5 Things Gone—Tiny Kitchen Things


November 3 — Five things I got rid of today (and why)

  1. Cow creamer (because although I love her, I’ve only used her 3x in 10 years)*
  2. Expired Plantain-infused Olive Oil (completely forgot about it. part of a  fundraiser-auction set. It’s been in my fridge for two years!)
  3. Old bottle of anchovies #1
  4. Old bottle of anchovies #2
  5. Pincer thingy (For test tubes. My father made me one of those spice racks! It’s great. But, this piece just isn’t needed)

*Sometimes we want to get rid of something but it is so hard to do! We have fear of regret. To help with this, I just started using a fixed amount of storage space in my basement. Cow creamer is there. The rules are, if she needs to come back, something else has to go. I want to get rid of things, but I also want to satisfy my need for loving new things to look at in my space.  So, I came up with the swap-out storage area as a test.  We shall see!

200+ Things Gone!—Weekend of Nov 1 – 2


I spent all weekend going through things. I successfully donated 200+ items to Salvation Army and Somerville Homeless Coalition (find whatever makes you feel good about letting things go).

IMG_6195The only things in this photo that stayed are the bikes.

I found these egg holders with my camping gear. I have very minimal camping gear. Why did I decide egg holders were a must have? Wish I could remember. Hopefully someone else is putting them to good use soon.

Minimizing Project—30 Days of Consecutive Clutter Removal

With a name like Shiz I Bought Today, is it any wonder this lifestyle needed a shift? I have too much stuff. See garage picks below (I had help from an awesome Boston-based home organizer, Morganized). It was just what I needed to take the ball and run.


I’ll get into the feelings about that process (and how I came to terms with my relationship with stuff) at some future time.

For now I’d like to kick off my November project, getting rid of, at least, five things every day for the entire month of November.

Care to join me?

Check out the progress

Addiction, The Sweet Side

I’m a sugar addict. I know, the truth is bananas! It’s a scary truth, but orange ya glad to unpeel these issues? That’s why I’m raisin it up. We’re all faced with sugar every single day! Every one of us. How do we live with it? How do we live without it :(


This is how I know I’m a sugar addict

  • I gave it up cold turkey and immediately lost 5 lbs
  • Consuming zero foods with zero added sweetener meant my appetite regulated. I wasn’t chronically famished. I ate normal servings.
  • Within two weeks I lost 10lbs!
  • I was still eating A LOT of food, just nothing packaged or with sugar added to it (I still ate a ton of cheese, I ate fats, just not added sugars).
  • When I do eat it, it’s all I want. My lowest point is binge shopping at Whole Foods for tiramisu, whoopi pies, ice cream and Lake Champlain chocolates.
  • I was doing ok. I was eating some good quality chocolates here and there. I thought I could handle myself, then Girl Scout Cookie season hit.
  • I’ve gained 6lbs since those Girl Scouts started selling again. Primary cause for alarm is that I’m exercising more, and the second I start consuming the sugar, fructose, honey, agave, dextrose (and whatever other scariness is in those Girl Scouts’ cookies) the weight just jumps back on. Because eating those foods means I can’t stop eating. Period. I can consume 3,000 calories/day and still want more.
  • Because I CAN’T STOP! Eating processed foods and added sugar really does screw with my brain and my body.
  • When I don’t eat the sugar, I feel fine. I feel regular, balanced, nourished.
  • It will be a lifelong struggle.
  • Thanks to my natural, mother-nature grown friends in the photo up top.
  • Thanks to my parents for being health-food nuts in the 70s (although, this be the reason my adult body can’t handle the sugar).

Color + Light: A study of palette on a winter afternoon.


You ever look around your house?



Not just at the things or the nagging chores, 20140223-125554.jpg

but at the colors . . .



The decorating choices you’ve made . . .


and what the light does when it enters your space . . .


Yesterday was so bright!


Everything looked so different. I had to take some time and watch the afternoon unfold.


DIY Shelves, Budget Library Nook

Mornings, this is the brightest spot in the house. Being right of the kitchen, it felt like the ideal area to create a coffee-hour reading nook. The space is 88″ wide, with windows on two sides, and an open wall/kitchen counter on the fourth side.

At Home Depot, I set out to find basic lumber (something I could lug home myself in a small hatchback). I stumbled upon stair risers! 45″ wide and $10/each for the pine variety. Grab’n’go size (plus slightly thicker cut) won me over. Simple brackets were found a few aisles over ($12/pair). Result, I was able to do this whole wall for about $175 (wood stain included).

Many of my thrift store finds (as well as the orphan curtain panel) have found there way into the nook. I guess it’s just a welcoming sort of place.
IMG_4890 Here it is, coming together. IMG_3964

Travel Essentials, Part 2

Travel Essentials, Part 2

The lighter the bag, the greater the freedom!

This was taken towards the end of 10 days in Spain (fall 2013). Other than bringing 5 pairs of shoes, I was pretty happy with how minimalist I was able to get. I highly recommend reading other travel blogs and watching YouTube videos on packing/traveling. There’s a lot of great tips out there. (Here are two good ones to start with: How to Pack for a Year Long Trip: Minimalism for Women, PhotoEx trip to London & Paris)

As an add-on to 8 Travel Essentials, here’s are three new travel tips — Tried and true! (mostly about bags and shoes).

  1. Neutral palette with the the clothes. Colorful with the accessories. Keep in mind, neutral can mean a few things. It can mean beige, white, black (as I’ve done) or it can mean brighter combos like corals, navy and yellow! The idea is any top, jacket, pant and skirt can go with anything else. It makes getting dressed so easy. It also really helps with the overwhelming first question to packing “what should I bring?”
  2. Bring 4 Bags. The cluster is shown in above pic, top left. The breakdown is:
    1. Carry on wheely bag—for gettin’ there.
    2. Back pack Everlane.com —for hiking around. Such as an all day hike from old-city to Sangrita Familia, up to Parq Guell and back.IMG_1011
    3. Satchel—for an afternoon out. Just the right size to carry: travel book, wallet, camera, sunglasses and thin sweater. It is hot and humid, but I’m happy! I feel the freedom. (I’m not knocking down priceless artifacts with a clunky backpack either).IMG_0804
    4. Mini bag/wallet. Worn cross body and under jacket. Barcelona crowds can get thick! And, just before the trip I came across the documentary of Bob Arno and a group of professional pickpockets in Naples, Itatly. Watch it. Good general awareness tips.

My mini bag/wallet.

Also of note: My mini bag/wallet has a removable strap for converting into true wallet for use with another bag. See how it can play with satchel so well! This is what was going on in that museum shot a couple pics up. Thus, the happy dazed look ;)


3. The multi-purpose wardrobe. That black tank dress (first photo) can be simple on the beach, breathable for a hike, classic enough for an evening meal. The long-hoodie sweatshirt can be used as a robe, a jacket, and a sleeping cocoon on the plane.

Here’s some shoes that are great for walking, from beaches to cobblestone streets.


I hope you find this helpful. I relied on the power of the internet to get this far with my travel-supply strategy, so wanted to pay my lessons forward. Hardest part to get over, the what-iffing! Don’t do that when you pack. Just don’t. You’ll thank yourself. Also of note. Most expert packers pack very few clothes. All can be sink washed (with Dr. Bronner’s for example) and dried within a few hours.

It’s Our Shizaversary!

Cristina and I started our home and retail blog (Shiz I Bought Today) in February 2012!

Last weekend we got together with a little cake to celebrate our One Year Shizaversary! Cristina has one of the sweetest homes I’ve ever seen. Soon she’ll be sharing some pics and posts. I live for house tours!


Cake is a flourless torte from Danish Pastry House, Medford, MA. If you go, be sure to try a slice of the Sacher Torte Cake! My all time favorite . . . chocolate, marzipan, a wafting of peach from a thin layer of preserves. It’s perfect.


8 Travel Essentials — For Easy-Going Leisure Trips


1. High-Performance Ballet flats

Shoes, like hair care stuff, are the thing each of us must be particular about. Our feet shapes, like our hair types, vary greatly. For me these Patagonia shoes were an incredible find! (REI). When shopping for your ideal travel shoe, think of your comfort objectives. Looks do matter! Here’s a summary of why I fell in love with these shoes . . .

  1. Casual yet polished look for urban sightseeing. I brought these as strolling shoes – something fresh to change into for the evening after being in my Asics Tigers all day (the ones by Serrano, another incredible hot weather travel shoe).
  2. Unlike flip flops and sandals, ballet flats cover feet. Heat and walking make my toes puffy and red. I like a non-flip flop option to cover up the uglies. Clever use of mesh here.
  3. Very comfortable. More support than most flats I’ve tried. A nice balance of squishy and structured. Water resistant. Traction soles. Seemingly blister proof! All the edges mind their own business. Never a sore spot.
  4. Ideal for packing — They don’t take up much space. They weigh nothing.
  5. A neutral color and versatile look. Dress up or dress down.

2. Convertible Pants

  1. You can wear these in four ways. Full, Full leisurely (sides unzipped to mid calf), Shorts long (lower half of leg removed), Shorts shorter (leg removed, side button thing buttoned). Bandita by Kuhl. Find at REI and Zappos
  2. Breathable in heat, warm enough to wear when departing your cold city.
  3. Dirt repelling, wrinkle resistant, easy to wash and quick to dry.
  4. Pockets!!! Well placed and flattering. Two side ones have button closures.
  5. They fit my body! I could bend over without my ass falling out, yaaay!!!!
  6. Prepping for my trip I found the blog Travel Fashion Girl. I never would’ve even thought about convertible pants if she hadn’t brought them up. She’s an awesome resource! Read her blog.

3. A Big Sarong

As in the height and width. Quite the contrary when speaking of volume. This thing is compact! Purchased in 2006 at the gift shop of a resort in Costa Rica. Cost, $15! I genuinely felt I was severely overpaying. Ug! So silly of me. This sarong is beautiful, durable, soft, comfortable, easy to wash, fast to dry, versatile color. . . it’s all good!

Use your big sarong as:

  1. A scarf to keep warm . Essential for departing from your cold city.
  2. A shade cover to keep cool. Lightweight means the breeze travels through.
  3. A shawl for covering up—a requirement for touring churches.
  4. A color, another accessory to help vary your limited-wardrobe look.
  5. A beach cover up. It’s weird how big this thing can get.
  6. A beach blanket — I’ll never stop being amazed by my sarong!
  7. A lap blanket on the plane, or draped over your head for some sleeping privacy. This was a lifesaver on a recent red eye when I was surrounded by a few people that sounded sick! Nothing I could do but cover my head (mouth and nose) for some peace of mind and get some sleep.

4. A Wheely Bag

  1. I tried the duffel. While I can get the volume of my pack down, still struggling with the weight, so the duffel was not a good choice for me.
  2. Wheels are helpful
  3. A structured bag is good if you plan to bring back native liquor or wine. You won’t need to check your bag if you go straight from duty-free to your final destination. But, if you have a transfer city after customs, you will need to check your bag. So, you might as well purchase your liquors for less in the town and check a bag on the way home (you’ve gor your backup bag, #8). Items will be safely secured, wrapped up in the structure of your wheely bag.

5. A Small Camera

We all have dreams of being amazing travel photographers. But, two things always get in the way, skill and time. I’ve wasted so much energy focusing on finding that feature I knew I had, just to grab a stunning shot. The cost is I’m taking too much time. My husband stands by looking increasingly impatient as we travel like snails to our lunch spot—40 pics to document the five-minute walk. I grow as a photographer, but not as a vacationer. Vacationing is my true objective.

Unless you’re a photo expert, carry a fast and lightweight simple camera. Last year’s model of the Canon Elph on Amazon for $120. Perfect for the night time too. Takes solid low-light pics and has a very simple auto-focal point feature for off-center framing. Starts up super fast and quickly responsive too.

Canon Elph

See my Cartagena post, most pics are from this Elph. For many of the street shots I snapped as I was still walking.This thing fit in the tiny pocket of my pants without feeling bulky too—motivated me to see if I could ween off the purse. Loved the hands free, quickly transitioned into feeling carefree.

Recently started striving for this since I always feel like I’m digging in my bag for something! I get to the point where I’m muttering “ya know what bag?!?, next time why don’t you just stay home.” It’s weird, when you decide you don’t need stuff, you really don’t. A camera, a lip gloss, a few bills. That’s all I ended up needing. No phone!!! I was on vacation after all. I was in a walkable city and with my man. What do I need a phone for?

6. Pack Cubes

  1. When I first heard of these things I thought they sounded like a complete waste of space. My suitcase was already tight, why would I add more stuff? Especially stuff I couldn’t wear? Then I began to notice how I spent my time with my stuff when traveling. I was always digging! Always flinging stuff around, always disrupting my once neatly organized supplies into a mess of wrinkles and confusion.
  2. Pack cubes solve this problem. There’s a new variety by Eagle Creek. They’re thin and strong like a windbreaker.
  3. Use a small one for electronics — things like back up camera battery, SD cards, phone charger. Medium for swimsuits and undergarments. The big garment envelope  to neatly fold and secure all your clothes.
  4. The best part, when you unpack at your destination just unpack the cubes! Leave them unzipped with the lid rolled back to expose what’s inside. They work like storage bins. Your brain doesn’t have to re-learn where everything is. It already knows the categories and how things are grouped.
  5. Even better, get each in a unique color. You’ll find your shiz that much faster!

7. Fun Recovery

My travel health enemy is hydration. I seem to need two days of acclimation in order to regulate what the airplane did to me. But I’m on vacation, I’d like at least a Pina Colada or something. My system getting so wigged out has led me to locate some remedies. Luckily, they’re pretty simple and readily available on Amazon. Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, MA is a great place too. They stock Party Smart.

  1. Oral hydration packs. It’s like a powdered Gatorade full of electrolytes. Pour one into a glass of water if you’re feeling like your body isn’t quenching easily and drink it down. Great for travel dehydration, travel sickness and a hangover. Cons – full of Dextrose. Potential for packet to pop open with cabin pressure (1/5 of my flights caused this. So, put in a baggie or other container). This stuff saved me from developing headaches a few times. A common occurrence previously.
  2. Party Smart pills or Forget Hangover patches. I like both. Both seem to really help me be able to process alcohol. I’d like to say we’re talking 3 to 4 drinks in a 6+ hour stretch. 1 sunset cocktail, 1 drink with dinner, 2 at the club. Normally I take it easy and listen to my body, but when I’m on vacation I use these. The Party Smart pill works as an absorption device, diverting toxins from being soaked into your system. The Forget Hangover patch is a slow release B vitamin. You wear it for 24 hours. It feeds your body with a constant supply of B. Apparently alcohol depletes you of B, so this patch is just designed to counteract that.
  3. I use Airborne as a bounce back if I’m just feeling drained. Also a nice boost-up pre plane boarding.
  4. Arsenicum Album — Haven’t tried this one yet. Was just reading about food-based illnesses (travelers diarrhea, etc) and apparently this is the thing to combat that. It’s a low-does of arsenic of all stuff! Goodness! Supposedly it works great on bad bacteria in your gut brought on from the wrong food. I carried as insurance. Buy on Amazon or health food store.

8. Emergency Carry On

My flight/carry-on strategy is based on being one of the first three groups to board. But, this can’t always be counted on.

To ease my mind from the what if’ing (what if all the overheads are full? What if my bag has to be checked? What if they lose my bag!?!) I pack a solution—a tiny backpack. This works great in tandem with those pack cubes (#6). If you’re asked to check your bag, you can pull out your critical pack cubes (the one with your chargers, the one with your swim suit and undies, the one with your toiletries). Stuff them into your reserve bag, wedge under the seat. It’s a solution that’s rapid to execute, takes one small-hand-full of extra space, mission complete.

Hope you found that helpful.

Find more packing tips under 4 tips for an efficient travel toiletry pack

A Travel Gift from India

These yellow pillow cases fit right in with my existing textiles. A gift from my generous friend who likes to travel and has great taste! Also, someone who shies away from publicity. So, rest assured friend, I won’t blow your cover ;)


Gift shopping is something I hope to get better at when I travel.

Narrow Passages to Open Worlds — The Allure of Cartagena



I always forget how important travel is for expanding our views on the world.  I’m limited by language in places like South America, but then again, I’m not. I just have to think about communication in a slightly different way.


Cartagena is an old walled city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It has a reputation of being a destination for lovers and party goers. Clubs get started at 11pm and go until 4am.   Warm air, combined with constant cooling (but nowhere near cold) breezes can be caught on second floors and up, any time of day. Concealed nooks for a coffee or just a sweet little view are the norm, yet every single one of them will feel like a fun secret. If you don’t have access to a roof deck, your only opportunity for a view is along the perimeter — the old wall, down a street (one doesn’t bend after one block), or through a grand courtyard. It makes the city incredibly stunning to view, and nearly uncapturable with photography.


My first day in Cartagena was a fall Sunday in 2012. It was quiet! Typical of the Spanish Colonial architecture, and urban infrastructure the streets are incredibly narrow, same with the sidewalks. Buildings sit right on top. Windows have wooden bars,
doors are impressive masses of wood adorned with the cast-iron (i think) artistry of door knockers, mammoth pad locks, and ornamental nails. Arriving on a Sunday means all these doors are shut. The impression will leave you scratching your head wondering where all the people are and when do the parties begin.

Then, come Monday morning I realized what I saw was a restful Sunday. The streets are now full of vendors selling things like fruits, tinto (coffee) and empinada-like things.  Observe where most of those shut doors were and you’ll see thriving businesses—restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars, retail spaces for native fashion designers and jewelers. Wait a little longer and come Thursday night even more of the doors open to reveal the bars, music stages and dance floors of the clubs.



Behind every door is another world.


Malagana, located in the Getsemani neighborhood. Balconies catch the cooling breezes.



Typical sweets for sale at Plaza de los CochesIMG_0033_2

Peru Fusion, Centro neighborhood. Simple and delicious from the mood and food right down to the Lychee Martini.


Knockers, Centro & San Diego

IMG_0401 DSCF5117 IMG_0508 IMG_0617

Caps for sale.

4 Tips for An Efficient Travel Toiletry Pack


For me the personal-care product packing is the hardest part about travel. I’ve learned (sort of . . . relatively speaking) to keep the clothing part light and versatile. It’s always the products that stump and frustrate me. My packing objectives are advancing. I used to focus solely on volume (cramming as much into the one bag as possible). But honestly, that’s a crappy way to travel. You take one thing out and then you’re playing Tetris for 10 minutes trying to get it back in . . . that’s not a vacation! That’s not relaxing!

My obsession is now distilled down into 4 handy-dandy tips anyone can use for getting their travel-sized bathroom in order.

1. The right containers

I used to be devoted to the GoToob. A great product but far too large for most trips. That’s my beef with the bulk of travel containers. I’m typically going away for 2 – 10 nights. I don’t need 2oz of anything. But, finding tiny travel containers isn’t easy. Sephora used to (haven’t been there in a long time, not sure what they do now) give you samples of anything in the best tiny containers. There’s a couple in the pic above (Face moisturizer and Antiseptic Tea Tree). They’re a strong plastic, easy to clean, refill, and lightweight. I saved every single one. I even asked if I could buy some. Stumped by how that would work, a wonderful sales associate gave me a handful in a a variety of tiny sizes.


In early Jan I scored at CVS. I found a pack meant for travel that didn’t hold the standard four bottles but something like 10 tiny containers including a spray bottle.

Before that I found a trial size travel kit by MyChelle. This thing is awesome! I’m especially thrilled with the teensy weensy cap-sized thing filled with eye cream. It means I can bring eye cream! (ok, forget about section 3, this section and section 4 are really just enablers for that).

2. Be Proactive

Pack now, not when you’re rushed. For a couple years I’ve actually been recording what I travel with as well as what I return with. What did I use? How much of it? Which containers were full, which were empty? Go from there. Yeah, I’m obsessed with this.

Making your pack now means you’ll also benefit from having a grab’n’go for a weekend away or using at the gym.

To help remind yourself what’s in each of those tiny containers. Use a label maker to mark them, and take a pic of which products are in which, it’s simple see . . .


Print the pic, stick it in with your pack or in whatever suitcase you tend to use most. If you’re digitally organized, just save it there.


3. Eliminate the “what ifs”

It helps to think about stuff that’s easy to buy anywhere, just incase you get into a jam, you won’t feel so pickled. An example of this might be sunblock. If you aren’t picky about brand, and you’re not sure how much time you’ll be spending in the sun on your trip. Just buy it at your destination. Sometimes I’m chemical obsessed and I don’t want to buy drugstore junk. Then I remind myself it’s just for a week, and the world is full of toxins! Ha! It’s like fighting fire with fire, I guess. Another great thing about sunblock is it’s a product most people at the beach have, and unlike chapstick, it’s not gross to ask to borrow.

Additionally, if you aren’t picky about shampoo, don’t bring it. Use the hotel’s or your Dr. Bronner’s (section 4.)

I used to pack a ton of what ifs! Bandaids (for what?), Mole skin for blisters, sewing kit . . . ok, none of these are liquids. Well, perhaps I’m masking my “what if” thoughts with the use of . . .(next section) Multi Taskers!!! Yay.

4. Multi Taskers

  • Jojoba Oil — Moisturizer (even great on sensitive facial skin and doesn’t cause blemishes). Soothes inflammation from sunburned skin.
  • Tea Tre Oil — I’ve packed the ointment kind. Like the toothpaste, this is also a nice blemish soother. Additionally it soothes startled cells after too much sun exposure and can help heal bug bites and blisters.
  • Toothpaste — Pack the paste kind, not the gel. Dab it on a blemish before bed. It shrinks those zits fast! (I always get a zit when I travel)
  • Dr. Bronner’s Soap — This product has long boasted 18+ uses. The balance to strike here is comfort level.  I love Dr. Bronner’s for sink washing my travel laundry as well as a body wash in the shower.  I’ve also used it to clean the water glasses in the hotel room (if they smell funny). And, if you’re super brave and not travel-zit prone, use it to replace the toothpaste.
  • Too Faced Beauty BalmSPF/Moisturizer and coverup all in one . This stuff is a dream cream, and it goes a long way.

And there you have it. Hope it helps!

Full list of What’s & Whys, liquids in my pack:

  1. John Master’s Sea Mist spray — adds texture, volume, shine and manageability  Smells nice, yet very subtle
  2. Shikai Color Reflect Shampoo & Conditioner — my hair doesn’t seem to tire of this one easily, making it a reliable choice for travel
  3. Dr. Bronner’s pure-castille soap — for cleaning clothes, dishes, hair and your skin
  4. Jojoba oil — Make up remover, cleansing properties, healing, moisturizing, smells wonderful!
  5. Tea Trea ointment — for an antiseptic, great sunburn relief
  6. Kiss My Face toothpaste — Clean teeth, zap zits!
  7. Aveda Hydrating Masque — Air travel, sun exposure and drinking all deplete moisture. This hydrating mask is the best! Your look will bounce back in 10 minutes.
  8. Cleansers and moisturizers — Pricey (but fun) Travel/Trial pack from MyChelle. My skin looked great! Really nice stuff.
  9. Room. Yup, space for more stuff in my 1 quart, see through, zip-close bag. No tetris, and I can still add a lip gloss, mascara and maybe a small sunblock if I choose.

Christmas, pics from around home

Wrap—I like seeing how far I can get without spending any money on the wrap. It helps if you collect things like old paper, ribbons and doodads.


In the last few years I’ve got into rubber stamping. It turns out basic black ink is my favorite.

Wrapping I try to avoid the obituary section for gift wrap (just a tip). This colorful one uses a shot from the Travel section! It’s tied with butcher string, (trendy and cheap).Wrapping

Pretty things—Big paper star with LED bulb (nightlight LEDs $3ish, Amazon). The branch is winterberry.


Fireplace—Jars! and bobbles and lights, oh my! I made a sparkly focal point. I stare at it all the time.


Tree—It’s a fake, but I still wish it had that one quirky branch poking out somewhere. It leans a little cuz I’m using an umbrella stand instead of the stand it came with. At least it fits in that big galvanized bucket! It was in the shed waiting to be filled with beer all summer.

DSCF6365Santa—Fluffy eyebrows and a bell in his hand

Santa Wreath

Waiting—Chocolate! Inside every one of those old jewelry boxes


Shaking, it’s cooler than a stir

One of many things I learned as a result of stepping into Boston Shaker, Davis Square. First of all, bitters. Bitters are the joy and the flavor code to grasp for a truly remarkable cocktail experience.




Ginger beer. You either love it, hate it or like really really really really love it! I am that third category, which I hope is why I went way overboard and spent $16 on this highly recommended brand, Blenheim, from South Carolina. I’m sure it costs far less in it’s native land. But, if you’re a yankee and you want some spice, what are you gonna do? Oh. I just answered that. A true yankee would make her own. Sorry Dad.20121021-180038.jpg

And here’s the book that revealed to me why we might shake a cocktail vs. why we might stir. Home Bar Basics, By Dave Stolte. Appreciate this guide. It’s concise, informative, useful and rewarding. Dave Stolte, had an outstanding Manhattan last night. At this rate I’m headed for drinking at home on a fairly exclusive basis (unless it’s wine).20121021-180049.jpg20121021-180113.jpg

Barker and Mills cocktail cherries. Vanilla and bourbon. It’s dessert.20121021-180058.jpg

Lady in the shop, along with a familiar customer, made sure I understood to not only enjoy the cherries, but to use every last drop of the juice!20121021-180105.jpg

Now I just need to find a fun crowd, happy to sparsely sip. Most of us seem to know the glutinous glug. I’m a glutton. In this exact moment, I vow to explore the sip.


American Made My Day

The South End neighborhood, Boston, MA housed a menswear-focused retail event yesterday– American Field. Thirty+ booths of high-end goods, exclusively made in the USA — shoes, bags, shirts, sweaters, wallets, shave straps, iPhone cases, accessories for your bicycle . . . you name it! Whatever it takes to be lookin’ like a gentleman outside of your home. . . Many, such as Randolph Sunglasses, based right here in Massachusetts. Event hosted by local menswear sensation Ball and Buck. It’s the kind of place that makes all us ladies wish they had goods designed for women too.

20121021-004511.jpgBison Made, handmade leather goods takes deliberate design right down to the box (all the best places do). I picked up one of their iPhone cases. It happened to be the same one used by the delightful gals running the booth! Rustic and elegant, of course it was speaking to me. They wrapped it up in the most stunning cardboard box/rubbery sleeve combo. Complete with little product pouch with their brand mark (the bison) embroidered right on it!


Shave straps, wallets and care goods (above). My new case (below). Gorgeous, right? Feels great too.


Nothing goes wasted. The negative — which frames up their box-front logo — creates a positive for an info card.

560 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA (below). Cop guards what will be the stage.


Black Magic Coffee Co Amazing! Yes, the beans did come from USA, (Oregon) The coffee was so smooth. Don’t let my obviously poor hand-eye-photo-taking methods fool you.  I ‘d like to conclude, my iPhone could use a cappuccino too.  And, preferably one from Black Magic. These fellows run a wonderful little cafe — and it’s designed to be wherever you need it.




Randolph Sunglasses


20121021-162937.jpgPolarized aviators (above). 20121021-163042.jpg

Engraving machine doin’ it’s thing (below).20121021-163029.jpg

Paul (below), grandson of a Randolph founder (1972) gave us a great overview of the product and the brand. Watch this factory tour. It truly is a work of beauty.


And it all ends with a walk down the street for my first peek at Bobby from Boston.


Followed by my first meal at The Gallows! Wish I got more pics. The vegetarian sandwich was a score. Super healthy, but not too healthy (just the right portion of cheese and baguette). Rounded out with sweetness from pears, tartness from cranberry sauce and earthy bitterness from the brussel sprouts.


Gardening with Grasses

My first go at serious gardening, thanks to Judy, my talented mother in law!
Let’s hope come spring my vision of gentle sways and texture gets realized. Planting has been far more challenging Than I ever thought it could be. Substantial trees and their roots.

Here’s a view of the garden from inside. As Jim eats his toast, that little tuft in the distance (Dallas Blue) slightly softens the bright fence.




Barbara at Derby Farm in Arlington, MA helped me come up witha plan! I love her eye.


Jewelry Organizer from The Davis Flea

Shopping at The Davis Flea, I found this practical beauty from  the I Want A Pony booth.  Jen Kniff, a Flea founder, was kind enough to snap my pic. This piece, is not only homemade, it’s an upcycle by a local crafts woman! Pretty important Shiz, right?


Nicely coordinates with my “vintage” paneling.20120901-112217.jpg

Added some string ties to the rails, just to have more places to hang. More I Want A Pony finds on Etsy.

Organizing with Springs

It’s Sunday! A gorgeous-blue-skied non-90-degree Sunday. I went to The Davis Flea again. Ed Quinn, Renewed Home has rapidly become one of my favorite dealers. He picked up all sorts of cool stuff at Brimfield this week. Among the batch, springs! I never knew I needed or wanted springs. Ed knew. These things are great. Hold pens, letters, notes . . . a kitchen utensil as you cook. Get a branch and some clothes pins, make a crazy message center. Or, just leave them sitting around. They’re pretty engaging.

Next stop, brunch at M3.

Brunch at M3


Mimosa (up). Watermelon, cucumber, mint & cheese (below). I’d like to add that the goat cheese was good, but this salad really didn’t need it. The dressing was perfect on it’s own!


I also had a big waffle with butter good enough to drink by the glassful and berries as fresh as ever. Go here. It is delicious and warm, yet minimal. The decor plays with the charm of practicality and a light-filled space on a sunny corner. It showcases a beauty from chalkboard paint on every wall and every table. Some orange accents from chairs and wood tones too.



Nesting on Main

I had my HS reunion today. It was sweet. Only way it could have been better is if more alumns showed. Catching up was fun. Time goes by so fast. I detoured through the Concord Center on my way home. I used to spend time there way back in the early ’90s. This time, mission to browse Nesting on Main (discovered here, on Shiz, via co-blogger C!). Worth it! Gorgeous store. Theme is that of the seashell hunt. At least, that was how I felt at every turn. I was a beach comber! Could have stayed there for hours.

Bingo digits.

As a nod of gratitude to my blog mate, a puzzle. Can she crack the code?20120721-202231.jpg

Lofty welcome.

Fab, Faulty

I’ve posted before about Core and their 60%+ discounts and been very happy with the measurement-embossed cut boards I found at a great price.

Bu’uuuhhttt . . .

This latest shipment was bunk! I paid $28 for a $90 lazy-susan, moveable-partition chip’n’dip! And another $28 for a $70 platter. What a deal right? Nah. These things is crap. Chip’n’ dip has a gluey-splintery construction (photo doesn’t really show the mess, but you get the idea). Tiered plate has poor construction and really can’t be assembled to spec.

And I’m curious about safety . . . both radiate some real stink! Toxic varnish or glue odor. Whatever. Main point, I call BS on Core’s pricing. More product info on two-tiered plate and chip’n’dip on Amazon.

Reasonable results

Fab did step up and agree to take my items back. Ok Fab, I’m coming around again. I guess I’ve just been putting a lot of pressure on you to always amaze me.


Fresh vegetables are so delicious they cause my brain to internally shout profanities. This is my first summer with a farm share.


  • Scheduled pick ups of healthy food
  • Limited decision making (you get what Mother Nature created as seasonal)
  • Outdoor time (pick-your-own herbs like cilantro, parsely, basil and dill) plus other crops like beans, sugar snap peas . . .
  • Explosive flavors! Old veggies need cheese. Fresh veggies need a little oil, vinegar and maybe mustard! just a touch tho.


  • Gotta keep up! Only getting a taste of the overwhelm factor. Which can quickly be turned to a pro if you’ve got friends to share your surplus with

Kickstand coffee

I love this stuff! Learned about it from Fab.com. Last week I placed my second order straight from the source, Aaron Davis creator of Kickstand. Beautifully simple site too.

As you can see it was a hit with the ladies! I’d like to add we did have alcohol. There’s a wonderful white sangria from a Martha Stewart recipe (you can kinda see it in the counter clutter) yet we’re all gathered around the opening of the Kickstand! It was a hit and quite a conversation piece. Plus, nobody added sugar and very few added cream. The quality is just that good.

Entryway shelf & mail caddy

I did it! It’s July and I finally hung the shelf from the gorgeous piece of lumber I bought at Rockler back in October. Getting stuff done.


Then, just yesterday, I found this handy caddy at the Davis Flea. Well sized for the shelf. Perfectly sized for holding the daily mail.20120708-171142.jpg

Salt’n’Peppa here . . . Yeah, I dunno. They were cute and on sale at Anthropologie. 20120708-171218.jpg

Hey Baby! Baby shower

The Cupcakes
From Sweet, Harvard Sq. Boston Cream Pie, Red Velvet, Strawberry Shortcake, and special for summer Honey Lemon! (my favorite).

Photo by Liz Scully
Honey Lemon (left) . . . forever on my mind

The Lunch Tent
Festive Mexican party flags from Nomad. Weather tolerant. Reusable. Lots of bang for your party buck. Apparently I love my decor over my own personal vanity (cuz that’s me with the weirdo face int the blue pants).

Photo by Liz Scully

The Favors
Sugar and spice and everything nice! Flowers cut out from recycled calendar (Paper source). Button pin centers from Derby Farm (Arlington, MA). Polka-dot paper straw for a stem. Jar of honey (sugar) tied with cinnamon stick (spice).

Photo by Liz Scully

Let’s open gifts with some AC
Polka-Dot Paper and streamers set the mood.

Photo by Liz Scully

Some general party ideas . . .
1. Create your own tiered cake stand from kitchen items you have on hand. This one has a cake stand base, ruby-red platter, cylinder bud vase, oversized tea-cup saucer. All secured with painter’s tape (easy to remove). Just enough so a bump to the table won’t knock anything over.

2.Toothpick Flavor flags! Use any paper, toothpicks, a little double sided tape and rubber stamps. Make while watching TV. I was practical and stamped out the cake flavors. Sayings connected with the party theme or guest of honor are nice too.

3. Little wishes. Side boat of little paper flags for sending pre-bday wishes. Write a note, hang it on the string above the cake plate. Give to mom-to-be.
These two are also Liz Scully photos.

4. Drink labels. Is that my glass? Ahhh! It is my glass! These are silly bands with button labels (creating continuity with the favors). Unique, easy and thrifty drink labels.

The Davis Flea

The Davis Flea. It’s how I got my shopping back!

After weeks of not posting I’m finally moved to shop again. (I guess I’ve just been loving my new job that much, so back off retail therapy). Premier The Davis Flea last Sunday and with a pocket of cash, there I am. This Sunday I return with a camera. Are you near Somerville? Check it out. It’s very cool. It’s well curated so the ratio of cool stuff is quite high. It brings the discovery of the rural fleas to the urban realm. Convenient. Alluring. Brilliant idea! Glad it’s here. Hope it stays.

Other event treasures include live music and fresh apple-cider donuts.

The Davis Flea, founded by Greg Ghazil, Jennifer Kniff and Maureen Nuccitelli

Flea finds from last week:

Homemade Cards

About an hour ago I got home from a class: Crafter’s Night Out at the Paper Source in Porter Sq. in a jam-packed two hours we made cards, envelopes and a toggle-tie portfolio to store them all in. The theme: new life for old calendars! Oh time. . .

Also shown is an inspiring book about taking your old mail pieces and spinning them into a whole new level, the art of the upcycle.




Burrr, Hot Coffee!

Shopping spree at Barismo yesterday yields ideal Sunday morn–complete with the sun part and a napping cat!

The Barismo folks have been telling me for a while that those common home grinders are actually bruising my beans. Buying into this strange detail (seemingly based on sensitivities), I imagine the flavors of bruised fruit vs. fresh fruit. Suddenly I’m horrified at my coffee-making process and I find it’s time to buy my own burr grinder. One pot in and I’m 100% thrilled with my choice. No bruised beans, yes, but furthermore more it’s a one button-automated system with convenient storage chamber and 40 degrees of grind control!