Get This: Nanao candles, or a Sun jar?

Published in the Stuff magazine Hot 100 issue, or you can read it online here.


Ready to light up a hand-rolled, all-natural substance? No, not that kind – so take down the black-light poster and step away from that vintage copy of The Dark Side of the Moon. Instead, try these Nanao candles ($35) to create some much-needed Zen vibes (without inducing a case of the munchies). Crafted by the same family for more than a century, these traditional Japanese candles have wicks of hand-rolled paper and papyrus reed, and their wax is made from the seeds of the lacquer tree. Their striking sculptural forms have hollow centers, which make for big flickering flames that are perfect for lighting up summer nights. So score a set at Lekker (1317 Washington Street, Boston, 617.542.6464) and blaze away – and don’t be surprised if you wind up saying sayonara to Western wax.


But perhaps you prefer lighting that’s a little less 19th century, a tad more 21st? (Or maybe you just don’t trust your crew around an open flame?) For a modern take on a natural glow, look no further than the Sun Jar ($40), designed by the late Tobias Wong. Available at Joie de Vivre (1792 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.864.8188), this lamp contains solar-powered LEDs that will light up the night for up to five hours at a time. Just leave the frosted Mason jar in a sunny spot to soak up some rays, and then use its warm glow wherever you’d like a small dose of sunshine – a hidden sensor tells the lamp to glow when it’s in a dark space. It’s watertight, too, so you can leave it on the patio all season long. Talk about a bright idea.

Stuff We Love: Kiel James Patrick

Check out my blurb on Rhode Island designer Kiel James Patrick featured in Stuff magazine. Click below for larger text, or read it online here.

Screw spring. We’re already looking ahead to New England summers: those long, sweltering days spent sailing on the Cape, followed by breezy evenings of clambakes and bonfires. (Damn, it feels good to be a… Kennedy?) Okay, so our preppy local color isn’t for everyone — and besides, salmon-colored trousers can’t suit everyone’s skin tone. But we’re still mighty impressed with the designs of Kiel James Patrick, a Rhode Island native who began reworking vintage pieces back in his prep school days. Today he continues to combine preppy staples, such as austere family tartans, sunny madras prints, and nautical icons like cherry-red lobsters and silver anchors, into bracelets and belts. And he pays homage to all-American royalty (princesses named Buffy and Muffy, that is) with the preppy girl’s crown — the headband — in designs echoing collegiate stripes and nautical knots. His distinctive accessories, constructed from locally sourced silks, fabrics, leather, and trademark brass buttons, are now available not only throughout New England, but also worldwide. (How do you think they say WASP in Japanese?) But locally, you can find his designs at Flat of the Hill (60 Charles Street, Boston, 617.619.9977). Sounds like a good opportunity to do some prep work for our summer closets.

Hilken Mancini of Girls Rock Camp

Hilken Mancini is up on stage at Cambridge’s T.T. the Bear’s. Her pale spider monkey arms linked to lissome fingers that scrupulously strum a glossy, cherry-red guitar. She seldom takes her wide, green eyes off the guitar’s neck to emerge from under a curtain of blonde fringe. She belts out a cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Rock and Roll Friend” with fellow ‘90s rocker Mary Lou Lord before rocking out on guitar and later thumping on drums, stomping her caramel-colored boots all over the stage with her all-female band, Shepherdess.

But Mancini does more than put on a good show. Last year she co-founded the Jamaica Plain-based Girls Rock Camp, a non-profit organization that teaches girls aged eight to 16 to form a rock band, write an original song, and perform it live at T.T. the Bear’s—all in a single week. “If I were to pick up a trombone right now, I’d probably be really bad at it. You don’t have to be destroyed because you failed the first time you tried something new.” But this concept is foreign to the campers. “It’s insane to them,” Mancini says. “I’m gonna have to learn how to play an instrument?” she says, mimicking the voice of a teenage girl. “And then I’m gonna be in a band? And then I’m gonna write a song? And then I’m gonna get onstage in front of my parents, and my grandparents, and my best friends?”

Continue reading “Hilken Mancini of Girls Rock Camp”

Weapons of Mass Deliciousness: Foolproof Recipes for Your Culinary Arsenal

Originally published for STUFF Magazine. Read the article online here.

Our new Guy issue’s “Best Men” feature outlines some key skills dudes should have at their disposal, offering local experts’ cheat sheets for the bedroom, the bar, and, yep, the kitchen. We’ve already laid out one easy-to-whip-up recipe, but perhaps shrimp ceviche tacos aren’t your cup of tequila. If so, master one of these other go-to goof-proof recipes from the pros, claim it as your own signature dish, and you’ll always be prepared to prove your culinary prowess in those oh-crap-my-date’s-arriving-in-an-hour scenarios. It’s a sure way to impress your lady (or gentleman) friend — seasoning, searing, and sautéing skills are sexy, any way you slice it.

Continue reading “Weapons of Mass Deliciousness: Foolproof Recipes for Your Culinary Arsenal”

The Living Link to Boston’s Jazz Heyday

It’s 9:30 on a Saturday night on Massachusetts Avenue and Wally’s Café is already at capacity of 99 people. A group of about ten twenty-somethings wearing trendy sneakers and perfectly distressed jeans wait anxiously outside the chipped red door blocked by a large African-American man, who lets two people out and another two in.

Inside it’s dark. The tiny place is packed; men and women guard their mate’s barstools, because a open seat at Wally’s is hard to come by. Black-and-white photos of long-gone jazz legends line the exposed brick wall parallel to an elongated bar that stretches from the to the stage. The four-piece ensemble is already playing on the barely-elevated stage—an amber-red drum set, a golden Les Paul guitar, a brassy sax, and a hefty double bass are all tenderly plucked and pounded on in ten-minute improvisation jazz tunes all while submerged in moody red lighting.

Sitting dead center at the bar, is a young well-manicured man wearing a dark wool tuxedo jacket with a stiff, pale pink shirt collar peeping out, head swaying, toes tapping.The bar’s younger patrons, dressed in ripped jeans and sneakers, also swing and drum to the twisting jazz grooves.

The owner and manager, Frank Poindexter, flutters down a white paper napkin before carefully placing the dapper man’s cocktail in front of him “There are not that many places in Boston where there is so much nostalgia there, and a lot of people want to be part of that,” says  Poindexter. “ Wally’s is an American story.”

Continue reading “The Living Link to Boston’s Jazz Heyday”