what a cool date night!

Of course, the best part of date-night is your date, so can’t help you there. But if you’re looking to impress a date with a cool Asian-inspired night around Boston, try what we did last week. Have a lot of fun!

  • Community Yoga, Yoga on the Square, Davis Square, Somerville – only $6 for 75 minutes of envigorating yoga (http://www.yogasquare.com/schedule.html)
  • Inman Oasis, Inman Squre, Somerville – $38 for a half hour for two in a real-life wooden Japanese hot tub – nice! (http://www.inmanoasis.com/)
  • Fugakyu, Coolidge Corner, Brookline – best sushi around, and open until 2 AM, a rarity in Boston (http://www.fugakyu.net/)

28 minutes in 28 degrees

My mouth was watering since I was thinking about my favorite bakery in Brookline, so I figured I’d stop by for some croissants this morning. Chilly morning, did I mention? 28 degrees, ouch.

ClearFlour is tiny. I know this. Only about 6 customers can squeeze into the front of the shop at a time. It’s not a problem in the summer, when you can bask in the sun in the line that snakes around the corner.

And I knew it was chilly. But I’m a Bostonian. I had on my super-warm fluffy boots, my knee-length NorthFace down coat, and my fleece gloves and cap. All set.

The only problem was flipping pages of the novel I’m reading (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) with the gloves on, but I still made it through two chapters without removing a glove.

And then I got in! One epi-bread, one Vollkornbrot, four croissants, and two chocolate brioche (and $28) later, I was back on the street, humming a happy tune on the way back to my little Scion. Oh, happy day!

Yeah, it’s totally worth it.

kip’s favorite things about Boston

Some of the things kips love about the Boston area is that there are so many places to pick up yummy things. Here is a sampling:

  • ClearFlour bakery (Brookline) – Best croissants this side of the Atlantic! The line around the block starts forming on weekends before they open at 9:00, but it is well worth the wait.
  • Kotobukiya grocery and shops (Porter Square) – Where, in the words of Ming Tsai, you can “get a bowl of ramen the size of your head.” This is where we stock up on all our Asian staples: miso paste and tofu, shrimp chips (yum!), sushi rice, eel, seaweed salad, triangle rice lunchies, an pan and other yummies from the bakery, rice crackers for the babies, etc. etc.
  • Formaggio Kitchen (Huron Village) – As the name implies, where you can get tasty, tasty imported cheese, as well as salami, olives, and other essentials.
  • Arax market (Watertown) – One of the 3 or 4 Armenian shops along Mt. Auburn, where you can pick up the best hoummus, olives, labne, pita, all kinds of spices, as well as baklava and other sweets.
  • Karl’s sausage kitchen (Saugus) – This one is a little farther away from the action, but worth the drive if you are having a craving for anything German: homemade sausages, potato salad (real, like in Germany), all of your typical selections of Sauerkraut, Rotkraut, Senf, Schokolade, Keks, usw.

stuff to do with toddlers in boston

here are some great tidbits froma¬† list sent out by another twins’ mom:

Museums:
Children’s Museum – on Fridays, open until 9 pm, admission is $1 after 5 – www.bostonkids.org
Aquarium – www.neaq.org
Science Museum (has a discovery room – great for young children) – www.mos.org
Museum of Natural History at Harvard (animal exhibit, etc.) – www.hmnh.harvard.edu

Pools that offer day passes:
Sonesta Hotel across from Cambridgeside Galleria
Seaport Hotel in South Boston
Marriot Longwharf
Marriot Charlestown
Charlestown YMCA
Indoor water park in Danvers – http://www.cocokeywaterresort.com/locations/danvers/index.aspx

Theatres:
Puppet Showplace in Brookline – http://www.puppetshowplace.org/
Regent Theatre in Arlington – www.regenttheatre.com/

Farms with Animals:
Drumlin Farm in Lincoln – www.lincoln-ma.com/town_groups/drumlin.htm
Codman Farm in Lincoln – www.lincoln-ma.com/town_groups/codmanfarm.htm

favorite restaurants in Boston

Here is my list, along with my reasons why:

  • Full Moon (Huron Village, Cambridge) – This place is run by parents, and you’ll know why if you ever go there. Tasty foods that grown-ups like to eat, as well as a total kid-friendly atmosphere, including a huge play area with a train track, doll house etc. Good food for kids old enough to eat people-food too!
  • The Neighborhood (Inman Square, Somerville) – This Portuguese joint has the best breakfast anywhere. Huge, huge portions (pay the fee and split unless you are a linebacker) of delicious grub, especially the out-of-this-world cream of wheat. Sounds crazy? Try it! You won’t be sorry …
  • Sandrine’s (Harvard Square, Cambridge) – Flammenkueche and Alsatian Choucroute Garnie au Riesling, yum-yum!
  • Taberna de Haro (Brookline) – This is the only authentic Spanish place in Boston, seriously. Forget the entrees and order tapas. Go for my favorites: matrimonio, croquetas de jamon, espinacas a la catalana, and of course, aceitunas.

dry cleaners in Boston

Maybe dry cleaners are this way all over the world, but did you know that it’s almost impossible to find out dry cleaning prices in the Boston area online? I mean … hello!?!?

Now I feel like it’s my mission to seek out all of the local cleaners and post their prices for the poor victim consumers who just want a freshly pressed skirt or whatever. I mean, they’ve got you, right, all the way there with your hands full of stuff to be cleaned. Are you actually going to leave and find another place if you find out once you get to the desk that they charge too much? How much is too much? The only way you’d know is to call all those cleaners up or drive around town and stop in at them.

So I did that. Well, not exactly all the local cleaners, but a couple at least. The funniest was Anton’s.

Anton’s is a chain that had some good reviews online – it came up in a “Best Boston dry cleaners” google search. People commented on clean items (I hope so!) but not so much on prices. Anyway, there was one pretty convenient to me, so I stopped in, my arms laden with shirts, sweaters, and even a down comforter.

When I plopped my stuff on the counter, the older teenager behind the desk looked over from where he stood chatting on his cell. A shorter pre-teen stepped up to do the work.

I look up above his head, hoping to see a menu like in Burger King. Shirts $1.00, Sweaters $3.00. Combo meal (shirt, sweater, pants) for $5.00.

OK, I’m allowed to hope, right?

“Do you have a price list?”

Pre-teen looks around nervously, not prepared for such an odd question. “Price list? No, we … hey, do we have a price list?” He turns to teen-on-cell.

“No.”

“OK, how much is it for a shirt?” I motion to the pile on the counter.

“They’re $2.20 each.”

“Really?” Sounds like a lot to me. “Can you just get them pressed, not cleaned? How much is that?”

Teen-on-cell and pre-teen look at each other. “No, I don’t think … no.”

No I need to dig deeper. “OK, so how much is a sweater?”

Teen-on-cell closes his phone. “Listen,” he says, “it’s really expensive. It’s like $6.50 a sweater. I wouldn’t bring my stuff here. You should go to, like, some small place.”

Are you for real? I ask myself, as I watch pre-teen nodding, confirming everything teen-on-cell said.

“OK.” I am unsure what else to say. “Thanks,” I tack on, as I pile everything back up and lug it back to my car. Wow, who knew?

On to the next joint! I had also read about a mom-and-pop place nearby that people seemed to like. Comments mentioned the friendly couple who owns and runs the place, and talked about how clean everything came back, and how reasonable the prices were. Ding, ding, ding!

The wife was there when I entered, and wow, the comments were right on. Super-friendly, and she helped me work through what would be the best way to treat some of the stranger pieces I had. Like pressing and not cleaning a silk shirt, and washing instead of dry cleaning a pretty dirty comforter. They were also much cheaper than Anton’s, that’s for sure. $1.40 for each shirt, and $3.95 for sweaters or pants. $20 for the down comforter – not bad. I’m picking stuff up later this week, so we’ll see how clean it all turns out! But so far it seems like the right choice.

I guess dry cleaning is usually one of those things that – once you decide to do it – it doesn’t really matter how much it costs. Would you drive across town to get something done for $4 instead of $6? Maybe not, if the expensive place is around the corner, and you only bring in one or two things at a time. And since none of them post their prices anywhere, how would you even know that it’s cheaper somewhere else? Riiiight …