For my photos this week I am going for a different approach… Instead of showing a mish-mosh of different photos I put together a collection. One day last week I had a 3 hour break between my Nutcracker rehearsals. I hate it when my breaks are that long. Knowing in advance that my break would be so long, I took action and planned ahead. I decided that instead of driving back home just to turn around and drive back again, I would bring my camera with me and walk around East Falls (the neighborhood the ballet studios are in) snapping pictures. The train tracks featured in these pictures are just a quick walk up a hill from the ballet studios. I know it’s not the most original of themes for a collection, but hey, why not just have fun with what’s there?
No more than 5 days ago I decided to take a trip to Washington D.C. for the weekend. Just a three and a half hour ride via Megabus it was the perfect distance for a quick visit to my older sister and a brief change of scenery. Philadelphia can be a bit overwhelming. Driving around in that city is a bit of a nightmare. The traffic lights are poorly timed, the way the streets are planned out with one-ways and traffic circles it is difficult to get anywhere directly, there are potholes and uneven roads everywhere, and the streets are always crowded with cars. As you can imagine, it gets annoying pretty quickly. One of my roommates was heading down for the weekend too so I figured why not go now and have a travel buddy. I could use a little refresher.
We got on the Megabus in Philly a little after 4 (it was 30 minutes late) and arrived in D.C. at 7:30 (an hour late). Not too bad considering some of the stories I have heard of buses being up to 2 hours late. My sister met me at Union Station, where the bus dropped us off. We got dinner, made pumpkin pie, watched a movie, ate some pie, and went to bed. The next morning we woke up and took a 2 hour walk down to the mall to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was incredibly large. There was a relief of MLK carved out of stone standing in the middle of the site. Behind him were two more giant rocks and a wall of quotes streaming out from either side of those rocks. The weather was very agreeable. The sunlight made the light-colored monument glow, making the MLK’s statue seem even more large and impressive than it already was.
After our walk it was time to refuel. We met up with my roommate and another one of our friends at Shake Shack near Dupont Circle. It was my first time to a Shake Shack. Ever. I spent three weeks in New York this summer and somehow (sadly) managed to leave without making it to get a burger, fries, and a shake. Now that I have finally had them I don’t know what was wrong with me that stopped me from going sooner. Bot was I missing out! I started the meal with an order of french fries. Some of the best french fries I have ever had! They were crinkle cut. That wonderful design allows for a larger surface area to be deeply fried creating fries that are perfectly crispy on the outside but soft and warm on the inside. Following that, I ordered the signature Shack Burger. Why not for my first time? The burger patty was made out of the most succulent, perfectly cooked 100% natural, vegetarian-fed, humanely raised beef. It was layered with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and their special Shack Sauce all delicately placed inside the bun. The bun was made of potato bread. The entire sandwich melted in my mouth and was beyond delicious. If it could get any better from there I still had a shake to enjoy. I ordered the Black & White shake for a little twist from my usual choice of vanilla. The shake was a blend of chocolate and vanilla ice creams and was so thick it was almost still solid when I first got it. So thick that I started eating it with a soon because I couldn’t even drink it through a straw. Now that’s a milkshake. What a decadent meal that was.
After we were all nice and full we split ways and my sister and I headed off to buy a baby gift for a friend of hers who just became a new dad. Baby clothes are ridiculously adorable. My favorite purchase that we made at the store were some new watches. For us. Yeah that’s right. We bought watches for our adult selves at a baby store. Mine has fishes on it. Hers has monkeys. I didn’t set it to the proper time before I took this picture. As an added bonus to the level of cuteness the little fish in the middle moves as the second-hand.
From there we headed to our other shopping destination: a small, unassuming Japanese grocery store on U Street. It was a small space tightly packed with all sorts of Japanese goodies from sweets and snacks to noodles and frozen fish. We got some seaweed salad and sushi for dinner along with some snacks to have around. I cannot wait to break into my wasabi peas. “A happy present from the Earth.”
Somehow it was already 5 PM by the time we returned to the apartment for a little breather. We didn’t hang around there for very long. The Pittsburgh Penguins had a hockey game starting at 7:30. The game was not showing on local TV so we went to a bar on the hill to watch it. We hung out at the Pour House drinking beer and watching the game for 2 periods before we got tired and decided to head home. We stopped at Fro.zen.yo on the way home. They serve some of the best frozen yogurt I have had anywhere. Last time I visited my sister in D.C. I didn’t get any and was quite sad. I couldn’t let another opportunity pass me by. It was just a half a block away from where we got off the subway at Metro Center so we were able to make a quick stop and finally satisfy the craving I had been holding on to for months. About time.
This morning was low-key and appreciatively uneventful considering we were both worn out from the day before. I left D.C. right on time at 4:15 and am still on the bus back to Philadelphia. Let’s hope we arrive at 7:30 as expected.
A quick weekend. A fun-filled visit. Some successful shopping. A break from city driving. Only one downer to the whole weekend: the Pens lost 3-2.
I have been pondering the best method to share my new photos with you for a few days now. Inserting them into a post with no relation to the topic just doesn’t seem right. It’s not what I want to do. Therefore, what I have come up with is this: one post a week that will include nothing but photos. Photo after photo after photo. I hope you like them and feel free to leave comments!
Saturday morning I went with my roommates to check out Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. The indoor market has been a part of this city since 1893. Today there are over 80 vendors selling local produce, fresh eggs, milk, meats, seafood, poultry, crafts, jewelry, and handmade goods. The range of items for sale is highly overwhelming. If I had any idea of what I wanted to feast on before I got there, it had entirely vanished as soon as I set foot inside the door. The neon lights, signs hanging from the ceiling, and vast amount of goods for sale completely overwhelmed me.
In order to see all that the market had to offer I immediately laid out a game plan in my head. I would walk up and down all the aisles (labeled by adorable little street signs) to weigh my choices before I made any decisions. I passed by produce stands, meat cases, bakeries, restaurants, and stalls run by Amish families who were making breakfast right there on the griddle. All the observing and the growing number of choices just made my decision more difficult. I knew before I went to the market that I wanted to leave with some fresh produce. My produce booth of choice for this trip was the Fair Food Farmstand. All of the items they sell come from local farms in the Delaware Valley. I purchased some mushrooms, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and the most beautiful looking broccoli I have seen in a long time.
Next up was a little something I could snack on as I continued my browsing. Tucked away in one of the corners of the market stands a very unassuming black and white tile store. Don’t be fooled though. The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company has won many awards for their cookies. They have no fewer than 12 flavors available for purchase at the market and they all are baked fresh daily. It took me a few minutes to decide which flavor I wanted to sink my teeth into but I finally went with oatmeal raisin. The cookie was soft yet dense, the raisins were still large and plump, and I could taste all of the spices in the batter as well as the pure oatmeal taste. It’s not hard for me to believe they have won awards for those miracles. If you buy a single cookie the price is determined by weight. My cookie was about 3 inches in diameter and cost $2. Just a little hint as to how dense and delicious it was.
Moving down the “street” from there I was taken aback by the beautiful sight of freshly assembled sandwiches piled in a display case waiting to be consumed. Each sandwich made ‘By George!’ lovingly included several slices of freshly made mozzarella. A definite selling point if you ask me. I am a sucker for cheese. I am already anticipating my return trip to the market to buy some artisan cheese and fresh fish. Yum! The sandwich I chose was called “the euro”. It had mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, broccoli rabe, and grilled eggplant all piled into a delicious multi-grain roll. I got it wrapped to take with me for lunch. It was hard to eat the bread and the interior all at once (due to the luscious volume of the bread) but I didn’t mind one bit because all parts of the sandwich were independently spectacular. Particularly the mozzarella.
My next Saturday stop was out near Temple University at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Yes, I finally went to a class to help me learn how to properly use my camera. The workshop I signed up for, titled Digital Beginnings, was a very skeletal introduction on how to use a DSLR camera. I learned how the aperture and shutter speed affect the photograph and their relationship with each other. I also got a very brief crash course in how to use Photoshop on raw image files. Sadly, the instructor only wanted us to work with our camera in Program mode. This setting is just one step away from full Auto and is not what I want to be using to take all my pictures. I wanted to play more. Realizing that wasn’t going t be an option in this class I just started playing around myself. I used my new knowledge of the terminology and experimented in the manual mode with different combinations of aperture and shutter speed to get different exposures in my pictures. I still have things to work on of course but I know much more now than I did going into the class. If I play around more on my own hopefully I will keep learning new tricks. I just downloaded a trial of Photoshop Elements so I can start working on my images before I order the program for real (which I intend to do very soon). Once I get them looking fabulous I will share my favorites with you!
I am officially living in Philadelphia for the next two months while I perform in The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet. Yesterday was moving day. I woke up (an hour after my alarm went off), stuffed my car as neatly as I could, stopped for a much needed car wash, and began my drive across Pennsylvania. Sadly most of the leaves have fallen off the trees by this point so the scenery wasn’t much to be admired. That made the drive pretty boring. I listened to some great music and called a few people to make the time go faster. It didn’t work too well. Road trips by yourself just really aren’t the best. At least there was hardly any traffic.
I made it to my destination at about 3 in the afternoon. Because the apartment building is in the middle of downtown there is no driveway or available street space for unloading. The sidewalk it was. Apparently that’s how most residents of the building unloaded their belongings. My friend and his roommate included. Fine with me. Upstairs, I started right away to make my “room”. I am using a combination of the hall closet and a stack of plastic drawers for my clothes. I have a few extra bins and organizers for my ballet clothes and all my scarves. I think I left more than half of my scarves at home too. It all worked out rather fabulously. It’s a small space but It is just perfect for me and my semi-nomadic lifestyle.
Because I made my room into the foyer, in order to separate my new living quarters from the rest of the apartment I purchased 2 metal clothes racks and some curtains from Ikea to set up as a wall. However, as I was unpacking we noticed that there were some fixtures on the wall that would work perfectly for me to tie some string from and hang my curtains. How lucky! Now I have my own little oasis that makes me feel like I should be escaping from reality on some remote tropical island. Too bad I’m not. Instead I will be romping around in snow for the next two months. Can’t wait.
It has already snowed once this year. On Halloween weekend. Way too early in the year if you ask me. I will admit there was one benefit to the snow. It gave me the opportunity to take pictures with my new camera! Here is a small sample of a few of my shots so far. More from Philly in a few days!
Packing is the worst. This is my procrastination.
I am leaving in two days to drive to my new (temporary) home in Philadelphia. I will be performing The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet. I am incredibly excited. I just wish I didn’t have to pack first. Could I just snap my fingers and be there with all my belongings? I spent nearly all day yesterday making piles on my bed and arranging them into my suitcase. Giving it my best attempt to effectively utilize the space and fit as many things in each suitcase as I could. At about 9 I hit a wall. Bedtime was approaching quickly and I was still overwhelmed by the amount of un-packed items on my bed. They all had to go before I could sleep. (I did that intentionally but it slightly backfired). I ended up loosely tossing the rest of my things into an empty suitcase and left it for today. As you can see, that plan isn’t working out so great. I am about 2/3 of the way complete with my packing. It’s just that last awful 33.3 repeating percent. It’ll have to happen either today or tomorrow or it’s getting left behind. I’ll just force myself into my room, crank up some tunes (lately I’ve been obsessed with the new M83 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”) and not let myself out until I have successfully packed my third and final suitcase.
The motivation will come. I can feel it.