Archive for August, 2010

I’m working on writing another article for The Art Blog.  It will take a look at the creation and installation of the exhibition Mineral Spirits which shows works by Ann Chu and Matthew Monahan.  I’m interested to see how the works were chosen and how they relate to one another as well as to the theme– the figure.  The show will be at UPenn’s Institute of Contemporary Art which is basically in my back yard.  Which means I can definitely visit the exhibit this time in person and (hopefully) get to see/photograph the installation process.  I’m hoping to talk to the curator on the phone later this week.  I’m enjoying this “internship,” it makes me feel like I’m using my art history degree for once.  Sigh.

I was under the impression that I had lost all my pictures (digital files) from my semester in Turkey.  But Pat came to the rescue and reminded me that he backed them up on his external hard drive.  Hooray, hubby to the rescue!  You’re right, Lauren, my hair is waaaay longer:

Gaziantep, Turkey

Ankara, Turkey from its fortifications

Mmm, lamancun-Turkish pizza


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Friday is Saturday in our house… meaning we work Sunday-Thursday so while most of the city slaves away in their offices we get to play!  Today we rode over to Eastern State to use up two soon-to-expire free passes from the Haunt.  I relinquished the camera to Patrick who took some amazing photos:


Prison Violence

Of course we had to take some silly ones too:

It's so nice to be with friends

As I mentioned in an earlier post Eastern State is an abandoned prison being preserved and restored.  What I didn’t mention is that it is HAUNTED FOR REAL.  Well, maybe not FOR REAL, but it is definitely creepy in there at night with no lights and strange noises…  Sadly nothing freaky happened today.  Pat did see what he called a “ghost footprint.”  I was chilled to the bone at first, but then he admitted that it’s sunlight coming through a hole in the roof.  Drats, I had Ghost Busters on the phone!


Then lunch at Bishop’s Collar, yummy yum.  My salad had cilantro lime vinaigrette which I’d like to replicate at home.  We strolled over to the Art Museum so Pat take some reference photos for his artwork.  We also saw Late Renoir while we were there.  I guess it was okay, much too crowded for me.  I hate being herded through an exhibit with 100 other people crushed around me.  Everyone just stands in the middle of the room, mesmerized by their audio guide and completely oblivious to the rest of the world. 

Liz, Caulder and Diana

Bamboo Leaf Tea House

We’re leaving for Hawaii in 5 weeks!  I bet everyone at my work wants to throw coconuts at my head for talking about it so much.  I can’t help it, it’s going to be so awesome!  One of my goals is to eat roast pork from one of those coal pits they dig on the beach.  And eat a pineapple straight from the tree.  Most of my goals are food-related…

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The Penn Museum

I meet a lot of interesting people through my job.  For example, I have met a string of Egyptian museum professionals though the Cleopatra exhibit.  Sometimes they stay with the exhibit for a few weeks, tending the artifacts and making sure all is running smoothly. 

Right now it is Ramadan, as I learned from Hoda, the current exhibit representative.  I didn’t know it had started and felt a little ignorant when I offered her some delicious chocolate from Whole Foods (mmm, almonds!) but she politely refused, and all was well.  As I thought more about this month of prayer and fasting I remembered, with great clarity, the time I spent in Turkey during Ramadan.  My friends and I traveled around the country by bus and one weekend we explored Cappadocia.  All around us were houses and churches carved into the rocky hills.  And fairy chimneys!  We shared a room in a hotel where we were the only guests, because it was the off tourist season.  In the early, early hours of the morning I woke up to the sound of a solitary drummer banging along down the street.  None of my friends heard it but I knew it wasn’t a dream.  I later learned that it is a Turkish tradition for this lone drummer to walk around town, waking people up so they can eat before dawn, when the day’s fasting begins.

It will supposedly cool down this weekend so we’re hoping to ride out beyond Valley Forge.  We haven’t been on a 20+ mile trip since early June!  I can’t wait for that cool fall weather.

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Creepy/beautiful pictures by Pat:




Margaritas, meatball subs, cards and Alice in Wonderland (the Tim Burton one… sweet!) with P & E on a relaxing and cool Friday the 13th.

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I’m sure you’ve deduced by now that I’m not a fan of summer weather.  But one thing I DO love about summer is the food.  Corn, watermelon, berries and, of course, BBQ.  It all tastes better in the summer, especially when I pass up the normal grocery store for Whole Foods’ local, organic offerings.  I’m not an “eat local” devotee for 1. I like eating lots of different kinds of foods and they haven’t figured out how to grow oranges in Pennsylvania (yet..) and 2. I can be kinda lazy and our grocery store is a hike from our house so I like to buy it all at once.  Okay now that I’m done making myself feel better for being an environmentally irresponsible shopper… One food I WILL go out of my way to buy fresh and local is: cherries.  Mmmm, sweet cherries!  So delicious!  So nutritious!  So good baked into a pie with ice cream on top!

Mmm, delicious!

One of my childhood memories is of a family camping trip to the Thumb where we became hopelessly lost but luckily had a huge bag of wonderful Michigan cherries to tide us over.  They will always taste like summer, sunshine and Michigan to me!

Here is the pie “recipe” I followed:

  • 2 pounds ripe cherries, washed and pitted**
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (you can use more if you want)
  • A bit of salt (1/2 tsp?)
  • 4 tbsp flour (or you can use tapioca, but I don’t keep that on hand)
  • 1 tsp each vanilla and almond extract (I tried this on a whim, not too shabby)
  • Double pie crust**

Mix all the ingredients together and put into a pie crust.  Top with another pie crust.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until it’s golden and done.  Let it cool a little bit and enjoy!

*Pitting cherries: This was my first adventure in using ripe cherries with the pits in for pie.  My normal method for getting the pit out is to bite the cherry in half, use my teeth to wrestle the pit out, suck on it to get all the goods and then throw it out.  I have a feeling that’s not kosher for pie-making.  So I google-searched “pitting cherries” to see if I had to have one of those special gizmos.  You definitely do not.  Martha Stewart suggests bending a paperclip up and then using it to carefully excavate the pit.  Others swear by a bobby pin, a nail, or a paring knife.  I tried Martha’s suggestion and immediately understood why she has servants, too much work for me.  Instead I took the end of a wooden spoon, stuck it in the end opposite the stem, gave it a firm push and POP, out comes the pit and stem.  Easy cheesy.  Tip: do the whole operation over the sink!

The Goods and my non-fancy pitter

**Who wants to make pie crust in the humid heat of summer?  Not me, that’s for sure.  They never turn out right and I don’t have a ton of experience to know how to alter the ingredients.  SO I bought a frozen double crust (from Whole Foods, while I was there) and used that instead.  I was a little sad that they only had whole wheat crusts, not that whole grains aren’t important, but I prefer not to eat them with dessert.  The filling more than makes up for it though!

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Have you ever been to spin class?  I have.  It was terrifying.  Spastic techno music.  Poorly circulated, sweat-laden air-conditioned “breeze”.  And worst of all I was spending my hard-earned nickles and dimes when what I really wanted to be doing was putting them in my Drinkin’ Jar.  Luckily I’ve spent enough time living in Philadelphia that I’ve become privy to some very useful information: you don’t have to pay for spin class to get a great cycling workout in this city.

Let's get physical!

Okay, I will admit that the headline for this story is a bit misleading… I’m not talking about an actual class and if you don’t have a bike it’s not going to be free, but I have learned a few things riding my bike around the city that add up to a great workout.  So grab your bike, pull on those spandex shorts and strap on your helmet, it’s time to turn these city streets into your own gym!


(Note: “Butt-kicking” is not usually part of my vernacular but it just felt right in this situation)

  1. Don’t be lazy on the hills.  That’s right, you can’t throw it into grandma gear and laze your way up the incline.  Patrick and I like to race up the 2-block hill to our street, I definitely feel the burn and turning it into a competition (that I have WON MORE THAN ONCE I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW) makes it more fun.
  2. Race the lights.  Or the bus.  Or both!  My two worst enemies while riding around the city are definitely series of stop lights and city buses.  Get into a groove and you’ll leave them both in your dust.
  3. Find a straightaway and turn it into a loop in your route.  I am especially partial to long stretches of bike-laned streets like the additions to Pine and Spruce streets.  Or add a multi-use trail like the Schuylkill Drive.
  4. Add variety and enjoy your surroundings.  The best part about using my bike for exercise is getting to see all the beautiful, strange, wacky and interesting things that make this city so unique.  Sunsets, bums, abandoned buildings and crazy graffiti all come free with my spin class!

Sunset from Spring Garden st.

Happy weekend, back to work tomorrow 😦

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On Saturday evening Pat and I enjoyed a cruise on the Summer Wind, a  steel-hulled, Junk-rigged ocean cruising schooner operated by American Sailing Tours.  The trip was billed as a “Sunset Sail” and was recently named the #1 Most Romantic thing to do in Philadelphia.  We had dinner and drinks at Dave and Busters which is right next door to the pier the tour company uses.

Bring on the romance!

As instructed we arrived around 7:15 so we wouldn’t get left behind when the boat departed at exactly 7:30pm.  We were a little nervous when the captain greeted us by saying “if you’re on the 7:30 boat ride… get on.”  So we did!  Customer service is definitely something this guy needs to take a few classes in but it ended up being ok, we didn’t really feel like chit-chatting with the crew anyway.

Sunset on the Delaware

When I called to make reservations the captain told me that the boat is BYOB; we had some drinks with dinner so we abstained (plus it’s NOT very romantic to be hurling your OB over the side of the sailboat…)  However there was a cooler with some waters and soda which was nice.  We cruised about a mile down the river, making a few large circles here and there to avoid barges.


The Camden Riversharks play right on the river on the Jersey side and we were treated to some post-ballgame fireworks at the end of our sail.  I was really happy that the captain circled the boat back around so I could get a better view.  Patrick was especially excited, he LOVES fireworks.

More fireworks

I wasn’t paying close attention to the time but I think the whole sail was about 2 hours.  I liked watching the captain and his helper (the skipper?) move the sails around to catch the teeny bit of wind we had that night.  It was also fun to get out of the city heat and onto the water.  Though I must say the Delaware River is probably the least romantic river for a sailboat cruise.  It is a major shipping channel after all… 

But for a great view of the city, a gorgeous sunset and front-row seats to a fireworks show this affordable and unique activity can’t be beat.

Ben Franklin the boat, Ben Franklin the bridge

Motoring to the dock

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