Friday, January 24, 2014

Last hurrah in the Berkshires (for now!)

My parents condo in the Berkshires recently sold, and we're all going up this weekend to help pack everything up. Of course, I'm thrilled for my parents - this is exactly what you want to have happen when you put something on the market! - but it's bittersweet, nonetheless. That space has been such a haven for Peter and me, and I'll miss it.

My parents bought it about a week after I left for college, and it's been a steady presence during my entire young adult life. I spent a somewhat lonely summer alone there interning after I returned from studying abroad in Italy, but I really fell in love with the area during that extended stay. One year later, I was able to bring Peter to the Berkshires over Labor Day weekend. We've spent dozens of afternoons skiing at Butternut and on the lawn at Tanglewood, and many hours eating cheese and drinking wine in the living room. We've celebrated birthdays, hosted friends, and one morning in July, upstairs in my crazy pink bedroom, I got ready for our wedding.

This weekend will be filled with packing and purging, but it will also be a lovely last hurrah (for now!) since we're all going to Rouge tomorrow night for a fun dinner. And we might even get to tag along with my parents on a little bit of house hunting!

Happy Friday to all!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

California, Here We Come

(Watercolor map via Stamen Design)

This is a somewhat cruel announcement to make while most of the country is suffering from such awful cold weather, but we're headed to San Diego in a couple of weeks for a sunshiny vacation with my family! 

I've been pulling together a list of restaurants and things we'd like to do, including the usual suspects like Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, a Stone Brewery tour, and shopping around La Jolla. I've been using Eat This Poem's Literary City Guide and the Design Sponge City Guide as my jumping off points, but please do let me know if you have any additional tips or suggestions!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Little Ice Age

I'm reading Adam Gopnik's Winter in an attempt to overcome my distaste for the season we're smack in the middle of. It's kind of working? It's certainly a beautiful meditation on the many pleasures (and challenges) that winter can bring. This week we experienced a bit of a thaw, and I find myself thinking, I can totally do this! But alas, more snow is on the way; if not this weekend, then surely sometime soon.

The photos above are from Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley's stunning photography collection. He was obsessed with capturing images of snowflakes, but one thing Gopnik notes is that these snowflakes are certainly not the norm. Most aren't symmetrical, or have pretty boring shapes. They may be unique, but that alone doesn't make them noteworthy (sort of like people, no?).

One other interesting tidbit - did you know there was a Little Ice Age between about 1550-1850 where the Northern Hemisphere was significantly colder than it was before and after? I did not! It was during that time period that lots of snowy, grey paintings were created in Europe. This is a stunning little collection you can click through, if you're interested!

Do you have fun plans for the weekend? We've been giving our upstairs bathroom a bit of a makeover in the last few weeks, and I hope we'll be able to buy a new vanity this weekend! Aaand hopefully we won't be too tired for some kind of date tonight (I want to see Frozen, Her, and Wolf of Wall Street - anybody have any recs?).

Happy Friday to all!

P.S. The essays in Winter were originally broadcast on the CBC - you can listen to part 1 here

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Getting Out of a Cooking Rut

This is a totally random post, but thought I'd share since this is notoriously one of the most difficult times of year to get inspired by cooking - at least in New England, where stocks of squash, onions, and cold-storage apples dominate the produce aisle.

My simple tip is add something different and slightly unusual to your grocery cart. In the last few weeks, I've gotten pineapple, sugar snap peas, pear infused vinegar, and uncured bacon. None of these are too off the beaten path, but individually, they aren't things that I'd usually pick up without a specific use in mind. But throwing something somewhat random into the mix is the perfect way for me to try new things, or remember old recipes I loved but haven't repeated for whatever reason.

In that last category, here are a few old favorites that I'm excited to make again soon:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dressing for Early Pregnancy

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This post should really be called "dressing for early pregnancy if you want to hide it." I waited until about the midway point to share the news with my office, and while I didn't have too much to hide, a burgeoning bump was becoming more obvious in tight clothing. 

I know some people don't mind showcasing their belly's more prominently (and on the weekends and at home, I'm the same - yay for cute baby bumps!), but at work, I'd rather keep things more under wraps, so to speak, even though it's no longer a secret. (I'm totally aware that these days are numbered!)

These kinds of clothes are my staples - especially shirts like the one on the top left. It's seems counter-intuitive to draw attention to your waist with a drawstring or belt, but it creates a powerful illusion, especially since the bump will be quite low early on (at least for me!). My work uniform since November has been skinny black pants, a long sleeveless shirt, and a long cardigan/open sweater/blazer, with a scarf and/or big necklace. 

This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but I've been surprised by the level of vanity I've displayed in the few months. I had been the same size for the last ten years or so, and it's been strange to have clothes look and feel dramatically different in a relatively short amount of time. I don't have any advice to offer, but I thought I'd share since it wasn't something I was prepared for (you're probably all much better adjusted than I am :)

And now that I have this (kind of) figured out, I'll probably need to change up my tactic for the last few months! There's certainly a lesson in that...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Something important

"I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world."
- Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I devoured this beautiful little book, and wanted to recommend it in case anyone is looking for a lovely new addition to their reading list! Over vacation, I also read (and adored) Beautiful Ruins, Call the Midwife, and The Night Guest.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Trip to NYC

It already feels like a lifetime ago, but earlier this week, Peter and I popped down to NYC for a fun overnight. We drove right into midtown so that I could wait in line for rush ticket to see Waiting for Godot while Peter parked the car and checked into our hotel. The timing worked out perfectly - just when I finished up in line, he met me!

We had about an hour and a half before the show started, so we went to Benoit for brunch. On this trip, we wanted to force ourselves to try a few new places (it's so easy to just return to old favorites!), and this was one of them. Generally, the Eater 38 list is great for some direction since there are just so many restaurants. Benoit is delightfully French and charming, and the location couldn't be beat for proximity to the theater.

Broadway theaters are so beautiful, no? This show, featuring Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, was such a pleasure to watch. I wasn't familiar with the play beforehand, and was surprised at how accessible it was (though I'm sure there was quite a bit I missed, too!). 

After the show, we were able to meet up with a smattering of old friends at the Headless Horseman in Union Square. It was nice and open, and could even accomodate a cute baby and all his gear! We've been so lucky to meet a lot of new friends in Boston, but I still miss all those NYC friends so much, particularly my girlfriends, so it was amazing to get to catch up for a little bit. 

For dinner that night, we went to Gramercy Tavern, an old favorite. We ate in the tavern part (and actually have never been to the dining room - maybe someday!). Everything was still decked out like crazy for the holidays - I love the decor there almost as much as the food and service. I had two dishes I'd like to try to recreate at home: an amazing grilled radicchio and apple salad with pistachios, and a smoked potato chowder with mussels, fish, and octopus (I'd probably skip the octopus at home!). 

The next morning, we left our downtown hotel and caught a peek at the Freedom Tower - very impressive! - on our way to MOMA. We came here years ago on a packed free Friday evening, and even though it was still quite busy, it was lovely to return.

After exploring the museum for a few hours, we headed to Kin Shop for lunch, another new-to-us spot that had been our list even before we moved. The space is serene and cool, and the food is fantastic. We shared fried Brussels sprouts with Chinese sausage and the stir fried Dungeness crab noodles - both incredible. As we were leaving, Peter realized we were very close to Amorino, so, of course, we had to pop over there for a bit of gelato.

We made one final stop at Gorilla Coffee in our old neighborhood before hitting the road back to Boston. In fact, I'm sipping that delicious coffee as I type!

NYC, it was so wonderful to see you again!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vacation Days

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a lovely close to 2013.

For the last few days, I've been thinking about how very different my life is now compared to this time last year. I desperately wanted to be pregnant, and we were desperately searching for a house to buy. Both were more difficult to achieve than anticipated! There is something strange - and wonderful, of course, so, so wonderful - about getting the things you want most. Things felt somewhat lonely and sad last winter, wishing for these things to come into my life that turned out to be quite out of my control.

I can't say that I'm grateful for that time, or that I learned lots of profound lessons. Really, I just wish I could go back and tell myself to be a bit more zen about everything. I'm trying to carry that message into this year, and have been thinking a lot about patience, and how much I'll need to cultivate it in the coming months. Patience with our slowly evolving house, with myself during the rest of pregnancy and new motherhood, with finding my footing professionally during all this change, with Peter and our new baby.

Last night, we went to our dear friends' apartment in the South End for a small New Years party, just like last year. The food was incredible, we played games right up until the ball drop, and then we toasted each other at midnight with Champagne. Today, I'm making corn bread and hoppin' john while forging ahead on back issues of the New Yorker and my big stack of library books, just like last year.

But everything looks different in this bright new light.

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