Jul 032014

4 Helpful Tips for a Successful Picnic

One of the beautiful things about the nice weather is the ability to get outside and eat in the manner that the Italians call al fresco, which means to eat outside. Around these parts, though, we usually refer to it as a picnic. How should one go about having a successful picnic? Here are four important subjects to consider.

1. Where to Have the Picnic? ­

When I think about having a picnic, the first  location that pops into my mind is under a shady tree, but there are so many other options.  Parks, beaches, even a rooftop can be the perfect setting for your picnic. Perhaps the easiest way of choosing a location is considering how far you wish to travel and/or the distance from your home. Try using online maps (I use Google maps) that display everything within a given perimeter and you can choose from there.

2. Who to Invite? ­ Continue reading »

Jul 022014

10 Patriotic Decorations

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe that the 4th of July is almost here.  I love to decorate my house for as many holidays as possible, but sometimes the holidays sneak up on me and I don’t have time to run out & buy decorations – so I make them.  Here are ten of the cutest red, white and blue decorations that are not only super cute, they are easy to make, too!

Patriotic Star Art | Organize & Decorate Everything

10 Patriotic Decorations Star Art

Patriotic Favor Bags | The Country Chic Cottage Continue reading »

Jul 012014

While we were in San Diego in April, you may remember that we took a morning and spent it at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.  As we pulled into the parking lot that morning, the kids couldn’t help but notice a really nice playground off in the distance.  Chris and I promised we’d head over there after the museum because we both know how much they love playing at the playground.

The Pepper Grove Playground is suitable for kids of all ages. It is separated into two main areas. The side designed for children younger than five has a giant sandbox, cushioned floors, slides and swings. The other side, designed for kids five and older, offers a large jungle gym, faux zip line and fun things to spin on.

balboa park playground
Continue reading »

Jun 302014

10 Fireworks Safety Tips

As we get closer to the Independence Day holiday on July 4th, it is time to start thinking about fireworks and safety. Although many areas now prohibit the use of fireworks within city limits or select subdivisions, there are still a lot of areas where it is okay to shoot off fireworks in your own backyard. This year don’t take chances, instead take not of these 10 Fireworks Safety Tips that will help protect your family while giving you a chance to enjoy fun holiday celebrations.


ALWAYS SUPERVISE CHILDREN & TEENS. No matter how knowledgeable or responsible your kids are it is never a good idea to leave them unsupervised with fireworks or fire of any kind. Always be mindful of where they are and what they are doing with the fireworks. This applies even to the use of sparklers that are common for children to handle by themselves.

ONLY SHOOT FIREWORKS IN CLEAR AREAS AWAY FROM HOMES, TREES OR FLAMMABLE OBJECTS. While it may sound fun to stand in your front yard right next to the house to shoot off Bottle Rockets and Roman Candles it is very dangerous. Taking the chance of a firework landing in an area that could end up catching on fire is never a good idea. The best locations to shoot fireworks are large open areas where the remnants that fall from the sky can be easily located. Continue reading »

Jun 292014

10 summer outdoor games and activities

Summer time is just around the corner! I have been on the hunt for some fun outdoor games and activities! I have put together a great list that the kids are sure to love! From Lawn Twister to Capture the Moon, I can not wait to try them all! How fun would a Trike Car Wash be for the little ones? Can I go through it myself? Some of my best memories as a child are the things I did with my friends & siblings outside in the summer time. I am ready to help my children create some of those memories, too.

  1. Lawn Twister
  2. Glow in the Dark Baseball
  3. Glow in the Dark Bowling
  4. Jumbo Scrabble
  5. Water Balloon Pinata
  6. Cold Potato
  7. Capture the Moon
  8. Water Balloon Target Practice
  9. Glow in the Dark Ring Toss
  10. Trike Car Wash

What are some of your favorite outdoor summer activities?

Jun 282014


I am a regular at my local Stop & Shop grocery store.  I have been going there for so long that I have the entire store mapped out in my head & make my shopping list by aisle, which allows me to blow in and out of the store in near record time.  HA!

But get this:  Now, when I don’t have the time to actually spend time in the store to do my shopping, I can do my shopping online and my groceries will be ready for me to pick up when I get to the store (after I select the pick up date & time of course).  Talk about a huge time saver.

Here’s how it all works:

Online shopping for Stop & Shop fulfilled by Peapod:

  • Shop online — browse or search the aisles to add items to your cart. Enter your Stop & Shop Card to shop from a list of items you’ve previously bought in the store.
  • Choose a location & pick-up time from the one-hour window that best fits your schedule. Submit and pay for your order.
  • Pick-up your groceries at the Pick-up Point location during the time slot you selected. An associate will greet you and have your groceries loaded into your car, all within 5 minutes.
  • Plus, you still get weekly specials, real deals, and earn A+ School Rewards and Gas Reward points. Use manufacturer coupons for additional savings!

I got a chance to try out Peapod’s new pick up service recently at the Stop & Shop in Quincy along with a few other local bloggers, so I can tell you based on my experience – it was pretty awesome to be able to have my items ready and waiting for me.  I sat down a few days before I wanted to pickup my groceries to place my order on Peapod.com and once all my items were added to my cart, I went through the checkout process, selected my date & time that I wanted to pick up and boom – I was done.

peapod pickup quincy

I think what I love the most about the pickup service is that I can shop for my groceries whenever and where ever I want.  All I need is internet access and I can sign into the site & place my order.  I am all for anything that makes my life a little easier! Continue reading »

Jun 272014

While we were in San Diego in April, we had a chance to make a stop at the The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, which features more than 100 interactive science exhibits.  My boys love that sort of thing and I wanted to take them if we ended up having a little extra time, which we did.

fleet science center outside

When I initially told my sister in law, who lives in San Diego, that I wanted to take my boys there, the first thing she said was that the Museum of Science in Boston was much better.  So, I actually read a few reviews about this place before we went because her statement had a me a little worried.

Many of the reviews that I read were by adults that went to the museum and didn’t enjoy it because it was geared towards children. Well, duh.  That sort of museum is intended for children, so those had me a little baffled.  And there were quite a few of them, which also made me scratch my head. But anyways, all the reviews that I read by adults that were also parents said that the Fleet Science Center was awesome, so we went. Continue reading »

Jun 242014


Remember when I told you about our visit to the La Jolla tidepools when we were in California in April?  Well, while we were still in San Diego, my brother in law told us about another tide pool in the area that might be worth a visit and he was definitely right.  They were called the  Cabrillo tidepools and they are located on Point Loma in San Diego, which was even a little closer to our hotel than the tidepools in La Jolla.  Score.

In case you are unfamiliar, during periods of low tide, pools form along this shore in rocky depressions and you can see a  myriad of sea creatures in them.

The Cabrillo tidepools were definitley different than the ones in La Jolla simply because of the fact that there were lots and lots of cliffs there, so we really needed to keep an eye on the kiddos until we were able to make our way down to the bottom of the cliffs.  They weren’t like Roadrunner cliffs, but they were steep enough that if you fell off, you would most definitley be injured.

Not to mention that  there are no hand rails at all and the rocks/cliff can get slippery, especially when wet – so we were very careful.

cabrillo1 Continue reading »

Jun 232014

Summer Staycation Ideas

Need a getaway, but you can’t leave town? Take a staycation! A staycation is a vacation, except it doesn’t involve having to pack your bags and leave home. There are different variations of this. Some staycations are taken completely at home, and some involve multiple day trips to nearby areas, or even an overnight outing in a local area.

Just like a traditional vacation, a staycation is best when planned. Researching local activities, deciding on a budget and getting the family involved can help make your staycation a success.

The next time you have a few days off, but for whatever reason you can’t leave town, try a few of these summer staycation ideas for easy fun and relaxation! There are ideas for every budget, and many of them are free! Continue reading »

Jun 222014

DIY Pull Open Piñatas collage

Everyone loves a piñata! The explosion of candy sends kids crawling for the treats with a smile. These pull-open versions create an individual experience for each person and they eliminate the need for swinging bats.

They are easy to create and something the entire family can do. You probably already have everything you need! Try it to add a little fun to goody bags at your next party.

You Will Need:

  • Empty toilet paper or paper towel tube – 1 for each guest
  • Tissue paper in assorted colors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Candy and treats Continue reading »
Jun 212014

Fenway Park Game

If you’re heading into Fenway with the kiddos, you might want to check out the Kid Nation Clubhouse!

The Kid Nation Clubhouse is a space inside Fenway Park designed for their youngest fans! This kid-friendly area is open to children of all ages and their families, as a place to relax and move about with plenty of entertainment and fun activities. The Kid Nation Clubhouse is located in the Champions Club (by Gate B) from the third through seventh innings of select Red Sox games. The Kid Nation Clubhouse will be open on Saturday and Sunday day games during the months of April-June and September, and every game during the months of July and August. Entertainment and amenities include:

  • Appearances from Wally in the 4th inning
  • Face Painting
  • Caricature Artist
  • Balloon Artist
  • Magician
  • Carnival Games
  • Toddler play area
  • Concessions
  • Climate controlled
  • Wii
  • Appearances from team partners

*Entertainment may vary game to game

Jun 202014

** This post is brought to you by ecoATM.  All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own**


Last December, my husband and I both upgraded our phones from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5C.   At the time, we were no longer under contract with our provider, but had an awesome data plan that we didn’t want to lose, so we bought our phones outright.  With our provider, normally when you take the upgrade option with them, you have to turn in your old phone, but since we bought the phones at full price – we got to keep the old ones.  Neither of us really had any use for the old iPhone 4′s, so they were basically just sitting around collecting dust.

Did you know that nearly nine out of 10 American device owners have outdated and unused items at home, but only 10 percent or less have tried to earn money from their old devices?

That is where ecoATM comes in.  You may have seen their kiosks around in shopping malls and select Walmart stores.  ecoATM is a  nationwide network of automated electronic recycling kiosks that provides cash payments for unwanted mobile phones, tablets and MP3 players that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Awesome, right? Continue reading »

Jun 192014


On our recent trip to California, we squeezed in a visit to the tidepools located in La Jolla Cove. The tidepools are part of shell beach, which is actually just south of the cove (under the cliffs of Coast Boulevard Park).

The tidepool is made up of all sorts of really cool rock formations and it’s definitley something we don’t see much over here on the upper east coast.  We spent several hours there because we got there right before low tide and I feel like I snapped a million pictures because none of us had ever seen anything like it and it was just so cool to see.

Although the rocks were a little slippery – especially that green stuff you can see in some of my pictures, my kids had a blast searching for sea creatures. They found a ton of hermit crabs, an anemone or two and a bunch of crabs.

Here are a few of the million pictures I took while we were there:

la jolla tidepool collage 2 Continue reading »

Jun 172014

Purgatory Chasm

You know how there are local places that you hear about over and over, but never seem to get to?  For me, Purgatory Chasm was one of those places.  I knew a ton of people that had gone, but I wasn’t entirely sure exactly what it was.  So I did what anyone would do and Googled it.

This is what the mass.gov site had to say:

A unique natural landmark, Purgatory Chasm runs for a quarter of a mile between granite walls rising as high as 70 feet. Popular with picnickers and rock-climbers alike, the Chasm is believed to have its origin in the sudden release of dammed-up glacial meltwater near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago.

That sounds cool, right?

So, over Memorial Day weekend, we took a drive up there.  It was about an hour from my house, but as soon as I saw the place – it was totally worth it! Continue reading »

Jun 162014

Over Memorial Day weekend, we woke the boys up early and told them we were going on a mystery trip.  I had been jonesing to to get back to New York City and since the weather was supposed to be perfect, it seemed like a good time to take a bit of a day trip.

NYC Mystery trip

It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get there, which wasn’t too bad.  There was no traffic, so the entire ride was smooth sailing.  Once we were in the city, we found a place to park and walked to our first stop -The Empire State Building!

I had two NYC CityPASS ticket books, which included one-time admission tickets, detailed attraction information, coupons and a map for 6 of the best attractions in New York City (including the Empire State Building).   When we arrived at the Empire State Building, it was about 11 am and there was already a 2-3 hour wait to buy tickets to get into to the observation level (the 86th floor) of the building.  With our CityPASS tickets, we were able to skip to the head of the line which was really nice and definitely something I would recommend doing because honestly, who wants to stand in line for hours for tickets to something like this when you can easily purchase something like a CityPASS booklet and blow past the line? Continue reading »

Jun 152014

One of the best features about the hotel we stayed at in San Diego was the pool They had the most gorgeous pool and we spent many of our afternoons poolside. The thing that I liked the most was that the boys were always having fun and spending quality time together while they were out in the pool.

pool kids

Here is the gruesome twosome doing cannonballs: Continue reading »

Jun 142014

Beginning June 16PBS KIDS and WGBH will be airing three all-new episodes of MARTHA SPEAKS during “Martha Speaketh Weeketh!”

martha speaks

I am pretty choosy about what I let my kids watch on television.  Most of the shows that we watch on a regular basis are on PBS and one of my six year old’s favorites is Martha Speaks.  What’s not to love about a talking dog, right?

So when they heard that we were getting a sneak peek of a couple of brand spankin’ new episodes of one of their favorite shows, they were wicked excited!

Martha Speaketh Weeketh PBS

Both of my boys sat and watched the episodes contently.  I mean, they sat and watched for the entire time. Do you know what that means?  They liked them!!  When my boys don’t like something or something doesn’t catch their interest, trust me, I will hear all about it.

There are a lot of options out there for the kids on television (not like when I was a kid and cable hadn’t even been invented yet!!) and it makes me happy that they truly enjoy shows like Martha Speaks.  For me, I love that they’re learning while they’re watching.  Martha and the gang introduce new vocabulary words in each episode and isn’t it great when they learn something new and don’t even realize it?  Plus, it’s a show that I feel comfortable leaving the room while they’re watching because I know it’s always positive and clean. Continue reading »