Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Reads

With finally feeling better comes the inclination to read  (and the unofficial hope that I will be a far more frequent reader this semester).  For some reason, three of the four books I've read this month were about English girls in India.  No idea how that one happened...

Apple: A Global History, by Erika Janik
(from the MIT Browsery, a section of the library set up for new fiction and non-fiction)

Part of the new Edibles series, it's a look at the cultural and environmental history of apples.  The most interesting part of the book?  Learning that apples are not native to North America.  They are native to Kazakhstan.  Amazing.

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
(checked out the Kindle version from my library in Minnesota)

Fascinating but a bit on the contrived side.  I didn't dislike it, exactly, but I think I would have loved it far more if I was still 14.  I'm told by a friend that the rest in the series simply aren't as good.  It is marvelously freeing to say, well, then, I just won't read them.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
(free Kindle version)

I had forgotten how atrocious those two children were, my word.  They are both sallow spoiled brats.  Thank goodness for gardens to bring out the best in people (also---Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock is perfect.  Love).

East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson
(borrowed from a friend)

I'm just a few pages into this one, but I already like it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Doggelganger


Upload a photo, it finds a dog that matches you (a la 101 Dalmations).


Science and a great user-interface...too bad the puppies are across the globe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pompeii

A friend came down from Maine this weekend to see the Pompeii Exhibit at the Museum of Science - if you get a chance, go.  It's very---affecting.  I don't know that much about Pompeii, or volcanoes (pyroclastic flow isn't really a part of my active vocabulary), but it was incredibly sad and yet fascinating all at once.  I'd like to know more about it, but there are about a zillion books on it and I have no idea which one would fit best with my curiosity (this one looks promising, but the MIT library doesn't have it, bummer).

Lots of tromping in the snow.  My boots have had enough.






 Love the kinetic sculpture.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

now and then

Then:  both presenting at John Wesley Powell, as research rockstars.

Now:  A birthday Boston Creme Pie at the Top of the Hub; one in Boston interviewing for post-medical school residency programs, the other, surprise surprise, still in school.  Both, however, are still addicted to scarves.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jewelry

After using my new camera to take pictures of the driftwood jewelry, I had the idea that it'd be great to take pictures of the rest of my jewelry, for both posterity and insurance reasons.  Here are some from the first set:

 from my grandmother


from Nervous System


from a friend of the family


from Gotland (sheep!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Christmas - Extended Family Edition

One wouldn't think that my main story about Christmas to be about Old Crow bourbon.  But hey, every family is different, right?  Now, Old Crow is awful.  But not as awful as you'd think (it's one of Serious Eat's favorite bottom shelf liquors).   Drinking Old Crow has always been a family tradition, down to shots at my grandfather's funeral and the bottles gifted to us from Pa the Christmas after he passed away.  Until fairly recently, I was extremely squeamish about alcohol.  My first sip of non-communion wine was when I was 20, and I did not like it.  I didn't drink again until someone sent me three mini bottles of champagne for my 21st birthday!  ...and even then I think I mixed them with orange juice.  Anyway, despite the fact that my last trip to the liquor store cost me $525 and I'm now a girl who loves her cocktails, I think the old stereotype dies hard, and my family is convinced that I don't drink.

So, it was hilarious when at the annual family Christmas gathering, there were three independent events all commenting on the same exact subject of Old Crow.  Not even kidding.

Uncle Number 1:  Bridget, this Old Crow is from 2003.  How old were you in 2003?  And why isn't it gone yet? 

Uncle Number 2:  Bridget, seriously, you have half a bottle of Old Crow left.  Why did your brother not make you drink this on your birthday?

Cousin Number 1:  Bridget, when did you turn 21?  Wasn't that four years ago?  I think you're the only one in the family to take this long to drink your Old Crow.

My response:  Oh my WORD.  Do you people think I don't drink?  I've gone through two handles of Old Crow in Boston, I promise I drink!  I just haven't spent much time in Minnesota since I turned 21!

They all just look at me, thinking I'm making excuses.  So I take a shot.  And five minutes later, another.  Jeesh.

But the other best story about my Christmas was this little lady:


My mom gave her a set of plastic food and an apron to go along with Santa's gift, a play kitchen!  And boy oh boy was she ever a great cook!

Ayden and Hillary, kept in a bedroom for most of the afternoon, were let out once, and Ayden ran right for the bright pink apron-clad young cousin of mine, practically knocking her over.  She's used to giant dogs, though, so she was a champ through the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make Way For Ducklings!

I was a voracious reader as a child, and Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal were definite favorites.  While I gave my cousin's kids The 12 Days of Christmas in Minnesota this year, just maybe next year will be the perfect time to give a Boston-themed gift (believe it or not, it's the official children's book of Massachusetts!)

Written by Robert McCloskey in 1941, it tells the story of a family of ducks that make their new home in the Boston Common.  It became such a popular book that statues of the ducks were installed in the common in 1987.  Apparently there is a duckling parade every year on mother's day where little kids dress up as ducks and retrace the duck family's journey around Boston (I am so there).

Saying hello to the ducks in October  (picture courtesy of MK)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas Picture, 2011!

Ayden is on the left, Hillary's on the right (she's the one with the stripe on her nose)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Afternoon Tea at L'Espalier

While my mom was here in Boston, we went with some of my girlfriends to afternoon tea at L'Espalier, a fancy restaurant on Boylston Street in Back Bay (right by the Prudential Building).  

The meal started out with the waitstaff pouring hot water into wine glasses.  We were quite confused.  Then the tea sommalier came by with flowering tea, a bundle of tea leaves wrapped around flowers.  

(from Wikipedia)

We placed them into our glasses and watched the flowers bloom!



A toast!

Look at the red and white flowers!  So lovely.  You can buy them at any tea shop, though to me they are far prettier than they taste. 

(Starting at 4 o'clock and moving clockwise)---Scottish Smoked salmon with crème fraîche and American caviar, English cucumber with fines herbes and lemon cream cheese, Casco Bay Lobster profiterole (I had to look this up, Casco Bay is the bay in Portland Maine), Jonah crab croissant with sauce gribiche, roasted chicken walnut salad with fall spices and apricot jam. While we initially looked at the actual amount of food on the plate skeptically, we all left quite satiated.

Tea!  The sommalier suggested that we order four to five different kinds of tea, in order of strength of the tea (so you end with a very strong tea).  We tried their afternoon blend, Yunnan Gold, Darjeeling, a Nepalese, and finished with the breakfast blend (plus one more that I can't remember).  My daily tea is either bagged green or black tea, and usually over-steeped at that, so it's really remarkable to taste tea with so many different flavors, none of them the least bit bitter.  If you think you don't like tea, this is the place to try it. 

Next was the pastries plate (starting at 4'o clock and moving clockwise):  panna cotta with rounded apple truffle and coconut cake crumbs, passionfruit gâteau with a blood orange sassafrass gelee (won oddest taste of the day award, rootbeer-toothpastey mint with citrus), chocolate decadence cake, pâte à choux swan with espresso chantilly cream, (citrus scones not pictured, and there's a trifle in a shot glass above the plate; it had chestnuts and mango, so delicious!).


A bit more about the tea sommalier:  her name is Cynthia Gold, and she's a chef that decided to bring tea into greater prominence in her cooking.  She wrote a book called Culinary Tea which looks quite intriguing.  I can say that I have used herbal teas in making ice cream (rosehip ice cream is quite possibly one of my favorite creations) ---but I've never used "real" tea in cooking.  Though I do have an Earl Gray Pudding recipe in my list...

The other thing to do, I think, is continue trying different afternoon teas around Boston.  The Boston Harbor Hotel was lovely: gorgeous room, lots of light, and right on the water.  The pastries and sandwiches were more traditional with a focus on mini sandwiches and scones (plus clotted cream!).  L'Espalier was far more modern and I would say the actual tea service was better, and the food was really rich and had interesting flavors.  Other places to try include The French Room at The Taj Hotel, The Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library, The Athenaeum (which is members-only, so out of our reach unless an invitation is extended to us as it was to these Boston tea reviewers), Upstairs on the Square in Harvard Square, and the Bond Restaurant and Lounge at the Langham Boston (The Gallery at the Boston Common Ritz Carlton and Swan's at the Boston Park Plaza no longer serve afternoon tea).  I think I know what I want to do for my birthday in March!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mom in Boston!

She was only here 36 hours, but much was accomplished!  There was eating: peanut butter sandwiches, shrimp, lobster, shawarma, french fries, toffee, a fancy afternoon tea...we are both still stuffed from this weekend.  There was also waiting for the 1 bus (does one ever not wait for the 1 bus?), watching Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta in jammies, and learning about sialic acid-dependent invasion.  I can't wait until the next trip, when I finally get her to the Cape, Maine, and Walden Pond. 

Gorgeous blue sky!

It's January 15th.   And the Charles is not frozen.  Insane.  Freeeeeeeezing winds, though, brr.

Sunset over Boston

Despite the lack of snow, and the fact that it was 50ºF on Friday morning, it is now cold out.  Even for us Minnesotans.  (it's currently 8ºF, feels like -9ºF...my windows are completely covered in condensation)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

now and then

 
Then: Camp Fire girls smiling in their sweatshirts, sanding down dowels for a throwing stick game (lummi sticks!  the song goes something like this:  a wooney cooney chock a wooney  etc..)

Now:  Two young ladies both into crafts...one a rockstar submitter to the Minnesota State Fair, the other a dabbler with hopes (I'll finish the skirt eventually Lo, I promise!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

to my puppies






I love you.  That is all.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: a year in pictures

January
Exploring around town, complete with chocolate and oodles of snow!

February
More winter walks.

March
My brother visited for my 25th birthday and the Planets!

April
Spring has sprung, with gardening getting started and Easter Eggs to decorate!

May
A trip to DC and Pittsburgh to celebrate both my mom and the wedding of a college roommate!

June
A whirlwind trip through New York, Pennsylvania, Niagara Falls and Vermont for a friend's wedding, plus the second annual Midsommarfest!

July
A friend here for the fourth, and a lovely trip home to the cabin!

August
A lab trip to the Boston Harbor Islands, a weekend trip to my friend's home in Maine, a weekend seeing my friends from IWU in Chicago, and my cousin's wedding back home!  So much traveling, I love it!

September
Finally getting to the cape (!!), a trip to the farm, and enjoying the start to fall in Boston.

October
Cupcakes and a weddin'!

November
A friend's visit---and lots of pie!

December
Another friend coming to visit for med school residency interviews, and a lovely break at home.

Goodbye to 2011, hello to 2012!  

(if you want to see pictures up close, check them out on Flickr...2011 part one, 2011 part two, 2010, and 2009)