Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Hashbrowns, Please

I love having a reason to celebrate. A good friend of mine recently celebrated a birthday so I took advantage of this special day and insisted we make a night out of it by going somewhere special for dinner. Because isn’t the most important part of a birthday is having a candle to blow out when dessert is served??

We decided to try Butcher & Singer, a fairly new steakhouse innovated by Stephen Starr and housed in the prior Striped Bass location. I have been anxious to try Butcher & Singer, despite my lack of enthusiasm towards steakhouses. The truth is, I am ridden with curiosity until I have the opportunity to experience any place with the Starr name attached to it.

The décor was all that I had hoped and then some. Having dined at Striped Bass when it was open, I was concerned that the formality and rather cold atmosphere that had infiltrated that particular ambience would remain, but I was pleased to find a much more comfortable, yet sophisticated feel in the dining room upon being seated. It has been described as having the feel of a 1940’s supper club, furnished with leather booths and ornate chandeliers. Most notable upon seating was the mural of the dogs-at-the bar which covered one wall of the dining room. I loved it.

We started with the Butcher salad which was more than enough for the two of us to share, and chock full of cheese, hams, vegetables and rich green lettuce leaves – a great start. I ordered the 8 oz. filet mignon, which was cooked to a perfect medium, and my friend ordered the Steak Diane. This is not to say my entree was anything but delicious, but the Steak Diane looked mouth-watering. It consisted of 2 four ounce filets, over mashed potatoes and smothered in a mushroom, Worcestershire sauce. I love the combo of steak, mashed potatoes and mushrooms – hence, this dish was right up my alley which is duly noted for my next visit. The highlight of the entire meal, however, was a recommendation given to us by our waitress – the stuffed hashbrowns. My description will not do them justice, but I shall make a gallant attempt. A huge portion of perfectly browned and crisp, stringy hashbrown potatoes were stuffed with cubed potatoes and sour cream. I must have had doggie-dinner-bowl eyes when our waitress placed those potatoes on the table. Instead of having visions of dead people, as little Haley Joel Osment did in The Sixth Sense, which coincidentally was partly filmed in the Striped Bass, I was now in the new and improved Butcher & Singer catching myself thinking, “I see carbs”, and I cherished every bite of those potatoes. I was in hashbrown heaven.

Finally, dessert was upon us and I allowed the celebrant to have full control of making the difficult selection, thus she chose the Apple Crumble. When dessert arrived, we were surprised to find not one, but TWO desserts placed on our table, with a candle in each! Fortunately my friend knew one of the members of the staff, and in hearing it was her birthday he arranged for us to have the Carrot Cake as well, both desserts compliments of the house. Could the night get any better? And the answer is yes, because after I took one bite of the carrot cake, iced in a rich cream cheese frosting, I had gone straight from hashbrown heaven and entered Carrot Cake heaven. Most importantly, my friend had the opportunity to make two wishes when she blew out her candles, which was the true icing on the cake.

I was completely satisfied and more than impressed with my experience at Butcher & Singer. I have been to Starr’s other steakhouse down the street, Barclay Prime, and will venture to say that my personal taste is much more suited for Butcher’s sophisticated, intimate ambience. And did I mention the hashbrowns? My restaurant journal entry for the night would be as such: “What an awesome surprise to attend the former Striped Bass where they used to fill up your water glass after every sip that you took, and have it be replaced with a wait-staff that is down-to-earth, unpretentious and appropriately attentive. Next time I will remember to wipe the carrot cake icing off my nose before I get up from the table, since stuffing my face in it is the only way I can imagine eating such a creation.” Next up, I will continue to stalk Stephen Starr as I attend Buddakan.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Take Me Back To Paris

About a year ago I went to Paris for the first time. Prior to my visit, I had a strong distaste for French food – too much butter and fat, tiny little portions, disgusting raw meats and, most often, ridiculously overpriced. I steered clear of almost all French restaurants until I was standing in the middle of Paris, and had no other option but to surrender to its French fare. After that first, melt-in-your-mouth bite of the sugar-sprinkled croissant that I stopped for on the Champs-Elysées I started to fall in love. But sugar will do that to me. Let’s just say I became much more open-minded to French cuisine during this trip, but not entirely due to the food, rather due to the comfortable and cozy ambience of the brasseries and the quaint little cafés that lined the streets. So imagine my delight when Stephen Starr opened Parc on Rittenhouse Square, touted as replicating an authentic French brasserie. Since Parc opened last summer I have been a few times and have loved each experience, but what has me concerned is my sister’s horrible review of Parc, comprised after her visit to the brasserie with my soon-to-be brother-in-law, who, not to mention, erroneously concurred with her faulty judgment. As a result, I was bound and determined to salvage the damage from the rumors my sister was spreading about Parc, thus I made a reservation to take my mom there – who, by the way, was the only person hearing these “rumors”.

Upon our arrival, they seated us at a perfect little window table for two. My mom immediately commented on what a pleasant surprise it was that the tables were not cramped together. I responded, quizzically, “What gave you that idea?” Guess who? That’s right – the “Parc-Monster”, my sister! I could see I had plenty of damage to control. I find the ambience of Parc to be rather unique in that amidst the bustling yet relaxed vibe of the dining room, each little table maintains its own escape from the rest of the room, where I can focus on my dining companion, but still enjoy the energy of my surroundings. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the tables are distanced appropriately and the noise-level is just right. My mother agreed. Hence, I managed to dispel another faulty myth created by the “Parc-Monster”, who had commented that the dining room was “ridiculously loud”.

The bread is always a highlight at Parc, and rightly so. My personal favorite is the slice of whole grain with cranberries, but my mom preferred the French baguette, perfectly crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside. But before we filled up on the bread, we started with the Macaroni Gratin, which was nothing less than a cheesy bowl of heaven topped with a tasty layer of crunchy breadcrumbs. I have added it to my list of “must-haves” for when I return. My main entrée was not hard to decide upon because I get it every time - the Beef Bourguignon. I am a huge fan of comfort foods and this dish reminds me of the home-cooked meal my mom always made for me growing up, consisting of big chunks of beef over creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables. My mom ordered the Seared Sea Scallops which were seared to a crisp perfection, and served over a bed of beluga lentils and wild mushrooms. I was so impressed that I would consider surpassing my usual for the Scallops, but I won’t get ahead of myself. You are probably wondering what the “Parc-Monster” had to say about the food. According to her, there were four items on the menu, none of which were notable by any means. I have the menu for Parc pulled up on my computer, in fact, and will testify that there are a total of 16 unique entrée selections on the menu, as well as 4 additional sides that can be ordered separately. Thus, another “rumor” has been proved false.

Finally, we topped our enjoyable Parisian experience off with the Profiteroles, little pastries stuffed with vanilla ice cream and garnished with a rich chocolate sauce. Overall, my mom was delighted with this wonderful little Rittenhouse brasserie, and I had succeeded in my mission to put the “Parc-Monster” to rest! As usual, Stephen Starr continues to impress. My journal observation would go something like this, “Sit by the window inside the restaurant so that you can peer out and laugh at the unassuming diners on the outside, who are sipping their Taittinger and trying to look pretty as passersby walk with their dogs that bark and attempt to pee on said diners’ ‘please-look-at-me’ Louboutin’s.” Next I will review Butcher & Singer, another Starr standout.

Great Shopping Destination: Egan Day


Last week I was lucky enough to come across Egan Day, a lovely jewelry boutique located at 16th and Spruce Streets. What a great addition to the shopping scene in Philly! Owned by husband-and-wife team (and recent LA transplants) Kate Egan and Cort Day, this chic little space carries the work of legendary jewelry designer Ted Muehling, as well as Maria Beaulieu, Gabriella Kiss and Jonathan Wahl. Each of these sought-after artists is carried in Philadelphia exclusively at Egan Day.

All of the jewelry is totally unique and exquisite, with a clear nature-based inspiration and occasional whimsical flourish. Right now, I'm craving the bird earrings with pearl drops by Gabriella Kiss seen below, and another pair (also by Kiss) featuring very realistic hands crafted from 18k gold. 

Meanwhile, the shop itself is its own work of art. Everything, from the light fixtures to the cloches that cover the glass branch jewelry stands, was made for the store by artist friends. Oh, and the place smells like heaven too! (The flowers are from George Baker around the corner.)




The oh-so-welcoming owners encourage people to come in and browse and do a little dreaming. Prices range from $100 up to the thousands, depending on the piece. All are so special though, like little works of art, that whatever the cost seems fully justified. This is the place to send your honey if you have an upcoming birthday/anniversary/engagement/holiday, or if you just want to splurge on something luxurious and lasting for yourself.


Egan Day is located at 260 S. 16th Street (next to Monk's) and is open Monday-Saturday from 12-6. Get over there soon and start dreaming!

p.s. And be sure to check out Kate's shoes when you stop by! She previously worked for Sigerson Morrison and has quite the envy-inducing collection of footwear...

Photography by Elizabeth Nettles

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My New Spanish Love

I just had a big weekend of eating out. I have always had a keen interest in fine dining and trying new restaurants. It is not just about the food, it is about the experience. I am fairly easy to please, however, but find myself naturally taking note of the timing of the dish presentation, the ambience and feel of the restaurant, obviously, the taste of the food and, most importantly, is there anything with peanut butter on the dessert menu.

I used to keep restaurant journals and every new restaurant I tried I would fill out my book, attaching the restaurant’s business card to the top of the page, and then meticulously filling out all of the spaces in my journal in order to describe the menu, the ambience, the staff, the décor and any additional notes regarding observations I had made. My additional notes would usually include some sort of funny anecdote that had occurred during the visit. For example, “The couple sitting next to us was very entertaining. The male appeared to break up with the female prior to their main course, at which point, said female started crying. As their dishes are presented, said female sniffled and wept into her Sesame-encrusted Teriyaki Tuna (which, by the way, was seared to perfection, maintaining that lovely rareness throughout its center).” The lesson learned from this heart-breaking scene is to never, never initiate a break up prior to coffee and dessert. My point being is that eating out is not necessarily always about the food, rather enjoying the experience and maybe learning a lesson or two along the way.

The weekend kicked off with a Friday night dinner at the very popular spanish tapas restaurant, Amada. My girlfriend and I made reservations weeks in advance, which is highly necessary to secure a prime-time weekend table at this hot spot. I love writing in restaurant-review style, so bare with me here. I have been here a couple other times, but this time I was lucky enough to get a table in the cozier and more intimate back lounge of the restaurant. The vibe is quieter in the back and furnished with comfortable couches and cool little nooks for dining. Of course if you are looking to “be seen” you may be more inclined to sit in the front dining room. Granted I had some hot denim on from a local designer’s line at Very Bad Horse, and would not have minded showing them off a little, but at the end of the day, nobody is really going to be paying attention to my jeans, because Jose Garces steals the show with his Latin innovations. (Allow me to interject, I feel like I should be getting some sort of props for these accolades I am shooting out left and right.)

My friend and I decided to go with the chef’s tasting menu, primarily because we could not understand anything on the menu and wanted to avoid a lengthy debate on whether we should go with the “Pernil Asado” or the “Mollejas con Guisantes”, which clearly made no sense to us at all; however, for the record, the former is roasted pork and the latter are sweetbreads. Every dish we had was like a new culinary adventure and an explosion of unique flavors to the palate, leaving my friend sprawled on the couch of which she was sitting and me, loosening the laces on my Very Bad Horse jeans. (Props, please.) We topped the meal off with a serving of the crème fraîche ice cream, the flavor hinting of cheesecake. It was the perfect meal-ender, despite the absence of my usual preference for peanut butter. Overall, it was my best experience to date at Amada and has me craving more of Garces’ delectableness. If I were filling in my restaurant journal the night’s observation would be “Don’t allow your date to join you on the couch to snuggle and give you gross little cheek kisses in the middle of your dinner because the table right next to you will probably be making fun of you.” Needless to say, the couple next to us kept my friend and I partially entertained in between courses. Stay tuned for my Parisian escape to Stephen Starr's Parc.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Denim is a Fake Fendi


Last Friday night, Endorphin Seeker invited me to join a few other friends at a private party being hosted at Denim Nightclub. I slithered into my tightest pair of jeans, lowest cut blouse, softest leather pumps and coolest Italian jacket. I even showered. I messied my hair and haphazardly applied lip gloss while my posse walked through Rittenhouse Square . I looked forward to enjoying a new classy establishment, cute boys and genuine fun. But the journey was much more exciting than the destination. Denim’s turned out to be the same people and the same tired old scene. A club and its patrons, simply trying too hard. A reminder why I rarely leave my apartment after 10:00 PM on a Friday night for anything other than ice cream.

Denim is part of a rash of new nightclubs dangerously spreading like an outbreak of Herpes around Rittenhouse, trying to bring a piece of the Manhattan Meatpacking scene to Philadelphia. As a former Manhattanite, I can attest to the fact that these glitzy clubs in NYC overflow with pretty people, and cater to nerdy stockbrokers, their clients, and eighteen year old models. I’m sure these Philly knock-offs are lured by the high tabs and pay off of bottle service. A $1,000 bottle of Grey Goose gets you a front row seat to the catwalk of Manhattan’s most shallow class. These clubs are pretty loud and lame, even in the New York zip code. But at least in Manhattan, your hefty bottle service gives you something pretty to look at – which was not the case on my most recent visit to Denim.

Like the other Philly fakes, Denim draped red velvet ropes over the entrance to hold back the crowds in the cold night air and give the illusion they were filled to capacity. My friends and I skirted past the line, and headed into the empty club. Upstairs, the air was filled with smoke. I had almost forgotten how much I hated a smoky room that left your hair and your clothes reeking of smoke for days. Breaking the smoking ban must be part of their effort to bring the cool factor. The bar, while elegant, left nowhere to get comfortable without a charge. Every table was reserved for bottle service, sectioned off by more velvet ropes. The few chairs at the bar were taken away around 11:30 PM. The club set the scene for the ridiculous charade that played out over the rest of the evening.

Up the stairs they came, balding men in button down shirts and Kenneth Cole blazers, women wearing red boas and sipping out of penis straws, stiff men in their late 30’s with twenty year old trashtastic women chewing hunks of bubblicious and sucking on Menthol cigarettes. In they flowed, past the empty roped off areas to find the bar. They stood around in their scuffed heels and party attire like teenagers at a high school dance. Until the alcohol began to take hold and the crowd dissolved into make-out session on the dance floor.

The scene made me sad. Why can’t these clubs be posh and cool while encouraging people to relax, let loose and be themselves? Why can’t the staff smile, the clientele sit down with their friends and run a tab up?

I spent ten years as a cocktail waitress in some of the hottest clubs in Seattle, DC and New York. I worked in clubs that attracted A-list crowds without any tricks. VIP service came in the form of top notch cocktail waitresses that remembered your name, never let your drink go empty and were quick to connect you to other people in the club. The clubs I worked out sold a wild night. They were funky and hip, attracted rock stars along with college kids, and the staff seemed to actually like their jobs. These laid back establishments had low overhead and big pay-off. These clubs helped people understand that they didn’t need to pose at the end of the bar to feel attractive or have fun.

One of the reasons that I love Philly is because it is not New York, doesn’t try to be and doesn’t want to be. I love the chill factor, the artist energy and the relaxed pace of life in the city. There is less competition in Philly – and more of a chance to really get to know someone. Philly is the essence of cool, the girl that no matter how many hours she spent getting ready appears effortless. A club like Denim doesn’t just doesn’t seem to fit.

Denim wants to be in New York City, but without the overflow of cash, big spenders, sea of wannabe models and beautiful people, can this new club model actually work in Philadelphia?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Theater review: The Karma Cookie

The Karma Cookie is a funny play. This shouldn’t surprise anyone: it’s a funny name, and the folks at 1812—“Philadelphia’s ALL COMEDY Theatre Company”—know funny. But what makes the performance a side-tickling confection of verbal quips, mental gymnastics, and broad slapstick is not the script but the production itself. The direction, design, and particularly the acting of this ridiculous show left me and my friends giggling, chortling, chuckling, laughing, and even (I won’t name names) guffawing in delight. I myself let out at least two embarrassingly loud snorts, I’m not ashamed to admit.

To describe the play: think Waiting for Godot, but not. P. Seth Bauer’s script is chock-full of existential silliness, but as I sit here a week after seeing the show, what I remember are not lines so much as moments between Barry (Anthony Lawton) and Alistair (Jered McLenigan) as they struggle between Barry’s innate pessimism and Alistair’s childlike optimism, searching for meaning in the most meaningless of places. Lawton and McLenigan brought a frenetic energy to their performances, with scenes that crackled and sparked and left me breathless. The pauses in their pacing felt less like momentary peace and more like the winding up of a particularly explosive toy. Whether contemplating baby theft or discovering their inner fascists (“The Workout Will Set You Free!”), both actors’ whole-bodied commitment never flagged.

The production design more than complemented the actors’ performances, serving more as a third member of an ensemble than as a supporting element. What seemed at first like a plain, unadorned blackbox stage transformed cleverly into (among other things) a Chinese restaurant, a Buddhist monastery, a hospital delivery ward, Westminster Abbey, hell (?), and ultimately, Scotland. Matt Saunders’s set and Paul Moffitt’s lighting combined to make of the Adrienne’s space a puzzle-box: part of the fun was waiting to see what it would turn into next.

The Karma Cookie runs now through March 29th, and in this economic climate I cannot recommend it highly enough. What more could you ask for—the tickets are cheap, and it’s a good laugh. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Trip to the Outlets


This weekend a friend and I finally made a trip to the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick, Pa. It was my first time out there, and it was certainly a successful outing as it yielded one of my most fabulous finds in recent memory.

The knockout Tom Binns cuff seen above (from the designer's Faux Real collection) was discovered at one of my favorite shopping destinations, Last Call Neiman Marcus. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this lovely sitting in the accessories case, and the shock continued as I discovered the markdown price. Being a total magpie, I have been coveting Binns' sparking necklaces and cuffs for several years, but never thought the opportunity would come along to have one of my own. But then, I guess I should never doubt the ability of Last Call to make my shopping dreams come true!

For those of you who love your designer goods and can't resist a great bargain, there is no store out there that beats Neiman Marcus' Last Call. I've been shopping at the Franklin Mills location for years (it's definitely more convenient to Center City) and have unearthed so many fantastic finds - a paillette-covered Missoni cocktail dress for $130, my dream pair of "Pesce" Christian Louboutin heels, a Lacroix bubble skirt with silk and tulle lining, the logo-print DVF wrap dress that Carrie wore on Season 3 of "Sex and the City"... the list goes on and on. The Limerick location is not as easy to get to, but I admit the selection and presentation were quite impressive on the day I was there. Still, I think Franklin Mills is the better choice as it is under the radar and not raided by tourists on a daily basis.


And so, another outlet trip, another treasure found. If you see me anytime soon in Philadelphia, it will be with this gigantic work of art strapped to my wrist. I plan to wear it all the time, with everything. Puts me in good company, as Binns is currently the jeweler of choice to our lovely and fashionable First Lady!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Theater review: Scorched

I've been lucky enough in the past couple of weeks to see some fine theater in our fine city. If you're a student, CHECK OUT THE WILMA -- they offer insanely cheap student season subscriptions. I'm absolutely going to renew mine. And 1812 offers great subscription rates, too! Way to keep the theater accessible, people!

This past weekend I saw the Wilma's latest offering in politically hard-hitting drama, Scorched, by Wajdi Mouawad and translated from the French by Linda Gaboriau. The translation was beautiful, poetic--and made me wish my French were better, because I imagine the original is still more so. The story is anything but subtle, though subtle isn't exactly what I expect from Blanka anyway: the Ziskas pull no punches, to be sure. We follow a twin brother and sister on a quest to discover their mother's secrets, following directives in her will. The present-day scenes alternate with flashbacks of the mother's experiences in an unnamed, war-torn Middle Eastern country: hers is a "boy meets girl, boy impregnates girl, boy disappears and girl is forced to give up her baby, girl spends her life seeking this child and inadvertently becomes a peace activist and national hero, girl's adult children only learn her tragic story after her death" kind of story. You know, the usual.

The big secret, the one that leaves the audience gasping, is devastating, though perhaps in an overly melodramatic way. The actors playing the mother (Aadya Bedi as young Nawal, Jacqueline Antaramian as adult Nawal, and Janis Dardaris as old Nawal) are all excellent, creating a deeply sympathetic and multi-faceted character among the three of them. But unfortunately, the significant moments of revelation lie in the hands of less talented performers. Omar Koury, cast as a chorus figure who reappears throughout the play as a series of secondary characters, fails entirely: he plays no character convincingly, nor does he manage a stylized chorus figure who observes rather than takes part in the play. Instead, he seemed more like a stand-up comedian. Giving this actor the responsibility of explaining to the present-day actors and to the audience just how horribly, ironically painful the mother's life had been is like asking Chris Farley to explain the Holocaust.

The present-day actors, Leila Buck and Ariel Shafir, are serviceable in their roles, and Jolly Abraham brings a passionate intensity to her portrayal of Nawal's friend and partner on her quest. Benjamin Lloyd, as the executor of Nawal's will, is undoubtedly talented, adding lightness to an otherwise heavy play. But while I understand the playwright’s desire to give the audience a respite from the somber plot, I felt cheated by this character's constant malapropisms. The word play was cheap, an easy out for an audience that I didn't feel had earned their laugh; it diminished my ability to feel the rest of the story in my bones. Indeed, Lloyd seemed to be embarrassed by these lines, though perhaps I was merely embarrassed for him. Otherwise, he brought a sweet, optimistic pathos to his character, as the only person who cared for Nawal in her final years--her only friend.

My plus-one astutely noted that the design for the show was crisp, with a versatile minimalist set and richly evocative musical composition. The bare platform easily shifted from orphanage, to notary’s office, to U.N. courtroom with ease, aided by a deftly sparse lighting design.

All told, I came away from the play feeling scorched by the story, by the knowledge that the events of the story could be true; but ultimately the production and the script didn't live up to their full potential. I hold the Wilma to higher standards. Still, don't take my word for it: I would recommend the show as an ambitious undertaking with a (mostly) great cast, an evening of theater that if nothing else, will make you think.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jen Corace Exhibit at the Art Star

One of my favorite places in Philly, Art Star, has a stunning exhibit going on right now that features artist Jen Corace. I love her use of color and pattern – and of course I like the delicate femininity of each piece. Here are a few of my favorites.





The show only runs through April 12th, so get out and see it soon!

Lucite Lust, Part 2


Or should I say... Lucite Love? Here's a chic little container for your magazines, perfect for the bedside or a favorite reading nook. Also, the perfect gift for any fan of (arguably) Philly's most famous work of public art...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Turtle Love

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



While formerly thought to be extinct, last week brought a rare flourish of the fabled “Middle Aged Woman” to Center City Philadelphia. A true sign of spring , there is no doubt, that it was the annual Philly Flower show that brought about the phenomena.

Locals poured out onto the sidewalks to catch a glimpse of the beautiful site. Women, 40-50 in age, usually traveling in threes or more, carrying large bundles of brown paper wrapped flowers, filled the streets of Chinatown. Many travelled into Reading Terminal Market and clogged up the aisles, buying cheese and charcuterie from famed Salumeria. While others were spotted eating Chinese Food !

I hear stories that these lovely creatures once filled the streets of Center City, carrying Starbucks coffees and Banana Republic shopping bags. But a mysterious ailment sent them fleeing to the suburbs. I suspect it has something to do with the tag around their fourth finger, and the minivans they used to haul their loads out of town.

Consider yourself lucky if you were able to get out this last week and witness this creature in its natural habitat. I observed their fearlessness, their laughter, their comfortable shoes and fanny packs from behind the provided shrubbery within the Convention Center. Like Cherry Blossoms, you wait a whole year to see them and then they are gone within a week. But oh, what a lovely week!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Lust List - Acrylic

Lately, I can't stop thinking about and lusting over clear acrylic. I love the modernity and the way it disappears next to heavier pieces. Here are a few cool pieces I saw in a store in Palm Springs, as well as a few pics I found trolling the decor sites.





Things I Can Do Without, and Things I Can't.

I have willingly parted with television, a land line, home internet access, closet space, a dream kitchen (yes, I did have it!), a yard, a car, and a shower built to fit two people comfortably. I can certainly do without meat, manicures, frequent haircuts, weekly trips to Sephora, pretty much everything at Anthropologie (though it's so, so hard ...), restaurant dining, expensive chocolates, additions to my shoe collection, vacations, and a thermostat set at a comfortable 69 degrees. But please, please, in the name of all that is holy, don't ever ask me to part with the following (and I'm only talking about the inanimate here):

- books.
- coffee.
- pens and paper--the right kind of pens, inviting paper.
- my iPhone, which is my connection to the world (see no internet, no tv, no land line).
- netflix.
- my Cole Haan coat that never fails to get compliments and make me feel like a million damn dollars, and which I plan to have until I die.
- growing things, in pretty pots.

Honestly, in the world of Things, there aren't many I can't do without. So why, and here's the purpose to my listmaking, why oh why am I so strapped for cash? How does one economize a lifestyle that would make Emily Dickinson look extravagant? Perhaps I need to spend a week spending NOTHING. Well, except for essentials for the care of my young'un, like milk and mac & cheese, and SEPTA tokens. I'm going to give it a try ... starting Monday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Flower Show Finds

Here are some pics of my recent purchases from the 2009 Philly Flower Show.






Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Philly's Finest Flowers


Today, I had the honor of clerking at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Philly is known for a few distinctive things; cheese steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, the house of Betsey Ross, and the Philly Flower Show. Philadelphia gave birth to America's first horticultural society, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, in 1827 and the nation's first flower show, the Philadelphia Flower Show, in 1829. That makes it a very old tradition – and a very important part of Philly history.

According to the chatter on the floor today, the show wouldn’t be possible without the support of Dodo Hamilton. Dodo Hamilton gives millions to the city of Philadelphia annually, and I mean millions! A few society ladies sipping coffee near the judges booth wondered who will look after our city when Dodo is gone. Where is the next great Philly philanthropist and how will this recent dip in the economy effect that emergence?

This years theme was Bella Italia and I managed to catch a stroll around the convention center before the crowds hit the floor. A lovely tradition, this year’s vignettes didn’t disappoint. My favorite display was a set of the Venice canals, decorated with Italian flower boxes and featuring a full-size, lush mahogany gondola. This site, combined with the scents and popping colors transported me temporarily to my last trip to Italy. It was Spring, I was open for anything, I was free of all obligations and I was drunk with exploration.

The experience was just what I needed. To cement my memories, I bought two dozen roses, fresh and fragrant heather, a dozen Gerber Daisy's and several flowering Dogwood branches. On through this Sunday, with the best deals for flowers happening Saturday afternoon, I may have to go back. Thank you Philly Flower Show.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Must-Have Planter


How can you resist these planters by Charles & Marie?
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