A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog
Alright friends, I’m in a winter-cooking slump and I’m calling out for help. I’ve been through my Pinterest boards, my favorite cookbooks, and even that pile of torn-out recipes I keep in a binder in my kitchen. Sure, I’ve found some ideas for dinner parties or a leisurely Sunday afternoon of slow-roasting something decadent — but I’m looking for weeknight recipes that I can make in 30-40 minutes after work (oh and somewhat healthy would be great too, since I’ve been eating like I’m already storing up for calories for next winter). So — can you help me? Would love your ideas! Leave them in the comments!
I don’t know about you guys, but this Boston winter is kicking my butt. The snow is overwhelming, the commuting has been a nightmare, and I have been soothing my winter-blues with a heck of a lot of couch-time and junk-food. More than anything, I’ve been feeling a little … well the best word I can think of is: Meh. Uninspired, unmotivated, and overall just … Meh. So I thought I’d put together a list of ideas for how we can all stay sane and a little more chic during this insane winter weather. Please do share you ideas with me too!
1) Don’t be one of those suckers stocking up on bread and milk. Hit the speciality food store and get your artisan marshmallows (I love Apotheker’s), macarons, chutney and cheeses. If you’re going to be stuck inside, you want to have quality rations. 2) Go ahead, do it — call yourself an Uber. Sure, it’s surge pricing — but there’s nothing chic about the MBTA this winter. 3) Order that Hudson Bay wool throw you’ve been eyeing for years, consider it an investment in your snuggling game. 4) Wine. Do it. Buy the whole case, you know you’ve already drank as many bottles this winter hiding from the storms. 5) Host a shoveling soiree and go dig out some elderly neighbors — there’s nothing more chic than being a good samaritan! Bonus: it’s a great work out to burn off all that wine. 6) Get out there and support the small businesses that are hurting from having to close during the storms. The great news is that you’ll be one of the brave folks to go out in the cold to try that impossible-to-get-a-reservation-at-restaurant, finally easy to get a seat at the chicest spots in the city. 7) Just dress the part — bean boots and fleece lined wellies are now acceptable attire at 99% of occasions. My advice? Invest in some cute boot socks in case you have to pop them off to change shoes! And don’t forget a sassy pom-pom hat and smart mittens. 8) You’ve probably already reached the end of your Netflix binge-watching queue, so start to dig into some classic old-school movies. 9) Consider this snow-bound winter a great excuse to start that resolution to read more this year, you’ve got plenty of time on the couch to start chipping away at your reading list. 10) No shame in channeling your energy to start thinking about, praying for, even begging a bit for spring. It’s got to come sometime!
Alright friends, who has trouble thinking of cute Valentine’s Day gifts for the men in your life? Man-presents are tough! When a friend of mine introduced to me the makers of JL The Brand and their stylish(and American-made!) dress socks a little light-bulb went off in my head for a cute Valentine’s Day gift idea for my husband. (And PS: I already gave it to him, so I’m not ruining any surprises here… the life of a blogger-husband, you get your DIY presents a week early because it was part of a blog post!). I found a small square box and rolled up the patterned socks — love those little crowns! — and topped the box with a hand-lettered quip that says “I love you from your head to your TOES!“. Aren’t Valentine’s Day puns the best?
And hey! If you’re looking to treat the guy in your life to some stylish toes too, JL The Brand is offering Domestikatedlife readers 20% your order + free shipping, just use the code SoxAppeal.
Valentine’s Day is just a few days away! I always seem to come up with homemade present ideas a day or two before the actual holiday comes around, leaving me a short window to actually grab supplies and make it come to life. That’s why I’m excited to share this Valentine’s Day DIY concept today — it’s inexpensive, simple to make and a great idea to have in your back-pocket for last-minute gifts because all of the materials can be found at your local grocery store!
I repurposed a cardboard egg carton and gave it a quick layer of craft paint in a pink tone. Then I popped a dozen mini-cupcakes from the grocery store bakery section into the egg carton once it dried, and glued a hand-lettered message to the inside of the container that says “Happy Valentine’s Day, Cupcake!” It’s a great way to gift sweet treats without having to bake them yourself — repackaging the items makes them feel special.
To help celebrate Valentine’s Day, Rich Products is helping me give away a $50 gift card so you can treat your Valentine (or yourself!) to something special. To enter, follow the instructions below:
- To enter to win leave a comment below to share how you’d use your $50 gift card to treat your Valentine (or yourself!).
- For an extra entry, LIKE the Domestikatedlife Facebook page and leave another comment below.
- For an extra entry follow @domestikateblog on Instagram and leave another comment below.
- For an extra entry, share a post with your own gifting ideas using the hashtag #givebakery and include a comment below with your post.
- This giveaway will end at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, February 13th and is open to US residents only.
Please note: This post was sponsored by Rich Products Corporation, all opinions, ideas, and DIYs are my own.
With all these blustery snow storms blowing around the Northeast, there’s been plenty of cozy afternoons stuck inside for some Valentine’s Day crafting. During a recent snow-in I got to work updating a store-bought box of chocolates with a piñata-inspired look. It’s a simple DIY that took about 20 minutes, and took a blah-looking grocery-store find to the next level! Here’s how to make your own:
1) Gather varying colors of pink and tissue paper, a glue-stick or scrapbooking tape-runner, a pair of fringe scissors and a box of chocolates (and maybe get some extra chocolates to snack on while crafting so you don’t eat your Valentine’s present).
2) Cut the tissue paper into 1″ tall strips, and then use the fringe scissors to cut fringe 3/4 of the way up the strip of tissue paper.
3) Run a strip of the adhesive on the top of the box of chocolates — starting at the very bottom of the box (set the bottom and the chocolates aside to avoid crushing them) and press down one layer of the fringed tissue paper. It’s okay to let the strip of tissue paper hang over the sides — we’ll trim it later!
4) Repeat this process, adding each layer on top of the other until you reach the top of the heart-shaped box. Using regular scissors, trim the edges to reveal the original heart shape of the box.
5) Give this custom chocolate box to your Valentine!
As I’m sitting at home on this icy-cold snow day, I could not think of a better time to be sharing this recipe — a rich and hearty soup, chock-full of vegetables and a warm, flavorful broth. I’m still kind of baby when it comes to eating a lot of vegetables — it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that pasta and chocolate and cheese are SO much tastier. So I’ve been attempting to sneak them into dishes (and let’s be honest — covering them with cheese does help — this recipe has both!). Sausage and white beans make the soup filling enough to have it as a dinner, the roasted garlic gives it tons of flavor, and the secret ingredient gives the broth a little extra oomph: a parmesan rind that breaks down partially as it simmers. Full recipe below:
- 2 Bulbs of Garlic
- Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 1 Large Shallot
- 1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (casing removed)
- 5 oz Bag of Fresh Spinach
- 2 cans of White Beans
- 2 cups of Carrots (diced)
- 4 cups of Chicken Stock
- Parmesan Cheese Rind
- Slice the top of each bulb of garlic off and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the bulbs in foil and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the garlic cloves become soft and caramelized. Remove cloves from bulb once cooled.
- Dice onion and shallot and add to a large dutch oven or stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil. As they begin to soften, add sausage and begin to brown, breaking up into smaller pieces as it cooks.
- Once sausage is browned, add spinach to the mixture and mix in to wilt.
- Add white beans, carrots, roasted garlic, chicken stock and parmesan rind to the pot and bring to a slow-boil for 10 minutes.
- Reduce soup and simmer for an hour; remove what remains of the parmesan rind.
- Serve hot with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a side of crusty bread — enjoy!
My pre-work routine often looks a little something like a tornado rolling in on my apartment — I am really not a morning person. Breakfast is usually the last thing on my mind as I’m pulling on my shoe with one hand and putting on mascara with the other, so most days I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up a quick bite at the coffee shop near my office. It’s quick and easy, but it’s also expensive and not that healthy — why are bad habits the easiest ones to adopt? So in an effort to make a breakfast that’s easy for me to grab at home as I’m running out the door I experimented with making my own homemade granola. It’s silly I haven’t done it earlier — it’s just about the simplest thing to make! Full recipe below:
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup
- 1/4 cup of Honey
- 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar
- 4 tbsp of Melted Butter
- 3 tbsp of Vegetable Oil
- 4 cup of Oats
- 3/4 cup of Chopped Almonts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine vanilla extract, syrup, honey, brown sugar, better and oil in a bowl.
- Pour the mixture over oats and combine until fully coated. Fold in almonds.
- Spread the granola evenly across a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing the granola mid-way through.
Come football play-off season the pressure is really on for me. I’m not talking about being nervous or worked up about the actual games, I’m talking about intensely brainstorming game-day snack ideas. While everyone else is preparing their picks for the big game, I’m busy concocting up ideas for what I plan to stuff my face with. And good news: I have a buttery, carb-y, pepperoni-stuffed plan, my friends! When I hit a mental block thinking about what to bring to a football viewing party last weekend my husband offered me some sage advice. He said: ‘you usually do well by taking something big and tasty and turning it into a bite sized snack’ – of course! So I shrunk down my favorite flavors in pizzas and garlic breads into a super easy Pepperoni-Stuffed Garlic Knot bite. The full recipe is below for all of your Superbowl Party planning needs!
- Store-bought pizza dough
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 Tbsp of butter
- 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
- 8-10 cloves of garlic
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Pull or cut 1″ round pieces of pizza dough and use your fingers to roll into a 1 to 2″ disc. Top the disc with a piece of pepperoni and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
- Roll the sides of the dough over the pepperoni and cheese filling and pinch the dough closed to seal it inside. Roll dough around in between your hands to round the shape and ensure the dough is fully sealed. Repeat until all of the dough is used up and arrange the dough balls into a pie dish.
- In a food processor, combine butter, parsley and garlic. Spread the garlic herb butter over the dough, making sure that the mixture is evenly dispersed.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the garlic knots just begin to turn gold brown. Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.
The 30 before 30 list! Now that I’m officially a lady of her thirties, I’m looking back on the list I wrote over two years ago of thirty things I want to accomplish before I kicked off this new decade. It’s crazy to think what has changed in that time. I married my best friend, I changed jobs, I traveled to some pretty amazing places and had more fun writing this blog and planning events than I really ever dreamed possible. I think a lot of those great moments were supported in part by this list because I put a pen to paper and made a plan for the things I wanted to do, see, feel, and be. So I feel I owe this little list a bit of my attention and recap where I’ve been (26 completed!) and where I’m headed next (4 that I’m still making happen!). Some of them were silly, some of them were thoughtful, and some of them were big stuff! Let’s start-off with the ones I completed:
- Buy a ‘grown up’ piece of furniture. What were the requirements for it ‘grown-up?’ …. basically just a single piece of furniture that wasn’t a hand-me-down or Craigslist score. I’m proud to say that Mike and I invested in a brand new couch that greatly improved our living space — I love it! Another piece we added to our collection was a hot pink bar cart, more on that later in the list…
- Read 10 books. I definitely completed this task by the hitting the numbers but looking back I realize my goal was to read more consistently and I’m not sure I did that. I read most of these books in short bursts around vacations and really lost my rhythm for reading consistently on my commute and at night before bed. Note to self: Making it a 2015 goal to read at least one book a month and already quite the stack to work through (recommendations are welcome!)
- Host a dinner party. When I wrote this list, throwing a dinner party felt daunting because our apartment is pretty tiny. But a small apartment makes a great space for a small dinner party, and I made an effort to invite friends over in smaller batches when entertaining for a sit-down dinner. I also hosted some bigger events at home — like our annual New Year’s Eve celebrations and a baby shower for my blogger bestie!
- Hang a gallery wall. Why does that darn Domino Magazine always make this look so easy? Spoiler alert: It’s not. I think I added this to my list because it forced me to be intentional about what kind of things I wanted to surround myself with in our home. I just completed this recently after collecting the perfect pieces for my gallery wall over the past two years, and I’m so happy with how it turned out (see a picture on instagram!)
- Learn calligraphy. Done and done! I took an awesome calligraphy class with Lettering by Liz. The class was great and it gave me a huge appreciation for those that have the talent. I’m not sure it’s something I have the time to practice consistently but I’m really happy I tried it out.
- Catch up on the most ‘classic’ movies. I feel like I can mark this one off the list — I finally saw Casablanca, caught up on my Hitchcock movies, and even watched National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation (I know, how had I never seen that before?!). I do have one big movie on the list I didn’t get to — Gone with the Wind — so I’m keeping that in my back pocket for a snow-day this winter when I have a free 4-hours.
- Grow something from a seed. I think that a few of my friends laughed when I added this to me list — for all of my domestic-prowess in the kitchen and with a glue-gun, I fail hard at gardening. A black thumb is not even a strong-enough term for my lack of skills but last summer I hit the hardware store and picked out my seeds and set out to grow something (ANYTHING!) from a seed. The tomatoes died and the peppers never even sprouted but I did get some chives and basil to pop out of the dirt for a few weeks. The chives were the only thing that semi-lived all summer (I assume this means they are technically some kind of a weed?), but I did it!
- Go to more concerts. I love love love live music, but time and budgets always seem to get in the way of grabbing concert tickets. I tried to plan out some big shows I knew I would remember forever (Jay Z and Beyonce were epic!). I was lucky to have a few impromptu concert experiences too — last-minute tickets to a Counting Crows show that we scored online the day of the show, and a weather-related detour on our road-trip Honeymoon itinerary lead to a surprise visit to Red Rocks where we were able to see the Alabama Shakes and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (which I can say was one of the most fun concerts and tailgating experiences ever). Note to self: this makes you really happy, do more of this.
- Get my 401ks in order. This was a pain-in-the-butt, but man did it make me feel like a grown-up to finally figure it all out, merge accounts from previous jobs, and sit down and talk with my husband about how we can save for our future. So not fun, but I’m lucky to have a smart guy like Mike in my life to help figure it all out.
- Pay off (at least one of) my student loans. Ugh, this was another not-so-fun-one on the list — the pain of signing over bonus-checks and blogger-dollars to chip away at that looming stack of student loan bills. I’d like to say I felt really accomplished when I paid off one of my student loans, but the truth is I just started to think about the remaining ones that are left. I just tell myself that it was all worth it when I think of meeting my best friends and husband at college — they’re certainly worth every single penny (oh and I guess the education was pretty good too, ha!).
- Take a cooking class. I killed two birds with one stone here and took a cooking class where I learned to macarons from scratch. Ever think to yourself, why are these tiny little airy desserts so darn expensive? Because they are a pain in the butt to make! The best part of the class was taking it with my sister and her friend — baking is better with buddies!
- Bake macarons from scratch. See above! I took the class and even made them at home on my own afterwards (and thanks to my sister for gifting me all of the fancy tools to do so!). One batch came out terribly, another was pretty good — practice makes perfect.
- Enjoy a long stroll through an art museum. In my mind I had a trip to NYC planned for this item on the list, and planned to hop from museum to museum. But every time I make a visit down to see my family in NY we usually get distracted by eating and shopping, oops! I did have a great afternoon at the MFA with my dear friend Taz where we took in the Mario Testino exhibit and relived our days of taking art history classes in the museum halls during college. Note to self: make that NYC trip happen! You’ve never even been to the Guggenheim! Who are you?
- Find and stock a bar cart for the apartment. My bar cart quest was always focused on a shiny brass vintage bar cart that I had hoped to find when antiquing with my mom. I never did find that vintage bar cart, but a brand new bar cart fell into my lap when I won an instagram contest held by Society Social. And just like that, my hot pink bar cart found its way into our kitchen and has been fully stocked ever since. To say I adore this piece of furniture is an understatement.
- Visit Nantucket for the day. I guess somewhere around my 28th year on this planet I realized I hadn’t been to Nantucket — which is basically blasphemy for a preppy New England gal like myself. I added this to my list and brought it up with friends at dinner one night over the summer and we made an impromptu decision right there at the table to make a trip to the island the very next morning. I jokingly refer to this as the “best day of my life” — because it was perfect (see below for notes on my actual best day ever). It was spontaneous, it was gorgeous day with perfect summer weather, and it was filled with music and drinks and great seafood and my very best friends. It was one of those days where I had to pinch myself to believe it had all worked out so perfectly and been so very fun. Note to self: you’re due for another trip and a cold Cisco Brewery beer this summer.
- Get wedding photos published in a magazine. I will admit, this was a lofty goal to put on here, but I had confidence that with the hard work and heart (and amazing wedding vendors!) put into creating a unique experience for our friends and family at our wedding that we’d end up with a magazine-worthy affair. I’m so grateful that Bliss Celebrations felt the same way — it was such an honor to get to relive the best day of my life when I opened up their magazine.
- Chop hair off for Locks for Love. I really wanted to do this knowing that my mom had gone through the struggle of losing her hair when she had skin cancer. While it can be a little scary to do that giant-chop, it is extremely gratifying to know that it’s going to make an impact on someone who is going through that struggle — it’s more than just hair, it’s your self-confidence. Having seen cancer impact other amazing women in my life, it seems like such a small, simple thing to do to help. I’ll definitely do it again when my hair gets long enough.
- Go on a fabulous picnic. This item gets a funny little short story about my picnic #fail. As we have no backyard in our city apartment, I conjured up a grand plan last summer to cook a big picnic meal for my friends and cart the food, dishes, table decor, and drinks around the block to our neighborhood park. There is a big picnic table and a bocce court at this park and it is always empty — I’ve never seen anyone use it! I packed up several tote bags and boxes to bring my supplies and my husband walked ahead of me to bring the first box over before our friends arrived — only to find a massive children’s birthday party that had taken over every.single.picnic.table in the park. So we didn’t get our park-picnic, but we did eat the meal picnic-style squished onto our tiny apartment balcony with all of our friends, that counts, right? (Also, we did finally get a real picnic in later that summer).
- Go to a movie in the park. Our neighborhood hosts an outdoor movie series every summer, and each year I make it a point to print out the schedule, note the dates on my calendar, and make it a point to go to the showings. I finally made it to a showing on the very last week of the series this summer (we watched Mystic Pizza, I mean, how cute?). It was so much fun and I instantly regretted not going every single week. Note to self: try again this summer, clear your schedule, and do this more often with you girlfriends!
- Bake an amazing birthday cake for someone. Guys, I baked my own donuts and put them on a birthday cake. If a donut-covered birthday cake doesn’t warrant a big giant check mark next to this item on the list, I don’t know what does.
- Establish a gym routine that works. Holy moly I hate working out sooooo much. Shedding for the wedding kicked my butt into high gear and I really did establish a routine for the very first time in my life that involved me going to the gym more routinely. I hired a trainer to help me out and it was totally worth the investment — she taught me how to exercise properly — something I never really knew how to do before (I was a card-carrying indoor kid when I was growing up). I also owe my newfound interest in being healthy to my very dedicated husband that started his own very regimented routine of working out every.single.morning. and eating well — he has rubbed off on me (a little bit) and I really appreciate that. Note to self: keep this up, you’re in your thirties now, health matters!
- Send someone a surprise in the mail. I would argue the person who most often is the recipient of surprise mail is my little sister, because I know like me she really appreciates a good surprise treat. I took it one step further over the holidays this year and sent a little note and some confetti poppers as a New Year’s wish to several of my close friends and inspiring creatives that I’ve been lucky to meet through instagram and this blog over the past year. It feels so good to send a little unexpected cheer someones way. Note to self: keep this up, you’re in your thirties now, unexpected cheer matters!
- Learn to shuck oysters. This just seemed like something a New England girl should know how to do, right? I love to eat oysters so very much, so I should know how to open them! If you’re going to learn, it might as well be from the best. I was super lucky to get invited to tour the Island Creek Oyster Farm in Duxbury, MA (I mean, these guys are like the rock stars of oysters) and learned all about oyster farming and how to shuck ‘em.
- Get a blog feature in a magazine. I get all kinds of warm and fuzzy thinking that this goal was achieved, because it seemed so far off and unrealistic when I first wrote it down. But this little ‘ol blog graced the pages of Family Circle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, The Boston Globe, and Mingle Magazine.
- Collaborate with a national brand. That same prideful feeling falls right into #25 on this list too when I think about how much of a stretch it felt like when I first wrote this list that I would get to work on events with some of my favorite brands like West Elm, Wayfair, and Jonathan Adler.
- Establish Domestikatedlife as an LLC. A real life company, can you believe it? I put this on the list because I wanted to this blog to a place where I could grow it into a business and hopefully someday a full-time career. Big steps can make things feel a little scary, but I know it’s the right step in the direction I want to be headed. Fist bump!
Now, let’s talk about those pesky four items that I just didn’t quite yet finish:
- Ride a horse. This is silly. It was a childhood dream to learn to ride a horse and now that I’m a grown up and can do what I want, I should do it, right? Why didn’t I work on this one? One: I was a little scared! I’m super clumsy and uncoordinated — risk of falling down is a real thing for me every day. Two: I got too busy and didn’t prioritize it as something to do for myself. I’m adding this one to my next list and hope to tackle it in the spring (friends who ride horses, bring me with you! Make me stick to it!)
- See a movie by myself. Oh gosh this one is silly too. I’m so freaked out by the idea of doing something social while alone (confessional moment: I never ate alone in the cafeteria through all of my college years — and high school too! — I would wait and wait and wait for someone to go with me before I would go in alone. I just prefer being around people!). I plan to mark this one off my list in the next few weeks though. I’m currently reading Wild and can’t wait to see the movie, so I’m going to be brave and see it by myself in the theaters once I finish the book.
- Organize blog with categories & write a new about page. I’m working on it! I started to make some small updates here and there but I’ve just outgrown this design and site layout. So a full blog redesign is in my future and these updates will be part of it — I’m so darn excited to get started on it and feel like it’s going to bring things here to the next level.
- Open a shop. Speaking of the next level, this was always my ‘stage 2′ goal for the blog — to open an online shop that featured entertaining goods that I would design and sell and use in my content here on the site. Time is a pain in the butt, man. There’s just not enough of it! With a full-time job, planning events and managing the community for Boston Bloggers, and creating content here for the blog — this idea just hasn’t been given the energy to get off the ground yet. But hey, there’s always next year!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading my 3000 word essay about a little bit of everything from the last few years since I first thought up this list. It feels really good to look back and reflect on accomplishments and good memories — it has energized me for what is coming next. Thirties, you ain’t looking’ so bad. Bring it on.