If the snow is making your heart ache for someplace warmer, I'm with you. This is the time of year when I dream of warm waters, sun, and sailing. How timely that a friend of mine recently shared this fabulous fashion find that is perfect for just that kind of nautical setting.

These are totes from Sea Bags. They are classic, chic, and handmade bags made from recycled sails.

The totes made in Portland, ME and, although this idea of recycling sails is nothing new, this company gives back too. Not only does Sea Bags donate to SailMaine Scholarship for kids, but they're also working with Maine Cancer Foundation.

They make baby bags...
...and wine bags (not that I live the kind of lifestyle to make these a worthwhile purchase).

Or, you can even design your own.

Are they expensive? Yes.
Is it worth it? I think so. My inner shopper is telling me,
                    "Consider it an investment piece, both for your wardrobe and your attitude."


tables with style

Can you spot the stylish Oreo truffles below?
Well, they're not technically Oreo Truffles, but they sure do look like 'em! What better way to serve them at a party than this? I only wish I had seen this sooner.

This is from one of my favorite blogs, Hostess with the Mostess. It's a phenomenal resource for inspirational entertaining ideas. This particular photo is from a Damask New Years Eve theme. I could definitely see it being used for a birthday party or wedding shower too though.

The most exciting thing just may be that I happen to own this table cloth (the inspiration for the theme) and it only costs- get this- $15 at Homegoods.
It IS possible to entertain chic-ly and cheaply!


Where's the beef?

It's at The Meat House.

This establishment is exactly what you would expect.
High quality. Friendly and helpful staff. Fantastic selection. And it's available in several states across the country (go figure it took me a couple years to realize it's down the road from me).

After verifying that it was a legitimate establishment (from a thorough inquiry of fellow teachers), I scooted on over after work.
The meat cutter (deli-ist?) gave me a free piece of their marinated sirloin tips-- yes, for free, just because I was a new customer! He also packaged my hamburger in- get this- vacuum sealed freezer bags. For no extra charge. That's right.

If you're thinking the price must be astronomical, it isn't. It's the same or slightly more than marinated meats at Hannaford or Shaws. Plus, it has the added bonus of actually being fresh.

And did I mention you also have a decent selection of what you want? If they don't have the exact cut of meat you need, they'll get it.

I am relatively new to this cooking thing and I honestly did not know all of this was possible in the United States. Perhaps you do already.
The Europeans know it. If we lived in Italy, this is how it would be done. We'd walk to the meat shop each night to pick out our dinner and we'd walk back home with it- the meat (as my mother-in-law says) "still mooing."

This deli-ist will know my name as I make my weekly trips and, unbeknownst to him,  I will pretend that I am in Italy (minus the Italian and the inappropriate comments of course).

But, if I didn't feel so special picking out the perfect dinner in person, I'd order it online.
Cause, yeah, you can do that too.


back to work

As of tomorrow, vacation is officially over for many. In the spirit of going back to work, I thought I'd share a great website.

See Jane Work is jam packed with tons of unique and super-stylish office items. Here are a few things I picked up for Christmas gifts this year.

Shipping is pricey and I had a hard time getting passed that. What did make it worth it for me was that I just couldn't find similar items out in stores. Keep in mind, though, that some things (like note pads and planners) are terribly overpriced and you can find similar things at Barnes & Noble for much less.

If it's for your home office, I would definitely wait for their shipping deals or coupons, which you can find on the web or in magazines a few times a year (I found out about this site in InStyle magazine last year and they offered a 20% off code.)

If anything, though, it's a great site to look at for inspiration. Tell me this wouldn't make going back to work a little easier....

The Black Forest


Locally, this place needs none of my advertising assistance. It's a favored lunch/dinner/bakery destination of many friends and coworkers, and if it weren't, I am fairly certain that my mom and I would be keeping the place in business.

The menu always changes, but here are some tried-and-true dishes:

Under The Tuscan Sun Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The flavors of Tuscany meld together in this sandwich of grilled chicken, arugula, mozzarella and pesto mayonnaise, layered with a sweet and tangy sundried tomato jam. Offered with our feta orzo pasta salad. 10.95

Chicken Salad Sandwich
We couldn't open our doors without offering our signature chicken salad with chunks of roasted chicken, grapes, walnuts, red onion and our special dressing.
Served on white, whole wheat or marbled rye bread or in a white or whole grain wrap. Accompanied with our potato salad. 9.95

Crispy breaded eggplant slices on house made focaccia with melted mozzarella, and a tomato onion compote.  Served with our feta orzo pasta salad. 9.95

*Raspberry Lime Rickey
Our specialty - fresh squeezed limes, raspberries and soda water. 2.75 

(*This is a must)

Finally, my ultimate favorite: Chocolate Moussecake

If you are- as I am- a chocoholic, I insist that you order a piece of this cake. It is absolutely the best cake I have ever had. If you don't like rich, chocolate intensity, try any one of their cookies. You won't be disappointed.


Click here for the cafe's link in restaurant.com where you can save by picking up a gift certificate ahead of time... I recommend spending it on yourself.

Check out their site for directions:  The Black Forest Cafe


bangles for small wrists!

My wrists are tiny, so bangles have always been an irrational fashion choice.You can imagine, then, how excited I was to find adjustable bangles.

These bracelets from Alex and Ani are not only adjustable, they're actually stylish AND they're made from eco-friendly/ recycled materials to boot! The selection is overwhelming too.
Of course the trend is to stack these, so take out your wallets cause this will cost you.

 alex and ani bangles

I considered these an investment since bangles never seem to go out of style PLUS you can mix and match them with other bracelets you already have (call it, poor girl bracelet stacking, which is what I'm doing).

I bought these to remember the first anniversary trip my husband and I took to Newport, RI.

day trip

Pulpit Rock, Bedford, NH
Directions to Pulpit Rock, Bedford, NH  
I realize this doesn't look like much, but it's truly amazing. There aren't many places in southern NH where you can uncover such dramatic glacial evidence as here in Pulpit Rock. It's literally in the middle of the forest. You'd never know, starting out, that this short and easy forest hike leads to something so awesome. 
It's a great family hike, though you definitely want to hold hands with little ones when you get to the cavern. It's also great for 4th graders studying erosion & weathering- a total teaching moment.

hear me

 Eric Hutchinson

I listen when I'm cooking, correcting papers, cleaning... any time I want a relaxed, jazzy sort of feeling.
I can't help but feel at home and comfortable when I listen..

ring-ing in the new year

If you have time, go see The Fighter. It was surprisingly thoughtful and authentic. So often movies overdo the Boston thing, but for some reason this movie worked for me.
Lovely, and not just because of Marc Wahlberg.

non-toxic cream

Feeling overwhelmed by news of what's going to harm your body next?

With so much talk of chemicals lately, I ventured out to find a body cream that was "healthy", not too greasy, and actually smelled nice. Here it is!  Lavanilla. A bit pricey, I realize, but it's worth it.

cookie swap champion

This recipe killed this holiday season. I made them for a cookie swap and for coworkers and got rave reviews all around.

Here is the recipe: OreoTruffleBalls

*Use mint Oreos for the filling. The result is a truffle with a hint of mint that brings out the flavor of the outer chocolate even more.

*As they say, a good quality chocolate is key. Colored melting chocolate is no where near as good as using real milk chocolate chips. I melted straight Hershey's bars for a batch of mine and it was divine. I drizzled white melting chocolate over the finished truffles though for an easy and elegant looking effect.

*When dipping the Oreo balls, roll them in a chocolate coated wooden spoon. I swear this is what chocolateers must do. It's the only way I could create a swirled coating and prevent the truffles from looking so gloopy (which took me almost a whole batch to figure out). An aside: I let my husband eat the ugly ones and he was certainly not sorry for that bakery blunder.


1love·ly: adj. delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace; eliciting love by moral or ideal worth

This is a collection of things that are lovely. Things that have made my life a little bit better.

This is not a journal, diary, or any such collection of my thoughts or aspirations (as there are plenty of fabulous writers out there with far more fascinating thoughts than mine to share). 
My goal is, instead, to offer up a simple place to browse for things in the world that are good.

If my collection in some way gives you an idea or saves you time or money, that would be lovely.

If you are able to find something here that inspires you, makes you smile, or even just makes your life easier in some small way.... that would be even lovelier.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy.