December 31, 2012

New Years Resolutions

(pictured above: 35 weeks pregnant, Bry and I in formal wear, Election 2012, a Breaking Bad Halloween, Heidelberg, work work work)

2012 was quite the year. It was busy with work per usual. We bought our first house and moved in in February. I got to travel to Germany, New Orleans and Chicago. Bryan found out he was chosen to be chief resident next year (so proud ;). And oh yeah, we found out in May that we were expecting our first baby.

Soon after that big news I set out to start a new blog in the hopes that I would begin to better document all the exciting things going out in our lives. So this year the only New Years Resolution I am making is to work on this space here. I resolve to take more pictures, better document all the big and small moments of 2013, and share all of this with our friends and family.

I'm also planning to participate in a 52 portrait a week project. Jodi over at Che & Fidel took a picture of each of her children each week, every week of last year. She ended the year with such a beautiful collection of photos and even more a stunning document of just how much her kids grew in the past year. I'm hoping I can challenge myself to complete a full year and really look forward to the end product. I'll be posting weekly photos each Sunday, starting this week.

So I'm pretty sure it's going to be a big year. Bring it on 2013.

October 8, 2012

one year

it's a little surreal to realize that we've been married now for a whole year! even though we were together for seven years before we tied the knot, it has been a great, albeit busy year of matrimony. so much has happened (new house, big career moves, and now a baby on the way) that i can't even imagine all that year two can bring.

even after all of the planning and small stresses of putting the wedding together, we had such a wonderful day and it felt great to be surrounded by so much love and support. so here's to one great year and whole lifetime of more to come ;)

all images courtesy of our amazing photographers Sanderson Images

September 17, 2012

Date Night: Vedge and Barbuzzo

With Bryan working night shifts for two weeks straight, it's hard to find time to spend together, let alone actually see each other awake. When he had a random Tuesday night off though I decided to make reservations at Vedge, the vegan restaurant run by married couple Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby. We had previously been fans out their old restaurant Horizons (which used to be conveniently located all of two blocks from our old place in South Philly), so our trip to Vedge had been long overdue.

Vedge is located in what seems to be a new hot spot for restaurants on the 1200 block of Locust St in the heart of the Gayborhood (and location of recently relocated Fish, a new Green Eggs Cafe location, and the newly opened Spiga). The space is gorgeous with a large, well stocked, white marble bar welcoming you when you walk in. Bryan ordered a Penicillin Cocktail (Dewars blended scotch with housemade ginger-agave syrup), while I longing glanced at the other tasty sounding drinks as I sipped on water. We were then lead to our table in the nicely refinished dining room, where I was happy to find that I would be sitting on a nicely cushioned bench (a pregnant lady treat).

The menu is composed of smaller dishes that are meant to be shared (veggie tapas!). There's a more permanent seasonal menu and then a daily "dirt list" that contains the day's fresh veggie options. We started with the very tasty peel and eat lupini beans, seasoned with piri piri and roasted garlic. Next we shared the sweet potato pate and the crowder bean & farro “Jambalaya”. The pate was delicious spread over warm bread and accompanied with some jerk seasoned cashews. The jambalaya was topped with jalapeno corn bread and was a nice hearty stew, if a little on the peppery side. We then moved on the final course where we shared the spicy grilled tofu, the grilled seitan, and some spicy, crispy cauliflower. Both the tofu and seitan dishes were reminiscent of main dishes previously served at Horizons and just as delicious. Overall, it was a lot of food and we were both quite full at the end of our meal. The change over to smaller plates has the advantage of allowing you to sample a variety of different dishes, but I couldn't help missing the rare joy of enjoying a well composed vegan entree (such a rarity even in a very veg-friendly city). The atmosphere is great for an intimate dinner for two, while it would also be a fun spot for a larger group - if only because you could try more dishes out.

Now even though Kate Jacoby makes some really tasty vegan desserts (I still dream about a pumpkin cheesecake I had at Horizons), we decided to take a short walk to digest our dinner and then head over to nearby Barbuzzo for some coffee and their renowned budino dessert (composed of butterscotch pudding, dark chocolate cookie crust, and salted caramel - yummm). Chef Marcie Turney and partner Valarie Safran own pretty much the entire block of South 13th st south of Market St, and Barbuzzo represents their Mediterranean inspired venture. I used to frequent Barbuzzo a lot with my friend Michelle, where we would always sit at the bar and share the sheep's milk ricotta and daily veggie board. The restaurant itself is always packed and was still rather crowded at 9:30pm on a Tuesday night. Thankfully we could still grab a spot at the bar and enjoy a really nice end to our impromptu date night.

BONUS: make your own budino for a tasty night in or impress your next dinner guests. the recipe can be found over at Bon Appetit. (or if you live in philly, just order a set of 6 to take home from We Heart Philly).

Solo Trip: May 2012: Heidelberg and Munich, Germany

This past May I had the opportunity to travel to Heidelberg, Germany to present at a conference at the European Molecular Biology Labs (EMBL). Sadly, Bryan was unable to secure time off to join me so it turned into a nice solo journey in Germany for a week. I traveled to Heidelberg on a Saturday night, ensuring that I arrived in a total state of confusion on Sunday as I have never been able to sleep on airplanes (a most annoying trait). Attempting to adjust to the time change, I tried my hardest to stay awake most of the day and explored the adorable town. I wasn't too successful in staving off sleep, however, and briefly remember eating falafel by the Necker River before turning into to my hotel for the night.

The hotel "Four Seasons" or Vier Jahreszeiten wasn't exactly noteworthy and had probably the most annoying pigeons I've ever encountered living right outside my window, but you don't exactly get your pick of the litter when you are traveling for work sometimes. It's location right next to the river though was a great plus and it was located close to the bus stop and the foot of the Heidelberg castle (which I sadly did not have time to tour). The next few days were spent entirely at the EMBL for the conference. Interestingly enough the EMBL is considered to be on international territory since its funded by a consortium of over 20 different European nations (apparently making it a great and tax-free place to work). The main building is pretty cool and boasts a "double helix" arrangement of bridges that connect two concentric open levels (think Guggenheim NY).

The final night, I was treated to a short tour of the town by two locals who had attended Heidelberg University (a school founded all the way back in 1386!). We ate at Wirtshaus Zum Seppl, a historical tavern where the University fraternities used to hang out. The food was great (always surprising for a vegetarian in Germany) and they served great local Hefeweizen. While most of my stay in Heidelberg was spent in science talks, I really enjoyed the town and would love a chance to stop back one day and explore it more.

After Heidelberg, I decided to head to Munich for a couple days. I caught an early train and was surprised to find it packed on a Thursday. Apparently I was traveling on the state holiday of Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day) which is also Father's Day in Germany. The trip was easy enough though and I checked into my hotel by the train station before heading out to explore. I first grabbed a hearty lunch of a giant pretzel and a giant beer, before visiting the Munich Residenz. The Residenz served as the Bavarian seat of government and palace home for over 400 years. It was heavily damaged during WWII (as most of the city was) but has been extensively reconstructed and now houses a large collection artwork, furniture, jewelry and creepy reliquaries.

On a previous trip to Berlin, Bryan had convinced me to go on a bike tour of the city (even though I am scared of bicycles, long story) and we both ended up loving it. So I decided to seek out a bike tour and was lucky enough to find a guide that would take the three of us that showed up out on the tour. We started at the town center, Marienplatz, and then winded our way around the city stopping at famous historical sites, the gorgeous English garden (where people both sunbathe in the nude and surf in the middle of the city), and of course the large Chinese Tower Biergarden. It was a great way to quickly see a large portion of the city and learn a lot from a knowledgeable guide who happened to be an American ex-pat.

On the way back to the hotel, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a great vegetarian restaurant Prinz Myskin completely by chance. There I enjoyed a great meal accompanied by an Aperol cocktail (a European favorite). The next day I headed over to Pinakothek der Moderne (Modern Art Museum) and caught a great show that focused on the depictions of Women by Picasso, Beckmann and de Kooning. After that I made my way back to the city center to check out the large market, Viktualienmarkt, located near the Marinplatz that had been closed the previous day due to the holiday.

After heading back to the hotel, I caught a train back to Frankfurt and spent the night in a trendy hotel near the train station before my early AM flight back home. It was great to have the chance to travel solo for once and I really enjoyed the experience (even though I found out shortly after arriving home that I wasn't exactly alone the whole time...) Germany is great (we rank Berlin up there as one of our favorite cities ever) and I am really looking forward to a chance to go back and explore Bavaria again.

September 8, 2012

well hello there

and welcome!

we are jess (formerly of oh.just.jess, the blog and etsy shop) and bryan (the artist formerly known as Frenchy) and this is our little space on the internet to document our lives and make sure we can remember all our little and big adventures.

what you need to know:
- we live in south philly in a house we bought last February and we are slowly trying to make a home.
- we are both giant nerds. bryan's a physician and jess is a molecular biologist. (please dont run away too quickly)
- we're expanding our little family this winter
(with a human being! we already have an awesomely neurotic cat named Clea).
- we love to eat good food and travel as much as our schedules/bank accounts will allow so expect a lot of that on here.