October 9, 2015

Have a Wonderful (Long) Weekend!

I hope I get to spend as much time outside as possible this weekend. I want to play hide-and-seek with the dogs, stack wood, build a fire, and start unpacking Halloween decorations!
Okay, maybe it sounds a bit boring. But I'm making up for it tonight by going out and getting a hair cut and seeing a movie. (Living large.David says he wants to see Black Mass... we'll see. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here are some fun links you may enjoy.

Do you wish you could live like the rich and famous?

Driving with women. (I'm so the "park here" woman. Sorry, honey.)

Good design sense.

Halloween fun... 10 haunted cities.

Decorate your porch for fall.

Delicious soups to take away the chill.


October 8, 2015

Totally Crushing Over

Anthropologie! This store has been hit or miss for me over the years, but they've won me over with this collection of goodies!

Prima ballerina Marie-Agnes Gillot looks stunning in their Afterward Cardigan, Pleated Wide-Legged Trousers, and Laurina Earrings. I love everything about this look!

Red is always a constant color theme for me, especially in the fall. I'm drawn to their Mandu Dress and Shenora Rug in gorgeous shades of red. Now add a Sundial Mirror and you have the beginnings of a beautiful Sunday lounging on the couch. 

This casual lets-go-shopping outfit is a throw-back to the 80s. (I think I may have had the same one!) Copy the look with their Delaine Blazer, Ribbed Turtleneck Tank, High-Rise Charlie Trouser, Roaming Hedgehog Tote, and Lien-do Endicott Loafers.

The Slub Velvet Sofa marries a myriad of beautiful patterns together layered in front of their Mirrored Foliage Wallpaper and piled high with this collection of pillowsPassage Abroad, Embroidered Leaves, Falling Fringe, and Vining Velvet.

October 7, 2015

Organic Nutella

I love my local organic market. I'm fortunate to be able to buy a lot of foods that the usual organic markets don't offer, like local humanely raised meats, certified organic prepared meals, and freshly made soups and sandwiches on site at their café. And every one in a while they give out free samples. That's when I discovered Nocciolata. This hazelnut and cocoa spread tastes better than Nutella. It's not as sweet and the rich taste of hazelnut really comes through. Although the consistency is a bit thinner, I'll gladly trade that in exchange for no palm oil, no hydrogenated fat, no gluten, and no artificial colors or aromas.

If you can't find it near you, they sell it on Amazon!

Now go and spread this treat on a nutty toast, or in place of jam on a muffin. Enjoy!

October 6, 2015

What the Heck Does That Mean?

Growing up on the south shore of Massachusetts, I heard all kinds of interesting sayings and words, some I still use to this day. But, when I worked in Boston, I would come across different kinds of accents, and these were from the natives, not the tourists. I've read that there are as many as 14 different dialects in Massachusetts alone, never mind the rest of New England. We're just that cool.

I've always been fascinated by language. From the time I was a little girl, I wondered why the people on the television spoke differently than the people I was living with. I started to notice patterns of speechcadence, tonality, the lack of diction. When I would read books, I would hear the voices of the characters come to life in my head. And they never sounded like Uncle Joe (sorry, Joe). I would talk to myself in my room in other accents to see which one sounded better. I would practice my southern accent, my English accent, and my poor cousins from Minnesota's accent endlessly, don'tcha know. (What the heck was pop anyway?) And throughout this whole time, I was inevitably learning how not to talk like everyone else. Yes, I could be a weather girl on any channel in any state and you wouldn't know where I was from. In fact, I'm constantly being asked where I'm from because they can't place the "accent".

Over the weekend, the girls were discussing some of the words their college friends use from other parts of the country, so it's clearly not just a New England thing. However I think we've corned the market on the delivery.

Awesome is a word that you'll hear around the country, but I believe it came to life in the 80s when someone in a Massachusetts high school declared that everything was just awesome. EVERYTHING. And wicked awesome to boot. Yes, I've used this term myself. Jokingly these days. But I too, have turned that little nugget around and around in my mouth to sound like every other over-permed, over-dressed teenage girl during that time. (And if you add the word, pissahwell, then, you're a tried and true native indeed. Translation: wicked pissah = superb!)

And forget what you hear on TV. Most of the time, they don't do a Boston accent justice. I'd rather watch an actor speak in his or her regular voice than try to mimic the old-school Kennedy accent that has broad "a"s and is non-rhotic, meaning the "r" sounds drop when it precedes other consonants (smart become "smaht", chowder becomes "chowda") any day. Leave this to the experts like Mark Wahlberg, John Krasinski, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck (the real deal). And by the way, you really can't "pahk the cah in Hahvuhd Yahd" because its 22 acres is off limits to vehicles.

So, I thought I'd introduce to you some real gems. And hopefully, you'll share back.
  • There is no letter "r" in the New England dictionary. Somewhere along the line, we managed to take the aristocratic sound of our British ancestors dialect and mangle it just enough to make us sound as uneducated as we possibly could. (As stated above.) Those crazy mainers drop them into words just for the hell of it.
  • As Massachusetts continues to take out rotaries (traffic circles, roundabouts), New Hampshire is putting them in! Let's not even discuss the difference between the two states when it comes to driving. No one knows how to use them here (NH) and no one knows the "laws" of a rotary outside of MA. Who ever heard of using a blinka?! Every Masshole takes pride in their aggressive driving.
  • If you visit a variety of towns, you'll wonder how the heck we came up with the pronunciations. Worcester = woosta, Peabody = peebadee. You see, you're screwed no matter what. This video should enlighten you further.
  • An ode to my adopted state... "When an illness forced General John Stark (the state's most distinguished Revolutionary War hero), to decline an invitation to the 32nd anniversary reunion of an important battle, he instead sent a written toast to his wartime comrades. It read, 'Live Free or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils.' More than a century later, the 1945 Legislature adopted it as the official state motto. It remains the ballsiest motto of the 50 states."* Take that, Connecticut.
  • And in no particular order... jimmies = sprinkles, frappe (frap) = milkshake, bureau = dresser, tonic = soda, pocketbook = purse, bubbla = water fountain, packie = liquor store, weiner = hot dog, grinder = toasted sub, dungarees = jeans, clicker = TV remote. And aunt is pronounced ahnt, not ant! I could go on and on, but I'm pretty sure you get the idea.
As an aside, you're also in a pickle if you try to read a road map. Anyone over the age of 35 isn't going to know where the heck I-95 is, because we call it 128. You'll go north to head south, east to go west, and by the time you check your road map, Siri, or seek guidance from up above, you're sure as hell lost. But you could always just "bang a uey". (Bang a you-ee means turn around.) Good luck!

P.S. I love this video.

*Business Insider. Photo: Meg

October 5, 2015

Sherwin-Williams Stirs Things Up

Isn't that the truth? Color is such an easy design fix, yet many people resist adding rich, beautiful colors to their homes. However, you don't have to wrap your walls in color, let your furniture take a dip instead. Go ahead a use caution while painting the walls, but then rev up the room with pops of color on everything from cabinets to tables, and right down to the details with art and accessories. (Walls: SW7632 Modern Gray.) So how do you know what goes with what? Forget the rules: black goes with blue and brown and gray, but it's the undertone that matters. Take a good long look at a color and try to identify if the color looks a bit ashy (black/gray), earthy (brown), or diluted (white), and you're on your way.

My mother was a pioneer when it came to creating beautiful things out of someone else's cast-offs. She took chains to pine flooring, painted her wooden kitchen cabinets a bold green, and hung a large burlap-wrapped board on the dining room wall to hold her many vintage kitchen utensils in the 70s. My family scoured flea markets, tag sales, and antique shops almost on a weekly basis, so the thrill of the hunt was instilled in me at a young age. And I'm glad it was. Otherwise, my home would look like everyone else's or worsethe exact replica of a furniture catalog. Make your home stand out from the rest and trust your eye. If you love it, you'll find a place for it.

Sherwin-Williams recently interviewed Jennifer Harrison-Ciacchi for their latest edition of Stir magazine. She is a master at cultivating a (slightly worn) curated collection of beautiful finds as you can see above. The wood cabinet would be instantly discarded by many, yet it looks perfectly at home in her dining room filled with other unique pieces. The wash of white gives this cabinet new life and stands at attention against the contrast of black used throughout the room. (Recommendations: SW7008 Alabaster (a pure white), SW7532 Urban Putty (brown undertones), SW7004 Snowbound (gray undertones) depending on the look you're going for.) 

So the next time you come across an unpolished gem on the side of the road, ask yourself if you just give it a little lovepaint, some new hardwarewill it find a place in your heart and your home?

Color Inspiration
SW7005 Pure White, SW7009 Pearly White, SW70002 Downy
SW7008 Alabaster, SW6119 Antique White, SW6385 Dover White

P.S. Explore more color options on the blog.

October 2, 2015

Have a Lovely Weekend

Do you have anything planned this weekend? It's a family weekend for us! I'm about to drive down to RI to pick up Amanda. Kate was given an extra long weekend because of cancelled classes, so she's already home. I've made them their favorite fall treats and tomorrow we're going to see a movie (or two!). The weather isn't going to be that great, so we figured we'd make a day of it.

I hope you have a great weekend and here are some links you might enjoy!

Think pink. Text PINK to 59227 to sign up for Breast Health Reminders each month. Know the facts about breast and ovarian cancer on Bright Pink.

For the writer in you. And is this for you?

The pressures of college.

Celebrate Christmas at Hogwarts!

Find your focus.

Could you live in a tiny house? And is your house making you tired?

October 1, 2015

It's October!

October is hands down one of my favorite months. I love the cooler air, the clothing, the smell of wood smoke, pumpkins, mums, Halloween, the color of the leaves, just about everything. It's not too cold, not too warmit's just about perfection to me.

Do you have any favorite things you love to do this month? I make lots of cold-weather inspired dishes (before I get bored with making them) and I love to cozy up the house with fall decorations. I layer in more blankets, pillows, and accessories indoors, while I primp my porch with cornstalks, mums, pumpkins and the usual fall fare.

Here are some activities to inspire you to celebrate fall and the glorious month of October!
  • Find a fall festival. At The Farmer's Daughter, in Kingston RI, they're hosting a Harvest Festival complete with pony rides, scarecrow making, hayrides, and almost anything to do with a pumpkin. I highly recommend that you visit this beautiful garden center. (The photo above is of their beautifully decorated chandelier located in the shop.)
  • Drive through your neighborhood, your town, neighboring towns, or hit the road and go even farther to take in the scenery. That's how I've found all of my favorite haunts. Get lost for a while and don't forget to bring your camera!
  • I'll be baking this weekend and I always bake extra apple pies for my sweet neighbors. Why not do the same. It doesn't take much to double a recipe and it will be much appreciated. (I'm making pumpkin bread too.)
  • Get outside as often as you can and enjoy the fresh air. We're so busy working and doing that we forget to breathe. Get up a little earlier in the day and take a brisk walk outside, eat a meal outdoors, or set your chair in the sun and enjoy a good book. David and I plan to spend an entire day outdoors. We're going to eat and play all day and only go inside when we have to. No technology, just the sounds of nature and the dogs!
  • Buy some pumpkin tea. I just bought a tin of Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice herbal tea and I'm in love. I've been drinking it every morning and it just tastes like fall. Combine it with a bag of Hot Cinnamon Spice and you have quite a treat! (You can also find them at Barnes & Noble cafés.)
  • Start to unpack your scarves and buy a few new larger ones to dress up an outfit. They're great to toss in a bag to ward off a chill. I keep several large stoles stashed around the house so I can pick one up at will. One of my favorites is orange!
  • Go un-trick-or-treating. Mourning the loss of one of our beloved family adventures (our town goes all out for this holiday!), last year the four of us walked up and down Halloween Street, as they affectionately call it, and just enjoyed watching the children and their parents have fun. And yes, we dressed up!
  • Visit Salem! And really get into the spirit of Halloween. There are lots of places that hold haunted tours. Amanda's school gets in on the action and we're finding lots of interesting places in and around RI that sound rather spooky. After all, it is the birthplace of those wacky Ghost Hunters! (Check out my Halloween Pinterest board for more inspiration.)
  • Buy an electric blanket! Amanda bought me one for Christmas last year and I love it. I haven't brought it out quite yet, but soon enough I'll be snuggling underneath its warmth.
Ok, now it's your turn. What do you love to do in October?

September 30, 2015

Eating Out - Eating In

Last Friday, David, Kate, and I went to one of our favorite Italian cafes in the North End for a treat. I normally don't eat sweets, but it's really hard to resist sharing a piece of chocolate mouse cake with your husband, especially if you're drinking a delicious cappuccino. Kate boxed the rest of her cake and then we went and got her some more goodies at Mike's Pastry a few doors down. She was psyched!

Eating out, bringing food in, it's not something we do very often. But when we do, we try to stay within our dietary restrictions the best we can (cake and coffee aside). That means visiting restaurants that offer humanely raised options like b.good and Tasty Burger when I need my burger fix. It also means staying clear of ordering meat options when we decide to bring food in like Vegetarian Chili from our local pub and a wonderful Puttanesca sauce from another great Italian place a bit closer to home, Filho's Cucina.

Bringing food in can actually be the start of a wonderful meal without all the fuss. I ordered the Puttanesca sauce, made my own pasta and salad, and voila! A delicious meal without over-thinking what's-for-supper. In fact, I doctor a lot of ready-made foods and give myself a break when entertaining by buying dessert, an appetizer, or even part of the main meal.

However, there's nothing quite like making a big pot of something, especially this time of year. I know I'll make some soup (maybe this weekend) and chili soon enough, but the girls want apple pie and pumpkin bread, so I will happily start baking away before the weekend begins. In the meantime, here is a yummy recipe for that delicious sauce.

Puttanesca Sauce

This happens to be one of my favorite sauces to eat. Have you tried it? Tomatoes, capers, olives, anchovies, onions and peppers in a wine infused marinara sauce ready to be sopped up by a crusty loaf of bread, is real comfort food. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. (Look up the origins of Puttanesca. It may surprise you!)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion

1 red pepper, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
4-5 anchovy filets, minced 
1 large (28 oz) can Roma plum whole tomatoes in juice, broken up 
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine like Sangiovese or Chianti (optional)
Salt, to taste
In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 40 minutes. Add the wine and stir and drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil.
Serve over your favorite pasta.

P.S. You may also enjoy Comfort Food and Pizza!

September 29, 2015

Worshipping at the Alter of Elizabeth Gilbert

Literally and figuratively speaking of course. As you can plainly see, she is on an alter and I do adore the woman. Never more than now.
Last Friday night, I got to finally hear one of my favorite writers speak at a book event sponsored by the Harvard Book Store. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I missed the first opportunity to see her in New England, scored tickets for the second but couldn't go. As they say, third times the charm. I finally got a ticket and I was able to attend.
My husband and I went into Boston early that day to meet up with Kate and enjoy some time with her before heading over to Cambridge. I wanted to make sure I was there very early.

And I was. Early that is. I was first in line (technically third, but only because the first couple split up and went to two different doors while David and I tried the side door first). We sat on the church steps for a couple of hours with a small group of people and I wondered if anyone else would show up. Doesn't everyone take a half day off to go see their favorite author?!

The crowd started to grow about an hour before it was slatted to start. Then people from all over started to get in line, which eventually turned the corner.

Of course I snagged the first pew. The two people in front of me went to the left and David and I sat on the right with me firmly planted in the isle seat. The church filled with, I'm estimating, 500 people.

Okay, you have the visual, now let me tell you how the evening went.

As I sat there, I started to fidget with the recording device on my iPad and my phone. (I wasn't taking any chances.) The evening was cool, so I brought a wrap that I couldn't seem to keep contained in any way. It was if it had a mind of its own. Maybe I was a little nervous. Okay, I was shaking with delight. I think I may have cried a bit.

Enter Ms. Gilbert. She wore jeans, a white top, the Harvard-required blazer, and boots. And she brought out a large leather bag, which I thought was odd. She was immediately engaging and her sense of humor was keenly sharpened. She truly is the type of person you would love to have as your best friend. (In fact, one woman got up to ask a question and lamented that she would indeed love to be Liz's best friendhers and Oprah's and Brene Brown's. Sorry. Liz wins hands down, lady.)

The bag, come to find out, contained a six-pack of beer... for four Canadian worshippers who drove down tweeting the entire way about how much they would love to have a beer with Liz. Trust me when I say that I can't do the story justice, so I won't. Just know it was endearing and very entertaining. And damn, I wish I had thought of it first.

She is on tour for her book, Big Magic. I devoured this book in one delicious meal of a reading session over the weekend. It's all about how to live a creative life. But it's much more than a self-help book (a much-needed niche, but I hate the term), it's a guide to finding out how to tap into your creativity with a practical, why-didn't-I think-of-that approach. Her stories, her advice, the cadence of her voice that you can hear as clearly as if she were in the room reading it straight to your heart, is uplifting. I went out and bought extra copies the very next day to give as gifts. Get it!

She read directly from her book for about 15 minutes. Then she opened the floor for a Q&A session. I can't remember how many people actually asked questions, but a hour or so later, I do remember her answering them as though she had scripted her thoughtful replies in advance—with much care and insight. I listened happily from my seat knowing I would rather watch and listen then get in line, although I had plenty of questions of my own.

She ended the evening with the poem, "Advice to Myself" by Louise Erdrich.

I could go on and on and on and on. But let me just say, the night was magical. Her words were healing. Her soul is electric. She is truly magical. Don't miss the opportunity to hear/see/be with this wonderful human being.

"The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I'M FAR MORE MOVED BY AUTHENTICITY. If your work is authentic enough,
believe meit will feel original."
Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic

Stay curious!

Need a little more encouragement? Listen to her TED talk (viewed more than 10 million times), and read Some Thoughts on Writing.