Author Archives: Nichole S.

The Boat House Grille is Now Open

From the owners of the Blue Marlin Grill in Essex now comes The Boat House Grille. Located at the old Lewis’ Restaurant….and later Castle Creek.  I haven’t had a chance to get there yet, but I’ve heard great things about the menu, the food, the staff, and the ambience.  Looking forward to seeing what Corey Matthews and his group has created in the very near future!



Nichole’s Picks 10/22 + 10/23

Pick #1:  Essex Clamfest14479611_10153961060041724_7149893393695934696_n

Visit Cape Ann Vacations to learn more

The 33rd annual Essex Clamfest has everything the small town is known for including pony rides, arts and crafts, K-9 demonstrations and, of course, the ever-popular clam chowder competition. Nearly 1000 people tasted the best of the best in 2014.

Each voting for their favorite in the People’s Choice Award while nine esteemed judges helped to select the winner of the Judge’s Award. The event is open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm with the chowder contest from Noon to 2:00 pm.

Pick #2: Halloween Happenings at Ipswich River

Read more about it HERE

October 21 & 22, 2016
Giant carved pumpkin at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

At sundown this Halloween season, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary will be transformed into a magical forest. Join us for a guided walk along our Halloween trail, home to some interesting creatures that come out just for Halloween. Glowing luminaries and carved jack o’lanterns will light our way. Learn firsthand about the creatures of the night on this fun family-friendly walk.

Children and adults are encouraged to come in costume but dress warmly since we will be outdoors most of the time. The program begins in the Barn, where a variety of activities will keep children entertained before the outdoor walk.

Allow about 1-1/2 hours total for the program. At the end of the walk, warm up by the bonfire as you enjoy fresh local cider and Halloween cupcakes made by Ipswich River volunteers. Appropriate for children ages 4-10.

Please choose a date and an arrival time:

Friday, October 21: 6:00, 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, or 7:30 pm
Saturday, October 22: 5:30, 5:45, 6:00, 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, or 7:00 pm


$9 per person (members)
$10 per person (nonmembers)

Register Online

Please register early for this very popular event, and list a second time in case your first choice is filled.

Because of the popularity of this program, we cannot accommodate extra people the night of the program. When you arrive, please check in at the Barn to receive your group number. Rain or shine.

Advance registration required. Call 978-887-9264 to register.

Pick #3:  The Head of the Charles Regatta


I’m so sad that I used to LOVE this event so much…and yet I never seem to get in there anymore to watch it.  But, if you can make it in, you should!  Such a great way to spend a fall afternoon in New England!


Since 1965, rowers have come from near and far to take part in the world’s largest Regatta. But the fun isn’t limited to competitors. There are many ways for spectators to get involved in the weekend’s festivities.

Take part in the excitement on the banks of the Charles

Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, the Regatta offers spectators a variety of activities. Individuals looking for a relaxed setting that boasts spectacular views should check out the Eliot Bridge Enclosure; while, the Weld Exhibition is the go to place for great local grub and Regatta merchandise. For a lively and energetic venue, check out the Reunion Villagewhere alumni and spectators gather to support their favorite teams. Visit theRowing and Fitness Expo at the finish line to test out a rowing machine or browse vendor merchandise.

We encourage spectators traveling to and from the Regatta to use public transportation or catch a ride on one of our complimentary shuttle buses. Visit for schedule and route information, or click here for our Shuttle Schedule. Parking availability is limited for spectators and parts of Memorial Drive will be closed over Race Weekend. For more information please click “Here.”

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

The Inn at Castle Hill

I had a long work meeting at the Inn at Castle Hill the other day.  Talking work in the adirondack chairs looking at that view is not a bad way to increase productivity and put things into perspective.  Such a lovely venue and a phenomenal landscape.

Interesting to note the difference in the view as the tide rose throughout the day.  At one point the road was submerged.  I was thankful for the opportunity to share the day with some pretty great colleagues and to bask in beauty of quintessential fall in New England.


Marini Farm

We had a school event at Marini Farm in Ipswich over the weekend.  Good peeps over there.  We had a really fun afternoon.  The boys hit all of the attractions that the farm has to offer, we got lost in the corn maize, ate some cider donuts, and shopped at the farm stand.  A beautiful ride home through Ipswich and Essex was a perfect way to end the afternoon.  Well, a pumpkin beer with a cinnamon rim would have really been the perfect way to end the afternoon, but we left the house at 7:15 in the morning for a hockey game in Stoneham and had to get home to take care of the pups.

Nichole’s Picks 10/15 + 10/16

Pick #1:  Rockport Harvest Festival


Pick #2:  Grand Prix of Gloucester



What is the Gran Prix of Gloucester? Take a dramatic harbor front park at the height of fall foliage season. Set up a twisting grass, dirt and asphalt racecourse with challenging obstacles. Unleash a crowd of world class cyclists to charge through the sharp curves and jump the barriers. Add screaming, cowbell ringing fans incited by a dynamic announcers. What do you have? One of the premier bicycle races in the country, right here in Gloucester.

The Gran Prix of Gloucester is two days of international calibre races where competitors from all over the US, Canada & Europe converge to race on the most beautiful race course in North America.

The 2016 dates are 15 & 16 October.
Amateur Races: 8:00am-2:30pm (both days)
Kids 5-12 race 2:20pm (Sunday only)
Elite Women: 3:00pm (both days)
Elite Men: 4:00pm (both days)


Pick #3:  Appleton Farm:  Down on the Farm Concert Series



Sunday, October 16

Member Car: $20 Nonmember Car: $30

Contact Information
978.356.5728 x4112

Join us for fall concerts in the Stone Paddock! This family-friendly concert will offer live music from Soul Rebel Project. Food will be available for purchase from Boston Burger Company and CopperDome Crust Pizza. Beer and Wine will be available for purchase from Ipswich Ale and Old Planters Brewing. Or bring your own picnic! Enjoy our lawn games, meet our animals, and enjoy a gorgeous fall evening on the farm. Gate opens at 4pm, concert begins at 5pm. Sorry no dogs or byob.

No pre-registration required. Cash accepted at the gate. Bring your own lawn chairs.


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

Take a Knee?

If you read much of what I write you know, like it or not, that at some point I’ll end up writing about my boys’ sports experiences.

This time around, however, I have a question for you.

Should opposing teams “take a knee” when a player from the other team is hurt?

Here are my thoughts….and what made me start pondering this in the first place.  I would love to hear what you think!

Thatcher and Finn both play hockey.  Thatch is in his 3rd season of competitive hockey while this is Finn’s first.  They both also play short seasons of baseball and soccer. In all three sports my only experience has been that if any player is injured, all players take a knee and wait while that player is tended to.  Thankfully, no serious injuries have occurred during our time on the ice or field.  Each time the players have gotten up fairly quickly and resumed play or limped off to the bench to fully heal.  Either way, especially with hockey, I have been so touched by watching the children stop play, fall to a knee, and wait silently for the signal that all is ok.  In hockey, they go one step further by gently banging their sticks on the ice to applaud the player as they leave the ice for further attention or get up and “shake it off.” Players bang sticks…parents breathe a sigh of relief. The game continues.

As adults, we all know how quickly an injury can change an athlete’s life and that of their friends and family.  We have all heard stories that make our hearts ache and we have all heard the deafening thuds, crashes, breaks, etc. that take our breath away.  Stopping play and remaining silent…whether to say a quick prayer…or just to show respect…should, in my mind, go without saying.  I, in all honestly, would be fine with players standing still silently while a player was down.  To me, the “taking the knee” isn’t as important as the focusing attention, recognition, or even healing energy on the downed player.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I am aware that, thankfully, more often than not the injury at this level of play is a simple cramp, twist, bump, or bruise…and that, sometimes, as with our own children at home, may even involve some theatrics or embellishment. Sometimes, even, the injury turns out to maybe be a slightly bruised ego as opposed to a hurt body part.  That is NOT, however, my call to make when a player is down.  I would no more tolerate watching one of my sons talk and skate in circles when a player was down than I would tolerate watching other grown-ups in the stands talk about weekend BBQs while another parent’s child was hurt and laying on the ice.

So, I take you to this past weekend.  With several rare home games taking place at Talbot Rink, a good part of the Cape Ann Youth Hockey family were in attendance for several games to show support.  We went to the rink early to cheer on the team playing before Thatcher’s team.  As the game progressed…and with the score close….I watched not once, not twice, but THREE times as a Cape Ann player fell to the ice injured.  Each of those three times the opposing coaches yelled to their team, rallied them up in front of their bench, and used the other player’s injury as an opportunity to coach and give pep talks…showing not an ounce of concern for what may or may not be happening with the opposing player on the ice.  Let me say again, that thankfully, most of these injuries turn out to be nothing. But those coaches, in my opinion, showed such a lack of respect.  Not only were they disrespectful to the fallen player, but also to the family and fans who stood with fear that this may be the time that a player did not get up.  As a mother, a sports fan, and an educator…I will go one step further and say that I also think the message that moment instilled in their players was incredibly detrimental.  To capitalize on one player’s injury, no matter how minor, to maximize their own competitive edge sends a egotistical, self-centered, and sad message to their young team.  A message that I don’t think belongs in youth sports.  Those who know me well, know that I have very high expectations for my children.  I can’t lie, as part of a team, I expect them to make big commitments and give 100% all of the time.  I can tell when they aren’t trying…and they hear about it afterwards. That having been said, I choose to raise my children to show empathy, compassion, and concern for the well-being of others…not to turn their backs.  I choose to raise my children to grow into adults who will hopefully role model better behavior than what I witnessed in those moments.  With all that is going on in the world today, I choose to raise children who will take a moment to not think of themselves….but, who will take a moment to take a knee.

So, I spoke to their coaches after the game.  I was, I hope, respectful and told them that I am no expert….which I am quite certain they already assumed on their own.  I told them that my child wasn’t even on the ice, but that I took offense to the fact that they chose to take advantage of a down player to benefit their own team…three different times.  I told them that they had no way of knowing how hurt that player would/could be and that the right thing to do is to show respect…and teach respect.  They told me that the officials had, in fact, told them to move their players off the ice.  While I’m not sure that is accurate, I told them…if that were the case, it would have been perfectly acceptable for them to have had their players stand quietly in front of the boards by their own bench. What is not acceptable is to start yelling, coaching, and rallying their troops when there is even the slightest chance that another player was in the midst of suffering an injury.

I have to admit, that I am quite certain my voice was trembling and my hands were shaking as I was sharing my thoughts with these grown men….and presumably fathers…and coaches.  One coach, said something to the effect of, “We’ll take that into consideration.”  The other…while walking away…mumbled, “thanks for your advice” in a very unconvincing tone.

I thought much more about what happened over the course of the next couple of days. Last night, I did a little research.  As with most things in life…and with everything involving youth sports….I found some conflicting opinions.  I’d say 90% of what I read about youth sports said that “taking a knee” is the way to go…or, at the very least, quietly waiting. With High School coaches it was more like 65% agreed that it would be disrespectful to do anything other than show silent respect.  With college it was a bit less.  Interestingly enough, at the professional level, it once again seemed like common practice.  I did read about many, in my opinion, “hot-headed coaches” who waxed not-so-poetically about the absurdity of taking a knee for every little cramp and johnny-sprained-his-knees (not my words.)  I read quotes from some incredibly ignorant (those are my words) coaches who pretty much declared, “Why not use their weakness to our advantage?”  Ugh.

In the meantime, popular or not, I’ll continue to teach my own children to do what feels right when a teammate or opposing player is down.  Take a knee?  Fantastic.  Remain silent? Definitely.   Talk, laugh, skate, dribble? Absolutely not.  Circle up for some free coaching? Please, please don’t.

Honestly, what are your thoughts?

The Slide


We almost skipped the Topsfield Fair this year for the first time, like, ever.  But..with Thatcher off with a friend overnight, taking Finn to the fairgrounds for some fun seemed like the right thing to do.

So, we went, we rode, we pet, we fed, we ate, we conquered…and we slid.


Charlestown Locks

For all of the time I’ve spent in Boston, I’ve never actually seen the locks at the end of the Charles River in action.  While walking from a parking lot in Charlestown over to the TD Garden to see a Bruins game the other night, I got to see them working.  Kind of cool.


The PHIT Act

I received this email the other day from Modell’s Sporting Goods.  I shop there fairly often as there is a store near my work…and we’re always in need of something sports related!

As a parent who spends a substantial amount of money on youth sports, I was intrigued by this letter and kind of surprised that I hadn’t  heard about this previously. Have you?


In case you’re interested, not because I’m lobbying or trying to gather interest, I’ve attached the link included in the letter…

Learn more about the PHIT Act HERE


Nichole’s Picks 10/8 + 10/9

Pick #1: Down on the Farm Concert Series: Appleton Farm


Click HERE for more information 

Sunday, October 9
Member Car: $20 Nonmember Car: $30

Join us for our first Down on the Farm Fall Concert Series at Appleton Farms! These family-friendly concerts will feature live music, food trucks, lawn games, and an opportunity to meet our dairy cows and farm animals. The series kicks off on Sunday, October 9th at 4pm. Bring your own picnic or purchase food from a selection of food trucks. Beer and wine will be available for purchase with Ipswich Ale, Old Planters Brewing, and Mill River Winery.

October 9th will feature classic rock music by Decades of Rock Band. The food trucks will be Gabi’s Smoke Shack and Joe’s on A ROLL

Gates open at 4pm and concert starts at 5pm.

Leaf-peeping and family photo opportunities among the foliage in our historic Stone Paddock a bonus! (Sorry, no BYOB or dogs)


Pick #2: Team American Chunker at Marini Farm with Captain Dave Marciano from Wicked Tuna

Read more about it HERE

Team AC is very excited to be headlining Marini Farms Family Fun Harvest Weekend, this Saturday October 8th.  As an added bonus, Captain Dave from National Geographic’s hit show Wicked Tuna will be on site to help Team AC as we take aim to annihilate a boat he’s bringing with him.

Marini Farms is the area’s premier farm and event attraction for family oriented fall activities.  In addition to their award winning farm stand and bakery, they have attractions to satisfy families and children of all ages.  In addition to an 8-acre world class corn maze, they also have a jumping pillow, 60 ft tube slide, bounce houses, hayrides, pick your own pumpkin patch, pedal cart track, rope maze, face painting, corn kernel silo, rubber duck races, play structures, sandcastles, and more.



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


Walking the Dog

While going through some photos last night I found this pic that I snapped one evening at the end of the Merrimack River near Salisbury Beach.  I have no idea who the couple is, but I love that they’re out walking their four-legged friend.  Maybe they’ll see this… I’d love for them to have it.


Celebrating Papi

A very special day at Fenway Park yesterday and yet more history made.  Heartfelt “thank yous” and “goodbyes” to #34 and memories to last a lifetime for all of those in attendance. I am so thankful to have been there and, more importantly, to have shared it with Thatcher.

Papi’s Final Stand

The Red Sox come home today for their last regular season home stand….and the last regular season home stand of #34’s career.  I’m no sports writer so I won’t try to wax poetically about the ride it has been, but I will say that I’ve gotten a huge kick out of being in his presence off and on for the past 13 seasons of Red Sox baseball.  The weeks of the ALCS, ALDS, World Series, and Rolling Rally Championship Parade back in 2004 will go down as one of the best months of my life.  While we’ve shared fewer than 10 sentences over the years, he has both smiled for my camera and made me smile more times than I could ever count.  Bring on the postseason!


Nichole’s Picks 10/1 + 10/2

Pick #1: Salem Food Truck Festival

11:00-6:00 on both Saturday and Sunday

Get all of the facts HERE

The Salem Food Truck Festival is a two-day event being hosted in the Salem Common in historic downtown Salem, Ma. The event will feature 25 food trucks, live music and family fun. With a range from grilled cheese to whoopie pies, there is sure to be something for everyone! Save the date and save your appetites for one of the area’s biggest food truck events!


Pick #2: Family Day at the Bird Banding Station at Joppa Flats, Newburyport

Read all about it HERE


Sun, Oct 02, 2016 9:30 am – 11:30 am


Bird Banding Station, Plum Island


Ben Flemer – Banding Station Manager; Lynette Leka – Naturalist


All (suitable for children 6 – 18 years)


Adult $8.00, Child $5.00


Adult $10.00, Child $6.00
Nonmembers can join today during checkout and take immediate advantage of member prices.

Come for an exciting visit to the Joppa Flats Bird Banding Station on the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. See Mass Audubon scientists capture, measure, weigh, examine, and release migrant songbirds. Learn about migration, habitat use, and scientific research at a real field station. The station operates only during the height of migration in spring (April and May) and fall (September and October). Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Instructions and Directions:

Meet at Joppa Flats Education Center. Bring binoculars and cameras. Please be prepared for the weather, and protect yourself against mosquitoes and ticks.Joppa Flats Cancellation Policy: Please notify us at least 24 hours prior to your program if you must cancel. If you cancel less than 24 hours ahead, we can only offer a refund or credit if we subsequently fill your space. We cannot transfer your payment to another registration with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Registration is required.
Register online or call 978-462-9998 to register by phone.
Register by mail: program registration form (PDF 66K)
For your own security, DO NOT send credit card information via email.

For more information, contact:


Pick #3: Vintage Baseball at Spencer Peirce Little Farm

Get the facts HERE


Saturday, October 1, 11:00 a.m.

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, 5 Little’s Lane, Newbury, Mass.

Watch the four teams of the Essex Base Ball Association, the Newburyport Clamdiggers, Lynn Live Oaks, Lowell Base Ball Nine, and the Portsmouth Rockinghams, play baseball using 1860s rules.. At these fun, historically accurate games, players pitch underhand, a ball bounced once and caught is an out, and no gloves are allowed.

Snacks, baseballs, and cards are available for purchase. Grass field seating: bring blankets and lawn chairs, no reserved seating. Weather permitting, please call.

In partnership with Essex Base Ball Association andIpswich Ale Brewery.

Free to Historic New England members
$5 nonmembers

Please call 978-462-2634 or buy online.

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

If You Like Driving …

After leaving a hockey rink a few weeks ago (go figure) we saw this car driving by Gordon College.  We walked a fine line between tailgating to figure out what the heck it was…and staying back and never knowing.  Luckily, since I was not driving, we were able to snap some pics.

Turns out is an app that you can download to find maps and driving directions, I guess.

Maps have always been at the heart of our mission. Only the maps we are creating today are very different from those we grew up with.

Powered by our leading location cloud and enriched with dynamic data, maps from HERE are becoming increasingly real time – capturing the changing world like never before.

We believe they will play a critical role in improving mobility for people and enterprises, making driving safer and more enjoyable, and reducing emissions.

Little known fact…I am a HUGE fan of Sunday driving.  I have always loved jumping in the car and touring Cape Ann.  When time allows, I always drive the long way.  And, whenever possible, I opt to avoid the highway.  Even now, I love the days that the boys and I aren’t in a rush to get home after school/work.  Nothing makes me happier than driving home through Beverly Farms, Manchester, Magnolia, Gloucester, around the back shore, and home to Rockport.

So, don’t think for a second, that I didn’t check to see how one goes about getting a job from that allows you to simply drive around in your free time to record whatever it is one is recording to help gather information to make said maps.  They aren’t hiring in our hood right now.



Thirty-four minutes and 6.07 seconds.  That is how long I waited in line for one dozen cider doughnuts at Russell Orchards yesterday.  And…I’d do it again.  My only regret is that some people in line around me had empty wine glasses because they were smart enough to partake in wine tasting prior to getting in line.  Me, not so much.

After an afternoon hockey game at Pingree we drove through Essex and into Ipswich to spend some time at Russell Orchards….which thousands of friends.

The boys tolerated the annual sit near the pumpkin photo before we headed into the bar to check out the line.  They immediately deemed it too long for them to stand in, but promised to not get the largest pumpkins on the farm if I held a place in line for them. Deal.

The boys picked out their pumpkins, found their favorite honey sticks, and did some drive-bys to check on my progress (or, most likely, to check on how much longer they had to wait for a warm cider doughnut).

Super warm doughnuts in hand, the boys tolerated the annual Russell Orchards Ford Truck photo and then we all meandered down to the pond and barns to see the animals.  We checked on the little pigs…and the giant one.  We looked at the goats, ducks, chickens, bunny, and one rat.  Finn picked up an apple that was already on the ground in front of a donkey and offered it to him….without shoving a finger up its nose.  I should explain that Finn had a thing for shoving his finger up the nostril of many a farm animal when he was younger.  We read the sign that said, “Please do not feed the donkeys” and did not do it again.

The boys tolerated the annual sit on the tractor photo and we were off.

Forced Family Fall Farm Fun. Check.  I was happy that their hockey schedules cooperated this weekend so we could get our farm fun on.



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