Monday, August 31, 2009

I did it!

Tomorrow is September 1. That means today is the final day of the August blogger challenge, and I met the challenge. I blogged something (quality of varying degrees) every single day this month.

I'm actually quite proud of this accomplishment--I've never tried anything like it before. I had a rough spot there in the middle of the month where I had some writers block and it got so damn hot, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of the computer. Still, I pushed through and the pressure of having readers made me feel motivated to at least post something. (I can be a perfectionist at times.)

As a new contributer to the blog, I think this was a really good exercise for me. It made me write every day and feel as if it was okay to make posts that weren't necessarily revised and "publishable." It made me a little more carefree and willing to just commit to an idea and run with it.

I'd definitely do it again, but I can also pretty much guarantee I won't be posting tomorrow. And although I think the idea is intriguing, I don't think I'll be doing NaNoWriMo anytime soon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hugo's Birthday

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day we brought our dog Hugo home from the shelter. In his honor we had a few people over today to celebrate what we deemed as "Hugo's 5th birthday." Okay, maybe it was more of a housewarming party and we just used Hugo as an excuse, but there was definitely canine treats and a dog-shapped cake involved.

For someone who never had dogs or cats growing up and at one point would have been described as a "non-pet person," my first year as a Doggie Mom has been one of learning. Everyone had always told me about the awesome bond between a dog and its owner, but I don't think I ever quite understood how much I would grow to love that damn dog.

Tim and I had been talking about getting a dog for years. He's wanted one since I met him, and I really warmed to the idea and was excited about it too. It was over three years ago that we got our first dog book and started to decipher the recommendations for which breeds would be the best fit for us. When we were looking for a new apartment last summer, we knew we wanted an apartment that allowed pets. We found one and started searching even before we had moved in. Fast-forward several weeks and we were on the real hunt for a dog. We read Cesar Millan's book and put his series The Dog Whisperer on our NetFlix. We were a little frustrated in the beginning because we found out a Petfinder dog that caught our eye had already been adopted once we arrived at the shelter (even after we called and they said he was still there). Then, we applied for a dog that was being fostered, and for reasons we will never know, we weren't chosen to be the new mom and dad. I can only assume urban-bias--perhaps they didn't think the dog should be in a city apartment with no yard. Hell, they let anyone have children. We just wanted to save a life, adopt a dog and live happily after.

Well, the last Wednesday in August Tim and I were in Rittenhouse Square Park for their "Concert in the Park" series and the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was there with several volunteers and several pooches. We went over to say hello and immediately fell in love with one of the dogs. They told us he was a St. Bernard / collie mix (I think the collie part was just a guess)--he has the coloring and face of a St. Bernard without the size. After a nice long walk with the dog, a discussion with one of the volunteers, and a walk with another dog for good measure, we adopted him right there. They said he was about four years old, maybe a little older and a family surrender. Apparently, his old family gave him up because they couldn't afford to feed him. He was skinny and had hair loss on his lower back and tail due to malnutrition. They told us the hair would grow back, all we had to do was feed him. The shelter called him King, but said it hadn't been his name for long and we should feel free to change it. We did, and he's been our Hugo ever since.

I could go into detail about the kennel cough he had when we first adopted him and how it developed into pneumonia, his separation anxiety issues and Houdini-eque escape, our car trip to Florida and back last Christmas, but those are stories that will have to wait. It's been a long day. I have doggie treats and human food to put away. And, a dog to walk.

Happy Birthday, Hugo!

SEPTA survival tips

  1. The Southbound 47 bus gets uncomfortably packed because of the throngs of people waiting for it around 8th & Market. If you really need to take the Southbound 47 bus, consider walking North a couple blocks to catch the bus at Arch St. or even Race St (before the melee).
  2. If at all possible, avoid taking the El during school-just-let-out time (2 to 3pm). Take the above-ground bus instead. My friend Mike grew up in N.E. Philly imparted this sage piece of advice on me. Fights are more likely to start in the mid-afternoon on the El because of the combination of freedom (out of school) and independence and hormones.
  3. If you do board a crowded bus like the Southbound 47, try to sit or stand as close as possible to the rear door exit so that you can just pull the 'Stop requested' string and make your quick getaway. If you are stuck in no-man's land (between the two exits, you will have to fight you way out).
  4. Do not take the Southbound 47 bus around 9:30PM - 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night unless you'd like to interact willingly or not with teams of rowdy teenagers.
  5. Say hi to the bus driver. Some drivers will actually reciprocate and genuinely smile.
  6. Never run for the bus unless you can make eye contact and wave down the driver. You're not going to catch the bus anyway.
  7. If you do find yourself sitting around the rear door exit when it's crowded, be prepared to do the SEPTA two-step dance (to maneuver to let people get out the exit).
  8. If you ever need a dose of hard reality, take the late night bus that substitutes for the Market-Franford El when it is not running. It's a sobering experience.
  9. Shouldn't be said but just like the Soup Nazi - be ready with your tokens or pass before you board the bus.
  10. If you buy a monthly SEPTA pass, write down the six-digit number. In case of loss or theft, you can call SEPTA and they will cancel the lost/stolen pass with the six-digit number (e.g. not swipable). Remember, depending on the zone, the SEPTA pass is worth around or over a hundred dollars - don't leave it unattended (despite what they say) - you wouldn't leave a hundred dollar bill out in the open would you?
  11. If you are thinking of taking SEPTA to an unknown/unfamiliar place, use Google Maps Street View to get a sense of what the area is like. This also applies for biking around unfamiliar areas of the city. Goggle Maps Street View is revolutionary for planning urban trips.
  12. As someone who relies on SEPTA nearly every work day, I appreciate SEPTA for the service they provide. Yes, sometimes buses (I'm talking about you, 33 from Art Museum) run on an obscure/late schedule or trains run late. But, SEPTA, is one of the *better* metropolitan public transportation systems.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Philly Arts Get Some Press

Check out this "Art to Make You Laugh (and Cry)" article in The New York Times yesterday. It's about Philly's art scene, but mentions other aspects of the city as well. It's an interesting read.

Today is day 29 of the 31-day August blogger challenge. Only two more days of daily posts.

Photo: Fluxspace in Philadelphia taken by Steve Legato for The New York Times

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flower Boxes? Check.

For those who have been following along at home, you'll remember that I've been wanting to get flowers for the window boxes at my new rental. Well, this week I found a bunch of discounted plants at Lowes. They were half-dead, but they were marked down to only one and two dollars. I swept up several figuring the low investment would curtail my disappointment if they all died in a matter of weeks.

I had no idea what I was doing, so I just started scooping in soil and placing plants and moving them around to spread out the varying heights and colors. Some of them still look pretty wilty, but I think today's rain helped. When viewed as a group, they look pretty snazy. Plus, while putting them together I got to overhear a very colorful argument between my neighbor across the street and her grown daughter. I'm planting roots, indeed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Rarely is it that I see a commercial on television that literally makes my jaw drop. Tonight I saw a commercial for this:

It's paint that's supposed to eliminate household odors. After squeaking a high-pitched "What?" I sat starring at the tv with my mouth open. The paint also comes with a limited lifetime warranty. "Limited" and "lifetime" seem like a contradiction, but even so it's kind of nice to know there are still things that can surprise me. Do you think it actually works?
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help / hide help

Confident and Poochy-Fine

Thanks Caroline and Tallgirl. This actually started as a comment but I thought I'd post it...

Even women (and young girls!) who are in great shape lament and fuss when it comes bathing suit and bedroom time. It's heartbreaking to think that my 14 year old soccer playing, snowboarding, life guarding niece considers herself "fat" when she is actually healthy. Fashion magazines should take responsibility for what they are doing to the minds of beautiful women everywhere!

I LOVED the poochy belly photo from the start -- along with the confidence and joy in the model's face. It's stunning to imagine what a rise similar images might do to our collective sense of beauty and self-worth. One glance --one small glance --at that photo and I began to feel better about my own pooch and ample thighs. I agree with the model, who's name is Lizzi Miller, that it's not about fat or thin but about what is healthy and comfortable for each of us. TV, magazines and the media in general would do well to regularly celebrate the many sizes, shapes (and colors, don't get me started on that one) of the women they are attempting to represent. Glamour magazine Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive has said her publication has will make a commitment to change, lets hold them to it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Body Image and Swimsuits

In response to Planet Caroline's post last week about body image and swimsuits, I was thinking about my own swim suit issues.

Three summers ago a couple of my now husband's female friends from high school came up from NYC to spend the weekend with us in Providence. We went to the beach and to Waterfire, and they spent their evenings looking at old yearbooks and reminiscing about the past. A few weeks later one of the friends posted photos from her trip on Flickr and linked to them from her blog. This normally would not have been a problem. However, some of the photos were of me. At the beach. In my bikini.

They were very unflattering photos, and they triggered what felt like an involuntary, biologic reaction. Knowing that her blog readers, many of whom I knew personally, were viewing them literally brought me to tears. Tim assured me they were fine, and said that if they really bothered me that much I should just ask her to take them down. I felt too embarrassed to have her remove the photos. I'm a confident woman. I should be comfortable in my own skin. My husband loves all my soft spots, why can't I?

Time went by, and I eventually forgot about the photos. Then just a few weeks ago, this friend posted the same group of beach photos on Facebook. She tagged me in the pictures, so I was notified immediately after they went up. I was at work when I saw them, and I had that same gut-wrenching reaction. This time though, I just couldn't take it. I un-tagged myself and asked her to remove one photo in particular. I just couldn't be crying over my poochy tummy at work. She responded promptly, was sweetly understanding and didn't make me feel bitchy or pathetic.

When I read Planet Caroline's post it reminded me of this story. Then, Monday morning on the Today show, Matt Lauer interviewed a "plus-size" model and an editor at Glamour magazine concerning a paticular photo that has been getting a lot of positive attention.

You can read the Glamour article here and see a young woman apparently confident revealing her body. Little belly roll and all.

Photo: Model Lizzi Miller photographed by Glamour magazine. Photo credit:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friendship & Time

I love unplanned visits with old friends. While I assume it wasn't unplanned for him, last Friday my friend Chris told me he was going to be in Philly this week for a conference. Chris is a friend from my college days in Southern Indiana, and he now lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.

Tonight I had the pleasure of bringing him along to the First Person Arts Story Slam (where Pop Culture Casualty served as the guest judge). I was thrilled to show him a window into my Philadelphia life.

Chris and I met during a semester in England, but since we went to the same school back in the States, we were easily able to remain friends upon our return. The following summer we shared a house with several other roommates. The White House, so called because it was the only non-white house on the block, was the first time I had lived on my own away from university housing. That summer, on my 21st birthday, Chris took the day off from work and cooked me a Vietnamese feast.

After graduation, I moved to Portland, Oregon and Chris went to Colorado to be an Americorps VISTA volunteer. We wrote each other real letters. Like Griffin & Sabine. Chris moved back home to Texas and then to NYC to attend Columbia for grad school. When I moved to Boston for my graduate program, Chris had already been living there for several months. Once again, we were in the same city.

Since then, I've moved to Providence and now Philly; Chris went back to NYC and has now made Austin his home. We don't see each other very often. I was a photographer at his wedding three years ago. He was the videographer at mine. I saw him in Austin when I was down there for a conference in February. He is in Philadelphia for a conference now. I love how there are characters in the story of our lives that continuously make entrances and exits. They have an impact on the way the story unfolds, sometimes subtle, but poetic.

I love that I can sit down for a cup of coffee with someone that I have only seen three times in as many years and we can talk about love and education and art and family, and although time has clearly passed, it feels as if we were never apart.

Catty Crafts

For the first time all summer, this past weekend I skipped dancing. Instead I went to brunch, BBQ and a craft fair at the Rotunda, which was raising money for abused and neglected animals in Philly. Sponsored by Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia, 30 vendors assembled to display their handmade wares and support a good cause. I visited two of my friends of catFlowers, who design amazing pieces to wear. In addition, they have the cutest pillows. Check out the catFlowers etsy site and see for yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2009


After writing this post last night, I went to Google images to find an appropriate picture to accompany it. I typed in "garbage cans" and "South Philly." Just for fun I typed in "dog poop." While I was amused by the "I heart U" written in dog poo and the multiple photos of dogs in squat position, THIS PHOTO of a dog poop catcher absolutely blew my mind.

Of course, I had to click on the image, read the accompanying "The Strangest Pet Gadgets" article and post about it the following day.

I thought sure the photo would link to a story on the Onion. But no. Although it seems the perfect Saturday Night Live sketch, apparently this product is real.
I'll let you sleep on that.
Sweet dreams.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some Observations on South Philly Living

We moved to South Philly about 3 1/2 weeks ago, and although we're not completely unpacked and definitely not settled, things are beginning to feel a little more like home.

Here are a few observations about my new neighborhood:

  1. Dog poop. It's everywhere. The sidewalks show a blatent disregard for cleaning up after one's pooch.
  2. Garbage cans. This may directly correlate to point number one, but there are very few city garbage cans on the street corners. As a responsible pet owner I find this very annoying when trying to dispose of certain products. This may also explain why many South Philly streets are sprinkled with trash.
  3. Beer. I can't seem to find a close-by take-out beer place near my new place. In West Philly I had at least three corner stores within walking distance that sold six packs of beer. Here not so much. Or at least I haven't found them yet.
  4. Street cleaning parking signs. The streets in my neighborhood are lined with signs saying parking is not allowed on a certain day of the week because of street cleaning. One block is Tuesdays between March and January. Another is Wednesdays. I have to carefully read the signs on each block to make sure I don't mistakenly overstay on the cleaning day. This would not be nearly as annoying if cleaning actually happened on those days. I have never seen street cleaning and suspect it is just a way for the city to make money on parking tickets.
  5. Lack of green. My new neighborhood desperately lacks in trees, grass and public spaces to enjoy both of these things. The side of TD Bank has a little bit of grass and a couple of trees. There is some grass in front of the South Philadelphia High School. I'm making due, but I do not find these particularly suitable alternatives to my options in West Philly.
  1. Faster commute to work. I'm loving the Broad Street subway line. I'm not riding it late at night, but as a commute to and from work, it's been reliable, air conditioned and speedy.
  2. Living space. My husband and I adore our new apartment and all the additional space it provides. Our new neighborhood definitely provides more bang for your buck.
  3. Bakeries. Although we have yet to take advantage of them, there seems to be a bakery on every other corner.
  4. The South Philly Review. Owned by the same company that publishes the Philadelphia Weekly, the SPR arrives on my doorstep free every Thursday. Reading about things happening in my neighborhood helps me feel as if I'm part of a community.
  5. Our neighbors. We have had the pleasure of meeting several of our neighbors and so far everyone has been very hospitable and welcoming to a couple of outsiders. Yesterday morning our next door neighbor even offered me some Rosemary from her garden.
I'm still feeling out the area, but I think it's interesting to record my first-month observations. We shall see how they compare to my observations a few months down the road.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day #22 and holding strong

Today is #22 of the August Blogger Challenge, and I haven't missed a day yet. I have however, been drinking since 2pm today--a joint birthday party for me and a friend whose birthday is tomorrow. When people are out for drinks or dinner in a large group why can't they seem to figure out how much they owe? Even when gratuity is automatically added and everyone swears they tipped or overtipped appropriately, we still come out way under and someone gets screwed. I guess it's just the nature of the beast. Still, why is 20% so hard to figure out?

Well, the week of birthday activities is now officially over. I'm tired and I have to be up at 5am to walk a 5K for the Livestrong Challenge. Hope we don't get soaked. If so, maybe the scene will provide for some entertaining wet t-shirt-like-photos and my post #23 will be a little less lame.

Friday, August 21, 2009

You know it's hot when...

You know it's hot when...
  • You are allowed to leave work at 4 o'clock, but stay just a little longer because your office is air conditioned and your home is not.
  • Your Friday night plans include dinner and a movie not because you can't wait to see the latest blockbuster, but because you know you will at least be cool for a couple of hours.
  • You check out which movies have the longest running times and consider your second or even third choice in order to escape the heat for as long as possible.
Please feel free to add your own.

I will be attending District 9 tonight, or for an additional 40 minutes of cool time, may opt for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Confession: I Want to Hide in the Summer

I'm interested in hitting a pool/dance party in Atlantic City tonight, but my body image issues are giving me pause. I struggle with the idea of dancing with women in bikinis while I flop a bit in my slightly matronly one piece. I tried to find a lovely photo of a woman who was at least a size 14 in a bathing to suit to add to this little blog post. But I couldn't find any. Search "plus size" in Google yielded women who looked waifish to me. No wonder, I have body dysmorphia - not enough pictures of regular women out there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Night at Home

It's so hot in my apartment that I can barely make complete sentences. Making it somewhat sufferable is the following combination:

window a.c. unit in my bedroom
Whole Foods flourless chocolate cake
...leftovers from the birthday that keeps on giving.

Party like it's Junior High!

Here's a hot tip for fun this Sunday, August 23. DIY divas extraordinaire, Make Philly are hosting a BBQ and homemade rocket launch at 12 noon at Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park. Event runs till 3 pm.

Bring your own everything - food, beverages and tricked out water rocket made from a plastic water bottle, water, and air that you install through a bicycle pump. Instructions to make a water rocket are right here. They say it takes 30 minutes....umm...yeah right. For the mechanically inept (like me) it might take longer.

Decorate your rocket and, viola, you have awesomeness.

This brings back Junior High memories of Andy Hermann (now in Lala land reveling in career covering music beat at Metromix) and me building and shooting off a rocket we dubbed affectionately, FUBAR.

Geek chic. Family friendly. Fairmount Park. BBQ.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do they not know we're in a recession?

Today I had a consumer reality check. Several months ago I bought a poster that is an original, numbered print. I didn't spend an arm and a leg, but I feel confident that it will appreciate greatly over time. I've been meaning to get it framed, but wasn't sure where to take it and just too lazy to take it in.

As a South Philly resident, I now receive weekly sales circulars stuffed in a white plastic bag on my doorstep each Thursday. In them I noticed that A.C. Moore had a coupon for 50% off custom framing. Since I am about to start actually putting things on the walls of my new apartment, I thought now would be a good time to get the print framed.

I arrive at A.C. Moore with the artist husband in tow for aesthetic feedback prepared to drop some money. It turns out, I also needed him there for moral support. My jaw must have dropped when I heard that my total came to $404. And that was after the 50% discount! The sales associate down-graded my glass to one that while still archival, was not glare resistant. That brought my discounted total down to $283. That was a little more reasonable, or at least seemed so after the sticker shock of the first quote. So with tax, the total was over $300 for glass, matte and custom frame. It was a very large piece, and I do hope to have it for a lifetime. Let's also hope I can ward off floods, fires and any other natural or man-made disasters. Oh my!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

South Philadelphia Tap Room

Last night I had the pleasure of trying out a neighborhood bar that I had been hearing a lot about. The South Philadelphia Tap Room is about a 15 minute walk from our new apartment, and to quote the Husband, "I think this is my new favorite bar." They had a wide variety of beer on draft, and it was delicious and inexpensive. I started with the Porterhouse Raspberry Reserve. The server kindly pointed out that it wasn't a sweet beer. I reassured her that that would be fine. The pink tinted beer had berry undertones, but it was not sweet, only light and refreshing.

Tim's first beer and my "dessert" beer was the Founders Maple Mountain Brown. To me it tasted chocolatey with a hint of coffee. I could definitely taste the maple, but it wasn't a thick dark beer like a stout. Served over ice, I would have thought it to be an espresso martini.

The food was what put us over the top. While the menu didn't dramatically depart from your typical bar grub, the housemade preparation made it anything but typical. I had a grilled three-cheese sandwich with tomato soup. The toasted bread was thick and buttery, and the cheese oozed over the edges. The soup was flavorful with chunks of yellow and red tomatoes (although I couldn't be certain as it was VERY dark at our table.) My meal came with a choice of pasta salad, green salad or fries. I had the green salad and it was more than just plain greens and a vinagrette--it came tossed with cucumbers, onions, olives and tomatoes.

Tim ordered the cheeseburger, and he was especially impressed with the handcut fries. The pickles were thickly sliced and obviously made in-house as well. For desert we shared the pot brownie. Sans marajuana, the brownie was served warm and topped with chocolate chips, walnuts, vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup.

It was a Monday night, so it's hard to say how crowded it might be on other nights, but we had no problem finding a quiet table in the corner. Our server was kind and attentive without being overbearing.

If I can ever get off work in a timely manner, I'd love to try out their Happy Hour. Monday through Friday from 4 - 6pm, local drafts and appetizers are half price. The South Philadelphia Tap Room did a fantastic job of welcoming us to the neighborhood. We will definitely be back.

Photo credit:

Philly Event Medley - Week of August 16th

Wizard of Oz Double-Take
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Liberty Lands Park

Part of their Lawn chair-drive in series. First showing is for kids. Second showing is for curious adults who would like to see it sync'd with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Creative Associations Happy Hour
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thirteen in Center City
5:00 - 7:00PM
RSVP *required* here

"A unique opportunity to learn how you can get involved in the Philadelphia Region’s creative associations, as well as network with other creative professionals".

Varied and numerous Philly chapters of design associations are participating: Philly's AIGA, AIA, IDSA, PANMA, PhillyCHI, UPA, IES

"In a Dream" Premiere
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Showings on HBO2: Schedule

Isaiah Zagar. Magic Gardens. I wanted to see this at the Philadelphia Film Festival but it was consistently sold out.

Kristin Kozlowski Art Opening
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Rum Bar
5:00 - 8:00PM

I'd love to buy one of her paintings for my new (rented) digs.

White Lies, Black Sheep Screening
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sedgwick Theater in Germantown

"A series of events force him to recognize his friends both exotify him and are in denial of his blackness. Black, but not “really” black. What’s a young black rocker to do?"

Fashion Fixe
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Painted Bride in Old City
7:00 - 11:00PM
$25 (tickets)

Red Carpet fashion event hosted by America's Next Top Model contestant, Bianca Golden. Along with the fashion show, bonus recession-friendly side shows of live body painting, voice performances, and a fantastic art expo. Dress code: Fashionable.

Credit: Creative Commons photo by dbking

Monday, August 17, 2009

Today's My Birthday

Each year on my birthday, I seem to spend a lot of time reminiscing. What was I doing this time last year? Two years ago? Ten?

Ten years ago I was turning 22. I had just graduated from college and was about to move from Southern Indiana to Portland, Oregon with one of my college friends. I was young and naive and unsure about where I wanted to go with my life and exactly who I wanted to be.

If you had told me back in 1999 as I rode my bike to work in the rain every day to wait tables, that ten years later I would be married, have graduated with an MFA in creative writing and be living in Philadelphia, I would have been surprised. I think I would have been happy to hear I was happy, but I would have wondered how I got from there to here.

Looking forward, I wonder if I will be equally surprised where the next ten years take me. You can have a plan, but it's usually the seredipidity that keeps things exciting. Not that my life has been all leaps of faith and chance. I got to where I am today because that 22-year-old-me made certain choices. She decided to volunteer in an after school program and learned she wanted to teach. She enrolled in a creative writing course at a private studio and decided to focus on memoir writing instead of photography or journalism. She decided to apply to graduate schools only on the East Coast to get a change of scenery. She decided to go out with the cute boy from the party and let someone new in. Each decision I've made has lead me here. It wasn't all chance, but I feel proud to be in this place and hope that I keep making the decisions that keep the 32-year-old-me pleasantly surprised when the 42-year-old-me looks back.

Speed Dating is a Good Way to Waste an Evening

A friend of mine has been hitting the speed dating circuit for awhile now and summed it up as this, "there's always the creepy guy and the hot, but unfortunately drunk girl ." I haven't tried speed dating as of yet because it usually costs $30 and online dating is free and I don't have to leave the apartment to do it.

However, I do have an interest in off-the-beaten-track speed dating events. A few months ago, I attend a "speed friending" event at Mugshots in Fairmount sponsored by, Philadelphia chapter. Meet in (not to be mixed up with specializes in social events to make friends. On the other hand, Meetup is organized around special interest areas, rather than random people going an event. But they both have the same social purpose, I suppose. Anyway, "speed friending" was enjoyable and we got to ask each other off the wall questions, which led to lively conversation. Didn't exchange numbers with anybody, but it was worthwhile all the same.

My favorite dating blog Shmitten Kitten is hosting 4 "Mix Tape" speed dating events in Philadelphia on four Thursdays in September and October organized around the theme of 90's music. Venues are across the city including the Khyber (Sept. 10), Dos Segundos (Sept. 24), the Cantina (Oct 8), and Royal Tavern (Oct 22). Each night hosts a specific genre of music and participants are invited to suggest songs. Those of us at One Fine Philly have been talking about going. Personally, I've registered for the indie music event at the Cantina and emo/pop punk at Dos Segundos. Here is the link to register for Shmitten Kitten Mix Tape speed dating.

The nice part about these Shmitten Kitten events are if the company is not interesting, you can zone out and focus on the music instead. See you there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heat Wave

I'm ready for this 90-degree weather to be over. I realize it's the middle of August and these temperatures are normal for this time of year, but that's not going to stop me from complaining. I went tubing here today and got some relief, but man oh man if my apartment isn't 88 degrees at 9:30 pm. I'm feeling pretty miserable sitting here with my mini fan blowing on my half-naked body, but the window a.c. unit is now cooling down the bedroom, so hopefully I'll still be able to get a decent night's sleep.

I'm going to think happy thoughts of cooler days. I'm sure I'll be complaining about the cold weather when we get to it, but for now playing in the snow sounds pretty nice. My doggie likes it, too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


SEPTA is not my most favorite part of living in Philadelphia. I'm glad I live in a city that has public transportation, and where having a car is a luxury vs. a necessity; however, after having lived in Boston, a city that has a comprehensive web of train lines, SEPTA is often a disappointment. Their slogan, "We're getting there," sounds more like an apology than an affirmation. Still, I've been getting a monthly SEPTA transpass for the last couple of years. I take the Broad St. subway line to work every day, and before I moved, I took the trolley from West Philly.

Recently at the Snyder stop, I've been noticing a billboard advertising SEPTA pass perks. I finally decided to check out the website and see what kind of "perks" I could be getting with my SEPTA pass.

Most of the deals are for places I would never patron, and some perks offer such a small discount, it's hardly worth mentioning.

However, I did find a few bargains worth remembering such as $2 off admission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, free dessert at the Manayunk Brewery, buy one audio tour and get one free at the Betsy Ross House and free admission at The Institute for Contemporary Art.

Some of the discounts have an expiration date, so it's probably a good idea to check-in on the perks site every once in a while to see if something new has popped up. It's only saving a few dollars, but it's a nice gesture. Maybe someday SEPTA will finally get there.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Camden River Sharks

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of a free night of baseball at a Camden River Sharks game. I had never been to a game there and wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The stadium seemed new and clean, and parking in the lot was only $3. We were handed a free program at the door and had great seats.

The FAQ inside the program revealed that the River Sharks are not a minor league farm team, but rather a professional team in the Atlantic League. The Atlantic League consists of teams with fun names such as the York Revolution and the Lancaster Barnstormers. The program said the level of Atlantic League play would likely fall between AA and AAA of the traditional minor league teams. However, their league is professional baseball and many of their players end up in Major League Baseball.

Although our tickets were free, all advanced tickets are very reasonably priced--between $9 and $13 ($2 or $3 more for game day tickets). The seats are amazing! You can't go to a Phillies game and sit directly behind home plate for $11. And, for a mere $100 you can even buy yourself or a loved one the honor of throwing out the first pitch.

When we arrived, I immediately wished I had remembered to bring my camera. Only two weeks out of the summer digital photography class I was taking, and already I'm beginning to forget my camera. I was kicking myself about it until the sun went down--a beautiful summer sunset highlighted with the Philadelphia city skyline and Ben Franklin Bridge, the baseball field in the foreground. If I would have had my camera, a photo from my seat would have looked something like this:
Photo credit:

Beer, a funnel cake and baseball. Not a bad way to spend a warm summer night.

Philly's Secret Getaways

I know I haven't written in a while because I have been taking secret getaways in Philadelphia and haven't bothered to tell you about it. These are events so secret that are only talked about face-to-face, email/IM, or phone call. Thousands, maybe gazillions of these events occur in Philadelphia and elsewhere, but you'll only hear of them after the fact. The don't have an official name, but I will dub them...

Hanging Out at Someone's Place

Yes, in the past couple of weeks, I have had people invite me over for dinner or a small BBQ. These events are peculiar from the sweaty dance fests I have raved about in One Fine Philly. They cost no money at all and basically you do nothing, but hang out and perhaps nosh. In less than two weeks, I had three meals that I didn't have to cook or buy. I dined on simple dishes of stir fry and cous cous, pasta and corn, and grilled veggie burger and corn. And I did no work and I didn't have to wait in line at one of those places that you call restaurants.

And all we did was sit and talk. For hours.

I'm sold on this Hanging Out at Someone's Place thing. In fact, I have purchased a largish digital tv so I can do this curious activity at my own apartment. Maybe I'll see some of you there sometime.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'd do better if I could manage to post things BEFORE they happened, but ...

I happened into Anthropologie tonight, and there was a fantastic benefit going on, for the charity Gilda's Club. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Anthro played host to everything from a raffle to a fashion show, with delicious hors d'oeuvres from Catering by Miles. On top of that, a portion of all sales and all raffle proceeds went to Gilda's Club, a non-profit organization helping cancer patients and their families. Though I hadn't known about the event ahead of time and I was in a bit of a hurry, I did manage to pick up this fun beaded necklace. Lily likes it, as you can see.

The lighting in my apartment is awful. I hate recessed halogen lights. So bright! Donations of floor lamps in interesting shapes are now being taken. I found this French Fifties design at for only $950. It would look stunning in here.

I love the Internet!

I just got back from dinner at Bindi--a double-date with my husband, my brother-in-law and his fiance. It was an early birthday celebration for me and a belated one for the bro-in-law. I had an awesome meal, a grilled arctic char with a lobster-corn curry, and probably drank a little too much.

However, it's day 13 of our August Blogger Challenge, and I'm still going strong. I have to post something! Did I mention I'm a bit of a perfectionist?

Here it is:

Full article here: Squirrel is Surprise Star of Holiday Photo
Not exactly newsworthy, but I love it anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


One of my best Philadelphia friends was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. It was a long, painful struggle for her just to get a proper diagnosis. The last several months she has been doing chemo treatments and has been reacting so well to them that she was recently declared in remission. Amy's fight is not over, but we are filled with hope.

When Amy was first diagnosed with cancer, the doctors couldn't determine what kind of cancer it was and wanted to figure it out before developing a treatment plan. Rightfully so, I wished they would just hurry up and figure it out already. As her friend, I felt helpless. I can't even imagine the feelings of helplessness Amy must have been experiencing. When she finally was diagnosed with lung cancer and started the chemo, her pain went away. She moved back into her apartment and went back to work. With a treatment plan in place, she could feel proactive and better aligned to really fight it.

Amy has been so strong through this all, and now I feel as if I can actually do a tiny part to help. The LIVESTRONG Challenge is coming to the Philadelphia area August 23. Their slogan is "Pick a Fight with Cancer." According to their website, "The LIVESTRONG Challenge is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's signature fundraising event inspired by the hope, courage and determination that exist in all of us. We take to the streets on bikes and on our feet, uniting individuals to stand together to fight cancer."

I invite you to read the message from my friend Amy below and consider sponsoring me for the 5K walk. I'm walking on a team with Amy and trying to raise my $250 contribution the Obama way--just a few dollars from lots of people.

Amy's message:
In March of 2009, I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at the age of 32. The cancer had spread from my lung to my bones and lymph nodes. Thanks to many prayers from friends, family, and people who have never even met me, along with the great treatment I received from my doctors, my cancer is in remission.

According to current statistics, lung cancer makes up 15% of all cancer diagnoses and 29% of all cancer deaths. It is the second most diagnosed cancer in men and women (after prostate and breast, respectively), but it is the number one cause of death from cancer each year in both men and women. So why is the amount of funding for lung cancer only 5% of that given for breast cancer research?

The number of cases of advanced stage lung cancer in young women who are non-smokers is on the rise for reasons not yet known. Please help us change these statistics by supporting our team in the Lance Armstrong Cancer Challenge! You can help by joining a team, making a donation, or by simply sending prayers for a cure.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation unites people to fight cancer, believing that unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything.

Through the dollars and awareness that we raise, we can inspire and empower individuals, and we can make life better for the millions of people across the globe fighting cancer today.

Please support me as I make a difference in the cancer fight through my participation in the LIVESTRONG Challenge. Thank you!

With great love,

Anyone can visit my personal web page and help me in the efforts to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation, my friend Amy and the many others like her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julia Child's Birthday Party

Little Berlin is an artist-run collective and gallery space located on the edge of Kensington/ Fishtown. Founded in 2007, they became a collective organization in March 2009. (Full disclosure: my husband is a member of the collective.) Their main focus is curatorial projects and exhibitions, and they also host music events, performances and badminton tournaments.

This Saturday, August 15, they are hosting an event to celebrate what would have been Julia Child's 97th birthday. It's also a fundraiser to help sustain the space and the collective. Food & music are a $5 cover. An additional $10 gets you unlimited beer.

If you haven't been to one of Little Berlin's art openings, this will be a fun opportunity for you to check out the space. The current show is Bone Tails, and the work is pretty impressive. Little Berlin is located at 119 W. Montgomery Street. It's a short walk from the Berks Stop.

For more information on Julia Child's life, here's a recent Vanity Fair article written around the newly released movie Julie & Julia. (She was 6' 2" tall wearing size 12 flats--now that's a tall girl.)

Breaking News!

Realized there is nothing like One Fine Philly, so I'm vacating the suburbs and returning to urban life in Philadelphia. If you haven't already guessed, I will be moving to Fishtown. Now, I have to find a place that won't break the bank. If you have any ideas of good apartments, please let me know.

Hot Dog!

Dog friendly haunts in Philly:

  1. The Sidecar at 22nd and Christian welcomes dogs outside. I just spent several hours with a friend and her dog at one of the sidewalk tables, drinking beer and admiring the other pups scattered around us -- the waiter got Hugo (a super-sweet Boxer) a bottle of water and checked back on him as well as us as the night progressed.
  2. Good Karma Cafe on 22nd and Pine welcomes dogs -- if you're grabbing a cup inside, Pooch is welcomed in; if you're sitting outside, your canine friend is part of the family.
  3. Tavern 17 at 17th and Locust has a "Yappy Hour" where you can drink people cocktails and Rex can drink his own concoction of broth and so forth. Delicious!
  4. Parc is home to the wealthy and the well-fed canine -- you can't walk past without excusing yourself to shi-tzus and bichons who got there before you.

And for bars that sound like they should be dog friendly but aren't:
5. Good Dog may feature many pics on the walls, but Fido has to stay outside. :(

Monday, August 10, 2009

Philly Event Medley - Week of August 9th

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
JimmyStyle on Passyunk
6:00 - 8:00PM

Opening reception. Fox29 Reporter John Atwater presents his retrospective of Costa Rica y más photos.

Annual Entrepreneurs Forum Networking Reception
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
5:30 - 8:00PM
The Piazza at Schmidts
RSVP mandatory

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
6:30 - 8:30PM
Gershman Y on Broad

Expect some neighbor and pro-bicycle team verbal jousting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Does Milk really 'do a body good'?" Maybe we are all Lactose intolerant

Thursday, August 13, 2009
8PM (dusk)
Penn's Landing, Columbus Blvd.

Saturday, August 15, 2009
Buckley Field, Drexel University
$10 registration fee

Wear Drexel colors and confidently sidle in. Teams of Two. Winner takes all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009
11:30 or 5PM
$45 online, $60 at the door

50+ International Brewers/100+ Beers.
Can you drink even?

Photo: Creative Commons photo by Eric Perrone

5 ways to beat the heat

cool off Pictures, Images and Photos

How to Beat the Heat:
  1. Find a friend who belongs to the Lombard Street Pool, or any other pool in the city. Invite yourself along.
  2. Swedish Fish-flavored water ice at Rita's. Not actually my favorite, but an interesting idea. I'm partial to mango-and-vanilla "gelati," which really bears no relation to gelato.
  3. The Herron "Sprayground" Park at 2nd and Reed. Bring a child or several, for added street cred.
  4. My personal favorite tactic: bathtub full of ice water and a pitcher of mojitos.
  5. Clothes too hot? Bike naked! (Too bad you have to wait until Sept. 6.)

Celebrity Sighting

After Planet Caroline's post about a Paul Rudd sighting in Philadelphia, I thought I'd add to the hip and relevancy factor of One Fine Philly by adding another celebrity sighting. I just got a text message from my husband saying he saw Joan Rivers down by Independence Hall.

Now, don't everyone head down there all at once.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I have nothing interesting to say, except that it's hot and humid and I seem to have a head cold. Apparently my schedule--working six days a week between my two jobs (Wednesday I work both, for a nice 12-hour day) and then spending my "day off" with my 5-year-old doesn't exactly agree with my sissified slacker constitution. Especially when said 5-year-old wakes up 5 or 6 times a night for the three nights a week I have him. Wish me luck, fair readers, in staying out of hospital until I get used to the routine.

This is so Wrong

Paul Rudd was spotted in Philadelphia on Wednesday and I am only hearing about it this morning. That is so, so wrong. But Philly celeb photographer, Hughe Dillon got a nice shot of him, so I feel slightly better. I think us contributors at One Fine Philly should not be faulted (too much) for not posting celebrity sightings more often. We have lives akin to celebrities. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

U.S. Top 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

I grew up in the Midwest. My hometown has just over 2,000 people, more churches than bars, and no stop lights--only a flashing red light at what everyone refers to as "the four-way stop." My hometown doesn't really have bad neighborhoods as far as violent crime is concerned, only neighborhoods with more or less money.

This afternoon, my dad sent me an email forward. He likes the email forward. The subject heading was "25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods." My dad writes in abbreviations--his own baby boomer version of a texting language. He sent me a link to the article with his abbreviated commentary mentioning that 4 of the top 25 most dangerous neighborhoods are in Chicago (where my sister lives)--the most of any city. No city had 3 neighborhoods listed but Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis and Orlando all had 2. "Only 1 Philadelphia neighborhood made the list," he wrote with a :)

My dad also observed that no East LA, Torrance, Oakland or other California cities were listed. No Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, Vegas, New Orleans, Alabama or Mississippi in the top 25. He ended the email by saying, "Hope you find this interesting."

I guess I did. The report was based on FBI data from 17,000 local law enforcement agencies. They broke it down by neighborhood vs. cities because as we Philadelphia residents know, even cities with high crime rates can have safe neighborhoods. I've pasted the Philadelphia information below, but here's the full article.

25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods
 map of part of Philadelphia AOL

16. (Worst) Philadelphia, Pa.

Neighborhood: Broad St./Dauphin St.
Found Within ZIP Code(s): 19132, 19133
Predicted Annual Violent Crimes: 199
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 117.13
My Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 9

' More on This Neighborhood

Welcome To My Face!

Come check out the first show of the Rittenhouse Square Concert Series, Wednesday night August 12, 7-9. This year the venue is playing host to some hard-rockin' folk! (Who can forget last year's Black Landlord?) Starting us off are Welcome To My Face and the Peace Creeps. WTMF is the brain/love-child of Jose Pistola's owner Casey Parker, and I've been told -- nay, ordered -- to come to the show. Shall I bring a spare pair of panties to throw? Or does bringing a spare pair defeat the purpose?

P.S. The Cafe Press shirt above comes in maternity sizes. How awesome is that?

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's hot! It's sexy! It's ... marriage!

I know my fellow One Fine Philly bloggers are all in different relationship stages--recently divorced, currently looking, ready to give up, at least two are currently planning weddings and their years of wedded togetherness. My husband recently posted this "in defense of marriage" article on his Facebook, and I thought it was worth sharing.

It's hot! It's sexy! It's ... marriage!

by: Aaron Traister

Happy Friday night!

Photo credit: website

Mad for Mad Men

So, everyone I know is buzzing about Season 3 starting up. And with the Banana Republic/AMC Casting Call contest going on, things are getting downright frenzied! My friend Kristy is in the running, and she looks FABULOUS. Vote for her! Daily! Truly, she's a terrific person, a talented actress, and downright gorgeous. Here's her pic:
Click the photo or right here to go and give her five stars! Remember, vote daily!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bag or Behemoth?

My friend Mike has been writing some great men's fashion commentary, and he suggested we try writing coordinating pieces sometime. Today he suggests that men over the age of detention and whippits should ditch the backpack and go for a messenger bag. (I'm curious, Mike -- the verdict on the man-purse?) In keeping with the theme of bags, here's what I've been pondering.

Why oh why, ladies, are we all shlepping around bags sized to carry your average Oxford English Dictionary? (Not the abridged one.) Where I currently work part-time, we sell bags your average three-year-old would fit into comfortably. I've checked. I see women carrying not one but two large totes--generally unmatched, generally one in nice leather and one found at a grocery store, and they don't seem to be carrying around recent purchases in them. Whatever happened to proportion? A nice clutch? A small satchel?

I'm just as much to blame as anyone. I have a deep-seated affection for my leather hobos, my new woven soft leather tote, and anything I can fit four hardbacks and a laptop into. Still. I call for a return to common sense. Any bag that cries out to be filled with 50 lbs of stuff--especially when said stuff is all mixed together in a huge sack with no dividers--is a chiropractor's dream.

So I have a new resolution: One bag, unless I'm shopping or carrying my son's backpack for him. Lipstick, wallet, phone, mints, collapsible hair brush. This is more than enough for out-and-about. If I'm heading to work, a slightly larger bag with my work papers neatly stashed in a folder will fit nicely into this:

Otherwise, I'm thinking more like this:But if I absolutely must carry something larger, for say, a weekend in NY or a presentation with lots of handouts, let it be something fabulous. Like this:
All the pockets are functional and separate compartments! It sooooo appeals to the obsessive-compulsive in me.

And as for backpacks -- Mike's right, ladies. Save them for the kids.

Window Box Ideas

Our new place has window boxes in the front windows. I'm determined to fill them with flowers, and help spruce-up the outward appearance of our home. I know nothing about gardening, flowers or window boxes, but ours are the metal trough kind and I've recently learned that they need to be lined with coconut fiber. I still need to research how best to make this happen, but I'm starting to collect images for inspiration. The first two are photos I took on a walk in the Fairmount District. The others I found online. I'm especially drawn to the ones that have vines hanging down. Perhaps these will help someone else find inspiration as well.

Photo credits: 1. & 2. Me | 3. | 4. This Old House magazine website 5. Jean Cotner, Flickr jeanctnr | 6.
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