My Guide to Boston!

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Whenever friends are visiting from out of town (and sometimes from even out of the country!) they always ask me what there is to do around Boston- and the answer isn’t always easy. I mean, what isn’t there to do around Boston? As bustling and as busy as it is picturesque- Boston has something to offer everyone from all walks of life: rich (and sometimes really insane) history at every turn, breathtaking museums and galleries, incredible restaurants, unique shopping experiences, distinguished and esteemed universities, a thriving night life, plenty of space for those focused on fitness to get their workouts on, a top notch music scene and some championship-hoarding sports teams.

Sure, there are the accents (guilty as chaah’ged,) the not-so-friendly drivers, the mind-boggling roadways, or our questionable and unspoken rules when it comes to parking spaces during snowstorms- and there’s always the comparisons to Boston-centric movies like “The Departed” or “The Town” by those outside the city/state who have never stepped foot in or have met anyone from the Greater Boston area before- but the good outweighs the bad.  Boston is a city filled with some of the brightest, most colorful, brilliant and strongest individuals on the East Coast who never hesitate to band together to show the nation- and the world- how united we truly are in the tougher, more challenging times (like in the days following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing,) to the happier, more celebratory times (like the rolling rallys following a championship win!)

I first started spending a significant amount of time in Boston when I was 16/17 and my friends (some of whom had cars that barely ran) and I were eager to stay out late and see what the city- just an hour or so outside of our small and quiet town- had to offer a group of teenage troublemakers. As we grew up, Boston became less of a late night and weekend-only destination and more of a second home- until it eventually became an actual home for some of us. Over the course of just over a decade leading up to now, I’ve become a regular at some establishments and am still discovering new places now and then that open up doors to whole new worlds, possibilities, interests- and friends.

While there are SO MANY places to go and things to see in Boston, I thought I’d compile a small list of the ones- some well-known and others more well-kept secrets- that I frequent regularly and encourage others to visit while they’re in town and are looking for a good time (or good food) without spending a ton of money. I’ve also included some of the more “tourist-y” staples, too- because why not? If you’re in the city- you may as well participate in some good old fashioned local goofiness!

I’m really going to miss this place once I eventually head out to San Diego. I really, truly am.

*NOTE: Please keep in mind that the places I’ve listed are just some of my own, personal preferences. If you’re looking for other options around the city- there are a lot of helpful resources available (including Yelp and some of the blogs listed in my sidebar under “Local Lovelies!”) I plan on doing another, updated post like this somewhere down the line where I’ll include different locations- but for now- these are just a few of my favorites!*

Let’s start with what most people ask me about- the food! I like to cook, but I also love trying new food at new places, too. Many of my friends who visit ask me about Quincy Market- which is one of the more busy and tourist-friendly areas to dine in the heart of the city, but in my opinion- you can get a generic slice of pizza or a bowl of clam chowder anywhere (without having to be in such a crowded space.) For an unforgettable “foodie” experience, all you have to do is head off the beaten path- just a little bit. Here’s some of my usual go-to spots to dine out.

DINING (BREAKFAST/BRUNCH)

South End Buttery (314 Shawmut Ave): Although you might have to wait a bit for a table at this cute corner cafe, I promise you it’s worth it. The food is incredible- the perfect way to start a Sunday morning- and I highly recommend the herb and cheese omelette. It’s my favorite. If you don’t have time to sit and dine, the South End Buttery also has an equally delicious and impressive take-out menu.

Kelly’s Diner (674 Broadway – Somerville): If you’re looking for a classic diner experience (or want to nurse a hangover,) with some delicious food and a really friendly staff- then you just need to head a couple miles Northwest to Kelly’s Diner in Somerville. On those mornings where I want to cheat on my diet- just a little- I come here and scarf down pancakes like I mean business.

Masa Restaurant (439 Tremont Street): If you’re in the mood for a breakfast/brunch with a more spicy flare- look no further than Masa. Their Southwestern-inspired menu is unique, affordable- and hits the spot. If you’re looking for a pre-noon kick, their specialty drinks are worth a taste, too.

Cafe Luna (403 Mass Avenue – Cambridge): For solidified brunch plans with a group of friends, consider making a reservation at the Cafe Luna in Cambridge. Their menu is a teeny-tiny bit pricier, but their pancakes and omelettes are so, so worth it! I’m also a big fan of their chocolate stuffed French toast- which completely satisfies my sweet tooth.

DINING (LUNCH/DINNER)

Assaggio (29 Prince Street): Definitely one of my favorite spots for an intimate Italian meal, Assaggio is located right in the middle of the North End- making it perfect for a romantic night out with someone special or for a quiet get together with friends and some wine. Definitely call ahead to make a reservation to save yourself some wait time!

Taquería Jalisco!

Taquería Jalisco!

Taquería Jalisco (293 Bennington Street – East Boston): In San Diego, there’s a Mexican food restaurant called Pokez that I LOVE. I always try to stop there whenever I’m in town because their food is authentic and delicious- and Taquería Jalisco is the East Coast version of that. The restaurant is small- but lively- and their menu is expansive and so, so good.

Beat Hotel (13 Brattle Street – Cambridge): I was recently introduced to this fantastic restaurant located in the heart of Harvard Square, but it has quickly become one of my favorites with it’s ever-changing menu of mouth-watering entrees, specialty drink selections, and live jazz and blues performances. They have brunch options that I have yet to try out- but if it’s as good as their dinner menu- I know I’ll be a big fan.

Wagamama (Quincy Market, Prudential Center, and Harvard Square): There’s nearly a handful of Wagamama’s scattered around the Greater Boston area, which makes it convenient when I have a craving for some of their fresh and filling Japanese food but am not quite mentally or physically prepared to deal with the heavy flow of pedestrian traffic around the Quincy Market area. If you’re looking for a couple of menu suggestions, I enjoy the ebi gyoza, yaki soba, yasai cha han- and any of their raw juices.

Boston Burger Company (1100 Boylston Street):  I’m a carnivore, and sometimes- I just want to devour a delicious, juicy burger. While the BBC offers chicken, soup and salad selections, too- their burgers are hands down some of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted. I love the Waikiki Beach Burger and the Green Monstah Burger the most, but they’re all fantastic. Pair them with your choice of wedge cut fries and you are in for a meal you won’t regret or forget.

Grasshopper (1 North Beacon Street – Allston): Vegan. Chinese. Food. That’s really all you need to know. To some, the concept might be confusing and maybe mind-blowing, but trust me when I say that you will never, ever regret stopping here. The food is fantastic and filling without that gross “I think I might die” feeling you get with regular Chinese food orders. I can eat an alarming amount of their veggie chicken fingers and best of all? They offer a takeout option. YES!

 DINING (COFFEE/DESSERTS)

 Caffé Vittoria (296 Hanover Street): If you’re craving something sugary and sweet while walking through the North End, you may feel inclined to hop into the ALWAYS RIDICULOUSLY LONG line at Mike’s Pastry to wait for one of their famous cannoli- or, if you want to save yourself some time- you can walk just a few feet down the street and stop in Vittoria for a cappuccino, a piece of tiramisu and take in the charming aesthetic of the cafe. I love gathering here with friends here after a night out or sitting down by myself to sip on espresso and catch up on emails when I have some down time. It’s just a lovely little spot.

The Thinking Cup (165 Tremont Street): Bostonians love their Dunkins, and that’s all well and good- but if you’re looking for something bolder and stronger than whatever ice cream flavor infused coffee D&D is cooking up this week- then I recommend stopping by the Thinking Cup (which also has locations in the North End and Back Bay.) Their coffee is rich and their pastries and sandwiches are fresh- making this place an ideal choice for that early morning brew or evening snack on the go.

Crema Cafe (27 Brattle Street – Cambridge): Crema is another gem located in Harvard Square that boasts a pretty good breakfast and lunch menu, but it’s their coffee and pastry/dessert selection that I rave about the most. I always make it a point to grab an iced chai whenever I’m passing through the square or doing some shopping around Cambridge to keep a little pep in my step- and their coconut macaroons are the stuff dreams are made from. So, so good.

DRINKS (THE 21+ KIND)

McGreevy’s (911 Boylston Street): I swear I’m not putting McGreevy’s at the top of my list just because I’m a big Dropkick Murphys fan (Ken Casey owns the place,) but because they have great drinks (the Pineapple Piper is the best,) awesome specials, a friendly staff- and a ton of historical Red Sox memorabilia on the wall (authentic- NOT cheesy.) It’s a sports bar, so if you’re looking to kick back and watch a game with some good food and a hard drink- this is the spot.

The Junction (110 Dorchester Street – South Boston): Southie gets a bad name sometimes, but if you’re not falling for the tall tales and notoriety often tacked onto this area of the city- it’s a lot of fun to explore. I’m not a big beer connoisseur by any means, but I’ve always enjoyed myself at The Junction when I’ve popped in. The service is good and the atmosphere is welcoming- and you’re guaranteed to have a good time if you stop by when there’s any type of sporting event going on.

Tavern at the End of the World (108 Cambridge Street – Charlestown): I love Irish pubs. I love pub food- and I love Charlestown- so TatEotW is a nice stop whenever I’m hanging around Bunker Hill and want to grab some not-so-diet-friendly food and a couple of drinks. This place sometimes has live music and stand-up comedy shows, too- which can be a fun way to end the night.

Highball Lounge (90 Tremont Street): If cocktails (or cocktails with little rubber duckies floating in them) and unique finger foods are more your style, then you’ll love Highball Lounge. With a sprawling space, fancy furniture, board games and occasional live DJs performing- Highball is perfect for bigger get togethers and parties that require a little flare and pizzazz to keep everyone entertained. Also- did I mention the rubber duckies in the drinks? Because I love that.

Sunset Cantina (916 Commonwealth Avenue): In the Summer, and typically before/after I catch a show at the Paradise (more on that later,) I like to swing by Sunset Cantina to grab a margarita and some snacks. This place has such a HUGE menu filled with fantastic drinks and food, and it’s within walking distance from pretty much anything and everything- shops and restaurants, to music venues and the Green Line (in case you have somewhere else you need to be.)

Brick & Mortar (567 Mass Ave – Cambridge): One of my favorite hidden gems in Central Square, B&M lies within exposed brick walls above Central Kitchen. Skilled bartenders mix your poison behind a copper top bar, and the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed. I like to come here on low-maintenance dates from time to time, and I’m never left disappointed. This is a great spot in Cambridge and worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Jillian’s (145 Ipswich Street): Following shows at the House of Blues down the street, I like to bring people to Jillian’s for a nightcap and some highly competitive pool and/or bowling (highly competitive for me, anyway.) Jillian’s is a three-floor bar equipped with a fully functioning bowling alley. Some nights are busier than others, so I recommend calling ahead if you want to get a couple of games in- but I’ve always had a tremendous amount of fun here every time I’ve stopped by.

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LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

When it comes to live entertainment around the city, Boston has all of your needs covered. With an active theater district, a couple of stadiums and arenas for bigger shows and events, and plenty of smaller venues to house independent artists, comedy, poetry, and everything in-between- all you have to do is look- in any direction, really- and you will find a lengthy list of easily accessible places to go to be entertained.

Paradise Rock Club (967 Commonwealth Avevnue): By far my favorite music venue in Boston, The ‘Dise is a small, intimate venue that has played host to some of my favorite rock artists. The sound carries really well throughout the building, so if you’re standing in front of the stage or you’re up in the balcony area- you’re going to have a great view and hear everything perfectly. I have so many fond memories and have met so many friends while hanging out here.

Middle East (472-480 Massachusetts Avenue – Cambridge): This is another smaller venue in Central Square where I’ve seen plenty of awesome shows and have danced ’til dawn during DJ nights. If you can get past the fact that it can get humid and musty in there (it is basically a cellar, after all,) than you’ll have a lot of fun here. There’s also an upstairs area that houses shows and events, and serves food as well.

The Comedy Studio (1238 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th Floor – Cambridge): Boston has no shortage of comedy clubs, but The Comedy Studio is hands down the best- and not just because I worked there for a while, either! Located above the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square, TCS features some of Boston’s funniest stand-up comedians and plenty of talented up and comers every night. They also serve a mean scorpion bowl. Stop by and tell Rick, the owner- that I said hello!

The Cantab Lounge (738 Massachusetts Ave – Cambridge): If you like poetry readings, both watching and/or participating, then you should head over to the Cantab on Wednesday nights where the venue hosts weekly poetry slams. The lounge also serves as a spot for open mics and live bluegrass and blues shows, too- and serves up drinks and food if you’re looking to make an evening out of the trip to Central Square.

Tunnel (100 Stuart Street): I’m not big on going to dance clubs much these days, at least not as much as I was in my early twenties- and many establishments I used to frequent have long since closed. I’ve been to Tunnel, located inside the W Hotel, a few times- and each time has been fun. I like the atmosphere of the club and the efficiency of the bar staff. The space is tiny, but unless you require a tremendous amount of room to dance- you can make it work. There’s also some seating, and VIP tables are available for reservation.

House of Blues Boston (15 Lansdowne Street): Formerly the Avalon and Axis night clubs (R.I.P.) across from Fenway Park, the HOBBoston serves as a multi-floor bar, concert venue, and night club (if you do, in fact, need a tremendous amount of room to dance.) I’ve seen a lot of great shows here since it’s opening, and it’s just a short walk away from other bars, restaurants, cab stands, and the T- which means you can get back to where you’re staying quickly and safely.

STRETCH YOUR LEGS

I don’t tell every visiting friend or family member to sign up for a gym membership in the city if they’re looking to get a workout, because there’s plenty of places to get some exercise that are both free and picturesque. My friends and I pretty much walk everywhere- reserving our cars and the T for when we need to be at a certain place in a hurry (like work or the airport, for example,) but if you’d rather I list a couple of places where you can run/walk/bicycle/stretch in peace- then here you go!

Commonwealth Avenue Mall (484 Commonwealth Avenue): Located right next to the Public Garden, The Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a strip of trees, greenery, and statues that stretches through Back Bay alongside beautiful brownstone homes and businesses. I love passing through this area at night in the warmer months, and I always see people jogging along the pathway or stretching on the grass. It’s just a clean, pretty area to work out.

Chestnut Hill Reservoir (400 Chestnut Hill Avenue – Brookline): If you want to get a nice walk/run in somewhere that isn’t right smack in the middle of the city, then I recommend the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, which is located within a reasonable distance from Boston College but is still tranquil and scenic enough to make it feel like it’s miles away from civilization. There’s wildlife, plenty of greenery, and space to move around.

Castle Island HarborWalk (2010 Day Boulevard – South Boston): If you want to spend a day at the beach without making the drive to New Hampshire or Cape Cod, then Castle Island is a great destination. Sandy beaches, boating, and plenty of space to run/walk or stretch out on the grass and get some sun- this is a nice spot to spend a Summer afternoon.

SHOPPING

Narrowing down places to shop around Boston was almost as difficult as selecting some of the restaurants I listed above. There’s just so many places scattered around the city where you can find pretty much anything you’re looking for. Instead of doing a shop-by-shop list, which would have required an entirely separate post on my blog- I condensed this part of my guide into areas that feature a variety of stores and items for everyone’s tastes and interests. I hope it’s helpful!

Newbury Street (Back Bay): I have a love/hate relationship with Newbury Street. It’s a great mix of high end boutiques (including Chanel, Tiffany’s, and Armani) and affordable shops (Forever 21, H&M, ALDO, etc.) as well as restaurants and bars, but traffic- both auto and pedestrian- is a nightmare. My best advice if you attempt to brave this very busy area is to take the Green Line to Copley or Hynes Convention Center and learn how to maneuver yourself around and between the slow walkers and the groups of people who walk side by side across the sidewalk and block everyone’s path.

If you can’t take it anymore, the shops at the Prudential Center are only a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Assembly Row (340 Canal Street – Somerville): Relatively new, Assembly Row offers a wide array of shops, restaurants, a movie theater, Boston’s LegoLand, and special events like free riverfront yoga classes and weekly outdoor concerts. This place is great to shop in during the warmer months, and has the same charm as Newbury Street without all of the overcrowding.

Harvard Square (Cambridge): I’ve already mentioned a few places around Harvard Square to dine, drink, and see some live entertainment- but I can’t NOT talk about how the square is a great spot for shopping, too. There’s a lot of eccentric little stores and fantastic finds just waiting to be discovered between more well-known shops. I’m a big fan of Raven’s Used Books and Goorin Bros. Hat Shop, but I’m always being introduced to new things whenever I’m in the area.

Garment District (200 Broadway – Cambridge): Boston has plenty of department stores, but if you want something a little more alternative, unique, and affordable- then you don’t need to look any further than The Garment District. Specializing in buying and re-selling gently worn clothing, GD carefully categorizes their inventory to make it easier for shoppers to find whatever it is they’re looking for- from swimwear to shoes, work clothes to Halloween costumes. There’s seriously SO much to peruse through and they are always updating their stock. Every once in a while you can find a great designer piece for a fraction of the cost- so keep your eyes peeled!

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TOURIST-Y FUN

I can’t give someone a tour of Boston without taking them to at least one “tourist” hot spot. Let’s be real- Boston has a lot of history and even more famous landmarks. While some people may get annoyed with certain places and areas being overtly crowded with out-of-towners stopping to snap selfies or check a map- I think it’s great. I’m proud of my city and I’m always thrilled that other people are taking time to check it out, learn, and experience it firsthand. I encourage tourism as long as visitors are being respectful of the area and of the locals (so no making fun of our accents to our faces, okay? We know they’re obnoxious.)

Here’s a few places I typically bring friends to get the “Boston” experience.

Fenway Park (4 Yawkey Way): The Green Monster, The Cathedral of Boston, and home of the Boston Red Sox- you have to visit Fenway at least once in your lifetime and you have to catch a Sox game there at least twice in that same lifetime. I love this ballpark, overpriced drinks and all- and seeing a home game doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg if you don’t mind standing for a few innings or just want to experience your first real sing-along to “Sweet Caroline.” I buy standing only tickets all the time and enjoy myself just as much as the people in the more expensive seats. It’s all about making the most of the event.

The Freedom Trail (Boston Common): Look, The Freedom Trail is boring. I’m just going to say it now. You follow a red line marked on the sidewalk around Boston for a couple of hours and see some historic sites and that’s about it. I know a guy named Rob who is a tour guide- he wears a colonial costume and everything- and even that’s not enough to get me to go through with this more than once- but if you love history and you REALLY want to see  Paul Revere’s house or the Granary Burying Ground- then I say go for it! You’d probably spot these sites while walking to something infinitely more interesting and fun anyway- but by all means- take the tour if you want.

Boston Duck Tours (Museum of Science Driveway): Getting stuck in traffic behind one of these monstrosities is infuriating, no doubt- but I can absolutely understand the appeal of the Duck Tour- especially for those with small children or elderly companions who can’t navigate around Boston on foot quite as easily as others but who still want to see the city. For $35 bucks (adult price) you get an 80 minute tour of Boston- riding around on these bus/boat hybrids that bob and weave through the streets and eventually take a dip into the Charles River while a guide points out places and facts for your listening pleasure.

Cheers (84 Beacon Street): The biggest misconception about ‘Cheers’ is that a lot of visitors seem to think the interior of the bar resembles that of the bar from the television show. It doesn’t. The only thing that is the same is the exterior of the building- but that doesn’t make “Cheers” any less of a fun tourist spot while you’re in the city. With really good food, a lot of memorabilia on the walls, and a gift shop with plenty of assorted “Cheers” themed knick-knacks to buy- this is a must-do while you’re in the city. There’s actually two locations in Boston, but the better of the two is on Beacon Street- in my opinion.

Boston Common (139 Tremont Street): This is actually a spot that both tourists and locals love and appreciate, and is one that I spend a lot of time in on nicer days. Boston Common and the Public Garden- a sprawling park with greenery, sculptures, vendors and areas for live entertainment- is the ideal place to spend an afternoon reading under a tree, having a picnic, playing sports, strolling around, etc. It’s also just minutes away from Downtown Crossing, Newbury Street, the State House, Beacon Hill, and a lot more. I always make it a point to proudly show it off to anyone who is visiting Boston for the first time because they usually fall in love with it right away.

Faneuil Hall (1 Faneuil Hall Square): When passing by Government Center or the Waterfront, I encourage people to admire Faneuil Hall from a distance. It’s lovely to look at but is kind of a mess to walk through unless you’re in the area later on at night after the street performers and vendors have gone home for the day and most of the shops have closed. It’s a very, very packed area for pedestrian traffic, but it’s historic and has some intriguing stores and restaurants if you’re feeling brave enough to face the crowd and uneven cobblestone (wear comfortable shoes!) I do admit I really like this area at Christmastime though, when it’s lit up and the gigantic tree has been set up and decorated. It’s very, very pretty!

Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Avenue): Boston has a lot of great museums, and I would have gladly listed them all- but I wanted to feature my favorite of the bunch and that is the MFA, without question. I can spend hours in this place going from room to room and admiring paintings and sculptures and the new exhibits that are set up every few months. It’s a beautiful space with helpful tour guides and stops to rest, shop, and eat whenever you need a break. The museum also has a lot of special events and offers classes, too. You can get a heads up on upcoming activities and exhibits by subscribing to their monthly e-mailed newsletter.

Boston Harbor (1 Long Wharf): Like Boston Common, I enjoy spending time outdoors down by the waterfront on warmer Summer days. There’s plenty of places to sit and watch boats passing by or grab a quick bite to eat- and if you’re not prone to seasickness- you can always kill some time by catching a harbor cruise or by going on a whale watch. I particularly like bringing my friends from England to this area- just so they know where we threw all of that tea that one time (Hi Imogen!)

And there you have it! My guide to Boston. As I stated above- there’s still SO much more to do and see- but I simply cannot list it all! I thought the locations I linked to were a good place to start, and I do intend to write a follow-up in the future- but I hope that this post is helpful to newcomers who are visiting the area for the first time or who are back again and may have missed some of what I’ve listed.

Are you from Boston? Have you visited? Is there anything you think I should add? Do you have any questions about anything I’ve written about or linked to in this post?

Let me know!

HELPFUL LINKS:

CityOfBoston.gov

MBTA.com

Hotels in Boston

ARTSBoston (includes theater and city festival schedules/tickets) 

*IN CASE OF EMERGENCY*A comprehensive list of hospitals and medical centers in and around Boston.

xx

(All photos included in this post are my own.)

“Everyone’s Irish tonight!”

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Nobody does St. Paddy’s Day quite like Boston (except for actual Ireland, of course.) This past Sunday marked South Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, with a slightly tweaked route because of the city’s lingering snow mound problem, and I had EVERY intention of making it to the sidelines to watch, clap, and cheer with everyone else- but with the on/off rain, packed public transport, and no place left to park by the time I’d made it into Southie- it was a lost cause. Sean and I ended up heading down to the waterfront, instead- where there was still plenty of Irish spirit on display and still plenty of coffee (sans-whiskey) to keep me going as the weather changed from rain, to sunshine, and finally to an insane amount of snow/sleet over the course of a couple of hours. Spring has to be here soon, right? RIGHT?!

Between Sunday’s festivities and the actual holiday falling on Tuesday, I had more than enough time to partake in the yearly traditions- like listening to a lot of Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues, and watching the first “Boondock Saints” movie while drinking a green beer. I understand those “traditions” might only be limited to my circle of friends and myself, but they just feel so right after all this time.

If I haven’t fled for the West Coast by this time next year, I will definitely be making it to the parade (on time) in 2016. It’s always a lot of fun and I highly recommend anyone visiting the city around St. Patrick’s Day to check it out. It’s just one of those things that everyone has to do at least once when they’re in Boston.

Speaking of- I’ve been putting together a “Things To Do in Boston” type of post. I’ve been debating doing it for a while now, but have only recently started the rough draft. I really love my city, and I’m often asked by those visiting for the first (or tenth) time what there is to do around here. There’s always the usual tourist-y things- like going to Fenway or following the Freedom Trail if it’s nice enough outside (no judgment here. Tourist-y stuff can be really fun sometimes!)– but there’s also a lot of really cool, interesting, and less-crowded places to visit, too. Plus, our bar and restaurant scene is pretty impressive!

I’m hoping to have the post up sooner rather than later- especially now that the nicer weather is trying so hard to fight it’s way through here!

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The Cabin Fever Chronicles

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Blizzard Brunch! 2/15/15

Blizzard Brunch! 2/15/15

Good afternoon and Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day (and belated Galentine’s Day to all my fellow fabulous females out there!) It should come no surprise at this point, but yesterday saw another snowstorm hit New England. As a result, today is seeing another city-wide shut-down in effect while emergency crews attempt to clear roadways and side streets for what feels like the hundredth time in the past few weeks. The silver lining in the aftermath of this most recent storm- the sun is out right now!- is unfortunately overshadowed by the fact that there are 45 MPH winds whipping violently outside, causing the (current) “Feels Like” temperature to be a staggering -17°F.

Maybe it’s just because I’m finally starting to crack under longstanding cabin fever (I’ve been mostly confined to only two locations- my home and my office- within the past week,) but the non-stop snow, the frigid temperatures- the undeniable inconvenience these storms have caused so many- is starting to become less depressing and more comical, really. If anything, the resulting memes and funny photos I’ve been seeing posted and shared on social media in recent days have helped keep my spirits up. You can say a lot about New Englanders (and specifically, Bostonians-) we’re not the most levelheaded and cautious of drivers, for example- or our sports teams take priority over nearly everything else going on in the world, and our accents are cause for numerous parodies- but at least we have good senses of humor about things.

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Beat Hotel. Om nom nom. 2/13/15

Prior to the storm, I did manage to venture out on Friday night to slip and slide on the iced over sidewalks and have dinner and a couple of drinks with my dear friend Evan at Beat Hotel in Harvard Square. Nothing warms me up more than live jazz bands and amazing food (I highly recommend the Mahi Mahi fish tacos!) so it was a nice way to break up the routine I’ve fallen into as of late. If you’re ever in Cambridge and looking for a great meal in a lovely setting with phenomenal live music- the Beat Hotel is your place.

The only regrettable part to last night’s storm- for me, anyway- is that it caused me to miss the evening’s events at StyleWeek Northeast due to unsafe driving conditions. I had been looking forward to seeing the latest designs from Angelica Timas and Shalyn Webber, among others- but I’m hoping I’ll be able to catch another event soon once Mother Nature decides to show us a little bit of mercy.

In somewhat fashion related, but mostly blog-centric news- at the end of January I had mentioned in my “In a Nutshell” post that I had hoped to start sharing some of my favorite pieces and ensembles again beginning this month (it’s been forever and a day since I’ve made a “Closet Crushes” post!) and I still have every intention of doing it- but the very idea of standing outdoors and attempting to pose with the wind howling outside the way it is right now is enough to make me shiver where I sit and pull my blankets around me a little tighter. I’m really going to try to pull a couple of posts off within the next week or so!

Until then, I’ll be having another long, hot soak in the tub this evening in preparation for tonight’s “The Walking Dinner,” where I prepare a meal to munch on while the new episode of “The Walking Dead” airs. Here’s hoping the power doesn’t go out!

Stay warm out there, everyone!

xx

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland…”

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TisTheSeason20141

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Sometimes, in the midst of the chaos that comes with wrapping up cases for the end of the year at the office and wrapping up Christmas presents (assuming you didn’t wait until recently to even start your shopping like, say, me- for example-) it can be easy to overlook the little happenings in the city that make Christmastime in Boston so beautiful. The lights on the trees in the Common, or the storefronts on Newbury Street being decorated to the nines, or hearing children laughing and shrieking as they glide across the seasonal skating rink at the frog pond.

Despite my busy work schedule and attempting to finish the last of my Christmas shopping (I should be done by tomorrow!) I’ve found little things to keep myself from becoming a regular Grinch under pressure and keep my festive, Cindy Lou Who attitude, instead. One thing being my above-pictured red and green manicure (holding a peppermint mocha, of course,) that always gets me in the holiday spirit whenever I look down at my digits.

And as usual, I made a point to pick up some warm, cozy, thermal and flannel pajamas while I was out at the shops, too! Christmas just isn’t Christmas without thermal, fleece, and/or flannel pajamas.

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And no evening in warm, cozy, flannel and/or thermal pajamas is complete without a lovely smelling candle burning. I’ve been loving the “Hot Buttered Rum” ones from Bath and Body Works as of late. It’s deliciously Christmas-y and comforting with the distinction of not smelling like peppermint or pine. I highly recommend it to you candle lovers out there!

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With only a couple of things left to pick up for friends and family for the holidays, it looks like I’ll be free this coming weekend to enjoy more seasonal scenery. I’ve been thinking of heading to Newport, Rhode Island- like I did last year around this time- or out to Western Massachusetts- or maybe even both!

I’ll just have to see where the rest of this week takes me!

Game On!

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It wasn’t exactly a banner season for the Boston Red Sox this year, which was a hard pill to swallow given last year’s triumphant World Series win. Even still, I remain optimistic for 2015- and am prepared to root on the team I’ve come to love so much next Spring.

Of course, I always try to stay fashionable- even if I’m just enjoying a game and having a couple of beers at Fenway Park with friends- and inspired- I created a look based around one of the countless MLB hats available on Fanatics.com to showcase what I’d wear/bring for that very occasion.

For those of you who have never visited Fanatics.com, they are the ultimate go-to source for any and all officially licensed sports apparel. From the MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA, etc; they have you covered for affordable, high-quality merchandise should you need to look on point for a big game or simply want to add to your collection of sports memorabilia.

For my collection, I stayed in the Autumn frame of mind, since I’ve enjoyed a couple of games in recent years during the chillier months (and because it’s hard to think Spring/Summer style when I’m currently wearing a sweater and drinking hot tea.) I chose the Boston Red Sox New Era Cuff Striper Beanie, because it’d keep my head warm once the sun sets in Boston (and hide my brunette roots should I not have time to touch them up before the first pitch.)

Here’s what I’d pair with it:

  • Boston Red Sox Women’s Cooperstown Fan T-Shirt by Nike: I love the simple design of this comfortable shirt that I can wear, with pride, inside and outside Fenway. Best of all are it’s sleeves- which can provide a little bit of warmth to my upper arms should I choose to shed whatever sweater/hoodie I bring with me to the game.
  • Urban Decay’s Revolution Lipstick in the shade “F-Bomb:” If I’m going to the ball park, then I am participating in all the unhealthy, regrettable junk food eating I can. Hot dogs? Popcorn? Overpriced beer? I’m all about it. The thing is, I want a lip color that can outlast all of that pigging out. Enter my favorite formulated Urban Decay lipstick in a bold shade of red to match the Sox logo and compliment my hat.
  • GUM. After all that chowing down on the aforementioned hot dogs, popcorn, and overpriced beer- I still want to have fresh breath while I’m cheering and/or jeering. A pack of gum is always in my purse- but I have to be discreet when opening it or everyone else seated around me is going to want some.
  • My ‘Boston’ charm bracelet from Alex and Ani: I’ve started a growing collection of Alex and Ani bracelets, and whenever I’m headed to a game or out of town- my Boston charm comes with me. It’s like having a piece of home with an etching of the city’s skyline resting comfortably around my wrist- and maybe I’m just superstitious- but it feels lucky to wear on game days (although it didn’t work out too well this season.)
  • A wristlet. I’m not a fan of carrying around a big bag at sporting events. I try to keep it simple- something small that I can carry my money, I.D., CharlieCard, lipstick, and phone in and hold onto with ease without fear of losing it or it’s contents in the excitement. Wristlets, any color, pattern, or style- are my must-have for a Sox game.

Not pictured are a comfortable pair of skinny jeans and my favorite pair of black boots or Converse high top sneakers- which I wear all the time on casual days/evenings out.

Do you have any game day style must-haves or go-to’s? Or any pre-game rituals? I’d love to hear them!

Marathon Monday.

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Anytime any runners came by that looked tired- this guy held up this sign for them to see. Inspirational? You bet.

Anytime any runners came by that looked tired- this guy held up this sign for them to see. Inspirational? You bet.

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Yesterday was Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts, and more importantly- it was the 118th Boston Marathon. After stopping by my office in the morning to sort through the weekend mail and make a couple of phone calls, I met up with some friends to grab lunch and head down towards the finish line a short time after the race had started to cheer on the participants still making their way to Boylston Street. The sun was shining, it was warm and breezy out- and you truly couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to have such a celebrated (and this year, an especially poignant) event.

The anniversary of the 2013 Marathon bombings passed last week, and I had contemplated writing a reflective post re-visiting the courage I had witnessed that day (even through the initial fear and uncertainty,) and have continued to witness every day since then- from the stories of survivors who had been horrifically wounded taking their first steps on prosthetic limbs and with their heads held high, to the families and friends who had lost loved ones in the blasts rallying together to show the world that despite the unthinkable happening to them- they would not yield or cave to fear and hatred- that they still had love and strength in their hearts, however broken those hearts were/are in the wake of their loss.

I decided to wait on the post, however- not only because I believe others who shared their thoughts and feelings on the anniversary did so infinitely better than I could have ever hoped to do, but because I wanted to experience this marathon, first.

So let me just say this:

Yesterday’s Boston Marathon, from each and every sweat-drenched runner who crossed the finish line, to each and every attendee who came to show their support, cheer themselves hoarse, yell words of encouragement like “you’re almost there! You can do this! We’re proud of you! Keep going!” and “don’t give up!” at the participants passing by on the course who had slowed their pace to catch their breath. To the police and fire departments, some of whom came in from out of town to help, and who kept a vigilant eye over things- and to the people I saw shaking hands, high-fiving, and hugging anyone and everyone they came across who were wearing their medals- some with their silver thermal blankets still draped around them- while congratulating their accomplishment with wide, genuine smiles: THAT is the personification of this event. THAT is the personification of the city of Boston.

“Boston Strong” is more than a catchphrase or a slogan on a t-shirt. It is a rallying cry, birthed from a horrible tragedy last Spring, that represents the unity of an amazing city filled with some of the best and bravest people you could ever hope to meet- people that band together to support one another during the tough times- and come together to rejoice together during the good times.

Congratulations to the runners in yesterday’s marathon. You were all spectacular and I can only imagine how exhilarating it must have felt to cross that finish line after so many of you couldn’t do it last year. You helped take the marathon back and you helped restore it to what it should always be remembered as- a beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring event.

I look forward to cheering you all on again next year!

Spring Forward.

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You may not be able to tell from the photos above, since the flowers and trees have not quite bloomed yet, but this weekend’s weather was nothing short of heavenly. Sunny, clear, and the perfect temperature- not too warm- but not too cold. If it could stay like this year-round, it’d be ideal.

I had gone to a casting call in South Boston yesterday afternoon, where I soaked up the sunshine and met some really, really nice people while waiting for my turn to go inside to meet with the casting company. I also had dinner plans much later on with my Canadian friend, Frank, who was in town for PAX East- so in between the two obligations, with no errands left to run- I had a few hours to kill.

I may have already said this in the past at some point, but one of my favorite things to do in Boston (weather permitting, of course,) is wander aimlessly on foot. I know it sounds strange, since there are 1,001+ things I could do instead- but with all the time I spend driving, or riding the T, going from place to place, appointment to commitment and back again- it’s nice to not have any set destination and to just roam freely. Boston is a beautiful city, and I find myself falling in love with it all over again whenever I go for long walks and take it all in at my own pace.

I spent a good portion of my evening people-watching in the Common, iced green tea-lemonade in hand, and snapping photos of Beacon Hill at sunset before I met up with Frank and the two of us headed to Assaggio in the North End (one of my favorite places!) for a delicious meal.

I can’t wait for the flowers to begin showing themselves around here. We have the beautiful weather. Now we just need the beautiful colors, too.

xx

Top 10 Photographs of 2013.

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In between visiting with family and friends during the holidays, working, and preparing for New Years- I’ve been drafting my “2013: In a Nutshell” post in my free time. For those who may not know, at the end of every month, I like to summarize said month, talk about any major events/turning points that took place, post any pictures that may not have initially made the cut when I blogged, write about the days to come, etc. My 2013 summary is a lot like that- but for the entire year, of course- including an assortment of news, pop culture, random tidbits and nonsense, etc.

I digress, to prepare- I’ve re-visited some of the photographs I snapped during 2013 (and there were a lot!) and wanted to create a post highlighting my Top 10 of the year and the stories behind them.

So without further ado,

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# 10: Dropkick Murphys, TD Garden (March 15th)

I took a shot of the heavily illuminated stage- and an enthusiastic fan- during the band’s annual series of Saint Patrick’s Day shows in March. The timing of this shot couldn’t have been any better, thanks in part to the guy in front of me who threw his arms up as I was snapping away while the band prepared to launch into a cover of AC/DC’s “TNT.”

This wasn’t my first Dropkick Murphys show of 2013, and it also wouldn’t be my last. I’d go on to see them perform a couple more times over the next few months- one concert in particular being especially poignant as it was a benefit for “The One Fund” to help those directly affected in the Boston Marathon Bombing.

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# 9: Ocean Beach, San Diego (September 27th)

This may not be the most complex photograph I’ve ever taken (I took it sitting down in the sand, after all,) but it’s one of my favorites from the year because it was taken during one of the most relaxing afternoons during one of my most relaxing vacations in recent memory. I was sitting in a small sliver of shade underneath the pier at Ocean Beach waiting for my friend Duncan to arrive while I listened to music and watched the surfers paddle out as the waves crashed in.

I could have stayed like that for hours. It was truly a little piece of paradise.

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# 8: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting (January 22nd)

If there was ever a photograph I wanted to eat, the above shot of surprise cupcakes, a combination of two of my favorite flavors, that my family concocted and made for my birthday would be it. This picture apparently received a lot of attention on Pinterest among foodies and dessert-enthusiasts, which is pretty cool- but I especially liked it because it was a (delicious) reminder of how wonderful my relatives are and the effort they put into giving me a fun (and again, delicious,) surprise.

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# 7: Photobombing Norman Reedus in NYC (June 29th)

I can’t take credit for this photo, since I simply posed and a woman at Wizard World NYC caught the moment with her camera- but it’s still one of the best pictures I have from the event, and the year- although definitely not the most flattering. Norman Reedus, of “The Walking Dead” and “Boondock Saints” fame, is also a notorious photobomber. Having seen countless photos of fans simply standing beside him and looking timid or giddy, I decided to liven things up.

I gave Norman a heads up when we got ready to pose in front of the hilariously awkward K-Mart style backdrop, and he was an incredibly good sport and enthusiastic participant to the shenanigans. He’s a genuinely cool guy.

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# 6: Mick Jagger, TD Garden (June 14th)

Winning Rolling Stones tickets was a dream come true that I’m still pinching myself about since I can’t believe it actually happened. To be able to see the man, the myth, the legend- Mick Jagger- sashay, dance, and kick his way around the stage- performing all the songs I grew up with and love so, so much- was beyond surreal. I took this shot in between cheering myself hoarse and singing along at the top of my lungs- and it’s an incredible memento to have in my collection of concert pictures from throughout the years.

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# 5: Autumn Shade, Winsor Dam (October 5th)

During one of my countless weekend drives, I had stopped in Western Massachusetts to take in the fresh air and beautiful fall foliage. It was during a long walk over the Winsor Dam in Ware/Belchertown when I saw the sun shining through this tree, in the midst of the transition from Summer to Fall- hanging over and shedding it’s leaves onto an unoccupied picnic table. I grabbed my camera, and the result is something I am really quite pleased with.

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# 4: Great Gatsby Lawn Party at the Crane Estate (July 21st)

This is another photo I didn’t take myself (Sean helped!) but I loved it, even if it’s considered a “selfie.” We had considered taking this picture in black & white or sepia, to give it a more authentic “old time” feel, but in the end I’m glad we decided to keep the photo in it’s full color. The bright red of my hair and lipstick pales in comparison to the Crane Estate, surrounded by other attendees and the greenest grass I’d ever seen, looming in the background.

It was a beautiful party, and I’m glad I have this photo to remember it by.

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# 3: Cliff Walk, Newport (December 22nd)

This is one of the most recent photographs I’ve taken (from a day trip this past Sunday,) but it’s one of the most beautiful, in my opinion. The ocean has always been a place of refuge for me. It can be calming or exciting, perfect to sit and watch in any mood or mind set. On this particular day, it was wild- with waves crashing against the rocks while I strolled Cliff Walk. I took this photo of the water breaking against and inside a small cave within the cliff while some of the Newport Mansions are peeking through the fog in the background.

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# 2: The Day After, Boston (April 20th)

At a glance, this photo isn’t anything extraordinary- there’s probably hundreds out there just like this- but to me- the date it was taken and the frame of mind myself and many others were in is what makes this photo so important to me. Shot hours after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon Bombers, was taken into custody- I snapped this photo by the reflecting pool while heading out to brunch with a friend. The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and everyone I saw or spoke to that day seemed to be in good spirits.

The city of Boston has never looked more beautiful to me than it did that day, and in this photograph.

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# 1: Medfield State Hospital (January 26th)

And finally, my favorite photograph. Something I captured that I am still, and will remain, very fond of. Taken on one of the coldest days of the year at the abandoned Medfield State Hospital, I was rounding one of the wards when I spotted this dilapidated bench with a tree growing through it. Although I am very pleased with every shot I took that day- this one is my favorite. I know there’s a metaphor in it somewhere, like “life continues through destruction and decay,” or something poetic like that- but I just thought this picture was neat. The snow, the boarded up building in the background, the fence. Every part of it.

I hope to go back someday in warmer weather and see the tree in bloom- still growing through the bench.

And there they are, my top 10 photographs from 2013. It was a hard decision to make, limiting all of my pictures I took down to just ten- but I think it’s a good compilation. All of the photos posted have fun or meaningfulness to them.

I hope to be even more of a shutterbug in 2014 (and who knows- maybe double my list to a “top 20” this time next year?)

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

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I love Boston at nighttime, period- but around the holidays, the city looks particularly magical- even when there’s no snow on the ground and it’s cold-but-bearable in the temperature department. That was the case last night when I parked my car down by the waterfront after work to attend the Boston Bloggers’ Holiday Meet & Greet. The walk to the meet-up was continually interrupted by my stopping and snapping photos of some of my favorite holiday decorations en route, including but not limited to the Faneuil Hall Christmas Tree and my all-time favorite- the illuminated trellis at Columbus Park. The fact that I wasn’t freezing to the point of being in pain was a bonus, too. If the entire winter could be/feel like it did last night- from now until Spring- I probably wouldn’t be such a hermit and frantically search for reasons to stay indoors from December-March.

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The meetup, which took place at Warehouse Bar & Grille, was my first with Boston Bloggers, and apart from being a really fun way to meet and network with other bloggers in the community who share similar interests- the event was also charitable- with each attendee bringing unwrapped presents for Toys for Tots (one of my favorite organizations!)

Now, I consider myself a pretty social person, both out in the world and also on the internet where I love interacting with people across the city, the state, the country- and globe- but even I was admittedly a little nervous walking into Warehouse all by myself, towards a large gathering of strangers, and preparing to try and mingle. Thankfully, it was super easy- because everyone there was so, so, SO nice, friendly, personable, and fun.

I walked in, a little wide-eyed and not quite sure where to start, when I was given a cute sticker with my name on it to wear and a program identifying the names, blogs, and social media contact information of everyone in the room. From there, I was immediately ushered over by a couple of people (Laura and Nick, respectively!) who had apparently noticed the bewildered look on my face as I tried to figure out where and how to begin- and made me feel more than welcome as they introduced themselves and we began swapping our information, links, and talking fashion/music/hobbies.

After that, it was a lot easier to make rounds around the room in between partaking in some of the delicious food that was provided for us. I met so many wonderful, talented, brilliant, and truly fascinating writers whose work I can’t wait to follow and read. There were also a few people I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to speak at length to- but there’s always the next event- and I will definitely be in attendance. I had such a lovely time at this one!

“Good times never seemed so good…”

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Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day in Boston (I’m talking t-shirt and no-jacket-necessary weather,) which set the tone for a morning of joy and reflection for the Red Sox rolling rally to celebrate their World Series win. While some of my friends opted to get up before dawn to find themselves a spot at Fenway, where the parade began, I was content with getting a couple of extra hours of sleep and then squeezing in between the masses at Government Center right as the parade was getting underway. There, I drank my coffee and talked about the team’s unbelievable season and favorite moments of the series with a few other people who had gathered to watch while we waited for the duck boats carrying the team to come by.

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After the parade passed by my section on it’s way to the Charles, the crowd eventually dispersed. Some headed off after the duck boats, following along the parade route, and plenty of others began crowding into nearby pubs and restaurants. I decided to walk over to Boylston Street to meet with a few people for lunch. As I approached the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the overall mood was refreshingly upbeat. Nearly everyone was in Red Sox and Boston Strong garb (myself included,) and lined up outside many of the establishments waiting to get inside, but even those who weren’t- or who just happened to be in the area- were smiling, snapping photos, throwing around some of the confetti left over from the duck boats, talking to & laughing with the numerous police officers milling about on the sidewalk and keeping an eye on everyone by the bars- and even participating in different chants and cheers of enthusiastic (and maybe slightly drunk) parade-goers.

It was just such a nice feeling. Truly the best way to spend a beautiful November morning.

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