Music Philadelphia

    My Go-To Spots for Live Music in Philly

    One of my favorite things about living in Philadelphia is the abundance of great live music – both really big names and smaller local bands. There are a ton of venues in the city at a variety of capacities and Philly is on a lot of band tour schedules because of its location on the East Coast between other major cities. I’ve wanted to write this post for a while because it’s the kind of information I wish I could have found when I moved here and started looking to go to shows.

    Here’s a list of the venues I most frequently look to for live music in the city. I’ve included a list of the shows I’ve seen at each so you get a sense of what my tastes and biases are. Note that this is NOT by any means a comprehensive list of music venues in Philly, which has a rich musical history worth exploring beyond what I say here.

    Tall Tall Trees at Boot & Saddle

    Tall Tall Trees at Boot & Saddle, 2/23/17

    Boot & Saddle

    1131 S Broad St. (Broad & Ellsworth) | 150 capacity

    This is probably my favorite venue in the city. You’ll see a lot of smaller and/or local acts on the calendar, so there may not always be names you recognize. That said, when there IS an artist you know on the list and get a chance to see them here, it’s awesome. The space is very small and the stage is not very high off the floor, which makes for really cool, intimate shows. In addition to housing a great live music venue, Boot & Saddle is also a bar/restaurant. It’s really convenient for weeknight shows to be able to get a quick dinner before the show in the same building!

    Seen here: LÉON, Cigarettes After Sex, Tall Tall Trees, Max Frost

    Sleigh Bells at Union Transfer

    Sleigh Bells at Union Transfer, 9/12/16

    Union Transfer

    1026 Spring Garden St. | 1,200 capacity

    Union Transfer is another one of my favorites in the city and is probably most consistently booking acts that I’m interested in seeing. The venue is a good size (not too big) and there is a good variety of places to stand in the bar area, on the sides, and on a balcony level, so you’re not just stuck on a huge flat floor without being able to see (usually). The one downside to Union Transfer that I’ve run into a few times is that for some all-ages shows, you aren’t allowed to take drinks down to the floor and have to stay in the 21+ bar areas. This is usually not an issue though because you can still see pretty well. This is actually where I end up standing at most shows regardless. If you’re into the kinds of shows Union Transfer has on their calendar, I’d highly recommend joining their Union Transfer Top Secret Fun Club Facebook group, where a lot of show announcements and presale codes get posted.

    Seen here: Sleigh Bells, Lake Street Dive, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Parquet Courts, The National, Sheer Mag

    Delta Rae at World Cafe Live

    Delta Rae at World Cafe Live, 8/22/17

    World Cafe Life

    3025 Walnut St. | 650 capacity

    World Cafe Live occasionally brings in some great acts and is a nice in-between small and medium sized venue. There isn’t much that is super distinctive about the venue itself. It’s a good place to catch a show and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on their calendar. One perk if you work relatively close to the venue is the Free at Noon series, which is exactly what it sounds like – a free concert every Friday at noon.

    Seen here: Anderson East, Delta Rae, Devon Gilfillian

    Marian Hill at TLA

    Marian Hill at TLA, 5/23/17

    Theater of Living Arts (TLA)

    334 South St. | 1,000 capacity

    This is not my favorite venue in the city, but there are some great shows here. The location on South Street is great for pre/post show dinner or drinks purposes though. A really interesting variety of genres are represented on the TLA show calendar, which I appreciate and the venue has a cool historic theater vibe, which does make for a nice atmosphere in the venue. One downside of TLA shows is that tickets and fees tend to be pretty expensive for a relatively small venue. I would recommend stopping by the box office in person to avoid online fees if you can!

    Seen here: Talib Kweli, Marian Hill

    Vulfpeck at the Electric Factory

    Vulfpeck at the Electric Factory, 10/8/16

    Electric Factory

    421 N. 7th St (b/w Spring Garden & Callowhill) | 2,500-3,000 capacity

    There are definitely pros and cons to the Electric Factory. It’s a really big flat open space and acoustics can definitely be an issue. The layout of the space is tricky too and bars can be hard to get to depending on where you’re standing and how crowded the place is. That being said, the Electric Factory pulls in some pretty big names and I saw one of my favorite shows of all time here. I don’t tend to be super interested in their calendar of shows, but it’s certainly worth checking out especially if you’re into EDM. The Electric Factory consistently brings in big EDM names far more than any other venue in Philly that I’m aware of.

    Seen here: Vulfpeck

    The Xx at the Mann Skyline Stage

    The Xx at the Mann Center Skyline Stage, 5/17/17

    The Mann Center

    5201 Parkside Ave. (West Fairmount Park) | 14,000 capacity (Amphitheater), 7,000 capacity (Skyline Stage)

    The Mann Center is a great place to catch a show in the summer when the weather is nice. Two very different kinds of shows happen here. What most people think of first is the big amphitheater with covered seats and a lawn seat section. A better bet for concerts though is the Skyline Stage at the Mann. This stage has a very music festival feel and is a great outdoor venue. There’s a ton of space to spread out, so you can stand up near the stage or spread out on a blanket further back behind the crowd and still see everything.

    Seen here: the Xx (Skyline Stage), Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! podcast recording (Amphitheater)

    Wavves at the Foundry

    Wavves at the Foundry, 5/16/17

    The Foundry

    29 E. Allen St. (Upstairs at The Fillmore) | 450 capacity

    The Foundry is another one of my favorite venues in the city and has the added benefit of being in Fishtown where there a lot of great bars around for pre/post-show drinks. The room is actually much  larger than the venue capacity suggests. There is a big bar in the middle of the venue floor and some couches / lounge areas in the back. The stage is low to the ground and it is pretty easy to get a good view from anywhere in the venue, even on the sides of the stage. Since it’s a Fillmore-affiliated venue though, ticket fees are really high when purchasing tickets online. If you’re in the area at the right times anyway, I’d suggest buying tickets at the box office to save some dollars.

    Seen here: Wavves, LEON

    Glass Animals at the Fillmore

    Glass Animals at the Fillmore, 10/6/17

    The Fillmore

    29 E. Allen St. | 2,500 capacity

    While shows here can be more on the pricey side, The Fillmore is probably the best “bigger” venue in the city and is one that brings in a lot of big names. The room is huge but is set up well so that it’s reasonably easy to see the stage from most angles. Big non-concert events also happen at the Fillmore quite frequently and I would highly recommend checking those out too. I had a blast attending the Fishtown Neighborhood Association Chili Cookoff (amazing chili sampling) and this year’s Philly Beer Week Opening Tap event (so much beer).

    Seen here: Glass Animals

    Cults at Johnny Brenda's

    Cults at Johnny Brenda’s, 10/14/17

    Johnny Brenda’s

    1201 Frankford Ave. | 300 capacity

    Johnny Brenda’s is an important venue in the city, credited with sparking Fishtown’s revival in the last decade. Right at the corner of Frankford and Girard, Johnny Brenda’s is a really solid bar/restaurant with a great music venue upstairs that brings in a mix of local and bigger name acts. My favorite thing about seeing shows here is the balcony where you can actually get an excellent view of the stage. I’ve been meaning to prioritize going to more shows here. New Year’s resolution perhaps?

    Seen here: Swift Technique, Cults

    Moon Hooch at Kung Fu Necktie

    Moon Hooch at Kung Fu Necktie, 10/3/16

    Kung Fu Necktie

    1248 N Front St. | 125 capacity

    Kung Fu Necktie is a weird one that mostly brings in acts I’m not interested in but occasionally will have something awesome (and/or hilarious). It’s a really small space that can get annoying fast if people are dancing with no regard for the people around them. That said, it’s still awesome to see shows so up-close so if anyone you’re interested in seeing is playing here it’s totally worth going. Again, this venue has the added bonus of being in Fishtown and near a lot of great bars.

    Seen here: Moon Hooch, Shwayze

    Theo Katzman at Milkboy

    Theo Katzman at Milkboy, 4/20/17

    Milkboy Philly

    1100 Chestnut St. | 200 capacity

    This is probably my least favorite small venue in the city, although I do really like the downstairs bar. The space is really long, making it sometimes hard to get a good view of the stage, which is pretty low to the ground. This is another spot that trends toward local acts, but occasionally someone who is a pretty big deal (like Theo Katzman of Vulfpeck) comes by so I’m always on the lookout for similar shows here.

    Seen here: Theo Katzman

    Jack Johnson at BB&T

    Jack Johnson at BB&T Pavillion, 6/10/17

    BB&T Pavillion

    1 Harbour Blvd. in Camden, NJ | 25,000 capacity

    Okay this one is technically in Camden, not in Philadelphia, but I think it still counts since it’s just across the bridge. This one is similar to the Mann Center in setup, but way bigger. I bought tickets to see Jack Johnson here totally on a whim and ended up having a really good experience with the venue. If you’re on the lawn, you pretty much can’t expect to see the stage at all – but the sound is good and you can see everything on a big screen overhead. One thing to note is that when it gets dark and you’re in the lawn section, it can be almost impossible to find your spot again if you get up to go to the bathroom. This might have happened to me…

    Seen here: Jack Johnson (with Lake Street Dive opening!!)

    A show at the Church

    Turnstile at the Church, 10/28/16

    The First Unitarian Church

    2125 Chestnut St. | 600 capacity

    People who aren’t familiar with this venue are always really confused when I say I’m going to “The Church” for a show. Yes, it’s actually a real church. Yes, it’s also kind of a big deal in the city’s music scene. The venue is really just a multipurpose room in a church basement with a stage in the front. Shows are all BYOB (no glass allowed – bring cans) and tickets tend to be on the less expensive side so you’re not going to break the bank going to a show here. Depending on where you’re standing, you often really can’t see well here. This ends up not being a huge deal because the crowd is usually really engaged so you still feel the show’s energy. A lot of the shows here are hardcore or similar, which is not really my thing, but I’ve seen some excellent indie artists here.

    Seen here: Bully, Japanese Breakfast, Code Orange, Turnstile, Angel Du$t

     

    I will continue to update this post as I explore more of the city’s music venues. Do you have thoughts about any of these places? Venues I need to prioritize checking out next? Let me know!

     

    Shopping

    My Fall 2017 Back to School Essentials

    Quick note: Do you follow me on Bloglovin‘? If not, you should!

    Back to school time is my favorite time of year. My idea of starting a “new year” is when the academic calendar resets, not January 1. Maybe this is a product of being in school and/or working at universities my whole life, but it could also just be because I’m a huge nerd.

    This fall is my last semester of grad school (what?!) and I’m not even taking real classes, just working on a few research projects. Even though I won’t be sitting in a classroom this fall, I still feel the need to stock up on some “back to school” essentials. Here are a few things that are going to get my semester off to a good start!

    back to school essentials

    Sharpie pens // Moleskine notebook // Madewell tote // OXO cold brew coffee maker // ban.do travel mug // Kate Spade mug // J. Crew blazer // OPI nail polish

     

    School / Office Supplies

    I am terrible at using paper planners, but I can only function with a physical paper to-do list. I always have a Moleskine notebook and some of these Sharpie pens with me at work and in research meetings. I prefer the squared paper Moleskines because I find they make it really easy to draw clean to-do list squares to check off, divide pieces of paper into sections, and line things up both horizontally and vertically. Unsurprisingly, I am very picky about pens, especially when it comes to what I use to write in my notebooks. Over time I found that the Sharpie pens work the best for me. (P.S. Moleskine notebooks are WAY cheaper on Amazon than they are at your local Target or Barnes & Noble!)

    Tote Bag

    This Madewell stripe tote bag is my new favorite thing. I like the look of the classic leather tote, but the stripe adds an interesting detail without being overwhelming. This is kind of pricey for a basic tote (though worth it in my opinion) so I’ve linked some less expensive non-plain tote options here (on sale now!) and here.

    Coffee Essentials

    One of my new school year resolutions is to make more coffee at home instead of stopping by coffee shops en route to work. I ordered this cold brew coffee maker on Amazon a while back and have only used it a few times, but I love it. Time to put it to work again! And of course, I always need more coffee mugs like this ban.do “But First Coffee” travel mug and this Kate Spade cityscape illustration mug.

    Fall Style Finds

    And of course, no back to school shopping is done without a few new items in the closet. I already have way too much clothing, so I’m trying to be more strategic about buying classic basics like this J. Crew blazer that can easily be dressed up or down depending on what I’m doing in a given day. I’m also already thinking a lot about fall nail colors and loving OPI’s Iceland collection. The colors featured here are Suzi & The Arctic Fox (dark purple) and I’ll Have a Gin and Tectonic (nude peach).

    What’s on your back to school shopping list? What should I add to mine?

     

    Travel

    One Day in Acadia National Park

    After spending two days in Portland, Maine this summer, I got to spend some time exploring Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. Let me just say upfront that budgeting one full day for Acadia exploration was NOT enough. That being said, you can do it and still have a blast. Here’s how we made the most of one day in Acadia National Park.

    Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

    When soliciting recommendations from friends about what to do in Acadia, this always came up. Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States that sees the sunrise every morning (…sometimes). It’s probably one of the most touristy things to do in the park, but it is totally worth it.

    The day we did this, sunrise was slated to happen at 5:54AM. I read that it is advisable to get to the top of the mountain at least an hour before sunrise time to guarantee a parking spot (THIS IS SO TRUE), so we woke up at 3:00AM on July 3 to get ready and jump in my car to drive to the summit. By the time we got there, the parking lot was almost entirely full and when we left, we realized how ridiculously packed it really was. Photos really don’t do it justice, but for what it’s worth, I plan to do the sunrise thing every time I return to Acadia in the future.

    Acadia National Park Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

    Acadia National Park Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

    Acadia National Park Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

    Acadia National Park Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

    Driving Park Loop Road to Sand Beach

    By the time we finished up at Cadillac Mountain, it was only about 5:30am. Our next stop was Sand Beach, which is an iconic “where the mountains meet the sea” part of the park. To get there from Cadillac Mountain, we drove around on the Park Loop Road, which passes through a lot of beautiful areas of the park. There are several places to pull over and just take in the amazingly gorgeous surroundings. The photo below is literally just from a pull-off on the side of the road.

    Acadia National Park Park Loop Road

    I was about to type that Sand Beach was my favorite place in Acadia National Park, but then I realized that I could make a similar statement about pretty much everything I saw in Acadia. It was still really early in the morning (like 6:00am maybe), so the beach was pretty much deserted and we could just stand there and take it all in. I loved seeing the beach up against the rocks and trees.

    Acadia National Park Sand Beach

    Acadia National Park Sand Beach

    Hiking the Beehive Trail

    After spending a few more minutes at Sand Beach, we got ready to do our one (and sadly only) hike for the day – the Beehive Trail. This was another thing that came highly recommended. It was appealing to us because it’s relatively short so it wouldn’t take up too much time but it has some amazing views and also sections where you’re essentially climbing straight up the side of the mountain. Most of the hike is more or less vertical.

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    The Beehive is right behind Sand Beach, which made parking in the Sand Beach parking lot and walking over to the trail super convenient. In several of the photos below, you can actually see Sand Beach from the top of the mountain!

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    The trail starts out pretty normally – lots of rocks and just a tiny bit of climbing. It’s not too long before you get your first nice view!

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    Acadia National Park Beehive Trail

    These photos show some the metal bars placed in the side of the mountain to facilitate climbing. This trail is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights or have a habit of looking down behind them while climbing.

    Acadia National Park Beehive Summit

    Acadia National Park Beehive Summit

    After finishing the hike, it was still only about 7:30AM and we were starving and exhausted, so we drove over to Bar Harbor to grab some breakfast and followed breakfast with a little bit of shopping and a whole lot of napping. More on that part of the trip coming to another post soon!

    Have you been to Acadia National Park? What did I miss out on? I am always building my to-do list for next time!

    Podcasts

    My Must-Download Podcasts for the Daily Commute

    favorite podcasts

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that I LOVE podcasts. If I’m getting ready in the morning, commuting to/from work, or cleaning my apartment, it’s almost guaranteed that I’m either catching up on podcasts or listening to NPR. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite podcasts here (in no particular order):

    Pod Save America

    This podcast is always a must-listen. I always look forward to new episodes every Monday and Thursday and it’s a great way to keep up with the crazy news. If you’re not into politics (and if you’re not on the left-leaning side of things), this is probably not the podcast for you – but if you love it, you’ll really love it. Formerly known as Keepin’ it 1600, this podcast popped up during the 2016 election and has been super popular ever since. The hosts are all former Obama guys and started Crooked Media to crank out even more high-quality podcasts when the election didn’t yield the results they expected. I often find myself LOL’ing at the hosts cracking jokes while having a (usually) substantive conversation about the urgent news of the week.

    The Weeds

    The Weeds is another always must-listen for me. This podcast provides a nice deep dive on a few topics per week and the hosts tend to, as the name suggests, get “in the weeds” on complex policy issues. While I don’t always agree with all their takes, the hosts always give reasoned opinions. One of the hosts, Sarah Kliff, is an excellent healthcare reporter, which has made The Weeds extra relevant lately. This one might make you surprise yourself by just how much you’re fascinated by a discussion of the relative merits of chained vs. unchained consumer price index (CPI) measures when crafting legislation with specific goals.

    Pod Save the World

    Coming from the same family as Pod Save America, this podcast (released on Wednesdays) provides a weekly deep dive on foreign policy through interviews with really intelligent, accomplished foreign policy professionals. I may just have to go back and give a second listen to last week’s interview with former Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

    How I Built This

    Ever want to know the story of how brands you know and love like Kate Spade, Airbnb, Lyft, and Rent the Runway got started? Each episode of this podcast tells the story of the beginnings of a well-known company. Scroll through the episode feed, pick out a company name you recognize, and give this one a listen. Even if you’re not really interested in entrepreneurship, you’ll learn a lot about the people and history behind products and services you use every day.

    FiveThirtyEight Politics

    This podcast from FiveThirtyEight is another great weekly politics news recap show – with, of course, a data-focused twist. Almost every episode opens with a segment called “Good Use of Polling / Bad Use of Polling” where the team breaks down the legitimacy of some poll numbers in the news. The hosts of this show are all super smart and do an awesome job of breaking down and explaining the week’s news – like what does it actually mean when a special counsel impanels a grand jury? The podcast team will also occasionally do “emergency podcasts” throughout the week if particularly important breaking news happens.

    Planet Money

    I love love love Planet Money. The episodes tend to be on the shorter side (generally between 20-30 minutes) and always tell an interesting story about something related to the economy. I’ve told multiple people to listen to #606: Spreadsheets …and many of those people have also told me to calm down about spreadsheets. I don’t care though because I was super into this episode. I don’t listen to every single episode, but I follow the new releases pretty closely and always listen when a topic pops up that I think will be interesting. A few other recent favorites include #763: BOTUS, #765: The Holiday Industrial Complex, and #749: Professor Blackjack.

    StartUp

    Speaking of Planet Money, another favorite is StartUp, hosted by Planet Money co-founder Alex Blumberg. I’ve dropped off listening to this one in recent months (I need to catch up!) but Season 1 was one of my favorite podcast seasons ever. The show has changed into now following other individuals starting businesses, but the first season of StartUp follows Alex and his growing team as they create Gimlet Media, the company / podcast network that produces StartUp and other shows like Reply All and now The Pitch, which I’m super excited about.

    Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

    This podcast was really the first one that I started listening to super regularly a few years ago. Every week, the hosts and a panel of three comedians break down the week’s news (serious and ridiculous) through a series of games and quizzes. I especially love listening to this one if I’m ever driving anywhere, because the quiz games keep me really engaged and awake. Each episode also includes an interview and game with a famous guest, like Jeffrey Tambor, Aubrey Plaza, and Senator Ben Sasse. If you ever get a chance to see a live show, I would highly recommend it – they usually edit out all the best inappropriate jokes for the radio broadcast / podcast version of the episode.

    Radiolab

    Radiolab is probably where I learn all my best new/interesting facts. Each episode breaks down something science-y in a really accessible way through great storytelling. This one is also great because, unlike a lot of the news-oriented podcasts I like, you can go way back into the archives and find interesting and relevant stories. Some of my favorites are episodes about CRISPR (gene editing), the periodic table, and how we know a kilogram actually weighs a kilogram.

    Lovett or Leave It

    Yet another gem from the Crooked Media empire, Lovett or Leave it is a weekly live show where a panel of comedians (or generally funny people from the media world) discuss the week’s news. While I don’t always love everything on this show, I definitely look forward to the Rant Wheel segment every week (which is exactly what it sounds like) and do enjoy hearing Jon Lovett torment his audience members. I’m really hoping Lovett comes through Philly and does a live show here sometime because I’d be right there in the front row.

    Song Exploder

    This is SUCH a cool podcast, especially if you’re interested in how music gets made. In each episode, Hrishikesh Hirway (also co-host of The West Wing Weekly) talks to an artist to break down how they wrote a song, from start to finish. With over 110 episodes recorded so far, you’re bound to find at least one that interests you regardless of where your music tastes lie.

    Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones with Peter Sagal

    I know I’ve mentioned this podcast before, but again, the list wouldn’t be complete without it. It is delightful to hear Peter Sagal (of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! fame) and the Nerdette Podcast co-hosts break down each week’s episode of Game of Thrones every Monday after a new episode airs. As someone who loves Game of Thrones but hasn’t yet gotten through all of the books, this podcast is the only way I’m able to keep everything straight. I know it’s a little late in the season now, but if you’ve been looking for a solid recap podcast, this is for you.

    Weekly Top Five

    Weekly Top Five – August 4

    Life has been crazy lately and I haven’t posted in a while, but I have several things in the works and am happy to be back! I’ve been all over the place and out of town for family things, but now I’m happily back in Philly with no significant travel planned for the foreseeable future. As summer classes close out this weekend, I’m looking forward to making more improvements to the blog. Here are some things on my mind this week:

    #1 – Fates & Furies – I finished reading this last week thanks to some quality time on airplanes and I loved it! I’ll write more about this and other books I’m currently reading in a future post, but I just wanted to get my thoughts on this one out there now.

    #2 – My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale items have been coming in and I’m so excited to get my hands on this Madewell tote. I know I won’t be able to wear my new coats for a while, but at least I’ll feel good having those items in my closet.

    #3 – HAIM covering Shania Twain (lol) – So I have to admit I’m not a huuuge HAIM fan – or country music fan, but my brother and I have had this weird thing about Shania Twain forever. Anyway, this is actually a good cover. I’m into it.

    #4 – Fortune Cookie Analysis – Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight did a huge analysis of fortune cookies. As a big fan of unnecessary and ridiculous data projects, this is basically my favorite thing ever.

    #5 – Talula’s Garden – Last weekend, I went to Talula’s Garden for brunch and it was spectacular. It’s a little pricey – definitely not somewhere I’m going to go every weekend – but totally worth it. I got their chicken and waffles and was very happy with my decision. Their sangria is also excellent. Highly recommend.

    Shopping Style

    I Finally Shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

     

    Every once in a while, social media is absolutely flooded with posts from bloggers about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I tend to be a bit too much of a bargain shopper to buy much from Nordstrom, but this sale presented a great opportunity to stock up on some fall/winter essentials. My closet has been severely lacking high-quality coats and boots, so I focused my energy there.

    I don’t have a Nordstrom card (and certainly wasn’t going to get one just to get into a sale a few days early), so during the early access period I took some time to browse offerings and make a wishlist. Almost everything I wanted was still in stock or was re-stocked by the time the sale opened to the public, so I have no regrets about waiting.

    Here’s what I ordered:

    Madewell Paint Stripe Transport Leather Tote – my only “unnecessary” buy

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Madewell Paint Stripe Transport Leather Tote

    Tory Burch Adeline Boot – nothing I need to say to justify this one – wide-calf sizes also available!

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Tory Burch Adeline Boot

     

    Hunter Original Refined Matte Rain Boot – I’ve learned the hard way that nice rain boots are worth the extra $$

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Hunter Original Refined Matte Rain Boot

     

    Lauren Ralph Lauren Diamond Quilted Jacket with Faux Leather Trim – lighter quilted jacket perfect for fall

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Lauren Ralph Lauren Diamond Quilted Jacket with Faux Leather Trim

     

    Lauren Ralph Lauren Flap Detail Crepe Wrap Coat – another great coat for fall/winter transition

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Lauren Ralph Lauren Flap Detail Crepe Wrap Coat

     

    While I’m at it, here are a few more things I would love to buy in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale if my wallet wouldn’t hate me later.

     

    Did you make any Nordstrom Anniversary Sale buys? Let me know!

    Books

    Books I’ve Read in 2017 (Mid-Year Update)

    I set out at the beginning of this year with a goal of reading 24 books – an average of two per month. This seemed like a reasonable goal at the time (I really wanted a goal of 50 but talked myself down), but between work, grad school, and lots of travel, I’ve definitely fallen behind.

    Now that 2017 is halfway over, I’m planning to take a step back and prioritize reading more. I have a lot of excellent books on my bookshelf that have sat untouched for far too many months. I think blogging about my reading will probably help hold me more accountable on this front.

    Here’s what I’ve read so far this year (in order of completion):

    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

    Hillbilly Elegy got a lot of media attention (and of course, stirred up some controversy) when it was published and I originally had no intention of reading it despite all the buzz. Once I read a synopsis and realized that J.D. Vance’s family is from Jackson, Kentucky, the same town I went every year for family reunions growing up, I decided to pick it up and see if anything connected to my own knowledge of Jackson. This was a really interesting read and, although I see why it is controversial, if you go into it aware of biases (your own and the author’s) and take it for what it is, Vance tells a powerful story. I sped through this book in just a few days. I know quite a few people who finished it in one sitting! Definitely worth checking this one out if it somehow hasn’t already made its way onto your reading list.

    The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    The Mothers remains my favorite novel that I’ve read so far this year and I don’t see that changing soon. I have a habit of getting bored about 75% through novels and trying to hurry to finish so I can move on to something else. This was not the case here. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting, and the story keeps you engaged. Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. Just go ahead and read it. It’s also worth noting that this was Bennett’s debut novel! I am so looking forward to reading what she writes next.

    Moneyball by Michael Lewis

    Coming from a finance major background, I’ve read many Michael Lewis books over the years. Moneyball is one that had been on my to-read list for quite a while and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Even if you know literally zero things about baseball, the story is very compelling and will probably keep you engaged. If you are like me and are at least moderately interested in or knowledgeable about baseball and also love data, you’ll be super into this book. Lewis has a great way of telling complex stories through compelling characters and this was no exception.

    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    I got this book for Christmas after seeing lots of buzz about it, including it being an Oprah’s Book Club pick. I finally picked it up in mid-Spring when Doug’s book club (almost as influential as Oprah’s Book Club) was reading it. This book is a close second to The Mothers for my favorite novel this year. It’s just so good. Once I started reading this one, I was totally glued to the characters and the story. Although my to-read list is currently about 30 books deep, I’m planning on adding another Whitehead book to the mix at some point soon.

    Swing Time by Zadie Smith

    Another heavily hyped and Instagrammed book, Swing Time was…not my favorite. Although the writing was beautiful, the characters and story just didn’t quite do it for me. I found myself struggling to finish this one. I have read several Zadie Smith fans saying this wasn’t their favorite work of hers, so maybe I’ll have to try one of her other books soon.

    Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

    I LOVED THIS BOOK. I have totally loved and looked up to Alyssa Mastromonaco ever since hearing an interview with her on an episode of the now defunct (or on veeerrrryyy long hiatus) Girlboss Radio podcast. I was beyond excited to finally get my hands on her book full of stories of working as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama. Mastromonaco is relatable, hilarious, and has amazing stories to tell. This is also a super quick read and very very worth your time. If you’re a Pod Save America fan, you’ll definitely see some familiar names referenced in this book too.

    Shrill by Lindy West

    One of my favorite genres as of late is feminist and/or humor essays. West’s book checks both the feminist and humor boxes so I obviously loved this book. You may have heard of Lindy West from a few news stories around when this episode of This American Life came out in early 2015 where West confronts her cruelest internet troll who impersonated her dead father online to harass her and the troll apologized. Shrill includes this story and many more about misogyny, body acceptance, and writing about a multitude of things on the internet that lead to very very nasty comment sections. I learned and reflected a lot while reading this book and I’m so glad Lindy West wrote it.

    A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin

    I am one of those annoying people who generally refuses to see something on screen if a book version exists and I haven’t read it yet. BUT when Game of Thrones was becoming more and more of a thing on TV and I felt pressure to catch up to whatever season was on at the time and didn’t have time to read all of the books first, I made an exception. I finally made it through the first book in the series this spring. I will say I had a hard time getting into it at first because this book tracks so exactly with what happens in the first season of the show so I already knew the dramatic things that were coming. Once I finally got in a rhythm reading and tried to just enjoy the story as it was happening on the pages, I loved this book. Reading the whole series will be a longer-term commitment that I’ll complete with many other books in between, but I definitely feel good about picking up Book #2 sometime in the near future.

    Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

    Here we have yet another collection of feminist essays. This is a very quick read and I actually feel like I learned a lot and gained some new perspectives on important issues while reading. I find myself bringing points from Solnit’s essays into everyday conversation now, which is a habit I’m sure some of my friends find annoying. I clearly don’t really care though, because more of Solnit’s writing is currently sitting in my Amazon cart…

     

    I’m currently in the middle of a few other books at the moment. Check back in the next few weeks to read about my thoughts on Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, Grit by Angela Duckworth, and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

    What have you been reading lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

    Weekly Top Five

    Weekly Top Five – July 14

    1) Good food in Philly – Last Saturday, I finally made it to Parc for the first time for brunch. I got the chicken paillard and it was amazing. The waitress also sold us on getting a whole bottle of champagne and orange juice instead of just single mimosas and that ended up being totally worth it. Last night, I went to Barcelona Wine Bar, which just opened this week on Passyunk! I know people are hesitant about a chain restaurant on Passyunk but this place doesn’t have that vibe at all. As someone who lacks some wine literacy, the book of wine options was super overwhelming. Luckily the staff was amazing and we had someone literally sit down with us and talk through wine selection. The food was great too!

    2) Game of Thrones is back on Sunday! And with the return of GoT comes the return of one of my favorite podcasts, Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones with Peter Sagal. I’m obsessed with Peter Sagal (obviously) and the women from the Nerdette podcast are hilarious. Seriously, this podcast is the only way I was able to keep everything straight last season.

    3) I finally caved and a record player (this one, if you’re curious – I love it so far)! I have a collection of records I inherited from my dad and I’ve felt borderline guilty having them around my apartment for the last few months without any way to listen to them. I’m talking all the Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, and pretty much any 70’s music you could ever ask for. I’ve since supplemented that collection with a few of my own picks. So far I’ve snagged some Glass Animals, The xx, Alabama Shakes, and Lake Street Dive.

    4) LÉON – There’s a good chance you’ve heard her music and don’t even realize it. Tired of Talking has over 5 million plays on Spotify (my favorites from her are Think About You and LÉON’s Lullaby). I was moderately aware of her other stuff when I saw her pop up on the calendar for Boot & Saddle a few months ago and immediately bought tickets. It was SUCH a great show (pictured above) and I couldn’t get over how excellent she was live and how genuinely happy she was to be there performing. I’ve been anxiously awaiting her return to another Philly venue and was super excited to see that she’ll be coming to The Foundry on October 28. Got my tickets already thanks to the Spotify presale!

    5) I couldn’t actually think of a good #5 for today until listening to new music on my commute this morning. It struck me that there are two new totally badass feminist songs out today. Check out Woman by Kesha (not Ke$ha any more!) and Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lovato.

    Beer Travel

    36 Hours (and 6 Breweries) in Portland, Maine

    If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I recently took a trip to Maine that I’ve been dying to write about. We packed SO many things into our short time in Portland and didn’t even come close to doing everything on our list. If you go, I would definitely recommend more than 36 hours. We were pretty constrained to just exploring the downtown area because there was literally just not enough time to do things in most other parts of the city!

    This is a LONG post, but stick with me!

    Friday Evening

    Shipyard Brewing

    This was our first stop when we got to Portland to kill some time before checking into our Airbnb. The tasting room is really cute and the staff were all so nice – great way to start out in the city! Shipyard also serves Sea Dog Brewing Company beers, so we got to try beers from two great Maine breweries at the same time. We grabbed flights and took a seat to do a little people-watching while drinking our beer. One thing that was definitely noticeable in Portland was that everyone is super low-key in how they dress. I’m pretty sure we didn’t see anyone dressed in “fancy” clothes the whole time (perhaps with the exception of some bachelorette party-goers at the horrible bars on Wharf Street).

    Favorite beer(s) of the visit: Melonhead (Shipyard) and Sunfish (Sea Dog)

    Novare Res Bier Cafe

    This place came highly recommended from a coworker and a few Portland travel guides. Novare Res has a great beer selection and we were not disappointed. They have a nice outdoor space, which we weren’t able to take advantage of because it was pouring rain by the time we grabbed a drink. Although I was trying to drink only Maine-brewed beers on this trip, I did make an exception here for a Belgian beer from Brouwerij ‘t Verzet called Moose Blues.

    The Thirsty Pig

    Notice anything missing in the Friday evening lineup? DINNER. We were planning to go to Portland Lobster Company but decided against braving the pouring rain with no umbrella to get there. It finally hit a point in the night where not eating was just not an option, so after a quick Google Maps search for something nearby, we ended up at The Thirsty Pig for some amazingly delicious hot dogs. We made it there just before the kitchen closed (which was a good thing for all parties involved because I’m not sure I could have made it without food for one more second). I ordered the Reuben Dog and was very very happy with my decision.

    Saturday Morning

    On Saturday, we got up and took a short walk to the waterfront near our Airbnb. We were really close to the Eastern Promenade Trail (aka “The Prom”) which was great for Doug to go for a run later in the day. If you look closely in this photo, you can also see Fort Gorges in the fog in the background, which is definitely going to be on the to-do list for a future trip.

    The Holy Donut

    In the weeks leading up to this trip, I was maybe the most excited to check out this spot. Anyone who even remotely knows me knows that I love donuts. I had been following The Holy Donut on Instagram for a while, and literally everything they make looks amazing. It’s definitely worth the wait – seems like there is always a line, but it moves pretty quickly – and the donuts are SO GOOD. They’re made with potatoes (from Maine, obviously), which makes them really dense and delicious. It was so hard to decide which flavors to get, so we each got two donuts. Way more food than we really needed or were even able to eat, but totally worth it. Pictured here are Maine Blueberry (top), Dark Chocolate Sea Salt (right), and Coffee Cake (bottom). Maine Blueberry was hands down the winner. There was also a bacon cheddar stuffed donut in the mix, but that got eaten before pictures were taken…

    Saturday Afternoon

    Urban Farm Fermentory

    In terms of atmosphere and variety, this place was probably my favorite in Portland. This place is seriously SO cool. It’s an “experimental urban farm, fermentation factory, and community engagement hub” that makes and serves kombucha, jun (similar to kombucha but made with green tea and honey), cider, gruit (beer with few/no hops), and mead. Between the two of us, we tried Wild Blue (blueberry sour beer), Dandelion Saison, I am Groot (beer with foraged roots), Semi-Sweet Mead, Blueberry Cider, Gluten Jun, Rosehip Hibiscus Kombucha, Ghost Chili Kombucha, and Chaga Chai Kombucha. One of the bartenders also brought us a free bonus flight while we were sitting there because she “accidentally screwed it up and didn’t remember what was in it and we looked like we would drink it.” No complaints here!

    Favorite drinks: Rosehip Hibiscus Kombucha and Ghost Chili Kombucha (We went back and bought more the next day!!)

    Rising Tide Brewing Company

    Next, we walked just down the street to Rising Tide to try out some more Portland beer. Rising Tide has a great outdoor space and while we were there, had someone outside serving BBQ. Much needed for our day of beer adventures. None of the beers were particularly individually memorable, but this is still a great spot to check out, especially since it’s so close to a few other breweries and…

    Maine Craft Distilling

    I was so focused on beer when mapping out our stops for the day, I didn’t even think about distilleries! This place is right next door to Rising Tide, so we decided it was definitely worth a quick stop. We ended up spending a while here because the bartender was wonderful and we got to try several (okay maybe all…) of their spirits. After tasting everything, we ordered some cocktails – definitely a good move. The blueberry moonshine (Blueshine) lemonade I ordered was everything I wanted and more.

    Maine Mead Works

    It seems like craft mead is becoming more and more of a thing, which I am totally cool with. Our next stop – again, kind of unintentional but right next to another brewery – was Maine Mead Works, home of HoneyMaker Meads and Ram Island Meads. Because I felt the need to try everything, I opted for the HoneyMaker tasting, which was only slightly more expensive than one glass of mead ($7 vs. $5) and meant I got to try Dry, Blueberry, Semi Sweet, and Strawberry. I’m not usually much of a blueberry person, but I made a point to try lots of blueberry-flavored things in Maine and they generally ended up being my favorite everywhere. This was not an exception.

    Oxbow Brewing Company

    By this point in the day, we were pretty exhausted from so much beer/mead/liquor adventuring but we had heard a lot about Oxbow and knew we needed to stop in for at least one drink. Oxbow’s tasting room is a really cool space – nice and big and open – and there was some live music happening while we were there, which was a nice surprise. The only beer I tried here was the Bowie. I’ll have to put this one back on the to-do list for the next visit as well.

    Saturday Night

    Liquid Riot Bottling Company

    Confession – we almost entirely missed the opportunity to go out Saturday night because of a nap that lasted far longer than it was supposed to…but after waking up at 9:30pm we rallied. We were again supposed to go to Portland Lobster Company but missed our chance because of the time. Luckily, Liquid Riot had lobster rolls on the menu so at least Doug could get a little lobster that way! I really liked Liquid Riot’s beers. Without even realizing it when I ordered, I got a beer that I had already tried at Novare Res on Friday. It was just as good the second time though!

    Favorite beer of the visit: Tropical Storm

    Wharf Street

    Wharf Street between Union Street and Moulton Street is where all the “party” bars are. We wanted to check it out just to see what all the hype is about. These bars are bad. Don’t go here.

    MAPS

    This was our last stop of the night and came highly recommended by our Airbnb hosts. This is my favorite kind of place – kind of divey but not gross, cool crowd but not too busy, and good draft list. The decor was also great here. The walls were covered in (surprise!) maps. I got two delicious fruity sour beers and was happy to close out the night in such a cool little bar.

    Sunday Morning / Early Afternoon

    Duckfat

    This is the place everyone told me I MUST check out while in Portland. They’re well-known for their french fries that are, as the name suggests, fried in duck fat. There always seems to be a wait here. The restaurant itself is pretty tiny and doesn’t have much seating. We were lucky to get in line right before they opened at 11am and got the second to last set of seats in the place. We were sitting by the hostess stand and could hear everyone after us being told that there would be a 30-45 minute wait basically at all times from then on. We had awesome sandwiches and the fries were amazing. I would have survived just fine if we hadn’t made it to Duckfat (it’s good but not like life-changing good) but I’m really glad we went. I would suggest getting in line at about 10:45 if you want to be sure you can eat there when they open at 11:00.

    Allagash Brewing Company

    Our last stop on the way out of town was Allagash. Allagash is located in an industrial park a few miles away from downtown. There are a few other breweries nearby that we unfortunately didn’t have time to check out because we needed to get on the road, but I’m super happy we at least got to make this stop. Visiting Allagash is a little different from visiting most breweries / tasting rooms because the beer is FREE! The tasting room does not actually sell draft beer. When you get there and get your ID checked, you get a little wooden coin that you exchange for a free flight of whichever four beers they decide are on the tasting menu for the day. I was expecting little tiny samples, but these were actually substantial pours. We also came across another coin that someone had either lost or just left behind so we got to split three flights between the two of us (shhh…). Allagash has a great outdoor seating area and there were lots of families/dogs hanging out. There was also a food truck with lobster rolls, so Doug happily purchased lobster roll #2 of the trip. If you want to do a tour of Allagash, plan ahead because tours are booked out pretty far in advance online. You definitely don’t need to do the tour to really enjoy this visit though. Let’s be real, all brewery tours are pretty much the exact same anyway.

    Favorite beer of the visit: Cuvée d’Industrial

    After Allagash, we had to get on the road toward Mount Desert Island for the leg of our trip in Acadia National Park. There was SO much to do (particularly to eat and drink) in Portland, and I’m already looking forward to planning a return visit sometime in the near future.

    Weekly Top Five

    Weekly Top Five – July 7

    #1 – MAINE. I got back from an amazing trip to Maine (hence the blogging hiatus for a few days) on Wednesday night and I cannot stop telling every person I know that they must go to Acadia National Park. I’ll be sharing more detailed posts from my time in Portland and on Mount Desert Island soon but this trip was without question this week’s biggest highlight.

    #2 – The week in music news was slow-ish due to the July 4 holiday BUT I did see one story that made me super excited. Brittany Howard, the crazy awesome front woman of Alabama Shakes, apparently has a new band called Bermuda Triangle. They don’t have any recorded music anywhere but are playing a live show in Nashville on July 12, so I imagine some videos will surface after that. In the meantime, you can find me over here just listening to the Sound & Color album over and over.

    #3 – Philly Mag is now updating their 50 Best Restaurants list quarterly! I feel like I get in ruts where I go to the same restaurants I know and love every week or two (helloooo Cantina Los Caballitos) so this is good news for some food inspiration. I’ve only been to 7/50 on this list, so I clearly have some work to do! A ton of the restaurants on this list are in the East Passyunk neighborhood, so I really have no excuse not to check out a few new places in the coming weeks.

    #4 – The Greatest American Road Trip – While planning my trip to Acadia, I kept thinking about how cool it would be to visit every single National Park. It’s definitely not at all a short-term goal, but it’s a cool lifetime goal I guess? I came across a series of posts by a couple who set out to visit every National Park in one year to celebrate the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service and have been devouring every post ever since trying to decide where to go next. I feel like I get so stuck on wanting to do international trips that I forget how many beautiful adventures there are to be had in the United States! I feel totally paralyzed by so many great options trying to decide what’s next on the list.

    #5 – I finally gave in and purchased a subscription to the New York Times Crossword. I love being able to do the puzzles on my phone and I just find these so much more fun and challenging than crossword more readily available for free via other news outlets. Catch me on the subway missing my stop because I’m stuck on 43-across.