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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

My husband is hard to shop for. Like, really hard to shop for. Before we started dating I thought of myself as a good gift giver – a thoughtful gift giver. But every time he opens a gift (that I think is just perfect), he makes ‘the face’, you know which one I’m talking about. This year, he will get a card from the kids and maybe I will let him sleep in (maybe). So here are some things I would like if I were celebrating Father’s Day.

Starting at the top left, I love these belts. Made by Ladder 34, these adjustable belts are made from authentic fire hoses and a portion of the sale will be donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Belts will run you around $35 and come in a variety of colors. If belts aren’t your dad’s thing…they have some cool mats and wallets.

Next, on the top right, we have wallets made from vintage baseball gloves. Mack Provisions lets you pick a glove from their collection that they make into your unique wallet. At $150, these are a little more on the expensive side, but I think that any baseball enthusiast in your life will really be touched.

I love the fish hook keychain from Todder (bottom right) ($25). These are made right in Newburyport, MA. If your dad already has a keychain, try checking out their bags, belts, bracelets, coasters or even a leather mason jar sleeve.

And finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate preppy gift for your dad, try customizing a pair of Sperry boat shoes. You can pick from over a dozen colors – maybe go classic with a pop of color on the laces, or maybe go bright and fun with a monogram. They are not much more expensive than the regular boat shoe, so why not go the extra mile.

What are some of the best gifts you have given for Father’s Day?

This year I hosted our annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt. The ladies of the ‘hood got together for some wine and ‘egg stuffing’ the night before – we had over 200 eggs. Sounds like a lot of eggs, but we had 30 kids – ranging from age 8 months to 12 years old. It was a little stressful doing the prep work, but seeing how happy the kids were made it all worth it. I’ll share some of our fun ideas for the food table in another post (after Easter) but wanted to share some fun Easter basket ideas that I worked on with Leah.

I love a good hooded towel. It has to be durable, because, well…kids. Picked up this cute one at The Nutshell in Milton. It could be cute for a boy or a girl. Glitter bunny ears were from Target, the bunny balloon was a great find (in a pack of 6) from TJ Maxx. The pom pom bunny pen and the “surprise bunnies” (peel away the layers of tissue for fun jokes and prizes) were from Paper Source. We aren’t big candy people in our house – so if we do give candy, I’m a firm believer in giving them a few “good quality” pieces instead of a whole bunch of “regular” candy. The egg, chicken (how cute is that?!?!) and the bunny (bottom right) are from EHChocolatier. Have you visited their new storefront in Cambridge yet? You should! The chocolate bunnies in the box are from L.A. Burdick. (I think I’ll keep those for myself!)

We reuse the same baskets every year – I love this one (same as above, but with a different liner) from Pottery Barn Kids. They may seem expensive, I picked mine up the day after Easter when everything went on sale. My daughter is obsessed with unicorns (and llamacorns) so this hooded towel from Pottery Barn Kids was a perfect addition to the basket. The shoes are Cat and Jack from Target – how cute are they? She put them on and started to tap dance across the floor! The large egg is from Williams Sonoma and is filled with a mix of chocolate, marshmallows and jellybeans (but really, I just bought it because I adore the egg). Leah picked up the headband and how awesome are those headphones? They’re WAVE made by BuddyPhones. My kids are just getting into the age where they will be wanting to use screens and these are perfect (because I can’t tell you how much Daniel Tiger’s voice gets on my last nerve 😉 ).The headphones limit the volume so the sound can’t damage your kid’s ears, they’re waterproof, they’re wireless and they have a 24 hour battery life.


I saw moonlite at Target and was a little nostalgic – these are the projectors of my childhood with an upgrade! I picked up the starter pack which had 5 Eric Carle story wheels. You download the app, clip the projector to the flashlight on your phone, and viola! bedtime stories come to life! You still read the story, but there are some fun sound effects (my kids got a kick out of seeing the pictures on the ceiling)! My kids love the Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book so I picked that one up as well. The jelly beans in the mason jar (but you could get a cute bear shaped jar too) are from Lolli and Pops, the seersucker ears are from Pottery Barn Kids, the Peter Rabbit egg is from Williams Sonoma. The blue box of chocolates are made by Charbonnel Walker (one of my favorite chocolatiers) and I was pumped to see they were being sold at Williams Sonoma.

Spring is right around the corner, so Leah decided to add these cute garden tools from the Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Garden Set. The full set includes a watering can, a trowel, labeled wood garden stakes, a shovel, a spade, and garden fork – all in a cute bag. You can pick one up at Target got about $20. I’m a sucker for old school toys, and how cute is that wooden rabbit? What you can’t see is that on the end of the string there is also a wooden carrot!!

This basket has some of the fun things above but with the addition of ThoughtFulls Happy Day pop open cards. Everyone could use a little sunshine in their day and there are 30 cards in this box, each with a different inspiring quote on it. And how can I not include some “Little Notes” from E. Frances, these little lady bugs are perfect even after Easter!!

GrĂ€em Nuts and Chocolate in Concord is one of my new favorite shops. Not only for the obvious nuts and chocolate, but the decor inside transports you into a different era. I picked up these cute pre-packaged foil wrapped eggs for our basket, but you have the option of picking your own out of the case. UMMM…can we just talk about those cute bunny “little notes” from E. Frances?!?! GAH! So cute! We bought the “lil’ bear” mugs for all the kids and we have the mama and papa bear too. Super cute Williams Sonoma, well played.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought about adding books into our Easter baskets before, but Leah brought up the idea and I was instantly in love with it. She picked out Larry Loves Boston, by John Skewes. In this series, Larry the pup visits all the popular Boston spots, such as the Freedom Trail, the Public Garden and Faneuil Hall. “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld might just be my new favorite book. The text is minimal but the message is a good one. We already have “Too Many Carrots” by Katy Hudson, but that would also be a cute bunny themed book for a basket. Add in a cute bookmark and you will be all set!

Every time that we go to Belmont, I always like stopping in and grabbing an ice cream cone from Rancatore’s, no matter how cold it is. Rancatore’s was founded in 1985 by Joe Rancatore.  You may know Joe’s brother who owns Toscanini’s in Cambridge.

I love their sense of humor – see the “pine cone” on the right in the top photo. The service in Belmont is always top notch.

Flavors are seasonal – you can catch some of your fall favorites now like pumpkin, pumpkin hydrox, autumn spice, and butter pecan in store now.

I don’t think I ever realized it, but they also make ice cream cakes (duh). Two layers with a crumbled cookie crust, with your choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or raspberry puree. They decorate with whipped cream made from scratch in any design you can dream up.

Where is your go to ice cream spot?

Rancatore’s

36 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA

www.rancs.com

Hours of operation:

School year:

Sunday to Thursday   10 AM – 10 PM

Friday & Saturday   10 AM – 11 PM

Summer:

Every Day   10 AM – 11 PM

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I love fall festivals – and we spent a fun day at Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough. The afternoon was filled with tractor rides, great live music, pumpkin carving and painting and of course, lots of good food. The chocolate pie (bottom right) was an exceptional dessert – and I picked it up while the kids were on the hay ride so I didn’t have to share! Made by La Maison a Gateaux, a French woman living in Shrewsbury who makes delicious, organic French crepes and cakes. The cake was rich in flavor but not heavy at all. I should have gone back for two more pieces! Another favorite from the afternoon was a slice of pizza from Anzio’s, a pizza shop located out in Grafton. They offer brick oven thin crust pizza that people go crazy for. Their restaurant offers soups, salads, pasta and calzones – and they offer catering as well. At the Harvest Fest they were offering cheese and pepperoni – we had one of each, and the slices were enormous.

Chestnut Hill Farm is open year round and they have two miles of trails for you to hike. They have chickens and goats on the 131 acres of land that is owned by the Trustees. They have a seasonal farm stand that opens mid May and they offer a CSA.

Anzio’s Pizza

135 Westboro Road, Grafton, MA

http://www.anziosbrickovenpizza.com/

Anzio's Brick Oven Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chestnut Hill Farm

Chestnut Hill Road, Southborough, MA

http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/greater-boston/chestnut-hill-farm.html

 

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Sponsored Post: I was compensated for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

With little kids at home, I’m pretty tired by 9pm. Ok, let’s be honest, I’m tired by 6pm, but I feel like I need to have some time to unwind and decompress in front of the tv. I can’t even remember what life was like before we had a DVR, nor do I want to! Now I can watch the shows I want, without all the commercials, now that is a smart use of my time!

No viewing party would be complete without a candy buffet!!

I’ve been binge watching shows on Amazon Prime, so I was pumped when I was invited to the Revere Hotel to attend a viewing party for the kickoff of the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The show is the brain child of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also I known for Gilmore Girls (another cult favorite). The plot revolves around Midge Maisel, a New York housewife, who finds she has a talent for stand up comedy. The show, that takes place in the 1950’s, follows Midge’s personal life (her husband leaves her for his secretary) and how she hones her craft as a stand up comedian. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend looking it up.

Get excited! Comcast just announced that Prime Video will launch on Comcast Xfinity’s X1. You can watch Prime Originals like (my favorites) Bosch and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Watching shows on Xfinity couldn’t be easier, with their voice remote, you just need to say “watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and you’re ready to watch! With the holiday just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to binge watch or catch up on all your favorite shows. Are you traveling for the holiday? With Xfinity apps like Stream you can stream your X1 DVR recordings while you’re on the go, you can also  download and watch them anytime (if you don’t have wifi access in places like the car or a plane) which is PERFECT if you have kids!

Are you already a Comcast customer? Did you know that they offer Xfinity mobile to their internet customers for as little as $12 per month? That’s a steal!

For more information about Xfinity X1, check out their website.

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Poke was having a hot moment a little while ago. I love Manoa and PokeCity, but tried Pokeworks a while back to see how they compared. The fast casual concept should be a familiar one – pick your base, pick your proteins, pick you r mix ins, add some sauce, toppings and a little crunch.

Try a bowl or a salad, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a burrito! Protein options include ahi tuna, albacore tuna, salmon, scallops, shrimp or or those of you non seafood fans, chicken. Mix in things like mango, edamame, ogo seaweed, kale or shiso. Sauces are spicy ginger, sweet chili, ponzu, Sriracha aioli and umami to name a few. To that you can add avocado, green onion, seaweed salad, sesame seeds or wasabi tobiko. To add a little crunch, try shredded nori, wonton crisps, macadamia nuts or some lotus chips.

Trying to pick your own seem a bit daunting? They have some signature poke items to help you out:

The Hawaiian Classic: ahi tuna – green and sweet onion – ogo seaweed – cucumber – chili flakes – sesame seeds – roasted sesame oil – hawaiian salt – pokeworks classic sauce

The Umami Classic – ahi tuna – green and sweet onion – hijiki seaweed – cucumber – sesame seeds – umami shoyu sauce

Shiso Salmon – atlantic salmon – green and sweet onion – edamame – cucumber – sesame seeds – fresh shiso – ponzu fresh sauce

Wasabi Shrimp and Scallops – shrimp – scallops – green and sweet onion – cucumber – masago – sesame seeds – wasabi aioli

Pokeworks

261 Elm Street, Somerville, MA

www.pokeworks.com

They have a second location in Harvard Square!

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I can’t even begin to tell you how long this post has been sitting in my drafts, but I’m just finally getting to it. I was first introduced to Miam Miam Macaronerie a while back and stopped by their shop (before they moved to Quincy) while I was in the area.

So what are their fall 2018 flavors?

Lemon creme, pumpkin brûlée, rose petal, white chocolate raspberry, apple butter, chai latte, salted caramel, pistachio vanilla, espresso, chocolate beltway, vanilla bean and fun fete. Order a 6 piece box for $13.50 and a 12 piece box for $27.

Did you know that Miam Miam will come to your house and each you how to make French macarons? What do you need? A minimum of 4 people, at $65 per person. You’ll get three hours of prepping, baking and filling macarons, and all the ingredients are included. Such a fun idea for a girls night in!

Miam Miam Macaronerie

145 Water Street, Quincy, MA

www.miammiammac.com

 

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You might come for the food, but stay a while for the cocktails. We went to Rail Stop for an event and I grabbed a few things from the menu to take home because everything sounded delicious.

The cocktails are their “reinterpretation” of Golden Age cocktails. They have house made bitters, cordials and syrups. How amazing does their bar look? Make sure to say hello to Eli, the beverage director, he’s pretty darn talented.

The white clam bucatini was served with littleneck clams, leaf spinach, red pepper, white wine and two pieces of grilled crostini ($24). Even as take out, this traveled well and still tasted delicious.

The crispy wings ($13) are on the bar menu, served with sweet chili and soy. I think my husband wishes I had brought home two orders!

This place is great when the weather is nice, you can eat outside or go for a stroll afterwards. It’s located right in Boston Landing, next to the Warrior Ice Arena.

Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar

96 Guest Street, Brighton, MA

www.railstopboston.com

Parking is available on street at meters or in the Warrior Ice Arena garage (make sure to get validated).

rail stop restaurant and bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a good burrito in suburbia. I find myself missing the city quite a bit when we try and go out for Mexican. We had heard from my husband’s co-worker that La Tapatia was a good option. The setting is pretty basic but people say that the food is the most authentic in this area. Prices are very affordable and the space is family friendly. The kids loved watching the food being prepared in the open kitchen and gobbled up their food like it was their job. The burrito was meh, but the tacos were tasty and the tamale (bottom right) was good.

Where do you go for authentic Mexican in the Metro West area?

La Tapatia

388 Boston Post Road, Marlborough, MA

Open 11:30 am – 9pm

La Tapatia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sometimes I find our options for restaurants in suburbia limited, we do like The Local every once in a while, even if it is a little on the pricier side. I am a fan of the bowls on their menu, my latest craving is the spicy Hong Kong noodles, but without the spice (yup, spice whimp here). Mixed Asian vegetables, crushed peanuts and for an extra $8 you can add on some grilled shrimp. The crispy sesame chicken is a close second with grilled avocado and crunchy veggies. My husband loves the crispy chicken sandwich that comes with buttermilk battered chicken, house bread and butter pickles, Vermont cheddar, and smoked chili mayo on a brioche roll.

My kiddos love the option of snacks for $3, you can get veggies with ranch, apples and peanut butter, warm potato chips, or a cup of tomato soup. I love that these are out of the box options. For $8 you can have your choice of cheese flatbread, chicken fingers, grilled chicken, fish sticks, cheeseburger, grilled cheese, pasta and pomodoro or Mac and cheese. All the mains come with a side of fries or veggies.

I think I always forget that they are open for brunch both days on the weekend from 10am – 2pm. They are also open for brunch on Monday holidays. And here is the kicker, all brunch mains come with your choice of a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

The Local

400 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA

www.liveeatlocal.com

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