Sunday, December 15, 2019

Moissanite: Why it Was Our Choice

Back in June, D and I spent a weekend off-leash training one of our dogs, which involved 2-a-day hikes.  We had a lot of time to chat, and spent a decent portion of it talking about our next few years together, and what we wanted.  Both of us had known for a while that marriage was a next step for us, and I just-so-happened to have my dream engagement ring bookmarked on my phone to show him (you know, just in cases).  In a sort of wild movement of the universe, two days later, the company who made the ring announced a one-time-only sale.  We hemmed and hawed over making the decision that quickly, but ended up deciding to jump on the savings, understanding that we would get engaged later (our definitions of later ended up being different and I just about lost my mind by October).

The ring we chose is by The True Gem company, which works only with moissanite and (very recently) lab grown diamonds.  It was important to me that we not buy a diamond ring for a few reasons.  I was uncomfortable with the amount of money they cost, especially because I recognize there is a huge sentimental/marketing mark up.   Ethically, it was also a major concern that I could not know for sure whether or not an earth-mined diamond was conflict-free, and lab-created diamonds are still bananas expensive. I briefly considered colored stones, but as a person who doesn't wear color, it didn't feel like the right fit.

Moissanite is a colorless gemstone with a similar hardness as diamonds, so it is durable for lifetime, daily use.  It was originally discovered in a meteorite and has since been lab-created for the most part.  The biggest difference between diamonds and moissanite, by my estimation, is that moissanite refracts light in rainbows, not white, and is sparklier than diamonds.  I have nearly caused several accidents while distracted by the light show my ring is creating on the roof of my car.  It's pretty cool and v distracting.

Moissanite is not a fake-diamond, it's its own gemstone.  If you are considering it, I would encourage you to see one in real life, as they're a little different and pretty fun.  There is some internet controversy about moissanites being "fake diamonds" and a cop out to getting a "real" engagement, but I've come to realize that all of that comes from social conditioning around what engagement rings are "supposed to be".  My ring is beautiful, and I love it, but the thing that means so much more to me is who gave it to me, and what it symbolizes. At the end of the day, engagement rings are promises, and it just doesn't matter what they look like, as long as the person wearing it loves it and stands by the promise.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Welp, it's been a hot minute, internet. In fact, it's been a year.  So, hi.  I've missed it here.  As might be expected, quite a lot has changed.

This year, I learned to make macaroons, I went camping, we went to Nashville, Tallulah turned 5 and remains very beautiful and very terrible, I fell deeply in love with a chihuahua. I finished all but my last semester of graduate school (WOOHOO).  Worked 25 hours, plus an internship and school.  Started a new placement that is incredibly challenging and rewarding.  D moved to a new state and started a new job, so we continued to spend every other weekend traveling to be together. 


And we got engaged. So like, that's a thing.  Overall, it's been an incredibly challenging and equally rewarding year. I'm so grateful for the things I've been able to experience, and the support I've received.  Here's to an even better 2020

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dagne Dover Dakota Review

I am officially turning in my tote-bag fanatic badge. We had a good run, but now I am an old lady with an old lady back, and shoulder bags no longer work for me.  I've tried out a couple of backpacks over the last 6 months or so, and recently fell in love with the Dagne Dover Dakota bag, in size large.  It is my one true love, sorry honey.  I got the bag because, in any given day, I am at two different jobs for 12+ hours, commuting 2 hours or in classes, so I need to basically have my life with me at all times.  My requirements for a new backpack were that it looked good, was cleanable and durable, and that it had as many pockets as possible.

She's a beaut.  I ended up choosing the large size of the Dakota mostly for the separate laptop compartment.  I have drowned not one but two laptops because I'm not a real adult and wanted a bag the protected my precious from liquid.  The entire bag is neoprene, with a nylon lining, and the laptop sleeve is it's own unit, so liquid spillage up front wont impact the back.  Neoprene also means the bag is water resistant and super easy to clean.  I got it in Liberty, which is a sea green (closest to IRL color is the picture up top, no idea why it looks so blue below but 45 minutes in lightroom got me nowhere, so that's what I've got).  All of the bags have matching hardware, which gives the bag a very monochrome look that I love.

 The bag is basically pocket central.  There are, by my count, 14 pockets of various sizes and closures.  I can fit everything I need for the day in the pockets without using the middle space, which I can then fill with meal preps, sweaters, miscellaneous items, my hopes and dreams, all that good stuff. The back pocket of the middle section has an elastic strap to keep everything in place, which is brilliant if you have folders or a planner like me.  It would also support a laptop - mine is 13 inches, but there's lots of room in each direction. I appreciate how flexible the organization is, and am confident it will be perfect for travel.

I love how functional the bag is, everything has it's place and is very easily accessible whenever you need it (elastic pen holders are my love language). You get a bonus mini bag that holds pens perfectly, as well as a nylon bag ostensibly for shoes that I'm not sure how I'll use, but goodness do I love a gift with purchase. The handles are incredibly comfortable and, while my bag is the size large, I don't find it uncomfortable for all day wear maybe because the straps are padded, adding a ton of comfort.

Overall, I think the bag is great for people on the go who need to have a lot of things with them.  The design is beautiful and grown up, I would not hesitate to bring it to meetings or into an office.  I appreciate the thoughtful and sleek design and am hoping it holds up over time!

There are tons of beautiful colors, if you're into something else here

ps in case you were wondering, Tallulah is still beautiful

Monday, February 5, 2018

Movie Pass Review

I, like everyone on the planet, recently signed up for MoviePass, a subscription service for movie tickets.  So far, I've used the service a few times, so it's already paid for itself this month and we've still got 4 weeks of Oscar season left!

How it Works -

You sign up here and pay 10 dollars a month.  MoviePass then sends you a debit card with your name on it, which you can use at any applicable movie theater. I placed my order on January 18th, my card arrived on January 28th, which seemed faster than average, according to my googling. Once the card arrives, you can use it immediately. To buy tickets, you download the MoviePass app, check in at the theater and show that you want to attend, and the magic elves move money onto your card, which you use to buy the tickets. I was skeptical the first time I did it, but it really does work, and super quickly!

What I Like -

As someone who works 60+ hours a week and basically doesn't leave campus for days on end, having a 'free' activity that gets me out of my head feels like a miracle. Even on a tight budget, 10 bucks a month feels manageable, and I really do love going to movies.  Also, every movie theater near me is on MoviePass, so my options are open (check locations here)!

What I Don't -

The locations are hit or miss - there are few theaters near my parents, who live in a way more populated area than I do.  Also, I'd love the option of using the MoviePass app as an e-ticket in more theaters, but that's mostly so that I can talk to even fewer people...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vegan-ish Thai Curry Soup

Lovingly adapted from here

I really love soup.  It's basically all I eat in the fall/winter.  And I really, really, really love this soup.  I've made it two weeks in a row, and considering how many soup recipes I have stockpiled, that's impressive and also I need to clean up my recipes. I said vegan-ish because I use fish sauce in mine - it's really easy to omit if that's more your game. I would sub in some soy sauce if you do, just to round out the flavor.

This soup comes together in a snap, and you can basically use any veggies you want.  Just promise you'll use baby corn, because you should never miss an opportunity to eat baby corn.

Serves 4

2 tbsp oil
1 onion
2-4 cloves garlic*
1 tbsp grated garlic
3 tbsp red curry paste
8 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
Red pepper flakes/sriracha
Rice noodles

1 sweet potato
2 bunches baby bok choy
1 small head broccoli
1 can baby corn


*I am a person for whom suggested garlic amounts are scorned and then tripled. I think I actually used 8? cloves of garlic when I made this, but normal people should stick to 2-4

1 Chop everything.  This baby comes together quickly, it is really helpful to have all the things cleaned/chopped/prepped.  The second section of ingredients are the veggies I used - add or subtract as you see fit. I chopped the leaves and the stems of bok choy separately FYI.

2 Saute the onion in the oil, adding the garlic and ginger after a couple of minutes.  Add the curry paste and continue to sauté for a few minutes. If you like things spicier, add the red pepper flakes or hot sauce.

3 Add the sweet potato and the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then drop it low until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

baby corrnnnnnnnn

4 Dump in the coconut milk, fish sauce (omit if vegan) and brown sugar. Add the other veggies (I didn't add the bok choy leaves until the very end) and simmer for a few more minutes, or until you remember you're making soup if you're me.

5 I didn't add the rice noodles until serving, so they wouldn't get soggy.  Personally, I like my noodles basically raw, so I just added them to the bowl and poured hot soup over and let them sit for a few minutes. If you like your noodles soft, cook then add!  The soup itself keeps beautifully, but I wouldn't add the veggies if you're freezing it, they'd probably go weird.

Friday, January 19, 2018

72 Hours in Nashville

As a part of my Christmas gift this year, Mom and I flew down to Nashville for MLK weekend.  We caught an early flight out of Boston, which means we got to Nashvegas by 10 and jumped RIGHT into things.  We've been down there quite a few times, so we skipped most of the touristy stuff and mostly stuck to favorites.


10 - Yoga! The reason we went down there, ostensibly, was that one of my brother's best friends from Vanderbilt had a gallery opening/pop-up yoga classes, so that was our first stop. If anyone is in Nashville, the show is up through this month and is delightful - highly recommend.

11:30 - Brunch at Sutler.  Delicious, but JAM PACKED. We lucked out and got easy seats at the bar, so we enjoyed some yummy food and people watching.  It's bottomless mimosas on the weekend, pro tip is to order a can of Radler to go along. It's a grapefruit "beer" (not really) that really pops the mimosa-ness.

1:00 - Haus of Yarn. Cause who doesn't want to shop for yarn slightly tipsy?! I don't knit, but my knitter mother was very happy, and I liked petting all of the soft things.

3:00 - AirBnB check in.  Our stay was awesome - the apartment was a bit sterile in terms of decorations, but was very comfortable and well located.  We'd definitely stay there again.

6:30 - Dinner and Pats game at Taco Mamacita.  I LOVE tacos and margs and chips and salsa, so it's hard to disappoint me when those things are involved, but Taco Mamacita impressed me.  I actually didn't love the chips or salsa, but the spicy margaritas made up for it, and the plantain taco was the best I've ever had.  Highly recommend, and not just because the Patriots won.


9:30 - Breakfast at Marche.  My brother and I came here together before, so I knew I liked it.  The almond croissant we had was insane, and I loved my quiche. Mom got the breakfast poutine, which was very unlike her, and she liked it but didn't love it. We tried to wander around 5 Points, which is a great neighborhood, but Nashville is basically a ghost town on Sunday mornings, so we didn't have much to do.

1:00 - Movie at The Belcourt.  The theater itself is a joy - beautiful architecture, real popcorn, actual booze.  I cannot recommend The Phantom Thread, because I found the plot insufferable.  The acting is incredible, but not worth 2 hours and 13 dollars.

5:30 - Dinner at Hopdoddy.  If you're a vegetarian, please get yourself down there ASAP.  The Impossible was the best veggie burger I've ever had, it blew my mind.  Also, the place is adorable, there are tons of options and our bartender was another girl named Kyle.  Must do.

9:00 - Drinks and games at The Hurry Back. I cheated, Mother, I'm sorry.  We went to meet up with one of my brother's best friends, ended up basically being the only ones in the bar, so we got a lot of attention.  It's a really fun place to hang out - great list on tap and tons of games/activities to engage with.


8:00 - Last yoga class :(

9:30 - Breakfast at Biscuit Love. Holy crap, this place is good. It's a long time family favorite, so it was not my first time.  The biscuits are insane, but the cheese grits are equally delicious. And the coffee is wicked strong.  You can't not go...

11:00 - Souvenir shopping for Goo Goo clusters, plus Hillsboro Village, which is adorable.

12:00 - Tea at High Garden. Guys, this place is a lot.  It's got herbal remedies for literally everything, every kind of tea ever, all kinds of kombucha and juices.  It also looks like the inside of a hobbit's home and Mom and I both thought that Billy Crystal from Princess Bride was due to come around any corner.  It's an experience and fun, if you're into that kind of thing.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lo and Sons Catalina Review

As mentioned in my Pearl review, I'm on a mission to slowly own the entire Lo and Sons collection.  For those who have never heard of the company, they're a family owned, US based bag company that focuses on functional, beautiful pieces.  In the years that I've owned thing from them, I've experienced superior customer service and learned that their stuff is built to last.  When I decided to upgrade my weekender bag (from a Vera Bradley I'd had since 2011), the Catalina was it.

After debating the different sizes/options (the Catalina comes in 4 different varieties, compared here), I decided on the large deluxe for a few reasons. One, the structured base, which I LOVE for shoe packing, among other things. Two, weirdly enough, was the suitcase handle sleeve? I don't know why, but I feel like SUCH an adult when I slide my tote bag onto my rolly bag? It's weird, I know that, whatever. And three was the option of over the shoulder or crossbody straps.  It's basically perfect.

This weekend will be my first time using the Catalina.  I'm going away for 3 days, and am not packing lightly, mostly because of who I am as a person.  The bag stood up to my ridiculous packing with ease.

Overall, I love the bag. I appreciate that the canvas may be a bit informal for some, and I'm terrified of the day I inevitably spill something on it, but the fabric can also take a beating and is relatively light, so it's a tradeoff I am more than willing to take.

The Catalina is normal 148 dollars, but goes on sale regularly and can be bought here