New England’s Finest- My first time to Cape Cod!

img_1126-1I am so excited to be sharing my very first blog of the year with you today! Losing my job through the pandemic momentarily, you would think I had all the time in the world to start writing again, and honestly I came up with 4 separate blog taglines I wanted to write about. I didn’t end up starting or finishing even one. I think I wanted to the first one to come from a place of love and not just “My top 5 places to eat during quarantine” like a lot of others suggested. I feel that writing about something I feel so passionate about like traveling was a perfect fit.

I know many of you have not traveled as yet so I wanted to give my honest opinion on my experiences traveling during the pandemic and what to expect if you go to Massachusetts. As many of you have been following me for quite some time, you know I typically travel all over the US for business and out of the country at least once or twice throughout the year. In California, I have always done weekend road trips but I feel since I moved to CT, I didn’t really get the chance to explore this new area. Turning a negative situation into a positive, I felt that the pandemic was a perfect way to explore New England, especially with my boo by my side who was so excited to show me all the different places!

For those west coast followers of mine who are not familiar, Cape Cod is like the Hamptons of Massachusetts. During the summer, New Yorkers flee to the Hamptons, and Bostonians head to the Cape. I feel lucky to live in Connecticut, which is pretty much in between both of them! I had already been to southern beaches in New York and Jersey, so Walt wanted to take me North to places I had never been.  The Cape is famous for many reasons including their amazing seafood, beautiful beaches, prestigious houses, sports fishing, and landmarks like the Kennedy Compound. It is also host to one of the many ferries that get you to the two beautiful nearby islands you may or may not have heard of: Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Walt and I are going to a wedding in October in Martha’s Vineyard so maybe I will do a blog on that as well!

Looking for a place to stay was a bit stressful as the one downside to going to the Cape is it is very expensive. I felt that prices for food and gifts were relatively the same as anywhere else, but an AirBnB or VRBO vacation type rental can cost upwards around $500+ per night and most rentals require a 1 weeks stay. Up until Covid, I know my best friend and her family would rent their place months and months in advance and some guests even years in advance to make sure they get a spot at their favorite house. Since Walt and I took this trip very last minute (we booked for leaving in 3 days), we decided to go the hotel route and stay at the Hyannis Harbor Hotel which was still pricey at around $300 per night. See below for a mini video clip of our stay!

 

When Walt and I arrived around 1pm into Hyannis after the 3 hour drive, My initial thought was “Wow this is place is literally in the middle of town, how convenient.” The grounds and restaurant were also upgraded so I thought it was super cute and definitely the nicest hotel we went past in Hyannis. However, they were a bit backed up due to the lack of housekeeping staff so we were not able to check in until 6pm, and the normal check in time was 4pm. Being a hotelier, 2 hours is a LONG time to wait after a normal check in procedure. During our wait we went to the open air restaurant, and they rewarded us with shots of tequila that must have been at least 3 shots in each (I swear I’m not complaining just stating). So needless to say, we started out with a BANG. When we finally did get into our room, I felt it was very clean, on the larger side, and had the cutest patio ever! I didn’t take pictures of the room only because the lighting in there was horrible but I’ve linked the hotel above if you are interested. Like most hotels right now, housekeepers only clean rooms once guests are gone, so you had to take out your own trash. Walt was not a fan of Hyannis because he likes to be closer to Provincetown at the point, but I did love the area because everything was literally walking distance to the hotel. Even if we wanted to take a day trip to Nantucket, the ferry was right across the street!

Below are some of the highlights of where we went:

47d6ee1e-e6e6-4378-954f-1f8e29617fb7-1Chatham- Wow! I do not know any other words to describe this town other than serene and picturesque. Almost feels like a fake town it’s so pretty! Every house is superbly exquisite and all have that classic beach “cottage” look. By the way west coasters, if someone in the Northeast says they have a “cottage”, that could mean a small house, or am extremely large mansion depending on the town. We went to the Chatham Bars Inn to walk around (pictured left) and Walt and I both fell in love. Running around $700 per night on the lower end, Chatham Bars inn has ocean views from the rooms, multiple restaurants, and even a beachfront bar. In addition, they have a private beach with cabanas for guests to use, or you could enjoy their large beachfront pool, which also includes cabanas. I think my favorite aspect of the property was the landscaping. I found after my trip, that their gardener, Pamela, is actually featured on their instagram page discussing their famous hydrangeas, which takes up 75% of the grounds flowers! Her work throughout the property is absolutely stunning and a must-see stop when in the area.

Provincetown- Such amazing high energy! I feel like I was warned multiple times that this was a “gay” town and every time I looked at the person and was like “what’s your point?” I lived in California for 25 years, that’s basically every town there! I really did feel a bit more energy in “P” town, both from locals and tourists. It was booming on the streets and I also felt VERY safe! They have “Mask Ambassadors” which are essentially police officers who mandate wearing masks. This town also made you order food if you were drinking at at some places, it even had to be entrees! Walt and I went to Harbor Lounge first for cocktails and and appetizers and I loved the view. We actually sat outside on their narrow dock which was over the water. I loved their sangria too but you couldn’t beat the view! Afterwards, we went to the Lobster Pot for dinner because everyone says its the best and we had to try it. I actually did not get to many pictures of dinner because I wanted to enjoy my time with Walt but the lobster was delicious! I also thought the pricing here was extremely reasonable. It was only $32 for a soup, appetizer, 1.5 pound lobster, and corn on the cob with potatoes, what a deal! Our server (I think his name was Charlie) has been there for 25+ years and splits his time between Wisconsin and Cape Cod each year based on his seasonal jobs. It was so great to get to know him and I feel we will have to ask for him in our future travels to Lobster Pot.

I am pretty sure I ate seafood the ENTIRE time I was there (except the one night I was a bit toasty and made Walt take me to Taco Bell). I really don’t think I had a bad meal the entire time. Below are some pictures and suggestions for my favorite spots!

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Sea Street Cafe, Hyannis

 

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Ocean House, Dennis Port
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Cape Cod Winery

As always, thank you so so much for reading, I appreciate each and every one of you and keep sipping!

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Pardon my Peach Sangria

img_7467If you’ve been following me for a awhile now, you know that one of my favorite alcoholic beverages is sangria. In fact, my very first blog post was on my Fall Caramel Apple Sangria! So of course I wanted to drop another recipe for the Summer season, and just in time for Labor Day. I like to make recipes for sangria because they are usually easy and the main ingredient is wine so a lot of people will drink it. I’m very typical in the fact that I like red sangria during the winter and white sangria during the hot seasons. I’m also more of a white wine drinker in general, so white sangria is my go-to!

I am not going to lie, this recipe was made almost by accident. My Godmother and I were having a pool day one Sunday Funday and I told her I was in the mood for some sangria. We talked briefly about making it white and that I wanted to use peach schnapps since she already had it. When we got to the store there were so many options for seltzers and juices but we finally came to a compromise. She made the first batch and it was delicious! So delicious we drank the entire batch. Needless to say, we were both in bed early that night…I want to say I was asleep by 7:30pm LOL. Since then, I’ve made it two more times, once on my own with a girlfriend and another time for an Orangetheory Pool party. After many raves and a few requests for the recipe, I decided to make it my next recipe blog.

 

Shopping List:

  • Sauvignon Blanc- 1 bottle (makes about 8 glasses)
  • Peach Schnapps- 1 Cup
  • Nantucket Nectars Orange Mango Juice (or similar)-  1 small bottle (16 ounces)
  • Peach Seltzer- top
  • Peaches or nectarines, sliced
  • **Vodka (optional)- If using, substitute 1/2 cup of Peach Schnapps

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I used Sauvignon Blanc, but I’m sure it would taste great with Pinot Grigio as well. I would stay away from Chardonnays or sweet wines like Moscato for this specific recipe.

Step one: Mix wine, juice, and peach schnapps in a large drink container. Walmart, TJ Max, and Target all have some pretty cheap yet cute containers for Sangria. I suggest getting one with a sturdy top for traveling purposes.

Step two: Slice peaches and add to the sangria mix. Chill for at least an hour (2 if you have time). Of course you can make it and drink it right away, but I personally love for the fruit to soak it up and the flavors to marinate a bit longer together.

Step three: Pour over ice and top with Peach Seltzer. If you need a measurement on it, I would say about a 1/2 cup of seltzer per glass.

Cheers!

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X O X O   ~ Sips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CT Day Trippin- Mystic and Stonington

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a full blog post. Honestly, moving across the country was extremely draining on me both physically and mentally. I took a step back from writing and needed to engulf myself in my new reality. I appreciate you all following along and waiting patiently before writing about my experiences in Connecticut. The reason I started blogging in the first place was because I genuinely missed writing. I used to write short stories in my earlier years and it gives me such joy to put a well thought out story in my head on paper. I really wanted to wait for my first blog on something in CT to be special and Mystic, a place I’ve wanted to go since I was a little girl (because of the movie of course), is the perfect place to start.

Most of you know by now from following me that I am a HUGE wine lover. Not only am I Italian so I grew up on wine, but my parents live close to Temecula Wine Country in California so naturally, it was a weekend event often. Wine tasting was one aspect from California that I was sure I was going to miss. I actually had no idea that Connecticut even had as many wineries as they do. What I love the most is the scenery in CT. It really is the most beautiful state I’ve ever seen, and their vineyards are no exception!

When Alyssa (@glutenfree_fit_foodie) and I had a weekend to ourselves away from the boys, we wondered what could be the perfect short girlfriend getaway trip. Vineyards came up as we are both wine lovers and heard the Stonington area was a great place for a quick escape. Neither of us had been to any vineyards in the area nor Mystic, so after discussion we decided this would be a good one night trip for us. After over packing and picking a really cute Air B n B in downtown Mystic, we started off on our vineyard adventure! (See below for video of our day)

 

First stop: Saltwater Farm Vineyards

What a gorgeous place for a wedding or romantic picnic! Set in the heart of Stonington, this Saltwater Farm Vineyard is located on the Wequetequock Cove and has many instagramable opportunities with their spectacular views. During our visit, we learned that the tasting room was actually a World War II airplane hanger, which gave the venue a more modern and industrial presence. We did a full tasting including white, rose, and red wine. Each one was delicious and better than the following. Saltwater has very dry wines, however, if you like a little bit of sweetness, I’d suggest to try the rose. As it wasn’t our first rodeo at a vineyard, we packed a picnic bag full of snacks for us to munch on, so it was great to see that they have picnic tables, benches, and chairs to utilize during your stay.  You can view their tasting room hours and music schedule here.

Second Stop: Stonington Vineyard

As soon as we stepped onto Stonington Vineyard we instantly felt the energetic vibe. With an enormous grass area right outside the tasting room, this venue is host to many events and live music during the seasonal times. With so much space, you can assure that if you bring the family, there will be room. We saw many groups that were hosting a picnic and bringing in outside food, and even hung out with a Bachelorette party that ordered Pizza straight to the winery! Can we say Genius? We had an array of tastings here as well, red and white, but what I found most interesting was their Chardonnay. I am typically not a Chardonnay lover, however this white wine is barreled in stainless steel instead of oak, so it gives a much different flavor to the wine then I usually taste with California Chardonnays (usually oak barreled). It was crispy and clean, I highly suggest to get a bottle of it on a warm day! For Stonington’s event schedule and live music, please click here.

Third stop: M Bar

What can I say about this amazing gem? Not enough! Refurbished gas station turned into a retro bar and restaurant, need I say more? First off, the drinks at M Bar were killer and beautiful in presentation. The menu was an eclectic mix of farm to table like fair, that changes seasonally. The plating was just as fantastic as the food items tasted. Pictured here is the Duck entree as well as the Short Rib Polenta, which of course melted in your mouth (please note these items are no longer available). Aside form the fabulous food, cocktails, and service, I think my overall favorite aspect of M Bar is the atmosphere. With their open air restaurant and outdoor patio, it’s a perfect place to end your wine tasting day for dinner or a late lunch. It is also decorated beautifully for many picturesque moments! For their current menu and offerings please click here.

Last Stop: Mystic Pizza

Can you even say you went to Mystic without going to Mystic Pizza? It’s basically the place and movie that made this cute little town famous. If you are a woman reading this and have not seen the Julia Roberts movie before, shame on you! 80’s Chick flick to the max! Although the pizza was not amazing, you really go for the nostalgia of the restaurant and to see where the movie was filmed. I tried THE Mystic Pizza, what they are known for, which was basically a meat filled pie with veggies. It was OK, just not as amazing as the hype had always been. It was a great ending spot to a long day of drinking and to get some last carbohydrates into your system before sleep. However, if there was a long line to get in, I would say skip it and go across the marina to one of the beautiful waterfront restaurants instead. If you don’t want to travel all the way to Mystic to try it, you can also check out their frozen options to be sent to you here.

 

Thank you reading, and keep sippin!

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Spaghettini, Now that’s Amore!

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As an Italian American, I am always striving to find the perfect place for Italian in California, a state where the Italian culture is not as embraced as the North East. Where I’m from and where I’m moving back too! If you’ve noticed on my blog, I’ve never done a review on an Italian restaurant because I would say I’m a bit picky. Not only does Spaghettini have great Italian food, but they encompass the Italian hospitality, which is what a lot restaurants lose when they are too focused on their brand versus connecting to their guests. In my first experience with the restaurant, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner Carey who made sure everything on our table was cooked and seasoned to perfection, in addition to keeping the wine glasses flowing. Co-owned with partner Laurie, Carey informed me that family is everything to them. During his visit with us he even informed me that he takes some of his dedicated staff to Italy every year! They even discuss this on their website, but they want to make sure the employees  familiarize themselves with the culture and food so they can bring the same compassion back to Southern California.

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img_9424Located in Seal Beach, Spaghettini is not only known for their food and friendship, but their happy hour specials and live entertainment! With happy hour Tuesday-Friday 3-6pm, and all day on Monday, guests can enjoy discounted prices on their famous food items such as their bruschetta (pictured here) and brick oven margherita pizza. They also have nightly 3-course specials at $35 per person which I feel is a steal in this area. For $35 you get a salad option, dessert option, and each night the main dish varies with a premium menu item such as their Classic Prime Rib or Chicken Parmesan, drool! For a girls night out, you can enjoy Wine Wednesday, with half bottles off and live entertainment, when scheduled. With everything from soul to pop music, Spaghettini is host to some of the most popular local music vendors around. Make sure to check out their schedule here, they sometimes sell out for certain bands and you need tickets. In addition, they also host a very popular Sunday Brunch which also has live music.

img_9423When I came to the restaurant for a styling shoot, I had the pleasure of enjoying my time with long time employee and fellow blogger Diana, al fresca. Their newly renovated patio is so cute and cozy. Perfect setting for a date night with lounge furniture and fire pits. I highly recommend for a night with friends as well! Some of my favorite items was the Sea Bass (cooked to perfection) and the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which had such a delicate taste of sage and brown butter. Mom will be mad, but I have to admit, I love their big meatballs!

I want to end by saying how appreciative I am for the Spaghettini family. When they heard I was leaving SoCal for a new adventure, they offered to host myself and fellow Blogger Babes for a going away dinner. It was incredible. I didn’t even take pictures because I was enjoying myself so much. Note: there is a highlight of this night on my IG page if you want to check it out. They also sent me off with a wonderful gift box filled with their infamous Spaghettini Champagne, red wine, and their cookbook (which I had been wanting for awhile). You can find their cookbook and other gift items here.

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Stay Sippin!

 

 

 

 

Hi Vodka, it’s me Drinkade

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As the name of my blog states, you can usually find me a bit “full of sips” on the weekends. I’m not going to lie, the name can certainly come with consequences and I’m sure everyone can relate to the fact that as we get older, so do our bodies and our tolerance for holding alcohol. At 34, if I drink more than 3 drinks in one given night, the chances are, I will have a headache the next day. Of course we’ve all tried the different remedies: downing water, eating fatty foods, pedialyte etc in order to avoid such consequences. One of my favorite ways to avoid a hangover is taking B12 vitamins, a suggestion from my good friend Kate when I was in my mid-20’s. Although not 100% successful, it does work a lot of the time as it builds your body with the nutrients needed to survive while killing your liver. So when I was approached to review Drinkade, I was not surprised that one of the key ingredients is B12 and that this tiny, but mighty, bottle can assist in feeling your best after a crazy night.

While of course there is no real “hangover cure” I was excited to try the product because one of the flavors has no caffeine in its ingredients. This is unusual for a hangover remedy that usually consists of Excedrin or  Coffee. Sorry to disappoint you all but no, I do not drink coffee or tea on a regular basis in the morning, I have enough energy myself! You can find the key ingredients and how Drinkade works here. Although it does have green tea extract, I did not feel the normal effects of caffeine so don’t worry about getting the jitters!

img_9383Drinkade comes in two flavors: Limeade (red) and Berry (blue). The taste of both drinks is similar to limeade flavor Gatorade, although I liked Berry better! I took both of the drinks at different times as I wanted to test the outcomes. I took Limeade about 15 minutes before I started drinking and when I tried the Berry flavor, I drank it at the same time I started drinking alcohol. (Full Disclosure! I actually tried Drinkade for the first time when I threw my annual Hocus Pocus party last month. I drank WAY too much and it did not take away my hangover however 1- I did not drink the entire bottle as I was tasting it among friends, 2- I was mixing alcohol, and 3- there wasn’t a drink in the world that could relieve my headache). I don’t believe the timing really had an impact on the drink as I felt great both mornings afterwards. I had a reasonable amount to drink each time, about 3-4 drinks and usually I would get a headache after that amount if I didn’t drink water. I want to point out that I kept my water intake to a minimum so I could test the real affects of the drinks. No headache? Yes! I can now finally “Skip the Tough Mornings,” as Drinkade would say.

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My absolute favorite reason for liking this product however, is not the taste or how it looks, but the size! At 3.4 ounces each, these little miracle workers can travel! As a person who has to travel often for her career, this is a huge plus to be able to bring a few on board with me. They also come in larger bottle size, but I prefer the small bottles that come in a variety of 6, 12, and 24 packs as well as larger party packs that have up to 240 bottles. My genius idea for these packs is to use them as giveaways at a Bachelorette party or Wedding. Wouldn’t it be fun to have tray-passed Drinkade upon arrival of a cocktail party to get your body started right? I personally have planned about 5 Bachelorette parties and these are perfect to add into the welcome gift bags for the bridesmaids and friends. Not to mention they are perfect for the Groom’s festivities as well!

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You can shop for Drinkade here. Please comment below if you try and let me know how you like it!