Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sun Worship

This winter, every morning that I tromped through snow and slush in 5745452 layers of clothing to the gym, I reminded myself that in a few short (LONG) months, I would be walking to the gym in my gym clothing only - shorts, tank, sports bra, sneakers.

Today, that happened.
Spring in Boston is a fickle creature.  It gives us so much rain and gray, and right when we are about to snap we are rewarded with sunshine day.  Thank goodness.  Last week when it literally was gray and rainy for a week straight, even me, little miss optimistic, started feeling down.

You see, the females of my family are sun-worshipers.
(This is not to get us in trouble - we are a pastor's family and hold beliefs that are parallel with our faith.)

But when summer rolls around, we do whatever we can to be out of doors, in the sun.  15 minutes here, an hour there, whatever it takes.  We take walks on the sunny side of the street.  We read our books on blankets in parks.  And don't even get us started on the beach.  We are beach babes through and through.
I advocate for more sun time for all.  Office work can get to a girl who worships the sun - especially one whose work is tied to a computer and answering the phone.  Although I often joke about forwarding calls to my cell phone so I can work outside, there is a bit of truth to that wish.

My workplace is near a building with a rooftop garden.  An oasis of sunshine in an area of offices and coffee shops, this well-kept secret becomes rather crowded during lunch time.  It even has its own Yelp! page (four and a half stars, not too shabby).  My co-workers and I are so happy when we go up to the rooftop garden during lunch time.  They're academics and researchers, and sometimes have to read pretty heavy articles.  I'm positive many of them will take advantage of good weather this summer and read outside this summer.  Lucky ducks.
Now, please don't take my sun manifesto too much to heart.  I know the risks of skin cancer and would never advocate sun time without a proper SPF, and sunglasses (accessories that, while necessary, can also be cute!)

I know I am very much looking forward to my Sunday river/sun walk with AT, author of La Cucina Francesca!  Make sure you all get out of doors this weekend as well!

Monday, May 23, 2011


First of all, thank you everyone for your kind words responding to my previous post.  I didn't post for feedback, I write to let things out.  

That being said, Saturday was a lovely day.  Not only was the sun in the sky for 8+ hours, not only did the rapture not occur, but Mom, FMIL (future mother in law, for those unfamiliar with 'theknotspeak') and I went venue-hunting.

Be vewy vewy quiet.. we're hunting venues!

Each spot was as lovely as the last, and they were all different, but all old buildings that used functions and space rental for preservation.  So no matter where B and I choose to celebrate our marriage, we will be helping preserve a gorgeous historic landmark.  Bonus!

Rather than go into the details of each specific PLACE, its more fun in my opinion to dissect the personalities of the people who showed us around.  I'm not going to bad-mouth anyone, but they were all so different from each other.  I think it is safe to point out that an event planner can come from any combination of personality traits.

We begin with the seasoned female.  She worked in a law office for many years before going into event planning, and is outsourced by one of the venues for all their event-related needs.  She was all business (of course), joking a bit.  Then I mentioned that we're looking for a place/caterer that can accommodate our unique taste in food (we really like food.  A lot.)  I said we wanted more of a cocktail reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, beginning with the lighter fare of cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, etc, followed by potential food stations (a mac and cheese bar has been my dream, inspired by Lil' Hoot's mashed potatoes in martini glasses!)  She just lit up.  She started talking about previous clients doing taco bars, tangine, meze, every food imaginable as a station rather than the typical wedding 'Chicken or Fish'.  (That brings me back to the episode of the Office when, after Pam calls the wedding off, Roy brings in two plates for lunch asking 'chicken or fish', after which Pam goes into the 'confessional' explaining that rather than lose the money on the food they would have served, she and Roy decided to freeze it and eat the meals one by one.)

She asked me where else we were looking and after every venue I listed, she gave me her exact opinion (mostly 'love them!  you'll be in great hands!')  Then she expressed surprise at the other venues, wondering why we were bothering to look at hers if the others were so nice.  She quoted us a $5,000 fee for each of them, basically turning me off of the rest of our visits before we had even set foot on the various properties. I left the first place feeling as though I didn't need to see anything else.

How wrong I was!

Person 3 was much younger.  Possibly my age, or a few years older or younger.  One could not tell.  She began the meeting delving into the dirt on me and B - where did we meet, let's see the ring, engagement story, etc.  It definitely showed her age (not in a bad way), and you could tell that she hadn't been doing weddings for years and years, because she could still get excited about every individual story.

The property was beautiful (heck, they all were) and she was easy to joke with. Both pluses.

Last was another seasoned events woman.  She allowed our trio to view the venue while they set up for a reception, which made things much easier to visualize.  While waiting for her to finish with another couple, we chatted with one of the other events staff who said she had her own wedding there with about the number of guests we have, and logistically it worked wonderfully.

(Why on earth would you have your wedding at your place of work?  I'm planning a conference at a local Marriott and maybe a hotel venue just isn't my style but there is no way I would even consider having my wedding there.)

I think the most interesting thing about the fourth planner was that when she showed us the bridal suite, she told us that before she agreed to take the planning job, she went into the bridal suite to check out the mirrors - she said that if they hadn't been perfect, the first thing she would do would have been to order new mirrors.  She didn't want a bride having a meltdown on her watch due to unflattering mirrors!  My kind of woman!

Did you notice I skipped personality 2?  That was intentional.  Saving the most memorable person for last.

The second person to show us around was a man.  I have to divulge his name - Frank.  Frank actually owns the property, but keeps it up to historical society standards in the middle of Topsfield (which I can only imagine has super strict zoning laws regarding old buildings).

My parents had gone to a wedding reception there and my bubbly mother tried to make conversation with Frank about it, receiving only few-word answers.  Frank didn't seem comfortable, warm or open, and at first it turned me off of the venue.  Which was a shame, because I could totally visualize our day going so well there.

Then, Frank talked food.

He also visibly lit up when I mentioned my menu wishes.  We had to have spent twenty minutes to a half hour brainstorming menus - from gourmet mac and cheese to mini pizzas with duck to (this is where he won our hearts and made us swoon) truffle fries.  Oh, dear Frank, you and my families are foodie matches made in heaven.  He left us for a few minutes to give us estimated pricing and came back with mini salmon mousse crepes.  


Now for adding things up and trying to figure out who is most economically feasible.  Yay for math!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Memory

I don't normally give my blog posts a sad tone, but today is going to be different.  Just today.  Tomorrow or the next day, I will return to being my upbeat self.

Today is May 19.  My little sister's friend, C, would have been 21 years old.  If she  had not ended her life this past September.

C was vivacious in every sense of the word.  She and my sister once embarrassed the crap out of me in front of a date, performing a song and dance routine to the Foxwoods Casino theme song.  She and my sis were good for each other because they felt comfortable being goofy together (and man did they both have some seriously goofy sides.)

But C struggled with image issues through their friendship, in middle and high school.  A smart, beautiful woman, she had everything in front of her but saw only darkness.

As a pastor's daughter, you learn about death at an early age.  You get used to the middle of the night phone calls as Dad rushes away to a church family's house to be with someone during their last moments on earth.  Usually, these people are old or sick, or both, and the knowledge of this has mentally prepared you.  Even if this person had become like a grandmother or aunt, you were prepared.

When C died, I had never felt so affected by a death.

Dad officiated C's funeral.  I had never been so proud of my father.  He had confirmed C several years before, and helped her family create a touching, beautiful, meaningful service, a true celebration of a life.

I often think of C, and hope I always will.  I know that however much I think of her, her friends and family must think of her 100 times more.

I don't write about C for sympathy.  I write so I can remember.  I am sorry for the loss of her, for her friends and family, for those she could have met and what she could have accomplished.

C. 5/19/1990 - 9/22/2010

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grown-up Things

I have been living on my own and responsible for myself pretty much since senior year of college, when I lived with my two college bffs in an on-campus apartment.  We cleaned it ourselves, and it was always fun to have Shell crank up the music as we fought away dust bunnies and mildew.

Fast forward more years than I care to admit.
I'm an adult now (sort of).  I live with my fiancee in a real apartment, with real furniture and real windows that don't keep the cold out and real mice that hold hip-hop parties at night.

Yet I still feel that sense of accomplishment when I do something adult-like.
I transfer money from checking to savings?  Sense of adulthood pride.

I pay my bills on time?  Happy dance in my brain as I congratulate my ability to use a check book.
Clean the apartment?  I may not enjoy the process, but when I'm done I feel so darn accomplished!

So why is it after all these years of being responsible for myself, do I still get a personal thrill for doing something that is inherently adult, yet something that people do again and again without fanfare?
Believe me, I don't expect you, dear readers, to pat me on the back when I pay my student loan bill.  I don't expect to call my mom and say 'Oh, by the way, I swept the apartment floor today' and have her congratulate me.

I kind of hope it doesn't go away.  If I keep having these little happy moments during my adult-responsibility activities, I'll be more likely to do them, right?  My strong sense of accomplishment will inspire additional bill paying, grocery shopping, cleaning, saving, and adult decision making, right?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coconut Goodness on a Spring Morning

Thank you, woman in front of me at Starbuck's this morning.

She saw me eyeing the free sample she had of the new Mocha Coconut Frappuccino and turned the sample tray my way before anyone else could snag the very last one.

Coconut and mocha flavor, with a dash of whipped cream, drizzle of chocolate sauce, and sprinkle of coconut flakes on top? YES PLEASE. Coconut to me tastes like summer sunshine but I am not a fan of an overwhelming amount of flakes - this was just perfect.

Starbucks: You should make the sample sizes available any time for fifty cents. I know I'd buy them all the time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Up in Smoke

I was just thinking this morning that I should post about cigars and then this Boston Globe article came out... Perfect timing!

I grew up in a cigar-smoking house. It wasn't every day or every night, more just every so often my father indulges. My great-grandfather Popoo loved his cigars, my grandfather Poppy loved pipes, and my uncles, cousin, and fiancee and future brother in law both love the occasional puff. But none so much as my father.

I find the smell of cigars comforting. It used to fill up our entire house, even with candles burning or windows open. Now, I will walk downwind of an outdoor cigar smoker as I see other people wrinkling their noses trying to get out of the way.

I understand some people prefer to stay out of smoke-filled dark bars. That's totes ok. Don't go to them. Cigar bars are a dying breed, especially in progressively-minded Boston (and I don't fault the city's public health officials for their views at all). But think about it. The only people who would want to work in a cigar bar are people who don't mind cigar smoke. Boston has SOOOOOO many bars. So many bars that I am often enthralled why people would wait in line at one bar when the one next door is ready for business. But that's another blog entry. Cigar bars are so few and far between that people cannot say that that specific bar job was the only one they could find and are unhappy being subjected to cigar smoke all day. I've been to these bars and their wait staff are knowledgeable about both cigars and booze - they're a well-cultivated crew focused on the clients and their fondness for stogies. I seriously considered getting a job at a cigar bar (the tips must be incredible) before finding Zinnia.

And honestly, I would love to find a cigar-friendly wedding reception venue... Or just host the rehearsal dinner in my parents' backyard. Because goodness knows there will be a LOT of cigars passed around that weekend.

My dad even had a special cigar - a Cuban that he got while visiting me in London almost five years ago. He told me last summer about it; that he was saving it for the day I became engaged.

On Saturday morning, I gave him the go-ahead to light up.

I, for one, would miss cigar bars if they leave the city of Boston. I understand the risks of spending long periods of time and