Tag Archives: Rochester

Hey, curly girls! This one’s for you.

I got my hair cut today. This is a big deal because I think the last time I got my hair cut was three years ago. And it’s an even bigger deal because I asked the stylist to straighten it.


I normally wear my hair down and just let it do whatever it’s going to do. This is a coping mechanism – equal parts resignation, exasperation, and experience. Sometimes it looks great and I love it, like in the picture above. It really is that curly and I really do have natural red highlights, which sometimes show up.

Since I’m asked this a lot, these are my current hair products:

Most people have never seen me with straight hair. I’ve rarely seen me with straight hair, actually. Once upon a time, about three years ago, I wrote about having curly hair and I straightened my hair to make a point. I don’t think I’ve had straight hair since.

And yet, here we are again!

On a recommendation from my mum’s stylist at Tru Salon in Rochester, NY, I went to the Aveda Institute here in New York City to have my hair trimmed by a student stylist. I’ve had enough bad haircuts as a curly-haired person to avoid a) getting my hair cut entirely and b) paying a lot of money for a haircut. Rachel, my mum’s stylist, assured me that the Aveda Institute sees a lot of curly patrons because getting a good curly haircut can be such a challenge and a huge expense.

It’s only hair, right? It’ll grow back, right?


Normally I’d say yes, but that’s precisely the problem.

I haven’t cut my hair in three years because it doesn’t grow. I’ve dreamt of long, flowing curly locks for enough years to know I’ll never have them, even though I follow all of these tips.

Oh yeah. Except for the one about regular trims. Oops.

So off the the Aveda Institute I went!

At the Aveda Institute, student stylists have to get the procedure and each stage of the process approved by an instructor. While this might make some patrons nervous, I understand the need to practice on real humans to learn your trade (I’m a teacher, after all). I truly encourage everyone to look into the Aveda Institute if you’re looking for a top-quality, inexpensive service. After all, students are very careful and deliberate because they’re still learning and you have the benefit of an expert stylist watching each step of the way.

My student stylist, Mary, told me everything I already knew about my hair – it’s surprisingly healthy and hydrated, surprisingly soft, and surprisingly fine. She was surprised that I haven’t cut it in so long. People usually are. What made me happy is that she understood exactly what I wanted and clearly explained how she was going to make my hair look even healthier (and hopefully grow). Even better, the instructors agreed with her! I dread the oft-heard question, “How do they usually cut your hair?” from a stylist, indicating that curly hair like mine is unfamiliar. Mary’s confidence made me feel at ease and since she had the scissors, that was probably a good thing.

Reasons to Visit the Aveda Institute

  1. They provide a wide range of salon services (I’ll probably be back soon for a facial)
  2. They serve tea
  3. It’s fun to watch the students style and color mannequins’ hair
  4. The students are very conscientious
  5. Instructors check every step of the process and make some adjustments along the way
  6. It’s very, very affordable and reasonably priced

One thing to note: If you want to tip, they only accept cash and don’t have an ATM.

When Mary was done, I asked her to take some pictures:

Hey, everybody! I have long, flowing locks! Amazing. Darn all that curl shrinkage.

Unfortunately, my hair won’t look like this tomorrow. I don’t own a comb, brush, blow dryer, or straightening iron (or blush, eyeshadow, or lipstick) so it’ll either be back to curls or up in a ponytail. But it’s super fun to feel it swish against my back and the sides of my face! It’s always the little things, right?

So after three years, about a 1/2-inch of split ends have been cut off and my layers are relayered. I’m looking forward to seeing what my hair looks like curly!

If you have tips, tricks, or hints to share, I’d love to hear them! I’m pretty low-maintenance (could you tell?) but surprisingly vain when it comes to my hair. Happy to hear anything you’ve got! Comment below or through the contact page. Cheers, curly girls!

Coffee for a Cause

I love coffee. Very much. It occupies a very important role in my life, and I wake up every morning excited for the first sip. Drug? I think so.

I am also passionate about helping others, so I was delighted when my friend Emily suggested meeting at The Greenhouse Café for a warm beverage and sandwiches on a rainy day. The Greenhouse Café is a lovely little spot that used to be, as the name suggests, a functioning greenhouse! I didn’t even mind the Christmas decorations . . . too much.

It was a bit chilly to sit in the greenhouse so Emily, my friend Paige, and I actually sat in the back, a much more typical café setting with dining tables, matching chairs, and sturdy walls.

What I really enjoyed about Greenhouse Café, even more than the self-serve refillable coffee and the apple-cheddar panini prepared before my eyes, is that Greenhouse Café is part of Coffee Connection, a local nonprofit that purchases and then sells coffee that is fair trade, organic, and sustainably grown. Purchasing these particular coffee beans supports farmers who are committed to those practices. Coffee Connection then sells the coffee in a number of retail and wholesale establishments, providing jobs and job training in their coffee shops for women recovering from addiction.

That’s what we call a social enterprise and I love it.

It wasn’t until the woman who made our sandwiches and provided the necessary huge coffee mugs mentioned the original Coffee Connection on South Avenue that I realized I’d been there! The coffee is roasted on site at this café so it always smells delicious. There’s also a shop selling artisanal Peruvian goods in the back.

Friends, coffee, positive local and global actions. Works for me!

PS I have a soft spot for all social enterprises and spent a week in Battambang, Cambodia last year exploring a wide variety of them. I particularly love those that support vocational training for women. Check out The Nail Social if you’re ever in Singapore.

Home for the Holiday

Shana tova! Happy New Year!

I was more than delighted to leave New York City this past weekend and spend Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at home in Rochester with my family. My brother is a sophomore in college who flew home for the holiday and my sister is a grad student in Rochester, so she was already home. The three of us overlapped in my parents’ house for all of 24 hours over the summer and I was almost childishly excited to be together again.

My grandparents drove from Montreal and Toronto to be with us, as well. I know that I am very lucky to have all of my grandparents and that they are all healthy and able to drive long distances. Without traffic (almost a certainty at Customs) Rochester is five hours from Montreal and three from Toronto, so it’s a significant amount of travel time. I am so grateful to be able to be with my family at any time, but especially at the start of the new year. So far, this is absolutely the best part of returning to the US.

Rosh Hashanah started Sunday night and I arrived Saturday morning, which meant I had time to do a few Rochester-related activities before contributing to the Rosh Hashanah cooking that my mum had been working on all week. I ended up making two cakes, stuffed vegetables, and doing a variety of prep for other dishes. Before getting involved in holiday preparations, however, we had time for a trip to my favorite local place, the Rochester Public Market.

There are a number of farmers’ markets in various Rochester suburbs, but the downtown public market is the largest and definitely the best, both for quality of produce and variety of options. It’s open year-round Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with an increasing number of vendors as we get closer to the weekend. When I lived in the Park Ave neighborhood after college I went to the market every Saturday morning to buy my produce before heading to our local grocery chain, Wegmans (which I dearly miss!), for the rest. I knew which vendors would have what I wanted and where they were located, who would sell half baskets for half the price, and who sold parsley leaves in little bags instead of large bunches. Some vendors have changed in the last few years, but the market is still my favorite Rochester place.

Market shoppers! There’s more diversity here than any other place in the city. (Note: Statement based on personal experience, not empirical evidence.)

My parents picked me up at the airport on Saturday and we headed straight for Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop for a late breakfast. I meant to get a picture but I was too distracted with my empanada and fried plantains. Next time!

This is NOT Juan and Maria’s. Juan and Maria’s has a cult following complete with bumper stickers, but this place also looks tasty.

And then it was time to buy vegetables, fruits, and pumpkins fresh from the farmers at ridiculously low prices:


In addition to produce, there are meat and cheese stands, local wine vendors, family bakeries, flower stalls, and several craft beverage specialists:


Part of the market is reserved for small household goods and occasionally clothing stands:


Afer completing Mum’s shopping list and heading back to the car, we passed Duke’s Donuts. I’m not a huge fan of sweets but they have apple cider and that’s a very good thing:


Great place to spend an hour, even if you just look around. There’s lots to see, free samples at many stands (my favorites are cheese and wine), and excellent people watching. Planning a trip to Rochester (at a time when I happen to be home)? Let me know when you’re visiting and I’ll wander around with you!

As good as the public market is, however, it doesn’t top being with my family. I have yet to find anything better than that.