Guest Post: Rachael's guide to Boston, no 2.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I get emails fairly frequently from someone planning a trip to Boston and wondering what their itinerary should include.  I feel like a bit of a Boston novice in many ways.  Outside of the stuff I regularly do on when I'm in the city, I'm not "in the know" with the latest goings on.  My friend Rachael definitely has her finger on the pulse of the new, exciting, and worth checking out things the city has to offer.  Add to that, she lives right in Beacon Hill with her husband Joe, and two daughters Lux (who Parker is smitten with) and Joan.  So, naturally, I brought her back for a second Boston guide.  (Here's her first.)


Thanks again, Rachael.  You'll all do well to follow her tips when planning a trip to this great city.  She put it together via Pinterest in map form so you'll get a good feel for location as you browse.  She included her own commentary under each spot she recommends.  Really helpful.

{example of the Back Bay map}

From Rachael:

Here's how I like a trip to be: I want an itinerary that unfurls in front of us as we move. I want to get a spot and dwell there for awhile. Poke into shops, have a coffee, inspect the trees, walk down a pretty street. Adventure-relax-adventure-relax. I don't want to find myself annexed in some random corner of the city that's clearly been abandoned by all but the tourists with nary a cute business in sight. So I've tried to set up these boards to help you plan how do to that for yourself. Four boards focusing on the four major neighborhoods of Boston. Thanks to Pinterest's awesomeness, these boards have a handy map backdrop. So with a little bit of study you can decide which direction to head in and what to focus on. And I've included plenty of green spaces because that's what city travel is often about--moving from green space to green space. Use these as rough outlines for your trip, and I feel confident that everything you encounter on the way will fill in the rest. You can drop in things like a game at Fenway (load of great places to eat over there), a walk around Harvard Square or MIT's campus in Cambridge, perhaps a boat ride out to the Harbor Islands. Restaurant-wise I've barely brushed the surface. I encourage you to check out yelp or Eater for glances at some of the many many great spots to eat in Boston these days. Same with hotels--I don't go into this. There are lots to choose from and it's hard to generalize prices and preferences. 

Here are the four boards: 

Resources:
// Boston street food app--as you walk around, you can track where all those food trucks are.
// Boston City Pass--a grouped discount ticket to some of the best museums in the city. 
// Foursquare List--an extremely extensive list of great places to eat.
// Dear Friend Blog--Anna's photos inspire me in my own city!

Follow along with Rachael: twitter / instagram / blog

lately, sort of, not really.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is really a poor picture to kick off a lately post because real reading has only been taking place, oh, 1/5 of the time (and that was too generous).  Another 1/5 would go to eating--a mixture of apples, peanut butter, chips, smoothie, toast, chicken pot pie, and chocolate ice cream (I just listed what I ate today for you).  Another 1/5 to cleaning.  Oh yes!  Hunts are doing some serious spring cleaning and it's good.  I tore through  my closet with abandon.  "Have I worn this in the last ten months?"  (It has to be ten.  Cause if you say six, good chance it was too cold to wear something since it's cold here for 11 of the 12 months of the year.  That was a dig at my state, yes.)  If the answer's no, into the bag it went.  You should see my sweaters.  Went down to about five.  And they're all gray.  I briefly toyed with the idea of an Instagram closet sale and then decided I didn't even want to bother, so I scheduled a Big Brother pick up.  You should see the bags going.  Books, toys, clothes, miscellany.  Where does the miscellany come from, honestly?  It rains from the sky and collects in my house, I swear it.  Do the kids sneak it in?  Scout the local papers for garage sales, visit them when I'm not looking, and just bring the stuff in the house hoping I don't notice?  Surely we did not buy it all.  Mystery remains unsolved.  Where am I at?  Reading, eating, cleaning, we're up to 3/5.  Sleeping, oh yes the beautiful past time that is sleeping, would be another 1/5.  And then perhaps being outside?  We had a 75° degree day a few days ago.  It was magical, it was glorious, it was perfection.  It was really windy, but we can definitely overlook that fact given the temperature.  So, that's 5/5 if I'm not mistaken, and I could be mistaken, because it's almost 11 pm and I'm very tired.

Goodnight.  And good morning, because I'll post this tomorrow.

happy 14th birthday, william.

Monday, April 14, 2014


william just had a physical in order to run track this year and got the official measurement: 5'10 1/2".  this makes him officially taller than me.  he was creeping up on me for the last several months and then, boom, it happened.  seemingly overnight.  we joke that his shoes are skis.  size 12.  insert wide-eyed emoji.

this kid couldn't be sweeter.  he is a gentle soul with a really sensitive heart.  he gives hugs when you walk by him and says i love you willingly.  he's a hard worker and he's kind.  i mean it when i say we are really proud of him.  we can't get enough of our william.

william had some friends over for a sleepover and we celebrated with pizza and oreo ice cream cake and they watched indiana jones: raiders of the lost ark.  it was fun.  

we love you so much, william.  happy 14th birthday!

Temp's rising.

Friday, April 11, 2014

{jeans: nordstrom}
{shoes: zappos}
{top: f21}
{hat: f21}
{necklace: haiti's jewels}

So yesterday, it got up to about 60° and in this state, that means flip flops and ice cream.  At least for a lot of people.  Let's be honest, 60° in July is not going to have us all racing to the nearest ice cream shoppe for a scoop of our favorite, but somehow when it's April, and we haven't seen a temperature that starts with a 6 in months, it makes us all pretend it's summer.  Then, we catch a chill due to our improper attire and get colds and curse our not-quite-spring-almost-summer weather.  Happens to me almost every single year without fail.

I skipped the flip flops but not the ice cream this time.

(An aside: Forever21 is killing it right now in the bohemian/peasant tops department.  Tons and tons of options, if those tops are your thing.)

american blogger.

Thursday, April 10, 2014




the trailer for american blogger has been released!

once again, i'm so honored i got to be a part of his project and i'm so excited to see the whole thing.  

go chris!

Love and loss.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I was in New Jersey Sunday and Monday for the funeral of a dear friend to our family.  It was hard and it was so sad.  I sat there at the funeral while her two sons and daughter gave such incredible testimony to her life, and to what she meant to them as a mother.  One thing stuck out that was so beautiful and poignant and it went something like this: "Mom thought her life was plain and simple, but it was anything but plain and simple to us."  It was heartbreaking.  That she wasn't sitting there among them, a whole family, the way we'd been accustomed to seeing them forever.  That her plain and simple life meant the world to them.  That they were forever changed by her life and by her death.  To hear the love, the loss, the tears catching in their voices, that their leader of the family, as they called her, was gone.  I'm sitting here crying again.

I couldn't help but think about Steve, about Shannon.  As my sister and I neared the front of the church  at the viewing and saw them standing up there, I couldn't help but imagine a younger Nathaniel, Jordan, William, and Lindsey standing there at the viewing of their own Mom while people looked on crying at such an unspeakable loss.  Parker is just about how old Lindsey was when Shannon died.  It's incredible to me.  She was so young.

As I sat there, I thought about my role as a mother.  I think being a mother was our friend's most important role, her dearest one, her life's work.  Not because she didn't or couldn't accomplish other things or because it was all she had.  It was because she wanted it that way.  I thought of how important my role is as a mother, as a stepmother.  I thought of how often I fall short of making it the most important thing, how I often keep a record of wrongs, or don't show love and instead let my hurt feelings stand in the way.  I thought of how I'm selfish and make time for the things I find important instead of the things another would find important.  I thought of how I should be the bigger person but don't always act as such.  I thought of how nothing matters, in the end, but the love you shared.  How making your children feel loved through and through is the greatest gift, both to give and to receive.  I have a lot of work to do, but it's really important work.

good things, good things.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I feel like I'm breathing a different air lately.  Late winter, it was getting heavy and stale and, on so many days, I woke to grayness, a foggy light barely peeking past the sheer curtain panels by my bed.  In my head, "another day?"  I was running out of patience with winter, with myself.  

But lately, we're getting light well into the evening.  We're going outside before naps, after naps.   When it turns even warmer, we'll go out for ice cream after dinner (those are my absolute favorite nights).  Leave the dishes, let's go!  We drove by our favorite ice cream place yesterday.  Steve said, "It's open!"  Sure enough the sign read like a beacon of hope: Spring is here.  Come on in.  

Lindsey is already telling me how excited she is for those early Saturday morning bike rides we do.  So am I.  William's started track and comes home in the shorts he wore to practice.  Mind you, it's only topping out at about 55 right now, at best, but the resilient teenage boy wears shorts once the snow is gone and don't tell him otherwise.  I don't.  It's shorts!  And shorts means summer and I don't, won't,  can't, never will fight signs of summer.

My car read 63° yesterday.  The car was sitting on the hot driveway but I saw it, my eyes grew large, and what did I do?  What any human living in the Northeast (or Minnesota, poor Minnesota, getting feet of snow as we speak) would do.  I took a picture and texted it to my family.  Wide-eyed emoticon face accompanied it.  No words necessary.

Steve and I were running errands yesterday and on the way home I asked him to stop by our favorite farm stand for steak tips and string beans.  This dinner signals summer.  It's not that steak or string beans is a particularly summer thing but I never make it in the winter.  And as we're out and about, we run into people we know, familiar faces that we've seen less, coming out of coffee shops and they all these telltale smiles on their faces.  We're all coming out of hibernation.  It feels so damn good, I can't even describe it.

this and that

Thursday, April 3, 2014


// this simple kitchen
// this article
// this cd
// this blog debut (i've missed her)
// this dreamy fair
// this beautiful post
// this snack tray, what fun
// this incredible diy
// these fun summer sandals
// these old italy posts (i'll be back for you again!) 

Mexican, Mexican, all the time Mexican.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mexican food, you beautiful thing you.  Mexican food is like the food that keeps on giving.  Quesadillas, burritos, burrito bowls, salads.  There's no end to the combinations.  Late last week I realized I'd made some variety of Mexican every single night that week.  Luckily, my family's affinity for this fabulous food group is pretty strong too.  No one even knew it'd been a week of Mexican!  And who cares if they had.  A week of Mexican is a week well-spent.  

I'll try to go through the gist of what we had last week and maybe it'll inspire you in the kitchen.  I know I am always looking for inspiration in the kitchen.  Either the recipes are coming at me rapid-fire or my mind is a blank slate.  So, if melted cheese and avocados and browned seasoned beef with a dollop of sour cream is your thing, read on.

(I'm pretty sure this isn't entirely authentic Mexican.  I've been to various parts of the country, and what they serve definitely looks different.  Perhaps this post would be more aptly titled: Tex Mex, Tex Mex, all the time Tex Mex.)

I had a few avocados that, when squeezed, had just the perfect give to them.  And so, guacamole was born.  Sometimes I get a little bit fancier with my guacamole, but if time isn't on your side, a few cranks of a sea salt shaker will do you just fine.  When time is on your side, however, sea salt, some chopped cilantro, fresh minced garlic (really good addition), and a few spoonfuls of a pico de gallo.  Our favorite salsa is the one in the Trader Joe's refrigerated section, plastic container.  I'm not sure exactly what it's called but it's very much a chunky "pico de gallo" as opposed to the blended type of salsa.  And, don't knock it till you try it, some feta cheese is amazing in guacamole too.  

Add some cilantro lime rice, shredded cheddar, chopped romaine, iceberg, or spinach, another scoop of salsa, browned beef or shredded chicken, and refried beans and you've got yourself a burrito bowl.  This is one of my favorite dinners because, it's a build-your-own which is always fun (especially for the kids), and because it's flour-less.  Not that I'm anti-flour, but I could eat it (and do eat it) all the time so to find a meal without any is a bonus.  Another great thing about this recipe: I almost always have some combination of the ingredients on hand.  Worth mentioning is the refried beans I buy.  They're the ones from Trader Joes that say vegetarian with an added salsa--in a can.  I'd like to eventually make my own, but haven't gotten there yet.  They're so good, less thick than the other varieties (you know the kind that have to be seriously coaxed out of the can) and so smooth and delicious (plus organic!).  I heat them up on the stove and add a good amount to my bowl.  I know refried beans aren't everyone's cup of tea but I love the stuff.  I'd dip chips in it or eat it straight off a spoon.  Other options: corn, sliced red bell peppers, or black beans instead of refried beans.  If jalapeƱos are your thing (they're not ours), add some too! 

Another favorite, are you still with me?, is quesadillas.  When I've had the foresight to defrost and cook chicken (in a crock pot is my favorite way!), the options are endless.  Sometimes I pull out four chicken breasts, cook them in the crock pot with a splash of water, and keep them in the fridge.  I high-five myself when I approach the dinner hour and realize I have meat already cooked!  You can do nearly anything with it but, Mexican is the obvious choice.  Is there a theme here?  I pull it apart, for some reason shredded/pulled chicken is infinitely better than cubed.  Then, with your open fajita shell, add cheese, black beans, red pepper (onion would be good here too), and a few pieces of your chicken (or beef?).  Fold it in half and close it in a panini press, or a pan with a flat lid that can press it down to stick the sides together.  Once it's cooked, the sides are browned and crispy, and the cheese is melted, put it on a flat surface and cut it into triangle pieces with a pizza cutter.  Add a big scoop of sour cream and salsa to it and it's DELICIOUS.  Everyone, including Parker, loves these--the dipping and the eating.  Steve actually declared last week, "BRIDGE.  This is better than any restaurant."  Yeah, I sort of know my way around a quesadilla.  Not a humble-brag, just a brag.  

And finally, all of the stuff mentioned above, but on a salad.  A taco salad isn't a huge departure from a burrito bowl.  In fact, I'd argue that dumping a burrito bowl onto a plate, you've got yourself a taco salad.  Maybe add another handful of greens to really help it own its name.  Add some crushed corn chips for a little added crunch.  (We don't use salad dressing on taco salads because with all of that added stuff, it's not really necessary.)  Several bowls on the table, all full of ingredients... kids are psyched.  When kids are psyched, Mom's psyched too.

And an added note: when we eat at home, we always buy our meat organic.  It's expensive (sometimes I'm slightly debilitated by the cost of organic chicken at Trader Joes.), so I up the fill-factor in other ways.  Beans and veggies.  We love meat (I really love meat, especially red meat), but for all of us I generally only cook a pound of ground beef or two to three chicken breasts.  We rarely (like four to five times per year?) have a meal where meat is the main dish.  I'd like to more, but it's not in the budget.  So, this is the perfect way to still be full and feel like you got some meat in you.

And that is our week of Mexican.  

Any recipe ideas for me?  Give 'em.

happy 12th birthday, lindsey.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


can't believe this girl is twelve years old now.  cannot believe it.

she's sassy and smart and confident and funny.  she doesn't hold grudges and she's really laid-back.  she's seriously patient with her brothers--three above her, one below--and sometimes, that alone, deserves sainthood.  she's fun to dance with, and i can't count the number of kitchen dance parties we've had after dinner, or before.  she's always the first to join me, thank heavens she does.  they're infinitely more fun together.  those are just some of the things that we like about our lindsey.

when we had dinner as a family friday night (her pick: spaghetti + meat sauce!) we said a blessing and included a special prayer for her.  we watched a movie together and had popcorn.  and then saturday night she had four girlfriends spend the night.  they ate pizza and sang karaoke and opened gifts and watched a movie.  they were all really nice girls; we like the friends she's picked out for herself.

we're really glad she's here.  we love you so much, lindsey.  you are one lovely young lady.

denim on denim.

Friday, March 28, 2014

{top: old navy (old)}
{jeans: nordstroms}
{necklace: c/o providence story}
{sunglasses: h&m}
{shoes: zappos}

is it still considered denim if it's black?  i'm really not sure.

Raising boys.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The presence of boys is evident in this household.  There are guns, there are swords, dreams of Air Soft wars to take place this summer, smelly feet, and talk of armpit hair coming in.  There are bears that meet me every morning when I come down to sit at the desk and check my email.  And wars!  Full blown sieges, really.  If I wanted to pick up that book and read it alongside my coffee, forget about it.  There's a battle, and everything else, including reading, is secondary to the fight at hand.  
Last night there was wrestling.  Steve against William.  And William, you have to understand, gets high off of rough physical contact.  I mean, nothing will stop him short of Steve sending him to his room.  It's both hilarious and a little scary.  It started with a fort, pillows everywhere, and blankets too.  And ended with Steve yelling, "If you break my rib again...!!"  Last time, a flailing limb of William's, we suspect it was a knee, got Steve in the chest and he's pretty sure it took out a rib.  I enjoy watching it all unfold, from the comfort of a cushy chair.  I keep my fingers crossed that it concludes without a black eye or bloody nose.
Last night I let Parker choose his bedtime book and it was all about knights.  I know more about jousting and squires then I ever thought I would.  And his construction book?  He tests me every time I read it.  Pointing to the vehicle on each page until I guess correctly.  Just to have fun I say, "Cat!  Dog! Blueberry!  Banana!"  He yells an emphatic No each time, huge grin on his face, until I guess it correctly.  It's always fun when it gets going really fast, causing him to initially yell no at the correct one until it hits him, "Oh wait, that time she did say cement mixer that time!"

When I first married Steve, boys were everywhere and I was ill-equipped.  Having only sisters (and mostly girl cousins, too!), I was lost in a sea of sweaty socks and testosterone.  I understand them better now.  Time and experience are a beautiful pair.  There's something really nice about being the mother of boys.

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