An Allin Update: In 4 Acts

It has been a while since I’ve updated on our Boston adventures, so away we go!

Act 1: ImprovBoston

In the true Gleitsman Fellows spirit several of the fellows headed out last Saturday to observe the budding leaders of Boston’s comedy circuit. Improv Boston, located in Central Square, put together a great line of still-developing stand up comedians for a full, but cozy audience. Each comedian gets about 5 minutes to strut their stuff.

My favorite was the guy who talked about how he just started dating a white girl. He calls her up to see what she is doing, and she says she is taking her dog to the vet. “I’m so sorry. What’s wrong with it?” he asks. “Oh nothing,” she says “Just taking him in.” “White people take their animals to the vet when nothing is wrong with them?!” He busts out laughing. This is a Fact. Truth.

My family has done it. And it was absolutely hilarious. Why do people take perfectly healthy animals to the vet? The comedians at Improv Boston definitely don’t get it.

Alex, Jenny, Tom, Robert and I all had an awesome time, and I would recommend it for an affordable, accessible Saturday night plan. The venue also serves snacks and beer, and it would be a solid after dinner activity. For all your comedy dorks out there, they have a Magic the Gathering improv show this Friday.

Act 2: Birthday Dinner Singing

Two of our favorite people at the Kennedy School, Will Denn and Kousha Navidar celebrated their birthday within two weeks. Adding mine into the mix during the same time period, made for a fantastic excuse for a dinner party. Fresh pasta, salad, and Ina Garten’s Baked Brownie Pudding, made for full, content bellies. We even had the chance to sing happy birthday to ourselves all at once. The night made Tom and I really grateful for so many of the quality people we’ve been able to build relationships with thus far in Boston.

Act 3: The Never-Ending Winter

We’ve had our fair share of snow during our first Boston winter. We’ve actually had more snow than Tom or I have seen combined in our entire lives. There have been several morning where we are both trudging to Harvard Square together chanting “Why am I going to work right now? Why am I going to school right now?” We have been good winter sports, but even Southerners with thick skin need a little reprieve. March is coming this weekend. Please send warm thoughts here for us.

Act 4: Games & New Friends Keep Us Warm

Now, you think I’m going to talk about new human friends. You’d be wrong. Tom and I got to meet two of our online dog crushes last week, and they fully lived up to the hype. Paco (white) and Azuki (auburn) are the pets of Diane and Jen respectively. Two (human) friends we met during our adventures in Somerville. Both of the pet/owner combinations were able to come out and meet Charlie, and I fell even more in love with both of them. So did Charlie.

Finally, our other (non-human) new friend is Area 4 pizza in Union Square. Listen up people. They have the trifecta– baller pizzas, coasters with riddles to solve, and pre-1995 video games for you to play. Go. Enjoy. And be sure to call Tom and I and invite us before you do.

Until Next Time!

SA

From Mollusks to Lasagna: Somerville Cooking on Winter Break

Move over Julia Child there are some new Somervillians cookin’ up fab dishes at home this 2014 – and by ‘fab’ I mean pretty good. This week Tom and I have fallen in love with The Essential New York Times Cookbook. The combination of a grad student’s budget, our desire for great meals, and the continued freedom of winter break gave us lots of time to flip through Amanda Hesser’s clever and compelling summaries for the hundreds of recipes in the collection.

We’d never tried cooking clams…or any shelled creature for that matter… so we settled on fixing Spicy, Lemony Clams with Pasta (which can actually be found here on the NYT site). Oooo boy were we in for a treat. The clams ‘popped’ open as we steamed them, and the blend of lemon, garlic, white wine, and red pepper flakes over our homemade spaghetti was just right for a warm – although not so summery – dinner at home.

IMG_1761Later in the week, we went down to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to boost our clam knowledge at their Mollusks exhibit which is open til April 15th. We learned about the differences between the clam, the octopus, and the snail, but we also explored the rest of their collection which is not to be missed. Right now there also exhibits on Thoreau’s Maine Woods and Climate Change. However, my favorite part of the trip was the Mammal Hall. The museum shows off a full range of animals – from a 2-story tall giraffe and 4 full-size whale skeletons to weasels and house mice. Harvard students can get in free along with one guest when they bring their ID (score!), and we also got to attend an event on the Milky Way during our trip.

Aside from clam cooking, Tom also took on what I am calling “the most complicated lasagna recipe of all time.” Also from the Essential NYT Cookbook, this lasagna saga included making tomato sauce from scratch, constructing meatballs, frying meatballs, cooking meatballs in the sauce, cutting up meatballs, making a cheese mixture… and I could go on for hours (as did the cooking process). While I hate to admit it, the time and energy was totally worth it. And we had great dinner company with which to share the lasagna. Patrick Kibbe, a classmate at HKS, made an orange, white chocolate pie that was delicious. He left it with us and Tom and I are still enjoying it 3 days later.

Finally, since we have one more week til classes start back, I have had lots of time to read and start applying for summer opportunities (and nap with Charlie the poodle). Looking forward to another full week with the family and visits from our friends Sanford Johnson and Packer and Mary this week! It is going to be a good one.

Until next time!

SA

 

Reflections from a Southern Christmas

From Boston to Jackson to Winston-Salem and back to Boston again. It has been a travel-filled few weeks, and Tom and I have loved every minute of it (aside from our separation anxiety from leaving Charlie the poodle in Boston). We got to see two of my favorite humans under the age of 8, lots of canine loves that we’ve missed, and our Southern family and friends.

My sister-in-law, Hailey, braved the mess, and helped Maury and Sarah create gingerbread men, women, candy canes, christmas trees and sleighs on our first day in Jackson. Icing and sprinkles exploded all over the kitchen, and Maury and Sarah kept slobbering on their fingers and sticking them back in the icing. After, we piled all the couch cushions on the floor, and Maury and Sarah rubbed their heads in the cushions generating enough static electricity to power their house (see photo evidence below). Maury pretended to be a hamster hiding in the cushions that would only come out if we fed him pretzel sticks or hershey’s kisses (sorry, Jack and Hailey). It was great fun and made up for the time I’ve missed with the boogers.

Equally heart warming were all the critters we got to visit! We saw Bitsy – Tom’s parent’s toy poodle – Miles – Charlie’s best friend and labradoodle king of Belhaven – Ferdinand – the Great – and Buster – my family’s (and the world’s) best yellow lab.

After we finished making cookies and playing hamster, it was time for the more serious of Allin family traditions– Oyster Loaf. For many, many years on Christmas Eve, Tom’s family has been frying up oysters, buttering bread loaves, and combining both with lemons with the rinds, olives with the pits, diced celery, and chow chow. The end product is a big ole sandwich filled with many things you may not have eaten individually, let alone all in one bite. Tom’s parents provided over 200 oysters and left 30+ friends and family members with full, happy bellies. Full of old fashions and fried oysters, we waddled down to Saint Andrews Cathedral for the midnight Christmas Eve service… another Allin family tradition not to be missed.

We came back to Jackson after 5 months of being M.I.A., and new places to eat and drink are popping up all over. I got to enjoy a hanger steak and The Manship, a craft beer at Fondren Public, and warm almonds and pesto pasta at La Finestra. Our crew of Jackson loves were by our side as we enjoyed raw oysters at Parlor Market and two of our favorite bar tenders, John and Mitchell. If any of our Northern friends ever journey down to Jackson, you MUST go visit Parlor Market for a cocktail. The atmosphere, company and drinks are as good or better than anywhere in the Boston area, guaranteed.

Finally, we headed north to NC for a week of Welkers. We had lunch with grandpa at the Proximity Hotel, fried meatballs for the family holiday party, and played par 3 golf at Tanglewood. My parents, Emily and Scott, Tom and I also tried to show our smarts at Foothills Brewery trivia, but our team – Hoppin’ to the John – ultimately placed out of the top two. The final round questions included: Who was the first president with which Barbara Walters had an exclusive interview? (Nixon) What was Julia Child’s height? (6 ft. 2 inches) and How did Sammie Davis Jr. die? (throat cancer) Needless to say we didn’t fair particularly well, with the exception of Emily who knew Julia Child’s height, but the beer was good and the company was great!

Two weeks later and 10 pounds heavier, IMG_1736we headed back to Boston and were welcomed by mounds of snow.

We are looking forward to a restful week and chili making. Happy 2014 everyone!

SA

5 Reasons I Love Somerville Dog Parks

Every weekend Charlie the Poodle, Tom and I get to go to the dog park here in Somerville. It is pretty much my favorite hour of the weekend. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. We meet all kinds of crazy creatures.

2. The people are incredibly friendly to dogs and humans alike.

IMG_12153. There is always a dog or two that is worse behaved than ours.

4. Every so often we get to see an owner that matches their pet.

IMG_10025. Charlie the Poodle believes the dog park is heaven on earth.

I could keep the reasons going (with pictures to match). If you live in Somerville or Cambridge and would like to get more tuned in to all things dog, I would highly recommend connecting with som|dog – a great resource for events and dog needs. They also have a facebook page that has good info without a membership fee.

Until Next Time!

A Tale of Two Weekends

Tom and I have had two whole weekends of fun since our last post! Unfortunately, our weekends of fun were spent apart. This weekend Tom has been in Roanoke, Viriginia at the CityWorks (X)po. The tag line for the weekend is “A Gathering to Share Big Ideas for Better Cities.” While I was sipping wine alone at our dining room table, Tom was sending me pictures from Ed Walker‘s rooftop apartment and chatting it up with my HKS professors. Tom was living the dream.

Zika, Irene, Dina, Miya and Joanna

Zika, Irene, Dina, Miya and Joanna

Since Tom was out of town, I took some time to fulfill some personal priorities for my time in Cambridge. Saturday night marked my first Massachusetts dinner party. No boys were allowed (except Charlie). We had my mom’s yummy stuffed past shells and a great salad. Charlie largely behaved himself thanks to a Target bone purchased earlier in the day, and all six of us has a great evening of stories about skydiving, shark watching, and bungee jumping. I have no plan to do any of these things after hearing their tales. Needless to say they were a group of intelligent and bold women who made my home feel full even when Tom was away.

Charlie and I also got to check out some particularly interesting characters at the dog park. There was a great dane and a schnoodle named Einstein.

IMG_0891

Charlie also got to go to Friday’s HKS Quorum Call and became a complete ladies’ dog (credit to Chris Myers for the name). He got lots of treats from fellow students and dug one too many holes in the HKS lawn. He will definitely make another appearance soon.

Last weekend I was very fortunate to travel to Cape Cod with some fellow Kennedy School students. We spent a weekend focused on leadership development, but there was some fun spread across days as well. We did improv exercises and got to travel to David Gergen’s home on the Cape for a night of kayaking, volleyball playing and lobster eating. I had never had a lobster before (or at least one I had to break open!), so I was a bit overexcited about the process. The other students humored me by taking my picture with the lobster before I dug in. Our time on the Cape was very special and helped me form closer relationships with the CPL fellows. Plus, playing volleyball with David Gergen on your team never hurt anyone.

Next weekend our close friend from Jackson, Mindy Waldrop, is visiting Boston, so get excited for shots of us gallivanting around town.

Until next time!

SA