Pages

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

a fun few days in Philadelphia

It’s been a hot minute since I posted on here. No other excuse than my life got crazy. I have had the strangest, most emotional, roller coaster ride of a year—but also one of the best, wild and most fun years I’ve ever had. I think I spent more time out of town this year than I did at home and I definitely didn’t hate it.

I’ve taken a few awesome trips this year, but as of recently: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 


I had been to Philly 2x’s before (once to see The Eagles in concert and once to see Taylor Swift) so this was my third time visiting the city. Philadelphia is full of history, great food, and an array of different things to do (sports, concerts, museums, the zoo, etc). It’s also a very walkable city which is pretty cool. 


This trip was planned around my boyfriends’ birthday (surprise—I have a boyfriend!) with the main attraction being an NFL game: the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 



We drove down on a Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Four Seasons Philadelphia for the next 3 nights. After taking an all glass elevator up to the 60th floor lobby to check-in, we then went down in a separate elevator to our 59th floor room. 

When we walked into our room the hotel had arranged balloons, champagne, a small cake and a birthday card for my boyfriend—such a special and thoughtful treat. I usually don’t eat cake before dinner but the chocolate cake they had made was to dieeee for—decadent yet light and fluffy.



Our first night we had reservations at a restaurant in the bottom of our hotel building, recommended by the staff: Vernick Fish. And let me tell you, they did not steer us wrong. Known for their oysters and seafood, we tried a good mix of everything. We started with oysters, tuna tartare with dijon and black garlic, grilled black pepper octopus with gooseberry and cashew, hamachi crudo with foie gras and Concord grape, and scallop crudo with whipped buttermilk and osetra caviar. We honestly loved our appetizers more than our actual meal, or maybe because after all of those small plates we were pretty full. I would definitely go back to Vernick Fish again and would recommend it if you’re a seafood lover who loves a restaurant with a hip vibe. 


I am big on getting my steps in even when I’m on vacation or out of town, so the next morning my boyfriend and I did our own walking tour of the city of Philadelphia. We went to the classic “Rocky Steps” in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Washington Monument, then over to Philadelphia City Hall and down towards the Fashion District of Philadelphia. 


We went back to our hotel and grabbed our bathing suits to head down to the 57th floor infinity pool. I can’t say I’m a big hotel pool girl, but this was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Panoramic views of Philadelphia while floating around in a heated pool on the 57th floor of a hotel. It was pretty incredible. 


We planned on having a late lunch that day as the football game was at 8pm that night. We made reservations at JG Sky-high, a restaurant on the 60th floor of our hotel specializing in casual Jean-Gorges cuisine. Maybe one of the coolest views I’ve ever experienced while eating a cheeseburger. A fun pregame meal and special birthday lunch for my guy.  


It was finally game time—and boy was it a cool game. My boyfriend is obviously more of a football fan than I am (and it was his birthday) so he picked out some really awesome seats. We had field seats with access to something called the “Tunnel Club.” It was a room with unlimited access to drinks and food of all kinds, right next to the tunnel in which the visiting team walked out. We saw Tom Brady walk out up close which was pretty special. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up winning (which I was happy about as I was one of the few girls in the Eagles’ stadium with a Buc’s hoodie on) making it a really cool and unforgettable NFL experience. 

Our last day in Philadelphia, we did another walking tour. I wanted my boyfriend to experience the Reading Terminal Market, one of America’s oldest and largest public markets. Basically, an indoor farmers’ market on steroids. It is a very neat experience if you ever find yourself in Philadelphia. 


We had sushi reservations at 9pm that night, so we had some time to kill before we needed to get ready. We ended up having the cutest happy hour at a place called The Lawn at Love Luck, located in Love Park. We sat on a picnic table and my boyfriend got beer and I got a blood orange margarita that came in a pouch. They had live music going on in the park which included a lot of interesting people watching. I would definitely recommend The Lawn at Love Luck with a group of friends for happy hour or just to grab some drinks. 


The final meal in Philly: Hiroki, a Japanese restaurant in Fishtown, Philadelphia where we had sushi omakase style (basically the chef’s choice tasting menu with the best of best quality). The meal started out with an appetizer box of squid, eel, fish eggs, a poached egg, and a whole slew of unusual bites. I understand that most of this is a delicacy, but I remember looking at my boyfriend thinking if the whole meal is like this, I’m never going to make it. Thankfully, that was the strangest thing I ate that night. The sushi that followed was some of the best sushi I have ever had. Each piece of fish was so buttery and served perfectly, one piece at a time, while eaten with your fingers. It was an unreal experience. The atmosphere was incredible, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable, but with a phenomenal meal like that, it will definitely cost you—and it did. One hundred percent worth it though. 


I was kind of sad to leave Philadelphia. We had the best time while we were there. The hotel was incredible, the food was incredible, and the city itself was so good to us. 


Until next time, Philly.

XX, Laura

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

jessie james decker’s skinny margs

I am one of those crazy, all your friends ask you why, tequila loving gals. If I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking tequila. Tequila, club, with a lime is my usual go-to. But I love it neat, on the rocks, in a margarita…you name it, I’ll drink it. Tequila is my jam. 

Jessie James Decker has been an idol to my sister and I for years. Not only is she absolutely stunning, but she’s a country singer and clothing boutique owner (Kittenish). She is also a former reality tv star, married to one of the hottest retired NFL players in the game (Eric Decker), and a mother of 3. She is a chocolate chip cookie loving, down-to-earth, “I am who I am” kind of woman—someone worth looking up to. 


She recently released her first cookbook, “Just Feed Me,” filled with simple, delicious recipes that she makes at home with her family. I believe the book is now an Amazon #1 bestseller. Pretty cool.


Anyway, let’s get to her skinny margs— SO good and SO up my alley! In her book, she said these were inspired by a trip to Cabo with her hub. The recipe is simple, made with no bullsh*t ingredients, and just really good. 


The recipe says it makes 4 drinks, but if you’re anything like me, this would be enough for 2 (wink). 



Jessie James Decker’s Skinny Margs 

(from her book Just Feed Me) 


Coarse Salt, for the rims (optional) 

Ice

1/2 cup tequila 

Juice of 2 limes 

1 to 2 teaspoons agave 


Per her book, 


If desired, rim 4 pretty glasses with salt. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, lime juice, and agave and shake it up. Fill the glasses with ice and strain the margaritas into them. Add the squeezed lime to the glass for presentation and that extra “twist.” 



It’s never a bad day when you’re making margaritas to taste test and post on the blog. Will definitely be making and enjoying this simple recipe for my friends and family. 


You can find Jessie’s book on Amazon here.


Cheers, friends! 


Keep on keepin’ on—

XX, Laura

Thursday, September 10, 2020

tomato and burrata salad



It took me 26 years to finally try burrata—and oh my gosh, wow! For those of you who don’t know what burrata is, it’s a soft cow’s milk cheese that’s almost identical to mozzarella. It looks like a ball of mozzarella from the outside, but it’s more delicate and squishy with soft cheese and cream on the inside. It’s mouthwatering and just amazing! 

This dish is so easy to throw together and will really wow guests (or maybe just yourself). 

I started with a bed of arugula and layered tomatoes on top (threw in some cherry tomatoes for aesthetics). Then added the burrata, drizzled with truffle oil (because I was feeling fancy af), balsamic reduction, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Lastly, threw on some fresh basil. 


This was SO good, SO fresh tasting, and SO satisfying. A must try. 



What you’ll need:
  • Arugula
  • Fresh burrata cheese 
  • Heirloom tomatoes 
  • Good quality EVOO (or truffle oil if you’re feeling fancy like me)
  • Balsamic glaze aka balsamic reduction 
  • Fresh basil leaves (a good handful or two)
  • Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper

This pairs nicely with:
  • a crisp, dry rosé (rosé)
  • sauvignon blanc (white) 
  • pinot gris (white)
  • pinot grigio (white)
  • pinot noir (red)
  • lighter styled sparking wine or champagne 

Enjoy & Cheers!! XX, Laura 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

plant-based breakfast ideas

Hi, friends! It is crazy to think that the last time I wrote a post was before corona craziness. I was on Long Island with no idea what would transpire only a few weeks later. Now, here we are… months later, with a half-opened country. Crazy times. 


Anyway, happy summer! I don’t know where you live, but where I am in the Northeast we have had the most gorgeous and hot weather. We tend to be prone to quite a bit of rain, but this summer, we have lucked out. We deserve it after being cooped up for months! 


Today I thought I’d share with you some of my easy, go-to, plant-based breakfast meals that I eat in rotation every week. I am a big believer of fruit in the morning so that’s always the focal point of my recipes. 



Banana Blueberry Protein Smoothie 

This is my current favorite at the moment. It is SO good. 


1-2 (depending on the day) *frozen bananas

3/4 cup *frozen blueberries 

1 scoop **Vega Chocolate Plant-based protein powder 

1 handful spinach 

Sprinkle of chia seeds 

Sprinkle of hemp seeds 

Dash of almond milk

Water  


*I prefer using frozen bananas as I think they give the smoothie a great texture, same goes with blueberries 

**You can use whatever protein you like, but Vega is my go-to brand and I think chocolate tastes the best in this smoothie 



Coconut Oatmeal topped with Pineapple 

I am a huge coconut lover. I wouldn’t normally think to put pineapple on oatmeal, but actually got this idea from a hotel I stayed at in Denver, CO a few years ago.

1 pouch of Nature’s Path Qía Superfood Creamy Coconut Instant Oatmeal 

1-1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple 


Voilà—easy, peasy, done! 


Oatmeal Topped with Berries and Walnuts 

Nothing fancy or complicated about this, just a good ol’ bowl of oatmeal with berries topped with some healthy fat.


1 packet of Glutenfreeda Instant Oatmeal

Mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (or whatever I have on hand)

1-2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts

Lots of cinnamon 



Enjoy!

XX, Laura

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

don’t be so afraid of life that you forget to live

Yesterday afternoon I arrived in The Hamptons/Montauk—
I say both, because where I’m staying is smack dab in the middle. I’ve wanted to come here for as long as I can remember, particularly in the summer, but this week the occasion arose…and here I am. Did I mention I brought my dog?

 So, after five hours in the car, here we are in a cozy Airbnb in The Hamptons. 

As soon as we were all checked in, I poured a glass of wine and off to the ocean we went. I have never been on a beach where there was no other human in sight. I was able to let Peanut off his leash and man did he run wild. He rolled around in the sand like it was snow (that was fun when we got back to the house).

Have you ever had a real pull to be near the ocean? To see it? To hear it? To touch it? That’s kind of what inspired this trip. Many people say the ocean is healing for them and I totally relate to that. Some of the best memories of my life involve the ocean in some capacity or another. 

Someone once quoted, “The person you think of when you stand in front of the ocean. That’s the person you’re in love with.” This morning at 7am, back out on the beach, with no makeup and my natural curly-cue hair…I thought about that, I thought about a few people, and I thought about myself. I am attracted to the raw, real, unfiltered, unguarded, messy versions of other people, but sometimes I have a hard time accepting that about myself. I am a social butterfly, talk-to-anyone, make small talk with a stranger kind of person, but when it comes to letting people truly “in,” I’d rather go swimming with sharks. I tell people just enough, but never too much. An arm’s length away is where I tend to keep people. I am so open to love, yet terrified of it at the same time. Ironically, the very thing that I want most is the very thing that I’m afraid of—to be accepted, to be loved, to be seen.

From experience, I’ve learned that the more people know, the more they can hurt you. And even worse? The possibility that they leave. That’s my biggest fear—getting close to someone and then watching them leave. However, as I get older, I’m realizing that living life with fear is really no life at all. Fear paralyzes you. Fear steals your joy. Fear takes away anything meaningful. Fear takes away possibility. 

As I walked along the beach this morning, I looked at all of the shells that had washed up on shore during low tide. Some big beautiful shells, still in tact. Some with missing pieces. Some scratched and worn looking. Some with other shells and seaweed stuck to them… each shell so uniquely different, each shell beautiful in their own way. However, when I go back this afternoon during high tide, they’ll all be gone. Collected back into the ocean for another go around—a lot like life. 

We are all here on earth, so completely different from one another, thrown into the game of life. Each one of us has a different story, a different “scratch,” all sorts of baggage stuck to us. Just like the ocean, the tides of our life will always rise and fall—we’ll be sucked in, only to wash up on shore once again—but no matter what, the water keeps moving. 

Sometimes I need that reminder—that life keeps moving whether you’re living it or not. 

I am slowly learning how to embrace my fears. It’s certainly not easy, and at times, it can be painful… but nothing is as painful as missing out on the joys of life, simply because you’re afraid. 

Don’t be so afraid of life that you forget to live.
XX, Laura

Friday, February 28, 2020

1 month without social media

This weekend marks 1 whole month without social media (Instagram and Facebook). It’s not the first time I’ve deactivated my accounts, but it’s the first time I’ve ever gone a full 30 days. It feels like just yesterday I decided to take a break. Now, here I am, 4 weeks later. 

I’m not going to lie, the first week was hard. Not hard in the sense like, “OMG I miss social media,” but hard in the sense that I didn’t realize what a habit social media was. Bored—check social media. Wake up in the morning—check social media. Laying in bed at night—check social media. A free minute to spare—check social media. After not having it for 4 weeks, I look back and think holy f, that’s a lot of time spent on social media. 

So what’s been the takeaway from 30 days without social media?

Wasted time 
Damn, I think we’re all guilty of this, but I think we all waste a lot of precious time on social media. I started to think about how much of my everyday life is spent scrolling through these little cyber worlds that, for all intents and purposes, are not real life. When you think about it, are we ever going to look back and think, “Wow, I really enjoyed all those hours I spent on social media.” Of course not! I will admit, social media does have its perks. I’ve actually learned a lot about health and fitness, nutrition, psychology, fashion, business, etc. from some of the accounts I follow… but it still doesn’t substitute for real life. Without social media, I’ve been more apt to pick up a book, get out of the house to do something new, and honestly, I’ve slept more soundly not checking social media right before I go to bed. As much as I hate to admit it, social media is a lot of wasted time. 

Knowing Less
Two couples I know got engaged, someone else announced a pregnancy, and a few others posted wedding pics and baby pics…and I knew nothing, because I saw nothing. I found out by word of mouth (like the old fashioned way) through my sister and friends. Honestly, this was the most refreshing thing about taking a break from social media. Knowing less about everyone else. Sometimes I think about the fact that I’m up to date on peoples’ everyday lives that I have not seen since I graduated high school. Let me say that again, I keep up with people that I have not physically seen in 9 years. 9 friggin’ years!! That sounds crazy, because well, it kind of is (lol)! Knowing less about everyone else has felt freeing. It’s honestly kind of refreshing to see my friends and not know what they’ve been doing (or eating, drinking, etc.) since the last time I saw them. And it’s damn well refreshing not to know what everyone I’m not in contact with (including insta strangers I don’t know personally) are up to. Sometimes, less is best. 

Mystery 
This social media break was inspired by a guy I met this winter out at the bars. Attractive, outgoing, and a bad boy (totally my type). When I went to look him up on social media to see what he was about, he was no where to be found. He has no Facebook. No Instagram. No Snapchat. No social media. No anything. Some might find that weird, but to me, that’s hella attractive. It only made him more interesting and appealing in my eyes. I got to thinking that we as humans, are intrigued by those in which we know nothing about. Anyone and anything we don't know too much about, are always more fascinating. Mystery is sexy.

Dreams
Without social media (aka keeping up with everyone else), I started to think more about me. What do I want? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Sometimes you can see/think/hear more clearly without the influence of millions of other people. I started making a bucket list based on what I think is cool, based on what’s important to me, based on what I want to look back on and be proud that I did. Some of it may be far fetched, some of it may be nerdy, some of it may be crazy…but you know what, it’s me. It’s what I dream about and that’s what matters.

End of the Comparison Game
We are so overly consumed with the lives, or should I say highlight reels, of everyone else…that we compare our lives, our bodies, our finances, our goals, our families, our whatever…to everyone and everything else that isn’t reality. Taking a break from social media put that in perspective for me. Like most girls my age, I am so hard on myself and my body. Social media creates so many thoughts that would have never been there in the first place—“If I don’t look like an Instagram model, then I must not be attractive,” “If I’m not traveling the world, I’m not living a cool life,” “If I’m not making millions, my job must not matter,” “If I’m not married with 2 kids by now, I’m a loser and a reject.” The list goes on. The more time I’ve spent away from social media, the more content I feel with my life. I’m not comparing my life to others, nor am I putting my life out there to be viewed or judged. It’s been freeing as f*ck. 

No Negativity 
Holy mother of pearl. This was the main reason I decided to take a break from social media, nega-f*cking-tivity. I hate negativity. I hate negative posts. I have negative people. I hate hateful people. I hate fake people. I hate fake news. I’ve learned to unfriend and unfollow the f*ck out of anyone that’s not uplifting. Anything negative, I like to live without. My world is brighter and more positive without it. Just like I like it. The less negativity, the better. Sometimes, the less social media in my life, the happier I am. 

1 month without social media and I can’t say that I’ve really missed it. I’m sure I’ll get it back at one point or antoher— could be next week, a month from now, or maybe never. But what I’ve learned after 30 days (also what I’ve known for a while), I’m an old fashioned gal, who prefers the old fashioned way of life. The simplicity of I'll see you when I see you. 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

whatever you’re holding on to is holding you back

I am in one of those transitional times of my life again where I find myself questioning—am I happy where I’m at? Am I happy where I’m living? Am I inspired? Am I challenged? Am I having fun? Am I who I want to be? Am I doing what I want to be doing? The list goes on… 

I kind of lived in reverse from most people my age. I tried going away to college, wasn’t my thing. I came home, got my 2 year degree at a community college in my hometown. I went to work for our family business. I had my own home at age 22. I partied occasionally, went out every few months (literally once, every few months). Took a few years to soul search and figure out who I was. I spent some time in other states—a westward road trip to Colorado, ski bumming in Utah, beach bumming in Florida. Realized I hated owning a home, eventually sold it. Got my first apartment in a small city. At 26 years old, I started to party every weekend. Meanwhile, most of my friends started to settle down—engagements (if they’re not already married), buying homes, having children (if they don’t already have one or two)—and I could not be happier for them—however, that is sooooo not where I’m at. 

I am in a wild phase of my life. I know it, my parents know it, and I’m pretty sure some of my friends know it. I’ve done things this past year that I’ve never done before—including living like I just don’t give a f. Questionable decisions, questionable moments, questionable people. I threw my cell phone number around like it was a coupon. I stayed out until 3 in the morning more times than I care to admit. I spent too much time in the sun. I drank way too much wine. Threw back a few too many tequila shots. I might have gained a wrinkle or two, lost some sleep, overloaded my liver with alcohol, and spent the most money I’ve ever spent on travel…but I can happily say, I have no regrets. 

My dad taught me a lot growing up, but something that always stuck with me was, “Pay attention.” Those two, simple words, pay attention—and pay attention I did. I am always observing people around me, people I’ve known forever, people I’ve known for 5 minutes, people in the news, acquaintances in my hometown, people I observe from afar. I’ve paid attention to marriages, friendships, people in their careers, level of happiness, etc. I’ve also studied language and body language. I’ve learned a lot by observing—a lot of good, a lot of not so good. I’m never going to judge another’s life (because I haven’t lived it), but I can observe what I see (and take note) and decide that that’s never going to be me. 

I am 26 years old and all I want to do is have the time of my life. 

I am not interested in settling down, getting married (anytime soon at least), having kids, owning a home, and most importantly, I am not interested in letting the fun stop anytime soon. I realize that that's not the norm for most women my age.

So what am I interested in right now? Living my life to the fullest, based on what I want that to be. Living life to the fullest looks different to everybody, but to me…that means going after my dreams, which includes having a successful blog, a lot of traveling (my first love), a lot of good food and wine, trying fun restaurants, exploring new cities, fun parties and events, snorkeling in Fiji (or Bora Bora, the Maldives, the Great Barrier Reef), going back to Monaco to witness the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, going back to Italy to take a cooking class, going back to Greece (and hopefully on my honeymoon someday), visiting Ireland, Scotland, Germany, London (+sooo many other European counties), visiting every state in the US that I possibly can, eventually becoming a philanthropist, being the healthiest version of myself… (my long, long list goes on).

My point is, everyone has a different way of living their life. Society has a way of telling you, “this is what’s important,” but I’m telling you, f*ck society. You have to go with your heart. Go with your gut. What is it that you can’t stop thinking about? What do you want to do with your life? What’s most important? What are you afraid to do? What will make you happiest? Figure it out and find a way.

I had an hour (plus) conversation on the phone with my sister tonight and I told her my thoughts about where I’m at and what I want. She thinks I’m bat shit crazy…and I understand her point of view, but I don’t feel the same way. I never want to look back on my life and think, “I could have tried that,” or “I could have done that.” I joked with her that every crazy idea I’ve ever had, I did. Every place I wanted to move, I did. I am truly a girl with no regrets. Shit, not everything worked out in my favor… but I went for it, I tried. More often than not, I hear people say, “I always wanted to…but I never did.” In my humble, 26 year old, what does she know advice… don’t let that be you. Just f*cking go for it. Go against the odds. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If you can deal with that consequence, then go balls to the wall with your decision. 

I’m going to end this post with a quote from my favorite bartender in Naples, Florida:
 “Whatever you’re holding onto, is holding you back.” 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura