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:

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!