Life Lately (in Philly)

We had fun this weekend, I’ll tell you what! The temperatures soared and we kicked our to-do list and spent all day each day outside soaking up the Spring sun and walking…lots of walking! Up to Fishtown and down to the stadium (for a Phillies win, that’s what!) for a grand total of 14 miles. Needless to say, I fell into bed on Sunday and didn’t go to the gym before work on Monday.

On our journey to Fishtown we found the most wonderful place…would you like to hear? Keep walking up Frankford Ave, past all the rowdiness, and you’ll notice floating bulb lights right in front of the largest collection of pizza memorabilia in the world. Pizza Brain. Bring your own wine or beer, order your pizza and take a seat out back in what all us city-dwellers wish we had as a back yard. The pizza (Vegan options are offered, too) is wonderful and we devoured the pie…only to walk next door for ice-cream.

Connected to Pizza Brain is Little Baby’s Ice Cream which is my new favorite destination. After much debate I ordered one scoop of Speculoos Ice-cream on a cone and boy, did we enjoy that. The same as it’s neighbor, they also offer Vegan/Dairy-Free options.

2313 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA

http://www.pizzabrain.org/

 

 

I’m Jealous of My Nephew and Here’s Why…

 

Last weekend my mom drove down to L’s parents house to have a little visit with us. Oh, and she brought this precious 14 month old with her. Gosh, I love that little guy. I mean how can you not?! It took him a minute to get settled in, but slowly his skepticism of us changed and we ended up in the tree-house and had a grand ‘ol time.

I realized I was mildly jealous of my nephew when I watched him smile and laugh. He smiled and laughed at the simplest things and behind that grin there wasn’t worry or stress, not anymore, not even a little bit. As adults, what would we give for this, to be simply and purely happy with not a distraction or care in the world? Does that ever happen? Perhaps some, but how can we allow it to happen more? Can we have more of this with less of everything else?

So that’s why I’m jealous of my nephew…that and his blue eyes because those are amazing.

 

Jerusalem Cookbook’s Lamb and Beef Meatballs

I’m really feeling Spring this year, you should know. I’m daydreaming of the warm sun and the first tastes of fruits and vegetables we’ve been deprived of for the past 5+ months. 5 months! There’s a little bit of hop in my step come April and a reminder to savor these moments because those who know me know…I do not do the hot weather months of the East.

But there I go, skipping right ahead of the beauty of the now. The beauty in the form of these meatballs. Make them tonight, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Yes you need a lot of spices, yes you need a lot of herbs, but they’re so worth it and easy and worthy of your next dinner guests.

That cookbook, Jerusalem, is my bible in every way. For this recipe I modified the cooking instructions just a tad to accommodate our tiny kitchen and the fact that it and the smoke resulting from frying of any sort do not mix.

Jerusalem Cookbook’s Lamb and Beef Meatballs

Serves 4

You will need:
For the meatballs
:
10 oz. ground beef
5 oz ground lamb
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 c. breadcrumbs
3 tbsp each-flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill, chopped (save about half to serve atop the finished product)
2 large garlic cloves, crushed

Pinch of each of the following:
black pepper
coriander
cinnamon
ground cloves
ground nutmeg
ground cardamom
paprika

1 tsp ground cumin
1 egg, beaten

For the sauce:
2T olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
8 spring onions, cut into small pieces
1 package of frozen lima beans
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put all the ingredients (remember, only half the herbs) for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add  salt and pepper, mix with your hands and form into balls about the size of ping-pong balls. Coat a large saute pan (you will use this on the stove top later) with olive oil. Carefully place each meatball in the dish and bake for about 25 minutes (until medium rare).

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the lima beans according to package instructions.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and using tongs set them on a separate plate. Place the pan on the stove-top and heat to medium, adding a bit of oil to coat the bottom if necessary.

Add the garlic and spring onion, and sauté over a medium heat for a minute or two. Add the beans, stock, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes (hint: remove the lid for the last 5 minutes if it’s a bit too broth-y). Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Top with remaining herbs and serve.

Ten Rules for Weddings and Food and Things

The whole we’re getting married thing is setting in. It’s really happening, after a very full six years, and that is just the best, if you ask me.

I’ve learned a few things over the last month that I’d like to share (for you to take or leave). Because really, there’s nothing like a major life change to challenge all of your beliefs. There’s also nothing like a major life change to reaffirm your beliefs in your relationship with your partner and yourself.

1- It’s not your day. I repeat, no matter what they say, it’s not your day. It’s you and your spouse’s. Remember and respect that fact with every decision that you make and you’ll be golden. 

2- Be open and honest with everyone in your life from the get-go.

3- Don’t pressure yourself to be the bride your childhood self imagined you’d be. You’re all grown up now (sort of) and what’s truly important has changed drastically. 

4- Quit being so damn practical for a second and let yourself dream a little! You’ll be amazed at the ideas you come up with and there is nothing sweeter than the both of you being overwhelmingly excited about your marriage and the celebrations that follow.

5- Dinnertime is also a sacred institution, so find a way to make it happen as often as possible. All good decisions are made on a full stomach.

6- Have a meal in your repertoire that solicits a Yes! You made ______! response when a certain someone walks through the door. My current one is this.

7- Celebrate often and never underestimate how excited, supportive and genuinely happy your friends will be when you’re happy.

8- Embrace minimalism and practice it for there is nothing that robs you quicker of your freedom than stuff (and the financial burden that comes along with it).

9- Make up your mind to travel somewhere new every single year and follow through.

10- Have one cashmere cardigan in a neutral color that can take you from the Upper East Side to your fiance’s favorite dive.

Buying an Antique Engagement Ring

Daisy in Great Gatsby. Such gorgeous jewelry.

 

An excerpt from my journal of the day we went ring shopping…yes, together

For the second weekend in a row we descend down stairs, make a big breakfast and pot of coffee, shower, dress and bundle up to take the 18 block walk to the self proclaimed most unique jewelry store in the world. I take abnormal care to make sure my nails are clean and polished, makeup applied and hair blown out for the first time in months (save last weeks trial run only to walk up to a closed store). It’s all very trivial, these preparations, but I’m excited. It’s all too much really.

I open the door to a gust of wind and snow falling from the bright sky. I wrap my face in my favorite scarf from my travels to Paris, put on my hat and top it off with my fur lined hood. We emerge from the house and make our way there, slipping and sliding and laughing all the way. You know I say this might sound silly but these weeks have been so fun, us having this little secret all to ourselves (I don’t mention I’ve mentioned it to my two closest girlfriends who are far removed from interacting with anyone else we know). He nods, smiles and says you know what, it is fun.

We arrive to a dimly lit store, a early 1900s row-home with nothing but a small business card in the window indicating it’s a shop. I ring the buzzer once as instructed and we are buzzed in. We walk down the steps, finding our way to the Art Deco engagement ring case, a beautiful custom showcase framed by an antique picture frame. A very laid back man says engagement rings? We nod and he points. He opens the case and that’s it, he lets us play and be. We methodically work our way through hundreds of rings, trying those on that intrigue either of us, mostly my choices. It’s interesting to see how our tastes differ but we can each see what the other sees in their choice. My god they’re all so beautiful. The diamonds are different, imperfect by today’s standards, but to me they’re so charming and I let myself day dream about their previous owners. We finally, an hour later, narrow them down to four, jot down the numbers and snap photos. But he knows the one I have my eye on.

Buying an antique ring is really intimidating! It goes against all the C’s and other lessons that I’ve declared nonsense, but then that leaves you in the dark about what is or isn’t  “fair”. More than that, antique rings are incredibly unique and bold, especially Art Deco and earlier. So maybe your significant other knows your style without a doubt and/or is jazzed about the idea of surprising you with something he picked solo. For us, it was different.

We always knew we wanted to pick out a ring together. It was a big purchase, we justified…and it would just be more fun that way!

I did a lot of research beforehand and I’m hoping it can help out those of you who are thinking of hunting down an antique beauty of your own! I’ll tell you what, there is truly nothing like seeing the ring on your hand. So while the websites I note here are amazing and offer diverse views of the ring (and other incredible jewelry) and an easy return policy, if you’re in the Philadelphia area (or want to visit! ) try brick and mortar shops first.

Research

Idiot’s Guide to time periods

Even more information for fellow antique jewelry nerds

Understanding Characteristics of Antique Diamonds (Hint: They’re not perfect! They’re also charming and great choice for those concerned with ethics and environmental impact of diamond-mining)

Understanding all the fancy terms used to describe your ring like Filigree and Millegrain

 

Where to Shop

In the Philadelphia Area:

Halloween This is where L bought my ring and boy did we have fun. It’s the most incredible store you’ll ever visit, filled to the brim with all sorts of antique jewelry. What’s more, they have a case filled with antique engagement rings ranging from the Edwardian-era through Art-Deco. I recommend a visit to everyone I know!

Worth mentioning: They do not have a website, have limited hours and are cash or check only. They are located in a row home with no sign, only their business card in the window. However, it’s low-pressure and they have beautiful offerings for every budget. I 100% recommend  this shop for antique jewelry buyers. Call before you make the drive to make sure they’re open.

1329 Pine StPhiladelphia, PA 19107

(215) 732-7711

Richard Kenneth Jewelers Run by a kind, quirky man offering really high quality (more expensive) stones and classic settings. If nothing else, you must walk by the window filled with diamonds next time you’re in the area…it’s a sight!

Worth mentioning: Open on Sundays and accepts credit cards. Located around the corner from Rittenhouse Square.

202 S 17th StPhiladelphia, PA 19103

(215) 545-3355

Online:

If we didn’t find something at Halloween, we were going to select a couple from one of these shops. Both offer free shipping and free returns with a couple of days to change your mind.

Trumpet and Horn This is such a beautiful site with incredible pieces in a wide price range. The selling point for me is their fool proof (and free) return shipping both to try the ring and to get it sized.

Gesner JewelryTheir website may be outdated by that means lower prices for you! This site honestly has it all and while not as easy to navigate as T&H they have beautiful pieces. Most importantly, they allow you to to make an offer on their websites so there are definitely deals to be had

Care

Caring for your Ring Did you know you’re not supposed to sleep in your antique ring?

 

That about exhausts my knowledge on the subject but let me tell you, I’m hooked. I’ve always loved history and antique jewelry is such a special slice of it. I love making up the history behind the piece and thinking about who might be it’s previous owner(s). Opinions differ, sure, but I think it’s so romantic.