Monday, December 27, 2010

oldies but goodies

In Pittsburgh for a few days after the holidays, I found some old photos this morning on Mom and Dad's hard-drive and thought I'd post a couple.

These were taken about two years ago or so.  It was a cool summer day and I remember feeling a little bored sitting at home, you know, twiddling my thumbs.  Instead of staring at the wall for the rest of the afternoon, I decided that I'd venture down the country roads of Clinton, PA (home of Janoski's Farm and many a cow) in hopes of finding a few good photographs.  Not too far into my drive, I happened across this particular junk yard of old vehicles, got super excited and proceeded by jumping over the "No Trespassing" sign.  No more than 10 minutes into it, flashing red and blue lights pull up next to my car and I see a policeman walking in my direction.
In a deep, intimidating voice the cop asked what I was doing and informed me that I would need to leave.  This is private property, I'll have you know.  Didn't you see the signs?  All I could do was hold up my camera, apologize and follow his instruction.  He watched as I hopped into my car and took off.  I made sure I was going the speed limit until he was no longer visible from the rear view mirror.  

I, undoubtably, got the last laugh.  Aren't the photos evidence enough?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Post

It's finally starting to feel like "the holidays".  For weeks now, I've been anticipating the First Snow-- wondering when we'd finally get to see those annual white-lined streets and lacy trees again.  I'm so glad it held out for such a long time this year.  It really felt like an Event today because of it.  Winter, oh Winter,  how I love thee, yet shiver at the thought of you.

I've already ventured out for a long walk to commemorate and enjoy this beautiful First Sighting.  Without planning it, a mug of hot coffee and the most delicious Red Velvet cupcake that you could ever imagine found their way into my day.  Never has a cupcake tray sitting in the window looked so enticing and never has it fulfilled it's intent so fully as it did this afternoon.  What a day.

Now it's time to snuggle up with the cat, order some pizza and enjoy a hot toddy or two.... well, Maybe.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lori Nix: Miniature Apocalyptic Scenes

"What would remain if Man left today? What would our architecture, our museums, malls, laundromat and bars look like and how would nature reclaim its space?"

Wishing I would have stumbled across this photographer's work/mini-creations a little sooner... it's only on display in New York for 1 more week!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Daily Whine-o.

I just thought that maybe someone out there might be interested in this article from Snooth.  I received the article in one of Snooth's daily e-mails way back in July (lightyears ago, you know).   
Anyway, since reading it and taking into consideration some of the suggestions, we've enjoyed some really great wines and have understood a little bit more about the wine we were drinking and the process it underwent before getting bottled.  One particular wine with a similarly helpful label is Mark West's Pinot Noir (I mention this one because I'm pretty certain that it's fairly easy to find in stores across the States).  That, and the Ridge wines (obviously).  Why can't all labels be this helpful?
Hoping someone else out there finds this as useful as I did!

Friday, November 26, 2010

post-thanksgiving relaxing.

Now grab your favorite stuffed toy, curl up in bed and relax like you wish you could've relaxed yesterday... :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

my five senses weekend.

One of the first sites that I visit everyday is Jen Zahigian's photography blog That Wondrous Time.  Her quirky, colorful photos are absolutely magical and this weekend I was not only inspired by her photos but also her invitation to join in and write about the "Five Senses" of the week--a recap of your week by recalling the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings.  Well, since it's Monday and I'm a few days late, I just wanted to share my five senses from the weekend with you and invite you to do the same!


Sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese (this delicious and savory/sweet recipe can be found here).


Old vehicles in West Philly (above), old trolley cars in Northeast Philly, old folks everywhere.


That bitter, yet remarkable, smell of wilting leaves.


Claude Debussy's "The Little Shepherd" - my chosen piano repertoire for the past few days
(listen to this orchestrated version on YouTube and notice the beautiful oboe playing at the beginning)


Content and thankful for my present circumstances.  I'm fortunate enough to spend my days practicing piano, teaching piano, researching teaching ideas, taking photos, going out for walks and sipping tea.  Amazing.

Thanks for sharing some time with me today!

Monday, November 8, 2010


After the day's misfortune of standing on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, this is one of those rare occasions when all I feel like doing is going shopping.  Of course, under the circumstances of those same car problems, the last thing that I should be doing is shopping.

Someday when my wallet's feeling heavier.

For now, this is just window-shopping.  Or perhaps just daydreaming...

Isn't it funny (i.e. pathetic) how sometimes we feel like owning a certain object or article of clothing will improve our quality of life?  Yet, here I am feeling that very way at this precise moment in time.  Oii yoii.

But, seriously, don't you just love the necklines? :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

teaching piano lessons.

I've had my ups and downs lately.  And pretty much on a daily basis.  You know those feelings you get when you're unsure about yourself or what you're doing?  Or when you feel you're having trouble communicating with other people?  Or just those feelings you get when you're spending too much time alone?

This week, I'm so glad to have some art from my piano students that I can look at to cheer me up.

...and remind me that life's not always about me.
This first one's from Nailah, who I just started teaching within the past few weeks.  She's a cutie.

This one's from Claire, who I taught before moving to Philadelphia.  I remember her very first lesson and how quiet and shy she was.  Before I knew it, she was the silliest and goofiest of all my students (but always one of the most prepared).  She would often burst into laughter during the middle of a song for no apparent reason.  And she had this funny curiosity for aliens and UFO's... 
(the "P.S." states: "I think there are lots of UFO's in Philly)...

Yeah.  Maybe.  Maybe that's why I've been feeling so out-of-sorts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ohhhh, honey.

Last week, Christopher's friend Lucy came in from London.  Both of them play music together (along with 8 other awesome people) in cuddle magic.  Right now, they're on an east coast tour for three weeks (consequently, leaving me a little bit on the lonely side at the old homestead).  Anyways, Lucy and her boyfriend Ollie stayed with us for a few days and before leaving they gave us a few little gifts, including this amazing local honey.

If I'm not mistaken, those bits on top are part of the honeycomb?

Before he left, Christopher and I each tried a spoonful.

Me: "Whoa.... I've never had honey that tasted anything like this before."
Christopher:  "Oh man, yeah, now I understand why Winnie the Pooh was always walking around with a honeycomb...."

Have you ever had honey like this?  With bits of the comb?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

trip home (the abbreviated version)

This weekend, I took a much-needed trip home to Pittsburgh, PA to visit with my family.  I was planning on taking lots of photographs but, once there, I decided that I'd rather just take the time to visit, chat and take lots of naps.  So there's just a few!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

film cameras, and what i'm learning.

Today, I went on a little adventure around West Philadelphia with two vintage cameras and I have nothing to show for it.  Well not until the film is developed, anyhow.  So, in the meantime, I figured that I'd snap a couple shots of the cameras themselves and tell you why I'm so giddy.

Kodak Pony 135 (Model C) - This little fellow actually belonged to my great-grandfather and has been living a quiet, solitary life in my mom's closet for a number of years now.  Last time I visited Pittsburgh, Mom stuck all of her old cameras and film in a bag and sent them home with me.  This guy was definitely the most interesting in the bunch.  This particular model came out between 1955-1958.  It's super lightweight and almost feels like a toy.  I read over the owner's manual online, loaded it up with some film and suddenly wanted to snap shots of everything.  Partly, because it's so old and "vintage-y", partly because it's film and the last time that I shot with film was way back in middle school before the digital revolution.

Minolta SRT 101 - I bought this handsome guy on Ebay nearly a year ago and have only taken a few shots since that time.  Growing up, my mom owned a Minolta camera (my dad bought it for her while she was in art school) and I've always had a great fondness for that camera.  Not that I ever used it.  I was too young at the time.  But she took some really great shots with that camera.  It's all just sentimental stuff, but I've always had it in my mind that I wanted to own a Minolta film camera, so when it appeared on Ebay, I snatched it up.  This particular model is likely a lot older than the one that my mom owned.  In comparison to the Pony (above), which barely makes a sound when you press the shutter release, the Minolta sounds like you're snapping a tree branch in the middle of a quiet, peaceful forest.  It's startling.  I tried taking a few photos of Random while he was sleeping but it woke him up and he went running into the other room.

I'm not sure if it's cool or if it's cliché to be walking around with vintage cameras strapped around your neck.  But for me, it felt like a connection into my family's past.  One camera that's been passed down from my great-grandfather.  The other, a reminder of my mom--her days in art school, her days snapping childhood photos of my brother and I--a reminder that she was once younger than I am now; time keeps ticking.

So, though I've wanted to do it for a while, today I was finally brave enough to venture out into the world with both cameras and I'm anxious to see the results.

O the days of waiting for your film to be developed.  They're back again...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

red dress, new life.

As I'm on the job search yet again and have been spending more time at home than usual, I thought that maybe I'd give some of our belongings a little lift.  First up was this little storage/side table:

"Hello, my name is Boring.  I live a boring life in a boring corner with nothing interesting to say about myself."

"One day, however, I took a risk and painted myself Red."

"Now if Stacey would only do the same for herself..."

As my ever-wise oboe professor Elizabeth Camus used to say "Put on that red dress and strut your stuff!"  Alright, job search, how do I look... stunning?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

cuddle magic gardens

This past Saturday, Cuddle Magic played.....

 Philadelphia's Magic Gardens...

.....and it was so, so good.

Wanting it to happen all over again....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

booooo.... ... . .. .

For days I've been waiting for the right opportunity to make a photograph of this car.

It's been parked in the same spot on 46th Street for days now and every afternoon, I walk a few blocks to go see it, hoping that the spot in front of it is vacant.  There's such a great contrast between the navy matte finish of the car as it sits against a wall of vibrant gold mums and I just wanted to try capturing it.

Today, I went out with my camera, hoping against all odds that the parking spot in front of it was open.  Whaddaya know, it actually was!?!  I was flipping out inside... after days of waiting, I could finally take a photo!

I pull out my camera and I'm walking closer and closer as I'm adjusting my settings and am suddenly mortified to notice another car creeping down the street in search of a parking spot....


I wasn't even there for 15 seconds before the stinking car had to ruin my photo shoot.  I snapped this one just because I wanted some kind of record of it.  [The left side's cropped slightly as to hide the other car backing in].

If tomorrow, I walk down the street, and the blue car is gone, at least I took one unsatisfying picture.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

caesar salad

Up until this past year, one of those things that I just couldn't avoid ordering as my first course at fine dining restaurants was the Caesar salad.  I'm not talking about your Applebee's-equivalent type of food establishment, I mean real foodie-type restaurants, where every bite of every dish is so intoxicating that when you're finished you can only manage to stumble out of your seat as you leave.  I can't explain it, I've always had this weakness for a delicious, freshly tossed Caesar.

Last year, I discovered this recipe in their printed-edition magazine and started experimenting.

My first attempt wasn't that great.  I used some poor quality stuff--including not-so-tasty olive oil and since we only had half the amount of good Parm-Reg that was needed, I compensated by adding cheap-o Kraft Parmesan cheese (I admit this, most embarrassingly).  So, bear in mind, the tastiness of your salad does, of course, depend on the quality of your ingredients.

By now, I've attempted the recipe a dozen or so times, changing little things with every attempt and it's gotten better every time.  So if it's not perfect the first time, try try again.

Now, when I see Hearts of Romaine on the menu, I tell myself "I can make my own tasty version at home" and so I avert my attention to all of the other delicious menu options.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Random, the birthday cat.

Where we first met one year ago...  His old hang-out outside our kitchen window...

Before he became a plump cat.

Monday, August 2, 2010

wines not worth mentioning... i won't say anything more.  but here's two photos for reference.

 [these three deserving of an only-one-word review:  "meh..."]

The Girard 1999 Red Wine below was quite delicious (please ignore Random's expression, as he's not a big wine drinker).

But, actually, please don't ignore his expression, the picture's more about him than the wine anyway.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

well, hello

The summer's been hot and I've been lazy.  Not much to report in the land of new ventures, thoughts or progress--I really just haven't done much besides work, reading, and trying not to die of heat exhaustion.

I wish that I didn't wish that we had air conditioning.  Part of me believes that living without AC should make me a stronger, more resilient person--relying less on man-made energy and living simply.  Surviving as humans have for thousands of years.  But the heat is just so draining.  Who wants to do anything when it's nearly 100 degrees?

The above photo was taken last year at Woodland Cemetery, an old charming cemetery just a few blocks from our home in West Philadelphia.

"Mary, Mother of God, please just help me survive until the end of summer!"

Regards.  And stay hydrated.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

minted pea hummus

On Sunday, I tried this easy recipe of Minted Pea Hummus and loved it.

Here's the recipe:

   2  cups frozen green peas, thawed            1 1/2  teaspoons olive oil
   2  garlic cloves, minced                                  1  teaspoon water
1/2  cup mint leaves                                        1/4  teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.  Yield: 1 1/4 cups

I also added one minced dried chile (reconstituted), mostly for purposes of using up the ridiculous amount of chiles we have.  And I used more garlic than they called for, because I love garlic so much.

To be honest, I'm not even very fond of peas, and Christopher doesn't even like mint, but we both liked the end result.  I might change it up a bit next time, but it's really pretty good served on pita bread.  We even used it as a spread on chicken breast sandwiches.  The sandwiches were super tasty; the hummus added a ton of extra flavor and goodness.  Mmmmm. 

Try it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

home from the hospital

Random came home yesterday after a week's stay at the vet.  The poor little guy was having a urinary tract problem.  It was awful not having our furry friend around the house, hanging out, purring and being beautiful.  Needless to say, he was missed.

He's now back to his normal activities, as you can see.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

fresh eggs


Date of Lay: 6/11/10
Date Christopher brought them home: 6/12/10
Date we ate a tasty breakfast: 6/13/10

Although our eggs were a few days old by this morning, I just had to marvel at that little sticker.  Our eggs were laid just 2 days ago and traveled a total of approximately 30 miles from the farm to our kitchen.  

We've been attempting to eat fresh and eat local as much as possible and I'm honestly starting to feel like it truly is the best way to eat.  I do feel more connected with my food, like people say.  I like knowing where it came from and meeting the people who work the farms.  If you take a moment to ask the farmers, they always have great ideas and suggestions about how to prepare, say, the squash that you just bought.  And, mmmm, fresh food really does taste better.

I've found this little chart from Philadelphia's Grid Magazine to be very helpful.  We've been using it as our guide for fresh veggies.