Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mantra Casts a Spell

The latest addition to the 18th St. rebirth is Mantra, a pan-asian bar/restaurant that inspires patrons to fly over the French Quarter and head far east. The labor of love of Al Paris, whose former haunts include Philly favorites like Striped Bass and Warmdaddy's, Mantra achieves the impossible: an ultra-chill atmosphere in a space that's redder than the Russian Samovar.

The word "mantra" is sometimes translated as "spell," but the spell that was cast on us was less about the Mantra and more about the mussels. I will admit to cheating - I read a review prior to going that recommended them, and I must say it spoke the truth. My friend even described them as "fluffy" - now that is something you don't hear every day about a dish that is so easily botched. Simmered in a garlic-sake sauce with leeks and tomatoes, the mussels are accompanied by a roti - a small flatbread similar to naan - an absolute necessity for dipping after the mussels are through. My only complaint is that we requested a second roti, and when the bill came we were charged an extra $1 - a bit roti-culous if you ask me. But other than that, Mantra does live up to its name, and brought a little spirit to a Monday night.

Mantra, 122 S. 18th St. 215-988-1211

Linvilla Orchard Pictures

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Adventures at Linvilla Orchard

Apple, Apple..Pick, Pick..PLEASE (which is toddler for immediately if not sooner)! The true sign of fall...The toddler's persistent and enthusiastic request to go apple picking. Philly mommies answer this call by packing up the bugaboo and heading to bucolic Media, PA home of Linvilla Orchards. Owen has been going apple picking since he was in utero but this was the first harvest season that he was an active participant. Linvilla Orchard received a resounding two thumbs up from all parties involve in our picking adventure. The orchard is about 40 minutes from center city and is well worth the drive. There is plenty of fun to be had picking apples but Linvilla offers much more than just fresh fruit. Owen had a blast at the petting zoo where the deer happily ate corn feed out of his little hand. He played hard on their impressive playground but opted out of a pony ride and face painting. He enjoyed climbing among the giant pumpkins in their festive and aptly named "Pumpkinland" display. We happened to be visiting on the day of Linvilla's annual applefest so Owen had the added pleasure of seeing Dora the Explorer and attempted to rush the makeshift stage as Elmo was doing the Hokey Pokey (he's got a bit of punk rock edge at the tender age of 16 months).

Owen was not very patient while I perused the Orchard Store's baked goods, marinades, fruit spreads and generally delicious goodies as well as their gorgeous collection of mums and other plants but hey a mom needs to shop! He was, however, very focused while sampling apple cider doughnuts (do not pass these up they are incredible) and the wide variety of fried delicacies available in their grill and picnic area. Once fortified by our deliciously unhealthy lunch (yes, I ate an entire chocolate covered caramel apple and declared that my lunch while insisting that Owen eat a few bites of his grilled chicken...I figure I have about 2 more years of being a hypocrite before he can really call me on it so, I better take advantage of it while I can) we began the task at picking. Owen rode on his dad's shoulders and became very adept at picking the most perfect apples and then hurling them with all of his might into the basket thus turning them into less then perfect apples.

I must say Linvilla Orchards set the scene for one of my favorite days with my family. It was a beautiful day filled with fun activities, new discoveries, hilarious moments and fantastic photo opportunities! We have to go back because Owen was too tuckered out to attempt the hayride or the corn maze! The best time to go is weekdays because it is far less crowded but we still had a great time amongst the Applefest hordes!

Linvilla Orchards, 137 W. Knowlton Rd. Media, PA 19063, 610-876-7116,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Birthday Girl

Our first Style on the Street girl :
This is Lekha, the fist unfortunate person to be accosted in the street. It was her birthday today (happy birthday Lekha, tell me if I spelled your name right...) so I was glad to be the person to be the freak parade especially for the occassion.

I saw her walking down the street from quite a way back because of all the bold, bright colors she's wearing. It's not exactly a conventional mix, but that's exactly why I just loved the whole outfit. What you can't see in the picture above is this:

Anyone who can coordinate their earings and purse that well, thus turning her accessories into successories (HA! Look what funniness I did there!) is going straight on this site. Not to mention, her wearing an H&M dress has totally proven that I'm psychic. Kind of.

Get Your Read On at Joseph Fox Bookshop

In honor of Banned Books Week (September 23-30th) and for all you literary junkies, I decided it’s the perfect time to write about the very picturesque Center City, independent book store, Joseph Fox Bookshop. A small book store, with a prominent focus on art and architecture, the Joseph Fox Bookshop is a haven for anybody who could spend their entire lunch hour (and then some) tucked in the corner of a cozy shop flipping through books. The staff is helpful without being the slightest bit pushy. Anything not available in the store can be ordered. There is even an impressive children’s section nook in the back. The shop also sponsors special events like readings, signings and lectures. Do your part people about Philly, and support the little guy. (You can get your frappuccino and In Touch Magazine on the walk home.)

Joseph Fox Bookshop, 1724 Sansom St., (215) 563-4184,

Massage Mecca

Like most girls, I like being pampered. But when I pamper myself it is typically the budget version. Going for a weekend in New York involves a bus trip and sleeping on someone’s couch. Waxing starts by heating the wax on the stove. And when I treat myself to a massage, it’s no different.

The first time I visited the Massage Arts Center was for the shiatsu clinic, where you’re in a room with two or three other people all receiving massages. You’re fully clothed and it’s a bargain at $35. This was a great introduction for me as it was nothing too intense and I liked the concept of the massage actually treating ailments with pressure points and magical plinky music.

On my second visit I went for the more forceful, private and slightly more expensive ($50) Swedish massage. I have to say that this was not as therapeutic as I had anticipated, but this is considering that in my imagination I would be pummeled into relaxed submission. To be truthful, it was no $150 spa massage, but it was still a glorious hour to myself with someone paying attention to only me. ME ME ME! I also decided to invest in their “gold card”, costing $45, which gives me 25% off student massages and various other discounts. Being offered a card that gives my budget indulgence a discount advantage too has made the Massage Arts Center my new pampering Mecca.

Massage Arts Center of Philadelphia, 714 Market Street, (267) 321-0200,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Deutsche für einen Tag

It happens once a year, when all of Philly - Italian, Irish, Jewish, Japanese - all become "German for a day" courtesy of Oktoberfest at Ludwig's Garten. The staff at Ludwig's commandeers Sansom St. between 13th & Broad and transforms this normally dismal alley into a bustling biergarten with traditional German food, drink, and music. This was my third year channeling my inner St. Pauli Girl, and while its always been a good time, this year's was uber fun with the addition of the 13th St. corridor shops and restaurants participating in their own simultaneous street festival.

Ludwig's Oktoberfest (which in accordance with German tradition, actually takes place in September) technically could be considered "daylife," since it gets rolling around noon and by 10 pm is a mere memory. But with its over-abundance of suds, Jaeger shots, and sausage, I figured it resembles a night at Mad River close enough to fall into the Nightlife category. The difference is the dress code - any frau who arrives in heels will soon regret the decision, and Phillies jerseys trump the requisite striped shirt that you'll find at more image-centric venues. It's crowded and sloppy, and I don't know whether it's the Oompa band, the lederhosen or just the fact that you can legally drink in the streets, but the happy, carefree atmosphere makes Oktoberfest one of Philly's best annual events.

Ludwig's Garten, 1315 Sansom Street (215) 985-1525

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fab handbags, Sweetie Dahhhhling

For my everyday catch-all, size definitely matters. But even an oversized bag hag such as myself needs a good small clutch to get her through those tighter spaces. Of all the handbags in the black hole I call a closet, my Lolo & Gretch Dahlings are the go-to accessories for a night out when all I need are keys, ID, and a couple of bucks. These handmade bags are the work of long-time friends Gretchen Seel and Lori Hedrick, but its clear to anyone that meets this designer duo that these bags are all about play. Pairing stars and stripes or leather and lace, every Lolo & Gretch is a one-of-a-kind, original design and a study in mixing fabrics, pattern and texture.

Visit Lolo & Gretch in the lower level of Antiquarian's Delight at 615 S. 6th St, that quirky synagogue-turned-vintage bazaar just off South Street, or shop online at Some styles come in "mini" and "long," much like my other favorite accessory, Charlie (dog not included with purchase). If you have a design idea of your own, run it by them and they'll customize a bag just for you. And with prices ranging between $28 - $62, the best part is you'll still have a couple of bucks left over to put inside.

Remedy Tea Bar

I grew up in England where a cup of tea is pretty much the glue that holds the country together. It fixes anything; tough day at work? Cuppa tea. Can’t find the remote? Cuppa tea. Arm fallen off? Cuppa tea. But it just doesn’t taste the same here. I can’t tell you why, but even tea I’ve brought back just doesn’t taste quite right. And so, for the longest time I boycotted the Remedy Tea Bar. I would have nothing to do with their Dirty Chai lattes, or their Cosmopolitan Mar”tea”nis or even their Black Tea Remedies, which you’d think from the name would really could mend a fallen off arm in a snap.

But my boycott was swiftly lifted once I was dragged in and handed a Cool Green Blended tea. It’s a scary looking beverage, I’ll admit, as it looks distinctly like a radioactive frappacino. But it is DELICIOUS. It’s like blended, creamy health. And all the creaminess only comes from skim milk so you don’t even have to pretend it’s good for you.

It was my fave drink of the summer and I can tell the rest of their menu will get me through the cold winter months. And with their slogan, “serving the hot and the cool”, how can I resist? Remedy Tea Bar, you have changed my tea drinking ways.

Remedy Tea Bar, 1628 Sansom Street,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Knights of Whole Foods

I walk by them everyday. They’re lean, either freakishly short or tall with near flawless skin. The girls have perfected the art of daytime MAC eyeliner. The guys have that detached, yet scrupulous stare down to a science. And every third person has a kick ass dog who never barks. No, I’m not talking about the impeccably cool people at The Last Drop. I am speaking about the legions of youth (oh, they never age) who sit outside of Whole Foods on South Street, each and every day, all day. I like to think of them as the knights of Whole Foods. Dare some kind of over processed, artificially flavored hooligan try and walk through those doors.

Who are these people? Are they students? If they’re students, how can they possibly afford Whole Foods and their $8 grapes? Do they work? Bike messengers perhaps? I mean even bike messengers have to deliver something at some point. More importantly, how do I get their damn job? I want to sit at a table and eat vegan treats and stare adoringly at my shelter rescue. I envision what they do after Whole Foods. God, their lives are probably so exciting while I race home to catch Everybody Loves Raymond on TBS. When I walk home from my 9-5 job (ok, 11-5 job) and stop to pick up dinner at Whole Foods, I glare at them, green with envy. I schlep my 3 paper bags (or plastic, I can’t decide which is the right answer) right on by them, dreaming of the day I can be the girl who sits outside of Whole Foods all day, people watching while snacking on a vanilla vegan cupcake. A jealous girl can dream….

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Hello! I am Michele and this is my son Owen and we will be heading the urban mommy section of Girl About Philly. We are here to help all of Philly's urban mommies seek out the fabulous family-friendly fun that our great city has to offer. We are always on the move looking for the best gear, the cutest clothes, the most fabulous activities and of course places for mommy and baby to unwind. Owen has no problem listing his picks and pans for his 16 months of Philly experiences. He loves a cold sippy cup of milk, soft pretzels, a good board book and showing everyone his belly. I am a coffee addict who works away from home 3 days a week and is always looking for new and exciting adventures to share with Owen...while attempting to stick to a budget!

I've been living in Philly for almost 5 years and am thrilled to be starting a site dedicated to all the Girls about Philly especially those trying to balance a cup of coffee while toting a diaper bag, pushing a stroller and passing goldfish and sippy cups to the newest addition to their fabulous urban lives.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I'm Meredith, though that's not my first name. I keep my first name semi-secret for all the CIA missions I go on. I grew up all around the world after being recruited as a secret service agent as an infant and sent off to Europe to spy on their playgrounds.

I moved to Philly at the beginning of 2005 to investigate the Eagles, mummer strutting and extensive research on soft pretzels. I'll be using my crazy CIA skills to discover all that makes up daily life in Philly and pass on what I find out here, as well as making sure all the most wanted fashions I actually see on people on the street are posted here for all to admire. So if you see some crazy lady stalking down the street, tapping people on the shoulder and shouting "Where did you get those shoes? H&M? I LOVE YOU!", that's me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Hi, I'm Erin, the only Girl About Philly whose name does not begin with M! As the shopping and dining/nightlife editor, I'll bring the best ways to fill your bellies and empty your wallets in Philadelphia. I love British period films, French lounge music, oversized handbags and hot dogs - the kind on a bun and the kind that bark.

I'm a Philly native, raised in the 'burbs but a city girl at heart. We're here to help other women like us live a comfortable life in the city...and have a little fun along the way!


Hi. I am Megan and I will be heading the culture file and a little bitchin' sections of Girl About Philly. I am exceptionally well versed in bitching. I am addicted to cheesy chick lit, strawberry sorbet, seltzer, haircuts and dirty punk rock boys.

I've been living in Philly for 2 years and am excited to start a blog with my ladies about all the fabulous things that Philly has to offer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welcome to Girl About Philly!

Introducing Girl About Philly, a lifestyle guide to all things fabulous in Philly. Our goal is to report on the following topics: culture file, nightlife/dining, on street style, shopping, adventures in daily life, urban mommy, and our personal favorite, a little bitchin'. Our editors are 4 twentysomething, city girls balancing careers, entertainment, romance, everyday life and even motherhood in the city of BROTHERLY love.