Amatista Tostadas Coyoacán

The brightly painted door is open, though the placard reads “cerrado”. A lone waitress wipes the last of six white tables pressed against either blue tile wall.
“Please come back in five minutes.”
We buy tomatoes a few corners away and return. “Closed” still hangs in the window, but she waves us towards a table. The painted front window signs reflect the name and the menu right-way round again in the eye-level mirrors reaching back along both walls.
“The lunch menu, it comes with two tostadas?”
“Only one.”
“That’s fine.”
The waitress reminds us of old friends, strong and tattooed and perhaps as comfortable on the frontier as on this street rumbling with buses. A sweet creamy dressing tempts from the table in anticipation of the salad. Two enameled bowls, layers and spokes of crunch and fruit, greens and citrus, black and white. We find new tastes in each uncovering. Neatly drilled mason jars of playfully inventive agua fresca up through colorful straws. Each table is neatly set with four chairs, a pitcher of dried flowers loosely matched. We are the only diners, the owner comes to greet us, we lie and say we are from Chicago as a pact against blank stares for Atlanta.
“Thank you for opening early for us.”
“Oh we opened on time, but thank you for noticing the sign.”
As she flips it over while sliding the door closed to keep out the summer chill. She returns to the table nearest the open kitchen. A woman enters, leaves, returns; a pair of animated women sit across. The soup is simple and filling, a nod to experimentation hidden in a wave of cumin. Salsa, smoke and vinegar, the heat to follow. The owner asks if we enjoyed the salad, too late I remember,
“I do not have the words.”
Lingering memories of flavor as our tostadas pile higher in preparation, elegantly delicate presentation of basic simple food. A shot of broth and beans accompany the sqaure tortillas to echo the midpoint between soup and sandwich we have mmm’ed halfway through, trading first bites, exchanging plates for the last. All the tables full and humming now. Dessert is sufficiently small and light. As we finish I ask the owner,
“Lemon and what else?”
“Chia, it is a seed.”
“Ah, yes, a small black seed.”

Getaway to Savannah

For our anniversary this year, Luke and I drove the easy 2.5 hours east to the Georgia coast. After lovely stays in Charleston and New Orleans, we were excited to explore Savannah…the third point in the triangle of southern colonial cities. I booked a room at the Catherine Ward House Inn based on the recommendation of The Southerly, a beautiful photo blog that serves as a permanent source of inspiration. We were not disappointed.

Catherine Ward House Inn

Catherine Ward House Inn

The Inn is adjacent to Forsyth Park, making it the perfect central location for exploring the city on foot. The weather was sunny and warm, and it was lovely to take our time meandering up and down the grids and small squares that connect the area.

Forsyth Park Savannah

Forsyth Park, Savannah

Juliette Low

Juliette Low and Stephanie in appropriate Girl Scout green

We were surprised and delighted to learn that the Savannah Jazz Festival was taking place over the weekend, offering free Jazz music in the park from midday to midnight. After sampling a few beers at The Distillery, we made our way to Parker’s Market for gourmet picnic items and headed to the park in time to hear Alon Yavnai with the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble followed by The Greg Lewis Trio.

UNF Jazz Ensemble at Savannah Jazz Festival

Before the night ended, we decided to check out Perch, the rooftop bar of Local 11ten. Fancy cocktails in the treetops and fantastic people-watching, it was the perfect way to celebrate a great day in Savannah.

The next morning, after a delicious breakfast and pleasant conversations with the other guests at the Inn, we drove over to Bonaventure Cemetery to walk through the trees and tombstones in the vein of John Muir.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

We also drove over to Tybee Island to stick our feet in the ocean and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Tybee Island beach

Tybee Island beach

At Tybee Island

At Tybee Island

We sat outside of a local bar and enjoyed margaritas with chips and salsa while daydreaming about kayaking through the nearby marshes. On the way back into town, we stopped at Back in the Day Bakery for what I can honestly say is the best cupcake I’ve ever had. And, like every other great place we visited in town, they had the most beautiful antique chandeliers lighting up the place.

Back in the Day Bakery

Back in the Day Bakery

That night, we took a Savannah Hopper down to the river and enjoyed a celebratory meal at the Olde Pink House. Our driver shared ghost stories with us along the ride and encouraged us to check out the basement bar of the restaurant to experience stepping back in time. Dinner was lovely, crab stuffed grouper for me and halibut with pearl onions and green beans for Luke, and the bar downstairs quaint but crowded. We opted instead to walk the streets of the city and window shop.

Dressed up

Candelabra

We tried to find a place for a nightcap that matched our quiet, romantic mood, but instead ended up in a loud, expensive “jazz” bar filled with bachelorette parties and octogenarians performing covers of all the slow jams by the Eagles. We left after one overpriced drink and made it back to Forsyth Park to enjoy the last act of the Festival, Tom Scott with The Savannah Jazz Orchestra. The Inn was close enough that, even after leaving the park, we could still listen to the music while sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch before climbing into bed.

The weekend was full of great food and drink, fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and heartfelt talks. All the things we love.

*All photo credits: Luke

Driving South

An assortment of moments captured as we made our way from Philadelphia to Milledgeville:

Wednesday 9:02am: The movers arrived in Philadelphia to help us load our U-Pack pod. We’ve narrowed down our belongings significantly, and with Luke’s predetermined layout, were able to (just) fit everything into the crate.

Luke loads the last of our belongings into the pod

Luke loads up the pod

There goes our little pod - see you in Georgia!

There goes our little pod – see you in Georgia!

Wednesday 6:25pm: Our last night in Philly, we headed back to Monk’s Cafe for Belgian beers and food. Delicious!

Monk's Cafe

Monk’s Cafe

Thursday 12:26am: Road construction continued for the second night this week. We’d sold our a/c units, so keeping the windows open was a necessity. Sadly, the city chose this week to strip and repave our street. Doubly painful, they worked at night when there were fewer cars on the road. Jackhammers, the beeping of machines backing up, and the yells and whistles of the construction crew woke us up throughout the night.

Thursday 12:37pm: On the road! Irritated by the constant construction of Philadelphia, we made a pact to state things we’re thankful for during our year-long adventure here. For me, it was a year to discover what I want to do for a career, to set personal goals, and to continue developing the confidence I need to achieve them. For Luke, it was a year to explore the east coast, take advantage of our proximity to the Italian Market, and have meaningful conversations about our future.

Thursday 7:30pm: Dinner at Evening Star in Alexandria, VA. Good conversation with great friends and yummy food. Nights like this remind us how important it is to make time for the folks we care about, and to make a solid effort to be social in our new town.

Friday 11:02am: Stuck in traffic outside Richmond, VA. Laughed together at the lyrics to “How Many Drinks” by Miguel.

Friday 5:30pm: After a long day of driving, we set up camp at Badin Lake in North Carolina. Luke made a fire, and we played Gin while waiting for the thunder to turn to rain.

Badin Lake campground

Badin Lake campground

Friday 9:02pm: Fell asleep to the sound of rain plopping off our tent.

Saturday 5:30am: We’re the first site to wake up at the campground. We had the showers to ourselves, followed by breakfast and coffee around the fire. Ready for the drive to my parents house in South Carolina!

Saturday 6:45pm: A full homemade Southern dinner at Mom and Dad’s, including baked ham, potato salad, fried green tomatoes, crowder peas covered in hot chow-chow, cornbread, and peach blueberry crumble.

Sunday 9:15am: A full homemade Southern breakfast at Mom and Dad’s, including biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs with cheese and green onions, fresh tomato slices, and cantaloupe. With full bellies, we made the final (and easiest) leg of the trip down to Milledgeville.

Saturday 4:32pm: After unloading the car in our rental cottage on the lake, we drove into the downtown area for exploring. A trip to the grocery store on the way home, followed by settling in back at the cottage.

Relaxing at the lake house

Relaxing at the lake house

We’re happy to be in Georgia, and look forward to sharing more of our adventures here with you soon!

Delaware, At Last

One of the perks to moving around a lot as a child is the number of new states you get to explore. As my parents and I moved from location to location, we happily pulled out the map to see which new states we’d get to add to our growing list. Coupled with a love of national parks and road trip vacations (both as a kid and as an adult), I have happily come close to visiting all 50 states.

To help make this dream a reality, Luke planned an amazing adventure to Delaware. It’s so close to us — we’ve been through on the train many times — but we’ve never made a concerted effort to explore the state and really sink our teeth into it (the criteria for making it onto The List).

We started our day’s journey at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The area consists of preserved tidal salt marshes where thousands of migrating shorebirds return north to Canada from the Gulf of Mexico every spring. Egrets, heron, and ducks abound! So do mosquitoes, which is why I am donning head-to-toe coverage in July.

Egrets, Bombay Hook NWR

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Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Fun in the sunshine

Fun in the sunshine

Happy day!

Happy day!

Next, we drove into Wilmington for a bite to eat. I’d read this review of Juliana’s Kitchen when we first moved to the area, and wanted to be sure to check it out before we moved away. We were not disappointed. After a delicious Ceviche de Pescado, I enjoyed the Bistec Apanado con Tacu-Tacu (amazing breaded steak with rice and beans) and a Pisco Sour. Luke had Pescado a lo Macho (fish fillet with a delicious, spicy sauce). This was easily one of the best meals we’ve had this year.

We ended the night by attending the Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s performance of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Rockwood Park. It’s a beautiful outdoor venue with open seating on the grass, so we grabbed our camping chairs and set up along one of the aisles connecting the center stage to the main house.

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The staging of the play was really lovely – set on the grounds of the Rockwood Mansion, the backdrop and costumes gave the performance a “Great Gatsby” feel while maintaining the original language of the play. The bridges and walkways of the park become part of the set, and surrounded by stringed lights and colorful umbrellas, you really do feel like you are at a magnificent lawn party.

Rockwood Park mansion

Rockwood Park mansion at sunset

A few Klondike bars kept us cool throughout the event.

It was amazing to have such a great afternoon and still be able to drive home in 25 minutes. Delaware, I’m so glad we finally met.

Look out, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. One more great road trip (and family visit!) and my map will be completely colored in.

A week in Colonial Williamsburg

First, thank you all for your thoughtful notes regarding my last post. I appreciate having such supportive friends and family. There are a few irons in the fire at present, and I look forward to updating you on that front again soon.

In the meantime, Luke and I just returned from an amazing family vacation in Colonial Williamsburg. Together with Luke’s parents, brother, and aunt and uncle, we explored the “birthplace of America!” Happily, my dad drove up from South Carolina to join us. A great family reunion all around!

Each day, we woke at our own varied paces, leisurely enjoying coffee and breakfast before venturing into the colonial village and/or the nearby National Parks of Jamestown and Yorktown. We’d explore the museums, have lunch in a cafe or tavern, interrogate our park rangers and historical actors to learn even more, and then make our way back to our townhouse for late afternoon naps and relaxation. At the end of each day, we’d gather together again for a home-cooked meal and conversation, followed by a movie or episode of Mr. Selfridge. So good!

Here are some highlights:

Phil at the Wheelwright, Williamsburg

Phil at the Wheelwright, Williamsburg

Storms abrewin'

Storms abrewin’

Phil learning a new game

Phil learning a new game

The Governor's Palace kitchen, reminds me of all the amazing dishes Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey

The Governor’s Palace kitchen, reminds me of all the amazing dishes made by Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey

Luke and Phil exploring the Governor's Palace gardens, Williamsburg

Luke and Phil exploring the Governor’s Palace gardens, Williamsburg

The maze, Williamsburg

The maze, Williamsburg

The cabinetmaker, Williamsburg (aka wood shop paradise)

The cabinetmaker (aka wood shop paradise)

Luke and Phil learning about furniture making

Luke and Phil learning about furniture making

Brickmaking - ready to jump in the clay!

Brickmaking – ready to jump in the clay!

Crazy cool tree, Williamsburg

Crazy cool tree, Williamsburg

Having chocolate with Luke in the Coffeehouse, Williamsburg

Having chocolate with Luke in the Coffeehouse

The cavalry arrives! Mom sends along homemade sausage balls and monkey bread!

The cavalry arrives! Mom sends along homemade sausage balls and monkey bread!

Dad joins the party!

Dad joins the party!

Ready for teatime. LOVE the crazy neon green varnished walls.

Ready for afternoon tea. LOVE the crazy neon green varnished walls.

I hope you like photos, because here come some more!

Bedroom - ready to step into Jane Austen film. I especially love the locked spice cabinet on the dresser.

Bedroom – ready to step into a Jane Austen film. I especially love the locked spice cabinet on the dresser.

Back at the wheelwright.

Back at the wheelwright

Gardens, Willamsburg

Gardens, Williamsburg

Pretty

Pretty

Want these in our next place

Want these in our future home

Shoemaker

Shoemaker – boots in progress

Milliner, hat in progress

Milliner – hat in progress

Capitol, Williamsburg

Capitol, Williamsburg

So it seems I forgot to take photos at Jamestown and Yorktown. Maybe more soon from Luke’s camera – but regardless, it was a great time with family, and chock full of American history which, it turns out, is more exciting than I sometimes remember.

New Orleans

The day after New Year’s, we packed up our things and headed to New Orleans. I was attending a conference, and thrilled that the timing worked for Luke to come with me. After a day filled with attending panels, I’d meet up with Luke for dinner each night excited to explore the city together. Here are some highlights:

Carousel Bar

Immediately after checking into our hotel room, we ventured over to the famous Carousel Bar in the hopes of taking a spin. We were not disappointed, as two seats opened up right when we walked in. The bar does indeed spin very slowly while you imbibe delicious New Orleans cocktails – sazaracs and old fashioneds.

The Carousel Bar

The Carousel Bar
Photo credit: Luke

Spinning into view

Spinning into view
Photo credit: Luke

Coop’s Place

Stopped in here for dinner our first night, then talked about this meal for the rest of the week. Really great fried chicken served with either rabbit and sausage jambalaya (Luke) or red beans and rice (me). Their fried oysters also looked amazing.

Bennachin

This African restaurant is on the northern tip of the French Quarter, making it a perfect combination of good food and few(er) tourists. The place is BYOB, but we took advantage of the drinking-in-the-streets policy and had a beer along our walk there. And maybe one more for the walk back?

Photo credit: Travel and Leisure

Photo credit: Travel and Leisure

Central Grocery

You have to appreciate a place that just makes one sandwich REALLY well. The menu is simple – whole or half. The verdict is also simple – DELICIOUS!

Yummy Muffaletta

Yummy Muffaletta with BBQ chips

Algiers Point

Right across the Mississippi is the quaint neighborhood of Algiers Point. The free ferry makes for a pleasant ride, and we set out with the intention of following the Historical Jazz Walk along the levee. Sadly, wind and rain and cold and muck made the history lesson brief. Instead, we ducked into a local bar for po’ boys and Guinness before heading back to the warmth of our hotel room.

Luke on the levee

Luke on the levee

Fried oyster po' boy with onion rings

Fried oyster po’ boy with onion rings
Photo credit: Luke

River Pelican

River Pelican
Photo credit: Luke

Three Muses

This bar-restaurant-jazz club is every bit as good as it sounds. No cover charge, wonderful small plates for nibbling, and $3 margaritas during happy hour – we were already smiling. Then Luke Winslow King walked in with a dobro…

Luke waiting for the music to start

Luke waiting for the music to start

Cheers from the Three MusesPhoto credit: Luke

Cheers from the Three Muses
Photo credit: Luke

The dobro in action

The dobro in action
Photo credit: Luke

Also during our stay, I presented my paper and chaired a panel, we met up with friends for coffee, and we curled up with pizza in our room to watch the Packers win. Thank you, New Orleans!

NYC and NYE

The work week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a tricky one. Your brain and body know that you should still be on vacation, and yet there is work to be done. By the time the following weekend rolled around, Luke and I were both ready for another escape. Luckily, our friends Tara and Alex arrived in NY from Chicago and invited us up for a visit!

We hopped in the car Saturday morning and made the much-talked-about-but-never-attempted drive up 95 to New York. The road was calm, we suspect due to the light snow that began to fall right as we were leaving. In less than two hours, we made our way through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, across the bridge to Staten Island, and across another bridge into Brooklyn.

We had a hunch that on clear days, the views of Manhattan from either bridge were pretty great. Today, however, we had to settle for drawing an imaginary cityscape in rough proximity to where we remember the famous buildings to be. Is that the top of the Chrysler building? Or a bird?

This was our first trip to Brooklyn, and we were delighted to find it even more hilly and slope-like than we’d imagined. It’s also a lot bigger than we’d expected, encouraging us to make an on-the-fly decision about which section to explore over our lunch break. While Luke kept his eyes on the road, I tracked down the one place in Brooklyn I’d always wanted to visit – Catbird.

CatbirdPhoto credit: catbirdnyc.blogspot.com

Catbird
Photo credit: catbirdnyc.blogspot.com

Catbird is a small store in Williamsburg that sells the most beautiful, delicate jewelry. The online store is my go-to spot for daydream shopping, and the in-person store is equally enjoyable. Several people gathered around the few cases of goods, and while my initial reaction was to stare them down in the hopes that they would step aside and let me ogle alone, I realized two important things: 1) Most of these people were actually intending to buy something and 2) My stare-down technique is not as menacing as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, the store is lovely.

Around the corner, we ducked into Fornino to warm ourselves inside and out with wood-fired pizzas. So many amazing specialty pizzas to choose between, Luke opted for the Patate E Salsiccia (Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato, Fennel Sausage, Fontina, Fingerling Potato, Roast Peppers) while I chose the Margherita Classica (Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Olive Oil, Parmigiano).

After lunch, we strolled along the neighborhood streets and made our way to waterfront. Still no real views of Manhattan, and the wind, rain, and snow made it quite brisk. Soon, we were seated in a coffee shop for another round of warming.

Finally remembered to take a picture with both of us!

See Manhattan? Nope.
Photo credit: Luke

By mid-afternoon, we returned to our car and finished the drive up and over to Long Island. Greeted by Alex’s family, we quickly found ourselves surrounded by enormous plates of pasta, eggplant parmesan, and crab salad. Delicious!

That night, a group of us took a trip into the City. Our destination – the Phish show at Madison Square Garden. The 45-minute train ride was a great combination of beer, friends, and conversation. Arriving at MSG, we stopped in the basement to enjoy $1.99 beers before heading into the show, where dancing and more dancing took place. Another train ride back, this one a little quieter as we’d all exhausted ourselves.

Sunday morning, we gathered around the kitchen island to drink coffee and continue catching up with each other. Alex and his father set up a small film projector to review several reels they’d recently found at his grandmother’s house. Around lunchtime, several of Alex’s cousins and their families arrived and a feast of sausage and peppers, pasta, pizza, and more eggplant parmesan ensued. Luke and I commented that we need to make eggplant more of a feature in our cooking – so yummy, every time.

Alex and Joe working on the projectorPhoto credit: Luke

Alex and Joe working on the projector
Photo credit: Luke

As we loaded up our car and thanked our awesome hosts for a wonderful weekend, we were given bags to pack up our favorites from among a long table of sweets – cannoli, cookies, cakes, and candies. Hugging our sweet friends good-bye, we began our drive back across the bridges, finally catching a clear view of Manhattan.

As we crossed the state line from New Jersey back into Pennsylvania, I realized that I had Tara’s drivers license in my purse (from the concert). Shoot! A few phone calls later, and Tara was hot on our trail, making it to Philly not long after we did. It was great to show her our apartment and neighborhood, and grab one more hug before she headed back to NY. All in all, it was a whirlwind, wonderful visit.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair – cards and champagne, and nudging each other awake until midnight. We made jokes about becoming old, while also relishing in being far removed from the chaos taking place in the streets outside.

On New Year’s Day, we woke early, filled our travel mugs with coffee, and walked over to Broad Street for the famous Mummers Parade. This is, hands down, the strangest and funniest thing we’ve done in Philly. After reading countless articles about the history of the parade, I still can’t confidently tell you what it’s about. Our experience with it was watching many groups perform song and dance numbers, all with beers in hand and wearing make-shift costumes with themes like Elvis, High Vis, and Frogs. Elaborate (and not so elaborate) floats followed behind, along with bead throwers, ribbon-clad judges, and U-Haul trucks to transport the props. It was amazing.

Mummers Parade

Mummers Parade 2013
Photo credit: Luke

Mummers Parade

Mummers Parade 2013
Photo credit: Luke

Mummers Parade 2013

Mummers Parade 2013
Photo credit: Luke

An Owl and Penguin Christmas

Luke and I spent a quiet Christmas at home this year. We’d both been working long hours with little rest or relaxation, so a four-day weekend cozied up in our pajamas came at exactly the right time.

Friday afternoon, we walked to the markets to gather supplies for our holiday feast. Eggs, cinnamon, ginger and apricots would soon start turning our apartment into a bakery of delights!

Up first, gingerbread cookies in the shapes of our three favorite things – Owls, Penguins, and Wisconsin!

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Stamping out Wisconsin cookies
Photo credit: Luke

Saturday morning, we started our annual holiday puzzle. The theme for this year was Penguins in Space. Holiday music and/or romantic comedies played in the background — When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters — but we did stop puzzling long enough to give our full attention to our favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Putting penguins together while watching movies

Putting penguins together while watching movies

We opened our presents under the tree with a bottle of Prosecco on Monday night, and woke up early Tuesday morning to check our stockings. Our very own version of Hoyle’s Rules of Games meant it was time to learn something new – starting with 7 Up.

Happy face! New Sauté Pan!

Over the course of the weekend, we took full advantage of our (small) kitchen. Our yummy meals included:

Mushroom Stroganoff with Salad

Roast Chicken with Sage Cornbread Stuffing

Porterhouse steak with Potato-Leek Gratin

Poached Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

and Pozole (a delicious spicy Mexican soup with a hominy base).

Luke also baked up a storm, including: Chai Cinnamon Rolls, Coconut Cupcakes (a mini version of my grandmother’s famous cake), a Roasted Butternut Squash Pie, and Julekage (which is the most delicious bread filled with apricots and cranberries soaked in brandy).

While Luke was in the kitchen, I was nearby to serve as sous chef, bartender, dj, and cleaning assistant. I tried my hand at a few new dishes and also made my go-to all-time favorite Caramelized Onion Dip to spread on everything. I do love dips!

Adding toasted coconut to the tops of our cupcakes

Adding toasted coconut to the tops of our cupcakes
Photo credit: Luke

Another indulgence – reading for fun! After a long conversation about books we love, I decided to revisit a few of my old favorites, including A Moveable Feast (liked it even MORE this time), Murder on the Orient Express (still great), and The Housekeeper and the Professor (nice, but not as satisfying as I remember the first read being).

On Christmas afternoon, we bundled up for a walk in the fresh air. We ventured over to the Schuylkill River and walked north to the boathouses, passing the famous Waterworks along the way.

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Waterworks
Photo credit: Luke

The dam, with the boathouses in the background

The dam, with the boathouses in the background
Photo credit: Luke

The weekend was a great time to reflect on the year, and to dream about possibilities for our future. Happy holidays, everyone!

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.

Braving the flu with hikes, Greek food, and movies from the 1980s

One of the unexpected challenges to living in a small apartment is the cyclical nature of colds and flus. Just when one of us starts to feel better, the other starts displaying symptoms. The bags of cough drops, boxes of Kleenex, and plastic cupfuls of Nyquil move from one nightstand to the other, and back again. It’s been a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching few weeks of limited rest coupled with important work deadlines.

Despite this, we’ve enjoyed a few new places in Philly worth sharing. Our neighbor recommended Kanella to us, and last Friday night we finally gave it a try. We started our meal with Bureki (fillo pastry parcels stuffed with feta and thyme, drizzled with thyme honey, and served with roasted beets) and a less memorable roasted pumpkin appetizer. The Bureki was so amazing that anything standing next to it was bound to be forgotten.

Our entrees were vegetable moussaka and a goat stew with fried okra that was “smack yo’ mama” good! Definitely a great night!

Luke enjoying the Goat Stew

We also took another afternoon hike, this time along the trails of Ridley Creek State Park.

Sunny fall day

Friendly Monsters

Last bits of changing leaves

Other than a not-very-well-organized running event, the trails were empty. This meant that we not only felt like we could happily lose ourselves in the woods, but that also we’d occasionally encounter a neon-wearing athlete looking confused and exhausted. It was fun to watch them approach from far off, and disappear equally fast over the next hill. It reminded me of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, popping onto the scene just long enough to announce he’s late before hurriedly continuing on.

Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

As a side note, does anyone remember the 1980s TV version of “Alice in Wonderland? The cast was incredible – Carol Channing, Sammy Davis, Jr., Scott Baio, and (my favorite) Lloyd Bridges as the White Knight? Amazing. If you saw it as a kid, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, there is no point watching it now. I’m sure it will just seem silly and outdated.

It’s sometimes hard to introduce something you loved as a child to your adult friends (and husband). I saw The Goonies about nine blu-gillion times growing up, and so whenever I think about it, I’m transported back to that happy place of Chester Copperpot and inhalers. Whenever I try to encourage Luke to (finally) see it with me, though, I know in the back of my mind that it won’t be as meaningful to a 30 year old as it was to a 12 year old. He won’t develop a secret crush on Sean Austin, think Martha Plimpton’s wit is so great that it requires rewinding (yes, rewinding) and repeating until you’ve got it perfectly mimicked, or be absolutely terrified of playing the wrong key on the skeleton piano before Mama Fratelli’s boys grab you.

Photo credit: Nerds at the Cool Table

I’ll still watch it, though. Especially on sick days, with my go-to blanket and a big bowl of soup. Or popcorn.