Winter Day Trip to Rockport & Gloucester

Last spring I made a conscious effort to create a list of day trips that I wanted to take in the summer. Focusing on beaches and seafood, my fiancé and I hit our fair share of towns along Boston’s North Shore, including Crane Beach in Ipswich and Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea. The quaint seaside towns of Rockport and Gloucester were on my list of places to go, but due to time constraints, we never went. So, on a freezing winter Sunday, I did the reasonable thing and suggested that we take an off-season day trip.

Winter Day Trip to Rockport, Massachusetts

rockport mass day trip

Knowing that there would be significantly less traffic than in the summer, we hopped in the car and made the drive up to Rockport in record time. In just less than an hour we found ourselves at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula in the heart of Rockport.

rockport in winter day trip

Since it’s right on the Atlantic Ocean, Rockport is more of a warm weather town. Summers are bustling with locals and tourists alike, seeking a quintessential New England experience. Rockport is 100% New England—from the fishing boats in the harbor and the rocky shoreline, to the stretch of stores in converted lobster shacks on Bearskin Neck.

rockport mass bearskin neck

That being said, the winter in Rockport is a much different story. Much of the seaside town was closed for the off-season, but we were happy to walk around and enjoy the gorgeous views.

winter day trip rockport mass

The day was gorgeous—one of those blindingly sunny days with a cerulean blue sky. As any New Englander knows, it’s also the type of weather that makes cold days feel even colder. The 30 degree day felt more like 13 thanks to the wind, so we knew our trip to Rockport would not be an all day affair.

rockport mass

bouys rockport massachusetts

gloucester massachusetts

We walked around town and Bearskin Neck taking in the seaside sights. We managed to find a few open stores to browse through, including Tuck’s Candy, where I picked up some penny candy and saltwater taffy. Unfortunately due to the season, pickings for food were slim. Craving seafood and chowder, we drove to nearby Gloucester, less than 5 miles south of Rockport.

tucks candy rockport

Lunch and a Brewery in Gloucester, Massachusetts

I had heard good things about Latitude 43 in Gloucester so we made a quick OpenTable reservation (I’m a sucker for any app with loyalty points) and within minutes we were snuggled in a warm table overlooking the harbor. Oyster addicts, we started with a dozen from Duxbury, Massachusetts. While some oysters leave you hungry, Duxbury oysters do not. They’re are large, meaty, and deliciously briny and paired well with  a glass of Rosé.

oysters and rose latitude 43 gloucester mass

We followed the oysters with a cup of New England Clam Chowder, fitting for a cold winter day, and split the local fish and chips. The haddock in the fish and chips is locally caught fried to perfection. Fresh and oh so delicate, I threw table manners to the blustering wind and ate the dish with my hands! Call me uncouth, but I believe there’s no better compliment to a chef than having someone devour a meal like an animal—thankfully I don’t think anyone saw me do it!

Following an amazing meal at Latitude 43, we popped over to Cape Ann Brewing Company next door. The Gloucester-based brewery, known for its signature Fisherman’s Brew amber lager, has a restaurant and tap room at the brewery. The beers were delicious—we split a flight of six and relaxed in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the harbor.

cape ann brewing company gloucester

Warmed up with food and drink, we eventually hit the road back to Boston, promising ourselves to go back to visit Rockport and Gloucester in the summer. Have you been to either of these towns? What are your favorite things to do there?

Introducing LabGrab™ by Silk Therapeutics—Clean Silk Skincare

One of my favorite things about blogging is the ability to use my voice to promote small businesses that I believe in, and today I’m excited to share a new product line from one of my favorite small businesses—LabGrab™ by Silk Therapeutics. My skin has been in love with the clean, silk-based skincare for over a year, so when Silk Therapeutics reached out to me to help announce LabGrab, I was happy to collaborate.

labgrab clean skincare serum

For those unacquainted, Silk Therapeutics is a local Massachusetts skincare company founded by two friends and silk scientists on a mission to produce clean skincare that works to improve your skin. With a surprising lack of regulation in the skincare industry, Silk Therapeutics set out to create products that offer the benefits of liquid silk, while being free from harsh chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and fragrances—making Silk Therapeutics the cleanest performance-based skincare on the market today. All of the Silk Therapeutics products are non-GMO and made with pure natural silk that’s cruelty free and never tested on animals.

labgrab clean skincare serum

As you might expect, developing, testing, and producing a line of products made with pure liquid silk can be pricey. But with any concentrated formula, a little goes a long way—one jar of my favorite Silk Renewing Peel lasts me about six months. That being said, the team at Silk Therapeutics found that they were spending a lot of time and money developing multiple product formulas for which, ultimately only one was chosen to go to market. This left batches of extra products just sitting in their lab.

Rather than let extra product go to waste, Silk Therapeutics’ General Manager Rachel Dow suggested to “grab them from the lab” so that others could try them at a more affordable price. And so, the affordable limited-edition LabGrab™ product line was born. Focusing on passing the cost savings over to customers, Silk Therapeutics opted for simple glass bottles and locally-sourced recyclable packaging for the LabGrab line of products.

labgrab clean skincare serum

The inaugural LabGrab line includes five limited-edition products: LabGrab Gel Exfoliator, LabGrab Facial Cleanser, LabGrab Fine Lines Serum, LabGrab Serum – Hydrate/Radiance, LabGrab Cream – Eye Renewal. I had the opportunity to try out the LabGrab Fine Lines Serum and can confidently say that it’s amazing.

The concentrated formula made with antioxidants helps reduce the appearance of fine lines while firming and brightening the skin. Comprised of only liquid silk and 7 additional ingredients (Water, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Soluble Fibroin (Silk), Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Sodium Anisate, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, and Neroli Essential Oil), one drop of the serum is all you need for optimal results.

Since I started using the LabGrab Serum, the fine lines I started to develop (thanks to my 30s) are less noticeable and my skin, despite fighting the flu last week, looks brighter. The formula glides on smoothly and feels good alone or under moisturizer. It must be working because just yesterday, one of my coworkers complimented my skin!

I’m so excited about the launch of LabGrab™ by Silk Therapeutics and encourage you to try it for yourself! The limited-edition LabGrab product line launches today on HSN—check it out!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Silk Therapeutics, but all opinions and brand enthusiasm are my own.

Rose Gin Gimlet Recipe

I love a good cocktail—wine and beer will never disappoint, but there’s something extra fun about cocktails. Over the past year, I’ve been whipping up more cocktails at home, so when Nautical Gin asked me to participate in a blogger cocktail contest, I had to say yes.

I recently discovered Nautical Gin and have fallen in love with the brand. Nautical Gin is well-balanced with 10 botanicals and a hint of sea salt—yes, sea salt! This little ingredient provides a unique subtle flavor that sets Nautical Gin apart from other gin brands.

As any cocktail lover knows, subtle flavors pair well together, so I chose to make a delicate Rose Gin Gimlet for my submission. This cocktail combines Nautical Gin with homemade rosewater to create a delicious gimlet that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year.
rose gin gimlet recipe

Rose Gin Gimlet

Ingredients:
2 oz Nautical Gin
1 oz St. Germain
1 oz rosewater
1/4 cup dried rose petals
1/2 cup hot water
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
2 cups ice
Directions for Rosewater*:
Pour 1/2 cup hot water over 1/4 cup of dried rose petals in sealable jar.
Let sit for 10-15 minutes or until cool.
Strain out rose petals.
Keep rosewater in sealed jar for up to one week.

Directions for Cocktail:
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add 2 oz Nautical Gin, 1 oz St. Germain, 1 oz rose water, 1 oz simple syrup, and 1/2 oz lime juice to cocktail shaker.
Shake well and pour into cocktail glass.
Garnish with dried rose petals and enjoy!

* You can also use 1 oz of purchased rosewater

 
That’s it! The result is a light pink, slightly tart, delicate gimlet that smells like a bouquet of roses. The dried rose petal garnish floats perfectly for a beautiful display.
unique rose gin cocktail recipe
You can enjoy this delicately refreshing Rose Gin Gimlet anytime, but it’s especially perfect for Valentine’s Day. Who will you make this cocktail for?
 
Note: Nautical Gin provided the ingredients for this cocktail; all opinions are my own.

New Year, New You: Flywheel Boston Review

When it comes to working out in Boston, it seems like there are endless options—everywhere you turn, there’s a new studio popping up. For many people, the availability of choices can be almost paralyzing, so it helps when there’s a studio that offers more than just one type of fitness class. Flywheel Boston is a studio in Back Bay that offers both group cycling and barre style classes in Boston.

flywheel prudential center boston

I recently had the chance to try out a month of Flywheel classes in collaboration with Flywheel Sports, and fell in love with the studio. As a former Spinning instructor, I’m very critical of group cycling classes. Striving to set themselves above the rest, too many studios teach unsafe moves that have no place on a stationary bike. I’m happy to report that Flywheel not only passed muster in my book, but it won me over as well.

Flywheel

Flywheel’s signature Fly45 ride is 45-minutes of interval-based cardio paired with one song of upper body strength training on the bike. For those looking for an endurance workout, FlyBeats is a 45-minute ride that keeps you moving to the beat of the music on your recovery days. Both classes provide a full body workout in a reasonable amount of time.

flywheel back bay boston

Photo courtesy of Flywheel

My favorite thing about the Flywheel classes is that you won’t find any crazy moves in the stadium style room. No handlebar pushups, no crunching your core from side to side, and no rapid-fire tap backs. While these things might not mean much to the novice rider, this is magic to the ears of anyone whose ever almost (or actually) busted their face on or nearly fallen off of a bike while riding at another studio that incorporates bike acrobatics.

flywheel appWeighted bars are used for an effective upper body workout that keeps your body stable on the bike. If that sounds scary to you, I promise it’s not. The arm workout is a welcome reprieve from an intense class. Keeping up with the class is easy to do, thanks to a TechPack attached to the bike that helps monitor RPMs, Torq (aka resistance), and Current & Total Power.

New riders are encouraged to challenge themselves while riding at their own pace. Riders with a competitive side will love the optional Torq Board, which displays the top ten male and female riders, throughout the class. Individual results of each Flywheel class are tracked and displayed in the Flywheel app, making it easy to keep tabs on your progress.

FlyBarre

On the days that you’re looking to give your booty a break from the bike, there’s FlyBarre, a total body sculpting class. The 45-minute classes combine light weight training, dance, and core exercises in an easy to follow group class. FlyBarre focuses on creating strong and lean muscles and is a perfect complement to a cycling class. There are several FlyBarre classes including a 60-minute option, FlyBarre Sport for high-intensity bursts of cardio, and FlyBarre Arms & Abs, the signature FlyBarre class with a focus on these areas of the body.

flybarre boston review

 

As someone who suffers from tight hips and intermittent sciatica, both of which are aggravated by the folded position of a cycling class, I appreciated the chance to stretch and strengthen my body in the FlyBarre classes. A failure at Zumba, I was hesitant to try out FlyBarre due to the dance element, but was pleased to discover that the few choreographed moves were easy to keep up with.

Flywheel Amenities

One of the best things about Flywheel is the amenities that are available. Towels, lockers, and showers are free to use at the Back Bay location. Mats and bikes are assigned so you don’t have to worry about finding a spot if your train is delayed and can book your spot next to a friend if you’re working out together. Cycling shoes that clip into the Flywheel bikes are provided to give every rider the best possible workout. Not listed on their website, the Flywheel Back Bay location has jars of extra hair elastics and ear plugs, both of which are a nice touch.

Flywheel and FlyBarre Instructors

Anyone who has attended a group fitness class knows that it’s the instructor that makes or breaks the class. At both Flywheel and FlyBarre, the instructors were energetic, motivational, funny, and encouraging. Each instructor brings something different to their class, making every workout consistent in intensity, yet dynamic in spirit.

One of my favorite things about the instructors is that they make an effort to remember you. They’ll introduce themselves to you at your first class and recognize you in subsequent classes, making every person who walks through the doors of Flywheel feel like part of a community. If you’re looking for a way to get into shape this year at a welcoming studio, sign up for your first class for just $15 at Flywheel Boston in Back Bay.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary month of Flywheel classes but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Impacting Boston for Good with Capital One

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post; all opinions are my own.

During the holiday season, one of the best things you can do, for yourself and others, is to give back. Whether it’s through monetary donations, participation in fundraising events, or adopting a family, giving back is our social responsibility. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to give back to my community throughout my adult years, but as we all know, the contribution of any one individual is only as good as the support of the rest of the community. That’s why, when Capital One invited me to their #CapXTalk entitled, “Investing and Impacting the Community for Good,” I knew I had to attend.

Held at the Capital One Back Bay Café on Giving Tuesday, the event focused on how the bank and other local businesses give back to the Boston community, with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. The panel featured speakers from The Red Sox Foundation, Harpoon Brewery, and Capital One to highlight the importance of getting involved and giving back to the Boston community.

capital one #capxtalk

A resident since 2006, I’ve seen Boston grow and flourish into a thriving city that is deeply rooted with loyalty and love. I’ve experienced the support that local and national organizations have given to the community and its residents. What I didn’t realize, however, was how wonderful some of these organizations were.

At the #CapXTalk, I learned about how Capital One, The Red Sox Foundation, and Harpoon Brewery give back to Boston, each in their own ways, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These businesses take CSR seriously through their many initiatives to benefit Boston and its surrounding communities.

How Capital One Gives Back to Boston

At each of its five Cafés located in Downtown Boston, Back Bay, Brookline, Ink Block, and Harvard Square (with three more to come in 2017 in the Seaport, Hingham, and Lynnfield), Capital One empowers their associates to designate who they want to serve in the community. A different approach from many large corporations, Capital One leverages the ties that their associates have to the community to inform how the company can make the greatest impact locally. By allowing employees to have a say in giving, Capital One brings authenticity to their Corporate Social Responsibility.

How The Red Sox Foundation and Harpoon Give Back to Boston

It was no surprise to me to learn that the Red Sox Foundation and Harpoon Brewery are strong players in the effort to give back to Boston, but it was interesting to learn the philosophy that drives each business to do so.

The official charity of the Boston Red Sox, The Red Sox Foundation is guided by the mantra to think globally and act locally. Through programs like The Jimmy Fund, MA Little League Initiative, and small grants to select nonprofits in New England, The Red Sox Foundation is making an impact in the lives of thousands of New Englanders every day. I’ve personally donated to and attended The Red Sox Foundation fundraisers, including the Bacon & Beer Fest to benefit local charity Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

Philosophically speaking, Harpoon Brewery is perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, guided by a desire to be a good neighbor and friend. Harpoon is committed to making their breweries in Massachusetts and Vermont more sustainable and eco-friendly. This commitment earned them the Boston Green Business Award in 2012. Harpoon Helps, the philanthropic arm of the Harpoon Brewery, has been supporting charities across New England since its inception in 2003.

Through local events like the Harpoon 5 Miler, Harpoon Friendsgiving, and other events like yoga at the brewery, Harpoon is making an impact on a smaller scale. It’s that smaller scale that makes Harpoon approachable and allows the company to help individuals and charities through donations of time, space, and beer. Harpoon has fulfilled almost 400 donation requests for beer for fundraisers in the past year.

Capital One Cafés in Boston

A big fan of Capital One since I opened a savings account last year, the Capital One Cafés are a special place in Boston—a place where you can see and experience the impact the company has on the community. In addition to serving up delicious Peet’s Coffee, the Cafés are built around digital tools and human connection in a way that is reimagining banking.

capital one cafe

Stop by any of the five Cafés on a given day and you’ll find people working, friends having coffee, business owners holding meetings in complimentary meeting rooms, and budget-conscious professionals getting personalized one-on-one financial advice. Aside from the joy of free WiFi and fee-free ATMs, it feels good to know that when you’re drinking a cup of coffee at a Capital One Café, you’re experiencing a corporate initiative that gives back to Boston and empowers its residents to make healthy financial decisions.

capital one cafe peets coffee boston

Thank you, Capital One, for inviting me to the #CapXTalk on Investing and Impacting the Community for Good and for working together to spread the word about how Capital One gives back to Boston.