FREE Outdoor Fitness Classes in Boston

That’s right, FREE! The summer is going by quickly, so don’t let these opportunities pass you by.

Yoga on the Boston Common:

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Come to Frog Pond on Tuesday nights (6:00-7:15 p.m.) for a FREE expert-led yoga class (power vinyasa flow). Participants are encouraged to bring their own mats and blocks, and all ages and levels are welcome. For more information, read here. Classes run every week June 4 – August 27.

Healthy, Fit, & Fun at the Esplanade:

The Esplanade Association is hosting FREE Healthy, Fit, & Fun classes this summer (through August 30). All abilities and ages are welcome to participate. For more information, read here. See schedule below:

  • Mondays: 2.5 mile Community Power Walk (meet at the Hatch Shell at 6:00pm)
  • Tuesdays: Zumba (meet at the Hatch Shell at 6:00pm)
  • Wednesdays: Sunset Yoga (meet at Fiedler Field at 6 p.m) & Run Club (3, 5, & 8 mile options, meet in front of Marathon Sports Boston, 671 Boylston St., at 6:30 p.m. warm-up begins at 6 p.m.)
  • Thursdays: CrossFit (meet at Fiedler Field at 6 p.m)
  • Fridays: Boot Camp (meet at Fiedler Field at 7 a.m.)

Hope to see you there!

– Kelly

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Behind the Scenes: New England Maple Syrup Production

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Maple syrup is an iconic product of New England foodways, so I was especially excited to go on the BU sustainability field trip to Mass Audubon Ipswich River Nature Reserve last weekend. This FREE field trip was open to all BU students and included a guided tour of the maple sugaring process, followed by a pancake breakfast on the property. The tour was entirely outdoors, so we did some hiking through the snow as our guide showed us how to get from sap to syrup. Ever wonder how maple syrup is made? It’s a fairly straightforward process, but extremely labor intensive.

Maple Forest

How Maple Syrup is Made:

The first step is to tap the tree, which simply means drilling a hole and attaching a spout for the sap to drip and collect into a bucket. The number of taps in a tree depends upon its size, and even the oldest, largest trees at Ipswich River Reserve do not have more than 4 taps, so as not to compromise the tree or sap production. Trees have to have reached a certain size before they can be tapped (about 10 inches in diameter) and are often at least 40 years old. The metal buckets that collect the sap are emptied about every 6-8 hours, depending on weather conditions.

Maple Tree Tap

The sap itself looks and tastes like water (yes, we tasted it!), and is only about 1% sugar. It takes about 86 gallons of sap (at a 1% sugar concentration) to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. No wonder it is so expensive! But how does the sap get turned into delicious maple syrup? All you need is heat.

Heating up the maple sap in the sugar shack

After the buckets of sap are collected, they are brought to the “sugar shack” to be heated up. As you can probably tell, the sugar shack is a steamy little cabin that houses the machinery. The sap is simply poured into a tank where it is heated up to just above boiling, so that the water evaporates out. Nothing is added to the sap. It is simply a matter of evaporation. Once the liquid reaches the desired temperature, you have maple syrup! No additives needed.

Maple Syrup: How its made!

After leaving the sugar shack, we were greeted with a sample cup of freshly made maple syrup. Things got even sweeter as we went into the barn for all you care to eat pancake breakfast. It was the perfect way to warm up and refuel after a chilly hike through the maple forest on a cold February day. Before leaving, I was sure to purchase my own bottle of locally produced maple syrup from the gift shop. After learning about how much work it is to produce, I have a much greater appreciation for it!

Flapjack Fling

Different Grades of Maple Syrup:

You may be wondering what the difference is between the different grades of maple syrup. The lighter syrups (Grade A: light and medium amber) are made earlier in the season, and the darker syrups (dark amber and Grade B) are made later in the season. The difference is simply due to the temperature outside. Before my field trip, I always assumed that Grade A was superior. After all, that is how it works at school, as well as in the grading of other food products, such as eggs. But in the world of maple syrup, that is not always the case. Grade B maple syrup has a more distinctively “maple” flavor, and is often called cooking syrup for this reason. So the grading scale is purely a matter of taste preference.

Maple Grading Regulations

For those of you that would like to learn more:

– Kelly

Thanksgiving in Boston

This was my first Thanksgiving in New England, and my first Thanksgiving away from my family. Despite the change, I had an excellent day exploring my new city, spending time with my roommate, and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Boston is an incredible place to be, and I have so many things to be thankful for!

Boston Volvo 5K: My first Turkey Trot! I hope to make this a tradition.

Chestnut Hill Reservoir

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Omni Parker House

 1) Famous Parker House Rolls, 2) Butternut Squash Bisque, 3) Grilled Vegetable Antipasto with Fresh Mozzarella, 4 & 5) Slow Roasted Turkey with Herb Stuffing, Giblet Gravy, Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, 6) Apple Cranberry Crisp

Needless to say, I am going to be eating leftovers for a very long time! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

-Kelly

Sun before the storm + Thanksgiving 5K

Not surprisingly, the weather has pretty dreary this week. Although Boston didn’t suffer very badly from the hurricane, it hasn’t exactly been inspiring weather. Thankfully, I spent the past 2 weekends soaking up the sun and these Boston jogging routes (the River Run West has been my go-to loop). The trail along the Charles River is so scenic, that I couldn’t help but stop to capture photos on my phone.

Doesn’t that look like a spread from Runner’s World?

Beautiful Boston!

2 weeks ago also happened to coincide with the Head of the Charles Regatta. What a treat!

Also, for those of you that are going to be in the Boston area for Thanksgiving, there is a 5K on Thursday morning (November 22nd) benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I signed up, and I hope you will too! Click here to find out more.

-Kelly

The Great Outdoors

Fall in New England has been everything I have hoped for and more. The weather lately has been nothing short of amazing, and I want to spend as much time outdoors as I can before the winter cold sets in. Luckily, my college roommate was in town this weekend, giving me the perfect excuse to get moving and explore the city. I hope these photos inspire you to get out and enjoy the fall weather as well!

October at the Granary Burying Ground

Browsing Brattle Book Shop

Wandering through historic Beacon Hill

Enjoying nature at the Boston Public Garden

Walking along the Charles River near the Harvard University campus

Now that the weather is nice and cool, I want to squeeze in some scenic jogs around the city. This article from BU Today has offers lots of great jogging routes around Boston, starting at the BU Campus. I can’t decide which route to try first!

-Kelly