Getting in the holiday spirit

This weekend we planned to drive to New Jersey, for hiking and to start the holiday season with a fresh cut Christmas tree. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, and we headed out after coffee and rearranging our bedroom to make room for a tree.

A quick stop by the library brought us up Passyunk, and while stopped at a light next to a stand of trees we changed our mind: here’s a reasonably priced fir a few blocks from home, let’s go bowling instead!

We still got a few miles of hiking in: walking the tree back rather than strapping it onto the roof for a few blocks trip. The return to get the car: finally, some parking luck right across the street from our apartment. A walk through south Philly to Pep Bowling, only to find their few lanes fully occupied with a 12-year old’s birthday party in full swing, and a walk back to Center City to the just-fine Lucky Strike. Good cheer and two losses to my wife’s consistent bowling, a lovely outing.

Stephanie picks up the spare.

Stephanie picks up the spare.

The tree had been stretching out at home, filling the apartment with a wintry forest aroma. From our 3 ornaments a few years ago, we’ve by now picked up a fair number from friends, family, and travels, so with plenty of lights and some glass beads, decorating was set in short order. Another string of lights for the living room ambiance, and some dollar store stockings to hang from the mantle later in the week.

Let the festivities begin!

Let the festivities begin!

Finally, this morning I took the trimmed branches and made a little swag for the door, and then Stephanie and I watched The Nutcracker, which we followed with some rye bagels with chopped pickled herring salad. I’d say we’ve got the spirit in full swing now!

May your hallways smell good too.

May your hallways smell good too.

Friends in town

You know it’s going to be a good weekend when friends get off the plane bearing cheese curds and a CD of Jack White’s B-Sides. Adrienne and Derrick flew in from Wisconsin a week ago for a few days visit.

Friday afternoon we headed out to visit some of the history of Philadelphia – the City Tavern, serving beers from recipes that date back to Ben Franklin – of course!

Luke and Derrick at City Tavern

Luke and Derrick at City Tavern

Later in the weekend we visited Independence Hall, a much less pleasant experience than our first visit with an overly excited ranger tour guide. More enjoyable to walk through the parks and trying to guess the age of houses. A walk out to the river; ducking in for a cocktail to escape the rain.

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Adrienne stocking up on chocolate at Reading Terminal Market

We stopped at the Head Nut at Reading Terminal Market for staples (more coffee!) and delicious snacks (chocolate covered pomegranates). Visiting our favorite local bar, Tattooed Mom, for Victory Hop Devil and several games of pool.

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Luke and Adrienne at Tattooed Mom

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Luke and Derrick shooting pool at Tattooed Mom

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Stephanie and Adrienne at Tattooed Mom

Plenty of time to catch up, talk of future plans and trips, laughing and listening to music, but never enough time when friends must leave to catch their plane home. Envious of their return to a white winter scene, but thankful for our time spent together here in Philadelphia.

Walking along Addison St

Walking along Addison St

Movie Marathon

Luke is traveling for work this week, which means I am spending most nights curled up under a blanket with a bottle of wine, a bowl of popcorn, and a handful of good movies.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947):

Photo source: Vintage War Bride

Photo source: Vintage War Bride

Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney star in this new-to-me classic film. Every respectable film buff I know loves this movie, so I knew I was sure to follow suit. And true enough, it’s lovely.

Three Coins in a Fountain (1954):

Source: Jackal's Film Corner

Photo Source: Jackal’s Film Corner

This movie is silly, but I still like it. It’s like the girlfriends version of Roman Holiday. I remember watching this in high school and day dreaming about living abroad in a villa with a job that primarily consisted of attending cocktail parties and touring art museums with writers and princes.

White Christmas (1954):

Photo source: Cocktails, 365

Photo source: Cocktails, 365

My great friend Adrienne introduced me to this movie last year, and I’m delighted to add it to my yearly December must-see list. While the all-star cast is great, I’m going to call out Rosemary Clooney…not only is she gorgeous, but her timeless voice sounds better with each listen.

Charade (1963):

Any movie with Audrey Hepburn or Cary Grant is worth watching. Sabrina, Roman Holiday, An Affair to Remember, North by Northwest, Arsenic and Old Lace…I could go on and on. It’s an extra treat to watch both actors on-screen together. She’s witty and beautifully clad in Givenchy, he’s dashing and delivers dry humor better than anyone I’ve seen. Swoon.

Sometimes you just need a friend

The semester is rapidly coming to a close, job applications are out and juries are deliberating, and my husband is out of town for work. (finger drumming sounds, finger drumming sounds). I haven’t had the chance to meet many people in Philadelphia yet, and have been craving a good long chat with a friend over drinks. Right on queue, one of my best friends sends me a message that she’s working in DC for a few days. (trumpet sounds, trumpet sounds). I grabbed student papers, a big cup of coffee, and took the train down for an afternoon adventure with Christine.

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Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station

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Grading on the train

Our plans were loose – leisurely lunch and cocktails with our friend Eric, then wandering through DC’s art museums. One of the best parts about traveling to DC for a few hours is that, with no admission costs for any of the museums, you can easily say hello to your favorite pieces while bypassing exhibits that don’t grab your attention. And if you think of something really important to tell your friend, you can just step outside and laugh.

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Christine in the National Portrait Gallery

Although I’ve been to the Portrait Gallery before, it was an entirely different experience to walk through the halls with a fellow artist. Christine is a crazy-talented painter, and hearing her perspective on the pieces made my heart smile.

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Happy day in DC

I was also happy to be there to snag this photo of Christine with Super-Obama. I love how her toe points out in classic heroine style.

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It was such a nice day – perfect weather, great conversation, art masterpieces, and cocktails. Thanks, CRXB. Sometimes you just need a friend.

Charleston, SC

After a lovely day at Cypress Gardens, we all headed into the historical section of Charleston for a few days of relaxation. The weather was a bit chilly, but the delicious food and drinks, good company, and pleasant walks kept us all sufficiently warm. Here are a few shots of our family outings:

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Luke watching the birds

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Group break along the coast

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Lovely architecture and palm trees

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Greenery becomes architecture

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Pineapple fountain

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Paul and Suzanne on the ocean-view porch swing

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Stephanie on the swing

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A southern feast at Hominy Grill: macaroni and cheese, tomatoes and okra, squash casserole, collard greens, cornbread, and an Old Fashioned

It was a quiet getaway filled with happy memories, sea air, and cornbread. Perfect.