• Boston,  Roadtrip



    We’re going up to Rockport for the holiday weekend. Lots of people in one house. Once you’re the one bringing noisy kids, you don’t mind this type of arrangement. In fact, it will probably be remarkably less work for me altogether! AND: I think there’s going to be a hammock. Sold.

    Anyway, I know you all must have favorites up there…do tell! I’m a little clueless and haven’t had time to troll Yelp yet. So far I’ve just looked at Anna’s pretty photos a lot (that’s one of her’s up top). I mean, Bear Skin Neck? That’s an obvious first step.

  • Roadtrip



    I mean I really wish I had some great detail shots of gelato cones stacked up in all pastels, no drips and maybe a dollop of cream on the top. Oh but I ate them all! I can remember the flavors–banana cream with crunchy sesame seeds, ricotta with orange slices, grapefruit, dark chocolate and wine, strawberry, yogurt, almond, cream of cardamom, lemon basil, hazelnut…Joe had many versions of liquor-rich licorice, and pistachio made with nuts from various countries. Lux ate a little of everything.


    There’s magic in the gelato system. You can get a cone for a two-euro coin, there’s no tax. The exchange–they had you a cone, you hand them a small heavy coin, feels satisfying unlike any cash register experience in the states. Shops are everywhere, so even the slightest inclination for a snack, the faintest whiff of “wouldn’t it be nice to stop for a minute…” can be indulged. Gelato bolstered our trips across the city; several times I felt a little overwhelmed by the day ahead, and I would pick up a cone for myself while we pushed the stroller, even at 9am. And that easy “con panna” phrase that gets you a festive scoop of whipped cream on top. Is it traditions like this, this easy way of relishing a small refreshment, that earn Italians our envy for good living?

    A gelato cone or cup is usually ordered with three flavors next to each other. Some people are very good at putting together medleys within this system. I am much too curious and stack the oddest things together. Once I pushed it to far and chose pear and gorgonzola as the base layer for my cone after a creamy vanilla and dark chocolate mix. Lux was the eager puppy who finished off that overdose.


    If you’re going to Rome, I think the Eat Rome app has the best list for finding all the amazing options. But our favorites were Gelateria del Teatro, Fanta Morgana and Gelateria Corona.

  • Baby,  Roadtrip

    Pack rats on planes

    Ah, the great roll of the dice that is getting on a plane with a child. The resulting adventure is always worth it. As long as you don’t introduce sugar halfway through, you’ll probably find yourself surprised by how many relaxing moments you have, staring at the Emergency Exit diagram for the 30th time. I like to order a cup of coffee as rogue challenge to fate. I always manage to finish it while still hot, and it is always delicious.


    Whether it feels like you finished your flight with a walk of shame or a nod toward infamy, someone is bound to say “oh she was so good” as you walk past. Translation: You’re lucky I didn’t hear that baby once from my seat.

    Those who were so blessed, slept. Those who didn’t, blog anyway.

    Packing entertainment for a near two-year-old means tapping into your inner pack rat. Find containers, most from the recycling bin, and hide things in them. Think color, tactile, cheap, and random. Random is the key because truly you have no idea what stage of object-love your child might be at that week. Hide everything until the plane ride (actually, for nine months and younger I think it’s better to introduce things here and there beforehand, because they like familiar objects in unfamiliar settings at that point). We explained several times, “We’re not unzipping that backpack because it’s chock full of treats for the airplane.” Evidently anticipation is inborn in humans from the word “me.”


    The number one winner in this group for the whole trip is that little Clinique jar full of pom poms on the far right. This is a jar that I purchased in the late ’90s and wisely left in my cosmetic bag for the next eight years, expensive moisturizer steadily declining into lord-knows-what-paste. It looks like glass but it’s actually thick plastic (clever, Clinique!). Not only was this the plane favorite, it was the restaurant favorite, the it’s 8am and sunny but mom and dad are still resting favorite, and the we’re-still-shopping stroller distraction favorite. Pom poms were strewn across the city for pigeons to mistake for chewy colored bread. “All of these will end up thrown across the plane,” Joe wisely observed when I brought them home from Target. “They were $2” I gleefully replied.

    But the very best advice is always going to be: ask at the desk as soon as you arrive at your gate to see if there are any open seats you can be moved near to. Lux was practically kicking Joe and I out of our seats on the way over so she could have her own space for awhile. It wasn’t lost on her that no one else on the plane was sitting on their companion’s lap. On the way back, by a miracle, she got her own seat and it was wonderful.

  • Baby,  Roadtrip

    More Favorites, Rome

    sling_piazzaI haven’t mentioned it here yet but I’ll be blogging for the Sling Diaries next session–once a month for six months! They sent me this gorgeous silk sling that Lux and I wore out this morning. We’ve had two cooler days–in the 60s–and it was wonderful to be cozy and wander easily across the cobblestones.

    barberini_gardenbunny_outnaboutbarberiniLux and I spent an hour in this garden while Joe drew a church facade up the street. Of course Bunny couldn’t wait to visit as well and was given a perfect view of the place. It was the garden of the Barberini family so marble bee sculptures were everywhere. A bee might be the best emblem for a family–they look delicate and scary at the same time.

    forum_wisteriawisteriaThe wisteria just takes your breath away. We’ve seen most of it near really ancient sites–that’s Joe and Lux up there at the Forum. It’s shady and smells unbelievable. The flowers look like luscious grapes dropping down even as the vine looks wise and elderly.

    grecoThis cappuccino was accidentally our most expensive yet! I was in the mood to sit down and chose a grand cafe just down from the Spanish Steps. We sat on velvet booths and while Lux pestered the waiters in their tuxedo coattails, Joe and I had a moment to talk about a few of their renaissance paintings on the wall. We left twenty euro lighter (eight euro each!) but refreshed and caffeinated.

    cacio_pepeFor dinner we usually don’t bother with a chair for Lux. Joe orders pasta and she absolutely helps herself. Sitting on his lap helps us sneak into tinier places and levels down her activity just a notch. Nonetheless, the iPhone as distraction has been resorted to twice. What a mechanism of mercy when you’re sure the game is up!

    mosaicThis gorgeous labyrinth mosaic, found in an abandoned villa in 1893 and transported to the Capitolini Museum in Rome. Abrupt and without context, yes. But persevered for thousands to see and dally over for a few minutes.

  • Baby,  Roadtrip

    Best 5, Rome

    My five favorite things, so far. (it’s only been three days) The eight hour red eye is not invited to this list because Lux opted not to sleep for the whole adventure.

    This building across from our porch, which I find endlessly delightful to gaze at. neighbors

    Pizza Bianca, chewy and salty, super fresh from bakeries around town. The most delicious and incredibly affordable meal for the three of us (perhaps paired with a wedge of asiago and a mix of salumi wrapped in dancing-pig paper?).pizza_bianca

    A toddler in Rome! Who knew it would be so much fun? Because of her we stop and enjoy all the squares perfect for cavorting in, the public fountains for joyously emptying her water bottle and refilling, we notice the bells that toll every hour, we count the pigeons wandering past. And loyal bunny is almost gray now that he’s been dragged around so much of the city. Marble stays beautifully cool but it maintains a thin layer of grim just waiting for soft bunnies to soak up. spanish_steps

    This careful caretaker in his church, cleaning up the sand for fresh candles, and arranging the ones left burning until they are just so. peace


    I’m posting many more photos on Instagram as we go. If you don’t use the app on your phone, you can see them online right here.

  • Roadtrip

    Old Friends in the Country

    Once again Airbnb came to the rescue for a group of old friends hunting for the perfect weekend hideaway. Upstate New York, only a couple of hours from the city (though it’s five hours from Boston) at the foot of the Catskills. Joe and his college friends have gotten together almost every year since school ended for what they call the Grizzly Bear Death Adventure. Usually it is a death adventure–Joe comes back dehydrated, hungover, exhausted and barely fed. This time they brought their women friends along, and we in turn made everything more delicious and cozy. Plus two babies, and puppy that ever-so-patiently played fetch with Lux. morning_roomnew_blanket strata

    A very satisfying strata from Smitten Kitchen for breakfast. I made it at home, brought it in the car, and popped it in the oven the next morning as coffee brewed and someone started a fire in the fireplace. I also made two loaves of one of Orangette’s banana breads, with demerara sugar and coconut. Wow, those were good.

    And the roadtrip element went fine–Lux is now in a forward-facing carseat, which she loves. I picked up approximately 12 new books from the library for her to read. We stopped after two hours to run sprints in a McDonalds and pick up a bouncy ball from the vending machines. I got one of those gas station mocha cappuccinos as an ode to when Joe asked me out to a gas station for coffee in college. It tasted so bad, but also, so good?

    porch river team pancake_breakfast

    We were lucky enough to spot a flyer for a pancake breakfast on the wall at the grocery store. (The grocery store was a dismal junk packed place, but they did have local grassfed milk!) I noticed the flyer promised real maple syrup which instantly sold me on the idea. When we arrived there was a host wearing a sport coat and we each got little forms to fill out, to please X if we wanted pancakes and sausage and eggs, and how we wanted the eggs. As three teenage volunteers sat by chatting in the corner, a man in his 70s carefully served us and poured our coffee. Between his tip jar and the donate-what-you-can entry fee, I think they made off quite well from our visit!

    lux_pancakes townold_pendeleton handtied photo_cutout

    These photo cutout boards remind me of going to the zoo as a kid. I love them, but you rarely see them. Some unknown town artist really embellished Roscoe, there were five of them!bocce_through_the_window bocce

    Lots and lots of fires. Fires in the mornings, fires in the evening. Fires in the fireplace inside, fires outside. Fires with smores, fires with bloody marys.


    And here’s where we stayed, just in case you want to visit too. I think the summer would be wonderful here–creek swimming and grassy lawn games.

  • Joe & Rachael Projects,  Roadtrip,  Using technology



    I mentioned that we were using the addictively clickable airbnb to find a spot in Rome. Well, I quickly became overwhelmed by the options and let Joe take over. After a couple of late nights, he found this spot and we booked it! It’s the location we wanted, Campo di Fiori, a one bedroom (4th floor walk up, gulp) with a crib, and the perfect patio. It was important to us that we’d be comfortable just staying in most nights since Lux will probably go to bed early.

    This patio + salami + extra candles = best restaurant in town.


    I appreciate that things like a full kitchen and free wifi are assumed with apartment rentals. It’s amazing how hotels sound so lovely when it’s just the two of you, but with a rambunctious kiddo the space of an apartment seems so much more relaxing.

    The only sad part for me with a rental v. hotel, and this is just silly, is that you have to go hunting for your breakfast. I’ve been using Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eat Rome app to scout out relaxed bars nearby for breakfast.


  • Roadtrip

    Animal Prints in the Hudson Valley

    Last weekend we went to a tiny (50 people) wedding in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley begins about an hour north of New York City, and lies about 4 hours west of Boston. We stayed at this cabin, found through airbnb. It was an tough decision to spend a little extra for the trip when we were booking the place (our airbnb hosts required a 2 night reservation) but once we arrived I was so grateful that we stayed somewhere relaxing and fun.

    I don’t know how I managed to pack all the cheetah print things (2) Lux owns for one weekend, but there it is. It might explain why the chickens were terrified of her. Yes, the bangs are a situation right now. Product developers: I suggest looking into hairclip glue for toddlers.

    There were literally kittens, KITTENS, frolicking in the yard. At the grocery store up the street, everyone casually bought a bag of cider donuts with their morning coffee. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. I thought to myself.

    I sat on the front porch and worked on an embroidery project–badges for the bride and groom to wear around to announce their new status to the world. Lately I am loving these types of projects, especially ones I can give away immediately. Joe sketches it for me and I stitch. Do you need a badge in your life? let me know.

    I have not attended very many small weddings but this one was just perfection.

    Everyone arrived in time for dinner the night before. It was held at a small inn, and as the evening progressed, toddlers and young children were lulled to sleep and tucked into bed in whatever rooms were available. There was a bowl of mint and many bottles of bulleit bourbon. The guest list was so small that the bride was able to introduce each person to the rest of the group, a real treat when you know you want to be friends with everyone in the room. We drew pictures of our hopes for the new couple. I roughly sketched Cuba (because that’s where they met!) accidentally using a purple crayon for the ocean, but while I put Lux to bed Joe rescued it.

    At lunch the next day, we ate for almost five hours. Again toddlers were tucked away in rooms (I walked in on a little one sleeping while hunting for a bed for Lux!) and checked on now and then. Conversation and sunlight ebbed around the tables. Before dessert there was a brief pause to break two pinatas in the yard. Guests favors were little boxes of French macarons and French herbal tea.

    Right before we left Boston, Noelle posted this breezy quiche that uses frozen spinach and pie crust. I made it for the trip and we ate it for breakfast every morning. If you’re traveling, I think something like this is perfect because it tastes good at all temperatures and doesn’t get that road-weary look that old sandwiches do. Frozen spinach is my favorite for how easy it is to work with.



  • Boston,  Roadtrip

    Guide to Boston

    Today I have a GUIDE TO BOSTON on Bridget’s blog! I’m delighted have this opportunity. Bridget has approximately 3000 more readers than ED so it is an honor. Bridget’s an all natural mama who I hang out with regularly, and I always leave inspired.

    It’s not a comprehensive guide, but it is a collection of the things I write, over and over again, in emails to friends and friends of friends and people I met once who heard I lived here. I will end up writing thirty comments at the bottom of other great things I love, but you just have to stop the buck somewhere with these things. ED needs its own guide to Boston, but until then this is it.



  • Budgets,  Roadtrip

    Weekends Away

    This weekend, at long last, we’re meeting two of my high school best friends in New Jersey with their husbands. It’s my first time visiting New Jersey for vacation and I think it will be beautiful! The water is supposed to be warm, and the beaches should be empty. I hope Jenny brings her favorite Nicaraguan rum and I hope Grace treats us to Vegan gourmet. We found the place where we’re all staying through airbnb. It has a fireplace and bikes, and best of all: just a quick trip to the beach.

    If you’ve never browsed airbnb.com, beware! The site is completely addictive. In October a friend is having a tiny wedding in the Hudson Valley, and we found a spot on airbnb for that too. A little cabin with farm animals. Before Lux I would have been like “um, animals in the morning? No thanks.” But now I booked it almost immediately after I found it. It also has a hot tub, Check it out:

    This would never work in our tiny apartment, but I love the idea of renting a room in your home for passing travelers. I also think airbnb attracts a hipper younger traveling crowd than other rental sites, so it’d be a great way to meet new people. Have you used them before?