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All this week I’m sharing my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog. Hear from the best of local shop owners about what they’re loving this season and where they love to shop!  Today we’re talking with Philip, owner of Sault New England — one of the most beautifully curated shops I’ve visited — and the eye behind the gorgeous @SaultNewEngland instagram handle.  Check out the rest of the series here.

SouthEndShop_19Welcome Philip! Tell me a little bit about your shop and how you got started. 
Philip: After working as a Visual Merchandiser for over 18 years I decided I would try my hand at opening my own retail shop. SAULT Opened in the fall of 2011 with the idea of creating a shop that would be focused on guys clothing and some gift products.  It’s a small shop but still feels easy to shop around and explore. Its worth the trip in if you find yourself in the South End of Boston.

SouthEndShop_22I personally find it super hard to shop for the guys in my life — are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Philip: It always depends on the guy, Tech is big with the iPhone, and we have wood covers for them along with some fabric covered cords that are cool and unusual. Winter accessories are always good — we have leather iTouch gloves that are perfect for a guy who’s into fashion. We also have a great assortment of personal care items that bundle well together: add some shave cream by Urasa Major, Razor by Harry’s, and  a few bars of beer soap to one of our Dopp kits by Owen and Fred and you have a personalized gift for any guy.

SouthEndShop_21How about some smaller items in the shop? Any good stocking stuffers?
Philip: Stocking stuffers are always a great seller. We have a ton of great gifts for every type of guy from your brother to your grand pop and every man in between: wallets by Jack Spade,  Cashmere blend socks, cool bottle openers made in the USA,  and even the classic nostalgic balsa wood plane that was a staple for every all American kid.

SouthEndShop_20One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston? 
Philip: Some of my favorite shops to buy gifts for the ladies in my life just so happen to be in the same neighborhood as our shop. My favorite shops are PATCH NYC, Hudson, Olives & Grace and Niche.   

What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year? Any words of wisdom about why you think it’s important? 
Philip: Shopping local is so important to your community and town. Local business give back more to their areas in so many ways. It increases foot traffic and lowers crime, Small shops help create a sense of community and culture to neighborhoods that reflect the people who live there and help to raise the value of surrounding real estate.  Shopping local is a true investment into your neighborhood.

All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.

All this week I’m sharing my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog. Hear from the best of local shop owners about what they’re loving this season and where they love to shop!  Today we’re talking with Jason Owens of Bee’s Knees Supply Company in Fort Point. Check out the rest of the series here.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop, and how you got started.
Jason: I started cooking as a teenager from the school of Grandma. Eventually I started working my way from being a busboy to owning my own restaurants, and Developed a passion for curating food and beverage for my menus and decided to open a store selling the things I love and that are made in a way I admire.

What’s the secret to picking out items that make for a great, cohesive gift box? 
Jason: Each gift box ends up being different. Customers usually pick a theme and we customize it to their needs. The only “secret” is to ask questions. You need to know about people receiving the gift to make sure the chosen product will fit their life style. The goal is always to make them enjoy something they like or have them discover something new they end up liking.

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Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Jason: A good bottle of wine, unique beer, irresistible chocolate, one of our wine shop gift items and some specialty items along with recipes that people wouldn’t ordinarily splurge on — and never forget to grab a greeting card!

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This is the time of year that we always need hostess gifts? What are you recommendations for the best thing to bring when attending a holiday party or visiting someone for the weekend?
Jason: Create a customized gift box, grab a small gift item, like something from Mackenzie Childs or keep it simple with bottle of wine or craft beer in a nice gift bag.
BeesKnees4One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston? 

All this week I’m sharing my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog. Hear from the best of local shop owners about what they’re loving this season and where they love to shop!  Today we’re talking with Justin, the absolutely darling shop owner of  Pioneer Goods Co in the South End. Check out the rest of the series here.

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Welcome Justin! Tell me a little bit about yourself, your shop, and how you got started.
Justin: When I was a kid, I was really into lots of forms of art. I got a calligraphy set for my eighth birthday and I even took lessons on how to airbrush. I was also always rearranging my bedroom and styling it different ways to make it feel homey. My mom, as an interior designer, was always scouring yard sales and auctions and dragging me and my brothers along. I always fought it back then because I was into sports and more bro-centric stuff, so I purposely stifled my creativity for a long time. It wasn’t until much later that my mother discovered Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and I started helping her on a big project for a client that I found this marriage of practical creativity where you were creating something that people could admire but actually use that it began to seem like something I could pursue. Annie Sloan talked my mom into opening her first retail outlet and not long after, we both decided that I would come aboard and do something similar in Boston. Her shop is called Maison Decor and is very French and feminine in decor. My first shop on Harrison Ave was the second Maison Decor and began with the same French leaning aesthetic. The longer I was at the helm of that shop, the more I started pushing it my direction of rustic Americana and making it my own. We decided not to renew the lease on that space with the understanding that I would continue to search for a bigger space in the South End, and when I found the space at 764 Tremont, Pioneer Goods Co. was born.
SouthEndShop_24You work to restore a lot of the beautiful pieces you sell in your shop, I’m sure it can be hard to say goodbye to some of them! Any advice for giving handmade gifts at the holidays?
Justin: I used to get very attached to pieces I sourced and/or refinished, but I’ve gotten much better at letting them go. It gives me the freedom to go out and find that next great piece. As for handmade gifts for the holidays, the options are plenty. As much as I’m partial to handmade or refinished home goods, I also love baked goods or homemade food items. Two years ago I made a variety of different pickled vegetables and last year I made apple butter and bacon jam. What I really encourage people to do is to not overlook the card portion of the gift you give. It’s so rare that we get to say what we really mean to those we love, and a beautiful handwritten card can be extremely memorable. My mom always said to us as kids, no matter how much money you have, you can always scrape together three bucks for a card. Years ago when I was managing restaurants, I chucked the idea of the $20 secret Santa and asked all of the servers to write something thoughtful or funny or both in either a handmade or store-bought card. We went out to a bar and sat around a big table and everyone read their cards aloud to each other.There were laughs and tears and lots of hugs–it was so awesome.
SouthEndShop_25I always find it so much harder to buy gifts for the guys in my life, as a guy and a local shop owner — what would you recommend as great gifts for the men on our shopping list?
Justin: Guys can definitely be tough to buy for–I know I am. I don’t think you can go wrong buying a guy something he’ll actually use. Trust me, he’ll appreciate it. Does he like to cook? Why not get him a kick ass cast iron pan or some really nice chef’s knives. If he’s a cyclist, buy him some tools for working on his bike. I know it sounds cliché, but most guys I know love stuff that can be put to good use. If he’s a stylish guy and into clothes, chances are he’s already bought himself the shoes he wanted or a jacket he was eyeing. Maybe that’s a guy who would appreciate cedar shoe trees or really nice wooden hangers for his closet. You can’t go wrong with practical.
SouthEndShop_27Are there any go-to pieces in the shop that you always recommend for holiday gift giving?
Justin: In my shop I always lean toward a one-of-a-kind antique as a gift. I had a bust of Indian chief that was so cool that I guarantee you couldn’t find anywhere else. Something like that adds instant character and intrigue and often has a really cool story behind that you just cant get from a mass-produced good.
 
SouthEndShop_30One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston?
Justin: I love the retail scene in the South End. I always shop at Olives & Grace, Sault New England, and Niche Urban Garden supply. Those shops are so awesome. My wife Madison recently introduced me to Follain, and I swear by their activated charcoal soap. That said, I probably pour most of my money into Render Coffee. I buy their pour over coffee nearly every day and pick up a bag of Counter Culture coffee beans once a week.
SouthEndShop_31What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year? Any words of wisdom about why you think it’s important?
Justin: I implore everyone to shop local, but of course I’ve got a vested interest. The best thing you can do is talk to the shop owner about what they are digging in their shop. Nobody will have as much passion about what they carry and they will always steer you in the right direction. It’s an experience you will never achieve going to the mall.
All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.
I’m super excited to be kicking off my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog today!  First up, we’re talking with Tara Foley, owner of Follain in the South End of Boston. Check out the rest of the series here. SouthEndShop_12Welcome Tara! Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop and how you got started.  Tara: When I graduated from college, I moved to NYC and was trying to get healthy — practicing yoga, racing triathlons, eating locally and clean; so when I found out about the toxic chemicals in my beloved beauty products, I became really upset, and realized there was no beauty store in NYC or anywhere else where I could buy safe and effective products, only.  So, in 2009 I started a blog — The Naturalchemyst — about healthy beauty products, and then I quit my job soon after to learn more about these products, working on a lavender farm in France, and for a skincare company in Maine.  Then I moved to Boston to get my MBA at Babson.  Immediately after winning a business plan competition for the concept, and graduating from my MBA (May 2013) I opened the South End shop in July 2013.  Now, our mission is to change the way women and men approach the products they apply to skin.  
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Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving?
Tara: Our deodorants!  Conventional deodorant is filled with aluminum, which is extremely toxic.  Our little product is an expression of how much you care about your loved ones’ health and future…  We also love the fluffy marshmallow-y texture of our RICA body butter, which everyone loves for thirsty winter skin.  Healthy (lead and pthalate-free) candles are always a good option, and — last but not least — a refillable bottle of Follain liquid hand and body soap is the gift that keeps giving!  
SouthEndShop_14This is the time of year that we always need hostess gifts, what are you recommendations for the best thing to bring when attending a holiday party or visiting someone for the weekend?
Tara: People always turn to entertaining and house items for hostess gifts, but we encourage you to treat the hostess herself with something indulgent that she’ll love!  Our RICA bath tea is a great hostess gift, because it does both — it looks gorgeous in the bathroom and provides a decadent aromatherapeutic treat to help the hostess unwind!
SouthEndShop_17One of my favorite products at Follain was the lipstick I recently bought — any recommendations for which products can help create a great holiday-season make-up look?
Tara: We love golds and greens for holiday parties, like the RMS Solar cream eye shadow, Ilia Linger lipstick, and Vapour Viper eyeliner. 
SouthEndShop_13One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston?
Tara: We’re obviously partial to our great friends in the South End, like Olives & Grace, Farm & Fable, Flock, Twelve Chairs, Urban Grape…the list goes on!  For anything we can’t find in the South End, there are other awesome Boston neighborhood shops like Forty Winks in Harvard Square, Dress and Good in Beacon Hill.  
SouthEndShop_18What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year?
Tara: There are SO MANY great reasons to shop locally — but to help put things in perspective, think about what your Boston neighborhood would look and feel like without all the cute, love-filled independent shops.  Would you want to live in a place with impersonal big box stores, only?  If not, then support your shopkeeper friends who have a story — and who know your story!
All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.

As I pack up for Thanksgiving this week I’m including a few favorite kitchen tools in my overnight bag — totally normal, right? You see, I’m really quite particular about the tools that I use – which makes my family really laugh when I pull my own tongs out of my purse — but the right pieces can make all of the difference when making a meal. And after years of living in apartments with teeny-tiny kitchens, combined with a real love of cooking, I feel like I’ve honed a pretty well-curated collection of just-the-essentials kitchen tools.Best Basic Kitchen Tools 1 It hit me that maybe this list of  kitchen items (that I so passionately feel the need to pack in my suitcase) is something worth sharing with my readers as you prepare for the holiday cooking season. Check out the list below for my top 10 basic kitchen tools: Best Basic Kitchen Tools 2

  • I have tons of knives, but I always keep going back to this simple 8″ Calphalon chef knife; it works for most tasks, has a good grip, and bonus: this knife isn’t going to break the bank.
  • The Ikea Tekla dish towels are maybe the greatest deal on earth — at less than a dollar a piece I don’t ever worry about them getting stained or ruined. They’re also a staple ‘prop’ and tend to end up in a lot of my blog posts! I’m also a big fan of Williams-Sonoma classic dish towels for bigger clean-ups, they’re super absorbent and come in a really nice range of colors — shown here in the background.
  • We registered for our wedding at Pottery Barn and were gifted tons of their Great White dishes — the dipping bowls are probably my favorite item from the collection because in addition to being great serveware, they also make the perfect prep bowls to mix up spices, portion out ingredients, and bring things like butter up to room temperature; I grab these all the time when I’m prepping a recipe.
  • The Oxo y-shaped peeler is one of those items that makes you realize how terrible your old cheap kitchen tool was before you replaced it. I tossed several broken peelers before finding this great version; the shape of the handle and the grips on each side make it so much easier and faster to peel veggies.
  • My Kuhn Rikon garlic press is probably the biggest splurge on this list, but I can not stress enough how amazing this thing is — it just works so well. You’ll get much more garlic out of a single clove with this tool, and the way that the press pieces separate make for a really easy clean up (something that was so annoying with my previous garlic press!). I can’t recommend this model enough, as someone who cooks with a lot of garlic, this has changed my life in the kitchen!

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  • If I could choose just one item in my kitchen to work with everyday, it would probably be my Oxo 9″ tongs; I use them pretty much every time I cook. They snap open and closed really easily and they’re the perfect length — not too big!
  • I don’t love using too many silicon kitchen tools when I’m cooking with heat, but I did need a solution for avoiding scratched pans. So a few years back I purchased Pampered Chef bamboo spatulas that I use all the time for moving things around the pan. Bamboo doesn’t transfer much heat so I always find that these are a good tool for forgetful folks like me that leave them sitting on the edge of the hot pan.
  • The Kuhn Rikon fish spatula is designed for flipping fish but I actually use it for a ton of other cooking purposes. The spatula is just flexible enough that gives you some great leverage and maneuverability for flipping delicate foods like pancakes, but is sturdy enough to handle something as substantial as burgers. I’ve had this one for years, it might be one of the oldest items in my kitchen from this list!
  • Similar to my notes above about using bamboo spatulas in lieu of silicon, I always grab my Williams-Sonoma Olive wood spoons – they’re perfect for stirring up a pot of sauce and sneaking a little taste test. Olive wood is really dense so it doesn’t absorb flavors or smells from the food, and they’re pretty darn good-looking.
  • On the rare occasion that I’m putting on my baking hat versus cooking something, I grab my Williams-Sonoma spoonula – it’s got all of the functionality of a great spatula for scraping the sides of the bowl, but the slight curve gives it utility as a spoon too (and I’m all about multi-purpose tools in a small kitchen like mine).

This listen isn’t completely comprehensive, but these are my go-to items that I use every week when cooking. A few other favorites include a good cast iron skillet, an all-clad stainless steel fry pan, a quality whisk, an olive oil drizzle bottle, my marble pastry board, and glass tupperware. Okay now spill, what are you essential kitchen tools?

From the time that  I first heard about Farm and Fable’s Cookbook Book Club,  I was sold — what is better than hanging out with a group of friends and chatting about cookbooks? Oh right, eating the recipes from them! I finally was able to join one of the meet-ups this weekend and it was a ton of fun. This month the book was Huckleberry, the new cookbook from the famed Santa Monica bakery. While I love cooking, I’m actually not the most skilled baker (sticking to proportions and instructions can be tough for me, I always want to add more butter, oops!), so I ended up picking one of the more savory recipes from the book, a tomato goat cheese cobbler. It was really tasty, and so were the 10 other recipes that book club attendees made. My favorite? The chocolate banana bread bundt cake — holy yum. I loved getting to hear their experiences with the recipes and even got a few new tips and tricks to use next time! IMG_5217.JPGIMG_5226.JPGIMG_5227.JPGIMG_5234.JPG

A few weeks back I was getting ready to host a baby shower at my apartment and I felt my living room could use a little ‘zhush’ — but I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money making updates. The fastest way to get a new look for your living room? Mixing up the textiles! I added some new pillows from Wayfair (I’m pretty obsessed with the Paris street map pillow, doesn’t it have a little bit of a Kate Spade vibe?), a cozy Mexican blanket that I got this summer from my trip to Creative Overnight, and pulled in my floor pouf  in for some extra seating. Just layering some new colors and textures on top of my existing pieces made a huge difference.
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Want to get in on this fun? I’ve rounded up a few of the items used in my living room below, and bonus: Wayfair is sharing a 15% off ANYPillowPouf or Throw through November 24th! Just use the promo code: WFPTP15

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Mexican Blanket | Paris Map Pillow | Knit Pouf Ottoman

Please note: This post was sponsored by Wayfair.com, all opinions are my own. 

Guys! We’re one week out from my very favorite holiday (because it’s all about food and family, my two favorite things!). Being as food obsessed as I am, I’m already thinking about delicious leftovers. The day after Thanksgiving at my family’s house is usually a continuation of the festivities, we dig into leftovers and friends and family pops in to visit. Of course no one would turn down a post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich, but I thought I would mix it up this year and try to repurpose some leftover side dishes to make a festive appetizer to enjoy while family is still visiting at the end of the holiday weekend. Leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes got a little dressed up and repurposed as filling for stuffed mushrooms — the taste of Thanksgiving in a bite sized snack! Full recipe below.
Thanksgiving LeftoversThanksgiving Leftovers A Thanksgiving Leftovers B Thanksgiving Leftovers C Thanksgiving Leftovers D Thanksgiving Leftovers E Thanksgiving Leftovers F Thanksgiving Leftovers G Thanksgiving Leftovers H
Ingredients:
  • Mushroom caps
  • Leftover mashed potatoes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Leftover baked sweet potatoes (1 potato)
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Cooked italian sausage
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley (for garnish)
  • Green Onions (for garnish)
  • Crispy bacon (for garnish)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Clean the mushroom caps and remove stems.
  • Using a small spoon or melon-baller, scoop out the inside of the mushroom caps to make room for filling (cup the mushrooms in your hand to keep them from breaking.
  • For Mashed Potatoes: fill mushroom caps with leftover potatoes, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • For Sweet Potatoes: combine sweet potatoes with a drizzle of honey and melted butter; fill caps with mixture.
  • For Stuffing: combine leftover stuffing with cooked and chopped italian sausage, fill caps with mixture.
  • Arrange filled mushroom caps in a baking dish, salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
  • Remove and garnish: add green onions to the top of the mashed potato stuffed mushrooms; chopped crispy bacon to sweet potato stuffed mushrooms, and minced parsley to the top of stuffing filled stuffed mushrooms.

At the Wayfair + Boston Bloggers ‘Home for the Holidays’ Event last weekend, my Boston-blogging partner in crime Alison gave a great chat about planning your content around the holidays and one of her pieces of advice was resurfacing old posts to share when seasonally relevant. It got me thinking about some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from blog posts past. As I’m sure you’re in a similar Thanksgiving menu planning mode that I’m in this week, I thought I’d round up four of my favorite that offer a fun twist on a traditional Thanksgiving food element.

To start things off: a seasonal cocktail that brings apple cider to the forefront, Apple Autumn Punch. A tasty appetizer that brings in the sweet flavors of apple pie but the savory balance of a baked brie, Baked Brie with Apple Compote. We always have mac and cheese on our Thanksgiving menu for the vegetarians, and this version is baked in cored apples; Mac and Cheese Baked Apples. For dessert, I’ve tried a bite sized version of pumpkin pies and used cookie cutters to spell out a message of thanks: Thankful for Pie.

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On our holiday dinner table, space can be at a premium — and we would always prioritize food and drink over tons of decorative details, which is where the idea for this simple, multi-use DIY came from. I washed out a rich green colored wine bottle with the intention of serving water in it on the Thanksgiving table, and decided to give it one more purpose: a passable menu detailing all of the great Thanksgiving dishes we’ll be feasting on. With a thick permanent marker, I hand-lettered the main dishes down the center of the bottle and finished it off with a large script ‘menu’ title where the base and neck meet. The best part? It costs nothing to make (well, minus the cost of the wine, but let’s be honest: I was going to drink that anyway!). IMG_5082-0.JPG