On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Goods from the garden.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]When I walk around my parents’ garden, I can’t help but think that, despite wanting to living in Southie forever and ever, there are advantages to being in the suburbs.

For example:

  • You can walk around barefoot without needing a precautionary tetanus shot
  • There are few people to bump into and nary a MTBA driver to mow you down as you cross the street
  • It’s quiet, the air is fresh, and parking is a plenty

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone soft.  In fact, I just gave some serious attitude to a kid selling lemonade on Broadway.  Just kidding.  I would never do that.  I did complement her on the Disney princess table she was using to hawk her drinks, though.  It was really cute.  And I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.

I love the city and scenes such as that.  I like the noise, the grit, the business.  The go-go-go.  Visiting my mom and dad, though, has me missing lawns.  And tomatoes.  And kitchens larger than a shoe.

Thankfully, there are plenty of places within the city where I can to catch my breath.  Many of them are right here in South Boston: Moakley Field, Castle Island, our roof (technically, not open to the public… but ours is not the only roof, surely), the Harborwalk, the parks along Carson Beach and the waterfront, Dorchester Heights, the end of Drydock.

I haven’t attempted to plant anything along the way, but hey.  That could be interesting.

Also On Tap for Today:

Where do you go to catch your breath?


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Today: A few of my (current) favorite things.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (ew, I hate cats).  Let’s just cut to “a few of my favorite things.”

Basil grown from seed

I started growing these little guys from a seed kit early this summer.  While the basil isn’t quite ready to harvest, or whatever, I am quite surprised I’ve kept it alive this long.  I sneak over to the windowsill a few times each week to water the canister, and linger just long enough for a whiff of fresh basil– one of my favorite scents in the world.  Every once in a while I pick up Clark so he can have a sniff, too.  On second thought, maybe I have terrorized the basil to the point that it won’t grow any taller?

Christmas anything

We came home from New York to a full mailbox, stuffed with holiday-themed magazines.  With training behind me, and a wobbly foot below me, I can think of no better way to pass the time than tucked under a warm throw on the sofa with Martha Stewart at my side.  Will this be the year I sew felt slippers for everyone I know?  Likely not, but a girl can dream.

I’ve been alternating between sports talk and the oldies station in Boston that is already playing exclusively holiday music during my brief commute to and from work.  It feels so wrong, and yet so right.  Nothing cures a long day at work quite like a solo-sing-along on Massachusetts Avenue.  Everyone sounds good singing Christmas carols.  As my friends on 98.5 the Sports Hub would say, Fact.  Not opinion.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and that I shouldn’t wish away the time, but peppermint and snowflakes and tinsel are my lifeblood.  I can’t help it.

Paper straws

What’s whimsical but sturdy, candy-striped but calorie free?  A paper straw.  One of life’s little luxuries and better for the environment than, um, plastic straws (but worse than say, not using a straw at all)… this little jar is a great reminder to keep throwing back that water.  Not that I need much of a reminder, as I am perpetually thirsty.

Want to hear a sad story about water? (It’s not really that sad, and yes, I am well aware how lucky I am to have a reliable source of clean, drinkable water.)  When I finally crossed the finish line last Sunday (I promise to stop talking about this sooner rather than later), yanked my right shoe off, and hobbled the eleven blocks to the park exit, all I wanted was a cup of water.  And a chariot to transport me to meet my cousin, sister, and fiance.  And a warm bath.  And six bags of cheese doodles.  Okay, I wanted a lot of things… but water was at the top of the list.

We were given a bottle of water in our finishers’ bags, but my hands were full, and mostly, I felt crazy.  Too crazy to open the bag and peel the cover off the bottle.  I made a deal with myself: hobble the three additional blocks necessary to grab a taxi, get situated while waiting for a cab to arrive, and break into that stash of water and pretzels.

With no free cabs in sight, I opened my bag, fished out my water bottle and set it on ground next to me.  I called Nick to tell him it may take me a while to get to them, feeling equal parts sore and discouraged.  Just as I hung up, a car careened past me, hitting my water bottle and smashing it flat, sending water clear across Amsterdam Avenue.  Being the most pathetic person on the planet (or at least, the block), I burst into tears.  And then got refused by a taxi driver who clearly thought I was mentally insane.  Waaa.  Anyway, I like straws.

Getting jacked

Though I’m registered for a race next month (I am planning to dress as a Christmas tree.  See tinsel as lifeblood above.), I want to make sure I give my little body plenty of time to recover before hitting the road.  Instead, I will hitting the gym.  Hard.  Sort of.  I’ve really loved strength training at the boxing gym, and am looking forward to upping the ante a bit.

Nick is helping me navigate Stage 1 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, which seems to be a great jumping-off point and the perfect set of goals to work toward.  I’m also looking forward to putting my TRX to use, cashing in a Groupon for a 10-pack of yoga classes, and making time for all the things I put off “because of the marathon.”

With cats to hate basil to grow, holidays to celebrate, water to sip and iron to pump, I have a feeling I’ve got plenty to keep myself busy.  Hopefully so busy that I don’t have time to act on my inclination to register for another marathon.

Also On Tap for Today:

Care to share a few of your favorite things?


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Today: Pen pals and a well-stocked kitchen.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]You know when you have a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear?  I felt like lately we’ve had a kitchen full of food, but nothing to eat.  Short on fresh veggies, yogurt and other staples, Nick and I literally emptied our fridge and cabinets before hitting up Whole Foods this weekend.  We tossed anything perishable (and therefore un-donate-able) that sat on our shelves, uneaten.  I was surprised to find more than one expired item.  Ew.

With our shelves wiped clean and everything reorganized, we sat down to make a shopping list with a much better sense of what we actually have on hand.  Clearly (if the three jars of whole grain mustard are any indication), this is a habit that I could stand to make more… habitual.

One of my favorite treats from the market is fresh flowers, especially as the weather gets more dismal.  This week, I picked up a bunch of snow white tulips, and a bunch of long-stemmed kale.  Greens make lovely arrangements.  Perhaps I will walk down the aisle with a bouquet of kale, carrots, and radishes.  Perhaps not.

As I carefully unpacked our groceries, I made sure to add my goodies from Parita, my October foodie pen pal, to the shelves.  In addition to some homemade chocolate chip blondies (which didn’t last long enough to be photographed… muhaha), Parita sent me a jar of nutritional yeast (something I have been looking forward to trying!), chocolate chip peanut butter Larabards (one of my favorite flavors– Parita recommends trying them frozen), and a jar of olive tapenade.  Thank you so much for this perfect assortment of goodies, Parita!  If you’d like to see what I sent my pen pal, Nicole, please visit her blog, Nicole on a Mission. 🙂

I used some of Parita’s tapenade when whipping up some quick and easy appetizers (Nick’s parents will be here any minute).  If you invented filo shells, thank you.  You, sir or madam, are a genius.  For toppings, I use three combinations:

  • Brie, hot pepper jelly and freshly ground peppper
  • Granny Smith apple, crumbled brie and dried cranberries
  • Olive tapenade and shaved pecorino romano
I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday!  Come on over if you need a snack.
Also On Tap for Today:
  • Lunch at Local 149
  • Fine-tuning Clark’s Halloween costume 🙂
  • Countdown to the NYC Marathon: ONE WEEK!
How often do you grocery shop?  Do you go in with a plan?  Or so hungry you could eat your own arm?


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Today: Buyer (and brunchers) beware.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I’m a big fan of shortcuts.  Not short haircuts, necessarily… I spent much of middle school growing one of those out… but shortcuts that make life a bit easier.  When a shortcut promises to make life a bit healthier, welp, I’m all ears.  I visited Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley last week with a group my Boston Brunchers pals.

I had heard of this meal-assembly shop before– my former marathon coach works there!– and was excited to check it out.  I love the concept– families can pick up pre-prepped nutritious meals, each ready in 30 minutes or less.  Healthy Habits Kitchen helps to take the guess work, and prep work out of cooking healthy meals at home.  After learning a bit about how HHK works and watching a cooking demo, we were treated to a fantastic (straight from a meal kit) dinner.  Michelle and I enjoyed the vegetarian option, a tasty quinoa salad packed with tons of vegetables.  The rest of the crew had great things to say about the Cranberry Salsa Chicken and Cocoa-Coffee Rubbed Pork with Root Beer Cream Sauce that Sue prepared.  Oh, and there were cookies.  Really, really good cookies.

I have to say, I was quite smitten with it all.  I perused October’s menu, imagining which dishes I might like to try at home.  Healthy Habits Kitchen offers several flexible options for meal pick-up (they deliver too!), including availability at a number of local farmers’ markets.  Before leaving the shop in Wellesley, I purchased one of September’s vegetarian options: Sun-dried tomato, black olive and mozzarella orzo grain.  Sounds delicious, right?

It wasn’t until the orzo was already boiling, and the onions and fennel being sauteed when I noticed something unexpected on the ingredient list: chicken broth.  Say whaaaa?  I quickly shifted gears, tossing the sauce included in the meal kit, and whipping up my own substitution– all the while wondering what exactly was in the quinoa salad I’d liked so much earlier in the week, and wishing I had checked the ingredient list on this particular meal kit before handing over my debit card.  Ignoring the fine print?  That’s one short cut I will not be making again, any time soon.  I’ll take responsibility for not paying more attention, but in this day and age of food allergies and intolerance, if something is labeled vegetarian, it should be vegetarian.

And really.  Since when is chicken broth considered vegetarian?  How difficult would it have been to use vegetable broth?  I’m stumped.  For me, being a vegetarian is a lifestyle choice, not a medical or health issue, but I am put off by the whole thing nevertheless (also, if I had a dollar for every time chicken or meat or something like that was hidden in my meal… I would have at least six dollars).   I muttered swear words under my breath and hastily poured the offending sauce down the garbage disposal.  I quickly threw together my own version, using a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and what fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme) I had on hand.  I figured, while I was making a few changes here and there, why not pull out all the kalamata olives altogether? (I love a green olive, despise a black olive.)

By the time things came together, my temper had simmered a bit.  Cooking works wonders that way.

In fewer than 30 minutes, I had a great looking meal ready to serve.  While I will think twice before ordering from Healthy Habits Kitchen’s “vegetarian” offerings, I would consider purchasing a kit or two to cook for Nick, or for when we have company over.  While I’ve grown more and more comfortable cooking meat, fish and poultry, I tend to stick to the same three recipes and could certainly stand to be a bit more creative.  Plus, I would hand over my first born (not literally, creepers) to not have to cut and prep, like, touch, a chicken breast.

When trying something new, I suppose we have to ask ourselves the hard-hitting questions.  Does this really make my life easier?  Does it live up to its claims?  Does it make financial sense?  Do I have room in my freezer?  Will I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and need to adopt a flock of chickens in repentance?  You know, questions like that.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a careful label reader? 


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Today: A novel idea.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]It’s no secret that I love to read.  Right now I am in the middle of five different books.  It’s sort of a problem.  I recently finished The Kitchen House (and loved it).  When I got to the end, I noticed an interview with the author.  I usually skip over these book club-type sections, mostly because I have four other books to finish, but something about this interview drew me in.

I don’t want to spoil the plot, because I think this novel is definitely worth reading, but Kathleen Grissom’s description of how she developed the storyline and characters was fascinating. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but wasn’t exactly sure how that actually happens.  I am sure it’s different for everyone, but Grissom’s revelations were quite fascinating.  Perhaps my kooky imagination could play to my advantage?

Tucked within the interview was a recipe for Belle’s molasses cake, which appears throughout the novel.  I figured if the cake was half as good as the book, it would be mighty tasty.

I flagged the page (wahoo for Post-its), picked up all the ingredients… and then completely forgot about it.  Until this afternoon.

The recipe is simple and easy to follow, right up my alley.  I wasn’t sure what it would taste like but, um, molasses is a good source of iron.  Or whatever.  Give me a baked good, and I will rationalize eating it for you.  When I pulled the pan from the oven I thought two things:

  1. I wish I had a square cake stand.
  2. This smells insane.

If that’s not reason enough to pick up a book, I don’t know what is.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the last book that inspired you? What’s on your summer reading list?


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Today: When life hands you roots, brew some root beers!

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Once I tripped over a giant tree root on my way into the butt ugly high school I attended (I’m sorry, but really… that building is heinous to the point of distraction.  And I maintain that is why I performed so poorly in Algebra II.).  I was running late and completely ate it, somehow landing halfway in a puddle.  I did what any normal seventeen year old would have, and picked up myself up, dusted myself off, turned around, drove home and picked out a new outfit.

Ugh. You again.

I think I scared my mother half to death when I reappeared at the house.  After all, I was supposed to be in class at that point.  She probably thought I had been in a car accident.  I hadn’t (I tripped over that root, remember?), but since we’re on the topic, I once was in a car accident with a Japanese business man.  He had, quite literally, just landed in America, rented a car at the airport and BAM!  There we were on the side of a busy off-ramp, him with no driver’s license and me with no common sense.

Back to the root.  That pesky thing really ruined my morning back in 2000.  Today, vengeance is mine!  I just brewed its entire family muhahaha.

Complete with illustrated brewing directions!

I sort of wish this handy kit was called “Ms. Root Beer,” but I get it.  Men have been so oppressed throughout history, the least we could do is let them have gender rights to non-alcoholic home brew kits.  Pssh.  The process in total took less than half an hour.  First (and most importantly, I imagine… nothing ruins a beverage quite like botulism) comes sanitizing the equipment.

The last time I used a funnel... it was with real beer. Collllllllllllege!

After mixing various secret potions into a big bowl, I funneled the soon-to-be-root-beer into four gigantic bottles and tightly sealed the caps.  The final step is probably the most difficult: Wait a few days for things to carbonate before getting slizzzard (on root beer).

Hey root, I got yer family.

Sometime between now and next Sunday, I’ll be sippin’ on some homemade root beer and toasting that pathetic day in high school when I fell on my face.  Revenge is a drink best served in a frosty mug.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Watching the NBA All Star game and wondering how all that ego fits on our TV screen
  • Just when I thought Spring had sprung…
  • Turning my BlackBerry off at midnight in observation of Presidents’ Day 🙂

What did you make this weekend? Some cupcakes?  A mess?  A new hat?


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Today: Cribs, never-heard-of-this-person-before edition.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]  Humans are nosy creatures.  I’m pretty sure we were just born that way.  Either that, or MTV’s Cribs made us that way.  We could debate nature vs. nurture, or I could just let you peek inside my fridge and call it a day.

48 hours ago, our refrigerator housed nothing but a jar of pickles, a bruised tomato and a few bottles of Nick’s home brewed beer.  Perhaps that’s why I mysteriously lost two pounds.  I scaled back our grocery shopping knowing we’d be away over the holidays and for the marathon.  What I didn’t anticipate was a full blown blizzard coinciding with a full blown post-marathon hunger rage.  Whoopsies.  We made do with one or two quick trips to the store, plus a gigantic Peapod order once the snow had cleared and the truck could safely make it down our driveway.  Now we have three jars of pickles.  And some other stuff, too.  Grocery delivery has changed my life for the better.  And the lazier.

A few tips if you’re considering a similar service:

  • I still do most of my shopping in person, like most non-celebrities, but Peapod and similar services are great for large orders and stocking up, or for when you don’t want to carry economy-sized packs of toilet paper through your building lobby.
  • Ordering online is convenient, helps with meal planning, and helps to eliminate impulse purchases… like Star Magazine, for example.  Or chocolate-covered… chocolate.  The downside being, obviously, that you never find out if that baby really is an alien, and you miss out on the chocolate.
  • Coupons, online specials, and the odd discount code or two help to offset the delivery fee– many services will give you free delivery on your first order.  Once you get a taste, you’ll probably get addicted.  You’ve been warned.
  • Our driver always takes our plastic bags from previous orders, so I don’t feel quite as bad about blowing up the Earth by not using re-usable bags.  This may not be true for every service, but it’s worth looking into.

One of these things is not like the others. Hint: it's the bagel that could be mistaken for a small asteroid.

I took Bridget‘s lead and supplemented my usual groceries with a trip to the Wayland Winter Market at Russell’s Garden Center.  One of my favorite things about living in the city is having access to multiple farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall, but it wasn’t until I read Bridget’s recent post about winter markets that I realized how much I missed the local, farm-fresh produce and goodies during the cold months.  Yesterday marked my first Saturday in nearly five months with no early morning long run On Tap, so I hopped in the car and enjoyed a gorgeous, snowy ride west of the city to Russell’s.

In addition to the fromage blanc (from a farm in my hometown) and Pam’s Salstina, I also picked up a bag of loose black citrus tea, two salt bagels the size of my head, and a big bunch of fresh basil from the Cape.  There was a great variety of vendors at tables scattered throughout the garden center.  It was a lovely way to spend the morning and add a few fun ingredients to ye old fridge.

Curious about the rest of the kitchen?

I think Nick’s favorite thing about the kitchen (besides the fact that food magically appears in there), is the under-counter lighting.  Those lights make no sense to me, so we spent 5-12 hours a week, following one another to the light switch turning them on and off.  I figure we’re saving time by having someone else grocery shop for us, so we may as well waste that saved time, by wasting energy.

A real bulldog, and a real bulldog tea towel.

Our kitchen is rather small, but I think it’s just plain perfect.  There’s plenty of room for everything we might need, and no room for the things we don’t need.

Yes, that is a Sandra Lee cookbook.  Don’t judge.  She makes a mean tablescape, and an even meaner cocktail.

In case you need proof that art imitates life, I give you a newly acquired piece of art, which cost about the same as two bunches of basil.  And it hasn’t wilted.  Yet.

A print of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelf 102: Cooking... must frame and hang sometime this millennia.

The two hardest working things in the kitchen (besides the dishwasher, obvi) help me to reach things that are way up, or way down.

A collapsable step stool for shorties like me, and a very furry vacuum cleaner.

And last but not least, my absolute favorite, functional item in the kitchen:  my BC Grandpa mug.  I sort of stole it (with my mom’s permission) from my grandparents’ house when my Grandma was moving into assisted living.  As much as I like everything to match, I think there’s something sort of sentimental about tea mugs.

Cute mug for a cute man!

My grandpa was one of the kindest, sweetest men, and though he didn’t live to see me or my siblings graduate from BC (or Merrimack… hello, big little brother), I think he’d get a kick out of me walking around with his mug.  And he’d probably like our kitchen.  I would’ve loved to show him around. 🙂

Welp, it’s almost time for grown men to get paid millions to jump on one another the Patriots v. Jets, so off I go.  Perhaps I’ll take you on a tour of the living room if the game gets boring.

Also On Tap for Today:

What your favorite thing in the kitchen?  What do you always keep stocked in your fridge?