Kickstarting Holiday Fitness with Flywheel Back Bay

The past few months have been super busy. I haven’t been as active as I’d like to be and believe it or not, all of the travel and food and Thursday night Shake Shack has caught up with me. Feeling sluggish and lazy, I was excited to hear that Blog and Tweet Boston, a local blogger group, was having a sponsored event at Flywheel in Back Bay. Usually I’m more comfortable attending blogger meetups with a fellow blog friend, but over the weekend I attended the #BlogandFLY event solo and am so happy I went!

For those not in the know, Flywheel Sports in Back Bay offers both Flywheel stadium cycling classes and Flybarre barre classes. I had been to one Flywheel class previously and was impressed with the of the class. As a former Spinning instructor, I’m a purist when it comes to cycling classes, opting out of those known for incorporating calisthenics and other dangerous-to-me moves on the bike. Although Flywheel’s cycling class has an arm workout component to the routine, I found it to be a safe class that offers a great workout.

flywheel back bay boston

Our #BlogandFLY class was taught by Catie Macken, an instructor whose teaching style I love! Catie taught the one other Flywheel class I had taken in July and her yoga-inspired class enabled me to clear my mind and focus on having a great workout.

The best and worst thing about Flywheel is the data reporting. Each bike is equipped with an on-bike computer “tech-pack” that registers your resistance (Torq), RPMs, and power that you can opt to have posted on a Leaderboard during class. I say that it’s the worst because as someone who doesn’t cycle often, the computer can be discouraging or distracting when you’re pushing hard during class only to discover that you’re moving at a snail’s pace. For people like me who get psyched out by knowing their speed or the duration of a workout, I recommend ignoring it except for when the instructor gives you a torque number to adjust.

The data however is also the best part about Flywheel because even if you opt out of posting your power on the Leaderboard and ignore it during class, all of the stats are recorded in your Flywheel account. Data geeks like me will delight in seeing and tracking their progress and PRs online.

flywheel boston cycling data

After our awesome ride was over, we enjoyed salads from sweetgreen, the delicious locally-sourced organic food destination that’s opening up at The Shops in the Prudential Center in Boston.

sweetgreen salad

Thanks Flywheel Sports and sweetgreen for an awesome #BlogandFLY!

Halloween Weekend in Boston

This past weekend I celebrated Halloween for the first time in almost three years. In previous years I was too busy with work or hurricanes to deal with the whole “Halloween thing” but this year was different. My boyfriend is super into Halloween and since dressing up is always more fun when you do it with someone else, we went all out. We decorated the house with spider webs and fake spiders (that never ceased to startle me despite having put them up myself), gorged ourselves on candy, and cheesed it up with a couples costume at two different parties.

Halloween was the perfect excuse to wear the expensive bodice that I bought at King Richard’s Faire in September so my boyfriend and I chose to dress up as pirates. After several trips to H&M, Party City, and a bag of clothes that I had designated for Goodwill, our costumes were set. We started off the weekend with an intellectual and exceedingly long discussion about the proper spelling of pirate speak (“Arrr!”  vs. “Arrgh!”), as social media captions require consistency, resulting in my eventual agreement upon “Arrr!” as the proper pirate expression.

pirate couples costume

After capitulating on grammar, we kicked off the weekend with friends at a Halloween Party at WeWork, a startup co-working space by South Station. By the time we arrived, the party, which was open to members of the co-working space and their guests, was off the hook. Filled with some of Boston’s most talented employees, it wasn’t surprising to see creative costumes that broke the mold of the “sexy [insert anything here]” getups.

Saturday afternoon, I dressed up with Caitlin and friends at Townsman for Halloween brunch.  I turned myself into a scarecrow which is by far the easiest last minute Halloween costume ever.

scarecrow diy costume

The Leather District restaurant hosts brunch only once a month and keeps the exclusive menu under wraps. I had been to Townsman over the summer for drinks and charcuterie, which was great, but I was blown away by the brunch. I ordered a fabulous Bloody Mary that was perfect alongside the chicken fried hanger steak and eggs.

townsman boston restaurant brunch menu

townsman boston brunch

Halloween night, my boyfriend and I explored Marlborough Street in Back Bay, which was shut down to traffic and full of trick-or-treaters. My favorite house in the neighborhood puts on an awesome Halloween display, complete with headstones and professional theatrics in their corner garden. The family who owns the house sets up their garage for trick-or-treating families every year. This year they served mini meatball subs and chicken nuggets, had a soda and wine bar, and a candy table guarded by a real life costumed werewolf who grabbed my hand and scared the life out of me when I went for some candy! If you’re hanging out in Back Bay next year, check out the house with the crowd on Marlborough and Dartmouth.

halloween house back bay

After stuffing our faces with mansion food, my boyfriend and I joined Caitlin and her boyfriend at Highball Lounge’s neon Halloween party. Big fans of Highball, a few weeks ago I saw via Instagram that they were giving away 4 tickets to their party so I tagged Caitlin in the contest and she won! The four of us enjoyed freakishly good whisky drinks made by Tomas.

highball lounge halloween

Photo by Caitlin

Around 9pm the house lights went down and the black lights came out, showing off the neon decor and bartenders’ skeleton costumes. There’s nothing quite like a party at Highball Lounge and Halloween was no exception.

highball boston halloween

Photo by @rkonly

Sunday brunch at Met Bar in Back Bay brought a much-needed recovery in the form of breakfast fries with a fried egg. If you like fries and don’t care about your cholesterol or a diet, then I highly recommend this delicious dish. Be warned, the portion is huge and easily split between two people who like to share fries or will otherwise feed a greedy blogger for three days.

met back bay brunch

That’s a wrap, now it’s officially the winter holiday season!

A Local’s Guide to a Day in Boston

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and last weekend I was finally able to embrace fall in Boston. Fall is my favorite season and the crisp bright sunny days are perfect to enjoy this walkable city. While out and about last weekend I noticed that many of the people I passed on the street were tourists, presumably here for some New England leaf peeping before the harsh winter sets in.

One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to take a break from the textbook touristy stuff. I like to check out some places and events that locals love, so I thought I would come up with local’s guide to Boston.

Boston is a fun, young, vibrant city full of life and culture. On any given day you can find things to do. One of the best things about Boston is that if you’re not familiar with the city, you can still be in the know. When I’m looking for something to do in Boston, I check out Eventbrite, a website that gives you information and access to some of Boston’s best events and allows you to create your own.

shop small small business welcome mat

I’m a big lover of small businesses so first on the agenda for a day in Boston would be breakfast or brunch at the South End Buttery. One of my favorite brunch spots, the South End Buttery is nestled on a cobblestoned corner in Boston’s South End. I ate New Year’s Day brunch here last year and my world has been changed ever since.

brunch south end buttery restaurant boston

If you’re up for a walk, take a stroll from the South End to Copley Square, through Boston’s beautiful Public Garden and the Boston Common. The country’s oldest public gardens are immaculately kept, year round, and a great spot for taking pictures and enjoying the outdoors.

boston public garden

Continue your walk through Government Center to Haymarket where you’ll find the Boston Public Market.  The year-round public farmer’s market opened just this summer and is host to dozens of local small business. Here you’ll find everything from locally sourced honey and bath products to fresh produce and baked goods.

From there head to the North End, Boston’s “Little Italy” and the most historic neighborhood in Boston. It’s where Paul Revere lived (you can visit his house) and made his famous Midnight Ride warning the colonists of the British Invasion. Check out the Old North Church, the site of the lanterns that alerted Mr. Revere to the incoming Red Coats and take a tour of the historic site. I recommend touring the creepy yet informative crypts then visiting Captain Jackson’s Chocolate Shop for something sweet.

old north church boston

Photo Credit: Old North Church

If you’re thirsty from all of the walking, the next obvious stop is the Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall. Located in the Seaport, a trip to the child-friendly Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall gives you the chance to ride the country’s oldest subway, called the “T”. There’s nothing more local to Boston than riding (and complaining about!) the T. In addition to beer, Harpoon’s serves up spelt grain pretzels made from the leftover beer grains and flights of their finest brews. If you’re into beer, you’ll appreciate that you can try Harpoon Leviathan IPA, an imperial IPA only on tap at the two Harpoon breweries. Harpoon hosts events throughout the year, so check to see what’s happening when you’re in town.

pretzel and beer harpoon brewery boston

For dinner I recommend venturing over to Harvard Square to Alden & Harlow, an American family-style restaurant with an eclectic menu that boasts a “secret” burger and some of the best cocktails in the city. Walk around Harvard Square as evening falls, perhaps grabbing a cup of coffee at Crema Cafe.

If you’re up for more walking, a haunted ghost tour is the perfect evening activity in the fall. Boston Intuitive offers a Spirits of Charlestown Ghost Tour that will leave you pondering the afterlife and maybe even afraid of the dark.

From there you’re on your own to relax after a long day of enjoying some of Boston’s finest small businesses and eating your way through town!

Weekend in Kennebunkport

There’s nothing like discovering a place that you didn’t realize you always loved. For me, that place is Maine. Over the summer, my boyfriend and I took a secret getaway to Ogunquit (to be blogged about at some point) and fell in love with the state known as Vacationland. From the rocky shores to the endless lobster rolls and super friendly people, Maine is amazing.

So when I found a Living Social deal for Lodge on the Cove (under $400 for two nights including breakfast), a revamped motel in Kennebunkport, we jumped at the chance to explore a new town for the weekend.  We left Boston on Friday in the middle of a rainy rush hour and arrived at our hip oasis a little over two hours later. From the moment we checked in, I knew that our stay was going to be awesome.

lodge on the cove hotel kennebunkport maine

Everything about the hotel was stylish and thoughtful—beautifully designed rooms with handmade furniture, chic European skincare line, and even adorable “Do Not Disturb” signs.

lodge on the cove hotel kennebunkport maine

lodge on the cove hotel kennebunkport maine

We started off the weekend with dinner and live music at the hotel restaurant, The Dory. My boyfriend and I split a burger and a boozy milkshake while listening to one of the local bands.

the dory restaurant kennebunkport

From there we took an Uber a whopping half mile into town to Federal Jack’s, the original home of Shipyard Brewing Company. Despite being on the cusp of off season, Federal Jacks was fairly crowded. We managed to grab some seats at the bar and listened to live music while sipping never-before-had Shipyard brews. If you’re curious, check out what I drank on Untappd.

lighthouse kennebunkport maine

The next day we awoke to a delicious breakfast of muffins and coffee at The Lodge on the Cove.

breakfast lodge on the cove kennebunkport

We had high aspirations of doing a lobster roll crawl through Kennebunkport so we ate a light breakfast and headed out to Hurricane Restaurant. The menu looked too good—we ordered the crab melt and the lobster roll, both of which were delicious.

lobster roll hurricane restaurant kennebunkport

Flyers around the hotel and Federal Jacks indicated that there was a Pumpkinhead Festival during the day so after some shopping around town, we took an Uber to the Seashore Trolley Museum to check it out. We happened upon another couple at the festival and the four of us struck up a conversation with long-time Trolley Museum volunteer, Kevin Farrell, while we were sipping beers in an old German trolley car.

pumpkinhead festival seashore trolley museum maine

Mr. Farrell told us the history of the museum and the trolley car we were in before offering to take us on an unofficial semi-guided tour that ended up being the highlight of the day. I felt the history around me as we walked through restored trolley cars dating back to the 1800s. I was amazed at the restorations, down to the advertisements on the cars, and simultaneously dumbfounded that Boston’s MBTA had to shut down for a month last winter despite having created plow cars for the T almost 50 years ago!

seashore trolley museum maine

seashore trolley museum maine

seashore trolley museum maine

Back in Kennebunkport, we shopped around the stores before retiring to the hotel for a power nap and s’mores by the fire. We napped a bit too long and had trouble finding a place to eat in town that was open past 9pm.

smores lodge on the cove kennebunkport maine

Thankfully. Alisson’s restaurant was open and happy to serve us up some of their amazing lobster mac and cheese and another lobster roll. We overestimated the availability of Ubers (oops!) and ended up walking back to the hotel after dinner. The walk along Ocean Avenue was almost as beautiful at night as it was during the day. The stars are so easy to see in Maine.

We had a late checkout the next morning thanks to our Living Social deal and around noon we headed out for our last lobster roll of the weekend. Christie at the Lodge on the Cove suggested The Ramp at Pier 77 on Cape Porpoise, a local spot a few miles down the road. My inherent trust of local recommendations paid off with a delicious chive-speckled lobster roll.

the ramp restaurant cape porpoise

the ramp restaurant lobster roll cape porpoise

We retired to the adirondack chairs after lunch where we chatted up another Mainer and got the scoop on the thousands of oyster shells that you can see in the water below the restaurant. I won’t spoil the story—curious travelers can find out by chatting up a local or reading the legal notice in the bathroom of the memorabilia-laden restaurant.

pier 77 cape porpoise maine

A quick walk out on the pier to smell the stinky lobster traps and we were on our way back to Boston with another wonderful weekend in Maine to remember.

cape porpoise maine


A “Whittl” Manicure and Pedicure

When you’re busy, self care often falls by the wayside. Between work and travel and a myriad of other activities, little things like getting your hair trimmed, eyebrows waxed, or a quick manicure can seem like a chore. At least that’s how it feels to me. Most of my life is organized online, so like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, if an appointment doesn’t fit in an app on my iPhone, it’s like it was never there at all.

That’s where Whittl comes in. Whittl is an app that puts hundreds of salons, spas, and barber shops in your neighborhood right at your fingertips. It removes the barriers to self care, such as setting an appointment and looking under your couch cushions for tip money, so that you can have a seamless experience. The app lets you book and pay for appointments, including tip, right through your phone. With a quick touch of a button, you can see available services nearby, book an appointment, and pay for it all from the app or Whittl website. The best part about Whittl is that it never closes—if you wake up in the morning with an invitation to fabulous party that same night, you can easily book and pay for an appointment through Whittl.

whittl app review

In preparation of an upcoming trip to Los Angeles (and because my nails were in desperate need of some professional loving), I used Whittl to book  a manicure and pedicure at nearby Paradise Nail and Spa on the swanky Newbury Street in Boston. The entire experience was easy, from launching the app and inputting my payment information to tipping the manicurist. Whittl also includes Yelp and Whittl user reviews, a map so you can see where you’re going, and the salon hours and contact information.

whittl app reviewMy manicure and pedicure at Paradise Nail and Spa was great and just what I needed. When I arrived, the friendly husband and wife salon owners greeted me and provided all-at-once manicure/pedicure experience. I left an hour later polished and relaxed and ready to take on the day—thanks Whittl! Whittl just launched in Boston and participating salons and spas are growing by the day.

paradise nails manicure newbury street boston essie bordeaux

The days of calling salons to book appointments and fumbling for cash with wet nails are over for me. If you’re the kind of person who is too busy to deal with calling for appointments and desperately (or not so desperately) need some self care, check out Whittl!

I received a manicure and pedicure free of charge, courtesy of Whittle, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.