Backyard Cat Salon

Cat laying next to magazine

This is one of the cats we would hang out with.

We had people over the other night. We grilled hamburgers from my parents’ farm, and melted cheese on them. Cooper sharp. It’s the best. Chad grilled some squash and made a salad. I made dessert, which we didn’t end up eating. So now my house is full of dessert, which I don’t mind at all.

Chad had been wanting to do this the whole time we’ve lived here, over a year. I’m resistant. I’m anxious about hosting for a number of reasons. Maybe I’ll share more about that sometime. Chad would often want to text a bunch of people and see who was available. I told him I needed more warning. Plan something ahead, and add it to my calendar so that I had time to mentally (and culinarily) prepare.

It was fun! The cheeseburgers were delicious. Our guests brought some tasty wine and beer. The squash was somewhat undercooked, but whatever. I hadn’t really thought about where we’d eat, but it was a nice night so we stayed outside. We have no patio furniture yet, after over a year. Patio furniture is expensive but optional and house upgrades are expensive but not optional, and also I don’t know what I want yet. So we huddled around a makeshift coffee table in various folding and kitchen table chairs. It worked out. It was fine. Nice, even. And resulted in a potential new friendship.

Today, Chad is in New York. It’s been a really beautiful day. Kind of hot, but it’s cooling off now. I’ve been enjoying the solitude. I kind of want to go to First Friday in this cute little city, but I kind of want to sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine with my cats. I said so on Twitter, and asked if anyone else would want to also sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine with my cats. But it turns out most people in Lancaster are not on Twitter and thus will not see my open invite.

I think it’d be delightful to have an unplanned Twitter cat salon, as Lauren put it. But it might not be able to be unplanned, or organized via Twitter.

So. Does anyone (please no rando internet creeps, though) want to sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine or La Croix with me and my cats at a mutually agreed upon time in the future? Conversation optional. Feel free to bring a book. Maybe there will be dessert.

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Weekend Pairing: New Local Eats

W/N W/N Coffee BarI spent a large chunk of last Sunday checking out two fun new concepts in Philly, both dining establishments, both pretty nonconventional and oriented toward social and environmental good.

W/N W/N Coffee Bar is a cooperative, member owned and operated coffee shop and bar that recently opened on 9th and Spring Garden in Philly. Its name references it being both a win/win for the producers and the consumers, and waste not/want not, values that are both clearly exhibited by the new establishment.

Show up in the morning or early afternoon on a weekend for coffee & brunch, show up in the evening for creative cocktails featuring locally sourced ingredients. If I lived in the neighborhood, W/N W/N would quickly become my second home. If you’re in Philly, they’re still selling shares as part of their funding process. Shares are $25 each, which you can use as pre-purchase credits to buy food and drinks 25% off your bill at a time!

I really loved the aesthetic, the philosophy, the music, and my almond cream-filled cream puff, and I’m hoping to return really soon (like this weekend?) for drinks and brunch.

Federal DonutsRooster Soup Co. is a crowdfunded offshoot of Philly’s most-loved donut & fried chicken shop, Federal Donuts. All of the profits from the soups sold go to Broad Street Hospitality, which is a local nonprofit specializing in radical hospitality — offering delicious meals served family style, as well as social services, to homeless, at-risk, and low-income men and women in Philadelphia. As backers on Kickstarter, we were invited to stop by their preview event to try out their soup menu… and score a donut while we were at it.

I’m excited to see innovative business structures popping up in Philadelphia that both serve the needs of the community and serve really yummy food and drink. Are you noticing this trend in other cities or where you live?

Federal Donuts

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Eating Through Seattle

SeattleBefore heading to Alt Summit, which I’ll write about a little bit later, I spent the weekend in Seattle with Chad. One of our most favorite ways to while away some time in a new city is to simply walk and eat, both as much as possible. Seattle was perfectly set up to do just that. I didn’t pitch a food round up story to any other site before heading out, because I was only there a couple days and I figured it’d be too much work to scout places, take photos, and write a decent round up for just a couple days. Turns out, it came naturally and a lot easier than I thought.

Witness Seattle Brunch

Brunch at Witness, Seattle

Our super sweet AirBnB was basically right around the corner from Broadway in Capitol Hill. Witness was a five minute walk away, and just what we needed after a full day of travel and an early wake up time due to the time difference. Southern-inspired brunch to warm our bones and acclimate us to the drizzly Seattle chill.

Because brunch after a long flight and little sleep just isn’t enough, we hit Top Pot Donuts in Capitol Hill for our second brunch, or the dessert to first brunch, and more coffee. Four words: maple old fashioned donut. That is all.

Top Pot Donuts Seattle

Maple Glazed Old Fashioned Donut from Top Pot Donuts, Seattle

After a long drizzly afternoon of wandering around and staring at the skyline via the Space Needle and finally getting to see the Moorea Seal shop in person(!!), dinner from Villa Escondida — the highest rated restaurant in Seattle on Yelp — was both enormous and delicious. It’s a sweet little hole in the wall that’s a little hard to find, but it offers real-deal, amazing Mexican food.

Cafe Pettirosso Seattle

Cafe Pettirosso’s Squash Stuffed French Toast, Seattle

One of the coolest things about traveling and the internet is that I can meet up with online friends in person! I was psyched to spend the morning with the super rad Erin Anacker, first for coffee at Vivace on Broadway, and then for brunch and a super long conversation at Cafe Pettirosso. A++, would eat squash-stuffed French toast again.

EMP Seattle

The EMP Museum, Seattle

We spent the rest of the day at the EMP Museum, until I felt like I could no longer absorb any more information about music or pop culture, then hit Bait Shop for supper before once again crashing our East-Coast weary bones into our AirBnB for the night.

Chad headed in to the Seattle office of his company on Monday morning while I spent the day bopping in and out of coffee shops and wandering around Pike Place Market. Its innards reminded me a little bit of a cobbled together Reading Terminal Market. Throughout the course of the day, I had amazing soft serve frozen yogurt from Shy Giant and a ham and gruyere croissant and a lavender shortbread from Three Sisters Bakery before wandering into Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Now, I get really excited about ginger beer, so I was psyched to see an entire fresh made ginger beer bar, featuring really creative flavors and a rad cocktail menu. I got a Montana Mule, but started fantasizing about returning with Chad in the evening for a hot toddy.

Sadly, we didn’t make it back to Rachel’s before closing time. Happily, we found Zig Zag to satisfy my hot toddy craving. It felt like stepping into a 1920s speakeasy. Even though it’s not actually a speakeasy, it’s still kind of hard to find. It’s tucked away on the side of a hill not visible from the street. The bar was dark, but cozy, and our bartender was so fun to watch. It was the perfect spot to end my time in Seattle before heading out to Salt Lake for Alt Summit the next day.

Rumba Steps, Seattle

Rumba Steps, Seattle

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Last Minute Christmas Recipes on The Dish

sandtarts1If you don’t already know, I’ve been contributing the The Town Dish to varying degrees for the past two and a half years. If you haven’t checked out the Town Dish yet, especially if you live in Southeast PA, don’t waste any more time! They do excellent coverage of the Southeastern PA hyperlocal food scene, but also plenty of travel, recipes, health, and style writing that’s appealing no matter where you live.

This month, I’ve got two posts up there; both are perfect for some last minute holiday food ideas. Between the two of them, they sum up my family’s biggest holiday food traditions: sand tarts, nut cups, and mush (an Amish-Mennonite cornmeal dish) on Christmas morning.

I’m already working remotely from my parents’ farm, so I’m in full-on holiday mode. I’ll be eating some or all of these in the next week or so.

2 Pennsylvania Dutch Cookie Recipes to Try This Christmas

I have a lot of favorite memories about childhood Christmases on the farm: coming in from the barn with red cheeks and noses, Saturdays spent munching on nut cups while sprinkling cinnamon, sugar and chopped nuts on sand tarts. There’s no tradition of colorful M&M cookies or sprinkles on Christmas cookies in my family—we keep it simple.

Keep Reading on The Town Dish

sandtarts & nut cups

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Feast on the Farm: Cornmeal Mush

I have happily eaten the exact same thing with a less-than-appetizing name every Christmas morning for approximately the past 20 years: mush. My grandmother made it every morning for my dad and his five siblings after they finished the barn work and before they went to school. My grandma made it for me a few times for breakfast when I was really little, and I was hooked. At some point, I decided that I’d make mush for breakfast as a Christmas gift for my dad, who now only eats it when I make it, and I’ve done it every year since. Right after Thanksgiving, he asks me if I’m going to make mush again this year. The answer is always yes.

Keep Reading on The Town Dish



An Invitation Is Not an Imposition

mini pumpkinThe other night I was chatting with friends over soft pretzels and beer at Frankford Hall about some of my anxieties around socializing. “I have this weird thing,” I told them, “where I won’t invite people to do things or initiate making plans because I feel like I’m imposing. It’s so weird. I don’t know how to get over it.” Totally unsurprised by my confession, Jenn nodded and said, “It’s an introvert thing,” like it was the most natural thing in the world. I instantly felt better.

A couple weekends ago I did something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before, at least not at any remarkable scale. I threw a party. Chad and I had been meaning to throw a low key housewarming party since we moved to the new place — in July.

I ran around all day getting ready: cleaning the apartment, digging out large platters that we hardly ever use, stocking up on wine, shoving cheese into my shopping basket, wild-eyed, and doing some last-minute decluttering before our friends starting arriving. Thankfully, I had a dear, dear friend who helped out a ton. I don’t know what we would have done without her.

I was nervous as the first people started showing up with really delicious things in tow. Crap! I have to entertain them now! What will I do when they get bored? But soon the apartment was full and warm and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! I somehow feel more settled now that our friends have helped us christen the new place, and I hope next time I’ll be less nervous about the whole thing.

Here’s what I have to remember: An invitation is not an imposition. It’s an offering. It’s a gift. Next time, I hope to feel a lot less apologetic and scared when I send out the invites.