Category Archives: Home

Finding Our First Home & The Architectural Styles We’re Considering

August 13th, 2018

finding our first home in New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Oh boy, it’s been a weekend. To recap, this past weekend Matt and I looked at over ten homes, wow; and while that may seem like A LOT or maybe it seems like NOT ENOUGH, we’ve definitely made progress in our house hunting predicament. Truth be told, we might even be close to wrapping it up, well at least the touring part. Now before I get too ahead of myself, let’s talk a little bit about the emotions that have gone into finding our first potential home, part one of many.  But before I get any further into this post, I wanted to share a new favorite shirt of mine, this flutter sleeve number from Dolan! I’ve been wearing it non-stop during my recent work trips and many of you have noticed over on my Instagram! So if you’re interested you can shop the shirt here, it’s wicked easy to style and the perfect top for any college campus or office. 

Overall, the experience has been…weird. And I really don’t think any other words could describe it better than that. In general, I’m a big picture thinker, so life transitions like buying a home, graduating, moving, which I feel like I do often; just doesn’t trigger any sort of anxiety for me. Which is great, right? I mean, I’ll get anxious over my inbox before I get anxious over purchasing a home; don’t know why that is, but looking at homes, and making this investment; which is what I see buying a home as is something I’ve loved doing. The possibilities are endless and the creative process and problem solving that comes, with this life transition is a space I thrive in. Now, I don’t want to speak on Matt’s behalf, but it’s pretty clear he has more of a hate relationship with the home purchasing process. And truth be told, we have bumped heads a lot during this process, but most of our head-butting has been over one thing, architectural styles. 

Cape Cod Architectural Styles In New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
finding our first home in New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
dolan clothing flutter sleeve blouse the coastal confidence aubrey yandow
dolan clothing flutter sleeve blouse the coastal confidence aubrey yandow

Through and through, it’s no surprise that I want a fixer-upper. Out of the gate, I wanted a foreclosed, antique colonial in need of a TON of elbow grease and maybe a bulldozer or two. I kid, I kid but Matt, on the other hand, wanted a modern turn-key home. He wanted no work to be hand, no elbow grease to be rubbed and most importantly a finished basement; that was basically his only criteria (not kidding). Soooo you could say there was a conflict of interest, but we really made moves this weekend when we settled on three architectural styles and limiting our search to homes built between 1850 and 1950’s.  

Why, You might ask did we do this? The answer is simple because it was a happy medium for both of us. Homes during this time period have great bones and foundations but are certainly due for an upgrade. Basically, it’s a toddler of flippers, it needs help that’s for sure, but it doesn’t need too much structural work besides cosmetics and floorplan work. No slanted floors, no 17th-century heating, and no more dirt-floored basement; you have to love those wicked old historic homes! Anyway once we made that compromise our search got easier and we started to gravitate towards three architectural styles immediately. 

Victorian Architectural Styles In New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
Victorian Architectural Styles In New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
Victorian Architectural Styles In New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
Colonial Architectural Styles In New England The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

The first style I gravitated towards was The Cape styled home, anyone surprised? I’m just obsessed with capes, they appear so cozy and have a minimalistic interior which is something I like in a starter house. Honestly, I also think capes are the cutest houses on the block when a White Christmas hits. The second style I gravitated towards was The Victorian, something about a bay window just lights up my creativity. While The Cape style appears cozy and simplistic, The Victorian style is grandiose and ornate, mostly due to their high-ceiling architecture. All 5′ 2″ of me loves a high ceiling, and with endless window space opportunity, Victorians are a bloggers interior dream. Finally, the style Matt gravitates towards most often is The Colonial. Colonials are aplenty in New England, yet each is unique and filled to the brim with character and often square footage.  

Again, to be transparent, I would leave all three architectural styles above in a jiffy if I could get my hands on The Federal home, but sadly none are on the market that fit our budget, location or Reno-needs. So, who knows where our home buying journey will take us this week but I do know you’ll more likely than not see us in one of the architectural styles listed above. Okay on that note, I’m headed to bed and getting ready for another week of house hunting with Mr. Matt. Would you guys want me to write about the experience some more? If so leave a comment down below and we’ll make sure to post regular updates over here and on our twitter

 

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The Perfect Gift For Dad

July 13th, 2018

Blink Home Security The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow
what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow

Finding a gift for my Dad’s birthday is something I struggle with year after year and I know I’m not alone. I mean finding a gift for the guy that literally has it all, can seem impossible. Now, normally I usually stick to what I know, purchasing him a preppy outfit and a Vineyard Vines bathing suit to boot, but not this year! This year I decided to switch things up when I received an email from Blink

If you don’t know what Blink is it’s an affordable, discreet, wire-free and functional video-first, home security product for inside and outside your home. My dad is honestly impossible to shop for, so when Blink reached out about partnering up, I realized I finally found a gift my dad would actually appreciate and not just another pair of preppy critter shorts. 

 

what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow
what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow
what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow
easy to install home security cameras the coastal confidence
easy to install home security cameras the coastal confidence

At first, I was a little nervous about installing the system, as my siblings and I decided to install the cameras ourselves while my Dad was out on the boat, so time was of the essence. I wasn’t sure if I’d have to charge the devices or purchase batteries but thank goodness for Blink’s easy step-by-step DIY setup. Whoever wrote the directions is a saint, they are very simple to follow and include numbered step by step instructions, it’s basically foolproof. I’d say we installed all three cameras within an hour and wrapped the boxes for him to unwrap when he got back. Oh but the best part is the systems come with two AA lithium batteries, which was lucky for us because we had just run out of the batteries we would have needed.

Now, like many parents, my Dad isn’t a hundred percent tech-savvy so I was ecstatic when I saw that it’s as easy as downloading an app on his phone to keep him in the now. Another plus to their user system is that you can opt-in to set up push notifications straight to your phone when your device detects motion, which my dad plans on activating while we’re away on our upcoming trip. 

Oh, have I told you yet? Matt, I and my entire family are leaving for a trip to Barcelona and Italy this week! We’ll be in Barcelona for a few days and then taking a cruise up the coast of Italy and hitting some of my favorite Italian places like Sorrento, Rome, Florence and a quick hit to Monte Carlo. Whenever we travel for long periods of time, like our upcoming two week trip to Europe, my parents constantly have people coming in and out of our home to watch our pets, but on more than one occasion a sitter has set off an alarm or left an outside door wide open, so my dad is ecstatic to turn on his Blink Live Mode to supervise the comings and goings and of course check up on our sometimes haphazardness cats. 

blink home security system the coastal confidence
easy to install home security cameras the coastal confidence
blink home security system the coastal confidence
blink home security system the coastal confidence
what to get your dad for his birthday under $100 Aubrey yandow

Okay, now while this was a gift for my Dad, my Mom might be enjoying the system way more. She has a long-standing beef with a chipmunk at our back door and she’s set on ordering more Blink XT weatherproof outdoor cameras to watch the little guy. He’s dug up her potted pansies twice now and she’s set on catching him red-handed. Overall exciting times at the Yandow house, and honestly such a good gift for your parents. Whether it’s a holiday or birthday, this gift is perfect because it’s easy to install and best of all actually affordable. 

Anyway, I’m off to pack for our trip and I’ll make sure to update you all with live feed of the chipmunk if my mom catches him in the act. 

+Thank you, Blink for collaborating with and sponsoring this post! As always all opinions are my own

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

July 4th, 2018

4th of July Strawberry Cake The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Today we are going to be making a strawberry cake with  cream frosting for the Fourth of July! As always this recipe is not my own but is from the blog Elisabeth & Butter, she’s one of my favorite food bloggers to follow, and you can check out her blog and other summer recipes here. Okay now back to this delicious cake! 

Fourth of July is actually my favorite holiday, and to be honest I think it’s 50% due to the nautical color pallet and 50% due to the food. I love all the berries and food New England farmers are harvesting this time of year, and my Mom always taught us to embrace the flavors of the season. Anyway, for the upcoming holiday, we decided to go with a strawberry cake as that’s what’s in season at the moment, and I loved that this recipe incorporated fresh strawberries. 

Now here is what you’ll need to pull off this cake for your 4th of July shindigs

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting for Summer The Coastal Confidence

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
Fourth of July Desserts Strawberry Cake The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

 

STRAWBERRY CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting for Fourth of July
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Cook Time
2 hr
Cook Time
2 hr
FOR THE CAKE
  1. 1 1/2 cups salted butter (3 sticks), softened to room temperature
  2. 2 1/4 cups sugar
  3. 4 egg whites, room temperature
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  9. 1/2 cup strawberry puree
FOR THE STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  1. 2 sticks salted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  3. 2 lbs confectioners sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 cup ground freeze dried strawberries
FOR THE CAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour three, 8″ cake pans.
  2. Grab your mixer with a paddle attachment, and cream the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes. Mix until the butter will be light and fluffy, and then add four egg whites and vanilla and beat for just 1 minute.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder, put that to the side. Then grab a blender to puree one pint of fresh strawberries until smooth or until you have 1/2 cup. Next mix together the milk and strawberry puree into a liquid measuring cup.
  4. Next up, add about one third of the flour to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add about half of the milk/strawberry puree to the batter and beat until incorporated. Continue alternating the flour and milk, ending with the flour mixture and make sure to not overmix.
  5. Then pour the batter into the three greased pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the pans cool for 10 minutes and then get them out of the pans and let sit until completely cooled.
  6. I cooled my cakes for about thirty minutes in the freezer but Elisabeth recommened wrapping your cakes in plastic wrap and freeze them for a few hours, overnight, or weeks in advance. She said, freezing your layers allows for easier assembly.
FOR THE STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  1. Now time to make the frosting, in a food processor grind up 1 cup of freeze dried strawberries until you have 1/2 cup of it ground. It took us two packages of freezed dried strawberries to get the 1/2 cup.
  2. Next In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and cream cheese on medium high speed for about 3 minutes, making it light and fluffy. Then add vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  3. Slowly add the confectioners sugar and freeze dried strawberries and then beat it on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until light and creamy.
  4. If it’s too thick, just add 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Finally just frost your cake and enjoy!
Adapted from Elisabeth & Butter
The Coastal Confidence http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

All done! Overall this cake took us about two hours to make, but it was worth every minute. Now we’re going to wrap up this cake and bring it to our Fourth of July family picnic. I hope this video inspired you to step into the kitchen and make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel if you want more quick tutorials like this! 

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How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer

June 7th, 2018

How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes”. Over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced highs of 95 and lows of 61 degrees! The constant shift in temperature made it impossible to fully commit to blasting our AC or turning off the heat. Now, frankly, you never know what type of weather you’ll be waking up to these days which can get costly when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Being twenty-four and living on my own for about three years, has made me pretty savvy and has allowed me to pick up some tricks and tips on how to cut costs while keeping your home cool for the summer. 

As most of you know Matt and I also have an apartment in Dallas, which made us really good at getting creative and implementing energy efficient tips into our everyday lifestyle, as the summer heat in Texas was no joke. Now some of these tips and tricks were easy to take on and some were harder than others but today we are partnering with Spark Energy to share 5 energy efficient tips to keep your home cool this summer.

Oh, and before we get started on tips for keeping your home cool, Spark Energy was kind enough to give you all a discounted rate! Just use code COASTALCONFIDENCE if you decide to switch over to them as your electricity provider. I’ve done a lot of research on their brand and love how they are customer-centric. Anyway, do a little research for yourself at SparkEnergy.com and let’s jump right into those tips. 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow-0171

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

 

1) Why You Should Always Wash Your Laundry On Cold // Save on Heating Costs

Washing your clothes on cold water is not only a highly efficient way to do laundry but it’s actually really good for your clothes too, go figure! First off since most of my clothes are cotton or linen, I wash most of my loads on cold water to prevent shrinkage and fabric damage. Oh and if that reason isn’t enough, don’t forget that stains set in hot water so washing on cold is another good way to avoid setting stains you forgot to pretreat! 

 

2) Embrace Colonial Shutters & Curtains // Saving on AC Costs

Spark Energy recommended conserving energy and cost by simply keeping the heat out and the blinds shut, especially in rooms that receive sunlight constantly throughout the day. I mean this tip is simple enough, but it was hard for me to implement as I’m a stickler for having my blinders up all day because frankly, I’m not a fan of the look.

Now, as you all know, I love living in New England for a few reasons, but at the top of that list is colonial decor and design. I love walking through and talking to owners of colonial homes and getting inspired by the unique interior aspects they offer. To get to my point, a few weeks ago I was walking through a historical open house and fell in love with these louver indoor shutters! Not only do these shutters bring character into your home but they work wonders at keeping the sunlight out and cooling costs down. Or if your handy like my Mom is, just sew up some accent curtains to keep the bright afternoon sun out! 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

3) Short Showers // Save on Water Costs 

I’m not kidding when I say, I may be the quickest showerer ever if that’s even a thing. I mean I’ve never been one to hang out in the shower, but I must say this trick was one Matt struggled with. If you find yourself running the shower water for way too long, my biggest tip is to make sure you’re prepared before you’ve even turned on your shower head. Get your shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and potions in the shower so you don’t leave the water running longer. Practice makes perfect on this tip, and head over to Spark Energy to learn how to make the most out of your, bathroom exhaust fan. 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

4) Take The Heat Out Of The Kitchen // Outdoor Grilling

It’s no surprise that using your oven to cook during the summertime can cause your kitchen to heat up, but what surprised me was the extra work and cost I was creating for my AC unit. After reading up on this trick from Spark Energy, I discovered grilling outside is a much more energy efficient way to cook during the summer because you are taking the heat from the kitchen outside!

For the longest time I hemmed and hawed about purchasing an outdoor grill, but after seeing the cost benefits I quickly splurged on this one! Matt and I actually love grilling so until our mini grill arrives you can catch me sneaking a few patties onto my parents’ backyard grill. Oh and if grilling isn’t your thing, think about investing in a crockpot.

5) Embrace Natural Light // Save on Electricity Costs

By far my favorite energy efficient tip Spark Energy had to offer was turning off your lights and embracing natural light. During the summer we are blessed with warm sunny days and longer daylight hours, so use that to your advantage! When the peak heat hours are done, turn off the lights and open your shutters, blinds or curtains. Natural light is my favorite element of a room and by passing on artificial light, you’ll be sure to not only cut costs but also have great lighting for pictures! You guys, already know from my vlogs that I love a naturally lit room, it makes connecting with you guys so much easier. How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Okay, that’s how you’ll cut costs while keeping your home cool this summer. It can sound silly and overwhelming at times but trust me when I say each of these tasks can, in the long run, make a difference towards your monthly bill and can amount up to some solid yearly savings! Now don’t forget that Spark Energy was kind enough to give you all a discounted rate, so use code COASTALCONFIDENCE if you decide to switch over to Spark Energy as your electricity provider.

When you have time leave a comment below sharing any and every energy efficient tips you might have up your sleeves! xx Aubrey 

+Thank you, Spark Energy for collaborating with and sponsoring this post! As always all opinions are my own.

 

What To Plant In Your New England Summer Garden

June 6th, 2018

OUTFIT DETAILS

White Shirt DressBelt BootsHatsSoil

It’s summertime in New England which means it’s the perfect time to make the most out of your backyard space and gardening talents or lack thereof. Let’s start with a disclaimer, I’m by no means an expert when it comes to gardening. This is purely a hobby of mine so any recommendations or tips you have for gardening please feel free to comment down below. Instead, this post is to inspire you all to get outside of your comfort zone and try something new this summer, while supporting local farm stands and getting a little dirty or in my case a lot. 

Now normally my sister Tessa is the gardening feen, but since she had to be behind the camera for this video she let me pick out the plants and then guided me through the planting process. So I’m going to do the same for you all right now, let’s jump to it. 

what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

Preparing Your Garden:

This was something Tessa and I decided to exclude from the video, in order to keep things snappy, but it is a key element to growing a successful harvest. First and foremost you need good soil for the roots to grow. Last year my dad surprised my sister by building two raised garden beds, as pictured above. These garden beds are the ideal place to grow your garden and are actually pretty simple to make, visit this website to learn how we made our garden beds! Next, you’ll want to set the garden with a mixture of compost and rich soil, this year we picked up this bag of mulch and soil to lay down after we went through and cleared out any weeds or leftover seeds from last year’s planting. 

What To Plant In Your New England Garden: 

1) Tomatoes – This year we went as far as to plant three different varieties of tomatoes, from big beef tomatoes to unique heirloom varieties, year after year tomatoes are a crop we always harvest well. And who doesn’t love a refreshing Caprese salad come those hot summer nights? 

2) Greens – Last year our garden was suffocated by our lettuce crop that we decided to give greens its own garden box this year. While we were filming this video all of our local farmers were out of lettuce but they just restocked this week and we planted over nine different greens. From lettuce to kale, our garden will be stuffed. 

3) Cucumbers – By far my favorite item in our garden, our English cucumber plants flourish year after year in our garden. To help them grow we planted them around these structures which will help them grow upwards instead of outwards, thus reducing crowding within the garden walls. 

4) Peppers – Add some color to your garden with a variety of peppers! We planted green, orange and yellow varieties this year and just noticed our first pepper bud yesterday! 

5) Herbs – I mean these babies are a no-brainer! Save money by growing your own herbs all summer long. From thyme to basil, you’re guaranteed to have a delicious topping for whatever meal you’re cooking up next, from garden box to table. 

New England summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to wear gardening the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

How To Maintain Your Garden: 

Now that everything is planted it’s important to maintain your garden! This means setting your alarm and remembering to water your garden from once to twice a day depending on the heat and dryness of summer. So far we’ve had a rainy summer so I’ve been able to get away with one morning shower and an evening grooming session. Oh and remember to have fun, it’s all for sport so don’t get angry if a chipmunk or two eat one of your peppers, or if your garden doesn’t go your way. Roll with the punches and you’ll learn a little something from each year of gardening.

Okay, that’s it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and make sure to subscribe to our YOUTUBE CHANNEL to see new videos every Wednesday and vlogs every Saturday. Also, leave a comment down below sharing your favorite thing to plant in your summer garden.  I love hearing your suggestions. xx Aubrey 

what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

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New Englander’s Guide to Hydrangeas

May 28th, 2018

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas The Coastal ConfidenceYou know it’s summertime in New England when the hydrangeas start to bloom, and boy are they beautiful this year. The other day I posted this picture of hydrangeas on Instagram and instantly got an overwhelming amount of responses and DM’s asking me about the do’s and don’ts of hydrangeas. Now instead of responding to everyone’s questions individually, I figured I’d throw together this post as a sort of a New Englander’s Guide to Hydrangeas for you all to reference and have for years to come. 

Now let’s start this post off with a disclaimer, by no means am I a flower expert, rather this post will be a combination of information I’ve gathered from family and friends but most importantly through trial and error. Okay let’s jump right into it, shall we! 

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas The Coastal Confidence
New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

Seed vs Shrub: I mean, shrub shrub shrub all the way. Never have I ever planted a seed to get a hydrangea bush, as I’m by no means patient enough for that. In fact I did some research and found out it could take up to three years to produce a garden center sized shrub. Basically, if you want to see hydrangea flowers in your New England yard in the near future go with a shrub!

Potted vs In-Ground: First and foremost it’s important to decide how you want to plant your hydrangeas. Personally, I’ve had a better experience with in-ground hydrangeas over potted hydrangeas but that also has a lot to do with our location. I’m lucky enough to have a backyard filled with partially shaded areas, which hydrangeas are known for thriving off of. In fact, my dad and I just planted three additional bushes this past Mother’s Day and were told by the garden expert to plant the shrubs a good distance apart, so they have room to thrive and grow to a mature size. Now if you have a backyard or front yard with full sunlight almost all day, maybe consider potting your hydrangeas on your porch or doorway to protect them from the direct sunlight. 

When Should You Plant Your Hydrangeas: You should aim to plant your hydrangeas in late spring, in fact right now would be a perfect time to plant them or wait until early fall. Aim for workable moist soil and mild temperatures, and at all costs avoid planting your hydrangeas directly before or after a frost. 

Water, With Love and Moderation: The key to keeping your hydrangeas alive and flourishing is to make sure they are hydrated and as I said earlier, in the partial shade. You want the soil to stay moist so pull out that watering hose once a day to give them a good soaking. You can always look at the leaves to see if they are burning or drying out due to lack of water. 

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas
New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

Make It Blue, For Your Instagram Aesthetic: You know me and my love for a cohesive Instagram aesthetic so a big concern I had when planting hydrangeas was how to guarantee that they would be blue. I quickly did some research to find that if your hydrangeas pop up pink you can easily turn them to blue by adding more acidity to your soil. If you want to get scientifical, you can check the acidity levels of your soil before planting by using a pH meter, and ideally, you’d be looking for a 5.0 acidity level. To add acidity you can easily layer soil acidifier into the ground before planting or, if already planted, near the base of the plant. 

Cutting Your Blossoms: I mean, nothing says summertime in New England like a fresh bouquet of hydrangea blossoms in your kitchen. I always get excited when it’s time to cut my hydrangea blossoms but a good cutting technique is key to keeping your bouquets fresh and your shrubs thriving. I was told by my local garden center to cut hydrangea blossoms only once they’ve reached full bloom and at a 45-degree angle with a knife. Now, I’ve used scissors before with no issues, but they insisted to cutting with a knife in order to minimize damage to the shrub. They also recommend having a vase ready to go as hydrangeas should never spend much time out of water especially once having been cut. 

Getting Your Hydrangeas Ready For Winter: I mean, it is way too early to start thinking of winter but I’m just going to throw this in here so when the time comes we are just prepared. In late fall, or before the first frost, is the ideal time to prepare your shrubs for winter. First and foremost remove all of the flowers from the hydrangea bush, next cut down the stalks and stems of your bush while leaving about six inches of stem left. Oh and don’t forget to re-fertilize and water the plant prior to that first frost, this step is key in making sure your shrubs will make it through the cold winter months New England brings to the table. 

Okay guys, I mean this was a hefty post. A lot of information and a lot of flower talk but hopefully this gives you the inspiration to test out your own green thumb this summer. I mean when in New England, hydrangea!  

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5 Pizza Places to Visit in Connecticut

April 20th, 2018

5 Pizza Places to Visit in CT Aubrey Yandow The Coastal Confidence Pizza in Connecticut
5 Pizza Places to Visit in CT Aubrey Yandow The Coastal Confidence Pizza in Connecticut

I was inspired to create this post, last week when Matt and I were in Dallas. We were chatting with some friends and they wanted to know, besides seafood, what was the best dish to order in New England. Valid question right and  I quickly realized no one does pizza like New England, well besides Chicago, so I told her to give me a week and I’d report back with a whole list. 

Once I finalized my list, I decided I might as well share it with all of you and all I can say is, I miss New England pizza. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; pizza is always a valid food option for me and I hope this inspires you all to test out a few new places. Anyway, I’m just going to jump right into it!

I ranked the following 5 pizza places to visit in CT in order of how I’d visit them. I rated them based on 1) pizza crust thickness, 2) topping options, 3) ambiance & 4) quantity of parking/seating. 

Okay here we go:  

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana // New Haven, CT

During the summer of 2015, Matt was living and working in New York City, while I was living and working in Eastern Connecticut, which meant we got to see each other on weekends and holidays. So come Friday, we’d often meet to hang out at a halfway point, New Haven. Before that summer I never really spent much time in New Haven but grew to look forward to my Friday night drive to New Haven and the delicious Italian food that awaited me. Whenever I picked up Matt from the train station he was always beyond famished so we usually headed straight to Frank Pepe Pizzeria. This historic pizza place first opened it’s doors in 1925 and has been a New England staple ever since. 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thin crust baked to a slight crunch sliced up into thin servings, providing you with the perfect excuse to order more than one pizza pie per visit. 
  • 2) Topping Options – Pepe’s has every topping you’d ever hope for but if you want to try an innovative pizza, order the White Clam. The White Clam Pizza is just crust, olive oil, oregano, grated cheese, chopped garlic, and fresh littleneck clams basically a seafood lovers dream. 
  • 3) Ambiance With several locations scattered around Connecticut, and now Boston, I still always make the hour drive down to the original pizzeria in New Haven. Having first opened in 1925, there is something special about eating the pizza at this quaint location while squeezing into the modest wooden booths. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – Limited parking & seating. Street parking is available as well. 

Pizzeria Sassano // Glastonbury, CT

Oh, gosh, I’m ready for the raft that will be my Mom when she finds out I let this top secret pizzeria go live. This is her FAVORITE spot to grab pizza, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s the best representation of what Italian pizza actually tastes, looks and smells like. It’s on the more expensive side of pizzerias BUT this is the REAL DEAL. Bon Appétit

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – This pizza is as fresh as it can get. From the doughy and deliciously chewy crust to the hand peeled tomato-based sauce, this pizza takes the cake for having the freshest ingredients. 
  • 2) Topping Options –  Rich Italian toppings are available for your pizza order. We strongly suggest taste testing either the sausage or meatball pie, both are seasoned to perfection and capture the essence of Italian meat. 
  • 3) Ambiance  – To be honest, I usually call in an order and take it to go, since I pass the restaurant quite often on my way to Route 2. However, if you preferring dining in, the ambiance is quaint and BYOB! 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & limited seating, however, I’ve never had to wait. 

Hope Pizza Restaurant // Stamford, CT 

I’m a sucker for Greek style pizza, to be honest, it’s actually my favorite food to order out on the weekends. Close your eyes and imagine doughy thick crust, garlic infused tomato sauce, with the heaviest serving of golden and crispy cheese that brings the whole pizza together, on top. I mean pair it with a Coca-Cola and I’m in heaven, but Greek pizza isn’t for everyone as it’s the heaviest of pizza options and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Anyway, if you love Greek pizza check out this place: 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thick, borderline deep dish, with generous square, cut slices.
  • 2) Topping Options – Whenever I eat Greek style pizza I can’t help put to order a vegetable pizza. There is something so delicious about a heavy dosing of cheesy bread and grilled vegetables. And for Matt, we always order the classy gooey cheese pizza.
  • 3) Ambiance  – Very casual ambiance, I often like to order take out from Hope Pizza Restaurant. I think Greek pizza is best enjoyed at home, outside, with a Coca-Cola in hand amongst friends. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & seating, which is key.


First & Last Tavern // Hartford & Middletown Locations Are My Favorite

First and Last will always have a special place in my heart because it is where Matt and I use to go on double dates in high school. To be exact we would always meet other couples at First and Last for a pizza and movie Friday Night Combo. So many good memories, at the Middletown location. But before Matt and I, my Dad use to take my siblings and I to the first in last location in Hartford on the weekends. We’d go visit my cousins in Wethersfield, pile in the car and head to get pizza. I use to love that you could watch the chef’s cook the pizza from start to finish at this location, and I still love to visit it with my dad and family today. 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thin crust with widely cut slices, makes this pizzeria the best place to visit with a large group of people. The pizzas are big and meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, so order a few pies, sit back and enjoy your night. 
  • 2) Topping Options – By far some of the best toppings around! I usually pile it high with sausage, mushrooms, and spinach. Oh and sometimes I ask for extra cheese, don’t tell Matt. 
  • 3) Ambiance  – Matt and I always go to First & Last Tavern for date night so I’d say the ambiance is cozy, but still high end. Basically come as you are, whether you are all decked out for a show at The Bushnell or just stopping in for a pizza while running errands, First & Last Tavern is fit for every occasion. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – Limited parking & seating, expect a wait but it will be well worth it. 

Alforno // Old Saybrook, CT

    • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – The pizza crusts, while on the thinner side are equally chewy and crispy from having baked in the 600-plus temperature of the custom-built brick oven, Alforno is known for crispy crust with a delicious taste. 
    • 2) Topping Options – Alforno does have amazing pizza topping options, but I was equally impressed with the amount of non-pizza menu options to choose from. From high-end meat dishes to stocks, sauces and fresh pasta, including ravioli, being made in-house; Alforno is a restaurant for lovers of all Italian food, not just pizza. 
    • 3) Ambiance  – With a relaxed and casual ambiance this restaurant would be perfect for a date night or a quick catch up with old friends. Just make sure to bring your appetite with you. 
    • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & seating, which is key.

Okay & that’s all I got for you guys. 

 Let me know your thoughts and I’d love to hear which pizza places in CT is your favorite. xx Aubrey

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Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes

February 6th, 2018

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We are officially one week away from Valentine’s Day guys, and I honestly can’t wait. I know a lot of people have a rocky relationship with this feeling-themed holiday, but I just love every moment of it! Personally, I use it as a reminder to simply appreciate the people I love in my life. Now Matt is great and all but I think Valentine’s Day extends past romantic relationships, for instance, I always try to text my best friends a sweet message or mail my Mom a card.

I have so many friends that will try to give me the good ole fashion budget excuse, but guys, ANY gest count no matter the budget. So whether that means you’re doing something as simple as picking up there go-to Starbucks drink or baking them a strawberry stuffed cupcake; Valentine’s Day is a reminder to give a little love not spend a lot of money. 

Anway, I’ll admit I’m on a really tight budget this year, due to travel plans, so I told Matt that instead of purchasing him a present I would bake him up something delicious. Now Matt’s favorite foods are as followed: chocolate, strawberries, and cake. Lucky for me these ingredients are pretty easy to throw together and bake up. So yesterday I called up Tessa our TCC videographer and begged her to stop by to film this quick recipe in exchange for a cupcake or two. Being the savor that she is, she agreed to drop everything and to help me shoot this video, and give these cupcakes a test run before the official day. 

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Full disclosure here I’m in no way a skilled baker, in fact, I had serious concerns and self-doubts when it came to whipping up the homemade frosting. Surprisingly though, this WHOLE recipe was effortless. The cupcakes baked really well and almost had a muffin like consistency, making inserting the strawberries in the middle non-disastrous. I mean when I first saw the images of strawberry stuffed cupcakes online, I thought there was noooooo way I could pull it off but, I think they came out not too shabby if I do say so myself. 

Overall I hope this video and recipe inspires you all to get creative with your budget this year. I often find that as I get older, I spend less money on holiday purchases and more time creating things or in this case food that makes my loved ones smile. Now I’d love to hear from you guys, what exactly are you planning on doing this Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment down below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more behind the scenes footage. 

Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes
Yields 6
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Cupcake
  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 cup strawberry-flavored milk, at room temperature
  6. 6 strawberries, hulled
For the frosting and topping
  1. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  4. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  5. 3 strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the strawberry milk, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece of cake out of the top of each cupcake (about the same size as the strawberries), stopping about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Stuff with the strawberries, then cover with a small piece of the removed cake.
Make the frosting
  1. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Transfer half of the sugar-cocoa mixture to a large bowl; add the butter and 1/4 cup cream and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining sugar-cocoa mixture and 1/4 cup cream and beat until fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top each with a strawberry half.
The Coastal Confidence http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

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How to Organize An Apartment Pantry Like A Kardashian

January 30th, 2018

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After our apartment flooded at the start of January, we used the incident as an opportunity to clean out our apartment and reorganize. The first room I wanted to get my hands on was the pantry. Moving in with Matt was a highlight of 2016 but keeping the pantry full was a lowlight, between the amount of peanut butter sandwiches Matt consumes and boxes, yes boxes of Oreo cookies weekly; I would blink and find myself with an empty pantry. The issue wasn’t that we weren’t buying enough food, the issue was that each time we went to the grocery store we were stocking up on the wrong things. 

 Basically, we were replenishing inventory that had back stock and never restocked the goods that we figured we had. Our pantry was originally organized on wired shelves and smaller items were simply thrown in baskets due to the fact that they fell over easily on the wire shelves. I felt like our pantry’s pitfall was those shelves so I headed to Pinterest to find a quick fix. We figured a quick fix would be ideal in terms of budget and due to the fact that our apartment wouldn’t allow us to physically replace the shelves.  

After going down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, I found suggestions for using plastic liners, cardboard layouts and then I found this article suggesting DIY wood covers for wire shelving. I knew this easy DIY fix would allow Matt and I to better display and take inventory of what we had in the pantry and what we had to purchase. You can watch our whole ‘pantry journey’ in the vlog video below, we wanted to bring you all along, step by step, in hopes to inspire you to make time to reorganize and get creative with the unique spaces within your homes.  

  

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On Friday, Matt and I headed to Lowes to pick up the following products, 1/4 inch plywoodpine boardswood gluenails and wood stain, to make the wood covers. To put the covers together we simply had the workers at Lowes cut the plywood to fit the top of the shelves and cut the pine boards to fit the length of the shelves. On Saturday,  Matt and I headed over to a friend’s house to cut a niche along the length of the pine boards. This small niche, which requires a table saw,  allowed us to lay, glue and nail the plywood on top of the pine boards resulting in a cover that hides that ugly wire shelving out of sight and mind. 

After the wood glue dried, and Matt and I bickered about how to actually go about staining the wood, we decided to just tab one coat of wood stain on and let the three covers dry overnight. The next morning I kicked Matt out of the house and got straight to the fun part, ORGANIZING THE PANTRY! 

From the beginning of this project, I knew I wanted to organize my pantry with all OXO containers, for two reasons: 1) the air-tight seal and 2) the aesthetic. To be honest, I first discovered OXO products when Khloe Kardashian shared them in her pantry haul, and then when I went home for the holidays and noticed my Mom had OXO containers too. 

You know you’ve entered the homeowner stage of your life when you are raving about containers to all your friends, I mean even Matt took to his Instagram stories to share his obsession. To simply put it, they are an investment, but well worth it. I actually started off just purchasing this pack and after using the containers I reached out to the OXO team about my pantry project! They were kind enough to send over a few more containers to complete the whole look and share different features like the Cereal Dispensers and Pop Large Jar

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To make things easier for you guys, below I’ve listed exactly what I put in each container and I share exactly how many bags or ounces in the vlog! 

Pantry Purchase List: 


 

2.1 qt OXO containers: for spaghetti, dumpling noodles, flour

1.5 qt OXO containers: for chocolate chips, brown sugar, and sugar

0.9 qt OXO containers: for almonds, granola, coffee, chia seeds, fruit snacks and bread crumbs

0.3 qt OXO containers: for sprinkles

+ OXO Cereal Dispensers: for three kinds of cereal

Pop Large OXO Jar: for hot chocolate, popcorn, rice, and goldfish

One Gallon Glass Jar: for chocolate and vanilla Oreos

Storage Bins: – for overflow and bottles 

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Overall, I felt like my disorganized pantry was a huge waste of time and money. I spent way too much time heading back to the store to get that one item I thought I had and spent way too much money on ingredients that went unseen and then bad. I really think this new pantry set-up will save us money in the long-run and help us stay organized moving forward. 

 I would love to hear if you guys have any pantry organizing tricks up your sleeves in the comment section below. I actually had the best time getting creative with this DIY project, and can’t wait to share more organization tips and tricks with you all in the future! Again, thank you to OXO for sending us a few containers to check out, make sure to check out the brand here. Oh, and I hope you enjoyed our first vlog. 

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Thank you to OXO for kindly sending our crew some containers. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.