Photo-Op: Giant Game Pieces

A slightly dingy plaza across the street from City Hall houses the public art installation “Your Move.” Giant dominoes, bingo chips, Parcheesi and Monopoly pieces are scattered across the courtyard of Philadelphia’s municipal Services building, providing a great photo-op with City Hall or the Masonic Temple in the background.  Installed in 1996, “Your Move” is meant to juxtapose childhood memories with adult responsibilities.

Photo-Op: Getting Lucky At Franklin’s Grave


Although it’s hard to see his name, there is no missing the pennies that cover his grave.  In an ironic twist to his “A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned” proverb, tossing a penny on Ben Franklin’s grave is a Philly good luck tradition (although not for the stone, which recently required repairs to fix the pits and cracks caused by the impact of thousands of pennies each year).  Franklin was famous for the proverbs he wrote and printed in his “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” My favorite?  “Guests, Like Fish, Begin to Smell After Three Days”

Tip: You can take photographs for free from outside of the fence at the intersection of Arch Street & 5th or (from March-November) pay $2 to go inside Christ Church Burial Ground.  In addition to Franklin and his wife, you can see the graves of 4 other signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The Top Place In The World To Eat Ice Cream


# 1 on National Geographic’s “Top Ten Places to Eat Ice Cream in the World:”



“Made with the freshest ingredients (such as milk from Amish grass-fed cows), the artisan gelatos and sorbettos handcrafted each day at Capogiro include flavors not seen anywhere else—Madagascar bourbon vanilla, melograno (pomegranate), nocciola Piemonte (hazelnut), Saigon cinnamon, Thai coconut milk (with a dash of rum), and zucca (long-neck pumpkin).”

Family favorites include: cioccolato scuro (dark chocolate), dulce de leche (sweet cream with caramel swirl) and stracciatella (Italian chocolate chip).  The fun is picking 2 complimentary flavors to mix (in the small cup).

The difference between gelato and ice cream? The ingredients are similar, but because gelato uses more milk and less cream and fewer or no egg yolks it is much lower in fat.  Additionally, gelato is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and creating a creamier texture.

5 locations in Philadelphia.

A Free Museum For Science Geeks


Unlike Philly’s other great science museum, this one is free AND you will have it all to yourself with no kids crashing into you on the way to the giant heart.  Chemistry and life sciences are the focus of this art and artifact filled museum – from its beginnings in alchemy, through understanding DNA, to modern-day issues of global warming.



Who wouldn’t want to play with a “Using Mercury” chemistry kit??



The museum recently had a name change, and is now called the Science History Institute

A Farmer’s Market And The BEST Dessert Ever

13 year old girls like to drink a lot of (sweetened) coffee.  Not me, but love coffee ice cream, so today we tried a new-to-us dessert – affogato – from our favorite ice cream store Capogiro (the best ice cream in the WORLD according to National Geographic). A shot of espresso poured over a scoop of gelato.  Any flavor: Mexican coffee, dulce de leche, cinnamon, vanilla….



After this discovery, we headed to the farmer’s market at Jefferson Hospital for picnic supplies.  In addition to a quart of strawberries for lunch, we took a chance on a new-to-us fruit – sour cherries.

What to do with sour cherries? Using our (very) limited baking skills, Tobey and I made our first sour cherry pie:



Sour Cherry Pie (modified from


1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

5 cups pitted sour cherries (about 2 pounds un-pitted)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pie crusts (home-made or store-bought)

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Transfer filling to the pie crust.  Slice second crust into strips.  Weave over top the filling into a lattice pattern.  Place on baking sheet (important – it will overflow!) and bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes.  Cover crust edges with foil if browning too quickly.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Serve with ice cream!

Things Fall Apart

“…Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
                                         The Second Coming (W.B. Yeats)
This temporary exhibit (through February 2, 2018) at the Chemical Heritage Foundation highlights issues of decay – from book preservation (bookworms are a real thing… although they are not actually worms, but several types of moths, beetles and lice that eat their way through old books):


to the patinas that develop based on heat, humidity, light and skin oils transferred by touch.  These 1920’s locks came from Eastern State Penitentiary where they developed varying patinas due to their location.


The exhibit also includes a downloadable walking tour around Old City, highlighting issues with architectural conservation – including a look at these plexiglass chandeliers at the Rohm & Haas headquarters building (now Dow Chemical), currently listed on Philadelphia’s Register of Historic Places.  Rohm & Haas scientists invented plexiglass in the 1930’s, and these chandeliers were designed to highlight this famous invention.


Gold Nuggets, A Stagecoach And The Latest Addition To A Philly Restaurant Empire

Just 2 blocks from City Hall is the 1928 Beaux-Arts building that houses the Wells Fargo History Museum.  This small (free) museum has videos, displays and hands-on exhibits detailing the history of Wells Fargo and Westward Expansion in the 1800’s.

Highlights include a replica stage coach (great for photo ops):



Tobey and PopPop


And a display of gold nuggets:


If you have any actual banking to do, the teller area in the lobby is gorgeous and has an authentic Concord city-style stagecoach:

Today’s restaurant adventure was The Rooster Soup Company – the latest addition to Michael Solomonov’s Philly restaurant empire, which includes (among others): Zahav, Federal Donuts, and Dizengoff .


This luncheonette serves a rotating menu of soups made from spare chicken parts left over from Federal Donut’s fried chicken (we had cauliflower and smoked matzo ball with dill), sandwiches (a BLT with pickled green tomatoes and a potato pancake) and an incredible coconut cream pie (sadly, no photo – we ate it too quickly).  100% of the profits go to support vulnerable Philadelphians through the Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative.


Wells Fargo History Museum:

A Room With A View And A Famous Food Market

Tobey’s favorite place to bring friends is the viewing deck at the top of Philly’s City Hall.

city hall 3

For $8/adult and $4/student, a maximum of 5 people squeeze into a tiny elevator and head up to the platform just under William Penn’s feet. Enclosed by glass, but open to the elements, you get a great view of Center City Philadelphia.



Who Knew?

*City Hall held the title of world’s tallest occupied building from 1901-1908.

*With almost 700 rooms, it is the biggest municipal building in the United States.

*Made of over 88 million bricks, marble and granite, it is the largest masonry structure in the world.



*Alexander Milne Calder created over 250 sculptures that decorate the building (including the sculpture of William Penn). His son, Alexander Stirling Calder, created the fountain up the Parkway at Logan Square.  His grandson, another Alexander Calder, has one of his famous mobiles (“ghost”) hanging at the end of the Parkway inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


*In the 1950’s the building was considered so ugly that plans were made to tear it down.

*(X-rated) Tip: viewed from the left (north) side, William Penn’s extended hand looks like an entirely different part of his anatomy – giving the statue the nickname “Willy’s Willy.”

Just 3 blocks away, Reading Terminal Market is a great place to eat when everyone is in the mood for something different. Tobey’s favorite is a grilled cheese sandwich (with brisket and mac&cheese) at Valley Shepherd:


My favorite is the roast pork (with provolone and hot peppers) at DiNic’s:


And (of course) it’s required to finish up with the world’s best donuts from the Amish bakers at Beiler’s:

City Hall Tower Tour Information: