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:

  1. 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…
  2. 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!)
  3. 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 bestieav-baby-shower-4
  4. 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!)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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. Screenshot 2015-01-14 20.36.16
  9. 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.  
  10. 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!).
  11. 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!
  12. 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. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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. 
  16. 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.capture22
  17. 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.
  18. 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).
  19. 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! 
  20. 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.mini-donut-cake-5
  21. 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! 
  22. 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! 
  23. 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. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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! westelm34

Now, let’s talk about those pesky four items that I just didn’t quite yet finish:

  1. 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!)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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. 

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. 

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

This weekend I made it a point to go check out the Eat Boutique Holiday Pop-Up Shop in Fenway, in an effort to keep my shop-local spirit alive!  The pop-up shop is run by the lovely Maggie Battista and the whole space is beyond darling — I gasped a little bit when I saw the gorgeous lettering on the windows right outside the shop. They’re fully stocked with delicious artisan food gifts — everything from cookbooks to simple syrups, tasty jams and baking mixes, and even some fun party supplies from The Flair Exchange and Knot & Bow.  I was lucky enough to stop in while Apotheker’s Kitchen was doing a tasting of their honey-sweetened chocolate covered marshmallows and had to bring home a few to add to my obligatory tree-trimming hot cocoa! The Pop-Up will be open Thursdays though Sundays until the 21st, so be sure to go check it out (and don’t forget to take a look at the jam-packed line-up of special events each day so you can join in on some tastings and demonstrations!).IMG_5447.JPGIMG_5451.JPGIMG_5450.JPGIMG_5453.JPGIMG_5449.JPGIMG_5448.JPG

I’m rounding out our 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series today with an interview with Abby of Farm and Fable — one of my favorite shops (and shop owners!) in the South End. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

SouthEndShop_01Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop, and how you got started.
Abby: I grew up in a 300 year old farmhouse with a family that loved to garden and cook so a lot of what I do is a product of my childhood and is really second nature to me. I started cooking when I was old enough to stand on a stool and stir a pot. I worked in and out of the restaurant industry over the years but took a big old detour and went to law school. I became a product liability litigator at a big law firm. It will surprise no one that for a girl happiest barefoot in a garden, gathering herbs for dinner with her big goofy dogs by her side, law firm life wasn’t a great fit. I was determined to get back in to food so I went to work for Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery. It was during that time that I worked on a concept that would allow me to combine my love of cooking, vintage and all things entertaining related. I really wanted to create a kind of clubhouse for people who are as geeky as I am about food and that is really at the heart of Farm & Fable. 

SouthEndShop_04Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Abby: I love the holidays because it is the one time of year that we really embrace tradition and sentimentality. I think that a good holiday gift should be selected with an eye to either traditions you already have or new traditions you want to start. In my family, traditions always center around food. That’s why for grown-ups I suggest our handmade recipe card boxes from Belle & Union or our keepsake recipe journals from Celina Mancurti which include a page with each recipe for “Notes for Future Generations.” I just love that. For tiny chefs we have the sweetest apron sets from Oddette Williams. I love to decorate gingerbread houses with my nieces and nephews and having their own special apron makes that time seem even sweeter. 

SouthEndShop_07This 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?
Abby: A good hostess gift is like a good houseguest: helpful, pleasant to be around, thoughtful, and doesn’t take up too much space. I love the two gifts sets we have from Farmhouse Pottery. One has a great hand-thrown, hand-glazed salt pig along with Maine farmed sea salt. The other has a small hand-thrown, hand-glazed syrup pitcher along with Vermont maple syrup. They both come packaged in a reusable wooden box complete with gift card. We tie them up with a red grosgrain ribbon and they are ready for gifting. 

SouthEndShop_03You are a bit of an experts on cookbooks given the selection in your shop — what are your favorite new books this year? Any cookbooks that you always go back to for great holiday recipes? 
Abby: This fall was a fabulous season for new cookbooks. I am loving A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus from Renee Erickson. It is arranged seasonally and by menu which I really love for home cooks. I’m also really enjoying Jeremy Sewall’s New England Kitchen which I think makes a great gift for any local food lovers (or people like me who can’t stop eating at Row 34 or Lineage). 

SouthEndShop_05One 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? 
Abby: I am so lucky to live and have my shop in the South End. I managed to get all of my holiday shopping done in one afternoon without leaving the neighborhood. For my sister-in-law I got a cozy sweater at Flock (and one for myself). For my sister I got a sparkly fun necklace from M. Flynn. For my nieces and nephews I stopped by Tadpole for books and toys. For my mother I picked up the cutest embroidered potting apron from Niche. For my father I went to Urban Grape for a special bottle of scotch. For my brother, brother-in-law and boyfriend I went straight to Sault because Philip’s taste is impeccable. For my friends I stocked up on lip balms and lotions from Follain. I’ll swung by Olives & Grace for stocking stuffers. Of course my own list includes a few of fabulous vintage pieces from Pioneer Goods (hint, hint). 

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What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year? Any words of wisdom about why you think it’s important? 
Abby: When you shop local you aren’t just supporting the store you walk in to. Lots of local shop work with other local makers to fill our shelves. Our cutting boards are from South Boston. Our oyster knives come from Cambridge. Our copper pots and pans are from Rhode Island. Shopping with little shops like mine keeps a whole host of business afloat.

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 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.