March 12, 2017

Time To Shop

I’m not sure whether it was the freezing winter weather or just life getting in the way, but shopping just hasn’t been on the agenda. I was definitely due for a good haul and with the help of Simon Outlets, mission accomplished! As part of our girls’ trip to the Berkshires we got to spend the morning visiting some retailers at the Lee Premium Outlets. Our fantastic guide, Heidi, was spot on with the locations we visited. I’m so excited to share some of the things I picked up (and others that are now on my wish list).

We jumped right into my favorite store, J.Crew Factory. They had just put out a transitional winter to spring line and I was instantly in love with everything! Some of the stylist had even put together outfits they thought I’d like (and they were spot on!). I’ll probably never have a personal stylist in my life, but it was rather fantastic to pretend!

dress c/o | espadrilles | tassel necklace

I ended up getting a few items to put away for spring and I’m literally counting down the days until I can wear them! Hands down my favorite is this striped ruffle-sleeve shirt (c/o) that also comes in black, white and black & white stripes. Plus everything is 40-50% off right now!

This trip also helped me find my new favorite store for home items and gifts, Ten Thousand Villages (thanks Heidi!). Even better you can shop there guilt-free because everything they sell is fair-trade handmade. The artist and makers from around the world are paid upfront when their work is commissioned. This month they are featuring global female artists and every piece was stunning!

I bought the most beautiful blue & white measuring spoons created in a pottery village in Vietnam. These handmade tablecloths are also the perfect way to bring some spring colors into the kitchen.

Speaking of global travel, we took a quick look in the Samsonite Factory Store and I had serious wanderlust looking at all the luggage choices. Since we mostly do weekend trips my go-to luggage is a canvas tote bag. However for our honeymoon we’ll be traveling for longer than usual so I seriously need to upgrade my wheels. Now the million dollar question is… hard luggage or soft? I feel like there’s benefits to both and really can’t decide!

About halfway through our morning we stopped by the Lindt store. We sipped on the most decadent coffee (mine was poured over a raspberry Lindt truffle) and explored the new spring chocolates. Lindt is most known for their signature hollow bunny, but they started making a little chick too, which is the cutest! I picked up this little chick gift box (filled with truffles of course) to use as a centerpiece for Easter.

We also stopped at the Bass Factory Outlet, which was a surprising score for me. I definitely had a preconceived notion of Bass as being the place where my dad bought his shoes, but kept an open mind and found some amazing things! After trying on a few pairs for myself, I can now say their shoes are truly the combination of comfort and style.

Who could say no to a pair of these espadrilles? I just found out that there is a lobster pair too!!! And these cactus sweaters are just waiting for some sort of witty caption.

Our last top before we collapsed from utter exhaustion was the Brooks Brothers Factory Store. In order to see the amazing items they have (at serious discounts) you have to visit one of their stores and believe me, it’s worth it! I don’t work in an office, so many of the styles were on the more dressy side for me. Brooks Brothers was so kind to gift me one of their signature non-iron dress shirts and I’ve already made good use of it under a sweater since New England insists on this perpetual winter.

 I also took some time to browse the men’s section and took some inspiration from the suits to help S decide on his for our wedding (how is August only 5 months away?). While I’m not sure I’ll ever get him in a pink bowtie, this navy suit is on point.

 As you can see it was a whirlwind of a morning, but I learned a lot about so many new-to-me brands! Outlet shopping can definitely be intimidating, but I think looking at which stores are there and making a must-visit list is really helpful. The Lee Outlets even have an interactive map on their website. If you plan on doing a marathon of shopping like we did another great thing to do is sign up for their VIP Shopper Club to get discounts throughout the year.

Thank you again to Heidi and Lee Premium Outlets for such a personalized shopping experience. This post was sponsored by Lee Premium Outlets. Opinions expressed are my own.

February 25, 2017

Escape to the Berkshires

I’m feeling so rejuvenated from this little getaway to the Berkshires. It was a quick night away between our stay at the Black Swan Inn, dinner at 51 Park, shopping with Lee Premium Outlets and visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum. Who knew my friend Emily and I could pack all that into less than 24 hours!

I can’t wait to share more about each of the experiences in some posts-to-come, but for now here’s an overview of our stay. I can’t recommend each of the spots enough! If you’re looking for a quick getaway (just about 2 hours from Boston) a trip to the Berkshires is definitely what I’d recommend.

The Black Swan Inn

The Black Swan Inn’s adirondack chairs stay out all year long! They made me crave summer, but I also love how they looked next to the frozen lake. During the summertime you can even rent a boat and paddle around! The inn feels fits perfectly in its surrounds with an upscale cottage-like feel.

 

51 Park Restaurant

We had seriously some of the BEST food at 51 Park. You really can’t go wrong when buffalo mac & cheese and a salad pizza are both on the menu. The drinks were also amazing and the atmosphere even better! They have super cool window dividers (painted my favorite mint color) that separate parts of the restaurant and make it feel very quaint.

 

Lee Premium Outlets

We had the nicest time walking around with Heidi, Lee’s marketing director, and visiting some of the shops. We were welcomed so warmly by the retailers and I really loved getting to know some new-to-me brands. (not pictured the many shopping bags that we toted around all morning…)

 

The Norman Rockwell Museum

Before we drove back home, we stopped by the Norman Rockwell Museum. I just love how classic his art is and how it really captures the classic Americana. Currently the museum is also featuring the work of Hanna-Barbera (think Saturday morning cartoons like Scooby Do and the Flintstones). I just loved being transported to another era!

I can’t wait to share more about each unique experience. Thank you to Lee Premium Outlets, The Black Swan Inn, 51 Park and the Norman Rockwell Museum for being such wonderful hosts!

This post was sponsored by Lee Premium Outlets. Thank you to our hosts for the opportunities. Opinions expressed are my own.

February 22, 2017

Gallery Wall Inspiration

I’ve made an effort to hang some of my favorite prints and took the leap to create a gallery wall over the past few months. I have this tiny little room off of our bedroom that functions mostly as storage, but also has a small desk (an IKEA hack because the room is tiny). Most of my favorite prints had been sitting in this room on the floor since they didn’t match the overall decor in our apartment. Starting with prints you already love is the best way to begni a gallery wall and it’s made me so happy to see some of my prints up again.

This is definitely a work in progress, in fact my most recent piece just arrived from Modern Map Art. They feature designs from cities, countries, beaches and ski spots all over the world. We’ve been living outside of the city for a few years now, but I still get nostalgic about my favorite downtown spots so I had to go with my hometown, Boston. I chose the black & white version to bring some neutral vibes to the gallery wall and (for now) used a basic white frame. I can definitely see using this piece in the future, maybe by itself and upgrading the frame to something colorful.

 

Modern Map Art has many different designs and not just prints! You can order your favorite spot on a pillow, phone case, etc. I’m not a huge skiier, but I do love their ski maps. They have some local New England spots including KillingtonStowe and Wachusett. I can also see doing a gallery wall exclusively of maps with our favorite places including Portland (where we got engaged), Cork, Ireland (where I lived abroad) and San Diego (our favorite vacation spot). So many possibilities!

If you’re planning a gallery wall, my best advice is to just go with the flow. I did some planning by laying out the pieces on the floor, but still made some tweaks when I put them up. Here is some inspiration!

image via Little Big Bell

image via Lemon Stripes

image via Mackenzie Horan

Financial compensation was not received for this post. Thank you to Modern Map Art for gifting me a sample product. Opinions expressed are my own.

Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Belle Chèvre. Opinions expressed here are my own.

I usually look at long weekends as more time to get things done, but this long weekend I’ve decided to actually take the time to slow things down. So I was really excited when Belle Chèvre sent over some of their new breakfast cheese. Belle Chèvre has won over 100 awards for their artisanal goat cheeses.

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If you’re anthing like me, breakfast usually consists of a protein bar or some toast and peanut butter while running out the door. But today we sat down and enjoyed ourselves while taste testing some really good flavors. Belle Chèvre’s breakfast cheese is made with goat cheese and spreads perfectly over a croissant, toast, bagel (pretty much anything that can act as a vehicle for this creamy deliciousness). They offer four flavors: coffee, fig, cinnamon and honey.
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This combination was my favorite– cinnamon spread over half a croissant topped with strawberries. Yum! So next time I reach for that piece of toast and peanut butter as I rush out the door, I plan on spreading some Belle Chèvre on instead. Breakfast on the go will be so much more delicious!

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Find all their flavors of breakfast goat cheese online or in your local grocery store in the dairy aisle. Thank you to Belle Chèvre for sponsoring this post.

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Hello again! It feels like it’s been forever (because it has, oops!) since I’ve really sat down to write. But what better time than  with the holidays coming up. I’ve been inspired to get crafty again, something I haven’t really allowed time for in a while, and boy did it feel great! This past weekend we took a family trip to New Hampshire (more on that to come) and I was inspired to get all DIY for the holidays.

While searching for the perfect Christmas tree (at least 10 feet, not too wide… strict requirements are tradition) I came across a whole bunch of fresh boxwood at the farm. I was surprised at how inexpensive the bunches were (something like $5.00 a pound) given that buying a boxwood wreath will cost you a small fortune! All in, I’d say that the wreath itself was under $15, but what I made up for in savings, I definitely spent in time. This is not a craft for the impatient and you’ll see why! But oh so worth it when the finish product comes out.

Let me know if you try this project! I’ve tried to link some helpful hints along the way (like which base is best for the wreath and how to tie different bow styles). The wreath I made was 8 inches, so adjust the amount of materials for larger wreaths. Enjoy!

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Materials

8 inch wreath frame

Floral wire

Scissors

4-5 fresh boxwood branches

Wire ribbon

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|1| Cut branches.

I used about 4 fresh boxwood branches in total. You can also purchase preserved branches if you’re looking for your wreath to last longer. Cut sprigs about 3-4 inches long from the branches. I used most parts of the branches, so when in doubt buy more than you need.

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|2| Create bunches.

Gather 3-4 of the sprigs together. It worked best to arrange them longest in the back, shortest in the front of the little bunch. Using about 5-6 inches of floral wire, wrap the bunches at the base, twist and leave about 1-2 inches of wire at each end. This will be used to attach it to the frame.

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|3| Build wreath.

Attach the bunches to the frame individually. I started on the inner ring and moved toward the outer ring (I only used 3 of the rings on my frame, so the last ring was empty). Stagger each bunch about 1/2 an inch apart in a clockwise direction (so you’ll work down and around the frame towards the left). This helped with keeping the previous row in place when a new row was attached below it.

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|4| Fill in empty spots.

My wreath turned out to be pretty full, so I didn’t need to do much filling. The only “trouble spot” on mine was where the beginning and end of my circle met up. Here, gravity pulled down some of the bunches, so I needed to use extra wire to secure them again to the frame.

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|5| Top off with a bow.

I decided to do a traditional bow on my wreath using buffalo check ribbon. For this bow it was helpful to have wire ribbon. After I tied the bow (which was so not as easy as it looks. I used this tutorial) I found the least full part of my wreath and attempted to hide the emptiness with the bow. I used some wire to attach the bow directly to the frame.

You can also use the ribbon to hang the wreath (seen here) or tie a different type of bow (this is simple and adorable). The ribbon adds a nice personal touch and it’s easily switched out after the holidays to something more neutral like stripes or burlap.

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And… voilá!

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P.S. Even Fenway’s getting into the holiday spirit!

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