I've been riding since the fall of 2004, after completing the Motorcycle Safetly Foundation's Basic Rider Course. I highly recommend this class to anyone who's considering riding: if you don't like it, this is a good way to find out, and if you do, it's a great way to learn about many aspects of riding and perhaps even qualify for your license.
Since learning to ride, I've also learned to "wrench" and have the skills and tools needed to change oil, adjust valves, clean carburetors, replace a voltage regulator/rectifier, etc. — basically, I've fixed or replaced most things that have failed on my bikes. It's a great feeling to be able to understand and repair a problem yourself.
My first bike was a Yamaha Virago XV250, a small V-twin cruiser and a good starter bike, though most of the miles I put on it were commuting back and forth between home and MIT.
My second bike was 1997 BMW F650 Classic, a large-capacity single-cylinder "thumper" that I bought with around 37,000 miles and sold with around 57,000 miles on the odometer. This bike took me on a 10,000 mile, two-month long solo journey across Canada and the U.S., which was the trip of a lifetime (so far).
I am currently riding a 2009 BMW F650GS twin, the first brand-new bike I've owned, and probably the nicest birthday present I've ever gotten. I'm looking forward to riding the scenic California roads — the Pacific Coast Highway beckons!
I love to cook, and especially enjoy creating desserts. I made a brief foray into the world of professional pastry at Sonsie Restaurant in Boston; now I enjoy the creativity and slower pace of my home kitchen. A gallery of my creations may be found in my Desserts album on Facebook, which includes such favorites as Chocolate Bourbon Truffle Cake with Coffee Buttercream as well as Vanilla Bean Lavender Cake with Grapefruit Curd and Honey Buttercream, also known as my wedding cake. You can find more pictures and recipes on my cooking blog, Saffron and Vanilla.
Here are some of my other favorite recipes...I hope you enjoy!
- Puddings: it took me a while to figure out a pudding recipe I was happy with. This is definitely my favorite, with a few variations. Fresh, whole vanilla beans are a must!
- Truffles: if you have good chocolate, truffles are impressive and ridiculously easy to make. Here are some basics; have fun coming up with variations!
- Spice Layer Cake with Chocolate-Orange Ganache: this is based on my Dad's wonderful spice cake recipe, and frosted with an orange-infused ganache.
- Meyer Lemon Trio: I originally made these for a Meyer-lemon based dessert party. This set includes a Meyer lemon pound cake with miniature chocolate chips, Meyer lemon tarts, and raspberry-filled Meyer lemon cookies.
- Grandma Anna's Chocolate Brownies: well, she was really my great-grandma, but the recipe was passed down to me from my Dad. These brownies aren't too chocolatey, and very simple to make.
- Butter Tarts: a rich and decadent Canadian treat I encountered on my North American motorcycle journey. Simple to make, and are wonderful in their basic form or with any additions of your choice.
- Honey-Lime Corn Cakes: my husband's favorite dessert.
- Raspberry-Blueberry Sorbet: goes with the Honey-Lime Corn Cakes. The texture will be a bit more icy than commercial sorbets, and the flavor more intense.
- Chocolate Bourbon Truffle Cake with Coffee Buttercream: chocolate, bourbon, coffee. Definitely an adult cake to be consumed in small portions, but well worth the effort and expense.
- Homemade Ice Cream: there's nothing like it. Whole vanilla beans are a must, as is an electric ice cream maker. Here are a few basic flavors -- have fun experimenting with your own!
I've played viola since I was a freshman in high school (prior to that I played violin). In high school I studied with Carol Sasson, and in college with Sarah Adams. I also had the good fortune to be able to attend the Aspen Music Festival School for two years (1998 and 1999), where I was in the studio of Heidi Castleman, Victoria Chang, and Ellen Rose. After graduating from college, I attended the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for a year as a Master's student in viola performance, where I studied with Cathy Carroll and Masao Kawasaki. In grad school, I had a lot of fun playing in the MIT chamber music groups, and you can find recordings of some of my performances below. Although my background is in classical music, I love improvising and will play just about anything for fun!
Recordings with the MIT Chamber Music Society:
- George Enescu, Octet for Strings in C major, Op. 7 (6/07, with Sherman Jia, Amanda Wang, Albert Chow, Justin Lo - violins, Jennifer Grucza - viola, and Sunny Wicks, Cai GoGwilt - cellos)
- Jean Francaix, Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (5/14/07, with Joey Everett, clarinet; and Anushree Subramaniam, piano)
- Ernest Chausson, Concerto in D major, Op. 21 for violin, piano, and string quartet (12/11/2006, with Serenus Hua, solo violin; Crystal Chao, piano; Albert Chow, violin I; Uta Maeda, violin II; and Sunny Wicks, 'cello)
- Johannes Brahms, Piano quartet no. 2 in A major (5/15/2006, with Jackie O'Connor, violin; Sunny Wicks, 'cello; and Michelle Sander, piano)
- Maurice Ravel, String quartet in F major (12/14/2005, with Serenus Hua, violin I; Albert Chow, violin II; and Alan deLespinasse, 'cello)
- Claude Debussy, Trio pour flute, alto et harpe (5/10/2005, with Ole Nielsen, flute; and Christina Chestnut, harp
- Kraus, Duo for Flute and Viola (12/7/2004, with Ole Nielsen)
I love the outdoors, and in particular I enjoy gardening, hiking, and birdwatching. Although my recent gardening endeavors have been limited by frequent moves, both New Mexico and now southern California are great for outdoor activities!
There's nothing more rewarding than exploring a new place. Of course, everyone's taste differs, but here are my top ten favorite destinations:
- The Big Island (Hawaii): volcanoes; snorkeling among colorful fish in warm, sunny waters; amazing coffee; lush rainforests with stupendous waterfalls; world-class telescopes — these are just a few of my favorite things on the Big Island. If you go (and you really, really should!) be sure to spend at least a week. I've had the best experiences at bed and breakfasts; Hawaiians are very hospitable and knowledgeable, and you will probably get the best coffee and fresh fruit of your life.
- New York City (New York): perhaps it goes without saying, but New York is one of the best destinations in the country. Maybe I'm biased (I was born there, after all), but I have always had a blast in NYC. Even the trip during snowpocalypse 2010 brings back fond memories of tromping through snowdrifts to a delicious hot meal of fresh-cooked barbeque.
- Banff and Jasper National Parks, and the Icefields Parkway (Alberta, Canada): the Canadian Rockies are the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen, and there's great hiking — as well as dining — to be had here as well.
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (California): there are many places in California to see redwoods, but this is one of the most tranquil and lovely locations to walk in an old-growth redwood forest. If you can, take the time to camp there; more likely than not, your tent will be nestled at the base of a grand old tree.
- Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah): there's no way that any picture will ever be able to capture the true splendor of the hoodoos in Bryce. You will just have to go see them for yourself.
- Paris (France): it has been quite a while since I visited Paris, but I can practically still taste the wine, cheese, and bread. And crepes, and pain au chocolat, and charcuterie, and eclairs...
- Zion National Park (Utah): while it is a bit crowded, the natural beauty is still well worth a visit. Assuming you're not afraid of heights, be sure ot take some time and hike the Angels Landing trail for some spectacular views.
- Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico): the cave formations are spectacular, and if you plan enough ahead, you can also see parts of the caverns which are not accessible to the general public. Of these, the Hall of the White Giant and Spider Cave are my favorites, but be forewarned that crawling and squeezing through narrow spaces are part of the adventure.
- Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio): if you like rollercoasters, and have not been here yet, get plane tickets right now. And plan to spend a couple days — it's well worth a pilgrimage.
- Butchart Gardens (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada): beautifully planned and carefully executed, these are some of the finest formal gardens in the world. Be sure to go with a friend; you will want to have someone nearby to express your delight! (Otherwise you will get funny looks from strangers. Trust me on this.)