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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


One of the most purely fun parts of the wedding-planning process for me was picking out gifts for my "attending" girlfriends. I knew right away that I wanted to get them something from Kris Nations Jewels, so the only hard part was deciding what to choose.

Kris Nations is a San Francisco-based designer who makes gorgeous pieces ranging from earthy to delicate to edgy. The quality of her materials is always really nice, and she pays attention to the finishing details like clasps and other hardware that separate the dilettantes from the pros. I'm acquainted with her through our mutual friend Natalie (who recently wrote about Kris and her sister Kim on the Craftzine blog), and in addition to being a talented designer, she's also just a really nice person (and effortlessly stylish, too). My jewelry box is full of her stuff.

While she does have a special bridal accessories collection, I had fun looking through everything on the site, and then ordering with abandon. For my bridesmaids (they wore chiffon dresses in "espresso" - thanks, J. Crew!) I ended up going with the smoky quartz corsage bracelets, made with two chunky strands of freshwater pearls and a detachable flower pin, and for my maid of honor I chose the quartz brooch, a flower with bigger, clear quartz "petals" and a freshwater pearl center, which looked amazing against her peacock blue silk.

I think the girls really liked their new jewels, and I loved being able to introduce them to the world of Kris Nations. Everything looked fantastic on them, and it felt good knowing we were supporting an independent designer and friend ... an easy proposition when it means you get to wear great jewelry in the process!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lobster Roll Diaries: An Inland Lobster Roll

Last week we made our first trip out to Walden Pond; too early to swim yet, but we took some visiting friends on a walk around its perimeter, and bought our annual parking pass in preparation for the summer.

On our way home we stopped at Dairy Joy, an ice cream stand we'd recently noticed in the town of Weston, quite close to Concord and Walden Pond. Along with soft-serve ice cream they also offer hamburgers and hot dogs, and, this being New England, fried clams and lobster rolls. Once I saw the menu I was helpless: there was no question of what I would order.

The lobster salad itself was very good, and the bun was grilled with a touch of butter, which is my favorite style of bun preparation. The portion was perhaps a little small compared to some of the lobster rolls I've had on Cape Cod, and lacking in the whole pieces of claw meat you sometimes get, but all in all, a roll with plenty of reason to feel good about itself.

Our veggie contingent appreciated the presence of a veggie burger on the menu, as well as a grilled cheese made with real sandwich bread (unlike the Ipswich Clam Box, where they use a hamburger bun), though the only available cheese was American, which did not score points.

But those details pale in significance when compared to the Dairy Joy's perfect location for a stop after a lazy day of lake-swimming, at a place whose only real disadvantage when compared to the beach, at least for this seafood-loving girl, was the absence of the classic seaside seafood shack. Paradise found.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bluebell Honeymoon

Long before the christening of Bluebell Halliwell, I developed a yen to see bluebell season in England. I'd I read about the phenomenon of the bluebell wood somewhere ... or maybe it was those dreamy scenes of the hapless Leonard Bast walking through the trees with swaths of bluebells underfoot in the movie of "Howards End."

Daniel and I have been to England together before, and both love it there. We decided the most relaxing honeymoon for us would be visiting a place we already know we like, and discovering more about it together. (Kind of like when you decide to marry someone you've already been liking and getting to know for five+ years, just as a random example.) So imagine my delight when I discovered we'd be there in time for bluebell season.

I was a little concerned about where to find them, exactly, as in England the bluebell often indicates the presence of an ancient woodland area, which is not necessarily something you can look up in a guide book. Happily, my research indicated that the fantastic Kew Gardens has its own bluebell grove on the grounds, so we made a journey out there on one of our days in London. Kew is pretty awesome in itself, with several Victorian conservatories and a towering pagoda, plus extensive gardens.

When I asked the ticket agent if the bluebells were still blooming and where to find them, he looked pained and told me regretfully that they'd started "quite early" this year and were past their prime, but he pointed out the area on the map for me all the same, and off we went. Along the way were rewarded by this rogue patch of stalwart indigo, our first bluebell sighting, complete with picturesque bicycle abandoned alongside it.

And then, wandering further, a full carpet of them, perhaps a little wilted and not as richly blue as at their peak, but for the bluebell novice, it was enough.

Yet England was generous with me, and though I said I was satisfied, she kept throwing more bluebells in my path throughout our visit. Up in York, so much farther north than London, they were freshly emerging and bloomin' everywhere.

Now that we're home again, I'm noticing Spanish bluebells all around our neighborhood. I've read that this variety is a threat to English bluebells in their native soil, but over here I think I can safely admire them. And just this morning as I finished up an issue of In Style left over from my airplane reading, what did I find but a mention of Penhaligon's bluebell fragrance. My eyes have been opened: everything's coming up bluebells.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cat Sad

One of our kitties had been flattening his right ear and squinting one eye for the past week, looking sort of like a grumpy stroke victim, so I finally took him in to the vet and determined that he has a mild infection.

As I was discussing treatment with the vet I felt the need to explain I would be getting married this weekend and afterwards would be away for a bit, wanting to find out if we could finish the course of ear drops before then. Once I said "wedding" the vet kept saying things like, "of course with a wedding going on the cat will take a back seat." I protested, but to no avail - he was convinced I'd be too busy stressing about napkin colors to take care of the cat. I mean, we'd like to still go on our honeymoon and everything, but I'm not going to skip the cat's antibiotics just because I'll be wearing a big white dress for a few hours this weekend. Some commitments are sacred, after all.

Anyway, it sounded like everything should be okay. As I was waiting at the front desk to pay, the receptionist got a phone call that was clearly taxing her patience. She kept rolling her eyes and saying things like, "Yes, that would be the normal course of the condition," and finally put the caller on hold. Then, as though against her better judgement, she burst out, "I don't know what to say to this woman anymore. There are these two sisters whose cat died, and after they buried it they dug it up three times. They're still not convinced it's really dead, and they keep calling to ask about it." She said they brought it in to confirm its condition ... after leaving it on their porch in a sealed Tupperware contained for a week. "Um, trust me, it's dead!" the girl said.

Meanwhile Bruno keeps moping around with his gimpy ear like a kid home sick from school, shaking his head madly as though that would get rid of whatever's hurting him. The twice-daily ear drops are the final indignity. They have to be kept refrigerated, and Bruno meows like we're doing something terrible to him when the cold liquid hits the ear.

The pain of pets: it's so heartbreaking.


May Day!

Everyone was out celebrating and playing music in front of the YMCA (our gym) today. Even the trannies! Almost like San Francisco ...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Swanning In

It's definitely spring in the Public Garden: the swan boats are out. My primary association with this local attraction is the Boston-area young adult author Lois Lowry's book "Taking Care of Terrific" (best take-away: the Boston Ritz has a great public restroom), but I am aware that beyond this reference the boats have a firm place in the Boston tourism firmament.

Our six-year-old flower girl is determined to visit them this weekend, so as I was walking through the park today I stopped to check on the operating hours. All systems go, apparently, as long as there are at least eight adults, "to weigh the boat down," as the attendant informed me.

It's nice to know this is one of those cases where the adults are essential to workaday operation, and not just embarrassing tag-alongs to child-specific entertainment.