Winter at the Beach

Luckily I was able to escape the polar vortex of the Midwest this past week.  Not to say it wasn’t cold in Boston, but I’m glad I could escape the extreme bitter cold that plagued my family’s lieu this first full week of 2014.  Anyone that knows me knows I am cold pretty much all the time.  So there’s no possible way I could like the winter, right?  Well, you’re 50% right.  I absolutely detested winter until about 5 or 6 years ago.  One morning in January I was getting ready for work early in the morning.  While I started drinking my coffee and staring out the kitchen window, I saw the calm of the winter.  It was cold alright but the snow had covered all the dead leaves, grass, and twigs, leaving only the white blanket of calm. 

 Last weekend I went to Newport, RI for a mini winter getaway.  How wonderful it was to feel winter there! I love the snow on the sand,  two similar substances with two different psychological feelings.  I love the expanse of the winter ocean.  At one point we drove along the Ocean Drive, next to the mega mansions that line the shore.  I saw one house that was right up against the ocean.  I thought about what it would be like to live there.  The view from your windows are not the shoreline, the sand, and the seaglass.  Rather, it’s pure unadulterated sea.  While these images and thoughts may not warm my heart in the cold, they sure calm my mind. 

 

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Christmastime Was Here

The Duchess is spending her holidays in the Chicagoland area, many miles from the republic of Cambridge.   Today’s the day after Christmas, arguably one of the saddest days of the year.  Luckily I still have enough Christmas spirit to share with my loyal subjects, I mean readers.  Below are some of my favorite parts of the holiday this year. 

 

1) Leaf Cookies

ImageLast weekend I spent a few hours in Boston’s North End, walking around and enjoying the pre-Christmas atmosphere.  I wanted to purchase some treats for my family to take home to Chicago so I walked into Maria’s.  And. I. Found. Them. Leaf Cookies!  One of my top favorite cookies!  Don’t worry- these delicious bits of sugar taste nothing like a real leaf.  The ones with chocolate on the bottom are hard to find making this like finding treasure at the bottom of the ocean.

2) Fat Squirrels

ImageThe same day I walked in the North End I also made a trip to the center of Boston.  I passed through the lovely Public Garden and came upon many, many fat little squirrels.  It was so cute to see their fat little bodies scurrying around, preparing for hibernation.  I found one “little” squirrel in the treetops, enjoying his nut on a branch and had to snap a photo.  Talkin’ bout my squirrel!

3) Penguin Ornament

ImageThis little guy is one of my favorite ornaments on my family’s tree.  Isn’t he the cutest?  When I was younger I always made sure to be the one who put him on the tree. 

4) Charlie Brown Christmas

ImageI think A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite Christmas story of all time (except for the real Christmas story, of course!).  Nothing puts a smile on your face like when the whole cast gathers around Charlie Brown and his tree and belts out “Hark!  The harold angels sing”.  That first note always makes my heart double in size. 

5) Family Time

ImageSeriously, what could be more fun than cuddling with this little cutie?

Sharing Cambridge’s Culinary Delights

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Sorry to my faithful readers for the lack of posts in the past few weeks.  I have been busy with the normal holiday preparations, as well as my dance show last weekend at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center.  In addition, my parents were in town for a week.  The last item on the list means getting to share New England, Boston, and, of course, Cambridge with them.  While my mom was bemoaning the lack of Christmas lights in downtown Boston, I was trying to let her see the culinary delights of the area where I reign  : ) .  Based on a recommendation on another friend’s blog (shoutout to Lauren Simpson’s Delight and Decorum), I took my parents to brunch at Catalyst.  Yes, the Duchess ventured out of her kingdom to the next Square over, Kendall Square.  This was particularly interesting since my dad spent his share of time in Kendall Square 40 years ago during his undergrad and graduate school days.   He remarked that the environs had changed substantially as the modern, functional buildings that stood around us now were once “industrial wasteland”.

We ventured into one of these modern buildings to Catalyst and were greeted by a fireplace lobby with sleek sofas and wooden stumps  for waiting.  In the main dining room, the delicious rustic setting matched the delicious cuisine perfectly.  It had been a long time since I had an eggs benedict and this one did not disappoint.  Two creamy eggs sitting atop lightly salted cod made for a delicious New England twist to a brunch mainstay.  The home potatoes came in a just-too-cute casserole.  We finished off our meal with a hot, crumbly coffee cake that melted in our mouths as soon as we were able to spoon it from its pan.   Such a great way to start the day and show the city to my parents!

Moules Frites- Central Kitchen

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I love a good moules frites.  And I love eating at Central Kitchen.  Smack dab in the middle of Central Square, I had the occasion to go to CK on Saturday night after a whole year of not eating there.  You know how you always say you are going to do x, y, and z and then a whole year rolls around before you do it?  Well, that’s what happened to me with Central Kitchen.  I had such an amazing time eating there last November- great food, great company, great atmosphere (backdropped by the first Boston snowstorm of the winter ’12-’13!)- that I promised myself I would return soon.  “Soon” turned into a year but it was just as good as ever.

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“Here in this place new light is streaming/Now is the darkness vanished away.”

In the past two years that I have been living in New England I have become semi-obsessed with the autumn light (Just ask my friend and colleague Matt. He gets daily updates.).  After the heat of the summer, I love how crisp and clear the light looks in the air and on the leaves of the ancient trees.  This weekend I had the opportunity to go to a fantastic retreat with the Sisters of Life in Stamford, Connecticut.  On the drive back home, I witnessed a truly amazing display of light.  We were driving West to East so the sun was setting behind us as we drove towards Boston.  Ahead of us were grey, cloudy skies only made beautiful by the brightest reds, greens, and yellows of the changing leaves.  Suddenly, we saw a bright orange light illuminating the tops of the trees.  It was the sun creating a perfect spotlight for the leaves on the trees’ tippy tops.  If the pigment of a carrot could become light waves, this would have been them.  It was truly incredible.

This phenomenon coupled with the reflections and stories from the retreat got me thinking more about light.  We always know the sun will rise and set.  Sometimes the days are longer and sometimes, in some places, they are shorter.  But we can always anticipate that light from the sun will appear and that we will be able to see more clearly than we did in the dark.  However, in life, we don’t know when the light will come.  We don’t always know when things will become clear to us.  We don’t know when we will stop being confused, or hurt, or sad.  We don’t know why someone has been taken away from us in death, or what lesson not being able to find a job for over a year is supposed to teach us.  But then, there it is.  Clear and beautiful, begging to be regarded.

Sometimes I don’t know  what propels me to make the decisions I do.  But sometimes I see the light and all I can do is delight in it.

Green Street Studios

This summer I found a great place to take a dance class- Green Street Studios.  Like most establishments on Green Street, the outside looks super sketchy but it’s what on the inside that counts.  The class I take is a solid 2-hour class but it’s so worth it!  It’s a mix of modern and jazz and I’m finally learning Luigi jazz technique!

One thing I love about modern dance is the complete connection you can make with your body and mind to the art form.  When I go to this class and wait for the music to begin,  I lay down and let my spine really connect with the floor.  It’s something so simple but it feels good to sink in.  So often at work I’m leaning forward in my chair, watching the computer screen.  The intense pace of the work I do makes me lean in closer to the neon abyss.  Allowing myself to sink in to the Marley brings me back to reality.  I give myself a few leg swings and feel my toes connect from top to bottom.  Ahhhh, dance!