Happy Bones, SoHo


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IMG_3958Early this evening I texted photo of the four inches of snow blanketing the Brooklyn ground to my mom. She return the favor by texting me a photo of the waves on the  idyllic stretch of beach near her house in Florida. At the moment, I am sitting on the couch wrapped in a sea of warm blankets watching the snow violently streams sideways from the living room window, wishing I could be on that Florida beach. Currently, NYC is in the midst of a blizzard – my second since moving to the city in 2009.  Tonight I am dreaming of sunshine, warm weather, and summer explorations.

Tiffany and I had a grand adventure last August. She came up from Philadelphia to spend the weekend with me and was game for exploration, so we explored…and explored and explored!  On a Saturday morning, I showed her a photo of a coffee shop that appeared on my Instagram feed. We squealed in delight over THE CUPS. We HAD to go wherever these cute bone-covered cups could be found! Google directed us to a hole-in-the wall coffee shop in SoHo called Happy Bones. If you asked me point-blank if I primarily wanted to come here because of the awesome art on the to-go cups, I would have to say YES. How can a coffee NOT taste divine whist in one of these funky cups?



Location: you can find the mothership Happy Bones at 394 Broome Street, NY, NY 10013

Hours: Mon – Fri / 7:30am – 7pm
Sat – Sun / 8am – 7pm

So, what’s unique about it? This ultra-hipster coffee bar features futuristic angles and a stark white interior to inspire creativity and the arts. The website proclaims that “the founders of Happy Bones are passionate about art and want to share that passion with the children of New York.” The space is striking – it looks like it could be part of the MoMa.

$$$: $3.5-$6.

Pro Tip: Order the cortado or flat white (always to-go! Can’t forget those cups!). If you like your drinks iced, make sure to grab a festive striped paper straw!

Featuring: Counter Culture Coffee.

Summer, please come soon!!

The virtue of solitude.


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Anxiety has riddled my heart these past seven months in NYC, and let me tell you, the fear and stress that have overflowed into my everyday life have not been pretty. I arrived home in Florida on Saturday yearning for peace and from the rush and grind of the ceaseless city.  As long as I can remember, I’ve always come to the beach or walked to the lake near my parent’s house to sit in silence and solitude: praying sometimes, but mostly just listening and standing still, at peace. If God had something to say to me, I’d be there listening, waiting, resting. The city, by nature of being a city, puts a damper on attempted silence or solitude.

I think most people have a hard time standing still–even for a few moments–regardless of living in a big city. When you are still you are forced to turn around (this time, to the inside) and face what truly lies in your heart, however deep or dark that may be.  Sometimes this introspection can be pure freedom and joy and delight, but oftentimes it is terror, guilt, fear, and shame.

Today, in my solitude on an empty beach, I was confronted on one hand by my own insecurity about the abilities that I have, and on the other hand, by a need for beauty and a craving to do something semi-creative. I took my camera, ten minutes out of my solace, and looked up from the shells on the ground to see beauty surrounding. This is what I saw:

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And then the rain poured down in a glorious thunderstorm symphony.

New York Moon



New York Skyline

As I walked home from the subway tonight I was reminded about my relationship to life in a flash of reminiscence. I moved to NYC in January of 2009, starry eyed and lugging two practically bursting suitcases through Penn Station. I couldn’t believe the energy and music of the city that surrounded me! NYC had a heartbeat all of its own, and I wanted to write every poem in the world about her. The first weeks were a blur of joy and newness. Everything was an adventure to be had: the people, the subway, the boroughs, the neighborhoods, the smells, and -though sometimes I seemed to forget- my new classes and college too.

My most lucid memory from those initial months takes me up an off-limits fire escape. I climbed several stories high before ascending a rickety ladder and pulling myself onto the landing with no guardrail. It was the middle of January and although the winter air bit my nose, the midnight sky was so clear that outlines of several stars dusted the sky.  I sat on the ground and pulled my arms around my legs as I shivered in wonder at the magical scene before me: the moon shone so bright that Manhattan lights could not overwhelm it. It was brilliant, beautiful, bright.

Tonight I was relative to the moon in the same way I once had been only a few weeks shy of six years before.  The same New York moon glowed in the cloudless sky like embers, hot and white. Almost six years have passed and my life has changed drastically, yet when I looked at the moon tonight, time stood still and I flew back to January, 2009. There I was, a college kid, standing before the smoldering orb’s glory with a heart full of hope and a head full of dreams. As my glance moved from the moon back to the sidewalk and back into 2014, an inaudible Voice whispered sweet assurance in the deep caverns of my mind “even more than the moon, still I remain.”

Those whispered, voiceless words are life to me.

Although these last six years of flux feel like they will never end, tonight’s moon reminded me that God’s faithful, unending, enduring love never changes. No matter where I am in life– whether as college student trespassing on a fire escape to gaze at the moon, or as an adult trudging home from the subway–I or my circumstances may change, but He does not.

Wonder, Delight, and Home


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Life delights in life, said William Blake.  It’s rare to find friends to share a mutual joie de vivre, and I am blessed with two: Carol Anne and Alessandra.  Whenever we share our thoughts about beauty, philosophy, theology, or literature over a sunrise cup of coffee, I’m consistently encouraged by their deep sense of wonder, firm conviction of life’s beauty, and unwavering understanding that the whole world is charged with meaning.

When I am discouraged, I am thankful for reminders of grace that come in the form of encouraging friends. In the trying few weeks that I have been facing, I’ve been given some light and some hope–God’s tangible love in human form–from these two wonderful women. They remind me of what is important, even among the rocks. Every Friday morning we meet at Birch Coffee, just north of Madison Square Park. Lately, our conversation has been about place and home.

There are few words that can capture the heart-wrenching longing a single, fleeting thought of home can stir in our hearts.  We can’t adequately describe exactly what home is, but we all know what it looks like when we see it because it dwells so deeply in our hearts. Home is more than the place where we lay our heads or store our books.  Home has something to do with a proper longing for how our lives ought be ordered physically, centering on the material place where we spend most of our out-of-work time.  Home is where we rest, re-charge, practice hospitality, share meals, reflect.

Moving to NYC often demands a trade-off: a home for a life in the city.  Right now, I’m learning how to make the place I live a home. It’s far too easy to make excuses and never grow into the building you go to when the day turns to night. Because the city is so volatile, many people never actually move into the place that they live. They plan to move a year after they sign the lease to their first apartment, but suddenly six years have passed and they’re still at the same address – and still haven’t unpacked their suitcase.

Since moving back to NYC I’ve made the conscious effort to unpack everything that I brought with me – no matter how long or short I might be here.  My favorite picture frames that line the walls of my room are surrounded by decorative mirrors, curtains drape across the high window next to my bed, the bookshelf is stocked with antique hardcovers arranged by color.  My room in the apartment has not become a home yet. And even though the desire to make my own home gnaws at the back of my heart stronger than I’ve ever felt it before, I am at peace. I long to have a home where people can gather, where my cooking pans and utensils are all together in one place. This will come in good time, but for now I’m making the most of the cubic content that I’ve been given.

Saturday, In the Park


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Prospect Park Farmer's Market Blueberries

“You are now arriving at Grand Army Plaza” crackles over the intercom. A resounding “Deee-DONG” whizes through the air as the train doors open to greet the sweltering stench of summer heat- a story every subway and train station will feature over the next three months. It’s summer in the city, which (regardless the toxic heat + trash stench) means so many wonderful things: free concerts in Central Park and in the Prospect Park bandshell, outdoor movie nights scattered across the city, a Mister Softee on every corner, and an electric enthusiasm humming throughout the city. Summer according to SRB is a recipe comprised of farmer’s market excursions and cool (in both the AC and pleasing uses of the word) museums and libraries. Continue reading

A New Look

Sometimes new seasons of life demand change. At least, that’s what I thought after I graduated college and chopped 12 inches off my hair. Sometimes change means making things more simple. Now that I’m back in NYC I’ve been itching to streamline my creative spaces. You may have noticed the new and improved header above (I’ve been playing around with penmanship these days), thanks to the help of my friend artist Nathan Pyle.  In attempt to simplify life and house multiple projects in one place (hello amalgamation!), I’ve created a new website to feature my writing, photography, and resume: viva sarahruthb.com! Check it out by clicking the image below. Also, if you know of any jobs available in the NYC metro area, please let me know!

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(PS. Ruthie Bird isn’t going anywhere, I simply am excited to share my work on the new website with you!)

Fresh Familiarity

unnamed-2One day shy of my second anniversary away from Manhattan I returned to her glorious shore. Life is up in the air, I still am on the hunt for a job and permanent housing, but this city is familiar and refreshing even though it holds (all-too-frequent) biting moments of anxiety. In a strange way, the steady stream of people walking up and down Broadway reminds me of the ocean I left behind in Florida.  The sea of faces constantly rolls up and down, up and down. One wave always trails the one that’s gone before it and crashes upon the shore-only to repeat the cycle again and again and again and again. Even through natural lulls, the relentless rhythm of people’s footsteps follow and chase one another like water tossing up the shore. All shapes and colors of faces and clad torsos blend together, only to part at the cross street. These men, women, and children rushing, retreating, sauntering, strolling along Broadway are unknown to me, but each wave brings a surge of familiarity.  I know these streets. I’ve become accustomed to awkward situations the city provides fresh daily. I am acquainted with the ebb and flow of NYC’s perpetually new commotion, just as I am to the perpetual droning of waves upon my beloved Florida’s shore.

In this volatile season of life, I am thankful these city streets constantly flow with the familiar unknown.


High Living and Plain Thinking

Last summer I worked for a program called Summit in Manitou Springs, Colorado. The town was nestled on an incline crowded with crunchy-granola hippies and tourist shops between Garden of the Gods and the base of Pike’s Peak. It was glorious, gorgeous, and lacked the despicable east-coast humidity. But what Manitou lacked in sticky condensation, it made up for in dry heat. One fiery afternoon, I decided to walk down to the pool to cool off for a bit. I had the day off and the sound of children’s voices flooding over the ridge told me that the super cool neighborhood kiddos were there to play. Once I set my things down I walked to the side of the pool to join the cannon ball crew competing for the biggest splash. “You can’t jump in here!” Rafferty, age 3, proclaimed emphatically followed by a laugh of disbelief. “Why not, Raff?” I asked. “Because you are a grownup! Grownups don’t jump into the pool, silly!” I furrowed my brow mischeviously and cracked a smile as I asked Rafferty another question, “How old do you have to be to be a grownup?” “Twelve,” he said with a grin, then he held his nose and immediately jumped into a ball and into the water.

When I was a kid, I associated being a grownup with having life figured out.  I may not have discerned a definitive age like Rafferty of when someone became a grownup, but I did imagine what it would be like when the time came. Needless to say, the grown-up territory comes with lots of surprises.

What I have learned since I passed beyond the 23-year mark is that growing up is full of misleading ideals that are at the root of a lot of anxiety and confusion. Many of us face a series of crossroads in our early adult life, and sometimes they turn into what we term ‘quarter-life-crisises.’ How do we discern what to do as we navigate the transitions into adulthood and begin to make decisions for ourselves? A few years later we must face the question “what am I doing with my life?” yet again post-grad school or post-disasterous first entry level job. It’s not all bad, just unexpectedly confusing. But what I’ve learned is that the seasons of change and uncertainty-those growing up pains-don’t have to lead to anxiety or indecision if they are wrapped in the fabric of faithfulness.

Some of the best wisdom I’ve gained along the way has been from my delightful friend GK Chesterton. In an essay titled On Scandals and Simplicity, Chesterton says that we don’t need more “high thinking and plain living” sorts of people. Instead, the world needs people of high living and plain thinking. High thinking can get us into trouble.  I don’t think Chesterton conflates “high thinking” with thinking well and deeply about something to know what it is and if it is true, rather this precisely is what he means by plain thinking. He says high thoughts are the “harsh and fanciful” mass of popular ethics; they don’t often conform to reality. Today, this amounts to what Dr. Anthony Bradley writes of in his 2013 article on “The New Legalism.” High thinking causes us to shoot towards ideals and distractions and miss the real stuff of life. High thinking can give us the crescent of a vision for our lives, but it can’t set down a true course of action for us to follow. It also brings us anxiety when we try to figure out what the contours of our life ought to look like outside of living well and inviting others to live well too – according to the way God has ordered the world.

Instead of seeking first to change culture or the world, to be extraordinary or awesome, we are called to fidelity to God and to others: to seek first His kingdom.  This is the fountainhead of a virtuous and fruitful life. It’s about my faithfulness, and not so much about the quantifiable result. This is what Chesterton means by high living. A wholesome understanding of high living diminishes the gravity of our daily decisions, while increasing their weight. With virtue at the epicenter, the crucial questions we have to answer shift from which school I should pick to whom I should be while I am there.  For sure, these decisions of what to do are important, but they are of secondary importance next to the decision to live highly.

Oftentimes we don’t know what will happen two steps down the proverbial road, but we usually have an inclination of what that first step must be. Even so, we tend to over think our way into indecision and inaction, we wonder “What am I even doing?” We have lost our aim. We could be doing something, but are too afraid of making a wrong decision to take a step forward. In Orthodoxy, Chesterton wrote that “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth: this has been exactly reversed.” Now, he says a new humility has been introduced into life. “The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping: not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.”

Indeed, paralyzing indecision and anxiety often result from fear or a desire for control the outcome of a situation. We must be content to remember what CS Lewis says, that success of any outcome is up to God, our task is to be faithful. Or what TS Eliot says in the Four Quartets, “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” I don’t know when exactly someone becomes a grownup, but I do know that forgetting the first thing, faithfulness wherever I am called, is plain living and the least grown-up thing in the world.

High Street on Market, Philadelphia

High Street on Market

As I mentioned yesterday, High Street on Market is just around the corner from Independence Hall and is a block away from Christ Church (and the Franklin Fountain. Thank God for summer and ice cream!). This tasty farm-to-table spot is not meant to confuse! It’s called High Street but can be found on Market Street. It reminds me a bit of Taylors, one of my favorite sandwich shops in Oxford.

My parents came to Philly for the John Jay Commissioning ceremony last weekend. Of course, we had to spend a day exploring the city’s abundant history and delicacies. Our first stop to refuel after Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and the Portrait Gallery was High Street on Market. The weather was beautiful, and the music inside was obnoxious (the only downside to this place), so we decided to enjoy our meal outside at a sidewalk table in the shade. High Street on Market, PhiladelphiaWe were not disappointed. As you can see, our meal was fresh, relaxed, and delicious. I’ve craved the grilled broccoli and blistered grape salad ever since we left. Continue reading