A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog
We’re calling this the ‘summer of boats’ — I kicked off the summer with a tour of Newport harbor, have enjoyed some lovely ferry rides, and this past weekend myself and ten of my best friends used Vimbly to book tickets on the Adirondack III to sail around the Boston Harbor for an afternoon. We were celebrating a very special birthday for my friend Taz, complete with a boat-side cheese plate, mini-cupcakes, and champagne for our ride. It could not have been a more perfect day, or more gorgeous weather, and we even got the best seats on the boat — it felt like our own little private excursion since we all got to sit together in the separate back area of the boat. Our harbor ride reminded me of two things: 1) gosh I love have a cocktail while out on the water, what’s better than that? and 2) we have a lot of fun when we decide to use our weekends to try something new and break out of our normal routines. So, here’s to more fun weekend activities that break the mold (and thanks Vimbly for giving me the opportunity to realize that!). Now, where are we boating to next?
Please note: Vimbly offered me a complimentary chance to use their site and try out their service. All opinions and images are my own.
Last summer, my bestie and I had a girls night and picnicked while watching an outdoor movie in the park. We both kicked ourselves for waiting until the end of the summer to finally do it, and I made a promise to myself that this summer I’d do it much more often. We live in a small apartment, so it’s not convenient to store big coolers or picnic baskets — I usually just grab a small tote and fill it up with a few essential picnic ingredients: 1) A cozy blanket — I love the Gunn & Swain Mexican blankets. 2) A few festive drinks — IZZE sparkling juices are tasty, and all you have to do is pop them open, no need to cart around glassware (but striped straws are encouraged!). 3) Snacks! I hate having to bring a knife and cutting board for a cheese plate – the less we have to carry, the better. To solve for this I took a mason jar and layered ingredients to make individual cheese plate ‘kits’ — this one has mixed nuts, dried apricots, sharp cheddar, salami and crackers. 4) Bring some cloth napkins, they’re eco-friendly, and since they’re a bit heavier than a paper napkin they won’t fly away. Throw it all in a fun tote, grab your sunnies and girlfriends, and you’re ready for a day in the park!
Please Note: This post was sponsored by Izze; all images, ideas and content are my own.
Guys! It’s National Donut Day! Why didn’t I take the day off of work to celebrate? Silly me! I’ll celebrate this momentous occasion by rounding up three of my favorite mini-donut recipes from blog posts of the past — hope you enjoy some of my favorite sweet treats today and celebrate too!
- Apple Cider Donut Cupcakes. These are addictive, and what I would consider my favorite Fall donut recipe (that’s a thing, right?).
- Donut S’mores Pops. I’m a genius for dunking chocolate mini donuts into melted marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers, right? I’m a MAD genius for then putting them on a popsicle stick and making them into donut-pops.
- Mini-Donut Birthday Cake. I made this for my donut-loving girlfriend for her birthday (a fun story, I thought it would be a great idea to carry this cake on my lap in the car ride over to her house without a cake carrier, things almost ended in a major chocolate-covered disaster, but it was delicious nonetheless!)
I had one of those *pinch me, is this really my life?* moments this weekend while being treated to a luxurious getaway by Lark Hotels at their newest property in Newport, RI. I was so lucky to be invited with a group of awesome bloggers and creatives to stay in the newly opened Gilded Hotel, participate in some fun activities, and cruise around the historic ocean town to learn a bit more about the area.
The hotel was an absolute feast of eye candy, designed by Rachel Reider. The tagline of the hotel is ‘A Clever Twist on a Golden Age’ and the decor certainly lived up to the moniker. Jewel tone paint colors, ornate mirrors, lacquered surfaces, and gold accents gave the whole space the vibe of a funky, modern-day Great Gatsby party. A few of my favorite details — the graphic pink wallpaper in the hotel’s lounge, the whimsical garden courtyard, and the over-the-top design of the front desk and breakfast area.
When we weren’t ogling over the crazy gorgeous decor of the space, the Lark Hotels team had us busy with tons of fun activities. We toured some of the Newport Mansions, and got to see some of the historic opulence of the Newport area that inspired the hotel’s design. We had manicures on the hotel veranda, private croquet lessons in the courtyard, and took an afternoon sail boat ride around the harbor to tour the local area. And after dinner both nights, we ended the evening in the hotel’s pool room which had a moody library vibe for champagne, cookies, and some games.
It was a hard adjustment to come back to real-life on Monday after such a luxurious weekend (I am still dreaming of the tapas-style breakfasts served at the hotel!). I’m so happy I got to spend the time with such an amazing group of fun, inspiring women, and grateful to Lark Hotels for truly treating us like we lived in the Gilded age. If you’re looking for a fun spot to stay in Newport, or want to getaway with some girlfriends for a relaxing weekend, I can’t recommend the space enough. Now, we are we going to travel next to and do this again?!For more pictures of the weekend and the hotel, be sure to check out the hashtag #GildedGetaway on Instagram.
Please note: Lark Hotels hosted us for the weekend and gave us complimentary stays at their property. All opinions are my own.
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!