Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Mud House: When You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

…dotted by Meghann

To be honest, I don’t even remember how we found The Mud House. We moved into our new home in May and by June we were already calling it “our” place.

Mud House Menu

Snuggled into a corner of Neponset Circle at 389 Neponset Avenue (just before the bridge to Quincy), this sweet little cafe serves, in our humble opinion, the some of the best coffee and breakfast sandwiches in the city…not to mention the delectability that is their lunch menu.

Helen hiding at the Mud House

If you haven’t been, it’s an absolute must but be prepared for a little bit of a wait (regardless of the time of day that you’re going); this place is uber-popular and you’re just as likely to be behind someone from Milton as someone from Dot. But — and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this — waiting in line is actually fun. Artwork by local artists (including DottieHottie favorite Celia McDonough) adorns the walls in a revolving exhibition, family cards filled with bright-eyed children collect en masse on the bulletin board, and the place is filled with happy voices of all ages, races, and creeds.

Mud House Kids

But really, the food and ambience isn’t the best part of this little jewel.  The best part is that by your second visit, owners Helen Ryan and Moira English and their team will know you by name, act like you are the only person that they wanted to see walk through the doors, and ask you — and really care about — what you’ve been up to. It’s the morning equivalent sidling up to the bar at Cheers…without a resident Carla.

Mud House Exterior

Not to get all schmaltzy on you all, but to a young family fresh off of 93 South and still a little dazed from a move and the onslaught of parenthood, the sense that these born-and-bred Dorchesterites believed that we already belonged to the neighborhood — and to Dorchester at large — was such a gift. So…thanks guys!

The Mud House
389 Neponset Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02122
(617) 282-0024
Monday-Friday: 6AM – 2PM, Saturday: 6AM-1PM

Eye Candy

…Dotted by Leslie

When friend Kevin Deabler shared this image with me, I thought:

‘When did he go to Nebraska?.

As it turns out, he didn’t even leave the city.

‘I think I’ve found the one place in Dorchester where all people, buildings, and roads disappear….’

“I was surprised how simple the landscape became on the outskirts of the park. My daughter was slowly biking around, I was following her and this scene just appeared. This kind of peaceful setting is all around the Neponset Trail…” –K.D.

Mark Grundig: The Mystery of the Mighty Muralist

… dotted by Bekki

“Jinkies. Guess who I met?!”

We were gathered around our Scooby Snacks at the staff meeting.  “The mysterious underwater mural guy!” was my response to any teacher who took the bait.  Middle school legend has it, that long ago, a mural appeared on the walls of one of our classrooms.  It is an absolutely beautiful underwater scene, and the only clue is the signature,  “Mark Grundig.”

Observation is the key to any good detective.  While doing some DottieHotties surveillance in Adam’s Village one Saturday, I stopped on Gallivan Boulevard to investigate a particular Dorchester mural.  While I had passed the cityscape many times, it was only now that I recognized the signature … it was none other than “Mark Grundig!”  I felt like Nancy Drew in The Password to Larkspur Lane.

Cityscape Mural at 540 Gallivan Blvd, Supreme Liquors

This time the artist had left more than just a name … he had left his website as well.  I jumped back into the passenger seat of our family’s Mystery Machine and immediately went to work.  Just like the Bloodhound Gang, I was there on the double, and before long I had located the culprit.

Mark Grundig confesses:

As an artist, I started with oil paintings and drawings.   As time went on I would get commissioned for paintings and soon I was commissioned for some murals in local restaurants and clubs.  Soon I was creating murals in houses —  on ceilings and kids rooms.  As my practice grew my clientele grew as well.  The houses became larger and the murals did as well.  In order to grow my business I also started in faux finishing and decorative plasters.

Detail of Grundig's Cityscape

The mural on Gallivan Blvd. was painted almost 10 years ago, I believe.  I was living in the Walter Baker Lofts along with several other artists.  I had a friend that worked for United Liquors and he told me that the building was looking to have an advertisement for their brand and if I could come up with a concept.  I chose to incorporate Dorchester and Boston scenery for the work.  Painting the mural was great, people seemed to enjoy it and it brightened up the building. The rest of my work in Dorchester was done in private homes and businesses.  There was not another public mural like that one.

After further investigation it was discovered that Mark grew up in Randolph, the town where I teach art.  His mother recently retired as one of the elementary school librarians.  The year before I was hired, Mark was a long-term sub at my middle-school.  Hence his motivation for the mural.

Under the strict DottieHotties code of law, I questioned Mark on the people and places that made Dorchester such a target for this type of job.

I have worked alongside with a few business owners in Dorchester. Jack Dougherty from College Hype Embroidery and Steve Kelley from Timberline Construction both helped me out when I was beginning in the business through commissions and mentoring.

I still enjoy going to Venezia and the dBar for dinner & drinks and McKennas for breakfast.

Detail of Grundig's Dorchester Mural

So that, my dear gumshoes, is how the Mighty Muralist case was closed … and he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for this meddling kid.


Mark Grundig specializes in all types of murals and decorative art.

Hot in the Dot at maniQ

…Dotted by Leslie

Last week I stopped by the new maniQ, across from the Ashmont T station on Dorchester Ave., to give my digits some attention before joining friends for dinner :and ended up with not only beautiful nails but a new favorite local retreat.

The super-hip ladies who work there add a unique sense of fashion that Peabody Square has maybe never seen before. Aspiring fashion designers (mais oui! Dorchester stole Jocelyne from Paris!), performers and models; they light up when challenged by clients for a creative nail design or opinions on colors. Peter Tran, the young owner of this new location and the flagship salon on Gallivan Blvd., grew up on Ashmont Hill and intentionally sought out local talent who “reflect the diversity” of the area that he loves.

Ashmont Hill born and bred: Peter Tran, owner of Mani-Q

The Express maniQ and pediQ are a bargain at only $25. Personally, I’m addicted to the Shellac Gel nails for (if you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it!) which give you ‘I just got a manicure’ nails for up to two weeks, only $25.

Too much information alert… one of my favorite treatments at the Gallivan Blvd. location is Eyebrow Threading by Maya. Sure, it makes me sneeze uncontrollably (poor Maya) and makes my eyes water, but heck : it’s still way better than waxing. Hopefully they’ll bring the service to the new location too.

Mani-Q customers chillin' and soakin'

We asked the lovely ladies of Mani-Q {Jocelyne, Jo and Tihara pictured below}  to give us one tip to keep our nails looking pretty between visits and they gave us some great ones…

Jocelyne’s nail care tip (yes, those are her nails — told you they’re good!): To strengthen your nails, mix one crushed clove of garlic in with your clear nail polish.

Tiahara’s nail color trend : French Quarter For Your Thoughts by OPI (used below on this funky design she created)

…and finally, we asked Peter if he would consider giving our dear readers a special deal….and boy, did he come through!

{Hot in the Dot Deal}

Mention DottieHotties now through March 31, 2012 and receive 50% off ANY treatment or service at both Mani-Q locations in Dorchester.

For first time customers only!!




11 Granite Ave
Dorchester, MA 02124
(617) 288-8889

1913 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02124
(617) 288-8887

**Note to DottieHotties readers, the new Dorchester Ave. location is only accepting cash until further notice! I found this out the hard way: wet nails, no money, delicately navigating an ATM…. Don’t be like me! Bring your cash.***

Glass Half Full: Dorchester’s Yogi Wisdom

…dotted by Meghann

Beach Pebbles

About a year-and-a-half ago, I decided to give heated Power Yoga a try.  It certainly didn’t hurt that Open Doors Yoga Studios had just opened a branch on Morrissey Boulevard in Neponset, offered classes for $12.00, and had a working parent-friendly schedule (A 7:30 PM class almost every weekday lets a working mom like me get my yoga on after a toddler’s bed and bath-time).

One class in and I was hooked. I mean HOOKED: totally and completely smitten with the sweat (I’m one of those people who feels like they’ve been most successful when they finish a work-out dripping), the all-encompassing focus, and the connection to myself that I felt on the mat.

These days, I try to get to at least 1-2 classes a week. I’ve been to classes at Open Doors led by a multitude of instructors with a variety of styles from quirky (try Robert’s class on Wednesday nights — who knew flowing to Pearl Jam would be such a popular choice?) to traditional, to ones with people who have since stopped offering their night classes (Karma Longtin? Susan Fogarty? Your are missed!) and everything in between.

Beach Pebbles 2

One current instructor that I’m really drawn to is Amy O’Connor. I’ve actually only gotten to attend one class with her because she teaches on Wednesdays at 9:30 AM but the class I went to was wonderful and the parable that she read at the end of the 75 minute session has stuck with me for well over a month now. I thought I’d share it because I find myself coming back to it day after day when seeing the glass half full seems nearly impossible. I hope it does the same for you all:

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter” spit the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” “Fresh,” remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man.

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.

So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things …. stop being a glass. Become a lake.

–Mark Nepo (a Hindu parable) 


Open Door Yoga Studios

60 Morrissey Boulevard (in the Marketplace at Morrissey Shopping Center)


Baltic European Deli: A Kielbasa Love Story

“I love you.”

He was standing at the open freezer,  professing his love to a block of stuffed cabbage — golabki to be exact.  They were one of the many delicacies that I brought back from my hot date with Baltic European Deli.  Traditionally my mister is the one to escort our Polish fare home, but with a DottieHotties post breathing down my neck, he let me have my way.

Baltic European Deli flirts with the Dorchester and South Boston border.

I was quite bashful upon entry.  It was all so overwhelming and new.  Like a good girl, I had brought my mother along to chaperone the soiree.  She became engaged at once with the fresh baked bread, and our senses were stimulated with the beautiful variety of loves — ahem — loaves.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Bread-holder

Once I composed myself, the object of my desire was located — in the freezer.  The label reads: rice, ground pork, cabbage leaves, tomato sauce, tomato pasta, flour, sour cream, spices.  In my heart, however,  golabki are so much more.  I tasted my first bite of the dish as a newlywed, made by my mister’s Gramma Mary.  One trip to Baltic European Deli, and a little heat is all it takes to transport our taste buds back to a Connecticut kitchen, and a plate-full of hugs.

The Glamorous Golabki

Both lovers of international food, my mom and I took our sweet time walking down the aisle of imported groceries.  Once we rounded the corner, my heart skipped a beat.  Never in all my life had I laid my eyes upon so many pierogi!   Cheese, potato, mushroom, sauerkraut, and more … they had filled dough in ways that I had never imagined possible.  It was more than any one woman could handle.  Vowing to honor my husband’s potato and cheese wishes, I selected a ziplock bag full of Baltic European’s Deli’s homemade version.

I can bring home pierogi, heat it up in a pan ...

My final conquest was the kielbasa.  The expansive deli counter was a literal meat market.  Gripping our cart, we waited in line, our hunger growing more intense by the moment.  Finally, our eyes met with Kamila, a true goddess.  As I timidly ordered the house kielbasa, I confessed that it was my first time.  We got to know each other a little, and I shared my story of woe: a failed relationship with homemade pierogi  — according to Gramma Mary, I didn’t pinch the dough tight enough.

Kielbasa, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways ...

The establishment has been open for over ten years, and is owned by Joanna and Tadeusz Barcikowski.  They also own Cafe Polonia, which is located across the street, and will most certainly be the site of my next dinner-date with the mister.  Divulging her favorite part about working at Baltic European Deli, Kamila said, “I like introducing people to Polish food, checking out their shopping cart, and making sure they have everything that I would put on my table.”  I revealed my groceries, and she had some great advice.  We strayed from my prearranged list, and had an affair with Chrusciki or “Angel Wing Cookies”, Apricot filled Sour Cream Cookies and an additional brand of pierogi: Alexandra’s Home Style Dumplings.  They were still potato and cheese.  I have my type.

Tempted by the fruit of another ... Apricot filled Sour Cream Cookies

As we parted ways, Kamila was all smiles.  She made a promise to teach me more about kielbasa and deli meat the next time I was in the area.  As a token of her hospitality, she added their sandwich menu and the bi-weekly edition of the White Eagle newspaper to our bags.   I am often tongue-tied, so an enthusiastic “This was great!” was all I could awkwardly exclaim.  The experience was so pleasurable that I told Kamila “I’m not so sure about letting my husband do all the shopping.  I want to come back.”

“You should come together next time!” Kamila suggested.

Perhaps we will.  We can make a date out of it.


Baltic European Deli: open 7 days a week, offers catering

632 Dorchester Avenue


Care Polonia: Fine Polish Cuisine

611 Dorchester Avenue


Dear Dorchester Valentine

…dotted by Meghann

To Do List

Dear Hubby-

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I just wanted to say “thanks” … about a billion times over:

*Thank you for listening to me when I said — on a whim — “Let’s just go check out Dorchester,”.

*Thank you for letting me daydream about renovating an old, forgotten, and broken-down house.

*Thank you for  sticking with me through about a thousand homes.

*Thank you for not laughing when the 1,001st place — the epitome of unloved but with all the right bones — came up for sale and I fell in love.

*Thank you for agreeing to put in that first offer. And the second. And the third (while all around us the real estate market was crumbling).

*Thank you for moving into our new home when I was seven months pregnant  — unable to do anything to help — and spending every ounce of your free time painting, sanding, and writing checks to make it livable before our little guy was born.

*Thank you for not giving up on all those renovations when we were both sleep-deprived and utterly-exhausted new parents.

*Thank you for embracing our amazingly-friendly and helpful neighbors.

*Thank you for lovingly learning to grow — and then care for — our lawn.

*Ditto for the rosebushes we planted in the back that bloom like mad and the hydrangeas along the side that weren’t supposed to grow but still do.

*Thank you for not giving up on this house, this dream, this neighborhood when everyone said “we’d run for the ‘burbs” in a couple of years.

Thank you for everything. You’ve made my house-dream a reality and our son’s childhood as idyllic, diverse and loving as possible.

Happy Valentines Day; you are so loved.