Author Archives: Nichole S.

The New and Improved Mile Marker One

As is often my go-to on rainy weekend days, I headed to the pool at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort yesterday.  You have heard me say this before, but it is a total score if you are a parent of a  young child…especially ones that can swim confidently on their own.

We were there for a little over four hours, the kids swam, we ate lunch, and hung out with friends.

We always have great, easy, inexpensive fun there and that has only become better with their new and improved menu by the pool AND the great renovations outside!  Today I ordered the strawberry summer salad, the boys had the chicken tenders with the world’s BEST honey mustard, and we shared the cheese trio plate with havarti, manchego, and brie….and mango slaw + pita chips.

I love hanging out with the boys, but I can’t wait to go back hit the raw bar, have some yummy drinks, hear some music, and sit by the water with some friends too.

Dinner at the Pigeon Cove Tavern

Met a friend for dinner at the brand new  Pigeon Cove Tavern last week.  I had one super yummy Blueberry Mojito, a roasted beet and arugula salad, and a delicious burger with Krystal Cave Aged Cheddar and Green Garlic Aioli.  So good.

I will definitely go back again and can’t wait to sit outside on the deck.  Give it a shot for sure.



New Car, New Car Keys…Needed a New Key Chain

I seriously needed a new key chain.  My commander was just that much taller than my new car and I’ve discovered…over and over again, each time I get behind the wheel…that my keys now actually whack me in the knee the entire time I drive.

So, as I often do when looking for something particular and yet original, I took to Etsy.

I custom ordered my color block “sun, sand, sea, and salt” key chain and it came in the mail yesterday.  Love.

Nichole’s Picks 5/28 + 5/29

Pick #1:  Gloucester Harbortown Arts Festival 

Harbortown Arts Market is an eclectic marketplace of New England’s vibrant indie-maker scene, featuring more than forty of the best designers, artists, and vintage curators from Cape Ann and beyond. Happening on Gloucester’s working waterfront in the heart of the city, this market features FREE PARKING, gourmet food trucks, exceptional harbor views, as well as proximity to the outstanding food, galleries and special events of the city’s Harbortown Arts Festival happening Memorial Day Weekend.

The Harbortown Arts Market is happening Saturday, May 28th, from 10AM to 4PM, at 65-67 Rogers Street in Gloucester. It is a co-production of Harbortown Cultural District, Rusty and Ingrid Creative Company of Gloucester, and Mill Gypsies, and it is a part of the Harbortown Arts Festival.

Etsy Mill Gypsies are an eclectic caravan of artists, makers and vintage dealers who travel to converted, artist/retail mills throughout New England. We bring awareness and a sense of community to the amazing mills we visit! The Gypsies are making a special appearance at the Harbortown Arts Festival in downtown Gloucester, MA.




Pick #2: Free Family Fun Fest at Wolf Hollow

Free Family Fun Fest

Sunday, May 29th, 2016 (11am – 3pm)

Make your Memorial Day weekend truly memorable! Bring the whole family to howl with the wolves for FREE!

Guests will enjoy:

Overflow parking will be directed to the side of Route 133 West

  Wolf Hollow (114 Essex Road, Ipswich, MA)


Pick #3:  Opening Weekend at Maritime Gloucester

Still and forever a favorite!  Maritime Gloucester opens this weekend and you should really make a point to stop on by.  So much to see and do for a variety of ages and one of my favorite gift shops ever….not to mention the incredibly easy-on-the-wallet price of admission!

Check out Maritime Gloucester HERE


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

Promise Fulfilled

A shout out to my “How much money is in the money jug” winner, Beverly Bernhard, for fulfilling her promise of sending 1/2 of her winnings to the charity of her choice.

Beverly selected Family Promise North Shore Boston and they were very happy to receive her donation.

They do great work and I am thrilled that GMG could help with a small donation to support all that they do for the families they serve.



A Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way


Be forewarned….this is going to be a story about one of my boys.

Last Sunday was Wally’s birthday at Fenway Park.  I took Finn in with me for the day because…at 6 years old…he is still a huge fan of mascots and, that being the case, Wally’s birthday is the place to be.

Many a mascot have been known to fly in to celebrate with Wally at the park on his big day each year and both of my boys have really enjoyed being in attendance in years past.

On the way into the park Finn started to ask questions about whether or not mascots are actually “real.”  I asked him what he thought. He listed many reasons explaining why Wally couldn’t actually be real….which broke my heart just a little bit.  My only response was, “Well, all I really know is that Wally has always been really nice to us and he makes me smile.  Real or not, Wally is Wally and I think he’s pretty great.”

Fast forward to the action at Fenway.  Wally had an A list of friends fly in indeed.  A thought which still makes me laugh.  I think it would make the best short film ever to see the mascots each grabbing their suitcases, running out of their home ballpark, hailing a cab or hopping in a limo, taking off for the airport, checking through security, and buckling up on planes across the country…prior to meeting up at Logan Airport and driving off to Fenway together.

We watched the pre-game action on the field and then Finn wanted to head up to the Green Monster to watch a couple of innings before heading down to Wally’s Club House for the birthday celebrations.  Turns out that Wally and his friends had the same idea.  Wally takes to the Green Monster during each game to do the “Wally Wave” with some fans.  At the end of the 2nd inning Finn was suddenly surrounded by Mascot Mania and couldn’t  have been happier.  Unfortunately, being little, Finn was soon pinched out of the action on the crowded stairs and was about to be lost in the shuffle.  As soon as the birthday dance started, T.C. (from the Minnesota Twins) came to his rescue and scooped him up to give him the coolest view in the park.  Finn was beaming.

As if that bonding wasn’t cool enough, we bumped into T.C. and the other mascots again during Wally’s birthday party.  By then, all Finn cared about was hanging with his new pal T.C.  I explained to him that the mascots were having a really busy day and had lots of fans to meet and a schedule to keep.  No sooner than I had said that, though, T.C. turned around, recognized Finn and gave him a special “hello.”

At that moment, T.C. became Finn’s favorite thing ever.  Any doubts about mascots being “real” vanished and he was beaming.  Finn talked about T.C. for the rest of the day.  On the way home it occurred to him that he may not have the opportunity to see T.C. again.  The doubts that filled Finn’s thoughts on the way into Fenway had been replaced with the purest and simplest memories of a new favorite day at the park.

At bedtime Finn asked, “Do you think T.C. has already left Boston?” and then rolled over and said, “Happy Birthday Wally” to his little stuffed green monster.  Ahhh….to be six again.

After downloading photos and videos from the day, it occurred to me  just how great T.C. had been.  I realize that it is surely in a mascot’s job description to bring enjoyment to fans young and old….but, T.C. went out of his way.  Anyone who brings such pure joy to one of my children deserves a “thank you” right?  So, I emailed T.C.  I can’t lie, I felt a little funny actually emailing a mascot and I certainly didn’t expect to hear back.  But, I did.  Not only did T.C. email me back, but he seemed genuinely happy that I took the time to let him know that he made Finn’s day.  T.C. asked for Finn’s address.  He said that he wanted to send him a little something.

Just a few short days later, a box arrived in the mail.  T.C. had sent Finn the mother load of Minnesota Twins goodies.  Finn was….well, really, the only word that seems right….incredulous.  His giggle as he figured out that the box was actually from T.C. is one of the most precious things I have ever heard.

The fact that someone…in this case a big furry bear named T.C. all the way from Minnesota…took such time and care to make my little guy smile….will be one of the moments that makes all right in this sometimes overwhelming and crazy world for this mom.  Huge kudos to T.C. for embracing his ability to make Finn feel special.

Mascots are real.


Nichole’s Picks 5/21 + 5/22

Pick #1:  Motif #1 Day, Rockport

The Motif No.1 Day Festival celebrates Rockport across the arts. And all of it centers around the fishing shack-artist’s studio-tourist attraction that started it all: an old building right on one of Rockport’s historic wharves that was painted so often by artists at the turn of the last century that it was given the nickname Motif No.1 by Lester Hornby, a well-known artist and instructor of the period.

Film, poetry, dance, music, and art-making activities are all a part of the festival, as well as historical presentations and a Motif No.1 Day 5k and Fun Run, with proceeds to benefit Rockport Public Schools’ wellness initiatives.




Pick #2:  92.9 EarthFest Concert on the Hatch Shell



“We are excited to announce that Flight of Fire, The Strumbellas, Joywave and Fitz and the Tantrums will be performing at this years FREE Radio 92.9 EarthFest Presented By Whole Foods Market. The festival will take place at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell on May 21st, 2016 from 10:00am-5:00pm.”

Pick #3:  Let’s Go Fly a Kite: A Practically Perfect Mary Poppins Party 

Sunday, May 22nd 1:00-4:00

It’s an afternoon of Poppins fun for the whole family at this Mary Poppins Party at Crane Estate. Activities include kite making and flying, chalk drawing, lawn games, and more. Kite aficionados from Kites Over New England are on hand to show their kites and flying techniques. Tea, lemonade, and cookies are served.


Cost:  Child Member: $24, Child NonMember: $30
Parents and Guardians are Free

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

Toot. Toot.

That was me blowing my horn.  Only it isn’t really my horn.  It is the horn that belongs to phenomenal school where I am incredibly privileged to teach.

While I could always wax poetically about many of the special things that happen there on a daily basis, I don’t.  So, when I do…you know it is going to be even extra special.  Like today.  This isn’t just any proud moment though.  This one also includes the one and only, Sista Felicia.  This week, for one super fun night, Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori and Sista Felicia joined forces.

See, our Middle School students put their wonderfully creative minds together and planned themselves a pretty exceptional week-long field study trip to Gloucester. Gloucester may have, at first, seemed like an odd choice since these students all hail from the North Shore area, but given the fact that they were excited to dig deeper, explore further, and learn more substantially about this special place we call home, it wasn’t really an odd choice at all.

They rented themselves a pretty sweet home on the beach, created a week-long vision of learning, drew a logo, and planned a week to end all weeks.  With the direction of their teachers, but the license to make their own decisions, they planned a week that includes working closely with Tony Wilbur at Maritime Gloucester, a sail on the Ardelle, some time on the Adventure, learning how to SUP, a trip to Cape Pond Ice, a meeting with Angela Sanfilippo, a visit with a couple of local artists, a lobstering trip, a visit to Hammond Castle, a walk on Dog Bar Breakwater, and much (much) more.  Oh, wait…much more…including breaking in their vacation pad by preparing an exceptionally delicious meal with Sista Felicia.

Don’t be surprised if you hear more about this trip in the week to come, but in the meantime I wanted to show you how fantastic it was to have my worlds collide. Felicia, no surprise, led these students like the expert she is.  She had them working all areas of the kitchen with enthusiasm and, in the end, a fantastic meal consisting of appetizers, “cocktails”, salad, main courses (obviously including locally caught fish), and a dessert….but, most importantly, teamwork…was served.

Thanks so much, Felicia!  A side note, that probably goes with out saying, is that the food was delicious and received accolades from all.

Long Hill Gardens

One of my “picks” for last week was the Annual Plant Sale at the Trustees, Long Hill Gardens.  While I didn’t make the actual plant sale, I did take a group of my “grown-up” students for a walk up there on Saturday afternoon for a quick botany lesson.  It truly never fails to disappoint and if you haven’t hiked the property, you really should.

Read more about Long Hill HERE

“Improve Your Dad Brand”

Are minivans the new Dad Mobile?  Maybe.

The all new Chrysler Pacifica is going strong by using comedian, Jim Gaffigan, in their latest series of commercials.  Pretty funny, and kind of brilliant, if you ask me.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan essentially became famous making jokes about fatherhood and the qualms that come along with it, making him the perfect candidate to sell the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica to skeptical dads all over North America.

In Chrysler’s first official TV spot for the Pacifica, Gaffigan explains how the minivan is ‘great for your dad brand.’ He makes a good point, seeing as the minivan has for years now been the go-to vehicle for families and the 2017 Pacifica is the safest and most well-equipped Chrysler minivan to date.


Nichole’s Picks 5/14 + 5/15

Pick #1:   Gloucester Public Schools Art Festival

Saturday, May 14th

Please read all about it HERE

The Gloucester Public Schools Art Festival is here! Join us for a free day-long celebration of art, music, dance and theater. Amazing artwork by Gloucester’s pre-K-12 students will be on display and performances will take place all day. We’ll even have a group art project taking place in the Cape Ann Museum Courtyard. Don’t miss this fun, family event for all ages.
When: Saturday, May 14, 2016 10:30am – 3:30pm
Location: Downtown Gloucester – Sawyer Free Library, City Hall, Cape Ann Museum, The Hive, Pleasant Street Tea Co. & Toodeloos!


Pick #2:  Annual Long Hill Plant Sale

Read all about it HERE

Saturday, May 14
10AM-1PM, Open to Members at 9am    FREE

Head to Long Hill for the annual plant sale.  You’ll find a great selection of unusual plants and old favorites including Tulip Tree, Japanese Snowbell, Dove Tree, and more!  Choose from hundreds of perennials including many natives, and specialties of Long Hill. Horticultural experts will be on hand to answer your gardening questions. There will also be a silent auction of unique plants.

The sale opens at 10am to the public.  If you’re a Trustees member join us at 9am for first pick of the sale.  Not a member? Join on site at 9am.

The event is rain or shine.


Pick #3: Boston Bubble Festival

Saturday, May 14th 11:00-2:00  Boston Commons

Read all about it HERE

The air will be filled with fun as Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department bring the first-ever Boston Bubble Festival to Boston Common on Saturday, May 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Building on the popularity of “Bubble Guy” Jim Dichter’s presentations at previous Parks Department children’s events, the Boston Bubble Festival will offer free outdoor activities in and around the historic Parkman Bandstand at 167 Tremont Street.

“Children have always loved playing with the bubbles at our festivals in Franklin Park so we decided to dedicate a day to this fun activity and bring it downtown to Boston Common,” Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook said.

The celebration will include giant floating bubble demonstrations, “make your own bubbles” stations, exploration of the science of bubbles with the Museum of Science Boston, an appearance by The Inventor Mentor (, children’s fitness activities, and entertainment from a DJ, juggler, and magician.

The Boston Bubble Festival is presented by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department with sponsors Uncle Bubble, Massachusetts WIC Nutrition Program, Fisher College, HP Hood LLC, Disney’s “Alice Through The Looking Glass,” Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” Columbia Pictures’ “The Angry Birds,” and partners Magic 106.7, WERS-FM, and “Bubble Guy” Jim Dichter.

For more information, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505, visit or go to


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

High Ground

Now that I try to take both dogs on my run/walk in the afternoon, I am hard pressed to take photos.  For anyone who has chanced upon me taking a Nantucket Sleigh Ride through town while being pulled by 100 pounds of dog can confirm that.

This intrigued me too much though to not stop last night.  6:30 in the evening and no one in sight.


Thank You, Sudbay.

Well, even more specifically, thank you to Phil Prieur.  Phil calls himself “My new family car salesman” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I haven’t purchased many cars.  In my 44 years, or my 27 years of driving, I’ve only called five vehicles mine.    Well, until this week.   This week, Vehicle #6 found its way into my driveway.

In High School I had a little blue Isuzu for no time at all.  Shortly afterwards I drove a brown Peugeot…a diesel at that.  After graduating from college I purchased my first “real” car.  As in, I actually went to a dealership, picked out, and signed on the dotted line for a Volkswagen Jetta.  Several years later I went on safari in Africa and spent a lot of time driving around the African bush in Land Rover Defenders. Upon returning home to the states I put down a deposit on a new Land Rover Freelander that was still under production.  I patiently awaited its arrival and then drove it until it literally wouldn’t drive another mile…and then purchased my Jeep Commander.

That Jeep was well-used and well-loved for over 7 1/2 years.  There were times that I LOVED that car.  Like, for example, the day in June of 2009, when it safely drove Finn home from the hospital for the very first time.  Or the times that it drove up and over the sand dunes of Eel Point, Nantucket.  The boys loved watching it disappear into the belly of the ferry that would transport us all to our happy place.  Last year, in particular, all loaded with bikes and paddle boards….Nantucket beach stickers stuck proudly to the rear and front bumpers…our Jeep felt oddly like a family member.   There were also, however, days that I hated it.  Like, really hated it. Like the day that the gentleman who was attempting to detail it called to say that he was giving me my money back because it was simply impossible to clean.  And then….then…there was the chicken bone incident.  I still shudder at the thought.  If you’re not privy to the horror….please read HERE.

Love or hate, what I wasn’t expecting, was to return from a 10 day vacation in Florida with the boys…only to find out 48 hours later that our Jeep was gone.  Gone.  Like, the engine can’t be fixed and, with over 160,000 miles, was beyond repair.

I took a few days to process the fact and then, reluctantly, headed to Sudbay to chat about my options.  Finn had already had a good cry upon hearing the news.  “But we didn’t even get to say good-bye.”  Thatcher was more excited about getting something new(er)…until, that is, he remembered all of the days that our Jeep took us to Cape Hedge Beach. “Us” meaning the boys and the dogs.  First Moby and Marlin….and then, sadly, just Marlin….and then, with a new furry addition, Marlin and Minnow.  I was sad too. Honestly though, I thought I was just sad because I was really enjoying the lack of monthly car payments.

I was soon to realize, however, that wasn’t completely true.  I, and the unsuspecting Phil, were about to realize that I was also having trouble letting go.  While driving into Sudbay’s Jeep entrance I caught sight of our Jeep.  Big, sad, lonely, white….our Jeep.  Call me crazy, but I started to cry. I will never deny being a completely emotional person.  I cry. And somewhat easily at that.  So, as I recalled the many weekend road trips, journeys to Florida and Virginia’s coast, the two trips to the ER for stitches to both boys’ foreheads, the piles of sand, the hockey rink rounds, the Christmas trees, the fireworks, the tailgates, the laughs, the tears, the singing, the silly moments, the after school chats, the infant seats, the carseats, the booster seats, the spills, the post-sledding chills, the munchkin runs, and the ice cream cones….  I cried.

Flash forward to meeting Phil Prieur.  I’m quite certain he wasn’t expecting a defeated mom with tear streaked cheeks to sit down at his desk, but he handled it like it happens every day.  In fact, he shared a story about another mom that made me feel just a little less crazy.  Within fewer than 40 minutes I had gone from sad and uninterested to hopeful and excited.  Phil asked me to tell him what my “needs” in an automobile were and truly with no unnecessary pressure, showed me a few that he felt would fit the bill.  He was supportive, helpful, knowledgeable….and, in my opinion much more importantly, patient and kind.  While I never thought it would be possible, I actually left there (a bit after scheduled closing time) feeling like there was a new chapter on the horizon.

Two days later, I returned to the dealership to complete the necessary paper work.  Phil let the boys park it at his desk and was as kind to them as he had been to me.  He answered their questions, engaged them in conversation, and seemed to honestly get a kick out their little souls.  The next day, I picked up our new car.  Smaller than our Commander.  Not brand new, but newer for sure.  And clean….so, so very clean.  We are looking forward to creating some pretty great new memories.

I am so grateful for having met Phil in my time of need.  While I am obviously hoping to not have to purchase another car for quite some time, Phil has made it clear that he is there for us as we get to know this one.  But if any of you should happen to be looking to purchase a car….Phil could very likely be your guy.

Check out Sudbay and their inventory HERE



Nichole’s Picks 5/7 + 5/8

Pick #1:  Appleton Farms Mother’s Day Spring Alpen Festival

Read All About it HERE


Date & Time
Sunday, May 8

Moms are FREE; Member Adult: $24; Member Child: $12; Nonmember Adult: $30; Nonmember Child: $15

Contact Information
978.356.5728 x4112
Appleton Farms
Hamilton and Ipswich, MA

Directions to Appleton Farms

Register Now

A fresh idea for Mother’s Day!  Spend the morning at Appleton Farms ushering in the season of spring, the fresh flavors of the farm, and the dairy herd’s return to pasture.  A tradition originating in the Alps, this day will include traditional Swiss treats and homemade breakfast goodies from our farm kitchen.  A fondue bar, live music, and more. Let the Moms relax and enjoy the festivities while the kids help us open the barnyard, meet the baby animals, and make a gift for mom. Flower crown making in the Carriage Barn for all to enjoy. Decorated with bells and flowers, the cows will end the celebration in a traditional cow parade to their new spring pastures.

FREE for moms! Please register all other adults and children. (Example: If Dad is registering for the family of five -Mom, Dad, and three kids- add 1 adult and three child tickets to your cart.)

This event runs rain or shine. Please pre-register so we have enough refreshments for all. Children under 1 are free.


Pick #2:  Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum 

I realize I wrote about the Arnold Arboretum in another “Picks” post, but Lilac Sunday for Mother’s Day is a pretty special event.


Sunday, May 8th 10:00-3:00

Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Mainly located on the edge of Bussey Hill Road in the heart of the landscape, the lilac collection at the Arnold Arboretum is among the premier collections of these plants in North America.

Tours of the lilacs and other special collections, family activities, and food vendors make for a memorable day. Be a part of this beloved Boston tradition! Check back for the day-of schedule of events.

The Arboretum is open as usual from dawn to dusk. Activities are available from 10:00am to 3:00pm, and refreshments are available from 11:00am to 3:00pm.




Pick #3:  Boston Harbor Cruises:  Free Ferry Day

May 7th, 2016



Free Ferry Day!

As part of National Park Service Centennial Summer, we open our 2016 season with a FREE FERRY DAY – this is a special one-day ferry schedule to either of the two most popular Boston Harbor Islands – Georges and Spectacle Islands.

  • Free tickets for the Boston Harbor Cruises ferry will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis at the Ferry Center on Long Wharf-North.

  • No tickets will be given out at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center on the Greenway or Long Wharf South ticket booth.

  • Free tickets are from Boston only. Hingham and Hull ferries will resume later this season.

  • The ticket window opens at 8:30 am. On nice weather days, all free ferry tickets are distributed before 11 am, with all of the departures listed below completely booked at that point.

  • Tickets will be handed out for the earliest ferry, then the next, and so on, until all ferry seats for the day are distributed.

  • Each adult in line may pick up a maximum of 4 tickets.  There will be no special arrangements for groups of more than 4 to be on the same ferry.

  • The inter island service in/out of Boston is not available on Free Ferry Day.

Don’t forget to visit the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway for free programs available throughout the day!  Check our calendar for program details.

There are three departures from Long Wharf North to Georges Island for Free Ferry Day. Travel time is 45 minutes. Ticketholders must return on the ferry time listed with an average alloted time of 3-4 hour round trip per ticket.Ticketholders must return on the ferry time listed on ticket.  All tickets will have pre-assigned return time.


There are two departures from Long Wharf North to Spectacle Island for Free Ferry Day. Travel time is about 25-30 minutes. Ticketholders must return on the ferry time listed with an average alloted time of 3-4 hour round trip per ticket. Ticketholders must return on the ferry time listed on ticket.  All tickets will have pre-assigned return time.

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

I’m So Grabbing My Best Mom Friends For This

I can’t wait to sneak some wine into the movie theater and watch this new mom flick with a bunch of my best mom friends. Yoga pants, unshowered, split ends flying, some bon bons, and a botabox.

No I-totally-have-my-act-together-have-perfect-kids-make-no-mistakes-and-every-day-is-amazingly-awesome types allowed.  Sorry….but that would totally defeat the purpose.


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