Posts tagged learning

My Autumn Favorites: Dancing Dinosaurs, Steve, Leggings Confessions & More

Friends,

how is it already December? HOW? I wanted to take the opportunity reflect on the past couple of weeks and since it’s getting really cold and wintery around here share my Autumn favorites with you.

#1 Halloween Madness

I had told you that I was living in Halloween Central (read post here), remember? But boy oh boy, I didn’t expect the actual Halloween evening itself to be as big, as fun and as lovely as it turned out to be. Beacon Hill (the neighborhood I live in) has a a bit a reputation of being a rich people’s place (I mean I live a few feet away from John Kerry’s humble aboad, which definitely doesn’t seem too humble).

Also it doesn’t mean we’re living in a fancy city house (the contrary actually, it’s a super old building with radiators making so much noise in every room that it almost seems like they want to communicate with each other (which weirdly also makes me think about the flickering lights in Stranger Things?!!! Are our radiators trying to tell me something? We’ll explore this in my second Autumn favorite later own).

But back to Halloween. I seriously LOVED it. I would never have expected to like it as much as I did. The Boston Police Department closed down a few streets in the neighborhood, which made for a nice opportunity to stroll on the streets and take all the house decorations in as well as indulge in some serious people watching (aka staring. But not in a creepy way) as some reallly went all out. Dogs wearing lion manes, babies dressed up as cute vegetables and fruits and countless little superheroes, princesses and Wonder Womans (that seemed to be a thing this year?) walking around having a great time made it an unforgettable experience. Also, two dinosaurs wearing the same costume finding each other and having a little dance-off was definitely a highlight. You don’t get to see that every day, right?

#2 The Crown

I mean Season 2 is EVEN BETTER I think than Season 1. It’s just bloody brilliant. Watch it!

#3 Stranger Things

Yes, this is not an original input but WOW, how good is season 2 (except for that one weird episode they threw in there, didn’t like that one. You’ll know, which one I mean if you’ve seen it I’m sure). I feel you get to know the characters so much better.

Also, can we talk about Steve for a little bit? I mean his evolution from being a meh character in season 1 to becoming a crucial and positive part of the team in season 2 is just great. And. His hair. How does this even work?!

#4 The Confession Tapes

Another maybe less fun to watch but still so insightful true-crime documentary is the Confession Tapes. You’ll want to watch all the episodes at once as you won’t believe how people get themselves in scary situations where they will say pretty much anything investigators want them to. Seeing the material will make you shudder.

#5 Leggins Addiction

I have to report that the American leggins addiction has gotten a hold on me.

Yap. I am the person that will wear sports leggings now on a weekend day just to go out and run some errands. Will I keep up this habit when I’ll go back to Switzerland over Christmas? I don’t know.

If you happen to run into me on the streets of Zurich wearing my lululemon pants, you’ll know what’s up. Oh and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all those bad BAD incentives to make you buy more leggins you don’t really need. Don’t get me started on those.

#6 Thanksgiving Gratitude

I can safely say after about a year in the US and having seen all the American holidays that my favorite holidays by far are Halloween and Thanksgiving. We had a Friendsgiving dinner (thanks Megan!) the weekend before and a more intimate Thanksgiving dinner on the the day of with a good friend and it was just so nice. I love the idea of gratitude and that you get to spend time with family and friends. And the food isn’t too shabby, either.

#7 Korean Sheet Masks

Thanks to my friends Jiwon and Narrae for introducing me to Korean face sheet masks (like the real deal), I see why people everywhere get excited about them, they are AMAZING! If you can get hold of  them, try it for yourself.

Have a lovely day!

Boston Autumn: A Photo Album

Hi,

welcome to today’s photo post that is going to be a mix of things I’ve seen and done over the last couple weeks. Enjoy and have a great day!

Time For The Arts

Cambridge and Harvard aka our old neighborhood (still missing it)

Beacon Hill aka our new neighborhood (still getting used to it)

The Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest two-day rowing event

A Surprise Weekend in New York

Friends,

if there’s anything I’d like you to take away from today’s post (and yes, of course it’s to ALSO go and see ‘Book of Mormon’ if you get a chance to) is to surprise someone dear to you every now and then. I got surprised with a weekend trip to New York by the husband for my birthday and it was glorious.

What follows is a little report on our New Yorker adventures, sprinkled with a few tips for new great food places and other spots we’ve discovered this time around (I’ve written a couple of posts about New York over the last months, go check them out here about my NYC Food Guide or here for another food-related post about a trip to New York we took).

Friday, November 10th

All the planning fans amongst you might understand my confusion in regards as to what to pack for a trip to an unknown destination. Philipp would only tell me to pack something for a sports activity, a more dressy outfit and not much more than that. Great. Still, I was very excited. We got up early in the morning, still had a chance to get a few pastries from Tatte for the journey and off we went on the T. We will get on a train somewhere I thought. I kept checking the timetables in the hall and tried to find out more about our destination, which Philipp onlz found slightly annoying. Right about 8.30 am I found out. We were going to…New York!

We arrived at our airbnb early in the afternoon and went on to discover the neighborhood right after. We had a late lunch at the beautiful and hidden away Gotan. It’s a great spot because it has a great menu on offer but still feels more like a café where you can hang out and read a book for hours. As it was freezing cold outside that was basically what we chose to do. All while munching away on a glorious grilled cheese and a chia bowl with lots of coffee.

On our way home we stopped at Le Dépanneur, which is just a beautiful store and deli. I mean. I was looking at jams (yes, jams) for what felt like an eternity. If you’re in the area and a ceramics or perfume lover, definitely stop by Mociun and Le Labo.

Saturday, November 11th

Dogs and Proposals at Central Park

The first surprise activity was a 8am sightseeing run through Central Park. It was freakin’ freezing but a great experience to start our day in this beautiful park alongside what felt a million dogs and their owners. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many dogs (also SO many different dogs) in one day. We went on to see the park’s landmarks, ran by numerous engagement and baby shootings and almost missed a proposal it seems as there were still fresh roses laid out like a heart on the famous Bow Bridge. Overall a great start to the day, even though getting up was hard. We go a hot coffee and a wonderful pumpkin muffin at Rex nearby Central Park as our guide had recommended it afterwards to warm ourselves up again. And he was right, it’s is a great neighborhood spot. Go! We went back home and then went for a proper brunch at Café Mogador. Highly recommend as well if you’re finding yourself near Bedford Avenue. On our way back to Manhattan we ran into the Veteran’s parade.

Best Musical Ever

Definitely the biggest highlight of our trip was seeing Book of Mormon. What a fantastic musical! And hear me out, even if you’re not into musicals I think this’d be the musical you’d LOVE. It was just a memorable experience you’ll love.

Joe’s Pizza and Barcade Fun

If you also ever find yourself on Bedford Avenue (aka Hipster Central) but just want to go for a simple meal, Joe’s Pizza, a New Yorker institution is your best bet. Another great place is the Barcade, it’s basically a playground with beer supply for adults. Great fun!

Sunday, November 12th

We had brunch at Eggshop, which was ok but not more than that I’d say. We then went for a long walk along Bedford Avenue up to Greepoint, which is such a nice neighborhood. We stopped at Peter Pan to get some doughnuts. If you’re ever near Greenpoint definitely visit Peter Pan, it’s a no frills, very down to earth place. And the doughnuts are seriously amazing. And only cost $1 (!!). We devoured them at the Transmitter Park a few steps away while enjoying the great view of the city. New York, you’re truly an amazing and unique city. See you soon!

Boston’s Best Restaurants

Friends,

I love food and I love discovering new places. And once you found one you like, you should share it. That’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? If you’re not into restaurants, you’ll find my posts on my favorite Boston bakeries here and on my favorite Boston cafés here in case you missed them). So here comes my little list of spots that I love. And of course this is only a very small selection of personal favorites and never ever reflects all of the amazing places there are in Boston. Obviously.

I still want to go to so MANY restaurants (Oleana, Giulia, Eat by Chloe, … talking about you here). Also, if you have any other favorite places do let us know in the comments below.

#1 Alden & Harlow

alden and harlow

Oh, the many many MANY times I went to Alden & Harlow. It was a LOT of times. When we still lived in Cambridge this spot on Brattle Street was a constant when friends and family would come over to stay with us. Birthday and Easter celebrations were had there and it’s a place that just won’t disappoint. It’s definitely also a place that will spark discussions about the food and will make you discover new flavors and combinations that are just great. Can you tell I like this place?

What they serve: Modern American cuisine, farm-to-table, great food meant to be shared.

#2 Coppa

This is one of my latest discoveries in the ever so beautiful South End. And to be honest I was a bit skeptical at first, as I am with lots of Italian restaurants here. But eating at Coppa definitely made me change my mind. This is a great spot, founded by local gastronomical heroes Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonnette with a neighborhoody feel to it. Take a group of friends for a nice meal, you can share all the plates. The pasta is amazing as are the other dishes on the menu. Bonus: The music is great fun!

What they serve: Amazing Italian food, meant to be shared. WOW!

#3 Myers+Chang

We’ve covered Italian and Modern American cuisine up until now, time to open up the stage for some Asian food. I am by no means an expert on the matter but I know that the food at Myers+Chang (another gastronomical power couple) is just delicious. The interiors are pretty cool, too and staff is really friendly!

What’s really cute is that they offer Cheap Date Nights every Monday + Tuesday from 5pm to 10pm. Each menu ($45 each) is designed to be a full dinner for two, but larger groups are also encouraged to order one or more date to share. Let us know how it was!

What they serve: An indie diner setting offering a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese specialties.

#4 Little Donkey

Little Donkey near Central Square is just all over the place. What I mean by saying that? The latest collaboration of Oringer & Bissonnette (see section about Coppa above) will take you on a trip around the world with a menu full of global small plates that are meant to be shared. Great place, great cocktails. A little dark in terms of lighting. But heyo that won’t stop us, right?

What they serve: International sharing plates. Go for the Charred Avocado, best thing E-V-E-R.

#5 Mamaleh’s Delicatessen

The moment you enter this space your mood will brighten up. I don’t know what they do or how they do it. But. It. Works. It’s a big and generous space near Kendall Square where you’ll find all the bagels, Rachels, Reubens, potato knishes, pastrami sandwiches your Jewish foodie heart desires. A great place for any meal of the day all week through from Monday to Sunday.

What they serve: Jewish delicatessen.

#6 Dig Inn

So this is NOT your regular salad place. It is much more. It is muuuuch better. There are three locations in Boston (Back Bay, Prudential Center and Downtown Crossing). If you ever find yourself in the area and want to go for a healthy yet filling option, this is the place! Bonus: They buy their produce and meats from local farms, they change up their menu depending on the seasons and also offer lots of veggie options. Also, their interiors are just #goals.

What they serve: Hearty salads!

#7 Juliet

Voted one of America’s best new restaurants in 2016 by bon appetit Magazine, this beautiful space in Somerville near Union Square is just a great little spot for any time of day. Whether you’re looking for a small breakfast, a brunch at the weekend, a lunch or even a very unique dining experience, it’s the place to go.

What they serve: Great food! (very original I know).

#8 Loyal Nine

I’ll be honest here. I’ve been to Loyal Nine’s Café several times and went for brunch and it always was amazing. However, out of the two times I went there for dinner, while one visit was great (great cocktails and beers selection), the second visit turned out to be a little disappointing. But hey, go there for great breakfast and café food and the best brunch, it won’t disappoint. The concept is interesting and it’s probably food you’ve never eaten that way before. Intrigued? Plus: It’s a beautiful space with beautiful tableware (seriously!) and super friendly staff.

What they serve: Seasonal coastal New England fare, influenced by the early settlers, meant to be shared.

Getting Into The Hygge Spirit

Friends,

you probably might not want to hear yet another person talk about the whole Hygge thing.

In case you don’t know what Hygge is, where have you been? The very short answer is: It’s the Danish concept and obsession with getting cozy (if you’d like to know more, read this article here). It can take on many different facets and mean different things to everyone but I thought it might be nice to share some of the things that have been getting me in the Hygge spirit, now that days have been getting colder and darker.

#1 Roasting chestnuts

The sweet an comforting scent of roasted chestnuts must just get a super high score on the Hygge scale, don’t you think? I’ve never roasted chestnuts at home and thought why not try it this autumn. It is much easier than I thought, so why not try it this weekend? See the recipe I used here.

#2 Glazing Walnuts

Can you sense a theme here? I discovered the easiest ever recipe for glazed walnuts a few days ago and OMG this might have been one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Try it!

Bonus: It fills the house with a great autumny smell and makes for a great treat or snack. You’ll only need walnuts and maple syrup and a bit of salt. Just preheat a dry skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the walnuts, maple syrup and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until syrup is caramelized and nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. Let cool. ENJOY!

#3 Hot Beverages

Hand me over a hot apple cider, a tasty coffee or a fragrant cup of Earl Grey and I’ll be happy instantly. Do you know the feeling of coming home after a few hours spent outside in the cold and just wanting to get cozy on your sofa with said hot drink? Best feeling, once you hold that warm cup in your hand. What are your favorite hot drinks?

tea

Bonus if you drink your favorite drink out of a beautiful mug. Yes.

#4 Candles

Probably one of the most hygge things ever are candles. They will just instantly make you feel homey and good. My favorite candles are the ones by Neom Organics, do you know them? Do you have any other favorite candles you could recommend?

#5 Meeting Friends in Cafés

Spending time with friends and celebrating “Togetherness” as they would call it in the Hygge Manifesto is also very high up on my list of fall essentials. There’s just nothing better than grabbing a good friend, going to one of your favorite cafés and indulging in that walnut coffee cake you’ve been eyeing up on for a couple of minutes, while talking with your friend. Best!

#6 Raiding The Library

Living a couple minutes away from the largest public library of the US is definitely veeeeery tempting. To all my local friends: Go and get yourself a library card (see more info here). It’s just the best thing to get comfy on the couch with either some roasted chestnuts or maple glazed walnuts, a hot beverage, my candles and a good book (currently reading Maya Angelou’s ‘Why The Caged Bird Sings’). Maximum level of Hygge achieved I think.

Let me know what your ideas and tips are for getting cozy in autumn?

American Icons: Dunkin Donuts

So. Massachusetts is known for the Red Sox, the Patriots, notoriously bad (LIKE REALLY bad) drivers, their infamous Boston accents and last but not least Dunkin’ Donuts.

It was time we had a little chat about Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s such an iconic brand from New England. America runs on Dunkin’ also seems to be a pretty accurate statement when you consider there are more than 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in the U.S. and 60 percent of their annual revenue comes from coffee. Also, can we just take a moment to look at this interesting logo?

Dunkin’ Donuts History in a Nutshell

It all began in 1948 with a donut and coffee restaurant in Quincy, MA called “Open Kettle.” Founder William Rosenberg served donuts for five cents and premium cups of coffee for ten cents. The place was renamed “Dunkin’ Donuts” in 1950.

Since 1950, the number of Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants has increased to more than 12,000 worldwide, with locations in 45 countries making it one of the biggest fast food giants. The company serves approximately 1.9 billion cups of hot and iced coffee every year. Over the long-term, the company plans to more than double its U.S. presence, which will put the total number of restaurants above 17,000.

A Few Things I’m Sure You Didn’t Know About Dunkin’

#1 The company’s executive chef, Stan Frankenthaler, is a three-time James Beard Award nominee (in other words, a real food professional)

#2 Dunkin’ Donuts is all the rage in Korea

The chain’s largest international market is the Korean one with nearly 1,000  stores. Unlike in the US, patrons are allowed to pick donuts themselves off shelves, cups are paper (not Styrofoam), and the most popular drink is a shot of espresso and hot water (called an Americano).

#3 The sizing is pretty unique (aka big)

Compared to their competitors Dunkin’ has pretty unique cup sizing. Their “Medium” is a whopping 24 ounces while their “Small” is 16 ounces. Starbucks’ equivalent of a medium, “Grande,” is 16 ounces and its small (“Tall”) is the standard 8 ounces. Considering that Dunkin’ is still cheaper I know why lots of people choose to go there.

# 4 New York is obsessed with Dunkin’s

The chain has more locations in New York’s five boroughs than Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Papa John’s combined. That’s around 600 stores in NYC alone! Crazy, right?

What to get at Dunkin’ Donuts

Should I add if it’s your only option? Ok that’d be mean but being honest with you, despite walking by a million Dunkin’s every day I might only have stepped a foot into a store one or two times. Still, I’ll go into one this week and will let you know. You know how I feel about doughnuts, so I just might have to give them or their munchkins (mini doughballs) a try. Let me know if you have any recommendations of things you really like at Dunkin’s?

Box of donuts

Have a great day!

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!