clambake3Fresh off Memorial Day, we’re keeping things all American with our traditional New England clambake segment featuring Jasper White, chef and partner of Summer Shack restaurants and Steve DiFillippo, owner of Davio’s restaurants. Watch and learn as one of the master chefs takes you step by step, with Steve as his digger, on how to create the best beach clambake around. Impress your guests and wow them with this exciting presentation.

music:Bear's DenWith so many alternative bands in this world, it’s hard to find one that fits all your criteria, especially when it comes to folk. Look no further because Bear’s Den brings you just that. Originally out of West London, this British alternative folk band not only brings you soothing music but also brings the comfort of bands like The Lumineers and more.

2012 was one of their first tours on the road with Ben Howard, The Staves and Nathaniel Rateliff but their big break was touring alongside Mumford & Sons as headliners. They also toured alongside Australian singer/songwriter Matt Corby in October of 2013. Soon after, Bear’s Den received the Deezer Award from the PRS for Music Foundation in June 2014 and landed the chance to participate in the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.

After years of releasing EP’s, their debut album, Islands released on Communion Records in October 2014.  The label was founded in 2006 by Bear’s Den member Kevin Jones, Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and producer Ian Grimble.

From their new album, Island, the song to listen to is “Above the Clouds of Pompeii.” Its smooth sounds of the country side provokes the thought of just letting go and being free. If you are a Mumford & Sons fan, then Bear’s Den is for you so relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in television shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more, you’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

If you are a huge Mumford & Sons fan, then this band is just for you. Relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in many TV shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more. You’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

It’s not always easy being a vegetarian in Spain. Because I also eat fish and seafood–and I live in Barcelona, which is smack on the sea–it’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible. In Madrid, I would call it impossible. There is a big deli there, for instance, called El Museo del Jamón.  Generally, all over Spain there is a general suspicion of those who do not follow the cult of the slaughtered cow and pig. That small club would include both my husband U.B. and me.

So, we greet with joy the discovery of an extraordinary Spanish dish that is not based on meat. And there is a family of soups whose ingredients have never been near a pig.  The chilled soups are a refreshing thirst-quencher in the parched southern reaches of Spain’s Andalucia, where summer days can be broiling.

GAZPACHO

Everybody knows about gazpacho, the perfect chilled tomato-garlic-and-vegetable first course on a hot day, and in Spain it is as readily available in the local grocery store as orange juice.  My family slugs it down right from the carton if we’re on the road, and it’s one of our daughter Stassa’s favorite after-school snacks.  Still, nothing beats the homemade version, which is not difficult to make in either a blender or a food processor; recipes abound on the Internet.  Crucial to its success is the crunch factor of the accouterments that you add when serving gazpacho at your table:  diced green (or red) pepper and cucumber, little cubes of fresh tomato, and crispy croutons of bread that have been toasted with olive oil.  I like a sprig of rosemary or basil in mine.

 

 

SALMOREJO

Salmorejo from gildedfork.com

Salmorejo from gildedfork.com

The other tomato-based soup that has not found the international fame of its cousin gazpacho is called salmorejo.  A search for the etymology of the word led me nowhere, but it almost certainly has something to do with salt (“sal”) in spite of its being not exceedingly salty.  When I plug the word salmorejo into Google translate, the English translation is…(fanfare): “Gazpacho!”

As far as I can tell (after hundreds of tastings), salmorejo, whose origins are in the Andalucian city of Córdoba, varies from its more famous cousin mostly in the inclusion of a higher proportion of bread amongst its ingredients, which renders the soup a slightly lighter shade of red, and considerably thicker, than your average bowl (or glass) of gazpacho.  The ingredients list is also shorter, focusing on vine-ripened tomatoes, green olive oil, garlic and bread.  It is often garnished with cubes of ham and hard boiled egg.

AJO BLANCO

Ajo Blanco from Mercado Calabajio.

Ajo Blanco from Mercado Calabajio.

An unsung cousin to the red chilled soups is little known outside of Andalusia, and almost completely unheard of outside of Spain.  The secret of the creamy white, refreshingly chilled ajo blanco or “white gazpacho” summer soup seems to be well guarded.

U.B. and I first discovered ajo blanco in the swank restaurant of one of Spain’s most charming paradores, a converted fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Carmona, outside of Seville. Since my lactose-tolerance is not high, I at first shied away from the white soup in spite of U.B.’s swooning response to it. Only after asking the waiter, “Que es esto?” and hearing the list of ingredients, did I dive in and become a life-long fan.

Ajo blanco is more than the sum of its parts. In fact, the ingredients at first seem to be seriously at odds with each other: Bread. Almonds. Olive oil. Grapes. Vinegar. And of course garlic (ajo).

 

Here is a recipe, freely adapted from a version that I found at EPICURIOUS.COM:

Toast several slices of country bread without its crusts and soak in a cup of ice water.

Toast about a dozen sliced almonds in a skillet until golden, then grind them in a processor with one clove of garlic.

Squeeze the bread dry and add it to the almond/garlic mixture, along with half a pound of seedless green grapes.

Process until smooth then put it into a bowl and mix it together with 3 Tbsp. of wine vinegar, a half cup of extra virgin olive oil and two cups of ice water.

Strain it through a sieve, forcing as much bread through as possible. Add salt and cayenne pepper, and chill well, at least one hour.

Serve the soup with freshly toasted croutons and more green seedless grapes, cut in half.  I know it sounds weird, but trust me.

Once while traveling around the south of Spain, we came across a thicker, dip-like version of ajo blanco, which is usually a rather thin soup. Quite a surprise and just as yummy.

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treesBoston’s annual Party in the Park was held last week to benefit the Justine Mee Liff Fund and the theme this year was “The Fascinator”. Since 2005, this party has been taking place in the Emerald Necklace, one of the many greeneries throughout Boston, which the fund helps maintain and restore. 700 of Boston’s most beautifully dressed women and a handful of gentlemen came out to celebrate and raise money for the parks.

Thankfully, we were graced with sunny, beautiful weather for the first time in a few years and raised approximately one million dollars, a great gift for the city of Boston. This money will  work nicely alongside the 4.1 million dollars committed by Mayor Marty Walsh at the event on behalf of the city. Hats off to the guests and to Boston for helping to take care of our parks!

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photo credit: Lisa Richov, The Social Stylist

unlimited choices and lengthy directions...

workshop days. unlimited choices and lengthy directions…

I really do try to follow directions when it comes to my work. I read all the instructions on the back of each finish or paint I purchase, I prep the projects accordingly and I google anything and everything to try and create the best finished product I can. But sometimes…I’m just too impatient — or my vision for the project just isn’t translating into the real world as I wanted it to. If for some reason said project starts to look worse than it did on the side of the road, then that’s when I really start to break the rules. I’ll try anything to fix it in that moment, if it starts to get worse than I usually hate myself for being so impulsive, if it starts to get better, I blow smoke up my own ass and think of how one can be such a genius.

Why am I going on a rant about proper application of paint or stain, or prepping a surface correctly? Because sometimes it really just doesn’t matter what the product says you’re supposed to do with it. “For best results” is all relative.

dresser beforeFor instance, take this dresser covered in layers of paint. Latex, oil, lead – the whole shebang. It’s old and looks like crap because paint was just slopped on. Which is why I’m sure it was on the side of the road. I could tell the piece was solid and I was attracted to the simple, mid-century lines and oversized pull handles. Naturally the first step was to remove all those layers of paint. My method of choice when it comes to layers of old finishes? Paint remover — I’ll take the toxic fumes over lead dust. “Strips all paints in 30 minutes!” No it doesn’t.

It was hot as hell outside and the humidity was off the charts. I followed the instructions for proper application. That’s an hour and a half of paint removal in mid-May in Massachusetts. I was burning up like a hooker in church surrounded by toxic chemicals wearing goggles and the thickest, longest chemical gloves you’ve ever seen. We’re talking “Breaking Bad” status here, without the meth. So not only was I dripping sweat onto the dresser, I’m pretty sure the fumes were starting to get to me as well.  After playing nice with my putty knife and pick set, I grabbed my beastly wire brush and attacked the dresser drawers. Not only does lead paint cause dementia when ingested — which my brain cannot afford, it turns to goo when using paint remover. I was basically brushing the paint around on the wood.

paint remover progression

Once I realized these streaks of forest green and white were here to stay, I decided to take a chance and go with a distressed look. I feathered out the paint to smooth the edges so it blended nicely with the wood and sealed it with polyurethane. Going back to my rules rant — all polyurethane products say they cannot be applied over paint — is a lie. I found this out by breaking the rules and coming up with a different, but equally admirable finished product. The polyurethane is smooth to the touch and dried perfectly, just as it would on a clean, clear wooden surface.

The frame of the dresser was a different story and was able to be completely stripped because of its simple shape. So no problems there.

Dresser - after

What’s my point here? Break the rules and get creative. Experiment with your findings. If you picked something from the trash and it ends up looking like shit…you can always put it back in the trash.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or you’re interested to see what else I’ve created, you can find me on Etsy here.

 

D.H. Lawrence once wrote that, “Design in art, is a recognition of the relation between various things, various elements in the creative flux. You can’t invent a design. You recognize it, in the fourth dimension. That is, with your blood and your bones, as well as with your eyes.” As an interior designer at Troy Boston I have set out to design a space that focuses on “The Art of Function” in Italian design. Drawing inspiration from designers like Eero Saarinen, I have teamed up with expert curator of Italian furnishings and owner of Sedia, Dan Weldon, to help me evoke the architectural allure of Italy, a land as rich in history as it is in culture, and artisanal mastery.

Featured designs from Vibieffe, Toneilli and Saba Italia. Designed by Gianluigi Landoni, Paolo Grasselli and Sergio Bicego.

In our continuous quest for craftsmanship and inspiration, Dan set out to Milan Design Week to explore some of the new collections at the Salone del Mobile — a sprawling, citywide celebration of the most innovative, and most exclusive offerings in furniture and design.

Vessels by Kose designed by Rosaria Rattin.

This year, Milan Design Week was all about the palazzo, with several exhibitions hosted in these spectacular historic residences, dripping with purple wisteria.

Slim lines, muted colors and the use of natural materials mixed with marble and glass seemed to be the common theme among the exhibitors, Dan told me. There was a strong focus on compact and modular furnishings, which stood out in contrast to the more grand collections.With accent colors ranging from bold oranges and leafy greens to purples, and pastels, its safe to say that designers are embracing the warmer tones in lieu of colder polished finishes.After touring our Troy Boston unit, Dan and I hope you’ll feel at home and be inspired by the Milanese spirit. After all, “A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello.” (To every bird his nest is beautiful.)

Guest Contributor: Dylan Connor

THE MUSTS

  • Ultimate Value Driven Destinations within a 20 block radius.
  • The Transport: By car from Boston; Walking.

THE STAY

The Morgans Hotel – Madison Ave

Morgans Hotel Dining

Located at 237 Madison Ave., the Morgans Hotel is the original jewel in Ian Shrager’s boutique hotel empire. The instinctively modernist interiors are timeless and were created by the emissary of Parisian chic:Andre Putnam. This hotel is full of thoughtful luxury including rainfall showerheads, down duvets and pillows, Malin & Goetz bath amenities and complimentary breakfast, complete with homemade granola and classic New York bagels. It remains a best kept value secret in town with an unbeatable location.

THE EATS

The Meatball Shop -9th & 22nd

The Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop – 9th and 22nd streets (one of five locations). They’ve got balls and a not so secret weapon in chef Daniel Holzman, who hails from Le Bernadin. He and business partner Michael Chernow have created an irreverent and nostalgic haven of affordable comfort foods with a best in class aura. Locally sourced meats (Heritage Pork, Creekstone Farms Beef and Murray’s Chicken, which they grind themselves) are transformed into an innovative menu that is frugal in its pricing yet high in style and flavor. Dig in to the Meatball Smash – two balls on a Brioche bun with sauce and cheese or a purely simple slider. Wash it down with a Shop Specialty Cocktail: the Fool-Aid Punch ( brandy, rum, citrus and grape sugar) or a Homegrown Classic: Moscow Mule: Brooklyn Republic (vodka, lime and ginger beer). Whiskey lovers should check out the whiskey grid. Have it neat or cleverly disguised in a Whiskey float with Vanilla (citrus liqueur, root beer and vanilla ice cream). And finally, we suggest The Sweet Ending: an ice cream sandwich concocted with house-made ice cream and freshly baked cookies. Our favorite? Chocolate chip with brown sugar ice cream. That’s just the surface of a comprehensive menu that does not disappoint.

Virgil’s BBQ-44th right off Times Square

Virgils Times Square

 

Located on 44th Street, Virgil’s real barbecue is right off Times Square in the heart of the Theater District. Classic Roadhouse décor sets the tone in an atmosphere that is casual and welcoming. The streamlined service is a fast and friendly group of aspiring actors. Stick with Virgil’s favorites and you can’t miss. Two genuine Southern Pride Smokers churn out the tastiest Carolina Pulled Pork and BBQ Chicken in the North. Split an order of Trainwreck fries or BBQ nachos. (These are not for the faint of heart in portion or calories.) Beer aficionados may rejoice in choosing a flight of “Three of Your Choice,” or indulge in Virgil’s Own Ale, Coney Island Lager or Skrumpies Cider.

THE RAMBLE — Central Park

The Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden

Central Park is 843 acres that were curated by preeminent landscape architect Frederick law Olmsted in 1858. With daily official guided or self-guided tours, we have three scintillating suggestions and they’re free!: Brush up on your Shakespeare! Don’t miss The Shakespeare Garden, named for the famed English poet and playwright and includes four enchanting acres of scattered quotes, flowers and plants all drawn from his illustrious works.

The Chess & Checkers House

The Chess & Cracker House

For the gamer in all of us- compete in The Chess and Checkers House—BYOC or borrow Chess, Checkers or Backgammon and Dominos.

The Carousel

The Carousel

The Carousel—Legend has it that the original ride was powered by a live mule or horse hidden beneath the carousel platform. Today’s vintage carousel was found in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island. It was crafted in 1908 by the Brooklyn firm Stein & Goldstein and is considered one of the finest and largest examples of American Folk Art in existence. With its 57 majestic horses, it is the fourth to stand in Central Park since 1871.

THE SHOWS

Hedwig and the Angry Inch- Starring John Cameron Mitchell

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring writer/creator John Cameron Mitchell, at the Belasco Theatre. The Tony-winning revival has been updated and revamped from the original Off-Broadway and film versions, which serves the larger-than-life character of Hedwig well. Mitchell is a true manifestation of stage charisma, and the music seamlessly bridges rock’n’roll and musical theater. The Tony-winning lighting design by Kevin Adams rounds out a glamorous, hilarious, and heartfelt experience. Day-of lottery tickets provide great seats for a very low price.

Finding Neverland — with Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer

finding neverland

“Finding Neverland,” starring Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly, and Kelsey Grammer, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Directed by the incomparable Tony-winner Diane Paulus with fantastic music by first-timers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, it is also a first for Harvey Weinstein as a Broadway producer. It is a surprisingly sympathetic turn from Morrison, complemented with grace by Kelly, and rounded out by Grammer’s panache. The simply designed set perfectly frames Paulus’ elegant staging and the stunning choreography from Mia Michaels of TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” fame. An overall excellent adaptation of the 2004 film, while still establishing its own style and take on the story of J.M. Barrie and his inspiration for “Peter Pan.” Stand in line a few hours before the box office opens, and experience the spectacle from amazing seats for an incredibly affordable price.

Kennedy

Training for the Napa to Sonoma half-marathon continues…

This week our training consisted of running a 6K road race in Brockton. It was the same place we had run a couple of weeks ago, so I was familiar with the terrain. Which normally would be a good thing, you know the lay of the land as it were, you know where the big hill is, and you know when to kick into gear near the end. For some reason this works in reverse for me. If I’ve done it before it just psyches me out. I have little voices in my head telling me to quit before I’ve even begun. AND IT’S ONLY 3.75 MILES. What happens when we have to run more? I seriously need to find a way to get out of my own way.

I have tried running with music, with audiobooks, with podcasts, and with nothing but the wind in my ears. Nothing seems to make it stop. In fact, I think the only way I can get that little voice to shut it’s shit-talking mouth is to talk to it. But, funnily enough, talking while running alone gets you mad side-eye from people you pass. But for some reason I prefer talking to myself. Well, I should be more precise, arguing with myself. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived alone for so long, but conversing with myself is something I do all the time. At home, at work, at Foodies while deciding on ground grass-fed beef or bison, (the little voice wants Bison, my voice wants whats cheap) but it just sounds weird when you are running.

Now that you think I’m a total psychopath, please know my doctor says talking to yourself is totally normal. So don’t worry about my brain, it has an entire village of people tending to it. But I digress.

Moo

I’m so excited to get to Napa and run this sucker. And drink a lot of wine. And find this guy at the Charles Creek Tasting Room.

Her name is Ms Moo-lot and she’s made entirely of wine corks. How cool is that? I have a great love for that which falls under the heading of “Roadside Americana” and finding kitch like this in a fancy place like Napa/Sonoma brings me joy.

runningI finished the 6K a little faster than I had run the course last time, so high five for me! And my entire team was there at the finish line to cheer me on. Team Challenge is full of warriors and I’m so honored to be a part of this amazing group!

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Perkins:openCorinne Grousebeck continued an annual spring tradition at Barney’s New York with a sumptuous breakfast hosted to benefit Perkins School for the Blind.  As a special treat this year we were joined by designer Sarah Flint and jewelry designer Nak Armstrong, who recently dressed the earlobes of Michele Obama at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in Washington, D.C. I was able to spend some time chatting with Nak and he told me he chose a ruffle top tear drop signature style, which was chunky, but lightweight for the First Lady–another signature element of his designs.

I fell in love with a moonstone earring, which upon first glance, looked somewhat heavy, but when I tried it on was light as a feather. Another item I fancied were his ear jackets. Sculptural and organic at the same time, the jewelry is light and wearable and runs in the 2,000-15,000.00 price range. (hint-Mother’s Day is right around the corner.) Nak is working on a fall collection at the moment and counts origami as a main inspiration. He does all the sketching and relies on his top notch production team to create the jewels.

Perkins:jewelry The presentation was relaxed and fashion guru Simon Doonan moderated, throwing in a few tips on taking selflies. In his adorable, self deprecating way, Nak explained that because of his “big head” he tends to go towards the back of the pic when a selfie is being taken. Somon then offered up the opposite—he said run to the front of the picture and fill up the empty space. He was also privy to hints from a few of the models he’s worked with over the years—Kate Moss, “put your chin on a ledge”—Irving Penn, “say Thursday” because your mouth will never look bad in any part of the word.” Though Sarah hasn’t had quite the experience of Simon, she too had excellent tips for selflies and recommended holding the camera up high so as to avoid the dreaded double chin.

When asked about trends for spring/summer, Simon shied away from the question, stating that he doesn’t really pay attention to trends because fashion is evolving and trends never stay the same. But when pressed for an answer he did say that St Laurent was doing the glam rock 70’s, which was a trend that he saw as relevant.

Here are some of the fabulous women who came out to support not only Perkins School for the Blind but…twist my arm…Barneys.

After our lovely breakfast, we were set free on the floors of Barneys to shop privately before the store opened. Letting a group of women do this is almost as cool as letting a group of kids spend the night in a library or museum. Linda Henry and I hit the shoe department immediately. We got to chat with Sarah a bit and learned that she is from Lincoln and now runs her operation out of her atelier in New York City and in Italy.  Knowing that she always wanted to be a shoe designer, Sarah studied at FIT. She worked as a nanny when she was starting her company, and considers it a real honor to see her first collection at Barneys this season. There are 28 styles in the collection; you can find 10 in Boston and 14 in NYC.  Sarah told us the number of styles will grow, but so far she’s been happy and so have her clients, who include Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, and Heidi Klum.

We all got our outfits and jewelry for the Perkins Gala on May 7 and our shoes for our trip to Greece this summer!

Photo Credit: Pretty Instant Photographers/Rosa Caban

 
Téa Leoni and Madeleine Albright

Téa Leoni and Madeleine Albright

She shattered the glass ceiling, becoming the first female US Secretary of State. Madeleine Albright, who paved the way for a progressive future in government, was recently seen at The White House Correspondent’s Dinner with another of our favorite Power Players, Téa Leoni. Terri Stanley sat down with Madame Secretary on a previous trip to Boston to talk about her pin collection and the political and diplomatic significance behind them. Find out what she said about Hillary Clinton, Wellesley College, democracy and the pin she wore for Saddam.

AnneFontaine W TONYAWhen you think of white shirts, the brand Anne Fontaine comes immediately to mind. I met with the designer during a trip to Boston at her flagship store, 280 Boylston St, Heritage On the Garden. (I tried not to get too distracted by the big orange box on the corner of the street where Hermes is getting its makeover.) Upon entering the cozy boutique, I was drawn to a wall of shirt collars. Anne told me in her shy and sexy portugese accent (her father is French and her mother Brazilian), that the collars developed initially because she uses them in the design process. She has about 3,000 of these collars in her atelier in the North of France–Normandy to be exact.

Anne Fontaine Collars

And she likes to “play” with them, experimenting with the shirt designs by changing the collars. She initially put them up as a gallery in her store in Paris about 5 years ago. They weren’t for sale, just for display, but immediately customers wanted them. A new idea was born, and she started selling the collars as accoutrements to her beautiful shirts. They can be worn over round neck shirts, as well as with strapless gowns–as a sort of collar/necklace, skin showing between the two. Their versatility is endless. I am even reminded of the green beaded collar that Scarlett Johansen wore to the Oscars this year. Anne’s collars tend to stay in the black and/or white color scheme and vary from extremely conservative to supremely fabulous.

Anne is currently working on her Summer 2016 collection. She is inspired by life and the silhouette of the femme fatale–a strong 60’s influence with idols such as Marlene Dietrich serving as muses. The Anne Fontaine woman in her eyes can be a young lady, a mother, a grandmother, anyone who wants their first white shirt.

white dress

After studying marine biology, she ended up in fashion and launched the brand in 1993. Anne has always had a passion for nature, and felt that it was time to give back. The Amazon rainforest is close to her heart because she lived there when she was 17. She established the Anne Fontaine Foundation to benefit the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, an area in peril, and once a year on Forest Day, 50% of the proceeds from any sales in her store go to this charity.

Tiziana Dearing has had a lot of experience dealing with the cycles of poverty. Jan Saragoni sat down with Tiziana when she was CEO of Boston Rising in 2011 to discuss her efforts to change people’s understanding of poverty. She is currently an Associate Professor of Macro Practice at the School of Social Work at Boston College and was recently seen on Greater Boston with Jim Braude talking about the situation in Nepal.

Bliss
Your wedding day will be here faster than you can say “I do,” and while you’ve probably already chosen the perfect venue, a photographer to capture your most precious moments, and a wedding dress that’s sure to make your groom’s heart skip a beat, you may have overlooked one important tradition… a bridal shower!
After all, now that he’s put a ring on it, its time to celebrate with your best friends! Since there’s no better way to shower the bride than to relieve the stress of planning a wedding, a relaxing spa day is the ideal venue for some pre wedded bliss.
champs
Looking to find the perfect spa? Piece of cake, right? Well, it depends on how you slice it. Since the bride should be the true centerpiece of the day, choosing a venue that makes your experience all about her is a must. Enter Bliss Spa. The exclusive spa, located in the W Hotel, is a luxe oasis of calm, where you and your friends will be greeted with champagne and desserts to be enjoyed in a tranquil, chic lounge. From here, each guest is taken to be ped-ied, man-ied, massaged, and pampered to perfection by the talented Bliss Spa staff. Post-treatment, the group is led back to the private lounge to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, dancing, and a chance to toast the bride-to-be!
Bliss Spa
After experiencing the bridal spa package myself, (I know what you’re thinking, tough day on the job) I’ve decided that Bliss Spa at the W Hotel is truly the hostess with the mostest. With Mani-pedi stations equipped with personal headsets, flatscreen TVs, high-tech women’s locker rooms with some serious perks, and brownies that are as sweet as can be, Bliss truly offers superior ‘spa-ing’.
Whether you opt to have you and your friends enjoy relaxing massages, facials, or any other services, a Bliss Spa Bridal shower will provide a tranquil and fun experience that will leave you feeling fulfilled and renewed. Bottom line? Bliss Spa’s bridal and ladies night out packages are a proposal you can’t refuse. ’Vow’ to pamper yourself before the big day with decadent packages designed to make the bride and her entire bridal party look and feel their best.
A blissful escape awaits you…
Stylist: Zoey Gulmi
Photography: Lisa Richov
Hair: Elle Cohen of Salon Mario Russo
Flower Arrangements: Winston Flowers

Now in its fifth year in Boston, Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival of photography is now running at various locations in Boston. The headlining event, an exhibition of the work of photographer Bill Brett, opens on Friday, May 1 and runs through Sunday, May 3. (There is a public reception on Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.) The Brett show features 50 photographs from Bill’s latest book, “Boston: Irish.” Boston magazine has a full rundown of the 2015 Flash Forward Festival.

RomeAmong the many pearls of wisdom shared with us as we were packing to leave San Francisco for a six-month stint at the American Academy in Rome a decade ago was this: leave behind that dainty McLaren stroller that your one-year-old has been so happy in, and invest in a jogging stroller.  In fact, the average American toddler vehicle is no match for the ancient stone streets of Rome.  Although little Stassa still had to survive some bone-rattling tours through the Eternal City while hanging onto her bottle for dear life, the sturdy jogging stroller (which we had picked up second-hand before leaving northern California) survived our half-year stay in Rome, and then some.  We subsequently had a ceremony to say goodbye to it in a dumpster on the Greek island of Crete, after it had admirably served its purpose.

Stassa and U.B. touristing in Urbino when she was one-and-a-half.  The other parent is running laps around the inside of this museum!

Stassa and U.B. touristing in Urbino when she was one-and-a-half. The other parent is running laps around the inside of this museum!

One great frustration for us new parents as artists and art historians was having to sacrifice the leisurely strolls through museums that we had cherished in our early years together.  U.B. and I had chosen to raise infant Stassa ourselves, and we didn’t even employ a nanny until we arrived in Rome when she was a year-and-a-half old, and then only for a few hours on alternate mornings.  So usually when we set off to discover Borromini, or Caravaggio, or Bramante, our toddler daughter was with us.  A strategy that worked for us, mostly, was to take along a favorite outdoor-kind-of-toy (Stassa’s was a plastic geodesic kind of ball–a gift from a dear friend in Napa–which didn’t roll very far or bounce at all).  Then, when we set off for a baroque church or an ancient history museum, this was the routine:

PARENT ONE: Entertain junior in the cloister of the church or the piazza in front of the museum, by kicking and tossing the ball back and forth for as long as you can stand it, alternating with a game of peek-a-boo behind the cypress trees, or, if there’s a fountain, play Let’s Get Daddy Wet.  (But not too wet.)

PARENT TWO: Make a mad dash through the galleries or the historic building, making mental or written notes on the highlights to share with Parent One.

When these activities are exhausted, PARENT ONE and PARENT TWO change roles.

A hint that I almost hate to admit to: dash into the gift shop first and quickly review the postcard rack, which inevitably features the “greatest hits” paintings and sculptures on view in the permanent collection galleries, and seek them out first.

This “treasure hunt” strategy has taken a slightly different turn in more recent years since we’re occasionally able to coerce Stassa into spending an hour or so with us inside a museum.  Even for grown-ups, including artistically inclined grown-ups like us, a visit to the Louvre or the Uffizi can seem overwhelming almost from the moment you pass through the entrance.  (If the queues are long enough, it can seem overwhelming BEFORE you go through the front door!)  We have devised some unofficial treasure hunts that are best implemented if your kid has a friend with her to “compete” with.  Recently upon entering the newly re-opened Musée Picasso in Paris, we let Stassa know that her job was to find a goat, a sculpture of a bull’s head, and a painting of Picasso’s son dressed as a harlequin (we might have misguided her on that one).  It kept her somewhat occupied and mostly focused, at least long enough for her parents to enjoy an untroubled hour with the new hanging of the permanent collection in the beautiful Hotel Salé in the Marais, which we had really missed on our last few trips while it was closed for renovations.  At the Louvre, armed with the maps provided at the admissions desk, she and a friend went on a mission devised by their parents to find the route toward five masterpieces: Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa,” the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, Jacques-Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon,” and of course, the Mona Lisa, barely visible–from their ten-year-old perspective–over the heads of a zillion visitors taking pictures with their iPhones of a distant portrait behind a couple layers of glass.

THE TREASURE HUNT STRATEGY:

It’s too bad scooters aren’t allowed in the Louvre, as we’ve found our lives radically altered by the fairly modest purchase of three two-wheeled vehicles that we use to zip around the flatter parts of our home city, Barcelona.  Since we live in the Gothic Quarter, where few cars can fit through the narrow stone canyons, the scooter provides a terrific alternative to walking.  We’ve found that by rolling rather than walking, the family can cover a lot more ground before the moaning about when-are-we-gonna-get-there begins.  Local sporting goods stores like the French Decathlon sell adult scooters for as little as 79 euros, a small investment equal to a couple of taxi rides.*

TRAVELING EURO STYLE:

When we do take road trips (and we do!) we’ve been amazed at our daughter’s powers of concentration if an audio book is playing on the car speakers.  Assuming you can pry her iPad away from her, the magic provided by listening to a fictional (or non-fictional) tale that somehow relates to the countryside that you’re traveling through, is immeasurable.  We played “The Little Prince” and some tales from Jules Verne for Stassa on a drive from Spain toward Bordeaux.  And on road trips in the USA, a place that she likes to visit, but doesn’t really relate to culturally, she has delighted in hearing the adventures of Laura, Mary and Baby Carrie in “Little House on the Prairie” (voiced by actress Cherry Jones in the version that we bought on line).  Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” was less successful; maybe we’ll save that for next time.  We’ve just bought both “The Yearling” and “The Old Man and the Sea” for an upcoming trip to Florida, but we’re not sure that either of us drivers will be able to see to navigate through our tears.  Maybe we’ll just let her watch “The Deathly Hallows” on our way to Harry Potter’s Wizarding World…

Here is a link to Decathlon’s webpage that shows a range of adult scooter prices.

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