Month

February 2015

Boston Restaurants Invite You to Dine Out

Running March 1-6 and March 8-13, 2015, Dine Out Boston is the perfect opportunity to support Boston’s service industry.  It’s been a long couple of months in the Northeast. With storm after storm piling snow on top of snow, and keeping diners out of restaurants who are in need of their patronage. Transition into March with a great deal at many of Boston’s top dining establishments and help these hurting business owners get back on track.

If you’re in tune with social media, share your Dine Out Boston experiences and be entered to win a $100 Gift Card to a participating restaurant.  Snap a photo of your meal, tag your location, and share. Use the #DineOutBoston on  Facebook or Instagram and you’ll have the chance to win one of the two (one via Facebook, one via Instagram) $100 gift cards each day.

Selections vary from restaurant to restaurant as does pricing. Options include lunch for $15, $20 or $25, and dinner for $28, $33 or $38. Additionally, restaurants can choose the number of courses offered at their set price point so you’ll find variety in what you get from spot to spot.

If you can’t take part in Dine Out Boston, you can take part in the  charitable auction. This year, all proceeds go to ArtsBoston, Inc. Get in on the action at the auction to win gift certificates (provided by participating restaurants) starting March 2.

Find participating restaurants at: www.DineOutBoston.com. Like Dine Out Boston on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dineoutboston; follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dineoutbos, and Instagram: www.instagram.com/dineoutboston.

Then Dine Out, Boston.

-Sales, steals and deals are even better on meals, Jess

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A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Wine and Cheese Part 2

Pairing wines with cheese is an art form mastered by some and a mystery to others. When you master a few pairings you’re armed with an arsenal of appetizers that will impress any guest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese

Serve the nutty Paive Stravecchio cheese with an Italian red or two, and a few simple accompaniments, and you’ll be asked to repeat this pairing at every party.

Paive Stravecchio has a grainy texture that is best enjoyed on cheese board with a dollop of mostarda and a glass of Italian red. From the Veneto region in Italy’s northern area. Manufactured from cow’s milk this cheese takes on the flavor of the land that the cows graze upon.

http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html
http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html

Two classic Italian red wines that pair nicely are the fruity, full-bodied, smooth, 2005, Tasca d’ Almerita, Lamuri, Nero d/’Avolo Sicilia and the dry, 2013 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico.

Add a salumi of arista di maiale (roasted pork loin) and you have the makings of a full Italian style lunch or a lovely American style appetizer. Encourage your friends to try each piece alone then mix.

First, sample the cheese along with a bit of mostarda (an Italian condiment made from candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup that take son a consistency somewhere between honey and jam) and enjoy how the two compliment one another. Then, try the cheese with the arista di maiale and enjoy how the subtlety of the pork loin pairs with the sweet almond flavors of the flaky cheese. Finally, enjoy all three together and you’ll find the making of an excellent broiled sandwich when you top a slice of bread.

Then relax and finish the plate before moving onto your next course.

-“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”, W.C. Fields

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Waterville Valley Resort + Kids = Rewarding Family Ski Vacation All Around

For most of us with young children, vacations aren’t really vacations at all.  It is a lot of work to pack up a family and relocate.  On top of that, you are dealing with schedule changes (especially for little ones under 5) and unfortunately most of the time you likely end your days with screaming children and a big pounding migraine.

A ski vacation is braving it especially with subzero temperatures, lugging ski equipment, getting  the children to and from the car and answering the endless chorus of are we there yet from the back seat.  Most sane people would avoid this at all costs.  Even though it’s a whole lot of work,  (and more if, like the AM team, you choose to head to the mountain mid-week, packing 4 kids in one car,  while your husbands stay home to work, meeting you for the weekend)  you will have fun at Waterville Valley.

After a whole lot of huffing and puffing, and equipment lugging,  Waterville Valley Resort made it all worth the trouble, placing smiles on all of our faces (including the husbands who joined us at the end).

Check out Waterville Valley with your  family:

Mountain

011a2ac2d1b3a0b84c3ad44724be8a9e0c162bed6cOnly a 2 hour ride from Boston, this quaint mountain resembles an idyllic vintage-esque ski mountain and village.  With 50 trails, this mountain has it all. Most of its trails are attractive to the intermediate skier, about 15% is dedicated to beginners and 22% is geared towards the advanced skier.  There really is something for everyone.  Best of all, lift lines move at record speed, eliminating the long waits that you’ll find at larger mountains in the north east, and allowing you to do what you’re there for-ski.

The mountain is extremely manageable with children. Drive right up to the base of the mountain and leave your car for a few minutes while you get your ski gear and family situated.  Everything that you need is located at the base of the mountain-lift tickets, kids camps, daycare, lodge, ski shop, and bar. It is very easy to navigate to and from the buildings there with entrances that allow you to set up your gear closest to the lift you are interested in riding.

There is a real community and family feel to this mountain.  You won’t find a bunch of hot shot 20 something’s buzzing down the mountain after a few too many; instead you’ll find yourself surrounded by parents just as eager to keep their kids safe as you are with yours. Everyone is helpful, and lifts on the lower mountain are slowed regularly to assist new skiers as they get on and off.

Staff

The staff at this mountain is incredible and really adds to the experience.  Everyone is very friendly and always showing a smile on their face (hard to come by anywhere now a days). Even when the temperature plummets to -34 with the wind chill, everyone is happy to help.

I most likely should not bring my phone skiing, but it is always by my side and is my lifeline when my kids are not. Of course, each day I had phone issues that the staff of Waterville pleasantly helped me with.

Day 1 – My phone was running low on battery and the wonderful staff at the bag check/info desk were kind enough to let me charge my phone up to full power as my son was in ski school and I really wanted power in case of an emergency.

Day 2 – While managing my hungry kids and husband, I misplaced my phone in the cafeteria.  Again the wonderful staff really came to the rescue to help me locate my phone.  Even after I gave up hope, they came upstairs to find me to offer another suggestion.  Luckily, I found it; in a pocket that I had previously checked (thanks mommy brain).

Ski School

Two mom’s who have not seen skis in 3 and 5 years = rusty skiers in need of a full day to regain some confidence. So, we put our boys (ages 4 and 5) in a  full day of ski school and let them have fun without us (while we did the same).  It was wonderful.  They really enjoyed skiing with their instructors, hot chocolate in between runs and meeting/playing with the other kids in their ski group.  They were actually asking to go back to ski school for the rest of the trip.  I personally despised ski school when I was younger, I couldn’t wait for my parents to pick me up.  So the fact that 2 boys wanted to go back to Waterville’s school even after skiing on the coldest day of the year was proof enough for me.

Private Lessons

Mike Furgal Business Card

One name, Mike Furgal!  Mike was rated top 100 ski instructors for ski magazine.  This is the second time that I have done a private lesson for my 2 year old with him.  Seeing as how 2 year olds do not have much of an attention span at this age, it is a miracle that Mike can keep her engaged and happy for an hour session.  Introducing her to the sport and allowing her to get comfortable on skis at a young age is allowing us to get out of the house for a fun family winter activity.

Rentals

We popped into the rental shop so Jess could rent skis for her 2 year old.  Everyone was super helpful and quick.  We were in and out of the shop in 10 minutes.

Apres Ski Entertainment – All Ages

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Happy Mommas!

Head to Buckets for Apres Ski, especially on Saturdays when the live band allows the adults to unwind with a few spirits and snacks while kids can grab a seat in the adjoining room for complimentary movie night as well as s’mores on the deck overlooking the mountain.  Our 2, 4 and 5 year olds were splitting their time between the movie and the dance floor.  After a long day of skiing, our kids were happy and distracted instead of miserable and tired.  Allowing us to hang out until 7pm when we could pop them in the car without worry of sleeping en-route home. And we all know that happy kids = happy parents!

Specials

Check out some fun deals that Waterville Valley is featuring in the month of March and April.

Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th – $17 lift tickets.

April Fools Day, April 1st – $1 lift tickets (and this isn’t a joke).

Helping you find some family fun outdoors even in the middle of winter, Thia

The Breakfast Club Serves Up A Monthly Special this Spring: Breakfast for Dinner

A reservations only event you won’t want to miss is coming your way each month at Allston’s Breakfast Club. This 80’s pop culture icon brings lines of locals waiting outside the doors for plates of comfort breakfast specialties.

Sign up for their seatings starting at 6:00pm featuring seasonally themed menus on the first Monday of the month this spring and dig into four courses of creative breakfast specialties during dinnertime.

Add breakfast inspired specialty drinks like mimosas made with freshly squeezed oj, and Narragansett Autocrat coffee milk stout and you’re breakfast is truly a dinner.

Best of all, this dinner is a deal at $35/person (including tax & gratuity) and includes your four-courses along your choice of with mimosas or Narragansett Autocrat coffee milk stout.

Order tickets at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/breakfast-for-dinner-series-tickets-15498852485

The Breakfast Club is located at 270 Western Ave, Allston, Breakfast for dinner is from 6-9pm on 3/2, 4/6 and 5/4, 2015

Boston Heats Up for National Margarita Day

Saturday February 22nd is National Margarita Day.  Head out for a night (or day) on the town and follow this special Boston margarita crawl to pay homage to this sacred cocktail of tequila, triple sec and lime.  For some extra fun, slip into character by wearing your best sombrero and poncho.

Legal Harborside in the seaport district is featuring 2 extra special margarita’s:

  • Top Shelf Margarita – Patrón Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, lime cordial, lemon juice ($13; available on the first floor)
  • Top Deck Margarita – LSF barrel-selected Corazon Anejo Tequila, triple sec, lime (single – $10; small – $28 large – $55; available on the rooftop)

One of each, please!

Mango MargaritaWalk across the street to Legal Test Kitchen (LTK) and try the Mango Margarita.  For $10 you can wet your pallet with Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, Bols Triple Sec, mango nectar, lime, agave.  This delicious mango concoction will be also be featured at all Legal Sea Food locations.

A little taste of the tropics in the middle of winter.

Green Tea MargaritaGrab a ride across town to Haru at the Prudential.  Sip on the Green Tea Margarita ($13) consisting of Patrón Silver Tequila, Cointreau, sweet green tea powder and sour mix.

Indulge in this delightfully different drink on National Margarita Day.

Cranberry Jalapeno MargaritaFinsh the day with a quick walk over to Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake on Boylston Street.  Sip on their spicy winter spin on the day’s drink of honor- a Cranberry Jalapeno Margarita for $12 which consists of Patrón Añejo, muddled jalapeños & cranberries, Drambuie, Rattlesnake margarita mix.

Cheers!

Give Amazing Matriarch a shout out on social media by using the #AmazingMatriarch with your best pics on this or any National Margarita Day margarita crawl (or margarita) you create. 

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Jess on Twitter: @10bestjess

“I drink to make other people more interesting.”   – Ernest Hemingway

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Elsa and Anna Visit Boston’s Battery Wharf Hotel

Boston is frozen so why not enjoy it with Elsa and Anna. The Battery Wharf Hotel is hosting a two-hour, Frozen themed, afternoon tea on Sunday, February 22 and Monday February 23, 2015 from 2:00-4:00pm.
Great for kids obsessed with this Disney spectacular, this special event is $39.00 per person and includes your choice of tea or hot chocolate plus a variety of sweets: cupcakes, cake-pops, whoopie pies and snowman cookies.

Catch the movie, Frozen, on the projection screen, and meet Anna and Elsa who are sure to be in attendance.

Find the Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston’s North End at 3 Battery Wharf
Buy your tickets in advance at: http://www.batterywharfhotelboston.com/special-offers 

617-994-9000

Chic, Whimsical, DIY Décor That’s Quick, Easy and Wallet Friendly

Whenever I throw a party or get together, tissue paper pom-pom’s are always my go-to decoration.  They are easy to create, you can find the materials anywhere and they are really chic and beautiful.  When hung from a clear string, these pom-pom’s give the illusion that they are floating midair.

These easy breezy tissue paper pom-pom’s added a beautiful pop of color to my daughter’s room; instantly brightening the space.

Follow these simple steps and you too can create these cheery pom-pom’s for your home or next get together.

Materials you need:

  • A package of tissue paper (you can get this wherever gift wrap and greeting cards are sold)
  • Floral wire (preferably silver or white cloth)
  • Scissors
  • Clear monofilament string (i.e. fishing string)

 

Accordion Fold

Step 1:

Take your tissue paper and start making 1-1.5 inch accordion folds, making sure to crease each section as you go.

 

 

Accordion fold with tie

Step 2:

Take the floral wire and slide it around the center of your now tissue paper strip then twist together to hold in place.

 

 

Rounded Trim Corner

Step 3:

Take the scissors and trim the ends of the tissue paper in a rounded or pointed shape.

 

 

 

The final stepStep 4:

Take one layer and separate it by pulling toward the center.  Repeat this step for each layer of tissue paper on each side.  Adjust the layers so that it forms a pom-pom.

 

 

Finished productStep 5:

Take the clear monofilament string (a.k.a fishing string) and attach to the end of the floral wire.  Once completed, your pom-pom is ready to be hung.

 

 

 

 

– Adding a little warm spring cheer to melt away the winter snow, Thia

 

A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Whites with Asiago Cheese & Speck

The Italians know how to live the good life. They sip fine wines, and eat rich foods, and turn their meals into events that could last all day. All you need to recreate the spirit of an Italian celebration is a good hunk of Asiago, a bottle of white, a hunk of crusty bread and a little salumi.

http://www.caputosdeli.com/products/asiago-fresco-dop.html
Agriform’s Asiago Fresco DOP

Asiago Fresco is a spongy, creamy. Italian cow’s milk cheese that has a mild flavor and makes an excellent addition to a cheese pizza. But a piece of this cheese on a plate alongside a a few slices of Speck makes for a an appetizer you’re friends won’t soon forget.

http://www.librandi.it/en/
http://www.librandi.it/en/
Photo from: http://wine.mastroberardino.net/en/Show.aspx?idElemento=16
Photo from: mastroberardino.net/en/

Pair it with an oaked 2013 bottle of Librandi, Efeso-Val di Neto Bianco or an un-oaked Mastroberardino, Radici Fiano di Avellino and the flavors will come to life. These simple wines are elegant, allowing the flavors of the food to shine. The Radici also pairs well with seafood and chicken so you can easily follow up your appetizer with a meal calling for the same wine.

Or keep some on hand to enjoy solo. Top a slice of Italian bread with a slice of speck, a piece of Asiago and a drizzle of honey alongside your glass of wine and call it a meal.

Either way, this pairing will have you living la dolce vita.

-Vowing to serve wine and cheese to please, Jess

How to Get Your Kids to Eat: Let Them Join You in the Kitchen

When I had one child we made magic in the kitchen on a daily basis. I invited friends to bring their kids for make your own pizza playdates. Then I had a second, and with a close to 3 year age difference, I found myself fumbling to pretty much accomplish anything, let alone cook with them.

Vivienne assisting in the kitchen
Vivienne assisting in the kitchen

Cooking went from being a passion to a chore and there was nothing magical on our plates. I avoided any assistance from my children, opting for hours of TV over the mess I knew they’d make and I’d have to clean. Needless to say, I felt pretty crummy at the end of each day when we sat down to dinner.

Mealtime went something like this: they wanted to continue watching TV (insert yelling, & acting like a crazy person to get them to sit), refused to eat the meal I cooked (insert threats, charts, rewards & the occasional crazy person rant), ran around the house like maniacs (insert time-outs, rewards for sitting, and lots of yelling) then the food went into the trash can (insert cursing, lots of cursing). Not only had I sacrificed time playing with them to make the food they tortured me with, but we were tossing money into the trash every night.

So I attended workshops, read countless tips and met with our pediatrician multiple times for ideas to get my kids (especially my super skinny son) to eat. No one had an idea that worked.

Through lots of trial and error I created one: I cook with my kids. The reward: they actually (usually) eat what I make-no matter what it is.

I’m not whipping up pate or crispy skin fish, but I’m making family friendly, healthy meals we can all eat and enjoy. We have a grass fed burger with a sauce you’d usually find on a Big Mac, and we have breakfast for dinner. We also have delicious recipes I find in my favorite food magazine, Cooking Light But I always make it a point to  ask my kids what they want before I head to the grocery store, and I always incorporate their requests into our weekly menu.

I ask them to join me every night, but on the nights I’m not serving a meal they’ve chosen, I make sure they come into the kitchen. At the end of our cooking time, they’re so excited to serve what they’ve made and tell their Daddy how they contributed, that they often eat most of what’s on their plate.

My two year old is amazing at mixing and pouring. My five year old is learning basic knife handling. They’re my taste testers, and my five year old loves describing the flavors based on the tastes he’s learned in preschool. I’m teaching them a lifelong skill, and helping them develop a healthy relationship with food.

So, when we pull chairs into the kitchen, assign jobs, and take turns creating a meal (and a giant mess) each day. I sigh with frustration, we waste an egg or two, but when we sit down to dig in, we’re ending our day on a happier note.

Breakfast for dinner in our Pj's
Breakfast for dinner in our PJ’s: note giant mess in the background

-There’s no magic formula for picky eaters; offering an option that works for me, Jess

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I Tried It: Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix is a subscription fashion service that sends you a box filled with 5 “hand-picked” items from their team of stylists that you can keep or return. Keep all 5 and save 25%, keep 1 and save the $20 styling service fee, send them all back and you’ll be charged $20 for your stylist’s time.

Is Stitch Fix your clothing solution to staying on trend without ever having to enter a store?

The Good:

Boyfriend Jeans & Blazer
Boyfriend Jeans & Blazer
  • Stitch Fix asks detailed questions about your size and style in preparation for assembling your personal box
  • Stitch Fix sends 5 items in each box; these items include clothing, and accessories to pair together
  • Stitch Fix requests a budget from you and sticks with items within that budget
  • Stitch Fix sends styling cards, with lots of photos and a detailed note on ways to wear the items sent
  • The items are on-trend
  • To return items, you simply put in the enclosed bag and drop in a mailbox, easy,  quick and free
  • You get a $25 credit if friends sign up and order a box using your code
  • It’s fun to get a box of clothes

The Bad:

Stitch Fix summer 2014, maxi dress & 3/4 length top
Stitch Fix summer 2014, maxi dress & 3/4 length top
  • Stitch Fix sizing is inconsistent: those who do not fall into an average height, weight and build may find they receive many items that do not fit
  • You must be very aware of colors and styles that look good on you, as at times boxes come color and style  focused; you may find multiple items in one box of a  color/fit that does not work for you
  • It took a full month to receive the first box from time of order
  • Find nothing of your liking and  you’re out $20; making choosing 1 item a better deal, even if you don’t love it
  • You may find your best friend, neighbor, random gym member wearing the same item, possibly in another color (that happened to me twice)
  • Stitch Fix has certain items and can’t always meet your needs (a request for a simple item, a black pencil skirt, was not an option, but a nice note was included in the box about the inability to meet my request)
  • Even when you’re very specific about your size ( I often stressed how petite I am and how narrow my shoulders are) you may not receive items that fit well; many of  those I kept had to be tailored.
  • Stylists vary from box to box; I found the same styles in varying colors arriving in various boxes (se photos of white top and orange top in this post)
  • It did not seem that all the stylists who pulled together boxes for me took into account the notes I made about sizing

The Verdict:

Dark Skinny Kensie Jeans and Orange 3/4 top
Dark Skinny Kensie Jeans and Orange 3/4 top
  • Although Stitch Fix is not for me (I’m 5’1″, 100 lbs, with really narrow shoulders and a 32 D bust; they had trouble nailing my fit) it is a fun idea for those of average height, weight and build who don’t have time to to shop or feel they’re not style savvy.
  • Don’t rely on Stitch Fix for certain items you want or needs as they may not be available in their warehouse.
  • It could be a nice way to add a few different items to your wardrobe as long as you’re ok with tossing $20 away if boxes arrive without styles you like or items that fit.

If you’re someone  who can assemble an outfit quite easily, has time to shop in store (some department stores offer free styling services, others offer free tailoring), or have lots of friends who use Stitch Fix, you may want to pass and buy what it is you really want. Otherwise, give it a shot, all you’ve got to lose is $20.

 

 

-One savvy shopper choosing to be her own personal stylist, Jess

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