Weekend in Freeport, Maine

One of my favorite things about living in Boston is that it’s easy to go away for a weekend getaway. Whether it’s a preppy jaunt to Kennebunkport or a girls’ day trip to Newport, everything in New England is a short drive away.

On our last New England getaway, my boyfriend and I visited Freeport, Maine for 3 nights over the extended New Years Eve weekend. Neither of us had ever been to Freeport and to be honest, it wasn’t on our top list of places to visit in New England. But as luck would have it during my lodging search, I found an adorable place on Airbnb that was perfect for a romantic weekend away.
airbnb freeport maine

If you haven’t used Airbnb, you must check it out (here’s a link for $20 off your first trip). For those unacquainted, Airbnb is a website that facilitates lodging between homeowners with extra rooms or guest houses and travelers seeking the comforts of home-like accommodations. I love, love, LOVE Airbnb and no one paid me to say that!

We stayed in a converted barn just south of downtown Freeport. Since Freeport is close to Portland, we had originally intended on staying in the area and spending at least at day in Portland. But between the food, shopping, and outdoor activities in Freeport and the cozy fireplace and outdoor firepit at our Airbnb, we spent the entire weekend in town.

minglewood airbnb freeport maine

couple drinking coffee by the fire

airbnb freeport firepit

Dinner at Gather Maine

Just two hours north of Boston, my boyfriend and I drove up to Freeport the evening of New Years Eve with enough time to check into the Airbnb and change before our dinner reservations. Thanks to recommendations from coworkers and some Yelp reviews, we reserved a table at Gather in Yarmouth. The farm to table restaurant was perfect for a relaxing New Year’s Eve dinner, complete with a special menu, delicious cocktails, and a bluegrass jazz band. The rabbit I ordered from the special holiday menu was outstanding and my boyfriend’s salmon with fried kale was amazing!

dinner at gather maine

Gather wasn’t having a big New Year’s celebration, which worked with our low-key celebration plans of drinking bubbles in our pajamas so after dinner we drove back to our cozy weekend home to ring in 2016.

Freeport Village

Though small, the downtown area of Freeport, called Freeport Village, packs a strong punch. We spent hours casually strolling through the LL Bean stores (there’s at least 4 of them) and the various outlets.

ll bean freeport maine

We fell for the tourist trap and ate lunch at Linda Bean’s Topside Tavern, a restaurant directly across from the LL Bean flagship store. If you’re looking for food in the area, I recommend walking a block or two north on Route 1 and checking out some of the other restaurants or driving a few minutes down the road for brunch at the Muddy Rudder, lunch and beer at Gritty’s, or a hearty dinner at Buck’s Naked BBQ . Or if you’re craving something sweet, stay in town and head to Frosty’s Donuts for a glazed bite of heaven.

gritty mcduffs restaurant freeport maine

frostys donuts freeport maine

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

Despite a warm fall and beginning of winter, a few inches of snow fell in Freeport before we arrived. We took this opportunity to break in the new snowshoes my boyfriend bought us for the holidays at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. Our thoughtful Airbnb host had put together a binder of information, including a trail map of the coastline park so we were well prepared for a snowy walk through the woods.

snowshoe wolfes neck state park freeport maine

wolfes neck state park

snow shoe wolfes neck state park

Maine Beer Company

Since no weekend trip is complete without a trip to a local brewery, Maine Beer Company was the last stop on our Freeport weekend getaway. My boyfriend and I split a flight of four beers (Mo, Beer III, Another One, and Pilot 9). Breweries can be hit or miss when it comes to food, as the licensing limits what they can and can’t serve, but the pretzels at Maine Beer Company were on point. Fresh and delicious and served with a side of tasty mustard, the pretzel was the perfect compliment to the beer flight.

maine beer company freeport

maine beer company freeport

If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway close to Boston, I highly recommend checking out Freeport!

Townsman Boston Christmas Eve Brunch

Christmas Eve is a time to gather with family and friends for fun, laughs, and delicious food. To me, there is no better meal to enjoy with friends than brunch and no better way to spend Christmas Eve Day than with good friends at Townsman Boston’s brunch.

If you haven’t heard, the Leather District restaurant offers brunch just once a month at the end of the month. Friends and I went for Townsman’s Halloween brunch a few months ago and we were blown away. Complete with fabulous cocktails, food coma-inducing dishes by Chef Matthew Jennings, and an awe-inspiring cake table by pastry chef Meghan Johnson, Townsman’s brunch is a force to be reckoned with.

townsman boston brunch menu

My boyfriend and I met Caitlin and her boyfriend for a casual Christmas Eve double brunch date. Reservations are highly recommended but due to last minute holiday planning, we took our chances and arrived without one. Townsman has tables for reservations and the bar and lounge area are open seating. We  were lucky and waited just a few minutes before some seats opened up at the bar.

We started brunch with the best boozy eggnog that I’ve ever had. I’m relatively new to eggnog but my dining companions with eggnog expertise seemed to agree that this cocktail was top notch.

eggnog townsman christmas brunch

The menu for the Christmas Eve brunch was similar to the one served on Halloween, which made making a decision much easier. Trying something different than the chicken fried hanger steak I ordered in October, I opted for the soft scrambled eggs with burrata and crispy Brussels sprouts. Ah-amazing! The eggs were perfectly cooked and paired well with the cheese and baby cabbages. The fact that there was something green on my plate made me feel less guilty for indulging.

townsman brunch eggs

We indulged in the cake table which was piled high with cakes, tarts, cinnamon rolls, and a chocolate pistachio yule log that was almost too beautiful to eat. There’s a reason the #caketable has its own hashtag!

townman brunch cake tableDespite the absurdly delicious food, you won’t find any pretension at Townsman. In fact, my favorite thing about the brunch at Townsman might be the staff. Townsman employs some of the most friendly, helpful, and festive people. I wasn’t surprised that those working the Halloween brunch were dressed up, but I did not expect the ugly sweaters, Santa garb, and elf hats that the front of the house was wearing on Christmas Eve. It made me feel decidedly less weird for bringing hats for all of us to wear while sipping eggnog and stuffing our faces.

townsman brunch christmas eve

If you get the chance, go to Townsman for their monthly brunch—you won’t regret it!

Beer Summit Harvest Fest: Beer Fest in Boston

Boston is no stranger to craft beer and craft beer festivals. Home to brewing legends and the closest major city to famed New England breweries, in Boston you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from great beer. Boston is also a neighborhood city with a unique community feel which, when it comes to beer, is embodied by Beer Summit.

beer fest boston

Beer Summit hosts beer fests in Boston with the mission of bringing together the best beer, hearty food, and live music to Boston beer lovers. I had the opportunity to attend Beer Summit’s 6th annual Harvest Fest in November at the Castle at Park Plaza. Curated by founders Mike Munnelly, Conor Brennan and Shawn Rich, Beer Summit’s Harvest Fest hosted some of the most celebrated and talked about breweries in the country. The event boasted three sessions on November 20th and 21st featuring 56 different breweries, and over 200 beers.

beer summit boston beer fest castle

Photo by Fest Pics

Carb-loaded and adorned with pretzel necklaces, my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Saturday evening session of Harvest Fest.  I had attended Beer Summit’s Winter Jubilee in 2014 but this was my first time at the November event. While 60 breweries in one place sounds like a lot, Harvest Fest was surprisingly easy to navigate thanks to the spacious floor plan and set up.

beer fest boston beer summit harvest fest

I enjoyed tasting the beers from some of my favorite local breweries like Backlash Beer and Two Roads, non-local favorites like Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and new-to-me brews from the craft beer curating 3 Beards Beer Company. A big supporter of drinking local, I was pleased to read 50 percent of the breweries in attendance were local breweries from Massachusetts and New England.

We stayed until the end of the night, tasting our way through the breweries, dancing to tunes from the two-man band CHOPVILLE, and snacking on the newly-launched and delicious Kalahari Biltong, a seasoned dried beef from South Africa.

boston beer fest mugs

If you’re looking for an affordable and easy to navigate beer fest in Boston, check out Beer Summit. The next event, Winter Jubilee, takes place in January so keep an eye out for tickets to go on sale at www.beersummit.com.

Note: Tickets to Harvest Fest were provided courtesy of Beer Summit, but all opinions and love of beer are my own. 

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!