July 17, 2017

A Day in The Hamptons with LMP

If you’ve been following along on our Snapchat and Instagram stories, you’ve probably seen some of the fun spots we’ve been hitting in The Hamptons. For the team at Little Miss Party, the summer is a time to take advantage of the beautiful weather. We have team meetings in Seri’s backyard, host lunches on the deck, and use every chance we get to take beautiful pictures along the way. Last Wednesday, we were lucky enough to have a day set aside just for an adventure around The Hamptons.

First stop was Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor for breakfast.

We were totally in love with the nautical decor, coffee, and traditional breakfast.

Oh, and the VIEW. What a stunning spot to enjoy a meal.

The bar and lobby area did not disappoint either! Every part of this place was picturesque.

We walked off breakfast along the water and moved into town to enjoy some of the adorable boutiques.

Of course, we couldn’t just have ONE coffee. We stopped for more at Grindstone Coffee & Donuts, and we did not regret it.

Eventually it was time for LUNCH.

So of course, this spot looked perfectly appealing. The Lobster Roll Restaurant is right on Montauk Highway and made for the perfect pitstop.

After filling up on fries and lobster rolls, it was time to head home. It was an amazing first week of summer in The Hamptons, and we can’t wait for more adventures to come!

xx, Maggie
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June 21, 2017

Maggie’s Florence Adventure

I know what you’re thinking; those LMP girls must REALLY love Italy. I know Abby just took a trip to Italy this spring and you’ve already heard all about it, but I promise I have a unique experience to share too!

When my friend Colleen said she was thinking about going to Florence in June, I knew I had to nudge my way onto her trip. Colleen and I studied abroad in Florence 5 years ago, so although it’s a city I know well from living there for 4 months, I couldn’t help but think “this trip is exactly what I need right now.” No exhausting lines with other tourists. No pressure to see the sights. All I had to do was focus on eating, drinking, and getting inspired.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve recently been hired full time (yay!) with Little Miss Party. For the past 2.5 years I’ve worked remotely with the team from Boston, where I’ve lived for 7 years. I traveled intermittently to NYC, which is when you may have seen me on Seri’s Snapchat or Instagram. We were finally ready to make a big transition, so I will officially be moving to NYC on July 1st! It’s been quite the journey for me over this past year, but I knew in my heart that working with LMP was my dream come true. You can learn more about my journey and all the reasons I was ready to leave Boston on my personal blog.

Needless to say, it’s been a crazy couple months for me, and knowing I would soon be VERY busy with the move to NYC, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to travel now before life gets in the way. Because so much of my life revolves around creativity, I planned this trip knowing my main focus was to take in the beauty, photograph my experiences and EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.

Let’s start with sights:

The Darling details of Italy

Gorgeous cars, posed perfectly against the traditional architecture of Florence.

Every building has rooftop & porch gardens. It brings beautiful new life to this old city.

Bicycles EVERYWHERE! And more plants!

Archways over narrow streets, casting the most beautiful light. Your eyes will never be disappointed on a casual walk through this city.

Sights for Sore Eyes

The Duomo is easily the most famous building in all of Florence. This feat of architectural beauty creates a “wow” factor for any passerby. Although I recommend seeing the views of Florence from the top of the Duomo Bell tower, the lines during tourist season are INSANE and walking around the outside of this building is impressive in itself.

The Arno is the river that divides Florence, and while in town, walking across its many bridges is necessary. Lined with many restaurants and hotels, this river is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset. Be sure to walk across the Ponte Vecchio but the better views are from the bridges surrounding it.

For the best views of Florence AND the surrounding Tuscan countryside, I would suggest walking up to Forte di Belvedere. All the tourists go to Piazzale Michaelangelo, and although it’s beautiful up there, it’s always packed. This location is much quieter and offers a grander view of the area. We only knew about this spot because we spent the whole week with our wonderful local friend who shared the secret with us!

Next, let’s discuss food and drinks:

Pasta

One of our favorite pasta stops was Trattoria Sant’Agostino which of course, we stumbled upon after a couple hours of walking and feeling famished. We purposely sought out locations off the beaten path, in small alleyways where we could tell everyone inside was speaking Italian. We wanted the authentic experience, and this place did not disappoint.

Pizza

If you’re looking for a freshly made pizza, Gusta Pizza is a must-go. Although a tourist attraction and always busy, this spot makes your pizza to order in their own brick oven so it comes out piping hot and delicious.

truffle everything

Truffle is in season in Italy, and you see it very frequently at the local restaurants. One night in search of a late dinner, we found Trattoria Napaleone which had a menu with a section of pasta that included truffle in every dish. So, we ordered truffle carbonara, truffle ravioli, and truffle gnocchi. No regrets. this place was beyond amazing with a true Florentine atmosphere.

Coccoli, prosciutto and stracchino

This is a famous appetizer in Florence, which is essentially fried bread, soft cheese, and prosciutto. It was simply delicious everywhere we tried it.

wine

We cannot forget one of the most important parts of going to Italy. THE WINE. It flows like water, and boy, did we drink it like it was.

We were lucky enough to go with our local friend, Angelica, outside of Florence about 45 minutes via public bus to Marchesi Antinori, a famous winery of Tuscany. The region is famous for Chianti Classico, an esteemed red wine that has been made there for hundreds of years.

Although we all tasted the Chianti Classico with lunch it was a HOT day. After learning about the winery and walking the grounds, we cooled off with their equally delicious rosé.

Finally, let’s focus on the things that made this trip inspiring:

The entire time we were there, Colleen and I had our cameras out and ready to capture the things that caught our eyes. Colleen is an amazing artist, designer, and photographer and I am so lucky to call her my friend. We fueled each other during our week back in Florence to capture the beautiful moments.

Colleen and I planned this trip so we could work on one of her (many) amazing side projects, Wanderwise. She is hoping to bring change the tourist industry of Florence with these creative workshops, and I’m so lucky I was there to help her brainstorm.

This trip was very nostalgic for us. This is us in front of the apartment we lived in 5 years ago. It was this place that developed our friendship and made us into the artists we are today.

Florence is a city filled with tradition. We were there during one of the famous city-wide rugby matches and were able to watch a parade to celebrate the big game. This procession lasted about 45 minutes with hundreds of men in traditional, colorful, and heavy garb.

Our wonderful Italian friend, Angelica is the daughter of one of our professors from studying in Florence. She was kind enough to show us around her city, help us order the best food, and provide a warm welcome for our entire stay.

The beautiful, old architecture of Italy is always so entwined with nature. I was so happy to walk around and see greenery and flowers every way I turned.

I came home from this trip feeling full, happy, and READY to move! I hope you enjoyed seeing pieces of my trip. Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@maggieantalek) to see my future travels, daily BTS at Little Miss Party, and my new adventures in NYC. Watch out New York, I’m coming for you next!

xx, Maggie
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June 1, 2017

LMP Travels: Three days in Paris with Two Kids

I have forever dreamt of taking my children to Europe but wanted to do so when they were good and ready so they would have some type of appreciation for such a special trip. Taking a trip to Paris was something I had discussed with my friend Ilana awhile back. When we first chatted about the idea we knew the kids were too young to even consider taking them. But a few years later, about 6 months ago, we were talking about planning a trip together and realized Gavin + Mazzy may be at an age that could work! So we did it. We booked a trip for the 4 of us to go to PARIS!

NOTE: Skip to the end of this blog post to go directly to a recap of our itinerary in Paris.

We decided to go over Memorial Day Weekend so the kids would only have to miss one day of school. It was a short amount of time to go so far so we had to really cram everything into the itinerary.  It wasn’t easy. The weather was unexpectedly HOT rising to almost 100 degrees every day but I was determined to make it the most memorable trip and did so by being relaxed and adjusting to the kids needs as we got through each day.

Before I share our planned itinerary vs. the actual itinerary please let me just say how thankful I am for all of the incredible advice and suggestions you all gave to us over Snapchat and Instagram. I am including many of your suggestions at the end of this post just in case others wish to use for a trip to Paris!

Ok here it is folks, the inside and out of our trip…

Planning Paris
Hotel – We booked the Westin Vendome. This hotel was suggested to me by a friend who works in Europe and whom I traveled to Paris with many years ago. Back in the day we stayed at one of those awesome little boutique hotels. Was great for a bunch of 20-something gals who just cared about shopping and fashion parties. However for this trip we needed a kid friendly, well located place to stay. It was a fantastic recommendation. We loved this hotel.
Babysitters – when traveling with kids and another adult be it my husband or a friend, I always book a babysitter for late in the night so I can enjoy an adults only dinner. I had arranged an English speaking babysitter through my travel agent, Tate Escapes prior to the trip but if you’re not as organized as me, don’t worry! Just speak to the concierge at the hotel and they will happily arrange.
Tickets to the sites and museums – Thank goodness someone told me to book tickets to the Eiffel tower in advance. If I didn’t take this advice, the tower would have sold out and we would not have had the opportunity to go up. Crazy I know. Someone referred me to Fat Tire Tours. I looked them up and immediately found their website super easy to navigate later finding out that they are an American company who runs tours in European cities. While on there I saw they offer picnics, bike rides and more. I booked it all!
Dinner Reservations – Seeing as I love to dine at fine restaurants, it was important to book them in advance. Luckily I had the foresight to book very late dinner reservations (9:30pm!) since our days were long and it was important to us to get the kids settled back in the hotel before ditching them for a night out. Worked out…perfectly each day that we planned adult dinners for.

Paris Itinerary:  Planned Vs. Actual

Day 1

10:30am Friday Morning we arrived in Paris.
Plan:  Take an uber.
Actual:  Uber didn’t speak English and couldn’t find us.  Canceled the Uber and took a taxi. 

11:30am Checked into hotel. Room wasn’t ready quite yet so we grabbed a bite.

Plan:  Eat lunch at hotel and then play in the Tuileries Garden.
Actual:  Ate lunch at the hotel but had to skip the Tuileries Garden as we did not have time before our first scheduled activity… 

After lunch, our room was ready. We went upstairs and got ourselves changed into shorts and a tee, loaded up on sunblock and packed a bottle of water.
Plan:  2:30pm – A Bike Tour of Paris.
Actual:  2:45pm – we made it a few minutes late…but thankfully the group waited for us and we got to go on a Bike Tour of Paris!

Finding the tour was super easy and our guide, Phil was the sweetest and so knowledgeable on the city and all the history behind the major attractions. We booked tandem bikes so Gavin and Mazzy could ride behind us and pedal if they weren’t too tired or, just enjoy the ride and see the sites. Gavin did a little bit of both and when the ride was over he told me it was “awesome”. Given the jet lag and heat, I was so thrilled and relieved to hear this.

I will tell you that the bike ride was long, almost 4 hours. It could have been 1-2 hours shorter in my opinion but we sure did cover a lot of ground and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The kids were exhausted at the end of this ride. However they spotted a playground outside of the drop off and immediately ran towards it. It was so nice to sit and watch the run around and play for a short while…until they realized they were craving ICE CREAM! So we took a stroll and found a gelato stand. The perfect pit stop.

At this point it was late and all I had written on the itinerary following the bike ride was “Feed the Kids”.  We had a whole list of suggested restaurants to take the kids to however we had no idea where these restaurants were in relation to where we were at that moment. What we did know is that we were near the Seine river which we rode by on our bikes and noticed tons of really cool looking restaurants.

We hopped into a taxi to take us over there and then we walked along the water to find a place to eat. There were so many incredible looking bars there filled with gorgeous Parisian people drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes. If Ilana and I were alone, boy would that have been great. With the kiddos, it was like playing a game of survival of the fittest. We tried one spot (way too cool for us) and found nothing on the menu that the kids would eat. So we left and continued to stroll until we found a whole bunch of food carts. Bingo! A hamburger for Mazzy and Dim Sum Dumplings for Gavin. The kids ate while Ilana and I sipped on Rosé. It was perfect.

I had booked the babysitter for 8pm and she was waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived back with the kids. Her name was Hannah and she could not have been more fantastic. She wore glasses, looking just like a school teacher. She spoke perfect English and she was immediately hands on with the kids, helping them get ready for bed. We all felt very at ease with Hannah right off the bat.

Ilana and I got the kids into their jammies and tucked into bed. Then we hopped in the shower and were off to our dinner.

Plan:  9:30pm at L’Atelier Robuchon
Actual: 9:30pm at L’Atelier Robuchon!

We ordered a bottle of wine and the chef’s tasting menu. I was super excited until…I passed out at the dinner table. Poor Ilana was literally talking to herself. She was doing her very best to keep me awake by telling me animated stories and that’s when the unspeakable happened. Just as she was reaching the climax of a old dating story, her hands whipped up into the air at the same time that the waiter was about to place a foamy egg served in a martini glass down in front of her. The egg went FLYING and landed onto her lap then made a skip and a jump onto the table next to us, finally landing on the floor shattering glass and egg all over the place. Believe it if you can, Ilana came away from this episode without one drop of egg on her clothes, only finding the egg on her napkin.

This was the point in the meal when Ilana suggested I order a coffee. They brought me an espresso. I was later up till 5am.  No matter how that dinner went down, we had a great night.

Day 2

Plan: Wake up at 9am to eat breakfast in the hotel (it was included with our room package)
Actual: Woke up at 10:30am and missed breakfast in the hotel. 

Since we were going on a walking tour (which is exciting for us adults who care about seeing pretty buildings however less than thrilling to a 7 year old child), I wanted to somehow make it sound cool for Gavin. I asked him if he’d like to be our photographer for the day, and in charge of my really good camera. His eyes lit up like he had just won the lottery and he accepted this job with great enthusiasm!

Plan: 11am – meet Sarah, a Mommy Shorts Fan, who offered to give us on a walking tour of Montmarte and have lunch at Marcel.
Actual: 11:30am – met Sarah at the Moulin Rouge with starving children who had no interest in walking and walked straight to lunch (well…we found a kids clothing store along the way and that they had interest in. They each chose a few items to purchase. Well worth it – tee shirts were $5 bucks!).

12:30pm: Lunch (I mean breakfast) at Marcel. It was SO lovely! Gavin ordered Bagels & Lox just like the good little Jewish boy that he is and I had EGGS and a Mimosa. We were hot but happy!

After lunch we officially began the walking tour. It felt like the temperature had risen to 4,000 degrees and the streets were all upward hills but we powered through to enjoy the beauty of this area.

Sarah took us down hidden paths and past the most beautiful homes as well as right by the Sacré Coeur. Gavin stopped to photograph it all, but his main focus was Mazzy…

After about a half hour of walking, we knew we had to finish up and give the kids a break to do something that they were interested in. Ilana was dying to go to the Louis Vuitton Foundation. A museum that is apparently wonderful for kids. Sarah told us that right behind this museum was a beautiful amusement park. Done. We were heading there for the afternoon. But before we finished walking Montmarte, Sarah made sure we got to see the best parts.

A flamingo and wizard wall….

The Wall of Love…

And of course, Ice Cream!

We even walked by a photo booth right in the middle of the street. Gavin and Mazzy hopped in as we scrambled to find change and walked away with the cutest strip of photos.

Plan for the Afternoon: Walk through Saint Germain or the Canal St. Martin
Actual: Le Jardin acclimatation

Never in my life…have I seen a more beautiful amusement park. The trees and even the rides, it was gorgeous! The kids were in all of their glory. Ilana and I looked at each, took a sigh of relief and had the biggest smile on our face for the rest of the day knowing how happy they were.

Beleive it or not, we made our way into the Louis Vuitton Museum, to cool off! It was literally in the park and it was so fabulous.

We weren’t in the museum for all that long, but long enough to take some beautiful photos and see a few of the exhibits. We went right back to the park and grabbed a bite for the kids while fitting in a few more rides.

Back to the hotel we went and as planned, Hannah, our babysitter was there right on time for Ilana and I to enjoy another night out.

Plan: Grab a drink at the Ritz and then dinner at 9:30pm
Actual: Straight to dinner at Clover for 9:30pm, drink at the Ritz after dinner

Dinner was incredible. Delicious and beautiful. This restaurant came recommended to us and we loved it. However if I did it all over again, I would have loved to eat at a local cafe on the street in Saint Germain, where they serve traditional Mussels + Frites.

After dinner we did make it to the Ritz Hotel and it was lovely. Truffled cashews, chips and olives were served with our cocktail and even though we were stuffed from dinner we savored every bite. After our cocktail we were so close to our hotel we were able to walk home.

Day 3

Plan for the Morning: Wake up at 8am, breakfast at Lou Lou and play at the Luxemborg Gardens. Pick up the picnic I ordered from Fat Tire Tours for our lunch in the afternoon.
Actual: Woke up at 10am, made it to the hotel breakfast, walked to Palais Royal for photos, picked up picnic food even though we had ordered picnic food, missed our window to pick up the picnic that we ordered so I called the hotel and asked them to pick it up, went to the Musee D’Orsay.

Day 3, was a highlight of the trip. First of all, the jet lag was starting to wear off and the kids were starting to adjust to the time change. The heat was still intense but we had many plans and they were plans that we intended on sticking to.

Ilana was raving about the Palais Royal. Said we had to get over there just for a photo op. She was right. It was unreal. It was a short walk from our hotel and along the way we walked right past Angelina’s, a bakery that almost every single person I know suggested we pop into. So we did just that, popped in..and left with a box of macarons.

What we weren’t expecting when we got to the Palais Royal, was a full blown Orchestra to be playing outside, for all to enjoy.  It was incredible. We listened to the music and then strolled over to the rose garden to take photos of the gorgeous flowers before making our wait out of this fantastic area.

Next on our list was to visit the Luxemborg Gardens. We heard it was a great place for kids to run around with sailboats that they could control and more. We passed by a small market and stopped in for some fruit, wine and flowers to take with us to the garden. I found the most beautiful peonies at this market and loaded up with bags full of goodies to enjoy outside.

We grabbed a taxi and the second we took off, it started to rain. CHANGE OF PLANS. We had to think quickly and asked the driver to take us to the Musee D’Orsay. No better plan than a museum for a rainy day. The only problem was…I was terrified the kids would hate it AND we didn’t have tickets so I was worried about the line…

To my great great surprise, the line was long but moved so fast we waited no more than 10 minutes to get in, there was a coat check at the museum to store all of the picnic items I had just purchased AND the best part was, the kids LOVED every moment of this museum. From the fact that it was an old train station, to photographing every corner, to the New York Statue of Liberty sculpture that they recognized when they walked in to the art that Gavin knew about from his school studies. My heart was so full I thought it may explode.

Plan for the afternoon:
2pm – picnic at the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower
3:45pm – Tour the Eiffel Tour (fast pass to the second level)
6:15pm – Dinner Cruise on the Seine River
9:30pm – Bus Tour of Paris at night

Actual: AS ABOVE! We did it!…

The afternoon was filled with plans and tours that we committed to. We would have been out a nice chunk of change if we couldn’t make these plans. Not to mention, we were all very excited about what was ahead! Most especially, seeing the Eiffel Tower.

We all had outfits specifically planned for the Eiffel Tower so after the museum we hopped in one of those biker cabs and took a ride home. Was a total fortune but worth every penny, kids loved it.

We changed our outfits and packed our bags knowing we wouldn’t be back at the hotel till around midnight.

We had asked the concierge to pick up the picnic that I booked from Fat Tire Tours since we couldn’t make it there during the window that was allotted to us.

I had dreams of setting up this lavish picnic with the gorgeous peonies that I found, wine, cheese and baguettes.

When we got to the park, the sun was so hot I quite literally thought we all may melt. So landing our picnic blanket in front of the eiffel tower was not an option, we had to run for the shade where the tower was hidden behind trees. My heart was broken. My dream was dead. And ready for this? We went to unpack the picnic and half of the picnic items that I had ordered – WERE NOT IN THERE. NO salami, NO cheese, no protein. There was salad and bread.  I almost fainted. Long story short…it was stolen. So we think. Moral of this story? Pick up the picnic yourself like you’re supposed to!

Our picnic should have been an hour+ however we had to cut it short to find food for the kids before heading into the Eiffel Tower. I told Ilana, Listen – I’m going to run over to the middle of the park, front + center of the Eiffel Tower and set up a quick picnic for a moment. It was worth every, crazy person second for that one shot.

Off we went to the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, Ilana found a shop with chicken sandwiches so we were able to feed the kids. Watching Gavin gaze up at the tower was one of my favorite moments. He knew he was in a place that was truly special and one he would always remember.

Remember above I told you tickets to the Eiffel Tower could sell out?  Well even though I booked well in advance, the top floor tickets had sold out! So we had tickets to the second floor. Honestly?  I did not care. I inquired about going to the top when we were there. When they told us it was a 40 minute wait we said sianara and just made the best of being on the second floor. And by that I mean we found ice cream for the kids and champagne for us. I grabbed my peonies that I had been schlepping around ALL DAY and took them for a photo with my plastic cup of champagne. Perfection? For me, yes! And the kids…were relaxed in the shade. It was all good.

Next up, was our dinner cruise on the Seine river. Someone had suggested the Bateaux Parisiene. We looked into it and when we saw it was only an hour and a half, had a great menu that the kids would enjoy we went for it. You guys…it was the best. The kids were relaxed, Ilana and I sipped on wine, the food was delicious, Paris was whizzing by us, it was pure perfection.

To close out the trip, Ilana had suggested we take a bus tour of the city at night. I was worried it would wreck the kids to be up so late but we said screw it. It’s a once and a lifetime opportunity for them, so who cares! Well who cares was right. It was that bus ride where the children got to see and truly feel the magic of Paris. All of the major sites lit up at night ending at the Eiffel Towel sparkling like we were in a movie, it was out of this world.

At the end of the day, it’s not easy traveling with kids. It never is easy. You always need to adjust and be flexible. Ilana wrote all about the truth of traveling with kids and provided a huge list of tips that you can read here. However there’s no doubt this trip was one that we will have in our memories forever and I am so grateful that I got to go on with Gavin.

Here is our itinerary recapped for easy reference:
Day 1
Hotel check in + Lunch
Bike Ride with Fat Tire Tours
Grab an ice cream
Dinner on the Seine River – food carts, leisurly
Babysitter arranged through the hotel
Adult dinner at L’Atelier Robuchon

Day 2
Walking tour of Montmarte & the Sacre Cour
Lunch at Marcel
Afternoon at the Le Jardin acclimatation
Cool off and be amazed by the beauty of the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Babysitter arranged through the hotel
Adult dinner at Clover
Drinks at the Ritz Hotel

Day 3
Breakfast at the hotel
Stop by Angelina’s for macarons and pastries
Walk to Palais Royal for a photo
Musee D’Orsay
Picnic at the Champs De Mars (the park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower)
Tour of the Eiffel Tour
Dinner Cruise on the Seine River
Play time at the rock climbing wall on the Seine River
L’Open Bus Tour of Paris at Night

From our followers – suggested sites and restaurants that we did not make it to:
Climb the L’Arc D’Triomphe
Take a photo from the top of the Montparnasse Tower
Take a photo at the Musee Carnavalet
Scavenger Hunt at the Louvre
Luxemborg Gardens
Visit the Opera House, Notre Dame, Walk St. Germain and the Canal St. Martin

Restaurants for kids:
Grand Corona in the 7th near the Seine River
Marais area – many kid friendly spots specifically recommeded was La Du Falfel
Breizh Café for crepes
Diep for Chinese food
Chez L’Ami Jean

Lastly I’ll say that this was a short trip. If you can fit in a few more days, do so. It takes at least 48 hours for the kids to adjust to the time change and feel settled after flying in from so far away.

Au Revoir Paris! Till next time…

xx, Seri
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  1. چاپ ديجيتال

    hi!,I love your writing so a lot! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL?
    I require a specialist in this space to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to look you.

  2. Marissa

    Awesome blog! What a trip! Sounds heavenly. I would have loved to have gone with my girls. Maybe one day…..

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May 23, 2017

Strawberry + Basil Limoncello

Remember how I just went to Italy? I’m still having withdrawals. One of my favorite Italian beverages to enjoy, besides wine, is good ol’ limoncello, a lemon-based liqueur. When I was heading out of Rome on my way back to NYC, I decided to grab a bottle to bring back with me so I could play around and make a yummy cocktail!

I looked on Pinterest for inspiration, and decided to combine some seasonal fruit and fresh herbs, to make a Strawberry + Basil Limoncello Cocktail.

Here’s what you need:
-limoncello
-vodka
-club soda
-fresh strawberries
-fresh pink lemons
-fresh basil
-sugar

Here’s what to do:
1) Slice up your fresh lemons and strawberries; wash and rip up a few basil leaves.


2) Combine fresh strawberries, basil leaves, and 1 oz. vodka in a cocktail glass.  Muddle ingredients together and let sit to steep for 10 minutes.  Divide muddled mixture between cocktail glasses.


3) Measure 1 oz. of vodka into each cocktail glass.
4) Gently pour limoncello on top of vodka and muddled mixture.


5) Top with club soda. Garnish with fresh lemon slice on rim of glass.

Salute! Until next week…

 

xx, Abby
2 comments
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  1. Celinda

    Love all your ideas ! My cousin had a baby last month and this would be just the thing we could do this summer !

  2. Abby

    Thanks so much, Celinda! Definitely a great summer drink for any occasion :)

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May 11, 2017

Abby’s Italian Adventure

If any of you guys follow my personal Instagram account, @abbycopleston, you may have noticed that I was in Italy last week… I KNOW.

It was a week full of wine, pasta, walking, sightseeing, cheese, bread, pizza… and more wine. Aka, my dream world.  Seriously, everybody needs to book a trip (or several) to Italy in their life… there’s a reason why it has such an incredible reputation.

This trip came about when my good friend, Jules, found a deal on flights to Europe through Delta last November. We had always talked about booking a trip together, and she studied abroad in Florence and has been DYING to return.  So, when she found an unbelievably cheap roundtrip flight from JFK to Rome, she texted me and asked if I’d be down. I had been on Long Island running errands for LMP and driving between Target and Ikea and Seri’s house, and at each stop I would jump on my phone to answer Jules’ very persuasive texts.  I’m normally a stickler for planning (hence the job of party PLANNER), but the decision to go to Italy felt like exactly what I needed at the time, and the price was so right that I pulled into a Panera, whipped out my computer, hopped on their wifi and BOOKED IT.

Panic & excitement soon set in, but not one ounce of regret. After a few months of planning, we came up with an itinerary, and decided to hit 3 places – Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome! We flew into and out of Rome, and took trains between each destination.  The trains in Italy are very easy, clean and affordable… but I learned my lesson about packing too much! When you’re changing trains with only 5 minutes until your next departure, you definitely regret bringing those extra shoes.

STOP 1: FLORENCE, Wednesday – Saturday

We decided on Florence as our first stop, since Jules studied there and I had already been there twice, once with friends and once with my parents when I was studying abroad. We thought it would be a nice place to recover from our jet lag, eat, relax, and gear up for the more fast-paced last few days of our trip. I recommend all of the staples on the standard Florence itinerary – climbing to the top of the Duomo, walking along the Ponte Vecchio, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, strolling though the Boboli Gardens, but here’s some suggestions for some other special spots…

SIGHTS:
Piazzale Michelangelo: This Piazza overlooks the river and all of the city of Florence.  It is a bit of an uphill hike, but the view is beyond incredible, and a great way to justify drinking an entire bottle of wine at the top! I’d recommend heading up a half an hour before sunset, bringing wine and snacks, and staying up there until after dark when you can enjoy the view of the city lights.

Strolling along the Arno at night: The Arno is the river in Florence, and it is a beautiful place to walk along, especially at night!

EATS:
La Giostra: This place was recommended to me by our former LMP intern, the lovely Juliana, and it was my favorite meal of the whole trip! It was a touch fancier than my usual meal out, but so worth it.  The atmosphere and food were both incredible – I got a seafood risotto that I will dream about for the rest of my life.

Caffé degli ArtigianiJules and I stumbled upon this little bar while wandering on the South side of the river, and ordered wine and apertivi, and sat outside overlooking the Piazza della Passera. We loved that spot so much, we came back 2 more times. It’s quiet and removed from the touristy areas of Florence, but not to far off the beaten track.

Acqua al DueI ate here when in Florence with my parents, and it was worth the trip back.  They make some killer marinated steaks, and are most famous for their blueberry variation.  Jules and I got the tasting menu to share, and tried and sampling of 5 different house special pastas and 3 steaks.  To die for.

Gustapanino: This was definitely the most popular picture I posted during my trip, and for good reason.  Gustapanino (attached to Gusta Pizza) was a spot I went on one of my previous trips to Florence, and was recommended to me by almost every person who has been there (lookin’ at you, Kim, Kathleen and Juliana).  Its cheap, and their paninis are fresh and delicious. I mean – just look!

SHOPPING:

Leather Market: I’m a sucker for a good leather jacket, so this trip brought on the purchase of a SECOND black leather jacket.  I have no regrets. I also got some gifts for friends and family – purses, a wallet, bracelets.  My advice? Get there early, so avoid crowds, and haggle. I got my beautiful jacket for a €100 less than list price, quite easily!

Kiko Milano: I have a bit of an obsession with makeup, which Jules noted, so she insisted on taking me to Kiko Milano in Florence. And OHMYGOD i’m glad she did.  I got a ton of fun makeup, including pink, teal and purple eyeliner, AND glitter mascara, which will be popping up in future LMP photoshoots!

STOP 2: CINQUE TERRE, Saturday – Monday

I was most excited for Cinque Terre, since I had never been to the Italian Coast before, and it did not disappoint.  The whole time we were there, I felt like I was in a movie.  We stayed in Monterosso al Mare, the largest and northernmost of the 5 towns, in a beautiful Airbnb that used to be a wine cellar.

SIGHTS:

Hiking:  This is a no-brainer, and the reason that people flock to Cinque Terre.  There are trails connecting all 5 towns, and people can choose the red (hard) or blue (easy) trail to hike between them.  The idea is to hike between all 5 cities in one day, which is totally doable. We had planned on hiking the blue trail and heading south from Monterosso to Vernazza, then Corniglia, then Manarola, and ending in Riomaggiore, and then taking a boat back up to the Monterosso al Mare to drink wine and collapse.

Unfortunately, most of the blue trails were closed, so we had to do the red trail first thing, from Monterosso to Vernazza, which was almost entirely uphill on stone steps for 2 hours straight.  It was beautiful, and so worth it, but my legs have never hurt so bad in my life.  We ended up making it to 4 of the 5 cities, skipping only Riomaggiore. Each city was extremely beautiful, but Jules and I both agreed that our favorite was Manarola – it was quaint, quiet and beyond beautiful!

Chilling on the beach in Monterosso al Mare: The first day we got to Cinque Terre, we were exhausted from the train ride, and decided to grab a blanket, a bottle of sparkling rosé, and chill on the beautiful beach, which was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb.  It was the perfect spot to read and enjoy the incredibly blue ocean. We didn’t go in the water, but plenty of people were swimming, so definitely bring your bathing suit!

EATS:

Trattoria da OscarThis place was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it was a very small, cute little spot around the corner from home.  I recommend the linguini with clam sauce.

Enoteca InternazionaleThis was a little store/ restaurant where we picked up the keys to our Airbnb, and it was so cute that we wen’t back as soon as we were settled for wine, prosciutto and bufala mozzarella. They had an excellent selection of white wine, which is typically my go-to, and I had been craving it after all of the red wine we were having.

Pizzeria La Smorfia: Delicious, cheap, straightforward pizza place.  With wine, of course!

Bar Enrica: This was a little wine bar at the base of the trail in Manarola, at the top of the city. It was so picturesque and an excellent place to people watch and enjoy a hard earned glass of wine.

STOP 3: ROME, Monday – Wednesday

SIGHTS:
I’ll state the obvious first… the Coliseum, Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon… all worth seeing! I didn’t pay to go inside and tour any of them, because our time in Rome was so short and the lines were always long, but if you have time you definitely should!

Trevi fountain

Vatican City


The Spanish Steps

Since Jules had already been to Rome, we also made it a priority to explore some less-touristy areas, based on recommendations from random travel blogs. They turned out to be our favorite stops along the way!

Quartiere Coppedé: This is a very small group of buildings, called “The Fantasy District”, entirely designed by architect Gino Coppedé with influences of Art Nouveau, Baroque and medieval architecture. It was a little bit of a trek, but beyond worth it.  Jules and I spent some time there taking pictures and picking which building we’d be living in when we can have our second homes in Rome (HA!)

Street Art in OstienseI’m a sucker for cool street art, so we trekked out to where the locals live to visit the Ostiense District and their extensive collection. The neighborhood that these murals were in is mostly an area that locals live in, and was full of cool bars and restaurants

Trastavere DistrictWe walked through this neighborhood across the river on our way to Vatican City, and upon some research found out that this is where a lot of young locals and college kids live.  It was chock full of cafés, bars and restaurants.. and incredible gelato spots! When I come back to Rome, I will for sure be staying here.

EATS:
Locanda del ProsciuttoThis place makes the top 3 list for meals in Italy.  We came here because of the fact that it had “prosciutto” in the name… can’t go wrong with that! We each got wine and shared this incredible charcuterie platter.

Arco di San CalistoJules and I had walked through this beautiful Piazza in Trastavere on our way to Vatican City, and made a note to come back to it for dinner.  When we did, this beautiful little archway on a side street was all lit up with bulb lights, and we snagged a table outside at this cute little place.

My advice? Book a trip to Italy. Now. It lives up to the hype.  Most of the time, I felt like I was in a dream.  That might have been aided by all of the wine drinking, but still! Thanks to Jules for being an excellent travel buddy, and for teaching me to ALWAYS order a bottle of the vino rosso della casa, or house red wine.  Not one time did I regret that!

Feel free to reach out for any more suggestions or if you’d like more info on any other the places I suggested! Make sure you eat gelato every day, drink all of the wine, eat plenty of prosciutto and mozzarella, and never turn down the bread. EVER. Happy traveling, eating, drinking… etc.

Ciao!

xx, Abby
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