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JP Lantern Festival and Lantern Party

5 years 7 months ago

The Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade is turning 30 this year! To get you and yours ready for the big event, Ula is hosting a little lantern making party this coming Wednesday, October 15th from 4:30 to 6:00. We’re asking for a $5 donation, all of the proceeds are going to Spontaneous Celebrations.

You can also purchase a pre-made, handcrafted lantern at Ula, strung up by our very own Back of Houser, Joshua. We’ve got plenty to choose from, including one for the zombie-lover in your life. We’re asking a $20 donation for each lantern, again with all proceeds going to Spontaneous Celebrations.

The Lantern Parade itself promises to be a good time, as usual --a lantern-lit event at Jamaica Pond with live music, hot cider, and empanadas this coming weekend, October 18th and 19th. Festivities will start around 6 and we hope to see you there!


August's #MonthlyMuffin: Lauren!

5 years 9 months ago

Last month you all submitted carefully worded, intensely thought provoking, super goofy questions to better get to know beloved Ula staffer Lauren. You may recognize her by her upbeat personality, luxurious hair, and her amazing dino shirt. We sat down to discuss the finer points of Vermont, seahorses and to ponder the eternal question, where did Tony's Nasty Boys Hat get off to?

Thanks for joining us, and that’s the royal Us of Ula, for this interview. 

So happy to be here. It’s no problem. 
Let’s start out with the important questions. Hey Lauren, where’d you get your hair? It’s awesome. 
Aw, that’s really nice. I got my hair from mostly my dad. My dad has really curly hair and my mom has straight hair and I ended up with something weird and in the middle. 
I can identify. Are you the one who stole Tony’s Nasty Boys hat? 
[laughs] No, but I wish that I was.
So Vermont... How’s that country like? 
Uh, it’s my favorite country, I think. In the world. I love Vermont, it’s my home. It’s got mountains, and greenspace and, cool people. 
That’s really nice. 
I’m really nervous. 
Why did you let them post a photo of you referring to you as a “muffin”? 
That’s a really great question. I didn’t know that there was going to be a photo of me next to the Monthly Muffin. I’m also still unclear as to why it’s called the monthly muffin. So, I was unaware of the photo muffin combo that was gonna happen. 
Are you asking now if this is something we can discuss off the record?
We can discuss it off the record. 
The short answer is alliteration. The long answer would take up all your interview time. [clears throat] Tell us about the hunk you hang out with!!!
[laughs] Wow, who’s asking these questions? Well I try to surround myself with as many attractive people as possible. But I think the specific hunk you’re probably referring to is my boyfriend. I don’t know what this person would like to know about him. But-- I mean he’s great. Sometimes he wears glasses... Yeah, I know. 
Hunky! Here’s another monthly muffin related question. What does that title monthly muffin mean to you? 
We’re getting deep now. I think it means to me... God I wish I was wittier? I think in a grander sense it means being a part of a community that loves muffins. That’s what I would say. 
Nailed it. 
Nailed it? Phew, that was a tough one. 
So I hear you’re the It Girl on Campus, how do you keep it up? 
I eat a lot of kale. And I try to make my hair look different every day. 
Those are two things that I feel that Ula staff, and Ula customers will really appreciate. Our next question is what’s your sign? 
I’m a Libra. 
Do you Identify with that sign? 
I do identify with that sign. The symbol of Libra is balance and I feel like I’m very sensitive to when my life is in balance or off balance. I like to have a lot of variety in people and things in my life to keep it in balance. And when it’s off, it’s really off. That’s what I think of when I think of Libra. 
I love that answer. 
What is your favorite JP thing?
I love the pond and the arboretum. I also love the Brendan Behan pub. Hm, and my back deck. 
Okay, now we’re getting serious. If you were on Death Row and your last meal had to be from Ula, what would it be?
Basically, it would be like a salad base with a little bit of everything on it. Not the meat stuff, 'cause I don’t eat meat. But all of the -- like hummus and sweet potatoes and tahini spread tofu -- just everything. 
Why not, it’s your last meal? How fast can you run a 100 meters? 
Did Nick write that, that looks like his handwriting? 
I don’t know who wrote it. No cheating. 
I don’t know how fast I can run 100 meters. I can’t remember the last time I sprinted anywhere. Should we try, right now? 
I’m really comfortable right here. Do you know -- how long is 100 meters? I don’t know what that looks like in my brain. 
I’m too tired. 
I know what a meter looks like. And I feel like 100 is several of those. 
Well I can say that when I go for runs, I run approximately 8 minute miles. But that’s not sprinting! That’s just like my running pace. But the real answer to that is faster than the speed of light. Actually... So. 
Alright. Well, favorite Hall and Oates song? 
... Why can’t I think of any Hall and Oates right now? I do have a favorite Hall and Oates song. What’s the one that goes “What I got - doo do do doo”? Wait, “You Make My Dreams Come True,” is that the actual title, though? That’s the main lyric, that’s all I know. I also like “She’s Gone” that’s a sad song, though. 
Sometimes sad songs are nice. How is it you make all the cookies and muffins in one day? 
Um, well I don’t personally make the cookies and muffins. 
... So you’re saying you’re a fraud. 
[laughs]... Magic, all of our food is made by magic. And a person who gets here at 4:30 in the morning. Little magic, little early morning makeup and you’ve got cookies and muffins. 
Too true, too true. Sometimes there’s scale magic that happens the day before, but I’m not super sure how that works. I’m also a fraud. [coughs] What lesson did you learn at Ula that you take with you in everyday life? 
Wowwwww. Um, wow, actually I don’t know if Christopher would be upset if I told this secret. So maybe I shouldn’t. 
You can tell me, I’ll ask him, and maybe we’ll include it and maybe we won’t. 
So Christopher told me to -- whenever I was really grumpy to -- think in my head “Welcome to Ula Cafe, I love you.” He’s way better at it than I am... And it would help understand maybe that person is having a really bad day and that’s why they’re grumpy. Or struggling and it can sort of help turn my attitude around a little bit. I guess maybe I should apply it to my life a little better. What else? Also, okay maybe this is a little better. Sometimes in your life you’re told you don’t have a good sense of humor and then you go somewhere and you’re surrounded by everybody who has the same sense of humor and then you’re funny. That’s a less serious answer, and true. My sense of humor is appreciated here, sometimes. 
Yeah, that’s why you’re the monthly muffin. Okay, what do you love about Ula? 
Wow, this is a lot of Ula based questions. 
I mean, you’re the Ula monthly muffin. 
That’s true, we have delicious food, wonderful people, great um... and Nick Murray. 
If you were a sea creature, which one and why? 
Whoa. I think I would be a seahorse, it’s the first one that came into my head. Because they’re independent ladies. Men carry the babies around, you know. Independent lady sea horse. Why hasn’t there been a youtube video of independent lady sea horses doing the "Single Ladies" dance? That’s what I want to know. 
Get on it, internet. 
What are you even doing internet? 
Cat videos. 
You really need to diversify your animal interests. 
Speaking of animals, would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck? 
Fight them? 
Little horses or a giant duck? Wow. How about I get to hang out with the 100 duck sized horses and not fight them at all and play pony instead. Or I could be friends with the giant duck. That sounds okay too, but I would rather have 100 miniature horse pets. 
When you say you want to ‘play pony’ with them do you mean ponies, or do you want to play the Ginuwine song "Pony" or.. Like play a short game of horse? 
Oh I definitely want to play basketball. Because then I could play horse with horses. Yeah. I feel like there should be a preface to this blog post that Lauren and Liz woke up at 6:30 am this morning and worked a lot and everyone ordered a thousand turkey sandwiches and now they’re talking about tiny horses. Things are hard. 
I think the disclaimer just happened. What is your spirit animal? 
I think my spirit animal is some kind of bird. That’s what I’ve always felt. Specifically when I was in the 3rd grade and asked this question I said my spirit animal was a robin and that kind of stuck in my head. I like herons also. 
What childhood toy would you buy your old self if you could? From back then not now. 
I would probably buy myself one of those motorized cars. Do you remember those little things? The trucks. Not the pink Barbie bs. 
Yeah, I had a dump truck. Back to you. 
I feel like I would want some sort of construction vehicle motorized, for a child. 
Or a slide! I really like slides. Either way -
You’re mobile. 
Yeah, either way, I’m moving real fast. 
Would you rather add 20 points to your IQ or speak 2 other languages or someone else’s choice? 
I think I would go with the languages thing. Being able to speak multiple languages is really valuable. And... cool. 
And what the heck is an IQ anyways. 
Yeah, just a number! 
What’s a better name, Harold, or Gerald? 
People are funny. Harold. No offense to Gerald, Ger. 
What’s the most unpopular opinion you have? 
Like what opinion do I have the no one else agrees with... That Dots are a great candy. 
[gasps] I agree! 
No one else agrees. 
I do. 
Well great, thanks. I found you. People don’t like that opinion at all. 
Well they should just get their own candy, then. What’s your greatest superpower? 
I want to be clever, it’s really hard to be clever when I’m tired. My hair serves as a... I can breathe under water. 
Because of your hair. 
When will people be able to travel to Mars? 
Right now, she lives in JP, I think. 
Baduch-oh. #Dadjoke. 
Who’s the boss? 
Tony Danza, I think. Also Bruce Springsteen. Also Korinn. Also, Will Smith in the 90s. The most Boss of them all. Literally no one was cooler. 
I agree, hands down. What book more than any other has changed your life?
I feel like I have a lot of books that are important to me. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and reading Midsummer’s Nights Dream was a really powerful experience for me when I was like... 12. 
Favorite cafe in town that’s not Ula? 
I like Fiore’s, it’s a cute spot. But I would say that Tiny’s in Portland, Oregon is my favorite around town. 
What are your top 3 favorite animals? 
A lot of animal questions. Zebra, maybe some sort of big cat like a jaguar, pretty cool, and a wolf. No wait! What about those birds that -- birds of paradise is a flower right? But like the birds with the big feathers that form like a plate and they hop around when they’re trying to court their mate. 
Um ?
If only this was a video interview. Not a peacock, they’re little. What’s an animal with a really cool thing that it does? Oh you know, I really like bats, they’re pretty cool. 
What’s the definition of a scrub? 
A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly, also known as a... buster? 
Bus stop. Sits on his broke... ass. 
Bus stop? 
Ahem, so you’re from Vermont. What’s something folks should know about Vermont? 
They should know that we are -- I have some fun facts about Vermont -- the number 1 maple syrup producer in the country. The words Vermont means Green Mountain in French. We have beautiful mountains. Underrated beautiful mountains. Benedict Arnold betrayed the revolutionary war American soliders at Lake Champlain in Vermont. We were the last state to get a Walmart. We’re the only state in the country that doesn’t have a McDonald’s in its capital city. We have the second smallest population in the country.... Okay, I’m done now. 
So there are a lot of things we should know about Vermont, is what I’m understanding. 
If you had to be a popular food item knowing that you would sell out and cease to exist how do you think you would handle it emotionally? 
Like if I was a popover --morning popover, or a savory brioche and knew that I would sell out in a limited time... Wow. I think I would just try enjoying my time with my fellow popular items. I don’t know how to answer this question. 
So you’re just chilling with a plate of your fellow popular items and one by one they’re getting sold and eaten. And you know that eventually it’s going to be your turn. 
You may make it until late afternoon, but you know... 
Wow, I’m probably cold by then, maybe a little gross. Probably by that point I’m on a ceramic plate, not even a display plate anymore. Tears. I would just cry. 
Sweaty cheese tears. 
Sweaty cheese tears. Gross.
Well I think we’re going to leave it there. 
That’s it? Well you guys are funny. Thank you for all your questions. I love you all, mostly.
And thank you Lauren for being such a good sport and playing along with us. Lauren's art will be hanging in the front customer area starting August 26th. Be sure to come check it out (and let Lauren know that she's inevitably having a great hair day). 

2014 JP Music Festival

5 years 9 months ago

The time is once again upon us!  We at Ula Cafe, along with everyone else in Jamaica Plain, are so excited for the 4th Annual JP Music Festival. On September 6th, a superb line-up of local bands and musicians will perform at the festival, spanning a variety of musical genres and styles.  All the performing acts are tied to someone who lives or works in JP.  Last year, 22 bands drew over 4000 spectators out for a day of music and community fun.  The festival grows in its outreach and success each year, and 2014 promises the same.

The festival is organized by a close group of friends/JP residents and sponsored by a number of local businesses, including The Galway House,  The Haven, The Midway, James's GateVideo Underground, Tres Gatos, El Oriental De Cuba,  Bella LunaSam Adams, and many more, including yours truly.

For the next few weeks leading up to the festival, Ula will be selling our own tribute to the event and its albino squirrel mascot: our albino squirrel cookies.  They are $1.25, and 100% of the sales will go towards the event!
We're pretty sure this guy belongs in the musical "petting zoo".

In addition to a great musical lineup, there will be a number of food trucks where you can get all your good eats on! 
 Ula will be out there this year, keeping folks caffeinated with iced coffee, and nourishing that sweet tooth with a delicious vegan ginger cookie.
 We hope to see you over by the pond on September 6th! Head to Pinebrook Field  for a great day of music, community, and fun!

Local Highlight: Egleston Farmers' Market!

5 years 10 months ago

It’s a Saturday morning, and you’re casually strolling down Brookside, thinking about how much you would enjoy an iced coffee from Ula café, when the sound of a fiddle catches your ear. Up ahead, you see a lot full of tents, people, music, and colorful wares.

 You glimpse a dapper baby dancing around in a sunhat, and a bearded farmer offers up a hearty hug to a customer filling their backpack with fresh local veggies. The sun is shining, everyone is smiling, and you think to yourself, What is this magical place? Well, it’s just your local farmer’s market!

Every Saturday, 10 am -2 pm, in the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall parking lot, you can pick up fresh produce, local meat and seafood, fresh eggs and cheeses, breads and baked goods, and more! When you finish shopping, you can learn how to fix your bike, enjoy some local music, or grab a snack at the food truck!

ULA has been neighbors and friends with the market since it started in 2012, donating hot coffee for the coffee corner, and featuring local produce in many of our cold salads and savory baked goods. We have now begun setting up a stand at the market every other week, selling iced coffee and a few pastries or treats. We love having a little bit more of a presence at the market, and getting to meet other local vendors working hard to provide the community with good, healthy food!

The market manager, Kate Peppard, is sweating blood and tears to bring JP the Saturday-morning-at-the-farmer’s-market. (If you see her around, buy her a beer.) She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me so you could get an inside scoop on the market!

Can you tell us a little bit about the market?

The Egleston Farmers Market is a full service farmers market that offers everything from produce to community composting.  We strive to offer a diverse array of products to our neighborhood with a focus on locally and sustainably grown/made food. We also prioritize food access issues and participate in the Boston Bounty Bucks program and require our produce vendors to accept WIC.  The sense of community is really strong at the market and you’ll find that folks stop by and hang out as they get a chance to sip a complimentary cup of coffee (thanks Ula!), listen to live music, and see neighbors.  It is important to the Egleston Farmers Market to offer a little of something to everyone, so we love feedback and suggestions!

What vendors are selling at the market? How did you find them?

We have a regular slate of vendors who are there on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, and then we have a rotating cast of vendors who come in on a somewhat regular and/or one-time basis.  Most vendors come to us through an application process as they have heard about the market, but when we have gaps we want to fill we sometimes pursue specific vendors directly.

Do you have a favorite food and/or drink that you like to get at the market?

Not fair!  I just love to see what each farmer and food maker brings each week and try to base complete meals off of market inspirations.  I also appreciate that we have a full range of products, so market patrons can indeed make a FULL meal when they shop with us.

What sparked the creation of the market? Who came together to get things started?

The Egleston Farmers Market was kicked off in November of 2012 after nearly a year of planning and preparation.  The idea came to me while listening to a talk about the Codman Square Winter Farmers Market at a JP NET (JP New Economy Transition) potluck in the fall of 2011, and within the next few months had procured organizational support, key co-founding members (JP NET, Egleston Square Main Street, Good Egg Marketing), farmers, and a location!  The first winter market did so well, we decided to expand it to the summer to enhance access to local food in our neighborhood.

How have y’all grown since 2011?

For one, the initial idea was to have an indoor, winter market only; however, due to the lack of options in our neighborhood for fresh, local food, AND the positive response we had, we are now open nearly year round (June – February).  We added a farmer this season and are hoping to see the market patronage grow with the additional product available.  Maybe a little inverse, but we figured we would build it and folks will see the difference.

Do you have any new ideas or changes brewing?

We are always trying to innovate and bring useful programs to our patrons.  The most recent effort is our own version of community composting that we have launched with Bootstrap Compost.  They are there every week to collect patrons’ kitchen scraps for a (suggested) small donation.  

It seems like you are working to keep the market accessible and affordable for folks. Could you talk about what steps the market is taking to achieve that?

We are a SNAP retailer, which enables us to accept EBT cards (food stamps) and participate in the Boston Bounty Bucks program which doubles EBT spending power (spend $10 on your EBT card get a free $10 for a total of $20!). We also require our produce vendors to accept WIC and have been growing our partnership with local organizations such as the Brookside Community Health Center to raise awareness of the importance of local food for health, and to raise awareness about (therefore access to) the market.   We recently had a presence at Brookside with one of our farmers (Norwell Farm) when they handed out the WIC Farmers Market checks, so that folks could immediately access local, healthy food with their benefit.

Could you speak to the market’s emphasis on local and sustainable?

We want to grow and enhance the stability of our local food economy by providing a venue at which small scale farmers and food producers can have an outlet to sell their products.  The majority of our vendors hail from within 50 miles of Jamaica Plain, a number of which have come from next door at Crop Circle Kitchen.  Our farmers are not certified organic, but use organic and sustainable methods for their production and we are proud to have them all.

Anything else you would like us to know about the market?

We will be running a contest over the next few months: Make a Market Meal.  We want our patrons to get as many ingredients at the market for their meal as possible, make a meal, take a picture and post it up to our facebook page tagging all of the vendors they supported to make the meal.  We’ll draw a random entry at the end of the month and the winner will get $50 in Market Money to spend!

We offer a huge variety of great food, a food truck every week, live music, free coffee, composting, kid’s activities and a number of great events over the course of the season and love to see our neighbors taking advantage of all we have to offer!

It is so great to talk with you Kate, and to hear about your exciting work with the market. We will see you this Saturday!

Day Tripping With Ula: Artists For Humanity

6 years 3 days ago
You may have noticed that here at Ula we’re super snappy dressers. And for the New Year we decided to spruce up our look and give our wearable merchandise a little update; out with the old and in with the new, as they say. We put out a call to our resident artists looking for a new spin on our old logo and started searching for a new silk-screener? Printer? Screen-printer? In our time of need Artists for Humanity came to the rescue. Since then we’ve returned to the roost for their mad sign-making skills as we reimagine our customer area and pastry case. 
A nonprofit founded in 1991, Artists for Humanity is devoted to bridging social, economic and racial gaps to enable under-resourced youth in Boston to develop a sense of independence through paid employment in the arts. Sounds fantastic, right? Well we thought so too and were thrilled to find they have a studio devoted to screen-printing and found them willing and able to provide us with some beautiful new merchandise printed on organic cotton tees and sweatshirts.
And if you can believe it, we were even more excited when we found out they’re open for tours. So we laced up our boots, whipped out our Charlie Cards and crossed the river to the Epicenter where we were greeted by the fabulous and knowledgeable Lanae. An Artists for Humanity alum, Lanae was a student participant who returned as the Office Assistant years later. With her first hand knowledge as a former participant-turned-staff, she knows the program inside and out with a special spot in her heart for the painting studio. 
AFH is home to 20 mentors, 130 student participants between the age of 14 and 18 years old, and a whole host of art. They have in-house carpentry, graphic design, painting, and screen-printing studios. Applicants are given a choice in which studio they’d like to focus. Lanea took us around each studio. 
In the carpentry studio, students are encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials in new and interesting ways. The graphics department stresses the importance of learning all the skills necessary to produce a film from start to finish; from storyboarding to the final edit participants are empowered to take ownership and participate in every step of the process. Every film and short documentary piece on the AFH website was made and produced by its own participants. Those in the painting studio explore the boundaries of their medium and their own creativity. Students create what they want, their first piece is always a self-portrait -an idea that we Ulas love- and are able to sell their works for a commission.
Screen-printing is the only AFH studio in full operation, because of the high volume of work commissioned from them. Also due to demand it’s the only studio to require participants not be in high school. This studio was largely staffed with participants working for their GEDs, or college degrees, looking for job training, or saving up for the future. The studio’s been up and running for 6 years now, and has been earning quite a reputation. And with beautiful merch like ours it’s easy to see why! Plus they’re super friendly and the folks on deck were kind to us novice Ulas, who had never screen-printed a thing in our lives a brief walk-through of the process from emulsifying agents to end results. Learn something new every day, right?
After a photo op, we left for the day feeling a little in awe and so thankful to be welcomed into this little hotbed of creativity and youthful innovation in the heart of Boston. We love ya AFH and hope to visit again soon!