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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Vacation: Birthdays & 24 Hours in Boston

I love birthdays. Maybe it's because my mom always made sure my sister and I felt special on our birthdays, or maybe it's just the way I'm wired, but I think birthdays are a big deal. The older you get, the more you realize that your life is the biggest and most amazing present you're ever going to receive, and that's what I celebrate on my birthday. I get another year with my friends and family. Another year of learning life lessons, exploring new things and celebrating accomplishments. A year to reflect on what I want out of life, and figure out ways to make it happen. Another year of food and fun with my husband. Another year just living. That, my friends, should always be celebrated.

Also, I'm not gonna lie, I totally use my birthday as an excuse to splurge. A lot. I consider July my birthday month (I'm that person), and I do things I don't normally do, I buy things I don't normally buy, and I eat things I don't normally eat. As adults, we spend a lot of time telling ourselves what we can't do (can't eat those carbs, can't buy that, can't eat that processed sugar, can't go to bed too late or I'll be a zombie at work). So in July, I spend a lot of time telling myself what I can do (Eat that lobster roll! Have two ice cream cones a day! Skip that morning run and eat - gasp!- cereal!). I eat stupid things my birthday like candy you can buy in any drugstore (and I get really excited about it). I also make sure I get myself a Carvel ice cream cake because nothing, NOTHING, beats the way that frosting tastes. And, most importantly, we travel.

My favorite thing of life is probably being by the ocean. The ocean puts my life into perspective, makes my stupid little stressors about work and everyday hiccups seem so insignificant. One week at the ocean and I'm de-stressed completely. My favorite place to do that is Cape Cod, but today, we'll be talking about a little pit stop we make on our way: Boston.

Since we live in a pretty rural area, trips to the "big city" are even more exciting now. Before spending a week on the Cape, we spend one night in Boston to kick off Birthday Week and also, so this girl can get her shopping fix.

We leave on a Friday morning, super early, as the sun is coming up because we're that excited. We drop Betty off at her doggie sitter's (because she's not really into the beach scene), and we start the drive, talking about how exciting it is in those first few hours of vacation, when you have the whole week in front of you.

We usually make some stops along the way as we get closer to Boston, including a Nordstrom (gotta hit up that anniversary sale!), and this year, we also stopped at the cutest little natural beauty boutique in Newton called The Organic Lab Apothecary. Lately, I've been gravitating more toward eco-friendly and organic beauty products for several different reasons (largely because formulas are so much more advanced and surpassing the performance of mainstream products), so this stop was a really lovely little treat.





For the past three years, we've stayed at the Revere Hotel in Boston, and we love it there. It became our hotel, so to speak. But this year, their prices were creeping up way beyond our budget, and we decided to take the risk by booking on Hotwire. We landed at the Liberty Hotel, and it was a really fun change of scenery. It's an old prison that was renovated into a hotel, and the entire atmosphere was a unique experience with even the littlest of details remind you of its old prison status (in a cool way, though). We did have some hiccups with our stay, including the fact that we were stuck in an awkward handicap accessible room, and the hotel lobby turns into a club scene, complete with a very loud DJ, at 9 p.m. on Friday nights. So we're not sure if we loved our stay or not. But, it was still a different experience that we'll remember.







We're both creatures of habit, in a lot of ways. While I love exploring new options, I become sentimentally attached to things and memories, so much of our Boston (and Cape) trip is very formulaic, and honestly, very touristy (no shame, my friends!). We always stop at Parish Cafe for lunch (oh, the onion rings!) before heading to Newbury St., Prudential Center and Copely Place for shopping. We walk around Boston looking at the beautiful architecture, stop for an ice cream cone and end up somewhere for dinner.

Onion rings and sangria at Parish Cafe.

Newbury Street shopping.

One of my favorite boutiques in Boston is Follain. Their displays are inspiring, and they carry such an amazing mix of luxury, natural bath and beauty products. This is the place to go if you feel like a little at-home pampering session and you're into using organic products. They also have an online shop where you can purchase most of their offerings. This year, I also decided to get some of their liquid hand soaps in their refillable, amber-tinted glass pumps. Our guest bathroom will have bronze accents, so they'll be perfect for that space once we complete it. 






Along the way, we also make a stop at Georgetown Cupcakes. I always pre-order 4-5 cupcakes to make sure I get the flavors I want. They have monthly and daily flavor specials, and because July is the best month ever, they have a chocolate sundae cupcake that's perfect for a Birthday Week splurge. We also decided on some of the more summery flavors, and a few traditional ones as well.


I ended up getting chocolate birthday, vanilla birthday, lemon blueberry and plain lemon.
All were pure perfection.



This year, we decided on Lolita Tequila Bar for dinner because it looked like it could be a unique experience that was also a little cheese. And, it was conveniently located near Newbury Street, our last destination of the day. I felt totally out of place there (because I'm not exactly the coolest person ever, and it was a little like a club scene while we waited for our table). But, once seated, it was a really fun experience. They bring you complimentary grapefruit granita with a splash of tequila as a palate cleanser before you order, and they end your dining experience with complimentary green apple cotton candy with pop rocks. The food we ordered was so, so yummy - the corn bread, street corn and tacos were all delicious (the street corn being my personal favorite, probably because it was covered in cheese). 

Street corn and corn bread at Lolita.

Green apple cotton candy at Lolita.

At the end of the night, like a proper birthday girl, I curl up in the comfy hotel bed, and had my chocolate sundae cupcake as a night cap. This ritual is perfection.

The next morning, like we do every year, we went for a run around Boston. I'm not especially fond of running, but after eating so much the night before, I actually want to do something to burn off whatever extra calories and guilt I can. Plus, this allows us the opportunity to see more of the city. We usually head toward the waterfront and harbor and to at some of the boats and ferries that are docked before heading back to the hotel.

Before leaving for the Cape, we did something new this year. We decided to visit Cambridge and walk around Harvard. I've always wanted to go, if anything, to see quintessential and historical New England architecture. We should have planned this part of the trip better because we were only able to find the law school campus before getting tired and cranky (it was like 90 degrees out that day, I had blisters on my feet from the day before, and we totally had no idea where to walk to to see the whole campus). It was still fun nontheless, but I'd like to go back next year with an actual plan, and maybe a map. Before visiting the campus, however, we did make a quick stop at Bagelsaurus for breakfast (I can't get over it, how cute - bagelsaurus - rahr!). Now every time I have a bagel, I shall call myself Bagelsaur. 

Someone near Harvard. I just liked the building :)

Harvard Law Campus. What, like it's hard?
Wait! I need to take a picture of this logo!



We also stopped at a lovely little natural store called Cambridge Naturals. For anyone interested in natural beauty and lifestyle products, I highly recommend it here. They had so many great brands (John Masters Organics, Little Barn Apothecary, etc.) and some smaller brands I'd never heard of - it was heaven. I bought too much stuff here and regret nothing.

After a lovely Cambridge stroll, we hit up Trader Joe's to pack our car up with the basics for the week, and we drove off to the Cape. Stay tuned!

Soundtrack for the drive: Ramble On, Let Forever Be, The Way You Move, Night Moves

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