It was perfect. Breathy, fresh weather, gorgeous sunset, flowering trees.
I stopped to take this picture when running across the Spuyten Duyvil bridge:
I realized I have not posted anything since my last trip to Philly. I guess I’ve been discouraged by a massive amount of robot spam I get in comments. But I will give get back on that horse and try again.
Taking half a day off on Friday, we drove out to Philly. We checked into the downtown Marriott — it was strategic planning for our drinking night — we wanted to try many different cocktails if we managed to get into the Hop Sing, so we got a hotel within walking distance.
But first, dinner. I recently saw Layover Philadelphia on the Travel Chanel. I call it “the eating channel”. Antony Bourdaine insisted that this place, Han Dynasty, serves authentic Sichuan food and does not adjust for American taste. Since we once lived in Sichuan for 7 months and really got to love the food, we were excited at the prospect of finding a place that could bring us back to this fragrant colorful cuisine.
The moment I saw normal looking white people eating there (and enjoying it), I knew that they DID adjust for American taste. These people would simply be unable to eat it if the spiciness was not adjusted. Chinese people, unless from Sichuan, would also be unable to eat it. But we did not have another place in mind so we decided to give it a try.
We managed to get a table after only 20 minutes (initial estimate was 45). We tried Dan Dan noodle, tripe appetizer and dry pot pork dish. Dan Dan noodle was so so, I’ve had better stateside, the other 2 dishes were good (not as fragrant or spicy as in Sichuan, but better than most places and overall enjoyable).
The staff was friendly, price reasonable, and I think I will go back there when I am in Philly. But my search for a truly authentic Sichuanese continues.
Now on to our main destination – the Hop Sing Laundromat. While DH went to park the car for the night, I went to see if we can get in.
The place is totally unmarked, but I knew what the door looked like — I saw a picture of it on the internet when researching this unusual drinking establishment.
We did not have much problem getting in. I had to wait until DH joined me to be seated. Luckily, I could wait indoors, in the little room where the owner, Lee, explained the rules to everyone who wished to be admitted. He also gave a very typical Chinese “humble” speech about how terrible the place was before guiding us in.
We had 8 cocktails between the two of us, (7 different ones and 2 ward 8s.
I jotted these down, but that was after 3, so this is the best I could reconstruct my notes:
Ward 8: Ritter house rye bonded, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, house grenadine
Clover club: Amber gin, Plymouth gin, velvet falernum, fresh lime juice, muddled raspberry, egg white
Hotel Nacional: El Dorado 15 year rum, Rothmsn(I obviously misspelled this one, but since I have no idea what it is supposed to be, have to write it as is) and winter apricot liquor, fresh lime juice, fresh extracted pinapple juice, simple syrup.
McCoy’s last run: Jameson 12 year old whiskey, El Dorado 151 proof rum, muddled strawberry, fresh lime juice, fresh extracted red grape and watermelon juice.
Esta Tierra Es Tuya: legal blanco mescal, patron reposado tequila, Benedectine, Fokine blanc Vermouth egg, white chamomile flowers.
Drinks were very pleasant and looked beautiful.
The tab for 8 drinks with 20% tip was $126. Reasonable for top quality cocktails.
The atmosphere is pleasant. Relaxed, dimmed, no tvs. It was a very pleasant bar to spend an evening in. I will definitely go back if I have a chance.
Next morning we woke up at 11 and went to explore the Reading Terminal Market right outside our hotel and tried out few Amish stands. Pancakes from the Dutch eating place were not bad, but apple dumpling was disappointing. Few other things were ok, but nothing spectacular.
Lunch – Percy Street BBQ. I recommend the brisket. All else was average. Avoid the beer cheese.
Last night I got home from work at 7:30 and DH had dinner ready, the little one was already fed, and DH did 2 loads of laundry after I got home. (Laundry room is in the basement, so it is not as simple as if we had one in the unit).
Today my mom is coming to stay with the baby overnight, and we are going to Philly for a short break.
We have an expiring Marriott free night certificate and we are going to use it in Philadelphia.
I’m looking forward to trying out Hop Sing Laundromat and Amish food stalls at the Reading Market.
I’m leaving work early today and we are heading off as soon as my mom arrives and we hand off the little one.
This week is pretty unusual – my mom is staying overnight twice! She does not like staying overnight and does it only once in a few months. So when such opportunity comes along, we don’t waste it.
Mini road trip awaits!
OK, it was a splurge. A big splurge. At $1,000 for two tickets (which we were lucky enough to get at face value, directly from Ticketmaster) it was the most expensive event we have ever attended.
But, it was a concert of a lifetime. And, the fact that my 1,000 will go directly to charity makes me feel much better about parting with it.
I’m talking, of course about 12.12.12 Sandy relief benefit concert.
I’m still on the high from last nights evening (though getting up for work after 4 hours of sleep was no easy task).
It was one epic night! Bruce Springsteen still got it! Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Billy Jowel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin (who also did “Loosing my Religion” with Michael Stipe), the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, The Who,… It took a lot of effort on our part to get there, but I am still in owe on how lucky were to be there in person!
I was not as familiar with Dave Grohl or Eddie Vedder/ Roger Waters, or into Kanye West, but I did enjoy all of the performances.
6 HOURS of it!
Paul McCartney went on and on. Many of the performers did enough songs for it to feel like a mini concert for that performer. Only few appeared for shorter amount (Rolling Stones only did 2 songs and Nirvana was only up for one).
NIghts like last night are benefits of living in New York and putting up with a lot of New York inconveniences. This was also a benefit that comes from having money put aside, so that we were in a position to take advantage of an opportunity like this when it came up.
So all and all, we got more than enough enjoyment out of our only $1,100+ evening out (small dinner before and drinks at the show).
We were planning to go out for more food and drinks afterwards, but did not count on the concert lasting 6 hours (NOT that I’m complaining).
This weekend we are planning to make it up by knocking down some great cocktails in the famous Hop Sing Laundromat in Philly. (If we can get in, that is).
I wish I could occasionally get some help from a nanny. Once a week perhaps, just for a few hours (what parents don’t dream of sleeping in on a weekend?) But I can’t afford this luxury.
A childless person would think: You go on vacations occasionally, and you do eat out, so surely you could put that money towards some sleep.”
Well, I could spare some money to pay hourly rate for hours that I need. The problem is, that won’t get you a good nanny.
No one will be on stand by for me to call them once in a while. Nannies need guaranteed work and fixed schedule. With my husband travelling for work, our schedule is anything but fixed.
And I can’t leave my child with someone I don’t know and he does not know.
Before I can even think about leaving my child alone with someone, I need them to get to know each other and to spend few days taking care of him in my presence.
To spend so much time selecting a trustworthy person, than getting her and baby used to each other and have a nanny leave when she finds a stable full time job would be difficult both financially and emotionally.
So even though I am willing to pay $12-$15 an hour to continue sleeping on a Saturday morning, or come and take the baby when my husband and I are sick, unfortunately, childcare does not work this way.
I have been thinking lately about buying a comforter for the baby. He is now almost 17 month old and I no longer think there is any danger of him smothering himself in a comforter, so it would be nice to give him an option to regulate himself how warm or cool he wants to be. Right now we just dress him warmly for the night and worry about adjusting temperature in his room several times a night.
I was looking at this $190 comforter from Scandia Down, but could not justify it. But yesterday I saw a deal from Gilt City for Scandia – $200 for $125. At the same time Gilt sent me a 15% off coupon. So I got the deal for $106! I could justify that for a quality baby comforter. So I got it (in baby blue color) and a bath mat and a new hand towel from the clearance section. Another big purchase that was coming is now out of the way, and I got what I wanted in the first place. Good thing I waited and caught this deal.
Today we enjoyed our day off. None of the cleaning was done. Instead, I took the baby to the park again, and in the afternoon we went to a promenade near Harlem Fairway (where I went to buy some groceries while baby and daddy played outside).
Baby loved it. He is now into conquering steps and running off without needing us right next to him. This new independence is very cute for a not yet 17 months old.
He did cry after he realized we are leaving him at Grandmas and he was not coming with us. (He is very attached). We had to leave him at Grandma’s house today because my husband has to travel for work and there is no one to take baby to the day care while he is away.
I was glad I spend the whole weekend with him, I don’t see him more than few hours a day during weekdays. Luckily daddy does, as he often works from home and earns extra time off from travelling.
After leaving the baby in late evening, we had dinner at our favorite Sichuanese place in Brooklyn. It is a small, unattractive place, but the food is as close to authentic as we could find (if you order Sichuanese dishes, that is). We got tripe appetizer, dan dan mian, and dried string bean dish. Afterwards, we stopped for drinks at another place – half a pitcher of frozen Margarita.
Useful deeds for the day – baby laundry, giving baby a bath, and getting together a bag of nice baby clothing for donation — a friend of my neighbour is going back to Haiti tomorrow and bringing this with her personally.
I made some extra money during lunch hour today being a subject for a focus/research group. It was one of those things where they put electrodes on your head and measure your responce as you look at the screen and preform tasks. It was a easy, took less than 45 minutes and I have $75 more for my ipad 3 fund.
I hope to be selected for one of those things again! I am lucky that it wasn’t too far from my office so I did not have to take any time off to do this.
I came across a forum discussion where iphone was listed as one of the “status symbols” people hated.
I will passionately argue with this — to me it is not a status symbol, it is a pacifying device that makes me a more patient, agreeable and informed human being.
Now, I do not pace impatiently in doctors office wondering why I’ve been waiting for 50 minutes, reminding the receptionist of my annoyed existence.
I accept late trains with Buddhist serenity.
I adjust to changed plans and look up alternatives, get lost less and arrive to my appointments on time.
I now send grandma pictures and videos of the baby frequently.
I don’t talk on my cell on a train or a bus, I can entertain myself quietly.
I now LIKE my 2 hour a day commute and that makes me less stressed out.
I don’t feel guilty about wasting time watching TV shows at home – I do it on my commute time. That way I can give new shows a try.
I also do it when cooking or cleaning up after baby is asleep - even tough we only have one TV in the house, I can stream live TV from all my cable channels to my ipad (or watch netflix) while I am in the kitchen or cleaning up another room. Washing baby bottles or unloading a dishwasher is not very entertaing otherwise. This makes me less bored, and therefore, less tired and annoyed. Also, I don’t need to delay household tasks because something interesting is on.
All our finances are at our fingertips anywhere we are – and both DH and I can see everything in real time with one click – bank balances, purchases, stock info.
I often save money with instant groupon for lunch – no need to print, I can buy it and use it in 5 seconds. Often, I can comparison shop online when I am in the store.
I learn new things from instantly available podcasts. (like NPR, WSJ, Freakonomics, etc…) and new music on Pandora.
I have my library, my dictionary, my language lessons and whatever documents I saved with me at all times and don’t have a heavy purse that I would make my husband carry.
I don’t care about being “seen” with it — I am not 13 years old! I can’t believe that some people even make such assumptions.
I have access to information anywhere – from looking at a live traffic maps to looking up attractions in new areas.
This is not an arm candy – this is true love, people!