Wandering Styles

A collection of my findings as an art, nature and fashion enthusiast.

Category: Uncategorized

Give me a Cuba Libre please!

Once again, my apologies on lack of posting lately! Now that all my travels have come to an end I will begin posting regularly again.

I just got back from an amazing two week travel program in Cuba! I know what you’re thinking…how did you get to Cuba? Isn’t that illegal? These are the common questions I’ve been asked when I tell people I just got back from there. Well yes, it is not easy for Americans, but luckily for me my school has an educational license to bring students there on the People to People visa. But enough about the nitty gritty! It was an absolutely amazing two weeks and I can’t describe how much I miss being there!

My trip was primarily in Havana – the beautiful old city right on the ocean that swept me off my feet – but we also made a weekend trip to Trinidad with a stop in Cienfeugos, and a day trip to the beautiful nature preserve in Sierra del Rosario. We spent a lot of our time visiting with artists in their homes, (we are art students after all) as well as visiting galleries and museums, and of course sightseeing. I miss the constant sounds of Cuban music and our nights spent learning how to salsa (we met a nice group of instructors who were willing to teach us some moves), and I of course miss drinking Cuba Libre, the Cuban version of rum and coke. It really is a time warp into the past. I could write a novel on my experience there but here are some photos I took on my trip. Enjoy!

I love all the old cars

Organic farm just 20 minutes outside Havana where we enjoyed lunch one day.

Cigar shop

Cuba is all about color

The beautiful village in the biosphere

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Around the World

My deepest apologies for my lack of writing over the past two months. Sadly, the end of the year stresses consumed me and I immediately rushed off to Okinawa Japan to visit my brother and his family (poor me right?). I have finally arrived back home only for a short stay before I’m off again to Cuba for a few weeks with school! Since I’m struggling to stay awake late with the time change I thought I owed readers some much needed photos to make all the East Coast rainy day blues go away. Sorry again for my lack of posting! Enjoy the photos, I’ll write more of the trip tomorrow and post more photos! xo

 

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Japanese cuisine

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IE Island

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Waji Cliffs on IE Island

 

Keeping Hope

As many readers know Boston is my home and we, and the rest of the nation, are in the midst of a tragedy after yesterdays marathon. While I was fortunately not at the marathon many of my friends came within 200 feet of the explosions and have seen things they will never be able to unsee. My heart is deeply aching for all those fallen victim to this unfortunate act. I ask readers to please continue to keep Boston in your hearts, especially those who have been lost, injured and are suffering PTSD. We are strong city and will come back. I cannot describe my sadness and true shock of what has happened. Today the city was quiet, filled with sadness and discouraged residents. Please keep the warm thoughts coming in this trying time. 

A student at my school today put up this installation, it happened to be what many of us needed at school, it gave hope and brought even a few smiles out today. Here is our hope. Continue to keep Boston in your hearts while our nation begins to heal.

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Everyone Needs a Coffee Shop

I can’t believe it is already March! My apologies for the lack of posting but I am in the midst of mid terms which naturally means life is busier than normal. I have finally found the time to sit down, drink a latte, and clear my mind.

I’m a BIG coffee drinker, and I don’t just mean I like coffee but I probably drink too much. I typically have a cup when I first get up since I can’t get my day started without the caffeine, and I usually have one or two more in the afternoon. Now, lately I have been getting better about only having one cup a day, because lets be honest…it adds up. With that said I have been doing a really good job holding myself to my one cup of day rule, which is painful for me but in return I will splurge from time to time to enjoy my favorite coffee shop. To me, having a regular coffee shop is pretty important, not just so I know that I will always be guaranteed a great beverage, but its also nice to have a quiet place where you know the staff and they know you. After two years of searching I finally found my coffee shop in Boston and it never disappoints.

Green T Coffee Shop is my favorite place for a variety of reasons, the food, drinks, staff, atmosphere, convenience and the great prices. Green T is a little bit of a hidden diamond in the rocks. It is quite small and is on the bottom floor of a building (but still with street windows so you have a view). But, appropriate to the name it is conveniently located across from a bus and green line stop, which is perfect when I just need a breather before making a journey home from the bus stop. The staff is awesome there! With a couple of fellow MassArt students working there are familiar faces and the owner makes a point to meet his customers. The drinks, in particular the Iced Chai Lattes are amazing, the best I have ever had in Boston! They also feature a large menu of smoothies, loose leaf tea, special season drinks, and all your regular coffee shop delights. And of course, lets not forget the delicious food that keeps bringing me back for my favorite breakfast sandwich, and other snacks. The food is all made fresh with local farm goods to keep it fresher and healthier, and an added bonus of serving breakfast until 3 p.m. Whenever I go for brunch I always get the Big Breakfast Sandwich, it’s 2 large eggs, spinach, cheese and your choice of bacon, sausage or veggie sausage (I always get veggie sausage) on either a bagel, crossant or bread. It is very big and very delicious! Now that it is officially March they are opening up from 10pm – 3am Thursday – Saturday to serve breakfast burritos to all the late night snackers in the Brigham Circle area.

Aside from all the edible treats, the atmosphere is nice and inviting. While seating is limited, especially on weekend mornings, there are a couple of tables, a faux woodburning stove and always art work on the walls from the local artist and students. It is a perfect place to bring your book or computer during the weeks to relax or get work done, and of course it is great to chat with friends. For all Bostonians in search of good coffee, company and food, Green T is the place to go in the Brigham Circle area.

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My Big Breakfast Sandwich from Green T

 

A Special Night Out

I’m a couple days behind on posting about Valentine’s, but I must say I had an exceptional evening with my boyfriend. Now, I know many people – especially my age – hate Valentine’s Day and personally, I’ve always been a little indifferent to it, but this year I decided to embrace it! I am so glad I did too! I decided to make my roommates, studio mates and friends goofy valentines to make their day. They were nothing fancy but it is always nice to get a little surprise when you least expect it. I also got my roommates some heart shaped cookies made by a local baker, because who doesn’t love treats?

Naturally, I went on a special date with my boyfriend as well. We usually like to go on dates but on a college budget we don’t treat ourselves too ofter. After a long day of classes and meetings we headed down to the North End for a 9:00 PM dinner. If you can make it till that long to eat, it is a much more relaxed and a quieter time to go to the North End. We strolled around seeing all the V-Day decorations and the water before we headed to the restaurant, La Galleria 33. I was particularly excited to try this place since I have never been there, and it was on Kitchen Nightmares, (so of course we were curious). 

Upon entering I was already impressed by the intimate yet accessible setting. The walls were exposed brick (a personal favorite of mine), the kitchen was open but not too noisy, and there were great hanging light bulbs. We were seated right by the window so we were able to enjoy the snowy view and our table had a single rose and candle adding to the intimacy. Not long after arriving we were greeted by our wonderful server offering us specials and beverages. Since it was a special occasion we ordered a bottle of a  California Pinot Grigio which was delicious, and just bitter enough for the wino I am. Like any great Italian restaurant we were served homemade bread with oil to hold us over until our entrees arrived.

The entrees were amazing, the perfect portion size to fill you up without overeating and were bursting with fresh flavors. I ordered the Linguini Vongole which had clams, white wine, lemon and garlic, and of course the pasta was homemade. It was delicious, for lack of better words. The pasta was perfect, the clams were fresh and the sauce was so flavorful and a perfect compliment to the clams. My boyfriend ordered the Penne Galleria, penne, veal, marinara, and parmesan cheese, also wonderful. The veal, which I don’t typically eat was cooked to perfection and and the pasta and sauce was a real Italian treat! While we were too full for dessert, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at La Galleria 33. They let us hang out chatting and finishing our wine with no rush at all, and one of the owners made an appearance asking how it was. I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to enjoy Italian food with a great atmosphere, it is perfect for a special date night but also great for a night out with friends.

 

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Boston Became a Weekend Playground

This weekend has been absolutely wild for the East Coast. I’m sure many of you are all aware Blizzard Nemo came through the northeast and dropped over two feet of snow and seriously intense winds. I have not seen snow like this in years! Naturally, as a college student, when you get the notification the school is closing for two days due to a blizzard you are more than excited. But like most New Englanders that know the hype of storms I had some doubts about Nemo and was certainly proved wrong.

Nemo came on Friday morning looking far from threatening. My friends and I cooked a blizzard brunch to celebrate, I have to say a blizzard is the best reason for a big meal. We enjoyed copious amounts of coffee, eggs with cheese, peppers and caramelized onions, homemade fruit salad, bacon, sausage, avocado, some bagels and of course, locks. It was an epic start to the day. By Friday evening the blizzard was in full effect, I could not see out of any of my windows and all I could see was white. Like most people, I was curious as to what it was really like out there. So, at 1AM at the peak of the storm in Boston my roommates and I decided to take an adventure to the outdoors for some thrill. It was crazy! The street and sidewalks were not visible under the massive blanket of snow and it was well up to our knees. The best part though – we were not the only people who were outside enjoying the winter wonderland. It was as if everyone reverted back to their childhood snow adventures and people were in great moods! I have to say the highlight of that night was snowboarding down Mission Hill on the covered sidewalks, a goal of mine since I moved to Boston. It was highly entertaining and completely worth getting soaked for.

A brunch of champions

The proud moment I snowboarded down Mission Hill

Upon waking up Saturday morning and finding even more snow and all our tracks completely covered we all decided what better to do than play in the snow! Boston had transformed into a playground for all who were lucky enough to not shovel. Almost all the students of Mission Hill were walking about taking photos, sledding and building igloos. I have to say it has been one of most fun weekends I’ve had in a long time. My friends and I built an igloo largest enough for 8 people and did some sledding in an unconventional way. We all took a walk over to the park and were surprised to find tons of people sledding, skiing and snowboarding down the small hill. I never felt more like a city kid than when we had to jump a fence to get in on the festivities. Once in the park we decided to do a little sledding on my snowboard, we sat two people and enjoyed the ride – which was so funny. After some sledding I did a little snowboarding, as to make up for the fact that the weather cancelled my trip to Stowe, while it wasn’t the big mountain it was next best.

All and all it was a great weekend, but has now turned into a mess outside. It’s currently raining and all commuting students are forcing themselves out of the house to go to school. The winter wonderland now is icy and wet but thanks to Nemo, I and many others enjoyed an awesome weekend where we all felt like children again.

For those who aren’t New Englanders here’s a look of what Boston looked like Friday/Saturday, and of course some fun photos in there too.

Friday night 1AM

My backyard Saturday AM

Saturday afternoon

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My roommate and I sledding in the park on my snowboard

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Getting my snow fix

Everything Tastes Better Homemade

I cannot believe it is already February! January seemed to come and go before I could even adjust to the new year. With that being said I have finally gotten back into the swing of things again in Boston, that includes cooking. Like many people I fall into ruts with recipes I make, I have my go tos that are great but like all things they get old. So I decided it was time to do some money saving and branching out. Through one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes and Cashmere I found a link for homemade bagels. I had never attempted bagels before but decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised that it was easy and delicious! For anyone who loves bagels as much as myself, this is not only a great money saver, costing me $20 at most, but its fun and easy. Not to mention, the ingredients will last a pretty long time so you can get a few recipes out of it. Below are the ingredients needed and a summarized version of the recipe, again, click here for the original.

New York Styled Bagels:

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Toppings:

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced garlic, minced onion, salt

1. Combine sugar and yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, do not stir, let it sit for five minutes. Then stir until dissolved.

2. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle for the yeast mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well and begin mixing with your hands. Continue to add the rest of the water until dough is moist and firm, add the water in slowly.

4. On a floured countertop (use the bread flour still) kneed the dough for 10 minutes working in as much flour as your can until dough is firm.

I put my boyrfriend to work

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil to coat dough. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let the dough rise at room temperature for an hour. The dough will be much larger after then. Punch it down after an hour briefly and let it sit another 10 minutes.

6. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. On a hard surface roll the dough into balls until it is a firm ball.

7. Coat a finger in flour and press into the middle of a ball to form the ring shape. Stretch the ring to about a 1/3 of the diameter (do not be alarmed when the hole shrinks throughout the process). Repeat for the 7 other dough balls and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

8. Cover the dough with a damp dish cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and reduce the heat to a slow roll. Place however many bagels you are comfortable with into the pot with a slotted spoon. The bagels will quickly rise to the top of the water. When they rise time them for 1-2 minutes on each side, I prefer two minutes for a chewier inside.

 

10. To add toppings (optional), create an egg wash using 1 egg and a little water. Brush the wash over one or two sides then add the toppings, the wash makes sure they stick in the oven.

11. On a lightly oiled baking sheet, bake the bagels in the oven for 20 minutes or until gold brown.

12. Cool on a wire rack or dig in!

They were delicious!!!!

 

 

Hope this recipe is useful to some of you, its great on a snowy day! Enjoy!

 

No Color More Delicious Than Red

Today has been a rather lazy and cold Saturday. Since the temperatures have barley been climbing over 20 (F) I haven’t felt much of a drive for adventure, especially today. While I was looking for a snack earlier I pleasantly stumbled upon a deliciously red pomegranate. It is true, many red fruits are delicious but pomegranates by far take the lead for me. Its a rich colored fruit with a big flavor that brightens even the coldest New England days.

These seeds burst with a tart flavor and a hint of crunch when devouring them. For me, I enjoy to just eat the seeds out of a bowl after de-seeding (see below for instructions), but they are also great in salad. For anyone looking for a quick meal or side throw together some salad greens, feta cheese, croutons, orange or grapefruit slices and top it off with pomegranate seeds. It’s a delicious, quick, easy salad and all that’s left is to add some dressing. Another wonderful salad recipe containing my two favorite fruits, avocado and pomegranate, is from the one and only Martha Stewart. Go here for her avocado, grapefruit and pomegranate salad.

 

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate:

1. Get your pomegranate, knife and cutting board ready – I suggest using a plastic cutting board because pomegranate juice will stain a wooden one as well as clothes

 

 

2. Cut through the crown about half way down. Then, with your hands, tear the halves apart to give you two pieces with seeds intact.

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3. With the same method or cutting and ripping, cut each half into quarters.

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4. Over a bowl begin taking out the seeds with your hands gently. You may have to crack the quarters in half to get all of them. Avoid getting the membrane in with your seeds – if you are worried empty the seeds into a bowl of water where the membrane will float to the top to be skimmed. After that enjoy a wonderful snack!

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Now I’m off to drink some tea, eat my seeds and watch a movie with my cat – tough life right?

A Day at Killington

This past Monday I was lucky enough to finally go enjoy my first ever day snowboarding at Killington Mountain for an excellent deal! Now for all you ski/board enthusiasts in the Boston area you must check out what is one of the best deals I have found, (if anyone knows of other skiing deals I would love to know). For a price of $79.00, I got a round trip bus ticket and full day lift ticket to Killington and a free Monster Energy drink. For those who don’t know Killington prices; a weekend/holiday full day lift ticket is usually $89.00. So as you can see I got a bargin! Where did I find such a deal? New England Snow Bus. It picks up in Boston, Andover, Pembroke and Rockland and goes to many mountains such as Loon, Waterville, Killington, Okemo, Stowe, etc. If you are like myself, living in or near Boston without a car and a passion for the mountain this is one way to do it and save money.

But aside from that excitement I had a wonderful first, and certainly not my last, visit to Killington. It is my father’s favorite mountain on the east coast and all others who have been love it! It is huge! It stretches across six, yes count them SIX peaks! The trails range from windy mellow ones that bring you all over the massive mountain to icy vertical double diamonds – there’s a trail for everyone. The weather was beautiful earlier this week. Conditions were packed powder with a few ice patches here and there and blue skies with a high of 17 degrees, it was chilly. Towards the end of the day it started to snow and the trails became icier – good to note if you are not comfortable dealing with ice! The views from Skye Peak and Killington peak were unbelievably beautiful, you can see mountains for miles! Pictures do no justice…but naturally I took a few. You’ll have to excuse the iphone photo quality though.

View from Skye Peak 3,800′

 

Killington is the largest mountain I have ever ridden before with an elevation of 4241′. With that being said, GO TO KILLINGTON PEAK! You are missing out if you don’t go! It is a wonderful gondola ride up and the view up top is amazing – though I don’t have a photo to do it justice. Even if you are only comfortable on green trails there is a way down for everyone, greens, blues and blacks. Skye Peak was also one of my favorite destinations, a nice mellow trail that is lengthy and windy is Great Eastern. It is a green but you can cut through to several trails using it, or just ride to the bottom and enjoy the trip down. My friend I went with is only on her second season of snowboarding so we were not venturing on anything too wild, though I convinced to go down a black diamond and she was just fine! That being said, if you are looking to go fast and do as many runs as possible, go with someone at your pace, or take solo runs (which I did). Killington is big, and can be intimidating but the trails are wonderful. One warning for snowboarders: some of the windy greens are too flat for us – if you even lean on an edge in some spots you will have to unhook and push yourself which is never fun! Stick with blues and above snowboarders or greens are do not go around the whole mountain. 

Overall, it was an amazing day and I’m looking very forward to my next visit there. I got tons of runs in, not mentions I covered a lot of the mountains, 5 out of 6 peaks.

Looking up towards Killington Peak from Snowdon Mountain

About a third of the whole mountain after the snow moved in

One more thing! For any skier or boarder who is looking for a fun app to keep track of miles, speed and such I was recommended a really good one, Ski Tracks. Once you hit start it will keep track of your max speed, distance, altitude, vertical, runs, degree of slope and time. It is fun to see what you accomplish and to try to beat it all – especially you speed demons out there.

Screen shot of the apps homepage

Hope you all make it to Killington or to other mountains for some fun!

New Hampshire, a Hidden Gem

I enjoyed a wonderful three days up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire last week. While, I’ve become a frequent guest there, this was the first time I felt homesick when I left, it really is one of the most beautiful places in New England. I have the pleasure of staying right on Squam Lake, near Plymouth with my boyfriend and his family. Now, waking up and seeing a lake is beautiful enough but his backyard is the White Mountains, and for those who love all outdoors activities that is a place to go. I got enjoy a couple of relaxing days and really unwind before the craze of school picks up.

The first noteworthy activity I did was go to Concord (a wonderful little city for those who dwell in urban environments), and ate at The Barley House. This restaurant is a must! The food is delicious and the environment is welcoming! They have some nice beers on the bar list, including some from local New Hampshire breweries that all sounded delectable. However, I opted for the Hot Cider, I’m a sucker for it on a cold day! For lunch I had the Chicken Sandwich with had grilled ranch dressing, monterey jack, lettuce, and bacon. Needless-to-say it was fantastic, and very filling. Their burgers are also amazing, a nice selection, but be warned they are large and messy but completely worth it!

Photo credit to The Barley House home page

After lunch, we were off to Red River Theatre to see Argo. It was so good, I completely understand why it won so many awards. Ben Affleck was not only a fantastic actor but the director, he took on a challenge to recreate the events in Iran and he certainly accomplished it. While I knew what the outcome was going to be, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was one of the most well done films I have seen in a very long time.

Now, a winter visit in New Hampshire would not be complete without a snow storm and an incredible powder day snowboarding. I was not let down at all. We woke up to a winter wonderland last Wednesday and decided to take our freshly waxed skis and snowboard to the mountain for some fun. We went north about an hour to Bretton Woods to enjoy their 2-for-1 Wednesday special – every Wednesday you get half price! We drove through some serious snow which unfortunately took away from the beautiful views at Franconia Notch (my favorite part of driving in the White Mountains), but was completely worth it! The conditions were perfect, fresh powder that continued all day and minimal ice. This was my first time at Bretton Woods and I was impressed, it’s very wide with a lot of terrain to ride, although I do wish it was a little more vertical I still fully enjoyed myself. Their terrain was enjoyable to ride, fun and the trails were long enough to really enjoy and completely exhaust you. On a clear day I hear the views are amazing as well!

Driving through the snowy Notch

A barely there view through the snow from the lift.