A Friday in Bolton

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my fav PIC (partners in crime) is my mum. On a particularly beautiful late October day, we decided we would head out to Nashoba Valley Winery, which isn’t too far from where I grew up / where my mother still lives. When we got there, we found out they weren’t accepting walk-ins for lunch, but they directed us down the street to The Fireplace Room at The International. Surprisingly, given the number of people we collectively know from the general area and the number of events we’ve attended over the years, neither of us even realized this gem existed!
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Being that it was a Friday around 1, there weren’t too many people there and we were able to sit next to a huge window overlooking the golf course and soak in the sunny, late autumn view. We both loved our lunches (burger for me, Thanksgiving style turkey sandwich for her) and the fries were to die for as well. The service was great and I’d go back in a heartbeat! On a related note, I left my favorite druzy ring in the bathroom as we were leaving, which lead to actual tears (embarrassing yet true) when I realized later that night. When I called the next day and spoke with a manager, she told me that she had it in her office and it turns out our waitress had found it. When I told her I lived near the city and wasn’t sure when I would be able to get back out there, she offered to mail it to me! I was super grateful and impressed that they went out of their way to help me out.
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After lunch, we headed back to the winery to poke around the shop– which lead to buying tickets for wine sampling! My mum had never done it before, and I’d never done it there, and so we had a lot of fun trying varietals we wouldn’t have otherwise. I ended up buying the dry pear wine, my favorite of the more uncommon offerings. If it had been less windy out, we would have sat outside. It’s a great place to check out with anyone who enjoys New England fall activities– they offer apple picking in addition to the winery and the restaurant.
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Cider on Down(east)

It should come as no surprise that I am a lover of all things local and all things fall. I also love a good event and a good drink…or three. What better way to combine them than checking out Downeast Cider Harvest Fest? I have had the cider quite a few times, but had never made the short trek to my old Charlestown neighborhood to the brewery until a couple of weekends ago.

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So you’re not surprised, it’s located under the Tobin and you may think, “am I going to be murdered…?” for a brief minute on the drive in because it doesn’t look like anything good would be back there. However, there definitely is something good back there and it’s not shady once you arrive.

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Check in ran smoothly and you were handed a clean, empty beer can with no top as your “glass” and two tickets– one for a drink and one for the tacos. Additional food and drinks were pay as you go and they accepted cash and cards. Inside, you’re legitimately partying in their operational brewery! The bar was off to the left, Pineapple Jam was setting up next to cornhole to the right, and outside had a makeshift beer garden. After enjoying some ciders (pumpkin was an outstanding fall offering, cranberry is incredible, and the sample of the winter blend was the crowd favorite in my group), we took our chances– and our warmth from the buzz– into the seasonal-yet-cooler-than-it-had-been beer garden to queue up for some totally delicious tacos from Causeway BBQ. Everyone got two– a pork and a chicken– with a side of rice and beans, then you could add any toppings you wanted.

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I’m glad we got there early because it was starting to get busier as the day went on, but I think it was a great value for the price and very well run! Downeast hosts events on a regular basis and I would definitely recommend checking one out. Follow them on social media or look them up on Eventbrite. There’s not much parking and it’s not near a T stop, so an Uber/cab is probably your best bet (unless you can convince your roommate to drop you off which is what I did).

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Funniest cousins I know!

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BASICally, we’re adorable.

Steak Me Out

With our hectic schedules, and family/friend commitments, it can be difficult for A and I to find solo time. With that in mind, we try to experience new things together to make the most of the time we do have! So a couple of months back, I saw a Gilt City for Taste Buds Kitchen’s BYOB cooking classes and immediately jumped on it. While I’m far from a culinary genius, I can cook, but there’s certainly room for improvement. While all of the workshops sounded incredibly yummy, the Steakhouse course took the (beef)cake. What is it that seems so daunting about cooking a steak well? Is that just me?

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Once I received the voucher, I emailed TBK and an actual human(!) nicely responded right away with instructions on registering. You know how sometimes places can be snooty if you have a voucher? Not here! With our uber busy fall, the first Steakhouse workshop we could attend was last week, but they have plenty of different events and workshops happening so I imagine it would have been fairly simple to have gone sooner as well.

Last Thursday night, we finally headed out to North Andover for our class! TBK was easy to find and there was ample street parking out front. When you walk in, the space manages to look both inviting and extremely clean. Andrea, Lisa and Gigi warmly greeted us, told us to wash our hands and to pick a station. We signed a waiver form, put on an apron and nametag and waited for the others to arrive (…I’m always early). There was pita bread and dipping oil to snack on and once everyone was in place, we opened our bottles of wine (why hello, Kim Crawford Pinot Noir); stemless wine glasses and water are provided!

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Next we got down to work, first watching Andrea do each step, then going back to our station and working (in two groups of 5) to mimic what she had demonstrated. I feel like it was informational, but also laidback. No one seemed stressed about it and all the couples were having fun together. And man, what I wouldn’t give to have everyone do all the measuring for me on a nightly basis. I’d definitely be making more meals at home! We put together wedge salads with homemade blue cheese dressing, red bliss mashed potatoes with truffle oil (on the side, used to taste) and pan seared flank steak. The potatoes were boiled for us after we cut them up, but we seared the steaks in groups ourselves. I have grilled and broiled steaks before, but never done them in a pan. It was easy! You just need to know what temp and what indicators to look for in doing so. Next we made a red wine reduction for the steak, something I have never even dreamed of doing. Again, it was just a matter of understanding what to do at what point, but overall fairly simple. The three instructors were always available for guidance, but also weren’t micromanaging our every move, so it was perfect.

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After everything was ready, we all sat down in place to enjoy the meal we had prepared together. Being a social person, I thought it was fun how the class brought everyone together and we all enjoyed the absolutely delicious food as well as each other’s company. We were able to pack up any leftovers and there were pamphlets with the recipes available to take home for reference.

In case this isn’t already clear, I thought it was an amazing experience from start to finish and I’m so glad we did it! Next time, I really want to try their brunch workshop with the girls. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, whether you go as a couple or with your lady friends, it was something different to do that also boosted my cooking confidence. Plus, how could you hate on anything BYOB?! Give it a go!

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p.s., if you have little ones, they do children’s workshops during the day. If you live outside of the greater Boston area, there are TBK locations in a few other states as well.

GalaxSea

In the summer of 2014, my older sister told me she’d stumbled upon a contest hosted by Rescue Beauty to create a new nail polish shade that I needed to do because it was right up my alley. I am a nut over nail polish– you will never find me with bare hands or toes and my living room features an actual metal rack of over 50 shades. My friends even do theirs whenever they visit because of the (admittedly somewhat insane) collection my roommate and I have amassed 🙂

I read up on the contest and on a Friday off in July, I made my “vision board”. My absolute favorite color is purple so I knew that would feature heavily, but I was also very inspired by the colors and shades of space and the deep sea– two fascinating and mysterious places. While extremely proud of my submission, I actually had forgotten about it until I received an email that fall from Ji Baek, creater/founder/color genius/genuinely nice person, making sure I had seen on Facebook/her blog that from thousands of entries, I’d made the top 14 (http://blog.rescuebeauty.com/beauty-health/the-fan-collection-3-0-ready-to-meet-the-14-finalists-ta-da-jazz-hands/)! Now it would be put to a vote and the top 6 would be made– although it actually ended up being 7 shades since two submissions were only a couple of votes off so Ji included both (told you she was nice!). A big, huge thank you to all of my friends and family who not only voted, but shared on Facebook and through email with their friends and family. As a result of the support and shares, I ended up with the most votes in a pool of gorgeous, creative boards by my fellow co-winners.

From there, she got to work, mailing samples she’d mixed so that we could give our feedback. I knew wanted a “grown-up” purple/shimmer shade, which is no easy task. My vision could have easily skewed tacky, but not on Ji’s watch. While the first two were gorgeous, I had full creative veto power and was able to let her know what worked and what didn’t to get to the dream color living in my head. Not only in terms of shade, but also when it came to coverage, jelly or more matte finish, shimmer/glitter level, etc.   Unfazed, she took got back to mixing and the third iteration was PERFECTION. Only when I gave her a very enthusiastic “YES!” did she let on that she and her assistant were hoping that would be the one I’d picked. She truly let the decision process be mine and she remained neutral until I’d approved, which was such a wonderful experience that I’m very grateful to have had.

Now that I’d approved, the sample was off to the lab and the nearly year long waiting process began. But finally, I can announce that the Fan Collection 3.0 has been unveiled and will be available for pre-order on October 13th!!

I am so impressed with the entire collection and I want them ALL. A huge congrats to Ji and my fellow winners on an insanely talented and divine batch of colors. Here is my baby, GalaxSea:

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The bloggers who work with Ji all wrote beautiful reviews with gorgeous accompanying photos. My personal favorite quote comes from Refined & Polished:

“RBL GalaxSea is hands down going to be the…favorite in this collection. I’m still wearing it as I type this post.”

If you’re interested in the pre-sale taking place on Tuesday the 13th, be sure to sign up for Rescue Beauty’s mailing list, found at the bottom of the page here: www.rescuebeauty.com

Blog links:

http://www.Peachypolish.com/rescue-beauty-lounge-fan-3-0-co…

http://www.refinedandpolished.com/rbl-fan-collection-3-0/

http://www.fashionpolish.com/…/rescue-beauty-lounge-fan-30-…

http://www.thebeautylookbook.com/…/rescue-beauty-lounge-fan…

http://www.yukieloves.com/2015/10/RBLBloggers3.html

http://www.ommorphiabeautybar.com/rescue-beauty-lounge-the…/

Steamboat Springs, CO

Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend a high school friend’s wedding in Steamboat Springs, CO. While I have been to Boulder/Denver a couple of times previously to see other friends, this was my first time outside of those two cities in such a stunning state. Even better, I was able to spend time with 7 of my friends from high school! Having gone to an all girls’ Catholic school with small classes, we all became and have remained close friends. For Moe’s (who has lived in CO for the past 8 years) wedding, we came out from MA, NY, and DC. Living states apart, the opportunities we have for quality time have diminished, so this trip was special in more ways than one!

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First we flew out to Denver, then rented a car to drive the 3.5 hours to Steamboat. The drive was gorgeous! You are actually going up and through mountains and the backdrop looks like something from a Hollywood set.

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After getting there, we rallied from a long day of traveling and everyone met at Sunpie’s Bistro, Moe and Shawn’s favorite dive bar in the area, for a welcoming party. I saw why they loved it! No frills, but funny signs, cheap drinks and sarcastic bartenders abound.

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The next morning, the gang minus the soon-to-be newlyweds headed to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. I had never been to hot springs before, but I would definitely go again! We were some of the first people there that morning, but it was already starting to get packed when we left late morning. if I had the chance, it would be fab to go at night time (they’re open late) to see the stars while taking a dip. Some of the springs were hotter than a hot tub, which is nice for a few minutes, but then we were ready to move into the slightly cooler one (think a heated pool). Since the water is moving, it feels cleaner than a pond or lake and you can still touch the bottom in most spots which is nice.

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Later in the afternoon, we made our way to a beautiful Catholic church for the ceremony, before heading back to the hotel to board the gondolas up the mountain in our formal wear! After the ride, we boarded buses (more like trucks with the body of a coach bus) to go even higher to Four Points Lodge for the reception — 9, 736 feet above sea level!

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The views were INSANE. Pictures do not do it justice, but did we ever try to capture just a bit of this breathtaking scenery. Because there were no bugs to speak of, the doors were open all night out to the deck so you could come and go as you pleased. The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing and the DJ was on point — although because of the altitude, we definitely needed to take regular breathers from dancing. Once night fell, I went back out on the deck and saw the most vivid stars of my life. There was the Big Dipper and the Milky Way clear as day, as well as seemingly (and probably actually) millions of stars! You felt like you were in a different world, in the best way possible.

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The next morning most of us headed home, but Katrina and I were spending a night in Boulder with friends and leaving Monday morning. While everyone else unfortunately sat in tons of traffic on their way to the airport, Google Maps took us a different route– which brought us THROUGH Rocky Mountain National Park! Being more of a city and beach girl, the mountains aren’t my usual jam, so it was a wonderful experience that I otherwise may never have had.

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We rounded out the trip with dinner in downtown Boulder with some of my oldest and closest friends who live out there as well, which was the perfect ending to an incredible weekend out west!

Day Trip to New Bern, NC

The last weekend in August, I was able to take a quick jaunt down to North Carolina see my lifelong BFF and meet her brand new baby!  Baby Andrew is so chill that we even managed to fit in a couple of activities while I was there, including a day trip to New Bern, NC. Having never been before, I didn’t know what to expect and Mad said it was a lot like Newburyport, one of my favorites places in New England since I was a little girl– I’m a sucker for a waterfront town/city. I agree with her comparison!
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We had a delicious brunch at 247 Craven (my burger was killer– quality beef, peppercorn (!) bacon and a fresh potato bun) with another friend who just moved nearby, then walked around downtown and by the waterfront. New Bern is where Nicholas Sparks calls home and also the birthplace of Pepsi. I rarely drink soda anymore, but when in Rome…
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One of my favorite parts was all of the bears (“bern” means “bear” in Swiss) all over the city, decked out in different themes.
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Very quaint, walkable place and if you ever have the chance to go, you definitely should. I would love to go back and stay in one of the many B&Bs as well. I didn’t get any pictures of those and my shots of the waterfront didn’t come out clear, so I leave you with this great reminder!
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Summer Traditions

I’m a huge sap and so it should come as no surprise that I love traditions. Those I’ve made with family, friends, Adam and surrounding holidays and seasons are all important to me. Just last weekend, I had two back to back nights of traditions with two of the most special people in my life!


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Last Friday, Adam and I went to see his all-time favorite movie, Jaws, in 35mm (original format) at the Somerville Theatre for the second year in a row. I had never seen it before we started dating (I know, I am a movie person, it is a classic, how is that possible) and now have come to love it as well. The Somerville Theatre is also a fabulous spot to see movies and live performances. Not only is it cheaper than larger chains, you’re supporting a local business AND they serve a great variety of beer (including the local Slumbrew) and wine for reasonable prices. While you’re there, build in some extra time to check out the (free!) Museum of Bad Art in the basement. Seeing the movie with a bunch of other enthusiasts, many of who go annually as well, makes it a really sweet way to watch it. People get into it and cheer at the big scenes, but otherwise everyone is respectful. This year marks 40 years so a lot of theaters had showings, but I’m super happy we stuck with this one. Throw it on your list for next August!

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To continue my weekend of fun, the next night Cait and I went to go see O.A.R., a group we adore, at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion— the best venue in town since you’re both outside and on the water. I also like it because you can walk the concourse and move around freely and still see and hear the band. We missed last year’s show, but this was my fourth time seeing them and they never disappoint. The band sounds amazing live, clearly loves and appreciates their fans and puts on a helluva show. They’ve come to town every summer, so if you have the chance to check them out (or experience any show at the Pavilion), I definitely recommend it!