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Charting the style of daily life...with the mouth of a sailor.

party

Bottoms Up!

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My poison of choice used to be gin, but I’m very firmly in the vodka camp now. And — I switched out tonic water for club soda, but I still call them Jen & Tonics and there’s nothing you can do about that, okay?

This slightly rosy version was made with grapefruit tonic which was quite pleasant, and I’m happiest when things have a pinkish hue.

Check out this short and simple video from bon appetit about the charms of a classic vodka soda and then follow #vodkasodacloseit on Instagram for some hilarious hijinks from Chads and Beckys all over the eastern seaboard. Cin cin!

FoxSea: Eye Eye, Captain

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I'm so excited to announce FoxSea Skin's latest launch: Eye Eye, Captain! Formulated with a blend of healthy, natural oils, this serum helps keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay. While it's suitable for morning and evening, play around with how much you apply, and how long you let it sink it, prior to applying makeup. I spend many of my days makeup free, and drenched in FoxSea oils, so I have zero issues applying it in the morning. I also dab a little into my brows and on the tips of my lashes, since the castor oil in the formula can encourage hair growth (I over waxed my brows in the 90's). As always, when dealing with the eye area, be gentle, don't tug and take care not to get the product in your eyes. #safetyfirst

I haven't launched a new product in a while so I wanted Eye Eye, Captain to get a little fanfare before hitting the shelves. I threw a teeny private party to help fete the slim vial of skincare gold, and it was so lovely to get the product into the hands of other creative women I admire. Owning a small business that focuses on small batch, handmade goods is no joke, and support from the maker community (both local and at large) means so much to me. 

Take a peek through the evening and then order what's sure to be your next beauty crush (fingers and toes crossed) online from The FIND

Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate Eye Eye, Captain.

You float my boat!

Everything's Coming Up Rosé

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FoxSea was invited to be part of a lovely rosé themed event at The FIND, along with a few other fab collaborators.

Photanical brought the gorgeous roses and greenery, setting up an instant photo booth so friends could leave with a sparkly framed photo of themselves. Eden & Ruth are incredibly talented, creative and beautiful souls and if they're involved in an event, you know it's going to be great.

Cap'n Cork provided us all with tastings of rosé, aka #SummerWater. My favorite of the four they presented was Gérard Bertrand Cote des Roses, which is also elegantly packaged in a rose shaped bottle, and with a glass cork. 

Cassie Beer, of Rosalind & The Way, sang her beautiful songs, treating us all to an acoustic set and giving the party an extra special vibe.

The FIND team really knows how to throw a party, and the hors d'oeuvres were tasty and perfectly pink. They gave each attendee an adorable keychain and take home glass flute. I adore The FIND and their sister store The Trove. *I'm involved professionally with both stores but I'd happily shop and attend all their events even if I wasn't. Just want to be clear here. 

For my part, I set up a FoxSea Skin Herbal Facial Steam Bar, where guests could choose from 8 organic dried herbs, mixing them into their own custom blend for at home facial steams. I provided pink pens and rose stickers so they could name and decorate their bags. I also featured my Rose Gold Gilded Universal Oil and made a limited edition Rose Facial Mist just for the occasion. I just might add the mist to the regular lineup... 

Take a spin through the party below, and enjoy all the beautiful images taken by the wonderful Grace Harman.

I love these last two pictures of my hands, and here's why: Right before leaving for the event, I remembered this rose ring my sister made for me AGES ago - like 10 or so years! She made it out of light pink paper adorned with little gold dots. I don't think I'd actually worn it before; I guess I'd been waiting for this precise event. It was perfect. #shescrafty 

Finally, this last picture made me giggle. I like a drink - and I had my fare share of rosé (probably more than) during the party. Clearly, I didn't let my glass get too far away from me at any point in the evening. I never do.

Thank you to the splendid collaborators and all the rosé lovers who attended! 

The Summer Playbook

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As Summer (slowly) creeps up, I'm looking forward to long-treasured rites of passage, as well as a few new ones. I'm planning on taking it as easy as possible this season. My boys are growing up so quickly and I want to savor my time with them. Here's the list of my simple and carefree Summer plans:

* Watch fireworks at least once. Oohs and ahhs mandatory.

* Dance at an outdoor concert in a floaty maxi dress.

* Add to my playlist of Summery songs. #beachvibes

* Take a few road trips and blast said playlist.

* Learn how to make gazpacho. My Nan made a mean one and I need to find her recipe.

* Go for family walks or bike rides after dinner. Even just one lap around the block would be nice.

* Dine al fresco as much as possible. I'm on the hunt for our perfect back yard dining table. We've nailed down our picnic protocol so even if we don't find a table, we'll be happy as clams on a blanket.

* Luxuriate in the crisp waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I cannot wait to get to the Cape.

* Play croquet on our front lawn and grill in our backyard with friends and family.

* Pick blueberries with my boys, just as I did with my grandfather during Massachusetts Summers.

* Master a new seasonal cocktail. I've been "researching" candidates. 

* At long last, watch a movie at a drive-in theater. I know just the spot where I want my first time to take place...

What's on your must-do list this Summer?

 

Float On

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It's basically an official rule of Summer that all bodies of water should have at least one cheeky floaty on its surface at any given time. From fantastic, magical beasts to sweet and salty treats (#nocarbleftbehind), these silly, colorful toys are what Summer is all about: FUN. 

A cute floaty makes for a fantastic hostess gift at a pool party and I can't think of a kid who wouldn't love to bounce in the waves on a sprinkle donut. So basically, make this your go-to gift for Summer. And don't forget to buy for yourself...

While I'd love to imagine myself (with Heidi Klum's body) luxuriating on a snow white swan this Summer, it's more likely I'll be battling my sons over an inflatable slice of pizza.

Don't jump in a lake, pool or ocean without one of these adorable inflatables. Grab yours at Gilt.com, at up to 80% off on Thursday 5/25 and with an extra 20% off, site-wide on 5/28, using promo code SITE20!

Anyone for Croquet?

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Croquet, the perfect sunny day sport for cardio-phobes who like to day drink. Kick off Summer with a pastel-hued, new croquet set, don your crisp whites and head to your freshly mowed lawn for a round of this centuries-old game.

Sometimes referred to as chess on grass, croquet is a tad complicated, so if you've never played, or it's been a season or two since you've swung a mallet, go here for a refresher. FYI, my family plays American Six-Wicket. While the older generations of my family took it quite seriously (tournaments in Maine, for example), we in the younger set are pretty relaxed about it all.

While it's customary to wear your best whites on the croquet lawn, give your ensemble an infusion of texture and color by way of a hat (to protect your delicate skin) and a punchy pair of pom pom sandals.

Get Summer ready and shop for your own croquet soiree (say that five times fast) on Gilt and Gilt City, at up to 80% off on Thursday 5/25 and with an extra 20% off, site-wide on 5/28, using promo code SITE20!

Down the Hatch

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My favorite cocktail has always been the classic Gin & Tonic, which my husband renamed the Jen & Tonic. But while gin and I love each other when the night starts out, by the next morning, we're bitter enemies. So, I've recently gone back to one of my fave drinks from my very early twenties. Actually, late teens. Alright, alright... teens. The Cape Cod (or Cape Codder) is simple, crisp and refreshing and the bright color makes it festive year round.

Here's my perfect Cape Cod:

Pour 3 ounces cranberry juice and 2 ounces vodka over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a juicy wedge of lime (or two). 

For a bubbly twist, make it a Rose Kennedy by adding Club Soda (my favorite non-alcoholic bevvy):

Pour equal parts vodka and club soda over ice into a rocks glass, leaving room for a splash of cranberry juice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

My drink of choice at my husband's company holiday party. 

Pearl earrings and twin-set optional. Cheers!

Thanksgiving mise en place

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Thanksgiving is often cited as the favorite of the winter holidays, perhaps due to the lack of stress over gifts. However, that doesn’t mean Turkey Day is without its stressors.

Are you the lucky host or hostess of this year’s Thanksgiving Day celebration? Cooking a large bird is no easy feat, and timing all the sides around it can be quite tricky. Add in hungry kids and adults and the intensity grows while everyone is waiting to sit down at the table.

Thank the stars for wine (you remembered the wine, right?).

Take a tip from the best chefs and cooks, and adopt the philosophy of mise-en-place, a French culinary phrase which translates to “put in place” or “everything in its place.” Practicing mise-en-place means setting up and organizing ingredients and tools before the cooking gets underway. With thoughtful preparations, you can ensure your Thanksgiving meal goes off without a hitch, at least when it comes to the fare.

First things first

Decide on the menu you’ll serve, and determine how many guests you’ll be feeding. Be sure to check with guests about any food allergies well in advance.

Read through tried and true recipes or research new ones, giving yourself plenty of time to test tricky recipes, just in case. For example, instead of standing over a boiling pot or sizzling skillet while you could be tending to other dishes, try making your mashed potatoes or homemade cranberry sauce using one of the popular crock pot recipes. Trying any new methods in advance will allow you to make corrections prior to crunch time.

Create your shopping list, organizing first by needed ingredients for each dish, then rewriting the list based on the layout of your favorite grocery store for streamlined, stress-free shopping.

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, clean out your refrigerator to make room for the holiday groceries as well as prepared dishes. While this is never a fun task, you’ll be happy to have the free space in the heat of the moment.

Also, plan to start Thanksgiving Day with an empty dishwasher so that as you dirty dishes and utensils during the cooking process, they can be loaded right into the appliance, instead of piling up in the sink. Then, just before you sit down to eat, if the dishwasher is already full, start it so after the meal, it can be emptied and reloaded with the now dirty plates. While you may run the dishwasher multiple times throughout the festivities, you won’t encounter an Everest-like mountain of dishes in your kitchen at the end of the day.

Sharpen your knives, polish your silver and make sure table linens are clean and pressed. Ensure you have a healthy amount of ice, not just for beverages but also for preparing to-go bags and boxes of leftovers at the end of the day. Storage baggies and plastic containers you don’t care about being returned for said leftovers is key, unless you don’t want to give out leftovers. After all your hard work, you might just want to keep those delicious leftovers for yourself.

The work begins

Work ahead and complete as much as possible in advance of the big day. Advance preparation will cut down on so much stress, you’ll actually be able to enjoy the day, too! Determine what you’ll need for the preparation and serving of each item of food — such as small appliances, slotted spoons, tongs, carving knives, roasting pan and rack, thermometer, baster, fat separator, gravy boat — so you’re not left scrambling to find the items you don’t use regularly.

Start setting the table a day or two before, which will allow time to check inventory of serving dishes, place settings, water and wine glasses, pitchers and utensils. Set out all the other elements such as centerpieces, candles, place cards and the like so you can focus simply on cooking day of. If you need help remembering what goes where, visit EmilyPost.com for guidance. Stick notes to each serving piece to designate which vessel will be used for each menu element so as each of them are ready to be transferred, helpers (if you have any) will know where they go without having to take you off task.

Strategy for the day itself

Plan to use the mise-en-place method to set up a self-serve beverage station and/or bar, depending on the crowd, so it’s easy for guests to make their own drinks without interrupting the kitchen operations. Make cocktail napkins, glasses and goblets, an ice bucket with tongs and stirrers handy. Stock the bar with standard liquors (gin, vodka, rum, etc.) as well as a few mixers, such as club soda, tonic and juices, that can easily be used for non-alcoholic drinks as well. Open bottles of both red and white wine, with reserves and a corkscrew nearby. Slice lemons, limes and arrange other fun garnishes, such as skewered cranberries or a dish of cherries, so guests can customize their drinks.

The day or night before, (re)familiarize yourself with all planned recipes and then prep as many of the ingredients as possible. Vegetables can be washed, peeled and cut, garlic can be peeled and chopped or minced, then measured and properly stored. Measure dry ingredients such as spices, herbs and breadcrumbs, storing them in labeled, lidded containers, plastic baggies or prep bowls covered with cling wrap. Prepare and then store broths, salad dressings and sauces. If you plan to set out appetizers for guests to tide them over before the main event, prepare the platters, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Baked goods such as cookies, pumpkin rolls, pies, fresh breads or muffins are easily completed in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, allowing you to simply warm them in the oven before serving, if necessary or desired. With all this prep work, and the dirty measuring cups and spoons, cutlery, etc., out of the way before the day even begins, there’ll be nothing left for you to do but cook! Practicing mise-en-place will severely cut down on the typical disarray of Thanksgiving Day.

An extra step that will save precious time and turmoil is to write down a cooking timeline for the entire menu. Each individual dish will generally have its own cook time, so by planning ahead you’ll know when to start on each element. This goal is more simply achieved by working backwards from the estimated start time of the meal so that everything will be complete around the same time, ensuring each element is hot as it’s being served. Post your timeline in a central location so that all kitchen helpers have access to the plan.

Before the cooking begins, set up stations or areas for each dish. Stock the area with the pots or pans needed as well as the appropriate utensils, cutting boards, trivets, oven mitts and so on. Post the recipe on the wall or cabinet above the workspace for easy reference as well as its pre-planned, desired start time. Then, set out each individual, pre-measured, pre-chopped ingredient, in the order in which they’ll be used, and let the games begin!

***

A version of this story first appeared in the Journal-Gazette on November 20th, 2016.

Crests of Waves

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I don't have the right words to truly and fully express the joy I felt at the first ever Middle Waves music festival in #DTFW. My husband and I were kidless for the weekend, which was enough to make us downright giddy. Our entire weekend revolved around the Middle Waves schedule, which included seeing (and making new) friends, experiencing so many great shows (The Legendary Trainhoppers, Sankofa, Best Coast, The Orange Opera, Doomtree, Tanlines, and more), a beautiful and fragrant eucalyptus crown, courtesy of Photanical, to wear for the Saturday shows, fab food, tasty bevvies and a perhaps life-changing, magical show by The Flaming Lips (Glitter! Confetti! Lights! Inflatables! Pom Poms!) . The festival was chock-full of fun extras and experiences throughout the venues and the weekend was flawlessly executed by a team of hardworking, dedicated and creative people, many of which I can claim as friends. Middle Waves is one of my newest fav-o-rite things and I cannot wait until next year's bash! As soon as the dates are released, I'll need to hit up my wonderful in-laws for babysitting duty...

I don't have many pictures from the weekend but a hashtag search of #MiddleWaves on IG will reward you with some lovely ones, taken by fellow revelers. 

Best Coast @ Middle Waves

The Legendary Trainhoppers @ Middle Waves

My SIL, lounging after Best Coast.

It's not weird at all when your brother's massaging your husband. 

Morning dew + leftover flair from The Flaming Lips show = confetti toes. 

My favorite souvenir of the experience, a confetti roll from The Flaming Lips concert, found the next morning.

pACKard Cubby

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We named our second boy Packard, in homage to Nantucket (ACK), where we fell in love during our first working college summer on the island (sandwich shop for me, landscaping for him). We have such wonderful memories of our two summers there and love to connect our most meaningful places to our sons' lives (Brighton, our oldest, is named for Brighton, England, the site of our very first date. We met while studying abroad for a semester). 

So! For Pack's 3rd birthday party, we went for a nautical theme - predictable, I know. It was small, sweet and just the right amount of fun for a little guy. Shark hats, anchor bubble wands, shell rings, plastic sea creatures and water bottle favors were a hit but nothing was as prized as those gummy rings. Little hands darted in and out of that bowl all afternoon. 

I have such fun planning these little parties for my boys. I take a few pictures, save a couple of mementos and hope they look back on their childhood birthdays and understand just how much I treasure the days these two nerds came into this world. 

Distinguishing Mark

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Holiday dressing can be tricky, for sure. The pressure to be festive and glamorous mounts with every new party added to the busy December calendar.

But let's make this yearly wardrobe challenge a bit easier, once and for all: If you have one kickass dress, in a solid color, make that your uniform then kick it up with over the top jewelry; specifically earrings or necklaces, since rings and bangles won't be as visible as a glittering strand around your neck or dramatic drops dangling from your ears.

This season, Simply Vera Wang for Kohl's is killing it when it comes to holiday sparkle. Bonus: the price point means you can buy a couple of options to keep on hand. By switching out not only jewelry but hosiery, clutch and shoes, your holiday uniform will look completely different for every outing. 

Shop Simply Vera Wang for Kohl's - currently on sale! #boom