philly

THEY SAY TWO WHEELS MOVE THE SOUL...

On a warm Sunday, I heard the low rumbling of a motorcycle from my third-floor window.

It wasn't the first time that I had heard the sound or that it had made my heart skip a beat. But, it was the first time that we were going on a date.

Four years and seven bikes later, we don't ride on the same bike often, but when we do it reminds me of that first ride.

When you start falling for someone, and you're falling for them hard, there's something incredibly intimate about a first motorcycle ride's long embrace. There's something about holding on, about being intertwined.

And when you eventually ride next to each other and catch that first glimpse of your shadows overlapping between the sun's rays- well, I think that's about as close to witnessing our souls moving as we will ever get.

Happy four year anniversary, babe.

RWTH x Madewell, Babes Meeting Babes

Dear wonderful babes, it was so nice to meet some of you for the first time this past Sunday at Madewell Philly!

Gone are the times when it was weird to walk up to someone and say 'hey, I follow you on Instagram.' I actually used to fight that, but over the years I've realized that there's no point! Whether you work regular hours or odd hours or no hours, meeting other women who have a common interest isn't always easy. That's why I love riding motorcycles and why I wanted to do this event at Madewell.

A huge shoutout and thank you to Madewell and to Lily, in particular, (who used to be the event coordinator for Madewell's Philly location) for coming up with the idea and setting this up. I'm so thrilled to now have you working with me at RevZilla. :)

Another big thank you to the ladies of The Fox Run for sharing the event and meeting up! It was awesome to meet so many of you and to see you meet each other for the first time too.

And to Virginia, Babes Ride Out's East Coast manager, for sharing the event as well.

The whole point of this event was to meet other ladies who ride or are interested in riding, and maybe shop and drink and eat a little too. Because, why not?

And drink & eat we did! Thank you Art In The Age, for the Sage and Rhubarb cocktails (a post on summer favorites from them to come), and Lil Pop Shop for the sweets!

I can't wait to see you all at the Fox Run & Babes Ride Out East Coast! xoxo

Harmony, Lucy, Marie, Kelly, & Mae of The Fox Run. See you ladies soon!

Madewell x RUNWTHEHUNTED present..

As a rider and a DoItYourself woman I value quality, fit and function. I seek clothing that is both flattering and utilitarian, serving my needs as a do-somethin woman. Like many women, I crave goods that will stand up to the adventures of my day to day life.

I wear Madewell jeans because they do just that.

Join us next Sunday at Madewell's Walnut Street store for a:

Meet n' Greet & Shop Event!

Meet other girls who have a passion for two wheels and shop n' sip with sweets while you exchange info for this Spring's upcoming all-female rides: The Fox Run & Babes Ride Out East Coast!

See you there!

Important and True: Madewell's heavier-weight jeans don't rip at the thighs or stretch out at the butt. But, they are not considered riding gear.

Even the heaviest weight denim is not proper riding gear unless it is lined or reinforced. Preferably with an abrasion resistant material like kevlar and/or CE rated armor. Find out more on RevZilla.com.

PHILLY'S OWN: JINXED

Around Town is all about celebrating the details and finding things that say Y-O-U. One way we tend to do that is through our homes and through the shops where we hunt for home.

On the Hunt & Home part of the site, you’ll find lots of Philly interiors that are full of unique things. I’m proud to say that a lot of those things were found in our very own city at our very own Philly-born JINXED.

JINXED is a retail brand comprised of five stores that sell vintage decor, housewares and t-shirts while also supporting underground artists and small businesses in the Philly area. What sets them apart is their unconventionally fairly priced vintage and their cool-yet-not-too-cool shop attitude!

In addition to the shops JINXED also sells some pieces daily through Instagram. If you don't follow them already, you should check them out! You never know when that perfect piece will pop up. Just act quickly, because they sell immediately.

S H O P  T A L K

On the eve of the official opening of their FIFTH storeGrand Opening this Saturday, Dec. 12th, from 12-8PM @4521 Baltimore Ave, West Philly- I met up with the Philly born shop-owner, Mike Supermodel, to talk about the evolution of the business.

The first thing I asked him was how he wound up with five stores, most of which opened in just the past few years. His response: “things happen by accident- but, not really.”

Okay, I thought. Please explain...

U N E X P E C T E D  B E G I N N I N G S

When Mike bought JINXED in 2004 it was a t-shirt company and the original store was on 4th street, just south of South street.

I was in high school at the time, and what I remember is an obscure little shop with lots of street-style art and in-your-face-shirts. I also remember Mike being a little intimidating, but no furniture to speak of. Then the recession hit and South Street, along with most of the stores on it, kind of trailed off.

At that point, JINXED shifted its focus to going to Tattoo Conventions where Mike continued to sell shirts. Through that scene, he also met a few other business owners who eventually asked him to share a retail space. And so, the JINXED store at the Piazza in Northern Liberties was born.

But when the other renters sharing the storefront ultimately decided to move on to other things, Mike was left with a big space and not a lot to fill it. Not wanting to close the store, he hit the streets to try to come up with a plan.

Where he wound up was at the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny, probably one of the gnarliest drug corners in Philly at the time. But, what he found there wasn't what anyone might expect.

In Philly, especially in the deep pocket neighborhoods farther from downtown, you'll often find furniture being sold on the street. K and A, in particular, was usually host to "clean-out guys" gutting houses and looking to make a buck off of someone's unwanted stuff. Mike? He saw it, he realized he could sell it, and then he hooked a boat trailer and some plywood up to his two-door Ford Explorer and loaded it all up.

Then, without jacking the price up too much, he sold it.

And so, not quite on purpose and not quite by mistake, JINXED became the JINXED that you see today.

But, even with access to all these unique pieces, you won't find any of it at Mike's house. "Selling this stuff," he says, "it changes the way you live." Because, if there's anything he's learned from selling vintage, it's that there's no point in holding on to anything. 'Cause at the end of the day, "this is just all of the stuff that won't fit in the coffin."

 

M O R E  T H A N  J U S T  D E C O R

There are two other things that I love about JINXED and both have to do with communities that JINXED supports. One is the community of artists and the other is the community of business owners.

Perhaps what's so awesome is that you can tell that JINXED has a real relationship with both.

Take the relationship with the art world, for example. JINXED does something a lot of retail owners fail at, which is keeping things exclusive and accessible.

 In other words, you can find art at JINXED that you might not see anywhere else. But anyone can see it or buy it, and they can do so without the usual gallery attitude that goes with it. I'm not a particularly art-savvy person, so I can really appreciate that! And the artists who just want to get out there, I'm sure they appreciate that too.

Gush Gallery presents Double Dutch by Kate Harrold. See more of her city-inspired manipulated digital photography at the JINXED Grand Opening on Saturday 12/12 from 12-8PM @ 4521 BALTIMORE AVE, West Philly. www.kateharrold.com

But, what I love most about JINXED is that it's from Philly and that it's part of our little city circle of life.

In fact, a few years ago- before I had ever formally met Mike or really knew much about the store- I ran into a friend who jokingly was making fun of me for seeing me there so often. At the time, I was a little embarrassed. But years later, I'm glad I'm still doing just that.

When I shop at JINXED I know that I'm supporting a small business. And more importantly, I know that they are supporting other local businesses too.

Take, for example, this weekend's JINXED West Philly Store Grand Opening. In addition to the artwork shown above by Kate Harrold, you'll also find Philly-based Little Baby's Ice Cream. They'll be there with a special JINXED "Box Truck" flavor. And if you attend this weekend's event, you'll get to be a part of the community and support all three.

And that is a detail of city living that's really worth celebrating.

JINXED WEST PHILLY

GRAND OPENING - Saturday Dec. 12th, 12-8PM @ 4521 BALTIMORE AVE

Featuring Artwork by KATE HARROLD, Curated by GUSH GALLERY

On Riding Bitch... For Lack Of A Better Term

Over the years, the female riding community has grown. It’s grown so much and so much of it, I think, has to do with the support that other females have given each other. It's simple, women empowering other women. But let’s back up a moment. Who taught this new wave of women how to ride? Was it another woman - a friend, a girlfriend, a mother, a sister? Was it a daughter? Through the vastly growing online community of female motorcycle riders, so many have shared their stories surrounding who taught them how to ride. And surprisingly enough, many (though definitely not all) involved a man.

While the idea of learning how to ride from another woman makes my heart smile, I myself learned from a man. Unlike so many women who have who have been riding for years, I didn't learn from my father. I learned from my boyfriend. When we met, I already had my permit. I was going to buy a bike whether he was supportive or not. But to he and his friends’ credit, the support that they gave me throughout the learning and bike buying process was not only present it was tremendous.

But before I met my boyfriend, I had not been met with the same kind of support that a woman in 2012 might hope to expect. Though my family was supportive, the other men in my life before DCar were not. In fact, my previous boyfriend rode. When I told him I wanted a motorcycle too, he told me that he didn’t want me riding unless he was there to pick out the bike. Throughout the conversation, I realized that he was slowly going to take control of the process and he wasn't going to let me make any decisions on my own. Considering that he was halfway across the world, his words didn’t hold much weight and our relationship didn’t last. But, his conviction in deciding what I could not do was a pivotal moment in my relationship with motorcycles. I wasn't going to settle for being his old lady and I wasn’t just going to ride bitch.

So, I got my permit. I had no idea what I was going to do after that, though. I had a few guy friends who rode, but I never really felt they understood why I wanted a bike or that I really wanted one because I was such a novice. In contrast, most of them had been riding or oggling bikes for years. In their eyes, I was just an overly eager passenger.

DCar seemed to arrive at that perfect moment where I was at a crossroads with what to buy bike-wise. He and our friend Justin scoured Craigslist with me until they understood what I wanted, and didn't want, as my ride. Then, they helped me look for it. But, never once did they tell me what I couldn't ride.  Instead, they shared their experiences and let me make up my own mind. They empowered me.

In the meantime, while I looked for a bike, I rode with Dan. He picked me up from work, we went on dates- we went on double dates. I felt like a koala bear peering over his shoulder, happily watching the road. Never once did I feel like I was riding bitch.

Fast-forward a few years and we now live together in an apartment with a garage that's attached to our bedroom. I have three bikes and he currently has two. I've moved beyond my little ‘74 CB200 to a Sportster and recently even tried my hand at riding off-road (see the post below*). But, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t still occasionally ride bitch. Because sometimes riding with the person who taught you (who truly empowered you) - be it a parent, lover or friend - is so much more than just riding bitch.

Kudos to all of the men out there who support and empower women- be it riding, or otherwise.

Shovel Trouble

Shit happens. But, when there's someone to ride through some of the shit with you, it's not so bad.

A few weeks ago, my Uncle was in town from London. That Saturday he came over with my little brothers and my Mom to play Monopoly and have family dinner. Naturally, he wanted to see our garage. Being a former track guy, primarily concerned with performance oriented bikes, he was curious as to why DCar chooses to ride the type of bikes that he does. DCar just looked at his Shovelhead and talked about how he liked putting it together and learning how to take it apart. It's simple, in a way. His recent triumph? Getting the timing just right. But as always, there's always something else to change, fix or maintain. My Uncle doesn't ride anymore, but it was nice to see two people who ride for completely different reasons talk about why they love doing it.

That Sunday I headed to my Mom's for one last dinner with my Uncle and DCar rode over to his parents to see his Grandpa Bill. On the way home from his parents, his oil filter came off. I ran home, took off my heels, threw on some vans and hopped in the truck to bring him some oil.

Filling it up with more oil didn't do the trick because the oil filter wouldn't stay on. So, we decided to tow the old girl home. I won't lie, being as tiny as I am I got pretty nervous pulling the ramp out of the truck to help him load the bike in. But, I could tell he was more nervous than I was. So, I just grabbed the rear and told him I had it. Somehow, we got it in there! And then, like two degenerates covered in oil, we got Chipotle.

Is it Poppin or Naw?

Over the years, I've really come to love living for the details. Be it at home, with my bikes or with the clothing that I wear or even the places that I frequent. I don't just want to buy something because it's cute or because it's so hot right now - though that does happen. I prefer to buy and do things because I relate, because I'm supporting something or someone awesome. Or simply, because it makes me feel good. And yea, I get called a hipster because of it. But, who cares.

What's funny is that this concept seems so simple but it isn't. At least not to me, because I didn't always feel this way. In fact, when I was younger I would really sweat the details. I would try to be different while trying to stay on trend. You know, the typical negative self-image issues that young girls get sucked into. In retrospect, I thought I was dressing and doing for me but I wasn't. I was just fitting in.

I suspect that I'm not the only one that feels this way. Though, what's interesting is that I didn't really notice this change in myself until recently when I changed jobs. By recently, I mean the past two years or so. Right now, I work with a ton of men. And as much as I miss working with more women to share my enthusiasm for fashion or jewelry, or what have you, it's forced me to decide what my style really is. Because let's be real, I could wear a trash bag to work and none of them would really care. Hell, I don't even really have to care. But, what's happened is the opposite. At first, I was nervous about wearing my floor length skirts, fitted overalls or hall-echoing heels around guys who were basically hanging out at work in jorts and graphic tees. But with few women around to judge or even to compliment, I just started wearing whatever I wanted and loving it. Wake up on my period and throw on an oversized grandpa cardigan, my boyfriend's worn in white V, black skinnies and comfy but tall pointedwedgebooties? Oh, and those tie dye socks too. Yes please. I started feeling comfy and sassy and didn't give a fuch. By not really caring and just dressing for me, I started dressing more like me.

Now, I guess you could say that's just a byproduct of getting older.... or becoming stupider. Or maybe, I've just become a little more independent. Maybe, maybe not. But fashion and lifestyle, to me, have become so much more than just looking good or buying things from somewhere because it easy or accessible . It's about living for the details, celebrating them every day and feeling good doing it.

"Around Town" is going to be just that - celebrating the details. I hope you like it!

What's what: Madewell tunic, thrifted Via Spiga booties from Retrospect, Dooney & Burke doctor bag from the Fairmount Flea Market. Plants from ACE Hardware on Fairmount Avenue- they have the best succulents and this location has been in the neighborhood since I was a little girl!

Let There Be Light, A Sunny Fishtown Loft

After occasionally running into them around town, I really started to get to know Jessie and Deanna through our mutual interest in motorcycles. My boyfriend, Dan, and Jessie met through the Cast & Salvage guys a few years back and Deanna recently got a bike of her own. When I met them, they were living together in an apartment complex at Ridge Ave and Spring Garden St in Philly, an area that doesn't really feel like a neighborhood because its in an annex where a few different neighborhoods collide. From the moment I met them, they both talked about wanting a different place with more space and it seemed only natural to me that they were looking for more community too.

Before I shot their place, we met at the La Colombe in their neighborhood, Fishtown's newest addition to Frankford Ave. Jessie and a friend also met us there and Dan trickled in about an hour later. As we were leaving, we ran into at least two more people that we know. By the looks of it, they were already more at home and happier being in the mix of things. And when we got to their place, I saw Deanna practically skip out of the car in excitement to go open her door.

Their place is a little slice of fresh air. Philly doesn't really scream loft the way that New York does, but if there's a loft worth seeing, it's theirs. And it's right where you would least expect it-- in an old church on a quiet street in the heart of Fishtown.

Q: You and Jessie recently moved to Fishtown from the upper downtown area. What did you look for when hunting for your new home and why?

Space. We were living in a "garden apartment" which is a fancy name for a basement. It had huge windows, which helped open it up, but it was cramped and had little storage. We wanted something open, large, and with lots of character. Basically, something that would echo our personal styles. A functioning kitchen was also important, because I love to cook. We got lucky and knew Dom, who owns the place, and after a quick tour, we knew it was for us.

Q: Your new digs are in an old church. Tell me more about that and the owner of the building.

We don't know a ton about it, but several locals have told us they used to attend services there back in the day. Amazingly enough, the building as it stands today is pretty similar to the way it was built (at least from the outside). Dom, a local photographer, got the place about 15 years ago, gutted it, and made the main building into his home where he lives with his family. The stained glass is all original, and he's done an amazing job preserving the art-deco details in the design. We live in the converted rectory, which is still connected to the main building on the first floor.

Q: What is your favorite part of your new space? What was the biggest challenge/surprise?

The windows. I've never lived in a place with so much light. They have screens, but we hardly use them. They're a statement in themselves. The biggest challenge for us will always be storage. We just have too much stuff. The place has no overhead storage in the kitchen and only one closet, but we've made due utilizing other pieces of furniture and significantly downsizing.

Q: As you guys continue to get settled in, what are some of the home projects you are looking to take on?

We've been in the space for about 7 months and we're already itching to change it up. The great thing about living in a studio-esque environment is that there aren't any designated rooms, and we can set it up however we want, and change it again if we get tired of it. Our next project is to rearrange the whole living space. We're saving up for a new spindle bed frame, and we have a ton of reclaimed wood from the old church they just demolished on Belgrade. The wood is going to eventually be pipe and flange shelving next to the safe, and the bed is going to be caddy cornered where the work bench now is. Throw in some vintage rugs and a ton more plants, and we'll be in a good spot until the next idea pops up.

Q: You both seem like you are constantly collecting and creating new things. How do you keep your space so interesting and ornate, but clutter free?

An advantage of having such an open space is that it never feels too crowded. We've focused on finding some funky storage solutions, like the metal bookcase we keep our motorcycle ephemera in. It gives us a place to store and display our knick-knacks without crowding shelves and filling boxes. That, and I'm just the biggest neat freak you'll ever meet. 

Q: If you could build your dream home, what would it absolutely include and why?

A garage for Jessie's growing motorcycle collection and a sun room so I can exercise my green thumb. An outdoor space of our own would be cool too, because after 3 years together and 3 different apartments, we've never had one.

What's what: Couch - Craigslist score. Coffee Table - passed down from Jessie's grandmother. Peacock Chair - Phantastic Phinds Furniture Consignment. Desk - hand-built by Deanna. Entry Table - the pieces were purchased from @oldschoolfinds on Instagram, assembled by Jessie. Safe and kitchen pew knook - original to the space. Bed - Ikea. 48 Star Flag - flea market find.

Deanna works as the lead on Social Media Strategy for Sailor Jerry Rum. Jessie is a designer and artist as a part of True Hand Society, a private design & tattoo studio. Thurston & Shermie are their resident fluffballs.

Follow Jessie and Deanna on Instagram: @deannarama @jessiejaytlp

Work to Ride

Photo by DCar

Two weeks ago was the annual Gathering of the Nortons at Washington's Crossing. The gathering is pretty unique in that it's not a show, it's literally just a gathering. But the turnout is usually great and all types of riders come to see who or what, rather, has shown up.

My favorite bike this year wasn't a Norton. It was a BMW R90S with an orange body. I didn't get to speak with the owner, so I'll let the pictures tell the bike's story.

We knew the ride there would be cold and that if we left from the city, we would probably wind up waking up late and taking I-95. But I-95 is rampant with potholes and jerk drivers, so we opted to leave the evening before and camp at our friend Justin's house since it was close to the meet. The ride out to Justin's house was perfect. It was one of the first warm Saturdays we had seen here in Philly and it was nice to just cruise along the back-roads up to South Hampton. While I wouldn't really consider sleeping in a friend's backyard true camping, we had fun and got to enjoy a fire with some Jiffy Pop and a few beers.

As suspected, the ride the next morning was cold. Dan, Justin and I rode with Justin's family friend, Joe, and Justin's mom on the back. At the gas station that morning, she hopped off of his bike to tell me how cute I looked on my bike. Oh, moms.

On the way to Washington's Crossing Dan's bike kept putting out at stops. In fact, his bike putted out at almost every stop. It was disconcerting to say the least because he had been riding his bike for two months prior with no issues after replacing the cam and putting on a 'new' exhaust. But, I guess that's how 40 something year-old Shovelheads are.

As we arrived at the meet, I noticed that Dan was also holding on to his tank when he wasn't shifting. His Shovelhead is hand-shift, so that was alarming to watch. Sometimes, riding with people you care about makes for more trouble than not.

When we arrive he tells us that his tank is coming off. More specifically, the bolt that keeps the bottom tab on his tank bolted to the frame is now loose. So we think- motorcycle meet, someone's got to have some tools. In fact, we hear this echoed over and over again from everyone that we meet. Sorry man, I don't have any but someone probably does. After about an hour and a half of asking around, Dan found someone with a standard allen key set and we were good to go. Or so we thought.

A few minutes after leaving, we see an older gentleman on the side of the road pushing his Triumph. We all look back at one another and motion to stop. Apparently, he has run out of gas. It's hard to hear anything else over the rumble of our three bikes and every other bike that is passing, but we tell him that we will get him some gas and be back soon. As we take off, we see him cross over to a safer side of the road.

The closest gas station that we know of involves riding through Main Street in New Hope. If you've never been, don't go on a day where there is a bike event nearby. It's dead-stop traffic and there are people and bikes and cars everywhere. We finally get to the gas station and the attendant looks the other way as we fill up a bottle that used to contain water. We ride back through the traffic, which is a little better going the other way, and we find our guy. He insists on giving Justin money for gas. It's sweet, but unnecessary. We know what it's like, so we stopped. It's pretty simple.

But in retrospect, I guess he was pretty surprised to see us stop out of all the riders passing by that day. Dan, on his '74 rigid Shovelhead with a jockey shift; Justin, on his '62 Pan-Shovel with an upside-down cross on the sissy bar and a girl he very recently met on the back; me, with my little yellow-tanked Sportster and my tassels just flowing in the wind.

Either way, we got back on our bikes so that we could make our way through New Hope to find some good roads to ride. We didn't get very far. Between the traffic and all the chaos, a few young cops were out and about. I guess they thought it was a beautiful day to pull some 'bikers' over.

Three Harleys are loud whether or not they individually exceed the set-forth decibel limits in a given city. And when on of them is old, and its carb plug has popped off, it's even louder because you've pulled out the choke to make it idle higher instead of stalling out at every light. Can you restart it? as the cop who pulled us over asked. Well sir, if you want me to (kick) start it again, we're going to be here for a while.

We wound up getting off with a warning, as I'm sure everyone else did that day. On the way back to Philly, two of the three bolts came loose on Dan's shift-plate and people gawked at us at every light as his bike idled higher. By the time we hit Jenkintown, we both needed a break. I was cold and stressed and he needed to 'fix' a few things.

I won't lie, I asked him about just leaving his bike at his parent's house and taking my bike back. Of course, he said no. I'm always impressed by his resolve. When we finally pulled up to our garage, we just took off our helmets and parked our butts on the ground. I remember thinking- my hands are callused, my head is itchy, my boobs hurt. I smell like motor oil. If I was going to quit these kind of bikes, today would be the day. But while I showered and changed, I started to think about our weekend and smile. I completely forgot that we broke down on the way to Justin's and that I was the only one who could get my little hands behind Dan's ignition to fix it. Could it be that that was actually fun? It does feel that way...

Back Into The Swing Of Things

Justin kickstarting his '62 Harley Davidson Pan-Shovel

My boyfriend Dan and his long-time friend, Justin, have been riding with me since I bought my first motorcycle. In fact Justin test-rode my first bike, a '74 Honda CB200, and Dan rode it home the day I picked it up which was a little over three years ago. So, it's only natural that these are the first two I want to go on a long ride with after a long winter.

When you know people well, and you know how they ride, riding with them becomes different than riding with anyone else. It may sound weird, but it's almost like riding alone.

I'm definitely a nerd among the cool kids, but that's okay. I love riding with people who love their bikes and love what they do. Even if what they do is kick back and break down.

On the way home from Valley Forge, Justin's bike broke down. And by broke down, I mean the oil line on his bike started melting and smoking against his exhaust while he was riding. He managed to cut and reroute the oil line once we got to Manayunk, much to the dismay of the families walking around on Easter Sunday.

Justin's bike conundrums and macgyvering ways have never really surprised me. That is, until we were almost home. If you're not familiar with Kelly Drive, it's a windy but flat road that runs along the Schuylkill River. There's no shoulder or sidewalk, just grass that's lined with trees next to a bicycle path that's usually full of runners and cyclists, small children and tourists. The roads themselves are usually crowded with cars that can't stay in their lanes at speeds that they shouldn't be going.

As we're riding I notice Justin slow down in front of me. Again, there's no shoulder. He slows down some more until he's right next to me. My first thought is not that he's out of gas, it's that there is nowhere to pull over and that there are a ton of cars behind us. As I begin to pass him, slightly panicking, he motions to keep going so I do. I watch though as he steadily moves to the right, rides up over the small patch of grass, through two trees and onto the bike path. I look forward at Dan who is looking back at me and I motion for him to keep going. I look back again and it's as if Justin has disappeared.

We ride the few blocks home to get Dan's truck and a gas can, all the while smiling and giggling about Justin, his bike and all the people on the bicycle path that day. It was a good day.

Follow the boys on Instagram: @justinxjames @graveyardbars

Jim and Kelli Bought A House!

Jim and Kelli are two  friends who also live in Philly and ride. They also just got married and took on a huge DIY project! They're renovating / revamping their newly bought home.

Right now they live in a small but picturesque, trinity-style South Philly home with fresh white everything and two cute little pups.

Naturally, their new place is completely different. It's a big, three-bedroom, two bathroom house with a huge by-city-standards backyard and lots of light. It's the perfect framework for a beautiful home. But, there's a ton of work to be done. In other words, the house was uninhabitable (by their standards) when they decided they would buy it.

Q: What did you absolutely love about the house when you saw it / what made you cringe? What was the biggest surprise?

Kelli: We were the one and only couple to see this home the day of showing due to crazy circumstances and sheer luck. It was 10 degrees outside and we were the only guys to stick it out in the cold to wait for the owner. We got in and I was immediately STOKED on how tall the ceilings were, and how spacious the entire house felt. The real fall-in-love moment was when we saw the large enclosed patio, and backyard with evergreen trees!

The scariest part? The house was very, very, lived in. Lots of smoke damage, carpet, vinyl, more carpet, and I'd say close to nothing had been updated in the past 15 years. I'm talking drop ceiling with florescent lights, lipstick kisses from who knows when on the doorframes, and faux wood paneling from the 70s. Everywhere. 

Kelli: The biggest surprise would have to be, of course, the floors. Before we closed on the house, we had no idea what was underneath that vinyl and carpet. The actual moment we got the keys we ran back to tear up the corners and voila, hardwood in every room. Hell yeah. We had it professionally sanded and sealed. When I saw them finished, I almost cried of happiness. That's when I knew my house was gonna rule.

Before...

After!

Q: What do you feel has been the biggest accomplishment thus far and what is the next project that you're taking on?

Kelli: We're really just getting into it. It's been a whirlwind of trying to tackle big things, small things, prioritizing, packing, and then living our day to day lives on top of that. I'd say our biggest accomplishment so far is being able to work together as a team without losing it! It can feel overwhelming at times, but we're staying positive :) 

The bedroom, being completely gutted for renovation.

The bedroom, being completely gutted for renovation.

Kelli: Our biggest project is the kitchen at the moment. We don't have the dollars for a real deal renovation, so we're working with what we've got (painting the cabinets) and replacing the worst of it (countertops and backsplash!)

Before painting the cabinets....

Before painting the cabinets....

Future countertops.... Tile backsplash to come!

Future countertops.... Tile backsplash to come!

Q: What is your favorite space in the house and where do you see yourself spending most of your time?

Kelli: Every time we take a break from tearing down paneling, painting walls, or bagging up debris, we sit out on the patio, drink a beer, split a cheesesteak, and take a minute to breathe and enjoy the Spring weather. I can already tell it's going to be the best spot in our home, the part we fell in love with when we first walked in!

They plan to keep the trees and replace the faux-grass with some ceramic tiles.

They plan to keep the trees and replace the faux-grass with some ceramic tiles.

Sneak Peek: Their living room is coming along nicely.

What's what: Cabinet hutch and chair from JINXED. Ice Cream Cone Planter from Etsy. Concrete planter and plant from City Planter.

Kelli is a Jr. Artwork Consultant at Printfresh Studio and previously worked at Jinxed in Philadelphia as the GM. Jim works with me at RevZilla as the Contact Center Manager.

Follow them on Instagram: @shinyalien & @the_dusters

Obligatory photo of their rescue pups, Tiki and Frisco.

Spring Is In the Air

Two years ago I started working at RevZilla and I had no idea what a dual sport bike was. I had heard the term Enduro, but even that was just a Craigslist term that I wasn't 100% certain the meaning of. I was a novice and I really just loved old bikes, even if I didn't know a ton about them. Since then, I've been exposed to so many different bikes and I've had the pleasure of speaking to a really diverse mix of riders.

Of them, the off-road crowd just wins. They don't stop grinning when they describe the type of riding they do. It's infectious and I've felt my face get flush with envy every so many times while hearing them talk. So about a year ago, I started my quest for the perfect off-road machine (for me).

I looked at a few bikes in person and scoured Craigslist daily like everyone else. All of the bikes I saw were either too tall or too small or too old. At 5'2", they were mostly too tall! So, I began looking at forums for bikes with lower seat heights that were also street legal, reliable and not too expensive. Soon after, I found a '94 Yamaha XT225 Serow with a few scrapes and dings at a fair price. My favorite thing about it so far is the DG exhaust. Problem is, it stopped running the day after I brought it home!

So, I spent last Saturday in the garage with DCar and our friend Adam from Cast & Salvage. It took us a few hours to get everything back in order (carbs needed cleaning / re-jetting and the airbox was full of oil that presumably overflowed from the crankcase), and the garage was cold as hell, but we finally got it running that evening. I didn't think to take any photos of the process because I wanted to learn, but I did get a silly photo that caught everyone's surprise when we finally heard it turn over :)

By the time we got it running we were all frozen and tired. But on Sunday I got to ride the XT for the first time with my friend, Jim, and his wife Kelli. Naturally, we ran into some other people who were enjoying the sunshine.

Fall

The first 'group' ride I went on was to Belmont Plateau. It wasn't a far ride at all, but I had just gotten my license and barely had my bearings on my bike. On the way there, I stalled out at every other light. Actually, more like each and every light. But, riding around Fairmount Park and ending up on this hill felt like a victory at the time.

That was a few years ago. But the Plateau isn't far from where DCar and I live now, so we try to end rides here often and take in the view of the city. This time, we went for a cruise on DCar's Sportster and took a little detour on the way home.

Dia de los Muertos

In the spirit of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, we took a ride to the cemetery this past November. If you aren't familiar with Dia de los Muertos, it's a Mexican Holiday that honors the adults in your life that have passed. In Mexico, their graves are cleaned and decorated with bright orange marigolds. Unfortunately, my father passed away on a farm in Mexico when I was three and I grew up in the States. Still, I thought of him while we rode through Laurel Hill that day.

It was a cold, beautiful day.

The etchings above were done by Mexican printmaker and draughtsman, Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Boo.

Mon-daze

On a surprisingly warm day this November, my friend Tracy and I ended a little ride on the west side of the Art Museum. We got there just in time for the sunset.

The Art Museum is one of the my favorite landmarks in Philly. Riding towards it along West Rider Drive is really kind of breathtaking and makes for an amazing view of the museum, the river and boat house row.

Even though the museum itself closes daily, the steps, nearby gazebos and park are always open. Growing up, I spent many a night hanging out on the steps and gazing at the city lights.