Monthly Archives: June 2012

I Hate Greeting Cards

This is nothing new, some of you may be all too familiar with my card giving antics. Blank stationery and invitations are fine, I have a whole collection of that! It’s going into a drug store and picking out cards that I drives me nuts. If I’m crunched for time, or don’t want people to think I’m cheap for making my own card, I will try to look for greeting cards in Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or even while I’m traveling abroad (that’s rare). At work, we print our own birthday cards, and pass them around for everyone to sign. It might be my favorite task at work, and it’s definitely not in my job description! At home, I will usually get Estelle to make some sort of crayon or paint creation on card stock and fold that bad boy in half…poof, just like that, a free greeting card!

I was a little more inspired this past week thanks to some freebie cards I picked up in the Craft Lab located within the gallery of Craft Spoken Here, up through August in the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I needed to make a card for my dad’s belated Father’s Day gift. I had an “A Ha!” moment when I figured out that all of his names that we call him have three letters. I folded an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of card stock in half, and wrote out Joe, Dad, and Avô (means grandfather in Portuguese) on top of each other. I drew dots along the letters, used a sewing needle to poke holes on the dots, and erased my pencil lines.

Next, I used some sort of backstitch to sew the letters. I had been wanting to get back into hand embroidery, so I had a couple colors of cotton embroidery floss sitting around and needles with big enough eyes. I wouldn’t even call myself an amateur embroiderer, so I cannot give you stitch instructions. If you are you slightly familiar with a needle and thread, I’m quite sure you can figure it out.

The results, front and back:

After I was done, I covered up the back with card stock using double-stick tape. Not too shabby?! Although, I really should have been folding laundry instead of doing this. Oh well, I think this fed my creative spirit more so than laundry. Dad, hope you liked it!



City Pretty: Spring Gardens

So, not much is very pretty in a city at the hottest part of the day during  a  heat advisory (100+ degrees). I should have taken a photo of one of Philadelphia’s awesome fountains, but that would have required time I didn’t have and extra walking in heat. Sorry, Charlie, maybe next time it gets above 95 degrees…this may be the first hot spell of the season, but it’s certainly not our last!

We lived near The Spring Gardens (18th and Wallace Streets, Philadelphia) for a bit, so I knew this community garden might have some nice nature stuff going on. I couldn’t quite get a good angle from outside the fence with my bus arriving at any minute. You might be able to see grapevines and bamboo shoots behind the daylily. My favorite thing about this garden is the custom-welded fence, it’s pretty gorgeous and sets the tone for what you might find inside.

See these storm clouds, folks? That’s what I call relief! Those storms brought in slightly cooler weather, yay!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! We are off on vacation today. We will be slightly more unplugged than usual, but you’ll still be hearing from us sporadically on both rowHOME and southfeasterdelphia.


Parklet Party

About a month ago, some of us neighbors decided to plan a parklet party. Wait, what? A parklet? Wikipedia defines a parklet as a small urban park, usually located in the space allocated for a parallel parked car. Geez Louise, why? Well, we’re a lazy bunch, and we didn’t want to experience the time and financial process of throwing a full block party. We decided on a date most of us would be around. Aside from the date and a neighbor with a car reserving a parking spot, the rest of it was pretty very impromptu. People brought food and drinks, and by pure coincidence, the parking spot ended up in front of our house. The balloons as caution “flags” were my idea, and using stop light colors was David’s idea. It wasn’t until the next day when we realized that red, yellow, and green are also Portugal’s colors! If we were really fancy, we could have gotten some astroturf or an outdoor rug to better mark off the area (and cover up the scuzzy street), but I thought the potted plants and chairs got the job done. On the menu were burgers, sausages, sides, fruit, and grilled s’mores to end the evening. Actually, a handful of us didn’t really end the evening until about 1 am. Thank goodness for patient neighbors. It helps that we are generally nice and quiet people, and we invited any neighbor that walked by. It was fun, the weather was perfect…actually a little chilly. I will keep Saturday night in mind as we are sizzlin’ at 95+ degrees in a couple of days. Enjoy the photos!

Before the party:


Bubble gun and Barbapapa Band Aids!

Murphy doesn’t usually like his photo taken, so I feel lucky.

Lola is a bit jealous of Murphy’s freedom, or she hates our music choice. Check out the death stare.

Blurry food shot, sorry!

One last shot, courtesy of my neighbor…

Thar she blows folks, our Parklet Party. I hope it inspires you to gather with friends and neighbors soon.


Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Bringing Up Bebe, and now French Kids Eat Everything. Come on! I know the French aren’t perfect, so why are we so drawn to these titles?! Admittedly, I was a big fan of French Women Don’t Get Fat back in graduate school. I had been meaning to re-read it, but never got around to it. I highly recommend it if you just need a little nudge to keep your weight under control using common sense and simple recipes. Bringing Up Bebe hasn’t interested me enough, so far. The French don’t do everything right, but they mostly do food right. I’m glad I chose to read French Kids Eat Everything, and I wanted to share.

The author, Karen Le Billon, is a Canadian woman married to a French man. She divides her time in both countries with her two little girls. I trusted her opinion right off the bat. She’s real, she’s honest, and she makes food mistakes just like the rest of us snack-happy North Americans. I’m not going to go into details about her rules and findings, you can read a nice summary here and Le Billon has a blog too. I really encourage you to read this book if you have picky eaters, or if you need help getting back on track with some food rules you already hold dear to your heart (that’s me). If you have a small baby or are expecting a baby soon, you should definitely read this book. The French introduce vegetables first to get babies accustomed to the tastes. Le Billon includes some puree recipes, and a rough guide for introducing new foods. The book is currently on sale for $15 at most retail outlets, and you can find digital copies for even less!

There is one thing that shocked me about the French. Their breastfeeding rates are dismal! Most French women breastfeed for a couple months, and usually put their newborns on strict feeding schedules right off the bat (while in the hospital). I just cannot get on board with any of that, but everything else is pretty great. I had one “duh” moment when Le Billon says that some families give their kids a bath before dinner. Why didn’t I think of that?! Although, that would require two parents…at least in my house, one to cook and one to bathe.

The results? We are only a few days into the experiment, and I haven’t even told David about all of the new food rules we should attempt to follow. He just thinks I’m a Francophile dork, but he knew that before marrying me. Despite the early stages, Estelle is already showing a greater willingness to try new things. As the author warns, it’s a slow process. Since Estelle is still in the “opposition phase” of life (ages 2-4), I have very low goals. I just want her to try new stuff, she doesn’t have to like it or eat it, but she does have to keep trying it. David and I both eat a wide variety of foods, so I have no doubt that if we continue to model good food habits, Estelle will follow suit.

Have I convinced you to read the book yet? I would let you borrow my copy, but I’m the bozo who bought a digital copy for my iPad. It’s just a little difficult to share digital books! French Kids Eat Everything might be my new go-to baby shower gift, paired with a cute set of baby dishes.

Bon appetit, mes amis! It’s almost the weekend! Any fun plans? We’re just staying in town, trying out a new urban party style with the neighbors. I hope my vagueness is intriguing, I will be sure to share the party results after the weekend! The Father’s Day gifts I ordered on Sunday haven’t arrived yet, so David might have to live with waffles, crafts projects, and Camden Riversharks baseball until his gifts get here.


City Pretty: Matthias Baldwin Park

I really thought I would have an easier time finding green spaces in the city! My weekly posts are requiring me to detour from my usual commutes, but only ever-so-slightly. Although, I appreciate that this series challenges me to notice the beauty in the places I walk past everyday.

I’m afraid my quick iPhone photo does not do this park justice. I might have to revisit soon, and add a couple of different angles to this post for good measure.

Official park information was not readily available, but you can find out more about Matthias Baldwin and the recently renamed here. It’s in a strange part of town, 19th and Hamilton, surrounded by an old railroad viaduct, towering apartment buildings, and the edge of Community College of Philadelphia. The stepped terraces and rock sculptures create nice layers for the lush plants to steal the show. There are no water features, but it has a  nice meandering path and plenty of benches.

I feel like a disappointment having the word HOME in my blog name, but not really talking much about our house or creating a home. I do have at least one more blog post up my sleeve for later this week. I’ll give you a hint, it’s about food and French people. Also, we have an interesting/unique neighborly gathering in the works for this Saturday! Stay tuned.


I Mustache You a Question

Did you really think I would forget to update the Father’s Day gift guide from last month? Did you?! Well, I didn’t forget…I added a couple more things.  You can find them on the original post.

I’m probably not going to be back with another post on Friday.  This weekend we will be busy finding gifts of all sorts and celebrating a graduation. If we do anything around the house, it might be minor…like laundry and vacuuming. So with that, I bid you adieu. Have a lovely weekend!



City Pretty: Sister Cities Park

We met up with some friends at Sister Cities Park on Sunday. It is a newly completed park and visitor center in between the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

There are two water features, a stream/wading pond and a fountain. The pond was designed for wooden boats, but that doesn’t seem to be the way people are using it so far. By people, I mean mostly kids who are perfectly fine sitting in streams and getting soaked.

The building houses restrooms, visitor center, and a small Milk & Honey cafe. They were nearly cleaned out of dinner food by the time we got there an hour before closing time on Sunday. They have pre-made sandwiches, quiche, soups in the fall and winter, cookies, yogurt, fruit, juice, water, tea, and coffee drinks.

The green roof is looking lush!

We finished up our evening with a picnic, and the kiddos dried off in the sun. Storm clouds started rolling in. We made it under our front door awning just in time for the sky to open up, what luck?!

Estelle approves! It is definitely worth a visit. I suspect it will be a big hit with tourists and Philly residents alike.