Thursday, March 31, 2011

the boat house

another treat today!  my mom has agreed to share her take on one of our all-time favorite places.  the boat house.  my mom and dad introduced craig and me to this classy little bar, and it never disappoints.  so, without further ado, here is my oh-so-eloquent mama!  (oh, and my dad took all the pictures : )

Hello all!  My name is Janet, and I’m Cailen’s Mom.  Thanks, to Cai, for asking me to write my first blog post!  I do write daily, in a boutique real estate company, but complimentary descriptives  about old stone houses and country estates is a bit different from blogging.   But, having a real passion for this completely wonderful  river valley area was motivation enough, and Cailen has kindly and gently guided me in this venture.   For my first installment I give you the following…

Lambertville, New Jersey is not a sleepy river town.  A river town, yes, but with an amazingly vibrant culture.   Located on the Delaware River in western Hunterdon County, New Jersey.  This town has a completely engaging nature for both visitors and locals.  We’re lucky to be from a smaller neighboring river town, so we can consider ourselves ‘local’.

Lambertville has charming shops, outstanding galleries, classic antique stores, NY chic restaurants and cozy bars.   The homes in the neighborhoods look historic, and they are, but take the fabulous house tour in October and you’ll marvel at the interiors.  The d├ęcors range from country casual to retro to cosmopolitan.  This tour is never disappointing, and somehow it’s usually a great, lovely fall day for walking around the storybook streets.

But let’s jump back to the cozy bars, shall we?  There are few gems in this charming riverside enclave, but a favorite of many - and mine - is the Boat House at 8 ½ Coryell Street.  Yes, that address is right!  The Boat House has been a destination for many years, and I know this first hand as my husband and I travelled here via motorcycle a ‘while’ ago.  

The Boat House is a completely cozy, small, sophisticated bar that serves great cocktails in an enthralling atmosphere.  The plethora of art that covers the dark walls and pitched ceilings here is vintage nautical in nature, with classic overtones.   There are fabulous framed periodical covers from decades past, and equally extraordinary watercolors, oils and photographs, many having a sense of intriguing ambiguity.  This atmosphere offers rare moments to take in a different time and space, all safely in the comfort of a nearby woodstove or comfy couch.  Disclaimer…the woodstove makes it sound rustic, but it’s not.  Remember that this place is sophisticated.  The staff is completely knowledgeable and courteous, and the bartender younger and aware, but old-schooled in his performance.  Perfect!

Not easy to find for out-of-towners, the Boat House is down a small alley.  If you can locate Finkle’s Hardware Store on Coryell Street near the canal, you’re ‘hot’ as we’d say in childhood days.   And that’s a good thing!
If you have any interest in classic films, you’ll appreciate the ambiance of the Boat House.  You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a movie set here.   I don’t have a vast knowledge of mixed drinks, wines and beers, but I do know that the Boat House has to turn people away on balmy summer weekends because there simply isn’t room.  One great drink, and my favorite, is their gin gimlet - straight up.  (I prefer Tanqueray, probably due to the memories of…summer evenings… with a Tanqueray and Schweppes bitter lemon in hand…watching the ocean from the deck of our beach house...ahhh)   But, back to the Boat House!  They make the best gin gimlet I’ve had.  It’s smooth, icy, just enough Rose’s lime juice to hint of something faintly sweet, and fresh lime wedge to squirt.  Flawless.  My husband’s favorite is their Bloody Mary (virgin, please) with extra olives.  Spicy but not too, and robust flavor.  Even something about the rich, savory olives here makes this drink a standout.  Some people linger, some stop in for drinks before walking to one of the many great restaurants in town.  Either way you’ve got a great night!

Hope that you’ll be able to visit Lambertville sometime!  It really is worth the drive from just about anywhere - so is the Boat House! 

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing with you again next month!  Think your best thoughts, enjoy your moments, breathe and go outside when you can.  My best to all, Janet

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

cornflake's 5 favorites

everyone, please say hello to jillian from cornflake dreams.  jillian's a sweetheart with to-die-for style and a completely awesome blog.  it's such a treat to have her visiting lifestyle maven today.  hope you enjoy reading about her five favorites!  oh, and if you miss sure to check out my five favorites guest post over at her blog : )

xoxo cailen

food:: i am slightly obsessed with sandwiches: caprese. bbq pulled pork. blue cheese burgers. turkey blt. grilled cheese w tomatoes. peanut butter and jelly. i love them all- everything tastes better on bread. my two favorite places to eat in chicago are sandwich shops:: jerry's sandwiches in wicker park and pastoral bread off michigan avenue downtown. 

city:: i moved to charleston, sc after college and i fell head over heels in love. the historic city is such a sweet and charming place and i would love to live in one of the many gorgeous southern homes. my stay in charleston only lasted six months but the city will always hold a special place in my heart. check out the design sponge chuck town city guide

store:: west elm. i discovered this store a few months ago and was thrilled to find lots of affordable, unique and modern pieces. my fiance likes the store too--major bonus! i just wish they offered wedding registry :) 

blog/website:: etsy. i have been known spend hours on this website... not sure how that happens but it does. a lot. i love discovering new artists and designers and this is the perfect place. 

movie:: sense and sensibility. swoooon. i have seen this movie more times than i care to admit. i am a fan of jane austen and period pieces but this one tops them all. i love kate winslet as the passionate and romantic marianne and emma thompson wrote a fantastic adapted screenplay. the film was directed by ang lee and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. if you haven't seen this version do yourself a favor and rent it. you'll never see alan rickman the same way again. 

thank you to cailen for having me! stop by cornflake dreams anytime for more fashion, travel and design inspiration. xoxo, jillian

Monday, March 28, 2011

farmers market & a waffle

coffees at meil's
so yesterday, craig, hannah (my sister) and i ventured down to a local (indoor) farmers market near my parents’ house.  this awesome little foodie haven is only open fridays through sundays, but it does not disappoint.  fair trade coffee.  fresh baked croissants.  local cheeses.  homemade pies.  organic veggies.  gourmet truffles.  i could go on…and on…

farmers markets are just delightful.  not only do they give lots of tasty free samples (hello, cheesecake), they also offer a chance to meet (and support) local purveyors.  i had the pleasure of chatting with a girl working “the painted truffle” booth.  she gave us lots of yummy treats (like a taste of an apricot-cognac french macaroon and some sipping chocolate i.e. dark chocolate melted into milk, swiss miss will never suffice again…) and told us all about the owner & head chocolatier.  a local guy who used to be a graphic designer and now makes amazingly delicious (and unique) chocolate treats.  very cool.  anyone care for a s’mores truffle?  umm…yes, please.

the painted truffle's lovely boxes

french-style maccaroons
but i have to admit, the whole reason for our trip yesterday was not (solely) out of the goodness of my heart to support the local community.  i went for a waffle.  not just any waffle.  an exquisite, life-changing waffle.  made with dough, not batter, nina’s waffles are divine.  unlike their airy belgian cousins, these waffles are dense and have an almost gooey, buttery center.  their sweet exterior “crust” is perfection…they need no toppings (though, of course, you can get them with nutella, whipped cream, fruit or pb&j).  they are unlike any waffle i’ve ever eaten.  ever.  i ordered it plain.  craig ordered one smeared with nutella.  i ate mine and ½ of his…

nina's waffles
me & my waffle
if you’re ever in hunterdon county, nj near the small town of stockton on a friday, saturday or sunday, i highly recommend that you stop by said charming farmers market and hunt down the waffle lady (fyi she’s in the back).  you’ll be hooked for life.  (if waffles traveled better, i would have totally turned this post into a giveaway…)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

200!!! yeah, baby!

woohoo!!!  lifestyle maven has hit the 200 follower mark : )  thank you all for your love and support.

now, let's celebrate!

Gif Created on Make A Gif

Friday, March 25, 2011

thank you (because i don't say it enough)

thank you for all you do.

me & craig
thank you for doing the dishes and for taking out the trash. thank you for what you do around the house...inside and out. thank you for your patience and your text messages. thank you for loving me so much and for being such a good papa to olive. thank you for putting me first and supporting me in all i do. thank you for asking me to marry you and for being involved with planning. thank you for your hugs and kisses and for letting me keep my feet warm under you when we're on the couch. thank you for doing my taxes and for treating me to bobby's countless times. thank you for allowing me to grow into the person i am meant to be. thank you for your tireless support and for always reading my blog.  thank you for making me laugh and for always being yourself around me. thank you for putting up with my (poor) tv choices and genuinely caring about who "the bachelor" will choose.  thank you for challenging me, pushing me and believing in me (more than i believe in myself sometimes).  thank you for allowing me to pursue my dreams...even when it (temporarily) compromises your own. but most of all, thank you for loving me, handsome. i love you too. 143

isn't he handsome?

me & craig on xix's balcony
who do you want to thank today?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

evolution of a maven

hello folks!  i was reading the blog peanut butter fingers the other day and stumbled across a post about her number one blogging tip.  i was eager to read it because julie's blog is pretty awesome, and she has quite a following : )  her advice was simple: create a blog you would want to read.  though i definitely try to do that here at lifestyle maven, her post struck me as a much needed challenge.  how can i improve?  what small changes can i make?  what do i look for in the blogs i read?  and (if you didn't notice) it led me (in a moment of creative insanity) to redesign my header and layout.  so yesterday afternoon, in only about an hour's time, a new look for lifestyle maven was born.
my first header
my second header

i am so drawn to blogs with a clean, simple look.  white background.  gray lettering.  pops of color.  cutting edge fonts.  so....why didn't i have that look here at maven?  good question.  i'm not sure if the new look is the ultimate look for my blog...more likely, it's just another step in the transition and development of my brand, but it feels good to be getting closer to my true maven.
et viola!  my new header!

Gif Created on Make A Gif
morning tea : ) my first gif!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

do you believe in luck?

credit [here]
"i think i do believe in luck..." - diana

"i do believe in destiny and luck.. my lucky charm is my claddagh ring" - jillian

"i do believe in fate. i believe we have to trust in the way life takes us and learn from it. i'm not so sure if we can actually change our fate with lucky charms..." - brittany

or is it...?  (credit here)
"maybe i don't feel lucky but rather blessed" - deborah

"i don't think anything happens by chance or luck. to me, that would feel like a chasing after the wind. i believe there is a purpose to everything" - carissa

"i believe in destiny and luck" - things i love

...or is it fate?  (credit here)
"luck or fate.  destiny or free will.  any way you shape it, life can be magical" - cailen

Monday, March 21, 2011

the dress

credit [here]
i didn’t want to like the dress. it was so different than what i had been envisioning all along. i didn’t want to like it…but i did. in fact, i more than liked it. i fell in love.

yes, that’s right. yesterday, while wedding dress shopping with my mom and sister, i found my dress. the gown i’ll walk down the aisle in, dance our first dance in and enjoy my first day of marriage in. and it’s fabulous.

credit [here]
i went to 4 bridal salons and tried on over 30 gowns before finding “the one”. prior to heading out yesterday, i had resigned myself to the fact that, perhaps, unlike other brides, i would never have that moment when it all clicked. my mom and my sister and i would never well up with happiness and tears. and, just maybe, i would have to settle (ever so slightly) because i was just too damn picky.

credit [here]
enter the dress. i tried it on on a whim. my bridal salon attendant asked if i wanted to try on a sample dress from a new line they were carrying. they hadn’t seen anyone in it yet, and the sample was in my size. “well…it’s not what i am looking for…but…ok…” i put it on and something magical happened. i can’t quite describe it, because i don’t know if words can capture what took place. but, i knew. even though it didn’t look like the pictures i had brought with me or the images i had saved in my wedding file. i knew. this was my dress. and once i put it on. i didn’t want to take it off. the knowing came. the tears came (from everyone). and i was sold. it’s glamorous and beautiful, and i love wearing it. (i spent over an hour in it.)

credit [here]
it’s more perfect (for me) than i could have ever imagined. it’s everything i never knew i always wanted. (just like craig : )

credit [here]
ok, ok. i know this post is an extreme tease, but i want to surprise everyone (especially craig) with my selection, so i can’t share any pictures (at this time). you’ll just have to wait until november…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

love is in the details

jacin over at lovely little details was kind enough to let me hijack her wonderful wedding blog.  check out my guest post {here} all about our upcoming fall 2011 nuptials!

Friday, March 18, 2011

party pictures

last night we enjoyed a delicious st. patty's day dinner over at my parents' house.  they host it every year, and the menu  is always outstanding!  (my mom's a great cook : )

here are some pictures from our irish celebration.

craig's plate

my plate.  see the soda bread with butter??!!

olive.  (don't worry, the headband only went on for the picture.)

"kids'" table

so, what did you do for st. patrick's day?

and, congratulations to ashley from breakfast at saks for winning the brand building giveaway!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

irish soda bread

happy st. patrick's day! in honor of today and my irish heritage, i wanted to share my family's favorite recipe for irish soda bread. in my experience with soda bread, i've found it (often) to be very dry and crumbly (which i'm personally not crazy about). not so with this recipe. this   produces a cake-like bread that is so deliciously moist. and just perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack : )

best soda bread ever! (adapted from a silver palate recipe)

6 tablespoons sweet butter
3 cups flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ dried currents or raisins
1¾ cups buttermilk (or 1¾ cup milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar)
2 eggs, well beaten

1) smear 2 tablespoons of butter evenly in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. line the buttered skillet with a circle of waxed paper. melt 2 more tablespoons butter in a separate pan and set aside.

2) preheat oven to 350 degrees

3) sift dry ingredients together. add currents or raisins to dry ingredients and toss well to coat.

4) whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. add to dry ingredients and mix just until blended.

5) spoon better into the prepared skillet and smooth top gently with a spatula. dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
6) bake until golden brown and puffed, about 60 minutes. cool slightly, remove from skillet, and cool completely on a rack. or serve warm directly from the skillet. cut into wedges. smear with butter. enjoy!

credit [here]
only one more day to enter the brand building giveaway!  click [here] to enter : )

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

gettin' lucky : )

as a (50%) irish girl, i revel in the romanticism that accompanies st. patty’s day. each year, my parents host an authentic corned beef and cabbage (and soda bread and potatoes and roasted vegetables...) irish feast on the 17th of march. much of my extended family attends, and we celebrate our irish heritage with food (and drink).

credit [here]
yet, despite my irish roots, i don’t believe in luck in the mythical, haphazard, out-of-the-blue sense. in my version, real luck occurs when the right circumstances come along and you capitalize on them. but, had you not been thinking about, working on and wishing for a “lucky break”, then you wouldn’t necessarily have recognized it as “luck” when it does come along. i also like this version of luck because it gives you some control. i.e. if you’re diligently working towards an important goal, you’re much more likely to catch a lucky break…

yet, despite my somewhat business-minded view of luck, i do (kind of) believe in lucky charms. (i know, i’m a rubix cube of contradictions.) i have a beautiful vintage wishbone pin from my grandmother that i love and consider it a bit of a “lucky” charm. i’m not sure if it has magical powers or just sentimental value, but i love to wear it on special occasions.

credit [here]

well, before i confuse you (and myself) any further. here are some other notable thoughts on luck:

“i'm a great believer in luck, and i find the harder i work, the more i have of it.” –thomas jefferson

“luck is believing you’re lucky.” – tennessee williams

“luck has a peculiar habit of favoring those who don’t depend on it.” – unknown

“success is simply a matter of luck. ask any failure.” – earl wilson

“the day you decide to do it is your lucky day.” – japanese proverb

“what we call luck is the inner man externalized. we make things happen to us." – robertson davies

credit [here]

so…do you believe in luck? what is your lucky charm?
p.s. don't forget to enter the brand building giveaway [here].

Monday, March 14, 2011

wine o' the month: bully hill

bully hill
yesterday, craig and i went to 4 wine stores and called several more in search of a delicious wine we enjoyed over the weekend. we finally found it at the final store. (rewind to saturday) in walk michael & melissa (our wedding photographers) with a bottle of red wine called bully hill: love my goat. the bottle had a huge sketch of a semi-angry looking goat on it and was simply called red wine. hmmm. as a red wine drinking newbie, i am often wary of unfamiliar reds, but am always willing to try : ) upon first sip, it was love. with a hint of sweetness, this fruity red is so smooth - not dry on the palate at all. i often feel i can only truly enjoy reds with food, but (beware) this one drinks just fine on its own.

from my intro, you can tell it’s not the easiest to find. (it’s from a small vineyard in upstate new york.) but it’s definitely worth hunting around for…it’s only $8 bottle! we enjoyed it with homemade pizza on saturday and my dad’s meatloaf and potatoes on sunday. it went great with both : )

love my goat
small world moment: craig and i were telling my parents about the wine, and my mom let out a little gasp. she said that for their 2nd anniversary, she and my dad traveled to upstate ny and visited bully hill vineyards and met the owner. she then went into the depths of the pantry and pulled out an old (undrinkable) 1976 vintage from, yes, you guessed it, bully hill.
so, go forth and (find) love my goat!

don't forget to enter the giveaway!
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