HOME        ABOUT        PORTFOLIO

7/31/15

61. weekend to-do's




li:
  1. shop for dinner at a local-food wonderland. the boston public market is finally open and i can't wait to head over to hanover st. to check it out! everything sold at the market is produced or originated in new england, making it the only market of it's kind in the country.
  2. step up to the barre. i've been waiting patiently for barre & soul's new harvard square location to open since i first saw the signs go up. it's great to have a dedicated barre studio so close by and i can't wait to get my first workout in this weekend!
  3. give my creative juices a nudge. my friend danielle recently recommended 642 things to write about. it's a series of writing prompts aimed to clear any blocks and help you get writing. always a great idea to open up some new perspectives...
  4. do something dress-worthy. i just received my dresses from brass's beautiful spring/summer collection. the t-shirt dress is a perfect transition piece and i plan to incorporate it into my wardrobe for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. now to plan something fabulous so i can show it off!


liz:
  1. live music in allston. great scott has a strong line up this weekend starting tonight with indie rock band someone still loves me boris yeltsin. and to make this show even better, there are a few excellent local bands providing support that are worth checking out: surf vietnam and sinnet.
  2. delicious cocktails on the patio. before heading to great scott, i plan on stopping at deep ellum for one of my favorite drinks, the oaxacan rose. the mezcal, grapefruit liquor and lemon in this drink make it the perfect smokey & sweet summer treat. they also have an awesome back patio with a tree growing smack dab in the middle of it. love it!
  3. keep cool at the pool. the colonnade hotel in boston has a roof top pool and it's open to the public for a reasonable cover charge of $15. with all this heat, i am more than happy to pay a small fee to take a dip in some cool water.

7/28/15

60. profile: thorn & bloom




we were first introduced to thorn & bloom a few months back when we met owner and sole perfumer jennifer botto at herbstalk. we were immediately struck by how beautiful and sophisticated her fragrances were. inspired by her appreciation of the outdoors (she grew up on a farm in northern new york), jennifer creates complex scent combinations using all-natural ingredients. we recently caught up with this nature-loving entrepreneur at boston's public garden. while taking in the beautiful scenery, we discussed the process of natural perfumery as well as the inspiration behind several of the fragrances in her line:


what is your favorite time of day to create?
i'm a morning person. there's a quiet stillness in the early hours that you just can't experience at any other time of day. i love the solitude, the soft light, and the feeling that you have all the time in the world. also, my nose is at it's most receptive in the mornings, and my ability to differentiate aromas wanes significantly after a few hours in a row of blending. a phenomenon called olfactory fatigue happens after consecutive sniffing sessions, so i'm always trying to race the clock before i'm scent-blind!


favorite or most inspirational place?
i love being in water. whether it's ocean, lake, pond, hot spring or bath tub. i'm most at ease when i'm wet. there is something very primal and soothing about languidly floating in still waters, which envelop my body in a womb-like embrace. my sense of sight and hearing are diminished under the water, leaving touch as a major receptor. i love feeling each water molecule in gentle contact with every single nerve ending on my skin. to me, it's extremely therapeutic. after a dip, i feel completely refreshed and receptive, like a blank slate.





how did you get involved in perfumery?
i think my obsession with all things sensual began with diane ackerman's book a natural history of the senses. her ability to reference science, nature, history and personal experience when describing scent drew me in. stephen harrod buhner's the lost language of plants also helped me push towards natural perfume, as he delved into a secret world of plant communication through scent. i find the world of olfaction fascinating, and working with naturals helps bring me back to my roots as a farmer's daughter. living in the city often gives me nostalgia for the great outdoors of my youth, so when i blend these raw materials, i'm immediately swept away to another place. i can leave the city for a little while and be surrounded by brambles and blooms, or stand in smoky clouds of smoldering cherry trees.

your fragrances or so evocative. was there a memory or specific inspiration that guided you when blending them?
definitely! wild rose began as an attempt to recreate the scent of freshly plucked rose in a hyper-real way. to me, roses have always exuded a musky raspberry aroma, so i wanted to capture that delicious fruitiness. but there is also a soft, powdery element to roses, which i tried to impart with myrrh and benzoin resins. stranger in the cherry grove initially started as a recipe to conjure the scent of black cherry pipe tobacco, which my father smoked for years. i remember that smell so vividly, and wanted badly to bottle it. the resulting blend ended up taking on a personality of its own, but to me, it still reminds me of that pipe.

what are some unexpected everyday sources of inspiration?
my primary sources of inspiration are nostalgic memories and nature itself. for me, i love recreating fond memories, such as my mom's garden after a spring thunderstorm, which i tried to capture in savage garden (bluegrass offers a wonderful fresh, green, metallic, ozone note). i also strive to pay homage to specific ingredients, such as the gorgeously tropical champaca (magnolia) flower in bird of paradise, which i flanked with zesty ginger and soothing sandalwood. i love that my blends can be related to on a personal level; they aren't the ubiquitous surreal fantasy blends that many synthetic perfume houses offer, which often bare little resemblance to anything found in nature.

what are some of the benefits and nuances involved in working with 100% natural ingredients?
natural aromatics are very different from synthetic aromachemicals. a natural jasmine extract will have hundreds (or more) of individual scent molecules, both desirable and undesirable depending on the nose. one famous molecule, indole, gives jasmine it's signature animalic smell, with a subtle undercurrent of human feces (which contain large amounts of indoles)! when perfumers work with synthetics, they are able to use certain isolated molecules from a jasmine flower and blend in a more controlled way, often leaving out the less desirable notes. as a natural perfumer, i'm not able to pick and choose which jasmine molecule i'd like to work with - instead i utilize the entire spectrum. it can sometimes be problematic and i find myself trying to find ways to minimize certain nuances. more often, though, it is a welcome challenge. i look at it as a celebration of the flower in it's entirety and choose to take the thorn with the bloom.

i love that many of the ingredients in my blends are prized by aromatherapists. aromatics such as lavender, frankincense, rose and chamomile are often used in both perfumery and aromatherapy, so using them gives me a sense that i'm offering a product that will work with your body on many levels.




do you plan to expand your roster of scents? any hints on what we can expect?
absolutely! i'm currently working on a line of solid perfumes that will be poured into vintage abalone and silver compacts. working with an oil base is so much different from an alcohol base, so i'm finding that my style of formulation needs to change. solid perfumes require many more top notes, otherwise they'll be overwhelmed by the oil. it's a great opportunity to showcase juicy citrus, soothing lavender and fresh evergreens. my favorite new formula will feature a spicy/green/fresh blend of coriander, green pepper, fir needle, tomato leaf and jasmine.

do you have a favorite fragrance among your line?
it's so hard to choose! personally, i like to alternate my fragrances according to season. so, while my favorite is stranger in the cherry grove, i would not choose to wear it on a hot summer day. its personality is best suited for a cold autumn or winter day, when its warm smokiness can be appreciated and held close. my choice for summer would be bird of paradise; it exudes a sensual tropical aura that reminds me of sandy beaches and exotic flowers, but also refreshes with a hint of fresh ginger and tart pineapple.



what is the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
it would have to be "know when to stop"! developing a satisfying blend can take weeks or years, depending on the ingredients and the perfumer's vision. i'm sure it must be similar to painting, when there is a point that you must put down the brush and declare the work finished. personally, i'd love to work on a blend for years and really exhaust all my options for blending combinations, but that's so unrealistic! for me, the requirements for a finished blend are: harmonious top, heart and base notes, a long beautiful finish, and a cohesive identity. as long as a scent is beautiful in it's own unique way and it fits those requirements, i call it done. otherwise, there is a very real danger of blending to obsessive compulsion!


what is the best piece of creative advice you have to give?
i value a self-taught approach to creativity. while i enjoy learning about the elemental basics of my craft (organic chemistry, plant science, distillation techniques, traditional french blending methods, etc.) in an institutional setting, i believe that creativity is best honed in a personal way and should come from within. don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and trust your creative instincts!






jennifer's creations can be purchased online at her website. also be sure to look for her at the sowa market and greenway open market.



7/24/15

59. weekend to-do's





li:
  1. picnic by the pond. we're so fortunate to live close to beautiful walden pond. andy and i are packing up our favorite beach blanket and spending a relaxing day by the water.
  2. provisions. no picnic is complete without a proper basket filled with delicious food. lucky for us, puritan & company has started offering summer picnic baskets to go! they'll pack everything you need along with your choice of 4 delicious menus.
  3. beach reading. i'll also be packing in the country: stories by mia alvar. i purchased this book after hearing the author speak earlier this week. i can't wait to read further into this beautiful collection of short stories.
  4. sculpture side trip. after a day at walden, it's always a great idea to stop at the nearby decordova sculpture park and museum. decordova focuses on outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture. encompassing 30 acres, it's the largest park of it's kind in new england.

liz:
  1. indulge in ice cream. friendly's is having a pop-up event at the lawn on d during lunch hours today. i'm a big fan of ice cream and of being barefoot while eating it so this event is going to be awesome! and, the best part is, the ice cream is free in honor of national ice cream month.
  2. conscious shopping. naja is an eco friendly company with a great mission. their bathing suits and underwear are made from recycled plastic bottles and they are super cute! i've had my eye on their taylor crisscross monokini and can't wait to try it out.
  3. swim up a storm. wright's pond is the perfect little get away for medford residents. this calm and tucked away pond has a swimming area and a beach that is excellent for lounging. i'll be there saturday and sunday basking in the sun.

7/21/15

58. chilled reds





our fabulous food + wine contributor, kimberly scott, is back. this month, she's sharing a refrshing summer spin on serving red wine:

reds chill out: finding refreshment and flavor through serving red wines cool:

the first revelation i had with serving red wine quite cold was on my honeymoon in provence. it was the peak of summer, and the heat and humidity were a constant presence from the moment the sun crept over the horizon until it tucked itself away late in the evening. dining outdoors at tiny establishments in town squares and hidden gravel courtyards, shaded by massive sycamore trees, became a beloved pastime.

one of our first nights in the town of villeneuve-les-avignon, we dined in one such courtyard and ordered a bottle of cotes du rhone. these juicy blends from the nearby rhone valley had delighted my husband and me many times before. as the waiter poured a tasted for my approval i noticed the condensation on the dark glass of the bottle only a moment before i took my first sip. the cold liquid was a welcome surprise and i accepted the bottle. "ben, it's cold!" i declared with delight. we reveled in the new personality the wine now embodied. the expected dark, earthy, spicy notes had been replaced by brighter tones that stretched into the floral and herbal; bunches of violets wreathed in sage and oregano. we bought a second bottle.

the temperature of wine is selected to help express itself for your enjoyment. depending on that temperature, different aspects will be hidden or highlighted. sommeliers spend a lot of time experimenting with the ideal serving temperature. you may have heard someone talk about how whites wines are often served "too cold". this can be very true: many people still hold to the idea that white wines are supposed to be quite cold and reds should be room temperature. such traditions may yield time-tested results but can also be applied too broadly. don't worry too much about "the rules". how we drink and eat is often a reflection of past experiences unless we are invited to enjoy a new one. wine is diverse, and how we serve it can be too.

table red is the perfect subject with which to experiment. and in case i'm not being clear: the cheap stuff. cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad either. wine is for drinking, and so the next time you pick up a bottle of your favorite value red this summer, throw it in the door of your fridge. i'll provide you a few examples here to get you started on the path to red refreshment.


domaine de la pepiere "la papie" vin de pays du val de loire

this wine has an advantage before the first: the label features a drunken chicken. drinking a blend of cot - also called malbec - and cabernet franc from the loire, i expected funk but got none. blackberry lemon sorbet, tangy and dark, cheery yet with dark undertones, like a good short story by david sedaris.

domaine rimbert "cousin oscar" vin de france

this expression of cinsault from the languedoc in southwestern france is named for a gentleman who is apparently irresistible to lady folk. i can't speak to that claim, but i found it to be true of the wine, which definitely leaves you wishing your glass was not empty. cranberries and currents join hand in hand and dance cheerily against the lofty backdrop of an evergreen forest.

la clarine "jambalaia rouge" sierra foothills red wine

something wild this way comes from the sierra foothills in california, where the vines are grown in such a way as to absorb the rugged expanse of their home. a self-described experimental blend of mourvedre, marasanne, grenache, and viogner, here is an unapologetic march of shockingly purple things decorated with sprays of white blossoms. a bowl of ice-cold plums adjacent to a vase spilling over with lily of the valley.

the wine bottega in boston's north end currently has these gems for your procurement. get them while they're hot! i mean, er, cold.

-kimberly

7/17/15

57. weekend to-do's



li:
  1. artbeat. the somerville arts council's annual artbeat fest is happening this weekend in davis square. the festival includes dozens of bands, dance troupes, vendors and food options. this year's theme is looping - how the repetition of a pattern, sound or idea informs a work of art or a concept.
  2. lighten up. i've been getting my hair done at a. quinn hair studio in harvard square for a couple of years now. they never fail to do an amazing job (especially on naturally curly-haired girls like me). i'm heading in this weekend and thinking it's time my hair reflected this sunny summer weather...
  3. shopping for serveware. our plates have belonged to andy since college (!) and i, sadly, just broke the last of the bowls we purchased when first moving in together. clearly it's time to purchase some grown-up place settings. we are in love with the earthy, beautifully-made pieces from farmhouse pottery in vermont. we're excited to be investing in items that will last us for the next 10+ years to come.
  4. amy. i've heard nothing but great feedback on the haunting new amy winehouse documentary. i'm looking forward to learning more about the story and process of this great artist while revisiting some of my favorite songs.

liz:
  1. get out of the box. over one hundred artists are performing this week on various stages in the boston commons for the out of the box festival. the festival has five stages featuring a wide range of performances from local theater groups to well known pop musicians. my picks are kacey musgraves on friday night and ruby rose fox & air traffic controller on sunday night.
  2. keep it loyal. one of my favorite local purveyors of all things well made and design oriented is loyal supply co. in union square. tonight they are holding a "meet the maker" event from 6-9 pm. if you're interested in joining, make sure to rsvp!
  3. stumptown coffee date. i'm meeting at the thinking cup downtown before a photo shoot this weekend. this coffee house is one of the few i have found in the city that carries stumptown coffee- one of my personal favorites. there's nothing like a good cup of coffee with friends new and old on a weekend morning.

7/14/15

56. behind the style: danielle seaton shea


behind the style is a series we created to celebrate the items in our closet that have meaning and stories attached to them. how does a favorite piece of clothing help to define personal style? what are the ways that these pieces can be reinvented as our style evolves?

for this installment, we have the pleasure of welcoming the lovely and incredibly insightful danielle seaton shea. danielle shares how taking a style risk with her favorite red jacket helped her to start dressing like herself:


"this jacket, in all it's tacky late-80's glory (shoulder pads! ruffles! garish pattern!) is my favorite piece of clothing in my wardrobe. i proclaim that it's vintage so i can maintain my street cred, but there's no grand story that accompanies this jacket. i just love it because it's unabashedly fun and ridiculous.



once upon a time, i shunned anything that wasn't a button down, popped collar or well worn sweatshirt - i grew up in connecticut, after all - because i feared being different. standing out more than i already did was not an option i was willing to entertain.

finding this jacket, however, marked what felt like a return to me. it was love at first sight, and to this day, i haven't found another piece of clothing that has felt so inherently me.

i don't take myself too seriously and i believe that fashion should be fun. how can you not smile when wearing something like this?

i love the bright colors and spontaneity in this jacket, but what i love most is that it reminds me that i am enough. it reminds me to be bright, fearless and silly. it's a wonderful thing to stand out from the crowd."


-danielle








7/10/15

55. weekend to-do's



li:
  1. le cinema. the mfa is hosting it's 20th annual french film festival. they've sourced a collection of france's best films of the year (as well as a few classics), giving us the rare opportunity to view them on the big screen.
  2. all things nina. there are several new projects highlighting the genius and complexity of the legendary nina simone: a new documentary offers an intimate look at her life and career. a tribute album featuring ms. lauren hill, jazmine sullivan and nina's daughter, lisa simone, highlights some of her most iconic songs. there have also been numerous recent articles celebrating her epic style. now seems like such a perfect time to appreciate her consistently relevant work.
  3. adventuretimes. i found courtney adamo's recent piece about taking a gap year with her family so inspiring. it reminded me of the excitement i felt when planning some of my more spontaneous travels. it also made me realize how long it's been since i went on a proper adventure. while selling my belongings and hitting the road for a year might not be feasible (at this time), i'm excited to explore some other ways to satisfy my wanderlust.

liz:
  1. yogaglo. every weekend i try to get some sort of yoga related activity in and recently i have been looking to elena brower for inspiration. her classes on yogaglo are thorough and her knowledge of the practice runs deep.
  2. sowa market! a close friend has recently started showing her beautiful creations at the south end open market. christine errington- also know as the hipster housewife- has great hand-lettered creations and everything is made by her so you know you are getting a unique piece each time.
  3. lonestar cambridge!! the owners of deep ellum and lonestar in allston have finally opened their cambridge location and i've been waiting for this restaurant to open for so long. delicious tacos and yummy margaritas. need i say more??

7/7/15

54. sparkling lemonade with lavender and thyme


nothing says summer quite like a tall, cool glass of lemonade. we've added an herb-infused honey syrup and splash of sparkling water to make ours extra refreshing. it's a simple, delicious and beautiful treat you can serve to your guests all summer long.

ingredients

12 medium lemons
1 cup raw local honey
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
small bunch of fresh thyme
sparkling water



bring two cups of water to a gentle boil. add honey, dried lavender and peppercorns. we used raw local honey from follow the honey in harvard square. the taste and complexity that good honey adds is well worth the extra time it may take to seek it out. remove from heat and allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes. this will allow the the lavender and peppercorns to further steep as the syrup cools down a bit.

place thyme sprigs in a heat-safe, airtight container (mason jars work perfectly). strain the syrup into the container and cover. you will likely have quite a bit of this syrup leftover after making your lemonade. it's delicious in cocktails, drizzled over fresh fruit or with soft cheese.



get juicing! this is the laborious part, but we promise it's worth it! 12 lemons should yield you roughly 2 cups of juice. a good heavy duty citrus squeezer will save you tons of time and effort.


sweeten to taste with the honey syrup. we used about a 1/2 cup, but you can certainly add more or less depending on how sweet you like your lemonade.


to create the finished drink: pour lemonade concentrate over ice (you'll want to fill the glass about halfway up). top off with sparkling water and garnish with sprigs of fresh lavender and thyme.

cheers!







7/3/15

53. weekend to-do's


li:
  1. quiet time. i'm not a huge fan of big crowds, so i plan to celebrate the long weekend by keeping things local and low-key.
  2. work out some kinks. i'm headed to massage therapy works in somerville. they boast practitioners trained in a multitude of techniques and come highly recommended by a trusted friend. i can't imagine a better way to enjoy the extra time off than with a deep tissue massage.
  3. browse some of the best local goods in cambridge. i always enjoy shopping at the charles square farmer's market in harvard square. i can stock up on amazing produce, baked goods and flowers. everything i need for a perfect 4th of july dinner at home.
  4. prepare something simple and festive. summer berries are at their peak and these blue and red berry ricotta galettes will be a perfect way to highlight them.


liz:
  1. road trip! heading to rochester, ny for the fouth of july to spend some time with family and take in the festivities. despite being small, the fireworks in my hometown rival any large city.
  2. fire up the grill. this grilled corn and avocado salad is the perfect side to go with all the smokey bbq entrees we'll have cooking.
  3. floats for all. who doesn't love a good root beer float? after discovering small town brewery's not your father's root beer, i have been eager to make floats with these bad boys. it will make for the perfect sweet treat after our family bbq.

7/1/15

52. july playlist



photo by rufina kyung eun park


this month's playlist is our ode to lazy, humid mid-summer days. it's perfect for lounging poolside (or on your couch). soak it in and enjoy!