I know I’m not the only one who thinks buying for guys is difficult no matter what occasion it is. Last year just around this time, I was scrambling for ideas on what to do for Sean for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to go the chocolate hearts route, and I was feeling crafty, so the DIY Man Bouquet was exactly the perfect solution.
I saw a few of these on Pinterest, but decided to create my own version. These bouquets can be as intricate or as simple as you want, and can range in price from extremely cheap to extremely expensive depending on what you want to include in it.
My arrangement included the following:
- Nips. Jack Daniels Whiskey is Sean’s favorite. Use preferred booze of loved one. (God knows I’d never drink Jack.)
- Candy and/or gum. As much or as little as you want!
- Scratch tickets. I did put in three – a $1, $2 and $5. Bonus points for sports-themes scratchers.
- A beer coozie. Or a straight up bottle of beer works too. I made the Bruins coozie the centerpiece of the bouquet.
- Wooden skewers.
- Large plastic tumbler. Perfect for large glasses of cold beer or ice water. A traditional beer mug would also work.
- Tissue paper.
To assemble, tape or glue each item to a wooden skewer. Stuff the mug or glass full of tissue paper and insert skewers to form bouquet. I cut the skewers to different heights to get the look I wanted.
Present to your loved one on Valentine’s Day and watch their face light up! Accept praise for creativity and being just plain awesome.
Note: While I did make this for a guy, there’s no reason not to make this for a girl. I have plenty of friends who would love a non-traditional bouquet any time of the year!
I know I’m not the only person who said this, but 2013 flew by. It was an incredible year for me and I’m a little sad to say goodbye to it. To honor it, I’m looking back on all of the amazing (and sometimes sad) things that happened during it, complete with lots of photos!
2013 started with this guy. At the time, we had been together a whopping 5 months, but I already knew he was a different kind of special.
I continued to work for Boston.com as a sports production intern, covering everything from football to hockey, including the Bruins playoff run. Watching games from the TD Garden 9th floor Press Loge is something I will never forget.
I went to my first Muse concert and loved every second of it.
I covered the Boston Marathon and left the finish line minutes before the bombings. Thinking about that day still shakes me to the core.
I ran 1 single road race: the Beach-to-Beach 5K in Marblehead for my third year in a row. Not my best, not my worst, but my only. Running and I weren’t close this year apparently.
I danced in my 5th DanceWorks Boston show and choreographed my 5th piece, “World Spins Madly On“.
I ended the internship I loved on a high note and accepted my first full-time “big girl” job offer a few weeks later with premium chocolate company, Lindt & Sprungli, working in their USA headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire. Yes, there is chocolate around me all day, every day.
BUT I managed to not gain weight in the 6+ months I’ve worked here. Happy dance.
We knew each other a whole year… and that same weekend, I shot a gun for the first time. Irony?
4th of July was complete with this awesome ‘Merica flag cake.
I turned 25 in true 25-year-old fashion. On a party bus with my friends.
I moved to a different state (New Hampshire) and in with this guy.
And celebrated being together a whole year.
We road-tripped to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit Sean’s sister Chelsea and her boyfriend Scott. And had an unbelievable time.
I went on my first real business trip to Savannah, Georgia.
I dressed as a shark to Sean’s Sharknado for Halloween.
We went to the MSPCA at Nevin Farms’ “Cat Adopt-a-thon”, rescued a beautiful 3-year old tiger-striped tabby, named her Sophie, and fell in love with her.
My family went to my cousins’ new house in Maine to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Many hours of football and eating commenced.
I got into the Christmas spirit early with twinkle lights and an American Girl doll Christmas tree. Next year, it’ll be much bigger.
I had a wonderful Christmas.
And finally, we dressed up for New Years Eve (another big shout out to Sean’s mom for costuming us!) and attended a Gatsby-themed party. (And suffered no hangover the next day!)
2013 was fast and fun for me, with so many memories, I probably missed a few. I danced, I laughed, I cried, I loved. I could not be more thankful or happy in the place I am in right now.
Cheers to you, 2014. You have some big shoes to fill.
It’s that time of year when my mom starts asking me what I want for Christmas. Is it really the middle of November already? Can we slow down for a minute here?
I’ve been living in Christmas-land at work for almost a month now, planning activities for my company’s social networks, trying not to lose my mind while I look ahead to Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Yes, I am fully aware that it’s November.
With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching and Christmas on it’s heels, here are some things that I’m loving right now. These are either going on my Christmas list this year or I’m purchasing it or making it for someone else. Either way, there’s lots of giving all around!
Google Chromecast. Have you all heard of these things? You plug it into your TV (at least I think that’s how it works) and you can control your Netflix and Hulu from your phone, turning your smartphone into a remote! Too cool. Definitely consider this as a gift for the tech-savvy nerd in your life.
This North Face. This jacket is on my sister’s Christmas list and every time I look at it, I consider putting it on my own. I’m really loving the Miami Orange.
These chalkboard printables. Little Baby Garvin is just a super cute blog all around. I’m not a mommy, nor will I be for a very long time, but her decorating ideas and entertainment tips are very much me. I have her Halloween “Make Believe” image framed right now and I can’t wait to get home and switch it out for the “Eat, Drink, and Be Thankful” print tonight.
Groupon. Everything and anything. Massages? Boot camp classes? Weekend getaways? Just sign me up for everything.
This crock pot chicken soup recipe. I could eat this everyday. There may or may not be some leftovers in my fridge right now. The fact that I the nutritional stats are so low makes it that much better. Insert happy, non-bloated cartwheels.
iPad mini. This thing is just awesome. Its portable and super light-weight. Easy to type on. It’s not the most inexpensive gift, but great for a splurge or a personal wish list even if people tell you to “keep dreaming.”
The following pumpkin pie recipe. Passed along to me by a family friend (thanks Marie!), this is the best homemade pie I’ve ever eaten/made. It’s super creamy and practically melts in your mouth. I changed it ever so slightly from the original recipe based on spices I had on hand. (Warning: Not low fat. Not even close.)
My New Go-To Pumpkin Pie
Makes (2) 9-inch pies.
2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells (I used this brand with amazing results.)
1.5 cups packed brown sugar
2 TB. Flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 scant tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups half & half
4 eggs, well beaten
Combine brown sugar, flour, salt and spices in a mixing bowl. Mix in pumpkin, half and half and eggs. Pour into pie shells. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower oven to 325 and bake until the middles of the pies are no longer jiggly (anywhere between 35 minutes to an hour.) Let cool completely before serving.
Thanksgiving is coming up. Make this pie. Everyone will love you.
And finally… This little girl.
Meet our new cat, Sophie! She’s a 3-year old tiger-striped tabby and we adopted her from the MSPCA in Methuen. She is cuddly and wonderful and my heart melts when she meows. I don’t necessarily recommend giving a cat to someone for Christmas, but she’s too cute not to include in my love post.
What’s on your pre-holiday wish list this year?
Once again, it’s been over a month since my last post. I feel like 2013 is flying and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to slow it down. And since my last post, lots of things have been happening.
The DanceWorks Boston Season 6 show was a huge success and I got amazing feedback on my piece, “World Spins Madly On.”
I got a job (insert a million exclamation points and a massive sigh of relief here.) More details to come (and maybe a giveaway..?) but I am loving my new career as a Social Specialist at Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate USA. And despite my commute that is roughly an hour each way, I have plans on moving up to New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts border to make it a little easier. Additional details on that will also be coming shortly.
I’ve known this guy for over a year. It’s crazy to think how fast a year has gone by. I feel like it was yesterday that we met at our friends’ wedding and three short days later I was boarding a plane for 7 weeks in London. I wouldn’t change anything about this past year with him.
I shot my first gun. A semi-automatic shotgun to be precise. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me, I was shaking after I shot it. I didn’t actually hit anything, but that just means there’s lots of room for improvement. And it seems that Sean has also caught the shooting bug so I foresee some shooting ranges and target practice in our future.
My 4th of July looked like this:
I played laser tag, bought a bridesmaid dress, and had all sorts of fun bonding with my friend Sam’s bridal party. June 7, 2014 is going to be insane.
My 25th birthday is in less than 2 weeks. Um, what? Wasn’t I just in Paris turning 24?
So that’s a quick look of what’s going on around here. What big plans do you have this summer? Have you ever made that flag cake before? I’d love to know your feedback.
I had much of this post written before December 17th. I am going to leave what was written originally as is but add a little something up here first to give a little more context to my 2012…. I feel this post is better late than never.
On December 17th, my grandmother passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastating. Mere days before Christmas, a fatal heart attack that no one saw coming was ultimately to blame. Surprisingly, I managed to keep myself together for most of what followed, only breaking down in the hardest moments, trying with everything I had in me to keep my tears hidden.
My Nuna was the most generous person I’ve ever known. Anything I ever wanted, she was willing to supply. She was the reason our Christmas tree had unnecessary but always welcome mounds of presents under it on Christmas Day, why I always had an “emergency $20” in my wallet (that was almost ALWAYS spent on non-emergent things) and why I had a life-size princess Barbie doll (remember those things?!)
She was also stubborn, but in the kind of way that made you thankful for traditional things, like the exact right way to make a turkey on Thanksgiving and why, to this day, I sit closer to my steering wheel in the car than is really necessary because “it’ll protect me.” No, it will probably make things worse, but things stick when you’re a little kid.
I miss my Nuna more than I can possibly say. I am thankful that I had her for almost all of 2012, but 2013 and on will not be the same without her.
Now, onto what I had written before. Happy New Years everyone!
Remember when I wrote the post, “2012 Will be Great?” Well, it was.
But not before it was absolutely horrible.
2012 became a year that I never expected. Last December, I had my whole life planned out. A special relationship to me ended and I thought things would never be the same. They aren’t – they’re better. Things change, people change, and everything happens for a reason. I think I’ve finally grasped that concept.
But 2012 had many great things. Many amazing things. Allow me to tell you about them.
– I ran my first 5-miler.
– I ran my first 10K.
– I spent my summer at the London Olympics.
– I turned 24 on the top of the Eiffel Tower.
– I watched two of my childhood friends get married.
– I met a guy I would get to know while I was away for 7 weeks… and fall for him… hard.
– I was in 2 DanceWorks Boston shows and choreographed 2 routines for it.
– I finished my Master’s Degree. (FINALLY!!!!!! Master Torto has a great ring to it.)
– I got a part-time, paid internship as a Sports Web Producer at Boston.com.
– I changed in a lot of ways.
When I look back on 2012, I realized how much my life has changed and I honestly don’t think I’d change a single second of it. Even though parts of it were incredibly difficult and there were times when I wanted to give everything up and just live in my own misery, I pulled through it. I am happier than I have been in a long time.
Here’s to 2013 and everything it brings. I haven’t really made any New Year’s resolutions but here’s one: blog more. Good plan.
In 8 days, I will be on a plane headed for one of my favorite places in the entire world: London, England.
But before we talk about why, let’s back up to a little over a year ago.
When I was looking at graduate schools, BU was at the top of my (very short) list. After bombing my GREs and writing what I thought were less-than-stellar essays, I sent my applications away and hoped for the best. The day my acceptance letter from BU came, I screamed so loud I almost sent my then-pregnant friend Miriah into early labor… I was just that excited.
When I went to BU’s accepted student’s day, one of the professors told us about an opportunity to study abroad in London covering the 2012 Summer Olympics. After already falling in love with the school, the possibility of spending a summer in one of my favorite cities sealed the deal. In October, I applied for the program, found out I got in and happily sent in my $500 deposit without a second thought.
Fast forward 6 months….
Going through the break-up with Stephen made London a distant nightmare. No, I don’t want to spend 6 weeks in England, I want to stay here and fix my relationship and rebuild my life. I came mere inches from dropping out of the program, only sticking with it due to the fact that giving it up might be the stupidest thing I’d ever do. Reject an opportunity like this to be a miserable wreck all summer long? Take a minute and rethink that decision…
The program, appropriately titled “Covering the London Olympics”, consists of 6 weeks in England – 3 weeks dedicated to a special topics class Monday through Wednesday and then 3 weeks of full-time internships with a local media outlet. I was assigned boston.com and could not be happier. With a group of 3 other girls, we will be producing our own website linked to boston.com and I will provide news packages and video content from on-site in London. Not too bad right?
Why I’m excited… in list form:
– London is one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been twice and if I could live in any other country, England soars to the top of the list. Italy is a close second.
– I’m spending the first week there with my family. My dad’s itinerary already includes places like Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor and Oxford. My sister wants to do a pub crawl with my parents. It’s going to be an interesting week.
– Harrod’s. The most amazing department store in the world. I don’t even know if calling it a “department store” is really a fair way to describe it since it takes up an entire city block, including a basement level, and takes an entire day to get through. The wine cellar alone makes me want to move in.
– I plan on traveling to other places while in Europe. The top two locations? Paris and Rome. I’ve been to Paris but the last time I was there, I was 9. I have this not-so-secret ambition to shoot a stand up in the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve never been to Italy but it’s where my family is from. I plan on tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and wishing for the one thing I want more than anything else in this world. Sorry… can’t tell!
And in true Marie fashion, there are also reasons why I’m nervous…
– This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from home for an extended period of time. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself but I have a feeling that a bout or two of homesickness will hit me at some point. I’ve always been very much attached to my family and friends so leaving for 7ish weeks will be tough.
– I’m scared I won’t be able to work out. This is probably a stupid reason to be nervous since I’ll probably just suck it up and register for the gym while I’m there and run around the city, but what about dance?! Hope my roommates don’t mind some quality stretching and impromtu dance parties in our room…
– My personal life is still a little on the messy side. It’s not exactly ideal to peace out of the country while I feel this way but maybe the time away really will help…? Let’s just leave it at that.
– $$. London is expensive, I want to travel and my funds are tight. I guess I can sacrifice eating for souvenirs. Hope my aunt doesn’t mind me bringing my laundry to her place… to do one load there costs almost 30 bucks. I kid you not.
I think that’ll do for now.
So while I’m in London, my iPhone will be disabled other than it’s camera function (SAD!!!!) I will have internet and be updating the blog, hopefully more regularly than I have been lately. I promise to take a million pictures and post them while I’m away as well as tweets and links to my work. I love e-mails and Tweets and Facebook posts so don’t hesistate to send me any!
Happy Valentine’s Day all!! Welcome to my February edition of Chocolate & Wine’s Restaurant Review.
This month, I wanted to find something completely different than anywhere Stephen and I have been. Plus, being Valentine’s Day, we decided to go out on Friday for a nice, quiet evening instead of fighting the crowds today.
I’ve gotten lots of restaurant recommendations (Thanks! Keep ’em coming!) but this is a place I found via Google. I wanted something in the “hidden gem” category and that’s exactly what I found: The Landing at 7 Central in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.
I made a reservation for two at 8pm (ya know.. just in case) and we found it pretty easily. It was elegantly lit and very inviting. The hostess sat us right away, directly across from a cozy fireplace.
Our waitress, who’s name escapes me, was friendly and attentive. She took our drink orders and returned quickly with ice waters, freshly baked rolls that were still hot and the most delicious olive oil I have ever tasted. A few minutes later, my Argentinian Malbec and Stephen’s Sam Adams-something-or-other-beer was in front of us. It was efficient service without the feeling of being too rushed.
The menu itself was ridiculous. There were so many options and everything sounded incredible. Things like “Chicken Jessica” and “Pan Roasted Salmon” jumped out at me but in the end, I settled on what I really wanted but rarely get: Seafood Risotto. Stephen got the Prime Rib special.
My risotto was flawless. It had muscles, tender scallops, perfectly cooked shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, all wrapped in a not-overly-cheesy bed of puffed up rice. I had to stop myself from eating too much of it, knowing that I could devour the whole bowl if given the opportunity. (Not that it made it until the next day anyway due to a midnight snack craving but that’s besides the point..) Stephen’s prime rib was perfectly medium rare, accompanied by a blue cheese butter (amazing) asparagus and thick, garlicky mashed pototoes – comfort food for a chilly night.
Tip: Always ask what the special is!
There was only one thing that threw me about The Landing. The tables were set with white linen tablecloths with a blue overlay, lovely cutlery and a single candle. And then, resting on the dinner roll plate, under said cutlery was… a paper napkin? Wait, come again? A beautiful restaurant with paper napkins? Again, it’s small. Tiny even compared to the wonderful time we had but I think a place like that should reconsider the paper and switch to cloth. Just my two cents.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10.
Just like January, we had another terrific restaurant experience. Wonderful, friendly service, gourmet food, good prices and the perfect atmosphere for any romantic date night out. Be aware that for young adults and students on a budget, it may be a little pricier for you, but still 100% worth it.
But please Landing friends, lose the paper napkins…
I want to know: Do you have a restaurant you’d like me to review? Been to The Landing and have a difference experience than I did? Let me know!
2012 promises to be a huge year for me. I have big ideas, big dreams and big goals.
This year will include a lot of milestones. I’ll turn 24, study abroad in London covering the Summer Olympics, create and present a media thesis project, choreograph for DanceWorks Boston and Kinetic Synergy, work my 4th summer with the National Dance Alliance, finish my last 2 semesters of grad school, run a bazillion more races… the list is endless.
Goals-wise, I am all about the resolutions. I love ’em. Not the kinds that say “I’m going to drop such-and-such amount of weight” but the ones that make you feel good when you accomplish them and make you want to work harder if they slip away from you.
– Run 10 5K races. I know this is attainable. I just need to buckle down and register.
– To go along with my 5K race goal, I want to run the 2012 Marblehead Beach to Beach 5K again this year. It was my first ever race and I’d love to keep running it every year.
– Run a sub 27:00 5K. That’s about a 9:00 min/mile. I can do it.
– Run 5 longer races this year, 5-milers, 10Ks and one half marathon. Holy crap, I can’t believe I’m writing that, but there it is, out there for the world to see.
– Choreograph 3 more dance pieces. It took me until 2011 to realize how much I love choreographing and I don’t want to stop!
– Try out and review 1 new restaurant a month. I want to expand my food horizons and experience as much of it as possible… on a budget.
– Work 3 NDA camps. This one might be tough because of London, but I think three is a good compromise since I usually work 9.
– Ace my study abroad. 6 weeks, 1 class, 1 internship, 1 chance. An internship with a huge news networks could lead to a possible job. I want to kick ass during my time in London; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and could set me apart from a million other applicants in the real world.
– Rock my media thesis. No specifics just yet but it will include a website where I am happy to say I just buy the domain. It will come with a lot of physical and mental changes and challenges. Stay tuned.
– Finish graduate school successfully. Without too many meltdowns would be ideal.
– Save money. This year will be especially difficult since London alone is very expensive, but I have a number in mind and achieving it at least once this year would be great.
– Love others more. Personal goal. Be nicer also ties in here.
Overall, I hope 2012 will be as successful, productive and eye-opening as 2011 as been. Thank you to all of you who read Chocolate & Wine and support me through everything I do.
I raise my glass (of Asti) to you.
Last question of 2011: What are your biggest goals for the new year?
2011. I feel like it went by so fast. At this time last year, I was a completely different person and I’m happy to report that I’m a better me than I was at the close of 2010.
This year, I achieved things I never thought I ever could. I choreographed three group routines, I started running and ran four 5K races, I got into grad school and survived my first semester, I realized what I truly want in my life and I am starting to become the person I have always wanted to be.
I worked my third summer with the National Dance Alliance, I now dance in an amazing company in Boston and BU has opened my eyes to incredible new opportunities, including an acceptance into a 6-week study abroad program to cover the London Olympics next summer.
2011 taught me to not take life too seriously. To enjoy each day, love whole-heartedly and appreciate myself for who I am. It’s a great feeling to look back on this year and know that I have grown in so many ways.
Back in July, I set some mid-year goals for myself. So let’s recap them and see how I did.
1. Work (at least) 8 NDA summer camps. Done. I worked 9! I traveled everywhere from Kansas to Maryland and loved every minute of it.
2. Run 2 more 5Ks. Done. I ran 3 more: Run for Ryan’s Cup 5K in September, Witch City 5K in October and the Lynnfield Turkey Trot 5K in November. I wanted to run one in December as well but since I didn’t get to, I signed up for the “Run Your Hangover Off 5K” on January 1st. I think it’s the best way to kick off 2012!
3. Host a blog giveaway. Done. I hosted my first giveaway in September for Chocolate and Wine’s 1st Blogiversary!
4. Stick to Weight Watchers (not playing a numbers game here. Work out, eat right, follow the points, be healthy and let the body do what it will.) Kinda done. I don’t exactly stick to the WW plan but I did manage to drop 12 pounds this year and I am VERY happy about that.
5. Rock the first semester of my grad program at Boston University (all A’s would be sweet but we like B+s too.) Kinda done. 1 A-, 1 B+ and 2 Bs. I am very proud; grad school is hard, man.
6. Try 1 new recipe a week. Fail. Sometimes when I cook, I use the same recipes over and over. But now that I have a beautiful new crockpot, I might be able to achieve this goal in 2012.
7. Dance in 4 DanceWorks Boston fall pieces. Done. I danced in 5! 6 if you include the finale/Flash Mob!
8. Train for and run a 10K. Fail. I chickened out. 2012 will hold at least one 10K and maybe even a half marathon.
9. Take hot yoga regularly. Fail. I probably did it a total of 3 times between the summer and now.
Overall, I think this has been a great year. I achieved most of my goals and really let myself let go of the rest of the emotional baggage leftover from undergrad.
So long, 2011…On to 2012! Goals and “resolutions” to come!