Friday, May 31, 2013

The Art Museum is a Mother...

Ah, Mothers’ Day: the one day out of the year when you tell your mother you love them…then give them some flowers, take them to a nice brunch and call it a day.  The End.

For the record, yes, I tell my mother (Mum), all the time that I love her and we try to meet up at least once a month in the city for dinner/brunch/just to catch up. So when the actual Mothers’ Day rolls around, I try to plan out something different besides the ol’ flowers and brunch, and never make Mothers’ Day on that actual day.

My mum and I met the Sunday after Mothers’ Day to celebrate; the plan was to either go to SoWa Markets or the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Royal Photos Gallery. We, or should I say the weather, decided that staying indoors at the MFA would be best. For me, the museum wasn’t my first choice, mainly because I really don’t understand art, I can’t read art, and I really don’t appreciate art like I should, but neither does my mum. However, it was technically her day, so I went along with her and enjoyed the day regardless. 

We go there as soon as it opened, which was great- no annoying tour groups coming our way. We began and went right to the Royal Portraits Gallery and within 5 minutes; we had finished viewing each photo about four times over…now what? We made our way around the museum and strolled from the Ancient Era of 4000BC China & Egypt to the Renaissance Era to the Art of the Americas all the way up to Modern Art and the Abstract Movement, (a movement I’ll never understand; to me Pollack’s work consisted  nothing more than paint droppings and squiggles).

We spent about 2 hours at the beautiful museum and after a trip to the gift shop, a beginners drawing book and 2 Boston Strong bracelets later, we both came to the realization of 2 things: 1. we still don’t understand art & 2. an actual art tour may be very helpful to having us understand art- few things to consider before our next trip to the MFA.

After all that art walking it was time for some brunch in the Back Bay. With about over a dozen choices to choose from we finally landed on Max Brenner’s, because what girl doesn’t like chocolate let alone chocolate drinks,  chocolate waffles and chocolate French toast- which is exactly what we ordered. We left with our sugar high and began to walk back to the T station, admiring all the beauty the city has to offer- the Public Garden, the waterfront, the guy harassing us to purchase “Spare Change News”… Yes, it was another successful Mother’s Day in the books, another 365 days to plan the next one!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boston Strong, Boston Party!

After the tragic events that occurred on Marathon Monday, I wanted so much to help out as much as possible. At work, we had a special “Jeans for a Cause” event, where we could wear jeans to work and money would be donated to The One Fund; I went to the Urban Art Bar Charity Event to paint the Marathon Finish Line, and I dined at some of the restaurants along the Back Bay area. 

So when I heard about a Boston Strong Party for OneFund Party via Twitter, I knew I had to be there.

The event was to be held on a Wednesday night at Cafeteria Boston with all the proceeds to go to The One Fund: the invitation said to wear your best ‘Boston Attire’ & invite others. Well, the Boston Attire apart was not a problem, the other half, inviting others’ was more of a challenge. When it comes to events, especially ones I want to go to, I tend to sometimes purchase tickets then ask others if they want to go, which at times leaves me going to events by myself; either that or I find out about these events a little too close to the date, then trying to find someone to join me doesn't always happen. When I’m in this situation, I have two options- not go to the event or go by myself and try to meet and socialize with people, easier said than done. One downfall about myself is that I tend to be a quiet person, I can’t go up to a group at a party and start chatting, I usually need someone to come up to me to get the conversation starting. That fear of going up to people/groups is what usually makes me go to these events alone, to hopefully be rid of this fear.

The Boston Strong Event was one of those events that I found a few days before the date, so finding people to join me was a struggle, but since I wanted to go, mainly to help support The One Fund, I purchased a ticket and I was on my way.

It was one of those beautiful May nights where going out in the city was a must, minus the fact it was a bit humid out which made my hair do a “That Girl” impersonation. I had walked over to Cafeteria Boston on Newbury Street, feeling a little anxious, but ready to go in to have a good time and socialize with new people. 

As soon as I walked into the event I was happily greeted by one of the event’s hostesses, who informed me of the wine samples (sure!) and an area where you bid in a silent auction. The wine tasting was sponsored by South Wine Liquor which let you sample all sorts of delicious wines, including Moscato wines which included flavors of strawberry, peach & mango.

The food contained the usual suspects for appetizer bites, chicken, scallops wrapped in bacon, and other finger foods as well. After snagging some food for myself, (well, I needed some after a quite a few free samples of wine!), I strolled over to the silent auction table to see what there was to bid on. There were many great options to choose from; gift card to BCAE, 6 months’ worth of wine, oodles of Pilates/yoga/gym classes and so many more. I had my eye on the BCAE gift card & Pilates classes to bid on- *fingers crossed*.

I've learned from past events that if you stand near the food tables, people tend to come up to you more to begin an conversation; which is what happened while trying to get the last piece of chicken. I had met Mittal who was the photographer for the event and her husband. Her husband and I kept an eye on our bids, but try as we might, we kept getting overbid. They were a great couple to meet and chat about the event, where we worked and how we kept getting outbid for our auctions.

With the party winding down and out of money to bid on, it was time to depart for the evening. I had my two goals accomplished for the night: help support the OneFund & talk to new people, both of which were quite easy to do. I had said my good-byes to Mittal and the hostesses at the event and began to walk back to my car feeling great about having, once again, another fabulous evening in this wonderful city.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Style Fixation: A Girls' Night Out

"I couldn't believe it. 15 years in New York, and when the city was getting safe, I got mugged.
- Is this for real? 
'…And your Manolo Blahniks.'
- What? No.
These guys weren't just after money anymore. They were after fashion.
Please, sir, they're my favorite pair. I got them half price at a sample sale." ~Carrie Bradshaw

With the trees & flowers starting to bloom and the sun setting over the city later, my mind could only think of two things: 1. Spring was beginning & 2. It was time for the annual Sample Sales. StyleFixx: Girls Night Out is a semi-annual event held at the Boston Center for the Arts that promotes local fashion retailers, breweries/wineries, beauty treatments, and oh, did I mention swag bag & 4 free drink samples?! I have been going to this event for the past couple of years, and although it has become rather redundant, I still enjoy going, even it is for the swag bag and free drinksJ.

I bought the tickets via Living Social; $15 got me a ticket, swag bag, and four drink tickets for the event. I invited my friend Nicole to come and join me. It was her first time at StyleFixx, so it was a good mix to be with someone who’s never been to this event before. As soon as we walked in, bright lights shining on all the booths, and music pumping from the DJ in a corner, we were greeted by a very nice host who told us exactly where to pick up our swag bags. As we walked down to pick up our bags, we started to scope out the layout of all the booths and what people were selling/offering, and deciding on where to start first.

After a quick walk around of the booths, we decided to grab a beer sample from Shipyard, so we could loosen up a bit and get ready for some shopping. Strolling through the booths, not looking for anything in particular (minus bags, bags are my weakness), Nicole and I did come across a few interesting booths; Duracell Power Mat, which showcased a mat that could charge any device wireless right on the mat, (and for a mobile geek like me, this really sparked my interest), Uber, a service that lets you grab a taxi or a private Towncar all with just the click of an app on your phone, (something  that would really come in handy, since the regular Boston Cabs are going to be the death of me), and Emma & Sana, an all-natural company that sells beauty products with Argan  Oil in them, (I snagged myself a small bottle of their Lavender scented Moroccan Oil for my hair to make it more shiny).

After walking around the event a few times, there was one area we had yet to hit: the beauty and service sample- the ones where you can a get a free massage, free brow wax, free hair demo, free manis, etc. We decided to wait until to hit those areas last due to the long lines. Nicole & I first decided to stop and see if we could get our nails done by MiniLuxe, a place I frequent once a month for a mani/pedi. The line was long, but with another free wine sample in hand, we decided to try and wait a bit. The concept was great, girls were actually getting a full manicure done, free of charge, unfortunately, sample drinks were kicking in and we were getting hungry. Before we headed out for dinner, my friend had checked to see where her name was on a list for a free brow waxing, and to her luck, she was next in line. After a few quick swipes of the hot wax, Nicole was ready for dinner, (she’s one of those girls who can get a brow wax and have weird red bumps on her face, unlike yours truly, who get red bump under her eye brows for a few days).

For dinner, we went to The Beehive, a restaurant known for their eclectic atmosphere and jazz bands. I’ve always wanted to go there for the jazz brunch, (another item on the Boston Wannabe list to try). We ordered a Beehive Honey Brew, since it seemed most fitting, had a few appetizers and listened to the jazz band play as we caught up on each other’s stories.
All in all, the night was a success; StyleFixx had another great swag bag, I took another restaurant off my list to try and to top it off, it was a gorgeous evening to walk around the city. The days are getting warmer and the nights are lasting longer, I can’t for summer and see what events lie ahead.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sometime's you just need to know someone who knows someone

"Since they didn't seem to know who she was at the SoHo house, she figured she could be Annabelle Bronstein.
The next day, Samantha tested the waters with her fake ID" ~ Carrie Bradshaw

Sometimes, you need to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to get a few events…and sometimes you just need to know the right people.

My friend Mike had asked me if I wanted to join him for a Hospitality Trade Show Event, a show dedicated towards concierge staff, with all the food and amenities one could imaging in a cruise terminal. Mike was a former hotel employee, working in sales, so he had an in for all these types of events. I, myself work in the meeting/tourism industry…well I work in IT for a company that is in the meeting/tourism industry, so that was a good as in, plus Mike added my name the list...which also helped.

After trudging through the soaking rain to the Black Falcon Terminal, we walked up the stairs to bright lights, the aroma of delicious food and dozens of company booths waiting to give out free goodies. After we checked in, got our bags to fill with treats, we were on our way. We had gone up and down every aisle and sampled every dish, drink and snag every goodie we could grab.

A few of my favorites to note:
·        Getting my picture take on the front of a few magazine by Fun Enterprise

·         Sampling steak from Del Frisco’s…yum!

·        Free shot glass & business card holder from Blue Man Group…shot glass was awesome!

·        Samples of beer from just about every Brewery in the Boston area

·        Cheesecake!!...from whom else… The Cheesecake Factory

The night was going great, minus my bag getting way to heavy from all the free goodies that was making my shoulder hurt. The only downside to the night was trying to explain to the vendors of what it was that I actually did…and how I wasn't in the concierge & customer service industry. At first, I would explain that I worked at the Convention Center…it’s hospitality, it worked great; soon, I just decided to tell some people that I worked in concierge in about every hotel that popped in my head that very second. Luckily, no one seemed to notice that I “worked” in about 8 different hotels around the city.

With the event coming to an end, there was one last thing to do: go to the after party. We were shuttled over (out of the rain!), to Legal Harborside’s 3rd floor lounge & patio, to enjoy our own private party, complete with open bar, catered food, and a very intersecting bathroom section, (I had to note that one, it was very different). 

By nights end, I had sampled amazing food, had fabulous drinks, a swag bag overstuffed with lots of goodies and another great evening to add to the many of great evenings in the city of Boston.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Heart Boston

"If Louis was right, and you only get one great love, New York, Boston may just be mine. And I can't have nobody talking shit about my boyfriend. ~ Carrie Bradshaw (modified by me)

For as long as I can remember, I've loved Boston, (why else would I be writing my blog)?! I've traveled to many other places and different countries, each being one unique experience after another, but I always couldn't wait to get back home to my city. And until the horrific events on April 15th, I never knew how strong a love for a city could be, until you see it go from its weakest to its strongest.

April 15th started like many other Patriots’ Days from past years: baseball and beers. I had met up with a few friends early that beautiful Monday morning at Fenway Park not only to watch the game but also to drape the American Flag over the Green Monster seats during the pre-game ceremony. To back up a bit, I've been apart of the flag ceremony crew a few times, the first was for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. I was asked by my fellow skeeball teammate who has family members that work for Fenway Park. (yes, that’s probably the coolest job ever and yes, I play on the Boston SkeeBall League, but I’ll talk about that one another time). It’s such an honor to be apart of something so special and I truly take it all in for all that it’s worth every time.

After arriving to the Park by 9:30, my friends and I were sitting on top the green monsters seats, preparing for the flag drop. After the ceremonial dropping of the flag and the crowd cheering on, it was time for some fun. After having a few Fenway Franks, some $5 beers and some much needed sun, we decided to take off around the 8th inning and begin what should have been a great day for day drinking.

My friend had suggested that we walk up to Dillon’s on Boylston Street since it’s near where the marathon runners turn to get to the final steps to the finish line. I decided against it since we would have to walk through a lot of crowded areas to get near that area. We then decided on Boston Beer Works since it was close and could go elsewhere after that. We lucked out by getting seats right at the bar, the best place to hold your beers & nachos. The bar was getting more crowded and louder from the droves of people out celebrating the nice day. It wasn't until 2:50pm when the crowd went from cheering to confusion.

At 2:50, the first bomb went off. As were about to close out our tab to get to the next destination, I looked at my friend and said “that doesn't look good”. The bar immediately showed it on all the tv’s where at that point, both bombs had gone off. The crowd started to die down as we all were glued to what was happening on the screen and what they were saying what happened. Rumors were spreading that it was a natural gas explosion, but as the news crews were flying over Boylston Street, and sights of actual blood were shown on the sidewalks, it was clear- this was not natural gas and this was no accident.  

Like everyone else in that area, my friends and I tried to phone out to let people know where we were and that we were okay, but the cell phone towers were completely clogged by phones that we couldn't get calls or texts out. After about ten minutes had gone by, my phone was going crazy with incoming phone calls, text messages and Facebook updates. I was able to finally message out to a few friends who I knew were in the area of the bombings and thankfully all of them were not near the area when it happened. With all that was going on, we figured it best to stay at BBW until we could figure out how we could get back home, since roads were being blocked off and they had shut down the T in certain areas. By 4:30, the bars were abruptly closing, and we found ourselves walking towards Cambridge since that seemed to be one of the few roads open for friends to pick us up.

While walking to the BU Bridge to cross over to Cambridge, my friend and I had come across a marathon runner who needed a ride back to Wellington. We gladly said we’d help him out and he told us how he made it to the 25th mile when police suddenly stopped all the runners and told them something had happened near the finish line. As we crossed over the bridge and walked towards the Hyatt Hotel, we found two sisters, one whom had ran the marathon in need of a cab to get back to Alewife. My friends and I immediately searched on Memorial Drive for a cab to help them out, which we were quickly able to find one and help them back to Alewife.

Once we got to the Hyatt, our ride was there waiting for us. I went with my friends back to Chelsea, where I could somewhat relax a bit and figure out how to get back home. The rest of the night, I was completely immersed watching TV, scrolling through social media and reading any online news sites that were talking about what happened. I think I was completely numb that whole time, too many thoughts going through my mind about what I had seen on TV and what people were telling me what they had seen and heard. I went to bed that night with all those thoughts still running in my mind until the next morning. It wasn't until the next morning that it had all sunk in, and I felt sad, shocked, upset and simply confused and just how someone or some people could’ve done something so terrible and why, why would that to innocent people?

Since I was 18 and I would walk around Boston by myself, I've always felt safe, sometimes maybe too safe, naïve, to put it; naïve to think sometimes that something like this would never happen in this city. But it did happen and for the first time, I saw my city hurt and I wish they was so much I could do that would make it stop hurting. The one good thing did see out of all this hurt and sadness, was that there were so many people who helped other people that day and it shows that Boston is a strong city who will prevail and come out of this on top and back to the strong, beautiful and vibrant city it always was and always will be.

I <3 Boston.  

To Donate to The One Fund, Click Here

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mixing up my Monday Nights

"When life gets this confusing, sometimes there's only one thing to do, attend a fabulous party."~ Carrie Bradshaw

One of the great things about Boston is that the neighborhoods are always changing and something news is happening everyday. That can be said about Downtown Crossing. Some of my earliest memories of the area are going to see ‘The Enchanted Village’ at Jordan Marsh during the Christmas season as a kid and I believe it was Barnes & Noble had one of the scariest escalator rides- it was so steep, I swear I was going to fall right off. I also remember it not being one of nicest looking areas around, and it seemed to go completely downhill for quite a few years after.

Cut to today and you’ll find that Downtown Crossing is completely getting a 180 degree makeover, new stores are opening, apartment buildings are breaking ground and new restaurants are popping up faster than a teenager with zits. I had read on Boston Magazine’s Twitter post that they were hosting an event call “MixItUp Mondays”, where you could go to any of the DTX’s restaurants and try one of their featured drinks and order off a specialty priced menu. This caught my eye right away being that it was very close to work and only being Mondays in February, it was too cold to travel anyplace else in the city for what would otherwise be another boring Monday night. After going to my first “MixItUp Monday” at 49 Social, I was absolutely amazed how many incredible restaurants there were in the area- I had to keep coming back.

A few weeks later Boston Magazine gave an incentive to their “MixItUp Mondays” Campaign- mention where you are having dinner on Monday via social media and get a chance to win free tickets to the final spring bash!- oh, yeah, I had to get into this event. Well, after many Mondays, a few Tuesdays and a Thursday, I got message via Twitter that I had won a pair of tickets to their Spring Bash at the Ritz Carlton, I couldn't have been more excited (ask the people at work, they thought I was going crazy!).

The night of the event I was all set to go, I had my spring dress, spring makeup and a spring in my step, a party at the Ritz Carlton, I felt like Cinderella, minus the glass shoes and the prince.

The event was held in their 2nd floor ballroom and as soon as I walked in, there was a dj playing, caterers walking around with samples of sliders, scallops wrapped in bacon, AND open bar…done! There was a TV setup with Dance Dance Revolution! for the attendees (had I been at home in my pajamas, I would've been all over that, but me dancing in public is just not pretty).  The atmosphere was great, the food absolutely delicious and the drinks, amazing!

Throughout the night, I would pass by people at different tables to mingle and stop to have some more delicious food. As I was passing by a table, a man had pulled me aside and said “come join our table!” Although I never got his full name (or sadly, I may have forgotten), he seemed to be key person to know since he was talking up a storm to just about everyone. I met a great couple at our table who owned their own moving company (Marathon Moving Company of Randolph), as well as, many other amazing people who were all affiliated one way or another with the magazine. Towards the end of the night and my 3rd drink going strong  (can’t recall if it was the Pom-Pom Martini or the Apple-Rosemary Martini, both just a wonderful as the first), I ran into Darren Young, magician extraordinaire; I maybe a total sucker for magic tricks, but Darren did an incredible job with his card magic, (I still even have the Ace of Diamonds with my name on it for proof).

By the end of the night, I had some incredible drinks, delicious food and met some amazing people. Its nights like this, that I love being in the city.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

How I became a Boston Wannabe

"Welcome to the age of "un-innocence." No one has breakfast at Tiffany's, and no one has affairs to remem...."oh, wait, I'm quoting 'Sex and the City' again. 

That's something I tend to do a lot-- in my own mind. In my mind I shop at the trendiest places, spend my weekends at the hottest night spots and only wear Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes. In reality: I stare at these trendy stores from the outside looking in (mainly because I'm nervous to touch anything in those stores), I either never hear of the trendy places until they become yesterday's news or I simply can't find anyone willing to spend the money we don't have in exchange for a night out, and I've never even tried on a pair of any shoe fancier than Nine West or Chinese Laundry. 

My name's Janelle and I'm a Boston Wannabe. 

My fixation on becoming a successful career driven, social butterfly, 'everyone knows her name' Boston woman began as a little kid growing up on the North Shore. I spent my summers at Lynn Beach, (yes, the same Lynn Beach that gets closed down every summer for high bacteria counts), where you have a beautiful view of the city skyline and I always thought to myself- "I want to be there". When my dad would take me into the city for a day trip, I absolutely loved going on the Blue Line (again, I was a kid before I had adult views of the T), getting off at Government Center and walking around Faneuil Hall and seeing the penguins at the New England Aquarium. Sometimes we would take the screeching Green Line a few stops to Park Street and walk over to Downtown Crossing, where even today, I can still smell the amazing scent of The Peanut Guy selling roasted peanuts and almonds, (I can also still smell the stench of pee, but that’s a different story). During Christmas time, I can remember going to the old Jordan Marsh to see the Enchanted Village, a Christmas tradition. I think one of my favorite memories of going to Boston was going to Chinatown, my dad always let me get a silk pajama set from there, and I had so many colors I could make a rainbow twice over. But most of all, I would walk around, looking up at the buildings, wondering where people were going in such a hurry and how I can belong here and have the city as my backyard. 

As years past, school diplomas hung on the wall and becoming a little more fixated on a show called 'Sex and the City' (although filmed in NYC, another amazing city), my love for Boston remained strong; I needed to figure out how to get myself into this city permanently. During the long and obnoxious time I didn't have a fulfilling job, I found myself walking around Lynn Beach again, staring out towards the city skyline, daydreaming of how life would be like there and even venturing into the city myself to see what I've been missing, because I knew I belonged there. For me, being in Boston would mean, shopping down Newbury Street, dining in the Back Bay & South End’s best restaurants, attending all the fabulous parties & events and being seen at the hottest night spots the city has to offer.

Well, fast-forward a little more to present time: in a six-month time span in 2010, I was able to snag a job in the city, move to Quincy and start my new life in the city. I had made it, now all I had to do was figure out how to make it to the top and become a Queen Bean of Boston So far, I haven't had much luck in that department, but I'm having a great time trying to get to the top. . I try to find fun and social events to be seen at (as long as they’re free…can’t afford the amazing swanky parities yet), I usually walk around the city in the summer and stroll down Newbury Street & Back Bay, and imaging myself having dinner and shopping in all the fine stores… however, those security guys in front of the doors tend to intimidate me and having dinner usually consists of grabbing a quick, cheap eats somewhere. I have made to a few notable places from time to time, but for the most part, I’m Janelle, the Boston Wannabe.

So that's what you'll be reading in my blog, stories of Queen Beans and Wannabes and my attempt of becoming more than just a Boston Wannabe...