Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day, an official feast day, was definitely a day of celebration- not just on the actual day, March 17, but all throughout the weekend as well.


I thought- I need to make something. What’s better than an Irish stew?  Since it was a Thursday night (work the next morning… wah wah wah…) and I couldn’t do anything too labor intensive- this was the perfect recipe!

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

Pints of Guinness beer sit on the bar at the Bell public house in Wendens Ambo, Essex, UK, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007. Diageo Plc, the world's largest liquor maker, reported slowing profit growth as higher costs for barley and energy weighed on earnings. Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg NewsDiageo Plc, the world's largest liquor maker, reported slowing profit growth as higher costs for barley and energy weighed on earnings. Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg News


2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed

3 cups of stout beer (such as Guinness)

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced

2 potatoes, peeled and quartered  (I just cubed all of the potatoes and they came out fine…)

Additional salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Heat Olive Oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, salt & pepper.  Cook and stir until the onion has softened and become translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the beef, beer, and potatoes.
  4. Bring stew to a boil over high heat and then reduce to heat to medium-low.
  5. Cover and simmer until the beef is tender- about 2 hours.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper before enjoying.

I also added a piece of bread from a loaf I had purchased on top, and let it sop up the liquidy goodness.


Posted by Jennifer Hubbard


Time for a Barn Door?

We love the idea of adding a barn door to a space. Barn doors are made of a thousand different materials and have a host of hardware options. The use of reclaimed wood or mirrors on the doors can add so much visual interest to a room.   Sliding barn door hardware has been used as far back as the Roman stables, and has a timeless design.


Despite how beautiful they are, there are many factors to consider when deciding to put in a barn door.

Structure: You’d want to check the structural stability of your home, and make sure you have the correct permits to do the work.   Barn doors take up a significant amount of wall space and require many holes to be drilled into the wall for the tracking.  The door needs to have empty space next to it to slide into when it is open, so it may be tricky to do this in smaller rooms.

Privacy: You would also want to keep in mind that barn doors are not completely flush with the wall like a regular door.  If you want absolute privacy in a room (like a bathroom), or a lock for your door, the barn door might not be the best option. Noise from the other side of the door may be an issue.

Aesthetic: The aesthetic matters, so you’d want to pick a material for the door that matches the overall feeling of your home, and choose hardware to match.  There are so many different options and you’d want to consider this closely. Say to yourself:  Is this what I want my home to feel like?

Cost: Because of the need for a track system to slide the door across the opening, barn doors can be a costly investment.  It can also be costly to remove the door and change the opening if you decide you’d like to change back to a regular door down the road.  There are DIY hacks to bring down the cost of this, but this is definitely something to keep in mind!

But barn doors can be used in many different ways.  They can be used as an attractive way to separate rooms in your home (for example: the kitchen and the dining room).


They can create some privacy between rooms without completely closing off the space. Windows or tinted glass can be added to the doors to create a feeling of openness.


They are also a gorgeous way to enclose a closet or pantry.  You could  flank your closet with built-ins for even more storage.  They can also be used to cover bookcases, or storage areas.


They can add coziness to rooms and create additional space in offices or work areas (as they don’t swing outward).


So is it time to add a barn door to your home?

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

Banana Chocolate Espresso Swirl Muffins

Bake Magazine

What better way to spend a cold New England Sunday than to make a delicious treat to enjoy with a hot cup of tea!  I bought a great magazine a few weeks ago called Bake.  The beautiful photography caught my eye and when I opened the magazine I was delighted to find an array of recipes – all sounding better than the last!!  I could hardly wait to try baking something!  In honor of Valentines Day I picked up muffin shaped tins at Target and all the necessary ingredients to make these decadent muffins!

In case you want to give the recipe a whirl yourself I am including it here:

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg

1 1/2 cups mashed banana

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with parchment liners or coat well with cooking spray.

In a double boiler melt chocolate with espresso powder.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center of mixture.  In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, eggs, oil, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moist.  Spoon 1 1/2 cups  batter into a separate bowl, stir in chocolate-espresso mixture.

Spoon banana batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.  Using the back of a spoon, make a shallow trench in the middle of each muffin cup.  Spoon in chocolate-espresso batter, and swirl with a wooden pick.  Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Let cool and serve!

Bake Magazine

The winter issue of Bake Magazine is still on sale if you want to pick up a copy to get even more amazing recipes like the one posted here!

Posted by Tara L. Callow


Southfield- Dorset Park Project!

We are excited to be working on a new large scale project at Dorset Park in Southfield.  This is a new neighborhood of energy efficient single-family homes in Weymouth. These are classic New England-style homes with open floor plans and luxury amenities.  The community also has extensive green spaces and an on-site MBTA station for quick access to Boston. Here is what the site plan looks like:



There are different models of homes to choose from.  There is the Stratford, which offers many amenities, including:  A covered front porch, a detached garage, a foyer, a mudroom and pantry closet, a lovely kitchen with a large island which is open to the other rooms, a private patio, a master suite (with a master bath, walk-in closet, and double vanities), first floor laundry, a gas fireplace, and two more bedrooms on the second floor.


the stratford2

The Mayfair, which includes a covered front porch, a detached garage, a foyer which opens to a living space with a wooded back yard view, a den/office off the foyer, a mudroom with a pantry closet, first floor laundry, a powder room, a large kitchen with an island, a gas fireplace, a master suite on the second floor with two large walk-in closets, a master bath with a double vanity, two additional bedrooms and a back yard patio.

the mayfair

the mayfair 2

And The Camden, which includes a covered front entry, a detached garage, a first floor office/den, a first floor master suite with a walk-in closet and a private bathroom, a spacious kitchen with an island and views of the woods and meadows, a dining area overlooking the side yard, a gas fireplace, a powder room, two additional bedrooms on the second floor with walk-in closets, a second bathroom on the second floor and a private patio in the backyard.

the camden

the camden 2

We’ve already started measuring the spaces…

Marlene measuring

And we can’t wait to start picking finishes and hardware! Northland Residential is in charge of building these homes and with 40 years of residential design, we think this will be an amazing partnership.

Dorset Park

You can find out more about what is going on at Northland Residential here!

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

The Ernest Hemingway House

I visited Key West over New Years (when it was 30 degrees here) and upon hearing that the grounds were inhabited by over forty cats I felt I needed to visit the Ernest Hemingway house.

House 1

photo 3

Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than 10 years.  The house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift and became Hemingway’s home in 1931. Hemingway was prompted to visit Key West by John Dos Passos, a fellow “Lost Generation” member.  He went from Paris to Cuba, before finally arriving in Key West.  His wife’s uncle had purchased a car for them and they stayed in an apartment on the island while they waited for it to be completed.  It was in this apartment that Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms.  After two seasons in Key West Hemingway and his wife decided to find a permanent residence there.  Uncle Gus, his wife’s uncle, purchased them the Hemingway house.  The home was in extreme disrepair when they purchased it, but Hemingway and his wife restored it and made it a national landmark.  One of the features they added was a $20,000 pool which was the first pool on the island.

The gardens outside of the home are beautiful, even today.

hemingway house

hemingway house

And as promised, the six toed cats were lounging in every corner of the grounds.  These cats are direct descendants of the cats Hemingway kept and loved.  The story is that a sea captain came to the island bearing an unusual six-toed cat.  The cat struck Hemingway’s fancy so much that when the captain left he gifted the cat to him.  They are everywhere.

hemingway cat

hemingway cat

hemingway cat

The inside of the home is decorated ornately.  Hemingway was very into furniture and paintings. Many of the furnishings in his home are European antiques that he personally collected when he lived abroad. His wife had them shipped over along with her chandeliers.

House 7

House 8

This was Hemingway’s writing room.

photo 4

Hemingway wrote many works while in Key West including Death in the Afternoon and For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Hemingway spent ten years in this home but his presence is still felt everywhere.  The massive and impressive restoration he did on this home made it a national landmark which still draws a billion tourists all the time.  If you ever get down to Key West, make sure to visit this iconic location.  You won’t be sorry.

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard