L’Aroma Cafe

Newton Happenings – Music and Art and Literature

Newton Happenings – Music and Art and Literature

Without going out on a limb here, I think it’s safe to say we are all looking for signs of Spring. Haven’t seen crocuses in your garden yet? That’s okay – here are some events to bring on the Spring.

Spring into Swing

Spring into Swing

What: A community Jazz Concert and Reception to benefit Newton Public Schools Creative Arts & Sciences Programming – featuring Semenya McCord and her 6-piece jazz ensemble.

When: Friday, April 10, 7 -10 PM

Where: Newton South High School, 140 Brandeis Rd., Newton Centre, 02459.

Tickets: $35/person at http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/CASC

Ticket price includes light fare and open bar.  No one under 21 will be admitted. Proceeds from the event will benefit enrichment programming during the 2015-16 school year.

Creative Arts & Sciences began bringing enrichment program into the classroom in 1960. Fifty-five years later it continues to be is a part of every grade and middle school PTO and a vital part of Newton students’ education experience. Please attend! Please support Creative Arts & Sciences!



Newton Open Studios

2015 Spring Open Studios
Coming THIS WEEKEND: April 11-12,

Saturday & Sunday 11am to 5pm

Join the fun! Browse, explore, and buy art and beautifully crafted objects directly from over 150 local artists.

You’ll see painting, jewelry, photography, ceramics, sculpture, prints, wearable fabrics and much more.

NOS is one of the largest and longest running open studios events in the region! 50 pop-up exhibit/sales locations all across Newton have plenty of free parking, and many have handicap access. Red balloons mark the locations.

 One of my favorite places to get great food is L’Aroma Cafe and they are also one of the locations for Newton Open Studios. Bonus! I’ll take a soy latte and a spin around the upstairs where the following artists will have tables set up.
Upstairs at L’Aroma
15 Spencer St
West Newton

Inge Downing
Handmade Cosmetic
Bags and Pillows

Larry Grob
Pastel Landscapes/
Studio & Plein Air

Hog Wild Pottery
“Farm to Table” Pottery

Rebekah Lord
Painting, Books and
Works on Paper

Andrea Newman
Handmade Upcycled
Jewelry and Collage

Sharon Schindler
Fine Art Photography

Spring Fling

The always wonderful Newton Free Library Spring Fling on Saturday, April 11th featuring Barney Frank and Atul Gawande. A sure sign that Spring is around the corner.

Spring Fling 2015




Art in April with Newton Open Studios

Every year I look forward to Newton Open Studios and this year they moved the date up to April 6 and 7, maybe because no one wanted to wait until May to see all of this wonderful art or maybe because that May weekend is a crazy busy one. Don’t know… but it works for me – we get a (hopefully) spring-like weekend full of color and beauty and in plenty of time for the gift giving season ahead like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…all those upcoming birthdays and graduations on your calendar.

Special Preview:  Join some of the artists for a Preview Reception at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street, Newton Center on Wednesday April 3, 7-8:30pm – Dozens of artists will show work, and dessert will be served courtesy of Whole Foods! Meet artists, pick up a Map & Guide, and see a sampling of work that will be on view durnewton open studios. laroma cafe, lauren teller, silver lining lifestyle, tropeing the NOS weekend.

Here are some of my picks for the weekend:email NOS postcard cover-SharonSchindlerPhotography

First stop, L’Aroma Cafe for a mocha (they have amazing house made chocolate – no syrup here). Photographer Sharon Schindler gathered a small group of extremely talented artists and they will be upstairs at L’Aroma both days. I can’t wait to grab a snack and see these artists and their work.

Fine Art Photography http://www.sharonschindlerphotography.com

Pastel Landscapes/ Studio & Plein Air http://www.larrygrob.com

“Farm to Table” Pottery http://www.hogwildpottery.com

Handmade Modern Vintage Unique Jewelry http://www.etsy.com/shop/riverviewgems

Abstract and conceptual works http://www.jocelynscheirer.com

Hand-crafted home accessories http://www.stoneserendipity.com

Quilted stitched fabric pillows http://www.silverlininglifestyle.com



Next stop Indalo Gallery and Studios (6 Lincoln Street Newton Highlands) – Indalo is a unique blend of a working art studio and a place for local artists to display their work – Owner Jill Becker is a joy to visit and then head over to Bread and Chocolate because it’s been a little while since my last donut muffin and maybe I need a latte  to go.

Leann Shamash Photography

Newton Open Studios has a a list of artists by name, category, village or by thumbnail – This printable version of the guide includes ALL updates listed on the home page. It includes a full numbered map, complete addresses, info and an image for all artists, and alphabetical listings. Downloadable, Printable 2013 Guide. High quality printed copies (without the post-printing updates) are available at the Newton Free Library, and at many businesses in and around Newton.

Please support Newton Open Studio’s sponsors:

Cambridge Savings Bank

The Village Bank

First Commons Bank

Whole Foods

Instant Sign Center

Kirkwood Printing

Lincoln Street Coffee

Trefler & Sons

Frame-It, Framing and Gallery

Many thanks to:

How Many More Days of Vacation Week or Is It Over Yet?

It is that time of year again – school vacation week! If you have planned ahead, your children are in daily activities, if you have not, you are no doubt washing crayon, and quite possibly food, off the walls and hoping for enough time for a shower. I have experienced many, many school vacation weeks – some better than others.

My advice? Get moving and keep moving. Do you need to pretend you are a shark and only your constant movement keeps you alive? No. Does this mean no slow-moving sleeping-in mornings? Depending on the age of your children, maybe. You can do it, you just need the right attitude. I don’t mean you can’t have lovely mornings at home.

When my children were younger we had a breakfast where we practiced math facts with dominoes and had our breakfast in pretty dishes. Sometimes we even played school with real worksheets and stickers for work well done. They are older now and that won’t fly (we didn’t have smartphones, tablets or apps back in the day, either) but if your little ones are quite young, it will get you some quality hot beverage time before you roll.

If you are still reading, you may need help. No worries – here are some ideas and links for local activities. KidoInfo out of Rhode Island but covers Southeastern Massachusetts, too. Founder Anisa Raouf has done a fantastic job of lining up the best resources and she shares so nicely, too! From the website: Kidoinfo is Rhode Island’s guide to family fun, creative ideas, resources and local events. With fresh ideas everyday, we keep you in the know with DIY projects, kid-tested recipes, after-school activities, camps, story times and so much more. From new parents to grandparents, babies to tweens, we have something for everyone.

Boston Area – Boston.com Moms A great site with Guides, Things To Do listings, Discussion Pages for Parents and much more. From the site – a listing of family activities for the next seven days. You’re welcome!  Go to Boston.com Momsfor great local activities and events.

Here is a link to the Museum of Fine Arts  with its great vacation week programs. Don’t forget the Museum of Science  – The Pompeii Exhibit is great and good for most ages (it may be hard to explain that we don’t live near an active volcano to young ones but the world map of active volcanoes is a good visual reassurance). If you are going to the Pompeii exhibit it is worth getting a membership, really, it is always worth getting a membership here. I signed up online and picked up my membership card and packet when we got to the museum. Super easy.
Need more? Click on these links for vacation week ideas: The Boston Children’s Museum,The Harvard Museum of Natural History, The Peabody-Essex Museum and The Discovery Museums.We also like to take walks at the Weston reservoir or Lake Waban at Wellesley College – both places are dog-friendly and nice easy trails.
Arts and Crafts? Check out Artbeat in Arlington, Sew Easy in Needham and Wellesley or Hip Stitch in Newton.
It is also a great time to make some healthy resolutions and cook together as a family. I attended a blogger event at the Chestnut Hill Shaw’s Supermarket and they were rolling out a Nutrional IQ progam that helps you make healthy choices. Not that I am giving up the holiday cookies quite yet – just not making a meal of them!
Crafts at home – Here is a great link to Pragmatic Mom’s site for homemade play dough. Definitely a longtime favorite at our house, too.

12 Days of Shopping – Day 1 – Homemade and Personal

great dishtowels from Sur la Table Capability mom blog
Great dishtowels from Sur la Table (sale rack)

The theme of this blog for the next 12 Days (at least – no telling which direction I’ll go after that) is great gift ideas. It started last year when Pragmatic Mom and I got all hopped up on caffeine brainstormed at L’Aroma and decided to write up a series of 12 Days of Shopping (it started out as five days but Pragmatic Mom over achieved as usual peered at our coffee stained notes and came up with more days) for those hard to find/fit/figure out people on your list – so, yeah, pretty much everyone. So here is the new and improved 12 Days of Shopping.

What makes a great homemade gift? Well, food is my default for pretty much everything, so that is where I start. I do actually like to bake (results may vary) and have a few tried and true recipes that I will post below. Making your own gifts is great and not only because it is nice but it also helps you get around the no gift rule in schools so you can actually give a teacher a gift. Seriously, can anyone refuse a sugar cookie or a nice cup of tea? No, I didn’t think so.

Do you have a signature baked good? A great banana bread or coffee cake? Chocolates? Make what you love (presentation idea – wrap breads in foil or cellophane and then wrap in a pretty dishtowel as wrapping paper). What if you can’t bake? No time? You hate it? Not a problem. Grab some nice chocolates or favorite candy (you can find nice candy in almost any store from Trader Joe’s to T.J. Max – I know – I was out and about this morning) and repackage it. Fill a nice container and add a hand written note. No one will care that you did not bake. Seriously, relax.

Use a plain brown coffee bag ( 39 cents at The Container Store) or in clear cellophane bags (Container Store, Target) or any container you like (I am a born New Englander so I don’t spend a lot on containers – I pick them up throughout the year – everywhere from The Christmas Tree Shop to the Target Dollar Spot to China Fair in Newton. If you want to add a fun simple craft project, have your children decorate the bags or containers with stickers or crayon drawings. If you have an artist or two in residence and you can bear to part with any of their ceramics creations and fill them with treats – great for family and teachers. Maybe for a really special gift make it a nice ceramic or glass piece from a local artist.

flour bakery granola bars, Anthropologie cup on sale Taza Chocolate MA favorite gift from Capability Mom Blog 12 Days of Shopping with Pragmatic Mom
Taza Chocolate Disc, Anthroplogie cup (found on sale) and Granola Bars from flour bakery

handmade pots capability mom blogI pick up boxes of my favorite tea (TAZO for bagged, Teavana, L’Aroma, Upton Tea Imports for loose) but there are tons of great teas to choose from – include some of your favorites. L’Aroma Cafe is my go-to for tea and tea related presents. If you want a chocolate based present (and who doesn’t?) go with Taza Chocolate discs and the baked goods or candy.

Last year I made this by the bowlful and gave it as gifts.

Homemade Granola Bars from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, 2008, All Rights Reserved

These are my husband’s favorites -I found the recipe posted on epicurean.com which is a great resource – I love the Cooking Ingredient Volume Conversion tool.

Flour Bakery + Cafe Granola Bars

Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang


1 cup (80 grams) dried apples
1 cup (160 grams) dried cranberries
1 cup (160 grams) dried apricots
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (480 grams) water
1 cup (100 grams) walnut halves
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (80 grams) sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
6 tablespoons (128 grams) honey
3 tablespoons flaxseeds
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons millet

Makes 6

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
by Joanne Chang from Chronicle Books

Every so often, a Flour customer puts a request for more healthful items in our suggestion box … please! It’s not that Flour is full of unhealthful items-I think our baked goods are healthful, in moderation-but we are a bakery, after all, which mans that many of our offerings are necessarily indulgent. We came up with this bar as an option for customers seeking a good-for-you snack. You make a granola of oats, nuts, coconut, and honey for the base. Add a fruity filling made by blending a dried-fruit compote into a sweet, chunky jam. And finish off the bar with more of the granola base mixed with a handful of sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and millet. The bars stay moist for several days and actually get better with age (I like them best after 2 or 3 days). We make huge trayfuls of these at Flour, and one of my favorite ways to snackat the bakery is to raid the pans after the bars have been cut for serving and enjoy a plateful of edge trimmings

To make the jam: In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cranberries, apricots, granulated sugar, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let sit for about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until a chunky jam forms. (The jam can be made n advance and stored n the refrigerator n an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Leave the oven set at 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In the food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut, salt, cinnamon, and butter and pulse about 15 times, or until the mixture is evenly combined. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle the honey on top. Work in the honey with your hands until the mixture comes together.

Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the remaining one-third of the mixture in the refrigerator.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until light golden brown throughout. Remove the pan from the oven, spoon the granola jam on top, and spread in an even layer with the spoon or with a rubber spatula, covering the surface. Remove the reserved granola mixture from the refrigerator, and break t up with your fingers into a small bowl. Add the flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and millet and stir to combine. Sprinkle the mixture, like a crumb topping, evenly over the jam.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours, or until cool enough to hold its shape when cut. Cut into 2 bars.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Not your thing? Too crunchy? Go to the goddess of all homemade and fabulous, Ms. Martha Stewart’s site for killer cookie recipes – like these basic sugar cookies. Hint: double the recipe, your family will be sad if all of these cookies go out the door!

The 12 Days of Shopping

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pixie Chicago Stationery)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags

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