An Oktoberfest-themed weekend

This weekend has been just excellent! Let’s back up to Friday…

Friday

My good friend Salka was in town for Honk!, a music festival in Sommerville. She lives in Burlington, VT, so we don’t get to see each other too much these days. On Friday evening her bus arrived, and I picked her up at South Station! She was busy for most of the weekend with festival activities, but we had a chance to quickly catch up over a fast meal. Then I was off to an awesome concert with my parents while she headed to the Institute of Contemporary Art. That’s been on my list for a while to check out, so I’m glad she had such a great experience there.

We met back up in Harvard Square a bit later, and stayed up entirely too late drinking tea and catching up. It was just so so great to see her!

Saturday

On Saturday morning Salka and I headed to my local favorite breakfast place, Darwin’s Ltd. I’m always a fan of their fantastic breakfast sandwiches, and this time was no exception. I always love the atmosphere – I should go back in the evening to get some work done sometime!

I said goodbye to Salka for a bit, and headed home. Teddy and I had a cooking extravaganza! We made lovely apple crisp, some chickpea dahl for dinner, and the coup de grace – chocolate covered orange peals!

The peals were an adventure, and they took quite a bit of time, but ended up being well worth it. YUM! We roughly followed this recipe, but put our own spin on it. For one thing, it’s so much darn work, so we made a massive batch! We also ended up essentially dumping the chocolate on top of the peels, rather than dipping them. Since we didn’t candy the peals a lot, they were quite soft. We were concerned that they would break down during the dipping process. Instead we ended up with a chocolate bar with orange peals. It tastes awesome, but isn’t quite as beautiful as the way the professionals do it!

We ended our day by heading over to a co-woker’s Oktoberfest! party. It was a great time – they made some home brew which we got a chance to sample, and they really committed to the theme! It was fun to meet some new people and spend some time with work friends in a more relaxing environment.

Sunday

I continued my Sunday morning of going for a run and doing a few errands before meeting up with Teddy in Harvard Square. We went to another Oktoberfest party – this time in Harvard Square! This was a massive event – a huge number of craft vendors, food samples, live music, and of course, beer. The Honk! parade ended right in the middle of the square, so we spent some time wandering around before watching the parade. We ended up finding a great place to stand, and saw the entire parade, including Salka! Always fun to watch her play. Both Teddy and I were so impressed with the creativity and passion put into the event. It was so fun!

After the parade we stopped by one of the vendors to get some Indian food. By this point we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crowds (I’ve never seen Harvard Square so busy!) so we headed back to my house to eat it. We had a relaxing afternoon full of watching a new show, knitting, and more cooking.

Later in the evening we met up with Salka and made a lovely dinner while watching Friends – a Salka and Mary tradition. Glad we don’t let other weekend activities get in the way of it 🙂 We all went to bed very tired and very happy.

Did you do anything exciting this weekend? Any Oktoberfest themed events?

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4 Ways to Overcome Stress

This week has been pretty stressful at work. In the past I’ve really struggled with anxiety and stress, so I’ve spent a long time exploring coping mechanisms. Below I decided to share what works well for me. Feel free to add more to my list!

Tea

What is it about a warm drink that is so relaxing? Perhaps it’s the intentional slowing down, the routine of warming water, using a favorite mug. Whatever it is – it really works. Lately I’ve been drinking a nice herbal tea before going to sleep, and it’s been helpful for me to wind down. (Having a boyfriend who grew up with a British mother really doesn’t hurt the tea situation, either – any time there is distress he always makes a cup of tea!)

Exercise

When I get stressed, I find sticking with an exercise routine is really helpful. Again, having habits to turn to is comforting. Nothing like a good workout to get your mind off of everything else. I know it can be really challenging to stick to waking up early or giving up valuable after-work time to squeeze in a workout, but it really does help. I find I’m so much better at focusing during a stressful day if I’ve gotten a good workout in during the morning.

Social Support

This evening when I was feeling overwhelmed I called my parents to chat while taking a long walk around my neighborhood. Drawing on social networks when you’re stressed is vital. Having someone to listen, but also having someone to distract you, is awesome. Make sure to always return the favor, though!

Distract yourself

Distracting yourself is a great way to overcome stress. I really like working with my hands, so I often turn to cooking and knitting. Both keep me focused in on a goal (make something, whether it be food or a yarn project), and I have specific, sequential instructions to follow. Plus, in both cases, I get excited about the final product! Since my job really focuses on computer work, I love the tactile experience of working with my hands.

What do you do to overcome stress?

Weekend in Review

Friday

On Friday evening Teddy and I headed over to Waltham (my old neighborhood) to meet up with a former co-worker, and his wife. We enjoyed a meal at Kabab and Tandor, an Indian restaurant on Moody Street. The food was excellent, and we all agreed that we’d go back again. It was great to catch up – our friends are having a baby in the next few weeks, so it was so nice to see them. I’m sure their lives will be changing quite a bit very soon, so it was great to spend some time with them.

After finishing the meal with some wonderful chai tea, we headed back to Cambridge. One of Teddy’s co-workers was celebrating his birthday, so we went to their house for a bit. This group of friends is super into board games – like really intense, strategic board games, so the party was centered around that. It’s not always my cup of tea, particularly late on a Friday night, so I mostly observed, but it was still a very nice evening!

When the games wrapped up I was more than ready to head home – boy was I tired!

Saturday

On Saturday Teddy and I enjoyed a quite morning before heading into Boston! Our first stop was the Boston Athenaeum, perhaps one of the more interesting places we’ve recently discovered. It’s one of the oldest independent libraries in the country, and it has an incredible collection of books and art. The space is absolutely gorgeous, and is a quiet sanctuary in the bustle of one of the busier neighborhoods of Boston. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but it was stunning! I’d highly recommend stopping in if you’re every nearby.

The Boston Athenaeum is right near the Freedom Trail of Boston (which was hopping on a beautiful Saturday in the summer) so we stopped by the Granary Burial Ground to pay our respects to some of Boston’s most famous residents during the colonial times.

Our next stop was Boston Common and the Boston Public Gardens. The day was beautiful, so it wasn’t surprising the both spaces were super busy! We enjoyed a walk and said hi to the Make Way for Ducklings statue before heading over to the Swan Boats. A Boston institution since the 1800s, surprising neither Teddy nor I had ever been on the boats! We enjoyed a relaxing ride all around the garden and it was extremely picturesque. A classic Boston activity!

Next on the agenda was a stop at Trillium, a new brewery in South Boston. Though it was small, we loved the atmosphere, and really enjoyed the beer! There were three varieties on tap, and my favorite was actually the porter. First time ever?! I’m usually a big IPA person. Such a pleasant surprise!

Finally, Teddy and I headed home before making our way to the Cambridge Antique Market. What a hidden gem! Four stories (plus a basement) of goddies! I couldn’t believe how much stuff was packed into this place – it was wild! The prices were affordable, and the variety was incredible. Certainly a place to return to – just the amount of kitchenware alone made this place a great stop. I ended up getting a set of three pyrex mixing bowls, and I’m very excited about them! I can now replace my set of plastic ones, and I’m really excited about it. I also picked up two small containers of thread, which is a great addition to my growing sewing collection.

After Teddy and I enjoyed a light dinner, our final destination was Lizzy’s, an ice cream shop in Harvard Square. Though it was overprices, we did enjoy the treat 🙂 We enjoyed the beautiful evening and finally wandered home, exhausted. I think we were asleep by 10 pm!

Sunday

Compared to Saturday, Sunday was very quiet! We woke up fairly early, and I headed out for a run while Teddy picked up coffee and treats at Darwins, our local favorite. We enjoyed those with toast and eggs, which is quickly becoming a Sunday morning routine. I like it! After chatting for a while, I spent a while knitting. After Teddy headed out to meet up with friends, I got down to business making a quilt! I really couldn’t believe how quickly this came together – it was incredible! By 4pm I had a wonderful quilt top. I’ll do a seperate post about the process later, but needless to say, it was a very satisfying way to spend an afternoon! I also listened to This American Life while working, which I’ve missed lately! It was really relaxing to have on in the background.

Finally, the weather was incredible again today so I decided to stretch my legs for a bit. I biked about 6 miles along the Charles before the sun set, and it was a great way to enjoy the last of the daylight. My evening ended with a light dinner and a call to my sister to discuss the excitement of the quilt.

I’m feeling refreshed and ready for a new week. I hope you had a great week, too!

Hump Day

Another week is flying by! I’ve been taking it a bit easier this week, trying to keep things a bit quiet. I’m still really trying to figure out that balance between alone time and social time, and also trying to figure out how much free time now that I’m working. It’s a process! I think I’m getting better at figuring it out, but I’m trying not to overwhelm myself, too. It’s an adjustment!

Monday

On Monday evening Teddy and I decided to have a spontaneous date night! We headed over to John Harvard’s Ale House – a quick walk for both of us. We were both pleasantly surprised by the beer menu, but it makes sense. It is an ale house! I tried a nice IPA and Teddy went for a lager. Both were great, and we agreed that we’d love to back another time to try a flight. The food was decent, but not amazing. Considering how awesome the food in Cambridge is, this place was moderate. We’ve been spoiled lately! But we’ll be back for the beer 🙂

The rest of the night was spent catching up on Game of Thrones – we’re almost done with season 2. Horribly behind, yes, but still enjoying it!

Tuesday

On Tuesday evening I spoke to my parents for a while, did some grocery shopping and make some food for the week. My weekly shop has been getting later and later into the week! I need to get back on track soon – I like planning for the week before it happens! I tried out this lentil salad, mostly because I wanted something with lentils in it. I didn’t have some of the ingredients, but I enjoyed what I made. I added quite a few cherry tomatoes, which I thought was a good adjustments. The recipe made enough food for quite a few meals, so I’m happy about that!

Wednesday

Tonight has been another quiet evening – I spoke to my sister for a while, enjoyed some dinner, and am catching up on laundry. Not super exciting, but I like the downtime! The rest of this week will be a bit busier, so I’m enjoying the quiet while I can. 

I still feel weird about not “doing” something on week nights – I’m still getting used to all of this free time I now have. I also am slowly getting used to the idea that I can say no to social gatherings because I need some alone time, or I’m just not in the mood. Sometimes I just like quiet time to cook, read, talk to a friend, or just generally relax! I know I’ll find that balance soon, but I’m not quite there yet. 

Berry Crumble

On Wednesday evening Teddy and I created another treat from a cookbook! So far, so good with the weekly cookbook recipe challenge! We made a peach and berry crumble from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. We are heading to a party on Friday to celebrate the 4th of July (more on that later), and wanted to bring something to share. I thought peach crumble would be something a little different than the typical strawberry and blueberry – themed desserts, but still fruity and light. I’m excited to try it!

Backing up, today I made some great progress at work, and am starting to feel more comfortable in my position. I know it will take some time to feel like I’m getting the hang of things, but I felt better today than I have any other day so far. I’d call that a small victory!

After work, I headed to a nearby bar to grab drinks with some co-workers. We all started working at the same time, so it was great to catch up and share stories! It was nice to see some familiar faces, and also to mingle with people I don’t see on a regular basis. I’m hoping it will be a semi-regular thing!

The weather here has been sweltering, so hopefully it will cool down a bit. I passed on a run again today because of the heat, so I’m thinking that heading out before work tomorrow will be the only way to get some exercise in before the heat and humidity rises. Alas, at least tomorrow is the last day before a long weekend! 

Falafel!

I set a few goals for myself this summer, and one of them is to cook at least one new thing from a cookbook I have sitting on a shelf at least once a week. I love to cook, and have dearly missed being able to spread out, make a mess, and make an incredibly satisfying meal. I’ve lived for two years without a kitchen table, for goodness sake! I have to make up for lost time!

I needed to get some groceries this evening, so I thought that tonight would be a great time to get supplies for a new recipe! I opened a book that I’ve loved for a while – The Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. I’m not a student any more, but I can still love a quick and healthy meal! A recipe for falafel immediately jumped out to me. Even though the weather is super warm today, I wanted to fire up the oven and make a nice batch of savory falafel. The time estimation in the book wasn’t super accurate (prep took me more like 45 minutes, not the 15 the book suggested), but it was so worth it! I enjoyed my meal with some tzatziki sauce and some cheese and crackers on the side. It really hit the spot, and best of all – leftovers! I know what I’ll be having for dinner this week, and I’m excited!

I didn’t end up going on a run this evening due to the heat, so I’m thinking of calling it an early night and getting up early tomorrow to beat the heat. Have a good night!