Golden Hour Thaw

There’s a whole other side of Boston beyond the quintessential brown stone buildings and cobbled streets. Down the blue line, getting lost to the airport, or through bridges and tunnels from downtown, you might get a sense of the grit and the richness, the up and coming, and the growing pains that the city is experiencing today. IMG_3919I’ve called Eastie home for the past almost two years. Most surprising to me, I’ve discovered more to appreciate about this life since the first moment I stepped out into Maverick Square. IMG_3920This journey has been unlike any other moves I’ve embarked before. This time around, Alex and I were to overcome it on our own. That fact has been the most rewarding part, though we ache to be closer to family and friends in Virginia or even farther away. But now we have Eastie, and it will forever hold a place in our story too.IMG_3921Alex and I saw Boston on a visit only once before calling ourselves residents a year later. Not knowing much about the city and keeping a hard budget in mind, we pretty much dropped a pin on a map, found our home, and made our big move. Little did we know how much we would come to enjoy this side of Boston that not many people get to see.IMG_3923IMG_3924It’s colorful and rough around the edges. Boston.gov‘s website provides a quick overview into the neighborhood and the Eastie wiki page is actually quite extensive. The internet gave me my only frame of reference before seeing Eastie for myself a couple of months before our move. I give all the credit to Alex, of course, for finding our diamond (apartment) in the rough. We’ve learned a lot about what we can live with and live without in order to enjoy our life here together and really define our priorities and our dreams.IMG_3925Would I pick a view of the cape over a view of road salt? Probably. But now I look at this and am in awe at how close I can be yet so far enough removed downtown that this can be kept so secret from many other Boston residents. I look at this and see the physical toils of hard work, the once cast off neighborhood that housed waves of immigrants over the years, and the beauty through the resilience within this diverse community that is now being challenged. Challenged perhaps by a wave of “new immigrants” like myself, even if I do care much about this neighborhood. IMG_3926IMG_3927There’s no question that Eastie is facing a lot of changes in a short period of time. Within the time we’ve lived here, we’ve seen new buildings, business changes, and cranes on a steady rotation. Universities offer eating and sightseeing guides of Eastie to students, like this BU Eastie feature, that anybody would be enticed by. The community, as a result, is going through a lot. We’re seeing the effects of those events directly impact our life too.IMG_3928IMG_3929IMG_3930I feel that those experiences tug at the heartstrings the most and pull people to care more and to do something. For right now, I’m at least wanting to pay closer attention to what is at Eastie’s core and truly imbibe in it. What comes next, I have yet to see.IMG_3931IMG_3932As the sun melts the last few drops of snow away on this last day of winter, the promise that comes with a new season gives this little neighborhood a new light.

It is golden.

IMG_3934(There’s me taking a break from behind the camera to sip on my Dunkies bottled iced coffee, no less.)

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the snaps and my stroll around East Boston below! Thanks for reading and following along 🙂

 

Valerie

 


These pictures were taken at American Legion Park in East Boston, MA.

For more information, check the Boston city website, find other parks in the city or learn more about East Boston directly. You may also want to check out www.eastietimes.com

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Living like Mrs. Jack for a day: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston

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What if you could pretend to travel back in time, discover a historic woman’s personal, larger than life art collection, and walk through her home for a day?

There is one place in Boston that can offer you that in a captivating, engaging, and realistic way. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a must-see for tourists and locals in Boston alike, and has been at the top of my Boston bucket list. I’d recommend this destination for a classy girls day out, a cool date idea, or a beautiful escape from the elements through the worst winter cold snaps.

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I got a hot tip from my boss about the Bank of America Museums on Us program on every first full weekend of the month. Lucky me, the Gardner museum is one of the handful of participants, so we made it in FOR FREE! However, the $15 admission for non-member adults seems very reasonable and a small price to pay for such an enchanting location.

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It was just as I had imagined and more. I’ve come across several breathtaking photos of the courtyard in my research, but seeing it in person would explain just why it’s an irresistible subject. It conveys a different feel at every angle, and as I circled through the galleries and the sun slowly set, the light danced and played around the garden in a magnificent way.

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Around the courtyard, on the ground level, were the small collections. Alex, being the big planner that he is, read ahead about the robbery mystery at the museum almost 27 years ago, giving our tour a fun little scavenger-hunt like twist. Without his looking eye, I would have missed all the clues to the stolen pieces that comprise the biggest art heist in history.

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A few moments into the trip and we found ourselves looking for something else, too. There are no tags or descriptors on most of the artifacts, which I liked for the more intimate and personal feel it gave this special place. The room guides were easy to find, however, and were highly informative as Alex and I paced ourselves through the collections and exhibits.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find a chapel there with this beautiful stained glass (below). It added a solemn tone to our tour as we were wrapping up from the top level of the museum.

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That day, since it was free for BoA cardholders, it was bustling with activity. By the time we left, there was a line out the door and around the corner! We made a mental note to get there earlier next time so we can find some quiet moments in the courtyard.

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I also found myself getting drawn to all the interesting features and contrasts within the museum’s architecture. SO many details worth sharing, even down to the quote tiles in the bathroom.

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Before we ended our trip, we made sure to go into the greenhouse and get some extra fresh air to carry us through the rest of the winter. At that point in time, it was a GORGEOUS day and we were far from the bitter and harsh early weeks of March.

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We have yet to check out the gardens, so we’ll be back for those and everything else! I feel so fortunate to have such a rich venue like this be so accessible within the city. I can hardly wait for the warmth, color, and scents of the new season and to see this lovely place come alive in a new way then. This trip was just what I needed to remember to hang tight – the cold doesn’t last forever – and spring is right around the corner.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the snaps and my Gardner experience below! Thanks for reading and following along 🙂

Valerie


For more information on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, go to www.gardnermuseum.org

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Dundee VIII + the Boston Spirit

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What gets you up and out and about in the coldest days of winter? When the blankets are feeling extra warm and extra hard to pass up, it takes a destination well worth the switch to some coat and boots and get out there.

So when our friend asked us a week prior if we were free February 19th to help him eat 12 pies with a beer (or five), the only answer was YES.

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I couldn’t have expected anything less even as a first-timer at Dundee VIII. It was a great mix of fun, casual, and community under one roof. Harpoon Brewery housed the event for KO pies to challenge creative Boston chefs and benefit a great cause. The task: create their own mini meat pies and earn the coveted Dundee VIII title by majority vote.

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The atmosphere was electric and offered plenty of opportunities to be up close and candid with some of the best chefs in the city. I heard many of the teams say, “this is fun!” from behind the scenes. Some have done this event in years past and were back. A few of them were newcomers. But all of them seemed happy to interact with patrons between servings and offer the same level of service as they would from their own restaurants. Personally, I was especially thrilled that Dundee VIII was championing an early childhood program this year.

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I think part of a city’s identity is most certainly its food. For creative minds and talent to be accessible to Bostonians is such a great value, and to turn it into a vehicle that can advocate for great causes sends such a powerful message to the community. I’m so grateful to see that passion and camaraderie open doors for people of various walks of life to participate in, including me!

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With our group of 4, this was an amazing deal and an excellent way to stay adventurous in a season that might not be conducive to much exploring. And in what could be the coldest time of the year, I feel as though I was able to warm the heart and connect with the city in a whole new way.

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If you have tips or favorite ways to explore your own city or hometown, I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading and following along!

Valerie

 


For more information on this past Dundee VIII, click here, or find out more about Harpoon Brewery and KO pies on their websites: harpoonbrewery.comkocateringandpies.com

If you liked this post, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.