Saturday, December 30, 2017

Circle Pay App: Send Money Like a Text

*Note: This is a sponsored post. Thanks for supporting those who support Chow Down USA! Photography by Katie Salerno

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This past week in Boston has been below zero degress with windchill, which is the lowest it's been since the 1920's! Luckily I've been hunkered down and playing with the new Circle Pay App. It's similar to Venmo, but has great features like instant cash out (without fees) and no foreign transaction fees. You send money like a text, and can even have group chats with up to 20 friends complete with emojis and gifs to make transactions way more fun! 


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We tested out Circle Pay by splitting a delicious dinner with blogger babes at Townsman in Boston. We set up a group chat within the app between everyone attending the dinner. Not only was it easy to split the bill and request/pay each other, but it was fun to text and send gifs about how great the meal was and how full we all were after the event! 

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Mmmm - comforting butternut squash soup.

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Butternut squash farro risotto with parmesan and grilled toast.

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Cranberry pear crisp for dessert - happy camper over here!

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Circle Pay is such a game changer! It makes it super fun to be able to text and send gifs in the same app as where you send money. It's also perfect for traveling or events where you need to split bills between up to 20 people. Plus, you can cash out instantly and avoid foreign transaction fees! All deposits held in Circle Pay are FDIC insured up to $250k so you know it's secure, and none of your transactions are published to the public so your money is your business. 

Check out Circle Pay for yourself in the App Store and on Google Play. Be sure to use my code VUBEQU to get $10 when you sign up!

Comment Challenge: Have you tried Circle App? How was your experience?
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Friday, December 29, 2017

Lakeway Resort & Spa: Austin, Texas

Note: This is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting those who support Chow Down USA. 





They say everything is bigger in Texas, and my first trip to the Lone Star State made me realize just how much sprawling land they have! Lakeway Resort & Spa makes great use of the space with ridiculously gorgeous views of Lake Travis, huge suites, multiple pools, a hot tub, spa, delicious restaurant, mini golf and more. Read on to learn about our stay here, just 20-40 minutes outside of Austin, Texas (and see my weekend guide to Austin here!). 

Lakeway Resort & Spa: The Hotel


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Lakeway Resort and Spa honestly has it all: a gorgeous setting, unmatched customer service, spacious rooms, phenomenal food, and fun amenities. It's the perfect rustic getaway to truly relax while having fun, what's better than that? 

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The Room

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The rooms at Lakeway Resort are huge! With high ceilings, flat screen TVs, comfy headboards and a living room area complete with a couch and chair, it's a perfect home away from home. Room service will bring you a scrumptious breakfast in bed as you overlook Lake Travis from your balcony. What more could you ask for?



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A testament to the customer service at Lakeway Resort & Spa, I loved how they had wine, fruit and mixed nuts waiting in the room. Stay classy, Lakeway Resort!

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Balcony Views

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A girl could get used to this. We had an amazing 180 view of Lake Travis, which was as gorgeous on a sunny day as it is with twinkling lights at night. Wild deer even came out to graze under the balcony which was so cute and fun to watch.

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Can you spot all the deer?

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Amenities

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Lakeway Resort has multiple pools, a swim-up bar, hot tub, and a slide area for kids. In December it's a little cold for the pools, but you can tell they would be such a blast in the summer. Winter is a great time to check out the hot tub and star gaze at night!

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Here's the women's waiting room for the spa. Lakeway offers nine treatment areas including mani/pedis, dry saunas, lounges with outdoor spa terraces, and a couples massage room

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The on-site gym is pretty legit too, with cardio and weight training equipment to get energized and start your day off right (or you can always get breakfast in bed and watch movies, your call)!

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I enjoyed how their little convenience shop in case you needed any snacks, drinks or travel items.

Lake Travis Restaurant

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Okay, full disclosure: I'm not even sure how I can put this meal into words, but I'll try! The atmosphere here is rustic yet sophisticated, and really lets you settle into the Texas feel. They have a great blend of southern comfort food within an upscale dining setting.

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Arguably one of the best Parmesan Truffle Fries ever - they were seasoned perfectly, with a lightly fried crispy outer shell and black pepper roasted garlic ketchup on the side. Off to such a yummy start!

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Literally still talking about how great this Cowboy Ribeye is from the genius Chef Carlos. I want his recipe for this one! The steak was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the dreamy bourbon peppercorn sauce was the cherry on top. Seasonal veggies and Yukon potato puree were the perfect additions to this hearty dish. I would literally go back just to get this one again!

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Dessert didn't disappoint either - this Croissant Bread Pudding came with caramel and whiskey sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The food coma was so worth it after this epic Texan meal!


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With sweeping scenic views of Lake Travis, unbelievable dishes, cozy rooms, and plenty of water activities, Lakeway Resort & Spa is the perfect rustic, casual-chic getaway just outside of Austin!

Comment Challenge: Have you been to Austin? How was your stay there?


If you liked this post, check out the below weekend guide to Austin, and travel blogs from NYC and France!

http://www.chowdownusa.com/2018/04/travel-guide-weekend-in-austin-texas.html



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Saturday, December 9, 2017

E.B. Horn Jewelry: Ornaments for You and the Tree

Note: This is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting those who support Chow Down USA. Photography by Katie Salerno.

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The trees are up, the lights are sparkling, and today is the first snow in Boston! From Christmas decorations in the home and on the street, to dressing up for parties, winter holidays always have this nice balance of cozy and magic that I always look forward to. 

Finding the perfect winter accessories can make all the difference. Fun velvet winter outfits (c/o LIT Boutique), are accented perfectly with jewelry that twinkles as bright as the lights in the North End. Luckily, you can find ornaments for both you and the tree at E.B. Horn Jewelry. This gorgeous jewelry shop out of Downtown Crossing is one of the nation's oldest family-run jewelers - they've been around for over 178 years! It's so important to support local companies, and the family that runs E.B. Horn are truly good people and have the most stunning collection of jewelry, from necklaces to rings and even Christmas ornaments.

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Side note: This is shortly after Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec) walked through our shoot in the North End. We basically couldn't get our act together after that, good thing the shoot was mostly done by then!

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Being a local, family-run company, shopping at E.B. Horn feels like you're being taken care of by friends and family. It's crazy to think that when they first started, there were still horse and buggies on the street downtown! Plus, they offer one of the largest selections of diamonds, jewelry and watches in all of New England. Their jewelry collection has something for everyone, and you'll leave feeling like a million bucks!

What piece from E.B. Horn Jewelry would you put on your wishlist this year?
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