Masks Off

Just over a year ago, we were thinking things would never be the same again. So much can change in a year. So many lives lost, so many lives brought into this world. Are we really back to normal? Can we live everyday like 3.5 million people haven’t lost their lives to this virus?

Today is the day we can go back to “normal” in Massachusetts. No more masks are necessary if you have been fully vaccinated (but who is out there checking vaccination cards?) I just hope we all still remember everything we have learned. Here is a list of things we should continue to do:

1. Wash our damn hands, because that’s a common thing we should do, right?

2. Stay home if we feel sick, even if we think it’s just a cold.

3. Be aware of other people’s boundaries. Before 6 feet social distancing was a thing, I swear someone behind me in line at the grocery store could count all the freckles on the back of my neck. Respect a stranger’s space.

4. Hugging is my favorite thing to do. Hug more friends and family, And hug often.

5. Get vaccinated. Or not. But you should.

6. Smile. It’s been hidden for so long, someone will appreciate your smile.

a Spring time note

Stepping outside, I can smell the air changing. Winter is a distant memory. I can see the daffodils and crocus peeking through the soil. They are just waiting to fully bloom, to fully reach their potential. They thrive in this subtle warm weather. There’s a reason why they reach towards the sun. Light it hope. Light is growth. We have only just begun. We have only just begun this transition to a new beginning. Things seem to be looking brighter in the near future for us all. Let’s hope and grow together.

Cape Cod Winter Fun

Some may say that living in a beach town during the winter is boring. Well, to some degree they may be correct BUT there are plenty of things to do now that Covid restrictions are somewhat lifted.

This Saturday, I will be going on a double date to the House of Hatchets. I believe it just opened up this past year and it’s the new date night thing to do! If you don’t know what this is, it’s an axe throwing establishment. So, if you’re frustrated and need to let out some steam or just want to have a fun night out, give this place a try: House of Hatchets

Geocaching. Have you ever heard of it? I first discovered it while watching a Netflix movie. It’s like going on local treasure hunts all over the world! Weather permitting, here are some around on the Cape: Geocaching

Iceskating. There are rinks all over the Cape that are open to the public! As well as some local ponds, when it is frozen enough to venture out on. Remember to always be safe!

Museums. I love them on Cape Cod and I love them around the world! Some are closed due to the pandemic but a lot are open with restrictions and varied hours of operation. Here is a link to one of my favorites: Cape Cod Museum of Art

We are getting some more snow according to the news, so if you have children, here are some toys from Amazon that they will enjoy:

1. Penguin Snow Mold

2. Snowball Maker

3. Snow Fort Mold

I am counting down the days until warmer weather and brighter, longer days. But, we can still find some fun until then. I hope I gave you some helpful ideas for this winter. Stay safe and warm!

Best Places to Walk Your Dog on Cape Cod

Over the past couple of years living on Cape Cod, I have taken my dogs to some great walking trails/bike paths. It’s hard to stay active during the colder months so I wanted to share some places that may be new for you to try. Here are my favorites:

1.) The place I love most is the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. The view is absolutely gorgeous. Oceanic views that lead into a quiet paved bike path with benches along the way. There’s also a charming small bridge.

2.) Bass Hole in Yarmouth. There are trails that loop around and the boardwalk is lovely. This place has special meaning to my heart now since I got engaged here this past December.

3.) Captain Bangs Hallet House Trail in Yarmouth Port. Not only is there some history to read along this trail but you can also see a gigantic weeping beech tree.

4.) Bayberry Hills Golf Course in Yarmouth. I used to go here all the time with my dogs. It’s a beautifully paved trail that goes through the golf course. Plenty of parking!

5.) The Cape Cod Rail Trail in South Dennis. We love to go on family walks here with the dogs and our daughter. It’s a peaceful paved walk and there are also wooded trails along the trail if you want to explore! There is also abundant parking here as well.

I hope you can find some adventure this weekend and future weekends with these trails. Things call only get better from here. Your canine besties need a break too:)

Stocking Stuffers For Your Baby & Furbaby!

It is almost Christmas and I have been thinking of some of my favorite stocking stuffers for you to get your babies and furbabies. I love to always get my dogs and cat something special for the holidays. They deserve to feel merry and loved too! It’s especially fun if you wrap their gifts and see them open it up with their paws. First I will list a few baby/toddler stocking stuffers that I love.

1. This toy has been a hit ever since my sister gifted it to my daughter for her birthday! Whale Bath Tub Toy

2. Here is an adorable winter hat and mittens set from Old Navy. You can never have too many sets, they get lost so easily. Winter Hat and Mittens

3. My daughter loves the wubba nub pacifiers and these also can get lost. It is always great to have a couple on hand and they have cute holiday ones like a polar bear and reindeer! Wubba Nub Holiday

4. This is a fun ball toy that your baby can continue to play with until they are older. It is safe and soft to throw. Helps them with their coordination and it’s fun! Baby Ball

Wrapping empty boxes under the tree and letting your baby open them is the best! They really love ripping the paper and playing with that instead of anything that is actually wrapped.

Next, I will list a few stocking stuffers for your furbabies!

1. For the fluffy kitty in your life, PetSmart has adorable holiday themed cat toys. Cat Toys

2. My pug Finn (and I think every other dog out there) has their lamb chop stuffed toy that they adore. Here is the cutest one with a Santa hat! Santa Lamb Chop

3. Instead of just buying your dog some treats, try making him some! There’s no better than something homemade from the heart. You can shape them with Christmas cookie cutters and make them festive! Here is a link to my favorite dog treat recipe: Homemade Dog Treats

4. My dogs don’t chew many bones but they love this one! Not sure if it’s the shape or flavor, but it’s a hit in our house. Wishbone

5. This last one can be a gift for your child if they are older to give to their pet. Who doesn’t love a paw ornament? This is a kit you do at home yourself! I think it’s the sweetest idea. Paw Print Ornament

I hope that I have given you a few ideas to fill up some stockings this holiday season! Wishing you all a safe and merry new year!

Cape Cod Rolls: a Perfect Thanksgiving Treat!

It’s that time of year and we all want to get a bit ambitious with our creations in the kitchen. Especially now that we have to keep our get togethers smaller, there is more time to enjoy new things! I first experimented with this recipe in the Summer so I could have it perfected for Thanksgiving. I received inspiration for this recipe after watching The Great British Bake Off show. Here is my twist on Paul Hollywood’s fig rolls. This recipe does take A LOT of patience, but it will be worth it. The flavors of the cranberries, ginger, and cinnamon ignite your taste buds. Cranberries are such a big part of Thanksgiving meal, why not make something a little different? If you are up for the challenge, this one is for you.

INGREDIENTS:

For the dough: 1 3/8 cup of flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling: 1 cup of dried cranberries, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp of crystalized ginger

  1. Make the biscuit dough. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar with a stand mixer on medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two or three batches until well incorporated. Scrape the mixture out onto a sheet of plastic and chill for 30 minutes, until firm.

3. Make the filling. Place the cranberries and ginger into a small pan so they cover the base of the pan. Add the light brown sugar and enough water to just cover them. Place over a medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 5–8 minutes, until the cranberries are soft and the mixture is thick and fragrant.

4. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse to a paste. Add the cinnamon and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Spread out the mixture onto a plate to cool and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

5. Heat the over to 375 degrees.

6. Roll out the chilled biscuit dough on the flour-dusted sheet of baking paper to a 25 x 20cm rectangle. Trim the edges and cut the rectangle in half to give two strips, each measuring 25 x 10cm.

7. Halve the cranberry filling and roll each half into a cylinder measuring 25cm long. Lie each cylinder down the middle of one a strip of the dough. Brush the long edge of one strip of dough lightly with water and, using the baking paper to help, lift and roll the dough over the filling as you would a sausage roll. It should overlap and seal in the filling. Repeat with the other roll.

8. Gingerly transfer the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet and cut each roll into six equal pieces. Run a fork along the tops of the rolls to slightly flatten. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until lightly browned, then remove from oven cool on a wire rack before serving. Enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving! Stay safe everyone!

A Month of Thankful Moments

November is a month of reflection and gratefulness. Every day we should embrace this but the holidays bring out these emotions. Giving back to one another and the community is one of the most humanly things we can do. Over the years I have collected and acknowledged some pretty great moments of thoughtfulness. I would like to share ten of the best ways (in my opinion) that you can spread grateful juju:

1. Pay for someone’s coffee when you go through a drive-thru. That way, the barista already knows what the person behind you has ordered. Sometimes I wait to see their reaction in my rear view mirror, it will make your day!

2. Donate to a new charity that you’ve never heard of before. Bring some hope and endearment to a new meaningful cause.

3. Leave a post-it on someone’s car door next time you’re grocery shopping. Or even on a grocery cart! A quote or just a simple “You are loved.” You never know how much someone may need to hear that.

4. Write a letter to an essential worker. Whether it be a nurse, doctor, bus driver, or your favorite teller at the bank. Let them know how thankful you are for putting everyone first before themselves during these Covid times.

5. This past summer when I was in Maine with my family, I pulled my Dad aside and told him how much I appreciated him. He said that he doesn’t think anyone has ever told him that and how much it meant for me to say it to him. Tell someone today how much you appreciate them in your life, it will mean so much to them.

6. We have all had piggy banks at some point in our lives. This is what I call the grateful jar. Every day for a month, write something you’re grateful for that day and put it in the jar. At the end of the month, look and see all the things you wrote down.

7. Bring some cookies to your neighbor(s)! Even if you’re not a good baker, you can buy the ones already made at the grocery store and just pop them in the oven! A warm plate of cookies is always something to smile about.

8. When you’re out for a walk in your neighborhood and see some trash, pick it up! I usually bring some disposable gloves and a bag to put the trash in and throw it away when I get home. This is an easy way to help the community and the earth.

9. Read a child or children a book online! There are virtual readings that you can sign up for. Check your local children’s centers too and let them know you would like to do this as a free event!

10. Lastly, ask a loved one if they are okay. Your cousin that you haven’t seen since they got married last year or your Aunt that lives alone. Just asking that simple question can help.

There’s no time like now to be grateful and giving towards one another. Let November be our guiding light that leads us to a new year full of hope.

Parents, Are You Okay?

I don’t think anyone checks on us parents often enough. Especially during the last seven months. Everyone is concerned with themselves and their immediate family (which is totally fine!). What we are going through now has made us all appreciate the little things. When you feel like you’re stuck in the Twilight Zone constantly, you have to realize there are tiny milestones to celebrate. You have to find something each day to be present in. That moment of fun. That moment of relief. That moment of gratitude. We all need those moments.

When we find these moments that sometimes seem to be hidden amongst a wall of fear or anger, we need to abandon ourselves completely. What I mean by that is we must transform into our own superhero. Wondermom. Superdad. Captain Mom. Spiderdad. We put everything aside to put our children first. Their well-being. Their happiness. That’s all that matters. When you put someone or something first for so long, you tend to forget that you also need to be watered in order to grow. It takes a lot out on us raising our children to hopefully be great people one day. That’s all we ever want.

I was standing in line waiting to shop at Trader Joe’s the other day, when there was a woman playing the violin outside. She captured everyone’s attention and I could see the smiles behind everyone’s masks. There was one lady who got out of line to just go and dance to the music. I’m not sure if it’s my motherly hormones but it brought tears to my eyes. Witnessing the simple joy of song and dance during these new normal situations. That woman even leaving the line ( and if you go to the Trader Joe’s in Hyannis you know that’s a big deal leaving your spot in line ) ! Everything about that moment was beautiful. Humanity. If you want to listen to this superwoman’s music, her Instagram handle is Violin Viiv.

Just getting out of the house to grocery shop while my boyfriend and daughter stayed home was some quality “me” time. We all need alone time. We all need to stay sane for humanity. We need to stay present and maybe today, just ask a parent if they are okay. Ask them if they would like to have a socially distanced coffee while the weather is still nice. A place they can be okay for a little while. Escape the everyday and just be.

How to be Pawsitive in a Pandemic

I was watching the news one morning in the height of the pandemic amidst other violent happenings around the world. Death was pouring from the TV screen. So much heartache. My daughter starts to giggle loudly and when I look at her I see my pug Finn licking her on the cheek. Laughter. Smiles. It seems that during the pandemic everyone has started to catch on to one of the most positive things in life: dogs! According to the MSPCA back in April, there was a 20% adoption rate increase and almost 350 animals were placed with forever homes. I couldn’t find any statistics from the last five months but I can only guess that it has gone up even more, especially during the summer months. Even then, that’s a huge percentage increase and one of the best things to come from this horrible pandemic.

I think if everyone in the world realized how a dog can give them as much love as they need ALL the time, the world would be a much better place. It is proven that your mood increases and you even sleep better with a dog in your bed! Having one around brings comfort and security. I know with my dogs, if I step outside for just one minute and come back inside, they act like I was gone for hours. The pure excitement and unconditional love they give me is priceless and the fact that they also give that love to my daughter is beyond words to describe. What if we all treated one another the way dogs treat us? With loyalty, kindness, respect, and love. If we cared about strangers the way our dogs care about us, things would be so beautiful. We have seen people come together during this unprecedented time but it could always be better.

So, if you’re looking for something to be positive about, adopt a dog (or a cat, or a parrot, or a rabbit, or any animal that you fall in love with at the shelter). I have had a dog in my life before I was even born. We always had all kinds of fluffy critters in our household. Having animals in your home also helps with your baby’s allergies. The more pet dander, the more immunity your baby has and allergies are less likely to be developed.

There are so many positive outcomes for adopting a dog. I would recommend doing some research on the breed you are adopting so you know how to properly take care of them. Dogs who have herding backgrounds tend to need more exercise and stimulation in their daily routine. Taking care of a dog isn’t easy though. They can become expensive real fast and they need nurturing and love like every living thing. If you don’t have the money (times are tough right now) or the love to give, then save it all for a time in your life when you do. It is unknown when things will begin to improve, but if you do one great thing and adopt an animal in need, then that is one of the most positive things you can do! Here is the MSPCA link for adoptable animals at their Cape Cod facility: https://www.mspca.org/adoption-search/.

Child CPR: It might save your baby’s life (or someone else’s)

I turned my eyes away for that one second. I heard that awful noise. What could she have gotten into in a room we baby proofed before she was even born? Paper. A piece of an instruction pamphlet from one of her toys. She ate the corner of it and it was stuck on the roof of her mouth and throat. This could go horribly wrong. I managed to put her over my arm and firmly pat into between her shoulder blades. This loosened what was in her throat and I pulled it all out. She was crying. I was crying. I held her and kissed her. Two days earlier I took the CPR and AED course at Cape Cod CPR in Yarmouth. I became certified in CPR and AED. THANK GOODNESS.

They say when something like what I experienced with my daughter happens, you panic and forget everything. Not at all. Your instincts rush through you like a waterfall. Your brain flows with all the knowledge you have learned to save a life. The first and most important reason to become certified in CPR is for your child(ren). I don’t know about other new moms and dads, but I am on the edge of my seat every time my daughter eats real food now. I’m afraid she will choke. She’s just learning to chew and that world is so new to her. I already had one scary moment and I’m not going to let anything happen to her if I can prevent it.

The second prominent reason to be certified is the value of another’s life. Imagine you are walking along the beach and you go by an outdoor restaurant. You can see that someone is struggling at their table. They clasps their hands over their throat. You know what must be wrong but you can only stop and call 911 because you never took that CPR certification course. What if you did take that course? Would this person be saved faster? Since we now live in a Covid world, having one of these with you is a must: Emergency-One-way-Breathing-Barrier-Training. It is small, so you can carry it with you anywhere and it protects you when having to perform direct contact mouth to mouth. I hope I never have to, but I am confident with knowing what has be done in case an emergency occurs.

Now, the first two reasons may seem completely obvious. Yet, I know so many people who aren’t certified and they have children! I think it’s the doubt, the intimidation, and of course the time it takes. The course was only two hours long. You can schedule ahead in advance so you can plan to have a babysitter or each parent can go separately.

Lastly, taking the certification is a way of gaining the knowledge to successfully become a potential hero. The course is packed with all sorts of educational videos and hands on work with practicing CPR. Everyone is six feet apart and the room is disinfected before and after each class. The teacher that I had was very informative and gave me the confidence to perform CPR and use the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) machine. To stay up to date with all the current protocols, you must take the CPR certification class every two years. We can all feel a little more safe by becoming CPR certified. Our hearts won’t be able to deal with the what if’s.