Half Price Fun

In addition to the list I have going here, I have a separate list of things I want to accomplish in Boston in the near future.  I love being a tourist in my own city (with the perk of actually knowing where I am most of the time and understanding that more than just the B line goes to Fenway Park – seriously, folks?  Read the signs!).  Included on that list are sites of historical and literary significance, cultural events that I’ve somehow missed before – I saw the Boston Marathon for the first time last spring! – and food that I have been dying to taste.

I am a step closer to checking one thing of my list today; thanks to Buy With Me, I’ve committed to visiting the Mapparium in the next six months!

Though I have spent a decent amount of time wandering around the Pru/ Mass Ave area, I have never been inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  I’ve eaten ice cream while watching kids play in the fountain, pondered the strange architecture (castle-like church on one side of the reflecting pool, hideous windowless monstrosity on the other), and taken silly pictures in front of the library columns.

Now, that will finally change since I’m locked into two tickets to the Mapparium for $6, half of what they usually cost.  The Mapparium – a giant stained glass globe that you walk inside, and which has not been updated since 1935 – is open weird hours (10-4, Tuesday to Sunday) which have never matched up with my schedule before, but now I have a real reason to go.  I find that getting coupons or spotting deals is the last push I need to get me out of the house and trying new things.  And for $3 a person, this is a cheap afternoon date with my guy or one of my best friends.  Love it!

Now, off to have other adventures closer to home.  Enjoy your lukewarm weekend!

(Note: I don’t get anything from BWM for mentioning them here, but I get some online credit if you sign up on the link above [as does everyone who introduces new people].  Through this link or another, I highly recommend joining!)

Do you know the Muffin Man?

This one’s for you, Matt!

Last week, I was the muffin woman when I took on a new muffin adventure: lemon poppyseed muffins.

The tools of the trade:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • zest of 1 lemon, zested over the sugar so some juice gets into the mix
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup milk

Now, to turn up the heat…

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Music “Monday”: Yes We Can

In honor of a great orator and public servant, Martin Luther King, Jr., I bring you this video about a leader in our own time.

Every time I watch this video, it reminds me of the importance of this moment in history.  These words, and the actions that match them, give me the feeling that this is our moment, our time to change the world.  I am glad to be a part of that solution, that change.

My great-grandmother used to say that she was there when MLK delivered his “I have a dream” speech.  It seems a bit unlikely, though she was definitely an active supporter of the civil rights movement.  Even knowing that there are zero pictures that support this claim, I think what she was really trying to say was that she was a part of that idea that changed the country.  And I think she would be glad to see the result of that dream, and the way our generation made it a reality.  Let’s keep her proud.

Kitchen Adventures: Indulgent Italian

I am not a big fan of Italian food because I’m not crazy about tomato sauce, so risotto stands out as a shining beacon of pasta goodness.  I often order this at restaurants (heck, last Restaurant Week I had two courses of risotto at Locke Ober) but have never made it myself.

Until now!

I spent my Sunday night whipping up an inaugural batch of risotto in my new bright red cast iron pot, and the result was spot on.  It really tried my patience since I generally turn up the heat and get my food cooked asap, but taking my time to stir and simmer was more fun than I expected.

This recipe, which I got in my email a few months ago served as the basis of my risotto, but then I changed absolutely everything since I a) already had asparagus a few days ago and b) I don’t eat shrimp.  Also, c) I love any and every excuse to eat goat cheese.

This dish is great with a simple salmon on the side.  Before you start making the pasta, marinade salmon (1/4 lb per person) with lemon juice and dill.  About 13-15 mins before the risostto is done, pop in the oven at 375 degrees and cook until flaky.

Rich and Creamy Risotto with Squash


  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (can be made from bullion cubes and water)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia or other) chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice [look for this on sale – it can be quite expensive in the grocery store but I got 5 cups worth for $2.99 at Ocean State Job Lot!]
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 cup Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp goat cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped dill [you  bought it, might as well use it!]
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of black pepper

Let’s get cookin’!

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Reading List

Books du jour:

  1. Appetizer: The Amazing Journey of American Women by Gail Collins, which I pick up randomly to see how us gals will get further in life.  This book was a little hard to get into, but now it’s really rolling.  The section on how washing machines changed the role of women forever and the part about the role of women (and the roles women were denied) in the Civil Rights movement literally made me gasp out loud.  I bet the people on the train with me would have been shocked to know I was making such faces about history rather than over a racy love story.
  2. Main course: Thursday Next and the Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde.  I’ve read this series before years ago, but now that I’ve picked it up again, I can’t put it down.  It’s literary dorkiness at its finest: a kind but more sour than sweet detective protecting books from terrorists and inadvertently changing the course of history.  It stars the Cheshire Cat, Ms. Havisham, Captain Nemo, and is ripe with political drama as well as literary puns (at one meeting, everyone is waiting in vain for Godot).  I have “accidentally” stayed up until 2 or 3 am reading this series.
  3. After dinner: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I’m usually too “full” to pick this one back up, especially because it’s so heavy.  But it’s fascinating, and incredibly well written.  Diamond goes into great detail about why the history of the world unfolded the way it did, and answers questions I never even thought to ask.
  4. Dessert: we finish with a sweep dollop of the latest Cosmo and Glamour, updating me on the latest news on women’s health, the best dress deals, and how to do anything better.

And a new book related obsession: GoodReads.

Kat introduced me to this website where you keep track of the books you’ve read and what you thought of them, make a list of the ones you want to read next, and offer reviews to help readers like you find their next indulgence.  It’s really interesting to see what other people thought of books you loved and hated, and how you compare with your friends.  Anju noticed that “we started out as the same person with the exact same taste in books, and then somewhere around middle school, something went very very wrong.”  Now, we only overlap on the classics, while my bookshelves are riddled with romances, memoirs, and crime dramas, and hers are filled with sci-fi and post-colonial novels.

If you’re on Goodreads, find me!

[Shout-out to Jen whose latest post reminded me that I had bookish things to share.]

Music Monday: Forget You

If only I could “forget you” – every time I hear this song, it gets stuck in my head for weeks.

I really prefer this version to the original.  I know that it’s supposed to be ironic, with the classic Motown setting and the foul language, but a) this version is not too crude to accidentally sing in public, as I find myself doing, and b) I think it fits the tempo of the  song better.

Gwyneth Paltrow did a pretty solid job with this on Glee, too, in an even more toned-down version.

The Cost of Serving Your Country

I am shocked and saddened by the events in Arizona today.  While out in her community, talking to her constituents, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman who went on to shoot 18 others, killing at least five.  Among the dead: a nine year old girl and a federal judge.  Now, Ms. Giffords is fighting for her life in the ICU.

Running for political office takes guts.  It comes with risks; death threats and screaming constituents are part of the territory.  But I thought that being a part of this country meant agreeing that we are civilized people, and we will discuss our differences rationally, even if those words are spoken at a high volume.  That we agree that our government, right or wrong, can only work if we maintain some level of decorum and respect for the process.  The thought that someone would put a gun to the head of a person who was in her community, listening to the people undermines the essence of our political system.

I want to thank Congresswoman Giffords for her service to this country.  Being an elected official is a more thankless job than most people realize, but it is rarely this dangerous.  I hope that this terrible moment will mark the end of  the violent undertones that have invaded the political speeches of late, and lead us down a path where we can progress as one nation, committed to cooperation and conversation.

[Feministing is updating their coverage of the story as it progresses.]

So far, so good!

Yes, it has only been eight days since 2010 ended.  But I am working on the resolutions I listed here and it’s hard, but I’m doing it!

It turns out that eating without distractions is the hardest of all.  I am so used to eating alone when I eat at home, and sitting on the couch doing it, that I have to really force myself to eat at the table.  But I can already feel the results:

  1. I’m eating better food!  Because I’m staying in the kitchen, I am putting more thought into what I am cooking and taking more time to do so.  I have cooked up delicious new concoctions because of this new focus.
  2. I’m eating less.  This was the goal, overall, but it’s cool that it’s working because I am paying better attention to my hunger.  It’s funny because it’s easier than ever for me to take a second portion, but I am much less likely to actually do so.

How are your resolutions going?

Can a book save your life?

The right book can make you laugh, make you cry, make you scared of every shadow or inspire you to try something new.

But can a book save your life?

It works for Thursday Next in The Eyre Affair, which I was reading just last night.  She’s left for dead but saved by a copy of Jane Eyre placed in her breast pocket that catches the bullet and leaves her with only bruised ribs.  It’s the perfect literary moment oft-repeated in books and film – but how realistic is it, really?

That’s what the guys at Electric Literature wondered.  So they put the latest and thickest books to the test to see how they would fare against a handgun.  Watch and see if you still want to put your faith in paperbacks and hardcovers.

As much as I hate to see books destroyed, I love this.  I just want to throw a few more solid classics in there to see the results.  And maybe my college Con Law book, while we’re at it.  I feel like the quality of the cardboard and the density of the paper must factor in there somewhere, and I don’t want to give up on the power of books just yet.  Sequel, please?