October 31, 2011

happy halloween!

Wow!  What a weekend.  Boston got a few inches of wet snow Saturday night, and it made for an interesting commute to and from the bars for some Halloween revelers (especially all the girls who seem to think the holiday is about wearing as little clothing as possible!).  I dressed as a snow bunny and donned Uggs, leggings, leg warmers, a fur vest, turtleneck, headband and ski goggles.  I'm pretty sure I was the warmest person in town!

There are other towns in Massachusetts that didn't fair well in the storm.    Halloween is postponed and schools are closed this morning in western Massachusetts due to 30 inches of snow!!  If this is any indication of the kind of weather we can expect, we are in for a longggg winter...

I hope everyone has a terrific Halloween.  I am so excited to walk down Mt. Vernon Street and see all the spooktacular decorations and trick-or-treaters!!

Three Fairy Princesses. Halloween 1990.  New Canaan, CT

October 28, 2011

have a yummy weekend!

I saw snowflakes last night in Boston, and there is more on the way!  brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I hope you planned on being something warm this Halloween....  But, if you didn't, here's a great recipe to make you feel cozy.  

I was sick and lazy and felt a little bit like Sandra Lee this week (you know from Semi-Homemade on the Food Network!?), and I used things I had on hand to make a delicious penne dish with sweet and hearty tomato sauce.  The secret, which was a complete mistake/afterthought, was a little bit of fig preserves I added to the sauce along with a pinch of cayenne pepper to add depth of flavor.  You see, the other ingredients were bland (the store-bought vodka sauce was hidden beneath the no-salt-added-crushed tomatoes that I added for extra heartiness).  The figs brought a subtle sweetness (if I had a pinch of sugar on hand, maybe that would have done the trick) and the cayenne helped the sweet, acidic sauce to linger just a second longer on the tongue.  The end result was a hearty, flavorful sauce that I could have eaten by the spoonful!  I know you can make this EASY recipe on your own.  You won't regret it!

Jawsie's Penne a la Vodka, Kicked up a Notch 
(oops, just went a little Chef Emeril on you...)


You're looking at:
  • vodka sauce (I used Cucina Antica homemade flavor la vodka cooking sauce: no sugar added)
  • crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano Italian Crushed Tomatoes: no salt added)
  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 TBS Fig Preserves (I used Bonne Maman Fig Preserves)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • penne! (or other pasta; I used De Cecco penne)
  • tablespoon of olive oil

In a medium sized sauce pan, saute garlic in olive oil. Pour in vodka sauce and crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in fig preserves, cayenne pepper, and dried oregano.  Simmer for 10-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare pasta al dente as indicated on the box (usually a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil for 10 minutes, or so.  You want your pasta just done (cut a piece in half and there should be no white line of uncooked gluten in the center-- which would be a white color) because we're going to cook it a little longer in the sauce).  Drain. Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce and turn the heat wayyyy low for 3-5 minutes.  Serve and be happy!

Have a great weekend.  If you're celebrating Halloween, stay safe and have fun!  

October 27, 2011

tour of our pad

As promised, I've completed an apartment tour.

Some disclaimers are probably necessary.  We love our apartment.  It serves the two of us so perfectly, and we finally feel a little bit like grown-ups.  That being said, it's not the newly remodeled house of our dreams, nor is it perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  It has radiators that clang and hiss (the heat just started to turn on around here, and this was a nice little surprise in the middle of the night).  The building is OLD and the floors creak, which also means that our neighbors above us have creaky floors, which we hear constantly.  And the bathrooms and kitchen leave much to be desired.  As in, when my boyfriend saw my bathroom for the first time he said, "It reminds me of college."  Which, at least in our cases, is not exactly what we are nostalgic for when we remember those times in our lives.  The floorboards are uneven, the walls are cracked, some tiles are missing from our bisque-tiled (barf) bathrooms, etc. etc.  It's a mess.  But it's our mess.

And, again, let me make it sooo so so so clear.  We love it.  I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  I am so lucky to have gotten to this place in my life that I can afford to live on my own and support myself.  I am healthy and happy, and my cup is full with abundant gifts.  I look around everyday and remember all the hard work it took (and still takes) to keep all of this a reality.  And I am happy.  This is great.  I breath a little deeper.  Then I remember to stop day-dreaming and get back to work.  Like my dad always said, "The bills won't pay themselves." (Did anyone's dad not say that?).

And, with that said... Please, come in.  Enter our cute, little home....  It's a work in progress, and you're coming along for the ride, right?  RIGHT!?  Ok, phew.  Thanks.

View to right from front door:

View straight ahead of entryway: 
My roommate's bathroom

View to right from front door:
Living room

Enter the door next to the bookshelf in the living room: 
My roommate's bedroom

Other side of the house: 

Down the entryway hall to the left: 
Our tiny kitchen 
(we say we have two bathrooms but only half a kitchen...priorities!)

And straight through the doors at the end of the entryway hall: 
The large anti-room I haphazardly described here

The door in the far side of the "office-throw-all-dressing-room": 
My bathroom 
(which is so tiny that getting a picture of it is impossible, so please bear with me!)

And, the door on the far left of that same room, which lines up with the entryway hall, etc: 
My bedroom

And there you have it!  That's all she wrote.  Thanks for stopping by!

October 26, 2011

project: old dresser

I've always been interested in interior design.  When I was young, I would insist that my babysitter help me rearrange my bedroom furniture before my mom got home.  I had this weird thing about not getting my mom involved, but I'm pretty sure she was unphased.  You see, I'm the third child out of four in my family (which you can read more about here) and my mom might be the most laid back woman there is....  For instance, I used to wear every single layer of long underwear that we owned (three girls in different sizes= lots of long underwear) at the same time all winter long with a tutu on top.... ANYWAY, my nanny, unlike my mother, was an OCD cleaner, who insisted on making each of our bedrooms immaculate.  She would vacuum under the beds and other furniture, dust, and do an overall disinfecting deep clean while we were rearranging, so it was actually music to my mothers ears to hear that we had done some decorating while she was out.

Later, in boarding school, I would budget my (very small) allowance/savings to buy linens and towels and odds and ends for my dorm room.  At 14, this was not "normal" behavior as far as my roommates were concerned, but it always made me so happy!

And that trend continues today.  I subscribe to a wide variety of home goods and home improvement magazines, and I receive oodles of  catalogs each season.  I save my money for side tables while all my other friends shop for clothes and read about the Kardashian marriage headed to splitsville (ok, clearly I'm not slacking in the rumor-reading department, but you get the picture).

I said in my post yesterday that I was excited to share some bits about me improving old pieces I already own.  Remember, I'm in my mid-twenties and I'm on a budget, and this is all in the name of creating beautiful things for functional spaces, so bear with me.  I'm about to get creative!  This is jawsie taking a bite out of life:

Project #1: The Dresser

Yes, that blue sticker is from the van lines that moved my parents furniture to a new house six years ago...
Mom=laid back 

I am well aware of the following:
  • missing 2 knobs (hope to find some great replacements for the whole piece at anthropologie!)
  • some old tape/sticker damage to the middle two drawers (a sander will do the trick)
  • uneven tones throughout (I'm going to paint, seal, and embellish this puppy!)
  • holy moly, what a disgusting top you have.  (the better to urge you to fix me with, my dear.)
  • solid wood!
  • beautiful lines 
  • mucho potential!!!!!
  • free!  (this is a Mom and Dad's basement special.)

They sure don't make them like they used to...

It's going to be a big job... I'm off to find a sander! 

October 25, 2011

one bit on my mind

One bit of my life I want to include on this blog is my home.  Specifically, I would like to document my journey to improving parts of my home step-by-step.  As a renter, this journey can't involve a kitchen or bath reno (phew!) or even a paint color change for that matter (boo, lease agreement), but I hope to improve, recreate, and up-cycle some terrific new and old pieces I own.  I love beautiful pieces and functional spaces, and I believe these two ideas are not mutually exclusive.  I have been collecting inspiration for eons.  Now, if only pinterest would send me an invitation like I requested, so that I could keep track of all of those ideas...  (edited 10/27/11 : They did! I'm on pinterest!  Check me out!)

Here is the place I should be adding a huge disclaimer in bold lettering: I've never DIY'ed anything in my entire life.  I can't draw a straight line to save my life, and I've never painted anything except for an over-sized piece of paper on an easel when I was 4-- and yes I was wearing a "smock" that had had a previous life as my Dad's work shirt when I did that.  

Ok, that feels better...

Beacon Hill photograph courtesy of FayFoto/GBCVB

I live in a 2 1/2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in a beautiful, historic neighborhood with one of my oldest, best-est girlfriends.  There is nothing "new" about our apartment (I said historic), but it has solid construction and there is charm out the wazoo!  (My mom always says that... I understand it, but this may be one of those times when I lose my audience... stick with me!)  We have solid hard wood floors, terrific molding around the windows and doors, spaaacccceeeee, and a great floor plan.  In short, we love it.

Some of our favorite parts of our apartment.  (These are the little things you enjoy as a renter, because you know you can't add them yourself!):

Note the paint splat from the previous tenants, which adds to the character...
Did I mention 2 bathrooms?  Can I tell you that this is the first time in my life I've had my own bathroom?  Yea.  It's amazing.  And, to explain the "1/2" business in the bedroom description, honestly we are still trying to figure it out ourselves.  There are 2 small bedrooms-- actually, one I would categorize as teensy-- and one extra space/anti-room (in addition to our living room) in which there is a humongously large closet.  We are currently using the room as an office (I work from home occasionally)/ dressing room/ dining room on the occasions we find ourselves "entertaining"/ throw-all-kitchen-drawer-type-room.  It helps to separate the two bedrooms and make the apartment feel open, airy, and private.

Here's another "original" we are blessed with in. every. room. of. our. apartment...

Floor plan and house tour and the first exciting project coming soon! And if you're like me, and you've learned to become a great site stalker researcher over the years, you might be trying to get a sneak-peak from old photos I've posted like this one.  You're welcome.

October 24, 2011

fall weekends

Fall is my favorite time of year in New England, hands down.  There's something about the start of a new school year, changing leaves, and the crisp smell of a fall evening that really gets to me.  I love to don heartier clothes and cozy layers while continuing to spend a lot of time outside in the still-strong Indian Summer sun.  It is the best!  Needless to say, I enjoy most of these favorite fall experiences on the weekends (thanks a lot, work!), and I love that fall weekends are full of great activities.  Pumpkin patches, apple orchards, lazy Saturday strolls, football games, etc. etc.  However, sometimes there are too many of my favorite things scheduled for the same weekend, and I have to (gasp!!!) choose what to do!  This weekend was one of those scenarios, and I had the hardest time deciding on a plan.  Each option promised to be full of rich tradition, quintessentially fall wardrobe choices, great friends, and fun memories.

First, it was homecoming at my alma mater.  The weekend is an annual favorite for obvious reasons:  the bonfire, the pigroast, old friends, fall New England weather, and school spirit.

photo courtesy of the Dartmouth College Fund

Though homecoming is typically a great football-centered celebration at other schools, at my alma mater homecoming is more of a celebration for the sake of celebrating.  For starters, the Ivy League is not known for their stellar football, and it is safe to say that the team I root for is no where near the top of that list...  Homecoming at my school is about seeing the freshman class run around their bonfire, meeting new sisters in your sorority, seeing old friends, eating good food, beer, and trying to stay warm!  Sadly, this year my friends and I decided we wouldn't go to homecoming because we are getting "too old to be the young alums and too young to be the old alums."     Maybe we'll reconsider next year.

Next, this weekend was the annual Head of the Charles regatta, which takes place in my new hometown, Boston, MA.  Having gone to a small New England college, I had heard of the event before and knew it was it was supposed to be a ton of fun.  What could be better than a weekend filled with watching tall, young, handsome, well-educated men competing in a grueling, athletic competition?  I think the answer is simple: not much...

Photo courtesy of mediabistro.com

I thought it would be perfect to go to the Head of the Charles this year because I am new to the city of Boston.  I moved to the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill in September, and I love everything about my new home (er, small apartment).  Unfortunately, this tradition will also have to wait another year.  Other plans were finalized before I was completely up to speed on the fall schedule in Boston.  However, I think next year it won't take so much convincing for me to stay home-- mainly because I just took a look at my bank account  and noticed this weekend's damage (ouch!).

Finally, this weekend was the annual Far Hills Race Meeting, or The Hunt, in Far Hills, NJ.  For those who do not know, The Races are a 100+ year old tradition of steeplechase horse races located about an hour outside of New York City.
Photo courtesy of farhillsrace.org

Attending The Hunt allowed me to a) see my boyfriend's extended family (hello, brownie points!), b) see old friends from high school and friends from New York who I don't see all the time, and c) be close enough to Manhattan to attend an engagement party Saturday night for good friends who live in San Francisco.  It was my first time to The Races, and it didn't disappoint.  Though it was a long day of imbibing, I saw great friends, spent an entire day outside, and even made a point to see the horses race on more than one occasion from both the infield and the hill!  Unfortunately, I only have one photo to share from the event.  And it's not even a good photo... It is safe to say I was too busy holding onto my boots while trudging through the mud and hugging good friends.  Not a bad excuse in my book!

Did you have a great weekend?  Were there any seasonal traditions involved?

ps. I have a big project that  I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks.  Visit later this week for a peak at step 1!

October 21, 2011

fresh flowers

Growing up, bouquets of fresh flowers were for special occasions.  My dad would bring them home for my mom on particular days when he wanted to tell her how much he loved her; he would send them to my sisters and me at boarding school on Valentine's Day and our birthdays; and each year we would wait anxiously for the tulips and daffodils to come up in the garden so that we could trim them and make bouquets to celebrate spring.  

Now that I've graduated college and am living on my own, I've grown to like flowers in my apartment more and more frequently.  It all started on my birthday when my boyfriend sent these beautiful multi-colored tulips to my office.  As embarrassing as it was to hear all my male co-workers jesting about, "who are they from?" and watching my cheeks grow pinker, I was so proud of him and they made me feel so loved.  Each time I looked at them I felt warm and happy.  I trimmed the stems every other day and changed the water diligently, and I kept those suckers alive for almost 3 weeks... which got my mind reeling.

If I could buy in-season  flowers (thus cheap) from the market (cheaper) every couple of weeks, treating myself to something so special wouldn't be such a bad investment.  Sure it's $5-10 more in groceries every two-three weeks, but I think it's worth it because the gift keeps giving! What begins as an oversized mixed bouquet on the console table in our entryway one week becomes a few cut flowers in a bud vase 2 weeks later on my bedside table.  I've realized that having fresh flowers around lightens the mood and makes our apartment look so crisp.  And they make me so happy!   

Then how about some mums on the fire escape?  Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Ok, so I've really gotten into this new flower kick, but I swear I'm not the lonely woman sending herself bouquets from "secret admirers."....yet.

Happy weekend.

p.s. Please disregard the quality of these photos! My camera is at my parents house and will be back on Monday!

October 20, 2011


Hi! I'm Jawsie (like the shark).  Or, at least that's what my family calls me.... How does a relatively "normal" mid-twenties girl from the north east get the nickname to match that of a man-eating shark? Good question. 

I am the third girl in my family and it's fair to say my parents fully expected me to be a boy... Doctors word and everything.  (I guess sonograms were fuzzy in the 80's?!). No matter!  A few reassuring comments later (a la "she won't remember her nursery was built for a boy or the fact that her receiving blanket is blue"), they were happy to have me!  As I became more mobile in my toddler years, I was a bit different than my two older pink-and-princess-loving sisters-- I liked to tackle, destroy, and wreak havoc on everything and anything in my path.  The Jaws theme song, play it in your head, became something like my theme song-- a warning sign for destruction.  My mom would sing the tune (dun nun, dun nun...)  as I left the kitchen on my hell-raising path for my sisters wooden block castle in the playroom, or as I escaped the bathtub and was now "loose" running down the hall in my sopping wet birthday suit.  I was Jaws, but the name got "cuter" by making it "Jawsie." Sound strange?  You'll get used to it.  My sisters would scream, assume knight-like positions, and box me out, protecting their precious world. I learned to be quick, sneaky, and a little bit naughty just to get around their defense. And here I am today.

I like to think that I've grown into the name.  I'm a fighter, though not of the physical variety, and my determination has gotten me to a great "place" in my mid-twenties.  I work hard, play hard, fail hard, and always, always dream big. My experiences pushing my way through barriers and past so-called limits have allowed me to find myself.  This blog is a showcase of that person; a bite out of my life shared in bits and pieces.  Hence the title.  

Oh, and my parents finally got a boy.  It just took another try!

Thanks for visiting!

p.s. Edited by demand, I have included this video, which is completely gratuitous...