I kicked off my birthday weekend with a feel-good hair freshening at SalonCapri on Newbury Street. This airy spot was the perfect place for a little bit of relaxation and pampering (I was obsessed with the fact that the hair-washing chairs had built-in massagers!) Owner and Lead Stylist, Nicholas Penna, cut my hair and gave me a fresh new look while I quizzed him on all of his expert tips for keeping my salon-look going long after I left his chair.
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I love the feeling of getting a fresh haircut and leaving the salon with perfect hair — any advice for how to keep the ‘just-left-the-salon’ look going after you leave? 

NP: Right before you leave the salon, don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit of hairspray to keep your new cut in place. Hairspray gets a bad reputation for making your hair look stiff, but there are products now that will give you hold without weighing you down. Dry shampoo is a great way to extend the life your blow-out the day after you leave the salon, but it also help later in the day after the cut to add some volume back into your hair. And remember that your hair is going to change — it’ll look different the second day but with a little restyling it can be a whole new look.
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I can never seem to recreate a salon-level blow-out at home! What are some common mistakes that people make? 

NP: Spend some time blow-drying your hair, I think people sometimes forget that at the salon you have a professionally trainer stylist blow-drying your hair for around 30-minutes to get your hair to look great, most people only spend 5-10 minutes blow-drying at home. So take your time, and use some of the techniques that the you see in the salon: use clips and section off your hair, and focus on  smaller sections.
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Do you have any advice for ladies coming into the salon and how they can get the look they want? 

NP: Bring pictures! I think sometimes people are afraid to bring pictures because they think a stylist will be offended, or they think they don’t have the type of hair that’s photographed in the image. But a good stylist will be able to use the pictures as a springboard to interpret the best style for you and translate the look to your hair type.
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You look out on one of the most fashionable and bustling sections of Newbury Street, any trends you’re seeing on the streets of Boston? 

NP: We’ve been seeing a lot of fur-trimmed winter coats with this cold weather! Winter is in full force and it can really do a number on your hair. There is nothing better than a good professional moisturizing treatment for your hair to real condition it and keep it in great health during this rough Boston weather.

Thanks so much for having me to the salon and teaching me your ways Nicholas!

Please note: I received a complimentary hair cut from SalonCapri, all opinions and interview questions are my own. 

I was super lucky to be invited to a sneak-preview tour of this year’s HGTV Dream Home back in December and in all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m just getting around to sharing some photos from the day (taken by my co-pilot on our adventure to Martha’s Vineyard, Taz of Bring to Light Photography). I’ve been entering the Dream Home sweepstakes for years and was so excited to not only get to tour the 2015 home in Edgartown but also to get to meet the planners and designers that have been working on these Dream Homes for the past 19 years.

aHGTV1Tell me a little bit about how Martha’s Vineyard influenced the design of this year’s Dream Home, how did you use the island for inspiration?

HGTV Design Team: We tried to bring in as many local elements as we could — we worked with local builders and architects on the build and collaborated with local artists and artisans for some of the accent pieces in the decor. It was important for us to meet with artists and learn the stories of the pieces and how they related to the island. The space itself also has an island feel — we used a lot of traditional New England and Cape Cod architectural elements but kept the concept modernized with an open layout. aHGTV2 aHGTV3 You definitely can feel that island vibe in the home, but it doesn’t feel too ‘theme-y’ — any decorating tips for how to get the beachy-feel without being overtly nautical? 

HGTV Design Team: Editing is a big component of what gives the space that clean, airy feel. Sometimes taking something away is just as an important part of the design process as does adding something in, so we were very conscious about keeping things simple and not having too much ‘stuff.’ We also kept the common spaces a little more neutral and then brought in the more obviously nautical pieces into the guest rooms where you can have a bit more fun — like with the oversized anchor and painted oars on the wall. 
aHGTV4 aHGTV5 The great room is one of my favorite spaces in the Dream Home — what was the concept behind having on large open living space? 

HGTV Design Team: The main living space was all about celebrating natural light, even on a gray rainy day on the island this room really feels bright and airy. The floor plan also gives a lot of flexibility for any type of family size, and we always the Dream Home to be adaptable to the family that wins it. We thought about how you would use this house if you were here for vacation with friends and family — that’s a big reason behind having the kitchen open to the rest of the living space. The kitchen is usually where people gather and are part of making meals together, so it’s nice that everyone can be part of the action. And a lot of the materials that were used also keep it flexible and family friendly — like using durable Sunbrella fabrics on the upholstery to stand up to lots of use. aHGTV6 aHGTV7 aHGTV8 aHGTV9 aHGTV10A big thanks to the HGTV team to inviting us to visit the island and the Dream Home, and an extra special thanks to Bring to Light Photography for these images. 

 

There are few things I adore more than styling up a pretty table for a gathering — so I jumped at the chance to borrow vintage jadeite and milk glass pieces from the new Pop and Circumstance rentals collection and pull together a festive New Year’s Brunch. Jadeite was probably one of the first vintage items that I started to collect when tagging along with my mom and aunt to estate sales and flea markets. I’m drawn to the rich cool colors and all of the variety in how the material was used for kitchenwares. This collection has grown to include quite the comparable set of milk glass as well, and Becky — the owner of Pop and Circumstance— and I have bonded over our mutual love for the pieces. I used a few pieces from my collection as inspiration and Becky filled in the rest with vintage linen napkins, milk glass tumblers that were used to hold flatware, and even a nesting set of jadeite bowls for me to mix up my mini-pancakes in. These tiny pancakes were the focal point of the brunch — mini-stacks topped with berries make for an easy grab off the buffet table when guests are mingling (and isn’t everything cuter when we make it bite-sized?).

Pancake Stacker 1 Pancake Stacker 2 Pancake Stacker 3Pancake Stacker 4 Pancake Stacker 6 Pancake Stacker 7 Pancake Stacker 8 Pancake Stacker 9

Thoughtful_2015Oh resolutions, how I love/hate you. In past years I’ve gone all-out with resolutions and usually fall a little bit short in living up to them. Last year I had just one simple resolution: be better at keeping in touch with my family, particularly my grandparents. I think I did a fairly good job with that one, this blog, email and social media helped me a lot with that goal (and if you’re reading — Hi Gram!). This year I heard a piece of advice about picking a ‘word of the year’ to embody how you want to live your next 365 days as a more productive way to set goals than the typical bulleted list of tactical resolutions people make. Thinking about some of the things I wanted to achieve this year I found one word that ties all of my intentions for 2015 together… my word of the year is thoughtful. And now for a bulleted, tactical list of how I plan to be more thoughtful in 2015 (hey, Type-A or bust, right?):

  • I’d like to be a bit more thoughtful with my words. I can actually name more instances than I care to admit in the last few months where I have really put my foot in my mouth. I hate that feeling in my stomach that happens a few moments after leaving a conversation when I wonder if what I said was too harsh or maybe a bit too sassy or perhaps more honest than people were bargaining for? I do think speaking your mind and being honest is a good quality but I hope this year I can pause even a few milliseconds before I blurt out my thoughts and make sure they’re a bit more kind and valuable. (Full disclosure: this will be quite a challenge for me, I’ve been a big-mouth for almost 30 years now.)
  • I hope to be more thoughtful with how I spend my time. I have no intention of hosting a pity party here but 2014 was BUSY for me. I have a great job that I enjoy, and I also have a side-hustle here with this blog that I adore, and I also love investing time and energy into the Boston Bloggers community. I’ve juggled all of these fairly well in the past, but I am guilty of two things that I think I could get better at to make my time more productive. One: I love to mark the easy stuff off my to-do-list which means the weekly blog posts always get published before any BIG IDEA projects get my time. Two: I multi-task and get distracted very easily. No excuses here, I think this is something a lot of people I know are struggling with… you take a quick break to scroll through instagram and then all of a sudden you’ve wasted 30 minutes, or you look up from your computer and suddenly get sucked into a terrible TV show that you wished you hadn’t wasted your time on. So, I’m going to be more thoughtful in 2015 about (attempting to) focus on the task at hand and be more thoughtful about prioritizing projects/events/BIG-ideas that worthy of my time. (And hey, I’m already working on this! I just tried really hard not to check Facebook mid-writing this post!)
  • I would like to be more thoughtful about how I spend my money. What is it about the beginning of year that makes you look around your home and say — how did all of this crap get in here? Here is my problem: I love a good dig into the dollar-bin at Target, I love an extra 40% off sale at J.Crew and gosh I love a useless vintage knick-knack.  These things tend to result in: spending money on things I don’t need, followed by things I don’t need cluttering my apartment, and then ending in me feeling stressed about money and not having enough space. This isn’t something I think I’ll fix entirely in 2015 but I’d at least like to implement the same practice with my words that I do with my purchases… just a short pause before I hit ‘order’ or pull out my wallet to ask — do I really need this? Do I have a place for this? Is this something that is of high-quality or supports a great local-business? I hope being a bit more thoughtful about what I’m spending my money on will help me save (space and dollars!) in the long run.
  • I’d also like to be a bit more thoughtful about where I place my energy. Isn’t it just so easy to let jealousy or negativity or frustration slip into your daily life? I know I have gotten much better about focusing my energy on good-vibes and pushing out some of the bad — but it’s a work in-progress. So in 2015 I’d like to continue to be thoughtful about where I spend my energy. If looking at someone’s instagram pictures of an amazing vacation makes me a little jealous, I hope I can take a break from the iPhone and focus my energy on something that betters me. If I get frustrated at work with a situation that’s out of my control, I hope I can focus on my gratitude for having employment that allows me the time to pursue these awesome side projects. If I feel negativity creeping in for not yet reaching certain goals with this blog or playing the comparison game with others that have achieved something I want, I hope I can focus on all of the great things that I’ve already accomplished and let that fuel some positive energy to get me where I want to go. Easier said than done, right?

It’s easy to feel all jazzed and energized in January about these resolutions. Writing them out here always makes me feel more accountable and to help keep that feeling going I’m going to pop a couple of random reminders in my calendar throughout the year with a link to this post and I’m also going to print out this illustration of the definitions of thoughtful to keep these all top of mind.

I owe a very big thanks to Posh & Prep for hand-lettering my ‘word of the year’ into this lovely print, and an extra special thanks for her allowing me to share it with you! Happy New Year!

Download your own copy of the print here. 

Here’s the thing — those glitzy crowns and party horns that we all buy for New Year’s — they’re super corny, but so very necessary. I like the annual challenge of finding new ways to update these simple party-store  finds into something a little bit more special. Last year I used glitter letter stickers to write out messages on simple paper party horns — and this year I took the same concept and revamped it. With some metallic Sharpie markers and a little bit of patience I carefully hand-wrote silly New Year’s resolutions on a set of big party horns. I plan to pop them all in a vase for some table-decor, and let my guests pick a resolution that matches their personality (and sense of humor!).

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Every year at our annual New Year’s Eve celebration, I stock the bar with the usual suspects (champagne, wine, beer) and then add one signature drink to the mix that is festive and easily prepared in advance. This year my color scheme is revolving around mints and golds, so I thought a peachy colored drink would look great on the bar. After some brainstorming, I landed on a grapefruit juice based cocktail that I’m calling the ‘Grapefruit Sparkler.’ To make a batch for yourself start with a pitcher or carafe and mix together 3 cups of chilled grapefruit juice, 1 cup of white rum, and 1/4 cup of elderflower liquor — use this ratio to double or triple the recipe depending on how large your party is. To serve, pour the mixture 3/4 of the way full in a flute and top the remaining 1/4 of the glass with a bubbly prosecco and a sparkly drink stirrer — cheers!

Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 1 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 2 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 3Find similar champagne flutes here: Anthropologie | Waiting on Martha

Well guys, I’m certainly foodie and the party planner of my family — but I’m certainly not the fashionable one. I leave that job to my stylish sister Mara, and I’m super excited to announce that she’ll be joining the DomestiKatedLife team and contributing a monthly style column with tips and ideas for looking your best! To kick it off, she’s rounding up some last-minute accessory additions for the perfect New Year’s Eve look: 

‘Tis the season to sparkle! With New Years Eve just around the corner (how did that happen so fast?), here a few ideas for accessories you can add to dress up a little black dress that’s already hanging in your closet (or consider buying a new one — this Old Navy version is under $20!). One accessory not pictured: copious amounts of champagne—cheers!

New Years Eve Outfit

Party Time HeadbandBaubleBar EarringsPop Fizz Clink BangleClutchKate Spade Heels | Little Black Dress

Do you have one of those recipes in your back pocket that works for just about any occasion? Mine is so simple it’s almost embarrassing: Rice Krispy Treats! It’s the one thing that I always get asked to make for friends’ parties. For a recent holiday party I decided to add a fresh twist to my classic recipe and make a Neapolitan version with classic flavor layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. It takes just a simple modification of the  traditional Rice Krispy Treat recipe, full instructions below:

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Following the traditional instructions to make Rice Krispy Treats, prepare the ingredients and press a layer of the classic flavor into a lightly greased baking pan. Work quickly to add the next layer so they don’t cool too much — the strawberry layer is exactly the same recipe as the classic Rice Kripy Treat, but when you’re melting the butter and marshmallows together you want to add in 4 drops of pink food coloring and 1 tsp of strawberry extract (you can usually find these near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle!). Press the strawberry mixture directly on top of the classic layer. Next, make the chocolate layer with the same classic recipe, but mix in Cocoa Krispies in lieu of Rice Krispies. Then, pour the Cocoa mixture on top of the Strawberry layer and cover with a large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll over the parchment paper and press the layers down. Set them aside and let cool completely to solidify. When you’re ready to serve them, flip the baking dish upside down with the parchment paper on the table, slowly lift the dish up and reveal the compressed layers. All that’s left to do is to cut them up into squares with a serrated knife, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

This weekend I was in major need of some comfort after a long string of holiday parties and maybe a few too many glasses of champagne (shh!).  My usual go-to comfort food is a bowl of pasta, but I decided to mix it up this time and try a savory chicken dish with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce, lots of sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and a little crispy bacon and goat cheese just to amp up the richness. Full recipe below if you’re in need of comfort food too!
Cream Sun Dried Skillet Chicken Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 1 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 2 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 4 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 3

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (reserve oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of light cream
  • 1 tbsp of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet on high and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown in the hot pan on both sides.
  • While the chicken is browning, roughly chop mushrooms, shallots, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes; mince garlic.
  • Remove chicken from pan when cooked through,  add 1/2 tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oils  and 1 tbsp of butter to the pan, then toss mushrooms, shallots, bacon, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté mixture. (Scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits from the pan).
  • Lower heat to medium and stir in 3/4 cup of light cream, 1 tbsp of goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese; stir continously to break down the cheese and incorporate the tomatoes flavors with the cream.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan while the sauce cooks and thickens.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and torn tarragon leaves.
  • Try serving over pasta or a bed of spinach.

Over the weekend the lovely team at Jonathan Adler invited me to host a little Holi-DIY party for some of my best Boston bloggers buddies in their Chestnut Hill store. Our project for the day was a felt-monogram gift tag that doubles as a keepsake ornament once your friends and family open their gifts! I used a simple tutorial to create the monogrammed felt tags and everyone crafted up a bunch in bright jewel toned (and Jonathan Adler-inspired!) colors. Honestly, what’s better than a chilly winter morning working on holiday crafts with your girlfriends? After popping a little champagne, the JA team sent us home with some festive holiday swag — the perfect ending to a Holi-DIY fete! Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 9Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 3Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 8Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 7Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 5Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 6Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 2Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 4