All posts by leahklein

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.

Here on Huron: Cambridge’s Sweet Spot

If you have ever lived off of Huron Ave. there is a good  chance that it left a strong impression. Many move to this neighborhood and can never leave thanks to a certain gravitational force. Others are here for a few years only and then return to their homelands with a little piece of Cambridge welded to their hearts.  Then there are those who were born and raised here like thier parents and grandparents before them.  

This mish-mash of a community is part of what makes it so special.  The little ‘village’ center is also what makes the neighborhood so fabulous. We have everything at our fingertips here. Come snow, sleet, hazy, hot, or humid, everything one could possibly want is a short walk away.


This weekend at Here on Huron neighbors and visitors alike are invited to come together.  Just take a look at the history there is:

  • Cambridge Trust – 42 years
  • Half Crown Design – 6 years
  • The Village Kitchen – 15 years
  • Magic Beans – 7 years
  • Bryn Mawr Book Store – 45 years
  • Easy Chairs – 36 years
  • Huville Makerspace – 5 years
  • Matthew Feldman Gallery – 16 years
  • Estetika Spa – 3 years
  • Crate Escape Too – 14 years
  • Salon at Huron Village – 8 years
  • GrayMist Studio & Shop – 10 years
  • C. Brendan Noonan & Company – 3 years
  • Fresh Pond Market – 94 years
  • Mobilia Gallery – 38 years
  • Marimekko – 10 years
  • Susi’s Gallery – 27 years
  • Full Moon – 19 years
  • J. Miles – 25 years
  • Formaggio Kitchen – 38 years

This weekend stop by and participate in some fun activities and partake i. aome great deals.

Friday 9/23 & Saturday 9/24:

Grey Mist

All day:

Sales & Discounts at the shop!

– Gift Items 20%Off

– Basket Carvings 10%Off

– Basket Materials 5%Off 

Huron Village Scavenger Hunt! 

We will be weaving a peace basket that will start in Cambridge and travel to Japan!

11am: Furoshiki Demonstration

2pm: Tea Ceremony

4pm: Origami Kabuto (Samurai Hat) Making
In addition, this weekend a neighborhood standby Paddy’s 34 will be hosting an annual 5K and friends and neighbors come out in droves to run, walk and cheer.

Uncommonly Good: How to Joyfully Shop for Gifts (Sponsored)

Brands shift and change over years and new ones replace the others, but there are a few that have staying power.  Remember when Pottery Barn literally just sold chunky pottery?  There are some catalogs that I have been shopping with for as long as I can remember.  One of those shops, which I now order from online instead of from the pages of a catalog is UncommonGoods. 

Finding the perfect gift is something that is important to me.  I want recipient of my gift to feel appreciated and to receive a present they actually want and will use.  Now that everybody seemingly has access to everything at their fingertips, buying the perfect gift can be trickier.  You can search for hours through Etsy but that can be a dangerous black hole.  UncommonGoods reached out to me recently, to see if I would do a sponsored post and because I have loved this shop from the days before there even was an Etsy (or at least I didn’t know about it then) I was happy to.  I love that UncommonGoods seeks out handmade goods from both local artists and small manufacturers.  They sell many products made with recycled and organic materials.  They also do not sell anything made with leather, feathers or fur. 

Whether it is for a birthday present, an anniversary, or just because you want to treat yourself to something new for the home, your purse, or your children’s room, UncommonGoods has all the best things to choose from.

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My husband is constantly cleaning our iPhones and we totally appreciate his fear of germs because those phones do get pretty gross. You just can’t see the germs.  This year already the kids have started school with a coughing, sneezing virus.  This little pod on Dan’s bedside table will totally make his day and night.  I just have to figure out if I want to give it to him now (Happy Friday!) or wait until Chanukah and Christmas to give it to him.

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I also love looking for unique presents for the children to bring to birthday parties for their friends or for me to give my own children.  I love this rain gauge.  It isn’t really a child’s toy but I know the kids would get a kick out of tracking rain levels especially now that we have a little raised bed growing some fall broccoli and a shortage of rain.

If your child has got the travel bug or wants to learn more about the world, this is a fun addition to their room. They can scratch off where they have been or if world travel isn’t in the budget for now, they can scratch off countries as they learn more about each culture, or maybe try foods from different regions.  The possibilities are endless.

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For wedding gifts and anniversaries, UncommonGoods has so many beautiful, unique personalized housewares and artwork.  I love the birch bark bowls, tree stump rings and glasses with initials and a heart engraved on them, but sometimes personalized doesn’t need have your names etched in.  I have always loved these lumen oil projector lamps.  The trees remind me of the times that my husband and I have enjoyed in Vermont as a couple when we used to go skiing and hiking there and now the trees up in Tremblant National Park where we go for the summer as a family.  It is personal without being personalized.

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What gifts are you shopping for lately?  I know many friends who are going to weddings and baby showers.  Happy uncommon shopping!

Make the Trade: Trade Boston

Trade your regular old date night for something different this year.  Step outside your date night comfort zone and you won’t regret taking it.  I know as parents we’re tired and sometimes lucky enough to make it out the door on date night.  You’ve got this and once you get there you won’t regret the extra effort, which when you think about it wasn’t so much of an effort anyway.

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A grown up night out in the city makes you see stars…even if they’re just the lights over the bar. Trade, Boston
The first time I walked into Trade a few years ago, I fell in love despite the fact that I had just extracted a fairly cranky and tired child from the Children’s Museum and then walked him over unwillingly to the farmer’s market where I had a meeting set up and told him we were going to a ‘grown up’ restaurant for lunch.  We definitely stood out from the usual lunch crowd who were at least a decade older than my son and younger than me and were dressed in business suits.  But that first visit sealed the deal. I loved the space and the food was so good I can still remember exactly how certain dishes tasted and day dream about them.  I was recently invited to a dinner at Trade to experience a #TradeParentsNightOut.

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Trade is a perfect night out from ceiling to floor, napkin to plate, kitchen to table, bar to lips.  Every detail counts especially those you don’t notice.  It takes skill and experience to create a restaurant that is so seamless and a meal out that is flawless, the team behind Trade have that gift.
What I like even more than lunch at Trade, is spending a grown up night out.  The location is perfect because you’re by the water and a stroll across the bridge and around Fort Point is a great way to work up an appetite or to spend hand in hand with your loved one after dinner.  There is a parking garage right next to Trade, you can try to snag a spot on the street in the Financial district or for just a couple more dollars than the garage you can go all out and use the Valet parking.

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Drink your beets. To some this tasted earthy, but to me it actually tasted sweet and light.  This was one of my two favourite cocktails of the evening.  Beets By Trade is a beautiful and refreshing tall glass of local Bully Boy vodka, beet and cucumber simple syrup, lime, and pineapple.
Trade has a beautiful bar and an ideal menu if you just want to enjoy a few cocktails or a glass of wine and enjoy an assortment of small dishes.  They are small plates but in terms of flavour and detail that goes into each dish you will not feel like you needed anything more.  The other option is to settle into a table together or with friends and spend an entire night lost in a world of laughter, stories, the occasional parenting anecdote, as you drink and dine the evening away and stroll out into the street at the wee hours of the night (which for parents may be 10:30 p.m. – Don’t mock us! We’re up at 4 a.m. partying with the tots.) You will be trading your usual night at home lost in the tedium of cleaning and cooking and stepping on legos for a luxurious night of delicious food prepared by a chef who really understands his ingredients and a chef-owner who is a master of her trade.  The boost of energy and joie de vivre you get from a great night out is something that benefits everyone in the family.

 

Find out what all the #TRADEParentsNightOut experiences were like:

Capability Mom: Trade Up Your Night at Trade Boston

Appetite for Instruction: Parents’ Night Out at Trade
coming soon:

Parental Ideas

Napkin Hoarder

Red Shutters

A Little Bit About A Lot of Things

Kim World

 

 

Weekend Guide: All the Fluff that’s Fit to Print Sept. 23-25

Weekends this time of year can fill up with lessons and errands, but every weekend needs a little something fun and unexpected thrown in.  From The Sound of Music to Jazz to Bach and on to brunch and fall festivals there is so much to choose from.

9/23 8 p.m. (Cambridge). The MIT Lecture Series hosts all kinds of movie nights throughout the year.  This Friday, at 8 p.m. In room 26-10, join students and community members for a Sound of Music sing-a-long. ($4)

9/23 6:30 – 9:30 (Boston) Latin Night at the Boston Center for the Arts.  Head to the Calderwood Pavillion for a spicy night of music and dancing.  ($15/$20 at the door) 

9/23, 9/25, 9/30, 10/2 (Boston) The Boston Lyric Opera along with the San Francisco Opera are co-producing Carmen set in the 1970’s post-Franco Spanish North Africa.  The performance will be at the Boston Opera House.  ($47-$112)

9/24 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Boston) Head over to the Lawn on D for Kids Really Rock Festival. A lineup of all the local kids’ hottest bands will be performing, make art, play with mud and just have a fun family day out on the town.  (free and/or donate a can of food for the Greater  Boston Food Bank)

9/24 3-7 p.m. (Somerville) What the Fluff?  Somerville celebrates one of their claims to fame: marshmallow Fluff.  There will be music and dancing, and cooking contests as well as a whole lot of Fluff.  There will be all kinds of shenanigans including fluff musical chairs, fluff jousting and blind man’s fluff.  In addition, you can enjoy some non-Fluff foods as well as crafts and various other community booths.

9/24 12:00-6:00 p.m. (Boston) What the world needs now is a lot of jazz and a lot of peace.  This year’s theme for the Beantown Jazz Festival is Jazz: A Peace Supreme.  Spend the day at the largest block party in town and take in some tunes, some good vibes and a small taste of what this town has to offer on the music front.  There will be performances, KidsJam, a chance to explore some instruments at the instrument “petting zoo” and interactive readings. (free)

9/24 is Museum Day (National).  Smithsonian magazine hosts Museum Day Live!  Just find out which of your local museums are free on Saturday, download a ticket and get out and explore. Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum, Jackson Homestead and Museum, Harvard Museum of Naturaly History, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, and the Old South Meeting House are all options, just to name a few. Choose wisely as your ticket is valid for one museum only. (free)

9/24 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Waltham) Fall is officially here, head to Gore Place for the Fall Festival and soak it all in.  Pumpkin drops, Boston Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, beer and a Beer Can Museum, music and childrens’ activities as well as some pretty cool grounds to explore.  Tickets available here. ($11.34/adult/children under 12 free.  Free onsite parking)

9/24 & 9/25 If you want to head out of town the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard (the town not the university) has their craft fair this weekend or head up to Penttengill Farm for their Vintage Bazaar.

9/25 3 p.m. -or 9/23 at 7:30- (Boston) Get some Bach in your system with Bach Magnificat from the Handel and Haydn  (and sometimes Bach) Society.  Step into to Symphony Hall to soak up this joyful masterpiece. ($545-$98 – $37.50 + fees via Bostix)

9/25 (Winchester) Go raspberry picking at Wright Locke Farm.  The raspberries are so sweet this time of year.  Just check the website or call before heading over to confirm that they are picking on Sunday.  If you’re really adventurous in the kitchen or you want to be, then consider signing up for their Intro to Pressure Canning class on Sunday from 4-7 (raspberries priced/pound)

9/25 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Springfield) The Big E is a New England tradition and a sight to be seen.  Some must experience it every year and for others’ it is a once in a lifetime outing.  It is Americana, state pride, living museum, crafts, and agricultural events all in one.  ($15/adult $10/children free/children 5 and under plus $$ for rides and food of course)

Saturday brunch feels kind of fabulous and a little rebellious.  Townsman is serving up their Trunk Brunch this Saturday.  If you haven’t been to Townsman yet you’re definitely missing out on amazing food, fab vibe and a great space to spend a chunk of your weekend. What is a Trunk Brunch?  It is trunk show meets brunch and has a party.  There will be music, jewelry, ceramics and other fab wares for sale, and as always a #caketable because not everyone does brunch…but everyone does cake. Brunch is from 11-2 on Saturday.

For brunch on Sunday, classic but not average, one of my favourite brunches around is at Puritan & Co in Cambridge, but if I want to go to Boston, I’ll probably head over to brunch at Island Creek Oyster Bar.

New to the scene for brunch there is Article 24 over in Brighton from 10-3 both Saturday and Sunday.  Down in Quincy, The Townshend is now serving up brunch too and I’ve got my eyes on those carrot cake fritters after I have some bruléed grapefruit (just like my bubbe used to make me except she used cinnamon- I like the idea of thyme).

Did You Know?!

Sunday 9/25 is National Lobster Day  I hear Luke’s Lobster is offering up a Lobster Day special.  If you can get in, a lobster roll at Neptune Oyster and B&G Oysters are both amazing.  For a unique experience, head to Cambridge for lobster rolls at Alive & Kicking Lobsters.  Summer Shack is another great spot and of course Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 too.  If you’re done with lobster rolls and want some lobster comfort food then you have to check out Bear in Boots, but 1st call ahead to see if they have some of their amazing lobster mac and cheese on the menu this weekend.

The Divisiveness of Chicken Salad: Willow Tree Farm

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Chicken salad is a bit like communication: In theory, it seems so simple but when you get right down taking a thought, sharing it with someone and having them hear, listen and understand it as you meant it to be expressed is incredibly complex.

As a mayo-averse person, I tend to shy away from chicken salad as a whole because so often mayonnaise is a predominant flavour.  The truth is though, there is nothing quite like the perfect chicken (or tuna) salad especially if mayonnaise gives you the heebeegeebees but you’ve found one with just the right balance.

Some like a chunky cubed version, others like the shredded kind, and then there is the smooth deli version that brings a touch of nostalgia. In New England, we like to add cranberries, others add the crunch of apple or celery à la Waldorf. The preferred style and texture of chicken salad is so individual and contentious that I have been known to look at the bottom of containers and text photos back and forth before selecting the ideal box of a certain chicken salad when out shopping.

I was recently sent some samples of Willow Tree Farm chicken salad for review and although I was nervous given that chicken salad is not one of my favourite foods.  On the other hand, I was also excited because they have a version without mayonnaise.

I sampled the Avocado Chicken Salad and the Sriracha Chicken Salad.  What surprised me is that even though my even more mayo averse husband and I liked both versions I think I’m going to stock the Sriracha Chicken Salad on a regular basis because we both liked it so much and that was the version with mayonnaise.  It works for us though, because the Willow Tree Farm chicken salads are a smooth version of of chicken salad (old school deli style) and there is a good quantity of sriracha so it masks any eggy mayonnaise flavour.


The Avocado Chicken Salad is made with Avèyo, avocado, white vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and lime juice, which acts as the mayonnaise.  It also has cranberries which add a little sweetness.  I like it a bit more acidic so I drizzle a little extra fresh lime over it.  One of my favourite quick and easy dinners is nachos, but nachos don’t really make a meal.  So to round it out I added a spoonful of the Will Tree Farm Avocado Chicken Salad and that definitely makes a meal.

The Sriracha Chicken Salad will be my go to quick sandwich filling.  This time of year our kitchen counter is covered in bowls of tomatoes from Lindentree CSA.  We have leftover hot dog buns, because the number of buns never matches the number of hot dogs.  For a quick lunch, I slice up some tomatoes, put a scoop of the sriracha chicken salad over the tomatoes and lunch is made.  Dan just likes to eat spoonfuls of the chicken salad right out of the fridge when he gets home from work because he is the kind of guy who needs a substantial snack before dinner.

Now, I just have to find out where they sell Willow Tree Farm near me and maybe I’ll need to take a road trip out to Attleboro to visit the source.

Avocado Chicken Salad Nachos

  • tortilla chips
  • Willow Tree Farm Avocado Chicken Salad
  • sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • pickled jalapeños (I used the sweet and spicy Backyard Food Company jalapeños)
  • sour cream
  • fresh lime, optional
  • hot sauce
  1. Fill a plate (size based on how many people you are feeding) with tortilla chips.
  2. Top with grated cheese and pop the plate into the microwave for 30 seconds, but watch it carefully and take it out as soon as the cheese is melted.
  3. Drizzle with hot sauce and add a few pickled jalapeños to taste.
  4. Add a scoop or two of Willow Tree Farm Avocado Chicken Salad and a spoonful of sour cream.

 

Prep School: Garlic Oil

This year, I am trying to be a bit more efficient both out of necessity and for sanity’s sake.  If I am not organized, I find myself making lunches in the early morning, then moments after the kids are off to school I am prepping my own lunch and breakfast. Then, only an hour or so later I am prepping snacks and dinner. 

My kids don’t have a typical boxed snack most days because:

  • (a) they are ravenous after school
  • (b) cookies, crackers and chips are fine in a pinch but not so good for anyone on a regular basis 
  • (c) they ask for miso soup and fried Brussels sprouts for snack and I’m ok with that.

Our weekly meals include boxed lunches that I prefer to prep fresh in the morning (and I have the luxury to do so) and many dinners in thermoses to go.

So one new thing I’ve started doing is planning out meals a bit better so food doesn’t go to waste and I know what to prep when.

Last week, I was making pizza and while prepping snacks and dinner I decided to make the garlic oil I drizzle over the pizza.  Dan would not stop eating it and I had a lightbulb moment. 

So, this week I prepped a full jar of my garlic oil and used it to season vegetables, in salad dressing, for croutons and of course Dan, who doesn’t eat butter could dip his bread into it to his heart’s content.

It was so easy and this time of year all the farmers’ market garlic is cured and ready to go – so stock up! Good garlic is priceless.

  1. Crush 4-8 cloves of garlic intoan old  mustard  jar or mason jar.
  2. Add 1/2 tap of Kosher salt and mash it into the garlic.
  3. Fill the jar with a good quality olive oil.
  4. Stir to combine and taste for salt. Add more if needed.
  5. Leave the jar of garlic oil on the counter and use it all week long or until gone.
  6. repeat as needed

Falling for Italy in the North End: Artú

A glass of white at Artú in Boston's North End.
A glass of the Falanghina, Feudi di San Gregorio, Campania was just right with the grilled sea scallop antipasti.

When we 1st moved to Boston there was still a highway on the horizon between Boston and its North End.  Dan and I enjoyed an occasional romantic date night or late night coffee when we dared try to get ourselves from Cambridge to Boston and back (remember this was the time before GPS and iPhones and we had a giant spiral bound square book of maps stashed under the driver’s seat). After having kids, the North End felt overwhelming and became a “land beyond” that we sort of forgot about except for that one day we went to East Boston and took the water taxi to the North End.  Now that the kids are older, the highway has gone subterranean and we have all sorts of devices that not only help us get from point a to point b but also tell us where we can park, the North End is one of my new favourite spots.  In the summer it is nice to be so close to the water and in the fall strolling the streets of the North End is like a mini vacation with the scent of roasting coffee, freshly baking bread, and sweet garlic wafting in the crisp fall air at the turn of every corner.

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Dinner begins at Artú

My most recent visit to the North End was with Blog and Tweet Boston for a hosted dinner at Artú.  I parked easily at a lot on Commercial St. and then it was a quick stroll over to Hanover Street, the North End’s “main street” and then I turned off onto Prince Street to catch a view of the moon in the still blue sky behind an Italian church on the edge of a little coblestone piazza, North Square Park. Instantly, I felt like I was somewhere else and I hadn’t even stepped into Artú yet to the smells of dinner cooking.

Just like the North End, Artú has lots of hidden spaces it seems.  The bar was alive with what I assume are regulars who live and work nearby.  There were dining areas down stairs around the corner from the bar and then we were upstairs in a private loft-like space.  This would be a great location for a special birthday party for little gourmandes, a baby shower, graduation, dinner with friends or colleagues.  People are always asking me about restaurants with a good space for gatherings of all sorts.   I’d definitely recommend Artú because the space felt intimate but not cut off in a separate generic room.  Also, everyone loves Italian but not everyone loves an oyster bar (which always works well for me but I’m not devious in that way).  I was impressed at how well each course was executed and Artú is a family run business and you can feel it.

To see what else we enjoyed for dinner (and for tips on what to order next time you go to Artú, just click on the image for more details.

 

 

Return of the Weekend Guide: September 16-18th

Our long-lost friend, the Weekend Guide, is back!

We live in a region that is full of options and opportunities and making a curated list of things to do each weekend is one of my favourite things to do for my readers.  What I get in return is a feeling of satisfaction and joy when I see all your photos on Facebook or Instagram at the various events around town. Keep them  coming! 

Friday

CORRECTION – I originally had the MFA Overnight Launch party starting on Friday.  It is actually Saturday to Sunday.

9/16 8:00 p.m. (Lexington) If an all night party reminds you of those Woodstock nights then maybe you’ll want to check out Grammy winners Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary when they perform this Friday at Cary Hall in Lexington.  ($59 – $79)

9/16 6:00-8:30 p.m. (Boston)- It is Family Dinner Night at the Boston Public Market.  Head into The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market with your family, whoever that includes, but especially good for children 6 yrs + and their guardians.  The evening includes a quick tour of the market to see what is in season, then the family will gather to cook three farmer’s market fresh courses and mix a signature mocktail.  After all that prep, everyone will sit down to enjoy the meal at the end of class.  Vegetarian and vegan options are available at each dinner.

Boston Public Market is part of Trustees of the Reservation (a great family membership to have).  Use code: DINNERNITE for 50% off any Family Dinner Night this fall.  Parking is available at Parcel 7 Parking Garage $3/3 hours with proof of purchase. ($24 adult/$12 child for members or $30 adult/$15 child for non-members).


Saturday/Sunday

9/17 – 9/18 6 p.m. – 9 a.m. (Boston) The MFA knows that it is way too early for all night study sessions, but this time of year there is still plenty of time to party all night.

On Friday, the Museum of Fine Arts will be launching mfaNOW Overnight Parties.  You read that correctly and it is for night owls and early birds of all ages.  Starting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and going through 9 a.m. on Saturday this celebration of contemporary art and artists is a cornucopia of activities.  There will be food trucks (Bonetown Burgers, Indulge India, North East of the Border and Sheherazad), Taste Café will be open all night, Moonlight Bar in the Calderwood Courtyard will serve draft beer and wine until 2 a.m., and Bravo will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. with cocktails, wine and beer.

In addition to contemporary art exhibits, there will be lawn games, a Frances Stark: UH-OH lecture, Harvard metaLAB‘s interactive exhibit Trust (the presence of secrets), MIT’s Hacking Arts, live painting/graffiti, a late night run with Heartbreak Hill Running Company, music, and the insomniac olympics at 3 a.m. For the early risers, there is yoga hosted by Equinox at 7 a.m., messy mornings for families from 7-10 a.m. and story hour from 9-10 a.m. on Saturday. (Free)

9/15 – 9/18 (Brighton/Boston) WGBH is having their Food and Wine Festival this weekend.  I always pictured this as a gala event that you get evening or weekend tickets to, but I was wrong.  The gala is sold out, you can still get all access passes, but you can also get tickets to individual tastings and events.  Discounted tickets are available on Goldstar.com (here is my referral link for that- I love using Goldstar for discounts).  I have my eye on the Brunch Bar and the Celebrity Food Fight.  ($35 on Goldstar – $370.24 all access pass)

9/17 (Cambridge) An outdoor celebration for families that we look forward to every year is Danehy Day in Danehy Park. There are amusement rides, arts and crafts, street performers, bake sales, and of course the park to play in.  It is a Cambridge fall community reunion of sorts.  It is also a great place to get to know about different performers (birthday party ideas), chat with parents about favourite sports and classes for their kids, and just a time to let loose and have fun with about 4,000 other community members.   (free)

9/17 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Brookline)  National Drive Electric Week is this week and on Saturday, if you head over to Larz Anderson Auto Museum you can take a look at some of the latest and greatest gas-less cars.  Speak with electric vehicle owners and if you drive electric feel free to join the fun and have your own car on display.  This Electric Vehicle event is an informal version of other themed lawn events hosted by the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.  It will be held on the museum grounds where both attendees and owners will gather to show and explore vehicles.  The event is open to any 2-4 wheel conversion, custom build or modern factory built plug in electic vehicle and other sustaineable forms of transportation. You can expect to see Tesla Model S, Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen e-Golf, EV conversion, BMW i3 REx, BMW i8, Tesla Model X, Zero motorcycle, Audi A3 e-tron, Chevrolet Volt, Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Volvo XC90 Plug-In among many others.  I for one had no idea there were so many electric options and I’m dreaming of a few of these models some day. (free)

9/18 (Ipswich) Despite the beach weather, the orchards are ripe with beautiful early fall apples.  On Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m head out to Ipswich to visit one of the Trustees of the Reservation properties. Appleton Farm’s Family Farm Day will be the perfect escape from the city with the family.  There will be good old fashioned games of tug-o-war, crafts, face-painting and the ever popular Ben Rudnick and Friends providing music to dance to.  There will be burgers, seafood from Joe’s on a Roll and Sal’s pizza to purchase if the orchard air and pony rides have you working up an appetite.  ($24/car for members/ $30 for non-members)

9/18 11:00 am- 5:00 pm (Boston) Boston Local Food Festival on the Greenway will give you a taste of everything that local farmers are harvesting, food crafters are creating, and food trucks are dishing out. In addition, local chefs will also demo some of their craft and share a few tips and tricks of the trade.

Did you know ?

The 3rd Friday in September is Park(ing) Day.  Check out these mini parks in parking spots in Cambridge and elsewhere here.

September 17th is National Apple Dumpling Day. I have no idea where to get an apple dumpling around here.Do you?  I can highly recommend the “chausson au pommes” -apple turnover from Praliné though. Sticky, but just slightly, shimmery glazed croissant-like pastry filled with a perfect apple compote.

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Here is the Wahlburgers’ triple cheeseburger. You can always count on chef Paul Wahlburg to go the extra mile. He can’t help himself! Paying homage to the Triple Decker apartment the nine Wahlberg children lived in as children in Dorchester, Chef Paul Wahlberg has crafted a burger with three 3oz. juicy burger patties (proprietary blend of beef by Pat La Frieda) each topped with perfectly melted government cheese stacked on top of lettuce, tomato, onion, Paul’s signature Wahl sauce and housemade pickles on a potato bun.

September 15th is National Double Cheeseburger Day.  Did you know there was even such a thing?  In Boston you can grab a double cheeseburger at Wahlburgers, Charlie’s Kitchen, Sullivan’s on Castle Island, one of Wild Willy’s Burgers ordered “double wide” or Grassfed‘s Double Stacked Cheeseburger.

If a double cheeseburger is just too ridiculous for you, sit tight and celebrate National Cheeseburger day on Sunday, September 18th.  My ‘go to’ burger joints are Shake Shack splurge and get the Shack Stack, Craigie on Main get a seat at the bar early to snag one,  Wahlburgers and one day I’ll hunt one down one at Alden & Harlow.

Save the date:

September 19th 6:00 -9:00 p.m. (B0ston) Cooked, Crudo or Canned: Adventures of Seafood class at the Boston Center for Adult Ed. with Chef Kyle McClelland of Saltie Girl.  To reserve a spot or for more information, please visit www.bcae.org or call 617-267-4430, as space is limited. 

September 22nd (Newport, RI)  Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

Wednesdays (Brighton): Morning Pick-up Hockey at the new Warrior Ice Arena

September 24th 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Boston) Kids Really Rock Festival at Lawn on D

 

Back to Life/Back to Reality: Xfinity

School has begun for just about everyone and soon the fall sports and activities will begin to fill all our calendars.  We’re still refreshed from summer, but as everything starts back up again efficiency is key.  In the summer, we’re too busy playing outside to spend much time in front of a screen, and with school, homework and activities taking time to catch a show is a well-deserved luxury.


About a year or so ago, we switched to Xfinity after having some issues with our old service and we’re not looking back.  I recently was invited to visit my local Xfinity store to learn more about Xfinity X1 for a blog post I’m working on (this one) and I am so glad I did for the blog and for my own home life too.

  1. The Xfinity store was really close to my house and there are so many new Xfinity store locations in the Boston area and beyond that there is likely one near you too.  If you’ve ever spent some time in an Apple or Microsoft store you know what it feels like to be in an experiential space.  The Xfinity stores are set up that way too and in a less overwhelming way because they are more intimate and you don’t have a room full of parents tugging at their kids’ sleeves trying to pry them away from video games. Just the basics are sometimes not so basic. It was nice to have an Xfinity guide to talk to in person and to walk me through a few things like how to set up my own account login so that I don’t have to text my husband at work every time I forget his.
  2. For once, perhaps since the kids were about 3 and 7 years old, I was able to teach my kids about a few things on the tv.  Yeah, I thought I was going to teach them a lot of new things, but somehow they already knew about the Kids Zone and they’re already experts at the voice controlled remote.
  3. When I went to pick up our new cable box this summer, I was introduced to Xfinity Home briefly, but I handed it off to my husband to look at because I wasn’t intially that interested.  When I got to see Xfinity home in action at the store, I began to consider it more seriously because although I am not an “alarm the entire house” kind of person, now that the kids are getting older, having a few extra peace of mind perks is a good thing if only for my own sanity.
  4. This summer my husband raced Ironman Tremblant in Canada.  A few days before his race, he came to me all excited.  I was sure he was going to update me on something about the race, his training or how he was feeling as the athlete’s village was being set up.  Nope.  He was, actually super excited because he figured out how to use Xfinity to recieve and make phone calls through our home phone back in the US.  I have to admit it was pretty cool.  It also means he was able to get the two enthusiastic messages his coach left him on our home voicemail in real time.
  5. What we didn’t get to take advantage of this summer was tv and movies on the go from Xfinity.  We used our library and Hoopla, which we love, but the kids complained because shows expired before they had finished watching them and a limit of 10 downloads including books, music and movies for the month with two long car trips all of a sudden wasn’t enough.


Now I’m going to catch you up to speed a little bit.  Whether you have Xfinity X1 or are considering it, here are a few of my favourite attributes.  Let’s start with the Kids Zone.  My kids are at the top age group of the kids zone, but every once in a while they still like to revisit some of their favourite little kid shows for nostalgia’s sake.  With Xfinity you can set parental locks on shows beyond a certain age range, but in addition to that the Kids Zone is somewhere kids can go directly to find a show or movie they would like to watch. The Kids Zone uses the Common Sense Media ratings, which is something that many of us already refer to as resource and having it integrated is one less step for parents.

I have to admit that I cringe a little when I hear my kids talking into things all the time.  The teacher and mom in me just wants them to spell things out every once in a while.  The truth is that in addition to being a little resistant to change, when I try to talk to Siri or my GPS it never quite seems to understand me and I end up spending twice as long trying to accomplish anything.  With the tv voice controlled remote though, it is a whole different story. Pressing the microphone button down and speaking into it is way faster than typing “P -r- o-j-e-c-t — R-u-n-w-a-y” and the remote has not misunderstood me once yet.

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Xfinity X1 voice remote

We listen to a lot of books on cd in the car but when we get to our destination, usually once child is waiting for another child and is somewhere they don’t really want to be.  If the weather is good we can take a stroll, but if it is raining or dark, or I just have too much work to catch up on, having a screen on hand is great.  After homework, and a little time to read (although a bustling dance studio isn’t the most conducive place to get lost in a book) I’m okay with a little down time watching a show or movie.  With the Xfinity app you can either stream shows on your phone or iPad or other such device and you can actually also download shows for free for those times when you don’t have wifi.  That is a pretty cool parenting  survival tool.

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Xfinity Home at your fingertips.

Now for a look at Xfinity home.  I’m not usually a security, sets the alarm, lock all the doors kind of person.  For better or for worse, I am a trusting person. So when people talk about security systems, and cameras, and alarms, I usually cringe.  Now that the door bell rings more often with package deliveries, politics, and other annoying solicitors, there are some features of an Xfinity Home system that appeal to me.  Because we live upstairs and our door is downstairs, if I’m expecting someone I will often leave the door open.  If we’re not expecting someone, we have to go downstairs to see who it is and I don’t like having the children go to the door without knowing who is there.  Even if they look through the door window it can be difficult to tell.

Xfinity Home also has some other great systems integrated into it.  For example, you can also have a Chamberlain garage door device for closing the garage door that you may have left open as you rushed off to work, or that the kids left open after getting their bike out to bike to school.  The Nest thermostat is also integrated with the Xfinity Home app so you can adjust the thermostat from your desk or from vacation. You can save energy while you’re away for a leaf-peeping, hiking weekend but have the house nice and warm by the time you get home by adjusting your next through the Xfinity Home app.

Screaming Labor Day Ice Cream Cake Recipe (Sponsored)

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We’re screaming because it is a party and every party needs a little noise.  We’re screaming because summer is coming to an end.  We’re screaming for ice cream and we’ll continue enjoying it year-round to remember all those great summer days.

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Maple Leaf Topped Oreos found on vacation in Canada. Add a little colour with some M&Ms or just keep it simple.
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This version has two flavours of ice cream and fresh raspberries to contrast with the rich chocolate.

This is the perfect dessert for your Labor Day BBQ because it is so quick and easy to prepare so you can focus on the rest of the meal too.  A slice of this cake is also a stroll down summer’s memory lane. All you need is a loaf pan, a few of pints of ice cream, some heavy duty plastic wrap or waxed paper, some chocolate wafers, graham crackers or waffle cones, and a few of your favourite summer fruits and treats.

This summer, we stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory for a factory tour, which was a blast.  After the tour, we sampled their Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. To make this cake extra special, take home a pint from your favourite summer scoop shop or buy everyone’s favourite flavor (mine is mint chocolate chip usually) and get started.

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No baking needed.  Ice Cream Cake is quick to assemble.  The hard part is choosing which flavours you want and limiting it to 2 or 3 that go together.  For more flavors use a deeper loaf pan. If you have an icing spatula use it, but otherwise a spoon or a piece of waxed paper and little hands to gently press the ice cream down works well too.

 

Screaming Labor Day Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pints of at least two flavours of your favourit ice cream
  • 24 chocolate wafers, or 8 waffle or sugar cones, or graham crackers, 1 cup crumbs
  • 1 cup of frozen raspberries (or other fruit that goes with your flavours), optional
  • 1 cup of your favourite summer treats:  sprinkles, malt balls, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows (most candies such as taffy and gummy bears will not do well in ice cream as their texture changes too much)
  • 1-2 cups of frozen whipped topping such as Cool Whip
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You  want the ice cream soft but not completely melted.

Directions

  1. Let the whipped topping sit on the counter so it can thaw slightly. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften quite a lot. The ice cream should be the consistency of thick buttercream which will make it easier to spread.
  2. Line your loaf pan with a heavy duty plastic wrap or wax paper.  This will make it easier to unmold your ice cream cake later.
  3. The frozen whipped topping acts like the icing on your cake.  You can either have it as the top layer (so you put it down 1st) or you can put it in the middle of your ice cream cake. You can also have cookie or cone crumbs as a top layer (see #5 below for directions).  If so, put down a thin layer of crumbs in your lined pan before you start.
  4. Then, either put 1/2 inch or so of your whipped topping into the bottom of the lined pan or put your 1st layer of ice cream down.  You will most likely use a full pint for this first layer that should be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.  You will need to figure out about how much of each ice cream you need depending how deep your loaf pan is and how many flavours you are using.
  5. In between the 1st and second layer of ice cream, you can add in crushed chocolate wafers, waffle or sugar cones, or graham crackers.  For 2 layers of crumbs put 24 chocolate wafers in a plastic bag and crush them with a wooden rolling pin by banging and rolling over them.  You may create some holes in the bag so be careful picking the bag up.  You will need about 1 cup total of crumbs.SAMSUNG CSC
  6. Sprinkle and gently press the crumbs into the 1st layer of ice cream.  If you did not add the whipped topping at the top, you can add it in here.
  7. If the topping is very soft you may need to put the ice cream cake in the freezer for an hour or so before continuing. Put all the ice cream away until you are ready to start again.
  8. For the next layer, we usually do a richer layer here like chocolate.  Use 1/2 a pint of ice cream and then a layer of frozen fruit.
  9. Add the final layer of ice cream to the loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then let the ice cream cake set in the freezer, ideally overnight but at least 3-4 hours.
  10. To unmold the ice cream cake, turn the loaf pan upside down, wet a kitchen towel with cold water and gently wipe all the sides of the loaf pan, pulling on the wax paper or plastic wrap as you do so. Once the cake begins to release, find your platter and release it onto the platter.  You can decorate the top of the cake with cookies, sprinkles, or candy.
  11. Top the cake with some sparklers for a last summer hurrah and serve!
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Nothing says summer like ice cream!  Screaming Ice Cream Cake will be one of your labor day bbq’s most memorable moments.  It can also be made vegan with dairy free ice cream and whipped topping.

Useful tools:

Heritage 1.5 Qt. Loaf Pan

See More Bread & Loaf Pans

Gourmet Cherrywood Rolling Pin

See More Rolling Pins

Angled Palette Spatula

Angled Palette Spatula

See More Shop All Cooking Utensils

Birthday Sparkler Candles

Birthday Sparkler Candles

Grosgrain 2 Piece Cake / Pastry Server

Grosgrain 2 Piece Cake Pastry Server

See More Flatware Serving Pieces

Moira 14.5" Oval Platter

Moira 14.5 Oval Platter