September 27, 2010

Secret Garden In Philadelphia - Bartram's Garden

Philadelphia blessed us with gorgeous weather this weekend so E.W. and I picked up our lazy butts and took a trip to Bartram's Garden.

I nicknamed it "forest in the hood" coz it was this beautiful plot of land located in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philly. You have to drive through the ghetto AND the projects just to get there.

A little history on the garden...

John Bartram was one of our nation's great naturalists. During the 1700's he collected, cataloged and cultivated native plant specimens from the eastern United States. 45 acres- about half of Bartrams original estate has been preserved as a botanical garden of native plants and his home as a museum.

And best of can visit any day for FREE! So now you have no excuse to get your lazy butt off the couch and take a visit to America's oldest living botanical garden.

Bartram's Gardens is easily one of Philly's best kept secrets because not many people know of it.

When you first arrive you are greeted by this really old building. There was a wedding going on so we couldn't go in but from what I saw, it was completely renovated inside.

A wedding there would be nice but too naturey for me. There were seriously like 18,000 bumble bees and 20,000 squirrels running and flying around. If I was the couple, I would have decorated the chairs with flowers to match the garden.

And I wasn't kidding about the damn squirrels and bees. There were so effin many that they were super easy to capture on the cam..didn't even have to search for them!

This next photo looks just like a normal photo right...


See that greedy little fucker with the huge nut in his mouth? Isn't it crazy how squirrels are sooo cute and tiny but can totally fuck you up if you get too close.

This next shot is of another greedy little fucker with his whole face planted inside a flower's you know what.

That was the only bee plant I would get close enough to take a photo of because the other ones were just infested with them. Like 50 bees to a bush.

I think the gardens make and sell their own honey which explains the bee orgy.


As we got closer to the Schuylkill River there were some cool rock formations for us to explore. E.W. captured this crazy ballet photo of me. How does he always get the most perfect shot on the first try???

I'm surprised my arabesques are still that high since I quit ballet almost 6 years ago. Look how perfect my supporting arch is :)

Although I do have some critiques, the bottom foot's heel should be facing the camera, my hips are not aligned correctly, and neither are my shoulders. But who cares! I'm still good.

I was really enjoying myself on the rocks with the beautiful views of the city...

When I saw this :(

What really disgusts me most about cigarette litterers is that I used to be one of them. Back when I used to smoke I wouldn't think twice where I threw my used cig, but after quitting my views have seriously changed.

I wish someone would just drop one in front of me so I can say something to them. And if they didn't pick it up I would take it and rub the charred black end on their shirt. Would be so satisfying.

Um...this is what it would look like if I were to commit suicide by jumping into a 3 ft. deep river...


All of the upcoming photos are very naturey and planty, so if you are bored by mother nature do not keep reading coz I would be very sad if my blog bored you.

This was a very interesting plant that we found on our hike. It kinda looks like a spikey berry with pomegranite inside. I think if there really was such a thing as a dingleberry THIS is what it would look like.

Some weird looking purple cabbage/lettuce? Looks like it belongs on planet Neptune. Ugh I am probably so off on what these plants really are.

Freakishly large tree. Why is it freakishly large? Because it's freakishly old!

Ummm.. this is what happens when you mate Cranberry and Grape. Where do you think all of that CranGrape juice comes from???

This shot was taken by E.W. and he was so god damn proud of it. I must admit it does look like a pro photog took it. I'll call it the Tiger Sunrise Flower coz that's what it looks like to me.

E.W. saw this fallen tree and immediately started to climb it. Only when he got to the top did he say "I might be too old to climb this now". Yes babe, leave the climbing to 10 year olds that are immune to getting hurt.

So did I convince you to take a visit to Bartram's? I really hope I did coz we need to keep this little piece of history alive!

I'm planning to go back soon before it gets cold to have a picnic near the river. Too bad no dogs are allowed but I'll find a way to sneak them in :)

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September 23, 2010

My Black Bean Turkey Chili

I had the worst craving for chili yesterday and decided to cook some for the first time. I was a little terrified because I've never made any chili or soup of any kind so it was a learning experience for me.

What I did find out was chili is EXTREMELY easy to make. Seriously, all you do is throw a bunch of stuff into a big pot, let it boil for a long time, and you get deliciousness in return.

I had a really dumb moment trying to find a recipe by typing in "chile" and all I got were these images.

And it took me like 5 whole minutes to figure out I was typing in the country and not the food. Although, now I really want to visit Chile, it looks breathtaking! Can you imagine hang gliding off of those mountains?

Ok so back to the food. Here is are my now famous Black Bean & Turkey Chili.

Let's Begin...

The ingredient list is pretty lengthy for chili but the recipe is a piece of cake. Trust me.

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 can spicy diced tomatoes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • sour cream
  • white rice
First, heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper and garlic powder. Cook until turkey is well browned, stirring frequently to break up meat.

Stir the broth, diced and crushed tomatoes, sugar, beans and corn into the saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir the chili occasionally while cooking. Pour into bowl and you get this! Don't eat yet though!

You will also need some white rice as the bed of your chili. It will sop up all of the yummy sauce so none goes to waste.

Pour the chili over the white rice and add toppings if you please. I suggest a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.

It's as simple as that! I think that's the quickest recipe ever. I highly suggest using very lean ground turkey and not beef. Unless you want a heart attack when you're 50.

Ground beef is not even allowed in my house because why use beef when you have a healthy alternative that tastes EXACTLY the same?


Let me know if you tried the recipe and what you think of it :)

Now for some random pics that I took this week that I didn't have a chance to post.


London being a bug-eyed cutie pie.

London channeling his inner Medusa.

Sunglasses reflecting rays in my window.

My favorite shoes at the moment. Glitter Steve Madden heels.

One more thing before I go, thank you for all of the emails I received about my last post "If You Really Knew Me". I'm glad I touched some of you and hope it inspired you to get in touch with your inner selves as well.

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September 22, 2010

If You Really Knew Me...

I've been watching the MTV show "If You Really Knew Me" recently.

It is a program designed to breakdown stereotypes and unite students in schools. Students from all walks of life gather together in one room. Then each student is assigned to a group where they must reveal something personal about themselves. It's at this point where each student begins their dialog with the words "If you really knew me..."

It went to show that appearances are not always what they seem...

And to breakdown the stereotype that people have set on me, I thought I would post my own..

If you really knew me...
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I do not see my family enough. I love my grandparents so much and need to see them more.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I have a small case of body dysmorphic disorder. When I look in the mirror I see a fat person but when I see myself in photos I look thin.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I have had nose surgery twice. Once to help me breathe and plastic surgery the second time.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I snore sometimes.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that my father's plane disappeared in war and never returned when I was only 5 months old.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I wish I grew up in the 40's or 50's when times were simpler and people valued family.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I only have 6 friends that I consider "real" friends.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I was teased in school up until my last year when I died my hair blonde and got a nose job.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I am afraid that I will never want to have kids and disappoint my future husband.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I am nothing like the person I portray to strangers. I'm actually goofy, sometimes quiet, and down to earth.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I danced ballet for 15 years and had the chance to have a professional career but quit because my health was at risk.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I was engaged at the age of 16.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I am scared to make the move to Miami and to start a new life.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I am a hypochondriac. When I see a disease or virus on TV, I develop a fear of contracting it.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I wish I could support my mom financially and won't be fully happy until I am able to do so.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I take photos of myself not because I am self-obsessed but because I simply enjoy taking photos.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I don't blog because of the attention or money but because it's the easiest way to express my feelings and I love keeping records of my life.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that I tried to kill myself by swallowing over 20 pills and had to have my stomach pumped with charcoal.
  • If you really knew me...You would know that my mom, E.W, and the pups are the three things that keep me going in life. If that balance was to be broken, I don't know how I would continue on.
Ahhh... That felt really good!
So, these are just a few...You should try it.

It does make you realize some things about yourself that you probably hide from most people. I am hoping that because I have put them down in writing that I am able to change some of the things about myself.

Your turn... what would I know... if I really knew YOU??


September 19, 2010

Chicago - The Windy City

My first time back in the "Windy City" in 10 years was like a huge roller coaster with ups and downs...mostly ups though!

I'm actually still in Chicago, writing this blog in a hotel room near the airport. Had to move out of the Park Hyatt that we were staying at because our flight is at like 5am so need to be near airport.

This new hotel, Aloft, is nowhere near the gorgeousness of the Park Hyatt but it is a Starwood property and has a nice chic feel to it.

After spending a week here I have concluded that Chicago has better nightlife, hotter girls, better food and cleaner streets then Philly but for some reason I still love Philly more. Philly is home I guess and will always be number 1.

I started my trip off by spending 1.5 excruciating days alone at the Double Tree hotel while E.W. worked all day and all night. I was in the middle of effin nowhere so couldn't go out and explore. Instead I spent all day online. SAD. But I did get to order room service and who doesn't love room service? Chicken wings were the highlight of those 1.5 days!

Took a few pics right off the plane. I sometimes take a picture of myself to see how I look because mirrors, believe it or not, give you a distorted perception of yourself. You see what you want to see in a mirror but a picture always tells the truth. I'm not crazy, it's true.

Also ordered some bagel and lox and that shit was expensive. I might pay $18 for bagel and lox at a W Hotel or Park Hyatt but at the Double Tree? That is called...


It was really good though but mainly because I was super hungry.

On our last day at the Double Tree I ordered me some onion soup which looked so good when the waiter brought it to me. It was in a bread bowl with melted cheese all over it.

So I start eating this soup and can't wait to eat the bread part afterward. I peel all of the melty cheese of the bowl and WTF>> it was a big ol' onion not a bread bowl. Like why waste a perfectly good onion that I can't eat??

After 2 days we headed over to the Park Hyatt for 2 nights which was so nice!! We were located in the middle of everything so didn't need to take taxis much. Just walked a lot and soaked in the beautiful citiy.

I'm surprised how big Chicago is, way bigger than Philly and much newer looking. I would say Chicago is a mix between Philly and New York.

We took a stroll through Wrigley Square which was the coolest park I've ever been to. Huge fountain as you enter one corner of the park.

Saw this huge metallic bubble thing at the park. It was the coolest thing ever. You come up to it and see your reflection many different ways. Was fun to watch people photographing themselves in the big bubble or whatever it was.

E.W. and I in the bubble! That's my new sexy cam btw.

Inside of the bubble reflected on all of the people that were taking pics of it. Try find where I am standing! Where is Julie? :)

Under the bubble!

Then there was this super cool fountain that had LED images of children flashing on it. And the children would spew water out of their mouths. Kind of gross but still cool.

E.W.'s foot prints after he got done playing in the fountain. He was the only person over 10 to get in the fountain BTW. Love how he's a kid at heart :)

Saw the cutest dog IN THE WORLD. Seriously this dog was in the top 3 cutest dogs I have ever seen. She had such a mellow personality and just had that look like "I know I'm cute bitch".

After the park we headed towards the Navy Pier which is like the touristy area of Chicago. There's so much fun stuff to do there like ride the ferris wheel. I am usually never scared of rides but I got a little uncomfortable on top of that thing.

Or you can pose with a huge macaroni! If I was Kraft, I would fire their marketing person because where the fuck is their logo. How are people supposed to know it's a Kraft noodle and not some other knock off noodle?

Also is Kraft sending a subliminal sex message? "You know you love it....HUGE".

I even forced E.W. to visit a fun house with me. You know..those mazes with different obstacels in them. I have always had a love for them.

There was one dark maze that we had to get through where you didn't know if it was a mirror in front of you or open space. And just when I thought I was going to get through it I walked face first into a damn mirror as E.W. starts laughing his butt off. Thanks!!

My elongated cleavage in the fun house mirrors. And my stubby ass legs.

Didn't think I could fit into the hole but I did!

Hanging on an obstacle. They looked like slabs of meat in the dark but the photo revealed that they were fire thingies.

I really enjoyed the architecture in Chicago. They really know how to mix the old with the new. Just look at these stunning buildings. If architecture bores you and the only reason you visit my blog is to see photos of me then skip this section and scroll down to the yumminess below.

And one of the top reasons to visit Chicago is the deep dish pizza!!

I've seen deep dish pizza on tv before but it always looked disgusting like too much bread maybe? But boy was I wrong. It's more like a pie but filled with peppers and sausage and cheese. I still prefer NY style pizza but this was damn good and took us 2 days to eat a medium pizza!

Besides touring Chicago we also got experience some of the best cooking in America. Chicago is after all right behind NY in Forbes Magazine for cuisine.

We dined at Nomi, Cite, Eve, Giordano's and partied at Enclave and Cuvee. I have nothing bad to say about any of the places (except or my jacket getting stolen at Cuvee). All of the places were Fantastique!

is a restaurant inside of the Park Hyatt and is an Asian/French fusion. All I gotta say is the foie gras creme brulee is to die for.

Cite- is situated on the 70th floor of a round building giving you a 360 degree skyline view of the city. Not only are the views breathtaking but we enjoyed watching fireworks all night. We were actually watching above them!

Giordano's- has the best pizza in Chicago but be prepared or a 1-2 hour wait.

Eve- a fantastic chic place for brunch with bottomless mimosas and lobster eggs benedict. Need I say more?

I need to stop flight is in 5 hours damn it. I hate early flights. Ok back to Philly in a little bit!!

And if you are planning a trip to Chi-Town feel free to use my tips on what to see and where to go!

Night :)

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