The Perfect Salad to Start the Summer

This morning I made good on my promise to be nicer to Philadelphia, so I did what seemed like the Philly thing to do for Memorial Day - I went for a run in Fairmount Park. And yes, I listened to Eye of the Tiger. But I think my hardcore soundtrack was warranted seeing as it was 90 degrees. 

The lesson I learned today is not to take your credit card with you when you run because you'll come home with a lot more than miles under your belt. I ran myself to a Starbucks and got a bottle of water and picked up some VIA since I'm running low. Then I went to Philadelphia Runner but they were closed for Memorial Day, so I stared longingly at the hydration belts hanging in the window.

Somehow I ended up in Payless where I picked up a cheap pair of sneakers that have very little cushioning. I'm trying to transition myself to a more natural stride so before I put on a pair of vibrams I figured I should start with some basic sneakers without the bells and whistles I'm used to. We'll see how that goes.

After my run, I wanted something light and cold to bring me back to life. I found the recipe card for "Rainbow Salad" that I had picked up a few weekends ago while food shopping at Stop and Shop with my mom in NJ.

Rainbow Salad or the Perfect Summer Salad
serves 2
1/4 pint fresh blackberries
2 oz of spring garden salad mix
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 oz of crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cucumber, sliced

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 orange, juiced and zested

1. Throw your spring garden mix into the bowl, top with blackberries, avocado, yellow pepper, cucumber and feta cheese.
2. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and stir. 
3. Toss salad with just enough dressing to lightly coat.

Easy and very yummy. I could see adding some lime marinaded grilled chicken to it to make it into a more substantial meal. 

Of course I made a mess while putting this together. 

But someone helped me clean up!

Pining for the Pines

Not long after  my post about giving Philadelphia a second chance was up, I had packed my bike in my car and headed towards NJ's Pine Barrens. To be fair, I did last until 1pm in Philadelphia all by myself. I had even planned to take my bike to Fairmount Park and did some pre-biking yoga to prepare. During the final savasana in's Gentle Hatha Yoga #2, the instructor said "let thoughts in, no need to push them out" and I opened my eyes, popped up out of my corpse pose and asked Andrew if he'd meet me at Double Trouble park in 2 hours.

And then there we were...sigh...sweet sweet New Jersey...

I think I was a pine tree in a former life.

Piddling about Philadelphia

The sub-title to this blog, gina piddles twiddles and resolves, comes from the musical 1776. I've only seen this musical once (Andrew and my family have done all they could to ensure there would be no second showing of my singing and dancing along to this historical glee-fest), but the phrase has stuck with me.*

In one of the opening scenes, John Adams laments the lack of progress made by the Second Continental Congress. Adams wants to declare independence from Britain, but finds that the other delegates are wasting their time.

He sings:

You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve
Not one damn thing do we solve
Piddle, twiddle, and resolve
Nothing's ever solved in
Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy

It has been almost a year since I moved to Philadelphia - at first it seemed like it was my 4th of July - I was setting out on my own, taking control of my destiny by enrolling in graduate school and starting a new job. I left behind my frustrations with John Jay (where I got my BA) and my job in NJ (where I dealt with a lot of BS) and started anew.

Soon after the excitement of moving settled down, I found myself cursing "foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia."  I had no interest in exploring or spending any time here, instead choosing to go back to NJ every weekend and straight to sleep after work. After a lot of piddling and twiddling, I realized that I'm not as miserable as I thought**. Things have been tough at times, but it isn't Philadelphia's fault. Even though my job has turned out to be a disappointment, I love having my own place and I love being back in school (I am too giddy when I get an A+ on an assignment)
. Philadelphia is not just a bunch of cranky librarians.

Philadelphia is the place where Andrew and I get to see each other almost every day. It's where Andrew and I have met some of the nicest people (see my pictures from the PHACT Jersey Devil Hunt). Philadelphia is where we've become running partners, study buddies and loving parents to a kitten named Eleanor Roosevelt. It's where I get to take a quick 10 minute walk over to Amanda's apartment to help her hunt for a mouse. It's where I can go to four different Starbucks within a 5 minute walk. 

The point of this is - Philadelphia, I'm sorry. I didn't really give you a fair chance. So Philly, it's almost summer and I brought my bike from NJ and maybe sometime you and I could get to know each other? I don't think you're as foul or fetid as I've made you out to be.  I am happy that I've renewed my lease for another year because this time I'm going to dig my roots deep into the ground. 

*Ok, I also bought the soundtrack.

**"Man is unhappy because he doesn't know he's happy. It's only that."
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Andrew: More Than a Woman

Andrew and I have been together for 2 and a half years. We're both in school, busy with outside projects and work. He lives almost 3 hours away. We're supposed to be drifting apart but but I find myself feeling closer to him now than I ever have.

I learn more about myself from talking to Andrew. I find myself in a new place and think "I can't wait to come back with Andrew." My brother's girlfriend told a dirty joke at a dinner party and I had to sneak away and email it to him. "What kind of bees make milk?" I ask him. A few minutes later, "That's lewd love." It was the response I needed to hear from him. 

I know this isn't the best song to go to for lyrics but "More Than a Woman" says what I've known all along: "I know that in a thousand years, I'd fall in love with you again."

How You Know You're Loved...

...if you come back from a weekend at home to find your mom packed a a yummy warm dish like baked macaroni and cheese for you.

...and if your kitten decides she may leave some for you after she's done!

Happy Birthday Love!

Happy birthday to my darling boyfriend, Andrew. You are my best friend, my fellow burger addict, my study buddy, my long walk partner, the perfect person to share a cup of coffee with and my love, always.

I hope you enjoy your present and I hope you didn't get too full from our mini cake last night!

Weakerthans Concert at World Cafe Live

Andrew and I went to a concert at World Cafe Live on Sunday night. It was a mutual anniversary present to each other because we both love the Weakerthans (even though Andrew will tell you when he first sent me their music I said, "The Wintertons? Winkletoes? They're alright").

It was the best concert I've ever been to - no joke! This even beats when I met the Cold War Kids on my 21st birthday.

When we got to World Cafe Live, we saw the band's tour bus and there were a few guys coming out of it as we passed. We didn't know it was the band and we pushed past them to get into the empty venue only to be told we were too early. Once inside, we saw the lead singer John Samson walking around aimlessly with a grey hoody on. He seemed to have all the time in the world and I went "BABE THAT'S REALLY HIM" and pointed. This made Andrew turn red and I think I saw John smirk. That's gotta stroke the ego, right?

The venue was great, we had Mezzanine seats on a nice comfy couch. We started in the dining room and split a delicious arugula salad that had apples and candied walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette. Then came the burgers and fries - YUM. They were great thick char broiled burgers with nice crispy fries. Even the pickles were good! They were very filling though and I didn't get to try any of the desserts, but that's probably for the best.

Rock Plaza Central opened, they were cool for about two songs. The music was good but their lyrics were pretty religious and most of the choruses were just repeating a single sentence over and over. I began to really appreciate how well-written theWeakerthans' lyrics were and couldn't wait to hear from Virtute!

The Weakerthans sounded just like their recordings and played a great mix from all their albums. They interacted with the crowd nicely, despite the hagglers (who just happened to be sitting behind us, how does that always happen?). The best part of the show was when John played solo, even though it was just him and a guitar he filled the entire concert hall. It was really impressive.

They played four songs for their encore which was nice. We pictured an old manager backstage listening to our cheers and saying "The kids want rock and roll!" But more likely, they walked off stage, refreshed their drinks and came back. It was still a great encore, especially since they played Civil Twilight, my favorite song.

I would really recommend checking out their albums and trying to see them in concert. They are some cool Canadians!

What's In My Bag?

The other night, I sat relaxing in my big comfy chair, chatting with Andrew online. Eleanor was asleep on my lap; I had the blinds pulled up and let the soft city lights warm my apartment. It was blissful. Of course, it was all interrupted when the fire alarm went off in my apartment building. I jumped up and began trying to get Eleanor into a copy paper box (she did not cooperate and I have a nice gash on my pinky to show for it), thinking "Oh my god, Gina! The building is going to implode and you don't have a plan." It was quite dramatic. I ended up leaving my apartment with just my keys and my iPhone. I had to leave Eleanor behind, which is another blog post of failed-mothering in itself. I sat on the corner of my block, wearing flip flops and  crying on the phone to Andrew and my Mom that I was worried about Eleanor. It was not blissful.

Once I got back into the apartment (after about 20 mins, it was a system malfunction* - thank goodness), Eleanor and I cuddled and reconciled (GC: You must get in the box!!! ER:*licks Gina's chin* meow.) and I started to plan for my "go bag." I would not be caught off guard again.

While gathering supplies and ideas for how to prepare for an emergency, I came across this awesome collection of photographs at Lifehacker that show the contents of people's go bags. They seem to use "go bag" to refer to what I'd call a regular "bag bag." Sigh, my bag bag. My bag bag is like a security blanket to me. It's also an over-sized, overstuffed, unorganized mess that I throw over my shoulder and walk like one leg is shorter than the other because of. Here's what's in my bag bag (which is a great canvas bag I got on sale from J.Crew):

1. iPhone - holds everything, my music, my notes, shopping lists, calendars, books (kindle and audible audiobooks), let's me access my email, surf the web, and yeah, it does everything.
2. headphones
3. wallet - seriously weeded through recently to remove everything but essential plastic and (occasionally) cash
4. ibuprofen - sometimes I get headaches =(
5. hand sanitizer - sometimes I get germaphobic =)
6. random receipts
7. extra iphone charger - this is a recent addition, I only bought the second charger because I left mine in NJ.
8. hand lotion - this used to come in handy a lot more when I drove, I hated to see dry skin on my hands and I found myself looking at my hands at red lights.
9. a packet of Starbucks VIA, held in my VIA wallet - Yeah, I'm not kidding when I say I love this stuff.
10. bobby pins - left from when I had curly hair and would need to tame it every day.
11. sunglasses - I wear them at night.
12. gum - I like spearmint
13. coupons for Starbucks ice cream - been meaning to pick this up! $1.00 off!
14. lanyard with keys and school ID - I've been meaning to sew my own snazzy lanyard but for now I'm using one from the iSchool, school spirit!
15. water bottle - I got this one for $9.99 at Kitchen Kapers, it comes with a carabiner that I use to latch it onto my bag.
16. a spork - can't tell you how handy this is
17. an umbrella my dad got for me from Japan (or China, I can't remember)
18. a mirror, because I'm obsessed with myself
19. a coupon for 10% off at a local psychic named Gina, I found this in the stacks when I was cleaning. Bizarre.
20. Burt's Bees chapstick

Yeah, my bag bag holds all that important stuff that I just casually left in the apartment during the evacuation. But to be fair, I was too upset about leaving Eleanor to think about bringing anything else. Next time, I will bring Eleanor's new crate, her pet emergency bag, my bag bag and my go bag. Yes, I will be a bag lady during a fire drill. But I won't leave that kitty again!

Get in the bag El!

*They posted a sign the next day that said the alarm went off because the battery was low in one of the smoke detectors. Seriously?!
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