Road Trip // Fallingwater

Part of my adulthood reality is that I don't get to see my closest friends as often as I'd like.

And since I no longer live a few blocks away in Harlem, Kristin and I now have to make real plans to see each other, and when we do we tend toward the ambitious.

Most recently, we decided to take a road trip to Fallingwater, the Kaufman family's vacation home, masterfully built by Frank Lloyd Wright into a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania. We decided it would be no problem to do this in a single day, so we logged over 450 miles between waking up and going back to sleep.


It turns out that the mountains of Pennsylvania are a world away from Philadelphia. It was snowing and blustery and we joked that we were definitely North of The Wall.

My favorite part? We spent the following morning lamenting over all the things we still didn't even get to talking about during the 10 hours we spent alone in the car.

That's Tier One friendship.

I would like to recommend a field trip to Fallingwater to everyone with a soul and an appreciation for human creation. It is truly brilliant, from the grand scope of its very idea down to the tiniest details inside the house.

It's these details I'm still hung up on.

image courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Some ideas that continue lingering in my brain:

  1. Wealthy adults in 1935 were down with twin beds, low-ish ceilings, and a regular-house number of rooms.
  2. A perfect living room has multiple zones so people can be flexible with their interactions. You can be social over here, or social over there, or antisocial over there, without leaving the room.
  3. Hinges are magical. An enormous soup kettle swings in and out of the fireplace. Bathroom towels are hung on a series of racks that extend out of the wall. A bedside book lays open on what looks like a music stand, attached by a hinge to the wall, and can hover over you as you read in bed, and be pushed away when it's lights out. Why doesn't every bedroom have that?
  4. Stools are underrated pieces of furniture. There are lots of styles and possibilities, and they can be easily moved around and repurposed for different occasions.
  5. Great style never goes out of style. The architect's furnishings, fabrics, colors, and lines are timeless. He was ahead of his time then, and somehow remains so now.

We ended our road trip with a rural diner stop, followed by an extended adventure closing down a suburban Target. Really, I can think of no happier way to spend a Saturday night.

Spring Fake

The first day of Spring Break this year was revoked. Because we missed an unanticipated number of school days in September when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia, it was determined that we would have to make up for the lost instructional time now.

And so, off we all went to school for a one-day week.

You can imagine the feelings around this. Attendance would be poor, everyone would be grouchy, productivity would be nil.

I will admit: my own expectations for the day were quite low. Furthermore, it was 30ish degrees on the second day of Spring, so I was already set up for disappointed.

Following a brisk bike ride with my two sets of gloves on, I bought the biggest coffee and walked into the building.

My first human interaction was with a 12th grader in my Reel Reading class (which is like an Englishy-film studies elective for second semester seniors). Before I put my bag down he was in the room showing me his outfit, which was inspired by Benjamin Braddock, the main character played by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (one of our recent films).

There I was, all geared up to have a grumpy morning, and he disarmed me completely. What are you supposed to do when your course content inspires teenagers' wardrobe choices? And they think it important enough to share it with you as soon as possible?

And then.

Less than an hour later, my 9th graders were presenting the video trailers they made for their book club novels. A student who typically prefers not to say anything out loud stood up to introduce his group's project. When his group mates silently indicated that he would start it off, he gave a big sigh and began, "Well, let me just tell you everything I love about this book." And he rambled excitedly for a while, and the rest of the class listened eagerly, and my heart absolutely melted.

They showed their trailer, and it was tremendous. They'd spent days filming it all over the city, capturing the biggest ideas and the tiniest nuances of the characters and themes, and selling the rest of the class on their book because they genuinely just loved it so much.

I really wanted to write about Monday. I mean, it wasn't life-changing. It wasn't the most magical day of my career or anything like that.

It was a day that was supposed to pretty much stink, but it didn't at all. I went into it begrudgingly, probably along with nearly everyone else, and it turned out to be full of little moments of joy.

Even a silly day like that, with the bar set so low, can't not remind me. I have it pretty dang good. The big picture is right. And I really, truly love this gig.

Pocketed // Weekend Reading

My browser has twenty-ish tabs open at any given time. This is my normal.

I mean. You can't expect me to NOT click. The internet is a wonderful, magical animal.

I want to read all of the articles, peruse all of the websites, and learn all of the things. 

But then the tabs get so tiny because they are all squished into the screen. And I can't see what's what, so I get bummed out.

I was in this ridiculous self-inflicted cycle for a long time.

Thankfully, Pocket came to my rescue. It's now one of my most-used apps, and I recommend it to everyone. I feel less stressed when I have clicked on dozens of links to things I want to read, because I can just put them into my Pocket. It saves all of the articles and websites and posts and I can read them later. 

I especially love:
- The Chrome extension, so I can just press a button to save things
- The social media extension, especially on Twitter
- the phone app, which syncs to enable offline reading (hello, subway rides)
- the sharing feature, so my husband and I can place readings into one another's Pockets and then talk about them eventually

Here are some of the items I've saved for this weekend, straight out of my Pocket:

Happy reading ... now, or later's cool, too.

Killer collage art by Bene Rohlmann
This post is not sponsored by Pocket. I'm just telling you about what works for me.

Handwritten Poster Design

I have in my notebook a list of someday design projects that I'll get to eventually. One of them is a poster series for my classroom, and I'm finding myself so drawn to inspiration with hand-lettered elements. I love the edginess of these.

Nomad Office // Elixr Coffee

Outside of the school day I'm a huge fan of the Nomad Office. I like to pack up my laptop or paper pile and find a new spot to get some work done. A teacher's work is never done at 3pm, and nights, weekends, holidays, and summers are usually part of the deal.

Making new office spaces one of my most common ways to explore the city. This series will share with you some of my favorite spots.

My deal-breaker criteria for all Nomad Offices are only:
- Free WiFi
- Seating
- An atmosphere where I don't feel pressured to leave

Everything else is gravy.

This past weekend I spent some time at Elixr Coffee in Center City.

Elixr Coffee // Center City
207 S. Sydenham Street
(a tiny street just off of Walnut Street, between 15th and 16th)

VIBES // Elixr is energetic and not too loud. The playlists are awesome and it's still possible to drown them out with headphones if that's your thing.

SEATING // Seating is plentiful, with some nice variety in options. There's a bench and coffee table closer to the door. There's a counter/bar stool situation by the front window. There are smaller tables and a larger community table. I sat in a comfy chair by the window to feel some sunshine.

BONUS // There are plenty of outlets! This is not a given in coffee shops.

YUM // I ordered a regular coffee, and it was delicious. The staff was friendly. I haven't eaten at Elixr yet, but in peeping other people's treats I think I will next time.

ANOTHER BONUS // Elixr regularly organizes art installations and commissions murals. It's the coolest.

On a related note, check this out: Emily's Philadelphia Coffee Shop Diaries is one of my favorite collections, and the Instagram hashtag is a favorite I've discovered since moving here.