Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School Stats


As I am sure you must have noticed, I am just getting back to my blogging.  As I write this post, I'm mad with myself for not doing this last year.  I am going to have the dig up the info and back fill it.  The good news is that I was on it this year and everyone is growing in leaps and bounds.

Jackson (7.6)
Starting height 2014: 53.5" (97%)

Starting weight 2014: 55.6 (90%)


Chomps (9.3)
Starting height 2014: 60" (over 100%)

Starting weight 2014: 104.25 (over 100%)


KF (11.2)
Starting height 2014: 58 3/4" (75%)

Starting Weight 2014: 97 (75%)

For the Boys

Back to school, means back to birthday parties.  Right?  Ours days of a gift closet stocked with 10 identical gifts, is long gone.  And the quick bolt into learning express seems to be hitting the dust too.  Now more than ever, my three kids are eager to be involved in buying the gift and they really want something individual.

In most cases, Toys"R"Us has been traded in for Sports Authority and Dicks.  Especially for the boys.  Their favorite gift to give is a pair of these Nike elite socks with a gatorade bottle.
 They also love anything by Nerf.  This "fire vision" football comes with night vision goggles.  So, when the sun sets, they can continue to play.
What boy doesn't love a bow and arrow set?  This has been a go-to gift for a number of boys this year.  They especially love the sound it makes when you fire it.

For less sporty gifts, we will go out of our way to hit The Age of Reason toy store in Westport.  It is a wonderful "mom and pop" shop that makes every effort to stock quality gifts.  Their selection is well edited, but truly has something for everyone.  Puzzles, brain teasers, science kits (like none I have ever seen), board games, and tons of stuff for your naturalist or architect .  I also love that they stock interesting books that marry back to the different toys in the shop.  In the spring we bought one friend a bird feeder coupled with a field guide to birds in Connecticut.  


We have a few friends that love the outdoors and have found lots of fun gifts for them at REI.  The headlamp is one of our go-to gifts.  

And the boys love this adventure pack

I love that my kids are starting to recognize that their friends have special interests.  And I love that they are thoughtful enough to consider this when selecting gifts.  


Friday, August 22, 2014

Smoke this

Ric and I are both from the south and we love BBQ.  Once we pass that Mason Dixon line, we're all about BBQ, sweet tea and some Chik-fil-A.

Since BBQ joints are a little few and far between in Connecticut, we go out of our way to try them out.  Especially if someone has recommended one.  We can usually tell if it's going to be good if we smell smoke as soon as we get out of the car.

For the past four years, we have enjoyed some favorite places in neighboring towns.  We love Dinosaur Barbecue in Stamford.  The meat is solid and they have combined that simple barbecue idea with some more gourmet touches to create something for everyone.  My kids love the pulled pork, Ric loves the brisket and we all love the pimento cheese/ chorizo appetizer.  Bobby Q's in Westport is also great and smells super smokey when you walk through the corridor to their restaurant.  We love that they serve burnt ends and the trinity (St. Louis Ribs, Caroline BBQ, and Texas Brisket)-- along with one of the largest bourbon selections in the area.  While they have a lot more variety than most Southern BBQ joints, they really do focus on the meat and it's flavor.  Occasionally we will go on Monday nights where kids under 12 eat for $3.00.  That is a rare find in Fairfield County!

This summer while I was home in Atlanta, my sister and I went to one of our favorite gourmet cookware shops, Cooks Warehouse (It's like a Cook Nook but merchandised beautifully http://www.cookswarehouse.com/). Their staff is extremely knowledgeable, they stock top-of-the-line, dream worthy pieces, and they offer cooking classes throughout the week.  As we pulled up, I immediately saw a sign saying "Big Green Egg Sale".  I have NEVER...in my life...ever..seen a BGE sale.  I couldn't get in the door fast enough.

Let me start by saying that BGE's is a type of smoker that can also function as an oven and a grill.  I have talked about these for years, but the price tag has kept me at bay. I knew the sale had to be good enough to load a 150 lb smoker in my car and drive it back to Connecticut-- not to mention,  relocating my daughter from her coveted solo spot in the third row to the middle with two boys in order to accomodate the box (for 15 hours).  This, my friends, would be a labor of love.

Reader, meet Maude, our new smoker.  I am absolutely obsessed!


Our first adventure-- two slabs of ribs smoked for 3 hours and then finished on the grill with some Johnny Harris Sauce.





All of this was served with my very own sweet tea with fresh mint (and a scotch with a massive ice ball for my co-chef)



I know we will use our BGE a ton.  We've smoked brisket and chicken since this first stab at ribs.  And considering we lose power for almost a week every year due to storms, Maude will be our source for cooking everything in the freezer.  Who knows what we will smoke.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Last week of Summer

I really can not believe that there is only one last week left to summer.  We've been busy cleaning closets, filling-in with new kicks and clothes and organizing fall sports equipment.  But we aren't willing to let go so quickly.  Saturday night we enjoyed a healthy Paleo dinner, a specialty cocktail and watched Mrs. Doubtfire.  It was an all around success.

So, lets start with the cocktail.  A Greenwich Insta friend mentioned this drink that happens to be a staple in the Mid Atlantic beach areas.  It's called an Orange Crush and it was delightful.  The biggest recommendation is to use FRESH juice and that shouldn't be hard this time of the year.  Make this drink this week-- you won't be disappointed!





The Orange Crush 

2 oranges, juiced
1.5 ounce vodka
1 ounce orange liqueur
splash of lemon-lime soda
ice
Pour all ingredients into cocktail mixer and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange. 
As summer comes to an end, I feel like I need to get my family eating better and cleaner.  We have eaten out so much and we I have hardly made a decent dinner all summer.  Don't get me wrong, we haven't been surviving on junk, but we have had a lot of "throw together" dinners.  Hopefully, being forced into a schedule will correct that.  So, while KF and I were having a mani/pedi yesterday I pulled a Paleo recipe off of Pinterest and committed to making it.  You know what?  It was fantastic.  The chicken is stuffed with a combination of artichoke hearts, spinach, parsley and roasted garlic.  Click HERE for the recipe.   I served it with sautéed spinach (seasoned with kosher salt and garlic) and a packet of quinoa and brown rice (made by Seeds of Change) that I use frequently because it takes only 90 seconds to make...BAM!  



Hopefully I'll keep up with the healthy eating.  Now that KF has officially decided to give up swim team, I won't be at the pool from 6:15pm until 7:30pm three nights a week.  That, my friends, is life changing for all of us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Connecticut Coast



The end of summer is always a beautiful time in Connecticut.  Bright blue skies with temperatures in the low 80's.  The nights are made for shorts and Shep shirts.  It really couldn't get any better in my opinion.

This August, we drove up the coast of Connecticut and explored a couple of cute towns we had heard about.  Branford, Stonington, and Noank.  Noank is adorable and most people know it as the pushing off point for Fishers Island.  We arrived just in time to take a quick drive and enjoy dusk and lobster.  After weighing our options between Fords lobster and Abbots in the Rough (an institution from 1947), we went with Fords and we weren't disappointed.  Here are some of the shots I took that night.

Trey and Jackson at Fords

Enjoying the view while we wait on a table

Trey at the Lobster pool


Even when we thought the scenery couldn't get prettier, it did

The waiting room
It seems like Connecticut continues to show us so many hidden gems.  We miss the south, but truly couldn't pick a more beautiful area to land.


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