Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mural Arts Program

The Mural Arts Program is amazing! If you're ever in Philly I would highly recommend going on a tour. So I guess I should explain what it is -

I would see murals around our neighborhood every few blocks and when we would go different places in the city. I soon noticed that in the corner of the murals it said 'Mural Arts Program'. So I did a quick google search and found out about the program. There are almost 3000 murals that have been painted in the city of Philadelphia.

My mom came to visit this summer, so it was a perfect chance to take her on the tour. Obviously I'm a little late on posting about this adventure, but it works out because October is mural arts month as it's the programs 25th anniversary.

We learned a lot on the tour and I can't wait to go on another one. Since there are so many murals, they break up the tours by neighborhood throughout the month. We toured North Philadelphia. The murals are in the heart of the neighborhoods and the neighborhood we toured was predominately Hispanic, which can be seen through some of the murals. I didn't know that it was such an involved process to complete the murals. I learned that they interview people in the neighborhoods to get a feel for what is going on in the community and often ask for influential people in the neighborhood to include in the murals. After the interviews and information gathering, they plan the murals. Most murals are done by 1 artist, but some of them get help to actually paint the murals. I don't remember all the details, but there are a few techniques that the artist can employ to complete the murals. Once the mural is completed there is usually a revealing in the neighborhood in which they have gathering and dedication.

I was really impressed with all the murals. Some of them are even 3D with stones and sculptures in them. I had a hard time picking the murals for this post, but they were all beautiful. I found out a lot of information during the tour, but I can't wait to go on another tour in a different Philly neighborhood.

Finale of wedding season

I survived my first maid of honor experience! :) It actually wasn't bad at all as my best friend is far from a bridezilla and everything went very well. J and I headed to Charlottesville, VA to celebrate Rachel's marriage. I think I was actually more nervous for her wedding than I was for my own. She was cool as a cucumber, which is how I was on my wedding day. I officially feel old now as we're both married and "settled." When we met 11 years ago getting married seemed like something only old, boring people do, but I guess now we're both one of those old boring people.

The wedding and reception were simple and classy. The wedding was held at a traditional church right outside of Charlottesville. The reception was held at L'etoile restaurant. I had delicious goat cheese gnocchi with squash, onions, mushrooms and red peppers. I didn't get to take as many pictures as I would have liked since I was busy throughout the day. Thankfully J got some good shots for me.

Details of the bride's dress.

My beautiful bouquet of roses.

I survived giving my toast and then I drank lots of wine for the rest of the evening :)

There was a small hiccup with the cake. It wasn't at the restaurant, as expected, when we arrived. After a few frantic phone calls, the problem was solved and the cake showed up just in time for the cake cutting. Dessert is my favorite meal of the day and the cake was really good.

Yep, we went out in our dresses and everything after the wedding. The wedding and reception were over by 5 pm so we all relaxed for a few and headed to a local bar. It was UVA's homecoming so there were plenty of people out to have fun with.

The newlyweds headed to Spain for their honeymoon. Wishing them all the best!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

9,125 days

9,125 days...that's how long I've been alive, as I celebrated my birthday this week :) I must say it was probably one of my most memorable birthdays. It was simple, yet so special. J woke me up and asked if I wanted him to make me breakfast. I said no, that's ok, go back to sleep since you had a long day (mind you it was 5 am). He said, well too bad, I already made it. I was so surprised! I go downstairs and find the whole apartment has been decorated...he has never done that before! It was so nice.

My presents were nicely displayed. My parents had secretly left their gifts at the house over the weekend when they were here celebrating my white coat ceremony. It was nice to have some pretty presents to open that morning.

So surprise #2 - my friends from school baked me brownies and took me out for lunch! I didn't have my camera at school, so this is just what remains of the brownies after we attacked them :) Although we're only in our 8th week of school, I've already made some great friends....who know I love chocolate. The brownies were much needed after spending a few hours in the cadaver lab.

Surprise # 3 - When I got home J had more surprises in store. He made cosmos that were delicious and there were cupcakes waiting for me. I had heard about the Brown Betty Dessert Boutique, but hadn't had the chance to make it there. The wait was definitely worth it as the cupcakes were yummy. J picked out 2 chocolate ones (of course!), vanilla and red velvet.

Surprise #4 - We went out to dinner! J had done some research and since we love seafood he made reservations at Sotto Varalli. They had a good selection of food on their menu and I definitely want to go back to try something different.

I wasn't planning on getting a drink, but once the waiter mentioned a drink special with peach infused vodka with a splash of champagne I couldn't resist. I'm glad I splurged.

We started out with calamari as an appetizer. We should probably branch out and get something new as this is usually what we ordered, but I'm glad we got it here because it was nice and light.

J ordered seafood Risotto. It included lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels. I couldn't resist having a bite and was in love!

I kind of went the same route as J and ordered Cioppino. It was full of seafood as well, in a tomato, herb and garlic broth, over linguine. Although we like to try new restaurants I definitely want to come back here and try something new.

And last but not least, my birthday was even more wonderful because I didn't do 1 minute of studying :) I'm thankful for another year and now I'm planning for J's birthday next month...I'm not sure if it can top my day though!