Chiquitita, you and I know...

One of mine & my husband's biggest guilty pleasures is that we really, really love listening to ABBA. Yep, even Andrew. Actually, especially Andrew. We'll put on our favourite album (you can't really go wrong with good ol' ABBA Gold) and dance & sing to our hearts content. One of our personal favourites is Chiquitita - it has a slow build but then it get's huge! Then it slows down again before building once more and, well, we freaking love it! You need to give it a listen (and a chance) - 1:45 is where the great stuff really starts. And the "thrums" (sweeps from 4:48) are our favourite!

Reasons to be Cheerful - July 2015

Better late than never eh?!
  • An ONA field trip to the observation deck of One World Trade Center - foggy but awesome!
  • Our first July 4th weekend - we went for a burger & watched the fireworks
  • Playing with our food & creating some awesome waffles
  • Finding cute outdoor spots at local coffee shops
  • A trip back to England and the Isle of Man to see family & friends after 9 months away
  • Seeing my baby brother graduate & turn 21!
  • Afternoon tea at The Cellarium Cafe in Westminster Abbey with friends
  • A weekend in Center Parcs: swimming, high ropes, Segways, massages, etc!
  • A day trip to Cadbury World with my family
  • Driving. I love driving & hadn't done so in 10 months!
  • Quality time with my Poppy dog 
  • Meeting all the new additions to our family & friend's lives
  • Having an Anglo-Indian takeout (Indian food in the U.S. isn't really a thing...), a full English breakfast (proper sausages and bacon!!), fish & chips and chips, cheese & gravy! Mmm!
  • Catching up with friends over SNOG fro-yo on the South Bank
  • Collecting all the Tatty Devine I'd bought over the last 4 months (there was so much!)
  • Two weeks of British summer where the temperatures weren't crazy & I could comfortably wear shirts...though I did also get cold & wish myself back in NYC!
  • Someone planted sunflowers on my street & they are beautiful!
Read/Watched/Listened To/Saw/Visited:
  • I finished A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin - these GoT books are so thick that they take the best part of a month to read! I finished this a day before the end of the month and then started A Dance with Dragons - the 5th & current last book in the series! Woo!!
  • We went to the cinema to see Jurassic World - although not as good as the original, Chris Pratt is a pleasure to watch!
  • Most of the films I watched this month were on an airplane: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Internship, The Sitter, Just Married (Ashton Kutcher!!), The Watch and another one I can't remember but it was awful except for the fact Zac Efron was in it...

Two Days in Philadelphia

One thing that prominently features on our things-we-want-to-do-while-we-live-in-the-U.S.A list (that we didn't write down so you'll just have to trust me) is to attempt to visit all 50 states! Our only rule for a visit to count is to eat at least one meal in that state, which shouldn't be hard 'cause, well, we love to eat!
In June, we made our first trip out of New York state together since we moved here in November. And, as we are both still without U.S driving licences (must get on this!), we decided to start with the cities that do not require a car to get around. First to be ticked off - Philadelphia, PA! - which as well as being car-free friendly, is also a mere 1.5hrs by train from NYC - huzzah!
We arrived in Philadelphia just after 10am on a Saturday, and made a beeline for the 3 drink brunch at William Street Common (where I had 3 glasses of OJ - carazy!). As soon as I read "bottomless doughnuts" on this restaurant's brunch description I knew we had to go - and they were good doughnuts! After we'd eaten we made our way through Philly to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is home to the infamous Rocky Steps, and although we didn't get to go inside the museum on this visit, we did make sure to climb the steps (we didn't run, I don't really do running). It was amazing how many people were doing their best Rocky impressions at the top, as well as by the statue at the bottom!
Due to the grotty weather that Philly offered us on the Saturday we decided to spend the rest of the day indoors, so after the Rocky Steps we walked to The Barnes Foundation. I have to be brutally honest here and recommend only visiting if you buy tickets in advance for $25, as otherwise you'll get charged $35 (& it's really not worth the extra $10).
The Barnes Foundation is an art museum established in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The museum holds an extensive collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, including several works by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and C├ęzanne, to name just a few! We finished our Saturday with dinner in Chinatown - nothing worth mentioning here I'm afraid!
After breakfast on the Sunday we headed to Elfreth's Alley, a cobbled street in the Old City 'hood of Philly. Dubbed "the nation's oldest residential street", it was founded in 1702 and consists of 32 Georgian and Federal-style houses built between 1728 and 1836. I adored the red-bricked Georgian townhouses, with brightly coloured shutters and doors and window boxes full of gorgeous florals - it's the dream!
Next we headed over to Independence Hall, the building that was originally built to be the Pennsylvania State House, and where both the United States Declaration of Independence (hence the name) and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. To go inside the hall you need a timed tour ticket, which are free on the day or can be reserved for $1.50 beforehand - I recommend reserving them to ensure you definitely get to go in - the tour is quick but informative!
As well as Independence Hall we also paid a visit to the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence that would be rung to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions, and to let people know that public meetings and proclamations were about to take place. The bell used to reside inside the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House but is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center just across the road from Independence Hall. Access to the center is free, however you will likely have to queue to get in - don't be put off by the long lines though as it moves pretty quickly!
On our way back to the train station we made a detour to Reading Terminal Market to get a Philly Cheese Steak (wouldn't have been a trip to Philadelphia without one!). There were two (clearly) more popular cheese steak vendors in here and both had pretty crazy queues, we opted for the lesser of the two evils and grabbed ours from Spataro's for the train home - they were delicious! We then walked back via JFK Plaza to see Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture before jumping on the train back to NYC!

Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard

Last month we finally started watching Orange Is The New Black season 3, and although it's not quite as good as the first two seasons (it's clear that it's gone in a new direction), we still can't get enough of it (and Ruby Rose. I mean, wow.). And obviously when watching OITNB one must sing along to the opening credits, because, well, it's Regina and she is awesome.