Cocktail Friday - Red, White, and Blue Sangria

For 4th of July weekend, I wanted something sweet, cool, and easily made in big batches. And I came up with this white wine sangria that I love!

1 bottle dry white wine
3-4 oz vodka
1/4-1/2 cups sugar
1 apple
2 1/3 cups blueberries
2 1/3 cups strawberries
sparkling wine to top off each glass

Pour white wine into pitcher. Add sugar and vodka. Cut apple into pieces and add to pitcher. Add strawberries and blueberries. Stir and put into the refrigerator overnight. When you are ready to serve, pour into glasses and then top off with sparkling wine. 

Cheers! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!


British Inspiration For A Summer Styled Bar Cart

Haworth, West Yorkshire, England (home of the Bronte sisters)

When it was time to style my bar cart for the summer season, I went British! Having lived in England, I adore a British summer, yes, rain and all. And when I think of a British summer, I think of all the small villages (like Haworth, pictured above) and garden parties where Union Jack bunting is often featured prominently. So distinctly British.

Bar cart: Crate and Barrel | Union Jack Bunting: Marks and Spencer

Last time I was in England, I stocked up on bunting at Marks and Spencer, and I'm glad I did. I love it wrapped around my cart!

I prefer fresh flowers in my decanter, rather than liquor, during the summer.

To add to the British theme, I used my Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Souvenir cup from 1953 to hold my cocktail straws. I picked this up at a charity shop in Haworth, England.

I live in one of those old, rambling New England homes, built on over centuries. The original part of the house is believed to have been built in the late-1700s, but the dining room, where my bar cart sits, was part of a 19th century addition to the home. I love my dining room, with its funky, warped floor boards and textured, plaster walls, and I enjoy adding to its personality with my finds, both old and new (see some of my antique finds for my dining room here). I recently added an old pub sign from England, which compliments my British styled bar cart well. I fell in love with this piece immediately when I found it at the Brimfield Antique Show.

My British styled bar cart has inspired many a warm, summer night's Pimm's Cup.

Cheers, and here's to a beautiful summer!


Of Coastal Towns and Summer Dresses | A Day in Ipswich, Massachusetts

Crane Beach, Ipswich, Massachusetts

The coastal town of Ipswich, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places on earth. Its history is rich and deep and runs through my veins. My ancestry extends back into 17th century Ipswich, including grandmothers accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. The place feels familiar, comforting, and ancient. A small, quaint town;  it's visually stunning with its sandy coast, deep green foliage, historic homes, and rolling farmland. It comes as no surprise that Crane Beach has become my favorite beach, especially as I take in the mystery and beauty of this special North Shore town.

With its timeless quality, an island (Hog's Island) off of Ipswich won over producers and was used as the main set of the 1996 film "The Crucible." There is something simply magical and enduring about this town.

Cover-up Dress: c/o Apres-Swim | Shoes: Jack Rogers | Bag: L.L Bean | Earrings: Stella&Dot | Sunglasses: Coach

Recently, while I was spending a day in Ipswich, lounging on the beach, visiting the impressive Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, and dining, I wore my new Apres-Swim cover-up dress. It's designed to be worn from the beach and beyond. I never bothered changing out of it for my visit to Castle Hill or dinner since it appears to simply be a summer dress, rather than a swim cover-up.

This American-made, quick-dry dress also has UPF 40, which is important with my pale skin. Plus, it has pockets. I'm in love with dresses that have pockets!

Some purple summer beauties at Crane Beach

One of the biggest (figuratively and literally) attractions in Ipswich is Castle Hill on the Crane Estate. This seaside mansion was built by the wealthy Crane family of Chicago during the early part of the 20th century. Their summer estate was completed in 1928.

The exterior of Castle Hill was featured prominently in the film "The Witches of Eastwick" as the home of the sinster Daryl Van Horne. This is especially fitting since John Updike, the author of The Witches of Eastwick, made Ipswich his home for a time.

Back of the mansion

One of the most impressive features of Castle Hill is the Grand Allee. The expansive rolling lawn cascades elegantly down to an breathtaking view of Crane Beach.

Chess, anyone?

Ipswich is a perennial charmer, with something for everyone. From the rustic beauty of the 17th century Whipple House to the grand mansion at Castle Hill; with the casual, yummy dining of the Clam Box to the more elegant, historic dining of the 1640 Hart House; offering a day at the country club or relaxation at Crane Beach, it is truly a town I will never tire of. Anything you could want is there. And I love that I found a cover-up dress that will take me to all those Ipswich locales without a stop to change! I'll be back for many visits this summer, Ipswich, so get used to me.

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Cocktail Friday - A Summer Lemonade Margarita

In honor of the first day of summer this weekend, I made a refreshing summer lemonade margarita. It's the perfect drink for a summer soirĂ©e. 

Summer Lemonade Margarita
4 oz pink lemonade
1 1/2 oz tequila 
3/4 oz triple sec
1/2 oz lime juice
splash of orange juice

Fill shaker with ice and ingredients. Shake. Pour into ice-filled glass. Add limes and lemons to garnish.



A Spring Day in Plymouth

Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts is a place I associate with cold ocean breezes, fuzzy sweaters, fallen leaves, crowds of people in wool coats, and the warm brown and grey tones of late fall. I associate it with that cozy time of year when pumpkin spice scent wafts through every coffee shop and home. It is our annual Thanksgiving destination. Recently, however, I had an out-of-town guest who expressed interest in going to the plantation, and since I had never seen it in the spring or summer, I was happy to oblige.

The re-created 17th century Plymouth Colony, leading to the ocean

Plimoth Plantation was founded in 1947 as a living history museum and includes not only the English settlement, but also a re-created Wampanoag homesite. Tickets can also be purchased at the plantation to visit the replica of the Mayflower, which is offsite at Plymouth Harbor.

A pilgrim couple in their garden

Unlike my Thanksgiving visits, there were no crowds, and I enjoyed seeing the settlement bathed in the lush green of late spring. There weren't as many re-enactors, but that was more than made up for by the pleasant weather and having the place nearly to ourselves.

I followed this chicken all over this little pilgrim house

After a few hours spent wandering around Plimoth Plantation, a stop at Plymouth Harbor is a must for any first time visitor. This was the first time I had been there when it wasn't cold.

Structure over Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II

The harbor was buzzing with activity on the beautiful Sunday afternoon I was there, so when hunger began to become a distraction, we went to a place where we wouldn't have to wait long to be seated. Cabby Shack is not fancy, but is good, casual dining, especially if you are in the mood for yummy, highly caloric comfort food.

I ordered a hamburger, topped with an onion ring and macaroni and cheese, and yes, it was as good and naughty as it sounds. The lemonade cocktail was also a nice addition. Though it was yummy, had I more time to plot out the day trip, I would have planned our meal at Rye Tavern. Located in an old tavern and concentrating on fresh ingredients, I've heard only good things about that establishment. Next time.

For an impromptu day trip to the south shore, the day could not have been better, and I am now inspired to make the effort to visit Plymouth more than just once a year.