Audubon Shop Turkeys

Turkeys at the Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm

Turkeys at the Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm

Today I headed out to Lincoln for my annual visit to the Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm.  These two big turkeys were right outside.  There was actually a third turkey sitting among the trees behind us.

Nothing’s better than being a turkey strutting about the day after Thanksgiving.

And nothing’s better for Christmas shopping than the Audubon Shop.  It’s one of my not-to-be missed stops every year about this time. There are gifts for people of all ages from wonderful children’s toys to housewares, accessories, jewelry, garden items, bird feeders, binoculars, and all sorts of beautiful and intriguing items.  Why settle for run of the mill when you can instead buy something lovely and unexpected?  The book section is particularly rich with loads of books about animals, birds, nature, the landscape, etc.  Many have a local or New England emphasis.  You can also count on finding very nice boxed Christmas cards here.

As part of my shopping at the Audubon shop I renew my parents’ Massachusetts Audubon Society membership.  It comes with a subscription to their excellent magazine, Sanctuary, and all sorts of benefits including 10% off in the Audubon Shop.

So skip the mall and head to the Audubon Shop this month.  You’ll be able to make real headway on your shopping list and contribute to a great cause at the same time.

 The Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm is located on Route 117 in Lincoln, MA.  The address is 208 South Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.  The store is open 10 am to 5 pm and is closed on Mondays except for Monday holidays. 

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Holiday Fairs This Weekend

Head out to a holiday fair this weekend to shop and eat

Head out to a holiday fair this weekend to shop and eat

‘Tis the season for holiday fairs – this is one of the big weekends.  Here are some local fairs scheduled for Saturday, December 8, 2012.  I’m tempted to stop by all of them!

75th Annual Christmas Fair at Christ Church in Harvard Square Cambridge

This is the quintessential holiday fair with crafts, books, attic treasures, baked goods, holiday greens and more. 

Christ Church, Zero Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 am to 3 pm

Holiday Fair at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford

Jewelrey, baked goods, arts and crafts, stocking stuffers and more

UU Church, 147 High Street, Medford, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm

Youth Holiday Craft Fair

Featuring crafts by local youths ages 8 to 18 most priced at $5 or less

Robbins Library Community Room, 700 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 2 to 4 pm

GUMC Holy Berry Fair in Everett

Here’s another classic holiday fair featuring handmade crocheted and knitted items, holiday gifts, a white elephant table, baked goods, and more.   Don’t eat before you go – coffee and donuts will be available in the morning, a buffet lunch will be served, and there’s a “cookie walk”.

Glendale United Methodist Church, 392 Ferry Street, Everett, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 9 am to 2 pm

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When I Win the Lottery Tonight

CSB ATMWhen I win the lottery tonight I won’t be putting my money in Cambridge Savings Bank.

I’ve had an account at Cambridge Savings Bank for years but I’ll deposit my winnings into my favorite credit union – Industrial Credit Union in Boston. 

I *love* my credit union. It has one branch in the Financial District.  A real person answers the phone when you call, solves your problem, and, if need be, hand addresses an envelope to you and pops it in the mail.  ICU has low, low fees and no-fee accounts – and good interest.  In fact, I get great interest on my no-fee checking account and their online banking is super.

Cambridge Savings Bank – not so much.  I got aggravated by the fees and more fees they started charging over the years and then really aggravated when they dropped out of the SUM program. The SUM program is a cooperative effort among smaller banks.  You aren’t charged a fee if you use an ATM at a bank that belongs to the program.

But the last straw is the sign at right.  CSB closed the ATM across from my office.  Aaagh!! Battling the parking lot at the Porter Square shopping center is not an acceptable alternative to popping into the ATM before grabbing lunch at Sarah’s or Armando’s.

So when I get that really big check I’ll head on into Boston to stash my millions in Industrial Credit Union.

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Gulf Station on Broadway in Somerville Added to the Hall of Fame

We use a lot of gas when we tour new real estate listings in Cambridge and Somerville.  We toured 14 properties on our tour this week and mid-tour my car was running on fumes.

I pulled into the Gulf Station at 583 Broadway in Somerville opposite Trum Field and Cedar Street. It was my first time there and since I had a car full of real estate agents somebody unrolled the window and asked for a fill up – thus foiling my usual “my-window-doesn’t-work” test to see if the attendant will come to my window.

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Well the Gulf Station on Broadway is my latest addition to the Gas Station Hall of Fame.  Not only did the attendant come to my window to be paid – despite the easy opportunity to go to the passenger window – but he gave us a handful of chocolate too! We’ll definitely visit that gas station again.

Here’s my post about other local full serve gas stations with great service.

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The Whole Hub Catalogue

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Cambridge and Boston in 1973

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Boston and Cambridge in 1973

I scored this great find at the Christ Church Thrift Store this afternoon.  The Whole Hub Catalogue was published in 1973.  It’s a take-off on the Whole Earth Catalog put out by BU students.  When I was little my parents’ copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog was one of my favorite reads.  I had to have this book.

The Whole Hub Catalogue is very much a product of its times with sections that include the Draft and Women’s Lib /Men’s Lib. It’s also a snapshot in time – with the radio stations, newspapers, and lots of lots of shops, restaurants and bars that could be found in Boston and Cambridge in 1973.  Sadly – many, perhaps most, are no longer.

Flipping through the book has reignited my plan for a page on Centers and Squares to document Cambridge Stores and More of Yore (that’s my working title!).  I’m going to be putting together a list of old favorites that once were in Cambridge but are no longer with us.  I’ve got my favorites – Dazzle, Reading International, the Wursthaus, and the Cambridge Country Store come to mind –  and I’m going back further than that based on my Dad’s recollections of growing up in Cambridge 70+ years ago.

I’m hoping the page becomes a collaborative effort and encourage you to reply with a comment about favorites you want to add to the list.  Any and all recollections will be enthusiastically welcomed as we build the list.

 

The Christ Church Thrift Store is in Harvard Square at 17 Farwell Place. Hours from September to June are Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 4 and Saturday 11:30 to 2:30. Check it out!

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Sturbridge Day Trip

The Publick House in Sturbridge MA

The Publick House in Sturbridge MA

On Tuesday, my parents and I celebrated my birthday with a day trip to Sturbridge MA.  It couldn’t have been a better day.

Sturbridge is just an hour from Cambridge and its proximity makes Sturbridge an excellent weekend or day trip destination.  Head out the Mass Pike to Exit 9 and you’re there.

Our day was spent antiquing with lunch at one of our all-time favorite restaurants, the Publick House.

Sturbridge is an antique collector’s dream.  Continue down Route 20 and you’ll come to Brimfield, home three times each year to the famous antique flea market.  But year round you’ll find plenty of places to shop for antiques in the stores that line Route 20. 

You’ll also find a number of home furnishing stores and a variety of gift shops and boutiques.  It’s shopping heaven – primarily of the independent New England variety.  Even the chains, like  Country Curtains and Yankee Candle are New England born.

Our day started at the antiques group shop, The Fairgrounds Antique Center.  It’s one of the first places you come to when you get off the Mass Pike and take the Route 20 exit towards Sturbridge / Brimfield.  Years ago I sold antiques in a booth at The Fairgrounds and it’s still one of my favorite shops.  Fortunately, it’s next to a McDonald’s so my dad was able to have a cup of coffee and read the paper while my mother and I shopped.

We planned to visit the Old Sturbridge Village Gift Shop and Bookstore next.  Old Sturbridge Village is probably the biggest draw in Sturbridge and you can easily spend the entire day there.  The bookstore and gift shop is absolutely worth a stop even if you don’t go through the museum grounds. Sadly, it turned out that at this time of the year, OSV is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Old Sturbridge Village is a magical place.  It’s a recreation of a New England village in the early 1800s with a working farm, a school house, church, mills, and much more – more than 50 period buildings in all – set on over 200 acres.  Interpreters in costume work throughout the village.  My favorite times there have always been when visitor attendance is low – the better to feel transported to a time two hundred years ago.  I’m hoping to head back the next weekday we get unseasonably warm temperatures.

With all that shopping and browsing we had worked up an appetite and headed to the Publick House for lunch.  The Publick House, built in 1771, is an inn and restaurant. The restaurant and tavern serve classic, delicious New England-style food.  Over the years, we’ve visited many times, often for holiday meals at Christmas or Easter.  On Tuesday, we had lunch in the tavern for the first time.  The Publick House’s dining rooms are lovely, but with its golden painted paneled walls, wood burning fireplace, and shelves filled with antique crocks, the pub has more atmosphere than most restaurants you’ll find nowadays.

Thus fortified, we were ready for phase II of our antiquing expedition.  Sturbridge Antique Shops is on the other side of the Pike, heading down Route 20 towards Charlton.  It will be on your left and if you hit Wal-Mart (ugh! – when did that happen?) you’ve gone too far.  This group shop is huge – much larger than it looks from the street.  It has two full floors of booths and cases and we found plenty of treasures.  Happily, there was a sale at the shop – the winter sale runs through February 29th – and most of our finds were bought at a discount of 10 – 30%.

Sturbridge is an excellent day trip destination and worthy of a weekend or more.  There are plenty of motels (and rooms at the inn at the Publick House) if you want to stay overnight.  You could easily fill several days with shopping and Old Sturbridge Village.

If you want to add miles of antique flea market browsing to the mix, the next Brimfield Flea Markets are scheduled for May 6 – 12, July 8 -14, and September 2 – 8, 2012.  See you there!

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Best Places to Buy Thanksgiving Turkey, Pies and Sides

Get Your Thanksgiving Turkey at the Mayflower Poultry Co in Cambridge

Get Your Thanksgiving Turkey at the Mayflower Poultry Co in Cambridge

It seemed like I was ahead of the game when I set out today to order the turkey and pies for Thanksgiving.  Turns out I’m late to the party – some places stop taking Thanksgiving orders tomorrow.  So if you still have some shopping to do here are the best places to buy Thanksgiving turkey, pies and sides.

Live Poultry Fresh Killed in Cambridge

You have through Friday (November 18, 2011) to place your turkey order at Live Poultry Fresh Killed aka the Mayflower Poultry Company for their it-doesn’t-get-any-fresher-than-this birds.  Our Thanksgiving turkey from LPFK was a hit last year so I’ll be swinging by the Mayflower Poultry Co. at 621 Cambridge St in Cambridge on Wednesday to pick up my Thanksgiving turkey.  Orders for turkey or “Turducken” (turkey-duck-chicken) can be placed in person, by phone at 617-547-9191, or online.

Petsi Pies in Somerville and Cambridge

Petsi Pies stops taking orders for its Thanksgiving pies on Friday at 7 pm (November 18, 2011).  I put in my order for mixed berry pie today (believe me – you never forget your first taste of Petsi Pies’ fresh mixed berry pie).  Petsi Pies has pies for Thanksgiving including: brown butter pecan, chocolate bourbon pecan, sweet potato, apple pear cranberry, pumpkin and more.  Yum!  Petsi Pies is located at 285 Beacon St Somerville and 31 Putnam Ave Cambridge.

Pemberton Farms in Cambridge

You have until Monday at 5 pm (November 21, 2011) to place your Thanksgiving order at Pemberton Farms.  Pemberton offers several versions of Thanksgiving dinners with all the fixings – traditional, organic, turkey breast or half-turkey.  The dinners come with several sides, gravy and rolls.  Pemberton also has pies, tarts, and a bakers dozen of sides that can be ordered a la carte.  Orders can be placed in person at 2225 Mass Ave in Cambridge or by phone at 617-491-2244. 

Russo’s in Watertown

Russo’s in Watertown has a large Thanksgiving menu.  In addition to being a super place for produce, Russo’s has a large catering department.  You can order all sorts of appetizers, side dishes, deli platters and desserts.  Not sure you want turkey this Thanksgiving? Russo’s also has lasagna, pork loin or ham on the menu.  To order visit Russo’s at 560 Pleasant Street in Watertown or call 617-719-4107.

Wilson Farm in Lexington

Procrastinators take note – Wilson Farm will take Thanksgiving turkey orders through Tuesday though all sizes may not be available.  A week before Thanksgiving and Wilson Farm was already bustling (isn’t it alway?!). They have beautiful Fall flower arrangements and centerpieces, Autumn wreaths, dazzling produce, and a glorious array of food and fixings: homemade pies, desserts, cheese plates, fruit bowls, vegetable platters, more than 20 side dishes, and in addition to turkey they offer geese, duck, beef. pork of lamb for those who want something different for Thanksgiving.  They also offer full heat-and-serve- turkey or ham dinners.  Wilson Farm is located at 10 Pleasant Street in Lexington – just off Mass Ave or heading West on Route 2 take exit 57.

Verrill Farm in Concord

The pumpkin pie from Verrill Farm in Concord has become my parents’ favorite indulgence so they headed out to Concord today to place a Thanksgiving pie order.  Check out the mouth watering menu of sides and pies. Verrill Farm turkeys are from Vermont’s Stonewood Farm.  I love Verrill’s  Thanksgiving centerpieces in pumpkins – if you want one you’ve got to get your order in by Friday (November 18. 2011).  Verrill Farm at 11 Wheeler Rd in Concord is a quick (and scenic!) drive from Cambridge.

Do you have any other favorites?  Let us know what you think are the best places to buy Thanksgiving turkey, pies and sides – before it’s too late!

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My Favorite Full Serve Gas Stations

Gulf Station at Mount Auburn & Aberdeen. Don't judge the prices by the photo - that's like comparing lenders with quotes two weeks apart - interest rates and gas prices are apt to change daily

Gulf Station at Mount Auburn & Aberdeen. Don't judge the prices by the photo - that's like comparing mortgage lenders with quotes two weeks apart - interest rates and gas prices often change daily

Let me start out by saying that I don’t pump gas if I don’t have to – and I almost never have to.  I also don’t bag or ring through my own groceries but that’s a topic for another post.

So, I’m always on the lookout for a good full serve gas station.  It’s simply not true that the price is always higher than at self serve gas stations.  In fact, you’ll often find full serve gas stations (and truly the definition of that nowadays is that they pump the gas – and in a pinch might check your oil if you ask nicely) within yards – and in full view – of self serve gas stations with comparable or even slightly higher prices.  Go figure.  American consumers often aren’t on the ball it seems.

But I have strict standards for full serve gas stations.  I *did* pump gas at one point – in high school I worked briefly one summer pumping gas.  So I know how it’s done.  It’s pretty simple – you go to the driver’s window, get the order, pump the gas, and return to the window for payment.  And you’re friendly and pleasant while you’re at it.

Somehow many gas stations have lost track of the basics.  The new method is to go to the passenger window – if it’s closed, bang on it – and take the order and the cash from afar, making the driver stretch across the seat.  To put an end to this ongoing battle I may just choose my next car by virtue of its driver’s side gas tank but in the meantime I’ll go elsewhere.

So here’s my short list of  the best full serve gas stations in the area with excellent service and good prices. I haven’t had repairs done at any of the stations but these are my regular places to fill up:

Best Full Serve Gas Stations

Teele Square Auto in Somerville on Broadway at the corner of Victoria Street  This busy gas station offers a lower price for cash purchases (pay in cash – it helps keep your local service station in business) and is open 7 days a week.  They service and repair cars, do inspection stickers, and have a towing service.  Teele Square Auto is at 1284 Broadway.

Gulf Station in Cambridge on Mount Auburn Street at Aberdeen Ave (aka Route 16)  Their super friendly service can’t be beat.  This gas station is on Mount Auburn Street across from Mount Auburn Cemetery. Getting gas is a pleasure here – they service cars and do inspection stickers too.

Mobil in Arlington on Mass Ave across from Jimmy’s restaurant Friendly, courteous service – unlike the other big chain station nextdoor. Don’t get confused – it’s the Mobil you want.  The neighboring gas station would make it on my worsts list if I did one. Why not go to Mobil for service with a smile?!  And they do work on cars here as well.  Mobil is at 1116 Mass Ave in Arlington Heights

Do you have a favorite full serve gas station?  Let us know.

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