Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Chocolate Tea in Harvard Square

An invitation for a Chocolate Tea with friends?  Harvard Square? A warm, cozy eatery on a brutally cold day?  Yes, please!

So today I went to Harvard Square with my friend Kim to enjoy a chocolate tea. The location? Upstairs on the Square. We met our friend Jill there.

I liked the colors on the outside of the building. Purple is a favorite color of mine.

This was the scene when we entered the restaurant. How fun! I loved all the colors, the checkboard floor, and funky lights.

Zebra fabric on the benches, pink tables, a couple of fantastic fireplaces. What a feast for the eyes and the tummy!

These ladies were here for lunch, not afternoon tea.  Can you see the cool fireplace in the background and a balcony to the right? What an architectural wonder!

The tea was part of Harvard Square's Chocolate Festival.  Some of the businesses in Harvard Square were giving away free samples today. We did not go for the samples since we were going to the tea.

Isn't the zebra logo cute? The Winter Events include dinners as well. I might just have to make a return visit!

While Kim and Jill conversed, I got a better look at the place through my lens. It looks like lots of women were relaxing with their friends.

This mobile was interesting. Looked liked a collection of art works. And upon closer inspection....

it was a mobile made from children's drawings and handwritten notes. Too cute!

There were some very interesting light fixtures. Do these lightbulbs have wings? Yes, they do, they are angel lightbulbs.

Another interesting light. Bottles tied together and illuminated within. Fantastic!

That is one fabulous mirror! And yes, that is yours truly catching her reflection in this shot.

And it's teatime! Our tray was filled with so many delights! Gruyere cheese tarts, blue cheese crackers, a chocolate chip scone. Then egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad, and salmon tea sandwiches.  The lower tier was for desserts. Chocolate eclairs, chocolate cupcakes, fudge, date bread and chocolate dipped strawberries. All of it so delicious!

Did I say chocolate dipped strawberries? Yes! One of my personal favorites. I make 'em at home sometimes. I think it is a healthy snack if I have some strawberries with my dark chocolate.

The tea flowed freely. Jill and I shared a pot of earl grey. Make that two pots, we got a refill. And Kim went with English breakfast tea.

Here's a view from the upstairs. A better shot of the amazing fireplace. It would have been nice to sit in front of that fire.  Upstairs on the Square was a 10 minute walk from where we parked so we were chilled. Kim works at Harvard so we parked for free! Quite the coup. Parking in Cambridge and especially Harvard Square can be a challenge.

There's another room in the back that we haven't even explored! Let's see what's back there.

I do love that floor and the pinks in this room. A very festive vibe in this room.

It's adorable isn't it? And look at the zebras on the wall. They are too cute!

A closer look at the crowd. Young Harvard students no doubt!  Since Upstairs on the Square is within walking distance of Harvard University I would imagine this is a student hangout.

Tea was over and we walked down Winthrop Street. The light on the building ahead was fantastic! It was still freezing, well more than freezing. The high temperature was 22 degrees and the low was 10 but that was without the wind chill!

This is the other side of Upstairs on the Square. Another restaurant is downstairs.

We had a little snow this morning but most of it is gone now. Still pretty though.

And at 4:41 PM, the sun was starting to set on this bitter cold day. Light traffic, some runners out for a jog ( yikes!) and me standing there taking it all in through my lens. It was a great day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Act One of #26 acts

I joined Ann Curry's 26 acts last month. If you haven't heard of it, Ann Curry of NBC News asked her viewers to do 26 acts of kindness in memory of the 20 children and 6 teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

I've been thinking about it and trying to decide how I can best honor those 26 lives. I've been following #26acts on Twitter and getting ideas from other participants. I thought I should do something to benefit children and I wanted it to be a New England organization.  I'll share the other things I do as I do them but this post is just about act one.

The photo above is of a birthday box or a birthday IN a box. I have created a birthday party in a box for a homeless child. I am donating this box with the Hello Kitty theme, of course, to Birthday Wishes. Birthday Wishes is a Massachusetts organization that brings birthday parties to children living in homeless shelters. They bring parties to nearly 100 shelters in the state.

The donor wraps a box in birthday paper and fills it with everything needed for a party. You can pick the gender/age and theme or chooses to donate based on gender and theme. I decided to do a party for a 5 year old girl and I chose to go with Hello Kitty paper goods. I went to Target and got 3 gifts for "my" little girl. I got her some Moonlight Fairies (so cute, they glow in the dark), a bracelet making set ( you can make and decorate little bracelets) and a sticker book with tons of stickers and reusable pages. I also bought her a little Hello Kitty purse filled with more stickers and a card game for her party. I know a 5 year old me would want these gifts and this theme.

With the box you must include party hats, decorations, tablecloth, plates, cups, napkins, balloons, candles, and juice boxes.  If the shelter has kitchen facilities, you donate a cake mix and can of frosting. Some of the children live in hotels and in this case the donor buys a gift card so a cake can be bought from the grocery store.

Today I dropped the box off at the church where Birthday Wishes has an office.  I donated the party box to a safe shelter and this means I could not hand deliver to the actual facility. Courtney who communicated with me via email to arrange everything, accepted my donation and asked me if I wanted to see the operation.  Of course I did.

There were shelves of toys, paper goods, empty wrapped boxes, and cake mixes.  I thought they really didn't need my help but Courtney told me they can be wiped out of everything at any time. In fact, she had an emergency call for 20 boxes for tomorrow. She said sometimes they receive a call from a case worker who has a client in an emergency shelter.  An emergency shelter client is someone who has fled their home because of a safety/domestic violence issue. Sometimes the case worker finds out that the child's birthday was the day before. How sad, I can't imagine it.

Courtney told me that they have a group of women that meet at the church at night and they wrap the boxes with birthday paper. It's a big help for the staff when the box is already wrapped.

I am going to ask my company to get involved, just think of how many more birthday parties we could do! If not, that's ok because I will definitely do this on my own or with a few friends and coworkers who are already interested. You get such a high from knowing you did something special for someone, even if it is a stranger. Don't you think? I think the 20 children and 6 teachers I am honoring with this act would love the idea of giving a homeless child a birthday party.

I can't wait to do the remaining 25 acts of kindness. It's going to be as good for me as for the recipients!

So here's the link again to Birthday Wishes, there's lots of volunteer opportunities if you are interested. Be sure to watch the video entitled Joy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Year's Eve Wedding

My sister was commissioned to do a live event painting for a New Year's Eve wedding. The venue was the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. The Imperial Ballroom to be exact.  She would paint the festivities from the opera box or balcony above the room.

She usually takes a few reference photos as she can not paint all the goings on in one night.  She always finishes the painting in her studio.  For this wedding, she hired me to take the reference photos. She said her little point and shoot camera's flash would never be strong enough to record the action down below the opera box.

The ballroom was very impressive and looked like a winter wonderland.  The chandeliers were massive and exquisite!

Here's a view of the opera boxes. I took this shot before any wedding guests arrived.

With purple uplighting, the entire room was transformed into something magical and elegant.

The cake was topped with a glittery C for Caroline and Charlie, the bride and groom. The chairs were silver as were the tablecloths.

The bride and groom got a sneak peek at the room before the guests arrived and I got my first look at the dress. It was beautiful, flouncy and feathery looking. 

The bride smiled throughout the night. I don't think I have a single picture of her where she isn't smiling. As it should be, right?

Many of the tables had illuminated trees as centerpieces. It was tasteful and elegant.

The cake had center spotlight and it was a beauty.  Tiny "pearls" decorated each layer.

Again the cake. I do not know what flavor it was but it looked yummy. The cake is an important feature of the wedding painting so my sister asked me to make sure I got some good shots of it  for her reference.

Of course, the dress is also important so I took lots of pictures of the bride. I was also supposed to take shots of people doing things like dancing and clapping. And shots of people who were smiling and happy.

Mission accomplished in this shot. I think these two look very happy! They were so cute!

Most of my sister's customers want the first dance of the bride and groom as the focal point of the painting.

The clergy man gave the couple a lovely blessing. I used my zoom lens to get this photo.

The bride's dance with her Father was sweet. it looked like her dress had a crystal snowflake on it. Quite fitting for a winter wonderland theme.

My sister played catch up with the painting as we got stuck in a traffic gridlock on the way to the wedding. One of the streets was totally blocked off and traffic was being rerouted.

I took so many shots of people dancing and I used my flash to pick up the details since we were another story up in the opera box.

This wedding was a major dance party. The guests danced all night. I hardly saw anyone sitting at the tables.

People clapping and smiling just what my sister wanted for her reference photos. I can't wait to see the finished painting!

As you can see, we were pretty far removed from the wedding so I could snap away to my heart's content without interfering with the official photographer. I took 700+ photos.

The wedding lasted into the New Year and there was a big screen TV so we could watch the countdown to 2013.

The wedding lasted into the wee hours of the morning. I was exhausted having working during the day at my regular job. At the end of the wedding, just as we were leaving, I got violently ill and I was thankful that the ride home was quick. We did have a bit of a wait for the valet to get our car because there had been a hit and run right in front of the hotel. There were police cars and an ambulance blocking the road. The EMTS were attending to the victim who was still in the middle of the road. Yikes!

It was quite the evening and a crazy start to the New Year!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Sleeper

                      “Time to start getting more sleep. This beautiful physique needs royal treatment.”
                                                       ― Elizabeth Rudnick, Tweet Heart

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012- the year in review

Every year I do a photo mosaic of the year in review. Wow, there's always so many pictures to go through and it's fun to reminisce when making the selections for the collage.

So here's a sampling of my year. As I look at it I realize there is a definite theme, food! I joined Weight Watchers and lost 18 pounds but still managed to be able to reward myself from time to time.

I found a new tearoom in 2012. Heath Tearoom in Rockport. Had a lovely time with my friend Lori Lee.

Spent some Summer nights just before sunset at Horn Pond in Woburn. So peaceful there.

I had a few dessert nights instead of full blown parties in 2012.

Found a new dessert place in Providence called Pastiche. It is located in the Federal Hill area which is full of great eateries.

I left my job of 20 years. Boy that was a very hard decision. I miss my former coworkers but I am still in touch with many of them.

Tried my hand at nighttime photography with my friend Don at Nubble Light in Maine.

Finally attended a Waterfire event in Providence. It was spectacular and I hope to go back next Summer.

Had my Wimbledon breakfast again last July.

A few trips to one of my favortie stores, Nesting left me a little lighter in the wallet. I also enjoyed shopping estate sales, flea markets, yard sales and auctions.

I enjoyed putting together my tablescapes for Easter and the Harvest dinner.

A mini sister's vacation wss just what my Sister and I needed in October.

Had a great time dining in a lighthouse in Newburyport.

Percy, Molly and Oscar never failed to entertain me.

Had a wonderful time at a Christmas tea in Chelmsford with my friend Karen.

Made a few trips last Summer to my favorite spots in Rockport.

Discovered some new coffeehouses, The Biscuit in Somerville, and Jitters Cafe in Melrose.

So that's a wrap for the year 2012. I hope the year 2013 is happy and healthy for all.


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