Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Easy Like Sunday Morning

If you do not already have a library card, go get one. The Free Library of Philadelphia is where I check out books recommended by my uncle, find solace in the stories by my favorite authors, and check out CDs to learn all the lyrics before upcoming concerts.

Coffee is a good accompaniment to books. A few weeks ago, I took a day off from the gym and enjoyed several cafes in my neighborhood. I had the pleasure of finishing “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles while sipping Stumptown coffee and nibbling on a vegan chocolate donut at One Shot Cafe located at 217 George Street. The cakelike treat was from Hello Donuts, and I can’t wait to try another in the near future.

Once I finished reading "A Gentleman in Moscow," I went to Soy CafĂ© located at 630 N 2nd Street. I enjoyed a bagel sandwich and green tea latte while beginning “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” by Tom Robbins. The texture of the bagels at Soy Cafe are perfect for sandwichs and their green tea soy latte was one of the best I’ve ever had.

This upcoming weekend I encourage you to go fourth and eat carbs and get caffeinated while enjoying your favorite authors or rocking out to your favorite tunes. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Spin Classes

At the end of September, I took my first spin class at Flywheel Sports, located in Center City at 1521 Locust Street. I was motivated to try the class when they hosted a special ride to benefit the Pennsylvania SPCA. The class was challenging, but I enjoyed being able to pet dogs from the PSPCA after the ride, and the positive experience made me want to return.   

Photo from my first spin class at Flywheel (photo courtesy of Flywheel instructor, Amandah) 

Recently, I have been taking spin classes at my local gym, City Fitness. In addition to yoga, indoor cycling has become part of my fitness routine this winter. The instructors have meticulously curated playlists and positive energy that elicits the participants to clap and shout out “woo" after difficult hill climbs.

When one of my favorite instructors, Becca, subbed for a 6:15am class, I was committed to going even though that meant walking to the gym when the temperature was only five degrees Fahrenheit. Her personality and music selections always make me smile. The night Kurt Vile (one of my favorite local musicians) was to perform at the Met, we road to KV Crimes. Other than WXPN, her class is the only other place I have heard the song "Just Can't Get Enough" by the local band, Sheer Mag. "Deliverance" by Bubba Sparxxx has been played during her cool downs, which I have not heard since my boyfriend senior year of college put it on a mix CD in the summer of 2006. There is always an eclectic mix of tunes filled with surprises.

KV and me

After class, if time permits, I love to use the HydroMassage. Being massaged by water pressure feels amazing. Starting my morning with cycling and a massage makes me feel motivated to conquer the rest of my day.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Tattooed Mom

Last Wednesday, my husband and I had another lesson at Society Hill Dance Academy. Our wonderful instructor, Katie, guided us through salsa, cha cha, hustle, and rhumba. Dancing made us work up an appetite, so after twirling and stepping on eachothers feet, we headed to Tattooed Mom for hearty vegan burgers and spicy bbq tater tots.

Vegan burger of
the month topped
with fried
avocado, roasted
corn, and cholula
lime cream

Tattooed Mom
, located at 530 South Street, has great specials throughout the week. Enjoy half off their veggie menu on Monday, $1 tacos on Tuesday, $4 burgers on Wednesday, and $.50 perogies on Thursday. They also have drink specials and host special events.

Dum Dums are always complimentary and vegan

Back in July, a friend and I went to a vegan bake sale they hosted. We savored our sweets while supporing a good cause. The bake sale benefited immigrant and refugee families as all the proceeds were donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Servics  (RAICES ).

Vegan brownie and buckeye from the bake sale

If you are looking for a place where you can enjoy flavorful and affordable food in an original atmosphere, look no further than Tattoed Mom. When thinking of where to go for happy hour or to play a game of billards, consider supporting this local business that often gives back to the community.

Murderinos dine here; SSDGM

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Opportunities for physical activity are abundant in Philadelphia. From aerial yoga to Zumba classes, Philly has it all. A variety of activities are available to motivate the community to incorporate fitness into their routine. 

Over the past three years, I have enjoyed taking Barre3 classes, practicing yoga at Amrita, getting sweaty during spin classes at City Fitness, and perfecting my dance moves at Society Hill Dance Academy (SHDA). Since I do not always excel at finding a balance between my activities and interests, the dance class package I purchased last year from SHDA got dangerously close to expiring. Somehow six months flew by without my husband and I attending a single lesson. Fortunately, one of the instructors reached out and we scheduled our remaining lessons. Last Wednesday night, after a six month hiatus, we returned to SHDA located at 409 South 2nd Street.

Michelle was our instructor and she was wonderful as she guided us through the slow dances we previously learned including Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango. Her warm personality, encouragement, and skill made me regret not returning sooner. It was also a pleasure to see the resident cat, Madelyn.

Madelyn at Society Hill Dance Academy

My husband and I previously took dance lessons at Swing Cat located in Pottstown when we lived outside of Philadelphia. I always looked forward to attending my weekly swing dance session after work as well as getting dressed up for the parties they hosted Saturday nights. It was fun to dance with people of varying skill levels to great music. Sometimes they even had live music including Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five.

My husband and I at a wedding, using our dance skills that we learned from Swing Cat

I'm glad my interest in dance is something I can continue to explore in Philadelphia. If you too are interested in sharpening your dance skills, check out SHDA where your first lesson is free.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Women's March

Despite the cold, numb fingers and toes could not keep me from the Women's March. It was empowering to be surrounded by hundreds of like minded individuals in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.

Outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, students spoke out about the need for gun control. Strong women communicated the importance of boys and men being held acccountable for their actions. Mayor Jim Kenny and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro stood with us and acknowkedged anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia will not be tolerated. Regardless of what the current dysfunctional presidential administration conveys and condones, LGBTQ rights and trans lives matter.

Let's continue to stand in solidarity and work towards change. Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address so you have a say in who gets elected. Consider donating to Planned Parenhood, an organization that is dedicated to protecting women's reproductive rights and access to health, and The ACLU, an organization that defends our civil rights.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Broadway Philadelphia

Circa 1990, I loved roller skating to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” My dad took me to the roller rink almost every Sunday until my desire to skate changed to a passion for bowling, and we joined a league. We always enjoyed our quality time together, and in my preteen years, we spent many hours walking around Franklin Mills Mall and playing arcade games.

On one of our outings, we stopped at Tower Records where my dad purchased Carole King’s album Tapestry which he proceeded to continually play on car rides. I fell in love with her music from the somber title track "Tapestry" to the catchy "Smackwater Jack." When I heard her belt out “You’ve got to get up every morning, with a smile on your face and show the world, all the love in your heart, then people gonna treat you better, you're gonna find, yes you will, that you're beautiful, as you feel,” I felt motivated. That song was just what I needed to hear as a twelve-year-old. At that period in my life, I felt anything but beautiful, not because I had acne and braces, but, because my classmates called me ugly to my face. The blue glitter lipstick I wore didn’t help matters.

When I entered high school, the same year as Rory Gilmore, things were looking up. My dad and I went on road trips to visit colleges, I met one of my best friends, and my face reaped the benefits of Acutane. It was an exciting time and hearing King’s song “Where you Lead” every week during the opening credits of the Gilmore Girls made it even better.

Philadelphia’s burgeoning appreciation for Carole King has been evident over the past three years. In 2016 the Philly Pops performed her music and, much to my excitement, I won free tickets and was able to introduce my husband to her music.

The Academy of Music, located at 240 South Broad Street, is currently presenting "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical", rendering a trip to NYC unnecessary to view the wonderment of King’s life. My father would sadly never experience the musical as he passed away four years before “Beautiful” debuted on Broadway. The year the play debuted, 2014, is the same year my husband and I met. Since I have been able to spark his interest in King's music, we decided to see the play.

As fate would have it, the upscale vegan restaurant Vedge, located at 1221 Locust Street, had availability at the perfect time before the play. Since we had a gift certificate, we decided to reserve a table for two. The rutabaga fondue is an amazing dish that I highly recommend. It is a sophisticated version of a Philadelphia soft pretzel with cheese and the perfect comfort food before venturing out in the cold to walk the few blocks to the Academy of Music.

The performance was wonderful as the play depicted King’s relationships with her family and friends in a way that made her relatable. It shed light on the meaning and inspiration behind songs that I had loved for years by the prolific songwriter.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Urban Axe Throwing

Right now, it is 29 degrees Fahrenheit in Philadelphia. When it gets that cold, I limit my time outdoors and start to seriously consider moving to sunny California. Finding new places to spend my time indoors is appreciated, so I was happy to be invited to a birthday party at Urban Axes, located at 2019 East Boston Street in the Kensington area of Philadelphia. That’s right, you can pay money to participate in the competitive sport of urban axe throwing. In addition to group events like the one I attended, they take walk-ins and have 8-week leagues.

Once you sign a waiver and crack open a cold one (it’s a BYOB), a knowledgeable coach, I mean axepert, will go over the rules and provide you with guidance on the best way to heave an axe. Getting a bullseye (which I found near impossible), or even getting the axe to stick in the wood is more dependent on rotation than force. You can earn between one to three points each time you throw. On the final throw each round you can earn seven points if you hit a green dot known as the clutch.

Our group of 14 had four throwing lanes and two wonderful coaches. I was not a natural at this sport, and despite all the encouragement and pointers, I came in last. After 45 throws which were split between three rounds, I ended up with 11 points. To put that into perspective, the other scores in the group ranged from 33 to 129 points.


After working up a sweat (just kidding, the axe was only slightly heavier than my can of hard cider) we went to Frankford Hall, located at 1210 Frankford Avenue in the Fishtown area. The hall has an outdoor area where gas lamps and fire pits will warm you while you enjoy your food and libations along with a game of Jenga.

I recommend getting the soft pretzel which is verified to be vegan as it does not contain dairy or eggs. Sadly, the beer I drank, Schofferhofer Grapefruit, according to BeerTutor, is not vegan as it contains carmine made from crushed cochineal beetles. Since that's disgusting, I need to find another beer next time I go there. To find out if your booze is vegan check out the website Barnivore.