Before the earthquake so rudely interrupted us, I was busy recapping my Philly weekend at HLS.

So far we’ve eaten at Farmicia and the Pumpkin Market, and now it’s time for the actual conference day…

From early morning to afternoon we hopped from session to session about writing better {and legal!} recipes, dealing with negativity, monetization, and more. In between, of course, was lots of food.

healthy living summit blog conference

{I miss you Jen!!}

Lunch was the highlight of the meals: greens, vegan sandwiches loaded on rich Great Harvest bread, and the most delicious quinoa chickpea salad.

salad and sandwiches

The food tables were arranged with sandwiches on both ends and salad in the middle- I picked up my sandwiches and turned around and realized the salad line was only going one direction, and it was a loooong line.

I was starving so I took my plate to the table and mentioned I was too hungry to wait, I’d just get my salad later. Then I walked away to grab a drink. When I came back, salad had magically appeared on my plate. One of the servers overheard me and brought me salad- so sweet!

chickpea quinoa salad

vegan lunch at conference

We had a late dinner reservation, so we took some time after the conference to do a little Philly exploring. I finally got to see the Reading Terminal Market in the day time. {It’s where the cocktail party was.}

reading terminal market philadelphiasarah and jen sightseeing

It was full of every vendor you could imagine- ice cream, flowers, fish, bread, etc.

reading terminal market vendors

We played tourists for a little longer, then started off on our walk towards Kanella, a local Greek restaurant.

kanella greek restaurant philly

It was cute and cozy and we were seated immediately.

jen allie and mekanella dining companions

While the food was delicious, it was an interesting dining experience. See, with the exception of hummus and feta, I really don’t like Greek food. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives top my most-hated-foods list. But I wanted to branch out and try something new; plus I loved the company.

When it came time to order, I asked for a delicious veggie and apricot topped flatbread without the tapenade {read olives!}. Not an atypical request by most standards. The answer? No, I could not have the flatbread without the olives.

kanella dinner menu

I forget what I asked for next, but it was a similar response. I was immediately flustered and overwhelmed and had no idea what to order. We finally found a solution- the lamb and arugula topped hummus without the lamb.

So I essentially had bread, hummus, and pita for dinner. But it was above average hummus- rich with lemon and tahini, and I loved arugula added to the mix. The dip for the bread was unique and satisfying as well- a thin tahini-type dip.

bread with tahini dipping saucehummus with arugula and pita

{Photo courtesy of Allie after some battery-camera-lens-swapping; her battery died and I didn’t have the right lens with me.}

Interestingly enough, we were told the chef doesn’t allow photographs of his food. Of course by then we’d already finished with the picture-taking. Winking smile


Do you like Greek food? You can add grape leaves to the list of things I don’t like, although I don’t encounter those in my day to day life.Winking smile


Find out how my first midwife appointment went on tiny sneakers. Hint: it’s not what you think.

Be sure to subscribe to tiny sneakers to keep up with updates! {It’s a different RSS than this one.}

The Urban Trail

When my mom ventured south last week for our bike ride, she took a little detour to the beautiful mountain city of Asheville. Of course I went to visit. Smile

We spent the day walking through downtown Asheville, following the Urban Trail, a 1.7 mile tour of Asheville’s art and architecture.

asheville urban trail

It was a fun way to learn the history and explore the city.

history walk urban trail asheville

asheville mountains painting

Following squares in the sidewalk led us to each of our destinations. First up, a giant flat iron, incidentally across from the Flat Iron Building.

urban trail path guidesgiant flat iron

Next up, the Grove Arcade. A large shopping center that was never quite finished- only the bottom level was ever built.

grove arcade heart architecture

Not a part of the tour, but of course I loved this. Eat Smart, More More, NC! Smile {I was interning at the state department when they launched this campaign!}

eat smart move more nc

The Basilica of St. Lawrence.

statue of kid on stiltsbasilica of st lawerence

Typical Asheville for you: bright colors, crazy collections.

bright and bold asheville

My favorite, Thomas Wolfe’s neighborhood.

thomas wolfe's neighborhood

A historic bell from early City Hall.

city hall bell

The farmer’s marketplace.

farmer's marketplace

Downtown city fountains- ones you don’t get yelled at for playing in.

downtown asheville fountain


pig sculptures

Monument and fountain in Pack Square.

vance monumentfountain in street

Steppin’ out! I forget what this one symbolized…

bronze top hat

The Woodfin House and a tribute to art & transportation all in one. Supposedly it makes 11 different sounds when you spin it- we didn’t hear a thing.

woodfin houseart in motion

Bronze carving tools on Monument corner.

bronze carving tools

And there you go. The Urban Trail.

Feel like you’ve seen Asheville? {Everything but the beautiful mountains!}


Guess how much The Great Fundraising Act raised yesterday in a single day?


Yeah, you read that right.

If you didn’t believe in the power of social media before, or you were losing faith in kindness and charitable giving, you were wrong.

$23,210 came from winning bids on auction items, and another $3,222 came from straight monetary donations. It’s so impressive it blows me away. I’m so proud to be a part of community that has both the thought and power to do something this amazing.

If you didn’t get a chance to bid, or you didn’t win an item, don’t worry- you haven’t missed your chance! Stayed tuned for “After the Act” details on how to buy items at a set price.


Now on to significantly less important things. Like taunting you with beach pictures.

oak island beach nc

Imagine my surprise when the temperature increased about 20 degrees on the drive home. It was actually cooler at the beach than it was in the middle of the state. Thank goodness the ridiculous heat wave hadn’t yet reached the coast, because it was certainly hot enough for me to be hiding in the shade all day, every day.

oak island pier north carolina beach

We stayed right in the middle of two beaches: Oak Island and Caswell Beach. So much in the middle that the beach was zoned as Caswell Beach and the condo was officially in Oak Island. They were a dune and a parking lot apart.

nc beach vacation

Either way it was a quiet, un-crowded beach that was so safe everyone left their awnings and beach chairs out in the sand every night. Let me tell you what a difference it makes to lug all your stuff to the beach day after day when you don’t have to carry a chair or giant tent!

beach sunset

I spent most of my days curled up under the awning with one of my 13 books {shame on me, I only made it through 8} and periodically running into the progressively rougher & rougher waves when I couldn’t stand the heat. Or had to pee. You know.

yaupon pier home of the nc tiger shark record

After the husband talking about going fishing every single day of the trip, we finally made it over to the pier for some night fishing on the last evening of our vacation. Of course we chose to stay by the pier with the NC record for largest tiger shark catch. Oh my.

going fishing

It’s not as easy as it looks to tie hooks to a clear line in the windy darkness, but eventually everything was all set up.

night pier fishing

There was a lot of sitting…and only one fish caught. I really don’t relate to the appeal of fishing for fun…

father daughter hug

As much as I love vacation and the beach, I’m happy to be home. Technology was not my friend on the trip {my family will likely tell you this doesn’t surprise them in the least} so I have lots of catching up to do!

Posts were sparse on the trip, but here’s what you missed:

Ready to Ride?

Crab cakes at the Dead End Saloon

– My 7 Links of beautiful, controversial, and surprise posts…aka my rare participation in a meme. If you haven’t done 7 links yet considered yourself tagged in my post because I’m having fun reading them. Smile


There’s also some fun things coming up over the next week or so:

– An insanely delicious {yet messy} treat. Hint: Lesson learned- don’t attempt to make caramel during the hottest week on record.

– A HUGE bike ride. Please everyone cross your fingers that the forecasted 98 degrees for Friday and Saturday is extremely wrong. I’m thinking 70 sounds good…but I’ll take something in the 80s. Winking smile

– Some fun news that I will now make you wait in suspense for, because that’s really the only way to make it fun.

– Surely I’m forgetting something…

What exciting things do you have going on this week?

A Rose Garden Wedding

Though the entire day was gray and rainy, the clouds parted and the sun almost started to shine in the hours just before the wedding.

father and bride

Rain on your wedding day is supposed to be good luck, but the wind settling and the sun shining through the clouds just as vows are exchanged has got to be a sign of more than just good luck.

wedding in the rose garden

I’ve never been to a wedding where I didn’t know both the bride and groom.Though they’ve been together a long time and I’ve heard plenty about him, I hadn’t yet met this groom in person.

groom at wedding

But there was no mistaking that he was the right guy for her, as pure love and adoration oozed from the expression on his face as he said his vows to his bride.

bride and groom saying wedding vows

The ceremony was held in the beautiful rose garden of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens; it was stunningly gorgeous and romantic- perfect for a wedding ceremony. The reception was going to be held on a nearby terrace, but since the weather was windy, chilly, and a bit uncertain of itself, the reception was moved indoors to a beautiful window-filled room.

wedding receptionwedding reception tablescape

During the cocktail hour, while the wedding party took photographs, we explored the indoor gardens. The bartender pointed us in the direction of the glasshouse- an expansive greenhouse with a jungle and butterfly garden. It was a little more than impressive.

butterfly on flowerhanging vines in jungle

butterfly garden

Soon it was time for the rest of the wedding festivities: bridal party introductions, first dances, cake cutting, and bouquet tossing. Though there was a cake to cut, the bride and groom chose to serve crepes filled with caramelized peaches, Nutella, or blueberries, an homage to the groom’s French heritage.

wedding first dances

Before long, the festivities were over, and the celebration came to a close.

To Kirsten and Nico- You guys were made for each other, and I wish you both the best on your new cross-country adventure!

Little Big Town

A few weekends ago we drove north while my family drove south, ending up in Fredericksburg, VA.

First stop? A winery. Visiting wineries is like the adult version of going to a playground. {Not that I would pass up a chance to do apple turnovers on the monkey bars…}

There’s food. There’s wine. There’s grapes. There’s stomping. {Allegedly}. And call me a dork, but I like learning how things are made, wine included.

Our first stop was actually in Stafford, at Potomac Point Winery.

potomac point winerypotomac winery stafford virginia

We learned lots of cool facts about the history of wine and how the vineyard came to be, but the husband decided my page of wines and notes was better used as a list of deck building supplies.

grape vines

It was a little dreary…

wine barrelwinery and vineyard

…but that didn’t matter once we were inside taking a tour.

potomac cellars winery

wine barrel storage cellarmaking wine

At least it didn’t rain enough to close the road. Can you imagine the water reaching the 5 foot mark? I wouldn’t want to live in that house…

caution high water passing

The next day the sun came out as we walked around the historic town of Fredericksburg, right along the river, although it was still deceptively cold for a sunny spring day.

cherry blossoms in virginia

muddy potomac river

Family <3

family at river fence

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without the apparently famous Carl’s ice cream. Nothing like a pineapple shake to keep me entertained on the drive home.

carl's ice cream fredericksburg va

Most of the time when people travel they go to the big cities: New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Boston… but seeing the small towns is fun too.

What small towns have you visited and liked? What about big cities? I’ve either been or want to go to all the ones listed above. Smile

Baggage Fees Got You Down? How To Fit It All In A Carry On

Checked baggage fees are ridiculous. The flight cost enough without adding on for every bag you bring. Even when I’m lucky enough to score a flight with no fees (woohoo Southwest!) I often carry on all my luggage anyways- I get out of the airport without waiting at baggage claim, and I never have to worry about a lost bag.

I am a notoriously light packer. I have no qualms about wearing the same thing over and over again, or improvising when I forget something.

However, I don’t always pack light- but I do pack smart.

clothes to pack

Tips for Packing

Plan. Take a minute to think about everything you’ll need on your trip. This seems obvious, but it’s a crucial step. Going to a cocktail party? Need to wear long pants on a tour? Will you be working out on your trip?

Set it all out. Don’t put it straight into your suitcase. Set everything out on a bed or the floor so you can get a visual of everything you’ve chosen.

Organize. Group things together in a way that makes sense to you. Some people like to do “outfits”. I like to do it by type: workout clothes in one pile, pants in another, tops, etc. This prevents you from searching through your suitcase like a crazy person when you try to find something.

Pack in smaller bags/containers. Put smaller items in smaller bags so they’re easier to find. For example, put socks & underwear in a little laundry bag, jewelry in a bag in your toiletries, recharging cords in plastic baggies, etc.

Make it small. The most crucial step in fitting everything into a carry on size bag. You have several options; do what works best for your suitcase/bag shape: roll your clothes, fold into small squares, etc. If you’re really cramped for space try this tip: put your clothes in plastic ziploc bags, then squish all the air out. (Like a space-saver bag- this especially helps keep you organized once you get to your destination.)

Pack in layers. Now it’s time to load your suitcase. Put the clothes you need later in the trip in first. Leave what you’ll need first when you arrive for last so it’s easy to get to. For me, that’s usually my PJs. 🙂 Put all your clothes in, then start putting in bulkier items like toiletries, shoes, etc.

Using these strategies I can cram an awfully lot in a little space. I have enough for 4 days of outfits day & night, plus workout clothes, and a few extras. Plus 3 pairs of shoes, toiletries, multiple electronics, and even have room for random physical therapy stuff. (What, you don’t travel with a PT kit?)

physical therapy stuff

If you’re bringing two carry on bags, pack one so you can put it in overhead storage, and the other so you can keep it with you. (Usually a purse, laptop bag, briefcase, etc.)

Carry on essentials:

Sweater or cover up. Planes are notoriously freezing cold. (I have a sweater and yoga pants packed in my bag since I’m prone to freezing.)

Reading material. Enjoy your down time. Relax. Read. If you insist, do some work. No time like the present!

Headphones. Either for your MP3 player, or to watch an in-flight movie or tv- then you don’t have to pay for crappy airline headphones.

Inflatable pillow/eye cover. Probably not needed for a short flight or one in the middle of the day, but if it’s long or at night, a pillow can help you sneak in a little shuteye before a whirlwind trip.

Snacks. Did you know a lot of airlines don’t even handout peanuts or pretzels anymore? Be prepared. Bring snacks from home or grab a bite at the airport while you’re waiting.

Cash, ID, flight info, directions, etc. Be prepared- the more organized you are, the less stress you’ll have. Then you’ll be able to handle any travel snafu that lands your way.

travel info

Anything else to add?

What’s your worst travel story? I’ve almost missed connecting flights, sat on the runway in a broken plane for 4 hours, and free fell while flying over a hurricane. Been there, done that. 😉