A Frozen Party

Frozen Party Fun - Title

My niece, like most four-year-old girls lately, is deeply obsessed with the film “Frozen”. I know there’s an awful lot of hype surrounding this movie, and most of you feel a little (if not a LOT) fed up with the song “Let it Go”. . . but what four-year-old gets the concept of too-much-media-coverage? Not my niece, that’s for sure. So, when she had her Frozen Birthday Party, it was my job, as a lovingly obsessed aunt, to make sure the details were as wonderful as I could help make them.

Question 1: What to Wear?

The first question regarding any theme party is one of fashion, am I right? SO, with trepidation and a healthy hatred for mass-produced , overpriced, and poor-quality products, I set about sewing/making a dress fit for a (four-year-old) queen.

Frozen Dress - Details

The fabric is all courtesy of Joann Fabrics, and I used a soft t-shirt as the basis for the bodice , so that no itchy seams would bother my sensory-sensitive niece (nothing was sadder than the day she got a beautiful new Cinderella dress and had to take it off because “it hurts real bad”). I made sure the cape was detachable, and (since I was sewing it without my little model present) we used a fancy snowflake pin (thrift store find!) to bustle up the back.

Dress - Details - modeled by Bizz

It was by no means a work of art in couture, but it did the trick. Izzy was delighted. When I walked in and hung it in the front hall, she saw it and immediately exclaimed “MY DRESS!!!” with such joy, that it was worth any&all work involved. Izzy sees the dress

With a little assistance from her Mommy, her hair was tucked into an Elsa-appropriate braid, and the party could start, since the most beautiful princess of all time felt prepped and ready!Bizz's Dress - frozen party

Seriously, though? One more picture, because never has there been a mini-Elsa this adorable. Queen of her party - Bizz

Question 2: What to Eat?

A birthday is not a birthday without a cake. And D’Amici’s bakery knows how to make a phenomenal cake!

frozen cake

With the cake as a central element, I whipped up some colorfully-appropriate cake pops for those children who prefer all of their food on a stick (ahem: my nephew being one of them!).cake pops - frozen party

It was also deemed important to include some more-substantial/less-sweet snacks to balance out all that sugar. food - the spread

Question 3: What to do?

Having a movie-themed party kind of sets the mood for entertainment during the party right? I mean, it’s a given that you will watch the movie at some point. SO, what better idea than to provide cutely-themed popcorn? movie time - frozen entertainment After movie-watching either ends or loses it’s luster with 3-5 yr. old attention spans, its also nice to have some other potential entertainments. I drew/cut out a large Olaf-shaped snowman for a game of Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman. no nose olaf Olaf also made for a nice decorative touch, chilling on the wall (yes, pun intended). It also turns out that my adorable niece loved the decor far more than the game, because she took one look at the wall, gasped, turned to me, and asked very seriously: “I . . . I marry him?” warm hugs - can I marry him While she is a bit young to get married, in my humble opinion, Olaf definitely fulfilled his quota on “warm hugs” for the day.  One other small activity we chose to include was a mini salon (staffed by yours truly) where all of my frozen-colored nail-polish could be displayed for the kiddos selection and subsequent nail-painting. This was fun, and the many small individuals in attendance loved it!nails by elsa

Question #4: What little treats will  enhance the day?

Well, there are certainly many of these ideas floating around to choose from.

It’s a great chance to check out printables available online (many for free!) that can add to the cute-factor. The Melted Snowman labels for water bottles was a nice touch, and as you can see, there are small olaf-stickers on the chocolate kisses! It’s also a great chance to tap into any stores of crystal or milk glass flatware and princess-costumery you have lying around.

Food Decor - setup and cuteness

Another fun detail that my sister pulled off beautifully was the sparkly gift-bags for kiddos who attended the party. These were full of everything from sweet treats to coloring books to tiaras to the little blue wands that you can see peeking out from the tops of the perfectly-chosen glittery gift bags!favors - frozen party

 

And that, friends, is all-questions-answered how we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday . . .

Frozen Style!

Delta Rae is My Musical True Love

Delta Rae - the Name in Lights Allow me to introduce you to my absolute favorite band, Delta Rae. Now, as soon as I say favorite, I feel guilty, because there are lots of bands that I love quite dearly who compete for the lead, but I think that, after seeing them perform live,  Delta Rae has moved up to first place. Delta Rae is, hands down, the best group of performers I have ever had the privilege to view live. The amount of talent, passion, energy, and no-holds-barred musical enthusiasm that is embodied in their work left me speechless. I really really liked their music before going to their show. . . now I am obsessed! Delta Rae Magnificence

What kind of music do they play?

They’re generally referred to as “American Folk Rock“. Interpret that as you will.

Who are they?

There are 6 band members in Delta Rae: Ian, Eric, Brittany, Liz, Mike, and Grant. Three of them are siblings (Ian, Eric, and Brittany Holljes) – WHICH IS JUST RIDICULOUS. I mean, one family should not be allowed to have that much talent. EVERYBODY in the band does some percussion work, but Ian Holljes  plays guitar and does vocals.  Eric Holljes also does vocals, plays the guitar, piano and keys. Brittany Holljes does insane vocals , as does Elizabeth Hopkins. Mike McKee does percussion, and Grant Emerson plays one awesome-looking-and-sounding bass guitar. With their powers combined, they make musical beauty.

Brilliance of Delta Rae

What makes them so awesome?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, most of which could come from more qualified individuals – so I’ll just share one of my personal reasons. One of the major elements that makes Delta Rae stand out to me (as something of a vocalist) is how complex and diverse their vocals are. It’s rare to have that many strong lead vocalists in one band, and they don’t just pull it off – they kill it.

What should I listen to first if I’m new to Delta Rae?

I humbly recommend this sampling:

 

If you live in the greater Boston Area (or in reasonable driving distance), you can go to their show this Friday (June 20th!) as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series! I’ll be there!!!

Dance Details: Candyland Prom

Beauty is in the Details

If planning events (albeit somewhat informally) has taught me anything, it is that the devil is in the details, but so is the delight! If you get too caught up in details of an event, you can overlook the fun – but the right details can enhance an event magnificently! This year, our prom theme was “Candyland“, inspired by the classic  board-game, and I had more fun orchestrating the details than I should probably even admit.

Venue/Decor

Decorating the venue is sometimes overlooked when planning events, but adding little details to the overarching venue decor can really pull a theme together. Thankfully there are an incredible number of fun sources of inspiration for these details. We chose to go with the 1978 edition of the Candy Land board for color inspiration and then proceeded to look for fun ways to incorporate those 7 (!) colors without becoming overwhelming!

Candyland Color Palette

The first small detail we chose to incorporate was the lollipop balloons. While I’m fairly certain PVC pipe might have created a better lollipop-balloon stick, we used dowels, because they were very easy to procure. Once we had the balloons (in every color but the pink, which was our accent color), all that remained was to attach the balloons to the dowel tops (duct tape) and wrap the whole thing with cello-wrap before displaying these outside! While we originally wanted to do more (possibly line the walkway into the prom), we decided that it might lessen the elegance of the occasion, so kept it to a minimally sweet splash of color.
lollipop balloons - outside

Our second venue decor involved adding colors (and an extra dose of candy-theme) to the chair backs. Inspired by a blogpost, we purchased dollar-store paper plates (in our six main colors!), a massive spool of ribbon and one serious roll of cello-wrap. Chaos ensued briefly while we wrapped and tied and juggled all 80 or so of these fake, over-sized sweets. However, once in place, the candy decor really lent a nice touch to the venue without detracting from the simply elegant setup. If doing this again, I would be more careful to purchase paper plates that were colorful on both sides to avoid the touch of white peeking up over the uninhabited chair-backs.

Candy Chair-backs

Since it is rare to find a truly nice venue that permits wall or ceiling hangings, tabletops are always a huge element of the decor at our events, and this year was no exception. We started by seeking out the perfect central element to feature, and settled on colorful tulle puffs for the centerpieces. Since our goal was to incorporate the six general colors (red, orange, green, blue, yellow, and purple) with accents of pink and tie in many of the elements of decor, we chose to have pink and black table-runner-squares to offset the riot of color above and around. To this, we added mad-libs made to lo0k like over-sized Candy Land game cards, brightly patterned paper bags for students to use at the candy bar, a low jar of colorful gumdrops, and a few oversized-polka-dot shaped pieces of confetti. Fun fact: we used paint-samples from Home Depot to make the confetti, and were thus able to individually select exactly what colors we needed! Prom Tabletops

Ice-Breakers

A second, oft-overlooked detail is the need for some ice-breaker or fall-back activities. Just like when planning any social gathering, you want to try to foster a balance between creating a convivial atmosphere in which everyone can feel comfortable and fall-back options for people who may wind up feeling slightly uncomfortable. Let’s face it, nobody wants awkward silence to fall at a table, and when you take a big group of teenagers and add in assorted unknown individuals brought as dates, yards of extremely fancy (and often uncomfortable) clothing, and top it all off with unstructured time before dinner/dancing . . . well, the odds are that somebody will feel a little uncomfortable at some point. To try to get rid of this, we always include Mad Libs as an ice-breaker activity.

mad-libs-game-cards

You may have already seen my post about Candyland themed mad-libs, but these were a colorful addition to the evening, and with their glorious tendency to wind up inappropriate or hysterical, all we have to do is casually include them in the decor and many (dare I say: most) people wind up bonding through the ensuing laughter.

Food

In all honesty, after choosing the venue, we mostly wound up going with their catering options/suggestions. Thus, we can’t really take credit for planning any of it, aside from heartily agreeing to the delicious-sounding suggestions put forth by our fantastic liaison, Marie. The resulting feast was everything we wished for and more.food service - tupper manor

The Menu for our Dinner Buffet

~Caesar Salad with Grilled Focaccia Croutons and Parmesan Cheese~

~Classic Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing~

~Roasted Sliced Beef Sirloin and Roast Breast of Turkey with Pan Gravy~

~Penne Marinara~

~Garlic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes~

~Glazed Baby Carrots~

Entertainment

Now, you may think Mad Libs, friends, and dancing are enough activities for any school dance. For some, you might be right. Buuuuuuuut, there are those moments when you are so hot and sweaty that you just need a dance break. Or those moments when the DJ plays a slow song and you want to avoid the awkward couples-dance with your platonic date while a nearby swaying duo is kissing like they’ve just discovered lips. OR maybe you just don’t like dancing all that much. I mean, school events shouldn’t be potentially fun just for the dancers among us, right? What a conundrum, you might be saying. Well, allow me to introduce you to the perfect solution. The Photo Booth.

photo booth - for entertainment

If you aren’t sure how to set up your own photo booth, I have a couple of sure-fire tips, but this is a great activity to include for those less-inclined to dance or who might need a break from crazy-dancing throughout the night!

Dessert

sweets abound - prom theme

In addition to the fresh baked cookies and brownies, we almost always choose to include an ice cream sundae station. With all sorts of delicious treats (including Crushed Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, Rainbow Sprinkles, Shredded Coconut, Chocolate Sauce, Strawberry Sauce and Whipped Cream), students are free to momentarily cool their heels and build their ideal Sundae!

Favors

So, as you can see, the details have carried us throughout the evening, and as the night winds down to a final dance, we want to make sure to include something students can take home to remember the occasion. Unfortunately, this usually means that you wind up with chintzy picture frames or a single engraved piece of stemware that will prove fodder for many yard-sales to come (if they last the ride home). With this in mind, we have recently taken to selecting favors that are consumable or thematically fun rather than the stereotypical trinkets. So it is with great anticipation that we included a simple Candy Bar in our evening plans.

candy bar - prom

To let students know about the Candy Bar, particularly since it was slightly out-of-the-way, we made an informative tag, which we attached to brightly colored paper bags (found on Etsy) for students to use for candy transportation.

Candy Bags!

We also purchased old-fashioned candy sticks, flavored like cotton candy, butterscotch, tropical punch and JOY. After adding a little homemade flag and placing the sweets on each place setting, the favors were ready. Based on their enthusiastic reception, I think it’s safe to say that they were appreciated.

candyland favors

With the details in place and the evening past, I think it’s safe to call it a successful soiree. I can’t wait for the next!

Props to the Photobooth!

I submit that there are few (if any) events that would not be improved by the presence of a photo booth.

I’m sure many could (and would) argue on the particulars of that statement. Funerals, for example, might be an inappropriate place for gloriously-silly, prop-laden photo antics . . . but really, I think it could just be that nobody has ever tried having a photo booth at a funeral. It could at least lighten the mood a titch, right? Maybe I’ll add it to my funeral plan request list. Talk about putting the fun into funeral.

Anyway, funerals aside, I think we can all agree that photo booths are highly fun ways to enhance your wedding/prom/dinner party. I am the proud owner of an ever-increasing series of items that make up my very own photo-booth trunk (largely thanks to years of yard-sales, thrift stores, and assorted ridiculous costume undertakings). At each Prom I’ve planned, we have incorporated a photo booth, and the resulting pictures have been well worth the minimal effort required!
photo booth fun

As a now-veteran photo booth planner, there are a few items which I feel qualified to highly recommend.

Item #1: a picture frame

purple frame

I picked the above frame up at a local thrift store for $2, spray painted it purple with a remnant can-of-spraypaint from my craft desk . . . and voila! This is an easy way to add a splash of color to photos, create some fun lines, and also personalize the colors incorporated into your photos.

Item #2: a parasol (or umbrella)

parasol

This is not rocket surgery folks. Parasols are visually very interesting and quite pretty. They add dimension to photos and they’re noticeably unusual to see (although not all that hard to find!) so they make for good photos. This one was a thrift-store find, but I know that you can usually get them at craft supply stores like A.C. Moore, and even the dollar store occasionally.

Item #3: a large theme-based prop

lollipop prop

Whether your theme is Candyland (as it was for the above photo-booth!) or growing up a nineties kid (ahem, see the next photo) having one large and ridiculous theme prop is crucial. The big fake lollipop made it into a lot of photos, as did the Pimpin’ Plush Scooby-Doo ( Yeah, that growing-up-in-the-nineties photo booth was a real doozy). Either way, one token hard-core theme prop is always a good idea!

Item #4: a backdrop

nineties-themed photo boothIf you can manage to swing it, themed backdrops are quite the magnificent touch. HOWEVER, even if you don’t have a print design, a large black sheet works to give the final photos a cleaner look.

Item #5: something particularly random

the gooseYup. That is, in fact, a goose.

This particular photo booth had all sorts of fun props, but of all the options, I think the goose made it into the most photos. If you don’t have access to a life-sized papier-mâché goose replica, and lets face it, not many people do, don’t despair. There are other options. Find the strangest most random thing you can, and include it with all the other items! Sometimes you just need a touch of the bizarre to liven things up. 

One Final Prop Thought:

Photo Booth Props

Whether you go with these specific suggested items or not, you should definitely remember that the key to any good photo booth is VARIETY. Find a broad array of things that can be picked-up, put-on, or held. Add a photographer with a decent camera and a tripod (even an amateur!) and you’ve got the recipe for instant fun and memorable photos of even more memorable moments.

 

 

Paris Recommendations:

I have written about Paris before, complete with fairly descriptive recommendations and explanations for said recommendations. . . but with many friends about to embark on a Parisian adventure, I thought it was important to give some current,  somewhat succinct, and perhaps more practical suggestions for prospective visitors.

7 Things I Wholeheartedly Recommend in Paris:

These are listed in no particular order of importance, and are all “worth it” in the extreme. If you don’t want to get caught in crazy touristy traps or the crush of an overwhelmingly over-stimulating museum for the duration of your visit, that’s normal. These are my strong suggestions for anybody visiting who wants to catch a good glimpse of what Paris has to offer . . . and I’ve included some helpful practical info for planning your visit!

Le Musée Rodin

What is it? A gorgeous, stunningly-beautiful-yet-manageable, non-overwhelming, highly worthwhile, indoor-outdoor museum that contains MOSTLY the gorgeous sculptures and artwork of François-Auguste-René Rodin.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with  Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am- 5:45pm (last entrance = 5:15pm), every day BUT Monday
  • Location = 79 Rue De Varenne (closest Metro stops = Varenne or Invalides)

rodin museum - a glimpse

L’Orangerie

What is it? Have you ever seen the GIGANTOR paintings of water-lillies that Monet did? Like: entire walls? This is that.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 9am-6pm (last entrance at 5:15pm, also closed on Tuesdays and the morning of July 14th)
  • Location = Jardin des Tuileries (see below -closest Metro stop = Concorde)

Orangerie - on a map

Les Catacombes:

What is it? Lots and lots of bones, stacked eerily underground in a beautiful-yet-terrible reminder of human mortality. It’s morbid, yet memorable; fascinating.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro
  • Hours of Operation: 10am-5pm (last entrance at 4pm, also not open on Mondays)
  • Location = 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (closest metro stop is Denfert-Rochereau)

catacombs - a glimpse

Le Marché aux Puces

What is it?  Pure magic in the form of one of, if not THE, world’s biggest flea market. Antiques, clothing, housewares, art, EVERYTHING. Feel free to poke around on the M.A.P. website for more info.

Practical information:

  • Hours of Operation: usually open on weekend days, although Sunday seems to be the best bet for the most vendors!
  • Location:  Up and Down and in and around Rue des Rosiers in St. Ouen  (WAAAAAY up North in Paris- closest metro stop is probably at the Porte de Clignancourt)
  • IMPORTANT:  make sure you find the real Antique Market and the actual place because there is also a cruddy couple rows of vendors which can be misleading and cause you to be highly disappointed. . . don’t be fooled by this external nonsense. Find the real “Marché aux Puces” Because on the outside it’s all just crappy modern junk, not the antique mecca that I heard so much about. . . . and then I stepped into the magical old fashioned fairy-tale world that is antiques. . . and it was all better.

puces - a glimpse of what it's like

Versailles – la Domaine de Marie Antoinette

What is it? It’s the place where Marie Antoinette lived out her fantasy of being a peasant/actress/normal human being when, in actuality, she was the Queen of France, and not a popular one. It’s adjacent to the GIGANTIC and opulent chateau of Versailles, and sometimes people skip it because they assume it will just be more of the same opulence and gilt. HOWEVER, it’s beautiful, it’s quaint and it’s akin to setting foot into a setting for an old-fashioned fairy tale.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 10 euro (although that does not include admission to the big palace of Versailles – the TOTAL “passport” ticket to all parts of Versailles is 18 euro)
  • Hours of Operation:
  • Location: Place d’Armes – 78000 Versailles, quickest access for travelers is by RER C, a train quite like the commuter-rail. To quote the website: “To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a ‘Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche’ ticket for zones 1-4”

domaine de marie antoinette - a glimpse

l’Arc de Triomphe – CLIMB IT

What is it? To quote Akon’s personal assistant, whom I overheard say this to the rapper himself whilst visiting the Arc: “This is a famous french monument.” To quote Sherlock Holmes: “Do your research.” Aside from its historical and cultural importance, if you climb the towers this is the absolute best view of the city of Paris!

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am to 11pm – cost =  to go up – if you’re there this weekend it’ll be crazy b/c the 14th is Bastille day, so there should also be fireworks and such
  • Location: Place Charles de Gaulle – at the top of the Champs Élysées (closest Metro stops are Georges V or Charles de Gaulle- Etoile)

arc de triomphe - a glimpse

Les Bateaux-Mouches

What is it? It’s a boat tour that takes you up and down the length of the Seine River, allowing you to see the sights and relax your aching tootsies at the same time. You can see the path/direction of these boat tours in the picture below! Bateaux mouche map - explanation

original map via

Practical Information:

  • Entrance Fee = 13,5 Euros
  • Timing information: Frequency – a bateau-mouche leaves about every 20 minutes. Duration –  about an hour and 10 minutes
  • Location/Departure point: Pont de l’Alma (on the northern side, or Rive Droite/Right Bank) at a place called “Port de la Conférence” in the 8th arrondissement (le 8ème).

Bateaux-mouches - a glimpse

In Conclusion:

There are many sights not included on this list. . .including (but not limited to) La Tour Eiffel, Le Musée D’Orsay, and Le Louvre. These are incredible/beautiful/worth while too, but I tried to keep the list above as succinct as can be. ALSO, there is the question of food. Paris has phenomenal food, but you can fall into the touristy food traps like anyone else and miss the magic. I won’t go into food here, but I STRONGLY recommend you check out Parisian food-suggestions from David Lebowitz [x] [x], whose food-blogging about Paris revolutionized my taste-bud experience of this fine city.

eiffel tower

Travel safe, friends, & amusez-vous bien!

 

Nostalgia and Donuts

When I was little, my family somehow wound up with this novel device . . .

daisy donuts

After enjoying the Dazey Donut Factory throughout my childhood, I figured what better day than today, of all days, to mention it and the nostalgia it brings to mind. Today, being the first Friday of June, is National Donut Day. Now, before anybody gets bummed out that this is a post about Donuts and not a post about it being the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which is quite admittedly FAR more important than any donuts, I just wanted to share a really cool piece of history.

doughnut dollies

via

National Donut Day was started by Salvation Army volunteers on the battlefields of France during World War One . . . and then the tradition continued on throughout WW2 until the day was commemorated in 1938 as an official national day that would occur annually on the first Friday in June. These volunteers would go around to military bases and hospitals in the field and give free donuts out to soldiers as a way to bring them CHEER and boost sagging morale!

ww-1-wounded-soldier-and-doughnut-girls

via

 

In fact, the Salvation Army folks believed so strongly that the soldiers needed a little piece of home that they even fried doughnuts up in soldiers’ helmets! So, if you enjoy a free donut, you should think about how awesome it is that this day was actually invented to honor and support soldiers even before D-day came around!

 

Delicious Treats You Don’t Want to Miss in the Greater Boston Area

1. ANYTHING from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester

sugar mags

sign image via, french toast via

This is the breakfast place that I take everyone to when they come to visit . . . and also the one that I go to WHENEVER I can come up with a reason to go out for breakfast! The food here is out of control phenomenal. Whether you order Georgia’s French Toast (like French toast and S’mores all-in-one), or the Carrot Cake Pancakes with the maple butter, or the Goatie (an incredible omelette with tomatoes, caramelized onions, & goat cheese), or the AMAZING porridge (one of my favorite things ever!), you won’t be disappointed!

2. Dinner (Try the Kibbeh!), at Kareem’s in Watertown

Dinner at Kareem's When you step into this restaurant, it almost feels like you’re having a luxurious Syrian dinner in the home of a friend. . . the intimate setting and novelty of seeing your food prepared before your very eyes is an experience in and of itself, but it is more than simply unusual as a setting. In addition to the setting and service being fabulous, the food is also incredible – like a magical blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goodness. Everything is fresh and flavorful and hits the palate perfectly. They only take cash or check, which is good to know in advance, but it’s worth the pre-planning to have this dining experience!

3. New England Ice Lollies in Newburyport

lollipop ice   It feels wrong to just call these incredible creations “popsicles”. These cannot be demoted to the same status as those frost-bitten things in the back of your freezer. . . these are heaven. Refreshing and cold on a hot day, they also are some of the most flavorful and delectable things I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting!

4. Ice Cream at The Cherry Farm Creamery in Beverly

cherry farm creamery It’s delicious, it’s local, and it’s the perfect creamy, decadent treat for a hot summer night. Or afternoon. Or morning.

5. Cake from D’Amici’s in Lynn

Cake from D'Amici   My sister buys birthday cakes here whenever the opportunity arises (and with a rotating door of 5 children in your home, the opportunity arises with happy frequency!). I can honestly say that their cake is awesome, but MORE importantly, the frosting is PHENOMENAL.

6. Tortelloni di Zucca at Chianti in Beverly

This is the only item on this list that is unaccompanied by a photo. . . probably because I usually am FAR more focused on eating it than playing food paparazzi. I wish I could truly and fully describe to you how delectable this dish is.  It is homemade pumpkin tortelloni is served with bits of diced pear and caramelized nuts in a creamy  Gorgonzola sauce. It can be yours for a mere 16 dollars and it’s worth every penny.

7. Barbecue Chicken Pizza &Key Lime Pie Martinis from Soma in Beverly

Soma   These are my stand-by favorites any time I get the chance to go out, particularly when I’m craving barbecue chicken pizza goodness. Top it off with a key lime pie martini (rimmed with graham cracker crumbs!) and you’ve got the best quality comfort food you could ever ask for.

8. Decadent Lemon Blueberry Mascarpone Cake from Jaho’s in Salem

IMG_0925

Jaho’s coffee shop in Salem is a wonderful spot. They have an unbelievable array of teas, drool-worthy gelato,  some incredible pastries (including the cake, which I adore) AND free wi-fi. It’s the perfect spot – lovely for relaxing, meeting up with a friend, studying, or even just grabbing something yummy to eat.

9. Pastries, Bread, and Coffee at A& J King Artisan Bakery in Salem

A and J King

This small artisan bakery is tucked into a little corner of Salem, MA, and it has the most incredible breads and pastries you will find outside of France. It is definitely 100% on par with the best I tasted in the year I lived there!

10. Chocolate Orgasms from Rosie’s Bakery in Cambridge (or Chestnut Hill!)

IMG_20140413_002741

My sister brought me this as a thank-you after I babysat for her. It was out of control delectable.

11. A quite-nice Chicken Kabob Salad . . . but INSANELY amazing PITAS from North Beverly Roast Beef in North Beverly

chix kabob salad - north bevs

I kind of already explained it in the title, but let me just explain. . . the salad is good and all, but the PITA BREAD. It is insanely good. They make it fresh and you can see the puffy pillows of pita cooling on the counter right before they get cut and served to you FRESH. They are divine. I always order an extra.

12. The Cinnabun Pancake from The 17 State Street Diner in Newburyport

17 Street Diner Cinnabun Pancake

I recently tried this delicious magical pancake for the first time. It is simultaneously both the most fluffy and the most delicious warm  breakfast treat you will ever taste. I don’t even usually like cinnamon, actually, and it is still the best pancake I could ever conceive of.