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CITY GUIDE: Philadelphia

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Swabreen Bakr of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!

A lot of what Philadelphians enjoy revolves around the sports teams, food and drinking. The food and craft beer scene along with a rapidly expanding craft coffee scene has garnered our city a slew of national accolades so I’ve highlighted some personal favorites. These are spots I’ve been to many a time; the quality, selection and service are always top notch. I’ve also featured a new destination in our city, the Race St. Pier along with some great places to shop.

A great area to grab food is Midtown Village; it spans about two to four blocks east, west, north and south around 13th and Sansom street in Center City. Pop into any one of the restaurants there, you can’t really go wrong. The cuisine ranges from Mediterranean to Mexican to Japanese.

Coffee Culture

What coffee is in Philadelphia right now compared to what it was just a year and a half ago is remarkably different. A lot of small coffee houses opened up shop in the Fall of 2010 and the Winter of 2011, and completely changed the way some of us drink coffee. They introduced us to roasters like PT’s Coffee, which ships many award winning coffees from around the world to our fair city and they also gave us a taste of Stumptown and Counter Culture. We were introduced to different brewing methods for preparing fresh individual cups of coffee; like the Chemex at Elixr, the pour-over beehive station at Bodhi and the clever dripper at Spruce St.

I recommend checking out Shot Tower Coffee, Bodhi Coffee, Spruce St. Espresso and Elixr Coffee. They all have something slightly different to offer product-wise and coffee prep-wise but what you’ll consistently get is the commitment to providing excellent and freshly brewed coffee to each customer.

Craft beers and Cocktails

Our craft beer scene has been growing for a while, in fact we’re pretty spoiled when it comes to beer in this city. Pretty much every bar worth its salt has to have a solid selection of beer in order to survive and be taken seriously. We have award winning local breweries here like Iron Hill, Yards, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Dock Street Brewing Co., Flying Fish, and Victory Brewing among others. Try some of the best beers around at Monk’s, Devil’s Den, McGillins Old Ale House, Varga Bar, Triumph Brewing, and Eulogy. I wouldn’t advise asking for a Miller Lite, Bud or Coors in most of these places though, the bartender will not take to it kindly (even if they have it). You can also grab some delicious casual food at the aforementioned places.

Our cocktail scene was not comparable to other cities until the nationally acclaimed The Franklin Bar came along with its enticing speakeasy vibe. After this bar re-introduced cocktail mixing as an art form to be honed; a lot of people took notice, and it really changed how the city viewed and consumed cocktails. There are some great places where you can go to get a great cocktail along with a great selection of domestic, local and import beers. Check out: Farmer’s Cabinet for a great selection of European craft beer and amazing cocktails; they have two bars one for beers and one for liquor. Tapestry is another place with a huge selection of domestics and imports and a nicely priced cocktail list and very affordable food. Percy St. BBQ specializes in canned beer which has largely been freed from the stigma it had of tasting metallic. Percy’s features many award winning craft canned beers which are well worth trying while you eat some of their amazing Texas-style barbecue.

For cocktails exclusively check out Ranstead Room (with Mexican small plates as a food option), SouthWark (DO have dinner and cocktails here) and of course The Franklin Bar (no food options at the moment).


As well respected and lauded as we are for our food and drink scene, one area where we still have to catch up in is fashion. However we do have wonderful independent boutiques where you can purchase some very unique items from local designers, as well as fashionable brands like Pamela Love, The Hill-Side, A.P.C., Pendelton, among others

I recommend checking out the boutiques on N. 3rd St. in Old City. Lost + Found, Franklin Square, Sugarcube, Art in the Age, Third St. Habit, Vagabond, and the gorgeous men’s vintage shop Briar Vintage. They all run up and down this street. If you get hungry, try something delicious from Wedge + Fig, then go down N. 2nd street and check out some of the galleries and /reward/ boutique for a nice European selection of clothing and accessories. The galleries in this area are always theming with activity and free booze during the first friday of every month!

Race St. Pier

From the same architects who gave NYC the High Line, last summer we got the beautiful Race St. Pier. It’s in walking distance from the N. 3rd shopping district. City officials are trying to get residents to take advantage of our waterfront areas a bit more with projects like this and the Schuylkill Banks located on the western part of the city. Both places are nice to just take a break and relax in the sun when the weather permits. I suspect the Race St. Pier might become a sun bathing destination for those who don’t have cars to get away to the shore. It’s also a bit romantic at sunset.

Swabreen Bakr is a writer and photographer for the Philadelphia lifestyle and music blog Phrequency.com. Keep up to date with daily photos and events from Philadelphia on her blog iPhotoPhilly.com.

Featured image by Vlastula.

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January Reading List

My 2012 reading goals are simple. Read three books every month. I know, you’re thinking, “Jeez, Allie. Don’t get TOO crazy.” A lot of my friends have set bigger reading goals (like read 100 books in a year). My goal adds up to about 36 books in 2012. For me, that’s a challenge. I work 30-40 hours outside of my normal work week freelancing and so by the time I crawl into bed at 1am, my eyes want nothing to do with any straining or reading.

I also feel that blogging about certain goals holds me accountable. Sometimes my family, friends or readers will ask me about a certain post or perhaps ask my opinion about a book or product. At the beginning of every month, I’ll post my monthly reads and maybe even get some future recommendations from you all!

What’s on your 2012 reading list? Any fun or crazy goals?

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Hello, 2012!

I welcomed 2012 alongside my family and friends (and our favorite dogs). I even got to spend a few hours with my best friend, her husband and adorable baby. He is, my far, my most favorite baby ever. EVER. I’m excited for a new year. This year Adam and I will finally be debt-free AND we’re planning a couple vacations. I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t necessarily make “New Year’s Resolutions,” but goals do motivate me. Every year on my birthday, I make a list of things I want to do. Did you make any resolutions for 2012?

On New Year’s Day I caught wind of a January Photo-A-Day challenge on Instagram (using the hashtag: #janphotoaday). You KNOW how much I love a photo challenge…so I joined.

Obviously I only have two photos so far but today I will be snapping a photo of something that I adore with my iPhone. Also, in case you didn’t know (I had to google it)…letterboxing is the practice of transferring film shot in a widescreen aspect ratio to standard-width video formats while preserving the film’s original aspect ratio. The resulting videographic image has mattes (black bars) above and below it; these mattes are part of the image. I will be interested to see how many people are confused or how we’ll all actually pull it off. There must be an app for that. If you wish to follow along, join Instagram and catch up! I’ll be tweeting out links my photos but I won’t be posting much here on my blog. And in case you were wondering, yes I will still be hosting a camera phone photo challenge in February!

Coming up this week on Show + Tell: the long awaited DSLR vs Analog vs iPhone comparison post, a Philly city guide, and my January reading list.

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Top 2011 Posts on Show + Tell

It always surprises me which posts on my blog get visited the most! Here are the top 10 posts from 2011!



3. #30DAYPHOTO : DAY 29


5. #30DAYPHOTO : DAY 28





10. #30DAYPHOTO : DAY 1

Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting over here on Show + Tell during the 2011 year! I’ll be back to blogging on January 3rd! Happy New Year!

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A Look Back at 2011

2011 was a fantastic year with a lot of success, fun trips, and the ability to spend time with friends and family. Adam and I are so blessed with everything that has happened personally, financially and professionally this past year. Below are some of my favorites from 2011. It was fun to look back at my post from last year about 2010 and see how life evolves and changes. I’m excited to see what 2012 holds.

So, what better way to celebrate the new year than to dance? My friend Benji created this awesome playlist on Rdio. Click here to listen. ENJOY and Happy New Year! Check back tomorrow for a list of my top 11 posts of 2011!

*All photos taken by me (on my Canon DSLR or iPhone) with the exception of the photo of Adam and I (taken by my friend Jess)

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A Holiday or Four

We were in Illinois visiting my family over the Thanksgiving holiday so we kicked off the “Christmas season” there. I love that shot of Desh and Veda (my family’s cockapoo) because they’re both looking in different directions–and not even at me! We were able to spend the Christmas weekend in Indiana with Adam’s family and this weekend we’re back to Illinois for Christmas #2!

Who decided to create all these holidays so close together? The photos were shot on my Minolta SRT-201 with Fuji film (400 ISO). Not a lot of shots turned out. There was weird creasing and a lot of grain. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I shot in a lot of low lit settings. Next week I’ll finally post my DSLR vs Analog vs iPhone post. I’m excited to share!

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ONE DAY : Dave and Amy

Today’s ONE DAY feature is all about Dave (34) and Amy (29). They got married June 17th, 2011 at North Bank Park in Columbus, Ohio. Amy describes their wedding palette as “Natural meets Industrial: Green Apple, Lemon Yellow, Burlap Brown + Muted Gray and Black Steel.” Learn more about their wedding day below:

1. What do you remember most about your wedding day? I think the most memorable moment was the “send off.” Our friends lined up on either side of us with sparklers to send us off. We ran through the tunnel of sparklers to a pedicab that took us to the renaissance hotel. It was just such a beautiful sight. Followed by a relaxing & quiet ride with my husband up the city streets at night with champagne in hand. A friend of ours created a short video that captured the moment perfectly.

2. What was your vision for your wedding before you actually started planning? We wanted it to be intimate, happy, bright, modern, and warm. We wanted to show off the city we love to all of our friends and family and that guided a lot of our decisions. For example, we chose North Bank Park for the wedding day location because it has one of the best views in Columbus and we chose Via Vecchia, a local winery located close to our home in German Village, for the rehearsal dinner.

How did that vision change by the time you were finished? I like to think we kept it warm, modern, and intimate. In fact, I created a mood board when I was coming up with inspiration for the wedding and any time I went to meet with vendors, purchase supplies, or check out a location I brought the mood board. It may be a little nerdy but the wedding process can get out of control quickly – having that kept me focused on what we really wanted versus what our vendors wanted.

3. What was your favorite and least favorite part of wedding planning? I will say planning a wedding was not a lot of fun for me. I was surprised by how stressful it can be. That said, I did like working with my designer friend on the invitations, menu, and signage. I liked seeing my vision become reality every time I got a pdf in an email from her or opened a box from the printer. Most of all, seeing all the pieces and parts come together was my favorite part of the “planning” process. My least favorite part was having excruciatingly detailed conversations about things I consider unimportant. For example, I remember having a last minute email exchange with my caterer about napkins — specifically, the fold of the napkin. I am happy to never have a conversation about ways to fold a napkin again.

4. How did you go about finding your wedding photographer and videographer? I looked on The Knot for recommendations by other brides. That’s how I found our videographer who is actually a student just beginning his business. We also ended up having a friend give us a gift of captured shots from the wedding so we luckily received two videos that captured the day. We LOVED our photographers, A New Day Photography. I actually found them on a wedding blog called Once Wed and am so glad I did. They moved back to Ohio from Atlanta, Georgia and were trying to build their business in Ohio. In choosing a photographer, it was really important that we like them as people. You will be spending most of your wedding day with them, after all. Not only were they INCREDIBLY talented, they were very professional, responsive every time I sent an email, very organized, and so sweet. During our wedding day they were a joy to be around even while standing in a hail storm to get the perfect shot.

5. Did you have any favorite DIY wedding projects? 

  • My Dad surprised me by building the arch for the ceremony.
  • Since Dave and I share a love of music and music festivals, we created cds and made the cd cases as our friend’s escort cards and gifts.
  • My friend, Stephanie, made 200 cupcakes from scratch that received rave reviews.
  • We created the programs. My friend Jamie designed them. My family from Brazil brought ribbon bracelets from Brazil called fita’s that we used to tie the program pages together. Fita’s are to be tied around the wrist with three knots and the wearer is supposed to make 3 wishes. When the bracelet breaks naturally, it is said that the wishes are granted.
  • My friend Jamie also designed the invitations, save the dates, menus, and signage.
  • I created the centerpieces using pieces of wood from my family’s farm, moss, glass vases, green apples, and wooden numbers spray painted dark brown.
  • I also created a scrap book as a guest book with a page devoted to each of our guests and space for them to leave us a message.

6. What advice do you have for newly engaged couples that are starting to plan?

  • To everyone: Start with a budget and try your best to stick to it. Also, you can’t do it all. As the date approaches you will realize you can’t do everything, make a list of what you have left to do and mark which things are necessary and which would be nice to have. Then, forget the nice to haves and move on. Most of all do not stress – you will enjoy the day even without those chair covers.
  • To the procrastinators: Yes, the planning starts this early ;)
  • To the bridezilla: Make sure he can “own” certain aspects of the wedding. This is his day too. Dave’s thing was music. We made the decision to cut back in some areas to make sure we had a good live band.
  • To the budget conscious: (1) Get a great photographer. Those pictures out last everything. After going through this I now agree with those who said “Spend money on a good photographer.” That was the best decision we made. (2) Get some stuff on video. Through a videographer or friend’s iphone – You will watch it, get a little teary, and be glad you have the memories. (3) Hire a Day of Coordinator. I worked with Lourdes Barroso De Padilla from A Time to Toast  and it was another one of the best decisions we made. She made the day go on seamlessly, kept the vendors on track, set up, decorated and cleaned up after the wedding, and even brought the left over cupcakes to the after party! (4) Go with your gut. When everyone is telling you to spend the money on something but it doesn’t feel right – listen. For me it was makeup. Everyone told me to get my makeup professionally done “for the pictures.” I had two test sessions and I looked drastically made up– not horrible, but definitely not myself. I waited until the last minute to cancel thinking I had to have ALL of this make up on my face even if I felt unnatural (and was crazy expensive). I decided to do my makeup myself. I saved over $100 and felt more beautiful than I ever felt in a test makeup session. And, I look just fine in pictures. I look like myself!
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Today’s CITY GUIDE post is brought to you by Steven Stevens of Bend, Oregon. Enjoy!

Bend, Oregon is very local. Everything about it screams small local community but with a population of around 80,000 people it is anything but small. Bend is so local and loves everything about small business they even coming up with the phrase “Make Local Habit.” It is a touristy city located east of the mountains in the high desert so there is a lot to do.

1. The first thing you must know is people from Bend (or Bendites) love their coffee. Every where you look there is a coffee connoisseur ready to answer any question you might have about your cup of joe. But even though you might not know much about coffee you better believe there are a plethora of places to go have some of the best tasting coffee you’ve ever had. One such place is Backporch Coffee Roasters. It is owned by Dave and Majell Beach and there are two locations (both in Bend). You are always greeted by smiling faces, good smelling coffee, and facial hair and sweet looking mustaches.

2. Bend is also the place for beer. One such places that should be on your Bend to-do list is take the Deschutes Brewery tour! It pretty much is one of the best free things to do that involves walking and drinking free beer samples. You get to sample their different types of beers on tap and see the factory in which they do the different processes to end up with the malty goodness. Just make sure you bring your DD with you.

3. After your stomach is full of beer and coffee it would be good to walk. Good thing you’re in Bend! There are literally hundreds of walking trails. Every where you look you will find a beautiful place to walk. The mountains and hillside rocks make a perfect scenery to take a nice stroll. Bend is also one of the most dog friendly places you can be! Most businesses and places even put a dish of water outside of their business for all your fury friends.

4. Finally, one of the things that makes Bend, Bend is the community. There is a very lively downtown area with lots of community events. There are events from the Wiener Dog race, Brewfest!, a ton of bike races, and a huge farmers market all throughout the year. For all of these events most people come out, eat, drink, and have a great time! There are also huge parades down the main street of downtown Bend.

For being such a tucked away city in central Oregon it is definitely a great place to visit, and one of the best places to live. Lots of beer, coffee, community, and facial hair.

*All photos taken by Steven and his Polaroid. Featured image by andrewghayes.

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Christmas Cheer

I love Christmas. I love the traditions, the memories it brings about, all the great food, giving gifts, and seeing family. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have a wonderful time this weekend and I’ll be back to blogging next Tuesday with a new One Day series feature, a film/iPhone/digital comparison, and another city guide! Merry Christmas!

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Introductory Julep Maven Review

Earlier this month, my friend Jess sent me a link about how you could sign up for Julep Maven for $0.01! The Julep Maven box, which is normally $20 per month, is an assortment of nail polish and nail care products delivered to your door! The boxes are valued at $40 and contains full sized polishes and products. Since I signed up in December, I received an introductory box and still have the option to continue before my January box arrives. My initial thoughts of this service (before even receiving the box) were fantastic. Their website is put together well and explains the subscription thoroughly. I’m even able to shop directly on their website for bottles of polish (which cost $14 each). Some of the fun perks of this service is that each month you can preview what’s coming and then have a choice to skip the month, send the box to your friend, try a new style or upgrade. I also get a free month if two people sign up through my link. (Hint, Hint!) Enough about all that…let’s move onto what’s inside:

  1. Two polishes: One called “Demi” which is a burgundy shade and “Leighton” which is a silver shade. The polish goes on thick, smoothly, AND dries fast. I used both and you can see how it looks on my nails below (photos taken on my iPhone). The burgundy shade wasn’t anything extraordinary but the silver shade was really opaque and I liked that.
  2. Glitter pot: Amazing name. I used this on top of the Leighton polish and it was really fun! If you’re not neat, glitter can definitely get everywhere. I must say, the glitter doesn’t get as flat or smooth as a glitter polish but it’s still fun.
  3. Julep “Facial for Hands” Glycolic Hand Scrub: This smells great and made my hands SO soft. Something really fun that I would normally think to buy.
  4. Two samples (Hand Cream and Age Defying Hand Brightener): I only tried the hand cream and it was so smooth. I don’t like really strong smelling lotion and this was so mild (slightly like yogurt? weird, I know). I actually see myself buying a bottle of this lotion. I keep feeling how soft my hands are while I’m writing this. Creepy? Maybe.

Overall, I really love this subscription. I kind of geek out over nail polish so ultimately I would love to get each month’s box. I will probably skip occasionally or maybe even send to a friend unless I really love the shades offered. Again, if you want to sign up, click here and you can take a test about your style. My next beauty reviews will be about some of the fun products that I recently bought with my Birchbox points (Zoya and Deborah Lippman polishes) and my first MyGlam box (next month’s box is valued at $50 worth of makeup!) so keep your eye out!