Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ellsbury sees himself in Boston

The World Series is long over, but baseball season never ends for the players. Rookie sensation Jacoby Ellsbury took some time to reflect on his first season in the bigs, the World Series, and his future.

BostonNOW: You haven't even officially started your rookie season yet and you've already won a World Series. What other accomplishments do you look forward to?
Jacoby Ellsbury: Going into the offseason, I've learned just through playing a Major League season, what my goals are, you know. Keeping my body healthy and things ... that are going to prolong my career. I want to have a long career.

BN: You've been compared to Johnny Damon. Is this something you welcome?
JE: Johnny's a great player. To be [compared] to someone of his caliber, especially this early in my career, is great. At the same time, I haven't really tried to pattern my game after him or anything like that.

BN: Are there any moments in the postseason that really stick out, where you feel like you really shined?
JE: After [Game 3 of the World Series] where I had the four hits with three doubles, that was a pretty special moment. And that last pitch of the game to win the World Series. Actually the last nine outs. My heart was pounding and I was just counting down the outs. Eight outs, seven outs, six outs to World Series Champions...

BN: Where do you see yourself in the future as far as Major League Baseball is concerned?
JE: I see myself with the Red Sox, having a long career ... It's the only team obviously that I know, being drafted in 2005, coming through the minor league system, so it would be nice to stay with the Red Sox for a long time.

To hear the interview in it's entirety, go to

This article appeared in BostonNOW on December 7, 2007.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Festive scents add joy to home

There is nothing better than walking through your door and catching a whiff of an array of holiday scents. Pine, sugar cookies and various intangible aromas associated with the winter months make the home welcoming and luckily, they can all stay in the air throughout the season without having to bake or produce a new wreath weekly.

Candles are key
Nothing spells fragrance like a high-quality candle. Don't settle for cheap ones from the pharmacy either. Yankee Candle offers the best bouquet for your buck, as they burn longer and give off delicious scents. Although there are dozens of sprays available, canned scents don't live up to their waxy counterparts and while bagged potpourris are often natural and visually appealing, they also tend to fade in strength quickly.

Consider the room
A fresh-cut apple scent is great, but doesn't necessarily make sense in a bathroom. But some rooms don't have any limits. The den should be welcoming - which any pleasant fragrance can be - and smells greeting guests at the doorway are universally heartwarming this time of year.

This article originally appeared in BostonNOW on December 6, 2007.

Big traditions, little wanderers

On Nov. 28, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and WCVB-TV's Liz Brunner kicked off The Home For Little Wanderers' Gift Drive and Online Auction with a reading of The Night Before Christmas to more than 20 children in the home's Jamaica Plain location. Although it is the auction's third year of fundraising, the home's gift drive has been a Boston tradition since 1865.

The drive, then called "ThanksgivingInGathering," called upon the community to give to those less fortunate. "The Sunday before Thanksgiving," recounted Heather MacFarlane, public relations manager of The Home For Little Wanderers, "[The home] invited people to bring food, but also toys, clothing, and all types of things" for children in need. The community answered the call, and has been doing so ever since.

"People come in and say 'my mother or my grandmother came here and used to give, and I want to as well,'" said MacFarlane. "We had our kick-off last week, people from the neighborhood were coming in immediately when the sign went up."

The drive, MacFarlane emphasized, is not just about toys. "We call it a 'gift drive' because things as simple as toiletries to gift cards are important to these people," she said. "The simple items that we take for granted are things these kids really need."

In addition to giving, supporters can also receive. Gifts ranging from a spa package for six people at Emerge Spa & Salon on Newbury Street to a chance to meet celebrities such as Stephen Colbert and Ellen DeGeneres are being auctioned off on the home's website. According to MacFarlane, celebrities have been more than willing to support the cause. While some of them are sought out by the home, many celebrities, such as local comedian Jay Leno, "have a relationship with the home, and they donate every year."

The gift drive will run through Dec. 21, with drop-off points at the home's Toy Room at 161 South Huntington Ave., as well as all Bernie and Phyl's Furniture or Coldwell Banker locations. Toys can also be donated online at The online auction runs through Dec. 16 at

Article originally appeared in BostonNOW on December 6, 2007.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stay safe while decorating

By this point, you should be pretty much out of cold turkey. That means it's time to roll out of your food coma and get decorating for Christmas. Here are some ideas for a safe holiday.

Inspect your lights. Old strands can wear out over the years, and cables can get cut in storage. Make sure all your bulbs are in working order and that there are no exposed wires to avoid setting a yuletide blaze.

Keep hazardous decorations secure. Did you know that mistletoe makes cats sick? That chocolate kills dogs? That your 4- year-old can swallow ornament hooks? If you can't avoid using harmful decorations and foods, make sure that they stay out of reach.

Get a fake tree. Some people think it's blasphemous, but the fact is that trees and candles are the leading causes of fires during the holidays. If you must have a real tree, keep it watered, or within a few days you'll have Christmas kindling in your living room.

Go around and check everything at night. Did you unplug all the lights? Blow out the candles? Turn off the oven? Common sense doesn't get a winter break.

This article originally appeared in BostonNOW on November 29, 2007.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Invest in a clutter-free desk

Sick of your 9-to-5 job? Want to prioritize your day by what you think is important? Feel like working in your pajamas? There are endless reasons why Americans want to work from home. According to WorldatWork, a human resource company that specializes in employee retention, 12.6 million Americans work from home at least one day a week.

According to Moira Allen, editor of, workspace is the key to efficiency at home. "I found that the most important feature in my home office was a layout that gave me a sense of pleasure in 'coming to work,'" she explained. "If your office is awkward, or dark, or poorly laid out, or just plain ugly, it can be a deterrent." She recommends quality furniture and a comfortable chair.

Function is also important. If you can dedicate an entire room to working, you'll be much more able to block out the world and focus on your work. As an added bonus, you can also write a home office off on your taxes. If this isn't possible, try for a dedicated section. Make your workspace off-limits to family members, and set up a system to inform them when you are working and not to be disturbed.

Finally, have the tools of the trade readily available. "Things that you use less often can be stored in some other part of the house," Allen said. "But you don't want to have to jump up and run to a closet every time you need to load paper in the printer. Eventually you'll sort out those things that need to be close at hand, and those that don't."

This article originally appeared in Boston NOW on November 15, 2007.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pair wine with holiday fare

The date of your holiday party has arrived, and you need to find a seating arrangment for 25 of your friends and relatives in a dining room that a realtor would call "intimate." You feel stressed, and yes, you could use a drink with dinner.

There are plenty of alcoholic offerings this holiday season that will compliment a variety of traditional holiday fare.

From the vine
Martignetti Liquor in Boston's North End offers an excellent array of wines to accompany your turkey dinner, including Chalone Vineyard's Pinot Noir. This dark red, priced reasonably at $15.99, offers a "beautiful fruit flavor," says Bob Goodwin, Martignetti's resident wine expert, with a "soft, very nice finish."

If you're serving ham, Goodwin recommends McLaren Vale's Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne. This Australian blend enjoyed a 90-out-of-100 rating from Spectator Magazine, and costing under $20, Goodwin called it "an elegant wine at a reasonable price."

Treats on tap
For those of us more partial to drinks of the grain-and-hops variety, turn to Boston's local beers. Harpoon's Winter Warmer is an excellent holiday brew. It pairs well with pies as well as poultry, and somehow manages to taste just like Christmas.

Harpoon's Munich Dark is also delicious. This Munchen Dunkel style beer has a chocolaty flavor with a slightly bitter, hoppy finish that is reminiscent of a porter, but a bit more crisp.

Don't forget the Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams Winter Lager. This modern day classic offers a strong but manageable cinnamon and ginger taste, with an underlying citrus flavor uncommon to winter beers.

Originally published in Boston NOW on November 12, 2007.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Go fall with fiscus

Leaves are falling off of the trees, and in no time flat, the multicolored view from your windows will transform into multiple shades of grey. With depressing seasonal color changes en route, now might be a good time to start considering house plants.

Although some plants are difficult to grow in the cold season, you have numerous options for your indoor garden, the simplest including the rubber plant. The Ficus elastica is easy to maintain, but make sure to care for and prune it, because it can grow up to ten feet tall if you're not paying attention.

Ivy is another good bet. Those frosty windows can be cheered up immensely with lush, green leaves and vines growing around them. These plants also grow fast, though, so be sure to pay attention.

A more challenging plant is the poinsettia. This holiday favorite is still relatively easy to maintain, but temperature is key. Although these beautiful red blossoms are associated with Christmas, temperatures below 60 degrees is bad news.

These simple plants, like many others, can be easily maintained by watering regularly and giving minimum sunlight. Keeping a temperate climate at home is important, so make sure not to have your heat shut off. The end result is a fresher air, and a fresher looking home.

Originally published in Boston NOW on October 25, 2007.