Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hawk Attack

I am a shopper. I love the art of the big find - that amazing vintage dress or that pair of shoes that makes the heart beat just a bit faster. I don't really shop online, because I really do enjoy perusing the brick and mortar houses of style, browsing the isles and holding the latest Tracey Reese up to my reflection in the inevitably skinnier-than-reality mirror. I had decided that my next GAP posts would chronicle my adventures through some of Philly's best boutiques. But before I do that, there's something I must get off my chest.

This evening after work I strolled westward down Walnut St., and popped in BCBG, lured by an open door and balloon-lined entry. As fate would have it, the store had a 15% off event going on. I learned this from the pleasant yet hawk-like sales associate that swooped in at me from outside of my peripheral vision. As if I did not understand English or her verbal description of the sale was not comprehensive, she then thrust an oversized postcard into my hand to really hammer home the message. A little much, but still manageable.

I then turn to begin my perusal, and Hawk #2 swoops in, a younger, perkier version of Hawk 1, delivering the exact same message. I smile and say a quick thanks, careful to turn my eye contact away so as to clearly communicate my lack of interest in continuing our conversation. I resume perusal. No more than 20 seconds pass, and I am attacked by Hawk #3 informing me of the sale. REALLY? During this time, I have moved...maybe five feet. Did Hawks 2 and 3 not hear Hawk 1 deliver said message? I thought that hawks had keen senses.

Thus describes the ebrasive and off-putting experience of chain store shopping. The constant attacks of sales people who know nothing about fashion and even less about connecting with a target audience. During this particular five minute stint, Hawk 2 swooped in for a second round, squawking about some sale dresses on the lower level. I have at this point lost my patience. Now, even if I had found any items of interest I would not make a purchase solely on principle. After this I may have shot Hawk 2 a sarcastic "uh huh" and a mildly dirty look. Just like that, the hunted becomes the hunter.

Don't get me wrong, a really good salesperson with a sense of style and the ability to read a customer can be a lifesaver. I find that many boutiques employ such people (except for the now-defunct former midtown village occupant Bshehu. Pushier salespeople have never existed.) But for the larger chains, a word of advice. Stop training your salespeople to resemble large birds of prey. Less is more. If I need help, I'll be sure to ask.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Restaurant week, why do you mock me so?

Last night, as I lugged my bags of dirty laundry in my left hand and detergent in my right, I passed young couples in love dining outdoors and came to a realization. I have clean underwear now and they don't. They will waste a lovely Sunday day/ evening, sorting their lights from darks, while I sip wine at the Wine, Arts and Food festival at the Mann. I think it's a fair trade.

Anyway. This week is chock full of Philly happenings. I'm plan on enjoying them with friends, but will make an effort to strike up a slightly intoxicated convo with choice passersby. My first date with the Italian taught me that talking to new people is fun, and to just be open to it. It doesn't have to be awkward and painful. (oh, I think we're going to try for a second). Tomorrow night I'm going to the Inliquid Silent Auction with some people from work. Art + open bar = many emo men just waiting for my shameless flirting. To give me an edge, I'm thinking of wearing my beret , black turtleneck and painting on a little goatee. Friday, my sister and I are going out for a chick night of shopping, drinks and pampering at Shecky's girls night out. Word is I can get some free jawn there. Saturday is Oktoberfest and Madonna Michael Prince at the M room. Ohhh that sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn't it? Aaaaaand I just realized I should just go ahead and marry a gay man.

In other news, I'm very proud of myself. Kind of. Putting myself Out There is stressful. And this week I regressed back to being a 13 year old girl. Back story: When I get in from nights on the town, MySpace is not my friend. I contact anyone and everyone I have come in contact within the past 10-12 years. One poor unfortunate soul wrote me back. We emailed back and forth, but in all honesty, I hadn't talked to him since grade school. He gave me his phone # via email and told me to call him for a good time. Megan told me I had to. Even though this could be (and probably is) purely platonic, it was very hard for me to take that leap from Myspace stalking to real life interaction. So Monday night after a glass of wine, I did it. I picked up the phone and... left him a voicemail. Did you know you can do that? Yes, from your voicemail you can leave someone else a voicemail without them ever knowing. God, I'm good at being crazy. I was planning on saying "Oh, it just went straight to voicemail", but when I called it turns out he was asleep and just assumed he missed me. Long story short, he called back last night and we're gonna get together for a drink next week. Should be fun to catch up.

Wow, that was a whole lot of rambling. Good day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

School for the Sweet Tooth

Have you ever had the feeling that maybe, just maybe, you've eaten enough cake?


I have now been eating cake every night for around four nights, and though I know you'd like to hear this is part of a revolutionary diet I heard about from Oprah I won't lie. This regime is purely an effort to polish off a cake from the The Restaurant School because under no circumstances shall any cake be put in the bin under my roof. I will finish the beast no matter how my belly protests.

You see, two cakes were bought last week for a 50th birthday for a total cost of around $25. TWO ENORMOUS CAKES!! All thanks to students of the pastry arts. Luckily, other people showed some moderation and the plentiful leftovers are what I'm working on now. I think this work is going pretty well.

I will say, the cake is not terribly beautiful but they do have some more specialty fare if that's what you're looking for. If, however, you need to feed a throng of children or a throng of grown ups for that matter on the cheap but a big cake is what you're looking for I think this is a good spot. The icing was a wee bit sweet but the cake itself was moist and chocolatey and... well, I might just go have a little added taste just to check that it's still that good. The students will also be so kind as to write anything on the cake you'd like, such as "THIS IS MEREDITH'S CAKE DO NOT TOUCH MY CAKE DO YOU HEAR ME!"

Now if anyone else has advice on coping with sugar withdrawl, please kindly forward it to me because my come down is going to be messy.

The Pastry Shop at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
Open daily Monday - Saturday 7:30am - 6:00pm
4207 Walnut Street

A Visit with the Soap Lady

There are few things more romantic than spending a lazy Saturday afternoon, visiting your local museum dedicated to human anomalies, with your Paramour. A few weeks ago, I ventured out to the famed Mutter Museum, part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

This was a trip that had long been on my "to do" list. The steep $12 admission fee led me to believe we'd be roaming the museum for hours so I was surprised to see that the entire museum is really only a few rooms, lined with glass cases well stocked with over 20,000 objects. Disturbing is the only word I can think of to describe this place. I saw babies in jars, a gigantic colon, every kind of terrible skin condition that's ever existed, Siamese twins, the soap lady, and all kinds of growths and tumors. Each exhibit was more nauseating than the last. And ladies, let's all rejoice that we were not around for the terrifying gynecological instruments of the past.

It was an interesting afternoon. I'm proud to be able to finally cross this excursion off of my list. While it's definitely a Philadelphia must see, I think you can skip the membership.

The Mutter Museum 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some Like it Hot...REALLY Hot

I have been going to the gym for oh, almost two-thirds of my almost three decades on this planet. And this past spring, I got tired. And bored. But I was a bride-to-be. It was not the time to lose my athletic religion, yet my feet just wouldn't walk me to the gym anymore. I needed a change.

In addition to my gym addiction, I have tried all the exercise trends. In the eighties it was Mousercise with my sisters in our leotards and legwarmers. In the early nineties, the Cindy Crawford workout. The late nineties, step aerobics. The millenium, I pushed myself to Billy Blanks' Tai Bo and cardio kick-boxed my way out of the college puff. Mat Pilates, Vinyasa Flow, Total Body Conditioning, Ashtanga yoga...the list is endless. All the while running, lifting and ellipticalling on the gym floor day after day.

So its no surprise that when the need for change came, I found Bikram Yoga.

Bikram Yoga is the brainchild of legendary yogi Bikram Choudhury, who overcame severe physical injuries by practicing this particular 26-posture sequence. The postures are uncomplicated; anyone who has downward-dogged their way through a standard yoga class can easily handle it. The sequence emphasizes balance of your systems and addresses your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, nervous, and immune systems. Sounds good, right? But here's the catch - the room is hot. REALLY hot. 105 degrees hot. 90 minutes of 105 degrees hot. So those uncomplicated postures suddenly become a lot more challenging.

There's reason behind the heat, it helps you sweat out toxins, regenerate cells, and loosen muscles, tendons and ligaments. I shiver at 80 or below, and after 8 hours of suffering in an office that feels like a Sub Zero, I embrace the hot. But if you blast the AC in April, this might not be for you. If you don't like to sweat, this might not be for you. You will sweat more during this 90 min class than running 9 miles. Oh, and the guy next to you will sweat that much too. You know, the one with the hairy back and the banana hammock that you concentrated very hard all class to avoid seeing. So if you can't handle a little skin, this class might not be for you. But if you like a challenge, want to feel healthier, look leaner, and gain physical and mental strength, this class may be for you.

Luckily, at Center Siddhi Yoga, they know its not for everyone. But they want you to give it a good try, so they offer a $20 unlimited week for beginners. If you go, drink A LOT of water before, during, and after. And bring a towel. Namaste.

Bikram Yoga of India
Center Siddhi Yoga
1520 Sansom Street, 3rd floor

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just don't call me baby, baby!

So, this is my first post in... ahem... maybe nine months.... And this week a friend staying with me, who I hadn't seen in a long long time, at one point turned to me with a smirk on his face: "Confess. Where are you hiding the baby?"

OH LOOK HOW I FOOLED YOU!! No, I didn't have a baby (the gut is all croissant fueled) I am just the absolute most devoted person to baby products. Ever. I have extremely sensitive skin and eczema, and due to years of trial and error in testing things to help sooth it one thing was clear: stick to the basics. No posh face creams for me, no creme de la mer or chanel no 5. Baby lotion and eau de moi does fine just thanks.
As you can see from the picture, I turn to baby products for just about all my beauty needs, bar the bikini wax. Here's a quick rundown of some of my choices:

1. Baby wipes. For... everything. Removing makeup. Quick clean up of the sink. Removing deodorant stains. Even wiping my botty. Works for that too.

2. Aveeno Soothing Relief Lotion. I cannot praise this enough. I only need the teeniest bit and it soothes my skin like ambrosia of the gods. If you could buy that at target. I know that Aveeno makes an eczema line too, but as I mentioned above once I found something that works I don't mess with it.

3. J&J Bedtime Cream Wash. I used to hate baths until I realised that they really did relax me and that if I bathed with this stuff it left a yummy moisturising film on me (just like in the ads... damn them) and makes me smell yummy. I don't know if I've been brainwashed by its name, but I really do feel soothed by the smell. After all, it's formulated with NATURALCALM™... You can't argue with science like that.

4. Baby Oil. This used to be my eye makeup remover because I swear it could take of cement and sleeping with any remaining eye makeup never works out well for me as I end up looking like I got elbowed in the eye during the night (which happened once, by the way). But I found that because I wear contact lenses the two things don't compliment each other. I do keep it around though for any time I use waterproof mascara, which may as well be made of cement, it's great to apply before shaving and... massages. But you already knew about that.

5. Baby Cologne. Whoever decided that babies need a cologne is INSANE. I however enjoy the gentle fragrance for myself when I just want to smell fresh. I've got something more adult when it's time to make my move, don't you worry.

6. Cetaphil. Oooh cetaphil how I love you. Above using it generally for cleaning, I also use it as my exfoliator in combination with exfoliator pads from the body shop. This is is a great way for anyone who has a trusted facial cleanser to double task it. Who has enough room for extra lotions in the medicine cabinet anyway?

Also in the house is baby powder, of course great for stinky shoes but also super at getting out grease stains. Baby shampoo is good for pink eye, and also make up removal if you're brave enough to lather up your eye. And you may have read in the paper lately that Pedialyte is more effective that Gatorade for the sporty types looking for rehydration.

So before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, maybe just ditch the baby. It'll only be hogging the good stuff.

A Pharaoh Visit with King Tut

I have an enormous to do list. No, I don't mean grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills or cleaning. What I mean is that I read about some event in Philly and then talk incessantly about how I have to go to that. What usually happens is that the event comes and goes and I'm still sitting on my couch, watching 90210 reruns on Soapnet. (I totally forgot what a bitch Brenda really was.) Anyway, when I read last February that the King Tut exhibit was coming to the Franklin Institute, I decided that I should definitely go. Naturally, I waited until last night, the week before it closes, to go.

The extensive exhibit consists of artifacts from his reign and tomb. I saw vases that held internal organs, deity figurines, King Tut childhood chairs, hieroglyphics and lots of jewelry boxes. The Franklin Institute did a great job of displaying everything and setting the mood, from the music to lights. However, I left a little disappointed. I'm not quite sure what I expected. I think I was hoping for some actual mummy action but all they showed was a video. That being said, I am glad I went. It's really neat to see all these items from the 1300s BC and I learned quite a bit about old King T, who actually was only 20 when he died mysteriously. I also recommend going on a weeknight to avoid the crowds and save a few bucks.

The exhibit closes on September 30th and moves to London. Get there fast!

Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

New Colleen 1: Dating 0.

The first date (cue ominous music)...

How we met. We have mutual friends, but didn't know each other. He saw my profile on one of said friend's MySpace and got my IM. Ahhh, cyber dating. Old Colleen would have said "no", simply because he's not my usual type. See, I tend to err towards hipster and this guy's more of a Soprano (key differentiator, one showers the other doesn't). But New Colleen was into it. He suggested Tequila's and won me over immediately. Allow me to digress, when I went on my last actual date (there was snow on the ground) the guy took me to Mad Mex in University City. Don't get me wrong, it's perfect for its famous "Big Azz Margaritas" but not so great for a romantic afternoon date. I was carded by the hostess. The fact Gotti and I were going to an actual grown-up place was refreshing.

Preparation. This was tough. I shaved my right leg, thought better of it so when it came to my left I only shaved from the knee down (there had been proper maintenance up to this point so it didn't affect my balance). Megan vetoed my normal comfy/ cute outfit choices and made me break out the big guns, New Years Eve shirt '07. After my Pre-date glass of wine, we met at my street and walked over. The restaurant was everything I hoped it would be. The food was delicious, for the appetizer we had Queso Fundido (melted cheese with meat on top that you put in a tortilla... mmm cheese), and for the main course Cochinita Pibil (pork... mmm meat). For drinks I went with 2 mojitos (mmmm liquid courage).

Overall the conversation flowed easily. I gathered he was a little nervous because he went on a few tangents, then asked if he was talking too much (I think it was around the 10th time i said "right" and nodded my head). But I would take that over awkward silence any day. Apparently everything I did was "adorable" from my apathy for sports to my dumb joke about bringing a doggie bag home for the cats (Yes, I said cats. Plural. Don't judge.) My favorite quote of the night would have to be when he said "Yeah, I'm emotional and sentimental and all that shit." After said date he walked me home and didn't try to kiss me, which was admittedly a relief (baby steps). But I didn't want him to think I had a bad time, so I actually said "Let's hug it out". Yes. I said that out loud.

Anyway. First date was an overall success. This weekend, I'm going to West Chester to visit my girls. Let's see what tasty nuggets the burbs have to offer.

1602 Locust Street

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Te Quiero Mucho

When I think of things that I love in life: I think of friends, family, pets, clothes, and wine, but mostly, I think of guacomole. Good guacomole makes everything better. In fact, I know that I could eat chips and guac each and every day for the rest of my life and be totally fine, if a little green in complexion.

Imagine my excitement when I recently had the pleasure of dining at Molcajete Mixto in South Philadelphia. I was already enthusiastic as it's "bring your own tequila"so they can make you any fruit flavored margarita your heart desires. You can also bring your own wine for homemade sangria. Ok back to the guacomole! It was creamy, flavorful, and delicious! I highly recommend it. After I finished that off, I dug in to my entree, Tilapia a la Veracruzana which was equally fabulous. I was stuffed to the point where I may have had to "OP"- as in open pants button. Ladylike and necessary.

All in all, it was a great evening. The menu is reasonable and the ambiance is super cute. The choices are vast and the service was exceptional. I will definitely be back.
746 Christian St. Philadelphia, PA


I'm the single one. Single and... liking it. I say liking it cause I'm pumped for the "me time", but sometimes miss the plus 1. I'm a bad dater. I'm better at over analyzing.. (Do I have to kiss? Do I have to pay? Do I fake a stroke to get the eff outta herrr?) So I'm going to pull a Lauren Conrad and date like a man. But there is one thing. I don't get asked out. Ever. Can they smell my crazy? That can't be it 'cause I know people way crazier than I that are painting the town red. My friends are saying I'm not "out there" enough. So no more. Bitch is putting on my best "come hither stare" and taking an active role (hence the gun hands in the picture).

Join me, won't you? In my dating misadventures.

Back in Action

After a long hiatus, Girl About Philly is back in action! It's been far too long. Over the course of the last several months, a ton has happened. There's been new jobs/career paths, a job quit after 3 days, a wedding, some international vacations, loads of haircuts, one new boyfriend, a ridiculous amount of dining out, and much more. Look forward to a whole bunch of exciting posts about all that is fabulous in the life of a Philly girl.