Eastern State Penitentiary - Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I was in Philadelphia and I’m just now writing about it! This trip ended up being completely overshadowed by my Italy trip. I think there were only two weeks between when I arrived home from Italy to when I flew to Philly.

Anyway, back in October 2015 I went to Philly for a business trip. I lucked out and traveled with a couple of my favorite coworkers and had an amazing time. We stayed at the Doubletree in Downtown Philadelphia and it was such a great location. We were kinda far from the office, but it was worth it to be able to walk to dinner every night and be within walking distance of the major landmarks. We flew in Monday, worked full days Tuesday/Wednesday, explored the city Thursday morning (worked in the afternoon) and flew home on Friday. It was a quick trip, but we were able to see some of the most famous places in the city.

Before we flew out Friday afternoon, we spent the morning exploring Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Opened in 1829, the prison was the largest building in the United States at that time. It’s now surrounded by houses and shops in downtown Philly, but originally it was two miles outside of the city. Reminiscent of a medieval castle, the architect who designed prison wanted the exterior to be imposing enough to scare people into not committing crimes. I love that there are gargoyles surrounding the entrance. I feel like not enough buildings in the US have gargoyles. If I ever win the lottery and buy a mansion, I’m putting gargoyles on it!

We arrived a few minutes before it opened, so we were the first visitors for the day and got to explore a lot of the prison by ourselves. Honestly, it was a little creepy walking through the abandoned cell blocks with no one else around.


The prison was built in a hub-and-spoke design with a center surveillance hub and the seven cell blocks radiating out from there.  Most of the cell blocks are open to the public, but a few are closed for safety reasons. The medical wing is one of the cell blocks that’s closed off, but it’s worth walking down to the end to see the red cross on the gate.

The most famous inmate at Eastern State Penitentiary was notorious gangster Al Capone. In 1929 he was arrested in Philadelphia and sentenced to a year in prison for carrying a concealed, unlicensed gun. He was connected with the prison officials so his stay was actually pretty comfortable. His cell has been restored to show the furniture, rugs, paintings, and radio that adorned his space.

Although I think the most interesting inmate was Pep the dog. Pep, the pet dog of Governor Pinchot, was sentenced to life for allegedly killing the governor’s wife’s cat. He was even assigned an inmate number and you can see his mug shot below. However, a few years later the wife cleared Pep’s name and said that Pep was actually there as an experiment in prisoner reform and to help boost morale. You can read more about Pep here.

As you can see, Eastern State Penitentiary has an interesting history and all of us really enjoyed our visit. I’m so happy that we had time to stop by before our flight out that afternoon. We spent about two hours touring the prison and that was plenty of time to see everything.

Eastern State Penitentiary is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and as always, I suggest getting there early to beat the crowds. Tickets are available online or at the door are prices range from $10-$16. The audio tour is included with your ticket and it’s excellent. It’s narrated by Steve Buscemi and includes interviews from former wardens, guards, and inmates.

Also, if you’re in the area around Halloween, they set up a haunted house inside of the prison. I’m a total chicken, so I would NEVER do it, but it’s probably awesome if you like scary stuff. You can read more about Terror Behind the Walls here.

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Look for Less: Marble Box Frame Coffee Table

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about our new living room rug and promised to share an update when I bought a new coffee table and pillow covers for the space. Believe it or not, I’m back today to share part two of our living room refresh! This seriously has to be a record for quickest turnaround time from me promising to follow up on a project and then actually posting an update. Anyway, here’s our updated living room:

Originally I said that I was probably going to order the metal and marble coffee table from West Elm. I seriously love that table, but two things stopped me from ordering it. For one, it was expensive ($600 plus $50 white glove delivery), but the main reason was the size. It’s four inches smaller (length and width) than our current table, so I think it would be too small for the space. I just couldn’t justify spending that much money on something that wasn’t perfect. So I searched like crazy online and found a similar table at Hayneedle. It’s the same length as our current table and it’s only $230!

To save even more money I bought a 10% off Hayneedle coupon code from eBay for $3.90. I was hoping to find one online, but it looks like they are all unique codes. I saved $23 with that code plus they offer free shipping. My total ended up being $207 (plus $4 for the coupon code), so over $450 cheaper than the West Elm version!

The table shipped quickly and arrived well before the estimated date. It arrived in two boxes – one for the metal frame pieces and one for the marble slab. The marble box was HEAVY! The table was fairly easy to assemble and it looks SO good for the price. The marble isn’t as white as it looks on the website and it has a lot more veining (which I like). Based on the website pictures, I would probably prefer the marble on the West Elm table…but not for $450 more.

I also ordered new pillow covers from The Pillow Cover Store on Etsy. I paid $50 for three 19” x 19” pillow covers, which seems like a killer deal. I briefly considered making the covers myself, but the fabric would have cost me almost as much as the finished covers. It was definitely worth the extra few dollars to have them made instead of procrastinating for months.

I added a new wood tray from Target, but the rest of the accessories are the same as before or found in my stash. I think all that’s left to do in this room now is to replace the missing baseboard and some additional accessorizing/styling…and maybe a new end table.

I’m so happy with how this room is turning out now. The new rug and coffee table have completely changed the vibe of the space and I love it!

Pinned It, Made It #3

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It’s been almost a year since my friend Michelle and I started our monthly craft nights. We’ve had so much fun creating the projects that we’ve pinned. You can see our first three projects here (burlap wreath, reversible scarecrow/snowman signs, and string art) and the next three projects we completed here (ornaments, wood tags, and painted signs).

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We had our July craft night over the weekend, so today I want to share the last three projects we’ve completed. In March we made patriotic rag wreaths. Michelle had just had back surgery so we picked this craft because it wouldn’t require a lot of moving or bending. Plus the supplies were minimal so I didn’t have to drag a bunch of stuff to her house for us to work on them.

They took FOR-EV-ER to complete (we had to meet a second day to finish), but I’m so happy with how they turned out. I hung mine on our front door around Memorial Day and just recently took it down after the 4th. We used this tutorial from Vintage, Paint, and More as a guide for “cutting” and tying the fabric.

We were both busy in April, so we had to skip that month, but in May we made these outdoor wooden sign posts and welcome signs. They turned out so cute and this is definitely one of my favorite projects so far.

We mostly followed the directions from this post from Shanty 2 Chic except that we bought these fence post caps from Amazon for the tops instead of the wood pieces. We also screwed our bottom pieces together instead of just using wood glue.  

We also missed June due to summer craziness, but we met over the weekend for a different kind of craft night. Instead of picking a project together and working on that, we decided to do a Dollar Tree craft challenge. We gave ourselves a budget of $15 and 30 minutes to buy our supplies. We weren’t allowed to check Pinterest or the internet while we were shopping. It was so fun (and challenging) to come up with a project on the spot. I think the most stressful part was making sure to buy all of the supplies needed for the project. Here’s what we ended up buying:

And here’s what we ended up making:

It was so fun to see what we both came up with. I marbled items using nail polish and Michelle made cotton ball/q-tip holders out of candle holders and glass stones. I love both projects and I love that we tried something new and pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone a bit. The white tiles weren't from the Dollar Tree, but I got kinda carried away with this project and was looking for more items to play with.

I’m so happy that we started craft night! I love crafting and creating, but need a push like this to actually go buy the supplies and sit down and make. We haven’t decided what we are going to make for our August craft night yet. Do you have any suggestions for us?

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