A perfect day in Phoenixville, PA

(Photo Credit: Paul Gurcules)

Since moving here in 2015, family and friends have asked me to pinpoint what makes Phoenixville so special. It’s been hard to put into words, so instead, I’ll show you what one perfect Saturday in Phoenixville, PA looks like. First, some history:

Phoenixville has been home to Kevin Bacon and was the primary shooting location for 1958’s The Blob, where the climactic theatre escape was filmed at The Colonial Theatre, still running to this day, and celebrated every year during Blob Fest, a weekend celebration of the film and everything 1950s.

It’s also right outside of Valley Forge, offering trails, historic landmarks and green space to enjoy on a sunny day. Phoenixville is home to the Schuylkill River Trail, a paved trail for cyclists and hikers, that leads into Philadelphia. In 2015, this was voted the United States’ “Best Urban Trail”. Its namesake, the Schuylkill River, running through Phoenixville, offers kayakers, tubers and fisherman the chance to take advantage on warm days.

You can’t take advantage of everything that Phoenixville has to offer in one day. But for those visiting for a short amount of time, here are several of our favorite ways to spend a sunny Saturday in the Ville.

Start with Breakfast: Nook and Kranny Café

nookandkrannyOur favorite brunch spot, Nook and Kranny only seats about 30 people- but it’s worth the wait. Enjoy a quiche of the day, or build your own frittata, baked in a mini cast iron skillet. Order the cheddar and bacon grits on the side! A variety of breakfast items are on the menu, and every offering is reasonably priced with large portions. The staff is friendly and fun- it feels like a family atmosphere within the tiny restaurant.

Also Try: Nudy’s Bridge Street Café, Your Mom’s Place for breakfast offerings on Bridge Street.

Hit up the Farmers Market.

The Phoenixville Farmers Market, running April-November, is one of the town’s best farmersSaturday activities, and it’s held under the High Bridge.The town comes together to enjoy community yoga and live music while shopping for locally grown items from community farms. But that’s not all they offer!

  • Browse the booths while enjoying a sticky bun from Saint Peter’s Bakery and Sweetwater Baking Company, offering fresh sweet and savory breakfast goods.
  • Sample peanut butter from a local vendor- try the Butterscotch!
  • Birchrun Hills Farm brings a selection of its fresh cheese every week (I enjoy the Summer Herbs spreadable cheese!) and their blue cheese is tangy and deliciousfarmers2

Fresh pasta, mushrooms, plants and brewed tea are also available at the market, along with a massage therapist, fresh kombucha, chevre goat cheese, and guacamole. An easy way to spend a few hours and meet your neighbors, the Farmers Market is where you will find both visitors and locals.

 

Walk Bridge Street.

Phoenixville has an entrepreneurial heart and you won’t find any franchise chain restaurants on Bridge Street, the main street that connects Phoenixville. Leisurely stroll down the street an td enjoy the local shops, all sourcing quirky, one of a kind items. My favorite is the Diving Cat Gallery, an artist’s paradisewith everything from handmade jewelry, books, home décor, and more.

phoenixville3.jpgNext, stop for a photo op at The Colonial Theatre, a theatre built in 1903 that currently plays both new releases and older films, too! The Colonial just finished a large addition to offer more seating space and the ability to screen more films on a second screen! The Colonial also hosts special events at the venue, such as comedians, musical acts, and film experiences such as the yearly Rocky Horror Picture Show and Christmas event, where they pump snow through the outside of the theatre for a magical evening- snow is always guaranteed!

Wander up to Lulu Boutique and Gifterie, a vintage shop offering chunky retro necklaces, shoes, hats, and clothes! I scored a lovely Kelly green dress here for only $15- and I get compliments and Mad Men references every time I wear it. Lulu’s also holds a twice-yearly vintage flea market, bringing in vendors to sell their handmade items and quirky retro finds to the public.

Next, go to Bridge Street Chocolates to pick up some handcrafted treats. Their sea salt caramels are to die for! This yummy chocolate shop offers everything from truffles to Chocodiles- perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth! We dare you to save them and not gobble them all up in one sitting!

mollys.jpgTime for lunch yet? Walk over to Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub for authentic Irish and British fare. A friend of mine from the UK says that the food is the real deal, and it is so good! I recommend the bangers and mash (sausage served over fresh mashed potatoes and rich, chunky onion gravy); shepherd’s pie or fish and chips.

Need a little rest? Stop into one of the town’s quaint coffeehouses, such as Steel City, offering live music, a variety of lunch dishes, and of course, coffee! Artisan’s Gallery & Cafe across the street also makes killer desserts and you’ll find the locals enjoying the ambiance with their laptops.

 

Enjoy a Festival or Parade

If you’re in Phoenixville on a Saturday, there’s a good chance you’re going to stumble upon a local festival or parade. (Phoenixville loves parades!) Here are a few local events that happen throughout the year:

  • Food Truck Festival
  • BluesFest
  • PrideFest
  • Dogwood Festival
  • Halloween Parade
  • Christmas Parade
  • Firebird Festival – truly one of a kind festival. The community honors the Phoenix firebirdfirebird, the bird that rose from the ashes in Greek mythology. In November, volunteers build a massive wooden bird over the course of a weekend, and the community gathers to celebrate the bird, lighting it ablaze and watching the glorious structure go up in flames. One of the best events of the year!

The appeal of Phoenixville is that there’s a little something for everyone. Whether you want to kayak, go on a foodie tour, catch a vintage flick or pick up a quirky gift for your mom, Phoenixville has it. There’s one last place I’d recommend on your perfect Saturday in Phoenixville- I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention it!

browns2Before you head out, stop by Browns Cow for fresh ice cream. This seasonal shop, open only from April-October, serves creamy ice cream in a variety of ways- the very best way to eat it is in a PRETZEL CONE! My favorite fall treat is pumpkin ice cream in a pretzel cone, with generous servings, you may not be able to finish it- that’s okay, I’m sure your husband will be more than willing to take it off your hands! Browns Cow is cash only, and a pretzel cone with two scoops will run you about $5.50.

 

 

Oh, one more thing: It’s totally normal to see this guy riding around town. Phoenixville, while close in proximity to Philadelphia, has a very smalltown feel. You’ll find friendly faces, meet new people at the grocery store, and strike up conversations at the Farmers Market. That’s just Phoenixville for you. No wonder everyone loves it so!bicycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perserverance: the key to overcoming epilepsy

Note: Adam has very specific types of seizures and the recommendations in this post have been shown to treat his case; for your own safety, speak with your doctor before implementing any new treatments.

When I met Adam in 2009, he was having seizures every week. His seizures were not the kind you see on TV- instead, they were repetitive jerking movements in the arms and legs, but he was fully awake and could speak to me. His body temperature rose, almost feverish, and the slightest touch was uncomfortable to him, such a shirt or socks grazing his skin.

Adam’s seizures come from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that he suffered in a car accident when he was 11 years old . Every neurologist and EMT we’ve seen has a different definition of Adam’s seizures; no one can quite pinpoint the exact root of the seizure, which has made them difficult to treat. Adam’s had hundreds of seizures- some, known as “drop” seizures, make his legs buckle and he goes crashing to the ground. These instances have resulted in broken noses and too many stitches to count.

Adam has had several grand mal seizures in his lifetime- these are the serious ones that result in unconsciousness. You can read about the first time I witnessed a grand mal here.

I felt helpless when I saw Adam have his first seizure. Helpless because I could tell he was in pain but I couldn’t do anything to help him. I started logging the seizures and analyzed the environment and food we ate that could have been a trigger, I did research on alternative medicine (rubbing Frankincense on his feet-yuck!). Since the doctors couldn’t agree on a cause or pinpoint the type of seizure, I began to think it was more than just a short circuit in the brain.

If Adam jolted in his sleep, he would immediately yelp- and a seizure would soon follow. What he had was anxiety- and I quickly figured out that if I could calm him down, it would not progress into a full seizure. Because of this, I started to research anxiety medication that he could take- and I discovered a wafer to place under the tongue. I asked his neurologist for a prescription and he happily obliged. Since then, Adam has used the wafers in a variety of situations. His triggers can include:

  •  Excess caffeine
  •  Extreme heat
  •  Acidic foods too close to bedtime
  • Digital movie screens (especially action movies with loud gunshots and racing cars)

Since we began the wafers, Adam has also stuck to a sleeping, eating and exercise routine in order to regulate his body and mind. Eating healthy meals, away from processed foods, has had a huge impact on his health.

I believe that a seizure is a physical manifestation of energy in the brain; it needs somewhere to go. When Adam exercises, reads or stays busy, he doesn’t have seizures. He is expending his energy into activities during the day, which allows him to sleep through the night without jolting or awaking.

If you or someone you love suffers from seizures, do not lose hope! It can take a while to get the correct dosage and medication that works for you. Be your own advocate; so many medical professionals (even an EMT!) told me that the seizures I was describing weren’t actually seizures. Document your seizures and what you did and ate that day. Look into anti-anxiety medication if you find that you get anxious right before a seizure.

I am incredibly proud to announce that Adam is 6 months seizure-free. While we know that he will always take medication, he will likely never drive, and he could have a seizure without a triggering event at any time. But we choose to be positive. To understand that this is a day-to-day process, that even if it’s not a perfect science, we can be role models for others that are suffering from TBI-related seizures and offer the knowledge we have learned over the last several years.

In Defense of Co-Sleeping

In defense of

Before you’re a parent, there are sanctimonious moments that you have when looking at others’ parenting. I’d never let my child (insert anything here)… Here are a couple of things I promised myself I’d never do as a mother:

  1. Let my child go barefoot in public (what are these parents thinking?!) This was before I realized how insanely hard it was to keep my child’s socks and shoes on her little feet.
  2. Let my child be a hot mess in public (my child will never have a dirty face!) Ha. Just, ha.
  3. Co-sleep. (why would I bring my kid into my bed? She’ll sleep in her crib from day one.)

But here we are, I’ve broken every single one of my sanctimommy ideals. And I quickly learned there’s no perfect way to parent, if you Google something you’ll get 15 different ideas of what you could try, but nothing is guaranteed. Much to my frustration, what works for my best friend’s baby doesn’t always work for us.

And for all of these reasons, I’m going to lay out my case for co-sleeping. Because of all the rules I broke, co-sleeping is actually what saved- not destroyed- my sanity, and helps me feel closer to my baby every day.

I was terrified of co-sleeping with my child because I was afraid that I was going to roll over on her in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the great 4 month sleep regression that Lo moved into our bed, and since then, she’s slept through the night. A solid 9-10 hour stretch, nestled between Mommy and Daddy.

Lo likes to touch our skin while she sleeps. I will often wake up to her chubby little hand on my arm, just being calmed by my presence as I am hers. I fall asleep watching her chest rise and fall and hear her soft breathing. It has been in these moments that my awareness is actually heightened, and I get a more restful nights sleep even though something in my Mom-brain is alert to her needs. You can read more about this here. I am a better mommy, a better employee and a better wife when I get those extra minutes of shut-eye.

I felt embarrassed to admit that we were co-sleeping. Our baby should be in her crib, right? I should let her “cry it out”, right? I could never bring myself to do it, out of anxiety for both of us, but moreso because I wasn’t ready to let my baby go. Then I started talking to other mamas. And a surprising number of them were co-sleeping, but no one is talking about it!

But it was my friend Tara, from the wonderful blog Instinctual Mothering, that explained it in such a wonderful way. She said, “There’s nothing wrong with being close with your baby at night. It is natural for us to clutch our babies close to us.” She’s right! All animals co-sleep with their young- if you’ve ever seen a puppy curl up to its mama’s belly or a kitten nudge his little head into the crook of his mom’s arm, you know this to be true.

Co-sleeping, when done correctly, can be a safe alternative to a baby in a crib. There are several things you must do to prepare your bed for co-sleeping:

  • Eliminate excess pillows and blankets (Lo does not use either and sleeps “bare” between us in our king-size bed.
  • Firmer mattresses are recommended, just as in a crib.
  • Parents who have been smoking, drinking alcohol or taking prescriptions that put them into a deep fog/sleep should not co-sleep.
  • Babies should sleep on their backs. (Back is best!)

I’m on a business trip this week, and I am writing this blog post at nearly midnight. I sleep soundly with my young one next to me, and now that she’s not here, I find it hard to fall asleep. Just as she needs my scent and breath next to her, I need hers as well.

Baby Lo’s Nursery

We recently bought a house and moved Lo into her very own nursery. Since her last room was barely larger than a walk-in closet, I took my time and had a lot of fun as I designed this room. I knew only one thing when I started: I wanted it to be BRIGHT!

bed4

I chose a regal gray crib and dresser and accented with teal and pink colors. I found beautiful wall decals on Pinterest, and they are the focal point of the room, on the vast wall next to the crib. They were so easy to on and they are incredibly vibrant!

I added a pink shag rug from Target, which she loves to play and crawl on when she’s in her room. I also peppered the walls with wall decor and black out curtains from Target, bought during an impulse shopping trip early in the decorating process. They fit so well with the look I was seeking, it all just kind of came together in the aisles of the big red bullseye (doesn’t that always happen at Target?!)

bed3

I snagged this white Pottery Barn changing table for $15 on an online yard sale. The convenient shelves hold pajamas, diapers, shoes and hairbows in teal and white striped storage boxes. Her toiletries, diapers, wipes and other such items are stored in the IKEA cart, which I assembled without the wheels.

bed1

I hope you gleaned some nursery inspiration from Baby Lo’s nursery! With such a feminine and versatile look, she’ll be able to use this room and the look for years!

Link to the Half Order of Pink, Teal, Coral Graphic Flowers -Wall Decal Home Décor by Urban Walls” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Wall decals here!

Link to the crib: Graco Solano 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Bonus Mattress, Pebble Gray“>Graco Bryson 4-in-1 Convertible Crib, Pebble Gray

Link to Dresser: Storkcraft Crescent 4 Drawer Chest, White“>Storkcraft Crescent 4 Drawer Chest, Grey