Travel

Where to Stay, Eat and Explore In and Around Boston’s Legendary Kenmore Square

hotel-commonwealth-1
Photo Credit: Hotel Commonwealth

Boston’s vibrant hub of Kenmore Square is an area rich with history that serves as a favorite hangout for Boston University students, and sits on the doorstep of Fenway Park.

I recently had the opportunity to explore this area on a solo trip to Boston. This solitude allowed the city to be my companion and show me the nuances that make it so special: vine covered facades of Georgia and Federal style buildings, the creatively decorated plots of Fenway Victory Gardens, and the changing leaves that were like bright flames of Fall.

IMG_0202.jpg

Because exploring a city can easily make one feel hurried and drained, the following guide will help to ensure you absorb the historic adventure the area around Boston’s Kenmore Square has to offer, while tapping into comfort and creativity along the way:

Stay

Hotel Commonwealth

I splurged on a room at the iconic Hotel Commonwealth because I wanted all aspects of my trip to be drenched in Boston vibes. While many hotels feel separate from the heart of the city, because of the often-generic ambiance of the rooms, I felt that I was actually staying inside the heart as I perched in the window seat of my room overlooking Commonwealth Avenue. This cozy space above the chilly and bustling street allowed me to take in the big picture of Kenmore Square at all hours of the day.

img_0164

The rest of the hotel was filled with adornments that reminded me I was in Boston: large paintings depicting classic events like the Boston Marathon, seats from Fenway Park, and other Boston Red Sox memorabilia.

fenway-executive-suite-terrace-with-view
Fenway Executive Suite Terrace at Hotel Commonwealth

Eat

Eastern Standard

I was hit with old school charm when I first walked into this large brasserie-style restaurant. The waiters were friendly and eager to discuss the elaborate cocktail menu that read like an ode to the alchemy of mixology. I didn’t understand half of what I was reading, but trusted my waitress to guide me down a yummy path.

The drinkable art, called a Southside Royale, that arrived woke up every one of my taste buds – and they had a raging party. Best. Drink. Ever. I did not have just one.

4738769440_f382f7d7d9_b
Main dining area of Eastern Standard. Photo Credit: Flickr- Nathan Forget

The food that quickly followed was equally unique and delicious: A Turkey and Bacon Cobb salad that had uncommon Cobb salad accompaniments like roasted squash and cranberries that elevated the dish in all the right ways.

Bruegger’s Bagels

4479238121_2358b815ed_b
Photo Credit: Lara604

For easy, hearty and mega-tasty breakfasts I would wander over to this New York- style bagel shop that stuff their fresh-baked-goods with generous helpings of classic breakfast ingredients, and serve up coffee strong enough to get me through a full day of city strolling.

Island Creek Oyster Bar

This elegant, yet unpretentious, establishment offered similar creative and OMG-delicious cocktails to the ones found at Eastern Standard, and seafood selections so good the noise of the patrons was drowned out by my happy tummy howling “Oh yeah!”

8340942466_b7c76577ae_k
Photo Credit: Marco Varisco

Explore

Fenway Victory Gardens

img_0255

While making my way to a museum I stumbled on these 7.5 acres that house over 500 gardens tended by Boston community members. Each garden featured eclectic décor, vegetables, flowers and more. Curious geese roamed the gardens alongside members who were busy caring for their colorful fares. One woman I talked with has been gardening there for over 50 years in rain, snow and sun.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

img_0274

I had two hours to explore this palace of masterpieces, but I should have allotted two days. This museum is home to almost 500,000 works of art: paintings by masters like Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh, jewelry from ancient Egypt, Buddhist sculptures, thought-provoking pieces by contemporary artists and so much more you could spend years visiting this museum and see something new on each trip.

Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mother Church

img_0211

If you want a dose of female empowerment do not miss these stops: the library tells the story of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, during a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote, and the awe-inspiring adjacent church shows what a purpose-full vision and dogged passion can produce.

img_0212

The library also features the Mapparium, a three-story, stained-glass globe you can walk inside, offering a surreal and poignant experience.

To take in this landmark city in all its glory I recommend visiting in October when the vivid colors and crisp air of Fall are present, but the layers of snow have yet to appear.

And don’t forget to take an obligatory selfie in front of Fenway Park!

Uncategorized

The Kick-Ass Calendar of Female Empowerment

 

image-4
Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The cover of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Women of Ski Patrol 2017 calendar makes me proud to be a woman. The image features 13 badass female ski patrollers radiating strength and confidence while hanging from all ends of a gondola: and the fact that all the proceeds from this calendar go towards funding avalanche safety education scholarships amps up my pride level.

In a field predominately filled with men it’s inspiring to see the women that step up to perform avalanche control, respond to injuries on the mountain, and help ensure the overall safety on the mountain, be featured.

image-7
Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The stunning images captured by acclaimed photographer Keoki Flagg do an excellent job of exuding the vibe veteran patroller Robin McElroy describes: “The Squaw Valley Ski Patrol Team draws adrenaline junkies, and I’m definitely in that category. There’s a sense of excitement to our work with starting in the dark and not knowing what the day will bring. There is also an inherent risk of avalanches for anyone who loves skiing powder and exploring our mountains, which is why I believe avalanche education is so valuable. We are proud to have turned a fun idea into a beautiful calendar that will directly benefit our community.”

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, McElroy learned to ski at a young age and grew up ski racing with Alyeska Ski Club and Spyder in Girdwood, Alaska. After joining the ski and snowboarding club at University of Colorado, Boulder, McElroy taught skiing and competed on the Freesking World Tour Circuit before joining the ski patrol at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in 2006.

Did I mention the term “badass”?

To check out these powerful photos buy your calendar here.

Childbirth, Mind-Body-Spirit, Pregnancy

The One Word That Transformed My Birth Experience

I used to be really uptight (OK, I’m still a little uptight), but during my pregnancy I was even more high strung than usual.  I read 32 pregnancy and childbirth books, scrolled through all the things on all the mama sites and made a lot of lists.

I convinced myself that the more I planned and prepped, the birth would be easier. I convinced my body that if I ate the right foods, my birth would be easier. And I convinced my partner that if we mastered all the birth positions and massage techniques, the birth would be easier.

I moved into birth with this rigid plan.

But, when I went into labor and didn’t have  more than twenty seconds between contractions, I thought something must be wrong because “This wasn’t part of the plan.”

But, nothing was wrong; I was just having a baby.

I resisted the unpredictability of my birth experience for the first three hours, continually forcing myself onto that dang birth ball, or sniffing essential oils that were making me nauseous. But, the ball and oils were on my list, so sit and sniff I did.

On top of being exhausted, my cervix was being stubborn and I was devastated that all my planning seemed worthless.

Then, my sweet partner Eric smoothed my sweaty hair back, leaned in and whispered, “Just surrender. You don’t need to do anything else.”

Read more on Expectful 

Parenting, Reviews and Giveaways

Birth of Fawn Folk: The Family Bundle Service Inspiring You to Follow Your Heart

fawn-folk-website

 

Note: I’m not affiliated with Fawn Folk or Ojai Baby, I just LOVE this idea, and supporting change-making mompreneurs.

Visions of dirty factories, underpaid workers, and unraveling threads fill my mind when I flip through children’s clothing at a box store, or browse the digi-mega-marts. I get sad and overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn for quality products that won’t just be good for my son’s skin, but the wellbeing of our global community.

Enter Fawn Folk, an online bundle service delivering gender-neutral, high quality, unique, handmade, fair-trade and organic items to customer’s doorsteps. (Insert a choir of angels humming in my ear.) Score!

fawn-folk-bundle-3
Fawn Folk Bundle

The child bundles will be tailored made to suit the current age of your little one, while the mother bundle will provide goodies that add value and ease to the your life, versus more useless stuff you need to find a place for. A bundle for men is also in the works, honoring the fact that there are many men just as passionate in their role of parent as their partner. How can you go wrong with handmade items, which are prime candidates for becoming heirloom items?

fawn-folk-bundle-2
Fawn Folk Bundle

The founder of Fawn Folk, Lisa July Lynch, is a fellow resident of mine in Ojai, CA, a small town for people with big ideas and even bigger hearts. Lisa is the owner of the brick-and-mortar Ojai Baby store, which is a haven for Ojai parents looking for clothing they can be proud to put on their children. Lisa stands behind her decision to provide artisan fair-trade products explaining, “If we demand high quality fair-trade items for our children and selves more businesses will demand them and that’s the magic, that’s the real change we are looking for.”

fawn-folk-bundle
Fawn Folk Bundle

But, Lisa decided that creating change in one already-progressive town wasn’t enough, she wanted to spread the supply and demand of consciously sourced items to the rest of the nation, which is what spawned her new Fawn Folk endeavor. Lisa notes, “The journey [to the launch of Fawn Folk] has been joyous and extremely intimidating; it’s constantly evolving. I have had so much support from my partner and group of friends- their support and belief in my vision is what gets me through the doubtful times.”

Lisa lived by the credo “feel the fear and do it anyways” by allowing her inner-voice and heart to lead her in this “big picture” direction. And she’s not the only one to financially benefit from this heart-based business; part of the mission is to offer products made by “mom and pop” style creators across the United States, and “consignment bundles” whose second-hand, yet superior-quality, items will be provided by parents who send in treasures they love, but no longer have a use for.

Lisa stated, “If I listen to my heart, and provide a space for even more people to be able to listen to their heart, and do what they love while earning income, I can’t imagine a better business choice.”

This cycle of love Lisa has infused into her business was not happenstance. Lisa explained, “Everything has energy, if someone is loving what they are making, or feeling that they are being reimbursed fairly for what they are making, that energy flows into their creations and that energy is transferred to the end user.”

Has Lisa’s journey through fear, heart-fueled triumph, and propagation of love through purpose-driven business inspired you to shift your dreams from shape-shifting ideas to reality?

Here’s her final push for you to say yes to your heart, “Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. Years ago, I drove by the consignment store I wanted to consign my paintings to a few dozen times before I finally stopped the car and took them in. I was sure they would laugh at me. My mom and husband loved my work, but that was probably their obligation. Or so I told myself. All the paintings sold and they called me to paint more. Had I not taken that first step I don’t think I would have opened a retail store, and I don’t think I would be here talking about Ojai Baby and Fawn Folk. Take the first step.”

I’ll do it with you… ready, set, step into your purpose.

P.S. Feng Shui Mommies get 10% off their Fawn Folk purchase, plus a bonus gift, when you enter the code mamatribe at check out.  Yay for surprise gifts!

Go to FawnFolk.com to explore the treasures.

Airplane Travel, Travel

My Mama Mint Experience

img_0144

I nestled into a JetBlue Mint seat the morning after the 2016 election results rolled in. I was tired, and in need of nourishment. I was ushered to my space by a flight attendant who smelled like a fresh-linen candle and quickly handed me a “refreshmint” (hehe, good one JetBlue) cocktail.

My first twenty-ish minutes in a plane are usually laced with anxiety, but not this time. As I settled into my cushy airplane nest (a Mint “seat” is much more than a seat) I felt safe, cared for and free of my usual need to wring my hands and breath deeply (in a kind of creepy way) until we reach cruising altitude.

The alchemy of the following Mint elements is what made my experience so… well, minty.

The Nest

I walked onto this flight with a bone deep yearning to bury myself in blankets and check out, and was hoping I wouldn’t be met with the standard itchy, thin and strange-smelling airplane blanket. My nest came with a comforter-esque blanket and full-sized pillow. “Oh yeah,” was on repeat in my mind and body as I laid my seat flat (!), sunk my head into the pillow and cocooned myself into the blanket that easily covered my entire body.

And the partition between myself, and the kind lady seated next to me, saved her from being exposed to my drooling-sleep-face.

The Food

As I slid my seat out of the supine position, my candle-scented flight attendant re-appeared to ask what food I wanted from the small plate menu created by the NYC restaurant Saxon + Parole. The menu read like an ode to edible art, each item unique and begging me to have a try.

After an embarrassing amount of time hemming and hawing (and salivating) over the menu I ordered the Tuscan kale salad, goat cheese tortellini soup and pan-seared halibut with roasted cauliflower.

img_0155

Then I ate, and it was everything.

The Drink

img_0149

Most wines served on airplanes make me feel hung-over before I reach the bottom of the plastic cup. But JetBlue’s wine-service, curated by wine expert Jon Bonne, only offers the good stuff, like really good stuff; the stuff that makes your taste buds happy, body warm and fuzzy and mind strangely more creative and capable. And the bubbly is just as lovely. (Yes, I tried both. And had them put Bailey’s in my cappuccino.)

The Entertainment

img_0158

The blue glow of the large screen situated in my nest knew how to tickle my fancy. Unlimited access to programs I could watch without conferring with another adult and my three-year-old? Yes, please. Although I usually sink my airplane time into work, I let my laptop stay in its case and binged on movies with ratings naughtier than a G, as I took tiny bites of Blue Marble Ice Cream.

The Gifts

My persona can usually be summed up by the words “stale, tired and cranky” halfway through a long flight. So, I wanted to bear hug the flight attendant when she handed me a Hayward “designed for her” kit right as I was entering the “stale” realm. The denim clutch (that is so chic I now use as a clutch) was filled with an orange towelette, lip balm, breath mints, screen cloth, earplugs and a non-itchy eye mask.

Oh, and then there was the farewell gift box of chocolaty, buttery, uber-yummy treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery that served as my dinner when I arrived at Hotel Commonwealth. The apple was nice too.

img_0176

The Lack of Arrogance

I adore the “Mint Experience” term versus “business class” or (bleh) “first class.” The lack of snootiness in the terminology employed by JetBlue conveys the message that they offer a special experience I can choose to treat myself to, not an area of the plane I deserve to be in because I’m somehow “better than” the folks sitting in the more affordable seats (the seats I’m usually sitting in.)

As a mom, my alone time usually equals being squished in my car during traffic, but no more. This mama is skipping those daily fancy coffees in favor of saving up for a Mint experience on my next solo flight, because I deserve it, and so do you.

Mind-Body-Spirit, Self Love, Travel

#KudosToYou: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Hosts “Over the Edge” Fundraiser for Special Olympics

There are many ways to enjoy the views of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii- by airplane, boat, foot or car. But, what do you think it would be like to take in the turquoise textures of the water, the swaying palms popping out of fluffy sand and the yawning sky disappearing into the Pacific Ocean while rappelling down a 40 story (more than 400 feet!) building?

The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach is providing this high-thrill vantage point, via an event called Over the Edge on Saturday November 5th, to adventure-seekers able to raise more that $1,000 for the Special Olympics Hawai’i. They hope to raise $130,000 for Special Olympics Hawai’i with all funds used to benefit local athletes.

The Over the Edge event has raised over $900,000 (!) for Special Olympics Hawai’i since it was first held in 2009. The proceeds have provided services to more than 3,700 athletes statewide.

Read more on Huff Post!