Month

March 2015

3 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Traveling with Kids

Get Ready for a Great Vacation with Your Kids

1. Research

Make your vacation great by researching where you want to go and how you’ll get there well in advance.

You may have a dream vacation in mind, but look into it a little further and realize that what you thought would be loads of fun has you crammed into a tiny hotel room (avoid a standard hotel room at all costs) with no escape when the kids hit the sheets well before your bedtime. The room types and amenities offered at a kid-friendly hotel far outweigh what you’ll find at more refined five star hotels.

Many hotels offer family friendly accommodations. Hilton brands like Double Tree and Hampton Inn are excellent options. Typically affordable, clean, comfortable, modern, and family friendly these brands plan with kids in mind. Some offer suites suited for families, others a single room set up with an area just for kids. Allowing you to kick back and relax when it’s lights out for the little ones. Attached waterparks, movie nights, crafts, complimentary sundae bars and a collection of take out options from area restaurants make for fun within the hotel when the weather does not go your way.

Family friendly resorts offer excellent on-site options for everyone. There’s a reason so many families make their to Walt Disney World on school vacation weeks; there’s lots to do for everyone. Although this trip can be planned yourself, a specialist can ensure this trip is done the way you want. Our personal favorite Disney vacation planner is Kelly Wheeler with Key to the World Travel. She’s FREE, can find you deals and will make your trip magical. Not to mention, she has two kids of her own and loves Walt Disney World; she travels there with her family each year.

Home rentals are a wonderful way to enjoy a popular tourist destination. With so much space, you’ll enjoy not just your time exploring, but also your time relaxing. Your kids can have their own space and you can have yours.

2. Fly direct, working around your kids schedules

The lower fares from multiple stops can be tempting, but when flying with kids, especially those under five, the cost of a direct flight  will pay you dividends in peace of mind.

Having flown many times, with another adult and alone, both direct and with layovers, leaving on time and having been delayed, I always book the most direct flight with the least number of stops possible.

The only time a layover is to your advantage is when the flight is very long. Two options in this situation are to fly overnight (provided your kid’s a good sleeper), or get a layover that allows for one to two hours at a well equipped airport. Think play space, food court, places to run around. The hour or two will be well worth it when your kids can’t watch another show.

On one harrowing nap-time flight home (kids are always at their worst on the way home), alone with a rambunctious two year old, I found myself near tears. My son decided he was done with planes for the day, threw himself on the ground, screaming, while I tried to get him, his stroller and our carry on to our seats. If you’ve ever carried a flailing toddler around, you know this job requires both hands. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers who came to my rescue, because without help I would have had to leave everything (other than my son) behind.

3. Be Early

When an adult misses a flight, train, or other scheduled mode of transportation home it’s not fun, but manageable. If you’re traveling with kids and you miss your transportation, it is a nightmare straight out of Elm Street.

Rescheduling multiple seats can be tough, causing you to be delayed further, and your kids to get seriously cranky. Arrive extra early to the airport or train station, make your way through security let the kids buy some treats at the store and snacks to take along then read a few books or let them run wild before boarding.

And you’ll be headed off for a fantastic time away as a family.

The Fishtail Braid: A How-To for the Hair-Phobic

Chic Hairstyles in Under 10 Minutes, A Series

Part 1 of 6- The Fishtail Braid

As a mom always on the go, my appearance is the first thing that suffers from my lack of time in the morning.  My go-to hairstyle for a good amount of years has been a soaking wet head of hair thrown up into a messy bun. As a woman in envy of the put together appearances of other moms at school drop off, I decided it was time to seek out some guidance from a hair professional.

Determined to find a solution for my neglected tresses, I turned to my trusted hairstylist for many years, Moselle Sath at Shag in South Boston for advice.  As a hairstylist rock star in her own right, Moselle quickly came to the rescue. Her simple, trendy hairstyles can be achieved in under 10 minutes for a final look that will leave you the envy of your friends.

A favorite that works on those with medium to long hair is the Fishtail Braid. The fishtail braid looks like a complicated style to produce, but in reality this polished look is quite simple.

What you need:

  • Comb or Brush
  • 2 elastics (clear are best)
  • Scissors

2 sectionsStep 1:

Decide if you want your fishtail in back or to the side. Comb your hair to the side of your head (or back) and secure it in a ponytail with one of the elastics.


Step 2:

Separate your ponytail into 2 sections.

 

take small section to crossStep 3:

Working with small strands of hair from the outer portion of each side you’ll pass thin strands from one to the other.

 

 

 

small section crossing 2Take a small piece of hair from the outside of section 1 and cross it over the top of the pony passing it to section 2.  Now take a small piece of hair from section 2 and cross it over the top of the pony passing it to section 1.  You will notice the x pattern that you created in the middle.  Repeat this process while maintaining a tight hold and continue until
you reach your desired braid length.  I like to braid until I am only left with an inch of hair at the bottom.

 

past the middle***Note – If you have layers in your hair, a full braid may cause the smaller layers to come out, adding a messy effect to the overall look.  If you have layers and prefer a more composed look, end the braid at your shortest layer.   ****                                                                                                                                                                

 

 


widening the braid before elastic cutStep 4:

Once you have reached your desired length secure the end of the braid with a clear elastic.  With both of your hands, gently stretch out the fishtail to give it a little width.

 

elastic cut

 

 

Step 5:

Grab a pair of scissors and carefully cut the  elastic that held your ponytail in place at the top.  Once cut, remove the elastic and finish the look by again gently stretching the fishtail out to give it some width.

 

The fishtail braid really is an easy style to recreate and it looks fabulous dressed up or down.  There is something about a great braid that is chic and elegant but innocent at the same time.

Try this look for yourself and send us your pictures.

We want to hear from you!  Find Amazing Matriarch on Social Media- Facebook: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch orTwitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your adventures using #amazingmatriarch

Host an Approachable Wine Tasting

Bring a little taste of Napa (and your kids) to your next dinner party

When you want to entertain without all the fuss and muss of a formal dinner party, host a wine tasting with a few friends. It will seem like you spent days preparing, but really you’ll have invested a few hours and minimal effort to prep for your guests arrival.

Best of all, no sitter is needed. Plan for an early evening arrival and the kids can play while you sip, savor and nosh and still get everyone to bed on-time.

While the adults make their way through the tasting menu, the kids can play, catch a movie and munch on pizza (courtesy of the local delivery man). Paper plates and juice boxes make for easy clean-up, and special treats like candy or popcorn can help delay the need to leave for a little bit longer.

To set-up your tasting, you’ll want a few bottles of wine. To mimic what you’d find when visiting a vineyard, start with whites and move onto reds (lightest to darkest). Have your guests take part in the wine selection by assigning each couple a bottle or two to bring along. Encourage guests to seek something new so the tasting is a learning experience for all.

At a recent wine tasting party we sampled the following( in this order):

tablescapeI set the table with 6 glasses for each guest (if you find yourself without enough glasses, purchase a plastic sleeve), plates for appetizers, utensils and a guide with tasting notes. In the center, I presented the food to pass around family style.

When each couple brings an appetizer to share, you’ll cut back on the  cooking (and clean-up). Various people bringing dishes also allows for a variety of food to be sampled. Guests should keep in mind the tasting theme and consider what food would pair well with the wines being served.

Treats that have made their way through my doors for wine tasting nights include little crostini topped with fun toppings such as sliced meatballs, chunks of chicken parmigiana, bean dip and olive tapenade. As well as endive cups filled with delicious Tuscan Chicken Salad. But if you’d rather keep the food in house, make it simple by throwing some pre-made (I love Trader Joe’s) appetizers in the oven.

As the host, I jump at the chance to experiment with the cheese plate. Although markets like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s offer excellent cheese selections, when I want to impress my friends I head to a small, local shop.

The one cheese shop I favor, close to my home, is Wasik’s The Cheese Shop in Wellelsey, Massachusetts. The cheese maker, Brian Wasik is typically in store and beyond helpful. I explained what my goal was in cheese selection and he guided me through his cheeses to find the perfect cheese pairings to compliment the wines.

Armed with three cheeses: La Tur from Piemonte, Missouri Truckle, and Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy, I set off to find the special little touches that would take this platter from something to nibble on to the star of my table. Adding piles of salumi (the Italian word for cold cuts) , some tall bread sticks, a bundle of grapes, pile of apricots, a line of olives, and a little honey to drizzle over the truckle, the cheese plate was ready for my guests to enjoy.

And enjoy they did because the six adults at the table almost polished off the entire cheese plate. First, tasting each cheese alongside the appropriate red or white, then gobbling up the accompaniments as they returned for seconds and thirds.

Guide your guests by sharing the following tidbits about each cheese so that they learn not only about the wines you’re serving, but also the food:

cheeseplate

  • La Tur from Piemonte is a creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk that pairs well with whites.
  • Missouri Truckle is an unpasteurized cheddar cheese aged in a cheese cloth on the outside, allowing the cheese to breath and resulting in a dry, crumbly texture paired with the light reds.
  • The Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy is a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that held up well to the bolder reds.

This allows them the confidence to host their own wine tasting, and hopefully reciprocate the invitation.

Add a little touch of wine to your cheese by labeling using old wine corks. Using a dark colored marker, label each cheese then stick a toothpick into the cork, and insert into the corresponding cheese.

And finally, add a little extra something to your wine tasting party by asking everyone to send you a picture of the wine labels so you can put a wine menu together. To do this, research the wine maker’s tasting comments and add them to sheets of paper accompanied by the photo of the label, and space for taking notes. This keepsake lets your guests not only remember the night, but also find the wines that you’ve discovered. It also acts as a guide for the wine phobic so even if they can’t actually smell or taste the correct flavors in the wine, they can comfortably fake it.  If you don’t have time to create your own guide from scratch, use my template as a starting point.

You’re friends will be amazed at how easy it is to host an elegant evening of wine tasting.

-Just one mom finding a way to enjoy wine with friends, Courtney

Check out Amazing Matriarch on Social Media- Facebook: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your wine tasting adventures using #amazingmatriarch

 

 

 

 

One Hour + $35 = Happy Feet

Reflexology for Relaxation

When you’re short on time and in need of a little stress relief consider trying reflexology at Waltham’s Happy Feet. For $35 (plus gratuity) you can spend an hour in their clean, dimly lit reflexology room. Catering to many clients at the same time, you may want to encourage a few friends to help fill the room, but even if flying solo, you’ll quickly forget that there are strangers all around and drift off into a state of relaxation in the hands of your skilled reflexologist.

Unclear on what reflexology is, I did a bit of research before we went. Reflexology is the belief that using specific points in the hands and feet stimulate areas that relate to other parts of the body.  Practitioners use their thumb and fingers when working with these pressure points to provide a deep, targeted massage.

Always up for a bit of “me time”, I was quick to agree and join a friend who mentioned that she wanted to try Happy Feet. As she and I have crazy, and often conflicting, schedules it was nice to know that Happy feet is open until 10pm, making it easy to get an appointment that we could work with.

At Happy Feet, sessions begin on the hour and appointments are strongly recommended. On a Sunday morning at 10am, I found the entire room filled with others enjoying their session. Silence is a necessity, as any chatter would disturb those around you, and cell phones are strictly forbidden.

Once you’ve been shown to your bed, you’ll remove your shoes and socks and sit on the ottoman at the base of your assigned bed. Placing your feet into a comfortably warm Chinese herb filled bath, you’re feet will soak for fifteen minutes.  During this time, your practitioner will get to work loosening your head, neck, shoulders and back with a deep massage that combines kneading and rubbing to release your muscles.

After the tension has been taken out of your upper body, you’re feet are in for a treat.  Lay back and relax on the comfortable bed for 45 glorious minutes of foot relief. Focusing on your pressure points, your reflexologist will do a mix of pressing, rubbing and kneading from your ankles to knees, eliminating all tension. The only drawback is that the hour goes by too fast and you’ll soon be sent back to the real world.

Harmonization of the body is said to be the benefit of reflexology providing many positive health benefits, however the proof of reflexology’s healing powers has not been confirmed.

But one thing’s for sure, it does no harm and comes in at a fraction of the cost of a traditional massage. Happy Feet really is a treat and hours later my feet are still pretty happy.

-Life’s too short for your feet to be anything but happy, Jess

Find Amazing Matriarch on Social Media- Facebook: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch orTwitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your adventures using #amazingmatriarch

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My Life’s Not as Fabulous as it Seems on Facebook

How many times do you look at social media and think of how great someone else’s life is in comparison to yours? Filled with photos of:

  • clean, fashionably dressed, cooperative, smiling children
  • families vacationing someplace fabulous
  • moms who are home with their kids doing all kinds of creative inspiring activities
  • moms who dress great and get promotions because they work hard outside of the home
  • dashingly handsome dads who are always around and smiling, helping with said perfect children
  • decadent meals that mimic art, plated with the care of a Food Network chef

These photos are what’s constantly popping up in my social media newsfeed.

But what we don’t often see are the raw moments of triumph and painful setbacks. The small victories and the grand disappointments are masked, hidden behind a stream of information that, like the best marketing tools out there, sell us the hope of something more.

Everyone’s reality goes far beyond these moments for a less impressive compilation of events that come together to create a real life, and one most opt not to share with the virtual world.

Who wants to hear about the negative anyhow? Social media is another outlet for our voyeuristic entertainment and no one is entertained by someone else’s whining.

My Facebook Feed vs. My Reality

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A real life trip with real life kids:

Vacations are great, but traveling anywhere with kids is a challenge.

The Amazing Matriarch team spent 5 days in New Hampshire; we skied at Waterville Valley, explored Meredith’s Children’s Museum and stayed up late watching chic flicks, chatting and drinking wine. It truly was a fun getaway with friends.

But…I  had a severe cold, it was severely cold (-34 on the mountain), and our kids were a bit wild. We suffered multiple public, potty accidents causing us to cut short various excursions. My daughter left the mountain day care sobbing uncontrollably after a kid kicked her 2 year old butt, which kicked my momma butt. And we were discouraged from waiting for a table at a local restaurant when our boys ran in like wild animals.

We had many great moments but this video (which I did not post on social media, but did send to our husbands who were safely working) of our ride up sums up what we felt like doing, and how the kids behaved the majority of the time.

Hosting a party for friends:

This winter we decided to try an adult night on our backyard ice rink (thanks for the idea, Laura!). We kept it very small and it was cool in more ways than one. Our small group of friends made it extra special bringing things like ice shot glasses (thanks, Courtney!) crockpots filled with food, and their hockey sticks. We set up an alcohol packed hot chocolate bar, fire pit and my husband organized a two on two ice hockey tournament. It looks like it was a blast (and for the most part, it was).

What you did not see was that the first decent snowfall of the season fell that day and kept falling until after our party started. It had my hubby shoveling to clear the area so our guests were not knee deep in snow and so that the rink was clear for skating. By the time our guests arrived we were pretty beat from all the prep. My husband did not eat the yummy food or drink the craft beer because he was flat out exhausted.

Our guests enjoyed the party, but we weren’t inspired to try it again because the amount of work involved outweighed the fun we had hosting it.

Out, about and hard at work:

I get to try fun things and often turn them into dates or night’s out with friends because I’m the Boston Local Expert for USA TODAY’s 10best and I write about food, travel, attractions, nightlife, and shopping.

In reality, these things are pretty awesome. But, I spend more money on babysitters and parking than I make in a year. And finding reliable sitters is not simple, especially when the hours I need are inconsistent. When I’m doing these great things, I’m actually working and sometimes that means paying little attention to whomever accompanies me.

And after I’ve enjoyed the perks, the real work begins. At times I have to tell people how something was not right and explain why I won’t be featuring them on my latest list, article, etc. Then, retreat to my computer to write, source photos and research further before putting together a product that I’m proud of.

Kids will be kids, despite my objections:

My kids often look adorable on social media. Those are rare moments. In reality, they often have wild hair and mismatched clothes; my son will only wear sweats and he’s so skinny I can never get any that fit; he won’t wear the ones with the tie waist and he refuses his jeans. My daughter is a fashionista in the making, refusing my coordinated outfits in favor of her quirky combinations. Her hair is wild, and she will rarely let me even brush it; I quit chasing and just let it be to save my sanity. Although I’d prefer they be better dressed and groomed; I pick my battles because I fight them enough in other areas.

My 2 yr old throws tantrums in the middle of Target and screams, “OUCH, you’re hurting me”, at the top of her lungs causing most people to glare at me like I’m evil. She fights me on where she can eat; even crying herself to sleep on the living room floor when I won’t give in.

My 5 year old makes demands, refuses food, and wants my attention at all times. He is active and plays until he’s exhausted then refuses to sleep.

My kids watch too much television:

Posts about the full days of endless crafts that moms are doing with their kids make me crazy. I am not a DIY diva (I leave that to Thia) and I can honestly say I lack creativity and motivation when it comes to crafting. I try from time to time, but after every attempt I swear I’ll leave the crafting in the classroom.

The reality is that if we aren’t outside, on an excursion, at a lesson of some sort, or playing indoors then my kids are watching TV- way too much TV. I swore they never would watch more than 2 hours per day but as we’ve gotten busier, my 2 year old’s gotten, well 2 years old; I’ve gotten tired of coming up with creative ideas and default to the ease of an afternoon movie or marathon of shows more often than I’d care to admit.

My husband is the greatest, and he’s always working:

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you how great of a dad my husband is. He plays, entertains and engages kids in a way I can only dream of. On social media it looks like we’re always doing something wonderful as a family or he’s giving me time for me.

Off to work, but not without hugs
Off to work, but not without hugs

In reality, he works a ton. He travels a lot, often missing days at a time. He’s never seen my daughter’s ballet class and it takes a lot of planning to get him to my son’s school activities. When I need to do something, like see  a doctor, I often have to reach out to friends and family for assistance. We’re a one income family and his career is paramount to our financial well being. I’m solo most of the time, and that’s ok.

When he is home, he’s all about us. He often skips his own “me time” to let me escape for a few hours here and there so that when he’s away and my daughter locks herself in the bathroom, the kids are sick, or we have a blizzard I don’t lose my mind.

Selfies and such; you rarely see me in pictures:

That’s because I typically look like this:                           Rather than this:

These hands end up on my clothes
These hands end up on my clothes

I love fashion, accessories, makeup and heels but my day includes getting messy, often downright dirty, from playing outside, doing any art activity my kids choose, or having my clothes used as a cleansing cloth. I’ve learned to only spend time getting myself gussied up when I’m going out-without them.

I wouldn’t want social media to change because in truth, the whining is not what I want to see. My life is real enough. I don’t judge other’s lives based on their posts because I’m sure that their reality is just as real as mine.

-Just one gal living life on and off social media, Jess

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch orTwitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your social media adventures using #amazingmatriarch

***Author’s note: Jessica spent last week posting as many negative things as she could think of as an experiment on social media. These posts, of real life moments, garnered far fewer responses than the positive, comical moments she usually puts out there. ***

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Crayon DIY Wall Art for Kids and Adults

If you’re looking for an easy project that takes less than an hour (for young attention spans) that kids will love, try crayon wall art. Use your imagination and for under $10, you’ll create a masterpiece with melted crayons on a canvas.

Materials:

  • Crayons
  • Glue & Glue Gun (you can use any type of glue)
  • Painters Canvas (12×12 or 11×14 canvas is a great size)
  • Embossing Heating Gun (you can find one for under $20 at your local craft store)
  • Cardboard box

Step 1:

Gather up the crayon color combinations that you want to use in this project.

Step 2:

Begin gluing each crayon side by side in whatever formation you want them to go.  I prefer to glue my crayons at the top of the canvas to give it a more uniform look but this is art, there is no right way to do it.  Use your creativity.

Step 3:

Once your crayons are glued onto the canvas, you can begin the heating process.  To get the look that I produced, I recommend putting your canvas in an open cardboard box so that it leans against one side of the box at an angle (plus having it in a box will prevent a mess).

An Epic Rainbow, One Student Commented
An Epic Rainbow, One Student Commented

Step 4:

Power on your heating tool and point it at an angle about 3-4 inches away from the tips of the crayons (pointing the heating tool too close to the crayons will cause it to splatter rather than drip downward).  It may take up to 30-45 seconds to heat up the crayons and you will have to do this in sections as the heat won’t reach all the crayons at once.  I like to point it at the tips only to prevent the heating tool from burning the crayon paper (it is much prettier to look at when the paper doesn’t burn).  I usually heat the crayons until the tips  melt away.  **TIP – If you notice a little smoke coming from your project don’t worry, just pull the heating tool away for a few seconds or move on to another section of crayons to give the area a break before completing the melting process.

Take the show on the road and be the hero of your kid’s preschool class.  Since this is an interdisciplinary project that taps into art and science and appeases curious, young minds, my son’s pre-k teacher let me lead his class in creating Crayon Wall Art.

I knew this would be fun, and the finished project pretty cool, but what I did not anticipate were the varying interpretations that the kids had of the art they created:

  • An epic rainbow
  • A melting rainbow a.k.a. Melty
  • A dripping rainbow
  • Melting colors

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

– Adding a little color to brighten your day, Thia

St. Patrick’s Day Happenings in Boston

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was known for bringing Christianity as well as its rich history and culture to Ireland. Observed on the day of his death, March 17thSaint Patrick’s Day is credited as the drunkest holiday. Every March 17th the Irish diaspora celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick and pay homage to “the Apostle of Ireland” and his legacy by wearing green, eating and drinking, and attending parades all over the world.  But you don’t have to be from Irish decent in order to join in on the fun.

Here is what is happening in and around Boston that will bring the Irish out in everyone:

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade South Boston – March 15 

The “Southie” parade as locals know it, is one of the largest St. Patty’s Day parades in the country. Held the Sunday before Saint Patrick’s Day, you can join in the festivities on Sunday, March 15th at 1pm (regardless of the snow banks).

The 2015 parade route has been shortened due to record snow still lingering along Boston’s streets. Starting on West Broadway the parade will end on Farragut Road.

If you plan to attend the parade, plan accordingly; people start lining up as early as 9am to save spots along the route.  If you can’t stay for the duration of the parade, be sure to note that the streets of Southie will close at 11am until the parade has finished; no cars are allowed in or out during that timeframe.

If you are heading in as a family (with children), make your way to the east side of the parade route as it is more family friendly than the west side.  Parking is available along William J Day Boulevard and a short walk brings you to the parade route.

As a former resident of South Boston, and an annual attendee, I can say with expertise that this parade is a must see for kids and adults alike.

Hard Rock Café Boston (22-24 Clinton Street, Boston, www.hardrock.com/cafes/boston) – March 13 – 17

The Hard Rock Cafe Boston will offer St. Paddy’s Day limited-edition Irish inspired fare. This fare includes:

Hard RockPhotos
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe
  • Irish Mule – made with Jameson whiskey, ginger beer and lime. An Irish twist on an old favorite!
  •   Irish Reuben- this sandwich is filled with slow-cooked, hand-carved corned beef brisket, then topped with crispy sauerkraut, creamy Thousand Island dressing and aged Swiss cheese atop a salt-crusted pretzel roll, served with Hard Rock’s special crispy fries and a side of citrus-spiked coleslaw.

On March 17, The Joshua Tree (The nation’s premiere tribute band to U2) will be playing U2 hits live from the Hard Rock Cafe Boston’s cavern club stage on St. Patricks Day from 7pm – 11pm. Tickets available for $10.

Saloon (255 Elm Street, Somerville, www.saloondavis.com) – March 17

The Saloon in Davis Square is serving up a trio of hearty, traditional Irish dishes to complement its extensive Irish whiskey portfolio.

  • Guinness Braised Corned Beef & Cabbage – roasted red potatoes and baby carrots, stone ground mustard – $20
  • Shepherd’s Pie Vol-au-Vents – Yukon Gold whipped potatoes – $18
  • Bangers & Roasted Garlic Mashed – caramelized shallot beef gravy – $12                                      

For entertainment or for anyone that wants to get their jig on, The Saloon is featuring the Dunns River band live from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. From 4:00pm – 7:00pm, Dunns River will play an Irish set at Saloon’s sister restaurant upstairs, Foundry on Elm.

The Independent, Union Square Eatery and Bar (75 Union Square, Somerville, www.theindo.com) – March 17

The Independent will open its doors at 11am to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick with an Emerald Isle traditional inspired menu and cocktails.  Classic dishes include:

  • Irish Breakfast – two fried eggs, grilled tomato, black and white pudding, Irish sausage, Irish bacon, fried potatoes, Irish baked beans, Irish soda bread – $12
  • Corned Beef Dinner – corned beef, boiled potatoes, cabbage, turnips, carrots and onions – $16
  • Irish Bangers & Mash – Irish pork sausage with mashed potatoes and baked beans – $13
  • Irish Guinness Beef Stew $16
  • Lamb Sandwich – Lamb with Irish cheddar, roasted garlic puree, fries – $14

The special lineup of liquid courage includes:

  • The Brotherhood – Jameson, Benedictine, Grand Marnier, lemon – $11
  • Chicory Stout – whiskey, chicory maple syrup, whiskey bitters, Guinness – $10
  • Ceangoba Toddy – apple-cinnamon infused Jameson, Benedictine, lemon peel, served warm – $9

Puritan & Company (1166 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, www.puritancambridge.com) – March 17

Puritan & Company is offering guests a delicious three-course prix fixe boiled dinner this St. Patrick’s Day for $40.  Dinner begins at 5pm and for an additional price there will be a selection of local craft beers for meal pairing.

Give Amazing Matriarch a shout out on social media by using the #AmazingMatriarch and don’t forget to #GoGreen4PatricksDay with your St. Patty’s Day attire.

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch orTwitter:@AMatriarch

Being Irish is very much a part of who I am.  I take it everywhere with me.” – Colin Farrell

– Just one Irish girl sharing a taste of my traditions, Thia

National Pi Day Specials in Boston Tomorrow

Tomorrow is National Pi Day and Boston area restaurants are serving up pies in all shapes and forms in honor of this smart day.  Put on your smartie pants and take advantage of these delectable specials (3/14/15 only) in and around the area.

Salvatore’s – All Salvatore’s restaurant locations including  Boston’s Seaport & Theater District as well Medford, Andover and Lawrence  will serve up their signature flatbread pizzas for $3.14.  This special offer is only available on March 14th, 2015 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. 

The handcrafted pizzas include Bruschetta with tomato, basil, garlic and red onion, fresh mozzarella and balsamic reduction, Rabe and Bacon with braised broccoli rabe, bacon, pepperoncino and mozzarella, Sweet Orchard with sweet Italian sausage, spinach, caramelized apples and gorgonzola, Salvatore’s take on the traditional Margherita, and Sweet Chili Chicken with roasted chicken, sweet chili sauce and mozzarella.

Salvatore’s will also offer specialty cocktails to pair with the many flatbreads including:

  • Basil Berry Martini ($11) with New Amsterdam vodka, St. Germaine, lime juice, and fresh strawberries.
  • Boston Sunset ($9) with New Amsterdam red berry and orange vodkas, Bacardi dragon berry rum, peach schnapps, orange juice and a splash of grenadine.
Brass Union - Apple Pies resized
Photo courtesy of Brass Union

Brass Union is serving up some special all american apple pie : three mini apple pies, burnt sugar, ice cream, cinnamon, apple compote for the low price of $6. Brass Union is located at 70 Union Square, Somerville – 617.623.9211 – www.brassunion.com

Photo courtesy of Cask ‘n Flagon
Photo courtesy of Cask ‘n Flagon

Head on over to Fenway for one last pre-season look at this soon to be bustling area, and bite into a slice of Oreo Cookie Pie at Cask ‘n Flagon; this cake batter ice cream and Oreo cookies creations adds special touches like raspberry swirls and chocolate fudge for 62 Brookline Avenue, Boston – 617.536.4840 – www.casknflagon.com.

Photo courtesy of The Tip Tap Room
Photo courtesy of The Tip Tap Room

The Tip Tap Room at 138 Cambridge Street, Boston, has a very special sweet treat Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie on the menu in honor of Pi DayChef Poe’s family recipe, this $8 delight is the ideal end to a fulfilling meal.  857.350.3344 – www.thetiptaproom.com

Photo courtesy of Legal Seafoods
Photo courtesy of Legal Seafoods

All of Legal Sea Foods locations  will be serving up an area classic, Boston Cream Pie. Making it a little extra special they’ll be incorporating a chocolate sauce, rum caramel sauce, and toffee almond crunch  into this $7.95 must try dessert. 

Photo courtesy of Legal Sea Foods
Photo courtesy of Legal Sea Foods

They’ll also transport you to the tropics with the sweet/tart combo of their Key Lime Pie. Served with a side of lime cream, and pomegranate sauce for $7.95 this is one dessert you won’t want to skip. www.legalseafoods.com

Give Amazing Matriarch a shout out on social media by using the #AmazingMatriarch with your best pics on this or any National Pi Day Adventure.

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter:@AMatriarch

Leftovers With a Purpose: Simple Tips for Making Multiple Meals with Shared Ingredients

I was once a gourmet cook, who used her kitchen time as a stress reliever. Now I’m a stay at home mother of two with a husband who has a consistently inconsistent travel schedule. On the side, I’m a travel and lifestyle writer who’s out several nights a week and a business woman trying to launch a business (this blog).

Planning healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners to fit the hectic schedule of my family has become just another chore in a never ending cycle that seems to keep growing as my kids grow. Far to often I find myself at the mercy of convenience fare; serving my family processed food -not my ideal means of providing nourishment.

Inspired by Cooking Light’s March 2015 feature, Cook Once, Eat 3x, I’ve taken control of my kitchen and found a way to stress-less-ly enjoy meal planning and preparation in a whole new way.

The Cooking Light feature offers three recipes that share one common ingredient, roasted root vegetables, and uses it in very different ways: as a side dish with chicken, in a turnover, and in a soup. Brilliant, simple, healthy and satisfying, all three recipes were home runs with each member of my family. Most of all, I had zero stress repurposing the roasted roots each day.

Seeking more easy ideas, I put my own spin on Cooking Light’s concept; roasting a whole chicken along with a 6 crowns of broccoli that produced enough leftovers to use in two more meals throughout the week: Chicken Nachos, and Broccoli Soup.

Meal 1: Roast Chicken and Oven Roasted Broccoli

A super simple and sensational recipe this crowd pleaser involves few ingredients and gives you a moist, flavorful bird.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

Pat the chicken dry then rub it with olive oil. Mix the seasonings together then coat the exterior of the bird with the mixture. Set your oven to bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes (this will crisp the skin nicely) then reduce to 350 degrees and walk away for a little over an hour while the oven does its thing to a 5-6 pound bird (cooking times vary based on size and oven).

When the chicken is close to ready (an hour and fifteen minutes into total cooking time) return to the oven and add the tray of broccoli, allowing just enough time for the bird to brown up, be removed, and rest before the broccoli is caramelized. Turn the broccoli  about halfway through the 20-25 minutes it needs to cook (the size of your florets places a roll in cooking time) in the 425 degree oven.

Slice the chicken, and serve with a side of broccoli. Let the remaining chicken and broccoli cool then store in airtight containers (after removing the remaining chicken from the bone).

IMG_4213If you’re looking to take your chicken to another level, skip the olive oil and seasoning mixture. Instead, mix 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter with 2 tablespoons of your favorite chopped herb (thyme, rosemary, dill, parsley, oregano, and sage all work well) loosen skin, and massage the butter mixture beneath, then sprinkle the outside with a bit of salt and pepper, squeeze 1 lemon on top, then stuff the lemon halves inside the bird along with any extra herbs before baking as directed above.

Meal 2: Chicken Nachos

Everyone in my house loves chips; but I’m not a fan of them becoming the main course.  Dressed-up with shredded leftover chicken, and melted cheese these tortilla chips transform into a protein-packed, kid friendly meal. Amp up the nutrition by setting up a toppings bar loaded with veggies and dips and you’ll be returning to chips for dinner in many forms.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup leftover shredded chicken
  • 1/2 to 1 bag of your favorite tortilla chips
  • 1 cup (or more if you’d like) shredded cheese of choice; I like a Mexican blend

Optional extras:

  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped onion
  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped olives
  • 1 can of rinsed black or pinto beans
  • chopped avocado or guacamole
  • sour cream
  • salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, layer tortilla chips on a sheet pan, top with chicken, cheese and beans (if you’re using), and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly but not too brown, remove from oven and allow to cool then transfer to individual plates or serving platter.

Place toppings bar selections in small bowls on your dinner table and pass them around so your family can create their own masterpiece. Challenge your kids to create the coolest toppings combination and you’re sure to find them clearing their plates.

Meal 3: Broccoli Soup

Choose your favorite broccoli soup recipe. I’ve yet to find a go-to choice and have not been successful experimenting. I like mine with cream, but I’m not a fan of the calories. My most recent favorite is simple and can be found in Food and Wine online. If you choose to use this recipe, I suggest roasting the garlic the night you cook the chicken and broccoli to save time. With the pre-roasted broccoli and garlic this recipe is lightening fast and super simple allowing your food to be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Serve this alongside a panini, grilled cheese sandwich, or a fresh salad and this soup becomes a filling meal.

-Making mealtime manageable one bite at a time, Jess

Rather dine out? Check our Jessica Polizzotti’s picks for family friendly Boston restaurants on USA TODAY’s 10best.

Beautify, Buy & Grab a Bite at Chestnut Hill Square

When style means more than shopping (but that’s a must too) head on over to Chestnut Hill Square where you can style yourself from head to toe. One of Boston’s best lifestyle Centers, Chestnut Hill Square has a little something for everyone in a town square environment that offers plenty of parking.

Start with your body by booking yourself a class at Soul Cycle where you’ll be bouncing to the beats and getting a high spirit, full body workout without hopping off your bicycle. Take advantage of the on-site showers, complete with soap, shampoo, toiletries, hair dryers and towels, then dress yourself in something other than sweats to move on with your day.

Pop on over to Drybar where their cocktail inspired hair styles will have you looking fresh and fabulous. Their expert hair styling mavens will wash and blow your locks to perfection. They’ll even straighten or curl for no additional fee. Freshly coifed, head out for a bit of shopping at the high demand retailers who call Chestnut Hill Square home.

Courtesy of Chestnut Hill Square
Courtesy of Chestnut Hill Square

Favorites like White House Black MarketFrancesca’s and Anthropologie have stores set up to provide you with an experience you won’t find just anywhere. Home to one of the few Anthropologie retail stores offering their bridal line, you can find the dress to make your special day perfect (or score one of their bridesmaid dresses to wear to a cocktail party, this line really can do double duty) as well as enjoy the eclectic housewares and everyday fashion inside.

Once you’ve filled you shopping bags to the brim, it’s time for some sustenance and maybe even a cocktail or two. Check out Season 52 for a sit down experience with their  fresh seasonal cuisine. The menu is calorie conscious ensuring you won’t toss your weight loss plan out the window with one meal. If your doing your day solo, have a relaxing drink and bite at their spacious bar. If you prefer to grab something quick and light then check out Sweet Green where the salads are simply superb.

Courtesy of Chestnut Hill Square
Courtesy of Chestnut Hill Square

If you find yourself in need of filling your own fridge before heading home, Wegman’s makes it easy. With a location right in Chestnut Hill Square, you can stay within this one property, fill your cart, then head home ready to face reality with a fresh outlook.

-Busy mom 1, setbacks 0; a way to sneak a treat mid-week,  Jess

Want more Boston shopping?

Check out Jessica’s picks for Boston’s best Shopping Malls and Centers on USA TODAY’s 10best

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