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Back to School, Somerville-style

Aug 24 2:05 pm

by Abbe Cohen Dvornik

I’ve never gotten completely off of the school year cycle - though I admit that now that I’m not personally heading for class, it sometimes takes me by surprise when I leave the house one day each fall and suddenly the crosswalk around the corner is full of Tufts students on their way to their first day of classes.

Still, my Septembers are always full of transitions, much more than any other month of the year. This year, we will tack on a new baby to the mix in September or October. And my daughter will be heading out to her first day of pre-K at the SMILE program at the Capuano School in East Somerville, and just before then I’ll be making a spiritual fresh start with the Jewish New Year. So, I’ve been thinking about how to get ready for the season in Somerville.

School Supplies

I’ve been a bit stymied by taking a strictly Somerville approach to back to school shopping. When I was a kid, in a suburb far from Somerville, I used to savor the annual trip to the stationers to pore over the decorated folders and three ring binders - but at the moment we don’t have a little store much like that in Somerville. (The one from my childhood in New Jersey is gone, too, replaced by a condo development with restaurants on the first floor.) So at the moment, for the paper supplies, I can either stay in Somerville and go to a drugstore chain or one of a few giant retailers that has a branch in Somerville, or we can head to a small independent store in neighboring Cambridge or Arlington. Fortunately, for pre-K, we won’t need much besides a backpack and a lunchbox, more easily found around town.
Editors Note:  Bob Slate in Porter Square and University Stationary in Central Square are good independent options for this stuff in our sister community in Cambridge.  SLF hasn’t found an Indie Somerville locale…have you?

As for what to put in the lunchbox, I’ve already had practice with that from preschool - and for that, Somerville has everything I need! For a fun twist on PB&J, we like to use round bread (such as Lyndell’s English Muffin Bread, or even regular English Muffins). The sandwich fits perfectly in a flat round container (such as the kind your cole slaw from Redbones might have come in - we save them). Those containers are a great size for many lunch items for kids, and hold a round peanut butter sandwich perfectly! We also like to send plain cheese quesadillas inspired by Anna’s Taqueria - made with the same Cinco de Mayo brand corn tortillas we’ve seen them using, which are for sale at Market Basket - and some cheddar cheese. We heat them in a nonstick pan, melt the cheese on one side, and wrap them up in foil just like they do at Anna’s, and then put them in a Thermosjar to stay warm and soft. Leftover pizza - especially our favorite Sicilian from Mike’s - gets cut into strips, warmed up, and put in a Thermos too. And ta-da, even a picky eater has a few options that aren’t identical every day for lunch.

Baby Stuff

As a second time parent, and a packrat, stocking up on baby stuff is a bit easier. But I’m considering cloth diapering this time around, and I plan to learn all about it and find everything I’ll need at Diaper Lab. Davis squared has all kinds of cute baby accessories and clothing in the windows too!

Jewish Holidays

Apples (mainly early-ripening varieties), and even local honey, can be found at either farmers market weekly. For a holiday meal treat, order a locally raised, grass-fed beef brisket and pick it up at the farmer’s market. In Davis Square, River Rock Farm sells beef including brisket when it’s available, and in Union Square, Stillman’s farm should also be able to bring your request to the market. And for a New-Year-inspired dessert, JP Licks has been known to introduce some wacky Jewish-inspired flavors of the month for the Jewish New Year! The Manischevitz sorbet strikes me as a better idea than the noodle kugel ice cream with bits of noodles in the ice cream.

Right in Somerville, there are a few options for religious services as well - Havurat Shalom is a small community that hold services in the living room of a 2 family house near Tufts, and Temple B’nai Brith, where I’m a member, is in a historic building on Winter Hill with traditional services in the main sanctuary, as well as a special short service downstairs for children to attend together with their families. In Somerville, we do things our own way - both communities are unaffiliated with any major branch of Judaism.

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the shout out Abbe! We’ll definitely keep our eye out for you and your kiddos (kiddo to be)!


    Comment by Salina — August 24, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

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