Like many people, I volunteer at food kitchens around the winter holidays. Our family always served meals at a homeless shelter on Christmas, since we don’t celebrate.
The rest of the year, not so much.
Toyota to the rescue
Toyota gave me a nudge when they asked me to partner with them at a City Harvest mobile pantry. This year round program gives free food to families in need. I spent a day handing out bags of produce and staples.
Giving away all this food inspired me to clean out my closets and donate several large boxes of kitchen items that I don’t use, but others can. I don’t need three colanders or four medium skillets. And what good is dry pasta if you don’t have a pot to cook it in?
To thank me, Toyota loaned me its family sized, three row 2021 Toyota Sienna. The minivan seats six with plenty of room, so I was able to drop off all these kitchen items.
We also used the minivan to move our youngest daughter to Washington, DC. The hybrid Sienna got 35 miles per gallon, which is incredible when you consider all the room the van has.
The hybrid motor actually has an EV mode for very short spurts. And the hybrid motor also includes all wheel drive so you can be in control on snowy or icy roads.
Although the Sienna is a rather large car to drive around DC, and to squeeze into the garage spot at my cousin’s condo, it has an extremely useful feature for navigating tough spots. You can push a button and fold in the side view mirrors while the car is running. No jumping out or, my mother’s trick, holding your breath while trying to squeeze past. We were driving through an alley behind my daughter’s rental house and a huge Bronco was sticking out. I folded the mirrors in (and held my breath – I know it doesn’t work, but it’s habit) and slid past.
When you lock the car, both mirrors automatically fold in.
We stayed in Logan Circle, at the nexus of bars and restaurants. We could walk just a few feet from the apartment and find wonderful food.
Doi Moi had a lush outdoor setting and intriguing Vietnamese street food. We got drunken noodle with tofu, steamed buns, a vegetarian bahn mi and crispy Brussels sprouts.
Barcelona Wine Bar had a long list of delicious tapas. We ordered way too many, but managed to polish off a cheese plate, corn fritters, roasted eggplant dip, artichokes, marinated beets, potato tortilla, dandelion salad and a hot chickpea and spinach dish, all with delicious bread.
On the Way Home
Philadelphia was a great place to spend a day after four days devoted to helping our daughter. We went to the Philadelphia Flower Show, held outside for the first time.
On a beautiful spring day, it was a real treat to wander around the colorful displays outside. I know the flower show was held at FDR Park due to Covid-19 restrictions, but I’d love to see the show return to the outdoors.