Home Reno Part Deux – Almost forgot about the dust

This December we finally closed on a new house…well condo technically. We put in the offer back in September after looking at it on my birthday and are now deep in renovations.

There she is. We bought Unit 2, the 2nd and 3rd floor. Unit 1 is for rent and possibly sale, so please let me know if you want to be my neighbor.

Some general details for those that Zillow. There is no listing because we originally looked at the 1st unit and asked if the seller would sell us the 2nd. Surprisingly he said yes. After 5 offers on houses/condos in Arlington, losing because we are too “poor” apparently to afford 100K over asking, unable to waiving all financing/ inspection contingencies and can’t compete with 20 or so offers, we knew there would need to be some weird situation to get us in the door.

We switched over to a condo search for a few reasons. We were looking in a very specific East Arlington area. We wanted to be close to transit and the downtown area. There are basically 3 types of houses in that area. Itty bitty capes, colonials and giant 2 families. The capes we looked at max were 1500 square feet and that was if they had some sort of awkward addition to them. Ceilings were low and felt pretty cramped. We were seeing some really nice condos online, but kept shying away because the thought of “sharing” ownership after owning our 2 family wasn’t something we wanted to deal with. But, as the single families that were shit were being gobbled up, we thought we would just “look” at a condo in an awesome location. It was overlooking a huge ballfield and right on the bike path. We didn’t end up getting the 1st condo we offered on, but we were at least getting on the table. 1 of 6 offers compared to 1 of 20. We found there was less competition because for a single family, people were willing to do a full gut, but for condos people wanted it to be done. So, the two we looked at needed work which was a good strategy. We would have loved to buy another 2 family, but the price point for them was a bit over our threshold. We would have had to sell our 2 family and we like being slumlords.

Back to the details:

Built in 1940. Philadelphia style. Meaning the 1st unit has 2 floors and we do as well. On the other side of our kitchen wall is a side of one of their bedrooms. Common in 2 families around here.

Lots of moulding, detail and charm.

Tall ceilings

3 bedrooms

1 bathroom – We are adding a half bath.

Lots of light

Dining Room

No, not keeping the light fixture here. To Ben’s disappointment. It is kind of growing on me, but it is off-white and I am going with all white trim and walls, so it would just look dirty. Might salvage for a reading nook or something. But with all new electrical, it might burn the house down as I am sure it is wired with yarn. Lovely hutch. I am going to stain it black to match our dining room table and my soul. We will see how it looks with everything else being white. The painters said they can paint white in the end if I don’t like it.

Was hoping to go for something like this. Maybe less ginormous light.

Living Room

Original pocket doors. The ones shown are not actually them. They are surplus doors from other rooms we removed during renovations. This room will probably be the last one to finish as I want to do a nice built in tv stand/fireplace/shelf thing. And we will need new furniture, etc.

Can’t really tell by the picture, but this wall is bowed out giving the room a little extra space and detail.


Mantle over the radiator is so classy.


The kitchen is small, but functional. We are doing cabinets all the way to the ceilings to maximize space. And even a baby door in the dining room hutch that goes through to the kitchen. I believe serving door? Must be a name for it. We are keeping it.

I am glad I asking the plumber if we could squeeze a half bath/laundry room in the pantry of the kitchen. He said yes and I am very happy about it. Running into some snags with the door situation. I wanted pocket doors, but not enough space on the left and on the right there are pipes in the wall. Barn doors won’t work either. Counters on one side and the fridge on the other. Trying to get some sort of door that will provide privacy due to bathroom, but also will let the light in from the window.

We won’t be able to keep the bead board. This is the shared wall with the other unit, so if we remove the bead board, then we get into needing to fireproof the wall I have been told. With the amount of nails in it, once we removed it, there wouldn’t really be that much that is salvageable. Going to sheetrock it because the plaster would be a mess anyway after we removed all the wallpaper. I am going to go to one of the old lumber places up here and put bead board on top. Which to me defeats the purpose, but we will at least have the character feature and a little more sound proofing between units. The back stairwell has the bead board, so at least we will be able to keep it there.

Maybe something like these for the bathroom/laundry door.

Upstairs bathroom

Nothing to write home about here. Just replacing vanity, mirror and tiling the shower and floor. The cast iron tub is in good shape, so we are going to have it professionally glazed. We did it in our current place and has held up well.

Best features as assessed by the kids (5yrs/3 yrs) 1. All the stairs. Yes, there are 2 flights of stairs. 2. All the doors. Like many old homes, there are multiple doors for every room. It really makes the house more user friendly because you can section areas off for usage or heat. Door summary. As you walk in, you arrive at a landing and have your choice of 3 doors (dining room, living room, office) or to keep going up the stairs. There are beautiful pocket doors between the living room and dining room. Another door between the dining room and kitchen.

Location – right next to Spy Pond Amazing sunsets are in my future. We are an 8 minute walk from the boat launch and a 2 minute bike ride. Trying to figure out how I can walk and tow a canoe/kayak/paddleboard? It would be awfully ridiculous to drive to the boat launch.

Sunset on Spy Pond Arlington MA Bench Photograph by Toby McGuire

On the Minuteman Bike Path. In 2021…which is soon there will be a dedicated bike lane that goes all the way into the city. Keeping in line with our 1 car family status.

Next to Arlington Center with all the fun things we someday might be able to do after COVID. Capital Theatre, one of those old school theatres, same family as the Somerville one.

Lots of restaurants….haven’t explored any yet, but up for suggestions?

Capitol Theatre in Arlington, MA - Cinema Treasures

Other not really sexy items but worth noting for the sake of real estate.

Driveway spot. Could fit two cars in a row. When the kids get old enough, they can fight over the spot. Or they can just bike everywhere. Plenty of space for bikes.

Secret attic space in the eaves. Well, not really a secret as they already had a closet door. We put in a 2nd door to the other room. I am thinking a nice closet for each of the kids. Or, sound proof instrument practice room for them or me….because there was a small brass band practicing across the street. And before I invite myself over to be part of their band I need a lot of practice to get to bass level….haha marching band joke there.

Landscaping. Unfortunately and fortunately not much green space. Really only the side lawn, but it is landscaped nicely with Ben’s favorite hastas. He hates them, but they are easy. And a nice hydrangea and some boxwood bushes (I think). Huge shared patio that I hope to get squatters rights since the other unit is vacant. Really our backyard is Spy Pond with the bike path, park, tennis courts, boys and girls club, ball field, etc.

That is about it. Will check in with some more renovation progress. Right now it is pretty much electrical. So the only major change has been the amount of holes in the walls, which is exciting that we are making progress, but not much for a photo op.

If you have made it this far, I commend you for making it through this blog design, which is circa 2009. Please send help. I will probably reach out to a 22 year old that can probably redo this on their phone while walking down the street sipping a vegan matcha latte. A middle schooler maybe? I don’t have time, so it is this for now.

Next step, getting this in Instagram @planningbypopyk. Blogs and Instagram are friends right?

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Shower – For Le Bébé

2015-05-02 23.58.29

Considering Lil’ Miss Muffet is almost a year old, it’s about time I posted a blog for the internets about the shower for her or “Le Bébé” at the time. Bout time I posted a blog in general.

Sooo many themes to choose from. I had a natural Pinterest progression of idea changes. See board  Shower for Le Bébé for ideas. Although, they might not be as trending as they were from over a year ago. But who cares, do what you want.

To my sister’s dismay, I vetoed the grass bunny theme that was all the rage at the time. Although I love bunnies and all things Alice and Wonderland, these creatures made of grass creep me out. Maybe if she behaves she will have a succulent/grass bunny themed 30th birthday party.grass bunny

I had a few things in mind when I was thinking about the shower.

  • Activity for people to pass the time during boring present opening.
  • Black and White – Logistically, easy enough to find items in these colors. There aren’t 50 shades of black.
  • Doilies and lace – Because
  • Healthy finger food that has a cute presentation.
  • Outside at our place.

The Stationary Spread

Designed by Shana Popyk

Look clooossseerr….Shana worked hard on her signature carriage. So tough to find a vintage, classy, french carriage that isn’t too cartoony. So she just made one.


The Menu

First we started out with some apps that Shana and I prepped. Mostly Shana. The goal being make ahead and just put out on day of.

Cucumber, tomato bites with cream cheese 

Standard cheese and crackers

Fruit skewers

Pay no attention to the brick fireplace and collapsing retaining wall compliments of our neighbor.

Tea Party Food

Was very excited to have my very own tea party. Adel Donegan from The Vintage Tea & Cake Company did a lovely job. She was even kind enough to individually wrap the scones I used as favors.  In addition to the Tea Party Menu, she provided all the tea ware and lace linens.


Menu Front


While the tea party came with some mini desserts, in the words of Ariel…..” I want more..”. I made these scrumptious pieces of art. I started with some crushed oreo cookie crumbs, then this Easy Chocolate Mousse recipe and added fresh piped whip cream, single raspberry and half an Italian Pirouette all in a mini balls jar. Pipe it like it’s hot et voila.



To dress up the tent, I used sheer curtains tied around the metal poles at the end and also used them as curtains in the “entrance”. Picture doesn’t do it justice, but Joanna is modeling a lovely blazer and Shana her tea party dress. The benefit of the tea party is that the food is really a decoration in and of itself. Tiered plates, teapots, scones on vintage plates are just plain pretty. For flowers, we just did white hydrangeas. Always use an odd number when arranging.

We framed little black and white photos of Ben and myself. Golf pencils in balls jars for the trivia.

Card box. If this was a wedding, it would be something old. This is my mom’s toiletry luggage. Has a mirror behind all the doilies, so is quite top heavy if there are not full size shampoo and conditioner bottles. Which when we were younger was what we would take on vacations. And when it was empty, forget it, you were going to get your hand chopped off if it closed on you.


Keeping people occupied

What will people do while I open presents. The most boring time. Especially if you already have kids and have seen all the stuff before. I thought I would take advantage of all the experienced moms and ask for their words of wisdom. Shana made an Eat, Sleep, Poop sticker, kind of like Eat, Pray, Love…but for babies. We used a moleskin hardcover pocket size and attached a bookmark with recommendations for the wisdom sought. Not sure if you can see in the picture, but the Ideas included: Baby name recommendations, Essentials for a diaper bag, Favorite books, Best/Worst part of being a parent, Baby’s 1st Halloween costume ideas, Essentials for hospital stay, or general.

We still use these Eat, Sleep, Poop books. We keep track of Vira’s nap and food schedule and our caregiver keeps notes for us. I usually put questions in the back, so that when we go to the pediatrician, I can have everything in one place.

Many people keep track of all this stuff on an app and if that works, great. For me, it just didn’t work. I really didn’t want to have my phone on my 24/7 on maternity leave, trying to log in and out, making sure it was charged. The book worked for me, because it was easily transferable. No need to worry about compatibility, or have to look at something online, when I am stuck in a chair breastfeeding. Anyone can pick up the book and leave a few notes. I could see if there are huge sleep issues, that it would be helpful to have some sort of chart. We were lucky and just followed sleep habits recommended to us in a book. It was pretty easy to see patterns.


On the backside of the menu we had a little trivia for people. Answers were provided upside down at the bottom so we didn’t have to scream out the answers at the end. Can’t google the answers to these.

We did give out some prizes. Not for the trivia, but I think whomever had the birthday closest to the due date or something. Can’t remember. But the prizes were mini bottles of Prosecco.



My preference for favors generally fall to edible. I want something someone can enjoy and not throw out. Joanna helped me assemble these puppies. Each little wooden basket consisted of the following: Mini Scones by Vintage Tea & Cake Company, wooden spoon, Bonne Maman preserves, Tea Pyramid (can’t really see in pic), which I got from Homegoods, but you can also find on amazon. Some decorative parchment paper, mini bags for scones and twine all from Michael’s. Little Thank You Punch out, “A Baby is Brewing, Steep until August 1st, 2015”.

Selfishly, I enjoyed leftovers of these for quite a while. I still have some scones frozen and they defrost perfectly.


A special shout out to Shana who was very patient in following all of my many lists and schedules I had for her to complete. Baby is lucky to have a fairy godmother such as her.

And of course thank you to all my friends and family that traveled in planes, trains and automobiles to share this special day with me.


What has been your favorite shower theme….besides your own if you had one?

Favorite food enjoyed at a shower?

Posted in Baby Shower, Desserts and Cake, French, Recipes, Vintage | Leave a comment

Petit Dejeuner al Fresco


Sunday morning I attempted to replicate my usual Sunday morning meal from Three Little Figs. While a nice treat every now and then, it is pricey and generally super busy. I get the Sweet Ricotta which is just sour dough bread sliced thick from Iggy’s with fresh ricotta and honey drizzled on top. Haven’t found out where their ricotta is from yet, but pretty sure the stuff from Bob’s will do. I always get too much, so I have started freezing it in little 4 oz containers (the only reason to ever set foot in a Baby’s R US) so it doesn’t go to waste.

Experimenting with non-milk cappuccinos. Got the espresso from San at The Coffee Trike and this time tried vanilla almond milk. It frothed well and actually was very good. Used the method outlined in my previous post on Cappuccinos housed in the standard Gramma Popyk tea cup.

Bistro dining for one.


The view from the porch is pretty nice. Our neighbor has a grape trellis that would make the perfect al fresco dining situation. Unfortunately I don’t think he uses it at all. The grapes or the dining area. His words in Italian/English, “those grapes are shit, I order mine from California”.


If I had this nice piece, I think I would go for something like this under the canopy.

Patio detail, Moulis-en-Medoc

Typical, it is in France. Does it come with this lady? I peg her as someone who could make a really good scone.

B&B patio, Moulis-en-Medoc

He also has a huge garden, which is way too much for one person. Runs the length of his house. I am guessing he has a canned tomato bunker in his basement.


We get plenty for two people from our garden.


On to the next project. Taping and painting one of the french doors we found in the attic to use in the kitchen.

Please comment if you have any creative breakfast concoctions.



Posted in Breakfast, Recipes | Leave a comment

Amy and Joe: The Pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park, Niantic, CT

View More: http://tonyspinelliphotography.pass.us/gambardellaWhen Amy + Joe contacted me for day of coordination for their wedding at Rocky Neck State Park, I was super excited. I had seen some of the creative ideas the couple had for the venue and was happy to help them bring those ideas to light. Also, I would be able to work with some of the vendors at Rocky Neck State Park again that I worked with for Kelly + Ben’s wedding.  All pictures provided by Tony Spinelli of Tony Spinelli Photography.

It was a beautiful day with Long Island Sound as the perfect view from the ceremony.

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Reminding folks to share photos with a cute chalkboard.

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Amy’s brother warming up for the ceremony.

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Handmade program fans.

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Flower girl dropping petals as the bride and her father prepare to walk down the aisle.

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And here they come.

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Bride and father.

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The couple saying their vows.

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The Bride and Groom.

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And me too!!!

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Find your seat.

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Wild flower bouquets in mason jars surrounded the Pavilion provided by Amy’s Aunt.  

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Backdrop to Bride and Groom’s seats overlooking the water.

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Centerpieces: Wild flowers and a tree cross-section table number.

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Individual S’more kits for favors.

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There were passed S’mores as a dessert option. A hit having to be restocked regularly.

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Guests enjoyed cocktail hour as the sun set on the terrace overlooking the water.

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Amy and Joe prepare for their entrance enjoying some alone time on the terrace.

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Dancing time.

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The Bride and Groom and their first dance.

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And then there was cake….by JCakes. Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake with Raspberry Butter cream filling and Vanilla French Butter cream Frosting/

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And more cake.

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Main characters of the day…Amy and Joe.

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The ladies.

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And Gentlemen. Suits from Kohls.

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The whole party.

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Some details. The Pavilion provides such a nice template for a reception.  Wooden beams, glass lantern lights, stone walls, large fireplaces at each end of the hall. Amy and Joe wanted to add a little personal touch with some string lights and a paper lantern chandelier over the dance floor area. Friends and family worked hard helping to assemble items before the ceremony.


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The rings.

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The Bride. Dress from Marie Antoinette Derby, CT.

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More bridal party. I loved this blush rose color. Dresses from April Rose Branford, CT

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More dresses

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And of course….shoes.

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And they went off to live happily ever after…..

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as the sun set on the first day of the rest of their lives as a married couple.

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Video below provided by Videography by Tiffany

Summary of Vendors

The Pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park, Niantic, CT

Catering by Gourmet Galley

Cake by JCakes

Photography by Tony Spinelli Photography

Videography by Tiffany

Limo by Black Tie Limo

Gown from Marie Antoinette

Bridesmaid Dresses from April Rose

Suits from Kohls


Posted in Connecticut, Connecticut Weddings, Summer Weddings, Weddings on the Water | Leave a comment

Jenn and Will: Boston, MA


Jenn + Will contacted me looking for assistance in planning their October wedding.  Something simple and elegant for 50 of their closest friends and family somewhere in the Boston area.

After some exploration of local Boston options, they settled on The Westin Copley for their ceremony and Mistral Bistro for a brunch reception to follow. Jenn + Will would have guests traveling from outside the city, so having accommodations close to the venue was important. Mistral is a short walk from the ceremony/hotel and a very quick cab ride. The location also offered many photo opts, which is always helpful when you are trying to keep to a schedule the day of.

A special thanks to Dana Rouleau and Rocco Quatrucci of Dana Rouleau Photography for their lovely photos of the day.

The colors for the wedding were grey/silver and yellow. The colors were perfectly encompassed in their invites. Gartner Studios BRIDES Herringbone.


An eleven o’clock ceremony meant it would be an early start for the bridal party. Some options this couple took advantage of to make the early start more bearable…

Reserving a suite in the same location as the ceremony….with an awesome view. The bridal party had a corner suite with a view of Copley Square and so much more.


To save time, Jenn had a hair stylist come to the hotel. Jason McDowell of Cramer’s Hair Studio and a few of his assistant stylists did hair and makeup for the bridal party. Jason offers a trial for Brides to experiment with options. He also will accompany a bride to Sephora to try makeup options. Most brides have all the mAke up they need, maybe some worthwhile purchases might be a good primer and some lasting tinted lip gloss.

Jason works closely with a hair dressing school, so he offers brides the option to use a team from the hair dressing school for a reduced rate.


And last but not least, some bubbly…

getting ready

Almost ready for the ceremony.


And she is ready to go.


Jenn and her Dad just before entering the ceremony. Flowers by Kim of Mystic Flowers in Somerville. Jenn wanted her bouquet to be soft. She really liked the look of peonies in pictures. Problem with peonies I learned is that they come in mostly blush colors, and are hard to get during certain parts of the year. A very similar look we got from garden roses. They are very large and when they are allowed to open up, look very similar to peonies. So while the cost of a garden rose is more expensive than a regular rose, you don’t need as many of them to make a full bouquet. The BMs had smaller bouquets of the same color regular roses.


Will waiting for his bride. A view of Copley Square and the city. This is one of the two floral arrangements used to create the “altar” area. Simple white pedestals, tall cylindrical vases topped with hydrangeas. A few hydrangeas create quite a large arrangement. Kim added a few yellow roses for a pop of color.


The couple at the altar.

alterSaying their vows.

alter 2

Acoustic guitar by Adam Gautille. Adam is actually a trained trumpet soloist, but like many accomplished musicians he plays various instruments and does vocals. The ceremony space had 50 people, so it was important to have music that wasn’t too overpowering. Acoustic guitar worked well. Other options that work well for smaller ceremonies are violin, flute, or just straight vocals.


Some time alone right after the ceremony.


The reception immediately following at Mistral.


The style of the space worked perfectly for a brunch event. The neutral decor blended nicely with the grey and yellow wedding colors. There were even some yellow clay pots which added a nice pop of color. Selecting a space where you don’t have to reinvent the wheel will save in costs. In addition to Mistral’s decor, Jenn added the following to personalize the space; yellow candles over the fireplace and in the shelving, silver chargers, yellow napkins, table numbers displayed in a variety of silver frames, “J” & “W” initials near the head table, yellow satin table runner.


Some personalized details.

Entrance table welcome.

entrance table

A beverage for the bride.


The couple played a short game. Each held a shoe from the bride in one hand and a shoe from the groom in the other. A member of the bridal party asked questions of the couple. Without seeing each others answers, they had to decide if statements applied more for the bride or groom by holding up the associated shoe.


Generation of rings.


Mini-muffin favors. I baked three flavors for the couple: sweet potato, pumpkin and apple. They couldn’t decide, so I made one of each. See my muffin post for more details.


We were able to use the ceremony floral decorations at the reception. This is always worth asking the florist about. Sometimes it actually works out better for a florist as they are able to pick everything up at one location at the end. I moved the large alter pieces and used them as decor in the large windows. This was an adventure in the cab ride over. Thankfully hydrangea’s are pretty resilient.Flowers from the ceremony added small pops of color throughout the room.


Small glasses of roses from the ceremony.


And now on to the food….my fav. This is always torturous for me. I generally am too busy to get the full food experience. I was lucky enough to have some time for sampling. Not only was everything I tasted excellent….but the french have a way with presentation, but of course.

Sticky Buns

Nectarine Beignets

Market Fruit

Greek-Style Yogurt Panna Cotta, Pecan Granola, Native Honey & Sugared Plums
Pineapple Carpaccio, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Lime Sorbet
Rillettes of Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche, Toasted Challah


Foraged Mushroom, Spinach & Gruyere Frittata
Egg Whites, Oven-Cured Tomato, Vermont Creamery Goat Cheese & Basil Frittata*
Cinnamon French Toast, Armagnac Raisins, Crème Fraîche

Applewood Smoked Bacon
Lyonnaise Potatoes
Grilled Chicken or Sage Breakfast Sausage

Apps were displayed at the bar.  The yogurt was the best yogurt combo I have ever had.


Entrees cooked fresh.


Dessert was Vanilla Coconut cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop.

cake cake2

And the sticky buns…….Each served in individual skillets.


The Trinity Church in Boston offers great photo ops. I actually didn’t notice all the detail in the back of the church until this wedding. There is a small garden and beautiful archways.

The Bridal Party





Lovely scene.



City streets.


Where is your ideal spot for photos in Boston?

Posted in Boston Weddings, Fall Weddings, Yellow and Grey, Yellow Weddings | 2 Comments



When time allows, nothing beats a homemade cup of Cappuccino. Found a pretty simple recipe from Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffens Hobick 

Good quality espresso, freshly ground. I like Wholefoods because I can purchase a small amount and then put the remainder in the freezer.

Percolated to perfection in a single serve espresso maker which can be found for under $15 at Marshalls or Homegoods. Although, I would caution, if you get the small 1 cup maker, it may not fit on your gas burner. Might want to opt for the 3 cup.

Froth the milk using a hand frother. I got mine at Teavana.

Accompanied by a Lotus cookie and served in Grandma Popyk’s china.


Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment


Preview of post to come for Jenn and Will’s wedding. I made these favors which have three types of muffins. Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, and Apple. A nice fall assortment. Photo by Dana Rouleau of Dana Rouleau Photography.

Jenn bought these tiny buckets from oriental trading. She also made small thank you tags.

Inside these tiny buckets, I put a small circle tag from AC Moore with the types of muffins and a link here for the recipes. Looking back, I probably would recommend purchasing a circle punch out. It is faster than ripping apart all the individual circles.

Here are the recipes.

When in doubt consult Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

BH & G Sweet Potato Cupcakes. I had this on my evernote account forever and didn’t realize it was a BH & G recipe until I googled it to get a link for it. Sounds strange, but they are actually my favorite. I used canned yams, but have used baked sweet potatoes. Just poke with a fork and put in the microwave for 5 minutes.

BH & G Apple Muffins. This is my go-to muffin recipe. I basically use this template and add   whatever filling I have on hand. Since this was a fall wedding, the couple wanted apples. So, I just replaced the banana with apple.

BH & G Pumpkin Bread. I tend to make everything in muffin form. So often, I will just make various breads in my Pampered Chef floral cupcake pan. I really need to get a second one of these. I say that every time I use it.

Posted in Desserts and Cake, Fall Weddings, Gift Ideas, Recipes | 1 Comment

Sweet Zucchini Muffins

 A staple zucchini recipe of mine is Zucchini muffins. I usually just make banana bread muffins, but substitute the zucchini. I tried something different with Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins recipe from Will Cook for Smiles. These cute little shapes are from my Silicone Floral Cupcake Pan from back in my Pampered Chef days. I love it because, the muffins pop right out and you don’t have to deal with liners.

I made these with the intention of bringing them to my classmates last week, but ate too many of them throughout the week, so they will be getting the authentic muffins next week.

And of course, muffins are freezable. It is nice because if you are only having a few people over, you can take out a few at a time. I will usually take them out of the freezer to defrost a few hours before serving. If I want one immediately, I will take it right out of the freezer, into the toaster oven on toast for a few minutes and it is like it came freshly baked out of the oven.

Here is my fancy photography. By fancy, I mean I turned the flash off and hit the focus thing to get the cute one in front.


2 cups of shredded zucchini
3 eggs
4 oz of dark chocolate, melted
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a muffin pan.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon  and baking soda. Mix and set aside.
3. Beat eggs and sugar together on a medium speed for about a minute.
4. Slowly add oil while the mixer is on.
5. Add shredded zucchini and vanilla extract, keep mixing.
6. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry mixture.
7. Add the melted chocolate and mix until all the ingredients are combined.                          8. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for 30-35 minutes. I usually do 20 minutes in the silicone pan.

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Zucchinis, take two. Summer Vegetable Tart

Now I love myself a good tart. Mainly the crust and then the filling is secondary…until this dish. The Summer Vegetable Tart which I stole from Honeycomb, was yummy and freezable!

I attempted to serve this to my husband for dinner, which was not a success because it falls into the category of breakfast for dinner and he does not go for that. There was some confusion about tart vs. torte. Him thinking he was going to get dessert for dinner. So I got the whole tart to myself. I had, it for dinner the evening I made it and breakfast for the next few mornings. Slight overkill, but when something is good, I tend to go through it quickly.

I served it with a light salad of cherry tomatoes, basil, green beans and chickpeas with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

While the tart was very good, I think there are many variations of the recipe that you could try. This has swiss chard and cheddar, but I think spinach and feta might be good as well.

Here is a pic of my creation. Pretty close to the pic from the original recipe above.

Summer Vegetable Tart

adapted from New York Times
serves 4-6

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
2 Tbs olive oil
1 pound Swiss chard
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped rosemary
4 eggs
½ cup tightly packed shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until 2 inches larger in diameter than your tart pan on all sides. Place the pastry over the pan and press into the pan along the bottom and up the sides. Cut off the excess and discard or reserve for another use. Prick the dough on the bottom of the pan with a fork and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Separate the Swiss chard leaves and stems. Finely chop the stems and give the leaves a rough chop. Add the chard stems and the onion to the skillet. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook another 10 minutes until the zucchini is soft. Add the rosemary and thyme, stir, and add in the chard leaves. Continue to cook and stir until the leaves are wilted and tender, about 3 more minutes. Remove form heat and set aside.
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add the cheese, yogurt, and milk (if you don’t have yogurt on hand just add ½ cup milk) and whisk to combine. Add the cooked vegetables to the egg mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Pour the filling into the chilled puff pastry. Spread the filling even with the spatula and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until firm and golden. Allow the tart to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before eating. Can also be served at room temperature.
Freezing: You can freeze this dish. I cut up slices and froze in freezer bags. Just take them out of the freezer and right into the toaster oven or oven at 250 for 15 minutes. I poke the center to see if it is cooked.

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The Zucchinis are coming, the Zucchinis are coming….

Ah yes, it is that time of year when the zucchini and squash come in. Anyone that has ever grown (or watched their significant other grow them) knows they tend to come in within a few weeks and generally there are more than you can imagine to use in dishes. This year, I prepared by collecting some recipes ahead of time so they would not go to waste. Right friends, you can’t freeze zucchini. My solution to everything does not apply.

As we had a small amount trickle in, I made a variety of pasta dishes. I find a lot of them consist of squash/zucchini, feta, kalamata olives, some sort of pasta.

I stole this Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe from Cookie + Kate via Pinterest. It does not actually have pasta, but Israeli Couscous, which because of this recipe is my new favorite pasta substitute. It doesn’t taste like couscous at all, but is a wheat grain. I like the texture, it is sort of like a Pastini or Acini di Pepe. I only use a little bit of olive oil as I don’t like it soupy. I make a huge batch and then take leftovers to lunch. Items used from the garden: cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and basil.

Stay tuned for more Zucchini happenings.

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