Today

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Happy April 1st! You remember what today marks, right?! The start of National Letter Writing Month. Taking the challenge to write a letter a day like me? If so, the above should come in handy. I came across it while scrolling my Pinterest feed and I thought it was too good not to share.

Hope you have a great weekend! We are off to the island tomorrow. Can’t believe I haven’t been home since January. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Image Credit: Pinterest

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Spring Bucket List

Spring

The sun is setting at 7 pm tonight. That must mean spring is here!

I seem to be encouraged with the change of each season to take pause and think about what I want to take place over the next couple of months. It’s all about intention and what you put in the universe. With that, I wanted to share with you a few of the items on my Spring Bucket List:

Craft. I come from a long line of crafty ladies. I know I have the ability inside of me. I just need to tap it. So this spring, I’d like to try my hand at some needlepoint work. Maybe one day I’ll be able to create a piece that looks like these.

Sweat. This seems to make all my seaonal bucket lists but I really do need to get out there and sweat. Not only for my physical health but also my mental health. Soul Cycle has opened a studio a few blocks from my apartment. I think it is about time I get myself on a bike!

Connect. April is National Letter Writing Month. With that, I am making a commitment to write a letter a day to friends near and far.

Learn. My sister and I are signed up to attend Laura Hooper’s calligraphy class in May. Hopefully Laura will get me on the lettering kick I’ve been wanting to be on.

Grow. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Wise words from Audrey Hepburn. With recent events, it is easy to become distraught about the state of the world. Last summer, we planted a small herb garden and watching our basil, thyme, mint, dill grow brought a sense of peace to my life. And thus, this spring I hope to expand our garden. I’m thinking to add a few different lettuces to the mix. Any suggestions?

I look to you to keep me accountable to these. I promise to share the highlights too!

Winter Bucket List

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The shortest day of the year… my goodness! With a new season upon us, I like to put pen to paper and come up with a few bucket list items. For a little perspective, I took a quick look at my 2013 bucket list.  Sadly I didn’t get to check everything off then so here’s hoping to do so in 2016!

  1. {Finally} Ice skate on Frog Pond. This has been on my list for years now and I really just need to do it.
  2. Host an intimate dinner party. I find it much easier to entertain during the summer months on our deck but this winter, I’d like to do an intimate formal dinner party for friends.
  3. Walk and Explore. During the winter months, I find it easy to hurry home after work and curl up by the fire place. This winter, I’d like to bundle up and explore this beautiful city of mine. So much has changes since I’ve been back.
  4. Unplug. I will admit, I am addicted to my phone and several of my apps. I am going to try and instill a new rule: no social media after 8 pm.
  5. Read. The pile of new books next to my bed is getting quite high. I try to read a book a month but would like to increase this to at least two, maybe three. Any recommendations?

I promise to keep you apprised as I check these off one by one!

 

Fall Bucket List

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In preparation for Wednesday’s Autumnal Equinox, I wanted to put pen to paper for this year’s Fall Bucket List.

  1. Run a 5K. Aggressive, I know but I’ve completed a few in the past and think the time has come to dust off the old running shoes {or buy new ones}.
  2. Bake a loaf of bread. Would you believe I’ve never done this? A colleague of mine took a bread making class during her summer vacation, which has totally inspired me. Any beginner recipe suggestions?
  3. Binge Watch. With sunsets coming earlier, I have an excuse to stay inside and watch a little tv. And after watching the Emmy’s last night, I think I have two worthy contenders: Olive Kitteridge and Transparent. What do you think?
  4. Host a Pot-Luck. An oldie but goodie from a past bucket list  that never did get checked off the list. Thinking 2015 is the year to make this happen!
  5. Plan a Weekend Getaway. One of my summer bucket list items was to explore the Catskills. Check! This fall, I’d like to explore another new town. The research has begun but if you have any ideas, do let me know.

Speaking of my summer bucket list, I am humbled to report that I didn’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped. We did take a hot air balloon ride, though which may just be one of the highlights of my summer. I guess I have Harry Potter and the Wellfleet drive-in to look forward to next summer!

Summer Bucket List

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Putting pen to paper to create my seasonal bucket list is how I like to greet each new season. I’ll admit I was 50/50 on last year’s list so hoping the below is a little more attainable. I’ll keep you posted!

1. Fly away in a hot air balloon.

2. Indulge my inner-child with the Harry Potter book series.

3. Fish

4. Explore the Boston Harbor Islands.

5. Master a ceviche recipe.

6. Rent a Hubway and explore all the wonderful new green spaces in my city, including The Green Way, Lawn on D, and The Arnold Arboretum.

7. Brave the Cape traffic and head to the iconic Wellfleet Drive-in for a night at the movies.

8. Explore the Catskills.

9. Work on my tennis game.

10. I am 33/50 in my dining experiences at the Top 50 Restaurants {according to Boston magazine}. I’d like to make it to 40. Thinking I will try No. 9 Park for lunch, Spoke Wine Bar one night after work, Bergamont for date night, Puritan & Company for brunch, Bistro du Midi for an early bite, Bronwyn for a long overdue dinner with my brother Travis and L’Espalier for afternoon tea. Anyone want to join me?

In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen
Yesterday after a long day at the catering kitchen, I decided to do a little something for me. I made my way over to Bartlett’s Farm, purchased a little blue quart container and walked through the strawberry fields. Item #1 on Summer Bucket List… done!

I had originally planned to make strawberry jam but when I read all the fine print about canning sterilization, I thought to myself, not tonight. So instead, I braved the grocery store at 5:30 pm (to my surprise, the parking lot wasn’t complete chaos) and got myself a baguette, some goat cheese and organic baby spinach. My thought was this: a simple spinach salad with fresh strawberries, cottage cheese and a little balsamic vinaigrette for dinner followed by a sweet crostini with goat cheese and balsamic macerated strawberries. So easy, so delicious.

Crostini

Strawberry Crostini
Here is what you will need:
– 4 1/4 inch slices of a baguette
– 2 Tbs. goat cheese (or more if you like)
– 1/2 cup thinly sliced strawberries (about 6 strawberries)
– 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar (I recommend Ariston Balsamic. This stuff is amazing)

*Note: I made a very small batch. These measurements can certainly be doubled/tripled should you want to use the entire baguette.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with tin foil.
2. Cut 1/4 inch slices of your baguette on an angel, which allows for more surface space.
3. Place bread slices on sheet pan and lightly brush with extra virgin olive oil.
4. Cook in the over for about 10 minutes, until lightly brown and crunchy.
5. While the bread is cooking, thinly slice strawberries and place in bowl with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and stir occasionally.
6. Remove the bread from the over, spread on a little goat cheese and arrange strawberries on top.
7. Enjoy!

And the good news, checked #2 off the Summer Bucket List as well. I’m on a roll!

Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List
Truth be told, I completed very few things on last year’s summer bucket list. So I have added a few new ones and hoping that me and my girl(s) visiting this summer will be all the incentive I need to complete!

1. Pick strawberries at Bartlett’s Farm and/or Moors End Farm.
2. Experiment with a new recipe incorporating freshly picked strawberries. A few contenders include: this jam, this salad, and perhaps this dessert.
3. Go deep-sea fishing.
4. Finally, finally take a dip in the phosphorescence.
5. Rent a jeep and spend the day out at Great Point, which also means driving on the beach for the first time!
6. Surf lesson with ACK Surf.
7. Head over to Wellfleet Drive-in one Sunday night.
8. Get in a bike ride at least once a week.
9. Sleep on the beach (keep this one quiet… I believe it’s against the law).
10. Greet the sunrise.

Wanderlust

Travel
Did you all happen to see this piece in the Sunday Times? 52 Places to visit in 2014. I have always had a serious case of wanderlust and thus I decided to put together my list of 52 places to see. Granted, I won’t be able to see them all this year but hopefully I can begin to check off a few. Let’s say my goal is to have this list complete by my 45th birthday, which gives me about 10 years.

We’ll start with North America…
Austin, Texas
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, British Columbia
Reykavik, Iceland (wait, is this considered North America?!?!)

And then move onto South America…
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cusco/Machu Picchu, Peru
Bogota, Colombia

I have the most passport stamps from Europe but there are still so many places I need to see…
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The Cotswalds, England
Copenhagen, Denmark
Bruges, Brussels
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nice, France
Lisbon, Portugal
Seville, Spain
Germany
including Bonn, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Paderborn
Salzburg, Austria
Lucerne, Switzerland
Prague, Czech Republic
Croatia
including Split, Vis, and Dubrovnik
Italy including Positano, Venice, Rome, Milan, Tuscany, Capri. Honestly, I want to see all of Italy
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Cappadocia, Turkey

The ultimate wanderlust dream for me, Africa…
Casablanca, Morocco
Cairo, Egypt
Tanzania and the great migration
Victoria Falls and the Southern Cross, Zambia
Cape Town, South Africa
Nairobi, Kenya

If I’m honest, Asia has just recently come onto my travel wish list but those of you who have been have made me want to see it for myself!
Jaipur, India
Ha long bay, Vietnam
Jimbari Bay, Bali
Chiang Mai and Phuket, Thailand

And last but certainly not least, Australia, with top destinations including Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

If my math is right, I think that is only 49 places so please friends, share three that I may have missed.

Winter Bucket List

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Although the weather as of late feels like winter is upon us, the first official day isn’t till this Saturday. Gosh, I hope it goes by fast. To help pass these cold days by, I wanted to continue with my tradition of putting together a seasonal bucket list. Should any of you want to join me for any of these, you just let me know!

1. Ice skating on Frog Pond. It’s true. I lived in Boston for 11 years and never, ever went skating in the common. This needs to be remedied immediately, I know!

2. Catch up on the Classics. Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Some Like It Hot… I can’t believe how many of AMC’s Top 100 Classic Movies I haven’t seen.

3. Explore a New City. Atlanta is on the docket for early January. I have been twice but never really ventured beyond the convention site. Recommendations welcomed!

4. Host Ladies Night(s). Downton Abbey, Girls, a New Year. There are plenty of reason to get the ladies together. Just need to make it happen!

5. Send the Love. Send at least four care packages over the next three months to brighten someone’s day.

6. Build a Gingerbread House. Again, something I have never done. Since the holidays are going to be a bit quiet this year, perhaps I shall spend the 25th being an architect for the day.

Any winter activities that you love that I may have forgotten? Should note, I’m not a skier!

Road Trip

Road Trip
In my opinion, there really is nothing better than hitting the open road with the wind in your hair. Last week, I made a much needed escape from my little island and headed south to then head north and thus fulfilled another item on my Fall Bucket List. My first destination was Riverton, New Jersey, better known as the new hometown to my sweet little H and her wonderful family. On the drive down, I decided to make a quick detour to have lunch at Terrain in Westport, CT. Terrain is just one of those places where everything in life seems to be right. After devouring a delicious fall salad of quinoa and farro and sipping on a blood orange spritzer, I decided to do a little browsing for Christmas gift inspiration. But instead, I was more inspired by their kitchen displays. Isn’t this just breathtaking?
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My time in Riverton, a mere 20 minutes from Philly was exactly what my soul needed. My girlfriend Sharla is just one of those people in my life who truly gets me. Sitting on her porch looking out at the golf course with the sun on my face, I realized that I am so blessed. We spent a great deal of time talking about what’s next for me. An excellent question indeed. I won’t get into this too much at this time but will just say, I think I am getting closer and closer, which excites me!

I always love exploring a city through its food and Sharla always knows exactly where to take me. The first stop was a breathtaking coffee shop/gourmet food store (right up my alley) called Talula’s. For our last lunch together, we ventured over to the Navy Shipyard to the Urban Outfitters world headquarters. A fun little fact, there is a beautiful cafe there that is open to the public and serves the most delicious food. We enjoyed a vegetarian chili served on a slice of grilled polenta, potato leek soup and a chocolate chip cookie. Yummy! And the coolest part, we were surrounded by all these creative and hip types who work for one of the coolest companies, in my book. Made me realize I want to be part of something grand. I mean, wouldn’t you want to come to work here everyday!
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Having to end my visit a bit too soon to head north to Maine, I decided to make a lunch stop at a place that has been on my bucket list for years, Blue Farm at Stone Barn. And how happy am I that I did. Have you heard of this place? Simply breathtaking. An agricultural center with a working farm, a renowned restaurant, a killer cafe and a gift shop that is the most beautiful collection of gifts I have seen in quite some time. For lunch, I decided on the tomato soup (there was a bit of a chill in the air) and their newly released beet yogurt. Yes, you read that right. Beet yogurt. And let me tell you, delicious!
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With a quick visit to my home state of good old Massachusetts for the final World Series Game (Go Sox) I headed up to one of my favorite, Portland Maine for my big brother’s wedding. I will share all my Portland picks in a later post but let me just say, what a road trip it was. Until next time, stay warm!