Posts in American Life

Ricotta Toast Is The New Avocado Toast (It’s A Thing)

Hello everyone,

what have you been eating for breakfast lately? If you were to ask me there’d be only one answer: (TOO MANY) Ricotta Toasts.

I just love them so much. And they seem to be quite popular around here (goodbye Avocado toasts), so if I ever go out for breakfast I’ll find them on the menu waiting for me to be devoured. Have you ever had a ricotta toast? If not let me introduce you to my favorite ideas on how to have a ricotta toast. Do let me know if you’ve tried it!

Ricotta Toast aka the most versatile toast EVER

Ricotta toast is one of the most versatile options in the toast world (yes, I just wrote that). My favorite option by far is having a sweet toast. What does that entail? Add fresh fruit like berries, banana slices, figs or pears on top of your ricotta toast. If you’re feeling lazy just top the toast with a bit of your favorite (high quality) preserve and maybe even sprinkle a little bit of pepper on it. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. Oh yeah. If you want to keep it even more simple, just pour a little honey or syrup on top.

If you’re thinking ‘Sandra, I do not like all that sweet stuff, give me something else’, I’ve got you covered. You can top your toast with fresh herbs or roasted veggies and it will make for a delicious combination, too.

I realize now that you can basically put ANYTHING on a ricotta toast and it will taste delicious, what do you think?

Have a great Tuesday and talk to you soon,

Sandra

Ups And Downs at Harvard Stadium (aka Getting Very Sweaty)

Hi friends,

how are you doing today? Is there an iconic workout or workout place where you live? I’m thinking something along the lines of the 72 steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky runs up and down?

If I had to name such an iconic workout for Cambridge it would clearly be running up and down the steps at Harvard Stadium. Let me elaborate a little bit.

The country’s oldest stadium

People have been running the steps ever since Harvard Stadium was built, in 1903. The stadium consists of 31 levels of concrete seats across 37 sections.

The workout

Typically runners ascend along the larger seats and come down the smaller steps. You’ll repeat that 37 times and after having done 1147 steps you’ll be happy you’ve survived. OH YES.

Obviously, Harvard athletes train in the stadium, however, it is also open to the public. It’s really been a cool experience and I think I will definitely go back and try to run the steps as fast as I can (now that I know how it all works).

My main take away was that it’s not speed that matters, but the mere act of getting out and pushing your limits. And finishing something you started. Thanks to my great fitness squad! WE MADE IT! 

Have a fantastic last week of August!

Saying Goodbye To Cambridge

Hello everyone,

how are you today? In case you missed my post “Why I’m going to buy a Harvard Sweater (even though I said I never would)” elaborating (not really) on why I have to have a sweater of said university because I need a physical souvenir as we are leaving Cambridge by the end of the month.

I went through my photo archive and thought it be nice to put my favorite ones together in a post for you, hope you’ll enjoy this virtual walk around the neighborhood throughout winter and summer time with me. Also, let’s appreciate those beautiful flowers and plants, they grow like crazy here in summer as it is so hot and humid and almost tropical feeling.

Why not have a little wander around your neighborhood today, I’m sure you’ll explore and find new little things around every corner.

Have a great day!

Winter

Winter (soft version, see that clear blue sky?)

Winter (not so soft version)

Spring

Summer

Why I’m Going to Buy a Harvard Sweater (Even Though I Said I Never Would)

Kids! We’re leaving town. We’re leaving Cambridge.

 

So very sad. I’m surprised at how nostalgic I’m feeling when writing down those words. Leaving this special place after having lived here for one year seems so difficult all of a sudden. It’s just SUCH a nice place to live in, especially in summer. I have to say, Boston and Cambridge are total beauties in the summer time (makes you almost forget how TERRIBLE winter is here). Maybe that’s a trick this city plays on you. Half of the year it’s the most beautiful place ever and you’re like, ‘cool place’, other half of the year….NOT SO MUCH.

Anyways. Why do I like it here so much you ask?

Cambridge has the feeling and vibe of a small town to it (a little more than 100’000 inhabitants, remember? Not that much after all), the houses are BEAUTIFUL, there’s tree-lined little cute streets everywhere. Still there are tons of things to do everyday (events, concerts, theatre plays, the list goes on), there are plenty of cool (is it still ok to use ‘cool’?) bars, cafés, amazing restaurants and little local shops all around the corner.

The mix of people is diverse and fascinating, there are obviously lots of proud Harvard students around, wearing all of the branded gear and clothes making it clear to everyone on the streets passing them WHO is going to Harvard. They are. You are NOT. Unless you’re a cute tourist buying all the Harvard shirts and sweaters from the Harvard store to pass as a student. I’m sorry to break it to you. People will notice YOU’RE NOT AN ORIGINAL. Still, I will buy a Harvard sweater as an emotional souvenir. And still, it’s nice to have so many young people around. There are also lots of families and people that have been living here for a long time. Aw, I’m going to miss you Cambridge, you beautiful town.

I sound very dramatic I realize now that I’ve read through that last paragraph. Because…let’s all not forget that we’re moving to the city…that is 10 minutes away by subway.

Anyways, I’m in a dramatic mood today.

Still, I’m going to miss the first place I ever called a home in the United States, I’ll never forget. And this eclectic and international mix of people. Ok, going to leave you now. It’s getting worse and worse.

Have a great day!

American Food Trends 2017

Hello friends,

you like food, do you? I have been researching a little and even though we’re already in August, I thought I’d share a bit of the foods and drinks I’ve found to be hugely popular around here. Which of these have you tried already or would like to try?

#1 Kombucha

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve totally succumbed to the Kombucha hype. Have you, too? So let’s start off with what it actually is: Kombucha is a fermented beverage consisting of black tea and sugar that’s used as a probiotic food.

The bacteria formed in the process line your digestive tract and support your immune system, as they absorb nutrients and fight infection and illness. And, since 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, and the digestive system is the second largest part of your neurological system this is pretty relevant, right?

I’ve started drinking a bit of Kombucha everyday now and so far, so good!

#2 Pickles and Fermented Foods

Fermentation seems to be one of THE biggest current food trends. It is no wonder that you’ll find tons of pickled vegetables or kimchi and sauerkraut on lots of restaurant menus. Do you like them?

#2 Kefir

Wow, yet ANOTHER fermented drink to add to the list! It is all the rage in the natural health community as it is high in nutrients and probiotics again and therefore incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health. Many people even go on to say that Kefir is the healthier and more powerful version of yogurt. And I have to say, if you don’t mind the salty taste you’ll like this as an alternative to yogurt (if you want to switch things up every now and again and feel adventurous).

#3 Thai Styled Ice Cream

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve only heard or seen photos of those beautifully shaped ice creams on Instagram before but they have become hugely popular. Have you ever tried one? Is it also tasty besides looking fantastic?

#5 Milkshakes Gone CrayCray

Again, another one I’ve only seen on Instagram so far but never tasted one myself: The so called Freakfrappés or Freakshakes, you get the gist. They’re milkshakes gone C-R-A-Z-Y. I always love looking at the photos as they are so aesthetically pleasing, still I don’t know if I’d ever want to eat one, what about you?

#6 Veggies as Mains

This is a trend that I hugely support as I love vegetables. A lot of restaurants, especially around here put a lot of veggie dishes as entrées on their menus, which I love. They also get really creative when it comes to new ways of preparing them, I love it!

#7 Purple Foods

purple cauliflower

This one is similar to food trend #6 yet a bit more specific. Purple produce such as cauliflower, potatoes, corn, asparagus are becoming more mainstream, according to Whole Foods’ 2017 trends and products report! Colors of fruits and veggies indicate which nutrients they possess. So roasting up a blend of both white and purple potatoes, for example, means you’re giving your body a wider breadth of vitamins for optimal health.

#8 Alga

I present to you the ocean’s new super food: Alga. Already a staple in Asian cuisine, it starts becoming more and more popular in other parts of the world. Known for its protein, little fat and low calories they can be consumed in a multitude of different ways. Some types of alga can be used as alternative to Tagliatelle, some use it as a base for teas. Have you ever tried it?

#9 Sourdough Bread (aka the fermentation theme is back on)

In times of gluten-free diets this bread (despite being a bread) is one of the best breads for you to consume if you are “gluten sensitive”. Why is that you ask? The tradition of fermenting flour with sourdough breaks down the peptides in gluten that give people trouble. This fermentation thing seems to really be a huge deal as it provides you with lots of healthy bacteria that help balance the digestive system and manage your metabolism.

#10 Portuguese Food

Portuguese

Somehow Lisbon and Portugal in general are hugely popular here it seems so it comes as no suprise that there are lots of restaurants and cafés providing Portuguese foods. Hugely famous are of course the custard tarts, have you ever tried them? You should, they’re delicious. Or why not make them yourself this weekend, they’re not that difficult to make. Here goes a recipe you could try.

What foods have you’ve been liking this year? I’d love to know!

Cheers,

Sandra

My Passport And I

My passport and I.

Our relationship has massively changed since I’ve moved to the US.

I’m going to tell you how (if you care that is). It also might change the way you see your own passport. Let us think about that for a second.

If you’re European, you’re living in Europe and reading this, I think you’ll agree with me that you RARELY to NEVER use your passport in daily life. Usually you’ll have your card of identity on you as a means of identification. Your passport, however, will only come out on very special occasions that is when you decide to travel longhaul and go far far away. That’s also why my original association when thinking about my passport back in the day was ADVENTURE, TRAVEL, FUN. It was the times I used to flick through my passport to admire all the stamps I had collected from former travels.

Now that I’m living in the States AND on top of it all in a state that is rather strict in terms of alcohol policy, my passport is my new purse staple that goes EVERYWHERE with me. I see it everday and I hold it in my hands almost everyday. Especially when I go out to a dinner, a bar, a liquor store or to a super market that sells wine and beer.

From seeing each other every couple of months or once or twice a year to almost everyday, my red passport is my constant companion now. There is a concept in social psychology saying that the more you are exposed to a certain object or person you’ll tend to like it more than others you are less exposed to. So in short: I like my passport more than ever, because I think it’s a great little piece of design (way cooler than other passports, have you ever checked others out in the lines at the airport?) and it’s never been more useful if I want to get a glass of good red wine.

Why all that drama?

They will not accept a card of identification. Trying to explain to them that it is an equivalent form of identification. Useless. I’ve once even got a comment when showing my ID (naive me, a few years ago) if I was a member of the Red Cross? Ehm, no.

Oh the funny comments I’ve gotten. The classic, ‘ah Sweden is a nice place’ (People, it is even written on the passport you are holding in your hands that the country is called Switzerland. Come on!) or the requirement to show my passport on the evening of my 30th birthday. No, she didn’t think it was funny to tell her that it was my 30th birthday. She basically didn’t CARE.

Long story to say, appreciate your Swiss passport. It’s a special little thing.

A Weekend in Vermont

Hello dear friends,

time for a flashback to a weekend in April that we spent in lovely Burlington, Vermont. Anyone ever thought of visiting this state up north? If you haven’t yet, do it, it’s a beautiful beautiful place! Hope you’ll enjoy the photos and little tips for a weekend’s visit.

A few facts about Vermont: The state in the northeastern part of the country is the second least populous. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup and is generally known for their farming products such as cheese and milk. It was also ranked as the safest state in the country in 2016. And it has been/still is Bernie Sanders territory. A good place, isn’t it?  

The nature

There are so many places to visit in Vermont be it summer or winter time. Whether you’re into hiking or skiing there is something for everyone. It’s truly a nice change to the city life seeing all those picturesque small villages, farmland and mountain. One of our personal highlights was biking along Lake Champlain, it’s the best thing you can do on a sunny day I think. There are bike rentals everywhere, we were lucky enough that our hotel gave bikes away for free rental.

The food and drinks

After all that biking we were STARVING. But fear not, Burlington has got you covered. There are a multitude of restaurants and craft breweries awaiting you. We opted for American Flatbread, which was recommended to us as a local’s favorite and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, hands down one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Probably being super hungry/hangry might have influenced me in that judgement. As for beers just try what they will suggest to you, they actually have a brewery (Zero Gravity) that’s part of the American Flatbread restaurant and it was really really good as well. Overall a place I’d highly recommend you go.

For coffee and breakfast breaks I’d suggest you go visit Monarch and the Milkweed. It’s a beautiful little café (right next to American Flatbread actually) where they have a small but nice menu on offer with a beautiful pastries collection as well.

And no culinary Vermont experience would be complete without having tried Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They have a big shop on the main street of the city and it’s just dreamy. Really tasty ice cream. If you’re a hardcore ice cream aficionado you can take a guided tour in their factory close by (more info here).

The hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Vermont, which is located right next to the lakeside and the city centre. It was a truly nice experience sleeping there for a night, as they try and work with local brands when it comes to decorating their rooms (can you spot that cute flannel sheet?) and products by local producers. The brunch at their Juniper Café, which is open to the public as well, is an absolute gem. Had great pancakes and egg benedicts there. And tried an Earl Grey Latte for the first time, was delicious!

Have you ever visited Vermont? Have a great Tuesday! 

My Favorite Cafés in Boston/Cambridge

Hi people,

It’s Friday soon and some of us need a coffee especially on a Friday morning to get things started, right?

I LOVE cafés, there’s just something about them. They are a place where you can stop and take in a moment of reflection and of course enjoy a great cup of coffee, tea as well as beautifully made and (even more importantly) deliciously tasting pastries. Oh YES.

Whether you’ll be visiting the area soon or are a local looking for inspiration, I’ve got you covered. What follows  are my favorite café spots so far (granted I haven’t seen ALL of them yet, I’m still researching. But those six have definitely won a special place in my heart, yes yes).

Have a great cup of coffee and take on that day, ok? Enjoy the weekend! I’m off to Zurich for the next 10 days and am looking forward to a wedding of a beautiful friend of mine, SO E-X-C-I-T-E-D. Hard to spell a word out when your that excited. Anyways, all the best and will talk to you next week!

Loyal Nine

Oh, I love this place. All about it. It’s concept mainly is that they use ingredients and create dishes that the settler a few (!) years back would have cooked with. I love Loyal Nine at every time of day, in the morning the café annex next to the restaurant is a lovely option with great coffee and tea as well as great and creative café food. If you want to go all out, I’d recommend you try the Brunch on the weekend (go for the bread pancakes, absolutely delicious) or dinner. Loyal Nine will not disappoint, it’s one of those restaurants where you leave with a happy belly, not feeling overeaten. The drinks are amazing, too. Can you tell that I like Loyal Nine?

Tatte Bakery

I couldn’t do a favorites list without including Tatte. It’s just…Fantastic! Friends and family who came to visit can attest, it’s a pastries heaven for anyone looking for a delicious sweet or savory breakfast. Seriously their display in the morning is just, unbelievable. They have grown quite a bit in the last time and now have various branches all over the city, definitely check them out if you ever wanted to try super delicious chocolat croissants, pecan nut roses, lemon tarts, meringue, halvas, kouign-ammans and the list goes on. They really know their stuff.

Thinking Cup

Thinking Cup seriously convinced me with their coffee in the first place. They use Stumptown Coffee (remember, that was the coffee I drank in New York that I loved so much). It’s actually seriously the best coffee I’ve ever drank, no doubt.

Longfellows

A brewery at night, a coffee shop in the daytime. I love Longfellows if I want to get a productive working morning or afternoon in. It’s a place to get good coffee and get on your laptop. There’s just this peaceful atmosphere that I love. Also, the chairs are #goals!

Pavement Coffee

I especially love the Pavement café on Newbury Street, as it is tucked away a little in the underground and you kind of have to know where it is. Nonetheless, quite a few people know about it, as it is ALWAYS full. But hey, I get it, pretty decors, chill atmosphere and good coffee. Yep, it’s a cool place.

Flour Bakery 

Hands-down the best sandwiches. If you ever feel hungry, check Flour Bakery out. The Harvard graduate Joanne Chang has opened a few branches since opening up her first one here in Harvard Square. And yeah, those sandwiches are just, wow.

What are your favorite cafés in the place you live? Have a fantastic weekend!

How Living In The US Has Changed Me

Hi friends, how are you today?

I have been reflecting lately on how this American experience has changed me (be it small or big things) and wanted to share my thoughts in today’s post.

  1. It made me wear gym leggings in public. And not care about how I look that much anymore. Seriously, I’m not just saying that. It’s true people.
  2. On a more serious note: It changed my understanding of American culture. Even though I had travelled to the US several times before moving here, most preconceptions I had about American culture and daily life came from tv shows (hello Glee), movies and other people’s opinions. Obviously, even though there usually is some grain of truth in there, reality is different (what a surprise). What I’ve encountered and experienced here is that people are incredibly open and friendly. Especially in the first few months after my arrival people I newly met and told about my background were all very supportive and literally everyone would say “Welcome to America”. I don’t know why this simple sentence stuck with me so much but I found it to be such a nice detail. I also thought that if I were to have the same conversation in Switzerland with someone that had recently moved there I would never say “Welcome to Switzerland”. (Maybe I’m just not a friendly person or would you?). What I’m trying to say is that given the international and migrational backgrounds that basically everyone has that you meet here, people tend to be curious and welcoming towards “newcomers”, which is a nice experience. Furthermore, what I found to be even nicer, is how people here are genuinely involved with their community and do a lot of volunteering. Much more than is usual in Switzerland I think. It is regarded a total normality to be engaged in some sort of activity in your community and to spend time volunteering. I really do appreciate this “can do attitude”, where everyone wants to help each other out, at least around here. I think that communal feeling is what has surprised me the most (in a positive way).
  3. It reshaped my values. My generation is seeking in attaining extreme levels of success, notoriety (ha), or success in whatever they do (I know generalizing). Still, there is a constant thirst for more and to be more. While that may sound exaggerating I think that it is somewhat true, we (and I’m not excluding myself) are always looking into ways of further evolving and being successful at what we do. However, when I moved to the US, I was forced to slow down. A lot. I had to sort out all of my paperwork for the work permit, had to figure out this new living situation etc. The far slower pace of my life translated into me putting more time into relationships with friends (and new friends), personal interests and hobbies than into professional prowess, which was something I had never done to that extent when I was working before. As I am now back into the whole application madness, I look back and reconsider that it is important putting enough time aside for your personal interests, friends and family.
  4. It made me more open-minded. This sounds really cliché, but it’s just so true! Living abroad does something incredible: You are exposed to an eclectic bunch of different people and you learn more not only about others and their approach to life but also about yourself. I’m already grateful for the many fantastic people from all over the word that I’ve met, that I’ve had conversations with (even if it was about seemingly small daily life things like what sort of food or shoes are typical for the place they are from). I loved every bit of it. Because it allowed me to learn about people, their experiences and other cultures in such a personal and deep way. Even as a European meeting people from Finland, Sweden, Denmark makes me realize how little we know from each other. Not to mention, all my new friends from China, South Korea, Vietnam or India, which is even more interesting! In short: My change in attitude has been brought about by the people I have met and the friends I have made.
  5. It changed my language skills and ability to communicate When I arrived in the US, I was a confident English speaker I’d say. Still, I found it awkward at times speaking in English (to the extent where I would plan what I would say when I was going into a bakery or government office). Now, I am in a state where I don’t even think about it anymore, I. JUST. TALK. I’ am definitely enjoying speaking English, I sometimes even will drop a word or two in English when speaking to Philipp (and he will be looking at me like ???!!). Just because they seem more fitting to me than the German version of them.

Have you also lived abroad for a while? If so, how did it change you? I’d love to hear!

Have a lovely week!

The Weekend Notes

People!

Hope you’re doing well. Two announcements.

One: This is my post #101, crazy isn’t it? Would love to hear from you if there’s anything you’d like me to write about! Let me know in the comments below (don’t be shy!).

Two: A good friend of mine once mentioned to me that he saves links from interesting stuff he stumbles across on the internet during the week to then read it on the weekends. I found that interesting and tried to do it myself this week, hope you’ll enjoy my eclectic choice of links that I will read up on this Sunday. Have a fantastic weekend yourself!

America

“U.S. life expectancy varies by more than 20 years from county to county” says the headline of this Washington Post article. I’m like whaaaatt? Bookmarked. I’m going to read that. In case you’re into finding out more too, join me.

Another article, this time by the NYT got my attention. It’s a (much needed) fact check on the G.O.P. Health Bill. And yes, I will have to read that in order to not create any alternative facts when discussing it with people around me (get the pun?, maybe it’s a bit far fetched). Thanks NYT!

France

How relieved are we about the French vote? If you want to read up on a little more about last weeks elections, check out this cool and interactive NYT article

My hood (aka Cambridge)

This one goes out to my local friends: The two main source I turn to when I’m in a weekend planning mood and want to know what’s going on around here is The Boston Magazine and the Scout Cambridge.  If you don’t know them yet, check them out, they’ve got great ideas and articles about what to do and see! If you’re just interested in events and the like, there’s the Boston Calendar, which is also great!

Random

The Huffington Post shares some rather interesting news with us: Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is running for Sheriff?

Don’t roll your eyes at me. I told you this was the random category.

Nonetheless, I want to know more about it, do you? Read about it here.

The noisy and curious person I am, I like this site ‘My Morning Routine’ a lot. People with all different kinds of backgrounds (athletes, business people, creatives etc.) share their morning routines. Always like to read up on some of them, as I find it interesting and inspiring!

Food

The weekend is not only all about the foods you eat but also about thinking ahead what to make for next week. Two inspirational and trusted sources on this matter are Lucky Peach and Bon Appetit.

Photos, photos, photos

Do you know the feeling, when you get sucked into a world of amazing images that almost make you feel like you are part of them? The Time and the National Geographic sure know they stuff.

What will you be reading up on in the internets this weekend? I’d love to know! Byeee!

My Two NYC Discoveries: The 9/11 Memorial and Calatrava’s Oculus Station

Hi everyone,

I don’t want to bore you with (too many) words today, which is why I’m leaving you with photos of the two buildings/places that by far blew me away the most when I visited New York last time.

It’s the incredibly moving and beautiful 9/11 Memorial and the incredibly modern and minimalist Oculus station by Calatrava, which MUST be the coolest station I have EVER seen (I also would totally not mind if I had to commute there everyday, it’s really such a unique building. Also, I would totally get it why a film director would want to shoot his next sci fi movie here. In conclusion: It’s quite a unique train station.

Have you seen both of this places? If not, I HIGHLY (I’m into CAPS this morning it seems. Sorry. But it’s important) recommend you visit them next time you’re in NYC.

Have a great Thursday, the weekend is near! Yay!

The 9/11 Memorial

The Oculus Station