Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

How We Know Where to Go: Somerville on the World Wide Web

Aug 26 12:47 pm

by Maggie Kaiser & Louis Epstein

In a bustling city like Somerville, there’s never a shortage of fun things to do. The challenge lies in determining what’s out there so you can make an informed choice. We often learn about events while strolling around, stopping to read posters on telephone polls or in store windows. But our strolls (and dog-walking excursions) are sometimes limited to a relatively small geographical area which can limit our awareness of city life. That’s why we rely on virtual strolls through Somerville’s online streets to keep abreast of all the excitement that abounds in our 4.2 square miles of goodness.

Our first stop is - you guessed it - Somerville Local First! By following SLF’s updates on Facebook, we were some of the first people to capitalize on the Sherman Market Shift & Save coupon offered a few weeks ago. And the post on this very blog about the Ice Cream Showdown was instrumental in bringing us to GRAND & poor little rich girl on Saturday to try 8 different vendors’ sweet, frozen treats.

When we want to know what’s going on in our favorite squares, we mosey on over to the Davis Square LiveJournal and Union Square Main Streets. We also benefit from a constant drip of tweets and facebook updates from some of our favorite local businesses and organizations, including Sherman Cafe & Market, Taza Chocolate, The Center for Arts at the Armory, the Somerville Public Library and the Somerville Arts Council.

Rock n Roll Yard Sale, Union Square

Our Facebook friends alerted us to the totally fun Rock-n-Roll Yard Sale in Union Square

To always stay in the know, we check out the Somerville Scout, the Somerville Journal, and the City of Somerville’s own website where we’ve signed up for email alerts about snow emergencies and community meetings. And we are always on the lookout for new sites and feeds to stoke our Somerville obsession. If you have a favorite, we hope you’ll let us know! And if you’re new to online Somerville, welcome to the community and happy exploring!

Dog Days Mean Something Different in Somerville

Aug 12 11:09 am

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Summer in Somerville is a great time to have a dog. When the weather is fine and the days long, there is nothing better than chilling out with some sunscreen, ice cream, and our dog, Panda.

We rescued Panda two years ago through an organization we found on Petfinder and shortly after we brought her home realized (while picking up the pieces of the chewed front door) that she didn’t like being left alone. Thankfully, through training classes at City Dog Training and behavioral consultations with Gordon at Zen Dog Training we managed to get her separation anxiety under control.

The 8-hour flight back from Paris two months ago set off Panda’s separation anxiety again and this time we turned to a new Somerville business, RiverDog, to keep her happy and exhausted when we can’t be home. This fabulous doggie daycare/groomer/pet supply store in Union Square is under new ownership and we couldn’t be happier to leave Panda in the care of Peter and Priscilla.

RiverDog is conveniently located near Nunziato Field, one of Somerville’s two existing off-leash recreation areas (dogparks). These parks were created by the city due in part to lots of hard work by the Somerville Dog Owners Group (som|dog). We are very excited to someday soon visit a third park, currently under construction in East Somerville, at 0 New Washington Street. If you are interested in getting more off-leash parks in Somerville, get involved with som|dog, and talk to your alderman!

For us and for Panda, dog-loving businesses, friendly neighbors, and space to run make Somerville a truly dog-friendly city.

Panda enjoys relaxing in Davis Square

Johnny’s Joe

Aug 06 2:38 pm

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Walking along Holland Avenue one day, we noticed something unusual.

Johnny D's coffee grounds

See something, say something?

Since our new approach to Somerville living demands that we pay attention to easily overlooked details of our surroundings, we decided to take a closer look. Someone had taken the time to explain the pile of yogurt containers, so we might as well take the time to read about it!

Johnny D's coffee grounds

That's one handsome sign.

It’s a good thing we took that closer look, because Johnny D’s has managed to combine a few of our favorite things in one fell swoop.

Gardeners alert!

We heart Johnny D's

Nutrient-rich, organic coffee grounds from a local business intended to be recycled as compost by local gardeners? Way to go, Johnny D! We almost hate to share this find with all the other urban farmers in Somerville, but there’s way too much black gold for us to keep to ourselves. Grab some for yourself next time you’re around Johnny D’s - or make more for everyone else by grabbing a coffee there instead!

Check it out:
Johnny D’s
17 Holland Street
Davis Square

The Secret Gardens of Somerville

Jul 30 12:16 pm

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

We haven’t been back from Paris that long, but we already miss its vast, manicured parks. We spent hours every week gallavanting through greenspace, cherishing moments of peace in the midst of urban bustle.

Somerville may not boast the same monumentally-proportioned and expensively-maintained parks as Paris, but it offers plenty of oases for the weary urbanite. The only problem is that, unlike in Paris, many of Somerville’s most exciting greenspaces are private. This weekend we were lucky enough to participate in a yearly event that opens up some of Somerville’s hidden greenspace to the public.

Lina Morales of Spring Hill teaches Louis about ground cherries.

Gerardo Ciriello of Winter Hill unveils 4-foot-long Sicilian zucchini.

This year, the Somerville Garden Club recruited several dozen urban farmers to show off the fruits and vegetables of their labor during the “Incredible Edible Gardens of Somerville” tour. It was self-guided - our $10 ticket came with a tour booklet that includes descriptions of each garden and a map for convenience. In around five hours of touring, we managed to hit 12 of 31 possible destinations, which gives you a sense for how much time we spent talking with gardeners and oohing and aahing over produce.

Jeffrey Harrington's cabbage and chard

Linda's colorful peppers

Robin and David Ray's grape arbor

We learned about an exciting endeavor called Groundwork Somerville, the local branch of a network of non-profits that builds community by growing gardens (among other things). We visited two Somerville schools, where we spoke with high school and college students maintaining gardens over the summer. The produce from the gardens is available for purchase every other Saturday at the Union Square Farmers Market (we bought a tasty summer squash from them just last week).

Winter Hill Community School Garden

Argenziano School Garden

Though exhausted by the end of our 5-hour romp in 90-degree heat, we were also touched and inspired by the generosity of the gardeners who opened their yards and shared their knowledge. We ended the day with renewed motivation to join this incredible community of Somerville gardeners (through the Somerville Garden Club) and support the work of local organizations like Groundwork Somerville. And who knows? Maybe with a little help from our new, green-thumbed friends - plus a few shopping sprees at Ricky’s Flower Market - we’ll have our very own urban oasis to share during next year’s tour.

Somerville: The Paris of New England

Jul 21 2:55 pm

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Hey! We’re Maggie and Louis, Somerville residents since 2006.

We live in the Spring Hill neighborhood. We have a dog and a vegetable garden. We like to cook and we love to eat.

We love radishes!

We recently returned from a 9-month adventure in Paris, France. As newcomers to an unfamiliar culture, we saw the streets of Paris with curiosity and wide-eyed enthusiasm. We documented our questions, musings, frustrations, and achievements (successfully ordering the right sausage at the butcher! win!) on a blog that turned into an opportunity to reflect and remember.

The Burren's Red Door...Paris indeed!

Now that we’re back in Somerville, we’re excited to approach a familiar place with the same curiosity and enthusiasm that Paris inspired. It’s not so hard, given the similarities between the two cities. No, really, it’s true! Both are organized around squares; both boast great restaurants, food boutiques, and weekly markets; both hide rich history and culture in plain sight.

As bloggers for Somerville Local First, it will be our duty and pleasure to rediscover Somerville, starting with the everyday details that go unnoticed despite their distinctiveness.

We’re constantly seeing things that make us wonder, and our Somerville Local First blog posts will attempt to answer questions like…

Is the pizza at Posto as interesting as the building it comes out of?

Will we get to climb the turret of the East Cambridge Savings Bank when we Move our Money there in the next few weeks?

What smells so delicious hiding behind those reed blinds at 316 Highland Ave?

We hope you’ll check in with us as we rediscover our own city, share our Somerville-specific knowledge and experience, and generally live in the here, the now, and the local.

Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Jul 18 4:18 am

Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Maggie and Louis met in Somerville (2006), moved in together (2007), got a dog (2008), and took off for a year in Paris (2009). There, they learned to stop and smell the cheeses, a skill they are excited to apply to life back in Somerville (2010-?). They enjoy front-yard gardening, commuting by bike, and roaming the streets of Somerville with their dog, Panda. Read about their recent adventures in Paris at

[top of page]

developed with a whole lotta local love by trulygood