxes to make a heartier portion)
Mozzarella Cheese (optional)
1, Boil water for the quinoa, and follow as instructed based on the brand you purchase.
2. In a medium skillet, cook bacon and then set aside.
3. Chop tomatoes (I like to leave the guts in there too, for more flavor!) and add to the pan, then add spinach and basil. Saute about five minutes with a splash of olive oil, mixing occasionally.
4. Add the crumbled bacon to the skillet and mix into the vegetable mixture.
5. When the quinoa is done cooking, plate it and add the vegetable mixture on top.
6. Sprinkle with a bit of mozzarella cheese, if desired.