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Last night we had an awesome time with the Boston Bloggers group at the cutest South End shop — Farm & Fable. Abby, the owner of the shop, hosted a handful of us for some prosecco sipping, snacking, and late night shopping of her vintage cookbooks and artisan kitchenwares.  After we mix and mingled for a bit, we headed down to the awesome test kitchen space below the store to learn all about mulling wines, and then we all dug in to bowls of coriander, anise, and cinnamon to mix up our own little mulling spice kits to take home! I love a warm mulled cider during the winter, but Abby opened my eyes to something I’ve never tried before: mulled white wine. She mixed hers with a pear brandy and there were a few sweet pear pieces filled with the spiced mixture at the bottom of my cup — I’m ready to try that recipe at home!

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We’ve had our fair share of cold winter nights this year, which means we’ve had to get creative with weekend plans and bring a few of our date-nights close to home. This weekend we had a little taste of summer with a coffee-table picnic. We had a plate of French cheeses — my sweet husband sent me a box of Murray’s Cheeses for Valentines Day (the way to my heart is Camembert, not roses!). We also had some local oysters, which I’ve always been intimidated to shuck on our own, but after some research on technique my husband mastered it in no time! The good news is the weather is warming up, so here’s hoping those newly obtained shucking skills are put to use at a real picnic soon.

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On my day off on Monday my husband suggested I try making homemade hummus — we buy it all the time and word on the street is that it’s pretty simple to make, so I gave it a whirl! I used Ina Garten’s recipe as a base (because she’s fabulous and I always trust her recipes!) and made a few modifications. First, I added a bit more garlic, an extra large clove, because adding more garlic is pretty much always my way life. Next, I reduced the tahini paste — it has a strong flavor, and I added in a little bit of the recommended 1/3 cup at a time, I probably only ended up using 1/4 cup in my version. After I blended all of the ingredients, I used a spatula to scrape it out into a serving dish and topped it with a few toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of good olive oil (for no other reason than that I’ve seen it done at restaurants, and I think it looks pretty!).  The verdict? It really is as easy it sounds — you just throw it all in a food processor and blend. Now that I know that, I’m brainstorming more flavors to try!

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Sometimes inspiration just comes in bursts, doesn’t it? I have been scooping up ideas from so many gorgeous parties around the web — like a darling garden party from Grey Likes Weddings — I need to dip-dye some napkins just like those! The color palette, the bows, the florals, and the stripes are all perfection in a Kate Spade-inspired bridal brunch. And a sweet little farmer’s market picnic party has my wheels turning for some spring-time fetes!

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Lately I have been following along with Brottle, a  year-long bottled cocktail project, that posts a new bottled cocktail recipe everyday on their instagram account. They post videos with step by step instructions of the recipes on YouTube too, and I’ve watched just about every one — they’re so cute, and the recipes are quick and easy. It’s an idea I can get behind, mix up a bigger batch to keep on your bar cart while entertaining, or bring it along with you as a little hostess gift to a party. And because everything is pre-mixed into one bottle, it makes those cocktail refills a little faster too! So after seeing their greyhound recipe last week, I decided it was time to join in on the fun and make one myself. I switched up the recipe and made my greyhound with 8oz of gin instead of vodka, and  mixed it with 19oz of fresh grapefruit juice. Then once it was time to serve, I poured it over ice and garnished it with a fresh spring of thyme leaves. It was tasty — and now I have a little cocktail waiting for me in the fridge after work tomorrow too!

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Last week at my West Elm DIY event, I taught a group of crafty ladies to make a festive felt heart garland to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d share the instructions here so you can make one at home too! First, using two pieces of felt layered on top of each other, trace and cut out two hearts. Next, using about an arms length of embroidery floss, tie off the end and begin sewing the two layers together (starting at the tip of the heart). When you get to about 3/4 of the way around the heart shape, you want to stop sewing and stuff your heart. We used pillow batting for the garlands and pins, and loose dried lavender to make sachets. Once the heart is stuffed, pinch the layers together with your hands and sew the remaining 1/4 of the open heart closed, tying off the end with a knot. Once you have your stuffed heart, you can sew on a pin to the back, add hook to make it a hanging sachet for your closet, or string multiple hearts together to make a sweet garland for your bar cart or mantle!
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I’m so excited to share a few pictures from my event at West Elm Fenway a few weeks ago! It was such a fun day — I mean, really, is there anything better than hanging out with your girls and making cute things? I’ll post a tutorial this week with step by step instructions so you can make your own felt heart garlands (or pins! or sachets!). Thanks to my bestie Taz from Bring to Light Photography for taking these fabulous pictures, the lovely folks at West Elm Fenway for hosting, Sweet Cupcakes for making sure we had tasty bites to snack on, and for all of the lovely friends, blogging buddies, and new faces that came out to craft with me! Let’s do it again, OK?

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I mentioned earlier this week that my weekend was a bit of a carb-fest. One of the highlights of my breaded-binge was making homemade popovers and strawberry butter. It’s sort of a family tradition to make these delicious egg-y pastries. When my sister and I were kids, my mom and aunts would take us to have lunch at Neiman Marcus, and the popovers were always a highlight of the meal. So when they visited this weekend I broke out the Neiman Marcus Cookbook and whipped up a batch. The strawberry butter is the best part, it’s just strawberry jam and butter whipped together, but for some reason it tastes absolutely amazing — I want to put it on everything! ADSC_0067ASC_0060ADSC_0058ADSC_0066ADSC_0068ADSC_0063

Last week our Boston Bloggers group hosted a little night of pampering at the new Chestnut Hill Drybar location. I’ve been to a handful of blow-dry bars before, and even a few different Drybar locations, but this particular trip totally changed my world. I was commenting to the stylist working on my hair, that it’s super rare for me to get my blow-out to last more than one day, my hair just always looks dirty after sleeping on it. So after some convincing, and a step by step tutorial, she got me on the dry shampoo train. I’ve tried it a few times since the event and I’m a total convert — and now forever grateful to the Drybar for solving a long time hair dilemma!

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Note: I received a free blow-out at this event, all opinions are my own. 

The theme of this weekend can be wrapped up in one word: Carbs. My mom and sister visited for the weekend, and let’s just say we’re a bit of bad influence on each other in the eating department (and I will admit, I’m the ring-leader of the tasty indulgence brigade). We had so much fun and stuffed ourselves to the brim with delicious homemade pasta in the North End, sweet strawberry butter on piping hot popovers, and we rounded out the weekend with a donut tasting from my favorite donut shop – Union Square Donuts. You can go ahead and roll me straight to the gym after work tonight! But it was so very worth it!

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