Category Archives: The Sweeten Life

Fresh Farm Goodness Comes to Sweeten

By Kristy C.

Elise Betz poses in front of the partial share that we are splitting this season

Elise Betz poses in front of the partial share that we are splitting this season

If you stopped into Sweeten Alumni House this Tuesday, you were greeted with the wonderful smells of leeks, parsley, arugula and various other fresh vegetables. That’s because a group of staff members here decided to sign up for a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) subscription program through Red Earth Farms.

CSAs have been gaining popularity over the past few years, as they are a fun and easy way to obtain fresh locally grown produce in urban and suburban areas. Red Earth Farms offers a “Choice CSA”, which allows members the opportunity to choose weekly from a list of seasonal fresh produce. The produce is then delivered to a drop-off point in your neighborhood.

CSAs have a “share fee” in which you pay an amount up front for a “share” in the crops that the farm produces. CSA subscriptions typically last from late Spring until early Fall, with most farms offering seasonal treats to go along with their produce.

Charis Lindrooth (C’87) runs Red Earth Farms with her husband Michael Alhert. When I asked Charis about the benefits of joining a CSA, she stated:

“The member receives produce that has been harvested often within 24 hours of receiving their box. They enjoy the benefits of super fresh produce, they get connected with the source of their food by visiting the farm, through newsletters and through Facebook and other social media. They also know that they are supporting a local, family-owned Pennsylvania farm.”

Sounds great to me! I also asked: Why should someone consider joining with Red Earth Farms?

“We have introduced the concept of online ordering as a way of offering our customers choice in what arrives in their box. We think this is the only way to really make the CSA model a win-win solution for both the farmer and the consumer. Our customers? They love it!”

 So far, I am greatly enjoying the partial share that I am splitting with Executive Director of Alumni Relations, Elise Betz. We are both fans of making green smoothies, so this was an opportunity to get the freshest local greens around! To top it off, the online ordering process has been very easy. Other staff members at Sweeten bought into the Yogurt/Kefir and egg shares, filling up their fridges with fresh farm goodness! A special thanks to Liz Pinnie, Assistant Director of Penn Alumni Interview Program, who made it possible for Sweeten to become a designated drop-off location for the farm.

We hope this is the start of a very healthy tradition here at Sweeten Alumni House.

If you want more information about joining a CSA, check out this website:

If you want to know more about Red Earth Farms, feel free to check them out here:

Oh, and if you are looking for a simple and yummy green smoothie recipe, this is the one that I use almost every single day:

Kristy’s Kale Smoothie Recipe

(makes two large servings)

This smoothie can be made in a high powered blender

Veggie Phase

  • 6-8 baby carrots
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of plain yogurt
  • A few large leaves of kale (broken up into slightly smaller pieces)
  • ½ cup of fresh spinach (optional)
  • Blend on your highest setting until you have a well-blended liquid mixture

Fruit Phase

  • Add the following into your mixture:
  • 1 banana or green apple (sliced)
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (I prefer strawberries or tropical fruit)
  • You can also add in 3 or 4 large ice cubes if you prefer a colder smoothie
  • Mix on ice crush until it is nice and smooth




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The Newbie at Penn!

By: Ken B.

So I have been working for Alumni Relations for about a month and I must say, working at Penn has been like no other experience!

My first week was not like a normal week you would typically experience at a new work place. I think your first week would include some sort of orientation as well as an understanding as to what might be expected of you and maybe some training.

My first week included… Alumni Weekend. Alumni Weekend is the largest event Alumni Relations puts together every year to celebrate reunions, catch up with old friends, relive traditions and of course celebrate the induction of new alumni through the beautiful commencement ceremonies that take place during and at the end of Alumni Weekend.

So my tasks for my first week, after of course meeting many of my new colleagues with a quick, “Hi, my name is so and so and I.. Gotta go,” were to design a few different items for Alumni Weekend and to also design a group photo of everyone in Alumni Relations using the theme “Going Green.” The idea was to use Kermit the Frog and The Muppets as a base and the outcome was actually not bad at all.


Another task that was assigned to me was to be the “Event Manager” of a particular that was located in Houston Hall (At the time, I had no idea where that was). The event was based around the understanding of #Hashtags and using social media. We had 41 Alumni attend!

One of my last tasks for Alumni Weekend was to carry the 1939 Alumni Flag for the 2014 Commencement Ceremony. This was by far the greatest honor that has ever been bestowed upon me. It was exhilarating and an honor to be able to walk out onto Franklin Field and see all of the faculty, family, friends and alumni cheer on the future Alumni of Penn.

So as my first week here at Penn came to a close, I asked myself “Can every week been this awesome?”



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Dear, Sweeten –

Author: Lisa V., C’02, GeD’10

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to witness four Olympic games; long enough to get a bachelor’s degree – twice; long enough to become a doctor – medical school, residency and all.  For me, the past eight years have been long enough to grow up from an unpolished post-grad looking for any old job to a professional woman with what one might actually categorize as a “career.”  How did this happen?

In May 2005, I came back to Penn for the first time since graduating in May 2002, this time not as a student but as a staff member.  I remember walking through campus that fall during move-in, feeling as though I could relate much more to the incoming students than my colleagues or fellow alumni.  It was much like coming home from college for your first Thanksgiving, unsure whether you should sit at the kids table or the grown up table.  Lucky for me, I wasn’t forced to choose.

How it all started

How it all started

In the ensuing years, I received a true education.  I learned how to work hard, and play even harder.  I learned that the art of building relationships is the key to success – both professionally and personally.  I learned that impromptu dance parties are the best remedy for a long, hard day of work – and just about anything else.  I learned – by example – what it means to be a mentor, a leader, a team player.  I learned that work-life balance is a journey, not a destination – but it’s a journey made far less arduous when accompanied by amazing friends and colleagues.

Playing hard

Playing hard

Team building

Team building

Penn has always been a special place for me.  As an undergraduate, it’s where I met my very best friends and received an education that opened my eyes to the world’s possibilities.  But I’d be lying if didn’t say that the past eight years have been as – if not more – transformative.  My Penn family – stand-in moms and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles – have guided and supported me through marriage and moves and babies and second degrees.  They’ve made me laugh when I felt like crying.  They’ve talked me off the ledge, and been there to catch me when I still managed to fall over it.  They’ve celebrated my successes as if they were their own, and reassured me that my failures were merely stepping stones.

Growth and expansion

Growth and expansion

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to acquire a second family; long enough to build relationships that will endure well beyond my tenure here; and long enough to know that I will never again find such an amazing group of passionate, loyal, creative colleagues.

Thank you, Sweeten, for eight tremendous years.   It’s a sin that it has to come to an end – but I know you will all be part of the next chapter of my life in your own ways.




Filed under Leaving Penn, Lisa V., Memories of Penn, Photos, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

Breakfast at Sweeten

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Last week Sweeten was treated to its own wildlife adventure. A very large hawk decided to perch atop a neighboring building and have breakfast.


He was a beautiful animal and didn’t seem to mind when us Sweeten folk came out onto the balcony to photograph him. Breakfast was his main concern.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Upon further investigation—googling “hawks of Pennsylvania”—I discovered that we were watching a red-tailed hawk, also known as a chickenhawk. Although they rarely prey on standard-sized chickens, they do love squirrels and pigeons of which there are many in Philadelphia. The specie also seems to be unfazed by human activity so, unlike many of their fellow birds-of-prey, these hawks are often found in cities like our own Philadelphia.

Watching animals up close is a fascinating thing. It can be both beautiful and repellent at the same time, which is an unusual combination. Last year on safari, Penn alumni and I experienced a similar sensation. Lions on the hunt is a beautiful spectacle, but also nerve-racking as you wait for something gruesome to happen (or not happen, in our case). If animal watching is of interest to you, join us this fall on our alumni tour of East Africa.

My favorite shot from the lion hunt in the Ngorongoro Caldera. The buffalo win this round.

My favorite shot from the Ngorongoro Caldera lion hunt. The buffalo win this round.

But if Africa is a little too far for your taste (or your wallet), make sure you look upwards next time you’re in Philadelphia or on campus at Penn. Perhaps you’ll spot another red-tailed hawk!

Our red-tailed friend.

Our red-tailed friend.

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Filed under Emilie, Squirrels, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

My Top Penn List: I <3 Penn

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

It’s St. Valentine’s Day and I thought there could be no better use of my Top Penn List blog entry for today then an open love letter to the University.


Things that I Love about Penn:

10. Art. There is treasure trove of public art on campus as well as in numerous galleries (read more herein When the Students Aren’t Here).  Places like ICA and the Arthur Ross allow staff, students, and visitors to take in some art during the work day.

A temporary exhibit at the ICA.

9. Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. As a current student or a staff member, one can take advantage of the impressive collection of novels ranging from current best sellers to the classics. However, there are some additional treats in Van Pelt, like movies, foreign language materials and very comfortable lounge chairs. Plus, you can even find places to get food and drink in the building.

8. Classes. There are so many classes on Penn’s campus that it’s difficult to choose.  I’ve mused about the courses I would take if I had the chance again in my “Do Over” list.

 7. Architecture. We work, go to school and live in the very large and dynamic University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District, a district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of our beloved buildings are noted on this list. My own office building, E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House (aka Delta Tau Delta) from 1914, makes the grade.

Furness Building, interior .

6. Intellectual Access. We try to capitalize on the educational opportunities here on campus.  Why, just this very year, Sweeten staff members have started a book club. In fact, our first reading assignment came from the one featured by the Penn Reading Project for 2012-2013, John Patrick Shanleys’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, Doubt. The club has continued throughout the year featuring a variety of short stories selections and this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia selection, The Buddha in the Attic.

5. Sports. Penn’s NCAA and club sports make for great athletic viewing here in our corner of West Philadelphia.  From Franklin Field to the Palestra (both also on the National Registry), from Dunning-Cohen Champions Field to Hamlin Tennis Center of Penn Park and beyond, there are many opportunities to watch Penn take on their collegiate foes in the battle for the bragging rights of being the best.

One of the very first iterations of the vision that is now Penn Park.

4. Ben Franklin. Speaking of bragging rights, we have Ben Franklin; Boston’s native son came to Philadelphia and he ended up adopting us. A printer by trade, a scientist by fame and a founding father, he gives 100 dollar bills their nickname and gave life to our great institution.

 Our founder in front of College Hall (P.S. College Hall is on the National Registry).

Our founder in front of College Hall (P.S. College Hall is on the National Registry).

3. Co-workers. I am really excited to have a cadre of colleagues who help make work not seem like so much work.  You have read some of the stories from Kristina, Lisa Marie, Liz Pinnie, Aimee, and former staffers like Leigh Ann and Elizabeth. Their insight and funny stories can give you a little glimpse of how they make Sweeten seem like a home.

2. The Penn Museum. One of our biggest treasures on campus is the Penn Museum; I always find an reason to visit from the Crystal Ball to the temporary exhibits.  The Arts and Crafts and Eclectic style building (which – surprise, surprise – lands it on the National Registry) houses our internationally renowned educational and research institution dedicated to the understanding of cultural diversity and the exploration of the history of humankind.

1. A Piano in the Office. Sweeten has a lot going for it – it’s located in the center of campus, it’s a converted fraternity house, it’s on aforementioned National Registry – but to me, the most noteworthy aspect of Sweeten is the piano in the main room.  While it is a pretty discussion piece, any member of the Penn community can stop by to tickle the ivories during the 9-5 business day. Many times, I have come downstairs for a cup of coffee to find someone playing and brightening up the day with a Chopin étude, a Mozart minute or a good old-fashion song about Pennsylvania.

The inviting piano in Sweeten.

The inviting piano in Sweeten.

What are the top ten things you love about Penn?  I send my best wishes to everyone out there for a very happy St. Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Ben Franklin, Campus Life, Casey R., Penn Museum, Philadelphia, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life, Top Ten

How Sweet it Is: Sweeten’s Sweets

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Sweeten Alumni House is quite literally a sweet place to work. This holiday season we have been inundated with a plethora of brightly colored packages all bearing delicious temptations. My office is in a strategic location- right next to the copy machine and across from the second-floor counter where all the sweets eventually end up. Thanks to my close proximity, I have been able to document a week of Sweeten’s sweets.


President Amy Gutmann stays up late into the night to bake cookies for the entire campus. Just kidding, but it was awfully thoughtful of her to send these to us from Famous 4th Street Cookies.



Monday was off to a tasty start with holiday packages from vendors including a popcorn three-way, chocolate-covered pretzels, assorted chocolates, and Scottish shortbread cookies. It ended with even more sweets, when Sweeten hosted a baby shower complete with a chocolate/vanilla marble cake.




After staff slept off their sugar comas, it was back to work on Tuesday with homemade Christmas cookies from our own Liz Pinnie. Note the beautiful (and delicious) spritz cookies. And what would a day at Sweeten be without chocolaty, peanut-buttery goodness wrapped in colorful holiday foil? With a little help from our work study students, we devoured the entire basket of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups too.

2012-12-18_09-34-51_295 2012-12-18_10-26-16_363


Another delicious popcorn tin followed by a party for December birthdays. Lynn Carroll made cupcakes!




Thursday was the best treat of all. My little dog, Axl, came to visit in his holiday bandana. He loves visiting campus. Not only is there a lot of green space for him to romp, but there are tons of squirrels to chase. Axl spent his lunch break outside saying hello to passers-by and trying to chase Penn’s furry critters.



We are all at home with our friends and family, enjoying our own holiday treats and traditions, as I hope, were you. Happy holidays from all of us at Sweeten!

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Sweeten Alumni House Staff Holiday

The Sweeten Alumni House staff took time out of their always busy day to celebrate the holidays with each other.  Each person pitched in and brought food for all to share . . . we had meatballs, sausage, buffalo chicken dip, cheese steak dip, many different salads, cookies, cake, and plenty of beverages!

We also had an Ugly Sweater Contest and our very own Jeanine McAdams won for best look!!

Our gift swap was really fun and everyone left with a little gift whether a joke or something nice  — nothing over $5.00 was the rule.  gifts

We have a wonderful group of people who work in Alumni Relations.  We had a wonderful afternoon!!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

holiday staff


Filed under Kristina C., Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life, View from Sweeten

Do You Hear What I Hear . . . and See!

Beautiful music on Penn’s campus comes from the Alumni Carillon . . .

The Westminster bells chime on the hour, and popular songs are heard throughout College Green at exactly noon and 6 PM each day. Since the late 1980s, I have had the pleasure of listening from my second floor office to beautiful bells playing throughout the center of campus. There were a few years, however, in the late 1990s that the Carillon did not play, but in 2004 a new Carillon was installed and continues to fill the  center of campus with music.

This blog post is not only about the music of the Alumni Carillon, but to let you know that a plaque was just recently placed next to the front door of the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House at 3533 Locust Walk.  This acknowledgement displays not only our Penn pride, but our thanks for such a beautiful gift to Penn . . . now for all to see, as well as hear!

Plaque installed next to the front door entrance of the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House

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Filed under Campus Life, Historical, Kristina C., Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life, Traditions

Beat the Heat, Sweeten Edition

Author: Liz Pinnie

It’s summer in Philly, which means two things: 1. that Rita’s Water Ice consumption is up, and 2. that it is HOT as a just-baked biscuit in here!

In honor of this, I have asked my lovely co-workers to share some tips with myself (and thus all of you) about how they beat the heat during the work week**.

Ms. Marla Brown is full of great ideas (she’s an island fan, so she has lots of experience with 90 + temperatures) which include, but are not limited to, drinking lots of water, wearing natural fibers, focusing on cool thoughts- and using her vacation days, of course.

Janell has her fans set up to the perfect angle for maximum all day breeze blowing.  She also finds that nagging Liz (me) about the second floor temperatures is fun, and makes her feel in some small way, a little cooler.

One co-worker who shall remain nameless finds that the best thing you can do to beat the heat in the office is to wear next to nothing.  What can I say?  Sweeten is a fairly liberal place.

On the other side of the second floor, Kelly says “I would make frequent trips to Kiwi, but since I’ve been healthy for two days, I can’t.   So instead I go home and water my flowers and my feet”.  What a brilliant alternative, Kelly!

Members of the third floor find that a visit to me on the first floor does the trick, as it is a veritable tundra down here (ah, the joys of historic buildings).

And what do I do, you might ask?  I’m a big fan of sticking my head in the freezer for a few minutes.  I also find that if I eat something really hot and spicy for lunch, when I’m done the whole world feels a little cooler.

So there you have it, folks: Sweeten’s top survival tips for staying cool during the work week while stuck in the city heat.  Now go get some Rita’s (you know you want to).

**If any of you have been on the second and third floor of Sweeten, you’ll understand the irony.

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Filed under Liz P., The Sweeten Life, Uncategorized, View from Sweeten

Alumni Relations Staff Retreat

by Lisa Marie Patzer

Nicole Maloy, Trina Middleton, Marge Tinsley, Trey Popp , and Jason Strohl, did a great job organizing the 2012 Penn Alumni Relations Staff Retreat. They were very enthusiastic, donning stereotypical French artist attire, and speaking in various improvised accents.

Three Committee Members

Three Committee Members

The theme of the retreat was Arts & Culture and we spent the day off campus at the Fleisher Art Memorial.  We participated in several creative activities, including group map making, book binding, ceramic tile creation and self-portraits! Here are some of the pieces we made during the day:

Group Map of Philly1

Group Map of Philly 1

Book Binding

Book Binding (featuring cats)

Symbol and Word Exercise

Symbol and Word Exercise

Guided Drawing

Guided Drawing

Guided Drawing 2

Guided Drawing 2

The keynote speaker for the day was Dr. Richard Cooper.  He taught us tricks for improving our memories and organizing our thoughts.  As a test of how well we remember, we were asked to observe everything in the room at the beginning of the day.  Later, this still life was removed from the room and we had to try and remember what objects were present and where they were placed.  At least one person cheated and took a photo with their smart phone.

Still Life for Memory Test

Still Life for Memory Test

My favorite part of the day was seeing my co-workers express their creativity. The retreat was a great way to start the summer off on a positive, collaborative note.

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Filed under Lisa Marie Patzer, The Sweeten Life, Uncategorized, View from Sweeten