Category Archives: Fun

Summer 2015 Recap

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Summer 2015 was a DOOZY. It all started Memorial Day weekend, when N and I got engaged! It feels both not real and like we’ve just always been engaged. From there we threw ourselves into summer like a coupla animals. N built us a firepit in the backyard, which we barely used (damn bugs) but are deeply fond of. He came to the beach with me MULTIPLE times, which is unheard of.

In June I got rear-ended and got to drive a sweet, sweet minivan for a month while my car was being fixed. Still miss that thing. Helefab herself came to New England TWICE this summer, much to my delight. I spent a great afternoon up in Portland with her.

Fourth of July happened in there somewhere, with multiple sets of fireworks and time spent with friends. There was a trip up to Ogunquit and swimming in the icy cold ocean. We sat in traffic for the worst FOUR HOURS of my life going down to Foxwoods for a night.

Concerts also happened! So many concerts, which is so unlike me. I saw Dashboard Confessional, the Ataris (a dream since high school), and had an absolutely amazing, drunken time at Nelly/TLC/New Kids on the Block with my squad.

In June I also found out I was losing my job. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. However, it has given me tons of free time to spend with N adventuring.

IMG_8192The end of July brought the annual Cape Cod trip with PERFECT weather and beach lounging and kayaking.

August was jam packed with parties, including a surprise pool party for N’s 30th that was a huge success. I also surprised him with a day full of fun, including him getting to fly a plane and brew his own beer. I really outdid myself this year.

Around the house saw a lot of hallway-centric updates being made, and not much else. Without me working we’ve been super budget conscious. The hallway got painted and the mudroom got a huge facelift (more to come on that).

As usual the last weekend in August was St. Anthony’s feast in the North End, which involved much, much food and a peek inside Old North Church of Paul Revere fame. I’d actually never been inside! It was churchy.

Labor Day weekend was low key and involved a motorcycle ride down to Concord for lunch and a historical cemetery stroll. We finished the weekend up with another pool party at N’s parents and an unofficial end of summer sunset. Phew! I’m exhausted. This was a great summer and I am SO READY for fall. Bring on the crisp air and pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!

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The Best Homemade Cold Brew


Cold brew is having a moment right now. Starbucks recently added it to their menu as a limited time item and it has been so popular they’ve just decided to make it a permanent menu item. They’ve also decided to start raising their prices.

A Starbucks habit was already expensive, so these price hikes are really a blow to the wallet. Their cold brew is usually my special “treat” whenever I need a little pick me up, but a friend recently told me she makes her own at home and it is just as good.

“I’ve been down this path before,” I told her. “I’m not soaking tons of coffee in water and then straining it through three layers of cheese cloth and an industrial coffee filter. I’ve tried it all and it’s messy and I end up with bits of soggy coffee grounds in my cup. No thanks.”

But she swore it was super easy and I wouldn’t have to filter anything. “Fine,” I conceded. “What’s your trick?”

Her trick is nylons. Like the socks. That your grandma wears.

I was now even more skeptical of both her method and potentially our friendship. But she told me to trust her so I did.

Her method is this:

  1. Fill the sock with ground coffee of your choosing. I used whatever I happened to have at home and I didn’t measure anything I just guessed. I would say that if you want your coffee stronger use a stronger coffee blend and put more in your sock. At this point your sock will 100% look like a turd. Do not be alarmed.
  2. Put the sock in a pitcher of cold water. I tied a knot in the end of mine, stuck it in my pitcher, and let the little tail hang out. It will now look like a floating turd. Still, do not be alarmed, it will eventually become soggy and sink a bit. SOUNDING DELICIOUS ALREADY. My pitcher has a lid so I stuck that on top to secure the tail and keep the sock-turd from sinking to the bottom.
  3. Put in fridge over night. Probably important to note that if you live with others you might want to let them know what the science experiment in your fridge is. Especially if your pitcher happens to be see-through.
  4. Pull the sock out in the morning and throw it away. The coffee grounds in the sock essentially acts like a tea bag and turns your water into magical caffeinated elixir. AND THAT’S IT. No crazy filtering into three different containers needed.

So basically my friend is a genius and I will never doubt her crazy ideas again. At least when it comes to coffee.

Now go off and enjoy your super easy and delicious summer beverage! Tell your friends!

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April Books

I did way better with my book count in April. This is mainly in part to a horrendously boring work project and my discovery of audiobooks. The two went together like peanut butter and jelly and I managed to finish THREE books while working on the project. So I guess the horrible, brainless project was balanced out by getting to enjoy three books while I did it.

I’d never listened to an audiobook before. I thought I wouldn’t be able to focus. Now I’m obsessed. I listen in the car. I listen before bed, like someone is reading me a bedtime story. It’s amazing.

Anyway, here are the books for April!

The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

I didn’t love this one. The premise was intriguing and I loved the Traveling Pants series when I was younger, but I felt meh about this. The love story part of the book was really just horrible if I’m being honest.

Timebound – Rysa Walker

This one wasn’t too bad. It was about time travel, which for some reason always sucks me in. It had a lot of historical elements which could get a bit snoozy. Lots of heavy blocks of text. The romance aspect felt like it was tossed in at the last minute and added nothing to the story, so that was problematic once again.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I had an interesting reaction to this one. I enjoyed reading the book, but when I went on Goodreads and read the reviews I found myself agreeing with many of the complaints people had. It ended up changing how I felt about the story. In any case, it was an enjoyable read if you don’t think too deeply about it.

Looking for Alaska – John Green

John Green is my man. While this was no Fault in Our Stars, it was good.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

This started out so strong! A mysterious bookstore, how intriguing! This was also my second foray (more on the first later) into audiobooks and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. But as the story went on, it just kind of started to suck. So that was super disappointing. Womp womp.

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Amazing. Everything you’ve heard is true. Don’t bother with the movie.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman, oh how I love thee. This was an audiobook which was delightfully read by Gaiman himself, thus making the entire experience that much more magical.

And finally, though this doesn’t count towards my total for this endeavor,  The Devil in the White City (Abandoned).This was my first audiobook attempt and holy crap. More like The Mayor of Boring City. As my mom would say this just “wasn’t my cup of tea”. I ditched it about 1/4 of the way through.

Total: 20

I’ll be back next month with my books from May! (I’m already getting a slow start, ugh.) Also, are you on Goodreads? If you are, add me as a friend! I love seeing what others are reading, and occasionally I’ll write slightly better reviews than the ones I write here.

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Fictitious Dishes

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I love food. This is no secret. I enjoy cooking it, I enjoy eating it, and I even enjoy looking at it. I also enjoy books and reading, as we also know. Perhaps that’s why I find Dinah Fried’s new book particularly captivating.

She created and then photographed meals from various books, and the result is fascinating. She set the meals up as they would have looked to the characters in the books (the top photo here is from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the bottom photo is from To Kill a Mockingbird). Holden Caulfield’s cheese sandwich and malted are presented on a diner counter.

Fried feels that the act of reading fiction is a sensory experience. For this book, she focused on one sensory element from fiction – food – and created visuals to match.

“Each photograph does not represent a meal exactly as it was explained by the author, rather aims to capture the essence of each novel, evoking the setting and atmosphere of the narrative. Whether or not you’ve read the books, these images should provide a little taste of what they’re like.” (Huffington Post)

Kind of cool, right? The Huffington Post link has a slideshow with more meals pictured, and you can also peek inside the book on Amazon. Worth a look!

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Orphan Black

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The Internet has been telling me to watch this show for ages. I keep stumbling upon various articles saying that “Orphan Black is the best show you’re not watching” or some iteration of that.

And now I am here to tell you that Orphan Black is the best show you’re not watching.

I binge watched the entire first season this past Sunday. Actually, that might be skewing my opinion slightly, because most shows are better if you binge watch them, because you don’t have the frustrations of having to wait to see what happens or the risk of forgetting about a small tidbit of information that later in the series turns out to be a huge tidbit. Regardless, the show is really good.

Sarah Manning is a street dwelling ne’er do well who witnesses someone who looks exactly like her jump in front of a train and kill herself. Seeing this as an opportunity to at the very least rob this woman blind, Sarah assumes her identity. Only to find out she is actually one of several clones, and someone is trying to kill all of them. As you can imagine, ish gets cray.

The best part of the whole show is that one actress (Tatiana Maslany) plays the part of all the clones, each of them having wildly different personalities and even different accents. It’s freaking incredible. You forget they are all being played by the same person, she does such a good job differentiating between all of them. N came over just in time for the last two episodes and I attempted to give him a brief rundown of the series and as we’re watching a scene with three of the clones in it he says “Wait, she’s playing all these characters right now?” and I basically flew off the couch saying “YES. I KNOW. I CAN’T EVEN.” It just blows my mind.

So I’m here to add to all the other articles out there telling you that you should be watching this show. The good news is you have plenty of time to binge watch before season two premiers on April 19th.

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Grand Budapest Hotel

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N and I had ourselves a nice date night consisting of dinner and a movie this past Saturday and we went to see Grand Budapest Hotel. We’re big Wes Anderson fans (N got me into his movies when he forced me to see The Life Aquatic and I ended up liking it far more than expected) and we’d heard good things about this one, so we were really excited.

We also smuggled wine juice boxes into the theater which may or may not have had an effect on our excitement level.

Anyway, we loved it. It was hilarious and, of course, completely beautiful. The colors! Oh Wes, you know how the internet feels about your color schemes. This movie is suddenly making all those pink tiled bathrooms we keep seeing on our house hunt look really exquisite. I highly recommend this one, and I hate going to the movies.

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Christmas 2013

Just wanted to pop in to share some pictures from Christmas this year.

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The tree! And yes, those are a string of Christmas Story leg lamps.

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This is my new holiday dessert contribution. Apple Custard Pie. It’s out of this world, you guys. (And decidedly NOT diet friendly, hence the deliciousness.)

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Red nails, green ring, leopard coat. It was a Mob Wife kind of Christmas Eve.

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I crafted ornaments for everyone for Christmas this year. This was a much larger undertaking than I anticipated but I also really enjoyed it. This little deer is one of them. I meant to take pictures of them all, but was so excited to finish & wrap them that I forgot, darn it.

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This one woke up first on Christmas morning and sat here patiently waiting to open presents. She LOVES opening presents, especially when they are for her.

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“Um guys, hello? Can we get this party started?”

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I really wish I got this on video, but I wrapped my mom’s gift in a joke box. It looked like I bought her this “NapSack” (nap anywhere you want! Complete with ventilator patch! Doubles as an appliance dust cover when not in use!) and she thought it was a real gift (Not that I can blame her, have you seen some of the things they try to sell on TV?). Instead of faking that she liked it, she was straight-up angry. “I can’t believe you spent money on this! I have so few gifts to open and this is what you get me? I don’t want this!” Once I made her open it and she saw it was a prank she thought it was funny. The box itself was kind of the best gift ever.

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Mimosa prep station.

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On Christmas we wear plaid.

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I made my brother dress like Scrooge.

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My aunt and I did some Christmas nail art before dinner.

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My cousin’s wife always brings these chocolates filled with alcohol. They’re adorable.

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Family portrait!

I have to say, I was NOT feeling the holidays this year. It was a long year and I was tired and pretty depressed about living at home for them, so it wasn’t easy. However, 2014 is off to a great start and I am feeling really optimistic about this coming year! Fingers crossed this is a good one.

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Winter Getaway

In lieu of gifts this year, N and I decided to take a little winter trip. He was on vacation the week before Christmas, and I was on vacation the week of Christmas, so I just extended my vacation a little bit and took Wednesday through Friday of the week before Christmas off, too. A week and a half vacation? Don’t mind if I do!

After much discussion and stress and Groupon-induced mental breakdowns, we ended up going to the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. It’s just outside of Jackson/North Conway, and it is absolutely GORGEOUS. We got a good deal on it, too. Right before school vacation and before high winter season started.

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I love packing. It’s one of my many odd quirks. But it turns out I haaaate packing for cold-weather trips. So many layers! Everything is so bulky! One night away turned out in me needing a huge bag. It’s ridiculous. Winter is completely outside of my comfort zone. Anyway, I did the best I could, and we left Wednesday morning.

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We drove up through the mountains and were greeted with a nice view of our hotel. I mean, come on. I wish I got a better picture. It’s nestled in the perfect spot. The hotel was built in 1902? I think? In the very early 1900s anyway. It’s never been updated, only restored, so basically it’s my dream hotel. I love old buildings, you guys. I love them. The second I walked in I knew I would love it.

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And just to add to my obsession, the place was decked out flawlessly for Christmas. Like, that is the lobby you guys. It looks like the Titanic or something. There was also a giant fireplace with a moose head over it that I failed to get a picture of. One night was not enough time for me to fully explore and take pictures. Plus N didn’t seem interested (because he’s some kind of tyrannical heathen, obviously). Clearly this means I must go back.

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We checked in (there was NO ONE there, the hotel was so quiet when we checked in) and an elevator man brought us up to our room. Because the elevator was super old school and the door had to be opened and closed by hand. No joke.  Oh, and our room got upgraded. So that was a sweet bonus.

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Our room looked right out on Mount Washington. My phone kept focusing on the window screen which was obnoxious. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m surprised the windows even had screens. I wouldn’t think they would open. I guess in 1902 no one worried about people leaping to their deaths from hotel windows?

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Anyway, we settled in and I busted out our sweet beer koozies I got us at Target. THEY ARE SWEATERS. FOR BEER. I cannot even.

Then we napped and watched TV because we were on vacation and that’s what one is supposed to do.

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Once I reached the point of severe hanger we headed into Conway for dinner and drinks. We had a unplanned progressive dinner where we had drinks and apps at one place, dinner at another, and then headed back to the hotel for dessert and after dinner drinks. With a bit of shopping thrown in for good measure.

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We were told we could just sit in the lobby and someone would serve us. Well alright then! Someone was already in front of the fireplace, damn them, so we settled in on another sofa and had ourselves a brownie sundae.

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Thursday we woke up, checked out of the hotel (see, such a short stay!) and hunted down some breakfast. N is very familiar with the area because he is a snowboard freak, so he chose all our food locations. He did okay. I was underwhelmed with the pancakes. In his defense, he claimed he’d never tried them.

Bless his heart I love that boy to bits, but he could talk about mountains FOREVER and I’m like “yeah, another mountain, I saw one already today.” I suppose I can wax poetic about the beach for hours on end though, so I guess we’re squaresies.

After some scenic driving (including a drive through a covered bridge!) we headed over to do some cross country skiing. We headed into the ski rental place where this exchange happened:

Rental Lady: Okay, we have wider skis for beginners that will keep you from going too fast and be a bit easier to maneuver, or we have narrow skis for experienced skiers or athletic types. Have you been before?

Me: I’ve done this a bunch of times, but he’s never been.

N: Yeah, but I snowboard like, fifty times a season, so…

Rental Lady and I exchange a look.

Me: Okay, just give us the athletic ones, then.

She showed us how to put on the puts and snap into the skis and we headed out. I got in front (it was groomed trails, you literally just stick your skis in the groove and shuffle-slide along) and N is behind me. Within 30 seconds he is telling me I am “sprinting” and asking if I mean “to go that fast”. I wasn’t even trying. I am just THAT good. He fell twice. I fell zero. #winning

I finally found a winter activity I am better at! He was a good sport about it and didn’t throw any fits like I normally do.

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After that we headed towards home, and then went out for a lovely dinner to round out our trip. I’d rather have a one-night getaway than a material gift any day.

 

 

 

 

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Cures for the Mean Reds

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Or, Things To Do When One is Feeling Particularly Self Indulgent

Clear your calendar. Seriously. Cancel all your plans for the weekend, take a mental health day from work, whatever you need to do to get some quiet alone time.

Do your chores. I know this seems like an odd thing to have on a list of self-indulgent things, but you’ll feel so much better once all those nagging to-do’s are crossed off your list.

Put on your comfiest clothes. This is a time for perfectly worn in sweats and super soft socks and no makeup. Embrace it. Put on that Hoodie Footie.

Read a book. Or a magazine. Or the instructional booklet for your toaster. Whatever. Just cozy yourself right up and lose yourself in some quality reading material. Bonus points if you cozy up in a chair by the fire. With hot cocoa.

Work out. Hit up a hot yoga class and leave all your worries and cares in a puddle of sweat on your yoga mat. Go for a run and don’t worry about pace or distance. Go throw some weights around or take a barre class. Whatever kind of exercise you enjoy. Because exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t shoot their husbands.

Eat some comfort food. This is the complete opposite of the suggestion above, but that’s okay. Go get yourself whatever your favorite meal is. Spend some time in the kitchen perfecting your homemade mac & cheese. Then eat exorbitant amounts of it. Or, you know, get take out. Your call. Bonus points for ice cream, though.

Binge watch something. Get on Netflix and find a TV show you’ve never seen but have always wanted to watch. Proceed to watch every single available episode. (Suggestions: Orange is the New Black, Friday Night Lights, Dr. Who). Movie marathons are also really good here. (Suggestions: Harry Potter, old school Meg Ryan movies, Disney movies, Pixar movies, holiday classics).

Take a bubble bath. Or a hot shower, if baths aren’t your thing. But really, I don’t think there’s anything more relaxing than a nice bubble bath. Get some scented oils and bubbles up in there, bring in a good book, and just soak. You can really hammer this one home if you also add in a face mask, hair mask, body scrub…really get into the home spa vibe and just pamper yourself real good.

Sleep. Have a nap in the middle of the day. Stay up late. Go to bed early. Don’t set an alarm. Most often all you really need is one really great night’s sleep to re-set a crummy mood or just to recharge. Indulge.

Chocolate and wine. If nothing else works, there’s always this.

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Katrina’s 12 Songs of Christmas | 12

The holiday season is here once again! There are so many awesome things about the holidays (food, presents, parties, food, friends, family, food…), but none of them would feel quite as festive without some holiday tunes to wash it all down. So, without further adieu, I present to you the first of my 12 all-time favorite holiday songs:

Twelve Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser

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