Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Keep It Local: Spelunking at Crystal Grottoes

One of mom's most favorite summertime activities growing up was the various spelunking trips she took with her family. As she reminds us every time we board a plane for vacation, when she was little, family vacations meant road trips (which she happened to love). And that meant breaking up a trip with stops at a whole variety of roadside (or somewhat off road) attractions, including caves. So mom has had spelunking on our list (and both of our official Summer Bucket lists) for a while. But she was a little worried that one of us (me) would totally freak out underground and in the darkness. So she was hesitant to trek out to Virginia to a large spelunking trip.

Cue Crystal Grottoes in Boonsboro, Maryland. Mom found it kind of randomly and, given that it was privately owned, wasn't entirely sure if it would be hokey and random (like our trip to Good Knight's Enchanted Kingdom a few years ago). Then she saw it was near Antietam National Battlefield and figured if we could loop that in, it would be worthwhile. And it turned out to be awesome!

It is a little expensive, but it was just our size and speed. You go about 45 feet underground, but no elevator is involved and the tour lasts just about 1/2 hour. Our tour guide was a local high schooler who had literally tunneled red clay out of the cave with his bare hands, and he was eager, knowledgable and friendly. We learned a bit about geology, a bit about the cave's history, and a bit about what it's like to grow up as a quadruplet in a small town. And he put up with Kane's running list of questions, which is worth a lot of money in any of our books. Plus, if mom's memory serves correctly, the size and scope of this cave (and perhaps the fact that it's privately owned) made for a much closer-up view of the various geological features than she's seen before.

We were both champs and even thought it was fun when our guide turned all the lights out -- it helped that there were no bats present.

If you have younger kids and are interested in spelunking, but have concerns similar to mom's, this would make an awesome foray into cave exploring. We hit up local Boonsboro for lunch and treats before heading on to Antietem and found a good number of decent spots to eat (we ate at Dan's Restaurant & Tap House, which had a good selection of local brew and a nice kids menu). If you're in the market for a super easy day trip (the cave is just about 1 hour, 15 minutes away), we highly recommend it!

p.s. it's really hard to take good photographs in a cave

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grub It Up: Piña Colada Popsicles

We're no strangers to making popsicles, but this summer, we wanted to make some "fancy popsicles." (mom blames Iggy Azalea for all things fancy related). And once we returned from our awesome Jamaican vacation, there was no question as to what we were going to make: Piña Colada Popsicles. I didn't exactly keep track, but if I had to guestimate, I'd say that between the two of us, Cam and I put away about 75 kids piña coladas on vacation. And we wanted more. Mom obliged and made us these sweet, sweet pops. We had a bit of trouble getting all of them to freeze solid, but we scooped out the ones that didn't and ate them like ice cream. There were no complaints.

Piña Colada Popsicles (from The Cottage Market)

- 1 can of sweet coconut cream
- 1, 20 ounce can of chunk pineapple pieces with 100% natural pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup packed sweet granted coconut
- 8 maraschino cherries
- popsicle molds or dixie cups and popsicle sticks  

1. Combine the can of sweet coconut cream and pineapple chunks (with juice) and blend in blender. 
2. Add sweetened shredded coconut, pulse just a few times.
3. Place a cherry at the bottom of your mold/dixie cup
4. Pour mixture into mold/cup and place in freezer for about an hour. Remove after an hour and add the popsicle stick. 
5. Put back into freezer for another 3-4 hours

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grub It Up: Citrus Bacon Shrimp + Grilled Stone Fruit Salad

Yes, mom did post a stone fruit and grilled shrimp salad last year. But this new one is somehow an entirely different taste and is PHENOMENAL. Kane wasn't having any part of it, but I'm big on trying new things. It is a must make. Seriously. It has so, so much flavor. Yet it really simple to make. Score.

In addition to the shrimp, mom has been grilling up a storm this summer. Almost every single night this past week, in fact. So before I get to the shrimp, here's our paleo/primal friendly menu from last week.

Monday -- Grilled Moroccan Chicken (I subbed ras el hanout for the other spices) + Butternut Squash Apple Hash

Tuesday -- The Perfect Paleo Burger (without avocado mousse and parsnip fries, still delish!) + grilled veggie kabobs

Wednesday -- leftovers

Thursday -- Citrus Bacon Shrimp + Grilled Stone Fruit Salad

Friday -- dinner out for mom + dad; TJs for us

Saturday -- dinner out for all at Custom Fuel Pizza -- not paleo, but mom did get a fairly good gluten free crust.

Sunday -- Italian Baked Eggs (no bread) + Salad

Citrus Bacon Shrimp + Grilled Stone Fruit Salad
(shrimp recipe slightly adapted from Paleo Newbie)

Shrimp + Bacon Skewers
- 2 lbs large shrimp
- 16 strips of bacon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tsp salt 
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced 

1. Peel and de-vein shrimp. Mix olive oil - garlic in a plastic bag, add cleaned shrimp, and allow to marinade for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 

2. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees F. Place bacon on a foil-lined cookie sheet and cook for about 8 minutes -- just till partially cooked. Let cool for a few minutes and then cut each strip of bacon into thirds. 

3. When shrimp is finished marinating, thread shrimp and bacon onto skewers -- mom did a two shrimps, 1 piece bacon pattern.

4. Grill skewers for about 3 minutes each side. Let cool slightly before placing on salad.

Grilled Apricots 
- Half and de-pit desired number of fruit -- mom used 6. Brush all sides with olive oil. Grill 1-2 minutes each side.

- 1 lb spinach
- large handful of mini heirloom tomatoes, each halved
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, diced finely
- 1/3 cup pecans
- 2-3 tbsp honey chèvre
- balsamic vinegar + olive oil to drizzle

1. Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl. 

2. Place a serving of salad on plate, top with a few grilled apricots and two skewers of shrimp. 

3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (July 2014)

Mom was set on remembering this month's 12-in-12 and using her actual camera to shoot the photos. Yay her! She actually remembered and she did drag her camera all over the city, but she didn't quite get all 12. It was a busy Saturday -- mom actually had a staycation girls weekend booked, but forgot when she planned that that we'd committed to co-hosting a playdate for my new school smack in the middle of the day (and to which we were looking forward). So there was a lot of running around. And well, she did what she could.

After you get your fill of our crazy Saturday, see what No Monsters in My Bed did with their weekend!

7.40 am -- Saturday morning cartoon time 

8.40 am -- mom gets in a little girls weekend time by grabbing Dolcezza coffee before meeting a friend for a mani-pedi.

9.00 am -- a multitude of pale nail colors. Mom got black, obviously. 

11.00 am -- mom stops to pick up a boatload of ice for the outdoor playdate. 

12.15 -- with about 15 minutes to pack, this is what mom pulls together for an in-town overnighter. 

1.30 pm -- we drop mom off at the park so she can secure a playdate spot and set up drinks + snacks. she outlasts the breakdown of a double birthday party to score a good table. 

2.45 pm -- playdate fun {there we are!}

4.50 pm -- mom makes it down to her hotel to meet up with her friends. after several weeks of both Cam and I sneaking in and sharing mom + dad's bed with them, mom is psyched for this. 

5.15 pm -- hotel lobby cocktail hour! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Keep It Local: Strathmore Backyard Theater for Children + GIVEAWAY!!!

Honestly, I feel as though we drafted a bum Summer Bucket List this year. Because some of the coolest new things we've done aren't even on there (and you know that deprives mom of the satisfaction of crossing things off that list!), including Strathmore's Backyard Theater for Children. Each summer, Strathmore puts on a set of fabulous theater, music and dancing for kids right in its own backyard, under a comfortable tent, complete with free snowcones! I mean, you know we would have gone just for the snowcones, but we loved the Mister G: ABC Fiesta show Strathmore kindly gave us tickets to see.

Now we both like to play it cool. I told mom "I'm really not into doing hand motions, clapping, participating .... you know," but by the end of the show, we were both flapping our pretend insect wings and buzzing along to the music (we were still too cool to get up on stage, though. thank goodness they gave away sunglasses to perpetuate the cool). Mister (and Mrs.) G did a great job of getting everyone participating in their bilingual tunes and we insisted mom buy some CDs at the end. And a kind person fudged the "one snowcone per person" rule for us and we finagled our way into each getting a cherry and a raspberry ice.

But you have no excuse not to go. First, because we're telling you. And, second, because we're giving away a family four-pack of tickets to see one of the remaining three shows of the season! Check out the schedule right here and then follow Rafflecopter link at the end of the post and enter to win. You can earn points to win by two ways:

(1) liking the Not-So-SAHM Facebook page (earns you 2 points); and/or
(2) commenting on this post (earns you 1 point)

BUT all entries must be made through the Rafflecopter to count (otherwise it makes randomly picking a winner difficult)!

You have until 12 pm on Monday, July 14th to get your entries in. Don't miss out!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Summer Bucket List 2014: Update #1

We've officially been out of school for a month and we've been busy bees! In case you don't track our real-time Summer Bucket List updates on our Facebook page (and we can't imagine why you don't), it's time for the first progress update of the summer. Despite our double and miscounting, we've actually checked off 22 items from our list. Not too shabby.

1. Berry picking at Homestead Farms.

2. First geocache of the season.

3. Herb garden planting.

4. New historical site -- the Washington Monument!

5. Family photos (finally!)

6. Second geocache

7. Trampoline park -- this photo is actually from the second trampoline park visit of the season (the one day it rained over July 4th in New Jersey). Our first was to Rebounderz in Sterling and it was equally awesome.

8. Kids book club! In case you missed it, we dished on our new club on The Land of Nod's Honest to Nod on Monday.

9. New "swimming pool" -- we think YS Falls in Jamaica qualifies.

10. Our DIY Tattoos for Father's Day in action.

11. One of the multitude of toyscapes built on No TV day. Hey, we survived.

12. New putt putt.

13. Third geocache.

14. New spraypark -- we spent the day checking out all of No Monster In My Bed's recommendations at Penrose Square. Fabulous.

15. New playdough -- frozen recipe right here!

16. Summer Tunes List -- find us on spotify!

17. Mini piñatas -- tutorial right here

18. Ride bikes -- our fam at Green's Bike House in Wildwood Crest, NJ hooked us up -- thanks! 

19. Sunset -- gorgeous view of the sun setting over the bay in Brigantine, NJ. 

20. Tie dye -- this year, Cam was the only one into it. And she made a bevy of beautiful shirts!

21. Family Olympics -- we moved this year's festivities to the beach! We had water balloon toss, a spinning relay race, and a sand-sculpting "contest." We all pitched in on the last one, with daddy and Uncle Steve carrying the day with this fantastic mermaid.

22. Learned a New Card Game -- three, actually. We learned Old Maid, Crazy 8s, and Go Fish while we were on vacation in Jamaica.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Kids Book Club!

As we told you last week, we recently hosted our first kids book club with a bunch of good buddies and had a blast -- and even some actual discussion of the book we read: Magic Treehouse's "Lincoln at Last." Summer Bucket List -- check. Head over to Honest to Nod to get the full scoop!