Monday, June 30, 2014

4th of July Festivities

Table-scape Inspiration from Pinterest
We're 4 days away from a long weekend, so give yourself something to look forward to and start planning your 4th of July festivities! If you're in Boston, a picnic on the Esplanade will guarantee fun people-watching, but a lower-key backyard BBQ can be equally fun.  I've put together a menu and some decor ideas to get you started.

Watermelon Stars, Pinterest
Menu:

Decor:
  • Fill jars or small vases with red gerbera or other red, white, and blue flowers. Make sure not to over-do it because flower attract bugs. 
  • Set the table in red, white and blue hues. Inexpensive bandanas from a craft store make great napkins and will feel slightly more upscale than the paper variety. 
  • Use lanterns and bug-repelling column candles to set the scene and keep pests at bay. 
  • Mason jars make great glassware for an outdoor party, and guests can take them home at the end of the night if they choose. 
  • If you're going to use disposable products, shop Susty Party for sustainable, compostable plates, cups and utensils. The wooden cutlery is much more impressive than the plastic stuff you can buy at the grocery store!
  • Stringing lights above the table or hanging lanterns in the trees will give your event an upscale, special feel (even if it is just a backyard BBQ!). 
Don't forget to buy some sparklers and scope out a spot to watch the fireworks! Let the countdown to the weekend begin...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happy Friday!

I'll be honest, I've been pretty distracted this week with work and a new puppy.  SO, in lieu of a thoughtful post, I'm going to overwhelm you with cute pictures of Brady. Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

Me and Brady, working from home
Out for a walk
Snoozing on the couch

This guy loves to snuggle! 
Enjoying Charlestown

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thai Garlic Shrimp


Last night's dinner was one of my favorite Whole 30- friendly dishes so far: Thai Garlic Shrimp. Adapted from a recipe on Skinnytaste.com, this dish is packed with protein, veggies, and oh-so-yummy coconut milk. Read on for the recipe. It's a definite repeat in our house!

What You'll Need:
1-2 lbs peeled, deveined shrimp
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, sliced thin
4 scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated
5 cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
1.5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (Or dice your own. 2-3 should do the trick.)
14.5 oz. can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the bell pepper slices. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the white parts of the scallions along with garlic. Cook until it's aromatic. 
  3. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes, and the coconut milk. Stir and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  4. Add the shrimp and the lime juice. 
  5. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then serve hot. 
We ate our shrimp straight out of the bowl, but this would also be delicious served over rice (to soak up the delicious sauce!). My kitchen helper below thought the shrimp smelled pretty amazing, and I think you'll like it too...

Brady, my Sous-Chef

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summertime Grillin'

Citrus Marinated Beef & Fruit Kabobs, Martha Stewart
I'm 10 days into the Whole 30 and the weather has been great, so grilled meat is becoming a go-to meal. I loved this Martha Stewart article: 20 Things You Didn't Know You Could Grill. A grilled brie cheese wheel is definitely not part of the plan for the next 20 days, but I've made a note- it looks delicious for future reference!

Here are some of the recipes I'm eager to try:

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Scallions, Martha Stewart
Grilled Shrimp with Bacon and Lemons
Scallop, Orange, and Cucumber Kabobs

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Get Pretty

Caitlin McGauley, Pinterest
I'm working from home this week, and it's a great opportunity to wear all the jewelry that I typically don't travel with (every piece deserves a chance to be worn!). Today I'm rockin' the statement earrings, and you can too! They're not just for evening. Check this out:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baked Tostones


This weekend was full of puppy kisses and snuggles, but we didn't get out much. So, instead of going to Orinoco for a fun dinner out (it's one of our favorites), we cooked some venezuelan-inspired food at home. I tried Skinnytaste.com's baked to stones (plantain chips), and they were a huge hit.

What You'll Need:
2 Green Plantains
Cooking Spray
Kosher Salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Score the plantains on two sides (cutting through the skin) and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. The plantains will turn hot and black. 
  3. While hot, peel the plantains and slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices. With the bottom of a mason jar or some other flat object, press each slice to flatten. This must be done while they're hot!
  4.  Line the smushed plantains in a single layer on your baking sheet, spray with more cooking spray, and generously sprinkle with salt. 
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes until crisp (flipping them once halfway through for even browning). 
  6. Serve warm!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bringing Home Brady


Tomorrow is the big day, and we are SO excited to welcome Brady home. In preparation, we've been stockpiling all of the essentials:
  • Dog food. Since our pup is coming from a breeder, we're keeping his food consistent and feeding him Fromm Surf N'Turf kibble. Click here for a list of other great foods. 
  • Adjustable collar and 6' nylon leash (not retractable!)
  • Stainless steel food & water bowls
  • Toothbrush & dog's toothpaste
  • Baby wipes and Q-tips for ear care
  • Stainless steel comb with handle
  • Grooming brush
  • Nature's Miracle odor neutralizer (lot's of it!)
  • Nylabone chew toys & a kong (Check out this post for other puppy-friendly toys)
  • Multiple cases of paper towels (you'll need them!)
There are so many other dog products out there, but start with these basics and then see what else you need.  More puppy pics to come...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Date Night in Marblehead

Beautiful view from The Barnacle
There are so many great restaurants in Boston, but once in a while you just need to get out of the city. If you're looking to escape this weekend, grab your sweetie and try out this itinerary for a romantic date night in Marblehead.

5:00pm: Start at the Chandler Hovey Park and Marblehead Lighthouse. Hold hands, enjoy a stroll, and watch the scores of small, one-design racing yachts as they sail through the water. 

7:30pm: Head to The Barnacle, a small sea-side eatery with fresh-off-the-boat seafood. You can see the lobster boats from the restaurant, and even if you're sitting inside you'll have an incredible view. Choose fresh steamed lobster and share a bottle of Chardonnay. You won't be disappointed.

9:30pm: Stop and grab some frozen yogurt or ice cream on your way back to the city on Revere Beach Parkway. Warm summer nights are simply made for indulging in a frozen treat while strolling the beach!

Neal and I took the drive up to Marblehead a couple weekends ago and it was absolutely delightful. I can't imagine a cuter town or a more perfect evening!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life of the Party

Caitlin McGauley
Spring and summer tend to be social months, filled with parties, BBQs, weddings, and business functions.  It's likely that  you'll encounter new people at these gatherings,  and being a great conversationalist is the key to letting your sparkly personality shine! Here are some tips for keeping the conversation going:

  • Look interested. Making eye contact and maintaining pleasant facial expressions are both important. Our body language can easily give us away, so watch out for wandering eyes, crossed arms, etc. Instead, stand up straight, smile, and nod occasionally to indicate that you're paying attention to what's being said. 
  • Ask a question. If you're not a talker, get the other person talking! Asking questions is a great way to know someone, and it's easy to get started. For example, if you just met a fellow wedding guest, ask how they know the bride and groom. Their answer may spark a future topic and the conversation can go from there. 
  • Listen. In order to comprehend what someone is saying, you must listen. Even if you aren't particularly interested in the current topic of conversation, it's polite to focus and pay attention until you can make your exit. 
  • Refrain from interrupting. It's easy to get excited and interject during someone's story, but try to wait until the other person has finished their thought before sharing yours. This one is tricky!
  • Be interesting! Everyone has stories, so share yours. If you can't think of anything relevant, leverage your knowledge of current events. I read theSkimm on a regular basis, which keeps me current even if I can't read the newspaper every day. 
  • Work the room. There's no need to stand in one place all night. In fact, this might subject you to boring conversation that's difficult to end. Instead, use opportunities like refreshing your drink at the bar to circulate to a new spot and talk to someone different. 
Follow these tips and you're sure to enjoy the event. You may even walk away with a new friend or business connection!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Styling Chambray

Chambray is super cute for spring, and the lightweight, plain-weave fabric will keep you cool on warm days.  I love pairing my button-down with my J.Crew leopard print pencil skirt, but this week I'm going to try a new look. Here's some inspiration (from Pinterest) if you're looking to do the same:

This is a super-cute option for a Saturday shopping on Newbury Street!

I love this look for a date night. The A-line skirt is super cute!
I'm going to try this look for the office. I think I already have the key pieces in my closet!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Recipe: Salsa


After awesome Watermelon Margaritas this weekend, I started the Whole 30 Program. For 30 days I'm pushing the "reset" button and choosing whole, healthy foods (even when traveling for work!). I promise not to bore you with too many details, but I wanted to share this recipe for salsa that has added a lot of flavor and fun to my first few Whole 30 meals. It's great with tortilla chips too!

What You'll Need:
3 cans of Rotel Original diced tomatoes with chiles
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
2-3 Tbsp cilantro
1-2 limes
Kosher Salt

Directions:
  1. Combine the tomatoes, jalepeno and garlic in a food processor. Blend.
  2. Add the cilantro, a sprinkle of salt, and the juice of one lime. Blend and taste.
  3. Continue adding the salt and lime, then blending, until it tastes just right. 
  4. Store in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mix. Serve and enjoy!
I used the salsa to top an egg white and avocado scramble, and it was absolutely delicious. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Catching Up with Margaritas

Image from MyRecipes.com
A good friend of mine is in town for the weekend, and I can't wait to catch up as we soak up the sun and lounge by the pool. I'm packing snacks, but I'm also going to whip up some of these Watermelon Margaritas. Want to join me?

What You'll Need:
1 giant ripe watermelon (yum!)
10 limes
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups ice cubes
1 cup blanco tequila (your choice, but I'm using Cabo Wabo)
1/2 cup Grand Marnier

Directions:
  1. In a blender, combine 3 cups of chopped watermelon, the juice of 10 limes, 1/3 cup sugar, and the ice.  Blend until smooth. 
  2. Add the tequila and triple sec. Pulse to blend. 
  3. Using a lime and some salt, rim the edges of your glasses. Fill with the margarita mixture and enjoy responsibly!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Susty Party


A Susty Party Brunch!
Although I love china patterns (see yesterday's post), summertime BBQs and outdoor parties often call for paper products. I recently heard about Susty Party, and their products are cute enough to make any outdoor get-together a huge success. To learn more about how Susty Party and their products, I reached out to founders Emily and Jessica. 


Q: Tell me about yourselves! How did Susty Party get started?
A: I’m Emily. I started Susty Party because I’m an environmentalist who loves a great party! However, the party and event industry is a huge contributor to waste in the US. Every year, hundreds of billions of disposable tableware items are discarded. As an Environmental Studies grad from Oberlin College, and as a dancer, musician and entertainer, I’ve always felt: in order to change the world, throw a better party!

I’m Jessica. When I ran into Emily at – where else, a party – I was looking to leave my Wall Street job, and put my Harvard economics degree to use creating a conscious business that was good for people and the planet. We wanted to turn sustainability into a celebration. So, SustyParty was born. Every day, we love growing our business to make the world a better place, and throw a better party. Respect Earth and Party On!


Q: What makes your products so different from other party supplies out there?
A:  Our products are compostable, renewable, non-toxic, made in North America, and support jobs for the blind. Susty Party products are made from plants! But not just any plant, we carefully choose materials that are renewable resources: rapidly growing plants or trees sustainably managed via FSC or SFI certification. None of our products are made from non-renewable resources such as petroleum-based plastics. It is important to us that we use the earth’s resources responsibly by only using what can be replenished. 

Q: What products do you offer?
A:  Wood cutlery, paper cups, recycled napkins, paper straws, party picks, bioplastic tablecloths, plates, and bowls. 

I'm going to order one of Susty Party's party packs for my next outdoor fling. I can't wait to try them!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

China Patterns

I've shopped a lot of wedding registries lately and it seems that choosing a china pattern is no longer a  wedding requirement. Perhaps it's because people entertain less, or maybe they simply don't have the storage for extra pieces, but I absolutely adore china and it's disappointing to see that tradition fall by the wayside.

China, or any dinnerware, doesn't have to be for special occasions. Add it into your everyday rotation and you'll add sophistication and glamour to every meal! Here are some of the patterns I love:

Wedgwood Renaissance Gold Dinnerware is classic and formal, but the geometric patterns look modern and fresh. 
Kate Spade Hopscotch Drive Dinnerware is fun and would be perfect for a summer afternoon soiree!
I love this Lenox Pearl Dinnerware for everyday. Look at the curve of those coffee cups! It's beautiful!
Gian France Songe Dinnerware has an earthy feel, yet it's still elegant. 
If you're looking to enhance YOUR dinnerware collection, start with what's on sale. It's a great time to find holiday patterns on deep discount, and don't worry, they'll be useful for more than one day. Choose a holiday pattern that you can use throughout the entire holiday season- my mom has a beautiful Christmas Tree set from Spode that she uses for everyday eating in December. It makes meals feel a bit more festive!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fresh Zucchini, Corn, and Basil Pasta


I love taking advantage of seasonal produce and whipping up delicious dishes, but in the warmer months I also love taking advantage of the sun and don't want to be in the kitchen all day. This pasta dish is quick and captures the fresh summer flavors of zucchini, corn, and basil- plus the recipe includes bacon!

What You'll Need:
1 lb GF Brown Rice Pasta
3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob (in a pinch, substitute frozen corn)
3-4 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 in pieces
1/2 lb bacon
1 7-oz container basil pesto
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for topping

Directions:
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp in a skillet. Drain the bacon on paper towels until cool. 
  3. Add vegetables to the pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking. You heard that right- we're minimizing dishes.
  4. Drain the pasta and veggies in a colander, reserving about 1/8 cup of the pasta water for later.
  5. Return the pasta and veggies to the bowl and mix in the pesto. Use the 1/8 cup of pasta water to add creaminess to the pesto sauce. Trust me, it's delish!
  6. Crumble the bacon on top of the pasta and veggies and stir to mix. 
  7. Serve with fresh ground black pepper and top with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for an extra kick. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bouqs

Bouqs.co Ladybug Arrangement
Fresh flowers are a delightful way to congratulate a friend, warm up a home, celebrate a birthday, or commemorate a special occasion. However, ordering flowers online can get expensive and the quality doesn't always meet expectations.

Bouqs.co is attempting to solve that problem. For a flat $40 you get fresh-cut flowers (literally cut the day you order them!) straight from the side of an active volcano in South America. The company only cuts what they sell, so there's less waste and they don't have to waste energy storing stems. These are sustainable, eco-friendly flowers for a crazy-reasonable price!


My favorite Bouqs.co feature is the concierge service. Schedule a whole year of flower deliveries (i.e. never miss your best friend's birthday or your parents' anniversary), or set up a monthly delivery for yourself. Just think how lovely it would be to come home to fresh flowers on a regular basis.

Start smelling the roses and place your order!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Picco

Picco Sundae, Featured on BostonMagazine.com
There are great places to get ice cream in the Boston area, but Picco's hot fudge sundae just can't be beat.  Although this south-end pizza joint serves up incredible wood-fired pizzas, I go for their homemade ice cream topped with Scharffen Berger hot fudge and fresh whipped cream. 

Peanut butter chip ice cream is one of my favorite varieties, but the selection changes on a regular basis, depending on what's fresh and in season. You'll see pumpkin ice cream pop up in the fall, pistachio from time to time, and raspberry lemon in the warmer months. Whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed! Stop by this weekend while you're out and about. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Travel Rules

Caitlin McGauley illustration, Pinterest

Thursdays are typically travel days for me, and as a frequent flyer I've encountered almost every type of airplane seat-mate. Often it's a delightful experience, but other times I wish I could share these simple travel etiquette tips with my fellow passengers:

Pack headphones. On long plane rides, it's fun to catch up on your Netflix queue or listen to music. Make sure you pack headphones so that the rest of the plane isn't disturbed.

Share the armrest. It's easy to hog the armrest- they're tiny and there are only a few to share. If you're in the aisle or window seat, be courteous and let the middle passenger share the armrest too. If there's no place for them to rest their arms, they may feel squished and that's no fun!

Snack smart. Consider eating before you board the plane and packing simple, scentless snacks that won't disturb others. Greasy fries, curry dishes, seafood, and other hot dishes can easily stink up an enclosed space and your fellow passengers may not appreciate it.

Stow carry-ons. These days, everyone seems to have carry-on bags (see my post on packing light). Follow directions and store your larger bag overhead and your smaller bag underneath the seat in front of you. It's so frustrating to board a plane only to find that all the bin space has been taken up with small handbags and jackets. I like to put everything I need for the flight in my tote bag, which fits under the seat, and then my suitcase can go overhead.

You're not alone. There are lots of other people on your flight, so be polite and try not to get annoyed at small disturbances. The crying baby behind you doesn't know that she's interrupting your nap and the flight attendants don't mean to hit your elbow with the drink cart. Put yourself in their shoes, smile, and let it go.

Disembark with decorum. Allow the people in front of you to collect their bags and exit. The process goes so much faster if people do not push and try to rush off of the plane. Even when you're in a hurry, it won't hurt you to be patient.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How To Truss a Chicken

Yesterday I posted a recipe for roast chicken. If you got hung up on the step that said "truss the chicken," then this is for you.

Trussing a chicken (or any other bird) helps to ensure that the legs and wings are fastened against the body, preventing those smaller pieces from drying out. It's easy to do, and once you master it, you'll feel like a total cooking maven!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Simple Roast Chicken


Roast chicken is a simple dish that's sure to impress your dinner guests (or your family). This recipe has only a few ingredients and you won't have to slave away in the kitchen.

What You'll Need:
1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 whole lemons
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, and/or thyme for garnish

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and make sure your rack is in the center of the oven. 
  2. Remove the giblets from the chicken and wash the chicken inside and out with cold water. Allow it to drain, cavity down, for a couple minutes before patting it dry with paper towels. 
  3. Truss the chicken and place it breast side down in a medium roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, don't fret! A deep baking dish will work well for a small bird. That's what I used in the picture above. 
  4. Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and out) and season with the salt and pepper. Be generous with it!
  5. Prick the whole lemons a few time with a fork and stuff the chicken with them. It's ok if they poke out a little bit. 
  6. Put the chicken in the oven an lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken and carefully use tongs to turn the chicken breast-side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh and return the chicken to the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you don't have a meat thermometer, simply make sure that before you remove the chicken from the oven the thigh juices run clear. Undercooked chicken is no good!
  8. Baste the chicken with the juices a few times while it's cooking, and when it's done, let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Garnish with fresh herbs of your choice and enjoy!
I served my roast chicken with roasted potatoes, shallots, and garlic. I tossed them with olive oil, threw them on a pan, and allowed them to roast on a rack in the oven while the chicken was cooking. SO easy!

There's an extra perk of roasting a whole chicken: you can shred the leftovers and use them in dishes throughout the week. I used mine to make a big batch of chicken noodle soup with yummy homemade GF noodles. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Visit Austin


If you haven't been to Austin, GO! Neal and I recently spent a long weekend exploring the city and we fell in love.

Having grown up in Texas, I had visited the state's capital before, but seeing the sites with my sweetie made it all the more fun. Here are some of the highlights to hit when you visit:

Tacos @ Tacodeli
Tacos: Start your day with migas at Torchy's Tacos, hit up Tacodeli for some cowboy-rubbed beef tenderloin, and then hit up Guero's Taco Bar for a hand-shaken margarita and a little dinner. Tacos and Tex-Mex are everywhere. Bonus: corn tortillas are naturally gluten free and tacos are amazingly delicious!

South Congress: This trendy strip just south of the river is full of eclectic shops, restaurants, music venues, galleries, and boutiques. Take a stroll to work off your tacos from Guero's, and do some shopping! I loved popping into the the different shops, but Kendra Scott is one you won't want to miss. A beautiful pair of Turquoise Alex Earrings seems like the perfect souvenir for this trip...

Barton Springs Pool, Image from Pinterest
Zilker Park: Put on some comfy shoes and take a walk through the park. While you're there, take a dip at Barton Springs. These four natural springs are beautiful and the perfect way to cool off after a long walk. If swimming isn't your thing, you can also kayak the creek.

Barbecue: If you have a full day, stand in line and enjoy some Franklin Barbecue. The line starts early, and the wait is long, so bring a comfy lawn chair and just take it all in. As an alternative, try La Barbecue. Pitmaster John Lewis is the former protege of Aaron Franklin, and you're sure to have an equally yummy experience here. The Salt Lick is another incredible option, but you'll have to take a little drive through Hill Country to reach it.

Outdoor seating @ Banger's

Rainey Street: In the southeast corner of downtown you'll find a street of historic single-family homes that have been converted to incredible bars and restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating and live music. Neal and I checked out Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden and I was pleasantly surprised to find a large gluten free beer selection.

This is a short list, but Austin is full of fun activities. Brush up on your Texas history at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, tour the Captiol, check out a food truck (they're everywhere!), or grab a drink and enjoy the sun at one of the many rooftop bars downtown. Enjoy y'all!