All posts by Leah Klein

As far back as I can remember, I would wake up from my nap time to the smell and sounds of something cooking in the kitchen. I would stumble out of my bed and slowly make my way to the kitchen. My mom would be there chopping, stirring, mixing, or washing. I would rub my eyes take a deep breath and eventually be awake enough to either taste something she was chopping or ask to help out.

Weekend Guide: July 26th-27th 2014

Better late than never.  There is no time like the present.  It’s summer who plans things ahead anyway.  And now, without much further ado…your weekend guide:

The My Sky traveling exhibit opens Saturday at the Boston Children's Museum, encouraging families to look up!
The My Sky traveling exhibit opens Saturday at the Boston Children’s Museum, encouraging families to look up!

Saturday, July 26th

The My Sky exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum opens this Saturday and runs through January 4th.

Sunday July 27th

First Ever Cambridge Jazz Festival

This free event takes place at University Park Commons, on Sidney St..  The festival is on Sunday, July 27th from 12-6pm.  Performances by Valerie Simpson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Savage Trio, Fernando Brandão and the Berklee Brazilian All-Stars, George W. Russell Jr. Trio, and Dominique Eade

All Weekend: Saturday, July 26th and July 2th

Figment Boston

This arts extravaganza is a weekend-long event on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Figment is all about participatory art so show up ready to observe if you must, and participate if you can.

This event is free and runs Saturday 11am-6pm and Sunday 12pm-6pm.  There will also be the second annual FIGMENT After Dark dance party in Dewey Square Saturday 6pm-11pm!

New England Patriots Practice

Head out to Gillette Stadium for training camp.  Spectators are invited to watch practices for free.  Training camp begins at 9:15 and the Patriots Fan Zone is open from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Parking is free as well.

Lowell Folk Festival

The Lowell Folk Festival kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday.  Admission is free although a suggested donation of $10  a day to support the arts is not too much to ask.

In addition to music and crafts there is a family activity area on Shattuck St. with hands on games.  There is a Kites Over New England experience as well as artists and musicians sharing their talents all weekend.  For a full map of the festival look here.



Martin Codax Albarino

Summer Wines: Martin Códax Albariño

I was recently invited to Row 34, a restaurant on my “must try” list, to learn more about the 2012 Martin Códax Albariño.  At first sip, I was on board and after a meal of pairings I decided that I would definitely add this as one of my summer wine staples.  It has a really clean, bright taste with the crisp dryness that I like, but not too dry so those dinner guests, or I just was in the neighborhood and I popped in guests, who enjoy a sweeter wine can still enjoy it.

Row 34 Fort Point
Row 34, Fort Point Boston

The reason I plan on having this Albariño stocked in my wine fridge is that it took on different characteristics with each course.

Oysters at Row 34It paired beautifully with oysters and a Thai style ceviche.

Crudo at Row 34The wine was even brighter with a crudo that had a fried shallot or onion that just transformed the taste of the Albariño.

Lobster at Row 34It was delectable with lobster and continued to pair perfectly all the way through dessert which was a pound cake with lemon glaze and berries.

My new summer wine standby.
My new summer wine standby.

If I keep a bottle of the Martin Códax Albariño in the fridge I know I can pull it out to share with friends over an aperitif of olives, bruschetta or other such small bites.  I know I can whip up a batch of mussels and it will be perfect with a glass of the wine in the mussels and with the mussels.  I know I can have friends over for a girls’ night in with popcorn, a little dark chocolate and a nicely chilled glass of the Albariño. IMG_7338

Summer Wines

When it comes to choosing wine I end up doing the same thing I do with books.  To choose a book I often judge it by it’s cover, I rely on a good librarian to help find something just right, or I recall a little blurb or review I read.  For wines I rarely remember what I liked or bought for some reason I just can’t recall wine names.  I am influenced by the way the wine label is designed.  My wine librarians are the curators of wine at small local shops like Hi Rise Bakery and Formaggio Kitchen because they have pre-selected a few great ones for the shop.  Over the years however, after hosting may dinners and parties I have started to like having a wine or two that is always in the cellar or fridge.  I have enjoyed wine for many years now and starting this year, well in truth a few years back when I first went to the Nantucket Food and Wine Festival, I am finally beginning to learn a lot more about wine.  Most recently I visited a few East Coast wineries on Long Island’s North Fork.

Summer WineFor summer, I started always having Riondo Pink Spago Argento.  It is an effervescent rosé that seems to be enjoyed by everyone.  I like wines that are little more on the dry side, but have friends who prefer wines that are a bit sweeter and this works for everyone.

Now I am going for a 2nd wine that I’ll stock in my fridge for the summer.  I was recently reintroduced to the Martin Códax Albariño.  It is one of those perfect summer wines that is crisp and dry enough for me, but not so dry that sweeter wine drinkers won’t enjoy it.


Bowl Kings: Step Inside

I love summer days by the ocean.  Poolside afternoons and early evenings swimming until our lips are blue are a huge part of summer fun.  Picking berries at the CSA and ignoring the sweltering heat because each fresh blueberry pops in our mouths with the taste of perfection defines summer.  Day after beautiful day outdoors is something we relish for this sunniest of New England seasons, but every once in a while you want to step out from the stronghold of the sun, leave the sunscreen in the pool bag, and switch it up for a day.  Today I traded my flip flops for bowling shoes and did just that at Kings in Back Bay.

My kids have become fine candlepin bowlers over the years thanks to the fun and fabulous Sacco Bowl, but if we want to play the bowling games that my grandmother was famous for (Yes, Simma has a shelf full of bowling trophies.) then we head for Kings.  It is our alley of choice because it is well maintained, has a great retro vibe, and most importantly we don’t have to rush off at lunch time to feed the kids because they serve really good food.

Here is a quick look at why we choose King’s.  I have only been to the one in Back Bay, but I look forward to an outing to Lynnfield to check out what lies behind that glittery facade!

Today I was a guest at King’s. As always all opinions are my own.

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Hot Diggity Dog: It’s National Hot Dog Day

Today,  Wednesday, July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day.  I don’t know about your fridge, but our fridge has a pack of hot dogs in it year-round with a few extras for those summer cookouts.

On the one hand, we love our hot dogs, on the other hand, I never understood why when out at a snack shack parents are always saying “Eat one more bite of your hot dog and then you can get ice cream.”  I’m thinking to myself,  “Let’s skip the hot dog. Do you know what is in that tubular pale object that you’re asking your child to eat more of?  I’d bet money on there being more nutrition and just about as much fat in that lick of soft serve than that last bite of dog.”

The cleaner wiener from Applegate farms.
The cleaner wiener from Applegate farms.

I know, I just said I have hot dogs in my fridge year-round, and I do.  We don’t eat a lot of meat in this house, but when we do it has got to be the good stuff.  I’d rather spend a little bit more and eat a little bit less.  We go for hot dogs with no ambiguous meat sources and less unnecessary  additives.  I’ll skip the extra nitrates if I can and please hold the mechanically separated stuff.  These are a few of my favourite hot dogs.

In preparation for National Hot Dog Day, the folks at Applegate sent me a Wienervention kit.  Their hot dogs have none of these unfab five:  sodium nitrate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, mechanically separated meat (Ew!  Go ahead you can say it,  “Ew!!”), and hooves (More “Ew!”)

If your hot dog eating motto is “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” and it was 1980-something then I’d say, “Okay, so be it.”  But it’s not 1980 something.  We have much easier access to really good food and really good information about the food we are eating.  If you are now plugging your ears and going, “lalalalala, I can’t hear you.” then it is definitely time for a Wienervention of your own.
Enter to win the giveaway here.

National Hot Dog Day

The Applegate Wienervention kit was sent to me for review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Dog Town: Boston’s Best Hot Dogs

I love a good hot dog.  I’m just as likely to stop for one out on the town as I am to make one at home.  If I’m cooking at home my go to dogs are these ones.

Niman Ranch dog at the Formaggio Kitchen BBQMy son likes the Hebrew National Reduced Fat hot dogs (Not the 97% lean – those are too chewy.)  These are not my first choice but they’re not too bad.

My daughter likes the paler hot dogs that are not all beef from Market Basket.  They are the natural casing hot dogs.  They probably are the least “clean” dogs we buy but she only has them on occasion so I am okay with it.  She has been a fan of the Applegate hot dogs in the past as well so we’ll see what she thinks when we do another taste test.  For her it’s more about more pork and less beef and they should be a lighter colour.

I like to make the Niman Ranch, Applegate or  Pearl Hot Dogs if we are having a cookout.

Now where do I go in town for a hot dog?

I line up at the Formaggio Kitchen street side BBQ on Saturdays.

Lone Star Taco bar for their Sonoran hot dog.

Shake Shack for their Chicago dog.

Kirkland Tap and Trotter for their house made hot dog.

H-Mart for pizza with hot dog on it.

Trina’s Starlight Lounge for their dog of the day.

Not exactly a hot dog but it must be included: the sausage roll at KO Pies.

Side Note:  Where I grew up in K-W Ontario the hot dogs were all called Schneider’s I remember seeing the trucks around town.



Blogger Bash NYC

Whenever fellow bloggers ask about which conferences I am or am not going to, or when asked if I’ll be at Blogher I joke that I’m allergic to those kind of conferences. The truth is I won’t break out into hives at one of the big blogger conferences, but at this moment in time for me as a person, a mother, and a blogger I just don’t think I am ready to participate fully.  Last week I went to Blogger Bash which integrated speakers, brands, philanthropy and bloggers into a jam-packed two day event in NYC.

Just my friend Lava B. Eruptor and I hanging out in NYC at Blogger Bash.
Just my friend Lava B. Eruptor and I hanging out in NYC at Blogger Bash.

Although I’m still terrible at the networking and schmoozing part, I managed to do a little and get a lot out of the event.  Blogger Bash was divided into several parts.  There was the VIP experience, followed by Sweet Suite and an Angry Birds Stella after party on the first day.  On day two, there was Lego Batman Breakfast, a media panel, speed dating with brands, Blonganthropy awards, Mommy Tech, Baby Palooza, EA Social Suite, and the Kidz Vuz Back to School event. The event took place at Location 05 in NYC.  It was a great setting, albeit perhaps a little loud for some of the events such as the speed dating, but no venue is ever perfect.  Location 05 was set up beautifully and was easy to get to.  Blogger Bash also had Uber codes so that attendees could get discounted rides, which made getting to and fro even easier.  Although most attendees were mom bloggers, there were a few dad bloggers and kid bloggers as well.  Press was also present throughout. What worked for me at Blogger Bash was that it was mid-sized.  It was not so small that I felt I wasn’t connecting enough with other bloggers and brands, but not so big that I was hiding in the bathroom having a panic attack.  There was a great range of toy, parent gear, and lifestyle brands, including Activision and Disney Infinity.  I have always been afraid of any video game beyond Tetris.  All the children I used to babysit gave up trying to teach me any of the games on their brand new Atari game systems.  Blogger Bash was a place for me to step out of the babysitter me persona and into the “ready to learn mommy” me persona especially since I have a son who is really interested and knowledgeable about all the new games such as Disney Infinity, Skylanders and Minecraft. It was great to have the time and space to connect with the various brands and people behind them at each of the booths that made sense for me and for my blog.  Click through to learn more about each portion of Blogger Bash and stay tuned to learn more about what’s what for your toybox. Last, but certainly not least, this was the inaugural Blogger Bash and yet it felt like a well established event.  That is the sign of definite behind the scenes super heroes.  Blogger Bash’s magic was created by none other than The Big Toy Book‘s Joey Fortman, Charlene Deloach, Laurie Schacht, Ali Mierzejewski, Marissa Dibartolo, and Stephanie Glover.


Sweet Suite 2014

The Big Toy Book’s Sweet Suite was part party and part connecting with brands.  I found some old favorites including Faber Castell and Tomy and new discoveries such as Kurio, Fashion Angels, USAopoly, Thames and Kosmos, Hexbugs (did you know they had big robots too?), Skylanders and Disney Infinity among others.

As a child, my father used to go to Germany for conferences and I remember him bringing me back really special art supplies because I loved to draw and paint.  Faber Castell pencils, were like a treasure from a far away place.  Now that I have little artists of my own, I treat them to the same amazing art supplies, but luckily I can now find them without flying overseas.

As I mentioned in my overview of Blogger Bash, one of my goals was to learn more about the video games that my children are so enamoured with.  When we stop in at the Microsoft Store and they play Disney Infinity I try to understand how to play, but I never quite have the time to get into it.  In preparation for Blogger Bash, I tried to learn about Skylanders Trap Team too, but until I stood with the game in front of me and some of the best “guides” to the games it didn’t quite click.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about the whole world of video games that just opened up for me after the right kind of introduction in the right kind of setting.

As soon as I find some time… who am I kidding…I look forward to making time to play some video games this year with my son and my daughter.  We live in a digital age, and it’s time for me to play that way with my children too (at least some of the time. )


Marmite vs. Vegemite

Dad and I did a breakfast taste test. Vegemite was new for us. It was milder, and a bit less sticky. It has malt extract vs. Marmite’s vegetable extract. We both prefer Marmite which has a bit more bitterness, punch, dimension and almost vinegary taste. We thought Vegemite might be a good intro to the world of ‘mites as it is more mellow.

How to eat Marmite:
1). Don’t.
Just kidding – that is many people’s reaction but I have always enjoyed it.

1) Toast a slice of good bread.
2) Generously butter the toast while still warm.
3) Dip the tip of a butter knife about 3 cm. into the pot of Marmite and take a small ‘curl’ (except it won’t curl really as butter would) of Marmite out and spread over butter.
4) Bite into the warm, crunchy, buttery, salty, umami goodness.
5) Repeat.

Weekend Guide: July 18th 2014

You know how at your parent’s place or the beach house you have that old favorite towel.  When you open the linen closet at home, you hope to see that one you really like because it’s big, or it’s soft or the fabric is not too thick.

IMG_7366Head over to Rings Fountain at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Wharf District Parks over by the New England Aquarium to celebrate summer and water play with Great Wolf Lodge New England.  On Friday, July 18th  from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Great Wolf Lodge New England will be handing out free beach towels.  Then all you need to do is find the closest playground with a water feature and you’ll be set for an afternoon of summer fun. (Free)

When I think of a daiquiri I think strawberry, and some cheesy chain bar, but if you go beyond the cheesy bar a daiquiri is actually quite a perfect summer beverage (21+ of course).  Plus, now that I know that Ernest Hemingway is involved I am definitely intrigued.

The Painted Burro is taking locally distilled Privateer Run and making signature daiquiris for each day of the week leading up to National Daiquiri day.  On Saturday, July 19th from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. join the Painted Burro for passed appetizers and a daiquiri education. (Free)

Daiquiris available all week are:

  • Privateer Silver, Lime Juice, Pink Peppercorn Syrup, Peach Purée, Firewater, Peach Bitters, Splash of Rose Water
  • Privateer Silver, Pineapple Simple, Luxardo Maraschino, Lime
  • Privateer Silver Infused with Earl Grey, Sugar, Peach Purée

One year I will make it to the Revere Beach National Sandsculpting festival.  It looks like so much fun and the sculptures I have seen (only in pictures) are always very impressive.

Playground at Assembly Row.
Playground at Assembly Row.

Assembly Row in Somerville is celebrating the opening of a children’s play area, which is part of the Baxter Riverfront Park along the Mystic River.  This outdoor space for children to explore and play opens Saturday, July 19th.  The play area’s design is inspired by the animals that live along the river. (Free)

bike lover

Try the Mom and Kid Ride with Boston Bikes on July 19th at 11:00 a.m.  Enjoy a short ride on paths, plus family fun including bike decorating, face painting, and fun for all. The ride concludes with a picnic and free ice cream provided by JP Licks. Kids pedaling on their own bikes without training wheels are welcome (must be accompanied by an adult), or parents pulling kids in a trailer/bike seat. All participants will receive a free kids’ pass to the Museum of Science valid for one week (requires purchase of adult museum pass). If you need a bike you can rent one for free before the ride. (Free)

Sunday, July 20th head to The Regattabar at The Charles Hotel for their kids’ series.  Alastair Moock will be performing. After the show, which begins at 4:30 why not grab dinner at Henrietta’s Table?  Show your ticket stub and the children will be served a complimentary chocolate-themed dessert.  Then to get them tired before bedtime, stroll into Harvard Square or along the Charles river before heading home.  (Tickets $12)