Sensational Summer Smoothie!

So, I’ve been on a smoothie kick lately and after recently returning from a trip to Hawaii, where I had several amazing smoothies, one of which being a chocolate protein concoction from the Whole Foods on Maui (that I can’t seem to get locally here in MA??!!) I became determined to try and find a recipe I could make at home.  This was further fueled by a trip to Vela (the go to place for smoothies in Plymouth) over the weekend where I had a yummy, yet pricy creation.

What do you do when you want to find something?  Google it of course!

Chocolate SmoothieI was delighted to see several options pop-up.  Among them was a recipe on a new site that I was unfamiliar with – “Minimalist Baker“…I immediately fell in love with the look and concept of the site.  Quick, healthy meals with a vegan/vegetarian bend.  What more could I ask for!!??  I read through the ingredients, and have to admit as much as I was impressed by the overall site was a bit skeptical of the ingredients…I went on to read the reviews and comments…so good so far.

I picked up all the ingredients and got my Ninja out!  I opted to include ice since I find it adds a nice texture and chilled factor to a smoothie.  I also tried a batch with coconut yogurt (which was good too but eliminates it as a vegan recipe and adds extra calories that I don’t think really improve the recipe).

Bottom line this recipe is absolutely AMAZING!  I can’t believe how good it tastes!  It’s become my new go-to summer treat since it’s a healthy alternative to a trip to Peaceful Meadows for the Fugernutter sundae (which is to die for, but seriously not good to consume on a regular basis!!)  I couldn’t wait to share my discovery and had to make one last night, with a few extra embellishments of course, so I could give you all a glimpse here…

The recipe is below but I am including the original link to the recipe as well since you may want to check in out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake

  • 1 large ripe banana (~200 g), previously peeled, sliced and frozen
  • 2 Tbsp (32 g) salted natural peanut butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
  • 1-2 dates, pitted (if not sticky and moist, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain)
  • 1 Tbsp (5 g) cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups (240 – 360 ml) Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original Unsweetened
  • Optional: 1/2 cup ice
  1. Add all ingredients except almond milk to the blender. Add in almond milk 1/2 cup at a time, adding only enough to allow the ingredients to blend together. Add more for a thinner shake and less for a thicker shake.
  2. Taste and adjust flavors, adding more banana or dates for sweetness, cacao for chocolate flavor, and peanut butter for saltiness. Optional: Add a handful of ice for extra thickness.
  3. Serves 1 generously. Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. You could even freeze this into popsicles!

Voila – you won’t be disappointed!!!  I am so glad I stumbled on this site!!  I can’t wait to discover more amazing recipes from Dana & John!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake

Taste of Heaven!

Naturally, Danny Seo

So I love this new mag – Naturally , Danny Seo.  The tag line says it all…”where style meets sustainability”.  It’s full of great articles and wonderful recipes!  The latest issue, Spring 2016 had a few recipes I couldn’t resist trying.  I am always looking for new, healthy dishes to mix things up in the kitchen and keep me from the food rut I often find myself in.  I don’t eat as much Kale as I know I should and since it’s full of nutrients and cancer fighting properties I was psyched to find the Messaged Kale, Avocado & Mango Salad in this issue.  It’s easy to make and full of flavor.  I paired it with a baked salmon and together they made for a tasty meal – felt like something I would have a hip restaurant in the city dining Al fresco.  I’ve included the recipe here so you can try it out too!  It’s perfect for the approaching warm weather as a summer dish for a gathering of family & friends!  I was so impressed with this salad that it’s inspired me to find more recipes using kale – hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Messaged Kale, Avocado & Mango Salad

1 bunch kale

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 avocado, diced

1 mango, diced

1 lime, juiced

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Wash kale and remove stem.  Cut the kale into thin ribbons (I wasn’t quite as dainty about this and just shredded it by hand) then place in a large bowl.  Add the olive oil and sea salt to the kale.  Message with hands for 2-5 minutes.  It’s amazing how it immediately starts to turn a bright green and go from a tough leaf to a soft seaweed-like consistency.

Gently fold in the diced avocado and mango, reserve a few pieces for garnish.

Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with lime juice.  Sprinkle in pumpkin seeds and reserved mango & avocado.


Naturally, Danny Seo

Posted by Tara L. Callow

New England Charm


Rockport, MA

If  you are looking for something fun to do this summer why not head to Rockport, MA!  It’s about a 45 min drive North of Boston and would be the perfect weekend get-away – whether it be a romantic weekend for two, or a whole family affair.  I was recently in Rockport for computer training session and although it was still about a month away from the summer season it was clear why this is a perfect summer destination.  If you are looking for great beaches, amazing seafood and quint galleries & curiosity shops than this is the place for you! It’s quintessential New England charm is sure to be a big hit!

Rockport MA

While you are there don’t miss Motif #1 – the red fishing shack that has iconic status and has come to symbolize Rockport.  I just loved all the bright colors and textures!

Rockport MA

Rockport MA

Rockport MA

Bearskin Neck is art colony filled with wonderful stores!  Most were still closed since it was not quite summer but I did stumble upon the Wicked Peacock where I found some fun, trendy jewelry that I could’t resist! Definitely make a stop here – I guarantee you won’t be able to leave without something special!

Wicked Peacock

Rockport MA

I had a blast window shopping … all the fun trinkets and art!  How much is that doggie in the window??

Rockport MA

Rockport MA

Rockport MA

Just loved the brightly colored doors!  So fun!

Rockport MA

Rockport is a great summer destination – it’s beauty and charm has even entice movie makers.  I learned that The Proposal with Sandra Bullock was filmed here as well as, The Love Letter and Mermaids to name a few!

If you find you want to do even more exploring while you are there then head to nearby Gloucester; who can forget this town put on the map by Mark Wahlberg & George Clooney in Perfect Storm!


Rockport, MA

Rockport is sure to delight!  Take a trip this summer!  You won’t be disappointed!

Posted by Tara L. Callow

Reclaimed Wood: A Lesson in History?

Reclaimed wood is wood which has been previously used (maybe it used to be an old barn, factory, ect.) that has been re-purposed in your home.  This is not a new idea, but it’s been gaining TONS of popularity in the past few years.  It’s an environmentally sound way to add a lot of character to your home.  The fact that it’s aged gives it a different, almost historical, aesthetic.  We’ve used it with recent clients and have been able to create a stunning blend of country chic.


Reclaimed wood has so many uses throughout the home.  You can use it for flooring, decking, islands, cabinets, wall paneling, tables, countertops, shelves, ect. There are also so many different species of reclaimed wood, including some types like American chestnut and longleaf pine, which are no longer available as they aren’t abundant anymore.  It’s a renewable and sustainable resource because conceivably you could just continue to use it. It reduces deforestation and landfill waste.

A good dealer of reclaimed wood can also present you the history of where the wood came from.  This can be an interesting piece of knowledge and can add to the intrigue of the wood.  It means the wood has a story.

Reclaimed wood is also more durable because it often comes from older growth trees.  Much reclaimed wood came from trees that were 200-400 years old and were harvested in the 18th and 19th centuries when there was less pollution.  It has already expanded and contracted with age, and has become harder due to the elements.  This means you’d have a harder time damaging it and wouldn’t need to worry as much about the humidity around it.

Depending on the wood species, reclaimed wood can make your home LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, qualifying your home for special benefits.


There are definitely some factors to consider when purchasing reclaimed wood which may be considered cons.  It’s hard to get the same aesthetic from new wood designs; however, because there is so much labor involved with harvesting reclaimed wood it is often more expensive.  Nails need to be removed, and the wood needs to be checked for pests and toxins.  There’s less involved with new wood.

Reclaimed wood also runs the risk of being treated with certain treatments from years past that may now be considered toxic.  In some cases, it may be difficult to determine whether these were used.  It’s a good idea to do your research on the risks of the wood you’re buying before you purchase it.

Since reclaimed wood is so popular and there aren’t an innumerable amount of old barns, factories, ect.- reclaimed wood is also becoming more scarce. This can make it harder to find for home owners.

You’d also need to make sure that you’re purchasing your wood from a reputable dealer. Some dealers make false claims about the source of their products, or they do a shoddy job preparing the wood. They might leave nails, and other things in the wood which can cause problems later on.

Despite this, we LOVE the idea of this environmentally friendly, beautiful and historical resource for your homes!

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

Spring time= Garden time!

I love Spring time.  It’s just starting to get warm after months of frost and there’s so much promise in the air.  It’s like you can smell the sunshine.  My first thought upon going outside was, “when can I start my herb garden?”  Using that as my inspiration, I scoured the web and here are some of my favorite quirky garden ideas.


On the website Dump A Day, they had several fun planter ideas, but my favorite was this beautiful bike.  They painted it, attached baskets to the front and back, and planted flowers in the baskets. Not only could this be done inexpensively (most people have old bikes in their basement) it looks amazing.


They also had this clever idea for a DIY outdoor Tic Tac Toe game, using paving stones and painted rocks.  This is perfect for households with children.  If the stones are lost, you can just make more. It’s durable too.


Apartment Therapy and Real Simple posted these great recycled Croc planters.  They do double duty because you’re saving the planet by recycling and the holes in them serve as great irrigation when watering.  They also come in fun colors.



The Mirco Gardener suggests using old buckets, milk crates, and even old wheel barrels as planters.  I love the idea of this, because it’s a cheap way to add a lot of character to your garden and it will have all of your friends lauding your creativity.


Many sites, including HGTV, have instructions on how to make your own mason jar herb gardens or planters.  There’s so many things you can do with mason jars.  You can paint them to look rustic.  You can add chalk board, or labels to display the herb names.  You can hang them, put them in planter boxes, or just strewn them around outside or inside your home.  They are durable and so aesthetically pleasing.  I am probably going to use this method for displaying my herbs this year! Herbs smell like heaven and can be grown even in the smallest of spaces.  They are my favorite thing to plant.


Happy Spring!

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard