Reading After a Drought

“Water, water every where, nor any drop to drink.” 

Reading has always been a passion of mine. It is so easy to pick up a book and let your mind wander away to some distant world, leaving everything behind.

I can’t lie, though: I graduated college and my reading habit came to a halt. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to think about books or poems or authors. I didn’t want to think about why Mrs. Dalloway bought the flowers herself. I also didn’t care about Aristotle’s opinion of government, or why Hamlet was so moody. After studying English for four years I was so relieved to come home and not read.

I watched a lot of horror movies. Yes, Little Dead Rotting Hood is just as terrible as you’re probably imagining, Psycho is always an excellent choice, and I wish I knew why Hannibal Lecter liked to eat people. I also watched a lot of television shows. Blackish is hilarious, and I absolutely do not recommend Sister Wives. My favorite is The Golden Girls and I will laugh at Dorothy’s sarcasm till the day I die.

While I was searching through my laptop yesterday, I found all my old essays from college and immediately felt melancholy. For the first time in months I craved reading. So, I decided to start again.

I read most of the books on my shelves so I travelled into the next room and searched my father’s bookcase. I picked up Nausea by Jean-Peal Sartre. Honestly, this was probably not a wise book choice to begin reading again. However, it was Nausea or James Joyce’s Ulysses

Should I feel bad for letting my reading passion slip away? I don’t know. In the same way, I wouldn’t want to eat chocolate following a weekend stay at Hershey Park. I think my exhaustion was a normal reaction. The important thing, I think, is to not let it slip far enough away where it it impossible to recover.

If you have a book recommendation, please reach out. I need new material to read! 

Romance and Roman Cappuccino

I remember my visit to Rome quite well. It’s hard to forget a place that magical. Even more so, it’s hard to forget a place where everything has significance.

Although obviously important, I’m not referring to historical significance. I won’t even talk about that here. I’m talking about the fact that Romans, almost as beautifully as the Lord, himself, breathed life into Adam’s nostrils, give life and spirit to every aspect of their lives. Even minor, insignificant events that most Americans would ignore mean something in Rome.

A specific incident during my vacation stands out in my memory. We were grabbing a quick cup of coffee at a corner cafe on the Via Veneto. I asked if I could have mine to go and the waitress looked at me perplexed, almost as if I had offended her. “No,” she laughed. “We don’t have cups to go.”

I stood there and accepted her truth. She gave me my cappuccino in a porcelain cup, which of course came with a saucer, and I enjoyed my coffee at that cafe and did not leave until I finished.

That coffee meant something more than just a cup o’ joe. It was crafted by her, and she lovingly gave it to me with the intention that I was going to enjoy it. Would it have tasted differently in a plastic cup? I don’t know, but I do know that I enjoyed taking a moment to actually savor the experience and I do not regret it.

Just as a thought experiment, what if we were to apply that Roman philosophy to all aspects of our lives? Can everything have meaning in a world void of much? Everything is cheapened, from our food to our music, to our homes and even our romance.

Being Catholic in a contemporary world is a really interesting experience. The Church calls us to live life through love entirely, all while living in a society that is on-the-go. Can those two conflicting world views exist in harmony?

I write this post in light of romance and how romance is perceived in the contemporary world. It’s hard to see men and women in their uniqueness when those definitions have been lost. It’s hard to see what we need, primarily love, when the world lacks it authentically. What if we equated love, romance, marriage, and sex to the way Romans enjoy cappuccino? Every instance with our significant other would be enjoyed throughout, and would hold significance in the way God intended.

It’s hard to escape modern reality, for we marinate in it all day. In a world dedicated to earning dollars and brownie points, it’s nice to know another way of life does exist, and is attainable. I’m not preaching on a soap box. I’m merely presenting and pondering another way of life that seems more peaceful and might bring about more love in the world. After all, love is truly all we need.

Overnight Stay in Gettysburg: Part II

Hey, everyone! As promised, this second post about our overnight stay in Gettysburg will feature our dinner at the Dobbin House Tavern, a wine tasting at the Knob Hall Winery, and the breakfast at the Brafferton Inn. So if you’re a foodie planning to visit Gettysburg, keep reading!

The Dobbin House Tavern is my favorite restaurant in all of Gettysburg. It has been around since the time of the Civil War. The atmosphere is time-period and the food is phenomenal.

There are two options for dining at the Dobbin House Tavern. The cellar features a more relaxed menu, and the fine dining features a more upscale menu. I love the cellar dining, and highly recommend their reuben sandwich, but because it was our Valentine’s date we went with the fine dining.

The course started with a basket of homemade savory and sweet breads and homemade butter. (Note: not the traditional meat sweetbreads!) Next was a salad course, which is a light garden salad to accompany the breads. The homemade blue cheese dressing is amazing. We also ordered a crab cake appetizer, which was definitely comparable to the crab cakes at the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC. For dinner we each ordered filet mignon and lobster tail, which came with baked potatoes and sides of brussels sprouts and bacon and sautéed mushrooms.

Dinner at the Dobbin House Tavern
Treat yo self!

If you plan on visiting Gettysburg, the Dobbin House Tavern is definitely a place you’ll want to try. Another place we highly recommend is the Knob Hall Winery.

We have been there a few times, and each visit is always fun and memorable. They often have live music and wine tastings on random nights. We started with a tasting, and wound up finishing a bottle of their Prestige red, and taking home a bottle of the Vidal Blanc. While there we decided to join their wine club, so that tasting and all subsequent tastings are free!

Chess Champ
In case anyone was wondering, he won.

The winery was really relaxed. We spent the evening playing chess together, listening to music, and drinking. After finishing our wine, we headed back to the Brafferton Inn.

Breakfast at the Inn was really quite an experience, beginning promptly at 9:00 a.m. We began the meal with fresh orange juice and coffee, accompanied by homemade poppyseed-lemon muffins and fruit salad. Each guest had about four breakfast options, each made to-order. I ordered a sausage and egg bake covered in homemade sausage gravy and potatoes. Danny ordered a steak and egg omelette.

Breakfast
The dining room was really quaint and cozy. The mural on the wall was hand-painted, just like the murals and borders on the bedroom walls.

The breakfast was so good (especially the muffins, OMG) that Danny surprised me with a cookbook featuring all of the famous homemade recipes of the Gettysburg inns. The weekend was full of good food and drinks.

I definitely cheated on my wedding diet, but it was definitely worth it! As always, please email me with any questions or comments at antoinette@yoururbansuburban.com. XO

Overnight Stay in Gettysburg: Part I

Hello, everyone! It has been over a month since I last posted. Between working, planning a wedding, and everything in between, I’ve had very little time for leisure activity… Until this past weekend! We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day a few days early so we booked a one-night stay at a bed and breakfast in the town of Gettysburg, PA. My fiancé happens to be from Gettysburg, so we spend a lot of time there visiting his family and enjoying the quirky historical downtown.

Being from Monmouth County, Gettysburg is a great town to visit because it’s not too far away. It’s about a 3 and a half hour ride. Between the historical perspective of the town, the great restaurants, and fun shops, there is something for everyone.

Like any Jersey Shore couple who loves a great breakfast, we left from my house and headed to the Turning Point before the long drive. If you’ve never been to a Turning Point, please go. And order a fresh-squeezed orange juice. I had eggs benedict and Danny had waffles with fresh fruit.

turning point

After our meal, we headed out for real this time. The drive is not bad, especially if you break it up a bit. The half-way mark between my house and Gettysburg is about where the Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA, is located. If you’re traveling with men, that is definitely a place to stop. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of women are shopping there at any given time, but if your beau is a fan of hunting, fishing, or really any outdoor sport, they will love visiting.

When we arrived to town we immediately checked into our hotel, which I would highly recommend to anyone who is visiting! The Brafferton Inn Bed and Breakfast was one of the best overnight stays I’ve ever experienced. The staff is absolutely lovely and helpful. They recommended restaurants, ghost tours, and activities to consider. As a history nerd, I must have asked about a dozen questions to every staff member I met.

brafferton inn

The history of the Inn is actually really interesting. It is technically the oldest deeded house in the entire town, having been built by a tanner named Michael Hoke in 1786. Sadly, however, we did not see any ghosts. Maybe next time?

Aside from the absolutely amazing staff, the aesthetic of the Inn is quite charming. I felt like I was stepping back into a different era of American history while I was there. Each bedroom is different, so every experience is unique. Some have fireplaces, and some even have hand-painted boarders around the walls. Something I really loved was the layout of the Inn. There were mini staircases that led to some of the bathrooms and crooked and angular halls to the bedrooms. The eccentric layout is attributed to the various additions to the Inn over the past few hundreds of years.

inn room

Overall, also, the Inn was not terribly expensive. Plus, it was right in the center of town and everything was in walking distance.

Stay updated because in a few days I will be posting Part II of this series! I will be discussing our dinner at the Dobbin House Tavern, our wine tasting at the Knob Hall Winery, and the breakfast at the Brafferton Inn!

5 Albums to Listen to on Snowy Days

We’re now about a week into winter and soon the weatherman (hopefully) will be predicting some snow days. Along with a healthy stockpile of wine, cheese, and chocolate, a good music library is essential to a successful winter’s day. Below I’ve listed 5 of my favorite albums to listen to when Old Man Winter visits.

Blue by Joni Mitchell

blue big.jpg

If the melancholy lyrics of “River” do not force you to slip into a wintery daze, Mitchell’s haunting voice in “A Case of You” will. I am of the opinion that Blue is not only one of the greatest and most important albums ever written, but the quintessential album for a maturing woman.

Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan

blonde on blonde

The lyrics of songs such “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” helps one understand why Dylan is a Nobel Laureate. I must admit that it was difficult to decide which Dylan album to include on this list. If you have time, I also recommend The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux

peyroux

I remember the first time I ever heard this album. My father came home, put it on, and I immediately fell in love. Careless Love is smooth, haunting, delicate at times, and hip. Listen to it and close your eyes. You may actually think you’re in Manhattan or Paris.

The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground

Velvet_Underground_and_Nico

OK, if you have never listened to The Velvet Underground before, get through the first few songs before you decide it’s too strange. Do yourself a favor and really listen to and analyze the words Reed is singing. One of my favorite things about this album is that it came out in 1967. That’s only one year after The Beatles were crying for Eleanor Rigby on Revolver. It’s amazing to realize that the raw sound of “Venus in Furs” came out the same year as Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” I can go on for hours about the brilliance of this album.

Moondance by Van Morrison

moondance

…speaking of Van Morrison! Moondance is an absolutely beautiful album and definitely one to wind down to on cold days. The rich sounds of “And It Stoned Me” pairs well with a good glass of wine. I genuinely think Morrison has one of the greatest male voices in rock.

Pro tip: listen to these albums on vinyl. I do not know why, but everything just sounds better on vinyl. I recommend visiting Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank, NJ, or Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ, for all your vinyl needs! In regards to turntables, I listen on a VPI. That’s pretty awesome, too, because VPI is right in Cliffwood, NJ!

As always, please email me at antoinette@yoururbansuburban.com with any questions, comments, or concerns. Please email me, also, with any recommendations!