April 14, 2015

BCAE Local Love 2015

Back in February, I attended the 2nd annual Local Love Market at the Boston Center for Adult Education. As you know, I'm a huge fan of the BCAE and all of the classes they offer, but there is something extra special about this event that they host. Vendors from in and around Boston come together to sell their local goods in one place, and shoppers get to spend an afternoon indulging in the beautiful items they have to offer. Many of the booths feature handmade goods, which as a DIYer is something I really appreciate. For the second year in a row I was happy to support the BCAE by photographing the event for them, and now I want to share some of those photos with you!

Last year at Local Love, I met the ever-talented calligrapher Julie of Posh & Prep, and have been enjoying her work via Instagram ever since. I was so happy to see her back at the market this year with a whole new array of fabulous prints and products. Julie not only sells these items in her Etsy shop, but also recently started selling at Neatly Nested Design & Decor, one of my favorite shops in South Boston. If you're looking for some serious home decor inspiration you should follow them on Instagram too - trust me, you're going to love every single photo they post!

Another favorite vendor of mine was Niche Urban Garden Supply. They had a beautiful display of plants, miniature gardens, and terrariums set up, and I really had to resist bringing all of them home! PS did you know that Niche offers gardening workshops? I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate spring…sign me up!

One of the booths that I spent the most time perusing was that of BCAE instructor, Loni Butera. I just could not get over how clever her sea glass art prints were! I spent far too long debating on which print to buy, but finally chose one that featured the most adorable pair of sea turtles I had ever seen. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Loni’s artwork in the future because just writing this post makes me want another print!

Of course I could not write a blog post about a BCAE event without mentioning my dear friend and expert flea market hunter, Becky of Pop & Circumstance. Becky’s business is all about making life beautiful with unique design and decor pieces that she handpicks or handmakes and sells in her blog shop. She truly has an eye for beauty, and you can see that in each charming piece that she had displayed at the Local Love market. Find her on Instagram for your daily dose of prettiness.

And, finally, a Local Love Market just wouldn’t be complete without macarons! Cameo Macaron returned again this year with their delicious sweets. If you’re in the city, keep an eye out for their food truck!

I love that through this event, the BCAE has introduced me to so many makers within the Boston community, and I'm already looking forward to Local Love 2016! 

September 25, 2014

Lavender & Lace Blog Design Part 2

If this post seems a a little déjà vu, don't worry, you're not losing it! About a year and a half ago, I did some design work for Laura of Lavender & Lace when she was just entering the blogging scene. She has since built her blog up to be a source of inspiration for creative living, with a focus on the North Shore, Newburyport, and Boston areas.

When I was first designing for Laura, she was blogging on the Typepad platform, and I created a logo, header, navigation bar, and 'about me' section for her. As she developed her blog, Laura switched over to the Blogger platform and eventually decided to revamp her look with some new features. The new features included an updated intro / 'about me' section, new social media buttons, category buttons, a scrolling Instagram feed, social share buttons in the post footer, and an updated navigation bar.

It was so wonderful being able to work with Laura again and to help her evolve the vision she has for her blog as it continues to grow. If you're looking to revamp your blog design, I'm currently accepting new clients! Check out my list of design services here.

August 28, 2014

Mason Jar Salads And More Giveaway - Spinach Blueberry and Blue Cheese Salad

Oh, hey guys, long time no see! It seems like it's been forever since I've posted over here. I've had such a busy summer, and now that it's starting to wind down (not that I'm rushing it!) I'm hoping I'll be able to spend a bit more time over here. And, what better way to make up for my absence than to have a fun little giveaway?

A few weeks ago I received a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella and I'm officially hooked. The book features 50 recipes designed to be stored in mason jars to make lunch time meal-planning so easy! With each recipe, Julia teaches you how to layer the ingredients in a way that will keep your salads fresh and not soggy. Brilliant! 

I'm sure I'm not alone here, but I typically find preparing lunch for the work week to be a pain in the butt! I feel like I never have the time during the week, and putting something together in the morning before work is far from being an option. The way these salads are prepared in mason jars allows them to stay fresh for 4-5 days. AKA I could make all of my lunches on Sunday night and have them ready to just grab as I'm running out the door to work. Aha! Just what I need! 

But, let's be honest here for a second. I am not a 'salad for lunch everyday' kind of girl. Luckily, that's where the "And More" part of the book title comes into play. Julia offers other amazing recipes that can also be prepared in a mason jar. A few that caught my eye: Peach & Strawberry Smoothie, Oats & Fruit in Almond Milk, Tortellini with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, & Mozzarella, and Asparagus Risotto. She even includes recipes for snacks like guacamole, and mango salsa. Yummm!

So, if you're not drooling already, I'm going to share one of the recipes that I tried out this week. This Spinach, Blueberry, and Blue Cheese salad was incredible and so easy to whip up. I love that the book also features recipes for homemade dressings that pair with each of the salads. This one used a yummy Red Wine Vinaigrette. 

"...Fruit and cheese go incredibly well together, and this salad is no exception. Blueberries and blue cheese are the stars of the show in this sweet and salty summer salad. The strength of their flavors elevates a simple spinach salad to something complex and biting — perfect for lunch or as part of a summer barbecue." - Mason Jar Salads and More

Makes 1 serving

1⁄2 cup blueberries
3 cups spinach leaves, divided
1⁄4 cup shaved or sliced almonds
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 quart-size Mason jar

Place the blueberries in the bottom of the Mason jar. Next make layers of 2 cups spinach, the almonds, and the remaining 1 cup spinach. The final layer should be the blue cheese.

On top of the blue cheese, make a parchment paper cup and pour in the Red Wine Vinaigrette. Seal the jar and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat the salad.

TIP: If you’re going to eat this salad on the same day you make it, you can put the dressing in the bottom of the jar and eliminate the parchment paper cup. Otherwise, the salad will last longer if the blueberries don’t sit in the dressing.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1⁄2 tablespoon minced shallot
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing thickens.

Ok, now you totally need this recipe book for yourself, right?! Good news, it's giveaway time! This contest will run until next Thursday September 4th. And, don't forget you can receive more entries by tweeting every day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 4, 2014

Live Love Lemon Blog Design

A few months ago, Emily of Live Love Lemon, reached out to me about revamping her foodie blog. She was feeling that the current look of her blog seemed a bit amateur and wanted to step it up with some new design features. We decided to get together over coffee to discuss the direction of the new look, and to meet each other in person. I don't always get to meet my clients face to face, but I've found that it definitely adds a little something special to the process because I can get a better sense of their personality and consider that when designing for them.

Live Love Lemon is a place where Emily shares her adventures in the kitchen along with new recipes for her readers to try out. Her love of lemony treats and yellow accessories lead her to the citrusy name of her blog and she wanted it to be a main component in the new look. She wanted to keep things simple and was looking for a new header, social media buttons, an 'about me' section, and a lemony background. Now, a few more coffee dates later, I'm happy to share Emily's new look with you. Head on over to Live Love Lemon to show her some blog love and maybe try out a recipe or two!

P.S. here's a little fun fact… Like me, Emily is also a member of Young Women in Digital, and actually found out about my design services through a YWD newsletter. This is the perfect example of what a valuable resource this group is, and if you're a young woman working in the digital / marketing field in the Boston area you should absolutely become a member!

May 28, 2014

Visiting the Finger Lakes: Anyela's Vineyards

This past weekend I traveled to Upstate New York to celebrate Memorial Day with my boyfriend and his family. We decided that while we were there, we would have to visit the Finger Lakes because it's the area where Kevin and his family spent their summers growing up, and I had never been. On Saturday afternoon, Kevin, his sister Courtney, and I made our way to Skaneateles Lake to visit the beautiful Anyela's Vineyards and enjoy the sunshine. I was blown away by the vineyard from the moment we pulled up the drive.

The vineyard is owned by the Nocek family and was first planted in 2001, but their history begins 3 generations ago in Eastern Europe. In fact, owner Jim Nocek, told us that the vineyard is named after his grandmother Anyela. Jim also informed us that the Finger Lakes in New York is one of the top wine producing regions in the United States. This was surprising to me as I didn't know much about the Finger Lakes before my trip. It's only a 5 hour drive from Boston, and when you're talking about some of the best wine in the country, it's totally worth the trip!

We were greeted in the lounge by Nick, who would be giving us the tasting, and were handed the vineyards wine listing and tasting notes. We were each able to choose 5 wines from the list of dry white, medium sweet, sparkling, rose, reserve red, and dry red wines that we wanted to taste. This was great, because we all wanted to try something a little different! I went with the 2012 Chardonnay (dry white), 2012 Riesling (medium sweet), 2011 Overture (sparkling), 2011 Minuet (rose), and 2009 Shiraz (dry red). I can very honestly say I love each one of them! When I tasted the 2012 Riesling, I thought that it had just the perfect amount of sweetness, and wasn't too sugary. Nick told me that is because they only add sugar before the fermenting process and not after, so it is a very natural sweetness of the grapes.

I actually got to try the 2011 Minuet twice (lucky me!) because Nick wanted to show me the difference in flavor when it was served room temperature and when it was served chilled. When served at room temperature you can taste the full aromatic flavor, but I really enjoyed it chilled as well. I made sure to pick up a bottle before we left so I could enjoy it at home too!

Though I do enjoy the occasional red wine, typically I'm a white wine drinker. But, I knew I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't try a red during our tasting. Unsurprisingly, like all of the other wines before it, the 2009 Shiraz was absolutely amazing. It is oaked for 14 months, and I could definitely taste that in the flavor. Unlike me, Kevin prefers red wines to white and he sampled a few more than I did. His favorite wine of the whole tasting was the 2009 Cabernet Franc which is barreled in French and American oak and is fruit forward with an earthy finish.

Since we were really enjoying the reds, at the end of our tasting, Kevin, Courtney, and I decided that we all wanted to try the 2011 Elation, which is a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga White, and Noiret blend. It's a great wine to try when being introduced to reds. We loved it so much that we decided to enjoy a bottle of it out on the vineyard patio accompanied by a delicious plate of cheese, crackers, bread and grapes. The patio overlooked Skaneateles Lake and 27 acres of the vineyard, and I can't imagine a more perfect way to experience the Finger Lakes for the first time.

Aside from the delicious wine, one thing that really stood out to me at Anyela's Vineyards was how Jim, Nick, and the rest of the staff at the vineyard made us feel so well taken care of. They seemed genuinely happy to have us visiting the vineyard, which in turn made us so happy to be there. They made it very easy for us to enjoy our time there and make the most of our visit. On top of that, they were extremely knowledgeable about the work that they do, and were able to answer all of our questions. What more could you ask for?!

If you're looking for the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, I highly recommend that you make your way to the Finger Lakes and visit Anyela's Vineyards while you're there. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Before we even stepped foot off the vineyard, we were already planning our next trip back!