Finger Lakes Favorites

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

I love the rolling farms, beauty, and quietness of the Finger Lakes. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend and never leave the house – between kayaking, hammock-reading, waterskiing, third-cup-of-coffeeing, s’moreing and floating – it’s an active weekend if we manage to bring out the croquet set or Settlers of Catan. Heck, going for a morning run (past horse and buggies no less) is a victory in my book!

Here are a few of my favorite things to do (when I do manage to leave the water!):

 

I love poking around The Windmill  on a Saturday morning for some marketing shopping / junk hunting. With a mixture of everything from homemade Mennonite loaves of bread, to handmade jewelry, to festival food tents, to vintage dishes, to t-shirts with wolves on them, you’ll find a wide assortment of goods at the Windmill. Parking is free and it’s worth checking out for an hour or two.

 

The Finger Lakes  - The Windmill

 

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

I’m totally biased when it comes to Belhurst Castle – I love it because we got married here! The Belhurst grounds are beautiful. The original castle was once a speak-easy, and is now home to two restaurants, gift shop, wine-tasting, hotel, and spa. They have a big brunch here on weekends, or you can grab dinner at Stonecutter’s restaurant in front of a fire pit. And, in case you’re in the market, it’s a great place for a wedding!

The Finger Lakes - Belhurst Castle

Fox Run Winery is a beautiful winery on Seneca Lake just south of Geneva. Wine tasting is popular all throughout the Finger Lakes, but I love Fox Run for it’s delicious cafe and front balcony with gorgeous views. We had our Rehearsal Dinner here in the barrel room and it was a blast! Fox Run is also home of the annual Garlic Festival (which I still have yet to make it to!).

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run The Finger Lakes - Fox Run
The Finger Lakes

If you are in the Finger Lakes in July or August, you must go blueberry picking! Not only is it supremely relaxing, but you can get organic blueberries for $1.99/pound! My favorite place to go is Serendipity. I love blueberry picking not only for the delicious fruit, but also the lovely wildflowers!

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

Looking for other things to do in the Finger Lakes? Try hiking Grime’s Glen, eating at the Airport Diner, picking apricots, or hiking in Watkin’s Glen.

I can never decide if I love lakes or oceans more. Does one really need to choose?

An Afternoon in Stockbridge

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A few weeks ago we took a road trip pit-stop in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. I’ve been out in the Berkshires only twice, once for cross-country skiing in the middle of the winter, and for a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood. Both times driving through the surround area was a big lovely tease! After all these years of speeding through the Berkshires on our way to visit family, it was time to check it out.

The town of Stockbridge is a sleepy quasi-resort Americana town. Beyond the beautiful Berkshires, the area is best known for being the adult home of famous American Painter Norman Rockwell.
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We stopped at the Elm Street Market for lunch, as the Yelp-recommended Once Upon a Table restaurant had already closed for the afternoon. The sandwiches were nothing to write home about, but if you are going on a picnic (or have arrived to Tanglewood unprepared) the Market has lots of picnic-size fixings.
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There were a few small shops to pop into which, naturally, were filled with Norman Rockwell souvenirs. I’m hoping to return this winter for another ski trip and make sure I visit the Norman Rockwell Museum next time! (Information for admission and museum hours here.)

source: The Norman Rockwell Museum

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But my favorite reason to head out to western Mass is to visit Tanglewood! Tanglewood is an outdoor amphitheater with gorgeous Berkshire views from every angle! It’s widely known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. James Taylor also plays at Tanglewood every 4th of July – which is a blast if you can make it! There is a concert hall area with traditional seating, but why do that when you can picnic on the lawn!? Picnic-ers go all out – with small tables and champagne and candelabras.

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Does it get more classic America than James Taylor and Norman Rockwell? Everyone has a different favorite Norman Rockwell painting. He has so many amazing pieces – some powerful, some silly. I had this one hanging in my bedroom growing up.

What’s your favorite Norman Rockwell painting?

Chocolate Cinnamon ice Cream

 

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This adventure in ice cream came about as a lack of pantry goods. Since we were going away for the weekend, I wanted to use up our dairy items before they went bad. (Naturally, MAKE MORE ICE CREAM!)

I’ve yet to make a simple chocolate ice cream, but upon getting out the cocoa powder I realized I didn’t have enough. Instead I decided to add a heaping spoonful of cinnamon. The result was a deliciously light-flavored chocolate ice cream – the effect was a Wendy’s frosty with a twist.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream

Recipe: (based on this Simple Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from Cuisinart)

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add milk. Use a metal whisk to whisk well until all dry ingredients well-blended and foamy. Otherwise cocoa powder will clump.
  3. Add cream and stir enough until blended.
  4. Add mixture to your ice cream maker and churn.
  5. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Cinnamon-Ice-Cream

 

Okay, okay! I promise that’s the last of the dessert posts. For now….

What’s your favorite fall dessert? I’ve got to get ready for the next round!

 

Pssssttt. I’ve been going through a number of web development updates and changes here on DesignLively. Sorry if things are looking a little wonky! My latest conundrum is that the Pinterest Toolbar Button isn’t picking up any of my images. If you’d like to pin an image you see here on DesignLively, use the “PinIt” button that appears when you hover over the image. I’m hoping I will resolve this problem soon. Thanks for your patience!

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

 

Blueberries for Sal (the Best Blueberry Pie Ever!)

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Whenever I am in western New York, blueberry picking is on my priority list. I love the peacefulness of picking blueberries – it’s a quiet, mindless activity and you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors, all while enjoying nature’s candy. Last year we picked 40 pounds of blueberries!

 

The bulk of the berries we pick go into the freezer, but I always make blueberry cream pie, and blueberry ice cream with some of the fresh ones. But I’d like to venture out and try a few more blueberry recipes this year.

 

This pie recipe is from the Taste of Home – and it’s sooooo good. The thin nilla wafer cookie crust, a thick layer of homemade cream, and a juicy topping of blueberries bursting with flavor are worth all the effort that goes into making it.

 

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Taste of Home Blueberry Cream Pie Recipe (click here for instructions)

Ingredients

CRUST:
1-1/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
FILLING:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 cup half-and-half cream
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
TOPPING:
5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

My notes on making this pie:

- You really need to use fresh blueberries. I’ve tried with frozen ones several times and it never comes out the same. The top just gets too watery.

- I use my coffee bean grinder to chop up the Nilla Wafer cookies. I have also bought the generic brand Nilla Wafers and they taste just fine.

- I’m definitely not a great pastry chef, so the cream is always the most challenging part to me. My only advice is cook it for less time than you think you need to! If it’s sticky, you’ve cooked it for too long.

- This pie is good for about 3 days. (If it lasts that long!)

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 What’s your favorite kind of pie? What do you like to make with blueberries? 

 

Add this to your Travel Bucket List: Watkins Glen

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There are many beautiful places in the world. But there are a few that truly take my breath away.

I’ve posted on Watkins Glen NY State Park before, but we hiked it again a few weeks ago and I just had to share some photos of it’s AMAZINGNESS!

Recently there has been an article flying around social media, “29 Surreal Places in America You Need to Visit Before You Die”, (aka one of those million Buzzfeed articles on your Facebook newsfeed) and Watkins Glen is #8. The author says, “We all know Niagara Falls is a sight to see, but located south of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region lies a lesser-known fantasy-like area called Rainbow Bridge and Falls. It will make you feel like you’re in Lord of the Rings.”

Hiking through Watkins Glen definitely feels part-LOTR, part-Fern Gully, part-Jurassic Park.

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The park was opened in the mid 1800s as an “amusement park” until it was purchased by New York State in 1906. The closest you will get to an amusement park is the laser shows they occasionally host.

The deep gorge was originally carved by glaciers, and has seen been re-shaped by the water flow of the streams, rapids, and waterfalls. The power of water is astounding.
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There had been some heavy rain recently, so the waterfalls were flowing and the trail was pretty wet. Walking under a waterfall is always a magical experience. Wear appropriate footwear! (And protect your camera!)

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There are some killer stairs at the top, but anyone in decent shape can do this hike. The main drag, the Gorge Trail, is a 1.5 mile hike and takes about 45 minutes if you stop to admire the general splendor, take some photos, and try to catch some of the little frogs. If you’re looking for a longer hike, the trail connects to the Finger Lakes Trail, which is an 800 mile network of trails running through New York state.
You can park at the top for $8. (Although there wasn’t anyone in the toll booth when we went.) A shuttle ($3 per person) runs back and forth from the bottom until 5:30pm if you don’t have it in you to hike back. More information can be found on the NY State Park Watkins Glen website.
Where’s the most unique place you’ve ever been?

 

Recipe: Watermelon Lime Mint Ice

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I don’t know what the weather has been like near you this week, but in Boston Mother Nature has made it clear that summer ain’t over. Which is good news for me – more time for ice cream! This time around I wanted to try making a relatively “healthy” sweet treat and this ice has no added sugars. In fact it’s only 3 ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium size watermelon (about 5 cups of juice)
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Handful of mint leaves

I made this last summer and it was so refreshing the watermelons beckoned me across the produce section to make it again.

Recipe: Watermelon Lime Mint Ice - DesignLively

How to make Watermelon Lime Mint Ice:

1. First step, liquify your watermelon. You could do this in a blender or a food processor. I chose the low-tech path by using a pastry cutter in a strainer with a bowl below to catch the juice. If you process the melon, you should strain out the pulp with a strainer.

2. Add your lime juice (and I added some lemon too). Be sure to strain out the seeds.

3. Take a handful of mint leaves and finely chop. Mix the leaves into the watermelon/lime juice.

Next, I decided to try it in my ice cream maker – which didn’t work. It didn’t freeze enough with that method and was too liquid-y. (Although my Mom made another version of Watermelon Ice this weekend that had Ginger Ale in it, and it froze in her ice cream machine and ended up a nice consistency.)

Fortunately we’re not trying to churn ice cream, so I reverted back to the foolproof method – stick it in the freezer!

Recipe: Watermelon Lime Mint Ice - DesignLively

After a few hours, I scraped the top with a fork. It gets quite hard in the freezer so you will want to leave it out for a few minutes to thaw before serving.

This ice is delicious, naturally sweet, and refreshing. Watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit to me.

Recipe: Watermelon Lime Mint Ice - DesignLively

I also took some leftovers and mixed it into my favorite beverage – seltzer! The perfect summer slushy.

What’s your favorite way to eat watermelon? I keep reading about grilled watermelon with salt… anyone tried it??

 

 

Summer Snapshots

 

Hello, hello, hello! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Labor Day weekend! I’ve been getting behind in my blogging about all the wonderful adventures and (tedious) projects we’ve been working on this summer.

This summer, like that blueberry pie, disappeared quickly.

It never feels like we’ve made progress on our renovations, but when I list all the things off it sounds like we have. We have nearly wrapped up our bathroom renovation (YES!), fixed the guestroom that was affected by the bathroom reno, finished the patio, finished the deck stairs, prepped for the patio sidewalks in the front of the house, resolved our massive garage roof issue, and added new landscaping and mulch.

But, we’ve always maintained that summer is the time for pleasure – because we all know it’s too short up here in New England! Our summer was chock-full of summery goodness. From blueberry picking to pie making to lemon ice cream making to learning to grill – there was no shortage of good food this summer. We are still enjoying our CSA membership and love getting fresh veggies and herbs every week!

I read a TON this summer (if you’re looking for book recommendations check out my GoodReads where I track everything I read). And, spent even more time making progress in my Netflix queue. This summer I learned how to sew from a pattern, making a beach bag and Joseph’s technicolor dream coat a robe. I’m learning how to grille. We went to a 1920s theme Lawn Party, explored the Berkshires, dutifully made buckets of “green juice” for breakfast every morning, hiked, biked, kayaked, shopped at SOWA, attended a Red Neck Vow Renewal, and, this weekend, I finally learned how to water-ski on one ski!

Apparently summer (and white pants) ends at Labor Day. Lucky for me I ignore the rules. With weekends in Nantucket and Stone Harbor ahead of me, I’m still in a summer state of mind. After that I will gladly march straight into Autumn.

A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!)

A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively
I think I’ve made it clear that I’m a fly-by-night kind of sewer. When my sewing expert best friend was living in Boston for a few months, I made it my mission to learn how to sew from patterns from her, and I already shared my first pattern project: a Drawstring Beach Bag, which has already been in use this summer! Today I am sharing my newest endeavor – a bathrobe!
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively

This friend of mine is AMAZING at sewing clothes. I knew I had to try to make at least one clothing item with her as my guide. One night at Joann Fabrics, she showed me a fabric that reminded her of me and was, and I quote, “so ugly it’s kind of beautiful”. Of course I loved it – bright colors and chaos and all.
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively

I made 1,395,025 mistakes, so no tutorial for you. All I will say is that a seam ripper is my best friend. I didn’t do myself any favors by making my first clothing project out of silky fabric, because it slides all over the sewing machine. But I finally finished!

The charmeuse fabric is the the Multi Brushstrokes Str. Charmeuse 54” and I used black thread and navy satin piping.

I used the McCall’s M6659 pattern, which I got on sale at Joann’s for $1.00. In a happy accident, I cut the body pieces for the “long robe” pattern and the rest for the “short robe” pattern, so I ended up making it a high-low hemline.

A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively

Easily the most difficult part was lining all of my inside seams. Maybe there’s an easier way to do this, but I sewed a lining over all my rough seams on the inside of the robe. Love how it turned out in the end – but took just as long to do that as the whole robe took to put together!

So, how did I like sewing clothing? Well, it was certainly challenging. The shoulders and neck were the hardest part. I think they ended up looking okay, but they aren’t perfect. I don’t see myself sewing a LOT of clothing, but it’s nice to know how to do it. This pattern of fabric was challenging to work with, as I took particular pains to make sure that the robe was all navy and purples at the neck and shoulders, and all the pieces changed color in the same direction. Talk about learning to swim in the deep end. :P
A Handmade Colorful Bathrobe (And My First Wearable Sewing Project!) DesignLively
I sewed on the entire arm inside out! #n00b
I had always thought sewing clothes was cheaper than buying clothes – not in my case. At the end of the day, I spent about $40 in supplies (and that was with getting the fabric 50% off). You can get a new satin robe at Victoria’s Secret for a similar cost – but definitely not in my awesome peacock fabric!
Any tips for learning to sew clothing? I bought a pattern for pajamas too!
I’m trying to get back into Link Parties again – I miss them! Linking this project up to:

Three Renovation Years Later: Downstairs Before and After

It’s CRAZY that we’ve been working on this house for over three years now! It only seems like yesterday that we got the keys to the house – and immediately tore out the built-in bench in the old sunroom, and starting ripping down the wallpaper in the dining room. Every few months, when certain projects get too overwhelming to even think about, I look back at the photos I took when we first bought the house and I realize just how much we’ve gotten done.

 

Yes, there’s TONS left to do, but let’s celebrate just how much we’ve gotten done in the last 3 years:

Porch:

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Hallway:

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Bathroom:
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Kitchen:

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Dining Room:

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Why yes, we still haven’t put up the rest of the dining room cabinet doors… three years later…
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Living Room:
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Sunroom:

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Deck:

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I’ve mentioned a few times that we resided the house – it was a HUGE improvement. In the picture below you can see how bad the old shingles were.
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Yard:
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We inherited an overgrown mess – I’m happy to say it’s finally been cleaned up!
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And that doesn’t even account for the massive amounts of yard projects, dirt-moving, re-siding, new driveways, plantings, trans-planting, digging, and grading we’ve done outside. I’d love to share it with you, but I don’t really like to share too many outdoor pics online. (That pesky internet safety issue.) You’ll just have to take my word for it.

I would never have been able (or wanted to) tackle this house without my handy husband. Everything would be clean, painted, and surfaced fixed, but nothing would be truly fixed. Renovations truly are like being on a roller coaster, and I’ve had more than one plumber / plasterer / etc tell us this is a great way to ruin our marriage, but we’ve had our share of fun (as well as not-fun).

Since this post is already epically long, I’ll share the upstairs next week.

Fourth Anniversary: Unique “Fruit & Flower” Themed Gifts

This week my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage – woo-hoo! As I’ve posted about in the past, I’m here to share some creative ideas for anniversary gifts. This year the theme is fruit and flowers. Without further adieu, here are some creative gift ideas to celebrate your fourth anniversary:
winetasting

Wine Tasting Night

Buggy Designs wine glasses | Brooklyn Slate Co. cheese board | Le Creusut wine opener

Maybe you can’t fly off to Tuscany, or Napa Valley, or even the Finger Lakes, but you sure can throw your own wine tasting night at home. With some personalized glasses, a fun cheeseboard it’s sure to be a delicious night, and maybe it’s time to upgrade to a nicer bottle opener.

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Juicers for Breakfast

Jack Lalanne | Breville | Vitamix | Ninja

I’ve been juicing for over a month now, and I’m still enjoying it. We have the Jack Lalanne Juicer (which is probably the most budget-friendly entry-level juicer), but wouldn’t mind upgrading to the Breville if we really want to stick to juicing long-term for easier clean-up. Or maybe you are a smoothie maestro and want to spoil your sweet with the infamous Vitamix, or the wallet-friendlier Ninja.

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Plant One on Me

If you’re a homeowner, it’s likely you spend a solid amount of time doing yard work – especially at this time of year. Pick up a few trees / bushes of your choice and enjoy the gift that keeps on giving. Pair it with some new gardening gloves or pretty birdfeeder.

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Love you a Latte

Okay, so a coffee bean is actually the pit inside a piece of fruit – but who’s really keeping score here? Grab a bag of your favorite beans and a desired coffee accessory – New mugs? A Keurig? I love my Cuisinart Bean Grinder (although coffee aficionados would tell you to get a burr grinder).

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The Apple of my Eye

An apple a day keeps the doctor away? How about an Apple a day keeps the techie away? The Apple Store is your one stop shop for gizmos and gadgets anyone would love. Or maybe it’s time to upgrade your iPhone case or snag some cool accessories, like an iPad stand or noise-cancelling headphones for the traveler in your life.
Happy Anniversary to us! Do you have any anniversary traditions?