American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

One thing I don’t talk about too often on the blog is my guilty pleasures. Well, I use “guilty pleasures” for the lack of a better term, because I honestly don’t feel too guilty about my reality tv habits. One of those shows I can watch for hours and find endlessly fascinating is American Ninja Warrior. The show recently came to Philadelphia and I had the chance to visit the set. It was one of the absolute coolest experiences I’ve ever had — and I didn’t even run the course!

For the uninitiated, this is what American Ninja Warrior is all about:

If you’re wondering, I do not have the type of upper body strength.

The course was at the Richmond Power Plant, in Northeast Philadelphia. This was super awesome, because not only is this between my office and my home, but it is an underrepresented, blue collar area of Philadelphia. It’s cool that Port Richmond was in the spotlight, and it made for an awesome set. I had a chance to ask one of the hosts, Matt Iseman, about what it meant to bring American Ninja Warrior to Philadelphia.

What this show is all about is people being resilient and doing things they didn’t know they could do. So I think that’s why it’s so great to be in the city of Philadelphia, and it’s great being in the Northeast.” Matt Iseman

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

I also asked Matt and his fellow co-host, Akbar Gbajabiamila, why everyone should be watching American Ninja Warrior.

This is a show where success isn’t always defined by getting to the end and hitting the buzzer, success is defined by doing better than you ever thought you could…This is a sport where everyone, regardless of your age, regardless of your experience, your ability, you all compete on the same course.” Matt Iseman

I think everybody in life wants to be motivated and I think that’s what American Ninja Warrior does. It motivates people to be a better version of themselves. I think it’s relatable when people are watching American Ninja Warrior, they go, “wow, that’s me.” The stories of people who overcome, maybe it’s depression — and these are real-life issues we go through — cancer, maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, it’s those people, they come out here and compete. Akbar Gbajabiamila

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

That’s all well and good, but I was still interested in really meeting someone who was like me. I chatted with Caroline Ramsey, one of the competitors, and it blew my mind. She started weightlifting two years ago, rock climbing a year later, and then producers found her on Instagram and invited her to compete — and that was a month before taping! Insane. When I go to the gym for my monthly visit, I don’t even look at the weights. Caroline talked to me about her fitness journey, and hey, she had humble beginnings too!

I found some online forums where they were talking about women and weightlifting and I rolled the idea in my head for about a year, and finally I just got the courage to do it because I had a friend who had been doing weightlifting for a while. So he showed me the ropes. My tip for women is you just have to do it. It can be really intimidating in the gym, and especially when you’re the only female there, but you just have to find the mindset of confidence and just go in there, even if you’re not lifting a lot, just get started.” Caroline Ramsey

I could definitely relate to this — I was reading blogs for almost a year before I finally signed up for WordPress to start writing. Okay, totally different hobbies, but it’s still an important lesson: you eventually have to put your research into action. Another thing Caroline and I had in common? An appreciation for selfies and sweatproof makeup:

I cannot wait to see the episode later this month! I didn’t stay too late during taping (it was an overnight shoot) but I did see at least one person climb up the ninja wall and wow. Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior is currently airing on NBC Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., and the Philadelphia qualifying round airs June 27th. Thanks again to NBC letting me hang out on the set!

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

~ Sarah

Hip To Be Square

Blouse with Blazer for Spring | Shades of Sarah

Outdoor drinking season is almost upon us. What’s still missing? Outdoor drinking weather. When the PHLbloggers got invited to a patio preview party at Square 1682, I knew I wanted to dress summery, but warm enough to be comfortable. I ended up liking my outfit so much that I asked my friend Melissa from Skinny Affair to snap some pictures of me on her phone.

Blouse with Blazer for Spring | Shades of Sarah

This outfit came together because of the blouse. The print resembles flowers or pinwheels, but either way, it’s fun and whimsical. I originally bought the blouse last year to wear with my navy suit for job interviews (always have to add some personality), but it hasn’t really been worn much outside of that. I think that’s going to have to change though, because it’s fun and the silky fabric feels really nice.

Since the blouse is sleeveless, I definitely needed an extra layer. Luckily, this blazer is a pretty close color match, and it honestly feels like a hoodie. I’ve had the blazer for almost five years now, and it’s definitely one of my better finds from Forever 21 (even though it’s only been on the blog once before!). To dress down the blazer, I went with skinny jeans and flats (these are really getting a workout this season).

Blouse with Blazer for Spring | Shades of Sarah

Lesson #1 here is a colorful blazer can be an awesome addition to your spring wardrobe. As much as I love my denim and cargo jackets, they’re not always appropriate. Mixing things up never hurt anyone! Lesson #2 is order the black bean burger and blackberry tequila cocktail on Square 1682’s summer menu. So yummy!

Try a colorful or print blazer for yourself:

~ Sarah

———————
Blazer: Forever 21
Blouse: Nordstrom Rack (similar in a cool print)
Jeans: Old Navy Rockstar (similar)
Flats: Old Navy (similar)

Philly Pick: Lou Lou Boutiques

Lou Lou Boutiques Philadelphia | Shades of Sarah

I’ll be honest: shopping in Philadelphia can be a bit of a mixed bag. It’s not that we don’t have a lot of stores — we do, and at lots of price points! — but it used to be a struggle to find something a little more unique while sticking to a tight budget. I love Old Navy, LOFT and H&M as much as the next girl, but some variety is nice! And some of the more popular accessories-oriented stores tend be out in the suburbs. Luckily for us (and my fellow bargain hunters), a lou lou boutiques store opened up right in Center City earlier this year. It has changed my shopping game.

Lou Lou Boutiques Philadelphia | Shades of Sarah

lou lou is a family-owned boutique chain based out of Virginia, and their whole aesthetic is fun, trendy, colorful and yes, affordable. Their main thing is accessories, from scarves and ponchos, to handbags and wallets, and of course, fashion jewelry. lou lou also carries several awesome independent brands, including Dogeared and Pura Vida Bracelets. Whether your style is more preppy or bohemian or somewhere in the middle like myself, you’ll be able to find something that calls to you. (I’m just waiting for an excuse to pick up some star studs. Star accessories are my favorite.)

Lou Lou Boutiques Philadelphia | Shades of Sarah

And if you want to share the love, lou lou is also a great stop if you’re buying a gift for a girlfriend or mom (sorry for the belated Mother’s Day tip!). Not only is there something for everyone, but it’ll stand out a little more than something picked up at a bigger store. I don’t think I’ve found anything over $100, and most stuff is between $15 and $50 I would guess. The shop girls have also been really sweet and helpful during all of my visits.

Lou Lou Boutiques Philadelphia | Shades of Sarah

There are also lots of cute tech accessories and housewear items, including candles, so it’s a great one-stop shop in an awesome neighborhood. They even have really awesome cards, which is one of my favorite categories of things to browse through (hint: greeting cards make great prints for a gallery wall too). Definitely worth a visit if  you’re in the neighborhood! (You can also see if there’s a location near you here.)

~ Sarah

Lou Lou Boutiques
143 S. 13th St.
(13th between Sansom and Walnut)

See other Philly Picks here.