Charles River Apparel // Giveaway

It’s an absolutely beautiful sunny day here in Boston, and even though thoughts of rain are probably the furthest thing from our minds right now, I just have to tell you about my brand new Charles River Apparel New Englander Rain Jacket because I love it so much! And, to brighten this day up even more, I’m going to give you the chance to win one for yourself! See, I can talk about rain and still keep things sunny!

I hate to admit it, but I can’t remember the last time I owned a proper raincoat. When Charles River Apparel sent me this lovely buttercup yellow jacket I quickly realized what I’ve been missing! Lucky for me, it arrived just in time for a week of rainy weather here in Boston and I was able to make the most of it right away. Remember that rainy Marathon Monday? My new rain jacket kept my dry all the way through to the 7th inning of the Red Sox game before it was cancelled due to the weather that day. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it through without it!

What I like best about this jacket (besides it being my favorite color) is the lightweight material. I feel like a lot of raincoats can be heavy and bulky, but the breathability of this jacket makes it perfect for a warm spring or summer rain. Not only is it totally functional, it’s pretty cute too, and is available in 10 different colors to suit any style. And, if you want to take your jacket to the next level, you can get it monogrammed too!

Charles River Apparel has more up their sleeve than just rain jackets (see what I did there?). I’ve really been loving their Waypoint Birdseye Fleece too! I wore it out for a jog around Castle Island the other day and it was the perfect protection against the chilly breeze. I have a feeling it will be a great addition to my rain jacket on those colder rainy days.

And now, for the fun part! Enter to win the New Englander Rain Jacket in your favorite color! One winner will be chosen one week from today on Thursday May 14th. Good luck!

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Aragosta Bar and Bistro // Boston Waterfront

Last week I dined at Aragosta Bar & Bistro for the first time with my good friend Melanie of Young Women in Digital. Having just recently heard of the restaurant myself, I wanted to share our experience so you could be sure to include Aragosta on your list of must-try restaurants in Boston!

Located on Boston’s waterfront at the Battery Wharf Hotel, Aragosta flaunts a beautiful view of the harbor from their gorgeous outdoor terrace. If the weather is right, like it was last week, a stroll through the North End is the perfect way to get there. Of course, my stroll was more of a speed walk, as in typical Amy-fashion I was running a bit late that evening!

The first thing we saw upon arrival at Aragosta was the outdoor terrace, which features urban fire pits and comfy seating. The fire pits add a fun flare to the restaurant as guests can enjoy make-your-own s’mores and cheese fondue from the menu! The terrace continues along to the back of the restaurant where you can enjoy your meal while looking out over the water. The outdoor seating is perfect for dining or drinks in the spring and summer!

Once inside the restaurant, we received exceptional service, and a menu that was to die for! We started with the Tomato & Buratta Flatbread and the Mushroom & Gorgonzola Flatbread which were available in half portions so that we got to enjoy both of them. And enjoy them we did! Upon our waiter’s suggestion, we ordered the lobster risotto to share next. As a lobster lover, I can’t even tell you how grateful I was for the suggestion. Every single bite was mouthwatering, and I wish that I had another bowl of it in front of me right now!

For our main meal, Melanie and I both decided on the Braised Short Ribs which were served with vanilla bean & lobster smashed potatoes, (seriously can’t get enough lobster!) steakhouse spinach, and fried leeks. The short ribs were cooked to perfection, and the vegetables were so full of flavor - I would order this meal again in a heartbeat!

While we barely left any room it, we knew that the only way to complete our experience at Aragosta was to try the dessert. Melanie chose the Chef’s Creme Brûlée with Almond Biscotti, and I had the Sorbetto with Mini North End Cookies. The sorbetto was served in 3 flavors - limoncello, raspberry, and blood orange. Even after enjoying our appetizers and main meal, it was easy to finish every last bite of these delectable desserts.

I highly recommend visiting Aragosta Bar & Bistro, especially now that the nice weather is here. I will most certainly be going back to enjoy my meal out on the terrace and to give those s’mores a try!

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! 

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.

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!

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