Thursday, July 31, 2014
One of my favorite annual traditions in Boston is Shakespeare on the Common. Every summer, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company puts on a FREE show in the park. It's a great opportunity to pack a picnic, hang outside with friends, and enjoy a play the way Shakespeare envisioned it- performed, not read in a book.
This year, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is performing Twelfth Night, which is a comedy full of musical interludes and scenes that are sure to make you laugh. If you're not familiar with the story, you can check out She's The Man, a modern-day movie inspired by the famous play. Performances run July 23rd to August 10th, so grab your friends and some lawn chairs. I'll see you there!
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Zucchini "noodles" are one of my new favorite things because they're sneaky: you feel like you're eating a huge bowl of carb-filled pasta, but really you're sneaking lots of fiber and good-for-you veggie stuff into your meal.
I've been using my spiral slicer to create long thin strands that are perfect when topped with a simple homemade marinara sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. Follow the directions below and try it out for yourself!
What You'll Need:
3 large zucchini (bigger ones are easier to spiralize)
- Slice the zucchini using the spiral slicer and place the strands into a colander.
- Using a heavy hand, sprinkle kosher salt all over the zucchini and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This seems like a weird step, but it helps to draw out some of the excess water inside the zucchini and will help to give the zucchini a more al dente texture.
- Rinse the salt off the zucchini and pat dry.
- In a heated skillet, warm the zucchini noodles for about 5 minutes.
- Drizzle a tiny bit (about a half turn of the pan) of olive oil on the "noodles" and let them continue cooking. I used a basil-infused oil and it was delicious!
- After about 2 more minutes, remove the noodles from heat and top with sauce. Enjoy!
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
|Illustration by Inslee Haynes|
I recently read a great article on The Everygirl about the 7 Friends Every Woman Needs. Here's my take on the different types of women we should strive to include in our circle:
- The Straight-Talker: I have a couple friends in mind who tell it like it is. Not in a malicious way, but in a no-nonsense way that allows me to see things from a different perspective. It's humbling to hang out with these girls. They keep me grounded and constantly striving to be my best.
- The Listener: If you've got a straight-talker in your circle, you probably also need a listener. This person is your shoulder to cry on. She'll make you cookies and let you go on and on about you-know-who for hours, while simply nodding and providing comfort. It's great to have this cheerleader in your group, always rooting for you, but make sure you root for her once in a while too.
- The Far-Away Friend: I've collected lots of friends in faraway places, and the great part about these friends is that you always have someone/somewhere to visit! We've all had weekends where we just need to get away, and what better way to de-stress than to see a familiar face in a new city? Keep these friends close- it takes work to keep a long-distance relationship going, but it's worth it!
- The Mom: This friend doesn't necessarily have to be a mother, but she should be at a different life stage than you. If you're single, she's married. If you have kids, she doesn't. It's refreshing to socialize with someone who can show you (or remind you) what it's like to be in their shoes, and although it might be difficult to find time to get together, you'll be surprised how great it feels when you can finally connect.
- The Childhood Bestie: Not everyone keeps in touch with their childhood crew, but if you're lucky enough to be in touch with some of your girlhood pals, keep them close! Shana is one of my oldest friends, and although I don't get to see her often, she knows my history which gives us a special connection. It's fun to see her and reminisce about the good 'ole days, playing My Little Ponies in her room, but it's even cooler that we've both been present for each other's major life milestones.
- The Social Butterfly: This lady is easy to spot- she's constantly trying new restaurants, exploring new places, and meeting new friends. In a group of friends, she's the connector. Although you might not always have the energy to keep up with her, she'll help you learn to work a room, talk to that cute man at the bar, or expand your circle of friends.
- The Sorority Sister: Not everyone was in a sorority, but this category accounts for your college friends. College is a time of change and growth.. and probably some crazy nights partying. This friend was there, and will help you recall those silly stories and embarrassing moments, for better or worse. You may have moved to different places, taken different career paths, etc. but it doesn't mean that you can't keep this special gal around.
- The Mentor: I love surrounding myself with people who inspire me, whether it's professionally or personally. A Mentor doesn't have to come from a formal business relationship- she could just be your kick-ass career-ladder-climbing friend who motivates you to reach for the stars and offers great advice. Maybe you ARE this awesome lady. In that case, spread the love and find a Mentee!
If you're missing some of these friends in your inner circle, get out there and expand your horizons!
Monday, July 28, 2014
|Image from W Magazine|
Don't live in Boston? Not to worry- there are locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Washington, DC. SoulCycle is expanding their reach, so if they're not in your state yet, keep an eye out!
When you decide to give it a go, make sure to bring a big bottle of water and let the front desk know that you need to rent shoes (they clip in). Your first class is discounted and shoe rentals are free for first-timers! When you get to your reserved bike, ask for help setting it up. It's OK to be a beginner, and your class will be more effective (and fun) if you've got the right setup.
After class, drink lots of water and find something tasty. I bet you'll be hungry! I like to stop at SweetGreen for a salad, but if you're feeling naughty, pop over to Shake Shack for a yummy burger. You've earned it!
Friday, July 25, 2014
With the Whole 30 behind me, I'm still trying to whip up relatively healthy meals, and great kitchen gadgets make all the difference. Here are some that I consider essentials for any kitchen:
- Box Grater: If you read my post earlier this week on Cauliflower Crust Pizza, then you'll know that this handy tool does so much more than grate cheese!
- Microplane: I use the microplane for the small stuff: adding fresh nutmeg and spices to dishes, sprinkling fresh parmesan cheese onto my food, and zesting citrus fruits.
- Spiral Slicer: This is a genius product, allowing you to create julienned vegetables quickly and easily. Zucchini noodles are my new go-to pasta substitute.
- Steamer: Broccoli is one of my favorite foods, and I like it lightly steamed, so I always have a steamer handy. But broccoli isn't the only veggie that tastes great steamed!
- Great Chef's Knife: A titanium blade or high-carbon stainless steel will hold it's edge best, which is important. When you're slicing and dicing fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs, you need a sharp blade.
- Kitchen Shears: You might laugh at this one, but kitchen shears will be your best friend in the kitchen. Use them to help de-bone a chicken, cut up fresh basil, slice up pieces of dough before you bake it... the possibilities are endless!
- Mini Loaf Pans: This suggestions is mostly for portion control. When I bake a cake, brownies, or a batch of bread, I'm tempted to eat it all at once! Mini loaf pans are great because you can wrap up a few of the fresh loaves, freeze them, and eat them later. Plus, mini loaves of bread or mini-cakes are great gifts for new neighbors, friends, etc.
- Nonstick Skillet: We have all-clad stainless steel pots and pans, and although I LOVE them, I strongly encourage everyone to have one non-stick skillet. It's perfect for eggs in the morning, heating up those zucchini noodles I mentioned earlier, etc. Plus, clean up is a breeze!
- Colander: Cooking fresh fruits and vegetables means lots of washing! A colander obviously let's the water drain out, but it's great for other things too. Use it to store veggies in the fridge to allow air to circulate around them, or find a fine-mesh colander that can be used to sift out the unsavory bits of fresh chicken stock.
- Immersion blender: In my small apartment, I don't have a ton of room for a big blender, so this small version is perfect. It helps me to puree soups and sauces to perfection, and I have a version that comes with a food processor attachment too. Bonus!
I hope you cook up something great this weekend! Happy Friday!
Thursday, July 24, 2014
|Tory Burch Fitbit Flex Bracelet|
|Tory Burch Fitbit Silicone Printed Bracelet|
|Tory Burch Fitbit Flex Necklace|
Neal wears his Fitbit every day, so now maybe I can follow suit... in style!
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I love quick breads, and we often have over-ripe bananas around the house, so banana bread is a great way to use them up! This recipe from Damn Delicious incorporates blueberries, giving a summery twist to a year-long favorite. As the blog name implies, it is Damn Delicious!
What You'll Need:
1 3/4 cups Gluten Free all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup fresh blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray 4 mini loaf pans with non-stick spray.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a large mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the butter mixture and continue mixing.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
- Fold in the fresh blueberries, being careful not to pop them!
- Evenly distribute the batter among the 4 prepared mini loaf pans and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring it to wire racks. If you can wait, allow it to cool for about 15 more minutes on the wire rack before you taste it!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I've been doing a lot of running, yoga, and Pure Barre, but this weekend I revisited weights at the gym. I left feeling great, so I had to share this easy-to-follow circuit workout from PopSugar Fitness:
When you try this out, make sure you're using enough weight to feel fatigued at the end of a 15 rep set. It's not meant to be easy!
When you try this out, make sure you're using enough weight to feel fatigued at the end of a 15 rep set. It's not meant to be easy!
Monday, July 21, 2014
Gluten free pizza crust is delicious, but what about grain-free pizza crust? I've read a lot about the awesome-ness of Cauliflower crust, and after trying it, I've decided it's worth the hype. Although not exactly like a crispy, thin-crust pizza, this version (adapted from a recipe on the Lucky Penny Blog) is low in calories and totally yummy.
What You'll Need:
1 large head of cauliflower
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (plus extra for topping!)
1/4 cup mozzarella
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste... I like a LOT!)
Pizza sauce/ toppings of your choice
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with a non-stick spray.
- After washing and drying the cauliflower, use a box grater to finely grate it.
- Put the grated cauliflower in a bowl and microwave for about 6 minutes.
- Allow the cauliflower to cool, then put it in a dish towel (a clean one!) and ring out the extra moisture. This is VERY important and the key to making good crust.
- Put the grated cauliflower in bowl and add the parmesan, mozzarella, salt, basil, oregano, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then add the egg and mix it all together. It's easiest if you use your hands.
- Put your dough onto your prepared baking sheet with parchment and press it into a crust shape. Circle or square will work, just make sure it's not too thin- you shouldn't be able to see the pan!
- Bake the crust for about 8-10 minutes until it starts to get golden.
- Remove the pizza crust and top with your favorite sauce and toppings. I used a homemade tomato sauce that I and in the fridge, some mozzarella, a little parmesan, and sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Bake the pizza for just a little bit longer, until the cheese is melty and perfect. If the cheese isn't getting brown and bubbly enough, here's a tip: Use the broiler! Just keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn.
- Remove the pizza and garnish as you wish. I sprinkled some fresh basil on mine, along with more red pepper! Make sure to let the pizza cool for at least 5 min before digging in. It's hard to wait, but it will allow the crust to set. Enjoy!
Friday, July 18, 2014
Saving money is top of mind for me recently, especially with the big move coming up. I loved this post on The EveryGirl: 5 Easy Ways to Save More Money. Practicing delayed gratification has definitely been working for me- what other tips do you have?
Thursday, July 17, 2014
|Invite from Briar Patch Designs, Etsy.com|
Typically, bridal showers are the perfect opportunity to shop the wedding registry and choose an item that fits your budget. Gift cards can be tricky, but gift card showers are becoming more popular, particularly if the bride lives out of state (it's hard to carry pots and pans and KitchenAid mixers on a plane). If you're invited to a gift card shower, don't fret! There's still a way to stay within your budget and contribute to the bride and groom's future in a thoughtful way.
My advice is to choose an amount that would cover the cost of an item in the store. For example, if you are purchasing a Williams-Sonoma gift card, pick out an item in the store that you think the bride would like (perhaps a cookbook series, a knife set, etc.), and add enough value for her to purchase that item. In the card, you can even say "I saw the Wusthof knife block set and thought of you. You're such a great chef and a great chef needs great knives!". Obviously she can spend the gift card dollars on the item of her choice, but showcasing an item you've chosen is thoughtful and takes some of the focus away from the amount listed on the card.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
|Recipe adapted from Sweetcsdesigns.com|
What You'll Need:
1 spaghetti squash, halved
1 lb bison (or grass fed ground beef)
1 onion, diced small
Marinara Sauce (Check out this simple recipe)
Olive Oil (have the whole bottle handy)
3-4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes for garnish
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, de-seed and remove visible strings (like you're carving a pumpkin).
- Brush the pulp of the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 min to 1 hour, until the squash is soft enough to prick with a fork.
- While the squash is cooking, make the sauce. Allow it to simmer while you cook the meatballs.
- Combine the bison, onion, eggs, salt and pepper. It will work best if you combine it with your hands, but you can also use a food processor.
- Roll the meatballs into 1-2" balls. Pack them tightly.
- Add a couple turns of olive oil to a pan and head until shimmery. Add the meatballs and sear them. Don't overcrowd the pan- you can do this in batches.
- When the meatballs are seared (don't worry about cooking them through... they'll continue cooking in the sauce), add them to the sauce and cover the pot.
- Let the meatballs cook in the sauce for about 40 minutes, covered and simmering on low. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- When the squash is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, run a fork across each squash like a rake to form "spaghetti" strands. Remove all the flesh off the rind.
- Add the meatballs, a little sauce, and garnish with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Enjoy!
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
|Image by Caitlin McGauley, Pinterest|
The power that scents have to trigger memories is a theme throughout the book, and it has made me more aware of my own emotional connections. I love the smell of Neal's face lotion- it reminds me of our first vacation together, laying on a beach in the Bahamas. Similarly, I feel instantly summery and fun every time I spritz on Bond No.9 High Line. It reminds me of a warm summer night that I spent drinking grapefruit margaritas on the deck of my South End apartment with a big group of friends. Do you have a signature scent that evokes a special memory for you?
Monday, July 14, 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
I'm looking forward to a mani/pedi tonight at Miniluxe Newbury with some of my favorite friends. Instead of simply getting pampered at the end of a long week, we're making it a party! I'm packing Sofia Sparkling wine and some cute paper straws. Let the celebration begin!
If you want to have some girly fun with a mani/pedi party of your own, try a group booking at your favorite salon or stock up on the essentials and have a DIY party at home. Here's what you need:
For the Nails
Cuticule Pusher, one per person
Luxurious Lotion (We're re-creating a spa experience!)
Files, one per person
Toe Separators, one per person
Colored polish (Variety is good!)
Nail Polish Remover
If you're having several guests, consider buying manicure kits for each individual. They make a fun little party favor, and it keeps things more sanitary if you're not sharing tools.
You'll be busy painting your nails and sipping sparkly cocktails, so keep the food simple. Chocolate dipped strawberries, roasted tomato bruschetta, and smoked salmon on mini bagels or toast points will all pair well with champagne or sparkling wine.
Tip: Avoid any snacks that require you to dip your hand into a bowl (i.e. chips, popcorn, snack mix). It's a recipe for messed up nails and polish-coated treats... yuck!
Luckily, a champagne flute is easy to hold even if your nails are still drying. Keep things feminine and choose a rose sparkling wine or take my lead and sip little cans of Sophia Sparkling wine.
Although this DIY spa night is a perfect opportunity for girl-talk, you may want to stock up on some trashy magazines. People Magazine, US Weekly, and Cosmopolitan are salon staples and I know I love catching up on Hollywood gossip while I get my nails done. Don't deprive your guests of this guilty pleasure!
A few pairs of extra sandals are another great addition. Nobody wants to put time into painting their toes only to have the polish wrinkled by their wedges later in the night!
Thursday, July 10, 2014
I don't typically post recipes that I haven't made, but I'm nearing the end of the Whole 30 and I'm starting to fantasize about re-introducing chocolate into my routine. I can't wait to wake up on Saturday morning and enjoy one of these scones with my morning coffee. Gina at SkinnyTaste.com hasn't let me down before, so I have confidence that they'll be absolutely delicious!
What You'll Need:
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups Gluten Free flour (all-purpose mix)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (for the sparkly topping)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Combine the buttermilk, sugar, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- Fold the chocolate chips into the butter/flour mix.
- Add the milk mixture, stirring until just moist.
- Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead slightly with floured hands.
- Form the dough into a 9 inch circle and place it on the baking sheet. Using a knife, cut the dough into 12 wedges.
- Brush the egg white over the dough and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until the scones are golden.
- Serve warm (with coffee or tea!). Enjoy.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Now that it's warm, sundresses have become my wardrobe staple. Although a small tote with a sundress may be functional, I like to lighten my load in the summer and carry small clutches instead. Here are some that I'm coveting right now:
|This Botegga Veneta Metalizzato Pouch is the perfect platinum shade to pair with summer-wear!|
|I love the classic color combo and nautical stripe on this Claire Vivier Fold-over Clutch.|
|The Berry Beaded Envelope Clutch at Nordstrom.com is full of summery colors. So cute!|
|Stella & Dot's Citrine Yellow Perforated Clutch is affordable and summery.|
|The Coach Bleecker Clutch is a classic piece that will transition along with your wardrobe from summer to fall.|
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
If you're planning a road trip (whether for a move or just for fun), here are some handy apps that you may want to download:
- FuelMyRoute: Type in your start and end points, the type of fuel your car takes, and find the best spots to refuel on your route.
- RoadTrippers: Find the best sight-seeing opportunities while you drive. I wish Neal and I had an app like this last fall when we were cruising through France and Spain!
- Roadfood: You're bound to get hungry on a long drive, but rather than race through a drive-through, find some authentic regional cuisine! The options will be informal and inexpensive, but let you experience some of the local flair. If you're looking for some of the diners, drive-ins, and dives that you may have seen on TV, try TVFoodMaps as an alternative option.
- Trapster: This app is a little bit sneaky, but if you promise to drive safe, it will help you avoid speed traps along your route. A speeding ticket is a quick way to dampen your spirits on a long drive!
- HotelTonight: When you're driving all day, you may not know exactly which city you'll be in come 11pm. If you're looking for a last-minute hotel, try this app that will search for the lowest hotel rates and let you see reviews all in one spot. If you're like me and have been living at hotels every week for work, you can also use your hotel group-of-choice's unique app. We'll be using SPG.com and my Starwood Ambassador to book our reservations.
Road Trips are a great time to see the outside world, get away from your routine for a while, and relax a bit. I'm sure there are many more apps that are useful to have on-hand, but a phone is not the only road-trip essential- make sure you pack some good snacks, a couple of books on tape, and some great music to keep you going. See you on the road!
Monday, July 7, 2014
I did a LOT of laundry this weekend, and since I recently purchased some new items, that means I was reading labels like a fiend. There's nothing worse than shrinking a brand new cardigan or ruining an expensive silk top that you love! Read on for some handy information on how to de-code clothing labels and wash your garments like a pro.
|Image Courtesy of Primer Magazine|
Friday, July 4, 2014
|Naturally Sweetened Lemonade from Gourmande in the Kitchen|
What You'll Need:
2lb seedless watermelon, cubed
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (8-10 lemons)
1 cup coconut water
Crushed ice for serving
- In a food processor or blender, combine the watermelon, raspberries and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
- Press through a mesh filter (to remove the seeds) and transfer to a large pitcher. Add the coconut water and stir to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Pour over ice in glasses and top with a little bit of sparkling water. If you'd prefer vodka in your lemonade, that would work too!
- Finish each glass with a pinch of salt and garnish with lemon slices or extra raspberries.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Red, White, and Blue will prevail this weekend, but you don't have to look like you're wearing a flag in order to be festive. I've rounded up some of my favorite patriotic looks that are perfect for the 4th of July... or any other day this summer!
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
While you're out and about, don't miss the USS Constitution Museum in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Admission is free (donations are welcome and encouraged), and the museum has special programming leading up to the Constitution's annual turnaround cruise on July 4th. It's a fun way to get out of the sun for a bit, learn something new, and celebrate American History. Take a walk along the water on your way home and swing by Papagayo for a margarita on the patio. I promise you'll enjoy it!
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
|Martha Stewart's Cornmeal Berry Sheet Cake|
What You'll Need:
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 1/5 cups GF flour (or all-purpose)
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
18 oz fresh berries (try blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
Whipped cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prep a 9x13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment, allowing the parchment to hang over the sides. Butter the parchment.
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugar on high until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at the time and continue beating well. Add the vanilla and beat, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and beating until just combined.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan, then sprinkle the berries on top.
- Sprinkle about 2 tbsp extra sugar of the top to make it sparkle and bake until golden brown. This should take about 1 hour.
- Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack, then use the parchment to remove the cake and cut it into slices.
- Whip some fresh whipping cream and serve with the cake. Enjoy!