Sunday, December 29, 2013

:: new year's resolutions, my favorite ::

That's not sarcasm, people. I LOVE making new year's resolutions. The whole year, clean and unblemished, stretching out before me. And I can make it the year I don't do anything sucky! Or I can try my hardest to be less sucky than the year before. There, that sounds more reasonable.

I feel like I'm fairly self aware, and I also have many folks around me who gently point out my flaws, so I have a ton of stuff to choose from. A biggie--giving up caffeine--I took care of in the fall. (Side note: it was HELL, I will never do crack if caffeine withdrawal is even a fraction of what kicking real drugs is like).

So, in no particular order:

-Keep an emergency $100 in apartment at all times (I never carry cash...and this has previously caused issues)

-Keep my gas tank half full at all times (I loathe getting gas...and this has previously caused issues)

-Lose 12 lbs and hold steady

-Up my rainy day fund to where it was in 2010

-Zero out my credit card

-Strive to be on time for scheduled appointments

-Do not buy any more black or gray dresses

-Do not buy any drugstore brand toiletries (cleanser, lotion, etc.)

Ok, that's enough for now. I'm tired just looking at it. But excited! Three cheers for 2014!
 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Friday, December 27, 2013

:: holiday swapping fun ::

I'm not a super crazy holiday season lover, but I do enjoy picking out gifts for friends and family. And since I'm already doing all that shopping, which not add a few more folks into the mix?!

I was paired with two lovely bloggers, who put together the following cute holiday packages for me:

The ##bbsecretsanta swap with Olivia at This N That with Olivia. Lip gloss, hand cream and a polka-dotted mug. Perfection.

Snowflake Swap with Acacia at Hello Lovely. I don't know that I even told her how much I love making lists and writing down EVERYTHING. The items below should keep me busy for a while!

Happy holidays and all the best for 2014!
 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

:: a little taste of france ::

I love Sandrine's in Harvard Square, but I don't go there nearly enough. Today for lunch I had rutabaga and butternut squash soup with a few rye croutons sprinkled on top. Delish.

Since now it's all I can think about, I found this recipe which, while it won't double as a lazy day in Marseilles, it could help you fake it for an hour or two.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Rutabaga Puree with Spinach
Serves 6 to 8

1 small (1 1/4 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to finish

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large (or 4 small) leeks, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced (white and pale green parts only)

2 shallots, chopped

4 fat cloves garlic, chopped

1 large russet potato (or 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups any kind of stock (I used duck stock, made in the wake of this video)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh sage

3 sprigs fresh parsley

1 (5-ounce) package washed baby spinach

1 Meyer or regular lemon, sliced into wedges, seeds removed


1.  Preheat oven to 450ºF.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash and rutabaga with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and a few good turns of freshly ground black pepper.  Spread squash and rutabaga in a single layer and roast for about 30 minutes, or until there’s some solid browning all over.

2.  Meanwhile, in a soup pot, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add leeks, shallots, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté.  Stir frequently until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add potato, roasted squash and rutabaga, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper to pot, and stir it around a bit.

4.  Using kitchen string, the thyme, sage, and parsley in a little bundle and add to pot (if you don't have kitchen string, you could stuff the herbs into a tea ball).  Add 4 cups of water and the 2 cups of stock to pot and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, and continue simmering for 30 minutes.

5.  Remove herb bundle from soup.  With an immersion blender, puree soup to desired consistency (or puree in batches in a blender or food processor, then return to pot) and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed.

 6.  Stir baby spinach into soup and bring to a simmer.  Once spinach is silky and wilted, ladle into bowls.

 7.  Drizzle the soup with a little good olive oil and serve with wedges of Meyer or regular lemon.

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Monday, December 23, 2013

:: hair forecasting ::

Unless it's raining, I have trouble telling if there's moisture in the air. My hair, on the other hand, can tell instantly. If it's humid at all, my hair is a mess before I get out my front gate. And this is why I can never, ever move to Florida.

I figured there must be an app out there to tell me whether I should sock bun it or bombshell it, and I can't find one out there...BUT, I did find a website that does just about the same thing. Enter your city or zip code at Hair Forecast and get a two day forecast with a 1-10 rating on how well your hair will fare in your hometown weather. Brilliant.

Today felt like a zero to me, but maybe my expectations are too high:

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

:: get your boston bronze on ::

And by "bronze", I do not mean that lovely pink hue on my cheeks. That's windburn. Escalating slowly into frostbite. On days weeks like this when ice and snow remind me who's boss, I need some extra help to not look like death.

Here are my tips for a good winter bronzing:

1. Go a shade lighter than your summer bronzer. In my case, this is only one shade lighter than my skin tone instead of two.

2. Use a powder, always. Not a liquid (too fake-y and too hard to apply and blend).

3. Use a kabuki brush instead of regular blush brush. It distributes the color better and helps to avoid streaking.

And if you're looking for a tutorial, here's a great one from Birchbox:

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Monday, December 16, 2013

:: navy + black: i just can't ::

I know this is a thing now, according to those who are far more fashion forward than me. But it just feels wrong.

So here's what I'm told is the new loose rule about pairing navy with black (via a very nice personal shopper at the Copley J. Crew): Navy is blue and black goes with anything, therefore, navy and blue match. Um, ok, I guess I can go along with that logic. Also, but are neutrals. You got me there, too. And navy and blue are always good together IF the textures are different. So, if I wear a silky navy skirt and a black leather jacket like my friend Kate Bosworth over here, then I'm good. 

I'm still not sure. I'm not judging anyone who does it, but it's kinda like fringe and tassles for me. I get that it's fashion-y and on-trend, but I just feel ridiculous doing it. Anyone else?

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Friday, December 13, 2013

:: need your stocking stuffed? start here ::

So, I don't know about you, but holiday shopping always gives me a teensy bit of anxiety.


Plain old shopping, I love. But the gift giving and the "Is it enough" and the  "What if someone gets me something and I didn't get them anything" and  the questions about what do I want is just too much for me. Which is why I try to do a little shopping all year round. But then I forget where I put the gifts I got people, or I find the gift but forget who it's for, and....well, you get it. Total mess.

Last week I headed over to the North End's Cocoanuts  for a Blog and Tweet Boston event that was a total treat (ha ha). From gourmet nut mixes to gift baskets to artisan chocolates, they have it all and it's so much better tasting and better for you than that stuff you get at the grocery store. Hershey's, I'm looking at you.

Instead, we feasted on samples from the following confectioners and chocolatiers, which are now prominently displayed on my list to Santa:

McCrea's Caramels: With names like Highland Scotch, Black Lava Sea Salt and Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, these are an adult foodie's dream. I bought a sleeve of the truffle flavor and had no idea that mushrooms could ever be so welcome in a dessert. They're made with no chemicals and no corn syrup and are available at a whole bunch of retail stores as well as online. If you're ever tried to make caramels at home, you know it's haaaard. But these folks make it look easy. Packaging, color, taste.

Pure 7 Chocolate: Handmade by two moms in Carlisle, MA, Pure 7's website isn't quite up and running yet. But here's what I know: They use honey instead of refined sugar, so those of us trying to be a bit more natural can eat it and not at all feel deprived. At all. The chocolate is super smooth.  The packaging is low on processing, just like the product and it's available in mint, coffee, dark chocolate and salted almond.

Raaka Chocolate: Billed as virgin chocolate, this unroasted, stone ground, small batch chocolate is made in Brooklyn and comes in amazing flavors like Himalayan Sea Salt and Vanilla Rooibos, my personal favorite. They liken the different flavor profiles of different cacao growing reasons to wine varietals. And the chocolate is called "virgin" because it's certified organic, fair trade, soy free, nut free and vegan.

So if you're on my Christmas list, you're probably getting chocolate this year. And now you know why. Feel free to thank me with...well, chocolate. 

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Monday, December 9, 2013

:: falling for follain ::

So, a group of us got together last week at Follain, a cute little skincare shop on Dartmouth Street in the South End. From the white tiling to the farmer's sink to the bottles and bottles of good things for my skin, its a dream for anyone who wants to try to inch their way to a more natural hair/skin/cosmetic regimen.

The idea of it is overwhelming. One thing that Tara, the owner, mentioned was that the reason birth control and nicotine patches work is because our skin absorbs what we put on it. Sounds obvious, but I never really thought about it like that. So if the lotion I bought on sale at CVS has a million ingredients that I can't pronounce, some of those chemicals penetrating my skin must be a little bad. Or, at least not good.

Most of the lines in the shop are available only in spas, so it's great to get to browse, sniff and learn about them outside of that setting. I chose a few to experiment with:

Earth Tu Face Palmarosa + Aloe cleanser: The purest form of gentle soap made with organic oils. Vitamin E and Olive Oil replenish and refresh the face without drying. Palmarosa and Ylang Ylang balance both oily and dry skin types. Aloe hydrates and heals the skin.

Shamanuti Seaweed toner:  Skin loves this nutrient and mineral rich toner. It adjusts pH and refines the pores. It will nourish and hydrate the skin while removing any residual make-up or cleanser.

Shamanuti Creme #1:  This beloved Creme is an ingenious formulation that works in multiple ways. Cosmetically it works to balance color imperfections and shine while working on a cellular level to stimulate cell repair. It has a high percentage of silk peptides which, when encapsulated into the layers of the skin, create a stronger firmer clearer skin. Crème No. 1 also provides a physical block against environmental pollution and sun damage. The proprietary seaweed complex in Crème No. 1 is a healing agent for scars, fine lines and wrinkles. This luxurious recipe contains neroli, a rare and precious essential oil, which works as an antispasmodic, helping facial muscles to relax. Crème No. 1 is ideal for all skin types.

So far, the scents are divine, which is ironic because they're all natural. They're just herbal-ly and my sensitive/winter itchy/dry skin is not complaining one bit. 

 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Friday, December 6, 2013

:: pantone-ing it with radiant orchid ::

I'm ready for 2014. So ready. And feasting my eyes on the shade below as Pantone's pick for color of year, makes me even more excited for the year ahead. Purple is my favorite color, but usually I'm drawn to more of an eggplanty/aubergine instead of this more pinky swatch. But it's working for me. It matches with black, brown and navy. I haven't seen that since....well, since Pantone's pick for 2013. But that makes them at least two for two in my book.

Also, I need that fur hooded coat in my life, stat. It's getting cold up in here.
 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg

Monday, December 2, 2013

:: first printer food and drink ::

So, we can't have happy hour in Boston because...well, no one really knows why. Those dollar Buds? $5 margaritas? Nope. Not here. Again, I think it has something to do with us being pilgrims.

Anyway, a lot of smart restaurants get around this by offering food specials along the ten-cent-wings kinda theme. And First Printer in Harvard Square is one of them. Aside from a location tucked away on Dunster Street and yet still steps away from the Harvard T stop, a cozy bar and helpful staff, I got a delicious meal for $18:

1 glass of Proscecco: $7
Six oysters: $6
Margarita flatbread: $5

The $5 flatbreads and $1 oysters are round the clock specials if you sit at the bar. It's a perfect spot and a perfect menu for a cold December day (or night). Just face the window and watch those crazy Cantabridgians walk on by.

And just for the record, the oysters and flatbread were shared. I'm trying to get back down to my fighting weight by New Year's Eve. Le sigh.
 photo signaturecopy_zpsc80579c1.jpg