Field Trip Tuesdays!

Honestly one of my favorite classes thus far has been the workshop/field ecology classes. Every Tuesday the class goes out to the landscapes around us to learn more about how they are formed, what plants grow there, and to get a better sense of the ecologies we are working within. While this is constrained to the area around Philadelphia from the Jersey shore to Hawk Mountain the class does an excellent job of showcasing a variety of landscapes.

Despite the fun these trips are very demanding. They are full days, 8 AM to 5 PM,  out hiking around with a full back pack of drawing supplies, lunch, bug spray, hats, extra sweaters, etc. Travel time is between 30 to 2 hours depending on location. Once there it is a race to keep up  with the professor. While you are jogging with a fully packed back pack there is a sketchbook in hand drawing sections of the region, noting plant species, photographing said species, and generally trying to soak it all in. Aside from lunch, there are a few stops in which longer drawing excercises are carried out.

It is nice to be outside learning not only the science of the area but also how to represent and express the beauty around you within your sketchbook.

These photos of the field trips I think express the overall joy and fun of the trips. I love this class and look forward to what the spring will bring!


One thing I would suggest to make the classes easier is to really work out before taking this class. Focusing on cardio and running, long distance, would have helped a ton!! While I managed to keep up I certainly was not in the front of the class. I have permanemtly added cardio to all my workouts in response to this class which helped towards the end.

Also pack a lot of food!! These trips are physically draining. You will need the water and the food to keep enough energy to keep up.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Musuem of Art:

This museum is beautifully crafted! Most of the exhibits are integrated into the architecture of the room and are interactive. I really love seeing how artifacts were implentened into an experience. The museum really used pieces as they were originally intended, as architectural elements.

I purchased an annual membership this year in the hopes of taking friends and family for a discount price. The museum is large enough to merit multiple trips just to look and admire the glass ware collection let alone any of the other collections.

I spent more time admiring the architectural pieces but photographing the ceramics.


Of particular interest to a friend of mine who I joined in the museum was the Frank Gehry renovation. We managed a peek into the new restaurant but the second stair well was yet to be revealed. I look forward to seeing how the work merges with such a historic, classic looking building.

PAWS at Petsmart!

Over summer I volunteered with PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) and loved it! I decided this semester not to give up on volunteering but to integrate it into my school schedule. In some ways I treat my volunteering like another two hour class.

I transitioned from the Grays Ferry location to the new Petsmart on Broad and Washington. I was super excited to take care of 6 or more cats. In particular this location also allowed me to get more experience on the adoption side of the organization. While I have yet to complete an adoption I know the policies, have to ability to submit applications from interested individuals, and can help them select a cat to adopt.

It is a wonderful place to be and volunteer. The Petsmart staff are kind and responsive to any needs I may have (not enough litter, low on cat food). I  am primarly responsible for feeding the cats, cleaning litter boxes, wiping down kennels, and excercising (aka play and petting) the cats. However having the trust and additional responsibilities is wonderful.

I love being able to help such lovely people and animals! Here are a bunch of cute cat pictures from the last couple of months volunteering.


If you are looking for something to fill your time or want to relieve some stress I suggest volunteering with an animal aid organization. PAWS in particular could really use all the extra help it can get and the joy of being around the animals and knowing you are really helping really makes a difference in your day.

Salsa Saturday!

Sassafras Bar:

Brasil Night Club:

In celebration of a few studio birthday’s several of us went out for a night of food and dancing in Old City Philadelphia.

In true landscape fasion we celebrated first with dinner at the Sassafras Bar, chosen for its tree like name. The Sassafras was a quaint little place with a standard american fare menu. The only downside was the tight interior. There was almost no space for our group of 10 or so.

An odd feature of the night was the restaurant bathroom. This room was by far the oddest room I have ever been in. It seems odd to post bathroom photos but I think the photos will explain the bizareness better than a simple explanation could.

The real highlight of the night was Brazils Night Club. Like many of the dance places in Philly the first hour of the night is a dance lesson. In this first hour they teach a few basic steps and add a little flare just so you are confident on the dance floor later. I always find these dance classes exciting and love learning a little something new each time!

The night went by too quickly! Thankfully everyone had a wonderful time, even if they didn’t quite get the steps right. Looking forward to trying swing dancing next.

Gym Buddies

There is nothing like having a few gym buddies to make your workout a little brighter! I am so happy to see that my healthy lifestyle has encouraged my classmates to take a break from studio to take care of their health.

A group of 8 of us have a small positive reinforcement group to go to the gym. We share workouts. We encourage eachother not to give up. We make the trip there and back enjoyable.

As a group we have only made it a couple of times. But individually I am sure that we have gone more than before. Having the group chat is really helpful in reinforcing the importance of going regularly or at least being active and outside studio regularly.

And while I don’t have any photos of them yet I can’t wait to catch them in action! 😉 Be on the lookout for glo ups soon!


Penn Health Tips!

While no one likes going to the doctor getting an annual check up is really important. My last check up was roughly in October. I went in for my check up this year at about the same time.

While there I learned a few wonderful things!

  • If you have a medical emergency call Penn Health first! They have an on call doctor 24/7 who can help diagnose your problem and advise you whether to go to the hospital or come to them the next day. This is super helpful as an ambulance and emergency room expenses are outrageous! Really only go if it is life or death!!
  • If you need second appointments the scheduling desk can arrange it for you. In some cases the appointments can be made same day (usually only if you are already there and had a previous appointment)! Otherwise check a month in advance to schedule appointments. I have always found they dissapear quickly online.
  • Flu Shots are super important. Often your email will contain reminders for the dates and times for the Flu Shot Drive. This is a FREE event so no excuses! I went this year and it took all of 5 minutes to sign the paperwork, move through the line, and get the shot.

Overall my annual visit to Penn Health has always been pleasant. Service is quick, the nurses and doctors are friendly, and the process is easy. If you are ever concerned or need health help definitely go to Penn Health.

In terms of health the Penn Health really does cover everything you could be concerned about under one roof. I went from my check up to the blood work station to the nutrioninst all in one morning in one place. I really appreciate the ability to do that. It makes addressing any concerns you or your physician may have in the moment so that you can really work on it immediatly.

In my case I learned a few additional ways to supplement my diet with key nutrients without taking pills and tablets. I also was encouraged to continue my excercise routine, the weight lifting portion, to help overall with body and bone strength.

While my own improvements are encouraging, seeing how my lifestyle has inspired and encouraged my classmates to change theres is even more encouraging. At last I have lured my classmates into the gym! I am super excited to have friends who are also possible long term gym buddies!


Garden Update!

Even with a busy semester I have found some time to expand my garden! The cherry tomatoes are blossoming, my daisies and african voilets are continally flowering, and my succulents keep sprouting new succulents. I have even tested planting strawberries.

As with every garden I have run into my troubles with watering schedules and pests. But the spider mites and wilting leaves will not deter me. Each time I learn something new and get a little more excited about adding to my garden.


There is an empty pot waiting in anticipation for my next set of plants. I am thinking bell peppers, spinach, and maybe some herbs (basil, rosemary, parsely). There are so many edible plants which it would be a dream to have at the ready. All that is left is the study of kitchen gardens and their evolution to apartment window ledges.

Gnocchi (Noquis) Nights

Gnocchi (Noquis) night is a wonderful time to practice a tradition for good fortune. I only missed one gnocchi night this semester but all the others have been a success! It is always wonderful to gather people together to cook and share a meal.

It is amusing to see everyone attentive to pasta, competing to get the form right. I appreciate more how much practice I have in making it and how much progress I make everytime I host. Once cooked the gnocchi doesn’t last and what little is left brings smiles the next day as everyone leaves with a light lunch.

I am happy to be able to celebrate the tradition of gnocchi day and bring smiles to my friends faces all while getting a little extra cooking practice!


Til the next 29th!

Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is not as easy as I expected. It seems simple. Make a lot of food, maybe two different kinds, prepack it into lunch containers and eat on rotation. Save yourself the hassle of cooking every day and the money otherwise spent on eating out.

But sometimes I make too much food and can’t eat it all within the week. Sometimes I don’t make enough and suddenly need to cook again or order out. Sometimes I get tired of what I cooked and don’t want to eat it for the fifth time (but still do).

Meal prepping definitely takes practice just like cooking. So, for the benefits it provides to my wallet and my health I will keep practicing. While I may not have my weekly prepping down yet I have certainly improved my cooking skills with all the practice! It is so exciting and liberating to be this confident in the kitchen!

Here is a small sample of this semesters progress in the kitchen: