Author Archives: Nichole S.

Worlds Collide

Do you know what’s awesome?  Going out in this great little community to celebrate the happiness of two friends and, in doing so, spending a fantastic night out with such a wide variety of acquaintances…that your head kind of spins with giddiness.

I taught a 9-hour class to my grown-up students yesterday, went home to have a quick dinner with my husband and boys, and then went back out to celebrate a great rite of passage with some friends.

While incredibly happy for them…by the end of the evening I also felt quite happy for me.  In that little establishment…within a few hours time…I was lucky enough to have laughs (and some tears…because sometimes that happens) with some old friends, new friends, blog friends, hockey friends, bar friends, father’s friends, husband’s friends…and even several members of my husband’s family. Worlds collide…and I’m a lucky girl to have so many people whom I consider wonderful and special…and randomly happened to see in one evening. Ok…enough sappy.

But…in all seriousness….   Do you know what else is awesome?

People who don’t want to exclusively talk about themselves, but are eagerly and honestly looking to learn and engage to find out more about others.  Random, I realize. However, true.  While I love to talk and solidly lie on the extrovert side of the ball field, I am also passionate about meeting people and learning about what makes them different from everyone else…what they love….what they hope to do…and what they consider special.   So…refreshing (and kind of endearing) to spend some time last night listening to someone who likes to do the same.  I got such a kick out of a newish friend by listening to him chat up people (including myself) to learn more about them.  Maybe I’m off the mark….maybe he’s writing a book. But I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and think…kudos for being a good guy who might agree that your life grows more wonderful by meeting and knowing as many diverse and interesting people as possible.

I was asked a few times last night, “So what do you write about on the blog?” and….while I’m not always sure how to answer that….today I’ll say, “I write about things that make me think or make me smile.”  I did a lot of both last night.

Happy Sunday, friends.

Thank You, Grand Isle

There have been some great posts (and gorgeous photos) about the USCG Cutter Grand Isle, its years of service, and the fact that it was decommissioned earlier this week.

This may sound silly, but here in Rockport, at our tiny little home, it was sad news.

My boys have loved that vessel since they could both say, “boat.”  The several months that the Grand Isle left us back in 2011 for an overhaul in Baltimore were loooong months for Thatcher and Finn.  Such a quirky thing, but they missed her presence in the harbor greatly.

Grown-ups do coffee runs….  Thatcher and Finn have asked me to do boat runs for as long as I can remember.  I’ve written about this before, so forgive me if you read it, but for YEARS now, no matter the season, we have been doing the tour.  “The tour?”  You may ask.  Well, it goes like this….  some time in the parking lot of Cape Ann Marina to see the shrink wrapped boats, or a drive by the docks to see those in the water, down the boulevard, past the Fishermen’s Wives Statue, a quick sit at the Man at the Wheel to watch whatever traffic may be going in or out of the harbor, through the fort, past St. Peter’s Square, check on some of the fishing fleet, look for the Privateer, check on the Lannon, down Washington Street to Harbor Loop, count the Coast Guard inflatables and grey 47-footers, see who is docked behind Captain Carlos, down to Cape Ann Whale Watch to see the Hurricane, and then on to the their Disney….The State Fish Pier.   Each and every time…upon driving past Pratty’s, the boys would declare, “I think the Grand Isle is in!” or “I think the Grand Isle is out!”  “What do you think, Mom?”  They’d make me drive crazy slow to let the anticipation build until the nose of our Jeep would peak past the Environmental Police building to catch a glimpse…or not…of the mighty Grand Isle.  It took a couple of years for them to realize that if they would just look up (at high tide anyway) they could see her yellow tower rising from the harbor…hence giving her away.

Thatcher, in particular, has been somewhat obsessed with the Coast Guard as a whole for years.  I’ll never forget the day he was standing forever peering at the boats through the fence at Solomon Jacobs Park until a new hero, Petty Officer Bowen, came over and invited him into the fenced in area for a tour.  Oh my, the smile!  Petty Officer Bowen later shared with me, that having grown up in Chatham, he used to spend hours doing the very same thing.  Kindred spirits, those two.  I’m not sure he’s aware of the little fire that was lit in Thatcher that day.  But I’m incredibly thankful for it.

As the love affair continued there would be more tours of the Coast Guard Station and vessels at Harbor Loop, a Coast Guard hat for his birthday, a Coast Guard shirt that reads, “Schrafft” and the year “2025”….as in the year Thatcher would be eligible for the academy, Coast Guard patches, and even a Coast Guard Halloween costume (loved that!).  And then….there was the tour of the Grand Isle.

The boys couldn’t even believe their good fortune.  They looked forward to the day for a couple of weeks….and then clammed up like crazy in the midst of all of the excitement….but, talked about it relentlessly for months afterwards. (Thanks, Cousin Rob!)  They were so little then….yet, so in love with that boat.

As a parent, you never really know what your children will become passionate about.  We have clocked hours sitting in the parking lot of the State Fish Pier just looking at the Grand Isle.  During winter months, the boys would sip their hot chocolate after hockey practice.  Summer months….there’d be smoothies.  On so many of those days, my dad would happen to call and get a good chuckle upon asking, “What are you guys up to?” only to find out that we were sitting looking at her ….again.

I wouldn’t trade a single one of those seconds that I spent wondering who thought I was stalking them as we sat in front of her bow. I was always keenly aware that surely there was someone up in the pilot house thinking, “Yikes. There’s that Jeep again.”  I was happiest when I could put the windows down so that the boys would be visible in the back seat.

So, Thank You, Grand Isle.  Thank you for helping me foster something wonderful in my boys.  Thank you for helping to spark their interest and for being the impetus for many valuable lessons.  I know at least two little boys who will miss seeing you sit proud and strong in our waters.

 

Nichole’s Picks of the Weekend 2/28 and 3/1

March….finally.  Maybe, just maybe, the worst of it is over.

Pick #1 

Mentioned just yesterday on GMG….and sounding like a lot of fun….is the Harlem Superstars Basketball Game!

Proceeds go to benefit the Cape Ann YMCA’s Annual Campaign!

The game starts at 7pm at Gloucester High School.  Tickets are $7 per person ($8 at the door) and all proceeds support the YMCA’s Annual Campaign to provide scholarships for local kids and families.

harlem-superstars-game

Pick #2

The Lunar New Year at the Peabody Essex Museum

WEEKEND FESTIVAL

Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 10am – 4pm

Check out the day’s schedule HERE!

A full day of fantastic family activities waiting to be had!

lun1501_1

Pick #3

Also in celebration of the Chinese New Year…the Annual Lion Dance Parade

Chinese New Year Events – Lion Dance Parade

Click Here for Information about this year’s parade!

Be sure to scan all the way down when checking out the link above.  If you do you’ll find some great suggestions for where to eat some dim sum and more!

 

                                  Photo of Lion Dances at Boston's Chinese New Year Celebration in Chinatown

 

When: Sunday, March 1, 2015

See Boston Discovery Guide’s March Events Calendar for more information

 

Note:  In case you remember that this this parade takes place in February, you’re right.  However, Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, and it takes place later than usual this year.

 

Where:  Beach Street and other nearby streets in Chinatown, Boston
Closest T station: Orange Line/Chinatown (or walk over from any Downtown Boston T station
Cost: Free

 

 

 

#StayWeird

I’m not a huge award show junkie.  In truth, I rarely watch the Academy Awards (or the Oscars…even that confuses me), the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, the People’s Choice, the Emmys, or any of the others.

While I’m not proud (nor ashamed) to say that I have not seen a single one of the movies that were nominated for an Academy Award this year, I did, however, watch part of the award show on Sunday evening.

And, while doing so, I was pleasantly surprised by two things.

First of all, when Graham Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game” he made an inspiring and brave acceptance speech.  #stayweird

 

Secondly, oh the tears, listening to Tim McGraw sing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” just about did me in.  What a beautiful song.

Boats, Boats, and More Boats

If you didn’t get to the New England Boat Show this year, stay tuned for next year’s dates.  I really can’t recommend it enough…whether you’re in the market for a boat…or just love boats.

With a huge number of boat manufacturers and industry vendors….as well as, engaging and interactive activities for the kiddos, a day at the boat show is a fantastic (and inexpensive) way to spend a day.  We paid $26….kids under 15 are free.  Parking was $15….which I suppose could be avoided if you don’t mind walking a bit and if there isn’t 9 feet of snow on the ground next year (fingers crossed).  The most expensive part of the day was the quick bite to eat that the boys needed to rally through the second 3 hours.

Sadly, my iPhone battery died after 4 hours of photo taking so many boats are not represented in this slide show.  I was also shooting more like a mom and less like a blog contributor, so if you can’t tell what type of boat it is, I apologize.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Girl Can Dream

I took the boys to the New England Boat Show the other day.  We arrived at 12:45 to be there for the 1:00 opening and left at 6:45.  6 hours. Honestly, we could have stayed much longer (and gosh knows the boys wanted to), but we we were stopping for dinner on the way home and I was getting antsy to hit the road.

I have about 200 photos of a large variety of boats to weed through, that I’ll post later in the week, but for now….think Hinckley.  Sigh.

There are a million boats that I’d be happy with and there were several boat manufacturers that caught my eye the other day.  There are some boats that I like for one reason…like fishing….and then there are boats that I like for different reasons…like “cruising.”  There are even some boats that I would absolutely sell my home for the very second the boys go off to college and live upon happily for the rest of my life….like the Ranger Tug.

That having been said, there is one boat that I see in my dreams a bit more clearly than all others…and that is the one and only Hinckley.  Ummm…sigh, again.

HINCKLEY YACHTS   Worth taking a look.

If you were unfamiliar with Hinckley prior to last week, you may have quickly learned about them after having seen the images below go viral. The brand new 43-foot Talaria was making its way to the New England Boat Show when it lost its battle with snow banks at the intersection of Summer and Lincoln Street in Boston. The irony of the picnic-style boat, whose sleek design screams CAREFREE SUMMER DAYS, stuck in Boston’s dirty snowbanks in the midst of what could be a record breaking winter squeezed my heart just a bit.

So, I was delighted to see the Maggie Mae, gorgeous and unscathed, in all of her tremendous glory, in the Hinckley/Hunt Pavilion.

I was also delighted to learn a bit about the company, as well as, the boat owner who was eagerly anticipating the delivery of his purchase.  I was even more delighted to hear that he was understanding and realistic as to his boat’s little city adventure.  Kudos to you, sir.

The learning about the company part was somewhat accidental….and I have 5-year old, Finn, to thank for the lesson.

Upon stepping foot on the Maggie Mae, Finn immediately announced (and loudly I might add), “I don’t like this boat.”  After a quick exchanging of, “I’m sorry…are you my son?” eye contact, he quickly explained.   “These people are Philadelphia Flyers fans.”

Huh?

“Well, look, they have the Flyers logo all over the boat.”

Kudos to you also, Finn.

So, of course, we had to ask about their choice of logos.

And….here is the deal.

As an elementary school teacher I have spent a good amount of time teaching my students about Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses…and while I would recognize the sandals worn by Greek God, Hermes, and Roman God, Mercury….I’m not sure that I ever knew that those sandals were called Talaria. The Talaria, as it would be, is a very fitting choice to serve as the logo of Hinckley Yachts if you ask me. Swift, regal, noble, refined….special.

mercury_hermes

 

While enjoying my one and only visit on the Maggie Mae (sigh), I also learned that her new owner, Robert A. Vincent, sounds like a really nice guy!  Mr. Vincent, in fact, was due to arrive at the New England Boat Show later in the evening for a Christening Party for his gorgeous boat….with a catered party and all.  Had my iPhone not died, I would have stalked a bit for some photos of the ceremony. Had I trusted that Thatcher and Finn would not choose that exact moment to demonstrate how tired they were becoming…I would have at least snuck back to observe from afar.

I would like to add that, while Thatcher, Finn and I were certainly not in the market for purchasing a Hinckley, the boat company’s representatives were cordial, helpful, kind, and patient with the boys…and with me.  The only thing that could have made our visit nicer would have been a large, flat body of water, some sushi, and some champagne.  And maybe the keys and a captain.  Just saying.

 

Not So Local Favs

A few weeks ago I took a short trip to New Orleans with some friends.  As tempting as it is to share some more “colorful” photos with you all…I think I’ll stick to the food.

Honestly, I didn’t take many photos while there, but while in and out of different local grocery stores and shops, some of the local favorite foods gave me a good chuckle.

I was ready for the crawfish, the Louisiana Shrimp, the Cafe au Lait, and the incredibly yummy beignets (heaven) BUT I wasn’t as prepared for the frog legs, the armadillo eggs, and the turduchen sausages.

So, I got to thinking.  When people visit Cape Ann, what would they find that would surprise them in regards to our local fare?

Thoughts?  I’d love to hear.

Singing Praises for Mile Marker 1

I know what you’re thinking….”Nichole is going to tell us to go swim in the pool again”….and I am….but, that’s not all.   So there.   Bear with me.

Yes, for sure, the pool passes at Cape Ann Marina’s Aqua Room are a total no-brainer and if you’re looking to kill some easy time with the kids you’d be crazy to not log some hours there….but, more importantly, I can not say ENOUGH about the staff and their graciousness, hospitality, and patience.

Seriously, I’m not going to lie, if you aren’t taking kids to the pool, this may not be where you want to be during a school vacation week (but hang in there because it is almost over). Quiet will soon prevail and then, if you’re looking for some peacefulness in the pool, get yourself down there. I’ve been there 3 times this week so far and it is not for the faint of heart.  It can get a bit loud…and peaceful it is not.  Fun, however, it sure is!

That having been said, we have had fantastic and gloriously low-maintenance days hanging by the pool.  Today, for example, the boys and I met three other families….with a staggering total of 10 kids.  We logged 7.5 hours.  The children were well-behaved and HAPPY for each and every second!

We all had a delicious lunch, the kids had frozen shirley temples AND ice cream, and we treated ourselves to some incredibly yummy pina coladas.  Why not?

The real point of this post, however, is not to tell you about how my boys spent their day, but rather to tell you that I was beyond impressed with literally each and every member of the staff!  Joe Loicano is the manager of all managers!  He is incredibly hands-on and makes the rounds talking with guests, high-fiving the kids, clearing tables, sharing funny stories, and making sure everyone is happy. He’s busy each and every second…yet somehow manages to make everyone feel like they are his top priority. Think The Captain, Gopher, Doc, and Isaac all rolled into one. Hopefully, you all got the Love Boat analogy or that last sentence just seemed weird.

The bartenders and servers are phenomenal.  We joked several times about how this week, with so many kids laughing and splashing, must be their worst nightmare but, even with the window open to express their dread, they all responded by saying different versions of, “No, it’s totally fun.” Seriously.  The girls who were making drinks, taking lunch orders, checking in on everyone, and clearing tables were incredibly friendly and accommodating.  I really can’t say enough positive sentiments about them….and I really hope that they get a chance to read this so that they know how relaxing and wonderful they made our day today!

Kudos to the entire team for being so kind, helpful, and incredibly hard working! You’ve all taken hospitality to the next level.

So, from Team Schrafft, THANK YOU!

If, by chance, you’re reading this and you don’t know much about Mile Marker 1 and Cape Ann Marina….check out this great video that Joey C. filmed while interviewing Joe Loicano back when the restaurant was getting ready to first open a couple of years ago. Makes me long for summer just a little bit more.

Cape Ann Marina   Mile Marker One

 

Try Hockey For Free This Saturday!

Try Hockey For Free on Saturday, Feb 21st @ 4:00 pm at Talbot Rink!

You can register here Tryhockeyforfree.com

On Saturday, February 21st, USA Hockey and over 300 local associations across the country will host Try Hockey For Free Day, presented by Kraft! Participating locations encourage kids, ages 4 to 9, to come try youth hockey as part of the eighth annual Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by CCM. All locations will have limited equipment available for use.

Find the closest Try Hockey event to you in the map below by searching your zip code. Try Hockey events are indicated with a red pin on the map. Click the pin most convenient to you to register your child.

For any questions, please contact us at (719) 538-1124 or email comeplayyouthhockey@usahockey.org.

cpyh-logo

 

Nichole’s Picks of the Weekend 2/21 and 2/22

Is it wrong to simply repost last week’s Blog Post about Picks of the Week for February Vacation?   I mean…they still all hold true!

See all of last week’s ideas to kill time over vacation here!

Please don’t forget that in addition to all of the top picks from last week, I HIGHLY recommend:

1.  The pool at Cape Ann Marina and Resort.  We bought a vacation week pass last Friday and have already used it a few times and had a blast!  If you don’t want to invest in a vacation week pass now that the week is almost over, Day Passes are available!  Check it out for sure!

2.  Appleton Farm in Ipswich is offering a variety of fun activities this weekend!

Including:

Farm Fun Nature Crafts and Cookies  Saturday 2/21 10:00-12:00

Meet the Maples Tour   Saturday 2/21 1:00-2:00

The Mini Moos Tour      Saturday 2/21 2:30-3:30

 

3.  Pinocchio at the Wheelock Family Theatre

PinocchioWFTwebhome

The world premiere of an original adaptation influenced by Japanese theatrical traditions, Pinocchio’s adventures are told through mystical creatures, live musicians, and gymnastic choreography, making the transformation of an animated puppet into a real live boy, a magical, dynamic, and deeply moving experience.

4.  New England Sports Park!!  Get Your Tubing On!

                               

Yum.

I met a co-worker who has been gone on maternity leave this school year for a bite to eat and a couple of drinks last night at the Seaport Grille.  As always, it did not disappoint.

We both started with a “West End” which tasted maybe even better than it looks…if that’s possible.

We shared some oysters that totally hit the spot!  For dinner, she ordered the Scallop and Bacon Pizzetta and I had one of my all-time favorites….the Eggplant Panini with sweet potato fries. Everything was delicious!

While school vacation week is all about the kids…I am a huge fan of carving out some “me time” and a long talk at the bar with a good friend was exactly what I needed last night.

The West End

The West End

Scallop and Bacon Pizzetta:At every function at Cruiseport we serve scallops wrapped in bacon, We said let’s try this on a Pizzetta. SUCCESS!

Eggplant Panini: Thinly sliced fried eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto grilled on buttery ciabatta bread 1

Eggplant Panini: Thinly sliced fried eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto grilled on buttery ciabatta bread 

Ahhh…Winter in Massachusetts

A friend of mine found this somewhere….and I stole it from him.  While I can’t take credit, it made me chuckle.  Allow me to say, however, that despite all of this white crap, I do truly still love living in Massachusetts.  It seems terribly fitting for our current state of affairs….or snoffairs…as it would seem.

Dear Diary…

August 15 – Moved to our new home in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s so beautiful here. The lake to the north looks so majestic. I can hardly wait to see it snow covered. I’m going to love it here!

October 14 – Massachusetts is definitely the most beautiful place on earth. The leaves have all turned colors.  There are beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. Went for a ride through the park and saw some deer. They are so graceful. Certainly, they are the most wonderful animals on earth. This must be paradise, I LOVE IT HERE!!

November 10 – Deer season will start soon. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to kill such a gorgeous animal. Hope it will snow soon. I love it here. Those red, orange, and yellow leaves have covered my yard. Looks like a magnificent multi-colored carpet. HOW BEAUTIFUL. Raking and cleaning up the yard will be an opportunity for invigorating exercise in the cool crisp air.

November 15 – Ah, more leaves and more exercise.

November 18 – Jesus, still more leaves. Guess it’s best to wait until they’ve all fallen before I rake again.

November 25 – Finally, all of the trees lost their leaves and with today’s final raking it’s over for this season. Chiropractor suggested I use a lawn maintenance service next year. Only four blisters became infected. Should probably remember to use gloves.

November 30 – What the f…? Where did all of those leaves come from? Had a little wind last night and the lawn is covered again. Oh well, they’ll just have to wait until spring.

December 12 – It snowed last night, FINALLY. Woke up to find everything blanketed in white. It looks like a postcard. We went outside and cleaned the snow off the steps and shoveled the driveway. Had a snowball fight (I won) and when the snowplow came by and we had to shovel the end of the driveway again.
What a beautiful place. Massachusetts!

December 14 – More snow last night, I love it. The snow plow did his trick to the driveway again. Love it here.

December 19 – More snow again last night. Can’t get out of the driveway. Can’t to get to work. I’m exhausted from shoveling. F…ing snowplow.

December 22 – More of that white shit fell again last night. As if dealing with the leaves weren’t bad enough, now I’ve got blisters all over my hands from shoveling. Must remember to wear gloves. I think the snowplow hides around the corner and waits until I’m finished shoveling the driveway. Idiot.

December 25 – Merry F…ing Christmas. More frigging snow. If I ever get my hands on that son-of-a-bitch who drives the snowplow, I swear I’ll kill the bastard. Don’t know why they don’t use more salt on the roads to melt the f…ing ice.

December 27 – More white shit last night. Have been inside for three days except for shoveling out the driveway after that plow goes through every time.  F…ing gloves got wet and then froze on my hands.
Doctor said it was just a mild case of frost bite, disfiguration is probably only temporary. Can’t go anywhere, car is stuck in a mountain of white shit. The weatherman says to expect another 10 inches of the shit tonight. Do you know how many shovels full of snow 10 inches is?  A LOT.

December 28 – The f…ing weatherman was wrong. We got 34 inches of that white shit last night. At this rate it won’t melt ’till summer.
The plow got stuck up the road and the bastard came to the door and asked to borrow a shovel. I told him I’d already broken six of them shoveling all the shit he pushed into the driveway and then I broke my last one on his f…ing head.

January 4 – Finally got out of the house today. Went to the store to get food and on the way back I hit a damned deer that ran in front of my car. Did about $3000 damage. F…ing beasts should be killed. Wish the hunters had killed them all last November.

May 3 – Took the car to the garage in town. Go figure, it’s rusting out from all the f…ing salt they finally put all over the roads.

May 10 – Dumped the car.  Sold the townhouse. Moved to Florida. I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would ever live in that forsaken state of Massachusetts!

Kids Eat Free…and the Beer is Good Too

I love when restaurants offer great deals like this….especially during a school vacation week!

Cape Ann Brewing Company wrote this on their Facebook page today:

Happy Presidents Day! Remember Monday through Thursday kids eat free 11 – 4 (1 Kid per adult!). Bring the little guys in and we can lavish them with stories of walking 5 miles to school, up hill, in cardboard shoes and no World Wide Web.

I, for one, plan on taking advantage of this awesome deal at least once this week!

No App For That!

Joey has a fantastic idea going on here!  Shovelers Needed vs. People Looking To Earn $$ and Help Out Others. No Brainer. I’ll be the 1st to sign up my boys when they’re a tad bit older!

Check Out His Post Here if you’re interested!

Saw this and couldn’t help but chuckle.  Sadly, a sign of the times for sure.

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