Category Archives: Blogs

blog nesting

Guess what? It’s a new banner! Yay! I was getting tired of the old one and decided it was time for a change. I’ve also been doing a little blog nesting. I stumbled across the lovely blog My Hands Made It, which uses the same WordPress theme as I do (Pilcrow), and I really like the width of her columns, among other things. So, what’s a girl to do? Learn CSS (you know, Cascading Style Sheets, duh?!) so she can customize her blog a bit. That’s what. And that’s what I’ve been working on the last few days.

I was feeling a little daunted by the whole thing and not really getting anywhere until I posted about it on Facebook. One of my classmates from graduate school now teaches multimedia at our alma mater and she sent some very helpful tutorials my way. Now I feel like I’m on track. It’s fun to learn a new skill! And, shout out to FB for getting me the help that I needed. Love it when that happens.

I’m still tinkering on the back end of the blog to correct the little issues that arose when I changed the width of the columns (ahem, now the header spacing is all bunged and the line underneath only goes halfway across the page), but I’ll figure it out. When I do, it will feel like a whole new world over here. I can’t wait!


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B. Free Franklin

A few weeks ago, S. and I were trying to return the bathrobe I bought him for Christmas (too big), and we  stumbled upon this little gem of a post office. In some weird quirk of the postal system, the postmasters at this location technically can’t accept any package over 3 ounces, but I’m kind of a superstar in the postal community … or the ladies there are really, really nice. One or the other. At any rate, we made it happen.

After we went home, I Googlized it and found out a lot of cool things about this post office, including  that it is a replica that was opened in 1975 but it is located in a building once owned by Benjamin Franklin (first Postmaster General).  And here’s a factoid, Jeopardy fans, it is the only post office in the United States that does not fly an American flag. Why, praytell? Because there wasn’t a U.S. flag when the post office was established in 1775. Duh!  The B. Free Franklin Post Office is also very popular with brides-to-be (and grooms-to-be?, not sure about that), who take their wedding invitations there to be handstamped with the B. Free Franklin signature. (I’m told the signature was how Franklin indicated postage had been paid.)

And horror of horrors! I was sad to find news articles from last summer that said the little Colonial-themed post office is on the chopping block. USPS was/is planning to close it. I’m not sure if that’s still the plan, although this, which apparently used to provide info about the B. Free post office, doesn’t bode well.

Inspired by the Going Postal blog, S. and I visited the very next weekend to take photos and document the place, just in case. Our second visit was just as charming as our first. The postmistresses, who gave us a little mini history lesson (including info on franking priveleges) and allowed S. to stand on a chair to get a better angle for a photo, seemed just as unclear about the future of the post office as we were.

I bought a stamped envelope decorated with an artists’ rendering of the post office and museum for 75 cents. I addressed it to S. and myself, and our friendly neighborhood postmistress franked it up.

It arrived a few days later.

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going postal: a love story

(Squirrel Island, Maine)

(Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania)

(Dayton, Kentucky and Newport, Kentucky)

(Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky)

Photos via Going Postal

It seems that every time the USPS issues a press release, the news is dire. Increasingly so. If we’re honest with ourselves, fair readers, the postal service is likely going the way of dial tones or VCR tapes (“Are those the big black things that you put in the thing?” my 8-year-old nephew recently asked). It makes me really sad!

On the same day the postal service announced that it would end next-day mail, I came across a blog that’s attempting to document post offices (and postmarks) around the country before they disappear. Going Postal: A Photo Journal of Post Offices and Places shows how many post offices reflect the local flavor of the communities they serve, which I love.

When I was clicking through photos on the blog, I immediately recognized the last one pictured above. It’s from NKU, the concrete wonderland where I went to camp! (Compare its urban beauty to S.’s fairytale camp here.) I wrote (and received) my fair share of letters that summer—missives that passed through this sad little outpost. It closed this year.

Stay tuned this weekend for photos of an endangered post office that S. and I stumbled upon last weekend.


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Tiffany mosaic

Because it’s Friday and because I love you (even though you don’t call…you don’t write…), here’s a look at the lovely Tiffany mosaic that adorns the lobby of The Curtis Center. It’s appropriately named Dream Garden and was designed by Maxfield Parrish and produced by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the early 20th century.

Thanks to Alexandra at Bancroft & Ivy, who visited recently and tweeted about it. My doctor’s office is in the same building, but until I read her tweet I had no idea this (rather large) gem was there.

Have a great weekend!

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emotional eating

When the tough gets going, Phillies fans head out for day-after cheesesteaks…or maybe those are tourists. It’s hard to say, but these were the lines today at Pat’s and Geno’s (the competing cheesesteak places that are located directly opposite one another on dueling corners). Needless to say, I’m sure there was a lot of emotional eating in Phila today.

I headed to South Philly this morn with this pastry as my primary objective.

Ignore the pesky shadow for a moment (that’s what happens when you head out relatively early and then dawdle past row houses, snapping random photos and marveling at how nice it is to live so close to the village that is South Philly and also to Old City and Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square. It’s what happens when you chat with the pastry chef before heading home, through the Italian Market, to which you’ve already professed your undying devotion and which is crackling with activity on a beautiful fall day and the next thing you know you’re in a kitchen shop you never noticed before and it stretches the entire length of a city block! and so there are pie pans and pastry blenders and croxetti stamps to look at and then your husband is calling and asking where in the hell you are…and you drag yourself away and stop at Starbucks to get one small and one large coffee before arriving back home with your pastries, which you will photograph. With shadows. Because it’s so late in the day. That’s what happens.)

Anyway, let’s just take a moment to admire this almond pain au chocolate, or almond chocolate croissant, or as I like to roughly translate—almond chocolate bread. I bought it at Artisan Boulanger Patissier, an unassuming French pastry shop in the heart of South Philly, which Leya at Curious Bird kindly pointed me to. I had emailed her about the raspberry and cheese croissants she mentioned here. I’ve been there twice now, and the pastries are amazing.

When I was in France a few years ago, I basically subsisted for several weeks on delectable pastries, cappucino, and red wine. The pain au chocolate alone made me want to move there and never look back. Ever since, it has made me crazy to see (some) bakeries in the United States selling pain au chocolate with chocolate chips inside a croissant.  Really? Why bother?

The pain au chocolate at Artisan Boulanger Patissier is a perfect french croissant with strips of high quality chocolate in its flaky interior, so that when you bite into it, the chocolate’s kind of melty and soft on the outside but firm and substantial as you bite through. There are no words.

The proprietors are a Cambodian husband and wife team. He is a French-trained pastry chef, and they used to sell their fabulous breads to Air France. That’s how legit they are.

If/when you’re in South Philly, do yourself a favor…

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Ahem, so………..notice anything different?

Nothing? Nothing at all?

I changed the calligraphy for “Panama and Pine” on the banner. I was tired of looking at the old font, which was essentially just my normal handwriting. I like the new one better, so we’ll try it out for a while.

I sat down last night to do some calligraphy, which I haven’t done much since our wedding. You’re going to find this hard to believe, but there are just not a lot of practical applications for copperplate calligraphy in every day, post-wedding life. I know. It’s shocking.

When I decided to teach myself calligraphy from a book to address our wedding invitations I was crazy wasn’t really thinking about it as a long-term hobby. Somewhere around the fifth or sixth week of calligraphy practice, though, I decided I really liked it. I find it relaxing to put nib to paper and submit to the rhythms of pressure and release, bold strokes and fine lines, while rocking out to Yo-Yo Ma. That’s just the kind of graphophile I am.

Now I’m sort of at a loss. I could still practice, I guess, but there’s the whole tree-falling-in-a-forest-if-there’s-no-one-there-does-it-make-a-sound conundrum. Isn’t the whole point, at the end of the day, to communicate something to someone? And so, I’m in the market for a project. I’m also working on a new, more modern font. Hence the new banner, which still needs a few tweaks.

Here’s a peek at one of our wedding invitation envelopes.

Don’t worry. Those people don’t live there. I know because I sent it and it came right back to me.

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speaking of champagne…

We never talked about this. Those of you who follow these things, know that I succeeded in my bliggedy blog pledge to post every day for two weeks. It wasn’t easy—I won’t lie—but I did it.

I finally celebrated with a glass of champagne at a BBQ joint near our apartment last week. Nevermind that it came in a can. And the bartender, who kept calling me “Love,” asked if I’d like a glass or if I was happy to drink it with the bendy straw that comes attached. I went glass, but I kind of love the self-sufficiency of the can/bendy straw concept.

As I sat there celebrating the enormous accomplishment of writing a blog post every day for two weeks on the blog I started for fun, I did wonder, “Okay, what next?” Did we learn anything? Did you like some types of posts better than others, Fair Readers? I’m sure you did, but I still didn’t get a lot of feedback. Was it fun? Who enjoyed it; raise your hand.

So, what’s next? I’m not really sure. Should I post every day?  Should I do more recipes or photographs or more Philly fun? I’m not really sure. I’ll think about it. Feel free to weigh in.


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letters of note

I was in NYC yesterday for the New Yorker Festival, and it was great. I’ll write more about that soon, but first, friends, I have a colossal time suck for you. Your evening is about to disappear into a black hole of internet surfing. Consider yourself warned.

NPR’s All Things Considered did a segment (listen to it or read the transcript here) on Friday about a website called Letters of Note, which celebrates the proverbial handwritten note. It’s like finding a dusty old box of postcards and letters in your grandparents’ attic, which is to say that not all the letters are handwritten and not all the letters are letters (faxes, memos, postcards, and telegrams are all fair game). Some are written by famous people and some are just amusing. It’s fun. You’ll see. Here’s one of my favorites.

(via Letters of Note via Vanity Fair)


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easy as…

This delicious pie is my big accomplishment this week. I’m including two pics so you can see just how flaky that crust is. Blow-your-mind flaky, I’m not even kidding.

The recipe is here, and it’s Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of an America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook recipe, so you know it’s good. They don’t mess around. I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I used my hands instead of a food processor (mine is too small) to mix the shortening with the dry ingredients for the crust and a pastry cutter to cut in the butta. I doubled the spices like Smitten Kitchen recommended in her note at the end and dialed back the lemon (I used the full tablespoon of juice but only about half of the called for rind). Also, I used Fuji apples, seven of them, but my pie pan was a little small and I had too many apples. I like the idea, though, of using different types of apples. I’ll do that next time.

I also had this song running through my head the whole time. Definitely could have been worse.

Why are you still here? Get over there and make that pie!

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video fun

(Postcards From Italy from andrew+carissa on Vimeo.)

I’m here. Where are you?

Wherever you are, I hope it’s fabulous! Here’s a video I found while surfing the internets. That cute couple are the brains behind a blog I just started reading, rockstar diaries. They have the cutest baby ever. And don’t forget the bulldog.

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