Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pretty Florals | Wrap Dress

I love when the first mums of the fall season start popping up everywhere.  The white ones are my absolute favorite and they arrive early and go fast.  Jimmy and I popped in one of my favorite local nurseries today to pick up a few and he snapped some phone pics while we were there.  I was so happy to be feeling like myself again after battling a summer cold last week.  It was a beautiful day, still warm, but no humidity.  I was wearing a current favorite dress, in the prettiest small floral print.  I love a good wrap dress that stays in place and is short enough to be able to wear casually.  I wore mine with slip on sneakers.  This dress would look so pretty with a long open front cardigan and booties or a denim jacket when the temps start to drop, if they ever start to drop that is...  The pattern also comes on a high neck blouse that I'm eyeing and a midi skirt. I will link everything below.  The rattan bag I've been carrying everywhere is linked as well.

This a true wrap dress, but it stays in place without any issues.

This little rattan bag is lined with a pretty floral fabric and is big enough for all the essentials. I found one just like it in Rhode Island but it was 3 times the price.  This one is a steal.

We always have these in our fall window boxes and they always remind me of 
Cabbage Patch Kids.  Haha

Hard to resist, but I did because I have no luck keeping rosemary topiaries alive.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Recipe | Best Weekend Belgian Waffle Recipe

I know I've posted waffles recipes before, but this one is new to me and became an instant favorite.  As much as I love my overnight Belgian waffles recipe, it's one that requires planning ahead.  I'm not much of a planner.  Especially when it comes to weekend mornings.  We woke up to chillier temps today and after a walk with Quincy, all I was craving were these waffles.  The recipe comes from my girlfriend's husband and is a long time family favorite in their home.  Recipes from friends tend to become my favorites too.

These are very hearty, which I like.  One waffle is a meal.  They are crispy on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside.  One of my biggest complaint with other waffle recipes is that they don't feel very substantial and you have to eat a few to feel full.  The flavor and smell remind me so much of Juice Bar waffle cones on Nantucket, just in a Belgian waffle size.  What could be better?!

Here's the recipe:


2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3.5 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
1.5 cups whole milk
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Belgian Pearl Sugar
Toppings: powdered sugar, berries, maple syrup

1. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
2. Combine egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a large measuring cup
3. Add milk/egg mixture and melted butter to bowl with flour mixture.  Stir together with a plastic spatula.
4. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks with electric mixture.  Fold into batter.  Careful not to overmix.
5. Let batter rest while you warm up waffle iron. I cooked mine on setting 5.
6. Add batter to iron and sprinkle top with pearl sugar.  Cook.

I recently bought a new Belgian Waffle iron that works great with this recipe.    Here is the link
Placemats pictured are from here here. And pearl sugar can be ordered here.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Fashion | Nordstrom Sale 2019

A couple people asked if I shop the Nordstrom Sale.  Mmmm, not really.  At least not with the frenzy that some people do.  I'm not the biggest bargain hunter and I have a hard time thinking ahead a season.  The only reason I even went online to check out the sale was because Jimmy and I have a trip planned for October and there is nothing that gets me more excited about freshening up my wardrobe quite like an upcoming trip. I bought a new sweater (the one pictured above, but in ivory). Four of the above are things I already own and would highly recommend and buy again.       

1. Patagonia Fleece - I have this in ivory and love it.  The Blue Smoke color is so flattering!  I size up in Patagonia for a more comfy fit.

2. Free People Tunic Sweater - I almost bought this last year but missed out.  I ordered one in ivory but red is the only color still available.  I love the red as well.  Will wear with leggings and boots.

3. Riding Boots -These are my favorite pair of riding boots.  They are $150 off and one of the best deals in the sale.  They hot below the knee and if you have narrow caves, they fit really well without gaping.  They also come in an extended calf option.  They are excellent quality.  I wear mine to death and they still look amazing after 5 years of wear!

4. Zella Legging - I have about 6 pairs pairs of these leggings (in black and other colors) and they are one of my favorite high waisted leggings. I wear these to workout, and they are the best "suck in the belly" leggings I have.  I don't wear these all day though, but know many people that do.  I personally hate a tight, high waist band, unless I am working out, in which case that's what I prefer. They are are softer than my Lulus and a nice thickness without being too thick. I wear an XS in Zella leggings and a 4 in Lulu for sizing reference.  I don't like my leggings to bunch up at all.

5. Cute J. Crew Wrap Dress - Loving yellow this summer and this can be worn now. 

6. Pretty J. Crew Wrap Blouse - Don't have this one, but have one similar and wear it with jeans.

7. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings -  I have had a pair for 3 years and wear them more to go out in than during the day.  I wouldn't wear them to work at home or pick ups kids from school.  If you don't have them and want them, this is the best price you'll find them all year.  I have real leather pants and another brand of faux leather leggings and the Spanx are the least convincing in terms of looking like leather. They do not look like or feel like leather, but give the illusion of leather from a distance.  They are however the comfiest of the leather/faux leather pants and leggings I have and usually the first I reach for when I want to look a little more hip than I really am...

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Nantucket | Our June Trip + Staying In Town vs. Sconset + What I Packed

We decided to visit Nantucket a littler earlier than usual this summer, going mid June instead of late.   We wanted to be there at the same time as my brother and his family and also allow Andrew to work the kick-off for the Nantucket film festival.  We rented a house in town instead of Sconset so we would be closer for the film festival and visiting cousins, which was a fun new experience.  I have stayed in town the last couple years for the Christmas Stroll, but never in the summer.  The island was deserted!  It was kind of amazing.  Such a difference going a week earlier! Massachusetts schools were still in session when we arrived, such a different energy being there before the summer season officially kicks off . We didn't have great weather and never put our swim suits on once, except for Charlie, who went swimming with his cousins in the freezing cold water and didn't even have goose bumps!!  There are a few things that weren't open yet, like the secret candy shop, the water taxi to Topper's, kid's nights at the Casino, but honestly, the trade off is having the island to yourself, getting same day dinner reservations at typically crowded restaurants, having less expensive rental homes, and skipping all the summer traffic.  It felt more like early fall and we weren't mad about it. 

I know I'm going to be asked, so I'll address it right off the bat...what's better, staying in Town or staying in Sconset? If you can, you should try to experience both.  Sconset is my favorite place in the US.  I used to say in the world, but then I visited the Cotswolds and had to revisit that statement. Haha.  There is something extra special about that part of the island.  You truly escape in a way you don't when you are in town.  Biking around Sconset is much prettier and safer, we are typically a few steps from one of the island's prettiest beaches and you forever feel like you are living in painting or movie or wonderful book.  Staying in town is more convenient to everything else.  You don't need a car, you have more options for rental homes, there is more to do, especially when the weather isn't beach weather, and you can be more spontaneous about where the day takes you. My kids prefer town.  Jimmy and I prefer Sconset. Of course there are lots of other places to stay like Madaket or Tom Nevers or other mid island locations, places I have driven or biked to, but have never stayed.  

Staying in town allowed us to explore new parts of Nantucket which was fun! We biked everywhere!  We did three different bike trails: Cisco, Surfside and Madaket.  A few new discoveries...Surfside has an amazing snack shack, healthy and delicious with little picnic tables overlooking the beach!  Madaket was the prettiest ride, with a stop for hiking trails (Sanford Farm) and a pond for feeding snapping turtles (make sure to bring raw chicken legs and string if you ever find yourself out that way!  Charlie had a blast feeding them!).  We had lunch and a prime table at Millie's before playing on the beach at Madaket.  We rented kayaks in town which was a perfect family activity and we didn't tip over. I would definitely recommend this, whether traveling as a family or just couples.   We also went to a new to us restaurant that I have wanted to try for years, Le Languedoc, right across the street from Bookworks on Broad Street.  The atmosphere is cozy and romantic, perfect for a rainy date night, which is what it was for us. Request the tavern if you make reservations. The Beet was another new spot we would recommend, with made to order salads and sandwiches.  Perfect for picnics or a simple light dinner.  It's right by the movie theater. My favorite part of the trip was taking long walks down the back streets and hidden lanes and just slowing down for a week.  Many deep breaths of sea air, foggy mornings drinking the best iced lattes, reading (and napping) with my feet up on the wrap around porch of our home, the crunch of gravel driveways under our bike wheels, picnicking at Great Point, and hearing cousins giggling.  It was a good week. Nantucket has a way of restoring and inspiring me like nowhere else.  It was bittersweet leaving this time because we will not be going back for more than a year. We aren't going to Stroll at Christmas and next summer we have a different sort of adventure planned, which I'm super excited about, even though I'll miss the familiarity and comfort of a place we know so well. We might have to sneak in a long weekend before then... 

Packing for June was a bit like packing for England in April, lots of layers, to account for big temperature shifts from warm afternoons to chilly nights.  I'm rounding up things that I took with me, some items are low on stock because they were bought earlier in the spring.  When possible, I've tried to find similar options for things that are sold out.  Since I clearly went with a red, white and blue theme, it feels fitting to post during a holiday week!! 

Flag Sweater which I wore over this plaid sundress
Red stripe skirt, still stocked in blue, which I like even better
Navy stripe tunic, I wore this to fly to ACK with my navy Sconset sweater
(stock low on tunic, but they restock this every fall)
with these mules and this cardigan and it was the comfiest 
White eyelet blouse (the one I wore is sold out, but I like this one better)
Gingham Tie Shorts (my chambray ones are from last year)

**blue and white chinoiserie dress I'm wearing in the family pic above is from last year.  Same print but different style is linked below. Size up 1, they run small in the waist.  Wearing a 2 for reference**

All the items that I packed are linked below..
including shoes, more sweaters, shorts and t-shirts, a super cute navy gingham skirt and my favorite shoulder tie coverup that sadly didn't leave my suitcase but is in full demand now! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day Inspired | summery clothes and table ideas

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that another school year is about to come to an end.  Andrew is starting to make preliminary college visit lists (he'll be a junior next year!) and I'm tinkering with my summer project list (which usually is far too lofty and really more on an exercise of nice ideas rather than things I will actually accomplish).   With Memorial Day weekend and the sudden arrival of warm temperatures, I'm starting to think about things l'd like to take with me for our upcoming trip to Nantucket and what new little summery finds I need for outdoor entertaining.  I've rounded up some favorites that have been popping up in my online shopping carts.  

one shoulder navy dress || swimsuit with rickrack trim || straw hat || light blue gingham peplum blouse || cork candles || red jumpsuit || navy embroidered blouse || red check maxi (the back of this one is amazing!  It would be so pretty in family beach pictures too!) || crab clutch || espadrilles. (my favorite white high rise AG jeans, more cute blouses to wear with those white jeans and a light blue buffalo check apron dress are linked below.  I have the J. Crew Factory apron dress and found it runs true to size even though the reviews say to size down.)

Love these glasses and any rattan or wicker tableware and accessories (more linked below!).  Would be so cute used as small vases lined up down the center of a table.

Rattan placements (these are on sale this weekend)

blockprint napkins (I bought these already)

I use my bamboo flatware year round, but I do love it most of all in the summer

Happy Memorial Day to all of you!  Hope your weekend plans include something fun! Cookout, parade and baseball for us (so long as the rain stays away)!

Monday, April 22, 2019

England | Visiting the Cotswolds | Best Walks + Towns + Places to Eat


Next up on our England vacation was the Cotswolds.  We left Bath after a picnic breakfast at the little park on the banks of the River Avon on Saturday morning.  This was our first experience driving a car on the left side of the street, and by "our" I really mean Jimmy.  Getting out of Bath was interesting.  I kept holding my breath.  If you've never made a right hand turn from the left side of the road, sitting on the right side of the car, well, take my word for it, it's like a bad thrill ride, you want to close your eyes but you can't.  We kept saying to each other, I can't believe they just let you rent a car without teaching you what the signs mean or making you do a practice run.  The one good thing is you are forced to learn very quickly and truly, after a day or so of driving, you have the hang of it.  Jimmy is a very calm person and he enjoys driving so best find yourself one just like him as a travel companion because this is a part of the trip where you need a car.
Bath is less than 30 minutes from Castle Comb, which is one of the first Cotswold towns you come to when approaching from the south.  It would have been such an easy drive to get there, but we opted to drive about 50 minutes in the other direction to see Stonehenge. This was the one part of my routing that didn't make a lot of sense but I did it because Stonehenge was one of the things Charlie was most excited to see.  It is such an iconic English landmark and something everyone should see once if you are in the area. It was a gorgeous day so we opted to hike to the stones rather than pay to take the bus.  You park at the visitor center and there is a public footpath that leads you through a meadow up to the rocks.  I believe we were told it's about 1 km each way, but it was definitely farther than that.  I would say about a 20 minute walk there and back.  It's an easy walk though and on a beautiful day I would choose it over the bus without question.  Plus it saves you money!  You don't get quite as close to the rocks as the paying people, but you get close enough. You are no longer allowed to approach or touch the rocks no matter which group you are in.  It's a National Trust site, which means a cafe back at the visitor center and all the National Trust site cafes are excellent.  We stopped to pick up some sandwiches and snacks before heading back on the road. 

We drove the Castle Combe, another 50 minutes or so, and it was the PERFECT welcome to the Cotswolds.  We got there late afternoon, just as the light transformed all the honey stone buildings into what looked like a movie set.  It was all so incredibly beautiful it made my heart hurt.  I knew the next few days would be the highlight of our trip.  I vacationed in the Cotswolds with my whole extended family when I was just a bit younger than Charlie. I still have such happy memories of that trip, but only little hazy bits and pieces.  Apparently, my heart had not forgotten though. 

I didn't want to leave, but the pubs were booked for dinner.  A little traveling tip we learned quite quickly, you need to either make reservations for dinner or call ahead for all the pubs.  I can only imagine in the summer - advanced planning would be key.  Usually calling the same day was plenty notice for this time of year, dropping in and hoping for a table never worked.  We drove another 30 miles or so to Hampnett, the town where we stayed.  It was dark when we arrived so it took a little creativity and the assistance of a friendly neighbor to help us locate our little cottage.  Hampnett is a little hamlet of about 10 homes and a church, less than a mile from Northleach.  I wanted a place that truly felt like we were locals and to experience what life would be like in the country.  We were surrounded by a little brook, several public footpaths and meadows full of sheep.   We had dinner that evening at a pub in nearby Northleach called the Wheatsheaf Inn (click here to see photos) some of the best food we had on our trip, Jimmy and I returned a couple days later for a date night.

The next few days were spent exploring the towns around the Cotswolds.  We had picture perfect, cloudless days, with magical sunsets and mild temperatures.  It was a gift that I never expected and likely will never be able to repeat.  The fact we spent 2 weeks in England and never saw one drop of rain during the rainiest month of the year was a miracle in itself! The Cotswolds were my favorite stop in England.  It's everything that I love, the picturesque countryside, quaint old towns, idyllic cottages, and wonderful places to eat.  Our days fell into a steady rhythm of early morning hikes starting from our cottage, a late brunch, followed by an afternoon hike, a little town hopping, tea and late pub dinners.  For me, 3 days wasn't long enough, but for most, I think 3 days is the ideal amount of time to experience this part of the country in an unhurried way when combining it as part of a longer UK trip.  Our kids loved it, but were ready for more adventure when our time was through.  My favorite part of the Cotswolds are the public footpaths that connect the whole countryside.  There are many different routes, marked by signs on fences, but be warned, they aren't that easy to navigate (you will get lost) but they are worth it!  A few tips below...

The Cotswold Way (link here) has a number of circular routes and online maps and directions you can print out. 

I stopped in a bookstore in Stow on the Wold and picked up a great book: Walks for All Ages, 20 Circular Walks in the Cotswolds (here is a link) - most walks are 3-4 miles and not all are suitable for strollers.  It will specify if walks are paved or not.

Stow on the Wold is a great starting point for a number of hikes. There is another book called "Stow Walks" that I also bought but isn't available online, that details country walks around Stow.

Bibury (eat at The Swan Hotel Bibury or next door in Barnsley at the Village Pub) - there aren't shops in Bibury, just a pretty town to walk around and see the famous Arlington Row, a row of former weavers cottages dating back to the 14th century and one of the most photographed sites in the Cotswolds.  There is a large trout farm with a playground and place to eat outside.

Upper and Lower Slaughter: Park in Upper and walk a mile on the footpaths to Lower Slaughter for tea, we ate outside in the beautiful garden at the Slaughter's Country Inn.  

Chipping Campden - The most beautiful market street.  I loved Stuart House Antiques (a china and blue and white lover's heaven) and we had breakfast at the Bantam Tea Room.  Wonderful little shops and a gorgeous church.  

Cirencester, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford

Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach (order the chicken as an entree, order the cheese soufflé as a starter)
Daylesford Farm (set aside time to experience this place.  It's an organic farm, market, restaurant, flower shop and spa) beautifully done and such an inspiring destination.  
Tea Rooms - All of them were so good!  The best scones and clotted cream of our trip were found in the Cotswolds. Also the best cheese, milk and ice cream too!

If you are trying to prioritize where to spend your time, then I would skip Broadway and Bourton on the Water.  If you only saw these, then you would love them, but seeing them alongside the others, they weren't our favorite.  A walk to Broadway Tower is worth it though for the pretty views, especially if it's on one of the hikes you choose. We didn't get a chance to do that but we saw the tower when driving by and I wished we had time for it. 

If you asked Jimmy what the highlight of this trip was, he surely would put driving in the Cotswolds near the top of the list.  Driving in the country is about as amazing a driving experience as you could get.  It's breathtaking and for miles at a time we wouldn't see a single other car.  He had a permanent smile on his face.

The cottage we rented in Hampnett was my favorite rental of the trip.  You can see all the interior pictures here.  It's perfect for a couple or a small family of 3 or 4. 

Next we head north to York!