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Category: fab faves

  1. Tuesday, July 22

    One More Travel Post…Warwick, New York

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    My parents recently moved to northern New Jersey, very close to the New York border. It is absolutely beautiful where they live, complete with rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. This is the third summer that we’ve visited them at their new home but the first summer that we made two really great discoveries – Dairy Swirl in Vernon, New Jersey and the little town of Warwick, New York.

    absolutely wonderful ice cream shop dairy swirl in vernon, nj by @janemaynard

    First, let’s talk ice cream. Dairy Swirl is literally five minutes from my parents’ home but, for some reason, we never went until this year. And that is a crime because it is awesome. They serve homemade ice cream in all kinds of wonderful flavors that are creative but make total sense. You know, nothing crazy, just all completely wonderful combinations of ingredients. And just outside the shop there are these giant rocks embedded in the side of the hill that are perfect for sliding. The kids could have stayed there all day. If you’re ever in northern New Jersey near Vernon, be sure to stop in!

    a visit to warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    After you hit the Dairy Swirl, keep driving north about 30 minutes to the town of Warwick, NY. Again, I don’t know why we never ventured to Warwick before but I’m so glad that we did! The town is adorable, with lots of little shops and restaurants, a cute town green where they play live music on the weekends, farmstands and more. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the fall when the leaves are aflame!

    a visit to corbett's cookie bar kitchen in warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    My dad and I spent a few hours in Warwick with all three kids, so we kept the visit simple: lunch, dessert and a visit to the local bookstore. After lunch at Eddie’s Roadhouse (the filet sliders were awesome, the ribeye steak was just okay according to my dad), we hopped over to Corbett’s Cookie Bar Kitchen, where we had a really fun chat with the owners. They’ve been open about a year and only serve cookie bars. I love talking to small business owners who are so passionate about what they do – I really admire them because I am too chicken to do anything like that! The carmelita was our favorite flavor – it was like taking a big bite out of the best cookie dough. And the Mexican brownie was my other favorite. One bar is enough for 2-3 people, by the way, so pace yourself!

    a visit to ye olde warwick book shoppe in warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    After stuffing ourselves silly, we took the kids to Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe. This bookstore is tiny and like a maze of book shelves, which I love. The kids’ section is tucked in a back corner and the kids and I spent a lot of time back there. Basically, we loved it.

    Quick side note: another 10 minutes north there is an even smaller town called Sugar Loaf that also has some really cute shops, where you can buy things like handmade candles and soaps.

    So, this fall when you east coasters are wondering where you should take a drive to enjoy the leaves, head over to the Warwick Valley. You can’t go wrong! (For that matter it was perfectly fun in the summer, too!)

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  2. Sunday, July 20

    Week 391 Menu + Dinner at Veladora

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    Hello! We are home from vacation and I am getting back into the cooking groove! After such a long break I am actually really looking forward to it.

    review of veladora restaurant by @janemaynard

    Before we get to this week’s dinner plans, I need to tell you about the dinner that Nate and I had last night. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary (TIME FLIES! Happy anniversary, Nate!). Last night Veladora at the Rancho Valencia hotel in Rancho Santa Fe hosted us for dinner to celebrate. There are no words for how wonderful our evening was, but I’m going to give it a try! (Seriously, in the time it took for us to drive off the hotel property we must have said, “That dinner was awesome!” twenty times.) First of all, the food. Ahhh, the food. Nate ordered prime rib cap and I was treated to scallops. Both dishes were unreal. The rib cap was a beautiful cut of meat cooked to perfection, and my scallops were paired with three different corn sides that complemented the scallops beautifully. All of the food we had was wonderful, right down to the 18-year old balsamic vinegar for dipping the focaccia. Chef Matt came out to meet us at the end of our meal and it was so interesting talking with him about the food, how the menu is developed and modified with the seasons, as well as his own career path. Beyond the food, the serving staff was stellar and the restaurant itself was beautiful. The best part was that, despite the high caliber of the restaurant, we felt comfortable and relaxed, thanks to both the setting and the staff. Oh, and they gave us a little gift on the way out the door that was, of course, a tasty treat. It was truly the perfect way to celebrate our latest life milestone. Thank you, Veladora, for a night we will not soon forget.

    Despite the fact that I pretty much don’t want to eat any other food ever after Veladora, real life dictates that I still have to feed my family. So, back to the weekly menu!

    weekly dinner plans from @janemaynard including FREE printable menu and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    - Caprese salad with crusty bread
    - Stewed green beans

    TUESDAY:
    - Taco night

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    - Rice and veggie

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Takeout night

    SATURDAY:
    - Chicken on the grill
    - Corn on the cob and watermelon

    SUNDAY:
    - Quiche
    - Spinach and strawberry salad

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Big THANKS to all of you who continued posting menus the last few weeks while I took a break. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

    As usual, please share your menu for the week! Plain or fancy, we want to see it all!

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  3. Thursday, July 3

    Kimball Farm and Beautiful New Hampshire

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    As you know from my non-existent weekly menus, we are on a multi-week trip visiting our family in the Northeast! We started our trip in New Hampshire and I wanted to share a little of the fun we had in that beautiful place.

    To start, well, you know, when in Rome…

    new hampshire maple syrup from @janemaynard

    Pat, my mother-in-law, got a good deal on a ONE GALLON JUG of maple syrup so she had to buy it. I just wish I could take some on the plane with me! Owen was hilarious when we took pictures of him with the bottle (don’t worry, he had a diaper on!), but when we actually let him stick a straw in the bottle to drink, he refused. Shocking, I tell you.

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    For dinner one night we visited Kimball Farm in Jaffrey, NH and thoroughly gorged ourselves. For you New Englanders out there you’ve probably been to Kimball’s already and know just how yummy it is. We ordered quite the assortment of food, including to-die-for fish and chips, lobster roll, clam chowder, and onion nuggets. And, of course, NO salad.

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    We ended the night with Kimball’s homemade ice cream. See that there cone? That is the smallest size you can order. For a little perspective, that is a giant waffle cone being held by Nate. Ice cream insanity!

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    Another day we returned to Hillsborough Center to show Nate how beautifully magical this little village is. And to give Cate a chance to properly leap over puddles.

    hillsborough center by @janemaynard

    hillsborough center

    On a side note, we are loving the Highlander Hybrid that Toyota lent to us for the trip. It’s sooooo nice having a big car that gets almost 30 miles to the gallon, especially since we’ve already driven almost 1,000 miles! Plus, it’s just a really nice car. Nate’s great aunt couldn’t get over it, in fact. And it drives so quietly and smoothly. Basically, we’re taking it on the plane home with us.

    toyota highlander hybrid by @janemaynard

     

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  4. Wednesday, June 4

    Why You Need Melamine Serving Trays and Platters

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    Until a few years ago I had zero serving trays or platters to my name. For some reason, I didn’t get any as wedding gifts and then never thought to buy any. I finally acquired a few white ceramic serving platters. They’re nice and all but, honestly, I hardly ever use them. They just aren’t very versatile and are too heavey for easy, everyday use. And, even with those few platters, I still didn’t own any actual trays.

    montecito melamine serving trays from q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    montecito melamine serving trays by q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    montecito melamine serving trays by q squared nyc by @janemaynardThe trays pictured above are from Q Squared NYC’s Montecito line. These are the trays we probably use the most. Nate was especially happy on Mother’s Day when they had a tray to bring me breakfast in bed!

    A few months ago when I started working with Q Squared NYC, they sent me several serving trays and platters. Suddenly I was flush with melamine serving trays in different sizes and shapes, and every last one of them was completely adorable.

    kids' melamine serving trays by q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    kids' melamine serving trays by q squared nyc by @janemaynardThese fun kids serving trays have come in especially handy for snack time during playdates! My kids think they’re super cute and I don’t have to worry about anyone breaking anything!

    When I first discovered Q Squared, I was mostly excited about their dishes and flatware. Little did I know my most favorite items would be the serving trays! The longer I have them, the more I realize how much I was missing out all these years. They come in handy all the time, both for everyday use and when entertaining. I really love that they are made of melamine. The trays and platters are so much lighter than something made from ceramic, so I actually pull them out all the time. They’re easy to carry and perfect for taking outside. Basically, I can’t live without them now!

    heritage melamine serving trays by q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    heritage melamine serving platter by q squared nyc by @janemaynardThis serving platter is from the beautiful Heritage line. 

    If you don’t have any melamine serving trays or platters, I highly recommend getting one (or two or three!).

    montecito melamine serving platters by q squared nyc by @janemaynardMore from the Montecito line, this time the serving platters.

    Three cheers for serving trays! Hip, hip, hooray! (Yeah, I’m a little crazy, but I really am in love!)

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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  5. Thursday, May 15

    There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand {Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Recipe}

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    My dad is in town visiting right now, so I thought it would be fun to watch a movie with him and the kids and make a treat to go along with it. As I was trying to think of a fun movie-themed treat, I couldn’t help but think about Arrested Development and the banana stand. But since Arrested Development isn’t exactly geared towards the elementary-school set, I had to get a little creative. Here was my crazy thought process.

    DIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynard

    First, my dad grew up in the Costa Mesa-Newport Beach area. Balboa Island is famous for its chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, something Nate and I have gotten with the kids on vacation before. Not only do I have memories of eating frozen bananas with my kids, but my dad has his own memories of eating them when he was growing up, too. (Pssst, my dad has a secret: he never really liked the bananas. We, on the other hand, do!)

    Second, Nate and I were diehard Arrested Development fans when it was first airing. Like, before it was on Netflix and got all trendy and cool. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s on Netflix and I can watch it whenever I get a hankering for a loose seal or two. Plus, Netflix gave us a new season, for which we will be forever grateful!)

    Third, we are having a heatwave right now and I thought a frozen treat would be mighty delicious.

    Fourth, I love the book Jumanji (I even have a first edition as a decoration in our living room) and was super excited when I found out the Jumanji movie was on Netflix (thanks to my sister for letting me know – she was obsessed with that movie when we were kids!). There are lots of monkeys in Jumanji. Monkeys love bananas. I hear they even go for frozen bananas occasionally.

    DIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynard

    Where does all this lead to? Homemade chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, of course! I decided frozen bananas would be a great treat to get us excited for watching Jumanji. And, after the kids went to bed, maybe a few episodes of Arrested Development, too.

    DIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynard

    This chocolate-dipped frozen banana recipe is super simple, and it is amazing how incredibly cute and professional-looking the bananas come out! Seriously, when I took them out of the freezer, Nate thought I had bought them at a store!

    In addition to being fast and easy, Anna my 6-year-old was a huge help while making the bananas and we had a lot of fun cooking together.

    DIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynardDIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynardDIY chocolate-dipped-frozen banana recipe from @janemaynard

    So, basically, everything went as planned. Anna, Owen and I had a blast making frozen bananas together. We all had fun eating them with Grandpa (who liked the frozen bananas, by the way). And we watched Jumanji! Okay, well, some of us watched Jumanji. Anna totally chickened out and retreated to the bedroom, where she and Nate watched science shows together. But 3rd-grader Cate stuck it out with Grandpa and me. I told her we “had to finish the game no matter what!” when she was freaking out and wanting to run from the room. She told me we weren’t really playing the game. I told her the movie wasn’t really real. Luckily, we made it to the end and declared “Jumanji” in victory! (Okay, so that was Robin Williams, but who’s keeping track?)

    Also, we have determined that there really is always money in the banana stand. The frozen bananas were so cute and so delicious Nate and the kids decided we should start a business. And that we would most certainly make a big fat profit on frozen bananas (there was math involved). And that the banana stand should be called “Jane’s Bananas” (10 points to Nate for the clever name). The whole time they were talking I just kept thinking “This is awesome blog post material.” They didn’t even know that I was going to be writing a post about the bananas we were eating. This post practically wrote itself, people.

    (>> Find out more…)

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  6. Tuesday, May 6

    Pitting and Cutting Avocados the Awesome Way and More Avocado Fun

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    I just learned a tip for pitting and cutting avocados that will change your life. Seriously. It’s amazing and yet so simple, I really can’t believe I never figured it out before now!

    pitting and cutting avocados from @janemaynard

    Last Saturday I had the chance to learn all about avocados and see the entire growing and packing process. The California Avocado Commission invited me for a day of touring a nursery, a grove and a packing facility as well as a delicious, avocado-packed lunch. It was such a fun day and I met all kinds of interesting people, from other bloggers to food service and restaurant professionals to registered dietitians for grocery stores. During the lunch, Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD from Fiber is the Future did a recipe demo for the group and shared this marvelous tip for cutting avocados.

    visiting an avocado tree nursery with the california avocado commission by @janemaynard

    Here’s how I’ve always cut and pitted avocados: I would cut the avocado in half, whack the pit with a sharp knife, twist and pull the pit out, then scoop the fruit out with a spoon. I think, quite honestly, the most dangerous part of this process was getting the pit off the the knife once it was out of the avocado. Scary stuff. Despite the high level of danger, I was pretty good at it and thought it was the best way…until now!

    Katie shared the following technique. I used it last night when making guacamole and I can’t even tell you how awesome it is. The avocado pieces come out beautifully and no dangerous knife throwing is involved. Also, the pits are a cinch to remove. Are you ready? Here we go! I even made a VIDEO for you. Yes, video. I’ve been resisting forever, but decided to finally bite the bullet. Here goes nothin’!

    Here’s a quick recap, with photos and the steps written out:

    pitting and cutting avocados by @janemaynard

    • Cut the avocado into QUARTERS. Slice the knife through to the pit lengthwise, then rotate 90º and slice through again, so that the avocado is cut into four pieces but still remains attached to the pit.
    • Hold the avocado in your hand and twist. The pieces should start falling away from the pit quite easily. The last piece will hang onto the pit for dear life, but just twist the pit a little with your hands and it should pop off pretty easily.
    • Peel away the skin – no spoon or scooping required!

    Voilà! Perfectly pitted avocados, ready for you to slice and cut to your heart’s content!

    I thought I would also share some photos from the big avocado day because it was really cool.

    Our first stop was at the Persea Tree Nursery in Fallbrook, CA, where we saw the growing process from pit to tree! First, the pits are planted in a greenhouse where they sprout and grow and grow and GROW.

    growing avocado trees at persea tree nursery in california by @janemaynard

    Then those sprouts are cut down and the type of avocado you want is grafted on, up to four grafts per sprout. This is the point in the process where the variety of tree is determined. We had the chance to watch two women actually graft the trees, which was fascinating.

    grafting avocado trees at persea tree nursery in california by @janemaynard

    As the root systems grow and mature, the grafted “trees” are then cut off from the original sprout and planted, giving you a little avocado tree! It’s amazing how fast the trees grow (the tree in the second photo below is only a few months old). The trees will start to fruit in a year and you’ll have your first harvest in two years.

    brand new avocado trees at persea tree nursery by @janemaynard

    At this point the growers buy and plant the trees in their groves. The visit to Sierra Pacific Farms target=”blank” was equally as interesting and the groves were beautiful. A few things we learned: avocados must be harvested by hand, the trees are pruned to about 12-14 feet tall but will grow forever if you let them, a good grove has a thick ground cover of leaves, avocados do not ripen on the tree and can be stored there for quite some time until the farmers are ready to harvest, and the irrigation at a farm like this one is incredibly high tech and sophisticated. We also ate lunch in a beautiful spot among the groves, with food created by the chef from Sorrel Restaurant/Bistro in Temecula.

    sierra pacific farms avocado grove by @janemaynard

    As avocados are harvested they are placed in these bins which then travel to to a facility to be packed and shipped.

    avocado grove by @janemaynard

    We visited West Pak Avocado in Murrieta, CA. A few key takeaways: the process is very efficient, fast and high tech, the people who work at West Pak are equally as efficient and fast, and I can’t believe how many avocados they can pack in one day! The woman pictured below was adorable. She was all smiles until she got back to work, and then it was all business. The way she tossed the avocados from one hand to the other for packing in the box was lightning fast.

    west pak avocado packing by @janemaynard

    It was a great day and I learned soooooo much. I am also now bound and determined to grow an avocado tree in our own yard!

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  7. Saturday, April 26

    I Told You So, Kids. {Plus a Netflix Giveaway!}

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    Please note: the giveaway in this post is now closed.

    It’s Saturday. And I’m kind of feeling like a movie. And a giveaway. Let’s do it!

    my kids finally watching "the sword in the stone" on netflix, plus a giveaway! by @janemaynard

    First off, we love Netflix in our house. The kids especially love Netflix. It’s actually a little terrifying how adept they are at using the iPad. Even little 2-year-old Owen can find his way around an iPad, inevitably landing himself on the Netflix app watching an episode of Thomas the Train. In fact, if the house is ever a little too quiet, I usually find him hidden away in a corner with a stolen iPad cuddling with Netflix. It would be cute if it wasn’t so naughty!

    So, you know, I have to be the mean mom who says “no” like twenty times a day when the kids ask if they can “watch a show on the iPad.” It’s not that I never let them watch shows, it’s just that they would seriously go onto Netflix 24 hours a day if they could. But, when I think back to my own childhood, I realize I must have watched way more TV than my kids do. I mean, I have about 3 billion movies completely memorized. Not to mention all the TV shows I remember watching. I’m not saying my mom just stuck me in front of the TV all the time. I also remember roaming with friends outside everyday, too. (Ah, the good old days.) But what I am saying is that I think I can cut my kids some slack.

    But I have decided it’s time that the kids don’t always get to choose what they watch. (I told you I was a mean mom.) There are just so many great movies from back in the day that they have never seen. They prefer watching shorter shows like Wild Kratts (which I actually think is fabulous). But, kind of like our music education, I think it’s my responsibility as a parent to make sure my kids see all the awesome, especially the awesome that takes me back to my own childhood.

    So, whenever I tell them “Movie Time!” they get excited. And then when I tell them “And you’re watching this!” they groan at me. They say things like, “I only like watching what I’ve seen already.” Or “That’s going to be too SCARY.” (We have wimpy kids. The Little Engine That Could was too scary for them, even our 3rd grader. Wimps, I tell ya.) But I hold my ground and insist that they are watching what I’ve chosen. And I tell them they will love it, just like I did when I was a kid. And, you know what, they always do. And then I say, “I told you so.” (Okay, not really, but I want to.)

    my kids finally watching "the sword in the stone" on netflix, plus a giveaway! by @janemaynard

    Today I decided it was time for them to watch The Sword in the Stone. I LOVED that movie when I was little and it turns out Nate did, too. The kids complained so much when I started to put it on, it was like I was torturing them. (Silly kids.) But I persevered. I made them cuddle on the couch and suck it up. And they loved the movie. Owen honestly guffawed through the whole thing. It was awesome.

    In celebration of my victory over my children, I think a Netflix giveaway is in order! One randomly-selected person will win a 3-month subscription to Netflix streaming! To enter, simply leave a comment telling us your favorite tv show or movie from childhood. I can’t wait to read all your comments and take a little walk down memory lane with you! (Comments must be posted by Midnight, PT on Thursday 5/1.)

    The giveaway winner was Karen G., who said, “The Jetsons was good! My brother and I would fight over a time slot that showed GI Joes on one channel and Jem and the Holograms on another. Jem is outrageous! :)”

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  8. Wednesday, April 23

    The Only Lentil Soup Recipe You’ll Ever Need {Plus More Pretty Dishes}

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    One of the very first recipes I ever made was lentil soup. And it was terrible. It was just not a good recipe and, as an inexperienced young cook, I had no idea how to make it better. Sadly it convinced me that lentils were a bad thing. Then, about a year later, my friend Amy made lentil soup and insisted that I try it. She swore it was the best ever. I was skeptical but gave it a go and, much to my utter amazement, I discovered that lentil soup can be wonderful. I owe it all to Amy. If I ever win a lentil academy award, she’ll be the first person I thank. After the Weinstein brothers, of course, because that seems to be an academy award thank you speech requirement, especially when lentils are involved. (Sorry, I think that was a case of stream of consciousness gone wrong.)

    the only lentil soup recipe you'll ever need from @janemaynard

    The moral of the story is that I have had this lentil soup recipe hidden away on my blog since Day 1, when I added a bunch of random recipes to the site from my recipe box (you know, the real live recipe box with notecards inside). But I’ve never actually written about this recipe because, well, I have no idea why! It’s about time because it really is a gem of a recipe. Plus, the soup looked gorgeous served in my new Q Squared dishes, which I was planning to write about anyway, so it was kismet!

    the only lentil soup recipe you'll ever need from @janemaynard

    As you know, I’ve started working with a great company called Q Squared NYC. When I first received my Montecito dishes, I didn’t think I could love any of their other dishes more. But for Easter I decided to use the Heritage line for all of our serving dishes and decorated the table with a blue and white theme to match, including the flowers. The table was simple and so pretty, if I do say so myself. And I really fell in love with the Heritage dishes. I don’t know, I might even love them more than Montecito. It’s just so hard to decide!

    heritage line from q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    Last night when I was photographing the orange-hued soup that complemented the blue in the dishes so beautifully, the girls started fighting over who would get to use the fancy bowl. I think I’m going to have to buy more of these dishes because I don’t think I’m the only one who loves them. Even Nate commented on how pretty they were after dinner on Easter and he’s a guy.

    heritage line from q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    In addition to the color and pattern, the Heritage dishes have a really great texture, with sort of a hammered look to them. I tried to capture this in the photography so hopefully you can see it. The dishes really are stunning and, like the Montecito line, you can tell they are really high quality. I could go on and on and ON about these dishes.

    heritage line from q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    One last note on the recipe: you probably won’t like other lentil soups after trying this one. At least not as much! Honestly, whenever I have lentil soup at a restaurant I just end up disappointed. I now save all my lentil soup-ing for home, it’s just better that way. Oh, and one more last note: this soup is easy to throw together and is done in 30 minutes!

    the only lentil soup recipe you'll ever need from @janemaynard

    Without further ado, I give you the soup! Everyone say thanks to Amy!

    (>> Find out more…)

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  9. Friday, April 18

    Show and Tell: So much to show, so much to tell!

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    Happy Friday! I’m brimming over with things to share with you today!

    wonder by r.j. palacio | review from @janemaynard

    First, I finally read Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book should be required reading for ALL HUMANS. And once all the humans have read it, it should be required reading in every 4th grade class every year from here on out until the end of time. Plus, it’s really just so beautifully written and touching and uplifting and WONDERFUL. Please read it. Please.

    I have a fun announcement today about some added functionality to This Week for Dinner. You may have noticed there’s a new button called “Recipe Box” on my navigation. If you roll over “Recipe Box” you’ll see that you can click on two options: “Recipe Box” and “Shopping List.” When you click either of those you will be automatically connected to ZipList, a company I am now partnering with! Some of you may already be using ZipList, in which case you know what’s up and how cool it is! All of the recipes on my site are now set up to be saved to your recipe boxes and shopping lists. If you don’t know what ZipList is, it’s basically a shopping list that makes life easier! You can save recipes to your ZipList recipe box, add ingredients from recipes to your shopping list, save shopping lists, and access all of this on the web or through a mobile app. Bottom line, it’s super handy and cool and perfect for meal planners. If you have questions, let me know!

    wimsey club arm chair from dot & bo by @janemaynard

    As you know, I’m slowly working on furnishing and designing our living room. Well, I just bought a chair to add to the space and I am SO EXCITED about it. It’s the Wimsey Club Arm Chair from Dot & Bo. I kind of just want to show it off (isn’t it purrrrty?), but also I had such a fabulous shopping experience with Dot & Bo I felt like I should shout it out from the rooftops. So, I had my eye on this chair for a while, but was scared to pull the trigger. After two interior designers said that I should buy the chair THIS INSTANT, I finally went to do so but it was sold out. Well, when something is sold out on their site, there’s an “I want it” button, which brings you to a page which says something like “Let us know you want this chair via these various social media channels and we’ll see what we can do” so of course I immediately tweeted out my anguish over not getting this chair. Within hours I had an email from someone named Jessica, who was checking with their distributors to see if there were any more chairs available. When there were not, she was able to find out they would be getting it back in stock in about 2 months. THEN, as soon as it was available, I had an email from her letting me know. She was so nice and so helpful. Even after I bought the chair (and a lamp and some cute Swedish stuff), I received another email from another customer service person just checking in and letting me know she’d be tracking my order for me. AMAZING customer service, SUPER cute stuff. I am basically in love with Dot & Bo.

    Last but not least, here are my fun Cosmo food posts for the week!

    I think I’ve shared enough, now it’s your turn!

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  10. Thursday, April 17

    Spring Break Part 2: Anaheim!

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    Time to share how we finished up our Spring Break last week! Once we were done having fun in Los Angeles, we hopped in the car and headed south 1 hour for a visit to Anaheim.

    I think in most people’s minds when you hear the word “Anaheim” you automatically think “Disneyland.” Disneyland is most certainly in Anaheim, but there is actually tons to do there in addition to visiting the Magical Kingdom. In the last few years the downtown area of Anaheim has been completely rebuilt, featuring local shops and restaurants. The Anaheim area has so much to offer (museums, sports, amusement parks, Medieval Times), you could easily spend a week staying in Anaheim and keeping incredibly busy! The other great thing is that there are so many hotels in town to choose from and many of them have shuttles that can take you to all the places you want to go. It’s basically a town built for vacation with the family and we have always had a blast when we visit. This time around we only had two days, so we visited Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. We also had the chance to stay in two hotels.

    What We Did!

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    Knott’s Berry Farm: Here’s the thing about Knott’s Berry Farm – it is totally fun, less expensive than Disneyland, and NEVER as crowded. As much as we absolutely love Disneyland, it is almost always filled to the brim with people, which can be a little overwhelming. Even on a busy day at Knott’s there is room to breathe and the lines don’t take hours to get through. Plus, our family loves Peanuts, and Camp Snoopy is perfect for the little ones. We also had lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where it all began. When you eat there, just eat a dozen biscuits and a few pieces of fried chicken and you should be all set. DELISH.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    On our visit this time around we did a few things we had never done before, including the horse-drawn carriage ride and a ride on the narrow gauge steam engine. The carriage ride was actually really fun and the kids and I got to sit on top in front by the drivers. The steam engine was incredibly cool – it was the last working narrow-gauge engine in the U.S. when the Knott family purchased it for their park, and the cars you ride on are 130 years old. Owen is seriously obsessed with trains, so we chatted with the engineers for a bit and it was fascinating.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardThis is the little train ride in Camp Snoopy, not the big steam engine. But the kids all look so happy here, I had to share. And, yes, this was the vacation of train rides. SO MANY TRAINS.

    Cate and I also did the Ghostrider roller coaster for the first time and, um, HOLY HEADACHE. Yes, that pile of wood you see below is a roller coaster. But Cate thought it was awesome, even “wilder than a buckin’ bronco!”

    the ghostrider at knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardWhen you’re 2 and you’re tired you just sit where you are.

    Disneyland: There is just something about Disneyland. Sure, it costs about a billion dollars to go. Sure, it’s almost always crowded. But it is also always magical. Everything there is just so well done and beautiful. We spent most of our day on this visit in California Adventure. Cate got to ride on Radiator Springs Racers THREE times (thanks to fast passes and the parent swap passes when you have a stroller). I think she also rode on California Screamin’ 4 times. Crazy girl!

    california screamin' at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Cars Land will forever be my favorite part of visiting the Disney parks. It is just so BEAUTIFUL, both day and night. And the rides are all awesome.

    cars land at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Oh, one more thing to mention! We have never ridden the entire train ride at Disneyland until this visit. The kids LOVED it. We had no idea there were dioramas at the end of the ride as you arrive back at Main Street. We actually circled the park twice before the kids would let us get off! Then we watched the parade from the train station above Main Street and it was perfect!

    visit to disneyland and california adventure by @janemaynard

    Where We Stayed!

    Ayres Hotel in Anaheim: Our first hotel was the Ayres Hotel in Anaheim. The hotel is located across the street from the Honda Center where the Ducks play, and just a block away from where the Angels play. It’s just a few minutes’ drive to Disneyland and all the other attractions, and the ART shuttle runs by the hotel if you don’t want to drive to those places. The rooms were very nice and sort of “fancy” – when Anna stepped off the elevator and looked down the hallway for the first time she exclaimed, “This hotel is BEAUTIFUL!” We stayed in a King VIP room, which had a king-sized bed and a pull-out couch, as well as plenty of room for the kids and all of our luggage. The pool was small but perfect for kids and they had a great time swimming. Plus, we got to see Owen’s true colors at the hot tub.

    owen wooing the ladies at the ayres hotel in anaheim by @janemaynardDon’t hate the playa, hate the game.

    The Ayres also had a fabulous full breakfast, with the busiest yet friendliest chef I’ve ever met! The kids were in heaven at the breakfast and I think it might have been their favorite part of the trip. (Kids are so funny!) The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly at every turn.

    The Anabella Hotel: For our last two nights we stayed at the Anabella, sister hotel to the Carousel (where we originally thought we would be staying). The Anabella is across the street from Disneyland and was just a short 10-minute walk to the park gate. The walk was also really lovely and un-crowded, running along the backside of California Adventure (rather than Harbor Blvd). We’ve gone to Disneyland both ways – staying in a hotel across the street and having to drive or shuttle ourselves in. If you’re going to Disneyland and can swing a hotel within walking distance of the park, DO IT. Parking at Disney is such a pain. Being able to just walk to the park is HEAVEN. They’re building even more hotels across the street from Disneyland, so there will be even more options in coming years.

    the anabella hotel in anaheim by @janemaynard

    The Anabella Hotel was a beautiful property, with a great pool and restaurant. We stayed in a Concierge room, which is an L-shaped room with a king bed, double bed and a pull-out couch. Our room had its own patio area, which was really lovely, too. After we put the kids to bed, Nate went outside to read on the patio in the perfect southern California air! The rooms were pretty, although we could hear our {noisy} neighbors pretty well and the bathroom wasn’t super easy to use, with practically no counter space or storage areas. There is a very long vanity area outside of the bathroom, however, which is nice for getting ready while someone else is actually using the bathroom. We had that counter covered with all of our stuff from the road trip – basically we are really good at using up all available storage space! (Note: The noisy neighbors arrived on our last night. The front desk quickly shut down the craziness at night and were very attentive to the situation. The neighbors were noisy again the next morning, but we were leaving so we didn’t request a new room or anything, but I’m certain the staff would have worked with us on that as well if we had asked.) Like the Ayres, the staff were very nice and friendly everywhere we went on the property.

    So, there you have it! A Spring Break packed with FUN. (And Nate and I even survived!)

    Knott’s Berry Farm provided us with tickets and lunch. Disney and the Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau provided us with media passes for Disneyland and California Adventure. We received discounted rates for our hotel stays at the Ayres and The Anabella. All opinions are my own! Anaheim is fun, fun, fun!

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