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Category: travels

  1. Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Week 345 Menu

    Last night we went to the San Diego Zoo for NIghttime Zoo. We got there just before sunset and were walking through the new koala exhibit when the sky looked like this. It was breathtaking!

    san diego nighttime zoo |

    I have to say, it is sooooo nice to be back into the school routine. Well, I do hate getting up in the morning, but everything else about being back on a schedule is great!

    – Happy Labor Day! Heading to some friends’ for a mid-day get together!

    Homemade Pizza (if it’s not too hot outside!)

    – Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    – Rice and veggie

    – Leftovers

    Sweet potato and black bean burritos

    – Takeout

    Chicken Piccata
    – Mashed potatoes and veggie

    It’s that time again, time for you all to share your menus for the week! Short, tall, big, small – bring on the menus! As always, thank you for sharing! They are so wonderful to read through when I plan each week!

  2. Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    A Visit to Gibson Pewter in New Hampshire

    One of the many lovely spots in the northeast that we visited this summer was Hillsborough Center, NH. This quaint hilltop village is not far from where Nate grew up and seriously feels like a movie set. In fact, my sister-in-law Jess and I were convinced that all the residents had been abducted by ghosts or aliens, leaving the village quiet and pristine with nary a soul to be seen! It was almost creepy how perfect it was. The homes and buildings are original to the 18th-century and are beautifully kept, including a church, a one-room schoolhouse and a cemetery. Of course I had to wander about the cemetery and we even found a grave for a Revolutionary War veteran. It doesn’t get much more Colonial New England than that! I read the historical marker in town, which gave a lot more info on the area. I should have taken a photo of the plaque because I can’t find that info online and of course I don’t remember it! I do know that it said descendants of the original settlers still live in town.

    hillsborough center nh gravestones |

    hillsborough center nh cemetery |

    gibson pewter |

    Gibson Pewter is located in Hillsborough Center, so we stopped in to check out their wares. Nate’s mom said that I would love it and she was right. Jon Gibson is a second-generation pewterer and a world-class craftsman. His father opened the business in their 200-year-old barn in 1966 and ran the business seasonally. Jon now runs the business year-round and carries on the family tradition. Gibson Pewter owns many traditional patterns and creates contemporary pieces as well. I could have spent a fortune in the shop but limited myself to just one treasure, the Round Bowl Spoon, which is a reproduction of an early 18th-century Dutch-style spoon. I am completely in love with this spoon. I know, I’m crazy. I’m in love with a spoon. But it’s beautiful! (For some reason I forgot to add the photos of the spoon in this post, so click here to check it out!)

    gibson pewter barn web

    gibson pewter |

    The store and Jon’s pewter workshop are located in the basement of the barn and are tiny. Jon said that he keeps nice and warm in the wintertime and didn’t complain at all about the heat of the summer. He is certainly dedicated to the craft!

    jon gibson from gibson pewter |

    It was so interesting chatting with a craftsman of Jon’s caliber and imagining what it would be like to have a job like his. I am so happy we visited and look forward to heading back there again!

  3. Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Week 342 Menu

    Greetings from Cape Cod! Nate’s family has been staying in Sandwich, MA every summer for the last 20 years, but this year they broke tradition and we are trying out life in Falmouth. The house is awesome and is right in town near the water. The Falmouth Road Race is also literally ending in our front yard this morning, so we have front row seats for all the fun! There are 12,800 runners in the race, plus all their friends and family! It’s astounding how many people are here and we are having a blast!

    falmouth road race web

    There is a company named Yasso at the race handing out samples of their frozen Greek yogurt bars. The bars are SO GOOD. Yasso is now available in grocery stores nationwide. You need to find them. Such a great healthy and delicious treat!

    yasso frozen yogurt web

    We haven’t planned the menu for the week yet, but we do know there will do a barbecue cookout one night and Asian Spinach Salad another night. Beyond that, who cares? We’re on vacation!

    Even though I’m taking a break, I’m sure some of you are still on the ball! Please post your menu for the week!

  4. Tuesday, January 15, 2013


    I have a Bay Area bucket list. In the time we have lived here, we actually ticked off a lot of the items on the list, but not everything. Like Alcatraz…we never went to Alcatraz. And Chez Panisse. My heart hurts just a bit knowing I never ate there. One day…

    Last week I was hanging out with my dear friend Rachel, talking about how fast my departure date was approaching. She suddenly exclaimed, “And we never made it to Fentons!” And I exclaimed right back, “Well, let’s go this week!” And so we did! Another Bay Area bucket list item checked off!

    Rachel grew up in Oakland, where Fentons is located. Fentons is famous, a Bay Area staple. It’s been around since 1894, which in California is OLD. They make delicious, homemade ice cream. And it’s where Carl Fredrickson and Russell grab a cone at the end of Up. How could you not want to go to Fentons, I ask you?

    We had a great time. We had to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ about 14 times, which was actually really fun. The restaurant has a busy, happy vibe. And the ice cream was, in fact, delicious. I got the Fudgeanna sundae with vanilla and dutch chocolate chip ice cream. Oh, that dutch chocolate chip ice cream was heavenly. I want more. Now.

    The sundae was a bit top heavy and when the waitress handed it to me, I didn’t get a good hold on it and my giant scoop of dutch chocolate chip ice cream rolled onto Owen. He was NOT happy…until we filled him with ice cream. Then he was very happy! So, fair warning, the sundaes are HUGE and may attack you if you’re not careful.

  5. Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Fun Times in Anaheim

    We are not entirely sure how much longer we’ll be living in California, so we decided we should get a Disneyland trip under our belts just in case. We skipped school (parenting at its best!) and took three days last week to bop down to Anaheim for some fun! The trip was fast and exhausting, but I am sooooo glad we did it. With the exception of Owen (who just wanted to crawl around the hotel room instead of being dragged around amusement parks in record-breaking heat in a stroller), we all had a blast! And it was totally worth skipping school. 😉

    The Anaheim Visitor’s Bureau did a fantastic job helping to coordinate our trip. Thank you, Anaheim! I would love to share our experiences with you in case you decide to bop over to Anaheim yourselves!

    Howard Johnson at Disneyland
    The tourism board put us up at the HoJo Anaheim. It was the perfect spot for our family. Here are all the reasons we loved staying there:

    • We were in a 2 Queens Premium room and it was great for our family of five. Often when our family stays in just one hotel room, there is very little space for luggage, the pack n play, and the people…we just feel cramped. This room had plenty of space for everything, so everyone was comfortable the whole time.
    • We were spoiled with a room in the tower overlooking Disneyland Park, so we had front row seats to the nightly fireworks. Which was just plain awesome.
    • The Castaway Cove Water Playground was AWESOME. So well done, so much fun, the kids LOVED it.
    • The hotel is a very short walk to the Disneyland Park entrance, eliminating the need to park your car at the amusement park (which is a huge pain). Heaven.
    • Mimi’s Cafe is right across the street. We ate breakfast there a couple mornings and it was very family friendly. The night we arrived it was kind of late and we ordered take-out, turkey dinner for our whole family for $25! It was just what we needed.
    • The night we arrived the girls were beyond giddy. Cate exclaimed, “Mom! This hotel room is wonderful!” I replied, “So, you like it?” To which Cate replied, “No, Mom. {pause} I LOVE it.” Anna just kept repeating “Disneyland Fireworks! Disneyland Fireworks! Disneyland Fireworks!” It was all just so darn cute.

    Disneyland Park
    Of course we visited Disneyland – that was the original goal of the trip! A few quick notes on our visit this time around:

    • Cars Land at California Adventure Park is AWESOME. We didn’t even do any of the rides in Cars Land and we still loved it to pieces. It is beautiful, so well-done, you feel like you’re walking right through the movie. The Cozy Cone Motel served snacks that were all cone themed in cone-shaped containers. The whole area was created that way, with great attention to detail.

    • The World of Color show was really cool and the girls counted it as one of their favorite parts of the day. Be sure to get a fast pass early in the day for the show!
    • We ate dinner at Cafe Orleans that night. It was SOOOO nice to sit down in an air-conditioned restaurant and have someone serve us. We were really glad we took the time for a sit-down meal. The food was great, too. The pommes frites were DELISH.
    • Did you know about the parent swap option? Both Disney and Knott’s had this. If you have a baby in a stroller, when you get in line for a ride, you can request a parent swap pass. That way, one parent can wait in line with the kids, ride the ride, then when they get off, the other parent can get in the fast pass line and be able to ride as well. It was WONDERFUL and perfect for us, since Owen couldn’t go on any of the rides.

    • We were excited to discover that they are building a new princess area at Disneyland. Whenever we go to Disneyland, the girls see Sleeping Beauty’s castle and immediately ask where the princesses are. Well, the princesses are located in the back of the park, nowhere near the castle, so it’s always kind of a let down. But they are building a new princess area right next to the castle! It will be perfect and my girls can’t wait to visit Disneyland to see it when it’s done!
    • You may be wondering…was skipping school worth it? Was the park really less crowded? It was still busy. All of Australia happened to be there that day. But the lines were definitely not as long as on a high-traffic day, so it was worth it. I think going on a Tuesday would have been even better than a Monday. If anyone has tips of the best days and times of year to go with the least amount of crowds, please share!

    Knott’s Berry Farm
    We spent half a day at Knott’s Berry Farm and it was great! More relaxing than Disneyland and WAY less crowded (we didn’t have to wait in any lines and could ride some of the rides over and over again). Our family is planning to dress up as Peanuts characters for Halloween, so seeing the Peanuts characters walking around got the girls pumped for their costumes. And Owen, our dog lover, LOVED meeting Snoopy in person. I also really liked how all the kids rides were in one place, Camp Snoopy. It was fun for the kids to hit ride after ride after ride. We had lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where the chicken and biscuits were deeee-licious. The girls really enjoyed their jello appetizer…perhaps a little too much. 😉

    Medieval Times
    After Knott’s, we headed over to Medieval Times for dinner. Nate and I had never been and weren’t sure what to expect. It was a middle school dream of mine to go to Medieval Times, so the dream was finally coming alive! 😉 We really weren’t sure what the girls would think, especially since Anna is scared of the dark. Welllll…every last member of our little family loved it, even Owen! We arrived and got to meet the Princess Catalina. It was like Anna was meeting her greatest hero. She was super shy but reached out for her hand, which she held for our photo. The princess was so gracious and sweet to the girls, which Nate and I greatly appreciated. When it was finally time for the festivities to begin, we were seated and the lights went down. There was no silverware, but our loyal server snuck a few pieces so I could feed the baby. The food was great and there’s something about ripping into your food with with your hands that really gets you in the mood to cheer on dueling knights.

    Okay, seriously, our kids LOVED every minute of the dinner and show. They ate the food, they cheered wildly, Owen kept clapping and pointing. At one point when the Red Knight (our knight) was fighting, Cate was literally trembling as she cheered him on. Anna fell for the blue knight, even though he was from the other side of the kingdom. After it was all over, you could meet the knights and royalty for autographs. Anna wanted to meet the blue knight, but she got shy, wouldn’t look at him or the camera, and when Nate told him how she cheered him on and liked a winner, Anna kicked Nate in the shins. A first crush if we’ve ever seen one!

    Discovery Science Center
    On the day we drove home, we spent the morning at the Discovery Science Center. Again, the kids loved it. Owen was happy because he could finally crawl around and explore somewhere! The exhibits were really fun and well done and we could have easily spent the entire day there. They have different “adventures” for different age levels at the various exhibits and they were tailored very well for our girls. There is a dinosaur exhibit outdoors where you get these cool magic wands and go on an adventure, looking for discoveries. The girls loved it. There is also a pretend grocery store where you learn how to shop with the environment in mind. I actually really loved the grocery store. I feel like the way we shop for food really does have an environmental impact, so I loved that they were helping the kids to learn to think that way, too.

    Yes, we did a LOT. Arrived Sunday night. Monday at Disneyland. Tuesday morning at the water playground at the hotel. Lunch and afternoon at Knott’s. Dinner at Medieval Times. Wednesday morning at Discover Science, then hit the road for home. We could have easily spent a day or two at each place we visited, so we packed a lot in just a few short days. But, like I said, it was a BLAST and I am so glad we did it! I think the girls were in Fun Heaven.

    Big thanks again to the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau for helping coordinate so much of our trip. They are a fantastic resource! And I highly recommend staying in Anaheim for a Southern California family vacation. Easy access to Disneyland is a huge plus, and Anaheim is smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego, which have so much to offer. Fun family times!

    In the interest of full disclosure, Disneyland provided us with two passes and some vouchers to go towards a meal. Anaheim provided us with our hotel accommodations, additional Disneyland passes, admission to the other venues and two meals. We paid for our own transportation costs and additional meals. All opinions are my own!

  6. Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Week 297 Menu

    This week is going to be a FUN one for the Maynards! Today we are hopping in the car and heading to Anaheim! We’ve got some fun days ahead of us and the trip will be fast and furious. I can’t wait!

    Given the travel plans, our menu is definitely in vacation mode!

    – Dinner in Disneyland!

    – Lunch at Knotts Berry Farm
    – Dinner at Medieval Times

    – Dinner on the road, driving home

    – Spaghetti and veggies from CSA bag

    – Chicken Pot Pie (I can’t wait to share this recipe with you, it’s easy, fast and delicious! Post coming soon…had to wait for the cookbook it’s from to publish, which happens 10/1.)

    Stefania’s Braised Chicken (didn’t get to it last week)

    – Leftovers or Waffles

    You know the drill…please share your menu for the week! Thank you, everyone!

  7. Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    A Peek at Martha Stewart’s Offices

    While I was in New York City last week, I had the chance to visit the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) offices. Just like my trip to America’s Test Kitchen, it was really fun and interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at a place that produces so much amazing content.

    This was just a hallway. Who knew hallways could be so pretty? Owen was a charmer the entire time and several people mentioned he should go into modeling. Welcome to New York, Owen!

    My first impression of the offices was light. Lots and lots of light. The offices occupy one floor of a building in Chelsea and there are windows all around. It feels open and airy and would be a great place to get the creative juices flowing. Martha’s office is on the corner overlooking the Hudson river and Chelsea Piers. Her office wasn’t huge and I probably wouldn’t have even guessed it was hers unless they told me. Sadly, Martha wasn’t there…she was busy getting ready to speak as the BlogHer keynote that morning (which I barely made in time! Three cheers for crazy NY taxi drivers!).

    I have really loved being a part of Martha’s Circle. It has provided some wonderful opportunities and I have loved every single person that I have worked with at MSLO. So I wasn’t surprised that everyone we met along the way was friendly and nice.

    The Everyday Food team was no exception. They were delightful and fun to talk to. We had a great conversation and they were excited because they were visited by baby Owen AND a cute little dog all in the same day. Puppies and babies…nothing better. Of course the team was cooking and I learned that there are only 13 employees who work on the Everyday Food magazine each month. That seriously blows me away.

    I had the chance to see the test kitchens and the craft room, all of which were stocked with all kinds of goodies. While we were hanging out in the Living kitchen, two pans of brownies came out of the oven. It was everything I could do to not stick my hand in the pan and run for the hills.

    The rooftop patio was a lovely escape, a great place to eat lunch, if you can tear yourself away from work, of course! The summer interns were enjoying a last-day-of-work breakfast, which Owen and I helped ourselves to (yea for east coast bagels!).

    While I was chatting with folks, I learned about Martha’s American Made Awards, which she announced later that day at BlogHer. American Made is a program where Martha and her editors recognize 10 “American Makers,” talented and inspiring entrepreneurs doing beautiful work.

    In addition to the 10, there will be an 11th American Maker who will have the chance to win the Audience Choice Award. Anyone who has a small business, shop or Etsy shop and is doing innovative, high-quality work can nominate themselves (or you can nominate someone you know who fits that category!) for the Audience Choice Award. The deadline to submit for the Audience Choice Award is August 25. You really should get on this because…

    The 11th American Maker will be honored at the American Made event in New York City’s Grand Cetral Terminal in October (Martha will be there!), will appear in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine and will receive $10,000 to further his or her business! Super cool! I KNOW that many of you fit the category, so hop to it!

    I am so happy I got a chance to see Martha’s offices. It was a great visit! Thank you, Martha and friends!

  8. Thursday, July 26, 2012

    A Visit to the America’s Test Kitchen!

    On Monday, I had the chance pop up to Boston with my daughter Cate, my niece Abby and my sister-in-law Jessica for a tour of America’s Test Kitchen. Yes, the test kitchen! It was great fun to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the kitchens and Cate has decided that she wants to work there when she grows up (Jess and I are in the same boat!).

    First off, the location is totally unmarked…we felt like Harry Potter at King’s Cross Station (thanks for that awesome analogy, Steph!). Everyone was super friendly and it looked like a totally normal office. Well, a totally normal office buried in cookbooks and kitchen equipment.

    The first stop on our tour: the library.

    They have over 4,000 cookbooks in the library, which is ever evolving and growing. The library has its own color-coded system and is pretty amazing. In the center of the library is a huge table, which is where all the taste testing happens. That table is why I want to work there. You’re sitting at your desk working when suddenly there is a call to test something. Trying out food is part of your job. Does it get better than that? Steph told us there has to be at least 21 people in a taste test for it to be legit. I would happily volunteer!

    We saw a photo shoot in action and I was supremely jealous of their assortment of boards and wood doors they use for shoots.

    Then it was on to the kitchens! There are two kitchens – a smaller one (which has about a million ovens, so it’s not really all that small) and a big one. The big one is THE kitchen, the one where they film the show. They film an entire season of the show in just three weeks in the spring. When filming is happening, all the prep work happens in the small kitchen while the main kitchen remains pristine for the cameras.

    The kitchens are all abuzz with test cooks working on various recipes and projects. There is a post-it note system, so cooks can mark the equipment they are using, and there is kitchen gear galore everywhere you look. Most of the cooks began as interns and have culinary school backgrounds.

    I had the chance to chat with test cook Dan for a bit about what he was working on that morning. They had cooked up a bunch of turkey breasts and were going to inject them with various amounts of sodium to determine the perfect level of saltiness in turkey. It was pretty awesome that there was a pile of needles among Dan’s equipment. Cooking doesn’t get much more precise (or science nerdy!) than that! Dan said with the needles things had officially entered the realm of weird. Love it.

    Here is a peak into the pantry.

    Steph told us that there are two grocery shoppers for the kitchens and that they spend over $500,000 per year on groceries. That is a lot of cooking! She also said they mostly shop at regular supermarkets so they are sure to get ingredients that are readily available to people all over the country. In fact, all the equipment and food that is used in the test kitchens is home kitchen sized. The only pieces of equipment that are industrial are the hoods in the kitchen, the fridge and the dishwasher, but everything else is what any of us might buy or use at home.

    Owen was not happy that I passed him off to Cate to take a photo of the scores and scores of organized-by-color dishes.

    If I were to choose one word to describe the folks at America’s Test Kitchen it would be resourceful. I cannot believe what they produce with just 120 employees…8-12 cookbooks per year, 2 magazines, 2 television shows, a radio show…the list goes on and on. It blows me away the amount of quality work they produce in that four-story building in Brookline, MA. Plus, see where those cars are parked?

    That’s the alley behind the building, which also happens to be where they film all the grilling segments for the show.  They just clear the cars out and turn it into a studio. Resourceful, no?

    We had a great time learning all about the test kitchens and even got to meet Christopher Kimball as we were leaving! Yes, he’s very tall and, yes, he was wearing a bow tie!

    To end the trip we ate lunch at Cutty’s in Brookline, a cafe started by a test cook. And that lunch was mmm mmm good, of COURSE.

    A warm and sincere THANK YOU to our friends at America’s Test Kitchen for a great morning!

    And if you haven’t checked out this infographic on how a recipe is developed by America’s Test Kitchen, you have to click here and check it out. It’s fascinating and pretty much explains why their recipes always come out so wonderfully!

  9. Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Better Than Cannoli

    You know what’s better than a cannoli? A good, old-fashioned lightning and thunder storm on Cape Cod. Whenever there is a storm during our annual Cape week, I feel like it’s a little gift from Mother Nature.

    Here are a few shots of the lightning from last night. It was amazing and, of course, pictures never quite capture the majesty.

    Next to a good storm, however, not much beats this.

    Oh, ricotta-filled-cannoli-with-mini-chocolate-chips from Modern Pastry, how I love thee. (And, yeah, yeah, you like Mike’s better…we’ll just have to agree to disagree.) We won’t talk about how much cannoli I ate in a 24-hour period. Seriously, I’ll never confess!

  10. Friday, June 8, 2012

    Ah, Carmel…

    I know I told you that I was going to share the best chocolate ice cream ever today, but, well, I hopped in my car yesterday and went to Carmel. Just like that. I mean, I had a friend to visit, but it was a last minute trip. And I’m so glad we did it because we got to watch this sunset over Pebble Beach…

    …and eat this food for dinner at Little Napoli.

    P.S. If you ever get yourself to Little Napoli (which you should), that cannelloni tricolore is amazing. Just sayin’.

    And so, my friends, the ice cream recipe will come next week. Have a wonderful weekend!