Boston-versary

This month marks the fifth year since Katie and I signed our first lease in Boston.  And what a five years it has been.  As Katie said, over her birthday breakfast of homemade waffles topped with chocolate and bananas (28 is gonna be GREAT!) – “It used to be that time flew when you were having fun… now it goes by so quickly no matter what!”  And yet, we’ve packed a lot of adventures into those years:

  • Lived in 2 apartments
  • Played on 7 sports teams (still gunning for the championship, though)
  • Had only 2 jobs
  • Tried – and succeeded, and failed at, and had lots of adventures on – 5 different dating websites
  • Still owned ZERO cars (or cats, for that matter, since I typed that accidentally like 5 times)
  • Run hundreds of miles along the Charles, Comm Ave, the bike path, and more
  • Voted in 4+ elections
  • Eaten at restaurants and hunted down top-notch mojitos in all quarters of the city
  • Made dozens of awesome friends
  • Hung out on movie sets, watched plays on the Common, cheered at the Head of the Charles Regatta, gorged myself at chocolate fundraisers, met political celebrities, trampolined until I had a headache, explored abandoned forts and collected seaglass on the Boston Harbor Islands, celebrated marathon runners, sledded at Fenway Park, and more

I don’t know if I’ll still be here in another 5 years – maybe I’ll give into the temptation to live in Europe, full-time.  Maybe I’ll buy a cute house to fix up in New Hampshire or Maine.  Maybe I’ll be prepping to take on the Presidency in DC.  Who knows!  But I do know that there are more adventures to be had in this city, and I plan on living it up, one delicious summer day at a time.  Thanks for everything, Boston – looking forward to round 2!

Marathon Monday – still running, still strong

Right now, runners are lining up on the Boston Common, waiting to get onto buses that will take them to the start line in Hopkinton, MA.  They’re filling the local Dunkin Donuts, snarling morning traffic, and stretching in the sunlight that promises that today will be a great day for running.

It’s hard to imagine that a year ago today, we had just survived one of the weirdest, probably worst weeks in Boston history.  First the bombing at the finish line, then the manhunt that kept us huddled in our houses, trying to leave the streets free for police officers.  And yet, we stayed strong.  We left shoes and roses at the crime scenes.  We paid tribute to the fallen.  And we kept running.

On Saturday, my mom and I ran the first Boston Athletic Association (BAA) event of the year, the BAA 5k.  The race usually has 5,000 people in it – this year it had closer to 10k.  We were still at the start line when they started frantically clearing people out of the way because the winner was about to come in (we left the start 11 minutes after the initial start – he came in at 13:26).  It was a powerful show of the depth and heart of the running community, to have so many people out so early in the morning to jog together.

As we ran down Boylston, I had flashbacks to a place I’d never even been – to what it must have been like for the thousands of people who were on this street last year, leaving their hearts on the pavement and seeing the finish line at the end of the road, only to have their moment of victory shattered.  It was scary to go across the finish line, even on a sunny Saturday.  I can only imagine what it will feel like today.

I am so proud of our city for how we’ve come together in this last year.  So excited for my friends who are finally going to get to finish that final mile.  And so grateful to be a part of a community that isn’t afraid to keep running with our heads held high, no matter what obstacles enter our path.  I’ll be there at Kenmore, cheering you on!

Read my blog post on last year’s Marathon Monday.

Feminism at the movies

I love the Oscars – their glitz, glamour, and short moment in history honoring the movies of the past year.  As always, we’re having our annual Oscar party tonight (with recipes to follow).

In the lead up to this year’s Academy Awards, my office’s chatter has drifted away from recipe puns and toward something with much bigger consequences: the Bechdel test.

From Feminist Frequency, “The Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.  It originated from Allison Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985.”

There are just three requirements for a film to pass:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
 

Looking at that list of requirements, you’d think that this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish.  Women with names, talking to each other about something other than a man.  Flip it around to be about men and it would describe nearly every blockbuster of the last 50 years.  And yet, some great movies fail.  How do yours stack up?

But let’s let bygones be bygones – surely in 2014, studios are doing better at realizing that women are people – fabulous, talented, multi-dimensional people – right?

Kind of.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture tonight, here’s how they stack up:

  • “Gravity” — FAIL (though we can give it a little bit of a pass, since there are so few characters to begin with)
  • “Captain Phillips” — FAIL
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” — FAIL
  •  “12 Years a Slave” — FAIL
  • “Her” — FAIL
  • “American Hustle” — PASS
  • “Philomena” — PASS
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” — PASS
  • “Nebraska” — PASS

Beyond the awards, we’re starting to see a shift – a review of the highest grossing films of 2013 showed that the biggest blockbusters cleared the bar.  Yet the majority of films still fall extremely short.

As movie lovers, let’s support films – and the individuals that make them up – who are committed to showing women as people and not just decoration.  Here’s hoping that by the next Academy Awards, we’ll have made more progress to celebrate together.

Additional reading:

 

Kitchen Adventures, Olympic Edition: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None.  We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all.  Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!

Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
  • Red, green, and blue food coloring
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black).  Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring.  Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
  3. While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes.  Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.

Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.

Music Monday: rolling into the new year on a wrecking ball

Just because the year’s over doesn’t mean we’re safe from the earworms that defined our year – those dudes at the thrift shop, that chick on the wrecking ball, the techno beats that wake us up and get us rocking.  Having a Spotify account this year made me so much more hip as I could listen to these songs as they came out.  What will 2014 hold?  Dare I predict… a lot of Beyonce?

 

Top 13

I know it makes me sound like an old fart, but I don’t care: I don’t know where this year went.

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing the wrong year on letters (yes, I still write letters) and scheming for summer adventures, and now we’re back at the top of the year again, ready to dive into a new 12 months.  Here are some of the moments I’ll remember as we close the book on this journey we called 2013:

  1. Getting to see 4 great friends marry the loves of their lives and start their happily ever afters, and seeing others get engaged and plan their own bashes!
  2. Adventures with Grandma Boo Boo, including sharing our love of crafts with other people in her community and endless shopping trips to Target
  3. Two great visits to California, including an epic road trip down the coast with my sister
  4. Running my first – but certainly not last – half marathon
  5. Sitting on the couch, watching TV for 10+ hours with Katie during the Boston lockdown following the marathon bombing, and running back inside with our froyo when we heard that the suspect had been caught
  6. Finally getting to work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to do online advocacy for a cure
  7. Winning the World Series and feeling like a united city and a family, instead of a bunch of people who just happen to live near each other
  8. Awesome family vacations from Maine to NH to a cozy Christmas week in our hometown
  9. Saying goodbye to my Grandma Sugarplum, who taught me so much and loved us all endlessly
  10. Going to my 5-year college reunion and realizing, more than ever before, how much my beloved alma mater and the friends I made there mean to me.  Mount Holyoke forever shall be!
  11. Making all sorts of delicious food for my friends, officemates, and family
  12. Seeing the fight for women’s rights unfold across the country, and getting to stand with Wendy and other politicians who were standing up for women – this fight is far from over, and I’m planning to be on the front lines in 2014
  13. Having extraordinary fun with ordinary life – from our annual Oscar party to weekly breakfast with Sara to trivia nights with Katie and the gang to joining TWO social sports teams (volleyball! softball! what will I do in between??) to dinners out with friends, this year has been full of reminders of the joy that can be found in the everyday moments.