Archives for category: Boston

This post is a combination of two things.

1. All of the photos are from last week’s vacation (instagrams are perfect for vacation photos, don’t you think?).

2. All of the text comprises my “perfect list” of the things I’d recommend to anyone, anytime, to always do. For the most part, the photos have nothing to do with the text. So sorry, but I think it’ll work.

Here’s the thing about Nantucket. It’s expensive and prohibitive. They charge you to park on the mainland side (cheapest parking is at the bus lot). They charge you to ferry over on the slowest boat possible, or they charge you to fly over on the shortest flight known to mankind. Food also must ferry over, so menu prices will make you wince. Many of the shops seem to be full of cashmere and ridiculous gold jewelry. The drabbest bed and breakfast could cost your whole vacation budget.

But here’s the other thing about Nantucket: the entire thing is encircled with beaches. Each one has a new view, or a new type of wave, or a new feeling of pure freedom to encounter. It’s 99% independent businesses owned by quirky humans, most of them there because they adore the place. The breeze seems to be always blowing. The architectural restrictions that mean every single house must have cedar shingles and white trim? It works so well that your eyes relax and notice all the wildflowers for once.

And it can be relished, truly loved, for not too much money.

Best case scenario: someone with a house invites you out. God bless em, this happens every once in awhile. But other best case scenario: stay at the cutest hostel in the world! Take the shuttle out, or bring your bike on the ferry and bike out. Take the bus down from Boston, bring your bike on the ferry, stay here, and save your pennies for the food!

alright, on to the perfect list:

Milky Coffee and the Breakfast Special at the Pharmacy You can do the brunch scene with it twenty minute waits, or you can do this. Particularly when hungover, I prefer this. Sit at the counter if you can, or just call your order to the girls behind the counter. The breakfast special is a genius combination of onion bagel, bacon, tomato, salt and pepper and cream cheese . It arrives in splendor on a paper plate. They mix your cream and sugar into your coffee, and it turns out dessert style.

 Lounging inside and outside the Library An oasis in the heat, the Nantucket Athenaeum is a beautiful free spot: cool inside and full of books! I love to sit for an hour with a few magazines to take a break from the bustle of town. Or bring your own book and sit in their shaded grassy yard.

a walk to the Bake Shop for donuts Just outside town, the Bake Shop competes with Downy Flake for island’s best donut. I love this little bakery for its old school vibe. It’s absolutely full of options and I never know what to order, I just point at a bunch of things and make off with my paper sack of goodies.

Sandwiches in the yard at Something Natural There are 4+ great sandwiches shops on Nantucket but you’ll see stickers for Something Natural on almost every car. The beautiful ambling lawn out front, the addictively fresh Portuguese bread, and the scenic Cliffside Road address surely all contribute to this. Ideal for a quick bike ride outside of town, order one of their enormous sandwiches, pick up a Nantucket Nectar, and lounge in the shade.

 Day Drinking at Cisco Brewery Truth is, everyone will tell you to go here. By 4pm this ramshackle lot can be incredibly crowded and you’ll see the line of parked cars as soon as you turn onto Bartlett Road. But around 2pm on a weekday there’s a good chance you can find a chair in the shade. Sometimes there’s a visiting raw bar selling plates of bluefish dip and crackers. Sometimes there’s a portable pizza oven. Sometimes there’s no food at all, just beer of all sorts, waiting for a tasting.

 Pennsylvania Dutch Cakes and Bacon at Black Eyed Susan’s If you can get there before eight, you’ll barely have to wait for table. If you don’t, don’t get scared by the crowd out front. Just put your name on the list and walk around town for 30 minutes. Every single thing on the menu is delicious, every seat in the house feels like the perfect spot, and the coffee is bottomless. I do not think it gets better than this.

 Pillaging island vintage at the Take-it or Leave-it Everyone is required to take their own trash to the dump and sort the recyclables carefully. Once there (and you can bike there!) you’ll see shack in the corner of the dump’s parking lot. Everyone has a story about their favorite free find here–beautiful editions of old books, the perfect sweater, that grill accessory you needed for the week, a beach toy for your baby, etc. We try to go at least a couple times a week when we’re on island. At the end of the week, we go through our stuff and donate to the pile!

 Hat-gawking at Peter Beaton This place is the classiest. She had striped shirts, signature custom sunglasses and amazing sun hats long before all these jokers showed up. Her window is full of ribbon options, the hats are all so enticing and the little sign guiding you to the shop might be the most charming one in town.

 Picking up wine from the Bookstore in ‘Sconset If you bring your bikes (or rent them) the longest ride out of town is to Sconset, 8.2 miles. Sconset is perfect for pleasant wandering about, every street is lovely and most corners reveal a view. We love to pick out wine from the Bookstore, a wonderfully curated shop that is attached to the restaurant next door (which is byob, so it works perfectly!). You can always take the shuttle back to town (2 bikes fit on the front).

 Waiting in the endless line at the Juice Bar  The wall is covered with painted signs listing the choices (fresh watermelon juice! homemade fudge! fresh orange juice and vanilla shake!) the fan blows fresh waffle hot air in your face and, come nightfall, the line is around the block. I take that as a certain sign that it’s the spot to be.

 Chips and Burgers at Surfside Beach To me this place is ideal Nantucket: affordable, friendly, simple, and classy. I love seeing the kids run up from the beach with their dollars in hand, lining up for slush puppies, burgers, bags of Ruffle potato chips, or frozen candy bars. Watch out for the seagulls here! They are dive bombers with a keen eye for an unwatched burger. Bonus: surfside beach is the easiest beach to bike to and it has the cleanest bathrooms and showers. You can drive, bike, or take the shuttle.

 Bluefish Dip from East Coast Seafood Just before you turn down the road to Cisco Brewery, you’ll see a sign for 167 Seafood. This is my favorite spot to buy seafood–I love the way the shop carries just the right things for seafood buyers, I love how fresh everything is, and I love their bluefish dip. A container of that is the perfect snack for any Nantucket adventure.

 Spending Money at Provisions, Straight Wharf Bar, and Straight Wharf  Everything this trio of businesses does, they do perfectly. Between the three they’ve got you covered for a morning brunch, a boozy drink and bar snack, or an expensive deluxe dinner.

I just noticed this could also be called “a guide to shade on Nantucket.”  ha!

The weather folks said it was going to be 91 degrees that Saturday morning. I had visions of our guests sipping coffee and sweating, while humidity swirled around. Fortunately that dismal scene did not happen. At 10am it was very windy and slightly cloudy, which made perfect cozy breakfast party weather.

menu:

+ granola with steel cut oats, dried apricots and lots of seeds. yogurt (Brown Cow), raspberries, and blueberries.

+ three frittate: kale, swiss chard, new potatoes.

+ maple blueberry muffins.  One baker friend brought apricot and sage scones, and one thoughtful friend brought Flour treats. Flour treats are the best hostess gift of all time.

+ bacon doused in maple syrup, baked, and cut into triangles.

+ two containers of coffee from Starbucks.

The great thing about this menu was the leftovers were easily incorporated into our week. (people never eat as much at parties as you expect, right??) Lux loved the frittate which is a discovery for me because they have more chopped greens packed per square inch than anything else I make.

Everyone showed up at different times via bikes or just finishing up a morning walk. Lots of the girls wore dresses; I love it when that happens. Strangers walked by with bemused smiles, eyeing the bundle of balloons blowing in the wind and the giddy babies chasing their toys.

I met Ellie and Lena at the library when the girls were five months old. Our babies were rather immovable and barely participated in the playtime, but we noticed they were around the same age and quickly struck up conversation. We survived the winter by getting together every week. Friends like them were so important to my first year as a mom, and I’m so grateful for their companionship.

And of course we all had that moment. That moment of “why don’t we do this more often?” When you realize all it took was the promise of coffee and a few blankets to get people to the park. When you look around and see other families having parties too, and realize, “this is what the park is for!” I hope we do it again this summer, but for now a baby’s birthday was the excuse we needed.

We’re driving up to Maine tonight. We’ll leave around 7pm and play loud music until Lux decides she’s sick of this hipster scene and falls asleep. In this photo from Maine last summer, Joe’s wearing his t-shirt from Saturdays NYC that he has probably worn every week for the last year. We need a new one, and I love them all.

I hope we can:

pick up some raw milk (for mozzarella/yogurt making)

sit on a porch and play in a yard, two very foreign concepts around here these days

have a tasting flight at Mt. Desert ice cream (strawberry fig balsamic sorbet! girls scouts gone wild!)

see sunrise on acadia mountain in the morning

and garage sale in the afternoon

buy a pile of mussels for dinner and do nothing except set them on the grill, put the lid on, and then pull them off one by one as the open.

I hope you have some summery things planned for yourself. Finally buying a carton of strawberries, perhaps? Treating yourself to a jarful of lemonade? Borrowing the Sunday comics from your neighbor’s newspaper? Stopping to talk to all the dogs? (this is Lux’s plan for sure)

Today I have a brief guide to Nantucket on Show + Tell. The 5 spots I recommend are my most favorite things on island, especially the dump with its Take It or Leave It shack. Show + Tell is a blog run by graphic designer and Columbus OH resident Allison Lehman. Everything there is lovely to look at, but I particularly enjoyed her recent tips on blogging series.

I like that Allie limits her guides to 5-6 things because it makes for easy reading. However, I know many of you are in Boston and probably going to visit this summer, therefore I hope to have a longer guide for you next week. Writing this one for Allie reminded me of all things I truly love on that island.

Every time I pick up this free magazine (usually at Savenors, but they are available all over) I learn so0 much. It’s the best way to find out about the amazing food people around Boston. They have great photography and design, and always the most seasonal of stories. Usually I learn more about food producers that I eventually spot at the markets around town.

For example in this issue, they wrote about a young tech-savvy entrepreneur who is wholesaling fish in Boston: Red’s Best. In the article they noted that if you buy local fish it is typically totally sustainable, not overfished, caught by a small operation fisherman, and amazingly fresh. I had never thought of it that way! I looked for someone selling fish at the farmer’s market yesterday and picked up a pound right away. And that was just the first article I paged to. When you see this magazine around town, definitely pick one up.

Farmer’s Market season has begun. Grab your tote bags, your veggie cash allotment, a little curiosity, and lots of questions for the farmers!  Once again I offer this handy guide for printing out, slipping in your purse or sticking to the fridge. If you go to many of these markets, but one or two have been left off, do let me know! I may do a revision later in June. You can see absolutely every market in and around Boston right here.

Today I have a little post on Momfilter (a website I love) about planting cilantro from something in your spice cabinet–coriander seeds! I’m so proud of my little green seedlings. Look how strong they are. From the day I planted them, I think it’s taken about a month to get to this stage:

the May foodswap was last weekend and I made marshmallows! and a good thing too, because Monday, May 21, turned out rainy and cold.

When I made the first batch of marshmallows I thought, “those liars. This is hard! and sticky! Not easy like they promised me on the internets.” But after that I made the next two in quick succession and it seemed much easier. A marshmallow recipe is a good one to make while you’re replying to emails or doing something else; there is a lot of waiting time where the watched pot likes to be left alone.

Toasted Coconut, Lillet spiked, and Chocolate Cinnamon.

The toasted coconut was crunchy and squishy (I’m using all the leftover coconut in my oatmeal these days), the Chocolate Cinnamon had unexpected chunks of ultra dark chocolate hidden throughout, the Lillet spiked ones tasted of citrus with an alcohol twist dusted in powder sugar and brilliantly white. They were my favorite.

They were very popular at the swap–too popular. I only made 10 bags, and 12 people signed up to trade with me, and I wanted to trade with a few more after that! It was hard to decide how to trade, and I didn’t like not having enough for everyone! (aren’t the labels appropriate? Joe made them for me, the font is called Bello.)

I traded for a jar of chive kimchi, a jar of mole sauce, a bag of homemade cheddar crackers, a container of marinated mozzarella balls, a beautiful lemon poppy seed cupcake filled with violet jelly with mascarpone frosting, strawberry-sherry compote, a jar of arugula pesto, four decadent marshmallow brownies, a mini loaf of onion bread, and a bag of homemade chai! As usual I was stunned and awed at the awesome things everyone brought.

My friend Johanna made the chai and I thought the packaging turned out irresistible! How pretty are these?

Several of you commented that you would like to start a foodswap in your town. I think you should! You would probably need to recruit about 5-7 people to get it started, and then spread the word! The most unexpected people participate and really get into it.

Corners of Beacon Hill truly feel like a scene from that enchanting childhood movie, A Secret Garden. “What wonderful world is behind here?” you find yourself asking, much like Mary Lennox and Colin Craven. Usually you can see a tiny peep through the gate, and my imagination takes over from there, envisioning the most remarkable sanctum possible, lined with lush green grass, sprightly rose bushes, and the most comfortable hammock imaginable.

So of course I had to pack up Lux and go on the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill tour. This one-day annual event is a self-guided tour costs $30 and included sixteen gardens, all in the relatively tiny area of Beacon Hill.

At each stop you were greeted by a friendly local gardener wearing a cheerful yellow apron. Doors were flagged with little yellow banners so you could spot them from down the hill.

I loved these old windows and brick pattens. This garden was mostly shaded so everything was green and somewhat Japanese inspired.

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This seemed enormously clever and fun to me: a garden behind a garage door. There were several of these! When the car is pulled out, you practically have a courtyard. And: you still have a parking spot at the end of the day!

This tiny alley approaching one of the gardens had been lined with little glass vases:Image

and around the corner you could see: the sweetest sun-dappled playspace:

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I took this photo from a garden that had been there for sixty years! That’s how you get trees like that in the city—inherited gardens.

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And here: this sunny corner wasn’t on the tour but this is really my type of hideaway. Simple, unmanicured, the greens are growing as they like, and the sun is just pouring in. I hope whoever owns this corner gets to bask here frequently, with a friend and a glass of lemonade. And maybe a cat. And stack of books…

To be honest, finally getting to see a few of these places was really good for me. I didn’t walk away jealous and wishing I could add another $2,000 to our monthly rent so I too could have a well-terraced square foot of my own. After seeing a few of the gardens, a friend and I took our babies to the Common to let them frolic. There was sun and shade everywhere, school kids to watch, new construction to examine, and fresh cut lawns. It was lovely, free, and open to everyone. And that is a true oasis.

 

Do you go out secretly hoping the Sartorialist is circling your block? I know I do. But the truth is Boston usually gets hmmm-ed over when people talk about style. I’m convinced it’s because we are academics and readers are tooo sexy for those stylists.

But anyway. Boston has a new street style photographer blogger! Her name is Krista and I met her at the SOWA Market on Saturday. Incidentally, the Sowa market was incredibly popular and hot. I think I bought three different drinks in the span of forty-five minutes.

I’m wearing a skirt from Zara. It is hard to say which elicits more random compliments: the skirt or the sandals. Big plus to the skirt, as my friend says, “it gives you breezes.” Meaning on a hot day you feel rewarded for wearing it. I can’t find the exact one but here are two that look just like it.

Good luck Krista! I believe in your mission.

Atlas Farm had pints of organic strawberries, stacked on shelves like the new bestselling novel, for $4.50 each.

The Siena Farm stand had bags of every green the fields could possibly muster right now–bok choy, young garlic, fava bean greens. And a basket strewn with oyster mushrooms, gold and brown. I picked a bag bursting with “braising greens” a mix to be tossed in a pan with olive oil and garlic. That, I can do.

Hamilton Orchards was back with their stacks of cider doughnuts, unbelievably fresh and cinnamon scented. There is no season (especially a rainy early summer) that doesn’t ask for an cider doughnuts.

L.A. Burdicks, (on the way to Copley Square, of course) has their serving license at last and is serving iced chocolates, but I couldn’t resist a tiny cup of dark hot chocolate to cheer their new location.

True story: it all came out with Oxyclean.

Have you heard of Skillshare.com? It’s a super website operating with the goal of encouraging everyone to teach anyone about anything. It’s well designed, in all sorts of cities, and is connecting passionate folks to curious topics all the time.

I love this idea. I frequently find myself hunting for people’s secret passions and expertise in conversation, but it can take forever to discover, even from your good friends! However when skillshare finally came to Boston, I was a little disappointed that none of the classes interested me. What could I teach and be excited about?, I asked myself.

and I realized: all the little lists of things I’d wished I known before Lux came, the discoveries I made in the first few months, the many tips I’ve learned from my fellow moms, the useless baby stuff I gave away, the I-wished-I-woulda’s….that could be a class!

And so:

A one night workshop for expecting moms in Boston! Obviously I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m also excited! I would have loved something like this when I was pregnant, it will be a good way for expecting moms to meet each other (which is so important!), and (inspired by the methodology of the fabulous blogshop) I will have yummy snacks and delicious mocktails to make the class even more festive. If it’s as fun as I hope it will be, I’ll do another!

Can I ask you a Twitter favor, dear readers? Would you minding tweeting about it (link: http://skl.sh/JP6pUr) even if you’re not in Boston? I have my postcards to pin around the neighborhood, the strangers I will ask to retweet, and other news-spreading ideas, but I’m firm believer in the serendipitous power of Twitter. I’d be so grateful!

And what about you? What topic do you love to talk about with interested listeners? What would you like to talk a class in? If Skillshare isn’t in your city, you can still sign up and suggest your city next!

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