On Living In Halloween Central

Hi friends,

it’s going to be Halloween next week and let me tell you one thing:

People here LOVE Halloween.

Tell me something new Sandra you’re thinking. I know. Still, we have to talk about it, since it’s my first time experiencing the whole thing in the US. You can book graveyard ghost tours, pirate harbor cruises or go to Halloween pub crawls. Everyone loves to decorate their houses with weird decorations (I saw tombstones people and dog skeletons wearing sports tricots?!) and spiders and I don’t know…is it just the skeptical European in me that doesn’t really get all the hype around the witches, vampires, pumpkins and weird candy stuff related to Halloween?

Still, I volunteered at the Pumpkin Float at the Boston Common last week and went to a Halloween party (one of the many many this weekend). I’ll admit it, I love seeing all the pumpkins on display out in the streets and I get the fun part about it. Which other holiday allows you to dress up as Princess Leia, Eleven from Stranger Things (whoa, seen the new season?), your favorite M&M, as a mermaid or even your favorite action hero or animal?  I see it, I appreciate the creativity in it. But other than that, Halloween doesn’t really appeal to me (other than maybe the fancy limited candy editions in stores, ha).

Anyhow, as I live in a neighborhood that is famous for its decorations I thought I’d take you along for a little stroll. Apparently, it gets super crowded on October 31st, as everyone comes to see the decorations.

What do you think about Halloween? Do you love it? Let me know in the comments below. If you are celebrating, have a happy Halloween everyone!

Big Sur And Big Seals

Friends,

how are you doing today? I’m coming to you with a roadtrip report today, this time covering beautiful Big Sur. It’s really a special scenery that I enjoyed very much.

What I found even more amazing were the wild seals just lying in the sand. There were SO SO MANY of them. Loved them! Don’t they look like they’re having the time of their lives? Just chilling on the beach. All day. Every day. 

Boston’s Best Bakeries

Friends,

If you know anything about me it’s that I LOVE bread and pastries. Like REALLY. So if I find a place I like I’ll be sure to let everyone know around me. Without further ado, here comes a list of my favorite bakeries in Boston and around.

#1 Sofra Bakery

Don’t miss this one! This place is absolutely worth the trip out of town to Cambridge/Watertown. They have excellent coffee, creative drinks (try the orange blossom lemonade, absolutely stunning), baked goods, and food (all with that delicious Middle Eastern flare). It can get crowded during peak hours as the place isn’t huge, there’s a nice outdoor seating space though, weather permitting. You can also combine a visit to Sofra with a walk around the beautiful Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Photos: Sofra Bakery

#2 Tatte Bakery

This is really boring, I apologize but how could I make a favorite bakeries post without including Tatte? Still just a classic and always a great option to go for, you can’t go wrong with Tatte.

Photos: Tatte Bakery

#3 Clear Flour Bakery

This mini mini tiny tiny bakery tucked away in a sidestreet in Brookline claims to make European bread and pastries. Being the critical European you are you go in with a bit of a skeptical attitude. But you know what? Clear Flour really does make great bread, baguettes, ficelles, croissants and pastries. You got my European stamp of approval. Go folks!

#4 Flour Bakery

Founded by local gastro superstar and Harvard ’91 graduate Joanne Chang this bakery is an option like Tatte where you simply can’t go wrong. Also a great option if you’re out and about with a group of friends as it offers a lot of different options like the best sandwiches I’ve had in town, salads, sweets and coffee.

#5 Hi-Rise Bread Company

We used to live right across a Hi-Rise Bread Company café and it just really is a great neighborhood coffee shop with irresistible pastries, great bread and creative sandwiches. There’s no wifi, which is either a pro or a con depending on what you’re there for but other than that it’s a great quality breads and overall just a nice place for a down to earth breakfast or brunch outing.

#6 Iggy’s Bread

Another amazing local Cambridge hero is Iggy’s Bread. I first got to know about Iggy’s Bread as I was volunteering at a Food Shelter where they always donated fresh bread.  I always ended up volunteering to cut up the bread as it just smelled and looked SO delicious (#truestory). I was curious to find out more and went to their store close to Fresh Pond. It is a great spot for any bread lover! Let me know what you thought!

What are your favorite bakeries in town?

Turning Into a Stunt Woman For Apple Picking

Friends,

what are your favorite fall traditions? I’m currently experiencing my first American fall and have quickly learned that at least here in New England going apple picking is a MUST and has to be done.

Otherwise you’re not doing fall the right way.

Last weekend we decided to rent a car and headed out to the countryside. We went to Connor’s Farm (find more info about it here), which has been around since 1904. It’s basically a farm version of Disneyland, where kids (and adults alike) can indulge in playing all types of games, stroking baby animals, picking apples, shooting apples at targets (yes, that was a thing), eating lots of hot apple cider donuts and finding your way out of a corn maze (and getting lost lots of times on the way….and kind of getting scared that you’ll never get out AND thinking how all those parents let their kids go in on their own). It’s a pretty fun activity, I have to say.

Also, picking apples at the end of the season will have you pull off dangerous stunts (you didn’t know you were capable of) in order to get those last apples hanging (usually on top of the tree…of course). But hey, you have to work to get those apples.

Now we’re stuck with a mountain of delicious apples and I am researching all types of apple related recipes. If you have one you like, be sure to share it!

Have a great day!

 

Go Crimson! Attending a Harvard Basketball Game

Americans, you definitely know how to put on a show.

We went to see two basketball games over the last 7 days. One at TD Garden (Boston Celtics against the Milwaukee Buicks) and the other one was the Crimson Madness at the newly renovated Lavietes Pavilion. After seeing two baseball games in Fenway Park and a NBA and a College Basketball game it is pretty clear to me (Red Sox fans close your eyes or stop reading) that basketball is just SO SO MUCH more interesting and fun to watch. If you want to know more about our basketball adventures you may read on.

What is Crimson Madness you ask? I didn’t know either, so let’s get that out of the way first. Crimson Madness officially kicks off the 2017-18 Harvard Men’s Basketball season.

And, let me tell you, it was a very entertaining evening.

As images always do a better job at conveying a feeling or atmosphere I’ve included the official little recap that the HarvardAthletics account posted on Youtube a couple of days ago.

So here’s what’s happened as advertised before the game:

  • Special welcome from Coach Tommy Amaker
  • Pregame dunk contest
  • Three-point shootout
  • Intra-squad scrimmage
  • FREE giveaways
  • FREE team photos and rosters
  • Post-game autograph session

It was really impressive seeing how professional the set-up with all the analysts, team assistants, journalists, screens, cheerleaders, dance teams, athletes and trainers looked. I almost don’t wanna say it but seeing the whole thing made me realize that many European professional teams would have a hard time competing with that. Ok that might be a bit exaggerated but still, you get the gist. Harvard Basketball have their s*** together.

Overall, it was an interesting American experience, with the national anthem playing at the beginning, an inspirational address by coach Amaker, new and current players were introduced as if they were super rockstars entering the arena, free shirts were thrown into the audience, cheerleaders and dance teams presented their choreographies, food and snacks and you get the picture. After a short intra-squad game people would even go down to see the players and ask for their autographs.

If any of you are local readers, check out Harvard Athletics schedule here, it’s worth taking your friends and family out to a game as it was great fun!

When Science Meets Cooking

Hi friends,

if this post can do anything, I hope that it’ll make you curious to learn about new things or to at least consider your next cooking session a real science project. Because you know what? Cooking is science (not only of course but you’ll know better what I mean in a second)!

Harvard Science and Cooking Lecture – What it is

What made me think about food and cooking that way? It most definitely was attending the Harvard Science and Cooking Public Lecture. It’s a public and free lecture series organized by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and it pairs Harvard professors with celebrated food experts and renowned chefs to showcase the science behind different culinary techniques. Cool, right?

It’s already in its seventh year and you’re able to find some old and new footage of recorded lectures online over at the Harvard YouTube channel. If a rainy day comes around again and you are somewhat interested in food and/or science, this is be a fantastic way to spend your time. Let me know what you thought! So if you aren’t a local (full schedule of upcoming lectures and guest to be found here), check out some of the videos below and on YouTube.

The last lecture I attended was by the great local superstar and Harvard graduate Joanne Chang and it was all about the science of sugar. While I wasn’t able to find the video about the talk I attended I managed to find the video of the lecture she did back in 2015. It’s just really cool to learn about sugar in such a new and unexpected way. Have a watch!

Take a course on EDX or just watch them online

Another great way to stay in the know if you’re even more curious is to enroll for a free and self-paced course over at EDX, check here for more information.

Some other interesting talks so far were about the art of fermentation and the science of risotto. Here come the videos, have a great week everyone!

 

America’s Pumpkin Obsession

When do you really know that it’s fall here in America?

It’s not the calendar that tells you (like everywhere else in the world) we’ve entered a new season, it’s Starbucks actually. People went crazy when Starbucks put the Pumpkin Spice Latte back on the menu a couple weeks ago as they do every fall.

People went nuts on Instagram using the infamous #PSL tag, which obviously (!?) means Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Anyways, a trip to any supermarket will confirm the obsession people have here with all things pumpkin related. From invading coffee to Oreos to beer, the P.S.L. (you’re an insider now, you’re welcome) obsession has truly gotten out of control.

There are such things like pumpkin pasta Sauce, pumpkin vodka, pumpkin spice eggnog, pumpkin shower gels, pumpkin spice M&Ms, pumpkin spice Hummus, pumpkin body butter, pumpkin protein, pumpkin spice flavored pringles. I think you get the idea. They’re crazy about pumpkins. It’s also a huge family tradition for lots of people to go pumpkin patches and pick their own pumpkins.

One of the things I definitely understand the obsession with are pumpkin pies. If you fancy doing some baking, there goes a recipe you might want to try (->Bon Appetit recipe). Let me know how it went!

What are your favorite fall traditions?

 

 

My Favorite Netflix Documentaries #FallEdition

Friends!

The weather has been getting colder and you know what that means in my book, right? Watching lots of Netflix documentaries all cozied up on the sofa with a glass of wine and lots of popcorn. So without further ado, here comes my selection of Netflix documentaries I’ve been enjoying lately. Disclaimer: I just realized that they are mostly pretty dramatic and dark (with exception of the beautiful Maya Angelou documentary). Still, they are made so well and you’ll learn so much that they are definitely worth a watch. Let me know what you thought!

#1 Under the Sun

Wow. What a story. What a country. The film follows a year in the life of a family in Pyongyang, as their daughter Zin-mi prepares to join the Korean Children’s Union. However, what you’ll find out soon enough is that the Ministry of Culture pretty much gave the filmmakers a final script. They selected all of the characters, film locations and scenes to be used in the film.  Realizing that the North Korean government intended to make a propaganda film, the director Mansky decided to keep the cameras rolling between shots. What you’ll see will just be so unbelievable you’ll think this isn’t real. And I don’t know if it was only me but there were definitely scenes where I thought I could see people’s sadness in their eyes. Definitely a great documentary, check it out!

#2 Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

What a legend. What an elegant and wise woman. No more words needed. If you want to learn about this huge American culture icon then definitely watch this film. And order some of her beautiful poetry books while you’re at it.

#3 Casting JoBenet

This documentary is just so incredibly well made, you’ll want to watch it until the end even though the story itself is very sad and upsetting. In 1996, Boulder, Colorado a six-year-old pageant queen, JonBenet Ramsey was found dead under mysterious circumstances. 20 years later, director Kitty Green returns to audition local actors, unpacking how each remembers and relates to the Ramsey case. You’ll hear the actor’s points of view on the case and it will really show you how differently everyone perceives a murder case.

#4 Welcome to Leith

It is painful to watch, yet so important as it still seems to be a reality that there is so much hate in this country towards everything and everyone that is different from you. Welcome to Leith tells us the story of an attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. It is stunning how accessible both the residents and white supremacists are and it is incredibly interesting to see how a small community tries to fight against an extremist vision.

#5 The Imposter

This documentary is centered around  a young French guy who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing for 3 years. Yes I know. This sounds absolutely crazy. Even though the film feels slow at times it is just incredible to see how the different parties involved think and feel about this whole situation.

America’s Food Truck Obsession

Hi friends,

A phenomena that I’ve come across here in the US over and over again, no matter where I go, is that food trucks are incredibly popular. Way more than in Europe. They literally are everywhere on university campuses such as Harvard or MIT, actually on any bigger place in downtown in the midst of all the office buildings and spread around the city. Heck, the city of Boston even has an official food truck map and a schedule sorted by neighborhood on their website (check it out here if you’re a local reader and wish to know when you’re favorite food truck will stop nearby you). There are food truck festivals basically every weekend. Yes. We take our food trucks seriously around here.

The popularity of Food Trucks in the US

After the recession the popularity of food truck has gotten a huge boost as many people that got laid off decided to take the risk of running their own business. These mobile restaurants are more affordable than a “real restaurant” and as they run on volume they can reach high sales pretty quickly. What type of food would you serve up in your own food truck if you ever were to open one? (I looooved the Cookie Monstah food truck, AH-MAZING cookies).

LA: Showbiz Vibes, Palm Trees, Traffic

So. I’m doing a really bad job at chronologically recounting our Californian road trip as today’s post will cover our last stop in Los Angeles. But Los Angeles got me really excited so here you go.

And let me tell you one thing. I freakin’ loved it. And I would never have thought that I would.

You know how some people will tell you how big and dispersed the city is, how traffic is terrible at all times of the day and how everyone seems superficial and stuff? While the two first points kiiiiind of might be true I wouldn’t agree to the last one.

What really is amazing about LA is the weather. The sun shined E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y.

Also, there are nice neighborhoods and parts of the city such as Venice Beach, close-by Santa Monica, Silver Lake or Downtown with Little Tokyo and Koreatown. Overall, I just think that Los Angeles is so unique and unlike any other place I’ve ever visited before. I’m talking about those entertainment and showbiz vibes, you can’t miss them. I jokingly said to Philipp that basically every waiter/waitress we had at the nicer restaurants seemed to be either a model or an aspiring actor/actress. So many people just had this creative aura about them that I found HIGHLY intriguing. Also, having worked in advertising before I was particulary suprised to find out that basically all OOH advertising was related to movies, films, new series or any other type of entertainment related topic. I loved those creative vibes. A LOT. It’s difficult to explain. Philipp and I were even talking if LA would be a city we could see ourselves living in. While he clearly said no, I clearly said yes. I could run into some trouble, however, as I HATE driving. And without driving I’d basically be bound to stay at our (imaginary) LA house forever.

You’ve read up until this point (PROPS to you), so let’s get started with the photo show, shall we? Disclaimer: While I seemed to only take photos of food when we were in SF, I barely took any of that nature in LA. I will tell you where we had great food though so don’t you worry.

Venice Beach LOVE

I freakin’ loved Venice Beach. If you ever find yourself in the area, obviously check out the tourist musts like the canals, the beach, the muscle gym (haha), go for a stroll or bike along the Ocean Front Walk. Definitely also check out Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which must me the best and cutest street ever. The stores there are all super pretty. You’ll definitely want to stop at the following places:

Bottom line: You can easily spend all day in Abbot Kinney Boulevard alone. GO

The Beach

Grab a bike for the day and ride all the way to Santa Monica, it’s absolutely worth it!

The Griffith Observatory and the freakin’ Hollywood Sign

Doing the Fern Dell Trail up to the Griffith Observatory is a nice way to “get out” of the city and see some nature. Fuel up before the walk in the cute Trail Café, their homemade lemonades and pastries are great. The views up there are amazing, too. Also, I don’t know about you but similarly to when I see the Eiffel Tower in Paris seeing the Hollywood sign excited me a lot! It is one of those things that you’ve often seen in movies and on photos and seeing it IRL was just so cool.

Downtown LA

Have a lovely rest of your week!

My September Favorites

Long time no Favorites post.

So without further ado, here come the things that made it on my September favorites list. What things have you been loving lately?

#GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO

Seriously guys, watch this Netflix documentary! I NEVER was a fan of hers, I found all those costumes and wigs to be too much to be honest. BUT. This documentary changed my opinion on her  (my friends can attest that I have been harassing them to watch it over the last couple of days). You’ll get a glimpse into her life, her views on women in the entertainment business and on living with chronic pain. I don’t know if I was already feeling emotional but I definitely had to cry. Let me know what you thought!

#2 Everything lululemon

Buying lululemon work out gear seriously was a gamechanger. The quality is beyond amazing and worth the investment. I’m most willing to spend money on leggings and sports bras because I feel like that’s were the good quality is most important. What do you like investing in when it comes to work out gear?

#3 Everything Meyer’s Clean Day

Can you tell that I’m old? I’m including cleaning products in my favorites. Seriously though, the products by Meyer’s Clean Day are amazing. And that’s something that I really think Americans got down better than us Europeans. There’s so much choice in the cleaning section here. Bonus: They’re not full of nasty chemicals but smell delicious AND get the job done. WIN-WIN!

#4 American Fall Traditions

I’m looking forward to go apple picking, to having hot apple cider and cider donuts, basically everything apple related. Or pumpkin related (more on that to come soon). I hope to be able to go apple picking soon with friends, in case you’re a local and interested in some suggestions on where to go, check out this helpful map.

#5 Breakfast LOVE

I’ve just recently realized that breakfast really is my favorite meal of the day. Especially now the days get to be a little colder again I am all into my porridge with freshly chopped up fruit. A new favorite of ours is to put a liiiiittttleee tiny bit of maple syrup on it. It gives the whole thing a great and delicate little flavor, love it! What’s your favorite meal of the day?