Apartment AC Troubles

Being summer in Philly AC is a must. Sometime in May I noticed the AC in my unit stopped working. After a week a new unit was installed and I thougth for sure my troubles were over.

However, my troubles had only begun. I suspected nothing as I had too many other troubles on my mind: a dying external harddrive with all my info on it, a dishwasher that wouldn’t turn on, and a small sick spell.

Well this sick spell wasn’t aided by the HVAC repair needed on my AC unit. It turns out the completely new system the apartment complex had installed was broken to begin with. Apparently the compressor was broken from the start making the unit functionless. Needless to say they were not pleased and neither was I.

After a week of attempted repairs I was left over the weekend with no AC. Naturally I had my mind on other things trying to resolve them while resting in bed. And, naturally, that happened to be one of the hottest weekends of the summer boasting its own excessive heat warning. Well after a weekend of 86 minimum inside I had enough.

No sooner had I emailed the apartment staff about it than someone was here to resolve it temporarily. A mini AC unit was installed through one of my windows to keep my main room cool. This was really important as it became unbearable to cook in a room that was already hot enough to cook an egg (metaphorically. Should have tested it literally though). With the 4th of July celebrations and extended holiday I would have to wait until the next week to see what would become of my AC.

Well the next week brought plenty of visits but until parts and a new unit came in there was little to be done. That is until yesterday!!!

Several of the men who had visited prior were back again to disassemble the “old” unit and put in the new one. While they were in and out they allowed me to get a few pictures of all the fun details hiding above my ceiling tiles which you can see below!

Overall the replacement team was hardworking and very kind. The only advice I recieved was as a designer to make sure to leave room for repair crews to work. This was quite noticeably an issue with the small bathroom being the site of a larger repair. Buildings house all kinds of people some permant (primary) and some transient (secondary), some just to inhabit and others to work on. Each of these inhabitants needs to be considered and, at least in school, the only person considered is the “permanent” (primary) inhabitant.

For as long as it went on at least I learned something about the city, the climate, and design. Everything is in the details afterall!



Movie in the Park or the Theater

Several of us had planned to go see a movie being shown in the Schullykill Park this past week. However, the suprise rainstorm quickly cancelled those plans. I have seen events listed throughout Philadelphia for outdoor movie screenings and sadly have yet to go. This is true also of theaters. It seems like everytime I make a plan something comes up to cancel them.

Well today, while purchasing tickets to a show, I misspelled my email. Now lacking a confirmation email I am a little nervous that a friend and I will have trouble checking in. Well, fingers crossed this won’t happen. Either way, if we aren’t let in I suppose I will just buy the tickets again or settle for an in home movie night. At least that will be cheaper!

I hope, if the weather abides this summer, that I can update this post soon with an outdoor movie showing. No need for indoor theater pictures!


Next Good Book…

For all my love of reading I rarely keep a reading list. More often than not, I will simply pick up the next book I hear about or that sparks my interest and devour it. This has changed since starting graduate school. I have not set aside time to read for fun and so lost track of many books.

Due to this loss, I have decided to begin tracking my reads. However as I had no list research was in order. I first came across a series of books on forensic architecture, which I am currently reading. The second list I found were the department lists of the School of Design. These lists are a view into the curriculum, the research being done, and the overal focus of the school/department. I have decided to focus on the landscape architecture list as that is the program I will be entering into in the fall (https://www.design.upenn.edu/landscape-architecture/recommended-reading).

Naturally for a more random selection pinterest is always available to suggest a series of book pairings by genre, for example historical fiction.

If you are more interested in a better selected or vouched for reading list the Van Pelt library has a small section of recent additions with awards/acclaims in the front room. For a little light reading the magazines are right next to them and also all recent.

If you are too far away to get to Van Pelt, a simple search for NY Times Best Sellers or something similar should pull up a variety of options to get started.

Newer books are harder to get a hold of from the library so perhaps searching a year back will help secure a good read sooner. Have fun reading!

Extra Income

Wharton Behavioral Lab: https://bhlab.wharton.upenn.edu

Sometimes you don’t have enough time in your schedule for another job but really need a little extra cash. Well there is a simple way to get that cash without selling your soul, blood, or hair. Often campuses with research intiatives will have studies that require human subjects. The field of research that requires the subject will dictate your terms of involvement. So if you sign up for a School of Medicine study, chances are you will be taking medicine, visiting doctors to have measurements taken and recorded, possibly be put on a diet of some kind, etc. But if you sign up for a School of Business study, the expectations are different. However, you can be sure that it won’t impact your health or your mind.

I can’t and won’t disclose the studies carried out by the Wharton Behavioral Lab. I can assure participants that from my experience they are harmless and often fun or intriguing studies. What is even better is that they don’t take long! One hour is the typical length of a study/studies and every participant is compensated with $10 at the end. If you do a half hour session you would be compensated $5 for your time.

After signing up to be a participant, the studies will list date, times, and target population (students only, open to everyone, females, etc). The will only reveal the study/studies content at the location once you have checked in. So it is hard to tell if you may be opposed to participating. However, I have not found a study yet that I wouldn’t take or made me uncomfortable.

Overall I enjoy taking the studies and really appreciate the extra income. After all, every penny counts!

Garden Delights!

Slowly the cherry tomato plants I potted in the windowsill are ripening their fruit! It has been several weeks of watering, pruning, turning soil, and tying up impossiblely long sidways stems. I am excited to pick my crop in this next week and hope there will be enough to make a cute little salad of it!

Between this mini farming joy and the visit to the orchard I have set my heart on getting a few more window planters. I hope to plant more edibles although I haven’t decided what yet. The wonderful thing is some edibles are also fragrant! So there is every opportunity to perfume my apartment while growing my mini crop!

Berry Picking for the Potluck

This post will be updated between now and Sunday, July 8th. Each update will be a step in the process from berry picking to the potluck celebration! Enjoy!

A friend from graduate school, Mitchell, is co-hosting a potluck at his apartment. It is an event he and his roommates aspire to host once a month for now til whenever it stops working (which I doubt will happen). This month’s theme is Southern/Soul Food. Yum!!

Another friend, Perry, wanted to go fruit picking last weekend but due to the excessive heat warning we decided not to go. However, by rescheduling for this Saturday we will be able to use the berries or other fruit to make dessert(s) for the potluck! Read on for the adventures and completion of the potluck goals.

Berry Picking Update:

Linvilla Orchards is a beautiful farm! Only a short 30 – 40 minute drive from Philadelphia, this orchard/farm has so many options. You can pick produce, peruse the garden center, shop at the farm market if you’d rather not pick your own, stop by the barn to see a varitey of wild and farm animals, go trout fishing (I really need to try this!), or take the kids to the really cool looking play ground with a fort. Come Christmas time you can even come and cut your own farm grown christmas tree! Today’s mission was to pick berries. Fortunately blueberries and raspberries were available for picking. You could also pick peaches, apricots, and tomatoes today. Frankly, the weather was perfect and if I didn’t have a potluck to attend I would have stayed to pick everything. Perry, who introduced me to this orchard, mentioned that in the fall they have apple and pumpkin picking. So no matter the season there is at least one weekends worth of fun to be had at Linvilla Orchards. I will let the photos do the rest of the storytelling.


Linvilla Orchards: https://www.linvilla.com/

Potluck Preparations Update:

Seeing as the potluck/cookout’s theme is Southern/Soul food I decided to contribute a staple side: cornbread, biscuits, honey butter, and/or an optional fruit sauce. Naturally the fruit sauce will be made with today’s delicious picks!

Now the cornbread and biscuits are Jiffy boxes to which you only add the eggs, milk/water, and butter/oil depending on the boxes instructions. Honey butter is a very simple recipe: melt butter, add honey, refreeze, and enjoy!

The fruit sauce on the other hand is a more guarded recipe of my own. So I won’t disclose it here. However I am sure the pictures will help!


Potluck Update:

As usual when my hands are full managing a plate and a drink and my mind is occupied with conversation (or thoughts of a nap) I forget to take pictures. However the potluck was great fun! It was wonderful to see everyone. The people as well as the food did not disapoint. The grill was cooking the whole time turning out corn, vegetables of all kinds, burgers, hot dogs, and wings. The table inside was covered with dishes of potato salad, collard greens, meatloaf, deviled eggs, gumbo, and an assortment of pies. Needless to say once one thing was finished more just kept coming out such as watermelon and popsicles. Good food and happy company are really the best after a few weeks of chaos. I am glad I went and even more excited for next month’s round!

Fourth in Review

Food, music, and a long walk filled my 4th of July with joy. After a quick stop at McDonalds for fries and sweet tea I began what was to be a 2 hour walk towards Old City Philadelphia. Along the way I caugh many creatures, I stopped to admire murals, statues, and several parks. I even went on a hunt for the ever elusive public restroom which hardly exists in today’s cities. All of this was rewarded with a beautiful organ recital at Christ Church. Though hot, a makeshift newspaper fan kept me content enough to hear out the entire program. Afterwards everyone was given a tour of the organ itself. The pipes displayed on the outside are only a small facade hiding cabinets and room fulls of pipes and cords and ladders. It was a really stunning display of musical architecture.

I am delighted by the fact that Christ Church will be having monthly recitals all free! I can’t wait for the next afternoon spent enjoying the city on my way to an evening of music.

After all that I had to make the trek back home. Along the way I happened to cross the path towards the Philadelphia Art Museum which was hosting the free Pitbull concert and fireworks. Happy to have come that way, I detoured and stayed to enjoy the end of the concert and the begining of the most impressive fireworks show I have seen. The fireworks were beautifully timed to the music and even showcased a few I hadn’t seen before. Honestly, these rivaled the ones I am accustomed to seeing at Disney. With my phone dying, I captured none of the fireworks show on camera. However this detail did speed up my walk home considerably.

While I may have been alone this 4th, it was certainly an enjoyable one and one I hope to entice others to come enjoy next year.



Pokemon Go: A Gym App

I don’t like to play games on my phone. I was never interested in Pokemon. Honestly, I only picked up the app after my boyfriend suggested it for the third time (maybe???).

And I am surprised! I don’t really know anything about the background story, but I don’t need to in order to play. It is simple, walk around a lot outside and catch creatures. While this app won’t list the number of calories you’ve burned or the total kilometers you’ve walked after a while you can guess.

What is even neater is that it is a free map to explore the place you are in or visiting. Each poke stop has some significance to the area be it a store, a mural, statue, historic site, a restaurant, a park, the list is endless.

Overall I would say this is a fantastic way to explore, get introduced to a new place, work out, and get outside. The app is basically encouraging you to get enough steps, sunshine, and fresh air to keep healthy while distracted! Get out your phones, make sure Google works (to get that extra knowledge on a pokestops significance), and explore with Pokemon Go!

Gym Progress? Keep Track!

I know that no matter how much I have been in an out of the gym sometimes I just don’t see the change. This is primarily due to not keeping track of the change. After all, you see and live the changes everyday so you get used to how you are.

If you want to be sure that you aren’t just the same since when you started there are a number of ways to keep track.

  • Photos!! Yes full length body photos, with clothes, can really show progress. It can get annoying to do every day but once or twice a week should provide enough photos for a transformation comparison.Whatever interval you decide, make sure to take the photos. This is honestly one of the easiest ways to see the difference.


  • Apps!! Not the food, the technology. There are soo many apps to help keep track of steps, calories, weights, food, sweat, and honestly anyting related to your health. I like less invasive apps that don’t monitor my activity constantly. I recently downloaded LFConnect app which can scan in codes after a workout on any LifeFitness machine at the gym. These machines include treadmills, elpiticals, and stationary bikes. This data, once scanned in, is compiled into a graph to show you your daily total and how that compares throughout the week.


  • Notes!! Keeping a working note in your phone with each day’s workout and what you completed can help. At least having preplanned workouts on a calendar that you check off can really make you feel accomplished even if you are still sore. Plus this sets up a routine that you can get used to and challenge to really help notice your growth.


  • Posts!! It can get a little annoying to do daily gym posts, unless that is your lifes work. The occasional gym photo, post, blog, or group chat spam can go a long way to making you feel and see your progress. After all others are more likely to notice the progress and want to compliment you on it. Just try not to become obsessed or needy for a comment on the gains.

Ultimately you will feel the changes from your workouts. Even if you didn’t notice a physical change, realize you have more of an appetite, or  stop to wonder when was the last time you were so grumpy, all of these changes are working in your favor behind the scenes. So keep up the good work!

Volunteering: PAWS – Habitat – ESL

Between work and play I make time for help. This summer I chose to help by volunteering with three organizations: PAWS (Philadelpha Animal Welfare Society), Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, and Center for Learning and Literacy.

PAWS has three shelters. Each one houses a number of dogs and cats which you as a volunteer help care for. I have only been in a few times to help but am already accostumed to where things go and how a shift is run. Now it isn’t all playing with cats and dogs while you are there. Yes, it is important that the animals get to play, walk, and get some time outside their kennel. However, there are many other small tasks which are vital to keeping the shelters running smoothly such as: replacing cat litter boxes, making boxes, refilling on food and water for cats and dogs, assisting with laundry, sweeping and moping floors, sanitzing toys or new kennels for incoming animals, etc. In between playing and petting animals I like to clean my hands and rotate to any of the tasks listed above. My best suggestion for volunteering at a shelter would be to wear sneakers, long pants (prefereably a pair you don’t care about getting dirty), and a loose t-shirt. This attire is comfortable and allows you to move around and get messy. It also keeps most of you covered and away from any diseases or fleas which an animal may be being treated for.  When I am not helping animals keep happy on their search for a new home I like to help people.

Habitat for Humanity is more closely related to my field of design and is people oriented. Habitat’s volunteer days or slots fill quickly! I haven’t had a chance yet to acutally volunteer. Most people know about Habitat’s construction site volunteer days, however they also run a ReStore. The ReStore is like Goodwill. Gently used furniture, appliances, utensils, techonology, and building materials  are sorted, stored, and sold. Volunteering for the ReStore is more difficult becuase positions are given first to families being given a Habitat Home. These families pay back the Habitat Home in part monetarily and in part through “sweat equity” or volunteer hours. I am excited to volunteer on either a construction site or in the ReStore and can’t wait to see the July calendar before it fills up! In the meantime, I was hoping to help people in Philadelphia learn English.

Sadly the Center for Learning and Literacy was underfunded and could not continue their volunteer tutoring program in ESL. Despite this I will keep my eye out for their return of the program or a similar language tutoring program to volunteer for. If you know of any, please comment below. I really appreciate it!

I always find it nice to spend time away from school and work productively. By volunteering I get to do something fun, on my own schedule, build a unique set of skills, and help others out at the same time. Take some time out of your day to give back and get back: happy volunteering!