Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meeting Monisha and Sonali

My dear friends Amanda and Milan welcomed their beautiful twin girls, Monisha and Sonali, into the world on June 15th. Quite the Father's Day gifts! I got to stop by this afternoon and meet the little darlings and congratulate the new parents on a job well done. The girls slept through most of the visit, but it was nice to catch up with Amanda and see her in Mommy mode. Here is a photo of the happy family:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Farm share cooking

This past Saturday I got my second dose of farm share. It included some broccoli, Swiss chard, salad greens, cabbage, turnips, spinach and tons of strawberries!

I did lots of cooking tonight. I made my first recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Chard with shallots and oranges. It was an interesting recipe, and I wasn't quite sure how it was going to turn out, but I had all of the ingredients, so I went for it, and I'm so glad I did! It turned out to be delicious. It basically involved caramelizing the shallots and oranges and then steaming the chard with it, adding a little vinegar and salt and pepper. It was really good.

Next I took the half head of cabbage and made some coleslaw from scratch. I also learned about salting the cabbage before making the slaw, thanks to Mr. Bittman. So I just put together some mayo, a little dijon mustard, carrots, salt and pepper. It's really tasty and I'm looking forward to having it with a veggie burger, maybe for dinner tomorrow.

And last but not least, I just had to use up all those strawberries! I ended up making enough strawberry shortcake to feed my roommates, too. I made the shortcakes from scratch (sort of, I used pancake baking mix). No one complained and all of us sat out on the back porch enjoying the summer evening and good food.

Earlier this afternoon I finished Studs Terkel's autobiography, Touch and Go. It was a great read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys American history, biographies or things to do with Chicago. He's a remarkable man, a national treasure and I'm so happy he published this book. He has so many stories to tell, has done so many amazing things. As much as I enjoyed all of the stories in the book, I'm sure there are many more that haven't been told. I can only hope that my memory and wits are that sharp when I'm in my mid-90s. Truly amazing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Birthday weekend

Alright, alright, everyone has been bugging me to post about my birthday party and the weekend, so here we go.

The morning of my birthday I woke up early and headed out for a nice little bike ride. I rode out to Spy Pond in Arlington and got to sit for a while and soak in the fact that I was turning 30 for real. It was nice to start the beautiful day with some time outside in the fresh air.

Then I went to work, where my co-workers took me out for a birthday lunch. I left early because Suz's flight got in and we met up in Harvard Square, I showed her where I worked and we did a little window shopping. We met up with Miriam and Sylvie for dinner at City Girl Cafe and went to Christina's for amazing homemade ice cream. It was a great way to celebrate my actual day. I got many phone calls and emails from people far and wide. And it was just the beginning of a weekend full of celebrating.

On Friday Suz and I made a great meal using some of the goodies from the farm share with some additional goodies. The salad was made from Boston lettuce from the farm, and the stir fry had the bok choy. It was delicious!

We also went to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see the Anish Kapoor exhibit. It was an amazing exhibit and I'm hoping to get back at some point. We couldn't take photos in the exhibit, but this is one from the outside of the museum. After seeing the art we got to sit and watch boats in the harbor. It's a beautiful setting and we both had a great time.

Kim got in late on Friday and Saturday was dedicated to getting ready for the party. But before serious party-prep got underway, all three of us went mini-golfing.

Kim discovered that the sign was wrong, and even if you do get the ball in the Moon hole, you are not guaranteed a hole in one.

Suz and I had fun posing with the mini-golf animals. This squirrel was particularly sassy. Bring it on!

And this hippo didn't make a very good seat:

After getting everything ready for the party, here are the three of us all dolled up and ready to go. I got that necklace at the ICA as a treat for myself.

Here's me and Sylvie enjoying the evening.

Kim made an amazing strawberry shortcake and yes, there were 30 candles and I blew them all out in one breath! I was so happy that I'm still not too old to blow out all the candles on my cake.

On Sunday we had to take Suz to the airport and Kim and I headed up to Salem for some kitschy fun with pirates and witches. We went to the Witch Museum and took cheesy touristy photos all over town:
They actually have a statue of Samantha from Bewitched! That took the kitschy cake as far as I was concerned.

After Salem, Kim and I got to hang out for the evening and she left on Monday morning. It was sad to see everyone go and get back to my "normal" life. But no complaints, I had a great weekend of fun and very memorable 30th birthday.

PS - This is my 100th post! How crazy is that?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On turning 30

So this seems to be a big milestone, this 30th birthday of mine. Not only am I planning on celebrating all weekend with friends from far and near, I've been thinking about this and celebrating for my entire 30th year (since today really starts my 31st year...). There is nothing that could replace the amazing time spent with Christa and Jerri in Vermont in March. That weekend was reflective, energizing, enlightening and above all fun and memorable. There have also been personal goals that have been reached. Big ones like finishing my Masters, and little ones like riding my bike more, using my car less, watching less TV and taking more photos. There have been quiet moments of solitude to reflect on my life thus far and dream about everything that's on the horizon and wonderful moments shared with friends and family. Overall, I'd say I lead a pretty amazing life and I'm only looking forward to more adventures, more learning, more quiet time and always more fun and memories. Here's to the next three decades and hopefully the three decades after that!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First pick-up at Lindentree

So you've read about me going to Lindentree for orientation and going back to learn how asparagus grows and then put in my four work hours. Now you get to see what I'm so excited about:

This is just a sample of what I picked up yesterday at the farm. I got some bok choy, peppery arugala (in the colander), turnips, radishes and pick-your-own strawberries. I also got broccoli, butter lettuce, kale and some herbs. It was more than I was expecting for the first pick-up. And now I'm excited to find some good bok choy recipes. Feel free to comment with any suggestions for how to use any of these items. I'll be getting half of the share every other week, so I'll post each time and try to keep track of all of the amazing produce. I'm already excited about the rest of the summer!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Awesome Maine Weekend

I spent this weekend in Vacationland! And what a vacation it was. I started out by heading to Portland, ME straight from work on Friday and got stuck in horrible traffic getting out of the city. I got to Portland around 7 when I expected to get there before 6, but everything worked out OK. I headed straight to SPACE Gallery which was having a Polaroid Silent Auction as part of Portland's First Friday Arts Walk. I put a bid on one (didn't get it), picked something out of their art-o-mat machine and then started walking over to my friend Emilie's new photo studio. This was a much longer walk than I anticipated and I got to the studio right before 8pm. I went to Syracuse with Em and I hadn't seen her in years even though we've only been 2 hours away from each other for the past 2 years. It was great to see her beautiful studio and meet her fiance. We ended up going out to dinner at a place called The Pepperclub that has wonderful veggie food, even if the decor is pretty tacky. It was great to catch up and, as is often the case with old friends, it felt like we'd seen each other yesterday.

After dinner I drove down to York Harbor to meet up with Sylvie and Miriam at Miriam's parent's beautiful beach house. I got there around 11pm and we had a nice little visit and then I headed to bed. I woke up early on Saturday and walked down to the beach to enjoy an early morning stroll. The water was freezing, but it was nice to hear the waves crashing. I came back and Sylvie and Miriam and I headed out to the Bagel Basket for a wonderful breakfast. They have my favorite: Spinach Bagels! It was delicious and from there we went to the grocery store to get supplies for the weekend. We got everything for a great cookout: nice rolls, ketchup, mustard, pickles, avocado, tomato, the makings of a great potato salad and when we got home we realized that we forgot the veggie burgers! It was pretty silly. Sylvie had a lot of reading to do for class, so Miriam and I went out to lunch with her Aunts who live nearby. We went to a little old diner called Goldenrod and after a nice lunch we convinced her aunts to play Skee-Ball with us.
Aunt Claire was pretty good for her first time playing and kept asking if she was winning. She was beating me, that's for sure. I had a pretty poor showing at that point, but it was fun to play. We headed back home and then Mir and I headed out again to get the veggie burgers, get some famous homemade ice cream at Brown's and pick up a cupcake treat for Sylvie since she had to stay home and read. Oh, and we stopped and played more skee-ball. Except this time I scored 440! I got three 100 points in a row. But here's the story: The sensor was broken and the scoreboard only counted them at 50 points each. So I told the manager and he climbed up the skee-ball machine, took off the front and said "Yep, the sensor's broken..." So, he gave me a free game on another lane. It was pretty funny.

Mir and I headed back home and started getting some dinner together. We made some peanut noodle salad and some potato salad and finally, after reading like a champ all day, Sylvie was able to join us for some Mini-Golf. We went to a new place with pirates and lobsters and had a good time, even though the bugs were out in full force. That's what we get for going at dusk. It was fun, though. We came home and fired up the grill and had a wonderful dinner followed by a round of Yahtzee.

On Sunday I woke up and read on the porch for a while before Sylvie and Miriam woke up and we all headed over to the Bagel Basket again for another round of bagels. I ended up buying half a dozen of the spinach bagels to bring home. (I'm happy to report that they freeze well!) After that we headed back to the house, Sylvie read some more and Miriam and I took a walk to the Wiggly Bridge, which really is wiggly! When we came home I took a shower and packed up my car while Sylvie and Miriam headed to the beach for a quick dip. After that we all headed out to the Wild Iris Herb Farm. This place was like a fairy-land. There were butterflies flitting about and beautiful flowers and herbs. It was SO pretty. It was a nice way to end a great trip. I headed back to Cambridge from there and made it home safe and sound in time to enjoy a nice dinner on the grill.
It was so nice to not worry about a thing. I wish vacation happened more often.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

JK Rowling at Harvard

Today I got to see JK Rowling give the commencement speech at Harvard. I really enjoyed it. It was way better than the commencement speech for Simmons, so I appreciated it as a recent graduate. Here is a link to video and the full text. Here is a link to an NPR story about it with some pretty interesting opinions from some members of the Harvard class of 2008, a 10-year-old who skipped school to attend, and some alumni.

This is how far back I had to stand. If you look really close, you can see the podium way in the distance with the real JK Rowling standing at it. It was still worth it.