30 November 2010


Autumn by the tracks

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,

elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

-- Sheenagh Pugh

04 November 2010

And AGAIN! with Life List No.40

So, that first apron I made?  It hasn't yet seen the light of day.  My Dr. Betty, precious, precious Dr. Betty is saving it because it's so special to her.  The second?  It has been sent to San Diego. The third, though, is the charm.  This apron, friends, is for the Neighbor System.  I knew I could count on this lovely lady to take a picture of this piece.  Feast! Your! EYES!
Photo courtesy of  Neighbor Sister 

So there!  This is the first time I've used a pattern.  Take that Life List No. 40.  I'm learning to SEW!  

07 October 2010

Loving: Almond Apricot Granola Bars

I can't wait to make these.  They look absolutely awesome!

05 October 2010

Life List No.9: Have at Least One Squishy Baby

Well Friends,
I've outdone myself.  I've been out of commission for a while for various reasons.  Among them, the first trimester of pregnancy!  I was approaching Life List Item 57 with much vigor until 'restrictions' got in the way.  Restrictions being my spontaneous incubation of not one but  TWO squishy babies.  YES! TWINS! I'm over so much of the shock  now.  Ashkenaz Spice and I are pretty excited and proceeding as I'm sure many neurotic first time parents do.  I'm hoping to scratch two more items off my Life List before the twinkies arrive.  Hurray for Wigs and Squigs!

04 October 2010

Loving: Mohop Shoes

The same soles different ribbons!  I love that you can dictate the look.  They offer low, mid and high heels as well as square or rounded toes and wide soles as well.  The price tag is a bit high but the versatility is amazing.
Check 'em out!

26 September 2010

10 Things to do while you're living in Boston

Salt and Pepper bridge in Spring
via: http://www.pubclub.com/boston/photos.htm
We've arrived at a special time of year.  Students are halfway to midterms and finance types are half way to their first State Street performance evaluations.  We're settling in.  
10.  Live on the opposite side of the Charles from where you work.  Even on the most gloomy days, it's spirit lifting to ride on the salt and pepper bridge across the Charles.
09.  Get to the Esplanade for fireworks on the Fourth of July.
08.  Go on a Duck Tour.
07.  Take advantage of free nights at local museums.  They're a fun way to start budget dates!
06.  Visit the Arnold Arboretum in JP during the spring when the trees are blossoming.
05.  Find a hobby for the winter and stick to it.  Especially if you're not from a cold weather climate.  Bar trivia and cardio kicboxing worked for me.  The winters can be long, cold and depressing otherwise.
04.  Check out the North End Festivals in the summer.  Eat the street food, grab a cup of gelato and stay tuned for the show.
03.  Explore the city by bike.  Urban Adventours gives a good show.  There's so much you can see by bike in this city that you miss in a car or on a Duck Tour.
02.  Head back the Arboretum to check out fall foliage.
01.  Pick an area and learn it back and forth.  Make friends with people who've done the same.  Boston is a city of squares.  A lot of the fun in exploring it is that each neighborhood has it's charms and holes in the wall.  Show me yours, I'll show you mine!

*Students, take advantage of Student Rush Tickets for Fall theater.  Some awesome shows play for unbelievable prices.  Also, check with the events office at your school to get discounts on shows and sporting events.
*Free summer movies at the Boston Harbor Hotel 
*Feel free to share your suggestions

25 September 2010

Life List No. 54: Continue to throw Ashkenaz Spice Fabulous Birthday Parties

 Joe's Birthday Beer Dinner for Men...An Evening for Men to be with other Men
Peach Carpaccio topped with stracciatella dressed with Local Mead and Apricot White Balsamic Vinaigrette 
Beer Pairing: Vielle Provision Saison Dupont
Chocolate Porter Cake
Beer Pairing: Pretty Things Baby Tree, Quad with dried plums

Menu writing, technical assistance, beer pairing expertise and photography provided by the ever notable Neighbor Sister

15 September 2010

20 August 2010

Renewed, Refreshed, Returned...

From vacation!  And I have no pictures, because it was that kind of vacation, the kind during which you wear yoga pants on the cool California coast and graduate to flowy dresses and skirts in the scorching California heat.  There are pictures forthcoming of various Life List endeavors.  Ready yourselves.  They'll be up soon.

22 July 2010

Summer time...continued

Save a few anachronisms and a thunderstorm the Roaring 20's Birthday Party went off without a hitch...and with 4 magnums of prosecco.  Good day sir!  I said GOOD DAY!

Happy Birthday to US!

And...as often, photos by my Notable Neighbor Sister

09 July 2010

Not Exactly the Cocktail Whim

But I *did* enjoy a delightful birthday.  Beginning upon waking but photodocumented from about 8AM.  First, Neighbor Sister came to give me a ride to school and I was straining a beautiful concoction.  Honey Lavender Oat infused Vodka (Figure 1).

We decided we needed to test the goods (Figure 2).

A titer of vodkamel later (Figure 3).

We were well on our way to a party (Figure 4).

We made it to lab by quarter past 10.   I had a fabulous day with my labmates.  I introduced them to the infusion (peer review).

Observations:  Floral

Conclusions: Dangerous

Finally, I headed to dinner with Ashkenaz Spice at L'Espalier where we enjoyed their Top Shelf feature.
Courtesy Lauren Palumbo, L'Espalier.

My freaking goodness does 30 look fabulous!?!

07 July 2010

OPI Axxium Gel Manicure

The Pink Flamenco lasted two weeks and I LOVED it.  Today I'm rocking the Miss Celie hairdo and OPIs Aphrodite's Pink Nightie.  I've been doing this Axxium thing for one month.  I went from no nails to pretty ones.  Not bad.
No Nails
Pretty Nails

Miss Celie

06 July 2010

Jambu Shoes

As previously mentioned, because of this blog, I'm compelled to keep an eye out for things I never before noticed and be bold in inquiring about other's fashion choices.  One such inquiry paid off in spades at the bus stop the other day when I saw an adorable child running circles around the legs of a fashionable woman.   My eyes were immediately drawn to her punchy yet sensible sandals.  They were, she shared, Jambu.   It's beginning to look like I need to clean out my closet.  Time to refresh the wardrobe with new shoes.

02 July 2010

Loving: Kork Ease

Maybe this blog is a bad idea.  I feel encouraged to find new things I'd like share and wear.  As a result... Kork Ease.  My GOODNESS these are cute.  I'm going to buy a pair or four.  I bought a pair of Tommy Hilfiger platform sandals in high school and I finally got rid of them last year.  Kork Ease has captured their essence.  Apparently Kork Ease has been around since 1953, had boom in the '70s.  Fortunately for my bank account, I never knew.  As far as I'm concerned they are quite en vogue.  I present to you:  Kork Ease


29 June 2010

Summer time...

                                           Photo via craigieonmain.com
And the livin' (as a grad student) ain't easy.  Is anything easy when you're in graduate school?  Anything other than self effacement and practice of anti-social behavior?  Well, let's not dwell on that.  In keeping with speaking and manifesting, I have a summer spinoff of my Life List.  The Summer Livin' List.  This will motivate me to do more than drink on my back porch.

Summer Livin' List 

  • visit the Berkshires
  • Eat at Jack's 
  • Do the Cocktail Whim at Craigie on Main 
  • Do the Chef's Whim at Craigie on Main 
  • Do Martha's Vineyard
  • Go Camping 
  • One more sewing project
  • Make headway on the 52 Cheeses
  • Roaring 20's Birthday Party
  • Make ice cream
  • Brunch on summer weekends
  • cocktails around (and maybe swimming in) a roof pool
  • After dinner walks through my neighborhood
  • French cooking class
    •     chocolate mousse
    •     fruit tart
  • Watch a sunset from the beach
  • Watch a sunrise from the beach
  • BONFIRE!!!
  • Spend a weekend in Provincetown
  • Clam Bake/Crab Boil/Lobster Boil

Of course I'm free to add other fun things.  Don't ya just love the summer?

Loving: Kind Mango Macadamia

I have been loving KIND's Mango Macadamia Bar.  No this is not a paid endorsement unless pay= deliciousness in my tumbly.  Yes.  Tumbly.  Settle your teeth into this one friends.  You'll be glad you did.

28 June 2010

Nu Shooz

Oh.  yes.  My bike commute in 85 degree temperatures and 70% humidity was terrible, but I wore super shoes and super shoes make all the difference. Right?
Photo courtesy of the fabulous Neighbor Sister

Yes y'all.  Determined not to look like an obvious graduate student*,  I've put a touch of effort into my bike gear and it's paid off in these sweet sweet mama's.  They are just the beginning of my rubber bottomed bike shoe arsenal.  Those wedges?  They're rubber foam, perfectly 'foot braking' safe.  There's a  bit of a jute on the sole but most of it is rubber and I had great traction on the pedal.  What's the verdict?  VELOve these shoes?

*FAIL...yesterday (Sunday) i found my way into lab in a holey t-shirt with bike grease on my bosom.  Every day a new start right?

25 June 2010

Pink a Boo

OPI Axxium in Pink Flamenco.

15 June 2010

Who can? Toocan!

That's right folks.  Panniers!   And nice ones!  I love the Detours Toocans and special bonus?  I found a sweet deal on Craigslist.  I got these babies for $70 altogether.  The one drawback in my opinion is that the bags are kind of heavy on their own which becomes a problem when you're unloading them for toting about.  As long as they're on the bike they're fine.  Pros?  They're attractive!  I've gotten more than one compliment on these lovelies, they're sturdy (the counter to the drawback), so.many.pockets!  great for keeping things separate.  If I hadn't gotten such a great deal that I had to eschew the idea of retail altogether, I would have opted for a flashier color, still,  I love them.  Anyhow, if I had the motivation, I could adorn them as I saw fit.  With these and my bungee net, I'm a cargo pulling fool!

14 June 2010

Loving: More cyclists forgo special garb, commute in heels and suits

On such muggy mornings, embrace prints, writes Velouria. “Patterns disguise sweat stains. Wear small stripes, flowers or polka dots, slap some deodorant on when you get to work, and you’re dry and fine in five minutes.’’ 
For the most part, I bike in spandex bottoms.  My commute is near ten miles, twenty round trip and unexpected chafe can become a real problem by the end of the day.  Spandex curbs that.  While I'm not so sure about the prints, or whether you should even be sharing that you're sweating like a pig, I like that people are biking!  Caveat:  As much as I hate the aesthetic of helmets and love cycling in style...really Bostonians?  You have to be nuts not to wear a helmet.  This place is not terribly bike friendly and the potholes can send you careening toward TBI.  *dismount soapbox*

Check out these bike fashion blogs:
Copenhagen Cycle Chic
Chic Cyclists
Velo Vogue

A Handy Solution

I'm a picker, I'm finicky, I'm a sometimes perfectionist and I'm prone to fixation.  Basically, I can be an anxiety monster and my outlet is often my manicure.  Catch me in a nervous fit and you're likely to find me picking a cuticle, hangnail or scratching off nail polish.  Why?  Punishment, of course, for not being perfect.  I never said I wasn't crazy.  Anyhow, my fixations lead to a mixed bag of manicure results.  As long as I have time to get to a salon once every nine days or so for a manicure, my nails and hands look good, happy, healthy.  Let the manicure lapse, however, and we have problems.  Picking, biting, obsessively filing, first because 'my nails are ugly' (never mind that my fussing with them made them that way) then because I need to fix the damage I've inflicted.  All this AND I'm hard on my hands.  Being in lab means I'm washing them often.  Harsh.  Dry nails.  Dry hands.  NO MORE!   I've found an awesome solution.  OPI Axxium Gel Manicures!

Alright, I know, I sound like a shill, but here's the deal:  I'm not.  This product is just so awesome.  The Axxium gel system is a special gel formula that's painted over your natural nails and light cured.  Voila, great glossy long lasting manicure that lasts for up to three weeks.   Gel lacquer is so much more gentle and flexible than acrylic overlays or even traditional gel overlays.  I'm quite pleased.  Once my nails grow out I'll use more fun colors, for now, I'm sporting the Passion.  A neutral, so that if there are any glitches I can weather them until my next manicure.  

Pretty. Basic. Manicure.

13 June 2010

About Life List No. 40

I've completed my first project...and it's NOT a lunch bag.  Here's a teaser:

For now, I'm going to ask you to wait patiently and forgive me for the teaser...it's a gift!  I can't wait to give it in two weeks.  Once I do, I'll post the pics.  

11 June 2010

'Fro sure

For the most part, I try to avoid talking to other people about my hair.   People who know, know.  We acknowledge each other with secret wink-nod combinations or by asking what kinds of hippie products the other uses.  It's a friendly game of natural hair besting.  People who don't know, though, are in the majority.   Chances are that if a grown person asks me  'How did you get your hair so curly,' they're a bit behind the eight ball where ethnic diversity and cultural sensitivity are concerned.  Recently, as gauged from the questions I get on the bus and requests to 'touch it,'  Cantabrigians have taken an interest in Black hair.  I blame this uptick in interest on Michelle Obama's dynamic swinging non-Condie (nee helmet) hair and Malia Obama's New York Times mentioned twists.  People are curious about the versatility of Black hair, but the curiosity manifests itself in strange (and sometimes discomfiting) ways. 

My decision to go natural was...well natural.  As a scientist in training, I became increasingly aware of the nasty chemicals in relaxers and hair products and I moved toward a minimalist approach (by African American Standards) to hair care.  This resulted in some good hair situations and many bad...but hey, I have hair.  I know my hair.  I wear it as it grows out of my head just as much of the population does and, save  the occasional urge to dye it purple, I love my hair.  And so does Ashkenaz Spice, which was luck entirely.  Any time I return from the salon with a blowout he snits and remarks that he can't wait for my hair to go back to 'normal.'  I credit early exposure to Jewfro's.   

In my journey to the minimalist approach, I've found a few standby's.  3 are homemade, a few are store bought products I use in a pinch or in a lazy stretch.  For me, these things have proven worth the trouble to make, purchase...and use.  The flax gel is the BEST I've EVER used.  Better than Ampro, Dep, Isoplus, with no synthetic chemicals and downright cheap to boot.   The Quench works wonders.  The creme is a multipurpose hair and body moisturizer and the spritz is easy peasy.  Enjoy.

The Essentials I make:

Styling Spritz

I use this to refresh old styles, moisturize twists and to dampen my dry 'fro.  

Put into an empty 9 oz. spray bottle
1 Part leave in conditioner (I use Nexxus Humectress, or Hair Rules Nourishment Leave in Conditioner )
2T oil (I use sunflower oil or olive oil)
fill the remainder with water
Add essential oils for fragrance

Flax seed gel
Aveda will sell it to you for about 5 times what it costs to make at home
2 cups water
1/4 cup whole flax seed (ground will make a mess)
1T aloe vera juice (I use this kind) (emollient)
Essential Oils/ 1.5 t. olive oil (for vitamin E) (optional)
Mesh strainer

Boil water and flax seed in a pot.  Stir until flax seeds foam.  Turn heat off.  Strain gel into a clean bowl. Resulting gel should be golden/red brown in tint depending on the seeds you used and the consistency of egg whites. Add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance and to preserve gel.  Add aloe vera juice.  You can transfer your gel into a squirt (not spray) bottle if you like.  Stores in the refrigerator for between two weeks and a month.  Doesn't store well at all outside the fridge.

Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Honey and Cocoa Butter Whipped Hair Creme
It seems expensive and it does require quality ingredients but it's multipurpose.  You can use it as a body butter in a pinch...everything is edible and sweet like honey.  
~5 oz. shea butter, melted (moisturizer)
2T. coconut oil (moisturizer)
~ 1 oz. cocoa butter, melted (moisturizer)
1T. Honey, melted (humectant, emollient)
1T aloe vera juice (emollient)
tea tree oil to preserve creme
Essential oils for frangrance

Pour all the melted ingredients into a bowl (I use my stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whip until they're they consistency of creamed butter, add the aloe vera juice and a couple drops tea tree oil and essential oils for fragrance needed.  This recipe makes about 2.5x the starting volume because of the air whipped into the mixture.  I leave the portion I'm using out and store the rest in the fridge or freezer until I need them.  

The Essentials I buy :
Hair Rules Quench Conditioner now available at ULTA

The Extra's I buy:
Hair Rules Hydrating Finishing Cream--I use it as I would the Creme but not on my dry elbows.

Michael Stone's Natural Island Hair Scalp and Skin Nutrient--I use this as I would the cream but it's not as emollient.

07 June 2010

Loving: Bees for Beauty

These busy buzzing Turkish cuties plaster flower petals together to make their homes. 

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

28 May 2010

Life List No. 29 Obliterate My Credit Card Debt

Hi friends, It hasn't been all Midnight Moon and Oma over here.  I've been busting my behind, in earnest, to tick #29 off my life list and I'm here to tell you that...EGADS, I've done it!  Honestly.   I can hardly believe it.  This is awesome for so many reasons.  I reached my time goal.  Holy Cow! Credit debt free before 30.    What's that I hear?  A savings account?  Retirement?  CD?  IRA?  Months of not living extravagantly have paid off AND proved not to be so trying.  The sky is the limit!  I had two feelings as I submitted the last e-payment to the credit bear 1. I'm almost free.  2. Oh ass, this is a lot of money.    I can't promise I'll never carry a balance on my credit card again.   Unforeseen circumstances do arise, but I thought of something to say to my future self: "Self, don't go into credit debt for ten years without a consciousness about you.  Do you really want to pay for that Yves Saint Laurent Parfum and that Mulberry bag when your kids are in fifth grade?" **much vigorous finger wagging**

I've learned so much about how to live manageably and affordably.   I will continue to shop at the Goodwill.  I will continue to order things from Target and Old Navy online (surprisingly saves me money and guilt.  I buy what I need and don't feel guilty for having left something I don't need in the store), I will still prepare many meals at home.  I will still choose walks with Ashkenaz Spice over some more expensive entertainment option, I will continue to bargain hunt when it comes to things like my awesome panniers and bike rack.    In short, I will continue to be my fabulous self.  Without a huge debt monkey strapped to my back.  What to do with all this newfound freedom?  Hopefully start saving with the same fervor I applied to kicking this credit debt in the rear end.

10 May 2010


With shoes in the works and my new pannier rack I, of course, need pannier bags.  I will no longer have to go into full Quasimodo pose while riding to school.  I'll have a place to put my books and computer.  Not having a car will be less of a hassle with a place to put my groceries.  Pannier bags, friends, will be a good thing.

I've really fallen in love with Detours Toocan design.  I've searched high and low for panniers and while I've found more brightly colored bags, I haven't found anything so chic and utilitarian as the Toocan.  I'm pretty much decided on this bag.  This is what I'm doing y'all, but there are so many options.  I'm always inclined toward the cheapest, but the H2NO is practical and the Juicy bags are just flat out cool.  I'd love to have a bag that I can take off my bike and into a boutique without looking like a bike messenger.  What's a girl to do?  I suppose that as far as problems go, this is a good one to have.

Life List No. 40

Avariation of this will be my first sewing project.  I'll keep you posted.

06 May 2010


                                                        Source: mykitchenipad 
I'm often using my MacBook as a cookbook, schlepping it from one end of the kitchen to the other, waking it up to figure out whether that measurement I remembered was a 't' or a 'T', licking red sauce off the keyboard...okay, not so much the last one, but i digress.

Lately, I've been thinking that it could be not such a good idea to put this machine that my school work is highly dependent upon, in such eminent peril.  'I'm sorry professor,  I dropped my computer in a pot of stock and can't retrieve my data,' just doesn't sound like a good excuse.   So, I've been talking to Ashkenaz Spice recently about getting an iPad for the kitchen.  It's cheaper than a MacBook, it's more mobile and can easily be mounted.   Also, it opens up my cooking experience to less laborious podcasting of Hidden Kitchens, RadioLab and This American Life! (It's difficult to manipulate a clickwheel when you have bread dough on your hands).  To my surprise he's entertaining the idea.  I was sure that it would only be a matter of time before someone did this and it popped up somewhere like LifeHacker and sure enough, I find this on one of my favorite food news blogs.  It's clear that people are already totally in to this.

I'm not far enough removed from this.  I'm either totally out of my mind and plotting ways to squander our savings or on to something major.  Help me out y'all.  Would you use an iPad in your kitchen?

04 May 2010

I want to ride my...

                                          Photo courtesy of: Cycle Style Show 

Alright friends...this winter weight I'm carrying has gotten a bit burdensome, the weather is nice, I'm carless, that's right, it's high time for biking!!! And, well...a BIKE WARDROBE!!!!!

I'd love to say that I'm hip, and that I ride a fixie and wear a fascinator instead of a helmet, but, sadly it seems that none of this is true.  I ride a mountain bike, my loved ones demand that I wear a helmet and while I am one to rail against spandex and padding, I must say that they do help when biking long distances.

When I can help it, I wear the spandex and pads under a skirt or a pair of capri's...the helmet can't be helped but my mission for the last week or so, has been to find proper shoes for biking.

You see, there's a system.  I don't want to be caught in tennis shoes.  That's tacky.  Still, I need fashionable shoes whose soles are sturdy enough to use for brakes and don't look too contrived...even if it did take me weeks to decide upon them.  So far here's what I've come up with (click the pic to make it bigger):

Who's the fly girl at the farmer's market?  It's me! It's me!