Things to Do in Amesbury: Gift Shops, Restaurants & More

Nest Home and Gift shop, Amesbury MA
Welcome to Nest!


It’s funny how you can live nearby a town and not know much about it – especially when it has so much to offer. I live just 30 minutes from this Massachusetts town, and only recently did I discover all the great things to do in Amesbury from shopping vintage boutiques, to dining at delicious bistros, and so much more.

A Visit to Nest

Taylor Simpson, owner of Nest, an adorable home and gift store, suggested I visit Amesbury when we first met on a photo shoot for Merrimack Valley Home Magazine. Taylor had designed a room we were featuring in our spring 2016 issue. In addition to the Nest store, Taylor launched Nest Designs out of Andover, specializing in staging, home improvement and interior design.

In Amesbury, I met up with Taylor, first in her store, and my immediate reaction was WOW! I love the entrance. The door was framed with a natural birch archway that gave the sense I was entering a very unique space. The spacious store was filled with eye-catching finds from colorful summer hats to glitzy jewelry.


Jewelry, soaps and succulents from Nest, Amesbury MA
Jewelry, soaps and succulents from Nest


As Taylor spoke with customers, I happily poked around investigating all of the fun finds. From herbal teas to the Nest Kids section, I was impressed with the great selection. As I made my way to the back of the store, I was drawn to a second, custom-built archway that led to the Nest Garden. My green thumb was pulsing with excitement as I entered a space that left me feeling I’d entered a magical forest. There were succulent arrangements everywhere. I’ve been obsessed with succulents ever since my father grew the largest Jade tree I’ve ever seen. And now, with succulents more popular than ever; this room was a haven for anyone looking to bring these earthy, easy care plants into their home.

I was further intrigued by the shelves of Fairy House items and fondly recalled the days when I would create little fairy gardens with Julia and Ally.


Fairy Houses from Nest, Amesbury MA
Fairy Houses


Nest alone is reason enough to pop up to Amesbury, but Taylor was nice enough to walk me around more of the downtown area.

More Things to do in Amesbury: Restaurants, Boutiques, Craft Beer and More

As we strolled by the dramatic rushing waterfall of the Powow River, I learned that Crave, Phat Cats Bistro and The Noshery are great restaurants to grab a bite. I was also reminded that Nest will be participating in this year’s Vintage Bazaar taking place in nearby Salisbury on June 25 & 26. I had a blast there last year with over 175 boutiques, vintages finds, indie crafts, salvage and more. Also happening in Amesbury on June 26th is the Carriagetown Car Show (Judd, do you want to go?).

Next up on our list of things to do in Amesbury – the Craft Beer Cellar, where I had the pleasure of meeting proprietor, Karen Wood. Karen showed me all around this beer lover’s dream (wine too) and turned me on to some great Father’s Day gift ideas too.


Beer and Wine at Craft Beer Cellar, Amesbury MA
Father’s Day Beer Boxes ($17-20), Beer and Wine at Craft Beer Cellar


Last stop on my Amesbury day of fun, Ovedia Artisan Chocolates, where a lemon chocolate truffle and Greek Frappe hit the spot. What’s a Greek Frappe? A coffee-based drink, shaken ‘til foamy, poured over coffee ice and finished with a splash of cream – YUM!


Things to do in Amesbury, get an Ovedia greek frappe
Greek Frappe by Ovedia


Shop Local

Be sure to check out all these great things to do in Amesbury, and remember SHOP LOCAL – help our small businesses thrive!

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The Memorial Day Flag Garden – An Impactful Tribute

Memorial Day Flag Garden in Boston


I don’t always remember to remember on Memorial Day. Sometimes beaches and barbeques take center stage and the point of this unofficial start of summer, day off, escapes me.

This year, however, I did something that made an impression and secured, in my mind and heart, what this day is all about. I love getting into Boston, so when this volunteer activity came up to participate in the Memorial Day Flag Garden, I was thrilled to participate.

Remembering Those We’ve Lost through the Memorial Day Flag Garden

I joined my sister, along with hundreds of other volunteers, in planting over 37,000 flags at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Boston Common. This annual tradition is organized by The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund for which my cousin’s wife, Diane Nealon, is the Executive Director. I’m so grateful to Diane for sharing this opportunity with us.

Days later, I returned to see the completed flag garden with my entire family. Realizing that each flag in the mass display represented the life of a fallen Massachusetts service member since the Revolutionary War was sobering. I kept thinking – this is Massachusetts alone.


Over 37,000 flags planted at the Memorial Day Flag Garden in Boston


This breathtaking tribute is on display until 6pm this evening at which time the flags will be retired. If you are in the Boston area on Memorial Day and have the chance to stop by the Memorial Day Flag Garden, I think you’ll find the sea of flags as impactful as I did.

Interested in volunteering in Boston?

Check out these opportunities at Volunteer Match.

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Greek Easter – A Peek at Being Greek

Koulourakia (butter cookie)  - Greek Easter tradition
Koulourakia (butter cookie) Great with tea!


My Big Fat Greek Easter

On Sunday I celebrated Greek Easter. Julia posted an Instagram pic entitled “My Big Fat Greek Easter.” Yeah, it’s kind of like that. This is the one holiday when all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and their children come together with my immediate family. My sister, Karla, and her husband, Bob, host and it’s always a feast of food, family and frivolity.

Greek Easter Traditions

While our current day festivities are memorable, my most significant memories of Greek Easter come from my youth. When I was a kid, our Easter celebration took place after midnight liturgy. At church, we held burning candles and processed outside into the dark of the night.  Back in our pews, we’d wait for the chilling moment when all candles were extinguished and the packed house stood in total darkness and silence. Before that, we could always count on at least one person fainting due to heat, claustrophobia or, according to my dad, staring too long at the flame of their candle. Whatever the case, that thud of someone dropping to the floor, the pitch black church and the cloud of smoke and incense that engulfed us was unforgettable.

What I loved most, however, was leaving church and heading to my YiaYia’s to celebrate. It felt wild to be up until 4:00 am playing with my sister and cousins.

But as traditions go, this one changed and we began celebrating Easter during the day. I still miss the midnight meal and mayhem, but many of our traditions have remained and some have even taken a modern day turn for the better. To begin, Greek Easter would be nothing without certain foods and never do we take a bite without a rousing rendition of the Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen) hymn. And just like when I was little, the kids giggle and make faces at each other while the adults sing passionately in Greek.  Who am I kidding? I still giggle.

Greek Food

As for the food – here is a pictorial of some family favorites.

Dolmathes (stuffed grapeleaves), Kalamata olive and feta, Pasticio (Greek lasagna), Leg of Lamb
Dolmathes (stuffed grapeleaves), Kalamata olives and feta, Pasticio (Greek lasagna with noodles, beef and bechamel sauce), luscious Leg of Lamb. Not shown, but always an all time favorite – Spanakopita or “pita” (spinach pie with filo).


Kourabiedes, Baklava, Mavrodaphne - Greek wine
Kourabiedes (powdered shortbread cookie) and Baklava (nut, honey, filo pastry), Mavrodaphne – Greek wine.


Greek Games – Egg Cracking Contest

One tradition that has held on for as many years as I’ve been alive is the cracking of the red eggs. Greeks dye all of their eggs red in honor of the blood of Christ and we play the game of Tsougrisma (egg tapping). Cracking the egg symbolizes the breaking open of Jesus’s tomb. The game was simple when I was young. You’d randomly find someone with an uncracked egg, hit eggs and the person with the uncracked egg went on to find someone else to hit until there was only one good egg left.  Bragging rights were the only prize.


Red eggs for Greek Easter Tsougrisma
The eggs.


Today, the stakes are higher. Egg cracking is now a contest that includes tournament brackets, a trophy and memorialization on the Easter plaque. If friends stop in, they too join the fun. This year, the new girlfriend of a young family friend went all the way to the final round. If that poor girl had won there might have been a mutiny from those of us who’ve waited a lifetime for the title (John and Suzie, we’ll have our day). Instead, Auntie Carolyn took home the prize and no one could be more deserving!  I know the coveted Ultimate Egg Trophy will hold a special place in her home until next year when we do it all over again.


Greek egg cracking and "The Ultimate Egg" Trophy
The cracking of the eggs and The Thomas Family “Ultimate Egg” Trophy.


I can’t wait for more Greek Easter traditions. Christos Anesti!

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Hurricane Vase Fillers: Fun Seasonal Decor

Decorative Hurricane vase fillers
Top view- jelly beans – one of many great vase fillers

American Easter is a week away!  I say American because I’m a Greek girl. I celebrate Greek Easter which isn’t until May 1st this year. By that time, the Easter buzz will have come and gone. While I don’t go all out decorating for Easter, I always like to bring some seasonal décor to my home. My girls appreciate the holiday spirit that comes from a basket of colorful eggs and some pretty pastel placemats. My favorite thing to do at Easter, or any other holiday or change of season for that matter, is so simple and always a huge hit. They are cheap and easy vase fillers for the two hurricane candle holders that sit prominently on my kitchen island.

Years ago I bought two extra-large glass candle holders at Home Goods.  They had to have been less than $20 each. At Easter, I pop a pillar candle in the center of each hurricane and fill it with jelly beans. Done! Everyone who walks into my kitchen comments on these simple, yet eye-catching, holiday decorations.

Jellybean vase fillers
Jellybean Hurricane

I have also filled the hurricanes with candy hearts in February, Lucky Charms cereal in March, candy corn in October (most popular), shelled nuts in fall, wine corks in winter, terrariums made with coffee grounds and faux succulents in spring and faux lemons and limes in summer.

It’s a quick, inexpensive and fun way to add a little variety to my home décor. Give it a try, but know this: if you fill your hurricanes with candy, guests will go elbow deep into a burning candle to satisfy their sweet tooth – no matter how many times you tell them it’s just a decoration.

Search Pinterest for more fun and seasonal decorating ideas.

Enjoy! Happy Easter and happy spring!

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