Thursday, August 27, 2015

Italian Lentil Salad

This Lentil Salad is a delicious and healthy side dish or something a little different to take to your next picnic. Easy, economical and healthy, we love a salad that includes yummy and hearty lentils. Filling and satisfying, it's one I make a lot, especially this time of year when our schedules become more rigid with Back to School and everyone seeming to be heading in different directions. This salad keeps them fueled through a busy day!
Italian Lentil Salad
1 cup lentils
1 Red Pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 Green Pepper, deseeded and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small jalapeƱo, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup good quality Italian dressing, I used Newman's Own Organic Italian (or make your favorite!)
Directions: Prepare lentils as directed on package and while cooking, chop your veggies. Once lentils are cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine lentils and all the vegetables, then the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy! Do you have a favorite salad that you make for Labor Day picnics?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fresh Eats: In Season!

We are pretty thrilled to be in the thick of fresh fruits and vegetables right now. This past month has brought us so many deliciously fresh favorites that we will certainly be sad to see go. I don't think there is anything like freshly picked raspberries! Lucky for us, our local farm as a short September pick your own crop we will most definitely heading back for some of those! Here are some other items we've enjoyed this past month...
While vacationing in Cape Cod, we stopped at a farm stand that had the biggest, most beautiful blackberries! When I was a kid, my grandmother had tons of blackberry bushes that lined her property and I have beautiful memories of sitting in her yard for endless amounts of time picking and sampling those beauties! It's so funny how I taste have a specific food can bring you right back to where you first fell in love with it. That may sound dramatic but I'm seriously in love with blackberries ��
August was the month where my girls were busy making all sorts of flavored water combinations with all the fresh fruit of the season! Strawberry/lime, blueberry/lemon, orange/lemon/lime, watermelon/strawberry…you get the idea! I usually just throw slices of cucumber or lemon in my water but we found these cool water bottle infusers that have a chamber in the center for your fruit/veggies/herbs. Smart idea!
And of course our garden, we have had a wonderful season with a lot of hot weather and have resulted in a lot of fresh vegetables and flowers! We have more tomatoes than I know what to do with has meant a lot of bruchetta, pasta with fresh tomatoes and herbs and salads. I think these little gems are best eaten solo! There is nothing like a fresh tomato off the vine!
We will enjoy every bit while it lasts! Like Summer, it doesn't last long! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Seaglass


With the stretch of gorgeous and HOT late Summer weather we've been having, it's safe to say that we have spent a lot of time at the beach! One of the things I love about living on the coast is the plethora of beaches in our area. There is no shortage of exploration opportunities here! We can literally go to the most beautiful, calm, kid friendly beach or drive five minutes down the road to watch the surfers, then go a little farther and find the perfect "in between" beach. Thrilling enough to body board but safe enough for me to not freak out about the undertow!
Another Summer activity we have fallen in love with this Summer? Hunting for sea-glass. It literally provides the greatest stress relief in my opinion. Maybe it's just being near the shore, watching my kids think of nothing but those glistening treasures by the sand. We all enjoy the hunt!
I know that before long, our routines will be back in place and our schedules, more rigid. I read a quote recently that said, "When you can spend a perfectly useful afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."

I couldn't agree more!  

Jessica 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Storyland: Fun for all Ages!

If you've read my blog for a while, you may have noticed our love for Storyland!  Lucky for us, we are fairly close to this wonderful park that continues to bring HUGE smiles to our girl's faces:  This year, Storyland is better than ever, featuring new shows and a MAJOR NEW Roar-O-Saurus!  Let me just say, this is one ride you won't want to miss!  
Storyland is a beautiful and CLEAN amusement park settled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  2015 marks their 62st year in business!  It's the perfect place to bring the younger set because the rides are age appropriate, fun and entertaining.  They have shows and games - the usual things you'd expect at a park but what we love about it, is that this is the same park my husband used to go to when he was a child....and it hasn't changed too much.  At the same time, Storyland continues to adapt and change, updating rides and bringing us new shows.  This year, they've also introduced their new Roar-O-Saurus - fun for the slightly older kids and scream worthy!  This roller coaster was named one of the Most Insane New Roller Coasters in the US by CNN!
They have a lovely Storybook Animals area that incorporates live animals including goats, chickens, pigs and sheep.  Each area has a story that accompanies the animal:  The Three Little Pigs, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Mary Had a Little Lamb are all found here.  My girls spend hours in this area because they love animals.  It's fun to watch them interact.  It's wonderful to watch your children as they innocently enjoy this area.  There are always people cleaning and feeding the animals too so it's a great educational opportunity for the kids. 
Next, The Little Dreamers Play area that is perfect for the youngest children.  This hands on interactive play area has rhymes including Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, One Two Buckle My Shoe and more.  They also have a big play structure that again, my children love.  Slides and a big tree to climb with a little and just tons of giggles to be heard.  It's set in a shady area and is the perfect way to get the kids back to the basics - or spend the last hour at the park.  Kids doing what they do best: PLAYING!
Now for the rides!  There are easy and relaxing rides like the Swan Boats and then rides on the bigger boat - the Swan Queen.  There's a large Pirate Ship to take a cruise on as well as a ride through the Jungle, which is always fun.  They have the beloved Tea Cups, Flying Fish, Antique Carousel, Antique Cars, Farm Tractors and Riley's favorite - the Polar Coaster!  It's nice to be at an amusement park where the kids can actually ride on a roller coaster that's just fun but not too intense.  Kid's have to be 36 inches to ride that, the Bamboo Shoots (log floom) and the Dr Geyser's Water Ride.  Kids of all ages can ride the remaining rides.  There are over 21 to enjoy!  (You can see the full list of park info here).  It takes at least a full day to do it all.  What's great about this park too is that if you enter after 3pm on the 1st day, you'll  get in FREE the next day.  
There are also 7 shows to enjoy, including a magic show that my girls love!  It's a nice diversion to watch something!  These shows are the perfect way to spend a little "downtime" after a wild morning filled with rides and fun.  I also have wonderful memories of my little Sydney falling asleep on me as a baby while Riley took in an afternoon show.  No worries - children under 3 are free at Storyland!

You can bring your own food to this park, which we love but there are also some good options for food that you can see here.

They also have several character appearances throughout the Summer including Clifford the Big Red Dog, Olivia, Curious George and more. You can view the entire list of characters that will be visiting here.
Convinced yet?  If you are in the New England area, it's a great option when planning your next vacation!  Be sure to Like Storyland on Facebook here!  You can also follow them on Twitter here!  Be sure to sign up for their e-newsletter here to be "in the know" and for your chance to win two tickets to the park!  

This is a wonderful place to re-live your memories you had as a child with your own children.  You can take this park at your pace, the lines are reasonable (if any), there are plenty of places to get shade, places to shop, food to eat and of course, memories to be made! 

Until next year Storyland!  The best part?  If you haven't gotten a chance to enjoy Storyland yet, you STILL HAVE TIME!!! Storyland is open weekends until Columbus Day!  With two weeks of Summer left, there is still time to enjoy every inch of this park!  The Fall is a FANTASTIC time to go and enjoy the beautiful and scenic White Mountains of New Hampshire and take a trip to Storyland! 
 
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