Friday, April 29, 2011

Everyone loves a wedding!

So, every blogger right now is giving their two cents about the Royal Wedding. I'm no different. Sorry if you don't care - then don't read on because I'm about to go ga-ga in a big way.

Kate Middleton just finished the dream that so many little girls have - a normal person just turned into a princess, and did so with grace and poise that you would have thought she had been trained to do this her whole life.

Her gown was gorgeous - not over the top by any means, just feminine and elegant. Pippa, the maid of honor, looked stunning as well (and in white! Who says the bride is the only one allowed to wear white??)

What I loved:
1. Her hair was down. So many people opt for up-dos, but when it comes down to it I know most dudes love their beloveds' hair flowing and down. Kudos to Kate.
2. She did her own makeup. Not even a Princess needs a team of pros to make her look good. She looked clean and natural, and while I'm sure she'll be touching up throughout the day, she could not have looked more flawless.
3. They were nervous - like any bride and groom, bot Will and Kate looked happy but a tad bit anxious. And who wouldn't be with millions watching and Joan Rivers critiquing. She was so nervous, in fact, that her fingers swelled just enough to give Will trouble putting her ring on. Which, btw, was simple and tasteful.
4. Hats, fascinators, and headpieces, oh my! I predict this is going to be huge in both the wedding and fashion circuit for at least the next year. I know some of them looked ridiculous (and a few looked almost Dr. Seuss-esque) but how creative! Milliners and haberdashers have the best jobs ever. I know I want a fancy hat for everyday wear.

After all, everyone loves a wedding. I've been loving weddings for as long as I can remember. I blame my mother, who would sneak me (and then me and my sister) into the balcony of Dad's church in order to get the best view of any wedding my father happened to officiate. So, if you were married at the Bridgewater Congregational Church (Connecticut) between, say, 1985 and 2000, I probably saw the ceremony. And judged the bride's dress, the bridesmaid dresses, and the flowers. And I can guarantee that as a 2 to 17 year old, I loved it all. Plus, I had the added bonus of sometimes being INVITED to the wedding. I wore pretty dresses, danced the day/night away, and may have even concocted really weird soda combinations to keep myself entertained. Maybe I awkwardly asked a cute boy to dance (and was turned down usually). Maybe a few friends of mine were there and we chased each other around and put ice down the backs of our shirts. Heck, with one family in particular, my father married 4 of 5 sisters, played violin at the 5th sisters' wedding, AND married the mother. And I attended the vast majority of those weddings.

So yes, I love a good wedding. And why not? They're so fun. Good (or at least free!) food, flowing beverages, music, dancing, laughter, family, friends.

With love and happiness for all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Admin Pros before Hos

Today was admin professionals' day. You know how I knew that?

Yesterday, the awesome-socks web site,, sent me their top cards of the week email, which contained, among other things Admin Professionals' Day cards.

The one I sent a few Admin Pro buds:
"Sorry you have to work on the holiday honoring your work"

I then went home and promptly forgot about it again until this afternoon, when one of those admin pros (and author of Sugar High Boston) had it posted on facebook.

You see, the two Admins at the office had gone to a site visit at the hotel where we will hold our conference in June. The day was so nice that the other admin missed our exit off 93 and we ended up in Medford, near Wellington.

You know what is right next to Wellington?

Three words:
Kelly's Roast Beef

Fried Scallop Plate and Strawberry Frappe? Yes please. And someone discovered how awesome tarter sauce truly is on top of fried seafood. Food-gasm.

It was not until we returned to the office (me ready for a nap after such a heavy, delicious meal) when I realized, and walked into fellow admin's office

"Happy Admin Professionals day! We celebrated by inadvertently taking ourselves out to lunch!"


I leave you with a few other gems from

"This administrative professionals' day, please order yourself some flowers from me"
"In lieu of greater respect and better pay, we give you a pseudo-holiday"
"I'll gladly do the expense reports for the gifts you bought me on admin's day"

(for those of you who are wondering, I do really like my administrative job and in no way, shape or form do I feel under appreciated by my coworkers. You need to look no further than the office calisthenics post. These just made me giggle).

The next day, after an AM MD appointment (healthy and fine!) I came to work to find this adorbs ecard from a supervisor/co-worker. Need I say more about the wonderful people I work with?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Office Calisthenics

I have some pretty cool co-workers.

When I first left Zinnia, I was really scared that no one I ever worked with would ever live up to the Zinnia girls. These people, while not as close of friends with me as the ZGs, are still pretty hip.

Today, one co-worker emailed us this article:

One of my other fears when I left Zinnia (full time, that is) was that the sedentary office life would be too much for me to deal with after almost three years of working on my feet all day every day. And in a way it has - I definitely make much more of an effort to make sure I go to the gym AND walk to work as much as I can, and will have to continue that through the summer. But for NPR to tell me that's not enough? Kinda depressing.

However, my super-awesome new co-workers have something else going for us. They're all scientists and physicists and good at this sort of thing, and have been making paper airplanes (COOL paper airplanes) and flying them around the office. So when this article came to our attention, we rejoiced, since it pretty much justifies paper airplane time.

Today we also experimented with other forms of movement. I started doing lunges throughout the office. Our web designer jumped. One of the researchers did handstands. And so we did five minutes of office calisthenics. And perhaps the next time we have a staff meeting, we will each do our calisthenic walks to the meeting place around our office coffee table - lunges, leaps, handstands... Maybe a forward roll or bunny hop in the mix.

With this crazy bunch, you never know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ode to Mini Eggs

If my life in the UK taught me one thing, it taught me this:
European candy is WAY better than its mass marketed US counterpart.

Apologies to Hershey's (especially considering that technically they are my long-lost relatives somehow). But they just cannot compete, especially with my love, Cadbury.

(Yes, I know that Hershey's now distributes Cadbury chocolate in the US.)

The Cadbury Dairy Milk bar is a thing of pure, unadulterated joy. Solid creamy milk chocolate without that chemically taste I find pervades Hershey (especially Kisses. They taste like poo. Literally.) Maynard's Wine Gums, and Sour Wine Gums, are superior to regular old gummies in every way, especially the red flavor (which is a much richer red taste than American Red) and the purple colored gum, which is black currant. What this country needs now is more black currant!

But hands down, my absolute favorite chocolate in the world (maybe tied with Hazelnut Ferraro Rocher) is the Cadbury Mini Egg. NOT the Cream Egg, there is a little bit too much cream in there, but the candy shell with milk chocolate middle Mini Egg. Candy shell thick enough to bite off and chew separately, chocolate in the center all creamy goodness, no added gunk.

Sadly, this girl can only get Mini Eggs during the Easter season (which fortunately for me begins in February at CVS.) The bags never last long in my presence, even the super sized ones. I'm always tempted to buy out CVS the day after Easter and hide them from myself around the apartment, like an extended Easter Egg hunt that lasts for months... except there aren't many hiding places in my apartment, especially from myself.

I suppose it is better that I can only get these delectable morsels a few months out of the year, or I would turn into a not-so-Mini Egg.

And so I enjoy these last few days of Mini Egg availability. I know I will purchase at least one more bag before they disappear for another ten months (sadness and despair, I know.) But I shall miss my Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Happy Easter and Great Passover to you, dear readers. Do the bunny hop!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Human or Machine?

I am the recipient of unsubscribe requests where I work (people asking to be taken off our email lists). At the bottom of every mass email we send out, there are directions for people to take themselves off our lists. Sometimes that works.

Sometimes it doesn't.

That makes lil' old me the object of peoples' ire.

For example, if their specific email address they use NOW is not on our list, the auto-unsubscribe option does not work. So sometimes I get rather angry sounding emails with people using all caps and many exclamation marks. My office mate / buddy S suggests that people have gotten so used to machines being the 'person' who receives their unsubscribe emails that they do not realize that I am a real person who doesn't much appreciate rudeness and anger.

More and more industries are automating, for the sake of cost-effectiveness and not needing to pay a human being for the job a machine could do. But is this really a good idea when customer satisfaction is on the line?

I went to CVS Saturday morning - I was feeling under the weather and purchasing Odwalla Strawberry-C Monster and Day-Quil. This was pre-coffee, keep in mind. I go to check out and there are no humans at the human check out desk, so I go to the self-checkout area. Again, I did this before having any coffee. The first prompt always asks if you prefer the machine to talk in English and Spanish. This intelligent yet uncaffienated blonde pressed 'Espanol' because it started with the letter E.

It would have been ok, except in order to complete a transaction when buying Day-Quil, the purchaser must ask one of the CVS employees to press a button saying that they have seen your ID and that you are indeed over 18. Thank goodness I had seen a couple of dudes need to do the same thing before me for THEIR cold medicine.

Is this really a good idea for CVS? They require ID for a whole slew of cold and allergy medicines. Perhaps they should just have a sign in that section telling those suffering from disease to make sure to check out with a human in order to avoid the delays within the machinery. Especially if they have not yet had their coffee and do not understand Spanish.

I am also not a fan of the voice-activated phone calls. When you're trying to talk to someone about your airline reservation or health insurance, and you have a difficult to understand last name, what is the point of having to enunciate into the mouthpiece when you just have to re-spell and confirm your identity once they finally connect you to a human. You can't even press zero and be done with it anymore, you still have to give information before you can be connected.

Back to self checkout.

When it was first introduced, I was at a Shaw's attempting to buy, among other things, potatoes.

Things went all right in the beginning. Then came those darn potatoes.

I scanned the potatoes, then placed them in the bagging area. The exchange went as follows:

Machine: Unexpected item in bagging area. Please remove this item before continuing.
Clare removes potatoes from bagging area.
Machine: Item missing from bagging area. Please replace item before you proceed.
Clare puts potatoes back.

Machine: Unexpected item in bagging area. Please remove this item before continuing.
Clare removes potatoes from bagging area.
Machine: Item missing from bagging area. Please replace item before you proceed.
Clare puts potatoes back.

Machine: Unexpected item in bagging area. Please remove this item before continuing.
Clare removes potatoes from bagging area.
Machine: Item missing from bagging area. Please replace item before you proceed.
Clare puts potatoes back.

And so on and so forth, until an employee so kindly comes along and enters some password and allows me to continue, even though the potatoes are still in the bagging area. I felt like I was on candid camera and they wanted to see how long it would take before I blew up or asked for help or just left Shaw's in disgust.

Machines can make cars. Computer programs can check for mistakes. Self-checkout at stores can hasten the process during high volume times. But please, I beg of you, corporations - do not completely replace humans. If for no other reason than the fact that many of us are on machines 8 hours per day and need that face-to-face or voice-to-voice human contact.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've said it before and I'll say it again, I heart Vanity Fair. They do this 'My Desk' piece of the desks of different famous people (from movie directors to J.Crew's main designer.) I thought I would take a stab at it this Friday afternoon (while my co-workers are hard at work... shooting paper airplanes. Its ok, though, they're physicists).

- Fun note pads for phone messages - bright blue post-it, pink and flowery
- Old travel coffee mug turned pen container (insert your own picture kind with a painting courtesy of ex-roomies' very young pupils)
- Trader Joe's Spa Lavender Hand and Body Lotion
- Squishy stress ball brain, lifted from MIT display table
- Taza Earl Grey Tea (I'm convinced it has the same aftertaste as fruit loops)
- Craisins
- Photo of Lil Sistah and me circa 1992 in front of Stonehenge (ages 2 and 9 respectively) Pretty sure I'm in one of my favorite outfits, denim skirt with a bright pink sleeveless mock turtleneck, signature headband
- Postcard from Arabic calligraphy art exhibition at the British Museum (summer of 2006)
- Ridiculously huge binders programs I am running: NECSI Summer School (June 13-24) and ICCS (June 26-July 1. No you will not be hearing from me in June.)
- 3 hole punch (for said binders)
- Craisins (better for you than sour gummies!)
- Pile of business cards
- Happy Purim note that came attached to hammentashen (delish) from boss and his family
- Chocolate foil wrapper, pink in color, made into the shape of a heart by a co-worker (who does not have romantic feelings for me)
- Water bottle (re-useable, the cooler is literally three feet from my desk)
- Re-useable coffee mug
- Paper clip holder with paper clips, rubber bands, hair ties, lip gloss, hair barrett
- Paper cup full of spent AA batteries. I swear some day I will take them to Whole Foods for the battery recycling bin. Promise.
- To do list (written in purple ink, crossed out with red squiggles when task is completed.)
- Extra polarice gum (only gum I chew)
- Old Alieve pill container that now holds CVS brand ibuprofen. That container was in my mother's purse since I can remember needing ibuprofen, and she gave it to me when I moved to the UK (junior year, I believe).
- Manila file organizer, with more active files towardst he front.
- Pink ribbon tied around desk lamp with a cupcake pin from AT
- USB stick with rubber duckie key ring attached
- Best for last - the baseball I nabbed from the stands during batting practice before a Red Sox game (last summer. awesome. may or may not have beaten out a six year old in my sprint to grab it. In my defense, 6 year old already caught a few. Spread the wealth kid)

Maybe I don't have an autographed Beatles' record or a first print copy of Catcher in the Rye, or whatever else famous people have. But that's ok. I still somehow manage to be productive. I am missing one vital piece, though - I need a pic of B to prove to my co-workers once and for all that he is not invisible (a misconception since they have not yet met him).

Happy Friday! Don't forget to finish your taxes! (ugh)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why I walk

I suppose living in the city gives me an unfair advantage to those who live outside the city in terms of being able to walk everywhere, and for that I am grateful. I do not own a car and the T is $59 per month for a pass - so when I can spend less than that by walking everywhere, I'm in a good place.

But even my city friends wonder why I walk so much, and so far. In my heyday, I walked from Cleveland Circle to Harvard Square, over 4 miles, which baffled people. Then I walked 3 miles, from my current apartment to Harvard Square. People weren't much less baffled, but I was a little bummed that my commute was cut by one mile.

Now I work out as much as I can, about 4 days a week, and still walk the 2 miles to work, and try to walk the 2 miles home when I can. Its not very far, but I know people who live closer to their workplace and still do not walk.

Why do I walk?

1. I love being in the outside world. Just look at it. And no, friends. This does not count running. I do not run in the outside world. If I want a serious, butt blasting, sweat inducing workout, I go to my climate controlled gym where the Today Show or E! News can distract me for the 45 minutes I go double time on the elliptical. Yes, I walk for fitness as well, but that's the added bonus.

2. To avoid traffic. I could also walk to a bus stop and take a bus home... But has anyone seen rush hour traffic? A snail crosses the Mass Ave Bridge faster than the #1 bus during the hours of 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
Walking, I can control my pace. I can opt to walk on grass down Memorial Drive (which I hear burns 7% more calories - winning!) If I want to go straight home, I can, and am unencumbered by other peoples' stop requests (slow walkers notwithstanding). If I want to stop over on Newbury Street, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods, I can. If I forget that I need to stop at one of those places, I can turn around as soon as I make that realization. I can walk fast against the cold, or slowly to soak in the scenery.

3. The scenery on my walks is much nicer than the T. I mean, seriously. Are you looking at the photos interspersed into this blog post? And its only going to get nicer. I get to walk along the river, then cross the river, then walk through the Brownstones of the Back Bay. Plus, one can people watch much more surreptitiously than on the T. On the T, staring is more obvious. As you walk past someone, you can look at them every so often, stealing glances here and there. You can even wear your shades (better for your eyes!) and blatantly star without anyone ever knowing.
Plus, how else would I see the grown man running in a lavender colored zippy up hoodie?

4. Walking makes me happy. It increases endorphines. Its a great way to decompress after work. Every so often, even if work hasn't been particularly stressful, a person needs that 40 minute time outside, moving around, connecting with their city. Sometimes I plug into my iPod, sometimes I just listen to the cars, the runners, the crazy shouting cab drivers.

I love to walk. Needless to say. I can explore my city, give accurate directions (just don't ask me how to drive there!) The sun in my face, wind in my hair, facing the elements... I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blondes and Blue Eye Shadow

I have recently upped the ante of my eyeshadow experience.

I once had only one eyeshadow palette. Then, on New Years Eve, Mindy of Sugar High Boston blogging fame gave me an impromptu eye makeup lesson. I then had a bunch of adult beverages and forgot what she taught me. (Sorry Mindy). Then, I sucked it up and bought myself new eyeshadows. You can't really tell in the photos, but they're definitely labeled "Base", "Lid", "Crease" and "Liner". Yes. I buy pre-labeled eyeshadows. And no, I have not yet gotten up the courage to try the liners. All in good time, dear readers.

All this talk of eyeshadow reminds me of freshman year of college.

One of my two college besties, Shell, had quite the cosmopolitan roommate. Among other things, she held the belief that blondes should NOT wear blue eyeshadow. Ever. I think it sprang from an underlying fear of the 80s. Miss Cosmo feared big hair, loud prints, high tops, and blue eyeshadow on blondes.

Shell, college bestie Em, and I all laughed about Miss Cosmo's wierdness regarding our common hair color and blue eye shadow.

Towards the end of the semester, I had a brilliant idea.

I made sure to wander over to Shell's room when Miss Cosmo was around. Seeing Cosmo at her desk, I said, "Shell, may I borrow your blue eyeshadow tonight?"

I put the fear of God in Miss Cosmo.

"NO! Clare! You cannot wear blue eyeshadow! Blondes should never, ever, ever wear blue eyeshadow!"

Oh, if only writing could convey the disgusted and horrified tone of voice.

I quickly left Shell's room, for fear that I would burst into laughter at Miss Cosmo's predictable outburst. Was that mean? Did I trick her into exploding? Perhaps. But she was not the nicest person on our freshman floor, not by a long shot.

Needless to say, that girl did not live with Shell after freshman year of college!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go to Towne

Go to Towne

In spite of my title, I’m not necessarily telling you, my readers, to visit Boston’s new-ish bar, Towne.

One finds Towne in a space adjacent to the Hynes Convention Center. Its ‘culinary directors’ are local celeb chefs Lydia Shire and Jasper White.

I’m afraid that, while a classy place with pretty good drinks, Towne takes itself a little too seriously.

I went there on Saturday night and had to walk through crowd control ropes and had two different doormen greet me. Rather excessive, especially considering that there was no line whatsoever. I was not even charged a cover.

Drinks range from $10 to $14. In my opinion, unless there is top shelf booze involved, a drink should not exceed the $10 or $11 mark. The ladies I was with concurred - if we are charged $13 for a cocktail, we expect hand lotion in the ladies’ room (there was none.)

I began with the Apple Press, which contains St. Germaine (new favorite alcohol) and various apple flavored things. Quite tasty.

I then asked for a St. Germaine cocktail, to which the waitress replied that the bartenders also do one with a splash of vodka, would I like to try it? I’m always game for something new with St. Germaine, so of course I agreed. When she brought it back to the table, she said that the bartender went a little heavy on the vodka, and if I didn’t like it to let her know.

Holy booze, Batman.

Thankfully, she brought it back to the bar and they put it on ice (a lot of ice, in a huuuuuuge plastic tumbler.) Took me the next hour and a half to finish it, and my goodness did that drink pack a punch. The next morning’s greasy brunch with AT was absolutely necessary to soak up the leftover vodka still running through my veins.

The decor itself is half swanky, half reminiscent of your great uncle’s basement, refurbished circa 1965. And who could forget the photograph of the breast on the back wall?

The bathroom sinks are pretty cool, but a place that size needs a few more stalls and a little bit longer of a mirror.

The bar stools are squishy and comfortable, although treacherous if one leans too far forward - they tend to topple over.

Don’t get me wrong - I had a fantastic time (in fabulous company). Our waitress was quite possibly one of the best waitresses I have experienced - she became our buddy and shot the sh*t with us towards the end of the night.

While I fit in appearance wise, in my skinny jeans and party blazer, I think the flip flops were a little out of place.

At first, the single ladies were a tad disappointed at the female to male ratio (not great), although not surprising considering that the Red Sox and a Final Four game were on at the same time. We sat underneath a TV, so every so often a group of dudes stopped to look at us (or so we thought. The train of thought went “Why are those dudes staring a... oh, right, the TV.”)

Then, suddenly, the men abounded. We met half-hat Steve, whose hat only covered half his head. We met some super drunk dude with longish hair and a Robert Plant concert tour T-shirt. We even met a man who was the spitting image of my father’s cousin’s husband, who we affectionately call ‘Uncle Al’. We even met a few Australian men, one of whom, even after learning I had a boyfriend (and before getting Juju’s digits), told me that if my sister wanted to go to a footie game in Brisbane when she visits, to let him know and he would hook her up. The Aussies really are the nicest people on the planet.

Towne is fun, especially when in good company, but an expensive habit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Springtime in Boston

(idea courtesy of Cat Craig)

Why yes, that is my flippie-flopped foot (navy blue haviana peackock, I'm a flip flop snob) next to a teeny tiny snow pile.

This is what springtime in Boston looks like.

Home envy

Ever since I moved to the Boston area, I have had home envy of a lot of people - the MIT and Harvard dorms overlooking the river, the Back Bay brownstones, the modern, airy lofts in the South End (Joe and Mindy's apartment in Southie...)

But that envy pales in comparison to what I feel about one particular building on Beacon Street in Brookline -number 1514, called 'Stoneholme'.

I mean, what is this building doing in Massachusetts? It belongs in Paris.

I have taken great interest in Stoneholme and its inhabitants. I often check out their cars, to see if it is the home of ridiculous millionaires with sweet cars. The parking lot has Mercedes, Audis, and BMWs... But there are also Hondas and Toyotas (new models, but still not luxury!)

I try to peer into the windows, which is difficult from the sidewalk and I'm not about to walk up the hallowed stairs to try to get in. My mom taught me better manners than that!

I sometimes wonder if it has a tragic story attached to it. Maybe if it is haunted the property is worth less and we can purchase an apartment in it some day. I can handle ghosts, you just have to make friends with them.

Or maybe there is a super long waiting list to be able to buy or rent an apartment in there, and its such a gorgeously popular building that people secretly commit murder to be able to live there.

So if anyone is in cyberspace looking for someone to bequeath their fortune to (like the Nigerian billionaires who constantly email my work account) - this is what I would spend it on. Quite a worthy cause, I should think!