Sometimes you get to combine work and things and places you love, and over the past year, that’s happened to me more than once. I got to work in Sonoma on a project last summer, and for the past year I have been working with the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council in Western Massachusetts. As a UMass alum, I find that Amherst and Northampton hold some of my favorite memories, and the area is still one of my favorites to visit. There is SO much good food, beer, and wine, and gorgeous open outdoor space. And that’s just the beginning.

A few weeks ago I headed West for a meeting, and since it was on a Friday, I decided to stay the night in Northampton.

The beautiful and historic Hotel Northampton, a business I also work with, was my home for the night. It’s the perfect place to stay, and I’m not just saying that because I am lucky enough to work with them.

 

Hotel Northampton atrium

 

Hotel Northampton

Built in 1927, the hotel maintains historic charm and character while also being impeccably clean and well-kept, a true place of elegance and luxury, where you feel like sinking into a chair and never leaving.

Hotel Northampton lobby    Hotel Northampton Our beautiful and cozy room featured two balconies, where we enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle of Northampton on a warm July night.

Northampton, MA Throughout, lovely little details like bookshelves, beautiful old fixtures, and welcoming staff really add to the special feel of the hotel.

Hotel Northampton Wiggins Tavern Wiggins Tavern, with its dark wood, plaid furniture, and historic artifacts is a place that can’t be missed. They have a great food and drink selection, and being that it’s a tavern that was actually brought from another location, it is just very interesting.

Hotel Northampton

Free breakfast at the Coolidge Park Cafe is filling and delicious, served in a bright and sunny space, the perfect way to start the day.

It was tempting to just hang out at the hotel, but there’s so much going on in Northampton and its surroundings, we had to get out and about. We enjoyed part of the Northampton Arts Council Summer Concert Series, which took place right next to the hotel, and we browsed the sidewalk sales which were happening that weekend.

 

New City Brewery

We had heard great things about New City Brewery and their ginger beer mimosa flight, and it certainly lived up to the hype! How beautiful is this?! It was SO delicious and refreshing and a unique tasting option.

In the same complex, we stumbled into the Community Food Engine, a really cool hydroponic restaurant and indoor park. It wasn’t open yet, but from the peek we got, we were definitely intrigued!

Community Food Engine

For me, no trip to the Northampton area is complete without visiting Black Birch Vineyards. I love their wine and their stunning vineyard views. I kicked my shoes off, got a cold glass of Chardonnay, and soaked up the beautiful country life.

Black Birch Vineyard

While there are many places to eat in Northampton, I will admit I had two meals at Bueno y Sano, and old college favorite. I will forever love their tacos and am obsessed with their hot sauce. The next time I visit, I want to explore more of the restaurants, including Bistro le Gras, which everyone raves about. I need a week to eat there!

bueno y sano

Before we headed out of town, we stretched our legs with a walk on the trail at the Mill River, which is very close to downtown Northampton. You can really have the best of all worlds, fine dining and shopping, downtown life, and outdoor adventures all within a few miles in Western Massachusetts.

Mill River Mill River

For past posts on visiting Western Massachusetts:

Eating our Way around Amherst

Perfect Massachusetts Getaway

If you’re interested in a Western Massachusetts itinerary, don’t miss the Visit Hampshire County blog.

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Tags: Massachusetts, Northampton, Travel, travel blog, travel blog posts, travel blogger, Western Massachusetts

The dog days of summer have meant very little cooking in these parts. There’s  been a lot of boat snacking and patio dining at our Dorchester favorites and many nights where some cheese and crackers made the meal. The one saving grace to our wallets and waistlines was our July Just Add Cooking week. As in past blog posts, Just Add Cooking kindly provided me with three meals to blog about. I’ve become a huge fan of the meals and local ingredients and just recently got a friend a gift card for a baby gift.

green gazpacho

It’s been HOT in Boston (and I am loving it), so two of my meal choices were cold meals, Gazpacho and Shrimp Ceviche and a super easy Chicken Caesar Salad.

I love ceviche but had never made it before, so I was a little nervous. As always, with the ingredients and instructions at the ready, Just Add Cooking made it simple. I absolutely loved the ceviche and gazpacho combo. It was well thought out and felt like air conditioning for the whole body. Plus it had a nice kick to it, always a bonus for me!

chicken caesar salad

The Caesar Salad was good, nothing out-of-the-ordinary, but a solid summer dinner that was delicious, made even more so by grilling the chicken. The recipe called for mushrooms, which I found a little odd for a Caesar salad, so I left them out and used them in something else. I like the guidance that Just Add Cooking provides but also the flexibility to make small changes here and there.

Our final meal of the week was the Italian Beef and Vegetable Sauté, which got a ton of flavor from sundried tomatoes. It was definitely more of a fall or winter meal, very comforting and rustic, and something I would definitely make again when it’s a little cooler. 

 

Italian Beef and Vegetable Saute

I am hoping the next few weeks are all out garden and farmers market eating, and then I am looking forward to getting on a cooking schedule that includes a week or two a month of Just Add Cooking. While I am enjoying the many weeks of summer left, I also know that fall will be busy!

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Tags: Boston blogger, cooking, Food, food blog, Just Add Cooking, summer

July is my favorite month of the year because it is full-on summer. It’s not August 1, when people start trying to rock boots and scarves and pumpkin beers in the 90 degree heat. It’s mostly not back-to-school time yet. While I do have to work in July, there is just something so free and “like a kid again” about it. I love the late sunsets, the bare feet, falling asleep in a bikini with salty hair after an epic day on the water. I love eating string beans and strawberries for breakfast right out of the garden, doing cartwheels in the grass, and snuggling up in the air conditioned dark bedroom to watch the Tour de France after a long hot day out. Yes, I love July. I feel like I have many versions of what my heaven would be: Ireland in March, Sonoma County anytime, and New England in July. Love.

Most of the below photos are from my Instagram, so apologies if you have already seen them. If this blog is anything, I want it to be a place to chronicle all of the joys in life, big and small.

Here’s how I spent my July. What are your favorite July moments?

 

Boston Harbor Boating

I’ve been boating and swimming as much as humanly possible, and I wish I could do more.

boating

Rainsford Island

When not out on the water, I’ve tried to get to the beach, both here in Massachusetts and in New Jersey. Beach blanket bubbly and blue seas make for the perfect summer Saturday.

Hull Beaches

 

Jersey Shore

And family trips to the Jersey Shore are basically a summer requirement.

Point Pleasant

When not on the boat or at the beach, we’ve spent plenty of time in our friends’ pool, a beautiful and fun oasis.

pool days

Summer foods have been consumed in abundance. We grill a couple of times a week at least.

grilling

 

We loved post-beach roasted oysters at Art’s in Hull.

oysters kohrs custard   And I ate my fill of Kohr’s custard in New Jersey.

watermelon margarita

I matched my margarita to my purse (by accident).

garden veggies

And have been absolutely obsessed with my garden. There’s still so much growing to do this season, but we have definitely enjoyed the harvest so far. I visit my garden at least once a day; it is so peaceful to breathe in the fresh greenery, and it makes my day to see new blossoms.

nasturtium

sunflower

Suja juice

On one of the hottest days, Suja paid me a visit with a case of cold juice! I loved the Suja can, and each of the delicious juices they brought. My favorite was the Uber Greens and the Probiotic Water, which was perfection after a sweaty run.

Suja

Blue Hills

From the Blue Hills to wandering Lower Mills to block parties on the Greenway, sunsets in the Seaport, and a Paul McCartney concert at Fenway, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed living in Boston during our favorite season. I just want to be outside whenever possible.

Boston Calling Block Party Boston Harbor Sunset

 

Paul McCartney

And finally, we closed July out with the Hull Harbor Illumination, one of my favorite annual events, where we somehow were able to wrangle together a big group of family members for dinner and to watch the illumination.

Hull Harbor Illumination I’m sad to see July go but thrilled to have seven (yes seven) actual weeks of summer left. It doesn’t end on Labor Day, my friends!

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Tags: beaches, boating, boating in Boston, Boston, coastal living, New England, summer, Travel

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