Salem’s New Notch Brewery and Tap Room

Salem's New Notch Brewery and Tap Room

“Salem is and always has been an industrial city” stated Notch Brewery’s founder Chris Lohring during our morning chat. He continues with the confidence only a third generation Salem native can, “People comment on why it can’t have more charm, but it is and always has been industrial.” I started to look around me at the newly designed industrialized space at Notch Brewery and Tap Room and noticed; freshly poured cement floors, science lab grade counter tops, double height ceilings with zero sound absorption (for those ‘beer hall acoustics’), a glass garage door that opens to a river front Biergarten – and just like that I even got it. Me, the protector of all things ‘New England and chahming’, started to see it.
As he was talking images popped in my mind – industrialization, coal mining, forged steel, abstract as a way of life, pragmatic, expert in trade, that’s the energy found in Salem and in Professional Brewer Lohring himself. Not surprisingly, that is also why his beloved session beer ever came to be: 

(Session beer), a worker’s beer, where refreshment and taste went hand in hand. It slaked the thirst of laborers while they plowed the fields, mined for coal, fired the blast furnace and forged steel. When water was tainted, session beer saved civilization. It’s 4.5% ABV and lower, difficult to brew and a pleasure to drink. –

Lohring became passionate long ago about making session beer more accessible here in the US. A professional brewer since ’93, Lohring attended the Siebel Institute of Technology’s Professional Brewing school to learn all that chemistry beer making know how (beer making = serious science.) This past summer he finally found a home for his six year tried and tested Notch Beer and it is located at 283R Derby St., (behind Waters and Brown or where you used to park for The Grapevine.)  
So nestle right up to a 100-year-old, custom made, pine picnic table and help yourself to a session beer along with a soft pretzel (a casual, communal helpy-selfy atmosphere is encouraged). Lohring just asks one thing, just relax like you would in any other stalwart, German beer hall. 

Cheers and Enjoy,


*Note to self – Notch Brewery skee ball league on Wednesdays. 

Conscious Hospitality at SoHo’s 11Howard 

I was a little awestruck when I approached SoHo’s 11Howard, the newly opened Aby Rosen hotel in NY. There was still a downtown street corner with edge to it?  I had thought 9/11 safety requirements and Carrie Bradshaw admirers had replaced ‘divy yet authentic’ with those ‘living-the-celebrity-life-they-so-deserved.’  But what did I know?  I did not live here anymore or visit much, which just goes to show things can change in a New York minute. 

That familiar New York intensity, “Pull up to the curb more. Keys!” just did not exist with 11Howard’s hotel staff. Instead I was met with casual-calm. “How was your drive?” the valet asked as I gave him my keys and wondered if I knew him, he was that friendly. A “Welcome in” from the doorman instantly dissolved the tension that driving over the Triboro and through the city had caused (the FDR was backed up and I will never call it the RFK.) Check in was swift and efficient at reception which equaled one 30” round table with two tablets and the swapping of my luggage for a key card. So hygge.

I rode the elevator with brass elements and subtle 60’s vibe up to my floor and when the doors opened I was surprised again. Was I back in Copenhagen?  Lamps artfully displayed to create soothing pools of light, raw and natural textiles were used for beds and windows, a striking yet soothing color palette with minimalist furniture. The effect was very Danish which made sense after learning that architect Adna Andrie was hired as the Creative Director at 11Howard and she had paired up with Danish interior design firm SPACE Copenhagen in creating the hotel’s look. So hygge.

I also learned from a recent Paper Magazine interview with Aby Rosen that the differentiating factors he saw from other NYC boutique hotels for 11Howard were respectful staff and to be socially conscious.  Rosen has collaborated with Global Poverty Project, Feed, Groundswell, Concious Commerce, and Thrive Market to align his hotel guests with an opportunity to give back. 11Howard gives a chance for the high to contribute to the low. So hygge.

Hygge (“heu-gah”) is a Danish word that is hard to define and one that I recently studied in Copenhagen. It took me several architectural tours, Danish lifestyle lectures, museum visits, design show room visits, and a day picking the brain of architect Bo Christiansen of Scale Denmark to understand hygge. Hygge exists when the design needs of a space are created in a pragmatic, sophisticated and efficient way while the social and psychological needs of the people occupying it are also met. A direct result from a social democratic society that takes care of it’s people ‘as one,’ hygge allows for the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming so you can take pleasure in the gentle, soothing things surrounding you. 

A more hygge-focused culture could contribute not just to happier individuals and families but also to more caring communities and a happier society as a whole.” explains Dr. Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness.”*

If it was hygge they were trying to create through the design and service at 11Howard, it was an outlet to defy conformity that was felt in The Blonde, the hotel’s bar. Antiqued mirrors, brass woodland creatures, gold velvet upholstery – all of this was inspiring me to do something wild like, oh I don’t know, wear a black thong with teal heels and bend over the back of their sofa.  Time for the library. 

11Howard also has a library where collaborative and creative ‘think tank’ meetings are held for area businesses. It’s also where you can just relax with a cup of tea. “Don’t you see why we must hire him as creative head?” the executive exclaimed as I passed by. And while I had no idea what they were talking about I knew why they chose this space to talk about it, Anda Andrei.

Come stay at 11Howard in SoHo, a hotel that has edge with ease and partake in a social change movement never before seen in NY (and yet so necessary). I am calling it #HyggeSouthof14thStreet. 

Cheers and Enjoy,


An Evening with goop Hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow

Do I bring my camera?  Do I introduce myself?  Hmmmm, maybe.  But what I don’t do is stop breathing (my typical reaction when I am nervous).  This was all in prep for a night with Gwyneth Paltrow, in honor of Mario Batali, at La Sirena, thanks to Cadillac and let’s not forget goop (Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand and ecommerse site.)

Cadillac’s ‘Road to Table’ is a night where they pair up with stellar restaurants, polish up their newest cars and have guests drive a Cadillac of their choice up to their restaurant destination. Gwyneth happily chose to cross market with Cadillac for goop (in my opinion the best provider of lifestyle content anywhere) because she held fond memories of the car manufacturer.  Her Grandpa Buster only ever drove this brand of car. 

The night started at The Whitney.  The drive in the Cadillac XT5 Crossover went too quickly.  It felt like I was reclining in a leather chair while relaxing in my living room but with a large sunroof, sophisticated technology and a stellar sound system. 

It was time to get out now, the smartly dressed ‘Road to Table’ valet was already opening my door to escort me to Mario Batali’s new restaurant ~ La Sirena  • 88 Ninth Ave • NY, NY • 212-977-6096

 I noticed everything. The two-toned marble mosaic floor tile on the terrace. The wall of NANA doors that opened to the bar that was 2 ½ times longer than bars are in NYC. The bar’s backlighting that lit the liquor bottles up like a stained glass window. The tables that had monochromatic flowers (ivory) and that they balanced the bright summer green of their stems. 


That the lighting fixtures were likely Michelle Varian (well done) and that the subdued fabric panels in the dining room absorbed sound while exuding comfort. There was soft yet upbeat music playing and even though it was the middle of July there was a breeze and no humidity (of course Mother Nature is on Gwyneth’s side) I thought.

Then I noticed her. Tall, elegant, joyous smile, fully present and most importantly – real.  No, iconic. We were being introduced to Kim who had invited us. Kim was the head of adversting for goop and worked with Gwyneth daily so it was no big deal that Gwyneth was right behind us. It was no big deal and yet I was starting to feel faint which meant I did not have the internal grace to introduce myself to her tonight. That placing my seating card next to hers for a ‘selfie’ was the closest I was going to get to meeting her. And I was grateful for all of that. 

  ~The Food~

There was a heartfelt intro by Gwyneth of her dear friend Mario followed up by a genuine hug. That same passion was continued into Mario’s speech about his menu for the evening and the ingredients he painstakingly chooses.  

Insalate – a Tricolore with Chianti Vinaigrette and Parmigiano Reggiano salad. A mix of lettuces, some bitter, some smooth, some sweet yet all balanced by the bite of a well aged parmasean.  

Primi- Panzotti, Leek and Mascarpone Stuffed Pasta with Castelmagno & Brown Butter.  My table guests and I called them pasta pillows coated in highly infused basil butter. Mine dissappered as quickly as they could while politely being chewed.  

Secondi- I chose the Crispy Branzino Piccata, Green & Yellow Squash Ragu with Providence Style Butter Sauce.  The fish melted, the sauce dazzled and the firm vegetables finished with a satisfying crunch.

Dolci – Summer Panna Cotta • Apricot, Blueberry, Cherry & Passion Fruit.  The fruits were at optimum ripeness which I’ve decided surprising created a new taste; salt, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and La Sirena’s Summer Panna Cotta.

The evening ended with an Escalade ride to your destination with a reminder to not forget your complimentary dark chocolate bar. More appropriately would have been a ‘Robin, don’t forget a gosh darn thing.’


I won’t.
Cheers and Enjoy,




Experience The Kennebunkport Inn and be American Royal


Old world elegance, modern decor and white glove service is what you can expect while dining at The Kennebunkport Inn.  Whether you’re booking a birthday celebration, a quiet dinner or a weekend stay, your time at The Kennebunkport Inn will be american royal.  Who doesn’t like that?  I could be exaggerating a bit but take a peek at Chef Dave’s menu for good measure:img_7920

Not only does the menu read royal it tastes even better.  However, it was the decor of the room that made me feel most welcome.  Coastal-blue-hounds-tooth upholstery, a whimsical framed series of artwork and eye catching red accents are expertly designed throughout the space.

Soft music?  Warm fire on the deck?  Extra bottle of white?  Maybe even a cracked window for that evening Maine breeze.  LaTara Dunn, the inn’s Restaurant Manager will see to it that your needs are met and she will do it before you can even think to ask.  So book your stay now at The Kennebunkport Inn before the Maine season is in full swing.

Thank you Latara, Chef Dave and my friends for celebrating black tie optional with me.   #Now40


Cheers and Enjoy,






IMG_6064IMG_6065IMG_6066Last night I hosted a Fit Shop for San Diego based, women’s athletic ware company GRACEDBYGRIT.  GRACEDBYGRIT specializes in flattering workout gear for running and water sports, therefore I thought their product perfect for my coastal, North Shore town. Year round I see people walking, running, biking and sailing here in Marblehead (charmingly enough even with the family dog.)  We layer up and we layer down to make outdoor exercise happen here.  I am also on a mission to bring a taste of California to New England and GRACEDBYGRIT is the start.  But shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.  Colonial-esque/european influence?  We love that here.  Laid-back-chill californian?  *gasp and clutch the pearls*  This one could take time.

While Sarah Andersen assisted us with product purchases, we were also lucky to have CEO Kimberly Caccavo join us to speak about the ‘girl power’ message behind her brand:

“(Business partner Kate Nowlan and I) had to come up with a name. We had each experienced a major life event that forced us to learn what we were truly made of. Every woman has a gritty moment that could make or break her. Every woman has experienced hardship and troubled times. It is how we make it through those moments that define us. It’s realizing that grit is often what gives us grace. We have both been GRACEDBYGRIT.”

“Grit that gives us grace” and “a moment that could make or break her,” I love this message.  And isn’t it true?  One moment you were tear-soaked-cheek-rubbing-against-carpet crying and you get over it.  That dance in your step?  It returns. Your smile does too, but this time with an extra sparkle in your eye because you just gained more life experience.

Soulful message aside, GRACEDBYGRIT’S products are made from top quality italian fabrics and manufactured here in the US.  The quality is noticeable by site and touch but the flattering figure you have once in GRACEDBYGRIT clothing is ultimately why you buy them. IMG_6067IMG_6062

So grab your fleece-lined “Baby It’s Cold Outside” leggings because there’s still a chill in the air here, and your “Every Wear” top because you will look fabulous in it, and get outside to exercise California style.


For Chelsea,


The Mills at Pulaski St. Antiques


A recent pop into my friend’s modern mid century store FOUND at The Mills at Pulaski St. Antiques in Peadbody, MA blew my mind and made my day tripping to Portland, ME in search of unique antique vendors a thing of the past (phew.)

The Mills at Pulaski St. are packed with case goods, upholstery, outdoor furniture, jewelry, vintage clothing and so much more.  Four floors and two buildings worth of vendors leaves many a rainy weekday or weekend stroll fulfilled.

Buddha statue for your yoga studio? Check.

Vintage dress for the Crane’s Estate ‘Roaring 20’s’ soiree in Ipswich?  Check.

Vinyl records for your weekend DJ’ing hobby?  Check. (Vinyl is back and in full effect.)

Retro bamboo patio furniture because you just can’t do another second of teak?  Check.

Beaded clutch for upcoming summer evenings?  Check.

Upholstery classes even?  Check.

Swing by when able and do check out my friend Hannah’s space FOUND for all your modern mid century needs.


Cheers and Enjoy,



St. John (few words because well, pictures)

IMG_6791IMG_6727IMG_6905Winter break brought us to St. John in the Caribbean just in time to escape some sub below temps back home.  I was picked up at the ferry by Mark from SeaView Homes where he drove me out to Chocolate Hole with my husband and the boys in tow.  The entire drive Mark was impressively pointing out attraction after activity after necessity until we wound through the roads and landed at our VRBO rental Villa Splendor.

The home was provisioned upon our arrival, music to my grocery-getting-stay-at-home-mom ears (Pst! future stay at home moms, vacation with the kids when not prepared can feel like work with chaos just in a beautiful setting.)

Villa Splendor recently went through a gut renovation allowing us to be the second visitors to stay there since the remodel.  Everything, even down to the plush beach towels, was new.  There were two downstairs bedrooms with king size beds and full baths and a third bedroom up a flight of spiral staircases.  A wide open kitchen to a family living space and 180 ocean views beyond invited us week long. The pool was the game changer for our family with a sensory seeking child.  It was equipped with waterfall, hot tub and colored lights that lit up the pool at night.  IMG_5516IMG_5192IMG_6747IMG_5156IMG_5125IMG_5157IMG_5149IMG_5248

It’s no secret that I am a fan of nature and open space and teaching my kids to fall in love with it is a big part of how I raise them – always (those that fall in love with nature will protect the Earth.)   St. John is mostly protected nature preserve and you can sense that even while up in the homes in the mountains.  So a beach lover’s paradise it was for us where snorkeling became a daily delight.  A parenting highlight was when I encouraged Kai to dive down to get close-ish to a sea turtle (after teaching him how to blow out his snorkel.)  I watched him dive and swim down with the sunlight sparkling on his body, when he got within a few feet he looked at me through his mask and his eyes were huge with delight.  We swam up to the surface together where he did a fist pump and cried “That was awesome!”  Welcome to your natural high Kai.  “Can I do it again?”  #Yep

The food on St. John was delicious too.  Who knew my boys would sit through and enjoy an entire tapas meal?  We also enjoyed a late afternoon/sunset sail on the Kekoa.  And I cannot say it enough.  Sail with your family and sail often, on a large enough boat where you can sit together at the bow.  Unity happens, stories are told and memories are forever embedded.



Cheers and Enjoy,


Miami is Calling, Come and Let Out Your Inner Tiger

Miami is Calling, Come and Let Out Your Inner Tiger

IMG_5042“Urban alchemy”¹/ lifestyle curating/ integrating art into everyday life, all of this I love.  I also love that New England has stayed true to its European roots resulting in things like the beauty of Nantucket or our areas coveted “charm” But there is beauty on the opposite end of this spectrum that is causing quite a whirlpool in Miami right now. The creative yin to our yang if you will. When I sense a trend I am on it so listen up New Englanders.  If you are in search of a tropical posh oasis book your stay now.IMG_5054

I also have a thing for ‘newly appointed utopia communities’² (Smart Growth done right) which became heir apparent as I approached FAENA Hotel Miami Beach.  It’s hard to explain but this isn’t just a typical hotel that’s recently opened (December 2015).  It is a conjoined movement involving big thinkers, the town mayor, a celebration of Latin American Art, oh – and a hotelier with serious vision (Alan Faena.)  So please read on.IMG_5032


“I am here for lunch” I lied.  I was here for so much more   “Ah, very good.  Right up those stairs ma’am.”  The valet gestured up a white stair case to two hotel attendants flanking either side of a pair of doors.  They politely greeted me and opened the doors as I gently stepped on the floor mosaic.  As I entered into the foyer of the FAENA Hotel Miami Beach I realized it was true, FAENA is an “idea that turned into a culture” with a whole lot of red accent color.  In retrospect I  find it odd that I didn’t even notice the opulent art wing, I mean foyer, when I walked through the double doors.   But that’s because my eyes were only on her, Damien Hirst’s gilden golden mammoth.

I knew I might be caught off guard once experiencing FAENA Hotel but I never thought a tear would surface (who gets so emotional over interior design anyways?)   Luckily as soon as I passed through the foyer and opened the doors to the courtyard, the gusty wind evaporated that tell-tale tear.  But this isn’t typical modern architecture. This is co-creation from one who is in alignment with their highest self coupled with some serious gumption.  So it’s actually God happening and you can feel it.IMG_6447IMG_6457IMG_5050

I walked right up to Damien Hirst’s ‘Gone but Not Forgotten’, turned around and faced FAENA Hotel to take it all in.

Hirst in his own words courtesty of states;

“The mammoth comes from a time and place that we cannot ever fully understand. Despite its scientific reality, it has attained an almost mythical status and I wanted to play with these ideas of legend, history and science by gilding the skeleton and placing it within a monolithic gold tank. It’s such an absolute expression of mortality, but I’ve decorated it to the point where it’s become something else, I’ve pitched everything I can against death to create something more hopeful, it is Gone but not Forgotten.”³

Hirst’s viewpoint notwithstanding, I must add that the juxtaposition of a 10,000 year old Ice Age mammal flanked by palm trees while glistening gold in the Florida sun is be-YOND.  The owner of Alan Faena, purchased the piece recently giving it a permanent address here in Miami.

Think about it.  10,000 years ago a female mammoth fell down in mud in her frozen world and became fossilized forever (a zillion to one odds thank you very much). Then an artist with a touch of the macabre ingeniously pressed gold relief over said bones and encased them in glass (viola, ART.)  Soon thereafter a hotelier visionary (let’s just call it what it is, Miami’s second coming) purchases her gold, fossilzed-bones-encased-in-glass-and-now-called-art and puts them in the tropical garden of his insanely fabulous hotel.  I.mean.#WOW.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the art encapsulated here.

I sat down to process all my emotions from FAENA Hotel with its ‘Gone but not forgotten’ and ordered a salad and cranberry seltzer poolside.  Then I started to look around me for things like Gigi Hadid.  I also took time to study the murals in the foyer and realized there is a lot going on here in terms of symbolism and humanity’s strides and future possibilities.  I also realized that not many would even understand the hidden mysticism for another hundred years.  A little research on the murals proved to me that that was the whole point.  Mr. Faena wants his hotel to be forever and for guests to see these murals decades from now and look back and say “Ah!”

Please enjoy or come visit to partake in the FEANA utopic community building that the mayor has now declared a national day of celebration after (December 1st.)

Alan Feana, you are bringing the va-va voom, beauty or bust heart of the Latino culture (with a touch of Morocco) to the northern hemisphere and awakening us all.  Thank you for existing.


Cheers and Enjoy,


¹Quoted from Alan Faena

²W Magazine