The Sol Compass

by Caitlin Hummer

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Boston Concert Guide

To say that I love concerts is a bit of an understatement.  Ever since I turned 18, I’ve gone to (on average) one concert a month.  It’s sort of weird now, since I tend to be one of the oldest people at the concert (save for a few parental chaperones), but I truly believe that live music can heal in a way most things can’t.

Something that I get asked a lot by my friends is where they should eat before a concert.  While food is my top priority, proximity is a close second.  I always try to keep the food bill (before beverages, taxes, and tip) under $20, so the recommendations you’ll see here are all in that ballpark (though, rarely, slightly over).  Every single restaurant here is someplace I would willingly go to again, and not just mentioned out of sheer convenience.  Music may rival my love for food, but it certainly won’t encourage me to eat whatever garbage chicken fingers are being served inside.

After visiting every venue on this list, I have pretty strong opinions as to which is the best/worst.

Venue: House of Blues.
Restaurant: Sweet Cheeks BBQ.
The House of Blues is far and away my favorite venue in Boston.  The acoustics are great, the bars and aisles around the sides are distinct enough to allow a constant flow, and they keep prices for their tickets consistently affordable (I generally expect to spend less than $40).  It also has the added bonus of being widely accessible from anywhere, whether you are looking for affordable parking (good luck finding a $10 parking spot near the Garden the night of your concert) or just take the green line into the Kenmore Station.

To sweeten the deal, a quick walk away from the House of Blues is my favorite barbecue spot in New England, Sweet Cheeks!  B and I will usually split a tray (one meat choice, one hot side and one cold side) and then get a big bucket of the biscuits – they are absolutely to die for!

Venue: The Sinclair
Restaurant: Cambridge, 1
The Sinclair sneaks in barely behind House of Blues for my favorite venue.  I’ve seen some amazing shows here, but while the intimacy of The Sinclair is hard to match, I think truly great artists can shine a bit more at the House of Blues.  Harvard Square may be evolving away from its former quirky glory that I remember it most fondly by, but The Sinclair is thriving as always.  An obvious choice is to eat at the kitchen at The Sinclair, but it can get pretty busy during the pre-show rush, so I prefer to walk down Church Street to Cambridge, 1. They have a great wooden interior, clean but sultry vibes when the sun goes down, and really great, innovative pizza pies.

Venue: The Red Room at Cafe 939
Restaurant: Trident Booksellers & Cafe

Cafe 939 is a totally unique venue in that it’s actually run by students at Berklee College of Music.  The business students are tasked with booking artists for the venue, and seniors have their performance recitals here as well.  I saw Rachel Platten and A Great Big World here back in 2011 before either of them had made it big, and it was such a great experience.  It’s a small and cozy venue, with great acoustics and a friendly, engaging atmosphere.  Pop over to Newbury Street before hand to grab a bite to eat at Trident, which is totally different than my old go-to for Cafe 939, the since closed Cactus Club.  Trident is a favorite shop of mine, thanks to their friendly and helpful environment, plus being one of the only independent bookstores left.  If you can find your way out of the shelves, they serve breakfast and sandwiches all day long.

Venue: Agganis Arena
Restaurant: Otto

Agganis is my favorite arena sized concert venue.  It’s more intimate than the Garden, and with better acoustics.  I saw Macklemore and Halsey within two months of each other there, and they were my two favorite concerts of that summer.  Comm Ave is full of places you could eat at, but I’d recommend going to Otto for their thin crust pizza.  Right across the street and on the same block as Agganis, the location can’t be beat.  The interior of this one is my favorite of all their locations – bright white walls, wooden tables and bar, an outdoor patio, and a wall of basil right as you walk in.  They do pizza by the slice or whole pies, and they also have gluten free crust available!  It’s also important to note that they have an extensive craft beer and wine selection available, in case you want to get the party started a little early.

Venue: Great Scott
Restaurant: Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

My sister and I saw Matt Hires (one of my all-time favorite musicians) and Alex Dezen play the coolest joint set here, and they mingled around the audience before and after the show. Since Great Scott has a very low key vibe, I like to kick off the night with some equally low key (but delicious) grilled cheese over at Roxy’s brick and mortar destination (the food truck can frequently be found at the Greenway, Downtown, or Harvard Square!)

Venue: Brighton Music Hall
Restaurant: Lone Star Taco Bar

Brighton Music Hall to me is a better version of Paradise Rock Club.  It’s less than a mile down the street, has no poles blocking your view (see below) and has a set up that makes it very easy to get to the bathroom, bar, or merch table.  Lone Star Taco Bar is the perfect place to get your Mexican fix beforehand, with $4 tacos every day of the week, not just on Taco Tuesday!  Their servers are amazing, and all the ingredients are fresh.  For the price you just cannot beat it, but it is very small and pretty popular, so try to get here as early as you can.

Venue: TD Garden
Restaurant: Finch
As far as concerts go, the Garden is a 0 on the -5 to 5 scale.  That energy I felt when Paul Pierce returned for his last game and played under Larry Bird’s number, the eery feeling of history being made in front of your eyes just doesn’t translate to concert performances.  The acoustics aren’t great, and the upper deck can be hard to dance around without feeling like you’re going to fall off.  That being said, bigger acts aren’t going to stop at the smaller venues, and some concerts I’ve seen here have been truly great in spite of the circumstances.
Around the corner from the Garden, inside of the Boxer Hotel, is Finch, where American fares on the lighter side are paired with specialty cocktails.  The interior falls somewhere between vintage and farmhouse, which strikes a much more elegant balance than one might expect.  Finding a meal at a nice restaurant in the West or North End can seem budget breaking, but Finch really slides in at a palatable price point.

Venue: Gillette Stadium
Restaurant: Tavolino
I don’t personally love going to concerts at Gillette, if only because the traffic on Route One after an event is my own personal kind of hell.  I would absolutely make an exception to go back if The Boss decided to do another stadium tour (…please?!)  At any rate, the other 66,000 people attending are also trying to get food in Patriot Place before the concert, which can make it frustrating, if not impossible, to fuel up.  Tavolino has done a great job capitalizing on the lack of restaurant seats available, and set up a “To Go” station on the sidewalk outside for pizza.  You’ll still have a wait, but it will be tremendously shorter than waiting for a table and sit down service, guaranteed.  (Celiac friends: since they didn’t have any gluten free pizzas ready outside, they walked my sister inside and let her order a GF pizza at the bar to go!)

Venue: Paradise Rock Club
Restaurant: Mei Mei
I decidedly do not love going to shows at Paradise, which garners a lot of scorn from my fellow concert lovers (and boyfriend, for that matter).  The low ceilings can induce a bit of claustrophobia, and the unsightly poles block the line of sight for the entire back half of the theater. They also hosted U2 one time back before I was born and they will never let anyone forget it.  B loves the intimacy of the small venue and its location, being right off the T and near plenty of food and bar options.  It’s also a sort of institution in Boston, the kind of place that you grow up going to.  Some artists I love, including but not limited to Wrabel and Cigarettes After Sex, have made stops on tour to Paradise though, so I will continue going back for worthwhile performances.  Luckily, Mei Mei- my food spot of choice- is also a very enticing reason to head to Paradise. Another food truck that amassed a huge following, Mei Mei’s small, but open restaurant serves up the most drool-worthy dumplings, amongst other Asian Fusion choices.

Venue: Fenway Park
Restaurant: Tiger Mama
There, I said it.  Fenway Park is the worst concert venue in Boston.  It’s great for baseball games, but absolutely terrible for concerts (which is good, since it was actually built for baseball games…)  I’d really only go for people I desperately wanted to see (i.e. Lady Gaga, who had been on my list for years).  It’s also a great reason to go to Tiger Mama.  Right down the street from its sister restaurant Sweet Cheeks, Tiffany Faison’s Southeast Asian outpost never disappoints.  They did an amazing job on the interior, and it feels as authentic and transporting as you could ever dream.  I love going family style here, and sharing a bunch of items because they are all way too good to pass up.

Bonus: some concert venues around New England!

Venue: Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
Restaurant: Red Fez
Now named the Strand Ballroom, I guess I’m a little old fashioned because I love all the history that the name Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel holds.  They’ve held court for my beloved Colony House, among many others.  My friend Erick never steers me wrong for recommendations in Providence, so hats off to him for introducing me to the nearby Red Fez.  If you aren’t in the mood for something too heavy, its perfect for bar snacks or tacos before the show.

Venue: Maine State Pier
Restaurant: Flatbread Company
B and I really love Portland, so I frequently check in on their concert lineups just in case there’s a great show that we could take a night away to go see.  The Maine State Pier is home to many waterfront shows during the summer months, and is about everything you might expect from an outdoor venue.  Just steps away is a location of Flatbread, which I will gladly go to any time, any place, for their (wait for it…) flatbread pizzas.

Venue: Port City Music Hall
Restaurant: Duck Fat
A small venue with great sound quality is pretty much a one way ticket to my heart, as far as concert halls go.  Port City strikes an amazing balance between retro vibes, and actually looking clean, somehow.  It has the nice added bonus of being within walking distance from Duck Fat, which is possibly my greatest weakness as far as greasy food goes.

Venue: Mohegan Sun
Restaurant: Frank Pepe’s

I’ve never had a bad show experience at the Mohegan Arena (if you don’t count the brutal hour that I had to listen to Colbie Caillatt open for Christina Perri three years ago…)  It’s nice to have free parking at a venue, and the casino offers endless amounts of entertainment before or after your show.  There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but I personally am a sucker for grabbing a slice of Pepe’s red tomato pie (clearly, pizza is a very prominent part of this guide).  That, and a couple Krispy Kreme donuts after the show…

xo, C

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February 2018 Recap

Hi everyone, welcome back!  Sorry for the radio silence around here.  When life gets really busy, unfortunately the blog is the first thing that has to be taken off the burner.

That being said, it was the perfect time to do some reflecting on the direction I want to take The Sol Compass in over the next year.

It became clear to me throughout January that I wanted to broaden the focus of the blog.  I try to curb my spending in the early months of the year (since it’s a time of year that I really don’t need many new things, and also the time of year that can be actually painful to take outfit photos in when you live in New England).  For three years, I’ve shared nearly three outfit posts every single week.  That is a lot of new outfits every month!  I love personal style, and it will always be a cornerstone of my own personal identity and the identity of this site.  At this point, though, an increasing number of my life goals are centered around other things, and most of those things don’t involve creating new, fresh, and inspiring outfits at a somewhat alarming rate.

I have always needed a creative outlet, and this blog has been nothing short of perfect for me. As I take a step back from fashion, it means I can focus on other things that you and I both care about.  My main idea in this shift of direction is that this place will be fewer photos of me in my outfits, and more about us.  Nearly 40% of you are women between 25 and 34 – we are all going through the same things together, and care about many of the same topics (our jobs, our homes, our skin, our vacations).  I love researching these topics, learning about them, and sharing my findings with you all through writing.  So I hope you stick around as I take an editorial approach to the things you want to see more of!

(In case you missed my intro to my monthly recaps, see January’s here).

B and I had quite a few nights out this month, which was a really nice way to break up the winter blues.  We went to Providence with my family to see Sebastian Maniscalco, and ate at a little Italian place in Federal Hill called Massimo.  I’ve mentioned before that my mom and both of my siblings have celiac disease, so finding an Italian restaurant that has so many gluten free options is a big win with them (even though my dad and I were pulling to go to Los Andes… all parties left the meal full and happy).

For Valentine’s Day, we have a tradition of staying home far away from every overpriced prix fixe menu.  This year we decided to have a little cheese night and make a small board for ourselves.  We’ve spent a lot of time learning about cheese and cheese boards over the last year, so it’s really fun for us to put something together.  I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a post about it, so if that’s something you would be interested in seeing leave me a comment!

We moved Bryan’s side hustle (Think Wood Thoughts) into a physical space, which was super exciting!  He now has a small collection of his pieces available in Sterling, Mass!  If you’re nearby, you can check his booth out here.

As a gift, Bryan also made me a gorgeous side table to serve as a coffee station!  I have lots of coffee beans and makers, but really had nowhere to store them all.  I also think coffee cart is going to be the next bar cart, and wanted an area everything could shine.  This gift really will keep on giving throughout the years, and I can’t wait to show you all how I style it in the next couple weeks!

The last exciting thing that happened this month, is we saw Black Panther, which is a two fold excitement.  First off, the movie is great and if you haven’t seen it yet you should change that ASAP.  The next piece, is we got to start our full re-watch of the MCU in preparation for Infinity War.  This article is the perfect order to watch, in my opinion.  Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us with this marathon!

Thank you so much for reading.  I love you all tremendously, and the fact that you are reading these words right now means nothing short of the world to me.

xo, C

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Apple Watch Review

One of the questions my friends in real life and on the internet have in common, is “How do you like your Apple Watch?!”  The truth is, long before Apple even announced a watch, I was searching for a watch with standalone GPS function.  I never found one that seemed worth the purchase though, so I postponed the purchase.  When Apple launched the Series Two, B got himself one, and I waited with baited breath to hear his full review.  As the technology world tends to do, the whispers around the Series 3 kept me waiting around for that launch, and in September I decided the new Apple Watch finally had everything I was looking for.  My family actually bought me one for my birthday, and I have gleefully worn it every day since then.  Every week or so, someone has asked me for my review and recommendation.

My number one interest in the Apple Watch was its health features.  As mentioned, I have long searched for wearable technology that allows me to track my runs (and walks) without carrying my phone around.  Some of my other favorite features include the activity rings, the “stand” alerts, and the workout app, which allows you to track cycling, elliptical, and stair master workouts, amongst others.  It’s also really nice to not need my phone strapped onto my arm at the gym, I just use my watch and Bose Earphones.

The unsung hero of the Apple Watch, in my option, is its integration with Maps.  No more forgetting to take a turn, the watch will gently, but repeatedly, tap you when you have a turn coming up.

My friend Brad told me I would never notice how many notifications I got in a day until I got an Apple Watch, and he was 100% right.  I had to turn off everything except calls and texts after just one day!  I do love that I can check my texts even when I don’t have my phone nearby, and the Siri is very useful in its own right.

A slightly annoying, but fixable, side effect was that after a couple months of wearing the Watch all day long (besides sleeping), I began to notice some small red bumps on my wrist.  I assumed it was because of my dry winter skin, and I had never worn a watch all day, through workouts and all, before.  So I asked my mom (an avid watch wearer), and she said some hydrocortisone would fix it!  (She was right, as always).

My only real complaint about the Apple Watch is the lack of Spotify integration.  It works great with Apple Music, but I’m very loyal to Spotify for a plethora of reasons, which can make leaving behind your phone very frustrating.  I’m not sure the future the Watch and Spotify have together, but in my book it’s the only real area for improvement.

Do any of you have the Apple Watch?  What are your thoughts on it?

xo, C

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Beauty Spotlight: Mario Badescu


Welcome back everyone!  Mac first introduced me to Mario Badescu by way of this drying lotion, and I’m so happy she did.  For a pretty reasonable price, you get really great quality products.  While I have by no means tried their whole product lineup, I’ve loved every one that I purchased so far.

Drying Lotion.  Acne spots are not my biggest skincare problem, but they are unbelievably frustrating whenever they do pop up.  This stuff goes on at night, and by the next morning the problem areas are visibly reduced.  If that isn’t pure magic, I don’t know what is.

Vitamin C Serum.  The other product that Mac encouraged me to try was this serum to reduce signs of aging (which is hilarious, because she doesn’t age AT ALL).  Vitamin C was one of the ingredients I was aggressively searching for in skincare last year.  Bright, smooth skin?  Twist my arm.

Botanical Exfoliating Scrub.  There are few things I love the same way as I love a good exfoliator.  The challenge can sometimes lie in finding one that effectively scrubs off the dead skin cells without seriously irritating my dry skin.  The day after I used this for the first time, I already could tell that my face was looking smoother and more radiant.  At only $26, this one is perfect for using once or twice a week without breaking the bank.

Neck Cream.  I mentioned in my last skincare post that I had my eye open for a new neck cream.  At that point I had actually forgotten that I had ordered this one from Ulta, so I’ve been trying this one out for a little over one week.  I haven’t noticed significant changes in my neck lines yet, but it is really great for moisturizing, and my décolletage seems to be getting firmer already.

Chamomile Night Cream.  A silly thing that I wish I was better at is drinking tea at night.  It seems like such a great idea to calm myself down before bed, but I honestly just never think about it.  Luckily, skincare is something I do think about every night.  The calming smell of the chamomile is a really great relaxer for me, and I love using this after the exfoliating scrub, and any time my skin is red and blotchy I reach for it as well.  (Mario Badescu does make a few different types of night creams though, depending on what your skin type and interests are!)

Do any of you use Mario Badescu already?  Let me know your experience with the brand in the comment section!  Hope you have a great weekend!

xo, C

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5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues


Hi everyone – welcome back!  I was looking for something in my OneNote app last week, and I found this post that I wrote last year and never published!  I actually really like the way it came out so while it’s not completely relevant (I’m not doing Whole30 this year, and our trip to Florida was over a year ago), I decided not to change it and just leave the text as it was.  It’s a good little reminder for myself too, since we’re right in the thick of those tired winter blues right now!

Today I want to share with you a few things that have helped me the past month combat those winter blues.

Take advantage of the slow season to focus on your health.  While I was in Florida, I was really starting to feel the effects of eating out for every meal and snacking unhealthily throughout the day.  There was no way I was going to pass up a beignet or a churro or a Mickey bar… I have never dieted a day in my life, but I was starting to feel the effects of all the bread products and sugar I had been having.  Towards the end of the trip I started thinking about going on Whole30.  Then I got a stomach bug and pretty much didn’t leave my bed for three days.  After sleeping more than I usually do in a month and always being tired, I finalized my decision to start Whole30.  My goal wasn’t to lose any weight or have a miraculous appearance change, but rather to force myself to make healthier habits.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and my hope was that at the end of Whole30 I would reach for healthier breakfasts (over my usual bagel) and have a better knowledge of what foods would help me feel better and give me the energy to keep going throughout my very long days (I usually wake up before six and frequently come home after 11).  Researching a lot about food, what I could have, and experimenting with recipes also got me into a pretty good habit of meal prep and actually taking time to make my own breakfast, which was my ultimate goal.  During the first week I missed carbs so much.  Mentally I kept thinking I was hungry or needed a more “filling” part of a meal as I stared at chicken and vegetables on repeat.  I can definitely say that my Whole30 journey was a success in steering me away from the empty carbs and towards food with a nutritional value, and having a slower social season to focus on it was really helpful as well.

Drink more water.  This is one of those things that everyone sort of knows we should do but hardly anyone actually believes they do enough.  I always thought S’well bottles were the best way to help these.  Every morning I try to make myself drink a full bottle of water before I got up from my desk for the first time.  Unfortunately I tend to get up a lot, so sometimes it’s a challenge but it is pretty good motivation.  Especially while I’m downing that morning coffee it is extremely good to mix some water in.  Then wanting to get up to fill my water throughout the day is another decent excuse to keep drinking (and stretching the legs).

Read more.  While I was sick, I got that judgy message from Netflix asking if I was still binge watching New Girl.  I usually only watch one episode of anything at a time, so seeing that really struck a nerve with me.  I actually deleted my Netflix app on my iPad the next day because seeing that message just made me feel awful.  I started to keep two stacks of books on one of my nightstands.  One with nonfiction books on my list, and the other with fiction.  I’ve been trying to get in the habit of reading more at night because reading really does bring me so much joy (my mom used to joke that she would punish my sister and I with “no reading for fun”).  Unfortunately, it’s one of the first things I put to the back burner when my life gets busy and I always feel the empty hole it leaves when I stop.  Whatever genre you choose to indulge in, reading is amazing for your creativity and critical thinking.

Self care.  Face masks are one of those things that feel so indulgent and not a single bit guilty.  You get to relax and give yourself a quiet night in, and your face gets treated to some much needed care?  Win win.  Same with going to the gym.  When did you ever feel bad after going to the gym?  Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it sucks, but in the end it’s over and you get to eat pizza for dinner.

Schedule downtime.  I am always out and about on any given night of the week.  December was particularly busy, and between Christmas gatherings, movie releases, store opening parties, Taco Tuesdays, and my friends coming back to Massachusetts for the holidays, I felt like the only down time I had was spent on writing five blog posts per week!  Socializing is something that can seem so urgent and important, but I have always known that I need some time to myself.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that scheduling my nights alone is something I need to be better at.  My problem was always that I didn’t know in advance that I would have time alone, and so I would wind up wasting an entire evening.  Planning my time alone ahead of time (planning a meal or a book even) and not just allowing myself to waste the night away busying myself has been really important to my ‘me time’.  Michaela and I will very easily pop on a movie with our laptops or tablets in front of us, and then all of a sudden I’m answering emails and working on finding links for next week’s post.  One of the greatest things about blogging is I can do it any time, any place.  But it also makes it that much harder to turn it off and take myself off the clock.

What are your favorite ways to beat the winter blues?

xo, C

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My New Favorite Dress Line

Happy Monday my loves!  Back in the fall, B and I had a vow renewal ceremony to go to, and I really struggled with finding the right dress to wear.  I happened upon one at Target (seen in this post) and it was absolutely perfect.  Five months later, it’s still one of my favorite dresses.  So when I had a work trip come up that took me to Southern California in January, I knew just where to go.

The Who What Wear line is filled with fun patterns and rich colors in event appropriate hemlines.  I love the materials they use, and the silhouettes are super flattering (but prepare to size down a size or two!)  Best of all: at these prices, you can fill your closet up with new dresses and not feel guilty about it one bit.

Outfit Details – Dress: Who What Wear | Jacket: Topshop | Heels: Vince Camuto | Tote: Tory Burch | Necklace: Elizabeth and James | Earrings: Coach | Watch: Apple

Thanks so much for stopping by – hope you have a great week!

xo, C

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My Old Skincare Routine


Hi everyone, welcome back!  For the better part of 2017, I really dedicated myself to trying different skincare products and finding the ones that have that “wow” factor.  I’m currently working on a post about my new skincare routines and other products and brands I’ve really fallen in love with, but if you read about my old one skincare post back in the day, you may be wondering why I’m changing it up.  I absolutely loved bareMinerals’ Exfoliating Cleanser, and I used it for probably four years.  However they discontinued that product, and the ones that replaced it were never quite as good without that gentle exfoliating factor.  It made me realize that I’m just looking for a little more out of my skincare.

If you’re looking for a basic cleanser that does a good job and a buttery soft moisturizer, these are really quite good.  My skin is dry and can be sensitive at times, but bareMinerals products (both skincare and makeup) have never given me a reaction.  The main reason I have changed up my skincare regimen, is that I realized that I really want daily skincare that is exfoliating, or brightened and hydrated my skin with an extra bang.

One of the bareMinerals products that I absolutely will keep on rotation is the Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Serum.  As advertised, it does a great job reducing wrinkles and fine lines, but the big surprise to me was that it’s actually super hydrating as well.  I love using this as an anti-aging component of my routine all year, but it’s especially nice during the winter when my skin is really dry.  Over the last week, every square inch of my skin has been dry, except my face, and I swear this is a big part of the reason why.

L’Oreal Advanced RevitaLift Face & Neck Day Cream.  To be honest, I’m continuing on with this one for now, but I am going to keep looking for neck treatments.  I definitely have seen good results with this one, I’m just not blown away by them.  So if you have a holy grail neck oil, cream, etc. let me know about it for sure!


Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to hear your story of skincare evolution if you have one, so definitely leave me a comment or send an email to!  I could talk about skincare for hours, and I love hearing about other people’s experiences as well!

xo, C