Hosting our first holiday

Good morning! I realize it’s now two weeks into December and I’m just now sharing our Thanksgiving recap – oops! Between work, teaching, training and leading a challenge at work, it’s left very little time at night for blogging, but since Thanksgiving turned out so well, I wanted to pop in and share some photos and tips that helped it be relatively stress-free. I’ll preface this by saying that we don’t really have the ideal house/space to host a formal event like this, but it was something I really wanted to do so we made it work!

I’ve always loved entertaining, but I won’t lie and say that it’s not a lot of work. No matter what you’re hosting, as the host, there is always more work to do than one might think, but over the years I have figured out ways to manage all of the little details without being super stressed out. This year, the key for me to be relaxed on Thanksgiving and not running around like a chicken (err, turkey) with my head cut off was doing a lot of things in advance. That, and asking for help! Sure, I could’ve prepped all of the side dishes on my own, but if others wanted to help, who am I to take that away from them 😉 As is with most things in life, asking for help isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t mean you can’t handle it on your own. It simply means you’ve learned that asking for help makings things easier!

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I’ll be honest – the real reason I wanted to host Thanksgiving was so that I could decorate the table and use my fine china that we received for our wedding 🙂 There’s just something so great about a beautifully decorated table with matching dinnerware, glasses and a beautiful centerpiece, #amiright?! Here’s what I did to make my vision come to a reality:

  • I knew I wanted whites & golds for my color scheme, rather than traditional oranges and reds, because of my china. It’s gold and navy and so pretty 🙂 That said, I went to Whole Foods and picked up a bunch of lily’s, hydrangias, white roses and greenery. All of the flowers came to about $35 and I made 2 centerpieces so that’s a good deal. I’ve been into making my own flower arrangements so this was fun for me. I did them on Sunday and by Thursday they were bloomed and settled.

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  • While I had vases I *could’ve* used, I stumbled upon these great vases at Target as part of their new Chip and Joanna line and I’m obsessed with them! They went well with the candle holders I bought last year at Target as well
  • Since we had to have 2 tables, I needed to figure out the table cloth situation. I used the table cloth and table runner from Crate and Barrel that we received for our wedding and then I picked up a white table cloth with gold and silver in it from Target as well. I thought they worked well together!

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  • I thought about getting cute Thanksgiving-y napkin holders, but ultimately went with the gold ones I got from Crate and Barrel for our wedding. they looked so nice with the plates!

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  • Lastly, the black chairs were an impulse buy when I saw Target was having a sale. I found the exact same chairs there as I saw on Wayfair, but for $100 less. AND! They were delivered in less than 24 hours from the time I placed the order. Can you tell I’m a big Target fan these days?

IMG_2453[1]And that’s it! While we certainly didn’t use all of the dishes in the place settings and had to remove the flowers so that we could eat and see each other, the table decor outcome made me so happy!

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I never used to be into these types of things in terms of making everything look so pretty and planned, but I have to say, it’s really fun! I’ve been doing it with Christmas, too – I mean, I spent an embarrassing amount of money on Christmas/Holiday pillows, lol.

How about you guys – do you get really into the decorating aspect of parties, holidays and get togethers? Or, do you care more about the food and drinks? Do you like to entertain?

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Bachelorette Party: Recap

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend. Ours was great: Jeveli’s date night on Friday night, Flywheel class on Saturday morning for me and then a weekend on the cape consisting of lots of sun, sand, vino & seafood.

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Back to the grind this week, though, but I figured starting the week with a recap of my amazing bachelorette weekend was a great way to kick it off! Consider this your warning- it’s a long, picture filled post!

When my sister and I were discussing possible bachelorette options, I really only had a few preferences/requests: not too far away because I didn’t want people to have to spend a ton of money for traveling or have to take time off, I wanted to workout and I wanted to drink vino & wear a tutu 🙂 I can easily say that she- and with the help of my friend, Jessi- not only nailed it in the fact all of those things were included, they far surpassed it with everything else they also included.

Midday on Friday, I packed up my car, picked up my sister and we hit the road to go to Portland, Maine. Everyone else was working full days, but we figured it would be smart to take half days to get up there early to get everything ready. Originally I wanted to rent a house, but they had trouble finding one big enough, close enough to town and affordable enough so we opted to just stay at the Residence Inn in downtown Portland. This was the PERFECT place to stay for my (or any) bachelorette party for a number of reasons:

  • Walking distance to all the good bars/restaurants
  • All rooms have mini kitchenettes so we can store stuff in the fridges
  • All rooms have little living rooms, so people don’t have to hang out on the beds
  • They have suite options- we did a 2 bedroom suite which had 2 separate bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen with a table and a full living room, so we had plenty of space to hang out and relax. We also rented another standard room for 1 night since we had more girls staying on the second night.
  • You don’t have to bring your own sheets/towels
  • Housekeeping
  • Free breakfast, which was awesome- they had a waffle maker, eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. This was a huge cost saver because a few of us would go down and stock up and then we could all enjoy it in the room.
  • Cocktail hour

Basically, it worked out way better than renting a house- I highly suggest it!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, back to day 1. We stopped at the Market Basket in Biddeford on the way up to get beer/wine/snacks to stock the rooms and fridges. This was another good way to save money! Once we checked in and unpacked, we walked over to Flatbread Pizza which was right on the water- perfect for a sunny afternoon!

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Not long after lunch, a few more friends arrived and we popped some bubbly and hung out until we got dressed to head to dinner at Vignola Cinque Terre, which was an amazing little Italian restaurant. We ended up having the whole upstairs to ourselves, which was good considering the vino was flowing and friends kept arriving. The best surprise of the night/weekend was when my friend Amy showed up- I thought she wasn’t coming because she was going to be in Nashville, but her plans changed and everyone just kept me thinking she couldn’t come to make it a surprise- it was the best! We shared a bunch of different things and everything that came out was absolutely delicious- I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re in Portland.

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We asked our waitress where we should go after and when she mentioned a country bar called Bonfire, it was an obvious choice to go there. We got a beer tower and had fun dancing and singing before calling it a night around midnight. I didn’t want to stay out too late because I knew we had a spin class followed by a day of drinking the next days.

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Saturday morning we headed to Reve Cycling on Forest Ave. Some of my friends who couldn’t stay for 2 nights met us there so it was fun to have the majority of the crowd together! The best part was that Jessi organized to have matching pants made with out initials (my new ones!!) on the leg and then mine said “bride” on the butt. It was such a fun surprise! The class was awesome & challenging, but it flew by. Everyone was so happy that we did it, too. Nothing like starting the day with a good sweat (even if it probably wreaked of wine, lol).

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After the class, we went back to the hotel and started the shower process, which, considering we had 12 girls showering between 3 showers, didn’t take too long!

My mom and her friend Chris came to spend the afternoon with us, so once everyone was there, we walked to Portland Lobster Company for drinks, eats and live music. It was the perfect place to kickoff the afternoon because the food and drinks were great and affordable, there was plenty of outdoor space and it was right on the water.

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The next stop was The Porthole, which was another great outdoor spot on the water. They also had a live band, but we all joked how terrible they were! It didn’t matter, though, the drinks and company most definitely made up for it 🙂

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After a round we decided to make our way back to the hotel to regroup and get ready for the night. The girls also brought me lingerie which was a fun surprise! For dinner, my mom and dad had prepped all of the fixings to make tacos so we didn’t have to worry about dealing with going out to eat for a big group of girls. This was such a good idea, not to mention the food was delicious.

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BTW, if you’re looking for a tutu, my girl Amy is the best at making them- we said her Etsy line should be called “Babies and Brides” because she makes tutu’s for the brides and babies in her life. It was such a fun addition to my outfit for the day!!

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My other friend, Amy, is doing my makeup for the wedding so we did a trial run before we went out. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and she did a great job of making me not look or feel like I had loads on, but still put enough on to look good in pictures.

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Once we were all dolled up, we headed out to Bull Feeney’s, which is a fun bar for live band dancing. We stayed there for a while before heading BACK to the country bar (Bonfire)… what can I say? We love country music! It was livelier on Saturday night and I was even able to have (and win) a dance off- my idea of a solid night 😉

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Late night shenanigans at the hotel most certainly ensued, which was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, these girls made me feel SO special and loved all weekend. Between friends from home & college (and family), I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to hang out with.  I couldn’t believe all that they did for me, especially my sister and Jessi- you girls are the absolute best and I am SO LUCKY to have you in my life! Can we do this again soon?! Love to you all!!!

Questions for you: Did you have a bachelorette party? Where did you have it? What types of bars do you like to go to? Have you been to Portland before? What are your favorite stops when you’re there? What’s a must-have on a girls weekend?
 

Bridal Shower Recap

Two weekends ago, I was showered with so much love and happiness at my bridal shower. Even though I knew when and where it was, I had nothing to do with planning it so when I showed up at our family friend’s house, I was totally blown away with all of the work and thoughtful details that went into making my day so special. Jeanne has always said that she wanted to host my bridal shower- long before I even had a serious boyfriend 😉 – so it was so special to finally have that day arrive!

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Out of all of the crap weather we’ve had over the past month or so, somehow we nabbed the most beautiful day for my shower. The sun was shining, the temps were mild and it was an all around wonderful day. From the little pictures everywhere to the thoughtful “thank you for coming” gifts to the mantle decorations to the food and beautiful cake and to everything else my sister, mom, RM’s mother and “the Jeans” (Jeanne and Jean are my mom’s two best friends so we call them “the jeans”) did, not a detail was sparred and they truly made me feel so special.

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On top of that, I was surrounded by most of my closest friends, lots of my dad’s family and lots of RM’s family, which was really great. Getting a chance to introduce people before the wedding is nice because once the wedding is here, they’ll all know each other a little better.

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What I loved about the shower was that it was at a home and not a restaurant because it allowed people to mingle and move around and chat without being confined to just one table. We had received a lot of gifts previously that people had sent to our house, but we still received some awesome gifts that people brought to the shower, too! So many great things- I can’t wait to do a big “out with the old, in with the new” sweep through our kitchen 🙂 Oh, and this shirt from my mom that says “I can’t keep calm, I’m the bride”, couldn’t be more fitting 😉

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Once the shower was over, we headed to my parents house for the “after party”. Four of my college friends stayed over and then some other friends came over and we had a blast drinking wine and eating homemade pizza that my dad made for us. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

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I can’t believe how much time and energy my mom and sister put into this day- it was seriously amazing and I can’t thank them enough! The Jeans were also a HUGE help and RM’s mother was so sweet for making a huge batch of her meatballs and bringing the most beautiful cake. I’m so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life!

Thank you so much to everyone who came- you sure know how to make a girl feel special 🙂

Weekending: Drinks, Booty By Brabants Class, Christmas Partying & Home to Maine

Good morning! Is it just me or are the weekends/December FLYING by?! This weekend was no different… except for the fact I’m in the office today instead of working from home 😦 Oh well- I’m traveling to South Carolina for a few days this week so it’s not a big deal! Let’s recap the weekend, though 🙂

Friday

After work on Friday, I went to the Legal C Bar at the M Street shops with a work friend. We had a blast chatting and sipping on some vino. Once we parted ways, I headed home and realized that RM would not be around for dinner. I was in no mood to stay in by myself- and we had no food- so I walked over to Social Restaurant for dinner and drinks… by myself! It was actually nice- I ordered a pizza, kale and bubbly. Always bubbly. And, since I posted a photo on Instagram, the manager gave me another free drink. I’ll take it!

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RM and his cousin ended up joining me and then our friends Bob and Kristen randomly popped in, too! Kristen and I have recently connected through blogging and it’s been so fun. She writes an awesome blog highlighting on restaurants and travel and her posts are so beautifully written and have really nice photos. You need to check it out!

Saturday

Rm and I took our time getting up and then puttered around the house and took a walk before I headed into the city for a Booty By Brabants class at the BFX Studio. I had heard so much about Kelly’s class and about the BFX studio so I was pumped to get invited to check both out! BFX is a beautiful studio with nice locker rooms and class space and Kelly’s class was FULL of energy, smiles, sexy dancing and sweat! Remember how I talked about getting out of your comfort zone and getting comfortable being uncomfortable? This class was a great example of doing this! I want to do a full review of the class in a separate post so I’ll leave it at that. Such a fun Saturday!

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After the class we had a chance to try out juices and smoothies from Nourish Your Soul and paleo meals from Paleo Life. The juices & smoothies were fantastic and I was so excited when the founder of Nourish Your Soul gave me a free smoothie to take home. It was the perfect post workout treat. I also really enjoyed the food items that I sampled from Paleo Life. If you’ve never heard of it, Paleo Life is a healthy meal planning & delivery service which is great for those who are “too busy” to eat healthy. They seem pretty affordable and deliver to all around Boston so if it’s something you’d be interested in, check them out!

After the event, I did some Christmas shopping and then baked a batch of the most delicious Hidden Avocado Brownies from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen to take to Jessi and Chuck’s party. It’s the second time I’ve made them and I’m totally obsessed. Not only are they easy, but they taste so rich & moist you’d never know there was an avocado in them!

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The party was a blast! It’s always so fun getting dressed up, laughing and chatting with friends, drinking wine & eating fun party food. Thanks for hosting such a fun party guys!

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Sunday

I woke up on Sunday and packed up to head to Maine for the day. I hadn’t been up there for a long time and was in need of a little quiet time with my parents. I stopped at Kittery for a little shopping before meeting my mom for lunch at the Springvale Publick House. I enjoyed a locally brewed beer and homemade turkey chili. Both were unbelievable!

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Once I got home, I helped my parents bring in and decorate the tree, squeezed in a workout and relaxed with some vino and blogging. It was such a nice Sunday!

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For dinner, we had Pork Tenderloin Medallions, baked sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli and everything was great!

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One last thing before I sign off for the day… my friend Kelly works for a company called Schoola which collects & resells gently used clothes to help provide schools with funds for various things. Right now, they have an incredible sale going on where you can buy BRAND NEW Athleta clothing for super discounted prices and the best part is that a huge portion of the proceeds go to the Mala Fund. I recently requested a bag so that I could send them some clothes I no longer wear. You can use that same link if you’re looking for a good place to donate your gently used clothes! And, if you want to shop some brand new Athleta clothes for a great discount, check out this link. I just bought the black sweater!

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Did you have any holiday parties? Have you ever grabbed dinner at a local bar by yourself?

Weekending: 4th of July

Good morning! I am so excited to get back on track with normal eating, drinking and working out this week. Don’t get me wrong, I like to indulge and enjoy extra vinos, BBQ food and dessert, but it really doesn’t make me feel as good as I do when I eat my usual healthy way. With that said, this past weekend was filled with lots of good food, wine and company- hope you enjoy my recap!

Thursday-

I ended up not having to work on Thursday so I made good use of the day by cooking, blogging, working out and going to the beach. It was quite relaxing!

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Thursday night some of my girlfriends were getting together to celebrate Jessi’s birthday, which was yesterday. We met up at Ducali’s and enjoyed vino, salad and pizza- oh, and a big ol’ side of girl talk 😉 RM made fun of me for my festive outfit, but I liked it!

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We weren’t quite ready to end the night so we headed to Tavern in the Square across from the garden for one more drink.

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(photo credit: Lauren)

On Friday, RM and I headed up to Maine… along with the rest of the friggen state of Massachusetts it seemed! It literally took us 2 hours to get to Portsmouth from Boston, which is more than the time it normally takes to get all the way to my parents house! Of course, it was the most beautiful day, too. We decided to pull off in Portsmouth for lunch on the deck at the Oar House to wait out some of the traffic and get some sun and drinks.

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We ended up being there for almost 3 hours- oops!

Once we made it to Maine, we sat outside and chatted with my parents before having a dinner full of all sorts of random things including my dad’s fish chowder and pork pie, fresh trout from Lake Champlain, pizza on the grill using dad’s dough and sauce and my mom’s tomato and zucchini casserole. Although it was everything I wanted to eat, it may have been a little too many different things in one meal 😉

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Saturday morning, I got up and went for a 3 mile run before heading into town for the parade.

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Rm had never been to a parade, and was quite amused by the one we went to 😉

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Our family friends had a BBQ later in the day, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and it ended up sprinkling for the majority of the party 😦  While annoying, it didn’t ruin the fun, though! All the food was fantastic.

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We ended the night making s’mores back at my parents house- perfect ending to a great day!

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On Sunday, we helped my dad in the garden. I’ll tell ya- manual labor is no joke! After, we headed up to the lake to go out on Sara and Tim’s boat… all of which I did not think to take a single picture of- #bloggerfail. But, it was a perfect afternoon- we’re so lucky to have friends who have boats and live on the lake!

All in all, it was a great couple of days and mini “vacation”. Just what I needed!

Questions for you: How was your 4th of July? Do you have any traditions for the 4th? Did you indulge on holiday eats and drinks?