Monday, July 29, 2013

Salerno’s Plum Tomato Pizza–A CT Must Eat!

Once a year, starting mid-August and lasting 3-4 weeks, Stratford’s oldest pizzeria, Salerno’s, offers the Plum Tomato Pizza.

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A white pizza piled high with thick-cut, super fresh, plum tomatoes and topped with a swirl of fresh pesto.  It is only available when the native Connecticut plum tomatoes are in season.  People come from all over to grab a pie, you can hardly get in the door of the pizzeria!

My family looks forward to this every summer and since there is no exact date for when the tomatoes are ready, you have to stalk check Salerno’s facebook page to see when they are available! 

Make sure you get one before they are gone, you won’t be sorry!!

Mamavation Monday–5K number 6 of #13in2013

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Happy Monday! I can’t believe it’s almost August, this summer is flying by!

Today I will be finishing up Week 6 of TapouT XT.  I can’t believe I’ve stuck with it for this long.  The whole program is 12 weeks so I am at the halfway point.  It involves a lot of MMA Kickboxing and I’m thinking about looking into classes because I like it so much! I actually passed a place close to my house yesterday while I was walking with my family, but I honestly could not read what the name of it was on their sign and they were closed! It did say MMA Kickboxing though!

And here is a funny story – Last night after dinner I decided to go for a run.  There is a loop around my neighborhood that is exactly a 5k and I was trying to do it in under 30 minutes, per usual. I ended up clocking in at 32:41 and I felt like I was going to pass out.  So, after I showered off and came downstairs my husband decided he was going to run the same course to see how fast he could do it.  He finished in just over 22 minutes! That’s crazy for someone who is not a runner! I guess I better step up my game!!

And, speaking of running – On Friday night I ran my 6th 5k of the year (my goal is 13 in 2013) It was a really hilly course and my time was 33:02.  Both of my boys ran the kids fun run beforehand, too! The little one didn’t want to so I didn’t register him, but when it came time for the run he wanted in on it! My older son ran with his age group and then again with the older kids.  They both got ribbons and had a blast!

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Home Depot’s Hurricane Preparedness Workshop

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Mother Nature hasn’t been very kind to my little Connecticut shoreline town these past few years.  My family has been lucky enough to only sustain minor damages to our home, although we were without power for several days on more than one occasion.  We never really had much prepared for big storms because they never really amounted to anything by the time they reached us.  But now, the storms seem to be hitting us harder and harder and last year before Hurricane Sandy struck all of the stores were completely sold out of everything you would think to get.  Needless to say, we needed to be better prepared next time! But, where to begin?

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Today, my husband and I attended a Hurricane Preparedness Workshop hosted by our local Home Depot here in Stratford, CT.  Not only did we receive a wealth of information about being prepared for a storm – we also had a great time!

There were a bunch of tables set up from Home Depot –with products, raffles, informative handouts & kids stuff - as well as others from Solar City, Red Cross, D. Kay Electrical (a Generac Dealer) and local insurance companies. There was also what seemed like never ending hot dogs, iced tea & snacks… Oh, and a fire truck! The Stratford Fire department was there with Engine 1 for the kids to climb up and sit in – a big hit!

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All the employees and vendors were super friendly and knowledgeable.  We learned so much!

The Home Depot table had an example of a grab and go bin to have on hand in case of an emergency.  Here is a checklist of items you will want to have inside:

  • Water – one gallon per person for 3-7 days
  • Food – Enough for at least 3-7 days as well as an electric can opener, cooking tools & fuel and paper plates & plastic utensils
  • Clothing: seansonal/rain gear/sturdy shoes
  • Blankets
  • First Aid Kit
  • Duct Tape
  • Flashlights & extra batteries
  • Replacement batteries for critical care devices such as hearing aids & blood glucose monitors
  • Spare keys for your home & car
  • Cash
  • Important Documents in a waterproof container (insurance papers, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
  • Pictures of family members and pets, in the event of a separation
  • Pet care items
  • Radio

Hurricane season starts June 1st and lasts all the way until November 30th so if you live in a hurricane prone area like we do, you want to be prepared! We also learned how to get our house prepared in the event of a Hurricane Watch or Warning:

  • Closely monitor The Weather Channel, radio and NOAA broadcasts for official updates
  • Secure all loose objects (outdoor furniture & toys)
  • Make sure your vehicle is fueled and running properly
  • Cover door and window openings with shielding materials
  • Close all interior doors
  • Fill sanitized containers with fresh drinking water
  • Set refrigerator controls to the coldest setting to keep food fresher longer
  • Follow evacuation instructions issued by local officials and evacuate immediately if told to do so
  • Notify neighbors and family of your evacuations plans
  • Leave for public shelters only after hearing announcements that the particular shelter is open
  • If not evacuating, stay indoors away from windows, skylights & doors

Whew! So much useful information! Luckily, there were handouts with all the information so I could digest it a little more at home!

They really thought of everything, even activity books, crayons and glow sticks for the kids.

kids hurricane safety

My boys loved them and it was a great way to teach them about hurricane safety.  Plus, The Home Depot suggested leaving the glow sticks in their bedroom in case of a power outage.  If they get to use something fun like a glow stick to light the way, the situation will be a little less scary.

The Home Depot prides itself on providing their customers with the knowledge and supplies that they need to keep their families safe during the hurricane season. Through free educational seminars and ensuring that stores are well stocked with hurricane essentials when the need arises, The Home Depot is there for you and for your family during the hurricane season.

To get connected with our local The Home Depot store, visit their Facebook fanpage at http://on.fb.me/1aJUlCv

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Gathering of the Vibes–Sneak Peek!

Tomorrow (7/25) approximately 20,000 people will be heading to Seaside Park invibes 010 Bridgeport, CT for the 18th annual Gathering of the Vibes.  You can visit the festival for the day or be one of the 10,000 people who camp out for all 4 days! There will be 40+ headliners preforming on 3 different stages including the School of Rock Teen Vibes Stage, which is new this year. 

Today, I got to visit for a little sneak peek and see just what goes into such a massive music & camping festival. 

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First, we got to meet with Chris Hubbard the productions manager, Bill Evans and Emmy award-winning saxophonist who will be sitting in with various performers throughout the festival, Ken Hays who founded the festival, Jen Durkin, lead singer of Deep Banana Blackout and Todd Stoops who will be performing with Kung Fu and Borboletta.

Ken told us how the City of Bridgeport and FEMA worked hard to get Seaside Park back to a functioning space after Hurricane Sandy hit last summer.  They made sure the seawall was permanently repaired and not just temporarily patched up. 

Bill, Jen & Todd, who will all be performing at the Vibes this year, spoke about what they felt the best part of the festival’s music was – when artists spontaneously collaborate on songs.  Todd told us he had eleven, yes evibes stageleven, super secret special guests coming out during his set! – Not to be missed!

Next, Chris took us over to the main stage to see where (and how!) the magic happens!  Workers were busy installing state-of-the-art sound and light equipment.  They work hard to make sure you have the same experience whether you are in the front row or the back row.  Plus, it isn’t super loud on the stage which can be distracting to the artists performing.  He also explained that he tries to source everything needed from in or as close as possible to Bridgeport! I love that!

Afterwards, we walked around the grounds.  There were a ton of food trucks and vendors setting up, beautiful banners strung up in the trees and a beacon light being set up in a small light house to shine a different picture each night!

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We also learned about everything they have to offer for families & children. There is a parents lounge, family yoga, a children’s parade, face painting, hair wrapping, crafts, kids entertainment & more! There is even a designated family camping area and a child safety registration. Plus, Sunday is Family Day! Children 15 & under are free and all Connecticut residents receive a $10 discount on tickets.

I also got to meet another Connecticut blogger, Jenna from CT Ain’t So Bad.  She will be camping out all weekend and had some awesome equipment to capture all the fun, so be sure to check out her blog!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rita’s Candy Land Collect & Win Promotion

Disclosure: I received coupons for free blendini’s, but was not asked to blog about Rita’s.  All opinions are my own. ritas3

Now through August 18th, stop into your local Rita’s to take part in their awesome summertime promotion.  They have partnered with Hasbro for Rita’s CANDY LANDᵀᴹ Collect & Win game.  You can collect game pieces on any Regular or Large Rita’s treat including Italian Ice, Sundaes, Frozen Custard, Gelati, Misto®, Blendini®, Milkshakes and Frozen Lemonades.  There are some really great prizes being rewarded, too!

  • 10 Grand Prizes: Florida family vacations for four to St. Pete Beach including a day at Busch Gardens Tampa from VisitFlorida.com!
  • 12 First Place Prizes: 16GB Tablet Computers
  • INSTANT WIN Prizes: FREE Rita’s treats, gift cards, and CANDY LANDᵀᴹ board games!

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I took my boys in yesterday to grab some Blendini®’s and collect some game pieces! I have only had Italian Ice from Rita’s before and was surprised by how ritas2rich and creamy the frozen custard was – so yummy!  There were a ton of mix-ins to choose from, but I got vanilla with Reece’s Pieces – one of my favorite combos!

 

Also, if you get a Blendini® in between July 15-26 you can take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #RitasCANDYLANDCreation.  They will select the TOP 10 creations and have a poll where fans can vote for their favorite! The Grand Prize will have their treat featured in over 600 Rita’s locations during the weekend of August 16th!

So, if you like delicious frozen treats and a chance to win prizes, head on down to your local Rita’s soon!

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What’s your favorite treat to order at Rita’s?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Ice Cream Playdate with Hood!

Disclosure: I was invited to try Hood’s newest product free of charge.  All opinions are my own.

Yesterday afternoon, Julie from A Year With Mom & Dad and the folks from Hood organized an ice cream playdate at the beautiful Wickham Park in Manchester, CT.  It was literally 100° outside so ice was the perfect thing to beat the heat!

meet harvey

 

My son was super excited to “Meet Harvey.” Harvey bars are the newest treat from Hood.  Named after their founder Harvey P. Hood (who always wore a bowtie, btw.) They come in four flavors and are filled with creamy Hood ice cream and coated in a thick layer of rich chocolate.  We tried Toffee Crunch and Cookies ‘n’ Cream and were fans of both!

 

My boys even finished their bars before they melted in the hot sun, which is a pretty big feat for a 2 & 4 year old!

harveybars

I am going to have to buy a box to stick in the freezer for a special summer treat.  They also come in regular Vanilla & Vanilla Crisp.  I think I will try the Vanilla Crisp next, I love a little crunch in my ice cream!

We had a great day, the park was the perfect spot and the kids had a blast playing and making new friend!… and eating ice cream of course!kidsplaying

Check out Hood’s website to see if there is a chance to Meet Harvey in your area (and learn how to tie a perfect bowtie, like Harvey.)

Smart Balance’s Battle of the Bloggers!

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I was recently contacted by the folks at Smart Balance to participate in their “Battle of the Bloggers” recipe contest.  I am so incredibly honored to be one of twenty bloggers chosen and I would absolutely love vote from you!

I am not usually very aggressive at garnering votes for myself, but if I win I get to help Smart Balance out with recipes for a whole year!

Plus, my recipe for Zucchini Ribbons with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta, is pretty darn good! It’s one of our favorite summer dishes.

Okay, so, to vote you have to head on over to Smart Balance’s facebook page.

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When you accept the voting app your e-mail should pop up automatically. Oh, and you can vote once per day!

Plus, each time you vote, you are entered to win prize packs from Calphalon and Smart Balance! So go vote!!

Thank you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jalapeno Heaven & Karma Tequila Tasting–Branford, CT

Disclosure: I was invited to taste food free of charge as part of a blogger meet-up.  All opinions are my own.

On Sunday, I went to a Connecticut Blogger meet-up at Jalapeno Heaven in Branford, CT.  Bonnie from Home Place Blogger, worked with her friend Gail, the owner of Jalapeno Heaven and Scott a brand ambassador from Karma Tequila to put on this great event! I was excited that the meet-up was pretty close to my house, but now that I’ve tasted everything, I am excited that there is such an awesome Mexican restaurant nearby!

sangria

We started off with a glass of their super yummy, (yup, that’s how I describe things) House Sangria with a basket of their house made, colorful, tortilla strips.  There were also two types of fresh salsa on the side.  Both were really great a packed a ton of flavor.

While we were munching away on chips and sipping our sangria, we learned all about Karma Tequila from Scott.

 

 

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Karma Tequila is 100% Agave with no additives (Paleo friendly!) It is a handcrafted blend of double and triple distilled tequila.  Not only is it incredibly smooth and decidedly “hangover-proof” (I can vouch for that!) but, with each purchase Karma will donate money to Karma Cares a non-profit that is dedicated to improving the lives of children all over the world.

Then, it was time to get down to business. Food sampling.  They had quite the selection of food for us and we started off with four different appetizers.appetizers

I ate all of the creamy, delicious and not fishy tasting Cream of Seafood Tortilla.  I even ate the tortilla bowl that it was served in and all the toppings! Then, I did the same with the juicy and hearty bowl of Hector’s Chili (hey, those tortilla bowls are delish!) I was a little upset/jealous though that the chili was better than my homemade one! I thought I was going to be able to have a little break from eating when it came time for the Firecrackers, because I don’t do hot and the Chipotle Chicken Chalupa Bites, because I’m not a chipotle fan. Nope, they were both amazing!

Next, we had a build-a-salad.  They have a ton of options and the combinations are pretty much endless.  Kind of like a salad bar without the work!buildasalad

entrees

Time for the entrees! My favorites were the White Enchilada with Spanish Rice, the shredded chicken inside was simply uh-mazing and the Filet de Chipotle with Mexican Potato Pancakes. Yes, the chipotle dish was one of my faves! I have never seen Filet Mignon on the menu at a Mexican restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised by this twist on a “steak and potatoes” dinner. 

The entrees were served with… Margarita’s!!margaritas

A Karma-rita and a Pomegranate Margarita.  Both were made with Karma Silver Tequila and sour mix that Jalapeno Heaven has specially made.  They were awesome!

Also, during this time our table somehow convinced Scott from Karma to let us sample a tequila shot.  Now, let me tell you, I am neither a shot person or a tequila person, but it went down so smooth! No regrets!

…And because there is always room for dessert – why not have 3?!

desserts

They were all delicious, I can’t really pick a favorite.  Bananas Foster, flambéed tableside and served with vanilla ice cream, a chimichanga that tasted like a warm apple pie in the middle and flan, I just love flan! All. so. good.

If you are in the area, you’ve got to check this place out!

Jalapeno Heaven

40 N. Main Street
Branford, CT 06405
(203) 481-6759

…and check out Karma Tequila’s website to find a store or restaurant nearby that carries this awesome tequila!

Thanks so much to everyone who made this great day possible!

Mamavation Monday

Congratulations to the new Mamavation Moms! I can’t wait to followmondaysgraphicwbrown1 along with you!

We are still having a busy, busy summer.  I am still doing the TapouT XT workout program.  I did fall a day behind, because I simply did not have enough time to do the workouts this weekend! I am back on track today and will be done with week 4 tomorrow. 

I’ve been noticing changes in my energy level (I have more) and I have also been noticing my clothes fitting better.  Over all I have been feeling great!  I also applied to be an Omron Fitness ambassador and have my fingers crossed for that!  If I get picked, I would have to wear their pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day for 30 days.  I think that even if I don’t get picked, I will try for that anyway.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mamavation Monday- 5K number 5

Another Monday and another week of TapOut XT down! I’m still keeping my momentum going and haven’t missed a day so far and more importantly, I am still really enjoying it.  So, today I finished Week 2 and tomorrow I start week 3!

2013-06-30 09.13.04I’ve been feeling great and I even ran a 5K on my “rest” day. It was great, my whole family came with me and my older son ran in the kids fun run beforehand. It was really cute.

Spiderman was there and he helped all the kids stretch and made sure everyone’s shoes were tied.  Then he ran with them to make sure everyone stayed on track (literally)

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Go, go, go!

 

Then, the most amazing thing happened….

 

 

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My son came in third place for boys 6 and under!! We’re so proud of him!

After he received his trophy, I headed out for my run.  I finished in 33:40!

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5K number 5 of #13in2013 done!

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