"Philadelphia is a dump!"

That became the phrase of the trip after I exclaimed it on the streets our first day there. We were all excited to visit Chinatown after our awesome experience last year in San Francisco:


Ted contemplates growing his locks.

Ted dons the cultural head gear and quickly checks his wallet for enough Yen to purchase it.

We were instead greeted with wafts of indescribable stank and a few shoe-box size stores with cheap crap piled high in every nook and cranny available. In one store they even hung mobiles for sale from the ceiling in the middle of the aisle so you couldn't even walk by to the next section of the store. The dead ducks in the window were cobwebbed and crusty. The restaurants projected an eerie feeling that their food was not well cooked and possibly included "cat." We did not like it in this Chinatown. Not one bit. We beat feet out of there and vowed never to return, even to the outskirts, the rest of the vacation.

Seriously. This is a still from some video we took in Chinatown. You don't get the full experience with this picture, but trust me: A DUMP.

We spent a lot of time checking out Ted's 'ol stompin' grounds our first day there, which was probably the highlight of my trip. Ted's family lived in Philly for a summer while they searched for a house in the suburbs. He's talked about it quite a bit since I've known him and when I told him my conference was in Philly this year he was all about a trip down memory lane. Watching Ted reminisce and tell stories about getting baseball cards from a store with his brother or visiting "The Fruit Lady" down the street was neat. We found Front Street right away and then Ted got on the horn with his father to get the correct address. We happened to be only a block away and Ted says it looks just like he remembers it, minus the iron gate on the front stoop.

402 Front Street

The lot where Newmarket Center used to stand. Teddy recalls walking through the courtyard with his father and getting a firetruck for his birthday that he had been eyeing in a store window. Apparently Will Smith bought this lot with plans for a hotel, but never did anything with it because it couldn't house a hotel with the ginormous suites he wanted to make in it. Poor baby.

A view of the townhouse from across the street...pretty mod!

A cute one of Ted checking out the view.

We spent quite a bit of time staring at the old townhouse and checking out the adorable neighborhood it is in.

Then we played some darts.

I won!

The obligatory self portraits by the dartboard that you can't see because of our giant melons.

We also spent a lot of time during the trip learning about that crazy cat Ben Franklin and admiring the neat old buildings in the city, while also lamenting about how they are getting all run down and are in smelly neighborhoods.

Ted enjoys a root beer by the site of an old post office founded by your friend and mine, Mr. Ben Franklin.

Chillin' like a villian by Betsy Ross's digs

We also spent a lot of time trying on hats and getting all "Colonial." Or something.

This one is so classic that it deserves a re-post.

Despite the wretched Chinatown and the frequent funky smells, there were some pretty things in Philly:

And believe it or not, we actually got dolled up once or twice for dinner.

Overall, we had a riot and a half on our trip. It was nice to get away for a little adventure and vacation, but we were also glad to get back home to our little house and crazy cats.

Oh, and when we got home we found that the siding company had fixed the broken siding and our Frigidaire check had come in the mail! Yay! Happy days are here again!


Back From Philly...

Updates and pictures coming soon!


First Mow Results In Casualty

The Mower

We broke out our brand new lawn mower yesterday and fired it up without any problems. While Ted put together our new tool chest for the garage, I took the lawn mower for its first spin around the yard. I had my Ipod on and life was good. The mower purred like a kitten and cut like a dream. I made my way around the back of the house and got to work on some of the lusher grass back there. While making a pass over a particularly high area, a rock flew out from under the mower and broke the back of the house! Busted right through the vinyl siding and the insulator board. Yipes.

I broke the house.

I cut the engine and made my way to the garage to tell Ted. We stood there staring at it for a bit. Ted made note that we don't need a security system anymore, as you could break into the house just by busting through the walls. He has a point, though I have a feeling our neighbors would be a bit suspicious of anyone breaking a hole in the wall of our house. I think we'll keep the security system for now.

Now I need to look in one of our "home repair" reference books and figure out how the hell to replace vinyl siding...

After the lawn mower incident I decided I better stick to some indoor work, so we got busy organizing the garage. This was one of the most fulfilling organization projects to date! We had "arranged" the garage after the move, but things kept piling up and we never felt as though there was truly a "place" for things. Now that we have a lawn mower and wheelbarrow and weed whacker in there too, we really needed to organize a bit better.



We got a nice big set of shelves and a sweet tool chest from Lowe's. I also went back later on and got a piece of pegboard and all of the hooks that go with it along with some other specialized hangers for our gardening tools. I have to admit, I had a riot organizing last night and didn't want to stop until I was done. I finished up just in time to catch the end of Zach Braff's monologue on SNL. Score.


The Gardening Center

The Sports Center

Our new fabulous and much needed shelves

"The Workshop"

I worked a little in the yard today putting down some more grass seed. Ugh. So many rocks. I hope we see a bit more growth. Comparison pictures will be posted in a couple of weeks! Fun!


Operation: Outdoors.

Mortimer and Ethel are spoiled rotten. As soon as Ted got home from work today he put the kids on their leashes and led them outside exclaiming "I'm a glutton for punishment!" Mortimer was in heaven. He rolled around in the grass and climbed the hill and chased grasshoppers.

Ethel is a little more cautious and stuck by the door, only venturing out far enough to stick her head in the drain pipe.

There wasn't much of a struggle tonight once we brought them inside, though the two of them stuck close to the door in case we decided give them another taste of freedom.

In other news, we got a sweet package in the mail today from Ted's mom. We keep our dishwashing soap in a glass bottle usually used for salad oil or something. Our old one broke recently and Ted's mom and step-father noticed when they were in town last weekend, so they picked us up a new one in their travels! It's the most perfect soap dispenser I've ever seen and matches our kitchen "motif" perfectly! Thanks Pam and Jerry!

We had a Lowe's Date Night tonight and picked up some more grass seed and fertilizer to work on the lawn this weekend. We finally got a lawn mower the other night and have to take it for a test drive tomorrow. We are also dying to organize the garage, so we got a shelf and a tool chest to help with that effort. More pictures as we make progress this weekend!
Inaugural Grill

We got the propane tank filled and fired up the grill for the first time last night! We had some delicious veggie burgers and some steamed corn. Mmmm. The grill is awesome. It heats up really quickly and is just plain adorable as it cooks our dinner. We've been tossing around all sorts of ideas about what we can grill next...

In wild animal news, we have two wild animals living with us in the house. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Ted has been dying to have cats that will go outside on leashes. This experiment failed last summer when he bought halters for the two cats and took them outside the apartment. They both cried and cowered the entire time, just hoping they would be brought back inside soon. Since we've moved to the house, however, they've changed their tune. Either one of them can be found staring out various windows throughout the day. We found some cute collars in their size at the store the other night and Ted insisted we get them and bring "the kids" outside again. Now they love it out there. They don't want to come back in. When we go to open the door, they run at it full speed hoping to escape into the fabulous green world they've only ever dreamed about through the window. Ted has now created a monster:

The view from outside looking in: Morty screams for freedom


Mortimer cried and threw himself at the windows for a good half hour after we brought him in last night. Trying to reason with a cat is a challenging task, but I think Mortimer and I have reached an understanding. Going outside is a "privilege," not a "right." He needs to clean up his act if he wants to be treated to some supervised roaming time outside. He screamed "You're ruining my life!" and slammed his bedroom door in a tantrum, but he'll come around to the "As long as you're living under my roof, you'll obey my rules" mentality soon enough. His sister was smart enough to keep her mouth shut and let Morty take the fall. Sigh. Kids.


Visitor Season Has Ended

Unfortunately for Ted and I, the visitor season has ended for us. We ended on a high note, however, as Ted's mom and step-father were in town over the weekend. It was their first visit to see us down south and their first in-person glimpse of the house. It was great to have them in town and great for Ted's mom to be here on Mother's Day! We spent the majority of the weekend lounging about the house, mostly in our pajamas. It was great to just sit around and talk. There was terrible rain this weekend which spoiled any plans for outdoor activities, but we had a riot just the same.

We got an early wedding gift as well...a new grill! Ted and I have been eyeing grills since the weather started getting warm down here. I'm not sure if Pam and Jerry new how much we were dying to have our own grill, but they surprised us by taking us out to get one on Friday night! We got a sweet Weber grill from Lowe's. We haven't had a chance to fire her up yet, but we stocked up on grill-ables at the grocery store last night, so I have a feeling that the time is coming to give it a test run!

Oh, the things we'll grill!

Goodbye, dear Smokey Joe! You served us well, but will not be missed!

In Lawn News, Ted and I have been noting that "it looks like we've grown some grass" as we walk past the front lawn these days. There are still some patchy spots, however, so I wasn't sure that much had grown at all since our seeding a couple of weekends ago. Then I looked at the pictures! My goodness! We've had some serious progress...

Click on the photo for a larger view

We'll have to do another seeding this week or weekend (along with some mowing and weedwhacking...we won't get lawn of the month if we keep going like this!), but there has been some definite growth!

Last, but not least, some more pictures of the cats being nutty.

"Fragile." He must be Italian.