City Guide: Cape May, NJ

Thanks to the now infamous MTV show, the shores of southern NJ have become synonymous with fist pumping, clubbing and lewd behavior. While you can definitely find that scene in some places, my memory of summers at the Jersey Shore is worlds different.

Once a year, my family and I would travel to the shore, stopping in Atlantic City, Wildwood Crest, and the tiny island of Cape May.

Cape May is quaint town home to historic B&B’s, white sandy beaches and, most notably, grand and picturesque Victorian style homes. A trip to “Exit Zero” (named for being the last exit on the Parkway) is a step back in time, but it somehow remains fresh and inviting to the young and old alike. Continue reading

Although our yearly family vacations have now ceased, I was surprised to find out that beau, Walter, was not only familiar with Cape May, but lived and worked there during the summer in college.

Feeling nostalgic and wanting to take a quick beach vacation, we decided to travel down the Parkway to exit 0, and I was happy to see that not much had changed.

As we embrace the last week weeks of summer, I suggest planning a relaxing and unique beach stay for you and your family (or furry family).

Where to Stay:

The Chalfonte Hotel: Full disclosure: Walter was a former employee of this hotel – not that that would sway my opinion of The “Great White Lady”.

This massive hotel was established in 1876, it is the the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May.

The kitchen staff at the hotel’s restaurant, The Magnolia Room, known simply as the “The Ladies” are notorious for their Southern style home cooking, sassy personalities, and most notably, their fried chicken and crab cakes.

Other Great Options: I’ve only stayed at the Chalfonte,  but these two hotels come highly regarded – Congress Hall and Peter Shields Inn.

What to See:

Cape May Lighthouse: 99 steps is all it takes to reach the best view of the island.

Cape May Winery: A very affordable activity. If the weather is nice, sit outside on the deck and take in the view of the vineyard, but also a good rainy day activity with seating indoors.

Cape May County Zoo: With free admission this is a great chance to entertain the kids (or adults) for a few hours.

The Beach! White sand, blue water, but remember – you need to purchase a beach tag.


Marion Inn: The classy atmosphere of this bar pairs nicely with the grand piano player – and make sure you taste the cheesy sticks at the bar.

The Ugly Mug: If there were ever a salty sailor’s bar, this would be it. This bar seems to attract the most amount of locals, so if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, dress down and mug up.

The Brown Room: Order the Beach Plum Royale and get treated to an insanely tasty Luxardo cherry. Stay for the Cuban-inspired decor, great customer service, and nightly live music.

King Edward Bar: Located in the Chalfonte this bar has a small but well chosen beer and wine selection. I particularly love the the mermaid painting and patio seating.


Magnolia Room at The Chalfonte: Famous Fried Chicken and Crab Cakes in a white tablecloth dining room.

410 Bank Street: NOLA style food with a modern twist makes this my favorite restaurant in Cape May. We dined on fresh seafood and Cape May county wines in a beautiful covered garden. Very romantic.

Lobster House: The casual cool vibe of this restaurant is a quintessential beach vacation experience. Order from the raw bar and watch the sunset from the bay-facing deck.

Mad Batter: For brunch visit the sidewalk patio and order the French toast – thick sliced brioche dipped in a rich batter of heavy cream, eggs, fresh orange juice and almonds. The best French toast I’ve ever had.

Where to Shop:

Washington Street Mall: touristy, but unique outdoor mall. It’s a great stop to pick up souveiners and gifts. Here are my favorite stores within the mall:

Bath Time: Situated right in the heart of Washington Street Mall, this can’t miss bath and body shop (the window display is a giant bathtub full of rubber duckies) stocks all-natural and unique items from brands such as Farm House Fresh, Tokyomilk and Love & Toast.

My favorite part of this store is definitely Cape May Customs Blends – where you select a personalized scent from a wide range of fragrance oils to make into a variety of different bath items (massage oil, shower gel, even shampoo and bar soap).

Morrow’s Nut House: It’s not a trip to the shore without some Salt water taffy. Not only will you find this seaside treat, but old classics like vanilla nut fudge,  liquorice, and Philly favorite, Irish potatoes.

Love The Cook: My new obsession with beach plums is fixated at this quirky kitchen shop.

Love The Cook carries locally made gourmet treats (like beach plum coffee and jam), strange but useful gadgets, and gifts for the food enthusiast in your life.

What’s your favorite Cape May haunt? Let me know in the comments!


{Vegan} Irish Potato Candy

Potato Sack

The food trend I’ve seen circulating the interwebs lately is “fooling” your guests by serving them savory-looking food that’s actually sweet.

Aside from April Fool’s Day, I didn’t really the see a point, but when I sampled Irish “potatoes” from the The Original Fudge Kitchen in Cape May, I decided to try this trend myself.

Despite its name, this coconut confection wasn’t created in Ireland, but originates from Philadelphia.

Since the candies do not contain potatoes (although some do), this recipe requires no cooking – a huge bonus given the sudden surge of hot weather we’re experiencing – and you probably already have most the ingredients in your pantry, making this one of the easiest recipes I’ve posted.

It’s perfect for Saint Patrick’s Day, of course, but the coconut cream base makes a nice addition to a summer soiree.

If you’re not a cinnamon fan, swap it for cocoa powder, and you’ll get a similar “potato” skin effect.

I used vegan butter (Earth Balance) and cream “cheese”, but you can also use regular butter and cream cheese (preferably Philly) if you like.

Vegan/Not Vegan Irish Potato Candy

  • ¼ cup butter (or Earth Balance), softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (or vegan cream “cheese”), softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2½ cups unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 – 1½ tablespoons cinnamon and/or cocoa powder
  • pine nuts (optional)
  • brown paper bag (optional)
  1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla.
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar and continue mixing to incorporate – scraping sides when necessary.
  3. Add coconut and continue to mix until combined.
  4. Roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls.

Irish Potatoes
5. Roll each piece cinnamon to coated.

6. Once coated, roll candies into a potato shape – if desired.
7. Set on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet and chill until set.
8. Store candies in refrigerator until ready to serve, and serve them in a brown paper bag – a.k.a. a potato sack.
Potato Candy

Jersey Belle Review

Jersey Belle ReviewReality TV has served a very limited purpose in my life.

Typically, I’ve only indulged in this type of programming on sick days when I’m craving a complete cerebral shutdown or while trying to catch a glimpse of my childhood home (Teresa from RHONJ is a neighbor).

I don’t know exactly what made me tune in to Jersey Belle. Perhaps it’s because, at times, I share the fish out of water feeling with the protagonist, Jaime Sullivan, or maybe it was the promise of “different” type of reality show. Whatever the real reason may be, I am glad I watched.

Unlike the popular Housewives’ series, Jersey Belle isn’t a loud, catty, fighting free for all.

Instead, Jaime’s fierce loyalty to her friends despite a stark refusal to assimilate to the Southern norm, along with tackling heavier issues like endometriosis, adoption, infertility, and divorce, gives the show an overall light and airy feel, but with heart.

So – is it worth watching? I say yes, if only to court reality TV away from the RHO genre into a different realm beyond the fake drama and Botox, and to learn about a culture that’s extremely foreign (be it Alabamian or New Jersey culture).

Have you watched Jersey Belle? Let me know what you think about this show in the comments!

Beach Vacation Essentials

beach bag

Being a stone’s throw away from the water is by far my favorite part of living in Connecticut.

All summer long (and usually well into the fall) I try to spend as much time as possible at the beach.

I’ve my listed my basic essentials before, but here’s an updated list on my coastal must-have’s. Continue reading

  •  Fouta - this thin, but surprisingly absorbent and quick drying towel is perfect for the beach, and can double as a bath towel since it’s a suitcase space saver.
  • Tangle Teaser - I’ve owned this strange looking brush for less than a year but I honestly can’t fathom how I lived without it. It can tackle even the most sea wrecked, tangled mess of a mop with ease, making hair maintenance as breezy as being on the coast.
  • Sunglasses – Obvious, but always a must. 
  • Water (preferably frozen) – If you freeze a bottle the night before, you’ll have perfectly chilled water for hours at the beach.
  • Sunscreen – Make sure it’s at least SPF 15 and reapply every 2 hours, no acceptions.
  • Reading Material –  When you’re not swimming, and sunning gets tired, reach for a book or magazine to keep you entertained.
  • Double Step by Julep – This unique product is designed to prevent blisters and cuts from rough sandals. Apply the waxy cream to your feet where your shoes lie, and you’ll avoid the painful breaking in period, especially in the heat.
  • Lip Balm – Lips are the first and most exposed parts of our bodies in the sunshine, so make sure your lip balm contains sunscreen.
  • Facial Mist – Nothing refreshes you on a scorching hot day than a quick mist of facial spray containing soothing botanicals, like the Kora Organics Mist pictured above.
  • Solid Perfume – You know you’re going to sweat the at the beach, so bring along a solid perfume to keep smelling fresh throughout the day.
  • Playing Cards  – Sometimes, a book or magazine isn’t enough to keep you busy at the beach, so bring some cards that are waterproof and add a little healthy competition to your relaxing afternoon.
  • Speaker – Let’s face it, your iPhone (even turned up to full volume) doesn’t make a notable peep outdoors, so bring along a tiny, but powerful speaker (like the Beats by Dr. Dre speaker) and enjoy some calming beach tunes.
  • Antibacterial Gel – Most beaches have bathrooms, but sometimes they are lacking in the basic amenities (read: soap). Avoid having grimy hands by bringing a small bottle of antibacterial gel.
  • BB Cream – If you’re going straight from the beach to lunch, bring along a BB Cream to give your skin a pretty, but natural glow.

What are you beach essentials? Let me know in the comments below!

Favorites & Naturopathica Skincare Giveaway! {Closed}

May Favorites

Summer is just around the corner, but I wanted to share my May favorites with your (albeit a little bit late).

Louie – About a year ago, Walter suggested I watch this semi-autobiographical show about a New York comedian, Louis C.K., and I’m so glad I went with his recommendation.

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The show is intelligent, refreshingly different, and despite being labeled a comedy, is quite poignant at times.

The best example of this character driven “dramedy”  is latest installment of 6 ensemble episodes, titled The Elevator.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but trust when I saw watching these episodes is more akin to seeing a well produced indie film.

Hullo Pillow - I was approached by Hullo to review their unique buckwheat hull pillow last month. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially because I’m particularly picky about my sleeping arrangements, but I can honestly say that I prefer this pillow to any other I’ve used in the past.

I’ll post a full review of the pillow in a few days, detailing my experience, so look out for that to learn more.

Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes – I have sensitive skin, and these makeup remover wipes are the only I’ve found that don’t burn my skin.

(albeit a little bit late).

They’re made with a blend of aloe vera, chamomile, cucumber, and vitamin E oil, and  free of fragrances, parabens, and petrochemicals.

(albeit a little bit late).

The packaging is adorable, but more importantly, a portion of the proceeds is donation to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Polar Bear SOS initiative.

(albeit a little bit late).

Northern Delights Cloudberry Inuit  Herbal Tea – I purchased this tea from a fancy grocery store while I was visiting Montreal, and I’ve been enjoying a cup almost every evening since.

(albeit a little bit late).

The cloudberries are blended with traditional Inuit herbs that are just a touch sweet, and 100% delicious.

(albeit a little bit late).

Naturopathica Plant Stem Cell Booster Serum – This all natural skincare brand based in the Hamptons, NY asked if I would like to do a giveaway on my blog for their newest product, Plant Stem Cell Booster Serum.

(albeit a little bit late).

This serum is clinically proven to rejuvenate the skin’s appearance and smooth away fine lines and wrinkles.

(albeit a little bit late).

It contains a myriad of skin improving botanical stem cells including Echinacea and butterfly bush that help to plump and protect the skin, and reduce inflammation for more radiant, younger-looking skin.

(albeit a little bit late).

This groundbreaking night serum is available on Naturopathica‘s website, or you can enter to win a full size bottle (valued at $84!) by entering the Rafflecopter contest below.

(albeit a little bit late).

The contest is open worldwide, and closes on Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. The winner will be contacted via email on or around June 30th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disney College Program: Pros and Cons

lifeguard1 Unbelievable fact: it’s been almost ten years since I completed the Disney College Program.

In mid August 2004, I boarded the Autotrain in Virginia for the overnight trip to Orlando.

My time at Walt Disney World (that’s the Florida park, for those who don’t know) was truly an unforgettable time of my life, and something I would recommend to almost anyone. That being said, like most things, there are pros and cons to dedicating a few months of your oh so precious college years to work for the Mouse, and here is my list for anyone who is considering applying or received their acceptance letter.

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Note: This list could apply to Disneyland (California) program as well, but I don’t know enough about it to comment. For comprehensive info about working at Disneyland, check out SarahSnitch on YouTube.

Pro: You get to live in sunny central Florida for 4 to 6 months. When people ask what was the CP like, I always reply: Like being on spring break for an entire semester.

Orlando isn’t the Caribbean, and it’s not as warm as Miami or a coastal city like Tampa, but the weather (as opposed to the weather where I lived at the time, State College, which was unpredictable at best) is pretty phenomenal.

Not only is it sunny and warm most days, but like clockwork, I looked forward to the 15 minute rain storm at  3 in the afternoon that would cool the temperature just enough to be pleasant for the rest of day.

Also, I only got sick once during my program (although I definitely took more than one sick day… sorry Disney). My allergies cleared up completely and the combination of air conditioning and humidity did wonders for my aching sinuses.

Con: You have to live in central Florida for 4 to 6 months. Growing up in the northeast, I’m used to humid summers and mosquitos making me an all night buffet, but if you’re from a drier climate, or not used to strange creatures (we found a frog, some salamanders, and a rat in our apartment, and saw a couple of alligators in our complex’s runoff pond) be forewarned.

Orlando is also very spread out. Getting anywhere beyond the parks feels more like a voyage and the traffic on Rt. 4 can get intense at certain hours.

Also, growing up just a few miles south of New York City, I’ve gotten accustomed to having everything at my fingertips, including endless international cuisine options and cultural events.

While Orlando has a rich Hispanic population, it’s definitely lacking a lot of amenities beyond the theme parks. If this is truly a concern for you, you want to try the Disneyland program which is just a short drive from Los Angeles.

Pro: You have unlimited free access to all of the Walt Disney World parks. This is kind of a no-brainer. And trust me, even if you work directly in the park every day, you will absolutely take advantage of this privilege – when else will you get to go to WDW and go on one ride after work?

Con: Pleasure Island is closed. Another perk during my program was free access to Disney’s version of CityWalk on Thursday nights (which coincided with the arrival of our weekly paychecks. Coincidence?). It was a great way to meet up with friends outside of work, blow off some steam, and dance – and, Disney even provided free transportation from the apartments and back.

However, after it’s closure in late 2008, I’m not sure where CPs go now, besides drinking around the world at Epcot, and, my absolute favorite bar in the world, Jellyrolls (an amazing dueling piano bar located at the Boardwalk Resort – best on Tuesday nights), which are both amazing but limited nonetheless. There’s always CityWalk (far), and Church Street (also far), and apartment parties of course, but the closure of PI left a big gaping hole of fun on Thursdays.

If you’re a current CP or fairly new alum, let me know where you go now in the comments!

Pro: It’s the first thing future employers will ask about. Not surprisingly, my follow-up internship after the program was for Radio Disney in Manhattan, and they were thrilled that I had experience with the Walt Disney Co. However, even after graduating college most employers saw WDW on my resume and immediately asked me more about it. It’s a Fortune 100 Company and in the Dow 30 – use this to your advantage.

Con: It’s the first thing future employers ask about. Another Fortune 100 Company flew me to Virginia for an interview and they spent quite a lot of time asking about my Disney experience, then said: “Your eyes light up when you talk about Disney, so why do you want to work here?”

Obviously, I didn’t end up getting a job offer there (although at the time and even more so now I’m very happy about that), but let that be a lesson: talk positively about your college program, but try to change the topic after a minute or two – unless you’re applying for a job at Disney, of course.

Pro: You will make new friends from all parts of country and world. Currently, I have friends from my program living in Chicago, Texas, Colorado, Orlando (which makes visits back even better), Missouri, Michigan, and Norway – meeting friends during your program is as easy as it was freshman year of college, and most of them will stick with you long after you return home.

Con: You will talk excessively about the program to your home friends and family. For the non CPs about there, hearing about your program is really interesting (Ooohh – did you see the tunnels? Mickey with his head off? etc. etc.) in the beginning.

After the initial shiny-ness of your return fades away, you’ll find yourself bringing up your program way more than a sane person who no longer works for Disney should.

Embrace that your friends will make fun of you – it’s only natural – think of how non excited you become when someone incessantly shares stories from their amazing vacation or study abroad program. Not to worry, annoying our friends with our quirks is inevitable, and hopefully you shared plenty enviable bikini clad photos of yourself in January – before the ridicule begins.

Pro: It’s a paid position. Enough said…

Con: But it doesn’t pay that much. When I left Orlando in January ‘05, I came home with little more than a killer tan. Disney makes it easy to pay rent by directly taking out of your paychecks before you receive it, but Florida’s minimum wage is hardly a livable salary. I had to call my parents and ask for help about midway through my program, but if you are particularly frugal you can get by – but not much else.

Pro: You don’t need a car. Disney provides free transportation to all of the work locations (the theme parks, water parks, hotels, etc.), the local grocery store, a few other essential stops.

Con: You kind of need a car. But that’s where it ends. If you want to venture out of the Disney bubble (and I recommend this from time to time to retain sanity), you’ll either have to take a cab (which is expensive), befriend someone with a car, or like I did, bring your car with you. Not only will you get to sleep in a little longer and get home faster (without several bus stops on Disney’s bus), but should you want to go to a real beach, Cocoa Beach is less than an hour away and definitely worth checking out at least once.

Pro: You might love your job. I was a deep water lifeguard at the Port Orleans Resort and absolutely loved my job. I got to be outside for the entire day, hop in the pool if got too hot, was required to play an hour of kids games daily, and had to complete in service training – which refreshed my first aid skills, or we had to do physical challenges (basically getting paid to work out) but above all, the reason why I loved my job was because a few times I got to save lives. There hasn’t been a better feeling in my entire life and I owe that to Disney.

Con: You might hate your job. A friend of mine worked at a quick service hotdog stand at the Magic Kingdom and detested her job. While there are some people well suited for that position, Disney’s method of work placement remains a mystery and it could result in job dissatisfaction.

The good news is, your role is determined by the time you receive your acceptance letter, so it will clearly state what you’ll being doing during your program, but not where – and that could mean the difference of loving or hating your position.

As I mentioned above, I loved my job, but I was deployed (as most CPs are at some point to fill in for sick leave or holidays) to the Pop Century Resort for a few days and had that been my home pool I wouldn’t have been nearly as happy with my job as I was at Port Orleans.

I hope you enjoyed this list, and stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll share some valuable tips to know before you go. Have a magical day!


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