Gift: Host/Hostess

I’ve just contributed a guest post for Spliced, a blog by Appy Couple (a smart wedding planning app) covering host and hostess gift ideas for upcoming engagement parties and showers. While the audience for this piece was the newly engaged, the gift ideas aren’t wedding specific. So if you need a little host/hostess gifting inspiration, check out the round-up from classic finds to DIY ideas on their Pinterest board.

Create: Berry Cheesecake Bars

Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are being sold in leaning towers at the farmers market right now. Here’s an easy recipe* I’ve been hooked on this summer that makes good use of fresh berries.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces cream cheese (a mix of regular and reduced fat)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup 1% milk
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
3 large eggs
1 cup fresh raspberries (more or less, as desired)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries (more or less, as desired)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. In a food processor (or with an electric mixer) blend cream cheese, eggs, milk, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and lemon zest just until smooth. Do not over-beat. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the crumb crust. Scatter raspberries and blueberries on top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until touch to center feels slightly firm and set. Cool completely before cutting. Use foil to lift cheesecake out of pan and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into clean-looking bars (wiping blade clean with a paper towel between cuts). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Adapted slightly from Recipe Girl


Wander: Cuttyhunk, MA

The last two summers our family has loaded groceries, baby gear and adult beverages onto a chugging ferry bound for a small island off the coast of Cape Cod called Cuttyhunk. The absence of bars, fancy restaurants and flashy resorts makes this the ultimate getaway for blissfully unplugging from our otherwise over-wired and hyper-connected life. I know that I should probably hold this well-kept secret tight, but I did go ahead and write about it for The New York Times and Bon Appétit. Perhaps a few more curious travelers will explore the island, but the no-frills atmosphere certainly isn’t for everyone. Which is precisely the allure for locals, long-time visitors and even those starting new summer traditions like us.

2011: Soft landings for our new walker on the lawn of the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club.

Hydrangea bloom in abundance all over the island.

A float in the Fourth of July parade. Locals festoon their golf carts in streamers or flags––there was even one trimmed in PBR cans––for the annual procession.

2012: Our two-year-old explorers.

Favorite leafy window for spying on boats.