Archive | February, 2016

Foodie Friday: Cookshop Plus

26 Feb

Happy Friday! I have had so much going on within the last week that I honestly haven’t even had a second to sit down and write. Very big and exciting things happening around here! Although I have been super busy, I had to make time to tell you guys about an awesome event I attended last Saturday at Cookshop Plus in West Hartford.

Cookshop Plus is a new cooking store owned by Terry & Joanne Ryan and James & Samantha Hines. They are Australian natives and the original Cookshop Plus location is located in Bowral, Australia which is just outside of Sydney. The store carries a wide range of different products, from small kitchen appliances to several products which are unique to Australia. One thing which sets them aside from other cooking stores is that they have an in-store coffee bar, which uses coffee beans from Neat Coffee and baked goods from Hartford Baking Company.

Cookshop 1

The coffee bar was where we started the event and each of us ordered a coffee or hot chocolate off of their menu. I chose a flat white which was absolutely incredible and may be my new favorite coffee style. Hartford Baking Company provided an array of pastries and I devoured a fantastic Cranberry scone and Dan enjoyed a cheese danish.

cookshop 2

cookshop 3

After we enjoyed our coffee and pasties, we poked around the store for a little while. I wanted one of everything in the store and it definitely made me aspire to do more cooking. I ended up leaving with a garlic press and a cheese/vegetable grater, which were two things we desperately needed (or wanted, really).

James then provided us with a great knife demonstration and I definitely learned a few things. For example, I had no idea that you shouldn’t put knives in the dishwasher because the detergent can dull the blade. The store offers several different brands of knives, including Global, Savannah, Messermeister, and Wusthof. We also learned that the bread knife is one of the most under-appreciated knives as it can also be used for several other purposes such as carving.

cookshop 4

Once James was done with his presentation, the owner of Hartford Baking Company, Scott Kluger, provided us with a pretzel making demonstration. Since there weren’t any ovens at the store, he showed us how they form their pretzels and then told us a lot about the process of making them. I have yet to visit Hartford Baking Company but I will be there in a couple of weeks for an event and I can’t wait to sample more goodies!

cookshop 5

Check out Anne rolling her pretzel!

It was such a fun, relaxing event which was perfect for a Sunday morning. We will definitely be back to Cookshop Plus since I have a feeling we will be in the market for some more kitchen stuff in the near future 😉

Have a great weekend!

Five Things Friday: Short and Sweet

19 Feb

Happy Friday! I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I checked in with you guys but things have been pretty crazy this week. I was feeling a little under the weather with a slight cold for most of the week and by the time I had time to sit down and write, I was just exhausted and crawled right into bed. We have a pretty busy weekend ahead of us so I’m going to try to keep today’s post on the short side with some random thoughts for you guys.

  • I have been killing it on the cooking front this week!

I made pot roast in the crock pot on Sunday for Dan’s Valentine’s day request which was delicious. On Tuesday we made a new-to-us recipe for egg and avocado spaghetti squash boats and then on Wednesday I made eggplant pizzas (with homemade sauce) all by myself while Dan was on a fire call. It was definitely a successful week for home-cooked meals!

pot roast

spaghetti squash

eggplant pizzas2

  • With that being said, we enjoyed a freaking amazing dinner last night at Cheeks Chicken in Manchester. 

After reading the amazing Yelp reviews and a recent article in the Hartford Courant, I knew we had to try this place. I had the chicken and waffles (my first time ever) and Dan had the spicy chicken sandwich. This place was incredible and we will be back, probably for our next cheat meal!

cheeks chicken

  • Stitch Fix Update: I kept three items!

I debated and conferred with several people on what to do (again, #firstworldproblems). I came to the decision that it really wouldn’t be worth it for me to keep all five items since I knew I wouldn’t wear those purple pants and same goes with the purple top too. I kept the open back top, the cardigan, and the polka dot tank top and I’m very happy with my choices!

  • I’m attending a fun event this weekend at Cookshop Plus in West Hartford.

I was invited once again by the lovely Kat for a cooking demonstration along with a taste of the coffee from their coffee bar. Cookshop Plus is a new cooking store which has recently opened up and I can’t wait to visit! Stay tuned for a full recap next week!

  • The rest of this weekend is going to be pretty hectic, and I’m totally okay with that.

Tonight we are having Brian and Natasha over for dinner and tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday so we are doing a sushi lunch for that. Sunday is the Cookshop event and then we are heading down to the casino for a concert. It will be busy but it’s all good things so I’m looking forward to it!

busy ecard

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and stay tuned next week for some good stuff coming your way!

Fashion Friday: Stitch Fix # 5

12 Feb

HAPPY FRIDAY! Sorry, I’m just a little bit excited about it. I’m currently at Daybreak Coffee Roasters sipping on some amazing Hazelnut french press coffee while I write as I took today off of work to have a “me” day which is something I think we all need from time to time. I really need to come here and blog more often! I finally caved and ordered another Stitch Fix and I think this is honestly the best one yet!

Here is an explanation in case you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix before: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. You pay a $20 styling fee up front and then you fill out an extensive styling profile which is sent over to a stylist who picks out five items (clothing, jewelry, scarves, accessories) which fit the personalized profile you have filled out. The items are sent to you and you try them on, with three days to decide on what you want. If you decide to keep anything, the $20 styling fee goes toward your purchase. If you purchase all five items, then you receive 25% off your entire order!

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 1

Item # 1: RD Style Keira 3/4 Sleeve Split Back Knit Top ($48)

As soon as I saw this one, I knew my stylist, Alison was totally in tune with exactly what I was looking for. I requested a top with a “party in the back” style and this one definitely delivered. I love the flowy fit which pairs well with the sexy back and navy is one of my favorite colors to wear.

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 2

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 3 correct

Verdict: Kept. I mean, how could I not keep it? It is exactly what I asked for and I know I will wear it a lot, whether by itself or with a brightly colored tank top underneath.

Item # 2: Skies are Blue Dorian Embroidery Detail Blouse ($58)

I was a little bit hesitant when I saw this one because although it is flowy which is what I love, it’s a little bit out the box for me, style-wise. Dan thought the same thing but once I tried it on, he actually loved the fit and I really liked the way it photographed.

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 7

Verdict: Undecided. I have to really think about this one because I like the way it looks in the picture but I have to decide if I will really wear it that often. What do you guys think?

Item # 3: BRIXON IVY Pinson Drape Cardigan ($54)

This cardigan is one that I actually pinned to my Pinterest board and Alison mentioned that in her note to me! I am absolutely obsessed with this one and I love the pretty ruffles. It is so romantic and delicate and I want to wear it every single day of my life.

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 4

Verdict: Kept. This one was a keeper before I even tried it on. It is literally everything that I love in a top.

Item # 4: Just Black Dean Skinny Jean ($78)

I did request some colored jeans in my note to Alison and she delivered on that. With that being said, I’m having a tough time determining what I would wear with these for a top and they are ankle length (with a zipper on the bottoms) and petite which is something I have never worn before. I may just try to venture out today and find some colored jeans at a cheaper price with a little more length.

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 5 correct

Verdict: Undecided. This is another one that I’m going to have to ponder. If I end up buying everything else, it may be more cost effective to just get these too so we shall see.

Item # 5: Daniel Rainn Poppins Crochet Trim Blouse ($64)

I feel like Alison just totally understood me with this fix. Polka dots are one of my favorite prints to wear and I adore this top. I asked for some pieces that would transition into Spring and this is totally on point. I can wear it now with a cardigan over it and then by itself when the weather warms up (it’s currently 8 degrees so not sure when that is happening exactly).

Stitch Fix # 5 picture 6

Verdict: Kept. I love the detail on the shoulders as well as the polka dots and it really looks great so it’s a keeper. The price point is high but I have such a hard time finding nicer tops to wear to work and out on the weekends.

As you guys can tell, I’m in a big dilemma with this fix (#firstworldproblems). I don’t hate any of the items and there are a couple that I absolutely love. I don’t feel bad spending money on higher quality items because I know they will last me a long time. I’m definitely going to have to think over if I want to keep the pants and the purple top based on how often I will wear them. Please let me know what you guys think as opinions from an outside perspective are always helpful!

Which items do you think I should keep?
Which one is your favorite?

In Total Agreement

9 Feb

Tuesday is usually my least favorite day of the week but since the roads are still pretty yucky here, I get to work from home again today, and for that, I am very appreciative of this Tuesday. Life has been pretty darn wonderful lately so I really have nothing to complain about. I think that Dan and I are in total agreement about that!

Friday evening was spent (unpictured) having homemade pizza at Cheyne and Miko’s. I consider it a great night when I’m enjoying myself so much that I forget to take a single picture.

Dan was sick for almost all of last week so I was very thankful that when Saturday came around, he was finally feeling up to being out and about. Saturday started off with complete relaxation while Dan was out doing the rest of the snow removal at work. I cannot remember the last time I actually took time to enjoy my coffee and mindless television on a Saturday morning. It was so nice!

Saturday relaxation

We had reservations for Taste of Hartford at Firebox in Hartford on Saturday evening and I was super excited. The Taste of Hartford meant that we got a three-course meal for $30.16 each! Firebox is a farm-to-table restaurant which is located in an old firehouse (aka right up Dan’s alley). I will let the photos speak for themselves but I can say that it was one of the most delicious meals we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying and we will definitely be back! After dinner, we had drinks with Dan’s parents and then headed to Brian and Natasha’s house to hang out for a while. I love spending time with so many wonderful people!

Firebox drink

Apple Orchard Fizz (apple infused gin, st. germain, apple cider, lemon juice, egg white)

firebox salad

Beet salad

Fire Box salmon

Black Pearl Salmon.. that herb sauce on top was incredible!

Firebox ricotta ravioli

Dan’s Ricotta Ravioli.. so rich and delicious!

I was proactive on Saturday and got the grocery shopping done so that Sunday morning was spent cleaning and cooking for the Super Bowl. We had a small get together with SO much food and although the game was not the most exciting one in recent years, it was nice to enjoy time with our friends and munch on all of the yummy food. Our food spread included: Garlic Garlic dip, veggies with hummus, Moe’s guac and chips, Alex’s taco dip, buffalo chicken dip, cheese and crackers, chicken wings from The Diamond, and this skinny macaroni and cheese which I made for the first time.

Superbowl 2016 spread

As I said, I think that Dan and I are in total agreement that our weekends have been so much fun lately, with a good mix of going out and relaxing at home. Balance is definitely key and I think we are achieving that.

tea and reading

Last night was spent on the couch with a good book and lots of tea

I hope you all have a wonderful week and if all goes well, I will be back on Friday with a Fashion Friday post so stay tuned!

Review: Bruleries Faro Roasting Houses Coffee

8 Feb

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you have an even better week ahead! Today I’m sharing a new-to-me brand of coffee that I’m really enjoying. Back in December, I was approached by Javafly and asked if I would like to try some coffee from Bruleries Faro. They sent me two different flavors, Breakfast Blend and Moka Java, in K-cup form. Since I’m a huge coffee lover, I was more than happy to participate in this project.

faro coffee box

Both coffees are made from 100% Arabica beans and without any preservatives or artificial flavoring, which is something that I appreciate.

Breakfast Blend:

I found that this flavor was definitely the lighter of the two and would be great for an early morning when I didn’t want anything dark or heavy. It is very easy to drink and I think it would pair well with any light breakfast foods, such as eggs and toast.

faro breakfast blend

Moka Java:

This flavor was my favorite out of the two as it was still very mellow but it was darker and had a little bit more of a unique flavor. I drink my coffee black because i really enjoy the flavor so the fact that this one had a little bit more of a punch to it was appealing to me. I think that the Moka Java would also pair well with all kinds of breakfast foods and would stand up well against any foods with a lot of flavor.

faro moka java

Overall, I really enjoyed both flavors and can see myself drinking them on different occasions. I’m not picky with my coffee at all but it’s nice to have found a brand which consistently provides great flavors.

faro coffee in cup

The coffee in this post was provided by Javafly. All opinions of the tasting are my own. 

WIAW: NIXS Evergreen

3 Feb

Happy hump day! I am feeling so great this week and still coming off of a fabulous weekend that I can’t stop thinking about. I’m here to tell you all about the incredible blogger event that I attended at NIXS Evergreen in South Windsor.

NIXS Evergreen is a funky, hip, and new-to-South Windsor restaurant which focuses on unique and seasonal food items along with craft cocktails. As soon as I had heard that NIXS was coming to Evergreen Walk (they have a Hartford location also), I was more than excited to try it out. Bonnie from Home Place Blog reached out to me and invited me to attend a blogger event hosted by head chef, Sean DeLaRosa.

We chatted for quite a while before we finally decided to order some cocktails. I enjoyed the Moscow Mistress, which I have previously had at their grand opening event, and it was just as tasty as I remembered. I usually don’t enjoy too much of a ginger flavor but this drink was so refreshing!

NIXS cocktail

Bonnie ordered a couple of cheese plates for the table as well as some wings for us to try to get us started. As you all know, cheese is my favorite thing in the world so I was in heaven. I didn’t get to try any of the wings but I definitely ate my weight in cheese.

NIXS cheese

NIXS wings

Once we had devoured the cheese and wings, we each chose an item to order off of the “shareables” portion of the menu. I went with the Naked Spicy Tuna which was tuna tartare, avocado, and cucumber all tossed in spicy mayo and placed on top of rice. I had such a hankering for sushi and this hit the spot. It was just the right amount of spicy so that I was still able to enjoy the incredible and fresh flavor of the tuna.

NIXS tuna

Some of us ordered the same items while others went for others, such as the mac and cheese, sliders, and the lobster tater tots (yes I said lobster tater tots!). As soon as we were all done taking our pictures (#bloggerlife), the table got pretty silent as everyone was clearly enjoying their food to the fullest.

NIXS blogger event

After we finished our meals, our lovely waitress brought out one of each item that was on the dessert menu for us to share. I can only say that the s’mores were out of this world and I will be ordering them again very soon. Obviously I didn’t get a picture of the s’mores because I was too busy devouring them but I did get a picture of the ice cream sandwiches and the Zeppoles.

NIXS ice cream sandwiches

NIXS donuts

NIXS ron

Ron was very proudly displaying those Zeppoles 🙂

This event was one of the best yet and I highly recommend heading to NIXS Evergreen for lunch or dinner or even just drinks and appetizers (and those s’mores for dessert). I want to extend a big thank you to Bonnie for inviting me and I also want to say that it was truly wonderful to spend an afternoon with some of the best bloggers out there.

Marvelous Monday: Stress Free

1 Feb

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend which was filled with all kinds of marvelous things! I’m going to keep today short and sweet as I will be sharing a few other posts this week and they include some of my weekend activities as well. I will say that I definitely spent this weekend de-stressing a bit as life as been crazy and I have been trying to keep up!

Link it up! Photo credit to Katie!

Marvelous is… a much needed Friday happy hour at Nolita Ristorante in East Hartford. The drinks were very tasty and their $5 happy hour apps definitely hit the spot. We will be back here for sure because it was the first place we have been for happy hour in a long time which wasn’t totally packed but really impressed us.

Nolita happy hour

Marvelous is… taking a little drive out to Putnam on Saturday morning for a birthday breakfast at Bill’s Bread and Breakfast with Dan’s family. We were doing a little combination birthday celebration for Dan’s Aunt and Grandpa and although we had a little bit of a wait, the food was incredible. My Crab Cakes Benedict was exactly what I was craving and catching up with Dan’s family is always so nice.

bills bread and breakfast

Marvelous is… attending an incredible blogger event at NIXS Evergreen in South Windsor on Saturday afternoon. I will be recapping this event in full on Wednesday but I can tell you that if you haven’t been to NIXS yet, you MUST go. The food and drinks were absolute perfection and I can’t say enough about the incredible group of bloggers that I was lucky enough to be able to spend the afternoon with. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!

NIXS blogger event

Marvelous is… an impromptu Sunday night dinner of beef stew and biscuits at Dan’s parent’s house. Dan was up very early that morning and took a long afternoon nap while I attempted a deep cleaning of our apartment (side note: How amazing does it feel to fill up a trash bag with a bunch of stuff that you really don’t need?). After cleaning for three hours, I really had no urge to cook and was SO happy when Dan’s parents invited us up. We had a nice evening and enjoyed the delicious beef stew along with some wine while watching Grease Live. It was a great end to a very relaxing weekend which was just what I needed.

beef stew silversteins

That was a little more wordy than I intended but it’s been while since I’ve shared some marvelous happenings with you guys so there you go! Stay tuned for some more posts later in the week!