Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Arts & Crafts

I love DIY projects. I lurve them, I loave them, I luff them.
Maybe it's the girl scout in me.
Exhibit A:

Necklace I made using plastic lanyard, some beads, stickers and an empty film canister. Accents my nylon windbreaker nicely.
[Side note: Remember film canisters? God, I used to hoard those things. And they smelled kind of chemical-y and cool. How amazing and sad that kids these days have no idea what they are...]

A few weeks ago, I was in a store that had a variety of items made from recycled newspapers. They also had these woven coasters made out of old magazines. For like $25. And I looked at them and thought, "I can do that."

So I did. I admit, I had to Google it because I wasn't sure just how to get it started. But after I figured out how to put the first two pieces in place the rest just fell together.

I started by gathering different magazine pages with the same color schemes. Reds, Oranges, Yellows, Greens, Blues, Purples, Pinks, Blacks and Whites. Each page gets cu
t in half lengthwise.

Then folded in half, and then into thirds.

Then weave away.

Ta daaa!

Now I just need to go to a craft store and get some kind of spray to make them water resistant. And hope that my roommates don't think I'm a crazy person when I proudly bring them out into our living room to add to our decor... Guess we'll find out next week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Birthday Madness

I love birthdays. I love my birthday, friend's birthdays, it doesn't matter. I love that everyone gets one day where they get to be celebrated. One day to be the king or queen and do whatever you want. Things are getting a little bit crazy lately though.

Do you want to know how many birthdays I've had in August?


I swear, I have spent more money on birthday cards and drinks this month than I have on groceries. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but not by much! One of my friends said that August is nine months after the holidays and that's why there are so many August babies. That's not something I reaaally want to think about, but I admit, she may be on to something. So for all of my friends and family born this month:

8/1 - Lisa

8/4 - Hannah/Claire/Emily
8/7 - Ashley
8/12 - Caitlin

8/16 - Mac/Tom
8/17 - Tara
8/22 - Grandma/Tim
8/23 - Melanie
8/27 - Kim


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Word on Makeup

I was one of those little girls who got caught red handed in front of her mom's makeup mirror with bright blue eyeshadow on and lipstick smeared across my face. I've always loved makeup. It's just so great!

As much as I love my makeup, I actually don't wear that much of it. And while I have about 50 dramatic shades of eyeshadow I wear on special occasions, for the most part I use two basic eyeshadows every single day. Maybelline Silken Taupe and Maybelline Rose Tints. Lately both of these eyeshadows have been getting more and more dangerously low so last weekend I set out to replenish my supply.

You can imagine my initial frustration and then panic when each and every drug store I went to did not have either of these eye shadows. What is a girl to do!? After calling to several other drug stores (I bothered ten in all) and determining not one in the Boston area had what I was looking for, I took my search online. A quick stop at confirmed that these shadows are still being made, and a few minutes later I had a shopping cart at full of three of each kind of eyeshadow. Yes, six shadows in total. What does this say about me? I'm not sure I want to know. I kind of felt like Elaine when she's stocking up on her sponges...

Back to my mom's makeup drawer. Besides Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, the one thing I distinctly remember my mom (and my aunts and both of my grandmothers) having is Smith's Lip Balm. Maybe that's why today they are the two staples of my makeup drawer. On days when I don't really feel like wearing makeup (which are far more frequent than you might think) I just throw on some mascara and that lip balm and I can take on the world.

The thing I love most about Smith's lip balm is that it's been around forever. You can check out their website here. It's a family run business that started in Woodsboro, MD as a drugstore and has now evolved into a veritable empire. The lip balm is seriously amazing. It's the best I've ever found, even better than Burt's Bees (and that's saying a lot). I put it on my lips every night before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning my lips feel incredible. My personal favorite is the Minted Rose Lip Balm. I don't know what I love more, the flavor and feel of it on my lips, or the amazing vintage inspired tin it comes in.

Original Tin from early 1900s:

Today's Minted Rose Lip Balm:

So pretty and feminine, right? Love it. And nothing could be more true than the little caption on the picture: "Simple Happiness." Sometimes all you need is something little to make you feel pretty, you know?

And that is all I have to say about that. Now go get dolled up.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts on: The Ocean

Vacation. Yes, I am on vacation right now. Only for four days but it's a vacation nonetheless. Not that I work so hard that I need a break, but... sometimes you just need to escape the sameness of every day life, you know? The things that plague me on a daily basis that I try not to let bother me. The whole same shit, different day thing. I had to get away from it.

It couldn't have come at a better time for me either. Lucky for me my aunt owns a condo in Myrtle Beach, SC. And lucky for me my parents and brother were heading down there for 10 days. Even luckier that Dad was willing to provide the plane ticket.

And so I left Boston at 5:53 am on Saturday morning, after a whole night of that SSDD that I was talking about before, feeling tired. Weary in my bones, weary in my soul. I needed an escape. Seeing my parents waiting for me at the airport was an instantaneous lift. I could literally feel my batteries recharging. But as I was running from our blanket in the sand to the water like a 5 year old all I could think about was water.

My studies in literature and film tell me that water signifies rebirth, a spiritual cleansing. And as my feet sink into the cool, wet sand, I know this to be true. But why? Why when I stand with the sand between my toes and the water splashing up my legs, staring out out out into infinity do I feel better? And when I take that first plunge into the sea and come up rubbing the salt out of my eyes, why do I feel like a new person? What is it about the ocean?

I don't think it's because my studies have conditioned me to feel that way. I really don't. Just one dip in the ocean and I could literally feel the things that have been bothering me wash away. I don't have an answer for my earlier question. I don't even care about the answer, to be honest. I'm just basking in the glory of this phenomenon.

We have a tradition in our family - any time we are on vacation, we get up very early at least one day to watch the sun rise. It's a seriously great tradition and this morning I felt more grateful for it than ever. Watching the waves come in, one after the other, hearing them crash over and over again, seeing the sun, golden and hot, peeping through the clouds to smile down on us for the first time today... I feel more refreshed and peaceful than I have in a long time. The problems I escaped from at home are still there, waiting for me, but now I feel ready to face them head on.

"The world doesn't seem such a howling wilderness as it did last night."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Food is hugely important to me, but you already knew that. My hometown is known for its food. I've been to restaurants all over the place, even in different countries, and some of the best food I've ever had still comes from the 607 area code.

One dish that we are particularly famous for is Spiedies. Pronounced like "speedees." I've been promising a Spiedie post for a while, so here it is. I would try to explain them to you, but you'll just say, "'s like a kebab?" The answer to that is NO. You just don't understand it until you've had it my friend.

I got mad when I realized my Dad wasn't grilling them on a skewer like normal. He can't comprehend why I have to take pictures of food for my newfangled blog.

Chicken and Pork Spiedies.

(Note: the word spiedies comes from the Italian word spiedini, the name for this dish)

Chicken Spiedie Salad with home grown lettuce, tomatoes, olives (from a can!) and Balsamic vinaigrette.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quiet Observations

Today after work I made my way up West Newton Street (one of the prettiest streets in Boston as far as I'm concerned) and right as I was about to duck into the park I saw something wonderful.

A woman coming out of the park walked passed me. Head slightly bowed, eyes cast down just the tiniest bit but shining bright as a new penny. And her smile. Wide and brilliant enough that even though her mouth was closed, her lips were stretched so tightly over her teeth that I swear I could make them out one by one. One hand was holding an iPod, but the other was up, lightly grazing across her collarbone. Pure, unadulterated happiness. Total joy. Completely unselfconscious and totally unaware that this girl watched her in awe and envy as she passed.

All I could think of the rest of the way home was that woman. What was her secret? Maybe she heard a song that brought back a wonderful memory and made her smile. What if she just found out she was pregnant and was on her way to tell her husband? She looked how I feel when I finally get that phone call from the boy I really like. Won the lottery? Maybe someone bought her flowers.

Does it matter?

All I know is that from the minute I saw her I felt uplifted. If someone can feel that happy and that good, well, then things can't be so bad, can they?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I have one brother. His name is Mac. He is easily one of my favorite people in the entire world. So smart and so funny and so kind. Even when I wanted to kill him growing up (and there were certainly times), he was still the best. Still is.

And now my little brother is a grown up, taking the MCATs and apply to med school.
When did this happen?
(And does that mean that I'm a grown up, too?)

Growing up Mac didn't read. Don't get me wrong, he could read. He just chose not to. I was always the studious one, the smart one. The nerd who read books at my little brother's baseball games. I used to tease him that maybe he didn't know how to read. Mac just never seemed to care about school that much. Even so, he still got decent grades. Without even really trying (or so it seemed) he made the honor roll and got great report cards. I guess he was just one of those kids, you know?

Then he got to college and discovered that he has a learning disability. He started taking his medicine and now has, as a bio-chem major with a minor in psychology, a 4.0 GPA. And he's taking his MCATs and applying to med school.

It makes me think back on all those times growing up when I teased him about not knowing how to read. He obviously knew how, but... But what if he wanted to read, and he just couldn't? Literally could not physically sit down and process the information in front of him. And I teased him about that. Obviously I had no way of knowing, but still. Imagine that frustration. Now he reads even more than I do. And, thinking back on his grades growing up, and how he never seemed to try or care - I can't help but wonder if the whole not caring thing was some kind of cover up to hide how hard he was trying and not getting the results he wanted.

Or, and this really wouldn't surprise me at all, maybe he's fooling us all. Maybe he really didn't care, really didn't try growing up, got to college and was like, "Ha! You bitches don't even know what you're in for because now I'm actually going to apply myself." I secretly think there's a little bit of that in there too.

Either way, he emailed me the personal statement he wrote for his med school applications. He wanted me to take a look at it, edit it, give him my suggestions. Because while I'm not going to cure cancer like he's going to, by God, I can write a damn good essay. So I thought sure, I'll revamp it and make it totally amazing. And then I read it. He talked about the human condition, about our little cousin, about his friend Dan, about how the experiences he's had in his life have shaped the way he feels about medicine and have inspired him to help improve the lives of people who can't help themselves. My words not his. I didn't make that many changes. Suggestions here and there, grammar issues, threw in some big fancy SAT words. But the ideas were there and they were all his. And reading his essay today made me feel even more proud to be his sister.

So, that's all. No moral to this story. Just wanted to say that I've got a pretty amazing fratellino. One that I'm ridiculously proud of. In bocca al lupo, Mac.