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!

April 28, 2014

Spoons and Stilettos Blog Design

Last month I shared a moodboard for a client project that I was working on, and I'm so excited that today I can share the final product with you! The project was a blog redesign for Agnes, the blogger behind the food and fashion blog, Spoons and Stilettos. I met Agnes a couple of months ago at a blogger dinner at Boston Chops, where we were seated at the same table. In typical blogger style, we spent the evening chatting about food, fashion, and blogging. While on the subject of blogging, Agnes told me that she had been wanting a little blog makeover, and I was happy to be able to offer her my design services.

Over the next few weeks Agnes and I discussed the direction of the design and her personal aesthetic, and I provided her with design options. She was looking for something clean, fresh, and classic. She wanted to stay away from anything that was too busy, and had a preference for a soft spring floral color palette.

Agnes and I were both so happy with how the final design came out. Be sure to head on over to Spoons and Stilettos to see the design in all of it's glory, and give Agnes some blog love!

April 18, 2014

Del Frisco's Grille // Chestnut Hill

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went out for dinner at Del Frisco's Grille in Chestnut Hill for the first time, and I enjoyed it so much that I just had to tell you all about it. The location is brand new, having just opened in November, and I really had no idea what to expect. When we walked inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant's atmosphere, which gave off a modern upscale yet casual vibe. It turns out that this vibe makes sense, as Del Frisco's Grille is the more casual counterpart to the Del Frisco's in the Seaport, and features a different menu with lower price points.

The service we received during dinner was spectacular. Our waitress, Judy, was very personable and attentive to us the whole evening. We also had the pleasure of meeting the general manager, Sean Mullen, who was happy to tell us all about the restaurant and items on the menu. Here's an insider secret… May is National Burger month and Del Frisco's Grille will be serving up The New England Burger just for the occasion. The burger is topped off with 2oz of lobster meat, a fresh egg, tarragon aioli and manchego cheese, and is only going to be available at the Chestnut Hill location. You'll know where to find me come May!

While we sipped on yummy drinks, Sean sent over some of his favorite appetizers for us to snack on. We tried the Cheesesteak Eggrolls, Ahi Tacos, and Jumbo Lump Crabcake. While they were all delicious, Kevin and I both agreed that the Cheesesteak Eggrolls were our absolute favorite! For the main course, I had the Bay of Fundy Salmon with arugula-citrus salad, and I loved it! You really can't go wrong with salmon, but the pairing of the citrus salad made it that much better.

When I go out to dinner, hard as I try, I don't typically leave enough room for dessert. But, after one look at this dessert menu I knew that turning it down wasn't an option. Without any hesitation, we decided on the Coconut Cream Pie, which came with our waitresses highest recommendation. It was definitely a dessert meant for sharing and it was amazing! I was so happy with our entire experience at Del Frisco's Grille and I can't wait to stop in again soon!

April 10, 2014

Visiting California: Big Sur Road Trip

I'm so excited to be sharing more about my California trip with you today, especially because it gave me a chance to look through all my photos again and remember how amazing it was! Since we went into the trip without a set itinerary, we were able to make plans on a whim while we were there. On the second day, the gorgeous weather convinced us that we needed to see the coast. And so began our drive to the Big Sur! 

Before getting too far, we made our first pit stop at the adorable Black Bear Diner in Gilroy, CA for breakfast and coffee. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was so fun. How cute is the little bear paw on the napkins?

After breakfast, our journey to the Big Sur really began. We weren't exactly sure where the Big Sur started, but we made our way to Carmel assuming that we'd know it when we saw it. And, when we arrived at Carmel River State Beach, we knew. We pulled right over to take our shoes off and take in the scenery. It was difficult to leave the beach, but we knew there was even more to see ahead of us.

While we didn't drive the entire 90 miles of the Big Sur, we did spend a good 4 hours driving / pulling over to make the most of each stop. It was so hard to not pull over every 5 minutes because the views were so breathtaking! I think my favorite view was of the Bixby Creek Bridge in Monterey. It was so beautiful, and I wasn't surprised to learn that it is one of the most photographed bridges on the Pacific Coast. If you look closely, you can see it in the photo below.

I seriously couldn't get over the scenery along the Big Sur, and could have driven along that road forever! But, as evening was quickly approaching we decided to make our last stop at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It was here that I was able to lay my eyes on Redwood trees for the very first time, and they are incredible! This particular tree, The Colonial Tree, is 1,200 years old and is about 27 feet around! Although it wasn't the tallest tree in the park, because as the park ranger told us, it had been struck by lighting multiple times. Still an impressive sight!

The best part about our Big Sur drive was that when we reached our final destination and it was time to head home, we were able to turn the car around and see it all again from the other direction! I would absolutely love to go back to California and drive the full 90 miles of the Big Sur. It is 100% worthy of a bucket list, and if you're heading to the Pacific Coast, do yourself a favor and add it to your itinerary!