Wow. The summer is just flying by, isn’t it?! We’ve been loving longer days, impromptu adventures, ice cream binges, soaking up sunshine, and all kinds of outdoor activities that make even us parents feel like kids.
When Mother Nature turned up the heat, we responded with our popular “Places to Cool off in Connecticut” post. And we had fun chatting with Kara Sundlun on Better Connecticut about some of our favorite spots for getting a little wet.
Of course, we’re still plugging away at our 2015 Summer Bucket List and trying to hit all our favorite spots before the season ends.
We’re also continuing to expand our newest offering– our Birthday Party Venue Directory. We’ve got more than a dozen great party destinations on it already, and it’s growing by the week! Check it out to discover some really unique and exciting options for your child’s next birthday celebration. And if you can, share it with your friends too!
We’ve also got big news from our sponsors, like a totally FREE and open to the public family event at the JCC’s Swim & Tennis Club and a BRAND NEW fitness center in Simsbury.
At home, we’ve been testing out new recipes, doing some decorating, and yes, even getting started on some back-to-school prep!
So keep reading to find out more about all the things we’ve been loving this July!
1. I love real kosher deli pickles, but I’m very picky about them 🙂 When I found kirby cucumbers in a recent CSA share, I went on the hunt for the perfect pickle recipe—and I think I found it! If you like the pickles at Rein’s Deli or Ted’s Montana Grill, you’re going to LOVE these.
2. Speaking of my CSA shares, I have been finding some pretty neat new-to-me stuff in those boxes. Like garlic scapes, for example. Ever heard of them? I hadn’t–I actually thought they were weeds that got in the box accidentally! But they make the most delicious pesto, so boy am I glad I didn’t toss them!
3. While we’re talking about produce, I’ll mention my newest (not so) guilty pleasure: my Yonanas Elite Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker. I put in frozen fruit (just fruit!) and out comes a delicious ice cream-like frozen treat. It’s such a great, healthy snack in this hot weather–and then I can feel less guilty indulging in the real deal at my favorite ice cream destinations later 🙂
4. When I was decorating my first home (pre-kids), I spent so much time at HomeGoods. I loved scouring the store to find just the right home decor items for each space (and at the right prices too!). Now that I’m decorating my new digs with two kids in tow, I have significantly less shopping time. But I still love the thrill of a deal! So I’ve really been enjoying browsing online at One Kings Lane. It’s like the internet version of HomeGoods, with unique and affordable items that change all the time. I especially like getting the emails with tons of decorating ideas and daily sales. Most recently I scored these super trendy Ikat throw pillows for just 30 bucks each!
5, The little guy turned 2 this month! To celebrate as a family we went for pizza and games/rides at Chuck E Cheese’s in Manchester, CT. I know that place sometimes gets a reputation for being a parent’s worst nightmare (hello noise, lights, and endless plastic prizes!), but it actually makes for a fun evening out with the kids, especially for an impromptu celebration. There’s a separate toddler section that’s perfect for my little guys, and you can even order a whole cake for dessert!
6. Boo starts Kindergarten next month (I can’t believe it!), so I’ve been trying to get myself organized to keep track of even more family events and kid activities. I was inspired by this blog post to create my very own giant chalkboard paint wall calendar. I won’t say it was really easy (there was a lot of measuring and math, not to mention painter’s tape involved!), but it was a super cheap (and I think chic too!), and useful addition to our family command center. And I love it already!
1. We have a tree in our side yard that seemed to be a perfect spot for a swing. I wasn’t quite sure what type to get, so we decided to start with an inexpensive disc swing from Amazon. The swing went up in June and has been a major hit with the kids since that day!
2. My family and I love the beach –whether it is a full week visit or a quick day trip, we try to get in as much beach time as possible during the summer. Over the past few years of doing beach trips with kids in tow, I’ve learned a few tricks. The first being that you need an umbrella when you’re out there and the easiest way to install an umbrella at the beach is with this handy umbrella anchor. The other trick is to use powder to remove sand. Seriously, baby powder is magic when it comes to sand removal. Sprinkle it on their little hands and they will be ready for sand-free snacking.
3. I know magazines may now be considered old school, but when this magazine arrives at my house, I’m a happy gal. I love seeing the beautiful homes, learning about new southern towns and restaurants to explore, and (most of all) getting a few new recipes to add to my meal planning schedule.
4. Right before Sweetheart was born, I realized we were in desperate need of a new couch. We really didn’t have time to research such a big purchase (and I really didn’t want to spend thousands on something I knew my little ones would destroy) so my solution was to get the reasonably priced Ektorp corner sofa from Ikea. Probably the best thing about this sofa is the fact that you can purchase replacement slipcovers at an affordable price. Just last week I purchased our third such replacement (the tan) for just $99. Such a deal.
5. Last week, Sweetheart picked out her very own backpack. It was partly for our upcoming family beachtrip and mostly for her upcoming start of preschool (Sniff. Sniff.) She choose the butterfly backpack which is made by the same company who made Sparkle’s bag, Skip Hop. I’ve found that the brand holds up well and the bag is the perfect size for a 3 or 4 year old.
6. Each summer my siblings and I and our families spend a week at the beach together. We get a big house to fit the giant group (I am one of 5 siblings and between all of us there are 10 kids ages four and under). This year we choose to rent a place in a destination we visited many times as kids — Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, SC. It is a BEAUTIFUL, completely relaxing destination and such a fun place to spend time with family.
But we’re really loving our amazing sponsors!
Don’t forget to check them out too. And help spread the sponsor love. If you know friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or anyone else who might be interested in what our fabulous sponsors have to offer, please share. It’s one simple way you can help support our site and keep us “Scouting Your CT Outing.” Thanks!
CONNECTICUT CHILDREN’S MEDICAL CENTER, Hartford, CT
Named among the best in the nation in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” rankings, Connecticut Children’s is the only free-standing children’s hospital in Connecticut that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children.
Our top physicians and researchers are dedicated to advancing pediatric care through medical innovation and cutting-edge technology. With more than 200 pediatric residents and fellows in over 20 pediatric subspecialties, Connecticut Children’s is the primary pediatric teaching, clinical and research partner for the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Connecticut Children’s research portfolio includes nearly $20 million in active awards.
Getting kids healthy and home is our goal. And we do it every day. Do you have a Connecticut Children’s experience that you would like to share? Tell us about it.
Visit www.connecticutchildrens.org or call 860.545.9000 for more information.
THE MANDELL JCC, West Hartford, CT
Now in its Centennial year, the Mandell JCC serves people of all backgrounds and at every age and stage of life. It is a gathering place and resource for the Hartford region, providing recreational, cultural, educational, and social programs designed to promote physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being of its members and others who participate. The Mandell JCC is gearing up for its next Centennial Signature Event, the Summer Birthday Bash on Sunday, August 30, 2015 from 4-7pm. The event is free and open to the community, but RSVP is required. RSVP with the Box Office at 860-231-6316,firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Mandell JCC, contact the Member Services Center, 860-236-4571 or visit www.mandelljcc.org.
MUSCULOSKELETAL HEALTH CENTERS, Simsbury, CT
Located in Simsbury, CT, Musculoskeletal Health Centers specializes in general chiropractic medicine with a focus on pediatric chiropractic care, as well as prenatal chiropractic care for woman who have pain and discomfort relating to pregnancy.
And coming this fall, they will offer the first all inclusive fitness center in Connecticut with personal training memberships starting at just $29.99/month for one session/week.
They also offer Cosmetic Acupuncture, an ancient practice that has become the go-to method for those who want a fresher, younger looking appearance. Clients who are looking for a natural solution, without the invasiveness and stigma of surgery, or the risks of Botox, are increasingly turning to Cosmetic Acupuncture. Practitioners have found that much like traditional Acupuncture, when needles are inserted into pressure points in the face, it releases energy and endorphins, improving blood flow and stimulating cellular re-growth.
We would also like to thank the following businesses/organizations for supporting our site via sponsorship:
Once again, a great big “thank you” to our current sponsors. We are very proud to showcase them here on our site, and we look forward to introducing you to even more family-friendly businesses and organizations in the future.
And thank you to our readers for supporting the businesses and organizations that make our site possible!
Shawna & Mandy
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