Tuesday, December 30, 2014

McCormick Finals Study Breaks

My mom made a comment some weeks ago:  "It seems as if you're really trying to remember things for the last time on your blog."  While graduating and what comes after are often in my thoughts, I'm having the realization that yes, this will probably be my last Christmas in McCormick.  (can you hear me knocking on wood?  good.  very good).

Every night before finals, the GRTs assemble and put out a bunch of food, and turn on a Disney movie at the front.  Last semester, we started doing fancy themed study breaks, so Ashley and I did fancy pastries from local bakery Tatte with the movie Beauty and the Beast.

Look at the fancy!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Boston Walk: The Boston Public Garden

A gorgeous post-dim sum walk through the Public Garden (right next to Boston Common, they're separated by only a street).

Friday, December 26, 2014

A happy tropical holiday quintet concert!

My junior year of high school, my grandfather was too sick to go on his annual snowbird trip to Hawaii, to stay in Waianae and charm all the locals with his plum jam and kind heart.  So, we brought Hawaii to him that year, for a tropical Christmas.

We had already set our woodwind quintet concert date when we realized, uh...we're kind of playing all tropical music.  In December.  That's a bit odd.  So we embraced it!  Tropical Christmas it is.  For the afterparty, I ordered sushi (sweet potato from genki-ya for the win!), made tiki drinks, and put on Pandora's "Tropical Christmas" station (oh yes, it exists).

It's fun to see how many different ways I can hold events up in the Penthouse.  Midsommar dinner for 50?  Check.  Articles club?  Check.  Salon-style concert?  Check.

Tropical flowers and santa hats.  We are such a swell-looking group!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Books of the year!

This month's book club pick?  Icebergs, by Rebecca Johns.  We decided good, but not great (and the promise of scandal left us expecting far more!).  See all our picks here!

Articles Club this month was also fascinating - a history of the NY Times Style section.  While the author was a bit verbose for smartypantsnesses sake, it was a great read!

Finally, as far as books go, I am still loving my goodreads account.  I have always been a voracious reader, and having a platform like this to keep track of what books I want to read is fantastic.  Even better, you can see what your friends are reading, what they want to read, and get recommendations from them directly.  You also rate and have the option to write a review for every book you read.  At the end of the year, they send you a link to "The Books You Read in 2014" - it's wonderful!  I am currently at 42, but with the plane flight home and back, I'm pretty sure I'll make it up to 44 this year. 

However.  That said, there are still some downsides:
(also known as: why being an engineer has made certain things in my life very frustrating)

--There isn't a way to say when you've re-read a book and include it in your tally and in the stats they compile

--Speaking of stats, what they have is cool...but they can do so much more!  They should hire a couple of smart millennial data analytics-types to expand this and make it even cooler, a la Okcupid's "Dataclysm"

--They connect into amazon's kindle site and many other book purchasing sites (which is great) - but their local library integration is terrible.  To be fair, they do connect to a local library for me, but it ends up at MIT's Worldcat site, which would mean trying to order a paperback book for pleasure reading through a system that costs MIT a lot of money.  Not going to happen.  What I'd love is for it to link directly into the online library ebook sections.  That would be phenomenal. 

--They show the rating of the book as an average of however people have reviewed it, but the problem is that isn't a prediction of what you will like.  Another way to say this: it isn't Netflix.  They don't have a predictive algorithm that says, "Oh, you'll love this book based on all of your other movie rankings."

On your homepage, they do have a link to a "Recommendations for You" page, but it makes recommendations based on if you added a book to your shelf, not if you've read it and liked it!  Maddening.  I want to know what books to read based on what books I've loved, not on what I've added!

--The pages for individual books show reviews that your friends have written first, followed by reviews from perfect strangers.  I have never found these to be helpful.  I'm glad they're there, because this functionality means that I can read reviews written by my friends, just as they can see what I write. 

But - again with the lack of a predictive algorithm...there's no way to sort the reviews in a way that will help you figure out what you want.  For example, if I want to know if I'd like a book...the best way to do that is to find someone that has rated books that I've read as a whole in a similar way, and put that review first.  Instead, you can only sort by what rating they give, or the time at which the review was written.  Not helpful.  This is why there are several books each year that I find monumentally terrible (this year's winner.  bleeding eyeballs, guys.  bleeding eyeballs.).  They're always the books that I read without a recommendation from a trusted friend.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

McCormick Holiday Tea

Scones, hot tea, holiday tunes, what more could you want on reading day while you study for finals?

The china that Katharine McCormick chose for the dorm.

Macarons (delicious!) and linzer cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December in Boston

Some snow (but mostly not), a cute little tree, and a new friend that waves to me on the way home from work!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SWEA Swedish Christmas Festival + a language learning adventure

Another year, another Swedish Yuletide Festival!

Nothing says Swedish like pearl sugar and cinnamon!

I think Britta is excited.  Just a little. 

A Swedish Christmas jazz trio. 

My other adventure right now is Duolingo, an online platform for language learning.  It is admittedly not the best for language immersion before a trip to a country...the first sentence I learned was "A moose drinks water," which is downright useless.  Yet, it's a splendid way to learn the basics and how a language is constructed.  I'm also continuing to practice Spanish and French, and while I'm entirely sure my conversational French is sub-par, my next time in France will make so much more sense because my reading comprehension is at about 50%, which is a good deal more than none.  It's great to have 15 minutes a day to learn something completely unrelated to science - a good brain workout, to be sure. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Baby shower!

Another baby is joining my Boston family!

Zoe has no time for all this excitement, thankyouverymuch.  There are naps to be had.

Such a fun group!  We're so excited to welcome baby Aria soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tenure Talk!

Jacquin gave his tenure talk this December - and that required tshirts!

It's a little hard to tell, but the little green guy is a parasite, and there's a hard hat and hammer for the engineering we do of the circular thing, a DNA plasmid.  The back has an aptamer as the "i' in Niles. (an aptamer is a 3D structure made from either DNA or RNA that binds well to something else we're interested in, and makes a mighty fine tool in our engineering toolkit).    

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A friend comes to visit!

Residency interviews mean two things:

Toscanini's, despite very inclement weather (pouring rain.  ugh)

And---a Penthouse picture! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pie for Breakfast Day!

Also known as: my absolutely favorite holiday!

Apparently 9:15 am on the day after Thanksgiving is the only time you will ever see the entirety of the Infinite Corridor completely deserted. 

10 hours after Thanksgiving ended, the pie was almost gone!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thanksgiving at MIT

See that, Minnesota!  Snow on the ground.  For Thanksgiving.  Never mind that it didn't stick around, it was here!

I think "feast your eyes" is the appropriate phrase to use here.

Master carver.

These girls made turkey dumplings from scratch!  They turned out so well, yum!

McCormick Thanksgiving Pies - 2014

(back row)
Apple pie with dutch crumble (adapted from here)
Cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry (from here, really good!)
Double crust apple pie
Pumpkin pie (Smitten Kitchen)

(front row)
Pumpkin pie (Serious Eats)
Salty Honey pie (the surprise hit!)
Strawberry rhubarb (Smitten Kitchen)
Pecan pie (Amma's secret recipe)

Cutting the first slice of Kathy's magnificent chocolate mousse pie.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

McCormick Art Gallery - Fall 2014


While perhaps a bit challenging to adapt to photography, several of my submissions for the art show "Fantasia" were accepted!  

Alien Blossom
With petals rolled tightly and leading to an almost fluorescent blue center, this delightful beauty seemed truly out of this world.

Heaven is a Brass Band
Seen suspended high above a museum's rotunda, the light from above obscures the color of these instruments.  Yet, with their arrangement into a skydiving formation against the white of the ceiling, it's clear that heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Wings on Air
Always in motion, yet never moving.

Starflowers and Solder
The natural and the distinctly unnatural coexist in a surreal garden, leggy electronic bits and bobs mixed in among leaves.

The natural world is truly full of wonders: the pull of the moon's gravity creates these tiny fractal-like rivulets in the sand of a beach. 

One of the pieces was made using 3D printing--so cool!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

McCormick, March through December

2014 is almost over, it's hard to believe!

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cafe ArtScience

Le Laboratoire Cambridge recently moved into the first floor of an office building in Kendall Square (for the locals confused by the vague google maps directions, it's across the ice skating rink from Aceituna).  Le Laboratoire is a museum and learning center dedicated to the arts, creativity, and science.  They recently opened a flagship restaurant that melds their motto into food, called Cafe ArtScience.

We ended up sitting at tables in the bar area, meaning we could order from both the bar and dining room menus, which was a great choice. 

I ordered the Johnny C to drink, and the combination of vodka, lime, chartreuse, St. Germain, and orange bitters was far more balanced than the tiki drink I had the first time (there was mango pulp formed into discs throughout the drink, making it look cool, but they didn't dissolve until the very end, giving me a very dry drink and then very sugary ice water...not good).  Sadly, they were out of the Waft-Tiki, a drink with a vapor component and special ice cubes - so that's something for next time!

They focus on French dishes, and since I'd never tried leeks aux vinaigrette, I went for it!  The leeks were good, but honestly, I could have eaten about three pounds of the crab they used for garnish, it was definitely the star of the plate.

We were also delivered the most devastatingly good salt-kissed focaccia, and ordered the cheese plate from the dessert menu to come out as an appetizer.  A small wheel of cheese, a schmear of honey, and marcona almonds, it was delightful.  The mixed nuts we ordered were tasty, but on the oily and messy side.

The desserts of the evening were great!  Sarah and I shared a cherry wood smoked cake with angostura geleé, maraschino cherries, angostura toile, marshmallo, and a cherry puree. 

All in all?  I'm thrilled that there's another addition to the Kendall Square roster.  My strategy next time would be to gather up some moderately hungry friends, order the cheese plate and one entree (to make sure that there would be lots of bread), drinks, and lots of dessert.  Though the main courses were tasty, they are expensive for what you get.  In comparison, the $12 desserts or drinks are a better value.  And if you have really hungry people, there are better places to get a good deal (Area Four!)

Friday, November 28, 2014

A day downtown

Shadows in the Infinite on the way to Kendall.

Lunch at China Pearl!

The new Filene's Basement going up...and I finally found a pair of cute shoes at DSW!  They are olive green suede wedges from Nine West, and lovely. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


One of my roommates from my senior year of college recently moved back to her home state of Texas and joined a chorus called the Rich-Tones.  They competed in an international singing competition, and it was so fun to watch online!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

My new best friend.

He's a dachshund named Romeo.  Look at him!  So cute!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Brow and Makeup Session with Sadie of Just Pluck

The lovely Sadie of Just Pluck came to visit McCormick and do brows and makeup for the girls before the formal dance, so of course, brows for the hosts! 

Like the messy bookcases?  Academic chic.  Ha.

Bachelor buttons...still going strong despite the fact that it's November!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Autumn Walk to Longwood

A reagent pickup required a walk to Longwood, Harvard's medical school campus near the MFA.  Autumn, I can't get over you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Articles Club November 2014!

I hosted an articles club brunch this November, and the lovely Oksana was able to join us over skype, all the way from Switzerland! 

We fit! 

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but I adore the fact that you can see all of us in the background, with Chase grinning!  He's really excited to see his dad.  I feel sad that I missed taking a picture of his face when tasting yogurt!  He looked so offended, but then tried to eat more, so he's definitely sending mixed messages. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Swan Lake at the Boston Ballet

What a show!  I really need to see Black Swan some time. 

I love the $20 student rush tickets.  Such a good deal, and a great view!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Turning in chapter one!

Hey!  I'm still in grad school!

MIT Biological Engineering at the annual retreat.

My couch, covered in papers.  A strange filing system, yes, but some of the papers overlapped different sections of the intro, so my piles did as well (ha).

But the good news is that a draft of chapter one is complete! Even better, I spent the time to learn how to use a LaTex graphic interface called Lyx, so it looks quite fetching, if I do say so myself. It feels great to have another thing done! One step closer to graduating.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Moon Halo

A 22º Halo showed up in Boston!  It was stunning in person, the photos can't begin to capture how beautiful it looked.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Boston Eats: Viale

A new restaurant called Viale took over the Rendezvous space in Central Square, so Melinda and I decided to check it out for her birthday. 

A delicious coconut-water based drink.

Portion sizes were small for the cost ($23 was a full plate and consisted of seven ravioli), but I was still happy with my pockets of brown butter squash stuffed deliciousness.

And of course, ice cream for dessert! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blustery day!

You can't really see that it's snowing, but it was!  Boston actually beat Minnesota this year for first snowfall, on November 2nd!  It was also gusting out there like crazy. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Harry Potter Halloween Feast

As purveyor of Honeydukes, I had work to do preparing the chocolate frogs...unfortunately not magical, but certainly delicious!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Construction, oh it continues.

Giant pits of mud for hydraulic digging of something! 

Behind the scenes!  Not as exciting as I thought it would be, and I'm completely lost as to the purpose of the chains.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Heroes + Indian + Cake = Perfection

A day of all the good things...homemade Indian food (four chutneys!), chai chocolate cake (yes, eaten right out of the pan), and Heroes! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer

Such a good show.  There's just something about bluegrass.  (especially when performed by two MacArthur Genius Grant winners!)

They're just so good.  If you ever get a chance, see them live.  It's a phenomenal show.

It also included the naming of an improptu song just for Boston...many were thrown out by the crowd until the name "Wicked Pissah" came up and was the obvious choice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apple Dessert Baking Study Break!

The sixth and perhaps final apple dessert baking study break!  It's always a pleasure to bring my love of pies to the girls. 

Whenever I see bundt pans, all I can think of is that clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: 

So much butter!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Boston Apple Picking 2014: Honeypot Hill

A rainy day could do nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of the prospects of apple picking...and honestly, I would say this is a great way to do apple picking, since the crowds were much less crazy than usual!  We went back to Honeypot Hill this year, still the home to delicious apple cider and sugared cider donuts.  

Meg didn't know that you could actually go somewhere and pick apples!  But she's on board with the idea now!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Club!

October's book was The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell, and it was quite the surprising thriller!

See the IWU book club's other picks here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Autumn from the Penthouse

Nothing short of gorgeous.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn in Back Bay

The day after my committee meeting, it was time for a massage. And that meant an early morning walk through Back Bay.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

McCormick in Autumn

I can't get over how pretty Boston is in the fall.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Union Square

A walk to Union Square means I have my camera out!

I want the house that needs this radiator. 

A Fluff-colada at Backbar in honor of the Fluff Festival (marshmallow fluff was invented in Somerville, Massachusetts)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

at the BSO

My first BSO concert this year was led by the newly-minted conductor, Andris Nelson, and what a lovely performance it was!

We had killer seats, right in the center of the main floor.  The evening was a mix of pieces, from the overplayed (Beethoven's 8th Symphony) to something new to me (Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin) to an exciting favorite (Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony).  A great evening of music, even if it was on a Wednesday!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What a week....

This past week was a struggle.  Not one of the favorite weeks.  Nope, not at all. 

Monday, my eyes hurt...and urgent care said, okay, you have to go get checked out, we don't mess around with eyes.  I was then diagnosed with iritis, a painful inflammation of the iris of your eye that's accompanied by the oh-so-pleasant symptoms of severe sinus pain, light sensitivity, and a swollen eyeball.  No joke. 

So, Monday evening, I spent the night loaded up on steroid eye drops and tylenol, trying to work on my committee meeting update.  At 10 pm at night, I sat on my bed with my laptop, shades closed, sunglasses on, computer on the lowest brightness.  I looked (and felt) like a wreck.

Tuesday, after my evening rehearsal for the MIT Symphony, I find out that one of our members had passed away.  

She was 19.  A sophomore.  Heart-breaking.

Wednesday, a family health thing came up. 

Thursday, my eyes were finally feeling better, but then the nervousness was really starting to set in.  

But...things were starting to look up.  My friend Emily dropped by with some flowers given to her that she couldn't keep because of her kitties back at her apartment, the autumn ones pictured first in the post.  I got six emails from friends cheering me on.  I could do this.

Friday was my committee meeting.  I've been on pins and needles lately, trying to figure out graduation timing and research progress.  It's been a long summer, one where I made the conscious decision not to take a vacation in order to get closer to finishing, and this was the day that would tell me if that sacrifice was worth it.  I was so glad for that meeting to be over.

I came home to flowers from my family back home, crazy bright and happy!  That evening, I hosted a study break for my girls with 10 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and the movie Grease.  It was just what I needed, oh yes. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MIT Pumpkin Patch!

Every autumn, the MIT Glass Lab holds a two day event called the Pumpkin Patch.  On Friday night, all the pumpkins are laid out on tables under a tent in the Kresge Oval, and on Saturday morning, all the pumpkins are scattered across the ground awaiting the hoards of people in line to purchase their pumpkins. 

The system is unique - instead of bidding, or putting in numbers, marking down your favorite, you can get a number starting at 7 am for the opening at 10 am, and then they let you in.  You can buy as many pumpkins as you want, but finding your pumpkin of choice is an absolute challenge.  They aren't sorted by size, cost, color, anything.  You just wander around, seeing what strikes your fancy.  With prices ranging from $15 to $950, and every color of the rainbow, the pumpkin patch is full of every possible iteration you could imagine. 

I bought my mom one for Christmas my first year here, and now in my (hopefully) last year, I decided to buy pumpkins for my brothers and I!  Totally worth it. 

So.  many.  pumpkins.