Monthly Archives: September 2008

Immortalized in an in-flight magazine

Some of you might remember that last summer, I worked on a little project that I called Stories from Reading Terminal. It was my attempt to gather tales from shoppers and vendors at Philly’s storied public food market. I ran out of steam for the project as the demands of grad school and freelance work became more insistent. However, even during the short period of time it ran, it got some nice attention from the Philadelphia Weekly and 6ABC. It’s a project that I’d like to get back to someday, but for now it sits and waits.

However, despite the fact that it’s been fallow now for more than a year, it continues to get some attention. Today I learned via Twitter (thanks Saul!) that I had been quoted extensively in regard to the market in a piece in AirTran’s in-flight magazine. The person who wrote the article did contact me some months ago, asking if I had time for an interview, but after I responded, she never followed up. I figured that was the last of it, until today. Life is so interesting.

Photos from Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam
Last Friday, after Scott was done with VM World, we picked up a rental car and drove to Boulder City to visit Hoover Dam. It is an impressive work of human creativity and artistic design. As we toured it, Scott and I couldn’t help comment more than once that had it been built now, it would have been far uglier and never would have been completed more than two years ahead of schedule (as it was). We sprung for the $30 tour and it was very worth it, as it meant that we got significant amount of time with a highly knowledgeable tour guide, as well as exposure to some of the access tunnels. If you happen to find yourself in the Las Vegas area with a little time on your hands, I highly suggest you venture off the debauchery of the Strip and get yourself to Hoover Dam.

You can find all my pictures here and Scott’s are here.

Chatting with Average Betty

While I was out in LA last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a couple of food bloggers. I took a stroll around the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesday morning with Sarah Gim, the girl genius behind The Delicious Life and Tastespotting (and formerly of Slashfood). I also spent a morning chatting with Average Betty, high up in the hills above Los Angeles at the Getty (where my lovely friend Andrea happens to work). Betty brought a video camera with her and we spent some time dishing about food, Fork You, blogging and what’s coming next in my little life. I’m the first in her new series of interviews, take a gander and let us know what you think!

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Traveling and heading home

Marisa and Liz
For the last week, I’ve been away, out of my normal routine and spending as little time around the computer as was possible. I spent the first half of the week hanging out in Los Angeles and the second half in Las Vegas with Scott. Since last Saturday, I’ve been on three airplanes (with still two more to go), seen 14 members of my extended family, met two food bloggers, participated in a Jazzercise class taught by Andrea, lost about $40 to the slot machines of Vegas, been to Hoover Dam and gotten one very luxurious massage.

I also learned that despite my Jewish mother and her Japanese one, my cousin Liz and I look shockingly alike. Those McClellan genes are strong.

I’ll write more about the trip when I get back to Philly, but I just wanted to check in with the blog and say hi.

Saying goodbye to Bonnie the dog

We got Bonnie the third day of my junior year of high school. I remember vividly, because my parents had gotten me my very first car the week before and I drove out to the Troutdale Humane Society to meet up with them and help pick out the new dog. We agreed on a tiny female from a litter that had been dropped off, with their mother, when they were just a few days old. One of the staff members had taken them all to his house until the puppies were old enough to adopt out. He and his wife kept the mother. Our previous dog had died the spring before at the age of six from lymphoma and we were all anxious to finally get a new dog. The house just didn’t feel right without one.

Biting Bonnie

My sister and I sat by her cage while my parents filled out paperwork and paid the adoption fees, trying out potential names, giddy with the idea that we’d soon have a baby animal in the house.

Raina with Bonnie

As all puppies do, she turned the house upside down. We roped off a section of the family room for her and put down some newspapers. We quickly discovered that she was a chewer, destroying anything left within her reach. She also was an eater, gulping down all things edible (and more than a few things that were questionably edible) often before we could stop her. Once, she managed to scoot her body up onto the kitchen counter and grab a two-pound bag of pitted prunes from the fruit basket. She ate the whole thing and had to be baracaded in the basement for three days as she had some of the most horrific diarrhea known to humankind.

Pink tongue

One of my family responsibilities during high school was to take her to the park across the street. Back in the mid-ninties, Wallace Park had an unofficial dog run up behind Chapman Elementary School and people came from all over the neighborhood to bring their dogs over there. During Bonnie’s first couple of years she loved playing and running with other dogs. When we’d arrive, they’d say, “Oh good, Bonnie’s here! She’ll get them running.” And she always did, leading a pack of eight or ten dogs in a lopsided circle down the hill and back up again.

blurry Bonnie.jpg

When I went away for college, I’d often tell my mom to put me on the phone with Bon when I called home. She’s line the phone up with her ear and shout, “Okay, go ahead.” I’d give her thirty seconds of my best baby/puppy talk. Bonnie never made any noises in response, but when she got back on the phone, my mom would always tell me that Bonnie had cocked her head to the side, like Nipper in those old Victrola advertisements.


She liked carrots, watermelon, peanut butter and popcorn. She’d take bits of celery if you offered them, but then go and spit them out on the living room rug. When I’d come home after a long time away, she would leap up on her hind legs (until arthritis prevented it) and cry out in a way that made me feel like I had been truly missed. Last December, when I headed back to Philadelphia after Christmas, I knew it was a possibility that it would be the last time I would see her. As I said goodbye, I gave her a little bit extra love.

Shadow-y girl

Last Friday, my mom called as I was driving to a fundraiser at Penn Treaty Park. I knew immediately from her tone that something wasn’t right. I questioned her and she said, with tears in her voice, “Bonnie had a stroke this afternoon and we had to put her down.” She had been on the phone with my sister when she started twitching and acting strangely. She lost the ability to walk in that moment and totally emptied her bowels on the hallway carpet. My father lifted her up and sat with her in the back of the van as my mom drove to the vet’s office half a mile away. It took just five minutes to ease her out of her body and this world.

She left us exactly 13 years (to the very week) that we got her. She was a wonderful dog and she is missed.

Fabric shopping

This morning, I picked up Angie a few minutes after ten to head down to Fabric Row, in the hopes of finding some great fabric with which to recover the seats of the new dining room chairs. We went to five different stores and looked at more bolts of fabric than my brain was able process. I saw some interesting possibilities as well as some true horrors (as well as the store that seems to sell primarily to the Mummers) but didn’t fall in love with anything I saw out there.

Eames swatch

Part of the problem is that I already found the fabric I want. It’s that swatch you see right there. It is the perfect marriage of modern with a classic, mid-century* sensibility. The issue with it is that it costs $105 a yard (and I need two yards), which seems like an absolutely outrageous amount to pay for something that will serve as resting place for my tuckus. Additionally, it doesn’t seem right that the fabric for the seats would cost more than all the chairs combined. However, having found my ideal fabric, it’s now proving difficult to find anything that I like even half as much. It is truly a conundrum.


Another contender

Part of why the fabric is so pricey is the fact that is based on a design found doodled in the notebooks of Charles and Ray Eames after their deaths. They are the ones responsible for some of the most iconic furniture design of the mid-century era. It is licensed and copyrighted and apparently, no one has attempted to knock off a cheaper version (at least that I can find) so if I break down and determine that it’s what I really want, I will have to pay a small fortune for it. For the meantime, I’m going to keep looking.

*I never thought I would become such a fan of the mid-century look. Throughout my childhood and adolscense, I loved old pine and oak furniture. The more it looked like it came out of an old farm house, the better. However, over the years, as I’ve lived among my grandparents’ lovingly tended Danish Modern pieces, the smooth, clean lines of the teak has grown on me, to the point where I gravitate towards it over antique pieces I once used to lust. All that said, I’m still looking for an old hoosier cabinet (the kind with a built-in flour sifter and tin-lined dry goods bins) and would never think of giving up my Mission rocker.

Camp Tockwogh and new chairs

Last Friday, I packed up the car, picked up Shay and headed down to Still Pond, Maryland for a long weekend at Camp Tockwogh. It’s the fifth year in a row that I’ve spend Labor Day Weekend down at camp and it was just as wonderful and relaxing as always (follow the links for reports on years two, three and four). This year was particularly wonderful, because far-flung friends traveled from Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston and suburban Maryland to spend a few days together.


The camp is adjacent to Chestertown, MD, a small town that reminds me a great deal of Walla Walla, WA (where I went to college). It has a particularly good thrift store and I can’t help but make a stop in when I pass through the town. This year I made a larger than usual purchase, buying a set of six dining room chairs to replace my hazardous ones. The chairs I inherited from my grandparents are rickety, and some are true dangers, often coming to pieces when you lift them the wrong way. I’ve needed to replace them for some time, but haven’t had the budget to buy brand new ones and hadn’t come across anything appropriate in the used world.


The chairs I bought were actually part of a dining set, selling along side a really nice teak table for the fairly low price of $200. However, I’m not in need of a new table (and how would I have gotten it back to Philadelphia?), so I asked if I could buy just the chairs. They were a little reluctant at first, but when I offered $150 for the set of six, the woman looked at me and said, “Well, I guess there’s an exception to every rule.”


So now I have new chairs that need fresh fabric on the seats (and some padding, as they are a bit hard) and old chairs that need to be given the boot. Angie and I have a fabric field trip scheduled for this Saturday and I’m looking forward to the the project. Hooray for camp, good thrift stores and new-to-me chairs.

Fork You: Scott cooks!

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Over the weekend, I took off for the Chesapeake Bay with a bunch of old friends, leaving Scott to his own devises back in the apartment. He entertained himself by catching up on several on-demand television shows, doing a bunch of work and making an episode of Fork You. Ponder that for a second there. He recorded an episode of Fork You without me.

Initially, I was a little irked that he would make an episode of OUR cooking show without me, but upon watching it, I discovered he had created a funny and entertaining installment of Fork You that was made better by my absence. So take a gander and wince along with me as he takes a knife to a non-stick pan and boils ravioli in an inappropriate pot, all with his trademark humor. Good times!