Year 14

It’s frightening how fast 2017 has gone. It’s time for my 14th annual birthday list already.

I started off strong with the help of my friend Daisy last weekend. We went to Harvard Bookstore’s warehouse sale, which happens twice a year. The last thing I need is more books, but I told myself I would be “holiday shopping.”

Harvard Bookstore Warehouse







Well…I did buy two books to give as holiday gifts. I also bought three books to donate to the Prison Book Program. And I bought two for myself…

I couldn’t resist the prices! Seven books cost $31. And two of them were hardcovers.

If you’re crowd-averse, you would want to skip this sale…it was mobbed and borderline annoying to browse the aisles. But because I’m a bibliophile, I will return.

That same evening, I tried wild boar at the Brighton Bodega. It’s a new restaurant in my area, and everything we tried was phenomenal. Brussels sprouts, mussels, kimchi burgers, and wild boar. Not surprisingly, wild boar tastes a lot like pork chops. It was complemented by smoky cheese grits.

Wild boar and grits at Brighton Bodega restaurant







The fact that ’80s new wave music was playing during our first hour there was a well-noted bonus.

Next on the blog: I hear a feminist icon speak…


Bargain Shopping and Beer

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than bargain shopping and drinking beer?

I grew up going to garage sales, flea markets, antique markets, you name it. So I was elated to finally make it to the Cambridge Antique Market.

Cambridge Antique Market







Allen and I spent a couple of hours perusing five floors of goodies. Vintage clothing, lots of china, old books and board games. Furniture and appliances. A little bit of everything.

We both walked away with one CD; he found a Death Cab for Cutie album for me, and I found a Patti Smith album for him.

Down the road is a craft brewery that we hadn’t been to yet = Somerville Brewing Company. I ordered a flight of its core beers, and Allen ordered a pint of the Trekker Trippel. I’ve tried a few of the beers before and they make me happy.

Slumbrew flight







I have about six weeks left until the birthday and nine things left to do. I got this.

Winter and the Blues

Right before the holidays, two friends and I checked out “Boston Winter,” a shopping/drinking/ice skating situation in downtown Boston. It was the first year that such a situation existed in Boston. I think it was a great start for utilizing the open space and offering people another festive activity during the holiday season.








The big attraction was the ice skating rink, which looked popular. There was also a family-friendly chocolate tasting tent, a wine-tasting tent, and an “urban lodge” tent that sold alcohol. About 30 chalets selling all kinds of gifts dotted the landscape.

It was very cold the night we went, but we still enjoyed the opportunity to do some last-minute gift shopping.

That’s birthday list item #6. Buying a Bessie Smith album a few days later is item #7. Each year, I like to buy an album of a musician’s that I don’t yet own. I’ve been trying to buy more albums of female artists.

Allen and I went to House of Guitars while visiting my family for the holidays. It’s a candy store for music lovers. It’s organized chaos…so I happened upon the blues section as I was wandering and found a Bessie Smith album, Empress of the Blues. As far as I can tell, it’s a random mix of her hits.








I’ve given it a few listens so far. Her voice is just beautiful. And even though the songs were written 80+ years ago, the themes of love, loss, and more love and more loss, still resonate.

A Souvenir from “Mad Men”

Mad Men is one of my all-time fave shows. I signed up for its email list so I would be in the know. So that’s how I found out about the website, a platform for auctioning/selling props from popular TV shows and movies. A couple of summers ago, items from Mad Men appeared on the auction block. Needless to say, I was outbid on everything. I love the show but didn’t care to spend $50 on an empty can of corn circa the 1950s.

Since then, a new lot has come up a few times per year. I received the latest email from Screenbid a few weeks ago. This time the items weren’t on auction; you could flat-out buy them. Many of the items were still cost-prohibitive, but I did see a china set that I liked for $50. Hence a birthday list item was born.

I clicked on the “Buy” button with glee. The next screen came up: “Thanks for your purchase. You’ll be invoiced for $102.”


The shipping cost had not been discussed…and it turned out to be $48. OK, I thought, it is china, so it needs to be wrapped carefully. But $48???

C’est la vie. The package arrived and everything had been packed really well. So well that I am going to wait until after the holidays to unpack everything because it took me 5 minutes to unpack one dish.

I’m excited to own something that was on the set of one of my favorite shows. Do you own anything from a TV or movie set?

Mad Men, china
The one unpacked dish


The Tide Is High

The birthday list has given me a good excuse to add to my music collection. Each year I’ve bought a CD of an artist that I don’t have in my current collection. I’ve added some jazz artists and international artists to my collection (Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, Edith Piaf, Feli Kuti), and I decided that I also need to acquire more music by female solo artists and female-fronted bands.

This decision led me to the purchase of a live Blondie CD at a used record shop in Providence a few weeks ago.

When Blondie was in its heyday, I was playing with dolls and learning to read. But Blondie’s music stood the test of time and years after the songs climbed the charts and won awards, I was listening to them on the radio: “Call Me,” “One Way or the Other,” “Heart of Glass,” “The Tide Is High.”

As I listened to this album, I realized that I don’t own many live albums. Why not, I asked myself incredulously. It’s the next best thing to attending a concert! Note to self: buy more live albums.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Blondie songs.