The Bucket List

Today was all about thrills. After I saw the movie “The Bucket List,” like most people, I immediately started thinking of things I want to do before my time comes. Some items are extravagant, others are simple. Some cost a lot, others are free. Some I have completed, others still require time.

The more I thought about this list, the more lists I started forming. Now I have a notebook full of lists: Restaurants to Eat At, Books to Read, States to Visit, Countries to Visit… My list of lists is endless and ever-growing!

I wanted to sing the National Anthem at a Blue Rocks game (Wilmington’s minor league baseball team). I did that a little out of high school.

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I graduated college! I did that this past May!

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I wanted to fly in a plane. Three years ago, not only did I take my first flight, but I flew across the country to Seattle, WA for a Phi Theta Kappa Convention!

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Today, I not only was in a plane, but I jumped out of it! That’s right!  I crossed “skydiving” off my Bucket List. I could not believe I went through with it! Barry did it, too! I couldn’t believe it! My mom started crying as we boarded the plane. It was freezing! Oddly enough, I wasn’t thinking “Oh my gosh! Am I crazy? I can’t wait to get back on land.” I was thinking, “Oh my gosh its freaking freezing up here! I can’t wait to get in the car to warm up!” Hahah! Looking back on it, I don’t think I was ever scared, just full of excitement and adrenaline!

DSCN0524After an hour drive to Free Fall Adventures, endless initially of paperwork and saying that we won’t sue, we were briefed by an instructor with an incredibly thick New Zealand accent. Next, we met the instructors we would be flying with. This is Brian… He reminds me a Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) from NCIS:LA… He took great care of me! Plus, he was super attractive! Good a girl ask for more? Haha!

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After about a 15 minute accent into the sky, we shuffled our way to the door of the plane and out we went. There was no turning back! The view still plays back in my head like a movie. It was so surreal! We descended 2 1/2 miles to the ground. The wind whipping at my face. At one point, after we first jumped, I opened my mouth to “woo hoo” and I don’t actually know if anything came out! “Oh my gosh! I’m falling! WP_004350I’m flying! Lord, keep us safe!” When we reached a certain altitude, Brian pulled the cord and the parachute deployed. After a brief delay and upward tug, we were floating.

It was so peaceful and tranquil. I could see Atlantic City on one side and Philadelphia on the other. Brian and I had a normal conversation on our way down. He even asked if I wanted to to steer the chute. “Nope! I’m fine! Thanks, though!”

When we landed, I kind of messed things up and fell to my knees like a dork, but at least I didn’t face-plant! Once we were unhooked from each other, I had to give him a hug! Then, I thanked God for a safe landing! I reunited with Barry, and then with my tearful mom, who would not let go of me!

Here’s the video of us coming in for a landing. Barry’s chute is the one that looks like a German flag. His instructor was from Germany and before we boarded the plan gave Barry the best advice:

Range (the instructor):Is this your first jump?

Barry: Yeah.

Range: Can I give you some advice? Don’t F*** this up.

We started laughing our butts off! Brian and I are the last pair to land.

Other things still on my list are marriage, children, and Master’s degree.

What’s on your Bucket List?

Following our adrenaline rush, we met up with dad for a “We’re Alive” dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Jefe. I greeted dad with a chest bump and a big hug! We sat down to chorizo con queso and 3 orders of cebollitas (my favorite). The four of us, then, dug into El Molcajete Estilo, AKA “El Jefe! This is the molten rock bowl filled with a hot reed sauce, chicken breast, steak, queso fesco, cebollitas, and jalepenos (we asked for extra), served with a side of salad, rice, and refried beans, along with four warm tortillas.

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MMMMM! I love Mexican food!

It was a great day! Currently, I’m catching up on blogging, uploading videos and photos, sending resumes, and chowing on some celery!

Oh yeah, on our way to New Jersey, we drove past the Weinermobile!!!

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Hope that made you smile as much as it did me!

Giving

The past few days I feel like I haven’t slept… I wake up tired…

Today, I hit the snooze alarm until the last possible minute. I finally got up, slammed a bottle of water and headed off to the blood bank. I try to make it a point to donate blood as often as I can… Mostly for the free Nutter Butters that follow…

I’m totally kidding! I am a universal donor and love feeling like I’m saving lives for the 1 hour I take to donate!

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Following my donation, a little blurred vision, and getting my purple badge of courage, I meandered over to the canteen. The older volunteers are so sweet there! One of them showed me a variety of K cups to choose from and brewed me a Southern Pecan coffee. I sat down at one of the tables, and after examining the goods (ie. the snacks), I switched up my usual Nutter Butter craze for an adorable two pack of Oreos! Who doesn’t like chocolate in the morning??

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Afterwards, I snuck into Barry’s house to wake him up to go to Cowtown. I know I was just there, but the day was beautiful, Barry had never been, and it kept us out of the house. We explored for about 2 hours, and I showed him around the barns. My last stop of the trip was to an older gentleman that I always buy gladiolas from. These are my moms favorite flower and since we have been getting along the last few days, I wanted to surprise her. The generous man, then asked if I like eggplant and gave me one for free along with a handful of jalapenos!  How nice!

Mom had picked up eggplant on Saturday when we went and now with all the eggplant in the house, it was time for Eggplant Parm (but we’ll get to that in a second)!

As we drove over the Delaware Memorial, Barry and I could both feel hunger approaching, as neither one of us had really eaten and it was much hotter day than we anticipated. I suggested Saladworks, one of my favorite places to eat out, and their was definitely no regretting this decision.

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Both, Barry and I, got the “Create-your-own” option. Mine consisted of spring mix, egg whites for protein, roasted red peppers, corn and bean mix (so sweet), cucumbers, and chopped tomatoes with fat free Balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I like to load up on toppings with moisture and and high flavor so it limits the amount of dressing I need. I adored the colors and fragrant of my salad! Its so pretty! I omitted my beloved wheat roll, but I really didn’t need it. One thing I adore about the Saladworks website is that I can calculate everything on their without a hassle!

Barry and I were content with our meals and it really hit the crisp stop that was need to break up such a warm and humid day! We took advantage of an hour to watch some Twilight Zone in the new living room, at Barrys, after which we went separate ways… Barry to the firehouse, and I home.

I couldn’t wait to play with the Hungry-girl eggplant parm recipe. I was inspired by my salad today and decided to add roasted red peppers to dinner. I have grown up on eggplant unlike Barry who only recently tried it when I made stir-fry. My mom always double breaded and fried it. Don’t get me wrong… its delicious… but it pretty much takes every thing nutritious out! My mom would make eggplant parm layer upon layer of the breaded, fried goods, with lots of full fat cheese in between the slices. I have learned ways to stretch flavor, resources and calories, and this dish was created with huge portions!

Eggplant Parm

serves 4

  • 1 large eggplant

Breading:

  • 1 cup Fiber One bran cereal
  • 1/2 tsp reduced fat grated Parmesean cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • WP_0038511/4 cup liquid egg substitute

Sauce:

  • 1 cup jarred sauce, plus 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

The Rest:

  • 2 oz jarred roasted red peppers
  • 3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the end off of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in large coins, to produce about 10. Dab the sliced with a paper towel to try to grab some excess moisture.

In a food processor, blend all the breading ingredients, except egg, until the cereal becomes a bread crumb texture. Dip both sides of the eggplant slices in the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Transfer the coated slices to a well sprayed (with non stick cooking spray) baking sheet/ pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip the coins and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, over low heat, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. In the mean time, Further chop the shredded mozzarella cheese (this helps the cheese spread more). Then chop the roasted red peppers. Set aside until assembly time.

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Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with non stick spray and spread a thin layer (about 1/4 cup of sauce) evenly over the bottom. Lay half the baked and breaded eggplant on top. Sprinkle half the chopped, shredded cheese, and 1 Tbsp grated parm over the eggplant. Spoon about another 1/4 cup of sauce over this, and top with the remaining cheeses. Lastly, Pour the remaining sauce over the entire dish and sprinkle with basil.

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Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and let set for about 3-5 minutes. Cut into 4 squares and serve it up.

We paired ours with salad.

I love the sweetness that the roasted red peppers add to the dish! MMMM! I forgot how much I loved roasted red peppers!!

It was so good, nothing was left! Not a drop in the pyrex! With so much eggplant on hand, I made another, this one turning out even better than the first. Whats also nice about this is that it can be frozen.

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Nutrition: (1/4 recipe)

Calories: 160, Fat: 1.5g, Sat. Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 6.2mg, Sodium: 648.7mg, Carbs: 33.1g, Fiber: 14.8g, Sugar: 8.4g, Protein: 12.7g

A big topic of conversation at dinner was the madness that ensure in college town last night. Main Street was flooded with kids, jumping on cars, yelling, etc… I thought it was about the Eagles winner! I was wrong! Apparently, the cops broke up a huge party and the 1000 kids flocked to Main Street and swarmed! Thats just dumb! It caused enough of a ruckus, though, that not only did campus police get involved, but also, city, county, and state! Here one guys YouTube video of the events…

Blew my mind! I’m so glad I was in the safety of my home, last night, 20 minutes away from the mayhem!

Mad Cow

I arrived at work, last night, and was somehow relieved to be in a 1:1. I wouldn’t be tempted to nibble. I spent the next 8 hours watching movies and reading up a storm! My friend from high school was always a writer. He recently sent me a copy of his pilot for a miniseries he wrote to proof. He and I both were in theatre. I was honored to finally read his work  and took advantage of this night shift to read it. It was fantastic! His descriptions were so vivid, it was like I was watching it! I was disappointed when it ended when the pilot ended. Wheres the rest? I kept thinking, scrolling with the mouse as if I had misplaced the page on the screen. Don’t leave me hanging!

Around 2 am, I took a brief break and enjoyed the broccoli salad I had made. It was better now than it was before! It was so filling, too, that only around 5am did I start to get a bit hungry. I curbed this with two saltines and, sticking with my green theme of the night, a reduced-sodium miso soup. I love these packets! Only 25 calories and I’m content!

WP_003790It was a great shift and I felt great when I left. I then met dad at my mechanics to drop off my car. By the time we got home, I was starving. I had bought dad Dunkin to begin his day of work. I got home and wanted a breakfast sandwich. Alas, I could not bring myself to do it and I really wanted breakfast meat. I was still pleased with the end a result. I made the messiest and ugliest lean beef scrapple, swiss, and spinach omelet over half a toasted english muffin. With hot sauce, of course.

To make my day even better, I was full and spent it with my mom. We drove out to Cowtown, New Jersey and then to the Farmers Market. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by the smells of indulgence! I called this the Cowtown Devil: Its a pretzel  braid, sliced lengthwise stuffed with cheesesteak! The smell wafts around the market. Its almost impossible to resist!

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Also an irresistible treat to look forward to at Cowtown is this lemonade. Lots of places serve fresh squeezed lemonade, but Duke’s is where its at!

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I couldn’t bring myself to get either one of these treats but mom did buy me a huge container of raspberries from one of the produce stands, which helped curb my appetite.

Following the Cowtown experience, we decided to go to the Farmer’s Market. While I was there, I couldn’t bring myself to eat a thing. Not a simple thing! I did, however, find a surprise in one of the candy stores. I always get a sugar free cordial cherry, but, today, I found sugar free Chick-o-sticks! Sometimes I can’t decide if I like these of Butterfinger bites better… To make this even better, they’re bite sized! I grabbed three! Oh my! Only 17 calories each! I can live with this! I did eat one!

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That was last thing I ate until close to 7pm. Mom had once again oWP_003795rdered hoagies. I guess the fresh turkey was too much for my deprived WP_003794body to resist and ended up eating out the turkey meat from the hoagie. It was heavenly! I followed this with a box of vegetables. And then, sliced up a whole bell pepper and steamed that, as well. I was starving, but did not know it until I ate.

 

Almost immediately following the last bite, I went into a full-blown anxiety attack! I cried on the couch with Frank on one side and mom on the other. I squeezed their hands as I cried and talked myself out of purging…

Is Mad Cow disease airborne? Something set me off!

Seaside Traditions

The morning began, NOT with a shake….

The morning began with…. drum roll, please… Blood Work!!!

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on the road

Yeah, not exactly how one wants to begin the day, let alone the new week, but a fasting work up is a fasting work up… Dad and I both had so routine labs drawn, and rewarded ourselves by grabbing coffee, hitting the road, and basking in the tradition that IS Jimmy’s Breakfast!

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Delicious!

A side order of scrapple was shared. Everything this place has is spectacular. Its classic diner food, but the tradition and memories of Jimmy’s really put me in my glory. Pancakes, huge belgian waffles, yummy omelettes… and you have to get the scrapple. Its tradition.

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getting messy

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Dave, the owner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ordered an egg over medium, stole half of dads scrapple and a slice of rye toast (from his Western omelette platter) to create an open faced sandwich. Dave, the owner even brought us out two slices of his new Trenton pork roll to try! Haha! (I’ve never had pork roll before…I’m still a scrapple girl.)

Once we finished our last cups of coffee, we hit the boardwalk. Today, I had a short list of things I needed to bring home, and a long list of things to do with dad. I have been so excited about this day, I’ve been planning it since last week. Dad and I usually, only get to the shore about once a year. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been here almost once a week, the past three weeks!

Just like eating breakfast at Jimmy’s, daddy and I have boardwalk traditions:

Shoot the Geek

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Air Hockey (I let dad win. Yeah… let him win…)

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Mini gulf/Putput (its actually on a roof!) (I got my first hole in one!)

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sausage, peppers, and onions from Midway (I got one for Barry, today)
The shooting gallery

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Stopping at The Red and Green Tops on the way home (they are side-of-the-road produce stands) (where theres aisles of Jersey tomatoes!)

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The ferris wheel…

Thats a special tradition. It began with my poppop. Every summer, since I can remember, he took me on the ferris wheel. Our ferris wheel was huge and had the caged seats. I would look forward to riding the ferris wheel with him every year, look down at my parents and wave, as if I was the expectionally special child that got to spend time just with my poppop.

The ferris wheel, as my dad was less able to handle the turning, spinning rides that make you regret eating that caramel apple 20 minutes earlier, he and I would ride and I’d ride again with my grandpa. After poppop died in 2005, just looking at the ferris wheel choked me up.

Unfortunately, that was another tradition Sandy took from me… from many…

A special thing that happened, today, was going to Spicy Cantina with my dad. Ever since I was a kid, my family would go her and grab a drink and maybe a bite. Its a pretty happening place on the boardwalk and, today, I was finally able to sit at the bar and have a drink with my dad! I got a diet coke with Mango Cruzan. I totally recommend this combo! It was refreshing and summery!

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I also stole some bites of dad’s lunch, buffalo chicken white pizza from the Sawmill. MMMM… that pizza is just so good! The cheese is so creamy and smooth! And its freaking huge! To help with the humid day, a bit of Kohrs Bros. Orange Cream, with rainbow jimmies! For the rarity that I get to have these treats, its worth the money and a few bites!

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WP_003181Year after year, dad and I drive past this sign for Johnson’s Corner Market and Bakery advertising Iced Corn. What the heck is iced corn? Detour! We finally got to see what the hype was about. We pulled up to this cute lot full of tractors, and green houses, and a colorful barn-like building. As we walked into the building, we were smacked in the face with an incredible scent of baked goods! The first thing I saw was a cabinet of chocolate covered pretzels. I’ve never seen such a variety of chocolate covered pretzels! Then, my inner cookie monster sense kicked in and my eyes wondered to the next case. These were the biggest snickerdoodles I had ever seen!

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We continued to wander the store, looking at the local products and store made dips and items. I had to do a double-take at the cooler. Blueberry salsa?? I can’t be reading that right. Entirely too intrigued, I grabbed a small container, for my blueberry-fiend of a boyfriend. The check out clerk raved about it, so when we got home, dad and I snuck a bite. I don’t know if I would get it again, though, but it was unique. Not bad, though. (Iced corn, by the way… its not like a dessert, its just corn, literally on ice…. like to keep chilled…)

Oh and we were on a serious winning streak at Lucky Leo’s!

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Yay for an awesome Daddy-Daughter Date Day!

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Date Week

By some stroke of luck, Barry and I actually had like 9 days off… Together! For the past week or so, we had been working opposite schedules so we wanted to take advantage of the vacation.

The Philadelphia Zoo

Monday, July 15, we began the week with some monkeying around. Seriously, I love the primates at the zoo! We arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo around 11am or so to begin our wickedly humid day. I felt like I was 5 again! The entire drive to zoo, I was singing, “We’re going to the zoo! We’re going to the zoo!”

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Barry was starting to get a bit hungry, so we made a pit stop to the nearest kiosk and he ordered chicken finger n fries. I love this picture, mid-chew!

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Yeah, Barry, it is hot! Right out of the fryer! Barry and I both have little things that get us oddly enthused, especially when it comes to food. So when he saw the blend-your-own-ICEE wall, he needed to get one!

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Seaside

Tuesday began around 9am, with the Dunkin Donut breakfast sandwich for Barry. We spent the next 2 hours driving until we reached my favorite place in the world: Seaside Heights. I love being able to share this place with others. Although the hurricane wiped out all the rides, just being there and walking the boardwalk was a nice time!

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I introduced him to Kohrs Bros. Orange Cream, with jimmies, or course.

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Last week, I mentioned that place that fries everything so Barry got deep fried Reeses, and a deep fried cannoli to appease me. Not impressed….

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WP_003086He was reunited with Sawmill Pizza! MMMMM Buffalo chicken pizza and a beer! And I took him to few of my favorite games, like Shoot the Geek (its a paintball game that dad and I are obsessed with), the old carousel, and a few super ancient games, like Bimbo. And lastly, delving into his sweet tooth a bit more, I introduced him to Berkeley’s fudge!

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Valanni?

Thursday, begin in my house with one of my favorite shakes: White Chocolate Pear, inspired by Harry and David’s Chocolate covered pear collection. I made dad and Frank shakes, too.

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Rather than going back to Valanni as planned, I suggested we stay home, to save money (and calories), and cook. To stick with the Valanni theme, I tried my hands at those delicious Brussels sprouts! I found a recipe for Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprout and Toasted Walnuts and used that as my base.

WP_003112After buying a pound of fresh brussel sprouts and cutting them into quarters, I sprinkled black pepper, a touch of salt and granulated garlic, and 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar over them, shook them up, and let them sit. Meanwhile, I chopped 2 Tbsp of slivered almonds, and finely diced half a large granny smith apple. (The other half found its way into my tummy.)

I sprayed a baking sheet with non stick spray, emptied the sprouts on it and baked them uncovered for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally, at 375 F. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over top and bake for another 5 minutes. Removed from the oven and toss with the apple.

While these were baking, I marinated some chicken breast in Annie’s Hot Chipotle BBQ Sauce and threw them on the grill.

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Although the sprouts weren’t like the ones at the restaurant, I still enjoyed them. I, did, however, learn a few things in the process of making these:

  • fresh brussel sprouts take much longer to roast than frozen ones
  • Valanni must dowse the sprouts in balsamic vinegar, because the sprouts that were well coated tasted the closest to the originals
  • try and try again… Since I know I’m on the right track, it only gives me more incentive to try to get this down!

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Harry Potter

Every night for the past week, Barry and I have watched a Harry Potter movie. Needless to say, when Barry found this shirt at the zoo, I just couldn’t stop laughing!

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I also truly love this glass! It took everything in me not to buy it! If you have to, click on the picture to enlarge it. Its hilarious!

To finish off Date Week, we watch Deathly Hollows Part 2, and each enjoyed a bowl of Edy’s Slow Churned Caramel Praline Crunch Yogurt Blend, topped with jimmies! We’ve been having a debate, since Seaside, as to call them sprinkles or jimmies…. Its okay, I know the truth… Jimmies (wink).

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Seaside Temptations

Kohrs Bros. Custard. Sawmill Pizza. Midway sausage, peppers, and onions.

These are things I crave every summer, only to be gotten at Seaside Heights, NJ.

The day began seriously early as Barry and I left the house around 5am, him for work and me for the shore.

Last night, I made a ton peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, using a variety of different jams and breads.

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This morning, before leaving to meet my cousins in Philly, I packed us up water and watermelon…

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All the sandwiches, carrot sticks, celery sticks, crackers, and pretzels to keep the 7 of us going.

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Once I arrived in Philly, we loaded the truck up with our crab cages and took a quick pit stop to Dunkin Donuts, where I grabbed a small sugar free caramel iced coffee and an egg white turkey sausage wake-up wrap.

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The drive up to seaside was filled with uncertainty, as it rained on and off. The drive into Seaside was quite different than normal. In the distance, growing up, I could always see the ferris wheel. This time… Nothing.

We arrived to Dock Outfitters. This is the first place I ever went crabbing and the first time I was ever on a boat. It was a tradition that poppop took everyone crabbing here. My cousin, Eddie, and I have so many memories of growing up in Seaside. We were greeted at the dock by some ominous clouds that quickly followed with some serious rain.

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The little girls were really into trying to learn the tricks of crabbing from Eddie and me. After grabbing hot chocolate for the little ones and and a coffee for myself to warm us up, the girls headed back to the car to warm up and dry off a bit.

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We packed things up around 11, when the lightening was supposed to hit (which it never did), and drove a few minutes into the borough of seaside to hit the boardwalk.

It was bizarre. My childhood memories destroyed and washed away by Hurricane Sandy. We drove around checking out all the damage and watched the construction workers clearing away debris and rebuilding the boardwalk.

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I was so happy to see that a few places still remained. The Sawmill was still there, with their massive 27 in pizzas! Yes, this slice is bigger than my head…

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Midway was rebuilt, and the Kohrs stands were still running. And I would have been devastated if Jimmy’s Breakfast was gone. Jimmy’s has been a family tradition since they opened. My grandparents would take us here for breakfast every morning.

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No rides remained, and half of the Carousel Arcade was wiped out! I was thankful that some of the old rides were salvaged. The chuck wagon  and the space ship were rides that have been around for over 35 years! I’m glad that the kids of this generation will get to love them as much as I do.

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Eddie took Cindy and the kids onto the beach. The sand had been so eroded, there was a wall of sand they had to climb to get back to the boardwalk. The water was much too cold for me!

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I really enjoyed walking the boardwalk with Eddie and his family. It was like old times, again, like when we were kids… Eddie and me  🙂

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As we continued to venture the boardwalk, it was sad, but still wonderful to see the new and old shops opening up and seeing all the hard work people were putting into “restoring the shore.”

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We found a small place called something similar to “We Fry Everything.” What it should have been called was “Danger, Sammy Bundo!” or “Sammy’s Fortress of Food Induced Panic Attacks!” I’ve had fried oreos before, we know how I love oreos… but fried kit kats! Nutter Butters! Cannolis! Reese and banana sandwiches!

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Oh, my goodness! I died of a deep fried sugar coma just thinking about its potential mouthwatering indulgence!

Eddie actually got a deep fried snickers, which him and his buddy loved!

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Despite all of the spectacular treats on the boardwalk, I was having a bit of a rough time eating. I could only bring myself to eat the half PB&J and baggy of celery I packed. I opened up to mom and dad when I got back home about having a hard time eating and made sure I ate… well I went to town on a bag of carrot sticks… like a lot of baby carrots! Haha! Better than nothing, I guess.

We headed back to the dock as the sun came out and as high tide approached to finish our day together. We only wound up catching about 15 crabs or so, but I loved watching the girls trying to learn the ropes from Eddie. Eddie and I decided that this has to become a tradition for us!

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To learn more about Restore the Shore, visit the website.