Birds of a Feather

What We Miss About Boston June 30, 2013

Filed under: Beantown — kcfeather @ 7:21 pm

A year ago today we pulled away from the lovely triple-decker we lived in on Chilton Street, and made the “long” (barely 6 hour) drive down to our new home.  Well, to our temporary new home…we had to spend two weeks in temporary housing (with only a very weak AC window unit) before we could move in to our row home (by Philadelphia standards, a single-family home) in Center City.

In honor of our year here, today we’re doing the same thing we did our first full day as residents of PA: going to the movies! (Last year, Moonrise Kingdom. This year, The Bling Ring).

We love it here, but there are of course things we miss about Cambridge.  Prompted by my friend K’s list of things she misses about her former home, I thought I’d share a few of ours:

* The Bakeries
This one definitely tops out the list (next to our Bostonian friends). We were surrounded by great bakeries, and while we did take advantage of that fact (and often), we didn’t realize what a rarity it was.
Hi-Rise was just around the corner, and had great breads and pastries. We were particularly fond of their brioche and brown bread, and their Cheddar Snails and Vanilla Loaf were our Sunday morning standbys.  Oh. And their Apricot Preserves.
Sofra was just a little farther afield but still close by, and perhaps the place I miss the most – although more for their breakfasts than for their baked goods.  A Middle-Eastern bakery, Sofra’s flavors were particularly unique – and spectacularly tasty. I will always have a special place in my heart for their Turkish Breakfast, and C has made many frustrated attempts to find (or make) a Shakshuka that rivals the one at Sofra.
Flour Bakery (one of the locations, at least) was not too far from my office at MIT.  They had terrific sandwiches, croissants, and cakes. When we were traveling for the weekend, I would often pick up dinner at Flour before meeting C at the airport, and we certainly felt like royalty eating their sandwiches and cakes on the airplane while everyone else at Pringles.

* Fresh Pond
We are by no means deprived of running trails by the water in Philadelphia (and oh so thankful for that fact), but Fresh Pond and the trail around it will always hold a special place in our heart. I also love that they call “lakes” “ponds” up there.

* The HBS Gym
Thanks to C’s employer, we had inexpensive access to a really great gym.  There were always plenty of machines (treadmills, etc.), lots of high-quality group exercise classes, free towel service, and locker rooms that didn’t smell!  In fact, no part of the gym smelled, which is quite a feat. We both miss our tradition of meeting there after work several times a week before heading home.

* Parking
There were days in Cambridge that we couldn’t park DIRECTLY. IN. FRONT. OF. OUR. HOUSE. and we had to park a few houses away, on the same block.  Those days were not even that common. We thought that was annoying at the time, but really we had nothing to complain about.  Without a doubt parking is the toughest thing about living in Center City, and we now reminisce about the parking situation on Chilton Street.

* The People Our Friends
This one perhaps belongs at the top of the list, but I thought I would finish strong. We don’t miss the strangers in Boston that much, but we did make lots of wonderful friends that we think of regularly (a few of whom we’ve had a chance to see down here in Philly).  The Community Group from our church that we were a part of was a special place to grow friendships and step back together from the busyness that is life in Boston. We also dearly miss our colleagues, many of whom became good friends.

 

Patriot’s Day April 17, 2013

Filed under: Beantown — kcfeather @ 9:23 pm

If you’ll recall, the past two Aprils I enthusiastically cheered marathoners in Boston. I wasn’t there this year, since we moved, but was incredibly sad to see the initial news reports of the bombing on Monday, and even more sad as I learned just how many were injured and died. We knew several people running, and even more who were volunteering and/or cheering at the race, though so far as we can tell they are thankfully all safe and sound (but shaken).

Our thoughts this week are with the people of Boston, both friends and strangers; we are praying that peace and love will reign amidst all the fear, chaos and uncertainty.

 

Rabbit, rabbit! June 2, 2012

Filed under: Beantown,The everyday — kcfeather @ 1:27 am

Today is the first day of our last month in Boston!

Cambridge is by no means the countryside, but during our time here we’ve had a few sightings of animals that we have never before seen in the wild.

Most frequently, bunny rabbits! It’s a fun and not too uncommon event to see a rabbit hop across the sidewalk as we walk along historic Brattle Street on our way to work in the morning. They’ve also taken over the lawns near C’s office (the ones at HBS are particularly unconcerned by passers by, and are happy to chomp on grass even when we come quite close).

We’ve also seen wild turkeys strutting down the middle of Huron Street, stopping up traffic as they refuse to move any faster than they please.

But this last weekend, we had the most surprising animal sighting of our time here – when driving in Central Massachusetts this weekend, a fox and her kit darted across the road right in front of us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox in living color before, but it looked just like I imagined (my imagination mostly informed  by the Disney classic Fox and Hound and by Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr.Fox).  A little more skittish than the HBS bunnies, they scampered into the bushes quickly – but it was among the highlights of our day.

Here’s to a great June!

 

All images from the Wik.

 

M.M. April 17, 2012

Filed under: Beantown — kcfeather @ 7:19 pm

Yesterday was the first anniversary of our first Patriot’s Day in Boston. Unlike last year, when I had to wear a fleece while cheering on the runners on Marathon Monday, temperatures soared to record-breaking levels yesterday – in some parts of the course, up to 89 degrees. The heat just made it feel like a summer day for us spectators, but it was far less pleasant for the marathoners.  Still, they ran.  And we cheered.

Mile 24, at Coolidge Corner

 

Say Cheese! March 26, 2012

Filed under: Beantown,Recipes and food — kcfeather @ 8:57 pm

Inside the Formmagio Cheese Counter

On the first morning we spent in Cambridge (July 1, 2010), we woke up, walked a few blocks down Huron Avenue, and got a cherry scone, four fruits tea (K), and coffee (C) at a little neighborhood gourmet market.  We’ve come to frequent the market – not for buying actual groceries, since it makes Whole Foods look like a discount grocer, but for picking up little treats – a bit of cheese or salami, Stumptown coffee beans, a bottle of wine, or perhaps their famous Saturday barbecue – and for getting ideas of things to make at home.

Cheese!

We had *heard* that they had a cheese cave – in fact, seeing the cheese cave is on our list of things to do before leaving Boston – but the store is always so crowded that we never thought it was a good time to ask if we could see it.  Then, a colleague of C’s invited us to a “Cheese 101” class at Formaggio, and we thought that this might be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the store when it is a little less chaotic, and maybe even get a chance to check out the cheese cave. And indeed, it was!  We had lots of fun tasting the cheeses (and enjoying the wine pairings), learned a little bit about cheese-making, got in some good Cambridge people watching, and….got a private tour of the cheese cave!

Inside the cheese cave, at last!

The cave was not surprisingly dark, damp, and smelled of ammonia…but it was also full of oodles and oodles of cheese.

 

Fresh Pond Love March 5, 2012

Filed under: Beantown — kcfeather @ 4:07 pm

Just another Sunday afternoon in Huron Village

 

The List (MA Edition) January 10, 2012

Filed under: Beantown — kcfeather @ 6:22 pm

The new year = new resolutions, yada yada yada. Like everyone, we have some very unoriginal new year’s resolutions (eat healthy, get in better shape, read more, keep the house cleaner, and so on). Very unoriginal.

But, we also have another set of resolutions – sort of like this one from a few years ago. This time around, it’s because we’re (likely) leaving MA (exact destination TBD, but C is hard at work figuring this out…) I am trying to make this ambitious yet do-able. We’ll see!

BEFORE LEAVING:

Around Boston
Take a Duck Tour or a boat tour of the Charles River (6/15)

We took a “sunset cruise” with the Charles Riverboat Company.  The Charles becomes a pretty significant natural landmark if you live in Cambridge/Boston, and so it was fun to go up and down the river on the water (rather than by car along either Memorial or Storrow).

Go to a hockey game (Harvard, or the Bruins) 1/28

So fun! With some friends from our CG, we watched the Crimson (Harvard) take down Brown 3-1.  There were no huge brawls, but there was definitely a lot of checking and slamming each other against the walls.  A fun surprise was that we were in the very front row – so got a close up view of all the action.

Dine at Oleana, the classier older sister of our neighborhood favorite, Sofra (2/28)

Had a lovely dinner here with friends to celebrate the end of the job market (for them…not for us quite yet).  Great small plates (“mezze”) and large, tasty entrees.  Their “Sultan’s Delight” and moussaka were especially scrumptious. And, we’ll get to try them again, since we have a gift card for here.  I sort of want to eat at the bar next time around (although C is less of a fan of eating at the bar than I am).

Attend morning prayers at Harvard Memorial Church (5/4)

C did this (somewhat on accident) to get out of a rainstorm earlier in the term; I of course waited until the very last day of morning prayers for the entire academic year.  They were lead by a seminarian at the Div. School, and it was a lovely way to start the day.  Fifteen minutes from start to end, we read a Psalm responsively, listened to the choir sing, and heard a short scripture reading and then a very short reflection about the passage.  Wish I had been there more often!

See the cheese cave at Formmagio Kitchen (perhaps by signing up for one of their classes) (3/18)

We did sign up for a class, and we did get to see the cheese cave!  What fun!  More here.

– Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum (5/6) and MFA (6/6) (both recently opened – or re-opened – new wings)

We meant to go to church this Sunday, but because of street closures due to the Walk for Hunger, we were already 45 minutes late when we turned onto the street that the church is on – only to face another closed road, in between us and our church.  So we gave up, and on the way home decided to stop by the ISG.  It was beautiful, and made us wish we were ultra-wealthy!  What a grand courtyard.

– Bike the Minuteman Trail

– Buy a chicken from Mayflower Poultry Butcher Shop (motto: “Live Poultry Fresh Killed”)

Jazz Brunch at TW Food  (1/15)

Brunch at our favorite local restaurant didn’t disappoint – we really enjoyed the bakery plate as well as the foie gras omelet and the shrimp and grits.  I’m guessing we may return for another brunch before all is said and done. We were definitely glad we went on the early side – but were also glad that the band started up before we left.

Go to the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library (4/1)

We headed over here after church on a Sunday morning (early afternoon, by the time we got there).  The Mapparium is basically a large inverted globe that has a walkway through the center.  Built in the 1930s, it’s now a little outdated, but was still a pretty neat thing to check out (and we even learned about countries that don’t exist any longer, such as Tannu Tuva, in southern Siberia, just north of Mongolia).  Standing on the inside of a globe, you get a much better sense of where things are etc. Asia is huge! Europe is very far north!  You sadly only get about 15 minutes in the mapparium for the $6 price of admission,but it was still a fun little adventure.

– Explore Boston restaurants (a sort of general catch-all for some eating that we’d like to do)

Not crossing this one off, but will list new places as we try them.  1/13 – Figs (a Todd English pizza place in Charlestown. Still searching for the perfect pizza west of Marin); 2/12 – El Pelon (we’ve generally been disappointed with Mexican options in Beantown, but this place was pretty tasty. We really liked the El Guapo burrito with carne asada, black beans, crema, and plantains); 2/17 – Strip-T’s (yes, this sounds like a seedy establishment, but it is actually a hidden gem. From what we can tell, for a long time it was just a neighborhood steak and sandwich place, but the owner’s son just took over – he had previously been at Momofuku in NYC – and so we thought we’d give it a try.  Great value, hole-in-the-wall ambience, and really fantastic food); 3/12 – Tory Row (not exactly eating, but on an unseasonably warm evening, we stopped here for after work drinks.  The location is a lot of fun – especially on a warm day, they pull the front windows open and the restaurant opens onto Harvard Square);

Repeats
– Cheer for the Sox at Fenway

Lobsta Sandwiches at Alive and Kicking (5/26)

Had a fun lunch here with some CG friends.  A&K is BYOB, so we brought some prosecco – which was perfect on a very warm Saturday afternoon.  Afterwards, walked over to Tosci’s for some ice cream.

– Head up to the North Shore and take a short hike at Halibut Point

Micro-sundaes at Tosanini’s 4/19

Mmm-mmm good…stopped by for a micro-sundae (K) and a micro-scoop (C) after a burger at CoM

Run along the Charles on Memorial Drive when it’s closed on a Sunday (5/20)

In honor of the beautiful weekend weather (temperatures near 80), we took a break from our first day of packing boxes and went for a run around the Charles.   Starting at HBS, we ran along the South side of the river to the River Street bridge, crossed there and ran back along Memorial (closed for the day so full of runners, walkers, bikers, etc.) to the bridge at Gerry’s Landing (Eliot), where we crossed back and ran back to Western Ave. along Storrow.  Almost exactly a 5K.

“Grab” a burger at Craigie on Main 4/19

We realized at 9 pm that we needed to figure out what to eat for dinner, and since CoM was between us and home, we decided to swing by for a burger (and also some very tasty pasta with spring vegetables).  So we really did get to “grab” a burger – I suppose we were able to slip in w/o reservations since it was not the weekend, and we were eating on the late side

Farther afield
Visit the Emily Dickinson House (and explore Western Mass) (5/27)

We really enjoyed this daytrip to Amherst/Central Mass on Memorial Day Sunday. Due to some poor planning, we missed the actual house tour, but had fun walking across the grounds, and really enjoyed an art installation that was there for the Spring.

– Take a trip up to Acadia National Park in Maine

At least one more visit to New York City (this time seeing a show) (2/2 – 2/5)

See the trip report for more details, but check and check.  We had a fantastic time daydreaming about living in the Big Apple, even though we have no expectation of ending up there.

Go shopping at Wegman’s grocery store (in Northborough) (3/10)

After a day-long prayer retreat in Northborough (which was wonderful), we stopped by Wegman’s, since we were already out there (it’s about an hour west of Cambridge).  I had heard lots about this amazing grocery store, and it was certainly better than nearly any option we have in Cambridge…but that’s not saying much.  It’s very comparable to some of the nicer Safeways in California, with a little touch of Trader Joe’s thrown in for good measure.  All in all, a fun stop, but probably not worth the trip if you’re not already near a Wegman’s.

Some dreamy weekend excursions (locations TBD)

Not sure if it counts as dreamy, since the temperature was below 10 degrees, but I tagged along with Clayton for an impromptu overnight in New Haven (1/15-16). Really enjoyed the Yale University Art Gallery.

Other get-aways in Winter/Spring 2012: New York City, California, Houston, Dallas (C), Seattle (K)…and many trips to Phila.  Again, not exactly dreamy, but we had lots of fun at each destination.