Category Archives: Boston

A Sunny Afternoon in Rockport, MA

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Rockport, Massachusetts is one of my happy places. I spent a lot of time here in my college days, grabbing coffee with girlfriends, brunch with my parents, and dates with my then-boyfriend-now-husband.

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Rockport is most famous for it’s charming, decked out, red fishing hut with colorful buoys that sits in the middle of the harbor. I’ve been told it’s one of the most photographed places in New England. Rockport is also famous for being the location set of The Proposal. The town was temporarily decorated to look like Sitka, Alaska.

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Bear Skin Neck is the touristy area of Rockport, and I love it! A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon there with a good friend, and I thought I’d share.

Here are my favorite things to do in Rockport:

Where to Eat in Rockport:

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Tuck’s Candy Shop – If you’re looking for a sweet to nibble, pop into Tuck’s Candy Shop to watch them make homemade salt water taffy or fudge. They’ve got all the classics, like truffles, and vintage candies, as well as some new delights, like a Dark Chocolate Gummi Bear cup!


image from Cape Anne Magazine

My Place by the Sea – If you’re looking for a fantastic bowl of clam chowder, a lovely dinner date night, or a meal with a gorgeous view, My Place by the Sea is it. Whenever Moose and I debate where we can get the best bowl of clam chowder in New England, this place is always mentioned.

rockport11Helmut’s Strudel – Sharing a strudel here is not a good idea. Just sayin’. Buy your own and get it to go. Take it down to the end of the Neck and enjoy before the seagulls descend.

Honorable mention: The Blue Lobster Grill. This place has changed hands a few times in recent years, and I haven’t tried the newest version. Back in the day, it was called the Greenery and was a great spot to brunch! There is a cafe in the front (muffins! hot cocoa!), and a restaurant in the back that is all glass windows and overlooks the harbor. I can’t vouch for the food of the current place, but the view made for a wonderful experience.

 Where to Shop in Rockport:

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Lulu’s Pantry – One of my favorite kitchen shops. It’s a great place to get your favorite foodie or chef a gift, or splurge of some beautiful items, or hard-to-find ingredients, for your kitchen. The balcony off the back of the shop provides a picture-perfect view of the harbor.

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Milk & Honey – a beautiful little home decor store. HomeGoods doesn’t hold a candle to it.

What to Do in Rockport:

Bear Skin Neck: Walk (don’t be that person that tries to drive) to the end of Bear Skin Neck. Admire the ocean views and clamor around on the rock wall. Take in the salty air and sunshine.

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Gallery Hop: There are a number of fantastic art galleries in Rockport, many in which the artist makes frequent appearances! A long-time favorite of mine is George Anderson, with his colorful, graphic, and fun nautical pieces.

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Old Country Store: Pop into the Old Country Store. It’s full of vintage, hard-to-find candies, funny, nostalgic gifts, and (randomly) a large assortment of cookie cutters! Make sure you put a quarter into the old Nickelodeon and watch it play a tune!

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Walk out to the Fishing Hut: Use the colorful buoys as a photo-op, admire the lobster traps, and check out the boats.

Those are some of my favorite things to do in Rockport. Where is your favorite seaside town?

 

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like you’re traipsing through Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home than an art museum near Fenway. For precisely this reason, it’s a must-go on my list. This unusual museum was the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was an avid art collector in the early 1900s, who set up the museum in her Fenway home and ordered it to be left exactly as it is – which is how you’ll view it today. There are no white gallery walls with succinct wall plaques to identify the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance pieces the house holds.No photos are allowed in the museum, so I’ll be sharing images from the Gardner Museum website.

The Courtyard

The Raphael Room

The Short Gallery

The Little Salon

The Dutch Room

The Spanish Cloisters

Where: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

When: Open daily 11:00am–5:00pm, Thursday until 9:00pm

Highlights: There are a number of large-scale paintings by John Singer Sargent, including a portrait of Ms. Gardner herself that was deemed so “scandalous” it was hidden from public view during her lifetime by her husband. Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling painting in the Italian Room and the Michelangelo and Raphael sketches hidden behind paneling. The glass courtyard is a beauty to behold with constantly rotating foliage to admire. There are a number of non-art artifacts as well, including a hand-written letter by George Washington.

Of Note: In 1990 a number of works in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum were stolen, and the robbery remains the largest theft of all time. The thieves stole a Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, a Manet, 5 Degas, and several other items, amounting to $500 million in art. Several of the frames remain empty on the walls of the museum to this day.

Things to Know: The museum is quite dark inside to protect the artwork. We went on a Thursday night, and the added daylight from the windows would have been helpful in a few rooms. This is cell-phone free museum, you’ll want to keep it tucked away, or one of the many lurking docents will kindly ask you to. Public transportation recommended, as parking in this area of the city is notoriously difficult.

Admission: $15/adult. Free if your name is Isabella. $5/adult if you purchase your tickets through a local library.

 

The G Cafe inside the museum looks lovely, and gets great reviews. However, we were there at closing time, so we walked around West Fens and tested out a great sushi/hot pot place instead – Swish Shabu. It garnered two sushi-sized thumbs up from all of us!

Does art theft fascinate you as much as it does me?

10 Years in Boston

My very first autumn in Boston started with a bang. It was the infamous moment with the bloody sock and a broken curse and the Red Sox had finally won the World Series. Utter chaos ensued and I wondered on to what mysterious planet I had fallen on.

The New England sports fever is (wicked) hard to beat, but especially so coming from upstate NY, where the sports fans in Rochester just don’t share the same level of passion for the Bills. Who can blame them? I got HECKLED (!) by strangers for years just because I had NY plates on my car!

Many years ago I stopped being afraid of the notorious highways (Stop sign to get on to a highway? Why not?), non-nonsensical streets, and drivers that are so mean they’ve earned their own nick name (which I shall mind my manners and not be repeat here). But I still remember white-knuckling my first drive on 95/128, which makes it a rite of passage in my mind. My mother now thinks I’m an aggressive driver, and I can pronounce all the town names like a local. I guess that’s a badge of honor.

There are still a few red flags about this girl that Massachusetts (I can spell it now without blinking an eye) hasn’t been able to ingrain in me yet – I don’t run on Dunkin, I can’t name one Celtics player, and I haven’t set foot inside Fenway (which is soon to be changed – promise!!).

In honor of celebrating 10 years in this wonderful place, I’ll be sharing top 10 lists of my favorite things to do in the city, the North Shore, the Metro West, and on The Cape.

But first, let me share 10 reasons of why I love living here:

10. Surfing, mountain climbing, city slicking or country bumkin-ing – take your pick. You can get there in an hour.

9. Boston does seasons like a champ. We get to experience all four seasons at their very worst: -15 degrees winter mornings, gray, muddy springs, humid summer nights, and fall, the season of raking. But also their very best: glistening falling snow, blooming flowers, perfect beach days, and glorious foliage.

8. Seafood right off the boat. No supermarket lobster for us – I get mine, literally, at the bottom of a bridge.

7. Boston is America’s youngest city. This means a lot of great bands, performers, and notables often pass through town, and we get to see them.

6. You can go anywhere in the city for $2.25. (My appreciation for the Charlie Card was greatly renewed when we went to London, where we had to pay 5x as much to get to our destination.)

5. Everything has a story. You can’t drive more than five minutes before crossing multiple historic locations – the battle that ended the Revolutionary War, the place where the first cross-continental US covered wagon departed from, [Insert famous person’s name here]’s childhood home.

4. Boston is quirky. The Citgo sign is a local treasure, the outdoor bookstore, the roads are ridiculous and, hello, have you heard some of these people talking?

3. A deeply renewed love for well-made clam chowder.

2. A never-ending supply of thrift stores, consignment shops, antique dealers, and piles-of-junk-for-sale to sort through.

1. Last, but not least, the accent. It can be abrasive and annoying, but also endearing and loveable. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than repeating the weird words used by subway announcers, local commercials, and overheard in conversation. It gets it your head. (It gets in yuh head!)

I love Boston! Do you? Why?

The British Are Coming! Wagamama Comes to Boston

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner – Lindsey of MoreAwesomer blog!Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I ate an excessive amount of Japanese noodles last week! The truth is I attended a Boston Bloggers event – a first for me! As my college days get farther and farther behind me, I’m trying to get better about meeting people who are passionate what I am passionate – so that’s how I found myself at Wagamama Lynnfield with a bunch of other Boston bloggers.

The best part of the whole thing is that I get to share a giveaway for a $25 Wagamama gift card today!  Details to enter below.

Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

I was familiar with Wagamama from our trip to the U.K. last year (Wagamama is headquartered in London – in case my post title makes no sense to you), but didn’t realize they were making the jump across the pond until I signed up to attend this event.  In recent years the company has launched their first US locations in the Boston area, including their new location, which is the first suburban Wagamama, in Lynnfield, MA – which you may recall is my old neck of the woods! The other three locations are in the Prudential Center, Faneuil Hall, and Harvard Square.

I’ve been watching the new MarketStreet Lynnfield plaza slowly replace the old golf course – and, truth be told, it is awesome! Just one more reason the North Shore of Boston in a great place to be.

Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

Wagamama is clean, upbeat, and affordable. Unlike many Asian food restaurants, their food is light and fresh. No congealed bricks of food here. Wagamama is a pan-asian restaurant that specializes in Japanese noodles, and brings together fresh ingredients in a creative way.

The environment of Wagamama feels similar to a Panera or a Chipotle. There is plenty of seating (cafeteria-style dining tables), outdoor dining opportunities and they also provide free wi-fi (which is always a plus!).

The menu is inventive, and dishes are definitely sized to be shared. I’ve already gushed about it to my husband so you can bet we will be returning. I think I tried three bites of nearly everything on the menu. I had to be rolled out of there at the end of the night. The things I do for my blog readers… 😉

Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

Wagamama is also known for their freshly squeezed juices! This Super Green juice is an apple, mint, celery, lime juice – earthy, unusual, and refreshing.

Of the ~8593 Dishes I tried, here are my Favorites:

For the Soup-er Trooper: Itame: Rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup. Fresh and flavorful. This dish can come with fried tofu, which I (surprisingly) enjoyed very much. ($12.95)

For Meat Lovers: Teriyaki Beef Donburi: Perfectly marinated beef served on white rice and a bed of fresh greens. ($14.25)

For the Classic Take-Out-er: Wagamama Pad-Thai: Unlike many other Pad-Thai dishes I have had, this one was light and didn’t sink to the bottom of your stomach. There was a delightful peanut-y crunch in this meal that is missing from many over-sauced pad-thai dishes. ($12.50)

For the Strictly Salad Eater: Mandarin Sesame Salmon Salad:  Yum. These fresh greens were deliciously tossed with perfectly flakey salmon and a tangy sesame-mandarin-basil-mint dressing. ($13.95)

For the Sweet Tooth; Coconut Reika: Vanilla ice cream with a tart mango sauce and toasted grated coconut. Need I say more? ($4.95)

Wagamama in Boston - DesignLively review

OKAY, enough of that! How can you win?

Here’s how to enter to win a $25 Wagamama Gift Card:

1. Check out the Wagamama menu and leave me a comment on this post telling me which dish sounds tastiest to you!

2. Bonus entry: Follow the DesignLively Facebook page and mention that in the comment

3. Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter @katlikesdesign and mention that in the comment

Winner will be announced a week from today, Saturday November 15th.

Keeping things honest: The Boston Blogger event dining experience and $25 gift card were provided to me by Wagamama Lynnfield. All thoughts and opinions are my own.