Graced by Miss Giltner

First off, it happens to be the celebration week (all but one within 7 days, anyway) for friends and family. So, happy birthday to Daniel, Karen, Katie, Ian, and Grandpa! And happy anniversary to Aunt Coleen & Uncle Eldred, and Dane & Micki!

One of my favorite birthday memories growing up was having Grandma's red velvet cake (when I was really little I thought of this as the ONLY kind of birthday cake) and/or mom's angel food cake, which she would decorate beautifully with a favorite item, like oreos or strawberries. We'd even get both if we were home on a birthday, and visiting Grandma and Grandpa shortly before or after our birthday. So I thought I'd virtually share these treats with you. (I know these are just photos found on the internet trying to approximate the real thing, and I don't think that these particular cakes, although very tasty, could measure up in my mind to Grandma's or mom's.)

birthday cakes
But you get the idea, anyway! [ red velvet via alpine berry / angel food cake via Health ]

So my last update (besides the tornado back home) was our trip to NYC, which then brings me to our visit from Sarah! She arrived Saturday, May 31, from Kansas City, via Chicago with a company party on a boat, at approximately 3 in the afternoon. After chatting a bit, Sarah and I went to the Franklin Institute for an hour before it closed, then met up with Ian when he got off work (only for a required Adobe workshop, they don't make him work Saturdays, don't worry!). The three of us wandered down to Old City and the Independence Hall area. The line for the Liberty Bell is generally huge, so Ian and I, while having seen the back of the bell from outside the building countless times, hadn't yet made it inside. However, on this evening, the stars aligned and the wait was nonexistent (for Sarah's sake, I'm sure!), so we went inside to catch it before it closed.

anna, sarah, liberty bell
anna, ian, liberty bell
liberty bell + independence hall

After this, we went to Ian and I's pizza joint of choice, Top Tomato Pizza Kitchen, to share this discovery with Sarah. Then we meandered home, with Ian guiding us to some interesting spaces (most designed by Olin), and we discussed them. As I mentioned before, this happens often when you are with a landscape architect (and these great photos magically appear on my camera!).

comcast center
the new Comcast Center
fountain at commerce plaza
I forget the name of this building, but it is a great space!

Sunday we went to church, then headed to the Italian Market to give Sarah the experience, to get supplies for dinner, and also try out one of the two major competing cheesesteak places: Pat's and Geno's. Geno's site shows tons of celebrity photos (Oprah and JT, to name a couple), and an article we read in the paper on our bus ride to NYC made it seem like lots of current politicians ate at Pat's. They are right across the street from each other, and apparently which one you pick makes a statement. We picked Pat's, and I'm not sure what statement we made with that. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure it was so over the top good compared to Spataro's in the market. Spataro's is less overwhelming when you order, too. At Pat's you have to know by the time you get to the window if you want "wit" or "wit out" (onions) and if you want Provolone, American, or Whiz, all in a small time frame. And there are specific instructions on how to order, delineated on big posters. The line is long but fast, the cooks look intimidating, and they really rush you through. Then there isn't much seating. But it was a good experience. Like Sarah said, it felt like we were on a Food Network traveling show, like Rachel Ray's $40 a Day. After walking around in the heat, we were ready to go back to the apartment for a movie and dinner. When it cooled down, we went down to the Schuylkill and watched the sunset, then wandered around the museum.

schuylkill river at dusk
boathouse row
Boathouse Row
anna climbs the statue
I decided to climb this statue. It seems lots taller looking down from it than it did from the ground.

Monday, Sarah toured historic places while Ian and I were at work. I got off early, so we met up for ice cream, then had a lovely chat in Logan Square (Sarah, it was so great to catch up with you in person!) while we waited for Ian. Over dinner we watched National Treasure so we could point out to Sarah all the movie locations she'd seen. (If you're planning on visiting us and you haven't seen the movie in a while, you might be required to view it with us.) Tuesday was Sarah's last full day, and she, in her vast benevolence, treated us to a nice dinner at Caribou Cafe, heavy on dessert. After a second tasting, we officially decided their brioche bread pudding is the best dessert ever.

It was a lovely visit, and Sarah, it was so good to see you! Thanks so much for visiting, for a great time, and a great dinner! We look forward to our next meeting!