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12/18/15

101. weekend to-do's



li:

  1. use the force. star wars: the force awakens has officially opened and i don't think i will be alone in putting a trip to the theater at the top of my to-do list this weekend. 3d i-max, obvi.
  2. last minute gifts. i've still got some secret santas and yankee swaps to shop for. no matter what the price limit, black ink never fails to have something special and quirky.
  3. ice, ice baby. we're planning to spend a low-key christmas eve at home with some movies and sweet treats. since there is literally nothing that can't be improved by ice cream, we're planning to order several pints of the galley's holiday flavors. hot chocolate with some white chocolate & peppermint stick... cake with a scoop of chocolate rosemary ... yum! (ps, they deliver!)


liz:


  1. wrapping fever. every year i try to out-do myself in the holiday gift wrapping realm. this year is no exception. mini cedar wreaths will adorn my kraft paper creations this year. i'm going for a simple, festive look that smells good too.
  2. vino selection. every friday night, ball square fine wines hosts a free tasting featuring selected wines and beers. i'm headed here to pick up a few bottles for all of the holiday gatherings coming up over the next week. i've got my eyes out for a good bottle of pino and will report back on my findings.
  3. car ride soundtrack. there's nothing better than a good playlist on a road trip. this weekend, i'll be putting together a few lists for my car ride home for the holidays. any good suggestions?

12/15/15

100. behind the style: matt girard


we're back with one of our favorite series. we are huge fans of investing in beautiful, versatile pieces and behind the style is meant to bring focus to the meaning and story behind a favorite wardrobe item.

we're so excited to welcome musician and all-around style star, matt girard. his superdry real hero biker jacket is the definition of rocker cool. we'll let matt tell you more about how he found this classic piece:

"there's something about a nice leather jacket that oozes the epitome of hip; james dean, brando, the fonz, maverick and even post-apocalyptic mad max (and the list goes on and on). so, given these illustrious examples, i've been casually on the lookout for one for years. the first one that really caught my eye and really started a mild infatuation with obtaining one came from a trip to los angeles and the fancy abbot kinney in venice beach where i found a classic designed lewis leathers super sportsman and fell in love (except, the price scared me away since you can buy used cars for the price of the jacket). after that discovery, i upped my search in earnest. fast forward a bit, and i'm in london for my brother's wedding. in the chic neighborhood i was in (and i honestly forget which, there are a few!) i wandered into a superdry store and what do i find on the rack? but the real hero biker jacket - just in the size and style i wanted with a price to match. needless to say, there wasn't much hemming and hawing about grabbing it.


having something that's so classic (the style itself dates back from the late 60's for racing motorcyclists) it is pretty easy to function with different styles - but i do think it works best when it's paired with a casual outfit, and you can't get much more comfortable than my well broken in a.p.c. jeans and a henley. it also gives me a good excuse to be as rock n' roll as possible and bring out my black frye walter boots. being that it's a little cold this morning, i thought i would add a bit of color and warmth with the scarf, which was a little present to myself from my latest overseas adventure to peru with my girlfriend.

being that i consider this a heritage piece, it is one of the things in my closet that i always look forward to pairing with new items and without the fear of it suddenly going out of style."

-matt







12/11/15

99. weekend to-do's


li:

  1. finally feed my serial addiction. serial is back for it's second season with something completely different. they're tackling the story of sgt. bowe bergdahl, the u.s. army soldier who abandoned his post in 2009, was then captured by the taliban and held for 5 years. the united states was able to retrieve him by trading 5 taliban prisoners for his safe return. this is a controversial story that has sparked strongly differing opinions. it will be very interesting to see how sarah koenig and co. handle it.
  2. new eats on the square. i've had several people highly recommend harvard square's newest restaurant, parsnip. taking over the location that was once home to upstairs on the square, parsnip has given it a mid-century makeover and offers a seasonal, globally-inspired menu. i'm so happy to welcome them to the neighborhood and try out their food for myself.
  3. hot chocolate! 'tis the season for something a bit more indulgent and the folks at taza chocolate can always be counted on to have the goods. this weekend, they are opening their doors for their annual holiday open house. i'm excited to check out some of their delicious offerings in addition to other local somerville goodies.
liz:

  1. cookie coma... i will be making and eating all kinds of holiday treats. here are a few places i will be starting at for inspiration: raspberry-almond linzer cookies, peanut butter sugar cookies, spicy gingerbread, thousand layer chocolate chip cookiesyummmm

12/8/15

98. profile: curio spice co.


adding unique spices when cooking is our favorite way to make recipes feel extra special. this is why we were so excited to spend some time in the kitchen with claire cheney of curio spice co. claire has combined her love of cooking, travel and history to create a diverse collection of beautiful spice blends. building on a model that values fair trade and sustainability, she has developed relationships with farmers all over the world while sourcing her ingredients. we met up with claire (and campari, her adorable cat) to explore her spice cabinet and and learn more about the unique creative process involved in making the perfect blend:


what are some unexpected everyday sources of inspiration? 
cookbooks, especially old and obscure ones. i have a great moroccan cookbook translated from french that i found in a used book store in nyc and it has such beautiful language. i've also been studying amari lately - basically drinkable bitters - and i find them quite inspiring, as they contain layers of botanical wonders. i like natural history museums, especially botanical exhibits, since they help boost my plant knowledge and give me a sense of our long relationship with plants. i also have been studying natural perfume which i find endlessly inspiring.

what is your favorite time of day to create? 
i don't really have a favorite time of day, just as long as i've had coffee. you don't want to meet me in the hallway at 6am when i haven't had coffee.

favorite or most inspirational place? 
truly, i love all the places i've traveled for different reasons. i love vietnam for the combination of rich, deep flavors that are used in grilled pork with noodles that you find in the street stall in every city and you sit on a tiny stool and just immerse yourself in the goodness. this dish - i think it's called bún thịt nướng, as well as the ever popular pho were part of the inspiration for my blend called "da lat" which is named after a city in central vietnam that's famous for it's coffee. i also love sri lanka but i could write ten pages about that place and i don't want to break your blog.






how did you get involved in working with spices? 
it was a cumulative effect. gardening, farming, cooking, eating, traveling. i went to ghana when i was 18 and met my first cinnamon tree (in a botanic garden outside accra) and that made a big impression on me. i also worked for a small coffee company and visited a coffee farm in el salvador and got really into the idea of direct sourcing. in a metaphysical sense, i got started with spices because of a poem i worked on in college about the saffron crocus (crocus sativus). during my research for the poem, i came across a book in the art library about a fresco in greece called "the saffron gatherers" depicting women harvesting saffron and offering it to a goddess. there was just this profound moment of connection that felt like it spanned time, as though i was looking at a painting of myself (i wasn't the goddess though). anyway, then a few years later i raised money on kickstarter so i could travel to greece and harvest saffron, and then my love of spices and history and agriculture just expanded.

you create such beautiful and unique spice blends, tell us a bit about your process in creating these combinations? 
thank you! the blends are an expression of memory and experience, not so different from i imagine how other artists create, it's just that my medium (spices) happens to communicate mostly through aroma, texture and taste. i get an idea, i write some notes, smell a lot of different ingredients and think about the sensation/emotional feeling i'm trying to capture, then i just play and cook and sometimes the combinations are terrible but sometimes they're delightful. i'm proud of each blend in my collection, as they each tell a story that's very personal to me.

you've had the opportunity to travel all over the world to meet suppliers while sourcing the spices for your blends. how important is it for you to have strong relationships with the farmers you work with? 
it's hugely important, but challenging. i wish i had a team to help me, but for now it's just me. however i will say that some of my sourcing has been made possible through a network of friends and colleagues and for that i am grateful. spices are usually thought of as a commodity, but my goal is to catalyze the same change that happened in the coffee industry. coffee went from being a commodity to being a specialty product, directly sourced from regions and farmers, both creating a higher quality product and driving a more socially responsible and environmentally sustainable economy.



do you have a favorite among your spice blends? how do you like to use it?
depends on the season or my mood! i've been pretty excited about the aegean salt lately as a fish seasoning, and i'm planning on making some dark chocolate brownies that i'll top with a touch of aegean salt. the mastiha that i blend into it just has this gorgeous, piney, ancient scent that i can't get enough of.

how do you see curio growing and evolving?
i'd like to sell to more small gourmet stores because i am a big fan of independently owned shops that each have their own unique story. but also down the road i'd like to open my own shop that doubles as a spice museum (or curiosity cabinet!) where folks can learn about the history of spices, aromatic plants and cuisine from around the world. the name of my business comes from the concept of a curiosity cabinet where, especially back in the day, you'd put "curiosities" you'd discovered from around the world. my spice cupboard at home is a bit like that.




what is the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
i don't know if it's advice so much as wisdom, but my dad always used to say this one phrase when my brothers and i were growing up, especially in unsavory conditions such as we'd just set up camp in a mosquito-infested swamp. "it's all part of the adventure," my dad would say. i used to hate that phrase, as it signified my dad trying to turn an awful scenario into a positive one. but now i love it because as i pursue this creative spice venture there are plenty of things that come alongside the wonderful creative bits that are disappointing, uncomfortable or frustrating. i've had to just make the best of it, because it's all part of the adventure.

what is the best piece of creative advice you have to give?
my advice is to write. even if you don't think of yourself as a "writer" or you hate writing, there's nothing more powerful than just putting stuff down on a page, getting it out of your head. i filled journal after journal before deciding to start my own business, and some pages were just lists of things, like places i wanted to go, or books to read, or foods to cook. some pages were just filled with plants i glued on. i never look back at any of those notebooks but they were instrumental in helping me develop my ideas.









you can find curio spice co.'s blends at several local retailers including cambridge naturals, sofra bakery & cafe and formaggio kitchen. all of claire's blends can also be purchased at curio's online store - be sure to take a look at her gift sets which are perfect for holiday shopping!



12/4/15

97. weekend to-do's




li:

  1. take it outdoors. we are supposed to get some lovely, sunny weather this weekend - perfect for a run around the charles. as luck would have it, i just received my ov kit from outdoor voices. this color coordinated bundle has leggings, a crop top and hoodie (basically everything i need to stay warm, comfy and sporty).
  2. dinner and a show. andy and i have tickets to see the magical joanna newsom on sunday night at the orpheum. before that, we plan to get a quiet dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood, the marliave. oysters + fancy cocktails + cozy decor = perfect date spot.
  3. gifts with meaning. holiday gifting and decorating can start to feel a bit superficial, especially with the devastating stories that seem to come out daily in the news. for the past few years, i've opted to make (and request) charitable donations in lieu of gifts. thoughtful companies like storq have made this practice even more effective by matching donations to circle of health, which provides medicine, supplies and direct services to refugees in europe.

liz:

  1. potato salad, hold the mayo. i'm always on the hunt for new delicious recipes and this one caught my eye this week- especially since there is no mayo involved. it looks super simple and packed with flavor.
  2. practice that lettering. i'm going to brush up on my calligraphy skills this weekend in preparation for my annual hand-made christmas cards. skillshare has an excellent selection of calligraphy classes, ranging from beginner level to expert. for those of you who don't know me well, i love giving thoughtful, hand-made cards and the holidays are the perfect time for it!
  3. live and local. i'll be cheering on boston-based band eddie japan tonight at johnny d's in davis square. they're opening up for the third incarnation of he famous band martha davis + the motels and it is sure to be a fun show.

12/1/15

96. december playlist




to help us greet december in style, we reached out to a playlist master. brian king is the lead singer of the band parks and has a knack for always knowing the right tune for an occasion - be it a classic or something from a new local band. here's how brian describes this month's mix of seasonally appropriate gems:

"this is a playlist for those who, like myself, enjoy the coziness of the holidays but aren't thrilled with the cold weather and ubiquitous christmas music played from november to january. i combined some lesser-known/yet familiar christmas classics alongside some other tunes that capture the introspective and winter-y vibe of the season (i.e. there will be sleigh bells). it's definitely not a "party" playlist, but it'll make those short and dark days spent indoors a little moodier and warm."


-brian





be sure to follow brian and his parks bandmates on instagram and facebook.