Summer Checklist: Accomplished

by Lisa Lombardi in , ,

Oh, hi there. Been a while, I know, but I promise it's because I've been busy doing actual things and not because I've been re-watching every episode of Parks & Recreation (that part has only been just recently).

This summer coincided with some big changes, some terrifying revelations, and some venturing outside of my comfort zone (spoiler: I now own a maxi dress). In my attempt to cope with it all, I made it my mission to do as much as possible with my weekends so I could enjoy my summer to the fullest.

It may not have reached Summer of George-level epicness (Adrienne: it is very important to me that you learn this reference), but I think I did pretty good.

By Lisa Lombardi, age 28

1. Went to the Beach (a lot, actually). It seems like everyone in Boston and the New England area in general has their own opinion regarding which beach is the best — and there are plenty to choose from. North Shore, South Shore, Revere Beach. (Just kidding. No one thinks Revere Beach is the best.) Personally, I always head north to Manchester-by-the-Sea and camp out at Singing Beach. You can get there by car or via the Commuter Rail, it's a beautiful beach, and the town is pretty cute — perfect for walking around when you're done baking in the sun. Parking can be tough; your best bet is to shell out the $25 to park at the train station and walk to the beach. (Go with a group of friends to split the cost.) A daily beach pass is $5, but if you think you'll go multiple times during the summer, spring for a season pass. No, it's not free, but it's worth it. And coming from a cheapskate like me, that means something.

2. Saw an Outdoor Concert. Outside the Box is an annual six-day free festival that takes place on the Boston Common, and before this year, I'd never heard of it. Surprisingly, no one I talked to had heard of it, either — but everyone probably should, because it's a pretty sweet deal. In addition to showcasing local performers and putting on family-friendly shows with magicians and dancers, it draws some major acts. This year's big names included Kasey Musgraves, the Gin Blossoms (I KNOW), and, most importantly, Guster. Guster is a Boston-favorite because they started at Tufts, but they're a Lisa-favorite because they were essentially the soundtrack for drives to and from high school with my brother, Kevin. I've loved them ever since and they are AMAZING live. One word: bongos.

3. Got Dressed Up. In addition to seeing one of my good friends get married at the historic Whittemore-Robbins House in Arlington, I scored an impromptu invite to a July 4th wedding that took place at the Boston Tea Party Museum. The best part? I actually had some decent dresses already that were ready to wear. My fellow ladies will understand what a score this is. (Oh, also there was an amazing, patriotic drag queen performance. NBD.)

4. Spent Time with the Fam. Summer is the time when the whole clan on my mom's side gets together for a week in New Jersey at my grandparents' house. It typically involves up to six of us — myself, my brothers, and my cousins — camping out in one room on foam sleeping mats, and we spend the week eating, watching way too much pointless TV, and going to the Jersey Shore. Frank Bruni recently wrote a piece in the NY Times that sounded a lot like our annual trip and pretty perfectly summed up its worth.

5. Kayaked on the Charles. Despite its reputation for being pretty filthy and disgusting, I kind of love the Charles River. I've even swam in it. But up until recently, I'd never taken advantage of the rental services offered by Charles River Canoe & Kayak (they have SUPs now, too). The rate for a single kayak is $15 an hour, and you can explore a LOT of the river in that time. Afterward, maybe head to the Cambridge Brewing Company for a late brunch and rehydrate properly with delicious, delicious beer.

6. Had a little too much fun. Public Service Announcement: Deep Eddy's Lemon Vodka is dangerous. Also, trying a fish bowl for the first time in my life was probably enough to last me until my mid-life crisis. If anyone knows of good places to dance in Boston where the floor won't still be empty at 10 p.m., let me know, because I'm officially too old to get started any later than that. Remember, the best way to recover the day after is with plenty of water and the Parks & Recreation episode "The Fight."

7. Explored Massachusetts. My lack of car means that I don't really get out of the city much, and when I do, it's because I'm leaving the state. Thanks to Leela, I spent a weekend in the Berkshires region, which essentially boils down to the Massachusetts equivalent of a Michigander's Up North: it's where a bunch of people have vacation homes and a lot of the area is in the middle of nowhere with tons of forests and lakes around. It was beautiful; we ate some great food, explored local attractions, and I scored some choice finds at the local yard sales. Word on the street is that I need to go back in the fall for some quality leaf peeping, though I remain skeptical that New England autumns are really prettier than ours in the Midwest.

8. Returned to my roots. I typically head back to Michigan maaaaaybe twice a year, sometimes for Thanksgiving and always at Christmas — which is sad, because the best time to be in Michigan is definitely the summer. So, this year I made it a priority to get there, and it worked out that I got to see the whole family while I was there. The trip included a jaunt up north to see where my brother Kevin now lives and, because my dad flew us there in his tiny Cessna four-seater, four hours of me desperately trying to focus on my book and squeaking every time we hit some turbulence. Family time!

9. FINALLY went to Brimfield. For the less decor-obsessed than I, allow me to explain: the Brimfield Flea is a massive market of antiques that takes place three times a year in Brimfield, Massachusetts. It's like, the holy grail of flea markets — bloggers, professional interior designers, and editors from shelter mags all flock to it every year, and I've wanted to go since before I even lived in the state. And last Saturday, I DID. It was unbelievably overwhelming and more massive than I ever could have imagined, but it was also really, really fun. No major finds to share with you, because it's really not my scene for shopping (too many options, no time to really think over a decision, prices higher than I'm used to for impulse-buying), but it was so cool just to wander and see all the different things, including: one giant, furry rabbit costume (head only); way too many baby doll/robot hybrids; a full-size covered wagon. Yay, Brimfield!

Date Night Win: Pie Hard

by Lisa Lombardi in ,

A little over a year ago, I successfully guilted my boyfriend into dating me. I was pretty pleased with myself until I realized that we couldn't just spend all of our time watching episodes of Project Runway or debating the pros and cons of mayonnaise (don't worry, we still do that a lot). 

So, for those of you as inexperienced with this thing called "dating" as I am, I present to you this series of awesome date ideas. First up?

One amazing movie. One delicious pie. Just the way I like it.

One amazing movie. One delicious pie. Just the way I like it.

"Lisa," some of you might be saying, "Baking pie and watching Die Hard isn't romantic." And to that, I'd ask, "But it's awesome, isn't it?"

Some of you may reply, "No." And to those, I'd ask you to kindly leave and never read my blog again.

I have very strong feelings about a handful of things in life: Listening to Journey will never not cheer me up. Moms love Michael McDonald (it's a proven fact). Bread should be its own legitimate food group. The only way time-tested action movies can be improved is by puns and baked goods.

Luckily, my boyfriend shares that last belief with me. So, for one random Friday night, we did Pie Hard: Die Hard & Buttermilk pie.

Tim's Mom's Southern Buttermilk Pie (Makes 1 pie)

2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice (or more, if you'd like)
1 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  1. Separate the egg whites and beat until stiff. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time, and the flour. 
  4. Continue beating and slowly add the buttermilk.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture and pour into a pie shell.
  7. Place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake at 425 for fifteen minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until filling is set and doesn't jiggle.
They say lightning never strikes twice...They were wrong!

They say lightning never strikes twice...They were wrong!

Valentine's Day was Pie Hard 2: Pie Harder, in which we enjoyed a viewing of Die Hard 2 paired with chicken pot pie and buttermilk pie.

This time, it's delicious.

This time, it's delicious.

Our one-year anniversary was the most ambitious effort yet: Pie Hard with a Vengeance. Die Hard 3, a variety of mini quiche, steak & ale pie, and coconut key lime pie.

It goes without saying, but don't plan on doing anything more vigorous than going to bed after celebrating in this manner. Enjoy!