Monday, November 28, 2016

#GivingTuesday

After the crazy retail deals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday I encourage you to donate on #GivingTuesday as you will feel great about helping others. You don't have to just donate money, this call-to-action can include donating your time or talents to a cause that you care most about.



How do you decide where to donate? What are you passionate about? What are your values? What issues today "bother" you in that you can try and make a change? Is it community-based? Is it a national organization? Ask yourself these questions before you decide to donate.

When you decide where you going to donate financially or your time make sure your values align with the organization. Ask them questions. Talk with people who have worked or volunteered there. Do your research online. Charity Navigator is a great place to find out key information. You can also check out the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving or GuideStar. I highly recommend getting personal with an organization and doing a site-visit or volunteer a hour or two. Yes I know we all say we don't have time,but the reality is you do. Stop making the excuse.

Remember to save your receipts for tax write off if you make a large contribution. Talk with your accountant if you have any questions when making a donation.

I plan to donate my time time to a local food bank and then make a donation to the American Cancer Society in memory of my mother who lost her battle to cancer in 2010.

Will you be participating this year? 

XoXo,
Tracy 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give Thanks



I am thankful for my dad and sister who love me unconditionally. The holiday's without mom are never easy but these two make the days brighter.

I am thankful for my girlfriends scattered across the world. When we get together, talk or text, and send letters it's like nothing changed and the conversation picks up from when we left off.

I am thankful for my family who comes together at the holidays. We always have a great time drinking wine, sharing stories, reminiscing, and eating great food. I help my aunt in the kitchen prep/cook and it is always a fun time filled with laughter.

I am thankful for my friends. Having lived in different states I have friends scattered. We see each other when we can I am grateful for our conversations and support of one another. I attended weddings, baby showers, engagement parties, and other life events over the past 7 years and I look forward to many more celebrations!

I am thankful to be employed, even if they are all part-time positions as I search for my next career move into a full time role. This process has taught me the importance of patience. It has taught me to look outside the box. Face my fears head one. I for one, am able to write more, spend time with my camera, exploring new areas, etc. I have been networking and talking with industry professionals. I am figuring out who I am and what I want.

I am thankful for a roof over my head and food on the table. "13 million kids in America struggle with hunger. 3 out 4 teachers say their students regularly come to school hungry." If you want to be part of the change and make a difference check out No Kid Hungry, Share our Strength. #AplaceAtTheTable. You can also sponsor a holiday meal here.

I am thankful for being a member of The Lady Project, which has a chapter in New York City. I went to college with, Sierra Barter the CEO.

I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for Planned Parenthood and when I needed it most.

The list can go on for days and days but I will leave it at that.

What are you thankful for this season?

XoXo,
Tracy

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's A Family Photo Shoot

When your best friend agrees to let you plan a photo shoot for her husband and herself, and there newly adopted puppy you jump. Now let's step back a moment and talk about the fact that I am by no means a photographer, but the passion is there. Literally the other day I had my camera and forgot my wallet as I was walking out of the house.

My father was a sports photographer before I was born and we both have worked in the industry, he still does. I have friends that are wedding and travel photographers. I read blogs, explore websites, and get inspiration from good ole Instagram. I have been shooting with the Canon EOS Rebel XTi which I am teaching myself to use everyday.

On Saturday, we drove to Red Bank where I had a plan on where I could get some great shots. The weather in New Jersey was perfect in the mid 60's. That changed very quickly over night and I am so glad we were able to get some great shots.

Riley, the Ranger Fan

I took about 45 shots of Riley, the puppy before we left the house to give her mom and dad some more time to get ready and for me to test out some different shots. Riley, is an extremely calm puppy and literally listened to every command. 

Love Always Wins

I love these individual shots with Riley. 

Dad & Riley

Mom & Riley

Seriously they made this shoot so easy even if I asked them a million times to "hold" or "smooch." 

Lovebirds

Pit stop so Riley could have water!

Riley saw something more exciting


After a few photos by the Marina we made our way back onto the main street. Our next stop would be Riverside Gardens Park where the Christmas Tree was up as well as other holiday decorations. 

Happy Holidays From the DelCora Family
 

Family 


Dad's Idea- One of my favorite photos of the day!
We walked around a little before stopping for burgers and beer at The Robinson Ale House. If you are ever in Red Bank, stop here and get the Ale House Burger. 

LOVE 


After a great afternoon with friends we piled in the car and headed home for a few photos in their home. It was nice to get some shots in their natural environment.

Welcome Home 

Thankful for our friendship

Thank you for an amazing photo shoot. What a beautiful family and I wish you all a lifetime of health and happiness!

XoXo,
Tracy


Monday, November 21, 2016

Not the hotel, Holiday Inn...

Happy Monday, friends. Can you believe it is already Thanksgiving week? For many that means a short work week! I plan to do some work as well as donate my time this week, that post will be coming tomorrow.

Friday I headed into NYC for our annual girls night, with my friend and her mom. Usually we grab dinner and drinks and call it a night; however we decided to change it up and add a Broadway show to the mix.

I love to play tourist when in the city, even though I grew up there and lived on the UES side 2+ years. The photos below are just some of the shots I took on my phone and I have more on my camera. Having worked with professional photographers and in the industry for some time I am loving exploring it now on my own terms.

The first stop on the tour before dinner and the show was checking out the Winter Village at Bryant Park. With free admission to the skating rink, holiday shops, and the Public Fare there is something for the entire family!

We stopped into the Max Brenner booth as well as Woops, a macaroon pop up shop. I am not a huge fan of them, but the Mint Chocolate Chip was seriously delicious.




As we finished up I was craving a stop at Wafels & Dinges. Since we would be eating dinner sooner rather then later we decided to share a wafel with chocolate sauce and marshmallows. There a a few locations throughout NYC, so be sure to check them out the next time you are in the city.


We walked from Bryant Park down 6th Ave to 54th Street. Being that we had some more time to kill we stopped into The London NYC for a glass of champagne at the bar. Greg the bartender was nice enough to charge my phone as we struck up a conversation about hotels throughout the city!

From there we made our way to Iquana NYC for dinner before seeing Holiday Inn at Studio 54. My love for avocado's and homemade guacamole hit the spot.


Add two Coconut Margarita's on the rocks and my main entree, Shrimp Enchilada and I was set. I loved that the enchilada was topped with lump crab meat. I asked for the smoked tomatillo chipotle sauce on the side as I like to add it at my own pace as well as some leftover guacamole.


We ended dinner with the house specialty, Fried Ice Cream. The cool thing about the restaurant is that it turns into a Latin Club on the 2nd Floor and a Dance Party on the lower level.

With our stomachs full we walked down the street to see the new Irving Berlin show, Holiday Inn at Studio 54. The dancing and singing were spectacular and the cast was phenomenal. An all around great musical and one that I would highly recommend this holiday season! At the end of the show, the crew was outside with buckets collecting donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

Here is a photo with the main actor, Bryce Pinkham who plays Jim the main character. Corbin Bleu, who plays Ted another main character also starred in High School Musical!


It was a wonderful day in the city. With the holidays around the corner I look forward to spending more time in the city! It's my favorite time of the year.

How was your weekend?

XoXo,
Tracy

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Favorites #10

Happy Friday, friends!

I can't believe next week is already Thanksgiving. I will be celebrating at my Aunt's house locally in New Jersey. We have from 21-30 people attending so it will be a fun day with extended family!

As for this weekend I am super excited that tonight I am headed into NYC to have dinner with my friend and her mom and to see Holiday Inn on Broadway. Tomorrow I will be shooting my friend & her husband for post 1 year wedding anniversary. I have been playing around with my Canon EOS Rebel XTi and I am excited to see where this goes!



Writing & Shooting 


Now let's jump into some favorites from this week, I would also love to hear what you are loving as well, so leave a comment, tweet me or leave a comment on Instagram.


How excited are you for the new Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson. It is my all time favorite Disney Movie and therefore you can bet I will be in line for opening night!

Cassandra De Pecol is a female solo traveler who hopes to visit all 196 countries. You can follow her journey here and here. Talk about inspiration.

This week my friends at The Lady Project hosted the first annual Women's Entrepreneurship Week in Rhode Island, where the organization was founded. They have chapters across the US. If there is a chapter in your area I highly recommend you check them out. They inspire and connect constantly.

Watch out, these female moviemakers are making a move and will be the next names to talk about. I for one, can't wait to see how the industry will change especially when you add millennials to the mix.

I loved this post by Hallie, of Corals + Cognacs on writing little love letters. I am big on dropping notes in the mail just because. Then I tend to forget around the holidays, ironic I guess.

What are you loving this week? Any fun plans this weekend?

XoXo,
Tracy





Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Row NYC

On Monday evening I attended the Johnson & Wales University's New York City Alumni Networking event hosted at The Row NYC, a hotel right in the heart of Midtown. At 5:45pm we were offered to take a tour of the property before the mixer actually started. I love learning the "ins" and "outs" of hotels, one of the reason's I attended a well know Culinary and Hospitality institution.

Our tour started in the lobby where we learned that District M, is a cafe in the morning and pizza bar at night. It also homes the only conventional meeting space throughout the entire property. You will find the bar to your left and stadium style seating to your right.

Did you know that the hotel is home to the first indoor food market, City Kitchen where guests can eat some of the best dishes of NYC? City Kitchen is home to seven of the most "buzzed" about restaurateurs. Vendors included are: Azuki, Dough, Luke's Lobster, Whitman's, Box, Gabriela's and Kuro Obi. From burger's to sushi and fish taco's to doughnuts you are covered. My next trip to New York City will include a stop to City Market.

Next up we headed up to see two guest rooms. There are 28 floors and guest rooms start on the 3rd floor, the same floor as the fitness center.

After you exit the elevator you are greeted by these murals on both ends of the hallway.

Murals at end of hallways.
 On the tour we learned that the room numbers are colors and correspond with the NYC subway system which I thought was extremely interesting.
King Room
We were able to see both a King room as well as a room with two double beds. Bathrooms are all white and pristine. You have your normal room amenities. In the room above we learned that they have a water bottle and on every other floor their are water fountains to fill the bottles with. Being close to Central Park, you can grab the bottle and hit the park for a walk or run. 

How cool is it that the room key can then become a luggage tag after your stay. 

Front of Room Key
Back of Room Key
 We concluded our tour to learn that Cyc Fitness and Glam & Go are residences in The Row as well and you receive a discount as at guest of the hotel if you use either service during your stay.

After the tour we headed back to District M to connect with fellow alumni. I continued to conquer my fear and talk to 3 complete strangers and it felt amazing. I am learning what I want, who I want to be and use my voice. As someone with a strong outgoing personality I shy away from conversations with strangers, but continue to work on that. 

If you are coming into the city and looking for a place to stay in the heart of everything, close to mass transit I would 100 percent recommend The Row NYC. 

Do you attend your alumni events? 

XoXo,
Tracy

Monday, November 14, 2016

Friendsgiving 2016

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I worked both Saturday morning at the yoga studio and all day Sunday at the Gap. Saturday night my sister, her boyfriend and I(sorta) hosted a Friendsgiving at our house. Friday night we hit up Costco & Wegmans in order for them to prep Saturday before I got home. Once I was home the decorating would begin! Being real, I wouldn't do well in the kitchen and her boyfriend enjoys the cooking aspect.

Just listening to the menu I knew we would be in for a treat and I was excited for leftovers for this week! 14 people gathered around the table while there was probably enough food to feed about 25-30 people.

Here are some photos from the night! After dinner and watching some football we decided to play some Heads Up and let me tell you it was hysterical.




We set the appetizers in the living room so everyone could gather around before dinner. The game was on in the background as was some holiday music to get everyone in the mood!


Appetizers included: Cheese Platter, Mozzarella Sticks, Pigs in a Blanket, Chips and Guacamole/Salsa/Buffalo Dip, and Bruschetta.




The menu for dinner was: Turkey, Baked Ziti, Mashed Potatoes, Lo Mein, Corn Souffle, Corn Bread, Broccoli, Stuffing, Pasta Salad, Caramelized Carrots, and Cesar Salad.


And for my favorite, Desserts: Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Fried Oreos, Funfetti Cake, Mandel Bread, S'mores Pie, Boston Cream Pie, and a Fruit Platter.

I think Friendsgiving is wonderful and I would encourage everyone to gather with friends and family even after the holidays. There is something special about gathering people that you love around for a great evening of food and fun!

Have you ever hosted or attended a Friendsgiving? Or what did you do this weekend?

XoXo,
Tracy


Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Favorites #9

Happy Friday, friends!

I am sure we are all looking forward to the weekend and for many it started today with a 3-day weekend. First, take a moment and thank a veteran for their service. Then take some time for self-care and relaxation this weekend.

My sister and her bf are hosting a friends-giving at our house this weekend and I am working on Sunday. Retail and the holiday season are here!

With all that said, lets jump into some of my favorites from the past week. Share in the comments what you are liking this week.



Sometimes it is really important to be present and in the moment and taking a deep breathe. Controlled breathing is extremely helpful. Give it a try. 

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." Here are great articles on post-election ways to give back, donate and make a difference. 

Speaking of making a difference, Carla Birnberg's daughter is participating in Random Acts of Kindness in her school. 

This New Balance for JCrew softshell jacket looks super comfortable and an item I am adding to my holiday wishlist. 

I love travel. I dream of one day traveling the world and writing about it, yes becoming a Travel Writer is a long term goal. With that said I recently found Jessie on A Journey. I have been reading every post over the past few days. 

What are some of your favorite things this week? 

XoXo,
Tracy 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I vote that "Bagel Nook" is perfect!

Run for Student Council.
Apply for that job. 
Try out for the tennis team. 
Ask for a raise. 
Speak up when you see something that isn't right. Express what is right. 

Today a woman is showing us that the above can be done. A woman is breaking the glass ceiling. Every woman I know has been active in this election in one way or another. When I woke up this morning around 7am I knew I would be lucky that in suburbia I would not have a line to wait in, unlike the millions in NYC. My voting place was the elementary school next to the one I actually attended. It's ironic as a kid I would hear so many of my girlfriends say "I dream of being the president one day" and here we are voting for the 1st ever woman president. Emotions overwhelmed me as I parked the car and walked into the polls. I pulled myself together, walked in and voted, and walked out with the biggest smile on my face. What took all of 10 minutes will change history. 

Get out there today and Vote. Do your "civic duty" and be part of something that is bigger then you and I. 

11/8/16 will go down in HISTORY


What better way then to treat myself to breakfast after voting. If you read Buzzfeed then I am sure you have heard of Oreo Bagels. The Bagel Nook, located in Freehold, NJ is known for their funky and fun bagels. As a "Jersey Girl" I have a slight obsession with bagels and will only eat them in NJ and NYC. It felt right to treat myself to a bagel after hitting the polls this morning and so I knew I had to head over to The Bagel Nook!

Freehold, NJ

The Bagel Nook did not disappoint. I actually have decided that I plan to try every Omazing Overloads. 

So Many Choices
I had a really hard time to choose just one. I took out my camera to start taking photo's and one woman asked me if I was a professional photographer. One of the worker's asked if I was with a newspaper. Nope, just me trying my hand as a #FoodBlogger, #FoodPhotographer #Writer, etc. 

Finally I decided on the Triple Chocolate Chunk, a chocolate chip bagel with M & M Cream Cheese, and Toasted Chocolate Chip Cookie. 





There are so many options to choose from in regards to Bagels as well as spreads. Imagine Peanut Butter Fudge Cream Cheese, Cotton Candy Cream Cheese or Vanilla Milkshake Cream Cheese on a Cocoa Puffs Bagel or a Oreo Bagel. 

I mean the options are endless and let me tell you these bagels get 100% from this Jersey Girl who loves her bagels. 

Cream Cheese Board
The Butter Bar

Bagels





As I mentioned above I plan to go back to try the other combinations. As someone who enjoys chocolate I am thinking my next choice will be the Chocolate Fudge or the Oreo Overload. 

What would be your first choice?

XoXo,
Tracy



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Backyard Beauty

While working at the yoga studio this morning I decided I would spend the afternoon writing and taking some fall photos. I wanted to just get out of my head and really disconnect but at the same time I am experimenting with photography so I knew it would be a great afternoon for just that.
People travel all over the world to see beautiful lakes, fall foliage, and the changing the of seasons. Today I traveled all of 7 miles to Freehold, NJ. This is practically my backyard and yet I never stop to see the beauty in this town. 

My first stop was to Lake Topanemus Park, a 71-acre site of gorgeous scenery. For those interested in fishing, jogging, biking, running, walking, boating, and setting up a picnic this is the spot for you. Filled with beautiful trees, flowers and wildlife there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

Lake Life

Orange

Bridge

Bare Beauty
I experimented with the settings on my camera while also being inspired to write. Spending some time there really motivated me to explore more. 

Ready for the shot!
Next up was Downtown Freehold, home to some wonderful restaurants and gorgeous homes. When you think of places to visit and restaurants to try most people wouldn't assume your local small town has some great options. This where I like to differ and be the first to say, some of my favorite meals are from local restaurants. I have dined in 5 start restaurants in NYC, Las Vegas, Miami, etc and yet I come back ready for my next meal local to my hometown. 

America



Green House

Downtown Freehold, NJ



Oyako Tso's - Half Price Sushi & BYOB

El Meson - Traditional Mexican, BYOB & Indoor/Outdoor Seating

Alycia's Bistro - Using local and seasonal ingredients reflects seasonally changing menu, BYOB 

Metropolitan Cafe - New American Menu with Pacific Rim flair. (Great Restaurants NJ)

Having eaten at each of the above restaurants numerous times I can say that downtown, Freehold is not lacking in the #foodie scene in New Jersey. I have also enjoyed wonderful meals at all restaurants under Great Restaurants NJ and let me tell you they definitely live up to their name.  

Looking for a place to stay when visiting the area, I would highly recommend the American Hotel, a boutique property with 20 rooms. You can walk to the above restaurants, visit Six Flags Great Adventure, or enjoy time on the Jersey Shore Beaches. 

I had a wonderful afternoon exploring my backyard, taking photos and being inspired to write and travel more! 

What small town would your recommend I add to my list?

XoXo,
Tracy