A Gem in Philly?

On a recent weekend getaway to Philly with bae, we HAD to stop at one of our favorite restaurants. Located in the Gayborhood area of Center City, Philadelphia, lies a hole-in-the-wall-ish Asian Fusion restaurant named Sampan. Thanks to Yelp, I found this restaurant on our first visit to Philly back in May. I can’t really remember what it was about this place that I wanted to dine here so bad. All I knew was that it was date night and I was just crossing my fingers in hopes that this place would be good cause I knew if it wasn’t, I would never hear the end of it.

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Fast forward to our trip in September, Sampan has made such a great impression on us that I made it vocal I wasn’t leaving Philly until I ate here. First off, I highly recommend making a reservation, especially if you plan to eat here on a weekend. I tried making reservations on Open Table a week before and there were no dinner time slots! So like most things, you just gotta pick up the phone and I was lucky to get us an 8:30pm reservation on a Saturday night. SCORE!

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When you walk into the restaurant it is very dim, which I don’t really mind because I think it makes the mood more intimate. There is a host stand with a bar next to it for those waiting to be seated or just simply getting their drink on. Once seated, a waiter/waitress greats you and immediately asks you if you’ve been to Sampan before. They’ll give you a run down on the place. Things to know: it’s best to order 3-4 plates for a party of 2 to feel satisfied and Sampan has an open kitchen, which means things come out as soon as it is ready.

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Once we were settled in, we were ready to order. We order the Tequila Scorpion Bowl, which actually came in a fish bowl and is more than enough for 2 people. It also happened to be Restaurant Week, so we did the Chef’s Tasting Menu. You choose 2 plates from the small plates section of the menu and 1 plate from the rest of the categories. Total plates: 7 for $35. Regular price is $45. Still not bad but I was happy to save ten bucks!

We ordered:

The Pork Bao Buns

Edamame Dumplings

Vietnamese Chicken Satays

The Crispy Rock Shrimp

Filet Mignon

Glazed Chilean Sea Bass

Kim Chee Fried Rice

 

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Each dish is accompanied by a server who explains pretty much each ingredient the dish contains. By the fourth dish, my stomach was telling me to chill out! It is so easy to get full here, even though the plates are small. Along with the Chef’s Tasting Menu, they also offered teeny, tiny ice cream cones. 2 cherry flavored and 2 chocolate flavored. I almost NEVER have desserts at restaurants since I get full really easily but these ice cream cones were so light, it didn’t feel like anything!

On a scale of 1 to 10, this place is an easy ten. In my opinion, it’s easy to find a place with great food. It’s easy to find a place with a great ambience or great service. But Sampan has all of the above! If you’re ever in the Philadelphia area, I definitely recommend this place!!!

 

What are some of your favorite restaurants in your city? Comment down below!

xo

A Day at the Orchard

In the spirit of fall and my strong desire to escape the city for a couple of hours, I decided to go apple picking this past weekend. Granted, in the end I never even touched an apple, I still enjoyed my day out in the orchard.

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Apple Ridge Orchard in Warwick, NY was where we spent our day. Here, they have acres upon acres of apple trees, a pumpkin patch, some farm animals and a hayride that goes through the entire orchard. There is a small barn area where they sell delicious apple cinnamon donuts, apple cider, fruit preserves and honey, with a bee farm right next to display, so you know it’s real. Everything is reasonably priced ($1-$8) and for an apple picking bag, $29. In my personal opinion, it’s pretty pricey. But the apples are grown organically and if you have a big family, it may be worth it. Price definitely factored into the reason why we didn’t pick any apples. However, many families, mostly of 3 or more, definitely got their twenty-nine dollars worth, as they should!

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To the side of the orchard, surrounded by beautiful views, there is a small area filled with goats, sheep, cows and rabbits. The orchard sells a bag of hay for just a dollar so that kids can feed the animals. While many were terrified of the farm animals, plenty were more than happy to feed the hay to them. And the animals really enjoyed it.

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At the pumpkin patch, there were too many pumpkins to choose from! Perfect for this time of year, kids were very quick to claim their pumpkin of choice. The pumpkins are a great size to carve, just slightly bigger than a basketball. Also at the pumpkin patch are scarecrows, miniature houses and plenty of photo opportunities.

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My favorite part about the entire orchard was the fact that there were plenty of young kids working there. One at the entrance/exit, marking bags of apples and checking pumpkin tickets. Two young girls collecting tickets for hay rides, two young boys watching the animals (making sure no kids feed them anything funky) and a couple of older kids selling apple bags and tickets.

Traveling to Apple Ridge Orchard on a Sunday afternoon was a complete mission to say the least. If you have a car or have access to one, I 100% recommend you drive up there. From the city, it’s about an hour and ten minutes drive. But by transportation, expect at least a two hour commute. Spending multiple hours on a bus on a beautiful Sunday wasn’t ideal, but it made for great quality time and there is a lot of beautiful scenery along the way.

Would I do this all over again? Absolutely. But next time, I’ll drive!

A different kind of L.O.C Method

If you’re a curly girl like myself, you’re probably associating the L.O.C method with Leave-In, Oil, Cream. But my new version is a little different. L.O.C = Latina Owned Cosmetics. I was inspired by watching MakeupShayla’s B.O.M.B|Black Owned Makeup Brands Tutorial on Youtube. She explained in the video how something like this was long overdue and it made me think… I know there has to be Latina Owned Cosmetics out there, but where? And on top of that, I thought this would be a great post to end Hispanic Heritage Month! So during my month long celebration, I have been researching and trying out Latina Owned Cosmetics. Here are my faves so far:

Kat Von D Beauty

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The first Latina Owned Cosmetics brand I thought of was Kat Von D Beauty. You probably know this face and name from her TLC TV show, LA Ink. But what most people don’t know is that she is a Latina. Born in Mexico to Argentine parents, Kat von D was approached by Sephora in 2008 to create a makeup line. She originally had her heart set on creating four of the most perfect shades of red lipsticks. Little did she know her line would be such a success. On top of her accomplishments, Kat von D cosmetics are cruelty free and is something she is (and should be) extremely proud of!

 

beautyblender

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Okay, so I was SUPER surprised/ecstatic/hyped when I found out that the beautyblender was created by a Latina! In 2002, Ree Ann Silva made it 10x easier for us to blend out our makeup. The idea came to her while she was head of the makeup department for CBS’s Girlfriends and needed a small, light tool for makeup touchups for the cast. She invented and sold the beautyblender right out of her garage and used the funds help pay for her daughter’s college tuition! Today, seventeen beautyblenders are sold per minute and can be seen in tutorials all over YouTube.

 

Reina Rebelde

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Inspired by the telenovela Rosa Salvaje, Regina Merson created a cosmetic line for women that celebrates both the beauty of her Reina (Queen) and fierceness of her Rebelde (Rebel). Regina started this line to celebrate her Mexican roots and to pay homage for her love of the beauty routines of telenovela stars. She describes her brand to be reflect her “complicated identity as a Mexican woman embracing an amazing American existence.”

 

Besame Cosmetics

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With roots from Argentina, Gabriela Hernandez immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve and once she graduated college, developed a beauty brand rich in historic details and romance. Her main goal was to help women feel passionate about their beauty routines again. Gabriela’s beauty brand is full with timeless shade and is inspired by Los Angeles’ golden age of cinema, which is why all shades of her products are named of years between 1920-1970.

 

Tata Harper

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Last, but not least, skin care is the most important part of beauty. Straight from Baranquilla, Colombia, Tata Harper developed a 100% natural, non-toxic skin care line. Her motive comes from her father who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2005. Tata takes the time to build her line of all natural formulas from scratch while practicing environmentally sustainable practices at her farm and facilities in Vermont.

Of course there are plenty more Latina Owned Cosmetic brands out there that deserves more recognition! There are also many Latina Beauty Influencers that have brought these products to the light for me. In the end, I just hope to see more L.O.C Brands that I can add to my makeup collection and represented all across the board!!

Until then, PA’LANTE! And Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

Coconut Oil 3 Ways

Coconut oil has definitely earned its right to be called a superfood. When I first heard about all these things you can do with coconut oil, I thought it was all lies. But after trying out a couple of these things for myself, I must say – BELIEVE THE HYPE! Coconut oil might be the healthiest thing you can have in your kitchen and it has multiple uses for your skin and body.

Before we get into it, lets talk about the benefits. First and foremost, the best kind of coconut oil you can get is organic and unrefined. This is the purest form and has the highest antioxidant levels. Organic and unrefined coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconuts, while protecting all its beneficial properties.  Coconut oil is considered a healthy fat and can be consumed to improve cholesterol. When used on the skin, it helps cracked or flaky skin heal faster and can help soothe psoriasis and eczema.

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Here’s a picture of the coconut oil that I use. I found it at Face Values for $9.99.

Make-Up Remover

Aside from make-up wipes, if I’m feeling extra oily one day or I just have way too much make-up on, coconut oil will definitely help me take off any hard to remove make-up. I simply scoop out about a quarter hand full of coconut oil from my jar and begin rubbing it on my face and the oil with break down all of my make-up. Then to clean off the oil, I take a warm, damp wash cloth and wipe everything off.

If you’re anything like me, you have oily skin. My skin will produce oil like there’s no tomorrow. Here’s the thing: when there is no oil on your face, your skin will think it needs to produce oil. However, you can manipulate your skin by rubbing coconut oil on your oiliest areas. Then your skin will say, “Woah. There’s too much oil here. Let me stop for a bit.” Good oil will take away bad oil. Makes sense? Great!

Hair Moisturizer

I once had a manager that was Indian and she would always talk to me about Indian hair. She told me when she was a young girl, every Sunday her mother would rub coconut oil into her and her sister’s hair and that’s how, she said, her hair was so long and shiny. After encouraging me to do try it, I of course did. Obviously, my hair didn’t miraculously grow to the ground, but I did notice more shine and less frizz. Coconut oil will give you shiny, frizz free, moisturized hair. But don’t for get that scalp your hair comes from! When you massage coconut oil into your scalp, you are opening up your hair follicles to promote hair growth.

I found that when I heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about a minute before putting it in my hair, I get the best results. Section your hair in half and start from tip to root. I encourage you to start from the tip because this is where your hair is the driest and when you get to the root, massage your scalp. Then usually I leave it in for an hour, or if I have nothing planned that day, I leave it in the whole day. Make sure to wash out all the oil from your hair. We don’t want oily skin OR oily hair.

Cooking Oil

Yes, it’s true. You can cook with coconut oil. As I said before, coconut oil is filled with tons of antioxidants and healthy fats. So why wouldn’t you want to cook with this superfood? My favorite thing to eat when cooking with coconut oil is a fried egg. Simple and easy, right? Typically, I would use an entire tablespoon of butter just to cook one egg but with coconut oil, all you need is a teaspoon. Let the oil dissolve in the heat and cook your eggs how you normally would.