Engagement Weekend in Ogunquit, Maine

Everyone has one of those places—the one that holds special meaning in your heart, where you visit again and again. It might be a small town, an exotic destination, or a secret spot close to home. For me, that place is Ogunquit, Maine. Located just over an hour north of Boston, Ogunquit is an artsy beach town on Maine’s mid-coast that I have fallen in love with again and again.

My love affair with Ogunquit began Last August when my boyfriend Ronnie took me there on a much-needed trip to reconnect and unwind. For two days we explored the little beach town—we watched the sun rise over Footbridge Beach, ate lobster rolls, shopped in local stores, and walked the Marginal Way, a mile-long path along the rocky shoreline. Together we fell in love with the town.

marginal way ogunquit maine

So when we were planning summer trips this year, it came as no surprise that Ronnie planned another weekend in Ogunquit. Little did I know how different this weekend would be and that I’d be pinching myself to make sure it was real.

We drove up from Boston on a Friday after work for our two-night stay. We stayed at The Blue Shutters Inn, a family-owned bed and breakfast, steps from the downtown shops and Marginal Way.

blue shutters inn ogunquit maine

Upon our arrival we quickly checked into the Grand Room, the largest of the rooms at the Inn, complete with comfy bed and fireplace. We sipped some wine that we brought with us and relaxed for a few minutes around the outdoor fire pit before venturing into town for dinner.

Due to traffic we arrived late, and many of the restaurants were closing up by the time we were ready for dinner at 9pm. We managed to snag an outdoor table with a personal fire pit at the Rose Cove Cafe on Main Street where we shared dinner and sangria.

dinner rose cove cafe ogunquit

Following our yummy seafood dinner, we stopped at the The Front Porch, a piano bar full of spirited vacationers, for a nightcap. We had plans to watch the sunrise on Footbridge Beach the next morning, as we had done the year before, so we made it an early night and headed to bed.

Before I knew it, the 4:45am alarm was blaring, waking us in time for sunrise at 5:15am. We dressed and drove a mile north on Rt. 1 to Footbridge Beach, where we set ourselves on the same lifeguard stand where we watched the sun rise last August.

sunrise footbridge beach ogunquit maine

The beach was nearly deserted because only crazy people get up before dawn on weekends. Ronnie bought our mini tripod and set up my cell phone so that we could get time-lapse photos ourselves with the sunrise…or so I thought. After setting up the camera, he joined me in the frame and as the sky brightened on a new day, Ronnie got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

ogunquit maine proposal

Through a chorus of shrieks and nervous giggles, I became the happiest woman in the world from our spot on Footbridge Beach. Little did I know that the time-lapse photo plan was just an excuse to film the proposal so that we could grab photos, like the one above, from the video. If this man isn’t the perfect [Instagram] Husband-to-Be, then he’s pretty close!

engagement in ogunquit maine

About 17,257 selfies later, we headed back to the hotel to nap before sharing the news with our family and friends.

engagement ring proposal

engagement ring sunrise

Our first celebration was breakfast at the Blue Shutters Inn. The owners learned about Ronnie’s plan upon check-in and were anxiously awaiting the news. We shared our proposal story with them over a delicious breakfast and mimosas, included in our stay. Ronnie and I had decided to take a few hours to ourselves before telling anyone (even our parents!) about our engagement, so the owners of the Blue Shutters Inn were the first people to know. It was heartwarming to see how happy they were for us, which made our weekend even better.

breakfast blue shutters inn ogunquit

breakfast blue shutters inn ogunquit

The rest of the weekend felt like we were walking on air! We spent a romantic day at Sandy Cove Beach off of the Marginal Way, ate lobster rolls in Perkins Cove, and enjoyed a celebratory dinner at Jonathan’s Ogunquit.

sandy cove beach ogunquit

Our engagement weekend in Ogunquit could not have been more perfect and cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with this wonderful man!

Wrapup of June Events in Boston

June is one of the best months in Boston when it comes to the weather and events. The short month bridges the gap between college graduations and the July 4th holiday and is the perfect time to experience all that Boston has to offer. Here’s a wrap up of what I did in Boston over the past month.

Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea

My boyfriend and I kicked off the month by spending Memorial Day weekend at Singing Beach. Although not technically part of June, our trip to Singing Beach set the stage for an awesome month so I’m including it in this round up. Singing Beach is a beautiful little beach named for the sound the sand makes when walked upon. The beach is long and wide enough that there’s room to spread out without having to move to accommodate the changing tides.

My boyfriend and I had the perfect day relaxing on the sand and testing the freezing waters. Giant seaweed-covered rocks sit at the end of the beach and make for the perfect tide-pooling experience or Instagram-worthy photo shoot. My boyfriend begrudgingly agreed to climb up the rocks with me amidst swarms of flies so we could sit on top of the sharp rocks and longingly gaze out on the ocean together.

singing beach manchester by the sea

people at singing beach manchester by the sea

Singing Beach is about an hour north of Boston. Admission to the beach is $5/person unless you have a season pass and there are bathrooms and a snack bar on site. Parking is limited—there’s a paid lot by the commuter rail station where you can park for $20-$30 but from there you must walk a mile to the beach. I recommend you save yourself the money and just take the commuter rail straight there—you’ll still have to walk but at least you don’t have to worry about driving home after a few beach beers.

Hyperlocal Craft Brew Fest

Beer wise, I kicked June off at Somerville’s Hyperlocal Craft Brew Fest on June 11th. Held at the Armory in Somerville, I attended the event as a vendor, helping out my good friend Allo from Pints of Portsmouth Beer Tours who was a sponsor of the event. If you’re looking for a great day trip to drinks some of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s finest brews, hop on the Pints of Portsmouth bus. The round trip tour from Boston to Portsmouth is all-inclusive and drives drinkers to three great breweries for an all day adventure.

hyperlocal craft brew fest somerville

Bacon and Beer Festival at Fenway

On June 12th I attended the Bacon and Beer Fest at Fenway Park sponsored by Eat Boston to benefit the Red Sox Foundation, Community Servings, and Lovin’ Spoonfuls. My admission to the event was complimentary on behalf of Eat Boston but tickets to the event would have been well worth their price tag.

beer and bacon fest fenway

For two and a half hours I stuffed my face with the best bacon creations that Boston chefs had to offer and sampled eight craft beers. Sprawled throughout the concourse at Fenway Park, the Bacon and Beer Festival was the perfect event for any beer, bacon, or Red Sox loving philanthropist.

beer and bacon fest fenway

beer and bacon fest fenway

Naot Gives Back Trunk Show

A charitable weekend, I went to the Naot Gives Back Trunk Show the same day as the Beer and Bacon Fest. In partnership with Simons Shoes in Brookline, Naot Footwear hosted a trunk show at the Brookline store where, for every pair of Naot shoes tried one, they donated a pair to Rosie’s Place. For every paid purchased, two pairs of shoes were donated. I was invited to spread the word about the event in exchange for a complimentary pair of sandals and was thrilled to help spread the word about the great event.

naot sandals

Brunch at City Table

Although I’ve walked past it a million times since living in Boston, in June I ate brunch for the first time at City Table in the Lenox Hotel in Back Bay and it was delicious. I debated between the biscuits and gravy, my all-time favorite breakfast food, and the breakfast pizza. After some serious contemplation and a recommendation from our waiter, I ordered the breakfast pizza—OMG yum! It was everything I wanted and more, literally. Half of the giant dish came home with me for breakfast the next day.

city table brunch boston

Just Add Cooking

Speaking of food, June was my last month with a free trial of Just Add Cooking, Boston’s local meal prep delivery service. Included in the box were ingredients for Jambalaya, Philly cheesesteaks, and grilled veggie and feta pitas. Everything in this box was delicious!

I’d never made Jambalaya and was surprised at how easy the recipe was to make and how tasty the end result. As a Philadelphia native, I’m a bit of a cheesesteak snob and am happy to report that this cheesesteak was up to my high standards. The side of panko-crusted green beans was an interesting addition to the sandwiches and a healthy alternative to French fries.

just add cooking jambalaya

just add cooking cheesesteak

The grilled veggie and feta pitas were yummy and healthy and the perfect dinner for a warm summer night. The only downside to this recipe was that pitas that were supposed to be stuffed with the veggies failed to cooperate so I made open-faced sandwiches instead. The huge chunk of feta included in the recipe was fresh and tangy and large enough to be used in other recipes during the week. One of my favorite things about Just Add Cooking is that sometimes there’s too much food included, as was the case with this feta, which allows you to be creative for non-JAC meals with leftover ingredients.

just add cooking veggie pita

Elie Goulding Concert

Summer is concert time and this summer is no exception. My boyfriend joined me at the Elie Goulding concert at Boston’s TD Garden for an awesome concert from the British songstress. The concert was an all-out ladies fest and I give huge credit to a man who stood next to me as I sang along to her songs. We left covered in gold confetti which, in my opinion, is the perfect way to end a night.

elie goulding concert boston ma

Crane Beach in Ipswich

The last weekend in June was beautiful and on a perfect beach day my boyfriend and I headed up to Crane Beach in Ipswich. Just an hour north of Boston, Crane Beach is beautiful and the perfect place to spend the whole day. Unlike some other beaches like Singing Beach, there’s ample parking at Crane Beach. Parking is $30 but puts you right at the beach where there are huge bathrooms with showers and changing areas and a concession stand with picnic benches. The parking lot is attended by friendly teenagers who will help you find a spot on a crowded day.

crane beach ipswich ma

Crane Beach is long, providing plenty of room to find a spot on the sand surrounded either by families or no one at all. We chose to hike down a ways and set up camp in an area near the dunes where there were fewer people and spent the day relaxing in the sun.

crane beach ipswich

That’s a wrap up of June in Boston—check back soon to see what I’ve been up to so far in July!

Around Town: Saturday in Brookline

Over the weekend I had the chance to explore an area in Boston that technically isn’t even part of Boston. Sandwiched between Fenway and the Allston/Brighton neighborhoods, Brookline is a municipality of its own. Not unlike other areas in Boston, Brookline boasts a small town feel with small businesses and restaurants situated between residential buildings. Brookline is a walkable area with ample parking, which made it the perfect way to spend a beautiful Saturday with my boyfriend.

Brookline Porch Fest & Coolidge Corner Arts Fest

This weekend was Brookline’s first Porch Fest as well as the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival. Both events drew crowds to the area to enjoy the outdoor music played on residents’ porches, browse local artists’ wares, and indulge in food truck fare. I enjoyed walking around and listening to the different types of music that faded in and out from each side street.

The Arts Fest brought artists of all types including jewelry, clothing, and home decor. In particular, the art from the Pop Zoo Etsy Shop stall caught my eye. The unique pop art creations and custom pet portraits were simply awesome—who does’t need a pop art pillow of a naked mole rat?!

naked mole rat pillow

Shopping on Harvard Avenue

Brookline’s Harvard Avenue is filled with small businesses. Two of my favorites from Saturday were Simon’s Shoes and Boston General Store.

Simon’s Shoes is a locally owned shoe store carrying hard-to-find brands like Naot Footwear. The small business has been a Brookline staple for years and prides itself on its commitment to the community. On June 11th and 12th, Simon’s is hosting a Naot Trunk Show and Donation Event—Everyone invited to attend the trunk show will be able to contribute to Rosie’s Place, a women’s non-profit in Boston. Try on a pair of Naots at the event and a pair will be donated to those in need. For every pair of Naots purchase, two pairs of shoes will be donated.

image (34)

Boston General Store is relatively new to the Brookline area and occupies half of the KaBloom flower shop. The store is full of American-made household wares, accessories, and everything you never knew you needed.

boston general store brookline

Lunch at Pizzeria Dante

After walking around and shopping, my boyfriend and I stopped at the newly relocated Pizzeria Dante. The Brookline pizza and sandwich shop moved from it’s Beacon Street location to 415 Harvard Ave just a couple of months ago. My boyfriend has been eating here for years but this was my first time. I had a salad with grilled chicken but will definitely be ordering one of their huge sandwiches the next time I go. If you’re looking for delicious pizza, salads, and sandwiches you must check this place out!

Have you been to Brookline? What are your favorite spots in town?

Just Add Cooking + Chef Jeremy Sewall

Spring has come late to Boston this year and has rolled in with more rain clouds than sun. These days are enough to make you want to hide under the blanket all day, let alone meal plan and grocery shop. If this is a familiar sentiment, you should check out Just Add Cooking, a Boston-based meal delivery service.

Just Add Cooking prepares and hand delivers delicious meals to your door—all you add is the cooking! My first experience with Just Add Cooking was back in March and from the get-go I was hooked and excited for my next order.  Partnering with local Boston chef Jeremy Sewall of Island Creek Oyster Bar, Lineage, and Row 34, April’s Just Add Cooking box showcased recipes from Chef Sewall’s new cookbook.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

A recipe from Chef Sewall’s new cookbook, The New England Kitchen, the Roasted Cauliflower Soup was the perfect compliment to a rainy New England week. Not the biggest cauliflower eater, I was apprehensive about this soup when I saw it on the meal plan. That quickly changed as I cooked the complex blend of cauliflower, leeks, potato, and cream. Sautéing the leeks alone filled the house with a fresh aroma!

sauteing leeks

Although a multi-step recipe, making the soup was fairly easy. It was my first time working with leeks but the recipe directions told me exactly what to do. The result? Healthy, hearty, and full of flavor—Chef Sewall’s Roasted Cauliflower Soup was a win!

roasted cauliflower soup

The toast came as bruschetta but I got hungry and ate it while the soup cooked!

Sliders and Gorgonzola Dressed Salad

My boyfriend and I are both meat eaters but have been trying to eat healthy. This made this this pre-portioned beef recipe appealing to us. The sliders offered the taste and flavors we love in a well-balanced protein and veggie-packed dish. The beef for the sliders was fresh and beautiful, if you’re comfortable saying that about meat.

While the recipe was relatively easy to make, it presented a bit of a challenge because the shredder and/or grater it called for had recently broken in our move. Thankfully I had a food processor to use which allowed the recipe to be cooked in full and thoroughly enjoyed! My boyfriend LOVED this meal and quickly gobbled up seconds!

sliders with gorgonzola just add cooking

Cod with Broccoli and Orange

I usually don’t make fish at home, since our city apartment doesn’t have room for fancy kitchen contraptions like a meat thermometer that fish recipes often call for, so this cod dish was new for me. I was half excited to make fish and half nervous that I was going to make myself sick. Thankfully, the recipe directions provided by Just Add Cooking made this dish a success, even without an internal temperature reader.

The cod was delicious and a great complement to the pearl couscous and fresh broccoli. The panko sprinkle added the perfect touch of crunch and color to this healthy meal! Best of all, this dish gave me confidence in my fish-cooking skills!

just add cooking orange cod and broccoli

The convenience that Just Add Cooking offers is a great compliment to busy lives and unpredictable New England weather. Looking for an easier way to meal plan? Just Add Cooking is offering a deal for new customers. Sign up with code SASSY and you can get your first no-commitment Just Add Cooking box for just $39.

Note: I received this box free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Weekend Trip: Wine, Beer, and Food in Hampshire County Massachusetts

When people think of Massachusetts, they usually think of Boston, the eastern epicenter of the state. But there’s an “other side” of Massachusetts that they’re missing out on: Hampshire County in Western Massachusetts.

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit Hampshire County, Massachusetts with my boyfriend. We spent two days and one night exploring the towns of Northampton, Southampton, and Easthampton. Taking ourselves out of the guidebooks, we experienced Hampshire County the way that locals do and had a fun-filled weekend at the best wineries, breweries, and restaurants in the area.

Getting to Hampshire County, Massachusetts

Hampshire County is less than 2 hours from Boston. Just north of Springfield, it’s a quick and easy drive from Boston or NYC, making the area perfect for a weekend getaway. If you don’t have a car, the area is also accessible by bus, train, and air—Bradley International Airport is about a half hour away.

Small Oven Bakery Picnic Lunch at Black Birch Vineyard

We started our weekend off by picking up a picnic lunch at Small Oven Bakery, a quaint woman-owned bakery in Easthampton. Co-owners Amanda and Julie opened Small Oven Bakery just 2 years ago and have quickly become a local favorite.

We arrived at noon to a packed house and were greeted warmed by Julie who was packing up our lunch. While Julie prepped our lunch, my boyfriend and I chatted with Amanda for a few minutes over coffee about our love for all things bakery and small business related.

small oven bakery easthampton

With our picnic lunch packed, we hit the road and drove to the beautiful Black Birch Vineyard a few minutes down the road. The weather was perfect—warm and breezy with bright sunshine. Owner Mary Hamel greeted us and encouraged us to relax and enjoy our food on the picnic benches before our wine tasting.

black birch vineyard western massachusetts

The winery doesn’t serve food so visitors can bring their own to eat on the picnic benches and Adirondack chairs out back. The atmosphere is very relaxing and family friendly. Our fellow wine tasters included a family with a baby, a ladies birthday celebration, and a group of friend with dogs.

On a picnic bench overlooking the vines my boyfriend and I gobbled down our lunch from Small Oven Bakery—an open faced Roasted Cippollini and Radicchio baguette, a Boston Brisket sandwich, and a chocolate mint cake.

small oven bakery easthampton

After stuffing our faces, we headed into the winery, a converted barn with an authentic rustic feel. We tasted through, making sure to sip and dump because we were driving. Our favorites included the steel casked Chardonnay, Riesling, and 2013 Pinot Noir.

black birch winery western massachusetts

All of the wines were good but I was especially impressed by the Chardonnay, as I’m not usually a fan of the varietal. I enjoyed it so much I purchased two bottles to take home! Both Black Birch Vineyard and Small Oven Bakery were recently voted as The Valley Advocate’s Best of 2016.

black birch vineyard western massachusetts

Abandoned Building Brewery

We left Black Birch Vineyard and drove to Northampton where we were staying for the night so that we could drop off the car before heading to the breweries. Since we’re both big beer drinkers, my boyfriend and I called an Uber to take us safety to Abandoned Building Brewery, our next destination.

abandoned building brewery easthampton massachusetts

The aptly named Abandoned Building Brewery is situated in an abandoned building along the Easthampton Rail Trail. Windowless with swagged lights, mismatched couches, and board games, there’s a nostalgic feel to the brewery.  The comforting and homey space took me back to my high school college days of drinking in a friend’s basement.

abandoned building brewery craft beer flight

Kimaya, an staff member who has worked at the brewery since it opened, greeted us with two flights which we brought to the seating area. Seating is limited which encourages a communal experience with both the people and dogs visiting the brewery. We sat and chatted with some local residents while drinking our flights.

abandoned building brewery craft beer

While the company was great, the beer was even better! Brewer and owner Matt Tarlecki crafts the ales using hops from the brewery’s own hop field and malts from Massachusetts’s only malt house in nearby Hadley. My favorites were the Pennhurst Pale Ale and the Dirty Girl IPA and my boyfriend especially enjoyed the Nightshade Stout.

If you’re in town on May 7th, Abandoned Building Brewery is celebrating their second anniversary with live music, food trucks, and an outdoor beer garden—an event not to be missed!

New City Brewery

Our next stop was at the close by New City Brewery which sits literally next door to Abandoned Building Brewery. The breweries are next to each other along the Easthampton Rail Trail which makes for a comprehensive beer tasting bike ride. We saw quite a few cyclists who popped in for a pint with their pups. Although we don’t have a dog ourselves, we loved that so many places were dog friendly!

Open since 2013, New City Brewery is best known for its Jamaican style ginger beer crafted by brewmaster Sam Dibble but also offers regular beers. Devin, one of the four co-owners, welcomed us with open arms and two flights—one flight of New City’s beers and a second mimosa flight made with the ginger beer. As someone who loves ginger beer and mimosas, I was in heaven with the mimosa flight!

new city brewery western massachusetts

Like it’s next door neighbor, New City was hopping on the beautiful Saturday and appeared to be setting up for live music. With large windows, open space, and natural light, New City Brewery exudes a friendly hipster vibe—the good looking men behind the bar don’t hurt either.

new city brewery western massachusetts

Hotel Northampton

We caught an Uber back and checked into Hotel Northampton, our home for the night. Built in 1927, Hotel Northampton is a beautiful red brick building in the heart of town.

There was a platter of fresh fruit, cheese, and sparkling water waiting in our room when we arrived. A handwritten note and personal introduction from Ruby, the head of marketing and public relations for the hotel, made us feel very welcome.

hotel northampton massachusetts

Although historic with a traditional American feel, Hotel Northampton has the amenities and comforts of a modern hotel. Everything about the hotel was great—updated and spacious rooms with natural light, comfortable beds, a delicious breakfast, and free WiFi.

hotel northampton western massachusetts

Northampton Brewery

After a long day of visiting drinking establishments, we were more than ready for dinner at the Northampton Brewery. A quick walk from Hotel Northampton, the Northampton Brewery is New England’s oldest operating brewpub, serving up American style food and delicious beers.

northampton brewery western massachusetts

Like many small businesses in New England, Northampton Brewery was family owned and operated by siblings Janet and Peter Egelston and has ties to New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose Brewing Company. Not surprising, the beers were delicious! Along with nachos, a pulled pork sandwich, and pizza, my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Blue Boots IPA and Conundrum beers.

northampton brewery western massachusetts

Tunnel Bar

After dinner we checked out the infamous Tunnel Bar, voted by Buzzfeed as one of the top places to drink before you die. Tunnel Bar is a former train passenger tunnel from 1896, making for a cool underground experience.

tunnel bar northampton western massachusetts

Photo courtesy of Tunnel Bar

The long and narrow cocktail lounge was packed but the martinis were worth the wait.  It was a long day so after Tunnel Bar we retired to Hotel Northampton for some much needed rest.

Sylvester’s Restaurant

The next morning my boyfriend and I woke up refreshed and ravenous. We grabbed some coffee at the hotel and headed over to Sylvester’s Restaurant. Located in the house of Sylvester Graham, the inventor of the graham cracker, Sylvester’s Restaurant is a Northampton landmark and has been voted Best Breakfast and Brunch in Western Massachusetts for years.

sylvesters restaurant northampton massachusetts

We feasted on the Benedict Sly’s style, the banana Nutella French toast, and a homemade pop-tart style pastry that was to die for. Known for their eggs benedict dishes, the Sly style Benedict was delicious and almost more than I could eat. My boyfriend and I shared both dishes and still had leftovers to take home!

best brunch western massachusetts

Around Northampton

Stuffed from breakfast, we walked off our food around town. Home to Smith College and four others nearby, Northampton is a quintessential college town. Walking around instantly brought me back to my own college days in Madison, Wisconsin. Northampton reminded me a lot of Madison and I felt at home amongst the tall trees, beautiful buildings, hippie shops, and tiny cafés.

downtown northampton massachusetts

Aside from its college charm, Northampton boasts a small town vibe that makes you feel like you belong.  Everywhere we went, the people were friendly, welcoming, and excited to share their town with visitors.

Our weekend in Hampshire County was a wonderful break from the hustle of life and a good reminder that there’s more to Massachusetts than Boston. While the trip was full of adventure, there’s much more to explore and we can’t wait to go back to Hampshire County. If you’re looking for a romantic weekend away, a fun trip with friends, or a family-friendly place to explore, check out Hampshire County, the “other side of Massachusetts.”

Disclosure: This trip was hosted by the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council and the local businesses mentioned in this post. Although sponsored, all opinions are my own.