A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog
I tried spinning once before a few years ago and it was not for me — I vowed never to go back. But last week The Handle Bar hosted our Boston Bloggers group for spinning class and I decided to give it a second chance. Jess, the lovely owner of the studio, totally changed my mind. First off –I’m a sucker for design and the studio is the kind of place you actually want to work out in — bright cheery yellow walls and adorable details like the neighborhood specific logos. Before we got started, the staff were hands-on helping everyone get set up so they felt comfortable on the bikes and with the terminology they’d be using during the ride. When it was time to start the lights dimmed down super low — which I loved! (Yay for not having to worry about looking like a sweaty mess!). I think the best part was that the music was perfectly synced up to the movements of the ride, and the time flew by with the variety of exercises you did while on the bike. So overall, I think they converted me! Thanks to Jess and the Handle Bar Fenway for hosting our group!
I hope you’re sitting down while reading this, because I’m about to share a recipe with you that combine donuts… and s’mores. Yup, you read that right! With National Donut Day later this week, I knew I had to put my thinking cap on to take my love for donuts to the next level. What I came up with is the easiest of easy recipes with just four tasty ingredients: donuts, marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and butter. I took store-bought mini-chocolate donuts and skewered them with cake-pop sticks. Then I melted about a half a bag of marshmallows with 1 tbsp of butter over low heat (stirring constantly) until it had a smooth consistency. Dunk those chocolate donuts into the melted marshmallows, and then while it’s still hot, dip them into the graham cracker crumbles. Then set them out on a piece of parchment paper until they cool (or feel free to sneak a bite of a hot one, I won’t judge you). How cute is that? I am definitely bringing these to BBQs this summer — it’s a tasty little treat that’s perfect for us city-dwellers that don’t have a fire for s’mores making!
I have a major back-log of recipes I’ve been meaning to share here, and with the chilly grey weather in Boston this week, a highly caloric comfort food recipe just seemed like the right choice to share. We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday in early May and I made a big tray of twice-baked potatoes, loaded to the brim with bacon and cheese-y goodness. They were a crowd-pleaser, which is always a treat when they’re actually so simple to make!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub baking potatoes thoroughly, and use a knife to slice a few holes to let steam out. Pop them in the oven and let them bake for about an hour. While the potatoes are baking, prep your toppings: shred sharp cheddar cheese, chop up scallions and/or chives, and crisp up bacon and chop it into bits.
After the potatoes are done baking, use a sharp knife to slice the top 1/4 inch off the top of the potato horizontally and discard of the skin. Using a spoon (I think a melon-baller works great!), scoop out the inside of the potatoes into a bowl. In the bowl, combine the potatoes with salt, pepper, and sour cream — I used about 1/8 cup of sour cream per potato, you may need a bit more if they’re really big. Mash the combination together to thoroughly combine and then fold in some of the chives, bacon, and cheddar cheese.
Then you’re ready to re-stuff the loaded mashed potato goodness back into the potato skins. You’ve added more to the mixture, so they’ll heap over the edges a bit at this point. Then add more bacon and cheese on top and pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted; sprinkle with fresh chives before serving.
One of my most daunting items on my 30 before 30 list is this: grow something from a seed. That may seem like a fine task for the average human, but for all of my skills in the kitchen and DIY tendencies, I seem to have a black thumb (coupled with some very mischievous city squirrels that like to dig up anything I plant). I am determined this year though to make it happen, and have been growing some herbs and veggies on the porch that were just about ready to be re-potted this weekend into their homes for the summer. I decided to make a few plant markers out of popsicle sticks to keep my seedlings straight! A coat of acrylic paint on the bottom of the sticks gave them a pop of color, and I topped them with some chalkboard paint to make them easy to label — a quick and easy DIY. Now I just need to keep those plants alive!
I’m back with part II of our West Coast adventure. After we made our way through wine country, we took a drive down to Muir Woods National Park and hiked through the Redwoods (to be fair, it was more of a nature walk — not a hike. There were grandmas whizzing by me in wheel chairs, but I like to pretend I was a tough outdoorsy chick who hiked!). It was a magical place; not only are you walking through these magnificent massive trees, but just a few minutes down the road is one of the most breathtaking beaches and coastal views I’ve ever seen.
After our ‘hike’ I earned a tasty dinner at Foreign Cinema — and swooned over the food and the restaurant interior. We spent our last day in the city exploring, including via boat where we circled around Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate bridge. Such a fun way to see the city! When our boat pulled back into the docks we saw a massive group of sea lions that just chill all day right at the edge of the pier — I took about 400 pictures of them and was completely enamored — I mean, aren’t they the cutest? At the end of our trip we finished things off with a Giants game, because I like to finish all of my vacations with hot dogs and beers (and the lovely water views didn’t hurt!).
We celebrated our 1-year anniversary a little early with a trip to Napa and San Francisco last weekend — I was traveling for work in the area so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it! I know most people visit Napa and drink their way through the region, but I think we actually spent more of our time eating our way through. We wandered through Oxbow Public Market and feasted on Hog Island Oysters (paired with a rosé of course) and then made our way to Gott’s Roadside for burgers (paired with a milkshake of course). And we did manage to do tastings at a few vineyards (Robert Sinksey was our favorite, they had tasty little snacks paired with the wines and the whole place had a laid back atmosphere). We ended our day strolling through downtown Yountville — I had perhaps the tastiest salad of all time at Redd Wood — an asparagus, bacon, and burrata salad, yum! Before we left to drive down to San Francisco the next day we made an obligatory stop at Bouchon Bakery, where I had a croissant for breakfast and of course couldn’t leave without picking up some macarons for the road!
I don’t know about you guys, but this past weekend felt like a summer weekend to me — we had our first warm night out on the porch with friends and sipped on some warm weather beverages. With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, I partnered with Seagram’s Escapes to put together a little DIY to get you in the summer entertaining spirit! I am a fan of all things nautical, and decided to customize some koozies to keep my cocktails cool as the temperature rises. Read on for instructions to create your own nautical drink koozies.
To start, use painters tape to mark off the stripes at consistent intervals on plain white drink koozies (I use the width of the tape to mark off where the next one starts to space them evenly). Once the stripes are taped off, paint the space between the taped lines and let it dry completely before removing the tape. Next, use a pencil to mark off your design — I used a stencil to draw an anchor for a nautical motif — and paint inside the traced shape. You may need to use two coats of paint when using a lighter color over a dark stripe. Be sure to let the koozies dry completely before using!
If you’re interested in getting into the summer entertaining spirit, head over to the Seagram’s Escapes Facebook page and enter to win a Seagram’s Escapes party kit!
This post was sponsored by Seagram’s Escapes; all opinions and DIY ideas are my own.
To make your own custom koozies visit: Imprinted Koozies
Last week I had a pinch-me-is-this-real-life moment when I got the opportunity to interview the impeccable taste-maker and designer extraordinaire Jonathan Adler before his new store opening in Chestnut Hill. He was absolutely charming and kind and funny, and I may have tried to hug him about five times during our meeting because I genuinely want to be his BFF. Check out the pictures of the gorgeous new store (taken by my actual BFF who was there to make sure I didn’t totally embarrass myself), plus my interview with Jonathan where he dishes on his entertaining style, favorite hostess gifts, and awesome advice for young business owners:
K: Tell me about the new store, what makes this Chestnut Hill location special?
JA: Our other local store, Newbury Street, is like a jewel box, but this is big, there’s room to breathe in here. It just has the feeling of a place you want to hang out in, and it’s great to be able to do that here.
K: Tell me about your entertaining style, what’s your secret?
JA: The key is super-duper casual, very laid back entertaining. Keep it casual and everyone will have fun. Plus some mini-champagne bottles never hurt, those always get the party started.
K: Any tips for at-home entertainers?
JA: I always serve myself first. It makes people feel relaxed and at home; plus I get cranky if I’m hungry, so it’s better for everyone if I’m fed.
K: I can relate to that! Any particular party theme you’re known for throwing?
JA: I did a huge clambake last year and that was so fun — it goes back to the casual, laid back entertaining vibe. The key is to mix it up, mix it up with your themes, with your tableware, mix and match, and have fun with it.
K: One of my favorite parts about this new store is the Gift Bar right when you walk in — it is brimming with gift ideas for every occasion. Do you have a favorite gift to give from the collection?
JA: The Muse shakers are a favorite, they’re great because you have a set for everyone: Mr & Mr, Mrs & Mrs, or Mr & Mrs, and they go with everything.
K: Being in the business of creating beautiful giftwares, I can imagine you bring a stellar hostess gift when visiting friends — what are your go-to hostess gifts?
JA: I love to bring candles, coasters, pottery… the Muse candle is one of my go-to gifts. And one of the best host gifts I’ve received is a good book; it’s so thoughtful and leaves a great memory when you bring a book.
K: It took a lot of entrepreneurial spirit to get to where your brand is today; what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs starting out today?
JA: The best advice I can give is: Never ask anyone for advice, and never listen to the advice that people give you. If I had listened to the advice of others when I first starting out, I would have never gotten here. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had I followed the advice I received. Just politely say to those who offer it: ‘thank you for offering your advice,’ — and then don’t take it. Trust your gut.
All photos via Bring to Light Photography
There is no better day than Cinco de Mayo to add a little extra flair to your cocktail, am I right? Which is why I made some pinata-inspired drink markers for our margaritas this year. Here’s how you make them: first, trace the bottom of your margaritas glasses on a piece of card-stock and cut out the circle. Then cut into the center of the circle about halfway, and cut out a smaller circle a little bigger than the circumference of the glass stem. Using strips of colored tissue paper, use fringe scissors to cut fringe. Cover the card-stock circle with glue and then start to wrap the fringed tissue paper around the outside. Repeat and layer on each new color until you’ve covered the full circle, and tuck the ends of the inner layer underneath the center circle to finish. Then slip your little pinata-inspired drink marker on to the bottom of your margarita and get ready to fiesta (think about making them in different colors to help your party guests identify their drinks!).
I tackled my Mother’s Day shopping this weekend and am feeling pretty proud of my gift ideas this year! In my search for the perfect gift, I found a bunch of fun ideas from UncommonGoods, and rounded up a few to help you find the perfect gift for Mom! A few of my favorites are the succulent wall planter — which would look so great on the porch, and the mobile foodie kit filled with spices (plus I’ve been eyeing those starburst sculptures for myself too!). Any good gift ideas for Mom you’d add to the list?
This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods, all opinions (and awesome gift ideas!) are my own.