Hunter
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My times indicate that I have finally reached a point where I can qualify for the marathon. Maybe I am over reaching, but it is my dream and now my BQ is finally there.

Wish me luck, Boston!

Hunter

My husband and I don't have kids, but the older we get the more we realize that our family and friends are all parents. So I thought that I would put together a list of the more family friendly activities that our wonderful city offers.

Kid Friendly Boston

  • The Common is fun but only in the spring / summer. Swan boats, a fountain, tons of green space to run around and a pretty great playground. It's shitty for kids in the winter though.
  • George's Island is a good affordable option as well. You get a beautifu view of the city on the ferry ride to/from and the island has a lot of space to run around, fire pits to cook some lunch and tons of cool forts to explore. Also there's a Summer Shack which is a nice plus for everybody.
  • Gore Place in Waltham is only about a 15 min drive and it is a historic homestead that has children's activities like snowshoeing, sheep-shearing, and storytimes.
  • The Boston Children's Museum is WELL worth the money. If you're on a tight budget go on a Friday and it's only $1.00 per person to get in.
  • There's a kid-friendly restaurant in Cambridge called "[Full Moon]( http://www.fullmoonrestaurant.com)" - 1/2 the restaurant is a huge play room with a train table, kitchen, tons of dolls and trucks etc where the kids can run around / play while the parents relax and have a drink. The food is pretty great, it's not too expensive and its the only place like this in Boston.
  • First Friday's in the city all the galleries open and at 450 Harrison Ave there are a ton. My little one has loved it since she could walk free and awesome. Added bonus: Thursdays are free at the ICA as well and they have arts & crafts days for kids.
  • Near Haymarket / Faneuil Hall there is a nice playground with a big sandbox for the little ones as well. Within walking distance of this playground there is an outdoor merry-go-round which is cheap and fun. Again both these activities are spring/summer related.
    • Faneuil Hall has patio seating and free entertainment, weather-permitting. Don't eat at Dick's Last Resort. We have always found them very unfriendly which is what their claim to infamy is to begin with. Only got there if it is your last resort.
Hunter
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One place that we enjoy eating when we go out with friends is Bella Luna. They have plenty of vegetarian options and always has a vegan option on the menu for those that want that. When you go there the first thing that you will notice is that it looks like an upscale pizza/pasta restaurant. But they also have a full bar and beer.

If you want something with a little more zing I highly recommend My Thai Vegan Cafe is in Chinatown. It has so many great dishes, as well as some vegan Thai options as well as a nice Chinese menu. I will also note that they have good lunch deals and I often go their for their pad Thai.

If you want a more standard option City Feed And Supply has two locations. One of them is close to Stoney Brook T Station and the other one is on Centre Street, both of which are in JP. The thing that they offer are good sandwiches. Right now I am really enjoying the chip and dip sandwich but they have so many other wonderful options to choose from.

True Bistro is only a short walk from Davis Square station. It is good. But there is a hook, it is small. And while this lends to the intimate atmosphere it can be hard to get a seat. I would describe it as a upscale all-vegan dinner. What is nice is that it is really the nicest all-vegan place we have here in town. And the nicest one that I have ever been too, period.

Veggie Galaxy on the other hand has some of the same atmosphere, but it is a big diner. It is located in Central Square, and you could say that it is related to Veggie Planet but I can't confirm. For one reason the food is much better, they have a much larger menu, and the service is more friendly. Still, Veggie Galaxy is a diner, but if you are doing anything in the area, well worth checking out.

And if you find yourself in the North End, most places are good, mainly because you will find plenty of Italian restaurants there and all of them offer a meat-free meal.

Elephant Walk which has a location in both Boston and Cambridge and both of them are wonderful. The food is a mix of French and Cambodian flavors and they offer a nicer veg-friendly assortment of meals which we frequent.

If you want to have the coffee shop experience you can check out the Trident Cafe on Newbury, they are more a book store hook-up hot spot but also offer a small diner with fantastic veggie choices. We also try and stop there when we are in that area and looking for something low key.

Lastly, if all else fails, you can do a PF Changs in the Prudential. Its the Asian version of a Cheesecake Factory, and while I typically hate chains such as that, I enjoyed it because the vegetarian options are simply so good, and the choices are very extensive.

Hunter
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Boston driving requires you to be significantly more "active" that in other cities our size. It's not becuase the drivers, the speeding, or even the close-quarters that maks things difficult - it is entirely due to the complete lack of road-planning.

I makes paying attention hard because you're not sure what you are paying attention to. Biking here is the same thing, but I have mentioned that before.

Boston road workers don't do a good job when it comes to painting over fading dividers, they litteraly leave them vague which makes it hard for drivers to find an indication when they need to change lanes, etc.

A lot of strange turns and "holy shit, I didn't know I was in the wrong lane!".

You're going to want to find a garage.

Even if you find street parking, much of the city has "resident only" parking. Which means resident parking from 6PM-8AM. I'm not sure exactly which streets have these as opposed to traditional metered 2hour/1hour parking but it's worth a try and to drive around a little bit.

Hunter
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My family is from the east coast, and so I grew up with a lot of sea food. I loved fried and blackened fish, especially mullet, flounder, and snapper.

You can eat some frozen fish with a little semblance of freshness – some fish, mostly your fatty fish like Salmon and Tuna – don't really lose anything so long as they've been flash frozen as they are caught. This isn't the case with most leaner fish which become dryer after they have been frozen.

Of course unless you have the chance to buy your fish straight off the dock, the vast majority of fish sold in other regions of the US has been previously frozen. This doesn't just include the landlocked states, but those that do not have access to a specific type of fish. If I live there I would skip the grocery store's seafood counter since you are just paying a premium for fish that they are thawing out in the back.

For the best taste it should be immediately fresh from the ocean and onto the plate is best. If not, they should be kept alive until being prepared to be eaten is the next best thing.

And what would be complete without a recipe that always pleases the family? So here it is, our family favorite; Salmon is in season right now.

  1. You will need to get a nice filet and put some butter down first on your baking sheet.
  2. Then layer with slices of lemon.
  3. Place salmon on top of lemon slices skin side down.
  4. Lightly salt filet side of fish and add a couple of slices of lemon on top.
  5. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until just slightly flakey.
  6. Serve with our family favorite dip!

What is the dip you ask? Well it is 1/2 cup sour cream mixed with 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/4 cup of dried dill weed.

You can serve this sauce on top or on the side but it must bee served with the fish or it is only half of the fun.

Hunter
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Life is funny, well, sometimes it is other times it is crazy, busy, or boring. We'll stick with funny for right now.

As a Bostonian I have been privileged if not blessed with the opportunity to have gone to one of the best universities in the country.

Just Because

Just because you live in Boston it doesn't mean that it is going to be any easier/cheaper/fun going to grad school. Sure you have the home field advantage, and that does offer a little bit of help in the terms of housing. For me, that meant buying my first house, my grandmother's former home, and starting there.

But in general going to grad school is different that just going to university. It is more like a job, and you need to better mean business.

That is why I wanted to put some thoughts* together today.

*Some of them are obvious.

The Boston I Know

Obvious Suggestions

  • You can live with roommates
    • As I said before, as well as elsewhere, my living situation was covered. And for that I am truly thankful. But I went to school with plenty of transplants, some from NYC and they almost all went the roommate route. The reason is, that $1000 a month worth of rent is cheap. But not when you are a starving graduate student, and not when your work situation is divided with school. That said, if you have one or two roommates, half or a third of that is a lot more doable.
  • This is sensible, but I think that I should say it anyway, don't try and rent in the most expensive neighborhoods. It is just out of most people's pocket book and it won't do much for you, other than saying that you live/d there.
  • Boston is great, you don't need to own a car.
  • Get a support network setup. I actually thought it was a great idea and started a small one. You basically provide people with an information network. If so-and-so is looking for a place to stay, needs help, or anything else you keep your ears open. When you hear something that would/could be useful you pass the information along. I had business cards printed up, and had a small group. The cards weren't expensive and didn't have a hard time finding some that worked with our group's style. When somebody new came in you gave them a card and they copied the information and then they passed it on. Like that I didn't need to have a lot printed. But I think it cost about $20 for 100 quality cards, which is marginally cheaper than a trip to one of the clubs/lounges.
    • This is one of the few cities in the US where, owning a car is really not needed. And in a lot of cases it is more hassle than anything because finding a parking space can take you a long time. That translates to expensive and a waste of time.
  • My suggestion, depending on where you end up living is to ride a bicycle. This is a good option, at least as long as the weather permits. It is even cheaper than the T and you don't need to wait to catch a ride, you can just go wherever you want, where ever you want.
  • I love to cook, it is in my blood, so this wasn't hard for me. But whatever you do, make sure that you prepare most/all of your own food. I knew one of the other grad students would just go to the Jamaican restaurants order a bunch of food that cost less than $10 and then eat it for a couple of days. Seriously though, this was way more expensive than actually making your own food. It was a pennies to the dollar sort of thing, and I don't even hold back that much when I shopped for groceries. I made clam chowder a couple of times a month during the winter and then just ate that for lunch. Things like that.
  • Of course I did do comparison shopping, I just didn't limit myself to basic groceries only. I avoided Whole Foods, we'll label them bad for the average grad student, and say in contrast Market Basket is good. That should give you an idea of how to balance things.
  • I had a house, and the next is good no matter what, but you should cut down on electricity usage.
  • For my cellphone coverage I choose to use MVNO services, Ting for instance. I knew people going with more expensive operators but it didn't matter in the end. Just that I saved and they didn't.
  • I found that it was remarkably easy to negotiate with the cable company for better rates on my Internet connection. You may make other experiences, but I was happy.
  • If you aren't too picky you can easily buy most things used. I saved thousands a year getting the things that I needed used. It is achievable around here since you can get equally good stuff for much less.

Many of these things can be done on automatic, especially once you get used to the way things work. Take cooking for example, once you get used to cooking for yourself you will be able to improve and then you can cook for guests. Cooking feels like work when you don't know how to do it. Once you have gotten past that it really isn't that hard.

If you have the aversion to roommates, and I knew some graduate students who really hated having roommates, you should find a solution that is comfortable and affordable. Rent gets cheaper the further away you get, but that means your cost of transportation goes up, but it cost them in transportation expenses; they did manage to finish and not go broke though so I guess that there is a way to swing this. Just, not one that is that comfortable.

I think that this is about it for ideas. I could probably make other suggestions if I knew what type of questions you had. If you want them don't hesitate to message me on Facebook.