Category Archives: Restaurants

The Perfect Bridal Shower

Last Saturday, the 21st, my gorgeous bridesmaids and mama threw me the most beautiful bridal shower at White Dog Cafe in Wayne, PA. I cannot thank them enough, especially my sister and Maid of Honor, Allie, for all the hard work they put into the perfect little party.

Bridal Party

The whole weekend was a whirlwind, beginning with my family meeting us at a local Italian place Friday night, only to be trailed by my grandma who lives in Florida and my best friend Lauren from Arizona, two of the biggest surprises I have ever had! I had no clue they were flying in for the weekend, and as I hadn’t seen Lauren in 5 years (how is that even possible?!), it was an emotional get-together!

My parents’ house was pretty packed over the weekend, as they were joined by my sister and her boyfriend Oscar, my two grandmas, Lauren, and Josh & I (oh, and two big, excited dogs!), so it was like a huge sleepover all weekend! We celebrated my 28th birthday and our shower weekend kickoff with an amazing confetti Birthday Cake by Momofoku. Oh. My god. Best cake ever.

Momofoku Confetti Cake

Saturday was my shower, and the boys took off to golf while the gals headed to PA. The shower wasn’t a total surprise, but I didn’t know where it was going to be or who was able to make it…and White Dog was the perfect spot. My girls know me well!! The place is adorable, with fabulous sustainable and local food and pictures of dogs everywhere. Plus, they decorated it so beautifully, it was like a page out of a magazine (and the favors?! So very “me”….Lush soaps and Momofoku Confetti Cookies…perhaps even better than the cake we had the night before?! David Chang, I love you. And the Philly Cooper cheese box is so perfect!).

Lush Soaps and Momofoku Cookies Favors Shower Gift Table

Allie and I

Beagle!Dog topiary 11052872_10104021060699022_6660058446950184928_n

I should’ve known with my sister’s skills from working for Anthropologie for so long (and my artistic friends), it was going to be aesthetically stunning! Alyssa even gave me a real Hawaiian lei of tuberose and white orchids that smelled like heaven and felt so special!! I have always wanted to wear one! It was a pretty intimate shower, with my closest friends and relatives there….we wanted to keep it on the small side. It wasn’t totally traditional, in that I didn’t open gifts there or play any games, we just started with cocktails and mingled and then sat down for a great meal (I had the lobster bisque, the cheeseburger with truffle fries, and the dessert trio…soooo insanely good).

cheeseburger and fries

 

dessert trioJosh’s mom came all the way from New Hampshire, and Josh and Oscar showed up shortly after to say hi to everyone and help take the gifts home. The drinks and food were awesome, the decor was stellar, and the company was just the best. It was the most low-key, perfectly “me” shower ever, and I am SO thankful for everyone who came far and wide to make it! It gives me butterflies thinking about it!

The girls 11403277_10104021063683042_7852609095590584119_n 11057974_10104021063069272_455410853692074069_n

A few of us stopped at my bridesmaid Alyssa and her boyfriend Mike’s house for a bit after to keep the party going, and then came home to ice cream from Latteria, the best place known to mankind. They are doing ice cream at our wedding!

Sunday, Allie, Lauren, and I woke up and headed to Philly for something I have been anticipating for a LONG time! We went to Max Brenner, famous for his chocolate….so we obviously had to get something chocolate-laden to try. We split a Mexican omelette (with a sugar-dusted biscuit and molten chocolate spread on the side. Wut.), a Philly cheesesteak waffle sandwich with KILLER sweet potato fries, and a peanut butter and chocolate crepe. Ugh, my mouth is watering even thinking about this meal. I cannot wait to take Coop to the NYC Max Brenner!!

Max Brenner's Max Brenner's Max Brenner's

We then walked all around Center City and Old City, did some shopping, and included a quick stop at Josh’s old place on Elfreth’s Alley. I miss that house!! And Philly….always holds a special place in my heart! Remember this from our engagement pics? We HAD to come back to take photos in a place so reminiscent of the beginning of our relationship. And every time I am in the area I love to walk by and peek in the courtyard.

Elfreth's Alley

City Hall on Broad Street

That evening, the clan drove me back up to JC (Coop was at practice in PA all day), and it was so nice to spend more time with my parents and grandmas and Lauren before she headed back to AZ, and it was fun walking down to the waterfront so they could take in the iconic views of the Manhattan skyline. It was a nice way to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad, too. Oh, and did I mention I also got to test-drive my dad’s friend’s brand new 2015 Corvette, too?! Just another feather in the hat of the weekend.

Father's Day 2015 in Jersey City

It was a jam-packed, indulgent weekend, and I have never felt so loved! It was the perfect kickoff to our wedding festivities…it finally feels like it is really happening! I cannot believe we are only a few months away!

xoxo

 

Guess who’s back…

Heyyy, remember when I blogged sometimes?

It’s been a crazy ride here since I’ve become a Jersey Girl again, and I love being just a quick hop into the city. If you told me this time last year I would be where I am today, I would laugh at you. But! It has been so amazing, Coop is loving his not-so-new-anymore career move to Manhattan, I get to see my city-dwelling BFF like WAYYY more, and I don’t think the same weekend night can ever be repeated. Always something so fun and new to try. I feel like our life has been infused with didn’t-even-know-we-needed-it new adventure, and it feels amazing. Also, we are less than three months out to the wedding (WHAT?!?!).

So! I have been thinking, and Coop and I have agreed it would be so fun to document this time in our lives. We could be up by NYC for years to come, or things could change by next year…who knows! So we are taking full advantage of it. And so, I think you will be seeing a little bit more of me over here!

Starting with this past weekend. It was one of my absolute favorites I have had since moving! My 28th birthday was last week, so our weekend started off with a bang when Coop took me to a restaurant on the waterfront I have been dying to try. And it did NOT disappoint.

Battello JC

Battello is on a pier in JC with a breathtaking view of the city, and the decor was crazy impressive, as well.

And then there was the food.

We decided on a chef’s tasting, where we could each choose an appetizer, a pasta, an entree, and then received a tasting of 4 different desserts. We also each had a Brooklyn Blast IPA and then split a bottle of Malbec while the sun set.

Bread and Truffle Butter

 

 

Mussels

Tuna Rollatini

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage Bolognese

Linguine with Clams

Pancetta Wrapped Scallops with Red Quinoa and Almond Puree

Ribeye Steak

Dessert Sampler

(That popcorn ice cream and the chocolate/caramel/powdered PB/caramel popcorn dessert were TO. DIE. FOR.) We both agreed it was one of our best experiences in JC and one of our favorite dinners/date nights ever, period!! The service was stellar, too. Even though the place was packed, our server was attentive and had great suggestions while still allowing us to not feel ushered out once we finished our meal. He even took a photo of us on the water before we headed out! Nothing but glowing reviews for Battello, and we cannot wait to come back for oysters and drinks at the bar, and will certainly be a go-to for any celebratory dinners.

View of NYC

NYC

We were able to walk along the boardwalk to another beer spot that I didn’t even know existed….Taphaus is another with one of the very best views of the city, with a solid beer list and lots of space. Definitely will be back here as well.

Saturday was another memorable day for us; after walking to his local barber for a quick hair cut, we hopped in the city to Indochino for Coop to get fitted for his suit for the wedding. It was so fun to be there while he chose all of the unique details of his suit, including stitching, the lining, even the inside monogram of my soon-to-be new last name and our wedding date. SO fun, and the associate that helped us was so great. Can’t wait for his custom-made suit!

Indochino fitting

We were STARVING after, so we walked to one of our favorite spots in the city…Cooper’s Craft & Kitchen (how appropriate…)! Last time we were here we had THE BEST oxtail gravy and biscuits for brunch, seriously, the best, but as this trip was a little later in the day and brunch had ended, we went with the pretzels and beer cheese and a dozen hot buffalo wings. I planned on sharing a yummy-sounding grilled cheese after, but we were so full after this! Also, their own IPA is on point.

Cooper's Craft & Kitchen

Pretzels and Beer Cheese

Buffalo WingsCooper at Cooper's

After a quick pitstop to visit my best friend Christine who happened to be a few blocks away with some girlfriends (and inhale a quick margarita on the rocks because, well, Mexican restaurant), we went back to JC to see Jurassic World! Seriously SO fun, it was the perfect mixture of adventure + corniness + visually awesome. Go see it in 3D, you won’t be disappointed! After a late-night cajun turkey hoagie (with fresh mozz!!) stop at Stella’s on the way home (our go-to late night JC food spot…solid little 24hr pizza and sandwich shop on our way home from downtown), we were more than ready to crash!

Sunday Coop had band practice in PA, and my mom and grandmother came up for the day to hang. We walked to the water and went to City Diner (another go-to for us!) for salads and burgers (cannot wait to try the Veggie Jalapeno Burger again), and came back to our place to relax and watch a movie and drink coffee from my favorite bakery downstairs.

Veggie Jalapeno Griller from City Diner

 

It was my grandma’s first time to Jersey City, and it was so fun to see how much she loved our new place and our neighborhood! Another fabulous weekend in the books, and next week is our wedding shower back in Philly/South Jersey. I know my sister has been planning up a storm and I am so excited to see what she has in store for us. See ya then! 😉

A Birthday Post! And The Balance Artist Links

Not only is tomorrow Coop’s Big 3-0….but today is my blogging anniversary! TBA hasn’t been around that long (since April!), but my original blog, Sam Bock Illustration & Design, began this day, last year.

(Any readers remember this?)

Happy Birthday, Coop!

This past weekend, I surprised Mr. I-Don’t-Want-a-Party-Grumpy-Gus with a room at Windrift in Avalon.

(Photo via windrifthotel.com)

We fell in love with it Memorial Day weekend when we first saw the renovations, and I knew we had to stay there! Had to do something special…thirty is a big deal!

I made the two of us some veggie-filled pitas and some smoothies to get some last-minute nutrition, and we headed down to the good ol’ Jersey shore early Friday afternoon.

It was a really great weekend full of friends and surprises. Started off with discovering our sweet room view (right over the pool!) and cracking open some Malbec after hunting for a wine opener.

We ate lots of great food (wood-fired pizza, sushi, oysters, Bang Bang Shrimp, etc. from Windrift are all Sam & Coop-approved), and my sister Allie and her boyfriend Oscar came for the first night.

Shenanigans ensued.

Gosh, I love them.

Saturday was a hot one, but our friend Norty met us after the four of us had brunch on the deck and we beached it for hours until we took it to the pool.

(Photo via windrifthotel.com)

(Photo via windrifthotel.com)

It was so convenient having our meals at the hotel, and we actually didn’t make it out to any other bars at all in Avalon this time. We had too much fun and never left! Saturday night, a bunch of our friends from Ocean City came to surprise Coop, and we ended up hardly leaving our small suite…we had the best time!

Sunday was reggae happy hour at the Golden Inn next door, where we met the CUTEST basset hound/black lab puppy named Sadie and Coop sat in for one of our favorite reggae bands, The Raggamuffins!

My rockstar can play chill reggae, too! It was a very different “shore weekend” for us, but it was so much fun! Already can’t wait to go back to WD. If you are ever a Jersey shore-goer, definitely check it out. It is our absolute favorite!

Happy Birthday, Blog!

I also wanted to implement a new little aspect to my blog, since it IS my blogging birthday!

Called “TBA Links,” I will link up four links of possible interest at the bottom of posts. Since my posts tend to be lifestyle-related on a regular basis, I figured these links will help me stay true to my original intent for my blog…balancing my life of art, food, fitness, and fun.

One for each section of the heart and soul of TBA: Art, Food, Fitness, & Just for Fun. Here are my first TBA Links!

  • Are you a big birthday-celebrator?
  • Have you found any great links lately?

Playing Catch-Up

Well, hey there! Remember me?

As I have been consuming most of my free time with hitting some freelance deadlines, I have neglected my little blog. Working and drawing isn’t the ONLY thing I have been doing, though!

1.) I’ve been enjoying walking around the city. Coop is moving from his awesome house in Old City Philadelphia next month, so I am trying to soak up all the fun things within walking distance while I can.

Ikea and Fro Yo kinda day….

2.) I’ve also been attempting to enjoy the Flyers….although they are making it reallllly really difficult for me.

…I even turned the boy onto it! He’s been to a good amount of games with me as we have season tickets. He has lived in Philly for like seven years now, and he (thankfully) wasn’t a Bruins fan, or had really followed hockey much before. And now he bought a Jagr shirt at the last game! Stacy thinks he is a keeper.

3.) I got new business cards, mailing labels, and blank notecards.

4.) Also, food and drink has consumed the other portion of my life while not drawing, working, or workin’ it out.

I won a giveaway on Alyssa’s blog….well, sort of! The number of entrants was wrong when she first did the random number giveaway, so it totally wasn’t fair to the others that entered. My girl did the right thing (and apologized profusely)….aaaand Lauren from Sharkies still hooked me up anyway! Verdict? Get these organic, delish fruit chews and energy chews if you see them in stores. LOVE them, can’t get enough!!!

Made some pasta salad with kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, roasted peppers, onions, and garlic, and veggie rotini. And avocado. Always. Psh.

Tone It Up inspired me to make a roasted portobello mushroom, stuffed with red quinoa and veggies…a new fave!

I fell in love with Wegman’s, just like I knew I would….

AND they had pumpkin ale (my fave)….a really good one!….amongst all of the summer brews.

And also have started brewing my own kombucha each week!!! Anyone interested in a how-to? The pictures may terrify you a bit….that “scoby”? Yeah, it’s a huge mushroom-like culture that grows a baby (also a huge mushroom-like culture) on top. Scary!!! But it tastes just like store-bought for the most part and will definitely save me some bucks so that I am not buying (freakin’ delicious) Synergy all the time. I added pineapple juice to some of my last batch. So good!!

My dad, the antique car guru, has a customer from Italy who delivered these awesome little guys to me…..luckily, the cookbook has some English. Not so luckily, the coffee, which is “not like that dark water you Americans drink,” is straight-up in Italian. Anyone care to interpret??

I also have made a giant, shrimp-infused version of my Roasted Veggie Pad Thai. I would like to marry that TJ’s Soyaki sauce. Oh. Man.

Saturday night we went to Philadephia Bar & Restaurant again….because after watching my boy Guy on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives eat the best looking mac and cheese around, we decided we needed some fried mac and cheese balls. And crab guacamole. Best idea ever. AND look what is happening in two weekends?! So there.

AND Sunday brunches with Coop have been amazing lately. Like this past one at Revolution House. Totally my new favorite Bloody Marys in Philly.

Eggs in Purgatory! Similar to the Shakshuka I love at nearby Cafe Ole.

We made new friends and learned about traffic apps...

I don’t normally do sweet, or cocktails at all for that matter, but this pineapple juice & Chambord deliciousness our bartender whipped up for me was uh. mazing. Despite what my face would infer, here…

And has anyone else ever heard of a Bloody Maria?! Aka, a Bloody Mary…with tequila! Be still my tequila-lovin’ heart.

Okay, I am still a ball of sweat after a kickbutt BodyCombat class and I have some freelance to work on….and some Flyers to cheer on. Later gators!

Let me know if any of you foodies want a “how to make your own kombucha” post….it’s super easy, albeit a little time-consuming!

Vegas Part I: Oscar Does Yoga & The Sexy Sax Man

Hello!

As I am fighting off a weird stomach bug (acquired the last few days of my trip….great!), I haven’t been able to do much the last few days, and regressed today. NOT fun.

Anyway, the next few posts will be mostly picture documentation of our Vegas trip. I will eventually put together a Best Of Vegas post, as I have been there many times, and it seems like many of you will be making a visit within the next year. In the meantime, I finally came up with the right name for my blog, and I will be using the Vegas trip recap posts to hold you guys over while I make the switch to my own domain (and to WordPress!). Slowly but surely! There will be some major construction going on, but I promise it will be worth it! Any WP lovers, feel free to give me tips…this is confusing!

In the mean time, keep checking here until I debut my new blog (although all of my posts will transfer over to the newbie, too) with a new look, a giveaway, and a fitness/health post! Can’t wait, lots of new things comin’….just stick with me!

But for now….VEGAS, BABY!

Part One

Their first Vegas gamble!
Excited! But this would be the last picture taken with my iPhone before it got stolen…

Donald Butler from the Chargers

😉

My seat for most of the trip…in the back with the bags!

Oscar stretching it out before we go out…

“I call this ‘scorpion!’ See my pinchers?”

Windiest day ever!!!

Yardhouse is my dream come true…

“I’m not getting a sig on my beeper…” 
Beers make moms hide in bushes…

…and make us smile pretty….

 …and watch Sexy Sax Man Sergio Flores on our phones…

….and CRY laughing for a solid hour. Surprised no one clapped when we finally left the restaurant. But we continued the sexy saxophoning well into the trip…

In my backseat with the leftovers!

Part II will come…..bringing about some videos of Oscar sexy-saxin’ in public, Coop arrives and we have a pretty sweet dance party, and we get some street performers on the Strip to perform the George Michael hit for us. First videos on here ever!

More to come. Now I will continue to sit here and try to stomach my ginger ale as I attempt to decipher this WordPress mumbo jumbo! xoxox