A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog
It was a pretty glorious long weekend, we packed our bags and headed south to Nashville with two of our friends for some fun. We stayed the Union Station Hotel (it’s an old train station!) and spent the long weekend exploring (aka eating our way through) the city. Researching our trip and sharing a guide to the interesting spots we find in a new city are almost as much fun for me as the actual vacation — so prepare for a very comprehensive recap below!
The very first thing in our to-do-list when we landed was to get some classic Southern food, and several folks had recommended Hattie B’s hot chicken (and the potato salad and pimento mac and cheese also came with praises!). I was actually in pain when we left — not because I felt sick from the food, but because I could-not-stop-eating it was so good. The mac and cheese a bit too saucy for me, but the chicken was awesome — I got the mild because I’m scaredy-cat, Mike got the hot and loved it. Another classic Southern recommendation was the famous Loveless Cafe. If you visit Nashville and aren’t from the area, know that it’s about a 25 minute cab ride outside the city, but SO worth it. I always get nervous that places like this are going to be overhyped but it wasn’t at all, it exceeded my expectations. They are famous for their biscuits and I thought they were delicious, but the star of the meal was the cheesy hash brown casserole. I’m delighted to let you know that my friend Colleen we were traveling with actually ordered the cookbook as we were eating brunch just so we could see the recipe, so they’ll definitely be recreated in the future. We saved our more refined meal choices for dinner, including a stop at Husk Nashville. I had been to the Charleston location before, and loved that the design of the Nashville outpost was similarly in a retro-fitted antique home that was a nod to the city’s heritage. I ordered a roast chicken and it was delicious; the highlight was snagging a bit of my husband’s dessert — a rhubarb tart. We stumbled upon another great restaurant in Germantown per the recommendation of an awesome bartender (more on that later) called Butchertown Hall — it was a fun little surprise that we stumbled upon it and it ended up being so amazingly tasty — we shared carefully crafted cocktails and family-style feast of brisket and homemade sausages. The absolute highlight of the trip was eating at Rolf and Daughters though; I think the four of us said “oh my god” no fewer than 100 times in between bites at this spot. Every dish was phenomenal, the service was impeccable, and we had such a fun time in the lively space (which can sometimes be lacking in nicer-restaurants!). If you ever find yourself in Nashville, please eat here. We did supplement all of this massive meals with a few more casual spots, mostly just to give ourselves a break and digest. We spent one morning in East Nashville and had breakfast and cold brew coffee at Barista Parlor — this place was like a giant hipster playground and I loved it. They had breakfast sandwiches on biscuits and homemade pop tarts! Remember how I said this was one of our smaller meals? We also checked out The Pharmacy in the same neighborhood and enjoyed some burgers and drinks in their backyard beer garden. What did you do besides eating you ask? We did visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, and saw Hatch Show Print – the famous music-poster print shop connected to the museum. We also wandered up and down Broadway and checked out some of the famous Honkey-Tonk music spots. There was some shopping too! Whites Mercantile was probably my favorite shop we visited, and I found some fun things in vintage shops. A few other stores I thought were gorgeous — Imogen and Willie and Fuselage. Oh and we stopped into lots of fun bars for cocktails too. Remember that bartender I mentioned earlier? There was a laid-back spot called 12 South Taproom in the eponymous neighborhood where we met the worlds most helpful bartender named Patrick who gave us great local tips, kept our beers full, and talked with us for the better part of an afternoon. Another great spot that I wish we had been able to spend more time at, but was closing early for a private event, was Pinewood Social. I’d seen tons of write-ups about this multi-functional space that’s part coffee shop, part bowing alley, bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge and was excited to see it in person. The drinks and the decor were almost too much for this instagram-obsessed gal to handle. And then our favorite late night spot that we went to not once, but twice, was called Losers (next to a bar names Winners, can’t make this stuff up) — this dive bar had the coverband of all coverbands playing and we drank and danced until the wee hours of the morning. And with that, we headed back on a plane to Boston and I’m a dire need of a detox and diet, but it was so worth it and so much fun!
I volunteered to make a pasta salad for a friend’s Memorial Day BBQ and decided to dig for inspiration to mix up my stand-by recipe. I found an old Martha Stewart antipasti pasta salad recipe and gave it my own spin with a few different ingredients. It wasn’t an exact science — I tossed radiatore pasta with balsamic vinegarette and lots of salt and pepper. Then I folded in a handful of chopped tomatoes, capers, provolone cubes, a jar of green olives, diced salami, finely minced red onions and lots of torn fresh basil leaves and chopped chives. It was a hit and will likely be the new ‘stand-by’ pasta salad for BBQs this summer!
With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, it feels like the right time to mix up a summery new cocktail to celebrate. My friends at IZZE sent me some tasty sparkling blueberry juice to try and I used it as the inspiration for this simple seasonal drink. To make one for yourself, pour 2oz of vodka and fresh juice from half a lime in a glass over ice. Rub a few mint leaves between your hands to open up their flavors and add them to the glass. Top the rest of the drink off with half a bottle of IZZE Sparkling Blueberry and give the cocktail a stir to combine. A little extra mint and lime wedge (and of course some patriotic striped straws!) are all you need to garnish and finish your drink. Having friends over that are looking for a mocktail? Just replace the vodka with a little soda water instead!
Please Note: This post was sponsored by Izze; all images, ideas and content are my own.
Earlier this week I mustered up some bravery and went outside to our tiny little apartment-sized grill and started to clean off the heavy wear it took over the winter. It wasn’t fun, but the result was that delicious smokey smell of the first barbecue of the season. And then poof! just like that, it’s Memorial Day weekend and my summer is packed with invites to friends and family’s backyard BBQs — I can’t wait. I always love to bring a dish along with me and decided it was time to spice up some of the staples in my repertoire. Taking some inspiration from an amazing restaurant in my neighborhood, Sarma, I used flavors from a potato dish I had tasted there over the winter and create a Greek-inspired potato salad. Tzatziki, dill, red onions, and slivers of shitake mushrooms give this side dish a really bold flavor (I can’t stop eating it!). Full recipe below.
- 3 lbs of baby yellow potatoes
- 1/2 cup of thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup of tzatziki sauce
- 1/4 cup of sour cream
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
- 2-3 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp of finely minced red onion
- 3/4 tbsp of fresh dill
- 3 tbsp of minced chives
- Boil a pot of water and cook the washed baby yellow potatoes until just soft to touch (test them by pressing down on them with a fork — if they start to mush just slightly, they’re ready!). Drain and set aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, saute 1/2 cup of thinly sliced shitake mushrooms with a tiny bit of oil in a pan for 3-5 minutes, set aside on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and let them cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine tzatziki sauce, sour cream, mayonnaise and vinegar.
- Next, fold in the potatoes, mushrooms, red onion, dill and chives to combine and coat.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Radio silence here usually means things are happening elsewhere for me, and for the past two weeks a lot has been happening. I left my job working on the social media team for Liberty Mutual Insurance — it’s telling that as I write that, it’s actually the first time I’ve ever talked about my ‘day job’ on this site. It was truly sad to leave my amazing, smart, funny, caring co-workers (tears were shed, people! Real tears!). When I’ve been telling people about this departure, the first question I get is “wow, are you blogging full-time now?” Nope! For the first time in my life I actually think I’m doing something better than the prospect of blogging full-time — I found a new job that totally aligns with my passions and excites me so much I have been springing out of bed in the morning (a true novelty for a morning-monster like myself). I joined the team at Ellie Kai, an amazing women’s fashion brand that creates made-to-order dresses and clothing in powerful, bold prints. I have my first two weeks on the job under my belt and it’s been an awesome experience and a great learning process. I’m going to be working from home part-time, and traveling down to Cape Cod a few days a week to work out of their corporate offices. Driving (quite far!) to work has been a totally new experience, as has working from home for this social butterfly (please someone stop me if I start talking to my cat). I’ve already had so much fun in just a few short days though — including popping over to Nantucket to help set up one of the summer showrooms. Spending the day working from the wharf in Nantucket was all I needed to experience to know I had hit the jackpot. The very best part of this new role is that I have been feeling really well-balanced — just being able to talk about my job here and on social media feels pretty freeing, and I think the role will offer me a lot more opportunities to cross-pollinate my passions at work with what I love doing here on my site — I feel so very lucky! So that’s that — except to see some more behind-the-scenes over on my Instagram account soon!
If I was queen of anything, I think I’d probably be the queen of the last-minute DIY. I wish I was one of those bloggers that plans her awesome ideas months in advance so I could just hit publish a week before an event, but my best inspiration always seems to pop up the day before a holiday! Case and point: my derby day DIY epiphany popped into my head earlier this weekend. The good news is that this DIY concept can be used in dozens of different ways for many holidays to come, using gold clay and wooden skewers to make some horseshoe drink stirrers.
The instructions are simple: roll out modeling clay to about 1/4″ thickness and use an exacto-knife to cut out your shape — in this case, a simple horseshoe. Next, use a small wooden toothpick or dowel to add details before popping the pieces in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes. Once the pieces have cooked, hardened, and cooled, use a tiny drop of hot glue to affix to a wooden skewer. Let the glue set and you’re ready to pop them into a mint julep or cocktail of your choice!
When I was down in Austin, TX for work last month I popped into Royal Blue Grocery for a quick bite in the morning, and tried a breakfast burrito for the very first time in my life. What was I thinking? Thirty years on this earth before I tasted a breakfast burrito! I managed to eat a new flavor combination every morning for the rest of my trip, and when I got back I was determined to recreate them at home. One of the best versions I ate had chopped up potatoes inside so I decided to take this concept to the next level: I used steamed tortillas to roll-up scrambled eggs, melted sharp cheddar cheese, chopped up fresh scallions, and some red-bliss mashed potatoes with lots of salt and pepper. Oh-em-gee are these tasty, and such a good way to use up leftover potatoes from dinner the night before. If you’re feeling really crazy try adding some chorizo too!
Why is it that of all of the party wares you can buy, that drinkware is always the most plain and boring? I mean, what’s more fun than DRINKS people? I have found it quite tough to find fun, festive options for disposable glasses, so I decided to come up with a way to make them more festive on my own — this is such a simple idea that I’m kind of kicking myself for not coming up with it earlier. I purchased simple clear plastic cups from the party store and then used printable colored labels from Paper Source to write out a fun phrase (since these were for a morning event, I wrote “good mornin’ sunshine” on the stickers). After printing them out at home, I simply adhered the stickers to the cups before serving a tasty rosemary lemonade in them. I’m positive I’ll be replicating this idea for many parties in my future!
This past weekend I was delighted to partner with one of my favorite brands — Madewell — for a fun spring shopping event. I became a Madewell convert the day I walked into their Natick store and was completely deflated that I couldn’t find denim that fit my body anywhere. One of the lovely stylists helped me try on their denim line until I found not one, but two! perfect pairs of denim; now every pair of jeans in my closet is from Madewell now. While everyone shopped they sipped on mimosas and a rosemary infused lemonade I mixed up. EAT Boutique was also on site hosting a pop-up shop with spring treats, and Maggie of Eat Boutique made some pretty tasty tomato tarts from her new cookbook: Food Gift Love for everyone to enjoy — it was a fun little fete to cap of the weekend!
I found the most darling sprinkles in the Easter section at Target and had to find a way to use them this weekend (to justify buying another bottle of sprinkles, you know?). I took a classic cheesecake recipe and stirred them into the batter for a funfetti-style look — don’t they look like they’re watercolored on top? I also mixed up the recipe and used gluten free cookies in lieu of a graham cracker crust to make them gluten-free for a few the guests and my in-law’s Easter dinner — a simple swap-out and they tasted nearly the same! And for a festive look I nestled them in some Easter grass on a big serving plate — like little eggs in a basket.