Fresh starts!

Blog update: I’ll no longer be updating big city, lil kitchen…

…however, can now follow me at: justoneelle.com!! Exciting! haha

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C’monnnn down, you know you want to! 😀

2014: Keep good going

Tis the season for resolutions!! Whether you’re a fan of them or not…we’ve come to that very special time of year when we are all inundated with a flurry of ads for self-help books, weight loss programs and gym specials – and sweeping promises of going cold turkey on whatever vice you have while simultaneously (not to mention miraculously) dropping 50 pounds by March.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I don’t think resolutions…goal setting…aiming to better oneself… are bad. In fact, I think having goals is an essential part of growing and changing, but I do think success lies in how you go about it. And, personally, I don’t think that success lies in picking apart your life and focusing on what you think sucks…whether that’s a relationship, your salary, weight,  job, habits, hobbies, commute, social life… your… hair? Whatever!

What if we spent time reflecting on the good…instead of focusing on what we don’t like or didn’t accomplish? I mean…shouldn’t we be moving into a new year with a renewed sense of hope? Not … “Uhhhg, okay, I’m a whale…why can’t I look like [insert your favorite celebrity here]??? 2014 will be way better if I drop like 30 lbs, right?”

I know that’s not necessarily easy to do, but wouldn’t it be great to look at what made you happy in the last year and create goals that will keep you moving in that positive direction?

So keeping that in mind, here are some of my goals:

  • Run again. The feeling of accomplishment from my races this year was incredible. Time to grab that adrenaline rush again.

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  • Give back. I was involved with a few non-profit organizations through work this year, and I’d love to expand upon that and really get involved with a cause I’m passionate about.

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  • Get social. Like in real life…with real people. Let’s be honest, it can be daunting to make new friends as an adult. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty amazing people this year by going outside of my own comfort zone and joining events/groups filled with people who geek out about the same stuff I do.

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  • Segue that to…embrace my inner nerd. Embrace what I’m passionate about…who cares what other people think about it. I mean…I can love dessert and running, or high heels and Chucks. I can love bopping around to Top 40 AND any number of Joss Whedon projects. They’re not mutually exclusive. Seriously.

  • Schedule time for myself. Pen to planner. and make it happen.

  • Travel. I was finally able to get some travel in this year through work. I’m lucky enough to have friends and family in amazing cities across the entire country…time to plan, pack and take off.

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  • Appreciate it all. We live in a world surrounded by social channels filled with posts that would make you think everyone’s lives are simultaneously super exciting, glamorous, hilarious, perfectly styled and manicured, delicious, filled with storybook love and romance, busy but zen, and fat-free (spoiler alert! they’re not..) – it can be really easy to get caught up in that, and while none of those things are bad, snapshots of other people’s lives shouldn’t influence whether or not I’m happy with mine because… I have a lot to be thankful for.

  • Be happy.

So, tell me, for you… what’s good in the coming year?

Brunch on the Towne

My goodness, it has been a packed couple of months. So much has been going on! Travel for work, travel…travel…and more travel.

Anyway, so let’s talk brunch. It is one of my favorite things. Ever. I mean, where can you combine all the carby goodness of the most important meal of the day with a solid cocktail?! I’m not really a “breakfast” person, per say, but I LOVE breakfast foods. Just not in the 6-9am timeslot.

Not that long ago, I was able to attend a brunch at Towne Stove and Spirits in Back Bay with a bunch of other awesome people (bloggers, Yelpers, and all around great people) courtesy of Boston Brunchers, and I have to tell you I was super impressed. I’d only been to Towne for drinks before (they do those well, too), and I hadn’t ever set foot beyond the bar. I’d never set foot in the restaurant section, let alone know they have an absolutely stunning upstairs!!

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Our group got there at 11, and was seated at a huge round table (perfect for getting to know each other and scoping out what other people put on their plates!). Minus another couple, we were the only ones there (the brunch starts at 11 so we beat the crowds) so we all rushed to get some pictures in of the untouched buffets….yes, plural. They have EVERYTHING. There were carving stations, hot stations with HUGE cast iron skillets full of eggs benedict, potatoes, salmon…yum!!…an omelet station, a raw bar (yes, I helped myself to plenty of oysters), a dessert bar (we’ll come back to that), fruit selections, and – saving the best for last – a HUGE cheese bar.

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Towne was kind enough to pour us all a little prosecco and we sat down, plates full, to sip and stuff ourselves with tons of amazingness (I never said I’d be breaking out the SAT vocab here…). My first round was mostly raw and cheese bar items. Humboldt Fog and Brie spread with honeycomb… to my face.  Maybe cheese and oysters don’t seem like a natural pairing, but pshhh. Whatever. It was delicious. Round two included a waffle, eggs benedict and various other carbohydrates. Priorities.

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We all ended on the dessert bar. Ate a little bit of everything. However, the consensus was the the chocolate chip bread pudding won brunch. And rightly so. It was delicious…warm, buttery, gooey and just seriously sinful. Oy. I think I gained 5lbs just thinking about it.

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So yes, it was really delicious – however, the buffet, at $38 per guest ($14 for kids under 12) is not necessarily realistic for everyone. It was a fantastic treat (would be great for special occasions!), and if you’re considering it, I’d absolutely recommend it. I definitely ate $38 worth of food…probably in oysters and cheese alone. haha

Disclaimer: I received brunch free of charge as part of the Boston Brunchers, with the exception of gratuity. As always, all opinions are my own.

Fall with favorites!

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.

Fiery foliage and jumping into leaf piles… crisp mornings and warm spices… comfort food and oversized sweaters. I’m technically December-baby but fall in New England is my jam.  There’s nothing else quite like it.

Oh and apple picking. Can’t forget apple picking.

One apple-picking-perk? Apple crisp. There’s nothing quite like sweet and spicy warm apples topped with an super crispy, crumbly crust, right? Last weekend, I got together with a couple of my favorite people (…and can’t forget my fave pup, Pebbles!) to tackle crisp-making.

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We worked with a super simple recipe from A Family Feast that Amanda found on Pinterest – and doubled up the recipe to up all of the (20+) apples that we had.

Pebbles was super helpful with peeling…

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We had fun peeling, chopping, mixing and crumbling — and followed the recipe almost to the tee. We added more oats than it called for – and I’m glad we did. It was definitely a sweet recipe, but not TOO sweet…but it could have gone there reallllly fast. I think if I use this recipe again, I’d use less brown sugar and add more oats.

I mean…c’mon you can’t really go wrong with a buttery, sweet crust? Really buttery…like Paula-Deen-would-approve buttery.

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After 40 minutes of hanging out in the oven, it came out golden brown, bubbly and crunchy….

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Not too shabby for a Sunday night??

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….and breakfast the next morning. Whoops.

Blog post back up – Part 2: Cruisin’ and brunchin’ with Odyssey Cruises

A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity via Blog and Tweet Boston to hop on board the Odyssey Boston yacht and cruise around Boston Harbor all while boozin’ and brunchin’ with blogger friends (I was so tempted to say “buds” just for the alliteration…say that 5 times fast =)).

My friend Katharine and I arrived at Rowes Wharf just before noon on what was a seriously gorgeous day in Boston. We hung out, caught up (she just moved back up to Boston from Florida) and waited to board the boat.

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We joined my fellow blogger friends – Stacey, Rachel and Jen (plus, guests) – and a bunch of other bloggers and …well, tweeters… and quickly made our way to the bar. I mean c’mon what’s brunch without a little bit of booze. Champagne, anyone? We worked our way through a wedding party and made our way up to the top deck of the boat to enjoy a little sunshine and –of course – take pictures. After that we managed (not gonna lie, we struggled a bit to find where our group was) to find our way to our little section and settled in for the buffet.

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This was not a diet brunch (what fun would that be, really?). I fully embraced it and piled my plate with French toast, bacon, eggs, home fries, and my FAVORITE smoked salmon – though I was bummed that their bagels weren’t anything to write home about. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had French toast so I was a super happy (and full) camper.  They did have a bunch of lunch options (pasta, chicken, etc) but I skipped out of those in favor of a few more servings of smoked salmon. My obsession knows no bounds.

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I digress. The food was good, and it was nice to sit by the windows and watch the city roll by from the water. Boston’s just beautiful. No denying it.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves, we made our way up to the top deck where we finished out cruise out with some fun Boston facts that I never knew about (did you know they turn Castle Island into haunted houses at Halloween – one for adults, one for kids, and that Nix’s Mate isn’t just a bar in the Hilton in the Financial District but an island that “legend-has-it” they used to hang pirates off of as a “warning” to other sailors?).

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Overall, I had a great afternoon cruising around Boston on an absolutely gorgeous day with awesome people. The Odyssey would be a great option for special occasions. Like I mentioned, there was even a wedding party on board when we were there, so plenty of space!!

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Just a lil’ bit of wind

Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston and Odyssey Cruises for the complimentary ticket/meal/alcohol. While I was provided the ticket for free, in exchange for a blog post, my opinions are my own.