Museum and River Walk

This weekend Rick and I visited the Museum of Science to view their Harry Potter exhibit, it was about as Halloweenish as we got all weekend. The museum was a lot of fun and since it was a shockingly beautiful and warm day for the end of October we decided to take a long walk along the Charles afterwards.
I'm gad the sun was shining and the river walk provided plenty of free entertainment because I was still smarting from the exorbitant price of the Museum.
So, Boston Museum of Science, here is my plea, make your admission fee reasonable for students and families. The New England Aquarium is 20.95 for adults, the Museum of Fine Arts is 20 for adults, 18 for students (I get in free with my student ID and lots of libraries have passes you can check out), Isabella Stewart Gardener is 12, the Institute of Contemporary Art is 15 general admission or 10 for students and seniors and free for youth (under 17). What was the point of that list of prices? That 26 dollars is a LOT to charge and when I asked if the science museum has any student discounts or discounted days I was told only M.I.T. students got discounts.

People complain about the state of education in America and that students aren't learning enough. Here is my response, as long as it is cheaper for parents to take their kids to the movies rather than to the museum this is what they are going to do. Museum of Science, please reduce your prices or add some discounted nights because you are more expensive than any other museum in Boston.


Boston for Free

Cities can often be expensive and Boston is not exception. However I am happy to say that there are a number of things you can do in Boston for free or for very cheap! I love seals so it should come as no surprise that I love the New England Aquarium. What I don't love is their very expensive price for entry. Lucky for me you can stand outside and watch the seals swimming and playing for hours at a time, for FREE! Last time Rick and I were even lucky enough to catch a training session and learn some more about my favorite pinipeds, the Harbour Seal!
Seal Kiss!


Boston Cruise

My roommate went on a cruise around the Boston harbor a couple of weeks ago, and she won four free tickets for another one. Since Rick and I were moving out soon we decided it would be a fun last hurrah!
There was great music, lots of great people watching, and more than plenty to drink!
Plus we got beautiful views of Boston and the harbor. Definitely a great way to celebrate summer in Boston!!


Dragonboat Festival

This last weekend was the annual (and awesome) Dragonboat festival in Cambridge. While people were racing along the Charles, I was lazily watching them and eating fantastic chana masala. I like events that involve me eating and being lazy while other people are working hard. In addition to the boat races there were performances of drumming, dancing, and martial arts.
The drumming was fantastic and so much fun to watch, especially for the last piece where they started flipping sticks and one guy even jumped over his drum.
All the while rowers were rowing, and we were eating.

Here you can see Rick sampling a dish, he was not as happy with it as I was with my chana masala, but when someone doesn't like rice, cooked vegetables, or spicy food it can be hard to find something they'll enjoy (at least at a festival that features asian foods). Luckily for us we were able to get him a whole pile of naan which was deemed edible! Since the festival was free we ended up having a beautiful and exciting day along the river for just the cost of the bus ride there, and whatever food we wanted to sample! Hurrah for city living and cheap entertainment!!


Beautiful Boston

Spring and now summer have officially sprung in what now really feels like home, Boston. My roomate and I spent yesterday walking around the city. There is nothing like Boston Commons for free entertainment. Whether you enjoy people watching, soaking up the sun with a good book, or playing frisbee, this is the place to be in the summer. Fun street performers and roasted nuts are also an added bonus. I must now get back to enjoying my beautiful sun-soaked city (at least before the thunder storms start!!).


Birthday Extravaganza

Yesterday was my birthday, which I am honored to share with Terry Pratchett and Harper Lee!! Before the actual day of my birthday though I had quite the birthday extravaganza!! Between all my family and friends I must have had four celebrations and five birthday cakes before it was even my birthday!!
Here you can see birthday celebration part IV (maybe?), Rick got a quartet of delicious chocolate goodies for me!! Since I'm not a big cake person I loved this, along with the birthday tiramisu, birthday key lime pie, and birthday bananas foster that I celebrated with!! I had to work last night but Rick brought sushi to work along with my presents so it was a great celebration!
I think my favorite part so far though was after dinner at Legal Seafoods on Sunday I went to check out the seals in front of the aquarium. While the aquarium may be a little expensive, the seals are completely free and I could have spent hours hanging out with them and enjoying their antics.

With all the celebrations, love from friends and family, and the great weather yesterday, this has to be the best birthday ever!! Here's hoping 23 is even better than 22!!



Here is Harry, our spokesdog for the event.

Yesterday was the fantastic Boston Marathon! If you want hours of entertainment and excitement for free, then Marathon Monday in Boston is for you. A friend of mine lives on the course route, so we were able to set up a brunch on her front stoop and get a great view of the excitement!!
Here you see Kara Goucher battling it out with the other elite women runners. She ended up getting third, maybe next year Kara!
We were between mile 23 and 24 of the marathon, so there was a lot of excitement and a lot of people who looked like they wanted to die.
We spent about six hours cheering on runners. There were quite a few runners in funny costumes, and even more runners with great signs or who had their names on their arms or shirts so you could cheer for people by name. It was great seeing people get a boost from having 15 strangers yelling their name.


Red Sox Game!!

As my Christmas present, Rick got us tickets to the Red Sox Game!! I was so excited walking in the stadium. I had only ever been to Sea Dogs games before (which are my first love as far as baseball is concerned) and this was so different.
It was so exciting with people everywhere, all kinds of delicious smelling food.
Of course it was fun to see the stadium too, especially with all the history there.
Our seats were way up in the bleachers but I thought they were great. Plus, once we had beers and hot dogs what more do you need?
Slugger, that is the answer to what more could I need to enjoy the game! This is the mascot of the AA farm team the Portland Sea Dogs and I was jokingly asking Rick before the game if Slugger would be there. Then, lo and behold, SLUGGER!!! I challenge all of you to find a better mascot, you can try, but you won't succeed.

All in all it was a great night and so much fun! Now I can say I'm a real Bostonian cause I've finally gone to a game!


Finished Socks

I finally accomplished one of my knitting goals... SOCKS!Here you can see one finished and the other well on its way
And here they are! A pair of hand knit socks. I was surprised at how simple socks are, things like short rows, turning the heel, picking up stitches for the gusset... all sounded so scary but were relatively simple. Not to say these two are without flaw though, I will have to get much better about my measuring, but for a first pair of socks I'd say they're perfect.


Icky Weather?

Yesterday was a sad reminder that winter in New England does not leave in March; the weather was gross, and cold and rainy. So what were a southern boy and a sick-of-being-cold New England girl to do? COOK! I have exclaimed in the past that cold weather is perfect for knitting (and it is) but it is also super for getting your kitchen windows steamy with pot after pot of warm deliciousness.

Sauteed mussels with fresh cilantro

Doing our grocery shopping at Whole Foods, Rick saw a 2lb bag of mussels for $5, pretty hard to resist so I had to improvise a mussel dish but it could not have been easier. I sauteed some garlic in the pan with butter, once they were a pale golden color I threw in the mussels and quickly covered them with veggie broth. After 3-5 minutes they had all given up the good fight and were ready to be devoured. I'm not embarrassed to say that once we had eaten all of the mussels we quickly moved on to the broth slurping it up, YUM!
My take on Bananas foster

Our second course was homemade chili with corn bread, it however was not very photogenic. So on to the third course. I'm a huge fan of sauteed fruit for dessert and bananas have always been the best. I roasted some walnuts in the pan, then added butter, mixed it with some brown sugar to make a caramel like glaze, then once I had the pan really hot I toss in the sliced banana. I like to add some vanilla to really get it sizzling and then I just keep tossing in the pan to get everything evenly coated in sugary goodness and get the bananas nice and soft with a caramelized exterior. This dish is great on its own and feels utterly divine when put on top of vanilla ice cream, or just as decadent (but much healthier) when placed on top of fresh Greek yogurt as shown here.
Best Indian dish ever: Chana Masala

If mussels, chili, corn bread, and roast bananas weren't enough, I decided it would be a great time to make some chana masala to put on cous cous for lunch later in the week. I've been craving Indian food lately and this has always been a favorite dish of mine. Plus, nothing sends away the winter blues like the smells of fresh cilantro, fresh ginger, and a whole heap of garam masala.
Baked salmon with sauteed kale and twice baked potatoes with feta.

Rick and I have been on even more of a cooking streak lately and are constantly discovering new recipes and ingredients that we love. Thanks to Nigella Lawson we can now cook salmon that is consistently delicious (I have a phobia of cooking seafood since it never used to turn out well). This dish just made me feel like such a grown up. Sure I may freak out when I do my taxes all by myself and I have to fight the urge to call my Mom for help, and sometimes I can't understand if the letter from my grad school means I owe them money or they owe me money, but in the kitchen I can cook and eat like an adult!

...oh and one more thing, HAPPY EASTER!!


Busy ... never mind, I won't pun you

Two new things:First, as you can see above, I did my initial foray into needle felting. While he may be the fattest bee you've ever seen, and I haven't put his little bead eyes on yet, I think he's pretty charming. Plus, I have not yet accidentally stabbed my fingers with the INCREDIBLY sharp needle felting needles, so that's a real bonus. The instructions for this little guy came from Wool Pets where there are also many other adorable creatures I will be trying soon.

Oh, I said there were two things, yes? As a librarian I have to be familiar with all kinds of technologies and such, which means I am now experimenting on Twitter so if you want my stream of consciousness inane comments, that would be the place to go!

And while I only said two things I'm going to throw in a third, part of the reason I'm so busy is that I've been trying to get the products going on Cafe Press so please do spread the word as half of the profits will be benefiting the library in Nicaragua that I volunteer with and their fund-raising has been down for the year (big surprise there, right?)


Lulu Abroad on Cafepress!!

Maybe you've seen my photos and thought "I would love that print on a journal, or as a postcard." If so, today is your lucky day. I am officially launching Lulu Abroad and Island Girl merchandise on Cafe Press. Are you excited about the possibilities? Don't worry, I won't hold you in suspense anymore...




so please enjoy and look around, any feedback would be greatly appreciated at this stage.

ALSO: I will be donating 50% of the profits to the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca in Nicaragua (the other 50% will be covering my student loan debt) so just know that you're shopping for a good cause!


Knitting Dilemma

I recently finished a good deal of hats to be sent to a children's hospital in Maine. I mailed them to my sister who brought them to the yarn store that was running the collection. When my sister came to visit me she said that they liked them and that she had a surprise for me. The surprise was three cones of yarn and a request to knit afghans for Afghans. This in and of itself would not be a dilemma but I didn't have any instructions before I started and begin knitting up an easy feather and wave pattern from Seven Day Afghans which I was pretty happy with. After spending two whole days on this I finally read the instructions on the website where they state that afghans should not have lace patterns as these will not insulate properly. While I had been concerned about this initially seeing it in print made me realize that as much as I loved the results this blanket was not going to keep someone warm enough, and that's kinda the whole point. So, alas and alack, I took the whole thing apart and started again but with a mock fisherman cable pattern from the same book. Two repeats of the pattern in and it started to look too lacy too!! So I rewrote the pattern and will be showing the results as I get a little farther into it.
While the afghan is slow going I've at least had some success lately. This little ipod sock came from a great pattern on Smariek Knits and is an easy and fast project. I believe these and other adaptations of ipod socks will be making a strong showing as Christmas presents next year along with other knit goodies!


Week Of Baking

Apple Crumble!! I've been in love with a recipe from How to Eat where you simmer the apples in some rum before you bake them, but because we've been enjoying that recipe so much we were out of rum!! So I had to do some improvisation and created this apple crumble with muscavado sugar which was super delicious!

Looking back on the week I just realized that it was a super baking/cooking week. The school I work at was on break this week so I was able to be home for dinner every night which was a treat. Rick and I went to town with pesto pasta, pizza, calzones, mahi mahi with twice baked potatoes and kale, and quesadillas! And that was only the cooking we did this week...
Pizza night! It was a late dinner because I didn't start the dough until 6:30 pm but it was worth the wait. Feta and garlic pizza and a pesto with spicy Italian chicken sausage and mozzarella (only my side had peppers). Yum! I through the left over dough into the fridge in plastic baggies and the next night I made calzones (which can be made ahead and cooked later, or once cooked travel pretty well so they make a great treat for a lunch).

We also got to celebrate Rick's birthday which we did with a cake and banana nut bread. Later in the week we also enjoyed the crumble shown above. Also, for St. Patrick's day I helped my roommate make green rice crispie treats and then green sugar cookies shaped like stars (I wanted to do shamrocks but without a cookie cutter Jen decided that would be too time consuming).
The birthday boy with his cake. When asked what kind he wanted I believe the answer was "vanilla with a lot of frosting" so that's what he got and we were both happy with the final result!


Harvard Museum of Natural History

I had an awesome sister visit this weekend! Ali wanted to go see the glass flowers exhibit at Harvard and it was amazing. The flowers were not at all what I was expecting, I was thinking of more art style glass, but these were very realistic replicas of glass flowers made by a German father and son team in the 19'th century for teaching purposes. When you look at the detail and intricacy it's hard to believe that these models were made in the field!
The museum also has animals and insects and a great collection of photos on birds and eggs.
Making a fool of yourself: always a free source of entertainment!

The museum only cost $7 (with a student ID) to get into, and seeing the crowds in Harvard Yard was free. As was the perusing we did later at the Harvard Bookstore. That evening we made dinner at home before watching Breakfast at Tiffany's which I got from the Boston Public Library (hooray free books and movies!). At the end of the day I was feeling pretty happy about our cheap entertainment so as the recession doldrums continue to hit I'm going to start a new feature of $20 entertainment where it will be my job to come up with a fun day of activities that can be done for... you guessed it... under $20! I'll try to also detail many of the fun activities that are free in Boston!

More Hat fun

Obviously I have a knitting addiction. Now that that's out of the way, look at my newest baby!
Lace Leaf knit hat, WEEEE!!

My first successful lace knit project and I could not be happier or prouder.


Further Knitting Adventures

The first of my "knitting for myself" projects, this hat calls for a coronet style cable band joined to the rest of the hat, it's supposed to be rolled up as a brim but I found that to be a little chunky, so instead i flipped it inside out and left the band down. My friend Marti pointed out that the shape of it now resembles a hat from the 20's or 30's and I like to think that's all part of its charm.

What's that you say? It's snowing outside? Again? While this weather may stink for long walks on the beach or barbecues, it is ideal for snuggling into bed with a good book or some knitting. Which means I have been involved in "Hat Knitting Frenzy Part II." During the first part I knit 10 hats in 14 days for a children's hospital in Maine. Then I took a brief hiatus to make my Mom's birthday present (shown in bottom picture).
Once my Mom's birthday presents were done (the matching hat, scarf and mittens you see below) I decided it was time to make a hat that would go on my own head!
I've been obsessing over Ravelry and Knitty.com, great knitting inspiration and the sources of all the patterns you see here, and I printed out a couple different hats that I was dying to make for myself. Although admittedly some of them will be for 30 years from now when I'm able to handle the complexity some of the patterns call for.
When I said curling up in bed with my knitting I wasn't kidding. This was when I had the flu that's been going around, and since being vertical wasn't feasible I spent most of my sick time in bed with my knitting watching seasons of Friends.

So if you're a knitter and not on Ravlery yet go do it!! You have to request to join, but once you're added you can network, search patterns, buy yarn, post your projects, store information on your stash (spare yarn for any non-knitters) and needles. Just to warn you though it's pretty addictive.
My Mom's finished hat!

Knitty is also amazing, and as my friend Nadia said "it is the source of all funky knits." This site is practically an online museum to all things knit and it's fantastic to see some of the things people come up with. So if you're interested in learning how to knit and need an easy project to start on, or you're an experienced knitter in a rut and in need of something fun, go check out the sites and knit away the winter blues!!