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  1. Friday, July 29

    Friday Show and Tell: Stranger Things & More!

    Happy Friday!

    For this week’s Show and Tell I have two things to share. First, my new car that’s not really my car but I wish it was. Second, NETFLIX. Oh man, Netflix, you are too good these days. Stranger Things has me hooked. But more on that in a moment…

    Toyota Highlander for our family vacation (from @janemaynard)

    Okay, so the car! We are currently on our annual visit-the-family-all-over-the-northeast trip and Toyota lent us a Highlander for our adventures. I am loving this car and do not mind one bit having to drive it mile after mile after mile. So far my two favorite things (besides the smooth ride) are the fact that the car tells me what the speed limit is at any given time, which is especially helpful on these windy east coast roads with constantly changing speed limits, as well as the remote lock feature. You just have to touch the handle of the car to lock and unlock the car – it is so handy not having to dig my keys out of my purse that literally eats things. Anyway, the Highlander is a sweet ride and works great packing 5 kids in the back for our summer adventuring with the cousins. Big thanks to Toyota for the perfect car for our family vacation!

    Okay, so Netflix. People. If you don’t have Netflix yet, get on that. It just gets better and better all the time. Here are a few shows I’m especially loving and/or excited about.

    Stranger Things on Netflix is my new favorite. From @janemaynard (poster courtesy Netflix)

    Stranger Things

    Are you kidding me, this show is AWESOME. It’s fun and well done and the characters rule and the 80s throwback feel is perfection and everything about it is the best. This show is also scary in the best kind of way. I am not surprised that Stephen King loves it as much as I do. (I still have two more episodes to watch, so no spoilers!)

    Beat Bugs on Netflix - new kids show featuring Beatles music. From @janemaynard (artwork courtesy of Netflix)

    Beat Bugs

    Apparently Beat Bugs, a cartoon for kids featuring Beatles music sung by current artists, is ridiculously adorable and fun, and it comes out next week. Can’t wait to show it to my kids! Fun fact: the creators of Beat Bugs are also going to be releasing a yet-to-be-named Motown-themed show as well. I might even be more excited for Motown than Beatles music. Fun stuff, and excited to have my kids get to know all of this great, classic music.

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life airing November 25, 2016!

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life

    We have an air date! I repeat, we have an air date! Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life will be available on November 25. That is going to be the best day ever. Thanksgiving leftovers and 6 hours of new Gilmore girls shows to watch. I CAN’T WAIT.

    That’s it for today! Happy driving and watching!

    I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.


  2. Tuesday, August 18

    Minivans RULE + How New Car Smell is Like Cilantro

    Most years when we go out east for our annual summer adventure, Toyota generously lends us a car to try out on the trip. This year we drove a Sienna and, as a result, I have decided we need to have a discussion. A minivan discussion.

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    First, a confession. I drive a minivan. (AND my girls play soccer. Go ahead, call me Soccer Mom. I can handle it.) Nate drives a Toyota Prius and I drive a Honda Odyssey, so we pretty much fit into all kinds of middle-aged Californian stereotypes. 😉 Anyway, back to minivans. We bought the van about 6 months after Owen (our third child) was born. We went to the lot to check out the Pilot with ZERO intention of buying a minivan. Guess what we ended up driving off the lot? That’s right. We gave in. We decided that it was ridiculous to pay more money for a car (in this case, an SUV or crossover with the optional third bench) that didn’t really work for our family of 5. So, we bit the bullet.

    I am SO glad we did. I have zero qualms about driving a minivan. It’s the best for about a million reasons. You can push a button and open all your doors! The doors slide! There is TONS of storage space even when you have 8 people sitting in your car! And people TOTALLY think you drive the coolest looking car! (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly accurate…)

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    Years ago when I started my relationship with Toyota they lent us Sienna. It was before we had our own minivan and, quite honestly, I didn’t love it. The user interface just wasn’t that great, as great as all the extra space was.  Fast forward 6 years or so to this summer, driving the latest Toyota Sienna. I love it just as much as my Odyssey. In fact, I don’t even know which one I like more! Plus, the Sienna comes with an All-Wheel Drive option, which is ideal if you live in a place with weather. So my previous advice of, “The Odyssey is totally better” is now “Just choose the one you like better for whatever small reason you can find because they are equally awesome.”

    Here are a few things in particular we loved about the Sienna.

    1. Two sunroofs! We marveled at the gloriousness of the second sunroof!

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    2. The “infotainment” interface is great, and I like the display better than the Odyssey. Plus, the positioning of the screen is perfect so there is never any glare, making it visible at all times.

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    3. The memory positions for the drivers’ seat are super handy.

    4. This particular Sienna came with sensors that alert you to people in your blindspot as well as beep when you’re backing up, etc. We could have gotten this on our Odyssey if we wanted but opted not to spend the extra money. That said, I LOVED the feature very much when I was using it and it made me wish I had it at home.

    5. I love Toyota’s keyless entry and startup system. Here’s how it works: if you have the key on your person, when you are close to the car you just touch the door handles and the car unlocks. It’s so super duper awesome and works beautifully. You can also lock the car by touching a spot on the handle when you get out. I pretty much just left the key safely in my purse the entire trip, it was great!

    6. There is just so much storage space. I’ve already mentioned this, but it is worth mentioning again. And it’s very easy to put the back seats up and down if you want even more storage. We have driven the Toyota Highlander for a few summers and, as much as I loved that car, with 3 kids and all our luggage it was PACKED. We never even came close to filling the Sienna on this trip, even with other people’s luggage thrown in with ours.

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    7. Lots of space for “tickle trains.”

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    8. The Sienna really is the Swagger Wagon. It even played awesome old school rap for me.

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    The model we were driving did not have an eighth seat, which we could have used a couple times with all the family we were visiting. But other than that, I have no complaints. The Sienna was fabulous!

    why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

    Oh, are you wondering why new car smell is like cilantro? My sister-in-law Cora, my mother-in-law Pat and I all thought the car smelled really strong. It kind of got into our nasal cavity, like we were breathing it. But NO ONE ELSE knew what we were talking about. We decided it must be similar to the cilantro gene, you know the one where some people think cilantro tastes like soap? Apparently new car smell has a similar effect on a small percentage of the population. 😉 Like how I brought it all back to food, there? I can ALWAYS bring the conversation back to food.

    Okay, time for some CONTROVERSY. Do you drive a minivan? Are you adamantly opposed to them? Do you secretly wish you had one but don’t have the guts to drive a Swagger Wagon? Even my sister-in-law who has no children said that the minivan she drives for work is the BEST. See? EVERYONE loves minivans! That’s my supposition, anyway. I think the people who say they don’t are just lying 😉 So, speak up! Tell us what you think!


  3. Thursday, July 3

    Kimball Farm and Beautiful New Hampshire

    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