Girl’s Weekend

Mom turned seventy-something this month and I had been contemplating a mother-daughter weekend for some time. To make it even more fun, we invited my aunt whom I had not seen in a while. Thus began our girl’s weekend.

The destination was Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. (Source). It is located among the rolling stretch of the Texas Hill Country just a short drive from Luckenbach, Texas. Yes, the one with “Waylon and Willie and the boys.”

We took the scenic route on Farm Road 1376 to get there and made our first stop in Sisterdale, Texas (population 25). Housed in a restored cotton gin is the winery for Sister Creek Vineyards.

Sister Creek Winery

We toured the various rooms where the grapes are turned into Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Oak barrels were neatly arranged in rows fermenting the wine. A sign read, “Employees only please. Our wine is resting.” After a wine tasting, we packed up a couple of bottles and hit the road again.

Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, our first stop was the cottage which would be our home for the weekend. Words cannot describe how adorable this place is – all 440 comforting, quaint and cozy square feet. Mom said it was like staying in a life-size doll house.

The Cottage

Once settled in, the rest of the weekend was filled with one delight after another. It turns out that the monthly Fredericksburg Trade Days was during our girl’s weekend. Trade Days is a giant flea market with 7 barns and various acres of antiques and collectibles. The girls were giddy with excitement stopping at every booth, finding shabby chic and rustic decorations, and sampling Texas salsas and peach jams.

Trade Days 1

Trade Days 3

Trade Days 2

For meals, we ate hearty German food and locally-brewed lagers and ales at the biergartens and steakhouses; and creamed corn frito pies and bacon-wrapped grilled jalapeños at the food stalls at Trade Days.

On Sunday morning, after enjoying hot coffee and the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies left at the cottage by our host, we stopped at Wildseed Farms. Wildseed Farms has acres of zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias, and other wildflowers; and rows of vegetables and shrubs. Everything is labeled so that one can buy the seeds or plants from the nursery.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 2

Wildseed Farms Nursery 3

Wildseed Farms Nursery 4

Wildseed Farms 2

Wildseed Farms 1

Wildseed Farms 3

We shopped, slept, did our make-up together sitting at the cozy kitchen table, talked, laughed, and enjoyed life. Just us girls.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 1

Supper on South Street

On my trip to Philadelphia, I had a few precious hours on Sunday afternoon in which to soak up as much of the local culture as possible. After a mad dash to the Historic District to visit Independence Hall and see the Liberty Bell, I made my way to South Street. South Street is an eclectic, bohemian neighborhood which has managed to maintain a historic look through years of gentrification. Some of the building facades with their stripped paint have a decaying quality while brand new structures like the Whole Foods grocery store serve as a focal point for the funky blend of South Street residents.

As I meandered my way past tiled mosaic exteriors, bars and boutiques, I almost walked past Supper. I had not eaten except for an apple at the airport so I was famished. I took a quick glance at the menu posted on the window and instantly knew I had come to the right place. Supper is a chef-owned restaurant that “serves seasonal farm-direct American cuisine.” Through a partnership with Blue Elephant Farm, a privately owned organic farm, they cook with and serve fresh produce grown exclusively for them.

Providence was with me because it happened to be Restaurant Week and Supper was serving a four-course meal for $35.

The Beverage

River Horse Double Wit, a Belgian style wheat brew with orange peel, lemon peel and coriander. Brewed in Pennsylvania.

The Hors d’oeuvre

Sriracha deviled eggs, freshly-baked rosemary bread and sweet cream butter.

First Course

BE Farm greens and herbs salad with ben’s apples, smoked chicken cracklins, cornbread croutons and buttermilk dressing.

Entree

BE Farms farro risotto with butternut squash, caramelized apple and mint.

Dessert

Butterscotch bread pudding with poached pears and spiced whipped cream.

Location

Supper is located at 926 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, in the South Street Headhouse District.

The Streets of Philadelphia

I was in Philadelphia for a business conference the first full week in October. I arrived as early as possible on Sunday and had a few hours of daylight in which to see as much as I could. I managed to visit Independence Hall and see the Liberty Bell. Here are a few highlights.

The spire atop Independence Hall.
Left: Weathervane atop Independence Hall. Right (Top & Bottom): Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chamber.
Top: Assembly Room where the delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. Bottom: The black walking stick belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Right: Independence Hall was the site of many key events in American history.
The inscription reads, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” Leviticus 25:10.
Left: The Liberty Bell weighs 2,080 pounds, is made of bronze and its strike note is an E-flat. (Source: http://www.nps.gov) Top: A historical building covered with ivy. Bottom: The eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Left: A tiled mosaic covered the facade of a building on South Street. Right: The bell last rang in 1846 to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. (Source: http://www.nps.gov)
Statue of Benjamin Franklin on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Should you find yourself in Philly, I highly recommend these historic sites. The National Park Service provides information on operating hours and things to see and do. If you plan to visit Independence Hall, you will need tickets. They are free but you have to reserve them.

More Reasons Why I ❤ NY

Here are more pictures from our trip to New York City. Besides the huge skyscrapers and art deco buildings, sculptures and other architectural details caught my eye. Here is a random sampling of some of them.

Who can resist Times Square? With its energy and buzz, it's quintessential New York and a people-watching paradise.
On the 50th Street side of Radio City Music Hall, there are three large plaques that represent the main activities inside - "Dance, Drama and Song." This one is "Drama."
At 30 Rockefeller Plaza, directly in front of the famous ice-skating rink, is "Wisdom" (1933).
Flanking "Wisdom" are "Sound and Light" (1933). These stylized panels represent new technologies of the times - radio (sound) and television (light). This one is "Light."
"Saint Francis of Assisi with Birds" (1937) sits above a building entrance on 50th Street.
At the viewing area at the "top of the rock" you can see these large metal panels up close. I halfway expected to see the bat signal floating up in the sky over "Gotham City."
This tiled panel was appropriately located at the 50th Street subway stop near the Theater District. It is part of the "Alice: The Way Out" tile work by Liliana Porter (1994).
Subway stops are labeled by colorful tile mosaics, like this one at the 116th Street-Columbia University stop.
A stone rosette adorns either side of the entrance to Low Memorial Library, a National Historic Landmark, on the Columbia University campus.

To learn more about some of the artwork, try these links: Rockefeller Center, NYC Subway Art Guide.

 NY.

I ❤ NY

I bravely spent 5 days of Spring Break in New York City with two teenagers. We saw the typical touristy sights, but oh, what sights to see! These are some of the images I was able to capture.

Manhattan skyline from the top of the Rockefeller Center. I touched up the photograph a bit to better see the outlines of the buildings in the Financial District (in the background).
The top of the Empire State Building looks mysterious. Of course, it's just hidden behind the smog.
View of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan.
Spire of the Manhattan Municipal Building as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge.
One of the reflecting pools at the 9/11 Memorial.
Construction in progress at 1 World Trade Center.
One of the spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The iconic bronze statue of Atlas in front of the Rockefeller Center.
View of the city lights at night. Taken from the top of the Empire State Building.

 NY.