Sunday, December 19, 2010

Support Christmas in the City!

Donated toys for Christmas in the City. (Seaport Hotel)

Bring some joy to a child's Christmas this year by donating
a toy to Christmas in the City.
Christmas in the City is an all volunteer organization who collect toys for homeless children in the Boston area.  There are still a couple days left to donate.  If you are in the Boston area, toys can be dropped off at Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy at 45 Franklin Street. Donations can also be made via the Christmas in the City website to fulfill a child's wish list.

For more information please visit the Christmas in the City website at


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Has Arrived, Finally.

I love winter. I know it's not officially winter yet (even though it feels like it) but in my mind when you live in New England winter really begins November 1st.  Give me the cold air, snow, early nightfall any day. Winter can't arrive soon enough for me.  I'm not a summer person. I burn easily even when I slather on SPF 85.  I prefer the heat of the fireplace than the heat of the sun at the beach. Frolic in the sand? Nope, not me. You'll most likely find me romping in the snow sledding down a hill. I'd rather skate on frozen water than swim in a salty ocean. Call me crazy. 
Boston's Frog Pond
One of my favorite winter activities is ice skating at Boston's Frog Pond. Skating at the Frog Pond is a highlight of the season. The rink is located on Boston Common nestled next to Beacon Hill.  I love skating under the twinkling lights, breathing in the crisp, cold air and catching a glimpse of the State House's golden dome up on the hill. If I glance the other way I'll see the Hancock Tower peeking out over the Back Bay. The Frog Pond is open to skaters of all skill levels which is reassuring because I am not a great skater.  In fact I don't even know how to stop properly. I usually just circle the rink until I eventually slow down or until I bump into the boards, whichever comes first. Skating at Frog Pond will put a smile on your face no matter how cold it is. If you do get cold, the Frog Pond does have a lovely cafe area where you can purchase hot chocolate and other snacks.
     My belief is that since we experience winter at least five months out of the year here in Massachusetts then we might as well embrace it, right?  So layer up, grab your skates and take a spin on the ice. It'll do you good!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thank You Veterans

Thank you to all the Veterans for choosing to serve our country and protecting our freedom.

 Visit these sites in support of our vets:

New England Center for Homeless Veterans

The Fisher House

Bob Woodruff Foundation

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I've always liked Halloween but I haven't really participated in Halloween since I was a kid....until today. Tonight I was in Gardner, MA helping my brother and niece dish out candy to the trick or treaters. I have never seen so many kids!  We received 299 trick or treaters over a two hour period! (Yes, we kept count. I was hoping for that 300th person but it didn't happen) It was so much fun seeing all the kids in their costumes. My favorite was the girl dressed as the Twister boardgame. She used the spin wheel as her hat. Very creative. There were the fair share of princesses (my niece Elizabeth was the cutest Mulan I've ever seen), vampires and witches but there were also many bumble bees, Spidermans, Woody the Cowboys and quite a few Mario and Luigi's.  (Does Mario Brothers have a new video game or something?)  Seeing all these Halloween participants made me realize that Halloween is still fun for kids and adults.  I already told my brother I'm coming back next year and I'll be wearing a costume.  I hope everyone out there had as much fun this Halloween as I did! Can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Haunted Salem

If you want to celebrate Halloween in style then Salem, MA is the place to go.  Home of the Salem Witch Trials, this coastal town knows how to get it's Halloween on!  Every October Salem gears up for it's annual Haunted Happenings.  There are tons of activities taking place at Pickering Wharf, Salem Common, The Salem Witch Museum, The House of Seven Gables, The Salem Wax Museum, The Witch Dungeon Museum, the Witch House....basically anything with the word witch in it, there is something going on.  There are various ghost tours and haunted walks to participate in as well. 
     Walking along Derby Street and Essex Streets you will find several unique shops. Need a costume?  You'll definitely find one that suits your needs in Salem.  There are also many fortune tellers and psychics scattered around town.  Don't like what the tarrot card reader told you about your future?  That's ok because you can get another reading from the palm reader down the block. 

Me and Samantha
Located among all these witches, ghouls and psychics is  one of my favorite parts of Salem...the "Bewitched" statue!   That's right, located in downtown Salem is a tribute to everyone's favorite witch, Samantha Stevens from the charming 60's sitcom Bewitched.  I will admit that I did twitch my nose hoping to cast a happy spell but alas it did not work.

Salem is easily accessible by car and train however I really enjoyed taking the Salem Ferry from Boston.  The ferry leaves daily until October 31.  I would also recommend taking the Salem Trolley once arriving in town.  The trolley offers an informative tour of Salem and allows guests to visit all  the attractions throughout the day.

Daytripping cont....

Rockport Harbor

 When I first arrived in Rockport I felt like I was on a movie set.  It just seemed so perfect, so picturesque that I expected a director to come out from behind the shops and yell "cut!". Situated on the rocky Atlantic, Rockport is a charming seaside New England village.  I could have spent the day just staring out into the ocean watching the waves crash over the rocks.  If that wasn't enough then I could definitely have spent the day visiting all the unique shops in the Bearskin Neck section of town.  Visitors can buy something for everyone on their list.  There are art galleries, jewelry shops, clothing, toys, candy shops, clothing...everything you can think of there is a shop for it even a strudel shop!

Motif Number 1

Ever hear of Motif  Number 1?  I never did until I visited Rockport.  Apparently Motif number 1 is the most often painted building in America. When I was there it seemed like the most photographed building too.  It's a red fish shanty located in Rockport Harbor and it's a favorite subject for artists.  Who knew a fish shanty could be so popular!
  I would recommend spending a day in Rockport.  It really is a beautiful and charming town.  You won't want to leave. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A great aspect about living in the Boston area is the fact that it's so easy to take a day trip north, south, east or west and you'll always find something pleasing.  Gloucester and Rockport are two destinations that are less than an hour from Boston and have lots to offer. 
Fisherman's Memorial
  Gloucester, "America's Oldest Seaport",  is an active fishing community with a proud history.  It's easy to sense the hard work of this community as the fishing crews dock their boats and unload their catch. A must-see along the Gloucester harbor is the Fisherman's Memorial.  A symbol of Gloucester's past, the Fisherman's Memorial acts like a guard to the fleets as they leave the harbor on their next journey out to sea.  The names of fishermen that have perished at sea are listed at the site.  The memorial states that over ten thousand Gloucester fishermen have been lost at sea.  Ten thousand fishermen died trying to make a living. That amount is a staggering figure.  I like to think that the Fisherman's Memorial is also a welcome sight to those fishing vessels that have returned safely to their community and families.

George's Coffee Shop

 While strolling along the harbor area be sure to check out the many restaurants and shops that Gloucester has to offer.  There are plenty of seaside eateries but if you want a good neighborhood spot head to George's Coffee Shop.  It's located a couple blocks from Main Street and serves breakfast and lunch until about 1:30pm.  (Breakfast is served all day) George's Coffee Shop has friendly service and the food is hearty.  A nice touch in the restaurant are the various sports photographs displayed on the shelves.  Customers can buy the photos and half the proceeds will go towards the purchase of phone cards for the troops.

Another area of Gloucester that is definitely worth visiting is Rocky Neck.  Located in East Gloucester, Rocky Neck is an artists' enclave bursting with creativity.  There are various art galleries and shops to visit in this quaint section of town.  You can't help but be inspired when walking around Rocky Neck. 
Gloucester Harbor

George's Coffee Shop is located at 178 Washington St.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

See ya in April

     Ok, so there's no postseason baseball for the Red Sox this October.  It's disappointing sure but I give the team credit.  They earned 89 wins in a season when most of their impact players were injured at one time or another. The bullpen didn't perform as well as expected either.  It was a grind of a season and overall the Sox performed respectably.
  I look forward to April when the Sox begin anew at Fenway.  I also hope by April that Boston will be gearing up for some long playoff runs from the Bruins and Celtics.
( In the meantime I'm rooting for a Twins-Cincy World Series.  C'mon Twins! )

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Bruuuce!!!

Bruce Springsteen is my all time favorite artist. My family and friends might think I'm a bit obsessed with the Boss.  I like to think I'm just a passionate admirer.  A friend once asked me how I became a believer of  Bruce.  I tend to believe that the Bruce seed was planted in my head in 1985.  My brother had the Born in the USA album and I do remember singing along to Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days. I fondly recall the both of us lip syncing to the song We Are the World repeatedly. It was always fun to mimic Bruce's raspy voice.

   I feel though that the first time I really discovered Bruce Springsteen and his songs was 1995 when I purchased his Greatest Hits CD.  Listening to his hits made me want to buy all his previous albums which I did.  I would listen to Born to Run over and over. When Bruce sings, "Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend, I want to guard your dreams and visions"; Oh how I wished to be Wendy and drive and drive to anywhere but where I was at that moment. The pounding beat of Badlands makes me jump from my seat every time I hear it. There's that verse in No Surrender, "We learned more from a three minute record baby than we ever learned in school"; I wondered how did Bruce know what I was thinking?  His writing captures how I feel on any given day.

    Hearing Bruce's songs on a CD or Ipod is great but hearing them live in concert takes it to a whole other level.  There is nothing like a live Bruce show. He and the mighty E Street Band know how to rock. They put it all out there. Their energy is infectious. There's a moment in the Reunion Tour (1999) when Bruce is "preaching" and he says "I can't promise you life everlasting. But I can promise you life right now." Isn't that what it's all about? Being in the present moment?  When I'm attending a Bruce show that's how I feel.  I feel in the moment and there's a special sense of connection with everyone around me.  We're all there for the same purpose.  I've been lucky to attend 16 Bruce concerts in my life, most of them in Boston.  In honor of Bruce's birthday here are my top five favorite Springsteen Boston shows:

5.  August 24, 1999, FleetCenter. My first ever Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show.  It was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time. When the lights went down and the crowd started chanting Bruuuce I knew I was in for an experience.  Hearing all the songs live gave them new meaning. A highlight for me was when Bruce sang Bobby Jean, one of my favorite songs.  I didn't want the show to end. I was hooked and officially became a Bruce follower right then and there.

4. October 28, 2005, FleetCenter.  Devils and Dust Solo Acoustic Tour.  Loved hearing Bruce share some personal stories.  I was captivated when he spoke about growing up Catholic which led him to sing Jesus was an Only Son. Brilliant.

3.  October 2, 2002, FleetCenter.  The Rising Tour.  First time hearing the Rising songs live. The Rising is a tremendous song. When Bruce sings "come on up for the rising" there isn't one person sitting. Twenty thousand people standing and singing and feeling it.  Awesome.

2.  November 19, 2007, TD Banknorth Garden. The Magic Tour. (Danny Federici's last full show with Bruce and the band before succumbing to cancer in 2008) I waited in line for two hours before showtime at the box office hoping and praying for a ticket.  I had been at the show the night before and I craved  more. The wait paid off because I scored a seat just ten feet from the stage. I could see the sweat just pouring from Bruce's face. The highlight of the show was hearing the band play Sandy, E Street Shuffle and Kitty's Back; all these songs showcased Danny. It was a poignant and truly special night.
1.  September 7, 2003, Fenway Park. The Rising Tour.  Bruce and the band at Fenway. Really what more can I say?  Fenway is like Boston's Cathedral and hearing Bruce at Fenway was like a spiritual experience.  Never before did I feel so present and in the moment.  Born to Run, Thunder Road, Jungleland...that's the holy trinity right there. City of Ruins, Seven Nights to Rock...I could go on and on.  It was a wondrous evening of pure rock'n'roll.

Happy Birthday Bruce.  Can't wait for the next tour....see you on up the road.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Got Milk?

Boston is known for the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Cheers and a host of other popular attractions but one of my favorite landmarks in Boston is the Hood Milk Bottle.  The Hood Milk Bottle has been around for as long as I can remember.  Located in front of the Boston Children's Museum, the structure stands 40 feet tall.  I love how we have this giant milk bottle just a few steps away from where the Boston Tea Party took place. Not sure if our founding fathers had this in mind but somehow it all works.
    Now obviously this bottle isn't filled to the rim with milk but it does serve as a snack shack offering such treats as ice cream, hot dogs, sandwiches and other beverages.  It's a quirky landmark that I enjoy seeing everyday and I'm happy it has a home in Boston.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Go see The Town

    Now I am no film critic by any means but I love going to the movies and I especially enjoy seeing movies that were filmed in Boston. Some of my favorite Boston flicks are The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Next Stop Wonderland and Gone Baby Gone.  (I've got The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Brinks Job in my Netflix queue as I've been told that those movies are pretty good too).
   Today I've added The Town to my list of favorite movies.  I give it 3 and 1/2 dunkies. (see my rating system below)  Ben Afflek directed and stars in the movie. He plays a Charlestown townie who falls in love with a hostage from one of his bank heists.  While the romance aspect of the movie sort of ties everything together it's the bank robberies that had me on the edge of my seat.  The car chase scene that takes place in the North End is intense and the fact that the thieves don creepy nun masks just heightens that intensity.  The climatic scenes filmed at Fenway Park also had my heart pumping.
   I think all the actors do a fantastic job with the Boston accent.  They sound natural and don't fall victim to that Kennedy cadence that sometimes sabotages Boston movies.  Jeremy Renner plays Afflek's buddy in crime and he is terrific.  He's a bundle of energy just ready to explode.   Afflek is really good acting wise but it's his directing that's spot on.  He definitely has a knack for capturing the authenticity of  Boston's neighborhoods, flaws and all.  So my final word: go see The Town!

Rating System

 4 Dunkies-Wicked Awesome; Add to DVD Collection

 3 Dunkies- Wicked Good

2 Dunkies-  I’d rather be at Fenway during a rain delay.

1 Dunkie- I’d rather be stuck on the Red Line during the morning commute.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Boston Ahts Festival (that would be art to you non- Bostonians)

Every year the city of Boston hosts the Boston Ahts Festival and every year I say I'm going but I never do. Well this year I actually made my way over to the festival and I wasn't disappointed.  First of all, you can't beat the location.  The festival is located at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.  Columbus Park looks over Boston Harbor and is just blocks away from the North End (hello BOVA Bakery; see earlier post) and it's across the street from Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 
     The Boston Ahts Festival is an opportunity for local artists to present and sell their works such as photographs, paintings, sculptures, clothing and jewelry.  It's obvious these artists put their heart and soul into their works and it's inspiring to see their creativity.  The Festival also has a performing arts aspect to enjoy.  During the three day festival many local bands, dance companies, poets and musicians will be performing.  I was lucky to see upcoming band Air Traffic Controller rock out on the main stage.  They are hugely talented and I look forward to hearing more of their music. 
     All in all the Boston Ahts Festival is a fun take and it's a great excuse to check out the city's many talented artists.  The Festival is open Sept. 10-12.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sit back and relax

     Looking for a place to sit back and relax outdoors?  Head to the Institute of Contemporary Art located in the Seaport District.  The ICA has a boardwalk that wraps around the museum. The rear of the ICA has a large bleacher area that overlooks Boston Harbor and is open to the public.  It's the perfect spot for a lunch break or any break for that matter.  If contemporary art is your thing then take the time to check out the exhibits inside.  The collections are quite eclectic. Plus it's fun to ride the museum's glass elevator! Enjoy the view at the ICA!

The ICA is located at 100 Northern Avenue.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pastries and more....

     I have a wicked sweet tooth and I love visiting bakeries in and around Boston.  My favorite bakery in Boston is BOVA located in the city's North End.  The North End is known for bakeries like Mike's and Modern but I think BOVA is just as good. If you want to go off the beaten path and avoid some of the crowd on Hanover Street then head to BOVA.
     BOVA has a terrific selection of cannolis, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, cream puffs and my personal favorite whoopie pies.  The whoopies pies are huge and filled with fresh whipped cream.  Delicious!  BOVA also sells fresh baked bread, savory subs, calzones and pizza.
   One of the best things about BOVA is that it's open 24 hours every day of the year. Yup, that's right, it's open 24 hrs, everyday. Not too many establishments in Boston are open 24/7.  So for locals and tourists alike, be sure to visit BOVA Bakery.  You won't regret it.

BOVA is located at 134 Salem Street. (corner of Salem and Prince streets)