Tag Archives: hotels

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.


I always appreciate a combo of beach and fall decor!


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Journey to Western Mass: Part 1

Back when I lived in Connecticut, I lived less than an hour from Western Massachusetts, yet never bothered to explore the area. After this past weekend, I’m definitely regretting that. The Hampshire County Tourism Board sent me, my boyfriend Jeff, and my friends/amazing couple Matt and Dave on a fantastic weekend trip to Western Mass, and I’m already wondering when I can return!


Jeff and I hit the road Saturday morning and enjoyed an easy ride out west, where we met Matt and Dave. Our first stop was Mineral Hills Winery in Florence, MA. There we met with the owner, Larry Goddard. He showed us an absolutely incredible time that, as Jeff put it, “ruined wine tastings for him forever”. That’s a good thing – it means we really got the VIP treatment!

Larry greeted us with tastes of May Wine, which is a German beverage traditionally served on May Day.

Larry greeted us with tastes of May Wine, which is a German beverage traditionally served on May Day.

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On a Lark at Gilded

Long-time readers of this blog will know I have a love affair with Newport, RI and make a point of visiting at least twice a year. Last November I took my first ever off-season trip, and found it to be an ideal time to visit. Restaurants are less crowded, but still bustling enough. Hotels are WAY cheaper. And there’s something charming about a seaside town in the winter.

Like being able to use a hotel fireplace!

Like being able to use a hotel fireplace!

The November trip was my boyfriend Jeff’s first ever visit to Newport, and he loved it. So I thought returning to there during his birthday weekend was the perfect way to celebrate his special day. But instead of the usual big-chain hotel, we stayed in a more special place – Gilded Hotel, one of two Lark Hotels Newport locations.

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Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun

I’m so glad you guys liked my Sprigs Earbags giveaway! Thank you to all who participated. I’m excited to announce that the winner is…

…Ali of Miles With Style!

Thank you for entering Ali – now you can seriously get your style on while piling on those miles. I will contact you for shipping info!

I know that the big Thanksgiving holiday was this past weekend and everyone is back to work and “real life” today. I also know that the blog world is going to be flooded with Thanksgiving food (in fact, it already is). I love reading about what everyone else did for Thanksgiving, but I also still need to finish my Mohegan Sun weekend recap. So my Turkey Day talk will come, but for now, we have some catching up to do!

Shoe shot – but you probably noticed our room’s bathroom’s pretty tile floor.

Now let’s see…where were we? Oh right! Maria and I were in our hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mohegan Sun Casino hotel, pampering ourselves and prepping for an epic tasting dinner with other bloggers at Todd English’s Tuscany!

Got to wear a Forever 21 dress I hadn’t worn in forever!

I could not believe that my hair worked out on my first try!

We went downstairs a little early for craps and Christmas. Yes, Christmas.

Mohegan is already decked out for the holidays and Maria and I had to get a photo in front of the tree in our outfits.

We both planned outfits with a pop of color – love it! But I wish I’d taken off my purse for this photo.

I am a conservative craps player so I only ended up winning $10, but I also got a free Jack Daniel’s Manhattan while playing, so I consider this round of gambling a major win!

I love this glass structure in the center of the casino shops!

Our tasting dinner was set up in one of Tuscany’s private dining rooms. Maria and I both arrived hungry and ready to fill our bellies, but Tuscany was more ready than us. We were in for a seriously epic amount of food.

We bloggers also had the pleasure of dining with the woman who brought us all together for the weekend, PR Manager Michelle Williams. We have been working together on events and giveaways for more than half a year now and it was wonderful to finally get the chance to meet in person and talk food, marketing, family, romance…you know, the usual!

The epic menu!

We were first served crusty Italian bread with a seriously awe-inspiring white bean puree and olive tapenade. I’m not sure how I managed to hold off on having a piece until the first glass of wine was poured, but somehow I did.

Our first wine was a white blend of Riesling, Moscato, and Chardonnay. I normally am not a fan of anything Moscato-related but the Riesling and Chardonnay balanced it out. This glass sure went down easily.

The antipasto course of passed appetizers was easily enough food for my dinner. Maria and I looked at each other as the plates were being taken away and said, “How are we going to fit anything else?!”

Antipasta Della Casa

I legitimately would come back to Tuscany and just order this entire platter for myself. It was hard to save room and not kill it.

Calamari Fritti with a Chipotle Cream Sauce

Calamari is often all the same to me because it just all tastes fried. This calamari didn’t stand out too much (the best I’ve ever had is still at J. Gilbert’s because it includes the barely-fried octopus-looking calamari that I adore) but the chipotle sauce – man oh man! Pretty darn good.

Fig, prosciutto, and balsamic flatbread.

Though I prefer my flatbreads to be served on crispier, thinner crusts, the above flatbread’s flavor combo was hard not to love. I’m a prosciutto fanatic!

Tuscan Salad and Trefethen 2010 Chardonnay

I chose the Tuscan Salad of greens, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, onions, and lemon vinaigrette for my salad course. Very impressive! I like a restaurant starter salad that doesn’t slack on the ingredients. The Chardonnay went so well with the vinaigrette.

Double-fistin’ – it’s what I do.

Before I knew it I was being poured the next wine – Apothic Red – and hadn’t even finished my Chardonnay yet. Had to double up! The next course, pasta, featured choice of two dishes – clam linguine or ricotta gnocchi. The latter has been on my to-try list for eons, so it was a no-brainer.

Ummm…when can I eat gnocchi again?! The ricotta was to die for but those potato pillows, ahhh. Not surprised I loved this dish since I am a potato fanatic (as well as the previously mentioned prosciutto…me thinks I need to eat a pizza topped with both). That sauce was certainly fabulous and the homemade ricotta, don’t get me started. Wait, I already am.

Me and Anne!

My other seatmate Anne ordered the clam linguine, and she let me take a shot of her dish. I didn’t try any because I could barely fit my food as it was at this point (and we still had the entrees to come…) but I heard great things about it! I’m just not a plain pasta person – my palate craves too much excitement!

Major thanks to Tina for helping me learn more about my camera’s settings before I took this photo.

Then came the entrees. Yes, more food. I didn’t finish my gnocchi and knew I couldn’t finish this dish, but I want to come back to Tuscany so I can order it again and enjoy an entire portion during a normal-sized meal!

Crispy (seriously, so crispy) salmon with bacon Brussels sprouts, clams, and Parmesan polenta.

Maria and I couldn’t get over how crispy this fish was. I want to know Todd English’s secret! Yes obviously Maria and I ordered the same thing for the entire meal.

Insta-twins! Shared our meals one after the other.

The entree was served with DaVinci Chianti, which I’ve actually had before at Bertucci’s. I adore Chianti! It has such a robust flavor.

Maria, I, and the rest of the girls found our third/fourth/fifth stomachs the moment we caught glimpses of the desserts! First, each of us was served a mini fallen chocolate cake with a scoop of the most delicious, simple Tahitian vanilla ice cream and raspberry puree. It had been forever since I’d just enjoyed a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of a more “complex” flavor. Though I am all about the complex, it felt so nice to go back to the vanilla days of my childhood and mix the ice cream with the warm, molten syrup center of the chocolate cake. There was no way I wouldn’t finish every last bite.

Do you spy the green sprig below the ice cream? I am not sure what herb it was but it paired quite interestingly with this dish!

Did you really think we were done? NOT A CHANCE. I couldn’t pass up one each of the cannolis and another Italian pastry (I’d call it a croissant with cannoli filling – anyone know what that is called?) on the below tray. EDIT: Thanks to Sara for sharing that the pastry is called a “sfogliatelle”, which means many leaves in Italian. If you look at it you can see why it has that name! I packed up some more of both to bring home to the fam.

The sfogliatelle is next to the cannolis!

AND end meal. Finally, right?! Like I said before, I really want to go back to Tuscany now to enjoy a “normal” sized meal so that I can eat every last bite and not leave with a food baby. But believe me, this food baby was welcomed. I am honestly so proud of myself for enjoying every bite of this meal that I wanted to, knowing I don’t do it all the time, and sleeping quite peacefully that night.

A huge part of that was the fact that I felt so special, appreciated, and in my element during the meal and the entire weekend. I was in the company of good friends who are also bloggers I admire and have read for – in some cases – years! I was the guest of one of my favorite CT destinations and got the chance to try so many authentic Italian dishes at a new-to-me restaurant. And the best part? I didn’t have to do the 45 minute drive back home afterward! 😛

Julie, Me, Tina!

Some of the girls headed out for shopping after the meal wound down (and after we spent a bit more time sitting, digesting, and chatting), but Maria and I were so ready for bedtime.

Pretty sure about ten of these photos were taken.

When we got back to our room, Maria and I had a case of the wine sillies that was sparked by the donning of my matchy-matchy Victoria’s Secret flannel jammies.

Two thumbs up for fancy-pants pajamas!

We decided that the giant…things on our bed looked like foam rollers. Anyone know what they’re called?

What is this thing?!

Sadly, it didn’t function as a foam roller.


Alas, we cheered up and settled in for TV, girl talk, and not too long after, bed. We awoke the next morning like the early birds we are, checked out of the hotel, and checked back into reality. And while reality is always nice to return to, I have to admit that I was texting Maria later that night saying, “I miss Mohegan!”

Thank you to Mohegan Sun, Tuscany, and Michelle for an enchanting evening and Saturday in general!

Though I received accommodations and this meal free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Which dish would you have most liked to try?

Have you ever dined with other bloggers?

Have you ever done any gambling?

Mohegan Sun Blogger Girls Weekend!

Remember that the giveaway for a pair of Sprigs Earbags ends tonight at 11:59PM EST! Make sure to enter before cooking time begins 😛

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you probably saw bits and pieces of my fabulous girls weekend at Mohegan Sun with other bloggers. My love for this Connecticut casino is well-known to readers of this blog. I’ve written about trips there many a time…

Thankfully, Mohegan is a fan of the blog! PR Manager Michelle Williams invited me and some other lovely ladies to spend time at the casino this past weekend, including overnight accommodations in the hotel – which I’ve always wanted to stay in!

I was in some excellent company! L to R: Me, Maria, Anne, Elizabeth, Theodora, Julie, Tina, Bianca, Beth.

Maria and I arrived Saturday morning in our puffy vests, ready to take on a hike at Mystic, CT’s Bluff Point State Park!

In vests that match our personalities! 😉

Mohegan Sun offered each blogger her choice of activity – hiking, biking, shopping, or a visit to Mystic Aquarium. I’m not the most coordinated biker (gimme a stationary spin bike any day) and I’ve already shopped in Mystic and been to the aquarium, so I thought a hike would be a unique activity and a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful day. You know what else is a perfect way to enjoy a day? A limo ride.

My limo crew – Maria and I hiked, while Bianca and Beth visited the aquarium.

I certainly enjoyed riding to and from Mystic in style, though I felt a bit under-dressed for a limo!

Sadly the limo was devoid of champagne.

I spy a Daybreak coffee cup…and snacks!

Maria and I arrived at Bluff Point and were pleasantly surprised to find that we would have a guide! Kim, the Education Director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, made the hike so amazing. Without her, Maria and I would have still been enjoying the sights; with her though, we could know WHAT we were looking at and enjoying, as well as some history of the area.

Look how clean and clear this water is!

Cheesy as it sounds, I felt completely inspired by the fact hidden gems like Bluff Point exist right in my own backyard. It makes me wonder what other beautiful sights are out there that I still haven’t seen!

Saltwater cord grass! (See, I never would have known that without Kim on the hike.)

New opportunities await…

This incredible quiet beach is just a mile from the park entrance – a completely manageable walk for someone who wants to avoid the typical beach crowds!

Upon reaching the top of Bluff Point, Maria and I just had to stop and take a moment to take in the beauty. I can tell Kim enjoyed seeing our reactions.

Me and the big world!

I obviously had to get silly.

Kim led us on a speedy walk back to the entrance to meet the limo (we were running a bit behind) and Maria and I departed with huge smiles on our faces! Thank you Kim!

Me and Kim!

Mohegan Sun was kind enough to provide us boxed lunches, but they were not too plant-heavy and Maria and I both had a hankering for salads. And seafood. To Summer Shack we go!

May or may not have also had a tequila craving.

I ordered a Crab Cobb Salad (no bacon). It was wonderful! I ate every last bite, along with some Summer Shack cornbread.

Look at all that crab!

After lunch (and some shopping…THANKS Maria for getting me into Lush) I was super-excited to check into our room. Why? Three letters. V-I-P!

Michelle arranged for all of us bloggers to check in at the casino’s Aquai VIP Lounge. This was my first time as a VIP and I was not very good at hiding it. For example, when asked if we wanted water or champagne, Maria and I stood dumbfounded. Finally Maria said, “Can we have water AND champagne?”

Balance, exemplified.

The answer, clearly, was OF COURSE!

People who are used to VIP treatment probably don’t ask for pictures of themselves being treated like VIPs.

On our way up to our room (32nd floor, baby!) Maria and I stopped by the indoor pool to scope it out. Um, hello?! How did I not know this beautiful thing existed?! I’ll be back! Look, there’s a bar!

Mohegan Sun totally hooked us up with a room with a view! Completely gorgeous.

The inside of the room was certainly not shabby either. I adored the purple accents throughout! Felt totally perfect for a girls weekend.

Isn’t the tile around the mirror beautiful? The bathroom floor had a matching design!

Makeup mirror and brocade purple shower curtain!

Our toilet came equipped with its own door so its user could have privacy while someone else used the bathroom sink/mirror. It also came equipped with…a phone!

As my grandpa used to say…I was having “a shitty conversation”.

Maria and I spent the rest of the afternoon pampering and getting ready for dinner. As I sat at my laptop uploading photos, letting my nails and hair dry, and sipping champagne, I could hardly believe…my life! I felt so very special and honored that Mohegan Sun was hosting me. You like me, you really like me!

And man oh man, the fun doesn’t stop there. Stay tuned for my recap of our fabulous dinner at Todd English’s Tuscanyto come after Thanksgiving. Which, by the way, is TOMORROW! Really?!

I hope you all have a beautiful Turkey Day and if you don’t celebrate, a fabulous Thursday.

When was the last time you went on a hike?

What’s the most glamorous hotel experience you’ve ever had?

Do you have any casinos in your area?

Disclaimer: Though I received my stay at Mohegan Sun free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own.