Author Archives: Nichole S.

Fin and Feather

While camping and fishing this week we were able to enjoy some interesting critter behavior.  All the more reason to love the great outdoors.  I love that both fin and feather enjoy traveling with their friends and both groups travel so seamlessly.  We should all be so lucky.

Nichole’s Picks 8/27 + 8/28

Pick #1: Thursday Night Picnic Concert at Castle Hill

This week’s concert is HELP!  A Beatles Tribute Band.


Members: $20/car.
Nonmembers: $30/car.

Walk-in, bicycle, & motorcycle: $10.

Tickets available at the gate only.

Arriving empty handed? Enjoy our picnic concert vendors:

  • Saigon Alley: Fresh noodles dishes, banh mi sandwiches, and other Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Ice cream and pizza by the slice & sandwiches by White Farms Italian Pizza. Pre-order sandwiches at 978.356.4000.
  • Off the Hook Ipswich: Lobster rolls, fried clams, fish sandwiches, and other wild and sustainable seasfood fresh from the boat.
  • Ipswich Ale Brewery and Mill River Winery will sell beer and wine to people with positive identification at the Beer & Wine Garden, located partway down the Grand Allee. You may enjoy your drink within the Garden perimeter, but alcoholic beverages will not be permitted to leave the Garden. Picnic blankets and chairs are encouraged. Sorry, we can no longer allow BYOB.
  • Q’s Nuts: Popcorn, nuts, candy, soda and water.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION….including summer schedule


Pick #2: St. Anthony’s Feast in Boston’s North End


Each year the people of the North End invite you to celebrate with them as they honor their patrons Saint Anthony and Saint Lucy with colorful parades, religious services, strolling singers, live entertainment and of course an abundance of great Italian and American food.

Begun in 1919, by Italian immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avellino, Saint Anthony’s Feast has become the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England. Named the “Feast of all Feasts” by National Geographic Magazine, this authentic Italian street festival has it all for people of every age: parades, strolling singers, live entertainment, contests and religious services are held daily.

Visitors stroll the beautifully decorated streets sampling the best Italian street foods from 100 pushcarts enjoying arancini, sausage peppers & onion, quahogs, calamari, pizza, pasta and of course zeppole, cannoli and gelato. Guests can also browse the wide selection of souvenir keepsakes and mementos.

The highlight of the Feast is the ten hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of the North End accompanied by devotees, numerous marching bands and floats. The Statue of the Saint returns to his chapel as confetti and streamers cascade from the rooftops.

Other events include: The Filippo Berio Culinary Pavilion featuring cooking demonstrations and sampling from the North End and Boston’s most fabulous restaurant, an annual Open Air Mass in honor of Saint Anthony, including the veneration and individual blessing of the Relic of Saint Anthony and the distribution of blessed Saint Anthony Bread.

The magazine of Italian Food Wine & Culture said Saint Anthony’s Feast is “a spectacle not to be missed!” Saint Anthony’s Feast is held annually on the weekend of the last Sunday of August.

Pick #3: Go Fly a Kite

We have, all of a sudden, been doing a ton of this.  I can’t lie, it is not always my favorite activity what with the tangling, tearing, and untying of knots, but when/if it goes smoothly, it has been so much fun.  Gloucester and Rockport have been hopping lately with music festivals, fireworks, a sidewalk bizarre, block parties, the waterfront festival, a large fishing tournament….and, of course, the upcoming Schooner Festival.  This weekend looks like it could be a quiet weekend to catch up on simple activities like reading, bike riding, unwinding, fishing, and…kite flying.  Give it a try if it has been a while.



As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

Camping, Kite Flying, and Kitsch


With the desire to go camping for at least one night this summer (and not allowing setting up the tent in the backyard to count) I was happy to head to Salisbury Beach State Reservation Campground.

Totally easy, convenient, inexpensive and fun.  We were there in less than an hour, had paid the $22 camping fee ahead of time, checked in at the entrance, and then easily found our little site.  We were only there for a night.  Next time I’ll absolutely shoot for 3 nights.  While most people had RVs or trailers….we traveled light with just our tents.  We set up our tents, popped open our camp chairs, set up a volleyball net, and got our bearings straight.  I was thrilled to discover that our little plot was equidistant from the beach (like 100 yards) and the little store, restrooms, and showers (like 100 yards).  Super convenient.

We got there at 1:00….which was check-in time for new campers.  After setting up and just hanging out (which mostly involved watching the boys climb our little tree, flip an empty water bottle end over end to see if they could get it to stand, and play “shut the box”….the simple life!)… we walked to the beach to fly kites and check out the tidal pools.

We ventured into Salisbury for some pizza and arcade fun.  While there we took in a bit of the Saturday night concert on the beach.  When the boys had exhausted themselves by playing about $40 worth of Harpoon Lagoon (ironically almost twice as much as it cost to actually camp) we went back to our campsite and watched the fireworks before calling it a night.

We slept soundly until 7:00 a.m., had a light breakfast, and then went fishing on the beach.  While the much bigger and busier Salisbury Beach was easily accessible and not far away, I was happy to find that our campsite had access to the very end of the Merrimack River and was quiet and serene.

We packed up our gear and were headed back towards Rockport early in the afternoon.  Now that we’ve learned the lay-out, taken a little test drive, and gotten our camping feet wet, we’ll definitely go longer next time.


Looking For a Unique and Awesome Getaway?

The Green Turtle Floating Bed and Breakfast in Charlestown is absolutely one of my new favorite places in the world.

In looking for a quick little getaway, I started thinking that it would be fun to find a houseboat or a “yacht” to spend the night on.  Once I started to think in that direction, I quickly realized that the boats I was finding were either a) super expensive or b) kind of run down or c) far away.

I was beginning to get a little bit discouraged, but then…just when I was about to give up and go a different route…I found the Green Turtle Floating Bed and Breakfast in Charlestown. It was perfect on every note.  Super cute, check. The right price, check.  Close enough to home to allow for a quick getaway, check. Something a little bit different, check. Easy, check.  Done.

The owners of the Green Turtle, Karen and John, actually own two yachts and the floating house (which is home to two nearly identical and separate units).  While I had originally been looking for an actual boat….and while their boats looked really, really lovely…I  was immediately smitten with adorable yellow home on the water.

Booking was a breeze.  I emailed for availability and Karen got back to the me the very next morning.  We cemented a date, I planned our getaway, I called on our way in, and John was in the parking lot of the marina ready to greet us the second we arrived.  He made us feel incredibly welcome from the get go.  He helped us put our things in a dock wagon, gave us our bearings, talked to us about various modes of transportation for getting into the city, and escorted us to our little floating home.  Once inside, he gave us the skinny on the whats and hows of our accommodations, talked to us about nearby lunch options, showed us our generously stocked (and free) fridge, snacks, coffee, and even homemade granola, and shared a big file of brochures about the area.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any nicer, the lovely and equally as gracious Karen arrived.  Karen welcomed us, asked us about any food allergies, and asked what time we’d like breakfast delivered to our door.  How did a mushroom, onion, and cheese frittata with fresh fruit, cornbread, and chorizo sound?   Ummm….yes, please.

They excused themselves and allowed us to settle in.  For the rest of our stay Karen and John were available when we needed them, but politely tucked away elsewhere when we didn’t.  They live aboard another boat in the marina and were busy with the hustle and bustle that is involved in maintaining a variety of vessels and accommodations….and yet were always up for a chat when we happened to engage them along the way.  John happily shared his fishing rod with my husband and, upon hearing that we had reservations at the Chart House on Long Wharf, gave me a card for the Water Taxi to pick us up at our front door (well, deck chair) and deliver us almost directly to the restaurant.  It couldn’t have been more convenient or perfect…and the nice little boat ride across the harbor on a beautiful evening was an added bonus!

The photos speak for themselves.  Our room was perfectly quaint and comfortable.  Fully equipped with AC, television, seating area, really comfortable bed, microwave, and refrigerator (full of water, juices, yogurt, milk, cream, and some simple snacks).  While it was the perfect combination of well-equipped and cozy….my favorite place was, without a doubt, the dock.  With 4 deck chairs and some side tables…and some pretty planters with flowers….I could have sat there forever.  In the evening we had cocktails on the dock, read a little, and watched a large variety of boat traffic come and go in the harbor.  In the morning, we drank coffee, ate our phenomenally delicious breakfast….and then read a little more.

My only regret is that our stay was too short.  I will absolutely be returning for a longer stay soon. The question is, stay onboard one of their yachts next time….or return to the floating home that we loved so much?

Check out all of their options, information, and more at the link below.

The Green Turtle Floating Bed and Breakfast


Looking Very Close….and Confusing

In honor of this summer’s Olympics…  Here is a blast from the past and the London Olympics.

While a few years old, this still totally kills me.  I LOVE the commentator (real or not). “There you can hear the Olympic horn being sounded. Signifies there’s only four minutes left in this race.  And it’s looking very close and….confusing.”

You really need to watch to the end.


Nichole’s Picks 8/20 + 8/21

Pick #1:  Gloucester Waterfront Festival

9:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Stage Fort Park

With live music, crafts, vendors, artisans, and much more Stage Fort Park will be the place to be this weekend.  In addition to all of the shopping and entertainment, the North Shore Old Car Club will be displaying a large collection of antique automobiles on Sunday.




Pick #2:  Antique and Classic Boat Festival

Salem, Ma at the Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marina 



The flash of polished bronze and gleam of varnished wood across the water will be the order of the day as elegant antique and classic yachts sail into the host city of Salem, Massachusetts for the 34th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival August 20-21, 2016. Mostly wood, primarily private yachts and aesthetically stunning, the vessels will be on display to the public over the weekend at Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marina. A hallmark of the Festival is the great variety of craft exhibited. “Where else,” says Pat Wells, Coordinator, “can one see 1900s-60s motor yachts, mahogany speedboats, sloops, yawls, schooners and a 19th century gold-leaf canoe! Although many of these craft are museum quality, they are real boats in the water and in use by their owners today.”

To the delight of the public, some skippers sport vintage garb; others display period décor or play a few tunes. Table settings and captivating floral arrangements might be found aboard a boat. Welcome mats are in evidence and children, pets and parrots have been known to enliven the scene. Many hospitable owners invite the public aboard for a personal tour, regaling visitors with tales of their boat’s history, memorable voyages and the joys and woes of restoring their classic.


Courtesy of 


Pick #3:  Boston Greenfest


Welcome to the region’s largest multicultural environmental music festival located at Boston City Hall Plaza, Faneuil Hall and the adjacent Sam Adams Park. This year will feature a Showcase of Innovation. Find out how salt, water and vinegar can be more powerful than bleach. Try out apps that can make your life easier and our world greener. Discover ways to grow a mini-farm in your kitchen. See how easy it is to give new purpose to household objects. Appreciate art and jewelry made from recycled materials.

At this free event you can experience live music and dance performances from more than 20 countries, watch an eco-fashion show featuring local designers with models walking the runway in upcycled fashion, create a community-wide art piece, view a green film festival, test drive an electric car, listen to inspiring speakers, take a ride on a bike that generates electricity, taste healthy international cuisines, have a drink at the beer and wine garden, and much more.

Learning comes in many forms. Boston GreenFest is a community classroom. It allows everyone to learn and explore together. It will bring the innovator out that is in each one of us.

Boston GreenFest is a celebration of life and possibility, providing you with ideas and experiences that can shape your life and the life of your community. When summer comes to a close, see that it closes by opening a door to a greener future. Turn off your AC, call your friends and neighbors, and come explore Boston GreenFest!

As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

The Urchin Exchange Expands!

The Urchin Exchange is now selling clothes and accessories for the wee ones AND for women!

If you’ve already been shopping and/or consigning at the Urchin Exchange then you have even more reason to continue.  If you have yet to visit…then this is the time to hurry up and do so!

The store’s owner, Melanie, is as helpful and friendly as she is enterprising. After building a large fan base, including myself, that turn to her often for children’s staples, original pieces, and the perfect gifts, she started receiving numerous requests to expand and begin handling women’s items as well.  She has now created a fabulous shop that offers selections of Women’s, Children’s and Maternity clothing, handbags, shoes, baby gear, toys and other gifts…that also presents Cape Ann with another wonderful opportunity to be eco-friendly.  With ever changing inventory and a large selection, it is next to impossible to leave empty handed.

Not looking to spend more money?  Well then, what about making some?

The Urchin Exchange is always looking for on TREND (search Pinterest for *on *trend *clothing) and CURRENT (1-3 years new) styles in the BEST condition!  Melanie is currently accepting Fall and transitional pieces.

No appointment is necessary if you follow the Tips & Rules of Consigning found on their website

I spent last Sunday digging through my closet and taking an honest look at what pieces, still in good condition, current, and “trendy” (or at least as trendy as I am willing to go), that I knew I would not find the occasion to wear.  I brought them to Melanie and she made fair decisions about which pieces she would like to add to her inventory.  I can now look forward to earning some pocket money and having a trimmed down, tidy closet.

This year the Urchin Exchange is the proud winner of North Shore Magazine – Best Of North Shore for Maternity Clothing!  One stop shopping for Moms, Moms-to-be, and their little ones.

The Urchin Exchange is now operating a new inventory management system with consignor log it to track individual sales and earnings as well. I can’t lie, it is fun to take a peek once in awhile while sitting on the couch late at night and see my earnings add up!

Another option is Drop & Donate.  You can drop a bag of 20 or fewer items labeled with the D&D ticket, they will take what they want and donate anything they don’t to Second Glance.  Read more about Drop & Donate on the website!

You can also feel free to call with any questions 978-283-3300.

The Urchin Exchange is located at 214 Eastern Ave, Gloucester 01930…in The Commons Gloucester shopping plaza.

Time to Lace Up the Skates

Unbelievably, it is that time of year again.  Do you have a little one who is ready to learn to skate?  Or a new skater who is ready to further develop some skills. Or a hockey player looking for a new challenge that doesn’t involve being part of a travel team?

It is time to check out Cape Ann Youth Hockey.

Registration is now open.


Nichole’s Picks 8/13 + 8/14

Pick #1:  Rotary Club of Rockport’s Lobsterfest


The Rotary Club of Rockport Presents….LOBSTERFEST 2016!

  • Date: Saturday, August 13 from 3-7 PM (rain or shine)
  • Location: American Legion Hall Bandstand at Scenic Back Beach-Rockport, MA
  • Tickets: $25—includes Hot Boiled Lobster, Clam Chowder, Corn-on-the-Cob, Roll, Watermelon & Soda /Water
  • There will also be a cash menu of burgers, hot dogs, chips, beer & wine.
  • Live entertainment by “Stillhouse Down”
  • Tickets are available at: John Tarr Store, Village Silversmith or from any Rockport Rotarian. Advanced tickets recommended. For information/tickets call 603-721-1038
    or visit our web site at:
  • Proceeds to benefit Rockport Rotary Club Community and International Service Project.

The Lobsterfest will be followed by the Town of Rockport’s fourth annual fireworks show, and the town will be illuminated for the occasion. Come for the day and enjoy the fun!

Pick #2:  And Then….Fireworks



As dusk descends on Rockport, settle in at Back Beach and the American Legion Bandstand to watch the fourth annual summertime fireworks display over Sandy Bay. The fireworks display will follow the Rockport Rotary Club’s Lobsterfest, a unique annual outdoor dining and fundraising event at the Legion Bandstand, serving boiled lobster, clam chowder and more from 3 to 7 pm.

Location: Old Granite Pier, Sandy Bay, 16 Wharf Road, dusk

 * In case of inclement weather and the need to cancel, Rockport Fireworks will be updating their plans on their Facebook page.  See that HERE!

Pick #3:  Cape Ann Museum’s Second Saturday:  Traveling Cape Ann



11:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m.


Bring the kids! Make a postcard inspired by the Museum’s collection of historic cards written by vacationers telling of their adventures on Cape Ann.

The second Saturday of every month is free for families with school-aged children. Families are invited to the Activity Center to participate in hands-on activities that delve into the art, history and culture of the region. Each Second Saturday focuses on a specific theme based on the Museum’s collection and/or special exhibitions.


As always, for a more comprehensive list of family friendly activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kids 


Need Your Advice!

Ok, friends.  I’m looking for advice.

I want to take the boys away for a quick little getaway (just 2 nights) before heading back to school.  For the past many years we have faithfully gone to both Mystic, CT and North Conway, NH for short vacations.  Truth be told we love both of those trips and could be totally happy repeating either one of them.  But….there is definitely something to be said for going somewhere new.  I’ve been stalking airbnb and homeaway for affordable little rentals as well as some camping sites.  We went to Lake Winnipesaukee for a quick trip a couple of weeks ago.  Likewise, we already have one night booked at a campsite that is a short drive away….so probably don’t need to camp twice.  Unbelievably (maybe) we’ve never gone to Cape Cod….except for our many trips to Nantucket.  So that is an option.  We also did a day trip to Peaks Island, Maine last year….and I’ve been wanting to go back over night and maybe even see a Portland Sea Dogs game….so that is an option too.

Who has an idea for me….within driving distance…and budget friendly?


Oh, A-Rod

So, Alex Rodriguez returns to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox for what will most likely be the last time tonight.

It is hard not to think back to 2004 and that time when A-Rod slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove… like a four year-old who didn’t want to share a toy…during Game 6 of the ALCS.   You may recall that the Red Sox went on to win that game…as well as Game 7, to go on to the World Series.  Which, of course, we also won.  Chills.

I photographed almost every home game during the 2004 season and that little episode only fueled the fans desire to win that much more as the team returned home.  Which, I didn’t think was even possible.



Back To School

I’m kind of in love with this commercial.  As a mom who is in the midst of getting all “Back to School Ready”…and is starting to worry about school supplies, lunch containers, clothes, etc. this commercial made me laugh.

I love the “Own the First Day” ending.  And…the kid with all of his sticky notes, highlighters, glue, pens, pencils, notebooks etc all laid out neatly is TOTALLY me.  If my mom knew how to chime in right now and comment she would.  I’m a big fan of organization…and more than a little obsessive compulsive about things like this.

These kids are pumped and ready…. Go get ’em!

This is the Bluefin Blowout

With four fish landed, lots of  money raised, fantastic music, delicious food and drinks, and a good time had by all, I’d say this year’s Bluefin Blowout was a pretty big success.

If you weren’t able to make an appearance, here is a little video to show you what you missed.

Bluefin Blowout

Fat Tuna Brings in a Pretty Fat Tuna


The 2nd fish in at this year’s Bluefin Blowout was landed by Fat Tuna!  Congratulations.

A beautiful fish weighing in at 412 pounds was just a little too small to take the lead from Shark Bait….and was soon outweighed by the Miss Fern’s 536 pound fish that hit the dock just 15 minutes later.  Good showing though!

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