Seasons 52 has made its way to Mass!

Hello, hello! I’m back. After the craziness of moving out of my old apartment and then into my new one…I’m happy to be back, successfully connected to the internet, falling into a new commuting routine aaand back in my tiny kitchen (those who’ve been with me for a while, you may notice that it is the SAME lil’ kitchen I was cooking out of two years ago…yes, back in the same place, what’re the chances?!)So now I’m settling into my new/old apartment (I was lucky enough to re-connect with my awesome former landlord who was nice enough to fly up here to show me units before they were officially on the market! – I mean c’mon, once you find an awesome landlord in a city of less than stellar ones you hold on tight and don’t let go!) In the craziness of the move, I was actually lucky enough to be able to take an evening and enjoy a dinner at the brand new Seasons 52 in Burlington, MA. Seasons 52 is a franchise – but this location in Burlington is the first in MA (they’re also moving into Chestnut Hill soon!!) and I’m so thrilled to see a trend towards delicious and health conscious dining options coming to the Bay State!

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So to back up a bit, I received an invite to attend a media dinner held at the not-yet-opened restaurant on August 27. I was really excited, but didn’t quite know what to expect.

I arrived at Seasons 52 in Wayside Commons in Burlington (right above the Ethan Allen and L.L. Bean) and was surprised at how big the place was! We walked inside (I extended an invite to my bloggie friend Stacey as well and we carpooled) and it was a large, but really warm space. They weren’t open yet, but the place was buzzing with happy customers as the restaurant conducted its last night of “soft opening” before the big day.

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We were escorted through the dining room to a large, private room in the back where I was (pleasantly) surprised to see only 6 chairs set up – an awesome and intimate setting – and greeted with glasses of champagne (yum!)! We received a tour of the place – which includes awesome amenities (live piano 7-nights a week, and rooms that are perfect for your bridal shower or a business meeting!).

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Once all of us were settled in, our wine-tour and meal got rolling. We were lucky enough to have the chef speak to each of the plates, and world-class Master Sommelier, George Miliotes, guide us through each glass of wine that accompanied our meals.

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The food was phenomenal. It was my first time trying quail – and let’s be honest, filet is always a winner in my book. Cool fact – all of their entrees are 475 calories or UNDER. Craziness right? Especially since we live in a world where you can almost expect to have an salad that runs you 1200 or
more! It’s not 475 calories and the size of a thimble either – these are full-plates of awesome, comfort food. You really can’t go wrong.  Just take a look at that menu.

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Okay, let’s be honest – you’re all here for the photos. Just take a look at this awesomeness. And if you’re in the area – I highly suggest you check them out. Great people, great food, great wine. Can’t go wrong.  Thank you to Chris Potter from Ogilvy for reaching out, and Seasons 52  for your hospitality and the amazing meal. I will be back – and bringing friends.

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No stress swimwear: Cerulean Blu

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend another event through Boston Blog and Tweet at swimwear boutique, Cerulean Blu – just off of Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay.

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 Side-bar: “Cerulean” alllways makes me think of The Devil Wears Prada

 It was a great night of some wine, food from B.Good, positivity, and how to make swimwear shopping a little less intimidating. A group of us met in the cute boutique, located on Hereford – just steps Newbury. The store is a bright, cheerful space with a lot of choices, but it’s not overwhelming. Within seconds, I spotted a dress/cover up that I wanted (and still have to go back for!!).

We mixed and mingled, checking out the gorgeous suits made for all shapes and sizes. Rachel from Healthy Chicks gave a great talk about body image, positivity, and embracing the now – not waiting for the “when I [lose the weight, get the job, etc, etc]…THEN I can [whatever the end goal]. She had us do a great exercise where we each had a notecard with our name on it, and passed it around, and everyone –we’d all just met – wrote anonymous, nice things they noticed about the person on the card. It was a really cool exercise to see how people look at you – which is often so different from how we nit-pick ourselves!!

After that we chatted with Desiree, owner of the boutique (with locations here in Boston and in St. Petersburg, FL), and how she opened the store because she “was tired of the way that typical swimwear shopping had the power to make women feel less confident, exposed and uncomfortable.”

 I mean, c’mon – I don’t care how great of shape you’re in…standing in a dressing room, trying on suits under fluorescent lights….rarely a confidence booster. Their store really has silhouettes for all body types – Desiree heads down to Mercedes Benz Fashion week every year and handpicks designs for her store. This is a place that pairs awesome customer service with a really comfortable, no-pressure atmosphere. Win/Win!!

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 Blush Airbrush Tanning was also there, and gave a great demo of their portable tanning services. I’ve always been curious about air brush ((and slightly, scared…think orange Lindsay Lohan circa 2004)), but having a history of melanoma in my family, the idea of being bronzed but not damaging your self or health is super appealing. I was super impressed by their ability to customize for skin tones, and how natural the airbrush tan looked. Definitely something to consider! And the ladies were super nice.

 If you’re in Back Bay and in need of a swimwear, cover ups, cute flowy dresses, hats, bags, sandals – pop into Cerulean Blu. I know I’ll be back, and thanks to Boston Blog and Tweet and Cerulean Blu for having us!

(em)Power Hour

Okay – so I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about The Studio Empower for a while now – a LOT of bloggers I know had the opportunity to try them out (and then host awesome giveaways….more on that later!) so I’d seen a little bit about the Newton Centre-based hotspot before Blog and Tweet Boston announced they were holding a blogger event there. So I jumped at the change to challenge myself with something different.

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I mean – I was coming off of vacation…it was needed. So I hopped on the T on a Saturday morning and joined Shelby, Kerrie, Lucie, and Janelle at a 10 a.m. class with Bobby to sweat it out.

Annnnd sweat it out I did. Not pretty. haha

No – you’re not blasting yourself with traditional cardio, but you are seriously upping your heart rate and you  work muscles you didn’t even know you had with controlled, sustained movement on their Megaformer machines. Controlled is key…getting the hang of the machine is a half the battle! They’re really good at making sure you’re using the machines correctly and safely…minimizing chance of injury – which is always, ya know, good.

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We worked arms, abs, glutes, legs….and man, by the end of the 45 minute workout I was spent….and drenched! From the beginner to the advanced, this class is for anyone, any level. Everything can be adjusted, and it’s really cool to see the difference in moves, coordination, weights – as you grow stronger.

Grow stronger? How would I know this – it was a just one class right? Well – I was lucky enough to find out after this class that I actually won a free month with them from Jen’s giveaway!! It’s a quick T-ride from my current apartment so getting there is a breeze for me (half the battle)! I’ve been to now a total of 3 classes this week (in addition to the free blogger class) and I’m loving it. I’ll be honest, some stuff is a little tough being tall on the machine…but I can always move to the floor if I’m too long for certain moves (plaaaanks). I can feel myself getting stronger – even after just three classes – and I will be using this free month to my full-advantage before I move!

I’m hooked and I’d highly recommend you try it out! If you’re near Newton – classes are small and the instructors are fantastic. Super supportive and really have your best interest (and safety) at heart.

So now you know my newest addiction. What’s your current fitness obsession?

A lil’ chocolate therapy

Okay – so if you’ve read even the tiniest amount of my blog or remotely know me in any capacity…you know chocolate is sort of my thing. That…and cheese. Cheese is my other addiction. But this post has nothing to do with cheese. haha

So, considering my absolute love/borderline addiction to anything and everything chocolate, I jumped at the opportunity to take a chocolate class at Chocolate Therapy in Framingham with Boston Brunchers – an awesome group of food-obsessed individuals like myself.

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What was even more perfect? The timing. It was going on the week after I came back from vacation…and I knew with work I was going to be going at a mile-a-minute pace – so a lil’ chocolate therapy was definitely needed.

So, Chocolate Therapy is located in Framingham, MA (anyone familiar with the area – it’s right by Legal Seafood on Route 9) and they also have another location at Legacy Place in Dedham, MA. In their Framingham location – you walk in the door and chocolate greets you. The chocolate (along with their cranked AC – it was 95+ degrees out that day) was a welcome sight.

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Pam – one of the owners – warmly greeted all of us….and brought us back into their class/party space. We met her husband David and their chocolatier, Rick – and got to try some of their awesome chocolates. Check our Pam and David’s story – they’re awesome!

I’ll let the photos do the talking….

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We sampled their Pom Balm, Buzz mallow, Sea salt caramel, Chocolate Fix truffle and The Cure – spicy – loved!!

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How gorgeous is the Pom Balm … equally delicious!

So after sampling, we all packed into their kitchen to see how it’s done. Rick gave a great demonstration on ganache and importance of tempering chocolate correctly – and then we were able to get our hands dirty!! We made chocolate bark, put truffle’s through their coater – aptly named Lucy!, made raspberry filled chocolates and pistachio and cocoa coated truffles.

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In the immortal words of Rachel Zoe: I.Die.

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At the end of the evening we each walked away with one of everything we made and a lot of chocolate bark! I totally would have made some purchases but my house was like 85 degrees at the time…sooo they all would’ve melted. Immediately.

I will definitely be back though – especially to try those French macarons…my fave!!– and if you’re in the area…check them out. Lovely people. Local business. Chocolate. Homemade marshmallows. Drinks. Ice cream….and by the fall they’re hoping to have their beer & wine license so that they can serve up some adult beverages with the chocolate. Yes. Please!

Check out Chocolate Therapy on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

As an FYI – I received this class at Chocolate Therapy, free-of-charge through Boston Brunchers in exchange for a blog post about it. Opinions are my own.

Ultimate Bootcamp kicked my…

So – I’ve come a long way.

I have never been a runner. Correction. I had never been a runner. Ask 7th grade me how much I loved Cross Country and you would have heard crickets. I think a part of this might have been due to comparing myself to people who had been running for ages…on top of being too hard on myself…and well, in 7th grade…but still. I’ve had breathing issues since birth…legit… and my knees have just always sucked. Regardless. Here I am…now, a runner. Not a great runner. But a runner nonetheless. 7th grade me would’ve laughed at the fact that I’m currently signed up for two 10ks. Woops. Haha

However, I took part in a bootcamp a couple of weekends ago that reminded me…that while I’ve come a long way…I’ve go a long way to go. And that’s not a bad thing.

I had the opportunity to take part in an hour-long bootcamp-style workout on the Boston Common with a bunch of other bloggers through Ultimate Bootcamp. Let me put this out there in advance…I knew it would kick my ass going in.

We met with Kim – our trainer – in the Common, and she immediately got us moving. Running. Check. I can do this. Doing a couple of laps around the Common – weaving our way around tourists – I felt good. Then…somewhere between the sprinting, jumping jacks and the squats…yeah. My body revolted.

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Let me say this. I kept going. I did the sprints, the jumping jacks, the squats, the squat jumps, the curls, the presses, the mountain climbers…..just slower…and sometimes not as many, and when I couldn’t do things…I walked, jogged, paced…whatever you want to call it.

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe I hadn’t eaten enough. Maybe I hadn’t had enough water beforehand. Maybe I was just that out of shape. Plain and simple, my body wasn’t quite ready for it all…or at least for all of it at once. I struggled. A lot.

But Kim was awesome. She kept me moving, but didn’t push. There was no – I don’t care if you throw up, just keep going.  She got it.

While I wasn’t a freaking rockstar, I really enjoyed my experience…it showed me how far I’ve still got to go…and the competitor in me wants to be better.  And it was fun…despite my own issues…I still had a smile on my face.

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PROOF. SMILE. (I’m far right…bright orange)

So just like how I was never a runner…I was never a bootcamper…but who’s to say that I won’t be?

Did Ultimate Bootcamp kick my ass? Yes. Handily.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Check out more on Ultimate Bootcamp on their site – if you’re in Massachusetts/Greater Boston area…chances are there’s one near you! You can try one workout for free, too. Seriously…do it …challenge yourself!

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Have you ever taken part of a bootcamp workout? What was your experience like?

Photos courtesy of Ultimate Bootcamp.

Bar 10 Brunching

I’ll admit…a few…actually 4+ (yikes!)…years ago when I first started writing this blog the idea of actually *meeting* other bloggers scared the crap out of me. What if they didn’t like me? What if I was totally different than they thought I’d be? Taller? Weirder? Quieter?Louder? (I’m all of those things…haha)

What if they weren’t who I thought they were?

I mean honestly, I don’t know why…these are people who share their whole lives on the internet…I probably know more about their lives than I do about my own brother’s. Who would really “pretend” to be some girl eating overnight oats every morning? It would take a lot of effort.

But hey, weirder stuff has happened…and as a chick who probably STILL would not do online dating (I meet enough questionable people in “real life”)…the idea of meeting people from the internet is still a little…strange and I guess I’m a skeptic at heart.

“Oh look! Here’s comes my date. Met him on the internet. He’s a French model.”

I digress.

However, things have definitely changed, and now one of my favorite things about blogging in this city is the awesome people I’ve met and opportunities it’s given me. This blog is no longer chronically everything I put in my mouth, it’s about experiences – most of them out of my kitchen — though probably 80% of the photos on my phone are of food… (Hi, my name is Jil, and I take too many pictures of what I eat…)

I had the change to get together with some other bloggers and the Westin Copley’s Marketing Manager, Anna, for Derby Day brunch at Bar 10 in the Westin Copley in Back Bay. I’ve walked through the Westin a million times…my company had our National Sales Meeting there this year, the Starbucks there is always a go-to when Boylston and Newbury are jam-packed with tourists and it’s a nice *air-conditioned* cut through to the Mall at Copley Place. But…I’d never been to Bar 10. It’s tucked away beyond the main reception area, and is a lovely open space with a big bar and cozy booths.

Tracy, Jodi, Kerrie, Amy, Stellina, Stacey, Jane, Jen, Semirah and I got the chance to try some awesome eats. We got to pick our meals (crab eggs benny? yes.) and they let us try other items on the menu, like their burger, steak & eggs, hashbrowns, and they even brought Jane out little something sweet for her birthday! It was all delicious…and while definitely not discount dining…you get huge portions.

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What else?

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It was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new local bloggers, writers and food lovers.

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Jen, me, Stacey

 Bar 10, it get s a thumbs up  – I devoured everything put in front of me. Self-control? Out the window. And it was a pretty stellar start to the Derby Day/Cinco de Mayo weekend. Thanks to Jen and Kerrie for organizing and Anna for having us – it was a great experience!!

Boston, you’re my home…

You know, I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since tragedy struck my little slice of the world. I wasn’t there – though I know family and friends who were, including my brother who was too close to it for comfort, to be honest. While, I may not have experienced it first-hand…it impacted me. Intensely.

However, more than the horrific stuff…which has been chronicled over and over and…over…again…it’s the little things that have left a lasting impression. The national anthem (sung without the “r’s” if you listen closely enough haha) at the Bruin’s game, the fundraisers, the runs, and the hugs that have stuck with me.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good hug.

I am more in love with this city and the scrappy, loud, passionate, kind and generous people that I can call my friends and neighbors than I ever have been before. In Boston, you’ll probably get called a “moron” by a random guy at least once…but that same stranger (and all of his buddies) will stand up for you and make sure you’re okay when some jerk hits you with his car…on purpose… when you’re walking across the crosswalk with a group of people (yes… that happened to me this weekend).

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This is the place where I found myself, a place where I’ve laughed and cried, loved and lost, a place where I’ve been chased down the street at 8 a.m. in the rain just to be asked if I was European [it was urgent apparently], a place where Singing Spare Change Guy [not to be confused with our other famous Spare Change Guy] sings about my toenail polish, hair and jewelry regularly, a place where the watch guy at Saks insists he’s got to introduce me to Tom and Gisele…cuz you know, we were totes neighbors, and a place where I got coffee “with” Doc Rivers on a fairly regular basis. Some moments more poignant than others…but that’s life, right?

Slowly but surely, things are rebuilding, repairing and healing.

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A little slice of that normalcy? I had the chance to attend the first annual Taste of the Columbus Hospitality Group. CHG and its restaurants have been a Boston staple for me. Teatro was a part of my finals study routine in college (stay at the library til 8pm…go get a cocktail and some calamari by 8:30pm). We’ve celebrated birthdays and bridal showers at L’Andana and Mooo… Plus, Mooo…’s bread definitely helped me overcome a killer Cinco de Mayo hangover one year. I’ll be forever grateful. So when I had the opportunity to attend this event, which was held at Mistral in the South End…I jumped at it. Not only did I get to eat and drink some fabulous stuff – I got to see Jen from Boston Bachelorette and my friend Delia, as well. Plus, I got to meet some great people, like Isara from Alone with a Cupcake!

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Teatro’s Executive Chef, Jeff Howe, offered up their amazing Fig & Prosciutto Sausage with Shishito Pepper, Cipollini, Spicy Tomato Brodo. So delicious – and spicy…and you know what, I have a soft spot for spicy food.

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Mooo.. served up  their Sirloin Sliders with Caramelized Onions. One of my favorites!

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L’Andana grilled up some swordfish skewers which I inhaled long before I actually got a photo. Whoops.

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Sorellina had their Chilled Pea Soup with chive blossoms.

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The sweet ending? Mistral’s sorbet and ice cream. Housemade. Ahhhmazing. I had more than one. No shame.

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One of my favorite things? No surprise…a cocktail. After walking in the door, I was greeted by a tray of drinks…and the Spring Thyme just called my name. Rhubarb & lime simple syrup…thyme…vodka. Yes please.

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it’sa me!

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Hungry yet? Well, if you’re in the Boston area – you should stop by any of the Columbus Hospitality Group’s five restaurants on May 1. They’re donating a portion of all sales to The One Fund Boston. Eat, drink…and help others. Win, win.

Thanks again to Mistral, Teatro, L’Andana, Sorellina, Inn @ St. Botolph, & XV Beacon for a fabulous night. Can’t wait to do it again next year. 🙂