Category Archives: Random

Back in the Saddle

It’s been a little over a year since I stopped posting on this blog. I’m sure you’re wonder why that is (at least, the one or two of you actually reading this right now). Well, it’s been quite a year.

Just a few major life changes including getting married, moving and starting a new job. Oh you know. The small stuff.

The move was significant. My now husband and I are now living (so happily) in Austin, Texas. So as I had initially started this blog to log my experiences in Boston and sometimes embarrassingly admit to major culture shock, I wasn’t sure I should really continue blogging about my adventures since the whole plotline of my story had changed. However, as I haven’t lived in Austin since college and my husband is experiencing his own brand of culture shock from being a life-long New Englander finding his way to this country we call Texas, I’ve ultimately come to realize that this is a perfect venue to chronicle our wanderings. Plus, the food here is pretty incredible. More to come on that.

This is a long way to say that I’m back — with a slightly different feel — but back nonetheless. Looking forward to sharing our journey.

Of course, feel free to share recommendations for Austin or Texas-based activities, experiences or food favorites in the comments.

Update: I realized that I had a typo in the Title of the original post and my type-A personality forced me to jump in and fix it.


Diary of a Semi-Part-Time T Rider

In Boston, the transit system is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country among New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C. It’s so wonderful to live in a place where public transportation is so easily accessible. As someone who was used to driving everywhere in Texas, it is a refreshing change to be able to walk or ride most places, especially since I cannot drive in Boston.

Disclaimer: I say I cannot drive because I really have not figured out the Boston rules of the road — and frankly, they are so aggressive that I’m uncomfortable just learning on the job.

In any case, I’ve become a fairly regular bus and train rider. As I was commuting into my office last week, it hit me that there is an unspoken code on the bus and train that can take a while to interpret. Here’s an initial breakdown of some of this code (based on my own experience):

  1. Don’t talk to strangers (or really make eye contact) unless you have to*
  2. Lose any notion you have of personal space.
  3. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes of wiggle time when trying to end up at a destination at a specific time.
  4. If it doesn’t look like you can fit on the train, you probably can’t but others will try. In that case, see number 2.
  5. Be prepared to give up your seat for seniors, those with disabilities or injuries or children.
  6. Wait until you’re off the bus or train to make your call.
  7. Bring a book or grab the Metro — you never know if there will be delays.
  8. Always carry some cash — in case your forget your T pass or run low on the amount.

*This is based on personal experience — as someone that grew up in the South, I’m accustomed to starting a conversation with strangers about the weather, how’s UT going to do today, I heard you mention xyz and I just ate there or visited, etc. Let’s just say it’s a Southern charm/hospitality thing. Not necessarily an acceptable practice on the T in Boston.

I’m sure there are plenty more but these are a good start. Honestly with so many people using public transportation in Boston, you never really know what your fellow passengers are dealing with from a personal or professional level. Once you force everyone into a small space together, things can get a bit stressful and frustrating. It’s important though to try to take things with a grain of salt — and when riding the T, remember the above rules.

Do you have others that should be added to this list? Add them to the comments section below.


Compare Contrast

It’s around this time of year when I fondly remember all the reasons that I came to fall in love with Boston. The beautiful weather accompanied by the colors of Spring when all the flowers are blooming, the trees are finally green with new leaves and the City is full of people who want to spend every second outdoors. Of course, let’s not forget one of Boston’s favorite things about this time of year, baseball season.

This year is very special for the Red Sox, as Fenway Park celebrates its 100 year. The Boston Globe compiled a wonderful slide show of pictures that showcase the celebration itself (which was on Friday, April 20).

Contrast that with a fantastic time to be in Texas – bluebonnet season. Sure, baseball is also underway in Texas, but it’s the bluebonnets that seem to have me missing home more and more these days. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see the bluebonnets, I would absolutely recommend it. The great part about seeing bluebonnets is that they are everywhere. Just drive around the Hill Country and you’ll see them off the highway.

CNN actually put photos of the bluebonnets on their website (which was surprising to me) but a great look at these wonderful flowers. If you want a really fantastic photo essay on the flower, check out the April edition of Texas Monthly.

While Spring is winding down in Texas, it’s only just begun here in Boston. Despite the differences of Spring in each place, it certainly is a season to get people out and about again. Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite…but you never know. It could be all about baseball.


Observations from a Tex-a-sotan

Part of my intention with this blog was to not only chronicle places or activities, but to look at the differences of culture. I often find myself saying things like, “You don’t do that here?” or “What’s a (insert random New England phrase/item)?” It’s hard to be a Tex-a-sotan (someone from both Minnesota and Texas) and really not take pause sometimes. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed that I find fascinating about living in New England and what people have experienced or say, compared with the South and Midwest:

Lone Star in a Bottle

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If you’ve visited Texas or live there, you know that Lone Star beer is a staple. I’ve always thought of Lone Star as a beer on par with Natty Light or Keystone. It’s a lighter beer, mostly found in the can, that is pretty easy on the wallet and by the time you get to the bottom of the can, you probably don’t want to drink it anymore. At least, that was my perception after having lived in Texas for 15 years. (Apologies to any die hard Lone Star fans out there that disagree with this assessment.)

When I got to Boston, I found that Lone Star is only sold in the bottle. Now maybe I missed something along the way, but I had never seen Lone Star in a bottle. It seems so much classier – and it definitely stays fresher longer in bottle form. However, it just threw me for a loop the first time I experienced it. Thank goodness we get Lone Star though, since you can’t get Shiner up here (don’t even get me started on that).

What’s Frito Pie?

About a month ago, I got an e-mail from a friend asking me what Frito Pie was, as a friend tried to explain it to her and she was baffled. Of course, I confirmed the existence of the amazingly delicious treat, and upon asking around, found that East Coasters don’t know what the dish is. Seriously, friends. You’re missing out.

For those who are not aware, Frito Pie is a bed of Fritos with chili and cheese poured on top. It’s commonly found at sporting events especially high school football games. One of my favorite Texas bloggers, the Homesick Texan, has a great recipe for Frito Pie. I’m copying the link to her blog to give this dish true justice, as I don’t know if I can really describe it in words.

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The Coke/Soda/Pop Debacle

What do you call a soda pop? You know, the fizzy water with sugar and other flavors in it? Well, in New England, you probably call it soda. If you say soda anywhere around the country, you’ll be universally understood. However, as most Texans know, the word “coke” describes the same thing. Coca-Cola is a product made in the South, and the generic term for a soda in Texas is coke. So essentially, you can order a coke at most establishments in Texas and they will ask you what kind. I say most places, because I can’t guarantee that it’ll happen but it does happen a lot. Or it’s used in conversation.

Now in the Midwest, it’s called “pop.” My entire family says pop – and I’ve had to explain to guests or new visitors to the area what that means. It’s not that people in the Midwest don’t know what soda is, they just prefer to say pop. There is actually a running project called Pop v Soda, which tracks what regions say each particular phrase. It’s fantastic, and I’ve included the infographic below (which appeared on the blog FoodBeast) to give you an idea of where people say what term.

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There are always more phrases or items that truly stand out to me – and remind me, I’m not a native New Englander. However, I’m absolutely rooting for the Pats in the Super Bowl. I might not be from here but I can definitely jump on board the Brady train.  

If you have experienced culture shock in New England, or are curious about understanding the Southern/Midwestern variety, tell me about it below!


The Return (from Traveling)

I know. I know. It’s been quite a while since I have posted – and now that my big wave of traveling has significantly died down, I’m here to say that new posts are coming soon! Along with new posts about activities and food around New England, I’m already working on a few new entries about traveling to Chicago, Austin, and Dallas. Sometimes leaving home helps you appreciate it even more!

More soon!


How I Met Your State Catches Up

There are so many activities or restaurants that I haven’t had a chance to blog about and since my list is growing, I thought I would change things up a bit. This post is a quick list of places I’ve been or things I’ve eaten that haven’t had a fair shake on the blog yet! While I would love to give each of these items a much longer post, I don’t know  what’s coming next on the adventure front and don’t want to miss a beat.

Attractions:

Fenway Park

Fenway Tour

Want to visit historic Fenway Park but can’t get tickets to a Red Sox game? You should consider the park tour. It runs every day of the week, picks up at the souvenir store on Yawkey Way and costs about $12 for adults. The chance to experience Fenway and get a bit of history is worth the price of the ticket.

HIMYS Recommends: Try to visit when the Red Sox are playing an away game. The tour might take you on the field but its not always a guaranteed stop.

Bars:

Sweet Caroline’s

New bar that opened recently in Fenway between Baseball Tavern and the Machine. Offers an incredible atmosphere for watching sporting events (huge TVs at the bar) and the woodwork makes you feel like cozying up for a longer stay.

HIMYS Recommends: Check out the bar while the Red Sox are not in season to get a feel for it. The location alone ensures that this is going to be a hot spot during games.

The Landsdowne Pub

Popular bar in the Fenway area, located on Landsdowne Street across from Fenway Park. This is a favorite night life locale in Boston, but also has a decent menu for hungry day dwellers.

HIMYS Recommends: Actually, my friend who is originally from Ireland raves about their Irish sausage and beans plate. He points out that this dish is the closest he’s come to the original in Ireland.

Places:

Cape Cod Beach on a Cloudy Day

Cape Cod

There is no way I can summarize this in one short paragraph! This is a place holder for a larger post later – with both activity and restaurant recommendations to follow!

HIMYS Recommends: Stay tuned for a more in depth post!

 

Restaurants:

Max Brenner’s

Located on Boylston, this restaurant is all about the delightful experience. If you don’t already know, this place is known for its desserts – and when you walk in, chocolate is being mixed in a vat.

HIMYS Recommends: Eat a smaller portion at dinner so you can indulge in dessert. Also check out the brunch menu – but be sure to make a reservation on OpenTable.

Mussels at the Barking Crab

Barking Crab

This infamous seafood restaurant is located right around the South End and the Waterfront area. If you are in the mood to pig out on seafood, you’ve found the place to be. The Barking Crab was featured on the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food, which should tell you about the portion sizes.

HIMYS Recommends: Bring a friend and split a seafood dish to keep the cost reasonable…and try the steamed mussels.

Sibling Rivalry

A South End restaurant with two chefs and two distinctly different menu choices for the same meats or ingredients.

HIMYS Recommends: Hit up Sibling Rivalry during Restaurant Week or on Monday nights. The flat rate price for three course meal (without drinks) is a deal and a chance to test it before you spend a lot during a normal dinner.

Masa

Mexican-inspired restaurant located in the South End with a wide selection of tapas and margaritas. Masa also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays with a set price menu of its most popular morning dishes.

HIMYS Recommends: Try the Fiesta Brunch (fixed price) as you get a big bang for your buck and the food is delicious. Also, Masa regularly has happy hour prices on their tapas but you need to eat at the bar to get the menu. (It’s a great place for a book club meeting, as well.)

There are so many more places or activities that should be on this list. Since I can’t keep up with the pace on the blog, I’ll certain try to pull together these summary posts every few months.

Do you have a place you would recommend visiting or a tip for a certain activity/restaurant? Leave it in the comments section below.


Somerville Featured in the New York Times

Are You Happy in Somerville?

In the Sunday edition of the New York Times, a recent poll from Boston suburb Somerville was featured as the city is inquiring as to its residents’ happiness level. City officials are reportedly using the data to determine whether policies and government efforts are being received well. According to the article, other countries in Europe use similar polling procedures though its a new thing for cities in the U.S.

Take a look at the article and tell us what you think! What other cities around Boston would you like to see a “happiness” measure put into effect?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/us/01happiness.html?_r=1

Happy Sunday!


Hatching Day

Make Way for Ducklings

Today I woke up like so many other Bostonians and was taken aback by the warm weather. It was in the upper 60s and sunny (at least in the morning). From what I’ve been told, not only did the state have a horrible winter but spring and summer have taken longer than normal to arrive. So today’s shocking (and welcome) temperature change made me remember something I had heard rumors of but had not really experienced yet.

The first truly warm spring day in the city is called “Hatching Day.” Why? Because all of the “chicks” come out. This phrase is not directed at any baby birds. No no. On hatching day, the ladies of Boston come out in their dresses for the first time since fall. Sure, this happens a lot of places that have rough winters. However, you can see it has a huge impact on this city. Hatching day signals that the time has come to pull out those spring dresses. It’s not just the women in the city who strut around in their trendiest spring get ups, but other residents seem to crawl out from their winter hideaways. Loads of people are running, walking or biking around the city. Families take kids to the playground; restaurants start to bring tables onto the sidewalk and open patios. Boston comes alive with activity and excitement!

Hatching day is such a subtly celebrated event here – yet one that everyone’s been waiting for. Even if rain comes tonight or tomorrow, the Boston summer is coming – and all of Boston is getting ready to take advantage of it!