Journey to the center of the earth

Yeah, that’s right.  I did it, and I came out on the other side (literally).

Nolan and I recently made us of my Mapparium Buy With Me right before it expired, and got to walk inside and hear about this old stained glass dome.  We got there right before the tour started so we didn’t get to explore the entire exhibit, but we did get to walk inside the three story tall stained glass dome at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  This map is the only place on the world where you can see the north pole and the south pole at the same time. Trippy, right?  Supposedly, it’s the only way to see the distance of countries from each other on the world’s surface, but I find this claim misleading because the countries are backward – from the center of the earth, facing the US, Europe is to the right of North America, but if I was really inside the earth, it should be on my left… right?  The distances might be accurate, but the directions are off.

The maps on this globe haven’t been updated since it was created in 1935.  On the tour, they said that there are 65 new countries that have been formed since this map was made.  However, we were there on the actual day South Sudan became a country (Kat, you ready to learn a new country yet?), so it’s really 66 now.  It includes places like Siam, the USSR, and a bunch of African countries with colonial names.

Overall, definitely worth $6 on a hot afternoon.  A word to the weak and weary though – when they say that sound in this dome projects, they mean it for real.  It felt like every person was whispering right in my ear – and then when the baby on our tour started crying, it rang through my head like there were 10 of her.  We scurried out after that, hence, no pictures.

But here’s me in front of the Christian Science Church, where we saw one of the world’s largest organs (over 13,000 pipes!!), toured the really interesting architecture, and got a cool tour from a church member.   I’d actually recommend the (free) church tour almost more than the Mapparium, though you have to go in with an open mind because while no one will actively try to convert you, they will almost certainly share their stories of how they were healed.   The history and architecture makes it worth it, though.   I had no clue until this that the Christian Scientists have no clergy, but it’s a shame people can’t get married here, because the building is gorgeous (also air conditioned, which is a plus for hot days).  If you go, let me know what you think!

Music Monday: Say hi to Stephie

If you’ve met me, you know I love bragging about my friends and their accomplishments.  I talk to people from my hometown and college crowd a bit and I always have the good news update – who bought a house, got married, got a new gig with a national tour (yay Nolan!).  So, this Monday I wanted to introduce you to a newer friend, Stephie Coplan.  Stephie went to school with Matt, and is a rising singer-songwriter who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person not too long ago.  I really like this cover of hers, which Fountains of Wayne themselves acknowledged and admired.  Can you blame them?

Rock on, Stephie!

The Boston Song

If you haven’t heard “The Boston Song” yet, I’m pleased to make the introduction.  This video makes me so happy about my second city, my non-New Hampshire home.  (My good old Granite State has been commemorated in its own song series, here.)  It is heartfelt, touches on all the places that make up my life here, and includes my favorite part of Red Sox games – that moment where you get to stand up and yell “so good, SO GOOD!”

Because if that – screaming fans drinking $7 beers in the wind, rain, and blazing sun – isn’t Boston, what is?

What’s your favorite part of this video?  Are you a fan of the ducklings?  The break dancing at Quincy Market?  The fact that they’ve obviously been filming this for months, since it includes the marathon?  Love the bit at 2:30 (watch and see, political friends)?

Five Ingredient Fudge

In the aftermath of the announcement that Borders is closing, I scurried over and browsed their cookbook section for what could be one last time.  I ended up with a book called Cookwise, (by Shirley Corriher) which includes helpful tips and comments on the science of cooking along with each recipe.  They tell you what role each ingredient plays, and how you can make easy substitutions.

I worked off of their “Sinfully Easy Fudge” recipe but made it even easier for tonight’s cooking adventure.  Even so, they deserve the credit – I’m just passing on the excellence.

Five Ingredient Fudge (aka Sinfully Easy Fudge)

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz milk chocolate chips, chopped up
  • 11 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 oz) low-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter (in the original recipe, the butter is added to roasted nuts, but I just threw it in with the chocolate)
  1. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and grease well (cooking spray works fine).
  2. Chop up the milk chocolate chips – I used my mini food processor for this one.  The semisweet ones don’t really chop, so don’t bother trying.
  3. Add both types of chocolate chips, the sweetened condensed milk, and butter to a saucepan – preferably something with a thick bottom so the chocolate doesn’t burn.  Heat over low heat, stirring often.
  4. Once the chocolate chips melt, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Transfer all that chocolate goodness to the pan, and spread it evenly.  Pop it in the fridge and let it sit until solid (about 2-3 hours), at which point you can cut it into squares.  Done!  This makes about 30+ small pieces.

As the recipe mentions, this stuff is a little soft because it’s so low on butter, so you will have to keep it refrigerated until soon before you eat it.  But it’s totally worth it.  I feel like this could also be good warmed up and melted onto a brownie sundae…  I’ll let you know if any pieces last long enough for me to find out!

Check and check

There’s something ultra satisfying about checking things off a list.  Digging in that pen (or mouse) and saying “I OWNED YOU.”  Or just “one more done!” if that’s more your style.

When I started listing out my Five Year Plan, I knew most of the items were a reach, even the ones that seem easy (there is no good way to cook a chicken in our stupid erratic oven.  Allie, help!).  But I also knew it would be fun to accomplish them, to know I could come back here and cross them off, and add new challenges to the list.

I was just looking at another blog I used, back in the day, and found this list of things I wanted to do in Boston.  I haven’t seen it since I posted it in the summer of 2009, so I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made!  It’s nice to see that I really am living the life I set out for myself.  There are even a few things on there – the Mapparium, a tour of the statehouse, and the swan boats, for two – that I didn’t list there, but did care a lot about and recently checked off my internal list (more on that later).

Which of these things have you done?

Boston To-Do List (circa 2009)

  1. Take a tour of Fenway Park
  2. Have drinks at the Top of the Hub (done! went with the NH gang)
  3. Visit Bunker Hill (done! and climbed all 294 steps – phew!)
  4. Go on the USS Constitution (done! Hit my head coming up from below deck, swung in a hammock, had a grand old time.)
  5. See the Boston Pops (July 4, 2010 – double whammy!)
  6. Watch the fireworks over the Charles (see above!)
  7. Volunteer for the Boston Marathon (done! cheered on runners as part the Dana-Farber team in 2010)
  8. Go out to the Boston Harbor Islands (done! gone three times now)
  9. Skate at the Frog Pond
  10. Walk the Freedom Trail
  11. Cheer on MoHos at the Head of the Charles (done! – and even better, I got to cheer alongside my former teammates, some of whom are the best people I met at college)
  12. Host an awesome Oscar party (done! the red carpet stayed down for more than a month.  I think that says it all.)
  13. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity (not as easy as it sounded)
  14. Take a dance class (does a salsa lesson count?)

And now, on to the next challenge – just as soon as I decide what it is.