Category Archives: Philadelphia Eats

Simply Yoga: Week 2


I’m ashamed to say it. I skipped beginner yoga week 2. Gasp! I know, I know. What a hypocrite. But, before you start judging me, let me tell you why I missed yoga week 2.

A birthday night out in Philly for my sister! That’s a good excuse, right? Especially when my yoga studio is an hour and half away. Or, if I’m stuck in Philly traffic, which has the uncanny ability to bring out the ugly in me, three hours :).

Mad Mex for dinner and margaritas. Apple cider margarita? Yes please! Doesn’t the birthday girl look awesome?

Painful feet after a night out. Quite a quick picture recap. Mainly b/c we’ve got yoga to review!

Dedicated student that I am, I felt the need to make up for my absence in my beginner yoga workshop. What’s a better remedy to my lack of attendance, than to review last week’s session? Okay, enough justification — let’s get started. Beginner yoga fans, read on for your Sunday yoga lesson. The rest of you lovely readers, continue anyway ;).

simply fit. simply clean. simply yoga.

Week 2

Practice a three part breath: Breathe through your nose into your lower belly, then feel the breath move up to your lower chest followed by your low throat. Make sure to focus on the breath. This is a key component in furthering your practice. Use your hands for guidance. When you exhale, your breath will move from your throat to the chest, to your lower abdomen. Read once more and give it a try. So relaxing.

Friendly reminder! Don’t forget to use this breathing practice throughout the movements. Let’s move on.

Cat & Cow: Begin in a neutral, tabletop position, like my lovely model, Jess, below:

Try to align your neck with your spine, and don’t lock your elbows. Fingertips face forward and hands should be placed directly underneath your shoulders. Same with your knees: directly underneath your hips (and hipwidth apart). Now, move on to the cow pose by rounding your back, and, again – don’t forget to breathe through all of these movements.

While exhaling, move to the cat position by scooping your back. You’re on, Jess!:

Moving on to one of my favorite poses, the downward facing dog. Apparently this pose is quite difficult, and our instructor informed us that while in various yoga classes, we will likely be corrected by the instructors regarding our form. My form (which will likely be corrected when I’m actually in class next week):

Notice my hamstrings are tight and I cannot get my heels to the ground. Practice makes perfect :). Also, my arms hyperextend (thanks again, genetics!), so this is something the instructor told me to make note of — obviously the sticky was lost on that post-it. See my hyperextended arms above? Boo, Nat.

In the following picture, I’m doing a “prep” of the downward dog, by bending my knees a bit, to allow for assistance into the move.

Do not lean into your armpits, as reviewed in class. Please see example below:

That took some serious core strength.

Simple seated pose: Sit on a folded blanket if you prefer, to create a comfortable seat. Find your sit bones (or as less civilized people such as myself refer to them: “butt bones”) and your breath, and allow it to help you twist through the movement.

One hand on the belly, and twist towards that arm, while keeping your spine & neck aligned throughout the twist movement for as long as possible. Do not strain yourself. Rest for a few seconds at the end of the pose.

Good work ;). Bridge pose, anyone?

Bridge pose: Lay on your back with your knees bent. Tuck your arms underneath your shoulders.

Raise your hips a bit to understand the flow and structure of the movement.

If possible, raise your hips entirely, but do not allow them to extend above your knees.

The bridge pose is helpful in aiding digestion and with tired legs, among many other benefits.

Wall pose: This move is fairly easy and helps with backaches and stretching, while also aiding in relieving the body of wind. Yup, I said it. “Wind”. Pull yourself together. And then try this move. Sit against the wall as the birthday girl models below:

Use the leg closest to the wall to start climbing your legs up the wall. See picture below. She’s so graceful:

Tehehehe. It will likely be easier for you if you do not attempt this move with a mat, or a makeshift mat, as we used. The end result should look like this, with your booty flush to the wall:

Don’t make me say it again. Remember to…breathe! All together now. B-r-e-a-t-h-e. Allow yourself to relax into this pose for several breaths. Then laugh at yourself as you try to unplaster your legs and booty from the wall. While your back is on the floor, pull a leg to the chest to relieve some more wind. Ha.

I told Hil to “flex your foot” here. She thought I said “flex your butt”. I was wondering why her entire body kept moving up and down slightly, while her foot remained unflexed. So funny.

Poor Hilary. I swear I got you a really good birthday gift. Totally worth all this embarassment.

Lastly, and equally as important as the rest of the poses, is savasana. It’s meant to relax your mind and body. So simple, and really, so effective. As you lay on your back with your eyes closed, relax your mind, fingers, toes, tongue (yes, tongue), face and just be.

Some impressive yoga benefits, many of which are specific to certain poses:

  • Relaxing stretches
  • Helps improve digestion
  • Aids in preventing osteoporosis
  • Provides gentle massages
  • Beneficial in fighting asthma, high blood pressure and sinusitus
  • Relieves pain
  • Calms mind and body

I need to stop wearing see-through shirts for yoga. On that note, namaste :).

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Philly. Farmers. Fork.


It’s that time again! “What time”, you say?

Time for more Philly, more food and more farmers.

Off we go…

 

Riley’s ready.

And off we venture, while taking in the sights.

Destination: Headhouse Farmers’ Market.

A small market in Philly, but one of the best I’ve visited.

We did a little perusing. I always like to view all that the market’s vendors have to offer, prior to buying any items.

 Hello, gynormous watermelon.

  

  

My boyfriend loves peppers and ultra spicy items. I was so excited when I saw this beauty — referring to the plant, of course 😉 Isn’t it so neat? I’ve never seen a pepper plant before and I just loved the various colors. Consider it purchased!

 

 I lugged the plant home, along with my other produce on my shoulder.

 

 Farm fresh eggs, peaches, a mix of baby tomatoes & pluots.

If you have not tried a pluot, please do. It’s a hybrid of a plum and an apricot.

Simply delicious.

 

After our trek to the market, we headed off to brunch at a restaurant called Fork in Old City.

 We couldn’t resist yet another wonderful Philly restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 I ordered the house-smoked salmon. Typically, I never eat bagels, but I was clearly obsessed with smoked salmon this weekend. 

Introducing the same wonderful company as last night: my older sister Hilary, Scotty Ce and my oldest sister, Missy.

 

 

 

 Aren’t they precious? Now, let’s eat! 

 

 See the fries in the middle of the table? Hil and Scotty Ce love fries.

They order them at almost every meal to share. Cute, right?

 

And so ends our wonderful weekend together.

Sisterly love in the city of brotherly love.

 

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering… Miguel loved his pepper plant 😉 

Laura and I have some exciting ideas we’re brewing up. We’ll see you soon for the unveiling!

 Clean kisses — xoxo — Natalie

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Simply Philly


So, it’s Brown Betty time. Finally! Hilary and I have tried, on several occasions, to go to Brown Betty to gobble down a fabulously yummy cupcake, but have failed every time. Either we forgot we were going to go, or it’s closed on the days we are able to visit. After traveling around Rittenhouse, I had a lightbulb moment and blurted out, “Brown Betty!” We were walking in the wrong direction, but our cupcake cravings had us quickly switching routes. Though we were hungry, tired and achey from walking miles in flip flops, we started our journey to this famed bakery.       

Guess what we found.       

       

       

So, you’re telling me that I got a parking ticket today AND Brown Betty’s is closed? Breathe, Natalie, breathe. Oh wait. There’s another location that’s not too far. I think we can drag our exhausted selves a few blocks if it means there will be a frosted piece of chocolatey goodness at the end of the hike. Off we go…       

Guess what we found.       

       

Now guess what the sign on the door said. “Sold Out.” Seriously, Natalie. Brreeatthheee. Literally, as we were walking up to the door, the bakery lights were turned off. I didn’t get a picture of the sign. I couldn’t drag myself the last few steps only to be smacked by the bold words killing my dream while simultaneously worsening my hunger. Oh well. I suppose I have an excuse to visit my sister in Philly again soon. Strictly a cupcake weekend that will be.       

On the way back to the apartment to rest and freshen up for dinner, we stopped by Grocery, a petite speciality food store, to take in the sights.       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

All together now… “Yummmm!”       

I grabbed one of these to go, to quiet my cupcake hunger:       

       

After Grocery, we headed back to the apartment, relaxed, drank a glass of wine and had a few snacks prior to heading out to dinner.       

We chose to dine at Twenty Manning Grill. Boy, were we were thrilled w/ our decision.       

       

       

While waiting for our table, we posed for a few pics…       

Scotty Ce (Hil's BF), Hil & Missy

 

The Sisters

 

Soon after our photo shoot, we were seated. We loved the atmosphere.       

       

And loved our food selections even more.       

       

       

       

Cheers!

 

I chose the Farmers Market Beets as my entree and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts as a side to split with Missy. The waiter brought over four baby baguettes w/ rosemary butter, sea salt &  fresh cucumbers from the chef’s garden as our amuse bouche (that one’s for you, Mom).       

       

       

My company’s eats:       

Scott's scallops - please forgive his dorkiness

 

Hilary's pan roasted chicken w/ mashed potatoes & peas

 

I won’t bore you with another picture of the beets, which is what Missy also ordered. Missy was sure to point out Hilary making love to her peas as she shoveled them down.       

We finished off with an underbaked (which is actually how it’s described on the menu) chocolate chip cookie w/ vanilla ice cream.       

       

Scott loves salt…       

       

…so does Miguel.       

       

Didn’t anyone give them the memo regarding refined salt?       

Sea salt, boys, sea salt!       

        

Forgive my tangent. Leftovers were taken…       

       

and pajamas were donned.       

       

Another fabulous restaurant and farmers’ market on the agenda for tomorrow, you say? I’m not arguing with that. Sweet dreams!

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It’s a French Kind of Day


10:30am and the Philly adventures continue! We slept in. Don’t judge us – we were on vacation 🙂

      

On a leisurely walk with Riley and Hilary to my car with the intent to move it to avoid a ticket, we, ironically enough, found a ticket placed lovingly on my windshield by the local traffic cop. Happy Saturday from the Philadelphia Parking Authority! Good thing we didn’t let it ruin our day. What’s $36 anyway? Yeah, we’re cool like that.      

Off to the creperie! A good crepe and a yummy latte will band-aid anything in my book. And if they won’t, please don’t let me encounter that wound.     

Why hello, Beau Monde. So happy to meet you.      

      

What a delicious way to start off the day.    

Smoked salmon crepe w/ leeks and creme fraiche.      

      

Enjoying time spent with my best friends and my best beverage…      

      

      

Then our lovely waitress, my new favorite person, delivered the requested goods.      

 

Hilary's banana and berry sauce crepe

 

Missy's mushroom, egg and goat cheese crepe

 

My smoked salmon, leek and creme fraiche crepe

 

 Hello heaven. Goodbye heaven. It’s been real.     

     

Off to do some really important things. You know. Change the word type things. Like shopping at Anthro and visiting a farmers’ market and patisserie. My life is hard. Well, it will be next week when I continue graduate school and two jobs, among other daily life responsibilities. I’m not complaining!     

Since I’m watching every penny due to my return to school, I just took in the sights at Anthro, as well as the other two stops.     

Anthro’s decor never ceases to amaze me…     

Can I please live here?     

     

     

     

I’m feeing inspired. How about you?
Next stop: Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market.

Ry and I waited for mommy and Aunt Missy prior to heading to the market

 

The flowers were breathtaking. Please enjoy.     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Local & fresh produce, baked goods and meats:    

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

My boyfriend’s obsessed w/ meat. Seriously – he eats a pound of steak every. single. night. He’s made attempts to eat grass fed & organic. That’s why we’re dating. Ehhhh – I suppose he has a few other good traits. Sorry that my cheap self didn’t purchase the meat, Migs.    

I hope you enjoyed the picture slide show of the farmers’ market. On to Miel Patisserie, where we quenched our thirst w/ a jasmine, green tea, peach nectar iced tea.    

     

    

     

My sister Missy’s real name is Melissa. Miel means honey in French. Melissa means honey bee. One year my mother was so obsessed w/ Missy’s name that every gift Missy received had a honey bee on it. Missy didn’t care for honey bees all that much. It was funny. I suppose you had to be there.    

    

     

    

     

    

     

   

    

We chatted some more. I think this serious conversation entailed contemplation regarding Sammie Sweetheart and Ronnie’s ultra-healthy relationship on the Jersey Shore. “She didn’t look dumb… she didn’t know he was making out w/ a new girl every night after he called her the b-word and went out clubbing.” I don’t know what’s more pathetic. Young women’s lack of respect for themselves (and having it splashed all over the media), or our lack of respect for our own intellect ;).  [Speaking of women’s lack of self respect & esteem… please visit two blogs that have certainly earned my support: www.operationbeautiful.com & http://facesofbeauty.org]   

     

    

     

Poor Riley Rooter was exhausted (as were we), so we walked to Hilary’s boyfriend’s apartment to drop him off to play with his brother, Toby, who you may have met here.    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

Tober Lobes is a cutie pie. He requested that I show you all his happy self and his new haircut. You like?    

After we put Riley to rest, we went on our way to FINALLY find Brown Betty, a popular cupcakery in Philadelphia.    

Part deux coming soon. Au revoir mes amis!    

Clean kisses – xoxo – Natalie    

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FARMiCiA


I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for what feels like a long time.    

What weekend you ask? Sisters’ weekend. In Philly. Smiles all around :).    

Welcome to FARMiCiA, our new favorite Philly restaurant.    

Eat, drink and live better.    

A fabulous restaurant which focuses on local, organic and artisanal producers. Yum.    

I have two big sisters. Missy, the oldest, lives in New York City. For years and years we have gone to NYC and considered it our second home. A few months ago my other older sister, Hilary – the middle sister – moved to Philadelphia.    

    

    

Guess what that means. An entire city to explore and eat our way through. Enter FARMiCiA. What a happy life ;).    

    

   

    

After much debate over which delicious menu item to order, I settled on the “Mega Dose of Vegetables & Grains”.    

    

Wine, plus simply wonderful company and eats equals…    

Cheers!

 

Hildy Mae

 

Me & Missy

 

Very happy sisters!    

After a little catching up, our food had arrived.    

Missy & Hilary's Crab Cake

 

Missy's Lentil Salad -- we're obsessed!

 

Mega Dose of Veggies & Grains

 

As soon as my plate was placed in front of me, my sister Missy and I proceeded to drool. Missy is a vegetarian. Hilary is a meat eater. I’m somewhere in between. Hilary, jealous of our veggie daze, inquired, “Are you guys done making love to the vegetables now?” We love vegetables… we love them a lot. I think you all understand ;). Once, when Missy, Hilary and I were eating at Market Table in the city (when referring to “the city”, I mean NYC), Missy ordered a vegetarian plate b/c there was no non-meat option on the menu. The waiter brought her a beautiful plate of veggie sides. Hilary opened her big mouth and said, “That… is my worst nightmare.” We died laughing. Such a Hilary thing to say. So, we relived that moment for a few seconds last night. Ahhh, I love my sisters.    

If you have read my “About Natalie” page, you know that I have an outrageous sweet tooth that is hard to tame. So, to feed the beast, we headed to… Phileo Yogurt!    

Phileo Yogurt

 

     

 For those of you that aren’t familiar w/ Phileo Yogurt… it’s all self serve :). This was my first time.    

Step 1: Grab a cup.    

    

Step 2: Select fro-yo flavor. Sample if you’d like. Reese’s and chocolate flavorites won my heart.    

    

    

 Step 3: Go nutso-bongo w/ toppings!    

    

    

Step 4: [Pay for product] Consume!    

    

…and get out so they can close up shop! Geez. Quit taking your sweet time.    

    

We leisurely walked back to the apartment, parked our booties on the couch and continued chatting while polishing off our yogurt.    

    

After a belly full of fro-yo, some puppy lovin’ and a quick pajama change, it was bedtime.    

    

    

It’s off to slumber land to dream of tomorrow’s adventures!

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