Great video of the adorable Anna Kendrick and the cup song. Enjoy!
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
Even though he was building a city, Philadelphia founder, William Penn wasn’t about to give up his green spaces.
Back when Philly was but an idea, our founding father dictated that there be “squares” positioned throughout the city to align with his vision of open, green spaces for the citizens. The resulting five squares offered a place for livestock to roam as well as for people to enjoy a bit of the country in the middle of a bustling city.
Today, one of the city’s most popular squares is still a center of activity and, perhaps more important, leisure.
Rittenhouse Square is a lovely slice of green heaven in one of Philadelphia’s “swankiest” neighborhoods. Especially in spring, when winter-weary residents emerge from their homes, the park invites strolling, dog walking, picnicking and even sun bathing, on bench or blanket.
Surrounded by beautiful old buildings ( the Church of the Holy Trinity, founded in 1858, is especially noteworthy) as well as modern hotels, the square also offers visitors a rich architectural history to explore.
Business folk looking for a break from the sealed-windows of a corporate high rise can be found brown-bagging it for lunch on a park bench or perhaps taking in a lunch time concert at the Church of the Holy Trinity.
But if you’d like to forgo the brown bag, there are fabulous restaurants, from the French-themed Parc to the casual, gastropub, Village Whiskey, offerings abound for every taste and budget. And then, of course, there’s shopping.
Trendy Anthropologie, in a glorious old building, offers a delightful array of clothing and decorative home items. For the more literary minded, there’s a Barnes and Noble bordering the square. And, well, you’re in Philly, so the surrounding blocks boasts an endless variety of shops and boutiques.
Now that it’s above freezing, venture into the city and enjoy the combination of rural and urban all in one place. And if you’re not local, check out locations in your own town that offer the best of both worlds and enjoy a little country in the city!
by Chrysa Smith
Everyone has heard of it. Some think about it when they’re in NYC.
Right about now, it’s the perfect time to be there. And when in the Big Apple, it’s the rare place where you can spend the day and not spend a fortune.
A beautiful oasis in the middle of a concrete city, Central Park has always been one of my favorite NYC sights. In the spring, I’ve played softball there. In the summer, I’ve done the zoo and concerts. In the winter, I’ve skated there. And the fall? Well, I think I might have eaten there. Because through all seasons, there’s something to do. And through all seasons, the park has a unique beauty that’s surrounded by towering skyscrapers.
When my son was little, I made it a point to take him there one summer. We did the zoo. We rode the carousel. We walked the lake and marveled at the buildings that were close enough to touch, yet seemed miles away. But that’s just a tiny bit of what’s offered in this two century old, 800 acre paradise.
There are memorials, fountains, lakes, playgrounds, a zoo, a castle, places to eat, places to race/rent boats, fields of flowers, a pasture, bridges, a carousel, arsenal and more. In fact, you could probably spend several days in the park and not run out of things to do. While many people seek to flee the city in the humidity of summer, I like to head there and go to the park. This summer, I’m even thinking of taking my dogs as there are a variety of events that they can partake in as well.
So, in between beach outings and barbeques, think about shaking it up a bit and spend a little bit of summer in the city. For specifics on what to do and see, check out: http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/.
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.
How does something that’s supposed to be fun turn into a stomach-churning, anxiety inducing, “Oh, please don’t tell me that’s tonight,” event?
Recently, in an attempt to expand my horizons (read: get out of a sink hole-like rut), I decided to get involved in a new activity. It sounded like a good idea at the time and was something I’ve been meaning to work into my life for ages. I thought it would be fun, but almost from the outset, any thought of said activity has caused me to break out into a cold sweat and immediately begin thinking up excuses as to why I just can’t do it this month.
I’m not talking about sky diving; I’m talking about a book club.
An avid reader, I’ve wanted to join a book club forever. I figured joining a group of like-minded women would guarantee me a regular outing that combined the intellectual pursuit of reading with the more hedonistic pleasures of wine, food and good company.
After one or two failed attempts, I discovered that some friends whom I don’t see regularly have been meeting with women in their neighborhood for several years. When I mentioned my interest, they enthusiastically invited me to join them. “Great,” I thought, “What could go wrong?”
Turns out, plenty.
The first reading assignment was for not one, but two books. As I later learned, when there’s not unanimous agreement on the next book choice, more than one title is often recommended. Which would likely not be a problem if you got the books right away and actually read them on time. Which I didn’t. So, I skipped my first meeting, not wanting to show up as an unprepared newbie and make a bad impression.
The next month, I made sure I finished the book, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, an 800 plus pager, a few days before the meeting. Despite its length, it wasn’t exactly the Odyssey, so I figured, “Okay, I got this.” Wrong again.
I walked into the home of that night’s hostess and just stared. Ahead of me was a display table artfully covered with dozens of pieces of paper. Some named the novel’s characters, others held memorable quotes or longer passages from the book and still others were photographs of celebrities who might play the characters should the book be made into a film. Questions to facilitate the later discussion were also available.
Then, there was the food. My idea of book club grub was wine, munchies and at some point, chocolate, as in some Hershey’s Kisses or a few boxes of Raisinets, which is about as much as I’m capable of throwing together on any given night. However, the evening’s menu (yes, it was a menu), was baked flounder with crab, green beans almondine, rice and Caesar salad. Dessert consisted of individual parfaits, as well as the pitiful cookie bars I had brought as a first time guest.
The after dinner discussion, led by the hostess, was a round table format, everyone polled for their thoughts and opinions. No abstaining, simply listening or outright hiding allowed, although apparently hyper-ventilating is acceptable as no one blinked while I gasped for air.
Three hours, several cross-examinations and a really divine meal later, I was exhausted. I haven’t felt so much angst since the last time someone handed me a college blue book and told me I had an hour to catalogue every detail I recalled about James Joyce and his completely unintelligible “masterpiece,” Ulysses. (I had a headache for three solid weeks when I had to read that book.)
At the meeting’s end, I practically ran from the house, marginally relieved to have escaped with a passing grade until the realization that I would have to host a gathering myself almost made my knees buckle.
I’m still looking to expand my horizons, but I’m leaning towards other, less stressful options.
Who knows, maybe I’ll try skydiving after all.
Are you a book club member? Click “comments” below and share!
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
Sure, Friday is our “Entertainment” day here at NRFGP, and we usually talk about movies, TV or other events, but really, what’s more entertaining than presents?
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, the one day a year when moms can rightfully expect to be pampered. Unfortunately, our idea of pampering doesn’t always jive with that of our families–the ones responsible for delivering said pampering.
This month, MORE Magazine offers a few ideas, some traditional, some not, to help the giving impaired, that every woman is sure to enjoy.
Candy. Seriously, who doesn’t like candy? But instead of a Whitman’s Sampler picked up at a local Kmart, how about a specialized treat from Sugarfina? The site offers an incredible array of treats, ranging from chocolates to gummy bears, with gift packages and price points for every taste and budget. A delight for the taste buds!
Beauty products. How much do you spend on products that you use once and then discard? Birchbox.com offers high end samples of beauty products selected specifically for the recipient with a subscription. A 3, 6 or 12 month package, priced at $10/month delivers the samples right to your door. Try a product chosen for you and eliminate pointless, expensive make-up try-outs forever!
Jewelry. Really, do we have to say more? Maiden Nation creates “a marketplace where items are designed with both beauty and social consciousness in mind.” The site features jewelry and other fashion items which are “ethically sourced,” while “profits are reinvested into women’s entrepreneurship projects.” The jewelry is lovely and you can feel good about your purchase knowing it is supporting women on the global stage.
Mother’s Day is your day, ladies. It’s okay to be just a little demanding. Check out MORE’s “unexpected Mother’s Day gifts” for other great ideas, but most important, be good to yourself this Sunday. And if you’re not a mom–who cares? Claim the day anyway and treat yourself.
Because every woman deserves a little pampering.
Finally, it feels like spring. And that means more places for scrumptious Open Air Dining.
Brasserie 73 http://www.brasserie73.net Along Rt. 63, lies the cute little cluster of shops and restaurants that makes up the Village of Skippack. Among the quaint Pennsylvania structures, you’ll find one building that looks a little like the Ritz in Paris. It’s white, it’s striking, it’s architecturally bold and classic. And It’s quite good. Again, it transports me to inner city—-but this time, Paris. Imagine sitting on the champs de elysee sipping fine wine, dining with linens, European service and menu selections. I do love their Coq au Vin, Steak Frites and a good Beaujolais. Uumm! Quiches, crepes, Baked Brie, salads and more round out a nice offering that makes this bistro a favorite for celebration of my springtime birthday. 4024 Skippack Pike, Skippack.
Joseph Ambler Inn http://www.josephamblerinn.com/–This beautiful, colonial stone inn is a regular haunt. It’s great year round, but the nice weather opens their outdoor patio, which is just lovely. On Easter weekend, when I did get a bit too much sun, I listened to my husband and left for dinner without a jacket. Seeing me shiver, the waiter brought over a folded tablecloth for me to wrap myself in. I went on to enjoy my meal and also blended in splendidly with the table settings. Now that’s service! On Horsham Road in Montgomery County, you’d think you might be on an estate in the English countryside. A pub or regular menu offers a wide array of well-tuned dishes: crab cakes and most seafood additions are deliciously prepared, and they do some nice Kobe burgers on the pub side. Check out a nice wine list—Wine Spectator Award winning. 1005 Horsham Road, North Wales.
Vintage Restaurant http://www.theclubatmorganhill.com/—When I need a little get-away road trip, I head north on Rt. 611 past Doylestown and along River Road. Before you hit Easton, a left turn on Browns Mill Rd?? winds you surprisingly uphill, past a gorgeous property with vineyard and on up to the Club at Morgan Hill. A big real estate development sits smack in the center of some beautiful rolling hills, with a fab view of the golf course and the city of Easton—especially from the deck. The menu is fairly steady, but the Filet, Papardelle Bolognese and Bread Pudding are especially good. We wound up there one July 4th and marveled at the fireworks dotting the surrounding hills. 100 Clubhouse Drive, Easton.
From Paris and the English countryside to the mountains in one quick blog. Discovered some more great outdoor eateries? Click on COMMENTS and please do dish.
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Gastronomic Grumblings: reviews on food and the people and places that grow, sell, cook and serve it. (in Bucks County, Greater Philadelphia & beyond Pennsylvania)