Valentine’s Getaway in Newport

Though my stay and some food and drink were complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Jeff and I took a couple of off-season trips to Newport, RI last winter, and we were fortunate enough to be able to do so again this year on a little Valentine’s Day weekend trip thanks to the Newport Marriott. We stayed there in November 2015 and had a lovely time, so we went into this trip with high expectations that – I’m happy to report- were met thanks to a gorgeous room, above-and-beyond hospitality, and tasty food and drink.

The harbor view rooms do not disappoint.

We arrived at the hotel around noon this past Saturday, fully expecting our room not to be ready yet. But it was, so we were able to drop off our bags before lunch. Inside we were greeted with the most amazing spread!

Cheese and crackers, fruit, nuts, and a bottle of sparkling wine by Mumm were more than enough. But Marriott also went above and beyond by gifting us some treats just for Jeff: Burly Stone soap and beard elixir.

The rooms at the Newport Marriott are nautical inspired with lots of white, navy, wood, and rope decor. The shower was incredible, and may I also take a moment to point out the fact that our bathroom had a bath mat in it. I wish all hotels did this. I’m sure there’s a reason why they don’t, but laying down a towel to step on when getting out of the shower never feels very homey. The simple presence of a bath mat made me feel more at home.

Also love the porthole inspired art!

After getting settled in the room, Jeff and I headed downstairs for lunch at one of the hotel’s on-site dining options, Skiff Bar. The decor is seriously awesome. Rope hangs everywhere (even from the ceiling) and the furniture is made up of dark wood, cream-colored canvas, and wicker.

I spy bar outlets..always a favorite feature of mine.

We started with a local RI beer from Grey Sail Brewing called Flying Jenny’s. I wasn’t a huge fan at first but it grew on me with each sip. Jeff, however, loved it right off the bat.

We both went with appetizers for lunch, which was a good choice considering how large the portions were! Jeff was given a big pile of wings, and I couldn’t even finish my calamari. It was great though! I was impressed with the variety of options on Skiff Bar’s menu.

Sufficiently full, we headed back upstairs to pop our bubbly and watch some TV. Our room came equipped with a “smart TV” with access to Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora, so we were plenty entertained as we killed time and relaxed.

Eventually we decided to venture out for an evening in town. One of our favorite spots in Newport is Diego’s, but I guess it’s a favorite spot for many others as well because every bar seat was taken when we stopped in for some drinks. No one showed signs of budging and the bar there is not great for standing, so we decided to try our luck at Fluke instead.

The beautiful bar at Fluke.

We had much better luck there, where we scored the last two seats at the bar and I got a vodka martini that was filled quite literally to the brim.

This was after a couple of sips.

After that drink, which was certainly plenty, we headed further down the street to dinner at a spot my family discovered last year, Scales & Shells. The restaurant has actually been around for a long time, but used to be cash only and BYOB, so we never prioritized going there over places that would take a credit card and had a full bar. That changed this past summer when they both started taking cards and built a full bar. The seafood and homemade pasta at Scales & Shells are both incredible, and I really wanted Jeff to experience both for himself. We were both very impressed with our dishes. I ordered linguine with chopped clams and red sauce, and finished the second half of my huge portion for lunch on Monday.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, taking in the Newport sights we had seen together that past July, all covered in snow. There’s something very calm and peaceful about a summer town in the winter.

We decided against going out in town and instead grabbed drinks at Skiff Bar to take up to the room. It was so nice to just spend the evening in bed watching movies! The next morning we woke up extremely well-rested, thanks to our room’s awesome blackout curtains that helped us sleep past 9am, and headed downstairs for breakfast.

MainSail is the Newport Marriott’s on-site breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot. As you can see from the photo above, the decor matches the rest of the hotel and is just as captivating as that of Skiff Bar. I love what the designers did with rope and driftwood throughout the entire property.

A good breakfast is, in my opinion, an important part of any hotel stay. Bonus points for a buffet! MainSail’s offered up an omelet station, Belgian waffles, assorted pastries, savory hot food, and a very impressive cereal bar.

My breakfast left me the perfect amount of full. My favorite part were the potatoes, because they were unseasoned and therefore easy to enjoy with maple syrup…my favorite breakfast potato condiment. It simply doesn’t work with green pepper or spice-laden home fries.

Unfortunately a snowstorm was fast approaching Boston, so we had to cut our Sunday in Newport short and head on back. But we had a great time at the Newport Marriott, and our trip was a nice little taste of the town that will (hopefully) hold us over until we return in July. Next time you’re considering a destination for a Valentine’s Day or winter New England getaway, be sure to keep Newport in mind. And take advantage of the fact that the Newport Marriott’s rates are INCREDIBLY affordable in the off-season!

Do you enjoy visiting summer towns in the off-season? How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?

January Recap

I can’t believe it’s already February! I (mostly) have let blogging get away from me so far in 2017, so I decided to write a post recapping what I’ve been up to so far this year (aka in January). It’s honestly not anything different than what you might expect, but what can I say, I’m fairly predictable. Let’s go.

Cooking

I’ve continued to experiment in the kitchen with fun recipes that both Jeff and I can enjoy. I used this recipe to make some super easy meatball sliders, and made my best round of calzones yet – one buffalo chicken and one Hawaiian. I also made some of the “usual suspects”, like taco salad and tater tot trash dip (on Jeff’s birthday).

Capo’s New Lounge

I already was a fan of Capo in Southie, but last Thursday I had the chance to attend a media event for their new lounge, and I have to say it may be the coolest space I’ve ever seen in Boston!

Picture your grandpa or uncle’s old wood-paneled basement, and you’ll be able to picture Capo’s lounge. The walls are decorated with kitschy decor like taxidermy animals and light-up booze signs. Corners with couches and coffee tables make visitors feel like they are actually hanging out in someone’s home.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

And best of all, Capo does not ruin the vibe of this lounge with a DJ. Instead they bring in live music like brass bands, which fits the atmosphere perfectly.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Did I mention the cocktails are fantastic, and that eating in the restaurant upstairs gets you easier access to the lounge downstairs? I know what my game plan is for the upcoming weekends!

#VibeWithATribe

I have been visiting Recycle Studio through ClassPass for awhile now, but was still excited to attend RPR‘s #VibeWithATribe blogger event at the studio this past Saturday. A group of bloggers took a spin class taught by one of my favorite Recycle instructors, John. We followed up our good sweat with bubbles courtesy of Champy and snacks/juice from Pressed.

I received a pretty awesome Recycle gift bag, which has become my new gym bag! Inside were lots of goodies including a gift card from local Boston fitness brand Crane & Lion. I’ve already used it to order a pair of leggings and can’t wait to try them out!

The bag I received (photo courtesy of @Recycle_Studio on Instagram).

The leggings I ordered! They’re on sale right now, FYI.

ClassPass Debate

Speaking of ClassPass, I’m still not sure what I want to do fitness-wise after my next cycle with them ends. Right now I’m getting 20 classes per month for $120, which is a great deal and pretty much the amount of classes I’d want to use in a month. But I’m only getting 20 classes to “ease” me into their new structure of 10 classes per month for $120, which I definitely can’t stick with. I’d need to buy a membership elsewhere to supplement that! Right now a few options I’m looking into are FitReserve, a similar platform to ClassPass that could offer me 20 classes a month (yay!) but at an increased price of $185/month (boo…but still a good deal when you look at price per class). Or if I want to keep my monthly fitness fees the same, I could join Turnstyle for $120/month and get unlimited access to spin and bootcamp classes. The only issue with that is, I really like how platforms like ClassPass and FitReserve give me location flexibility. Turnstyle has a few locations but none of them are as convenient for me as some of the studios on ClassPass/FitReserve, like Charlestown Cycling Club. My head is spinning just as I type this…what’s a class-addicted girl to do?

Wine

I wanted to give a shout-out to a Prosecco I recently discovered. I usually don’t drink Prosecco because it’s too sweet for my palate, but my parents gave me a bottle awhile back and I found it in the fridge this week. I decided to open it when I made our calzones because it would pair well with the spicy buffalo chicken, and was pleasantly surprised by how dry it tasted! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a champagne girl through and through, but this $10 bottle of Prosecco is more in my price range.

Food, going out, fitness classes, and wine. Yup, I’m pretty sure that this is all standard stuff. Still it was a good January overall (with temps that weren’t TOO frigid – yay!) and I’m excited to see what February brings!

What was the best part of your January?

Any recommendations for what I should do after I leave ClassPass? Has anyone tried FitReserve?

Any recommendations for another cheap, dry sparkling wine?

It’s Not a Big Deal

This post has been bouncing around in my head for about a month now but I’ve been having trouble getting just inspired enough to actually write it. However I finally decided to the other night as I was thinking about something while lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. I had made chicken pot pie noodles for Jeff and I to eat for dinner, and I ate one helping. Then I put my bowl in the dishwasher, and went about my evening. I didn’t eat a dessert either. But the difference is – none of these things were endlessly debated. None of them were done out of punishment. I actually didn’t think about them at all. And that’s because I’m finally realizing that food is actually not a big deal.

There was a time when I’d think all day about the dinner I was going to eat, and worry about if I’d have more than one helping, and if I’d want a dessert. Then dinnertime would come and I’d eat a helping, want to eat another (because I’d starved myself all day), debate eating another, finally do it, feel like crap, and beat myself up. But then my mind would shift to dessert and I’d think about ice cream in the freezer, and wonder for another half hour if I should eat it, and finally decide that it was OK to have a little since I hadn’t had any in the last week.

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A Best Dressed New Year

I received a complimentary dress rental in exchange for an honest blog post about my experience. All opinions are my own. Read to the end for a special discount!

I started thinking about New Year’s Eve a few months before December 31st, because Jeff and I made our New Year’s plans pretty early on, the second we found out the Timberfakes (Boston’s Justin Timberlake cover band) were going to be playing the Middle East in Cambridge. We did the same thing last year, and knew it was a solid way to spend the last night of the year.

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The Restaurant To-Do List

People who know me or just follow me on social media know that lately there hasn’t been much variety to where I go out to eat. I spend a ton of time at Eastern Standard. Ward 8 is a great local spot. Bar Mezzana in the South End is incredible. Other than that? Up until recently, I was drawing a blank.

The eggs benedict at Eastern Standard, enjoyed after a kick-butt workout with a side of session IPA.

The farro tagliatelle with duck ragout at Bar Mezzana – a truly incredible dish.

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What I’m Loving Lately

I actually had to search my own blog to see if I’ve previously done a post with this title, because it sounded so familiar. But good news – I haven’t! So here’s a little round-up of a few things I’m loving lately, because I don’t want to write a whole blog post on each of them (and I don’t think that would be nearly as fun for you to read, either).

Blaze Pizza

I’ll start with full disclosure…Blaze sent me two free pizza vouchers, and those are what Jeff and I used the first time we tried this place. But we have also been talking non-stop about it, and have made plans to return on a couple of occasions. (Both plans were foiled for a variety of reasons, but that’s not important.)

blazepizza

I describe Blaze Pizza as “Subway, but with pizza”. For a flat fee (thick crust is extra…and worth it), you go down the line and pick as many toppings as you want. Then the pizza is fast-fired at an extremely hot temperature, and ready for you in minutes. You can also add finishing touches after the pizza is done, like balsamic vinegar or – oh baby – ranch dressing. While I was happy with the creation I made above, I was very jealous of Jeff’s pizza, which escaped into his stomach before I could get a photo of it. Guess we’ll just have to go back so he can recreate it and I can get my picture! Blaze is a national chain so look for your closest location here.

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Recent Boston Eats

It’s been awhile since I shared some of the good food I’ve experienced here in Boston, so I figured I’d comb through my camera roll and highlight anything I found in there that was taken recently. In my eyes, if I took a picture then the food must have been good (the exception, of course, being if the lighting was awful…in that case, no photographs are taken).

Bar Mezzana: Pasta

If you haven’t tried Bar Mezzana yet, drop what you are doing and go there now. You don’t even have to read the rest of this post; I’m confident the experience you end up having will tell you why I’m recommending it. The restaurant is located in the South End’s luxury Ink Block apartment complex and focuses on pastas, raw seafood, fresh crusty bread topped with all varieties of spreads, and prosciutto with house mozz. LOTS of house mozz.

barmezzana

I personally cannot stay away from the pastas. I’ve sampled three so far and can’t wait to return for more. I’d recommend all of those three: orecchiette with sausage and fennel, paccheri with lobster, and another variety with rabbit that looks like it’s off the menu now (darn). For dessert, go for an espresso martini. Bar Mezzana’s bar staff is super knowledgeable and this espresso martini is probably the best I’ve ever had.

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4 Favorite Dinners (And What They Mean)

I have really enjoyed cooking dinners for Jeff and I to enjoy together at home, even before we moved in together (check out my Pinterest account to see almost every recipe I’ve ever made). This post first started as a sort of round-up of four favorite home-cooked meals that we both have loved. However, I realized after I picked out the four that they all had a common theme. They were all meals that I would not have made for myself at home (as-is, at least) a couple of years ago…or even a year ago.

I used to consider home-cooked meals my “chance” to have complete, 100% control over ingredients and cooking methods. That meant making everything as “clean” as possible (very little fats, if any…veggie based…carbs only if I had worked out that day). In my head, this off-set any meals that I had out or bites and drinks I enjoyed at events I attended. So when sharing these four favorite dinners, I’d also like to highlight what about each dish makes it a big step for me, and shows how far I have come in my search for letting go and just enjoying food.

jambalaya

To this day I still am not a HUGE fan of rice, but Jeff loves it. He had mentioned jambalaya to me several times, so I decided to try my hand at making it using an easy recipe from Cook, Craft, Love. I considered doing the rice on the side and having none or only a little, but what good is a deconstructed jambalaya? So I just made it all in one pot, just like the recipe asked, and actually ended up really enjoying it…rice (carb) and all.

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Exploring Plum Island With Maven

I received my Drive Maven experience as well as some of the food in this post free of charge, but opinions of my experiences are 100% my own.

Jeff and I had a great time during our recent trip to Blue Inn in Plum Island, MA. That was thanks in part to our mode of transportation, a red 2016 Cadillac ATS from Maven. Maven is a car-sharing service, similar to ZipCar, that is offered in Boston, LA , Chicago, and other large cities. But the biggest – and best – difference from ZipCar is that, for a limited time, Maven is free to join! Once I heard about that major benefit, I was completely on board when the company offered us a car to take on our weekend getaway.

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Maven has nine different vehicle pickup locations in Boston, and we picked the one closest to our Charlestown apartment, the Government Center parking garage. The Maven app actually serves as the keys to your car. Once next to our Cadillac, I was able to use my phone to unlock the vehicle. Jeff also downloaded the app onto his phone and, signed in under my account, had access to unlock and lock the car as well. Which worked out well, since I usually (always) ask him to drive.

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Getaway to Blue in Plum Island

Though I received my stay at Blue Inn free of charge, my opinions are 100% my own. In short, I’d pay to go back in a second!

I have never encountered a Lark Hotels location I didn’t love (I’ve stayed at Gilded in Newport, and dined at Whitehall in Camden), and last Sunday’s visit to Blue Inn, located in Plum Island, MA, was no exception. The Plum Island and Newburyport area have always been special to Jeff and me, because we took our first overnight trip there as a couple and also visited Plum Island on one of our first dates. Staying at Blue sounded great to us because we already know the area (well, Jeff does), so the trip felt like a staycation despite us being almost an hour away from Boston. Blue picked out a gorgeous ocean view king suite for us, which somehow managed to feel like a quaint beach house while also feeling fabulous and luxurious.

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I always appreciate a combo of beach and fall decor!

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