Author

jesspolizzotti

Armed with an undergraduate degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Teaching, Jessica began a career as an advertising executive before spending nine years as an 8th grade English teacher. In 2009, Jessica opted out of the workforce to be home with her kids. In need of an intellectual outlet, Jessica was offered the opportunity to start a third career as a freelance travel & lifestyle writer and has never looked back. Having contributed to travel & lifestyle outlets: Nile Guide, Tripology, USA TODAY & 10Best Jessica is excited to be part of the Amazing Matriarch where she hopes she can encourage other women to channel the amazing within.

Become a Summer Supper Superhero: Grill Once, Eat Three Times

When summer days are filled with outdoor fun, dinner preparation often falls through the cracks leaving this matriarch feeling not so amazing. My default to dinner is ordering pizza, hitting the drive through, whipping up mac n cheese or hot dogs day after day. Committed to ending the cycle of sub-par summer food, I’ve been testing recipes that can conquer multiple nights with simple tweaks that are no more difficult than boiling a box of mac n’ cheese. Grill once and have the making of dinner for three nights- a Monday’s mixed grill, taco “Tuesday”, and a pasta bar.

Night 1: Mixed Grill w/dipping sauce

Choose several meats to grill and lightly season with olive oil, salt and pepper (so you can alter their flavor profiles for future nights). My most recent variety pack included chicken cutlets, pork tenderloin and sausage because each cooks quickly, is enjoyed by all members of my family and offers versatility to transform in different dishes with very little effort.  Whatever you do, grill enough that you’ll have lots of leftovers.

Grill to your liking and serve alongside a salad  (tomato, cucumber and feta & watermelon caprese right now and coleslaw are in my current salad rotation) or a selection of grilled veggies, which will double as add in for your pasta bar and taco toppings.

Since the meats are very lightly seasoned, add a few dipping sauces for a little more “umph”. Cooking Light’s July issue has a recipe for Nuoc Cham that’s easy to prep and stays fresh for several days; it’s healthy and flavorful and works well on everything. My kids will eat anything dipped in ranch dressing so I put that on their plates, alongside my favorite bottled BBQ sauce for a trifecta of fun sauces that everyone can agree on.

Night 2: Taco “Tuesday” (or any day)

tacos-245241_1920 Chop some leftover chicken and pork tenderloin, quickly warm in a skillet and sprinkle with taco seasoning (you may need to add a touch of water to incorporate the sauce into the meat). To save sodium make your own:

  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika (hot, smoked or regular)
  • 1 tsp red pepper (if you like some spice)

Store in an airtight container to use when needed; add 1 tsp cornstarch to keep from sticking if it is humid. Or save time; buy a packet at the grocery store.

While meat is warming (about 5 minutes as to not overcook), wrap soft taco shells in foil and place in oven, set to 350; when oven has preheated shells will be warm.

Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream and leftover salad from Monday (a spicy slaw tops tacos nicely).

Night 3: Pasta Bar

spaghetti-709337_1920Set up two or three sauce options, dice  and warm (the microwave works well) the remaining meats and place in separate bowls. Sauté vegetables (or use pre-grilled veggies from night one) while pasta cooks. Then set out for everyone to make their own pasta creation.

My kids love pasta with “red sauce” so I typically keep a container of my homemade sauce frozen at all times, but when I run out and it’s too hot to even think of making more I turn to a jar of store bought. Rao’s wins taste test after taste test but comes with a hefty price tag ($9). My kids are just as happy chowing down on Ragu and at a much lower cost, I’m happy saving.

A tip to buy the healthiest sauce available is to read the list of ingredients, check preservatives, sodium and sugar content and try to buy a sauce that has very few ingredients.

I enjoy a fresh pesto and if I don’t have some on hand I buy a container from a local farmer’s market or Whole Foods. If you’re inclined to make your own, pesto freezes well if you divide the olive oil and drizzle some over the top in an airtight container adding the cheese when it has been defrosted.

My husband’s favorite is alfredo sauce; it’s tasty but not waistline friendly. I trick him by providing all the flavor with fewer calories using a tried and true Food Network recipe that I can prep while the pasta is cooking. I like to mix my alfredo with a pinch of red pepper and a tablespoon of tomato sauce.

Pair with a leafy green salad (use the bags to save time), a tall cup of cold milk for the kids, a glass of wine for yourself then sit back and enjoy the creative combination your family puts together without any complaints for the third night in a row.

-Making it easy to feed your family when the weather’s warm, Jess

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An Unexpected Recipe: Use Your Scraps To Make a Great Stock

Amazing Matriarch’s Recipe for Using it All in Two Simple Stocks

Th last time I was taking the final bits of meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken (one of my favorite dinner cheats since it can become so may wonderful things with so little effort), I created a savory stock that was easy to store and was ready to use:

  • toss the bones into a big pot

Added

  • an unpeeled onion, chopped in half
  • 2 wilted ribs of celery
  • 2 unpeeled, limp carrots
  • a few cloves of smashed garlic
  • a bay leaf

Fill the pot with water and sprinkle in some salt and pepper (and any herbs of choice; I tied a bunch of thyme together because it was in need of use) then let it come to a boil.

Once it boils, reduce the heat to simmer, set a timer for an hour to 2 and walk away.

Letting the stock develop it’s flavor for the two hours I had at home while my 2 year old took a nap, the stock was ready before she woke.  I strained the mixture, saving only the stock, which I cooled that afternoon while at a playdate, poured into freezer containers upon our return, and put away until I was ready to use.

This simple stock was made from things I was ready to waste; it’s been used in an easy and excellent lentil soup:

  • Boil lentils in stock according to lentil package directions
  • Add a bit of spice with a pinch of red pepper flakes while boiling
  • Top with a dusting of grated parmesan cheese

And as the base of a sauce in a 20 minute, one pan, Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce I found in the July, 2015  issue of Cooking Light that even my picky eater ate all up.

But the stock magic does not stop there as I found myself wondering if I could create a delicious vegetable stock from the stalks of broccoli, and cauliflower I was cutting, and use the entire vegetable rather than let it go to waste. This recipe tricked my carnivorous husband into thinking it was regular chicken stock in his favorite side dishes:

  • Put all your broccoli and cauliflower, or scraps from any vegetable of choice (leaves, stems, etc) into a large pot

Alter by adding any vegetables you have on hand; the broth’s flavor will alter based on what’s in it. I used:

  • A few ribs of celery (a great use for when it goes past its prime)
  • A few carrots (I like to use the ones that hid in the back of my produce drawer too long and go limp)
  • Several cloves of crushed, unpeeled garlic
  • One unpeeled onion chopped in half
  • One bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper (and any fresh herbs you may have on hand)

Then I followed the same procedure as with the chicken stock and ended up with an equally as delicious, meat free broth at the ready. It’s been added to quinoa and couscous; filling my grains with flavor before adding any mix-ins.

This stock is ideal for #meatlessmonday or any day you want to be a vegetarian but don’t want to sacrifice flavor; or to get more nutrients into vegetable averse children or spouses.

Made in spare time; these stocks are an inexpensive and flavorful alternative to store bought that can be easily stored in your freezer, and quickly defrosted when you’re ready to use.

– Making it easy to make use of it all in the kitchen, Jess

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Fashion: Taking On Nantucket Wine Festival One Style at a Time

Nantucket Wine Festival is an annual island highlight taking place every third weekend of May. A mature crowd flocks to the festivities surrounding the festival that brings winemakers from around the world, along with top notch chefs, to an extra long weekend focused on food, fashion and of course fabulous wine. Here’s a style-guide to help you pack your bags full of looks you’ll love when you’re headed to Nantucket’s next Wine Festival.

Island dwellers come prepped to the nines in brightly colored Lily Pulitzer attire easily found at just off Main Street’s, In the Pink and a bit more trendy, but just as colorful, recently opened Shift. Men tend to get in touch with their Vineyard Vines side; dressing in seersucker, salmon, colorful pants and prints you don’t often see in big cities.

Those from off-island may find it hard to find attire that works for the variety of events they plan to attend and treads the line between island fashion and personal expression.

If you find yourself flustered and shopping without finding something that works for you stick with what you know and love.

Surprisingly enough the most compliments came while wearing a pervious season’s BCBG maxi dress (in the featured image of this post) paired with a gap denim jacket. A huge hit with shop owners, wine fest attendees and friends found along the streets; I tossed this go to outfit in my bag last minute when nothing felt quite right while shopping for new special pieces.

Another simple and timeless piece that turned heads was a cream colored boho shift dress with lace detail; paired with the same demin jacket and wedges from the day before, this easy to pack, not in need of ironing staple transitioned from day to night without a hitch. The combo of these comfortable “just me” pieces that I often toss on at home made big waves at Nantucket Wine Festival.

Rocking the same seersucker blazer and an alternating selection of t-shirts with light-weight pale gray and navy pants, my husband fit right in. His navy Lacoste boat shoes pairing with each look and adding a prepped up edge to his regular look that allowed him to still be comfortable.

However, there’s one event you should put a bit more thought into, the Gala. This kick-off to the festivities takes place Thursday evening at  White Elephant Hotel’s Brant Point Grill and spills onto their lawn.The Gala sets the mood for the weekend, and introduces guests to what’s to come, offering an endless sampling of food and wine, this cocktail party is the most difficult event to dress for. The word gala implies a need for cocktail attire if not black tie, but on Nantucket things are little more laid back, and the combo of cobblestones and expansive lawns will leave you teetering on high heels.

Slightly overdressed for the Gala
Slightly overdressed for the Gala

Donning a black Monique Lhuiller knee length dress, paired with a Nantucket- esque bright green statement necklace and a pink pashmina, I felt confident that I’d fit in among a sea of revelers who embraced all aspects of fashion. And I did, falling somewhere in between the formal and casually dressed (some in sequenced gowns, others more casually elegant in trousers).

Men were dressed in everything from suits with ties to jeans and sneakers. The best looks on the men in attendance were from those who wore a suit or blazer and slacks and opted to go tieless.

Next time, I’ll put together a look that’s a bit less fancy and go for something a little more flouncy like this J Crew  fit flare in a bright color, and for sure I’d pair my dress with wedges to add height to my 5’1″ frame. I’ll let my hubby leave the tie behind in favor of a print button down to sport under his blazer.

As for a purse, this is true cocktail party with little bites you won’t want to miss doled out by top chefs from Nantucket, Boston and beyond and paired with wines served by winemakers from around the world. Make sure your evening bag has a handle so you can enjoy every sip and nibble sent your way.

Then feel confident that you look fabulous because how you feel is what really matters when you’re at Wine Festival or anywhere.

-Reminding you that fashion only makes sense when you feel fabulous, Jess

Have you been toNantucket Wine Festival? Share your favorite fashion  photos with us at Amazing Matriarch on Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

Five Father’s Day Ideas That Require No Wrapping

If you’ve let time slip away and are panicking about what to give the father of your children this Father’s Day, then Amazing Matriarch has a few ideas you can pull off and look like a pro who planned well in advance.

1. 18 holes

Plan a round of golf with his best buds. Maybe it’s his kids or friends he rarely sees without them. If Father’s Day is not the time to let him freely hit the links, coordinate with the ladies in the lives of his foursome and book a tee time you know will work, pay for it when you call, and then let Dad play all day without the worry his phone will ring with a request from you.

2. Take something off his plate

Dad’s are busy people; take over a chore he dreads and give him some much deserved free time to spend with the family.

3. Plan an itinerary for his perfect day with the family

Think of what he likes and set a plan in motion for a day that’s all about him. Maybe he’s active and a morning hike followed by an afternoon bike ride with a cooler filled with his favorite “to go” eats in the trunk that ends with an ice cream at his favorite stand or parlor is just the ticket. Or perhaps he’s the kind who’d relish a day of peace and quiet vegging out on the couch; make his quiet time happen while you and the kids prep an elaborate feast. Perhaps he’s a foodie and a meal out is just the ticket; be sure to reserve a spot at his favorite clam shack, steakhouse, or burger joint. Whatever it is Dad loves, you do-without making him make a decision.

4. Divide the day

If your kids are still at home let each pick a special activity they want to do with Dad and divide the day into chunks so Dad can spend some one on one time with each; even if it’s just an hour to throw rocks in the neighborhood pond. It’s not often a parent of more than one little one gets to enjoy their kids solo, and it’s something every parent values.

5. Get his Dad to you to celebrate

If the father of your kids is close to his father get them together to enjoy the day. Even better if he’s far away.  Drive the many miles to pick him up, spring for a plane or train ticket and bring his Dad to your home for Father’s Day.

Then watch the smile hit his lips because nothing says I appreciate you more than a well thought out adventure.

-Sharing simple ways to show you care, Jess

Share your “unwrapped” Father’s Day got ideas with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

5 Minute Ice Cream Sandwiches- A Recipe

There’s one thing I dread about pot lucks-being assigned dessert. I’m a great cook, but I’ve never been much of a baker so I typically try to avoid bringing dessert to any soiree. That was until I started making ice-cream sandwiches using Dancing Deer’s creative cookies and fun flavors of various brands of high end ice-cream. Now, I look for excuses to share a dessert that I can say I (kinda) made, following a simple recipe.

No matter how kitchen illiterate  you may be, you can make these easy to assemble at home treats to take wherever you may go.

Here’s how:

IMG_2104

Buy Dancing Deer (or your favorite pre-made cookie) and a pint of high end ice cream that pairs well, open both packages, place cookies on a plate, flat side facing up

IMG_2105

Scoop ice cream onto cookies, cover

IMG_2109

Press

Clean edges with a butterknife

Wrap in max paper or plastic wrap

Store in Freezer

Serve & enjoy!

-Taking the stress out of what dessert to bring to your next potluck, Jess

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The Terrible Two’s Are Holding Me Hostage

I write this in a state of delirium. Countless nights have passed without quality sleep. Countless battles have been fought,  and lost as my sweet, two year old has waged war against me. Sleep is our main issue, she’s declared both going to sleep and staying in bed beyond 4am impossible. Yet she’ll nap in random spots, at random times when I cannot. I am now a fragile shell of myself who is set off by the slightest struggle, unable to rationalize and too tired to be productive.

This is not a blog of complaint; it’s a realization. Honest, and open; I know I’m not alone. Many have felt this way before me and come out the other side of the age 2. Many are in it with me.

I’ve come out the other side once before, but right now, in this state, the world is tilted. Jagged bits of self remain; mixed in I find who I’ve become and I’m not her biggest fan: a sad housewife who can’t seem to fulfill her job requirements (cook, clean, shop, provide 24/7 care to others, do laundry…) or pretend to enjoy it. I catch glimpses of the other side of 2 and know how great it will be; how I will became myself once again. But right now, I’m a hot mess.

I beg, cry and yell. None of these tactics work on a strong-willed two year old who responds, when locked in her room to clean the mess she inflicted in protest, by intentionally wetting her pants. I melt, truly just melt, into a heap on the floor hating myself for yelling-again, and frustrated that my sassy little lady won’t confirm.

But I’m also proud that she has strong convictions because her spunk will serve her well later in life; so I try not to crush her spirit all the while keeping mine. The contradiction astounding, but real and important in helping us both get through the toddler years.

While I sit here, my cute little lady requests, or should I say demands, yet another snack because beyond refusing sleep she also only eats snacks, not her meals. And I let her because I’m so tired of fighting. Her breakfast, that I consumed moments ago, hours after serving, was deserted just as many meals before.

Now she sits, quietly consuming a bag of sugary cereal (courtesy of a well meaning grandparent). Her teeth unbrushed, her hair wild, because I just don’t have the energy to fight right now. She’s watching  a movie at 9:30am, because playing with her seems like an impossible, miserable experience and I’m trying to avoid her.

I feel like a bad mom; in my irrational head a good mom would have rules she maintains without fail. A good mom’s  kids would behave with her well-planned warning system.  She’d have meal times and snack times set, and she’d be in control of her emotions at all times. Her two year old would sleep.

In moments of clarity I glance at my amazingly helpful, thoughtful, mature (beyond the potty talk) 5 year old son who did most of the caregiving when my husband and I were sick a few days back, and see things for what they are.

This is a stage; it’s called the terrible two’s for a reason. She will outgrow this stage; I may even survive it. And then in a few (not so short years) I’ll enjoy everything quite a bit more. She’ll become the helpful caring kid he is now, and maybe she’ll even let me sleep. Then I’ll look back and be thankful I have no more terrible two’s to get through.

-Keeping motherhood real in a world where perfection is expected, Jess

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Meet Amazing MOM, Sera Anderson

Sera’s life story has the makings of a Disney Movie. Abandoned on a doorstep in South Korea as a baby, Sera was found miraculously alive and well. Adpoted by an American family in rural Vermont, Sera grew up on a farm with her parents and brother. Married to her very own Prince Charming, She’s a stay at home mom of a “spirited” son and a beauty queen. This stunningly beautiful princess’s tale just keeps going.

Sera when she was found in box in South Korea
Sera when she was found in box in South Korea

Staying in the northeast for college then settling in Vermont, Sera landed a job as a pharma rep, bought a condo and lived the dream of every 20 something. Weeks spent running around for work were followed by nights and weekends unwinding amongst friends. Until she met her prince. Seth Anderson entered her life several times before their romance bag. First in passing at a hospital, then while out with friends, and eventually these two connected sending their lives barreling full speed ahead to success.

You can usually say the woman made the man, but these two made each other. Changing so much through the years they’ve been together, the Andersons have always been in-sync. Sera says, “I still have a list somewhere of all the incidents and examples of how he and I finished each other’s thoughts and sentences. Literally. It happens so much I started writing it down. It was creepy.  We keep each other responsible for ourselves… We hang out and talk. Talking is one thing we never fail on..we talk about politics, religion, controversial issues, universe, pop culture, Caden, family worries, everyday negotiations. You name it. We rarely have nothing we can’t share or talk about… The ways we differ I feel we teach each other things about life. It’s a great partnership. Are we perfect? No. But I focus on the good.”

Allowing one another to truly be themselves, their relationship was solidified long before they tied the knot. Dating for five years, these two bought homes, changed careers and saw each other through tough times. They welcomed one another’s family and friends into their lives; embracing them as if they were the one who established the relationship.

Right before they married, Sera quit her pharmaceutical sales job to follow her dream of owning a Cafe, successfully running her business until after their son Caden entered the picture in 2012. Wanting to be a mom, was replaced with actually being one and Sera learned quickly that this was the hardest job she’d ever have. Desiring to focus on her little man full-time Sera sold her business and took off running; a mom on the move.

With Caden
With Caden

When Sera welcomed Caden into this world, after a truly horrific labor and delivery, everything shifted. Her love for him grew with each passing day and she set off on a journey of learning how to parent. Meeting this “job” with the voracity she’s put into every other venture, Sera struggled with shortcomings, especially where sleep was concerned.

For 15 months Caden kept her awake. Wreaking havoc on her circadian rhythms and her sanity. Sleep deprivation made her depressed and feeling hopeless. She tried it all, including hiring someone to help her sleep train-everything failed. Caden was the driving force in his sleep and once he started to sleep, so did Sera.

Once she was able to sleep again,  Sera found herself seeking a new challenge. Encouraged by friends who were planning to enter, Sera signed up for the Mrs. Vermont pageant in 2104.

Sera invested time into prepping for the Mrs. Vermont pageant. Gracing the stage as her husband and son cheered her on from the audience. Her small frame decked out in a lovely red gown, made up with her signature black eyeliner and her extra long, jet black locks styled perfectly to show off her exquisite features, Sera rocked the pageant and won. Being crowned Mrs. Vermont her life once again set off in a new direction.

A typically private person, and introvert who favors small gatherings with a few close friends over large parties, Sera did not realize how quickly her privacy would be taken away when she became Mrs. Vermont, 2014.

Taking part in the Mrs. America pageant and fulfilling her duties (think parade marching, volunteering and hosting a fundraiser) throughout the year taught Sera that beauty really does come from within. Inspired by the loss of those close to her from Cancer, including a close childhood friend and her mother in law, Sera wanted to do something symbolic. And she did.

Head shaving
Head shaving

In September of 2014, Sera set-up a fundraiser where she herself shaved her head. Teaming up with the Vermont Agency Foundation Sera set a goal to raise $25,000 to benefit the Vermont Cancer Center. And with grace and dignity, she made good on her promise to shave her head. Seated in the center of a tent, surrounded by those there to support her cause and her spirit, Sera took the first swipe herself. By the end she was just as outwardly beautiful as she was before.

As if a beauty queen shaving her head was not enough of a shocker, several friends attending the event jumped in and had their heads shaved as well, some with hair long an healthy enough to be donated to causes making wigs for those who’ve lost their hair to Cancer.

While Mrs. Vermont Sera even took a stab at writing, submitting a column for her local newspaper about her experiences with parenting. These wildly popular monthlies were the chatter of all her friends, who could relate to what she was sharing, but also popular with those who did not know her and were struggling themselves. sera reached another goal; that of connecting with parents in her community, if only through her words.

Now that her term as Mrs. Vermont has come to an end, Sera sets off on another journey, one that is now shaped by her experiences as a beauty queen, one of volunteerism, motherhood and of simply finding out where life will bring her next.

-Making motherhood look good one tiara at a time, Jess

Know someone who’d make a great Amazing MOM? Share her information with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

Snacks that Outshine the Lit at Book Club

Hosting book club always leads to a menu complete with snacks from Trader Joe’s, cheese, wine and recipes I’ve been dying to try. My May menu was inspired by spring, a longing for summer and a desire to try something different. Having actually finished the book, The Girl on the Train, I was not only ready to discuss the literature (total thriller, few clues, was never sure of the ending) but excited to sit, eat and drink with the ladies I’ve been sharing lit with since 2010.

Along with my requisite cheese plate and no-fuss heat and serve Trader Joe’ s Shrimp Gyoza, I added two healthy, homemade appetizers and a crock pot dessert that made the ladies in my book club happy.

A big fan of green peas, I’d been dying to try Cooking Light’s Sweet Pea Crostini with Ricotta from the April, 2015 magazine. Feeling a little lazy (and entertaining a 2 year old all day), I skipped the whole make your own ricotta from Greek yogurt thing, and simply bought a small container of fat free ricotta cheese at my local market. This saved me a bit of time and clean-up so I could move along to other recipes before straightening out the disaster area I call my downstairs (in all fairness lots of fun is had here by my kids, but I never can quite keep up with the cleaning).IMG_2112

Assembled beforehand, these look lovely, but I opted for a make your own serving style as to limit waste because this pea spread would be fabulous on We Are Not Martha’s, Lemon Parmesan Spring Flatbread with Ricotta and Peas.

Along with the homemade crostini, I whipped up an Eating Well bean salad. Anyone with a blender, knife and can opener can master this healthy salad. A mixture of pink beans, yellow peppers, and edamame is topped with an herb focused avocado dressing that whips up in the blender in under a minute.  Served cold or at room temperature this meat free, protein packed powerhouse of  salad was flavorful and filling.

To drink we enjoyed our white and red, but in I was inspired to mix us a little sip of summer. Using pre-made Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler I added a cup and 1/2 of silver tequila and a small bottle of champagne. Gently stirred, it was served in a glass over ice. This sipper was a star.

So much so that I made similar by the glass cocktails for a smaller crowd a few days later, altering the recipe to create something slightly different. Using the same Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler, I subbed in a shot of  Privateer Rum and a splash of club soda. This cocktail was another winner and has me thinking that I’ll be stocking up on Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler to use at all my summer gatherings.

A baker I am not; so when I found a crockpot rice pudding recipe in the June, 2015  issue of Cooking Light, I was determined to test it out, and book club gave me the perfect excuse.  This crockpot special features cardamom and vanilla beans and is topped with fresh seasonal fruit (peaches are suggested, I used nectarines).One of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made, all this recipe needed was a quick mix before I set it for 7 and 1/2 hours and forgot it for the day. The results were rich and creamy, with a sweetness that was not too strong and the essence of cardamom and vanilla. Comfort in a bowl that when served room temperature worked well for a cool spring evening.

This spread was as special as the ladies I was lucky enough to share it with.

-Finding excuses for good food and drinks on every occasion, Jess

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Whole Foods Kids’ Club Brings Sanity to Parents Shopping with Kids

A devout Whole Foods shopper, I thought I knew all their secrets. On May 18, 2015  the fishmonger at my local shop rocked my world with news I’ll not soon forget- Whole Foods has a kids’ club.

Walk into any Whole Foods location with your kids and head directly to the customer service desk; tell them you’re there for the kids’ club and they’ll supply you with the treats needed to make it through the store fuss-free. With a bag of animal cookies in hand, my two year old stopped requesting to eat all the snap peas we had bagged for purchase and focused instead on her goodies.

Shopping done; kid content; mission complete. Thank you Whole Foods!

-One mom on a mission to make grocery shopping glorious, Jess

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3 Days on Nantucket with Kids During the Off-Season

Amazing Matriarch’s Guide: Off-Season on Nantucket with kids

White Elephant Residences
White Elephant Residences

When you think of Nantucket hot summer days spent seaside followed by warm summer nights mingling outside come to mind. But Nantucket in the off-season is quite spectacular. With few more than the locals on island, you can get a glimpse of real life on Nantucket, see the sites without the crowds enjoy a meal without fighting for a table, and snag a deal on top notch accommodations.

For three days, we packed one suitcase each and set sail for Nantucket Island. My husband, myself, our 5 and 2 year old embarked on the fast ferry from Hyannis to the docks of Nantucket on a chilly spring afternoon. Our adventure began immediately as the unexpected rough seas had the kids referring to Kwazi on Octonauts each time the boat bumped and jumped. Happy to disembark, this final boat arriving for the day (the seas were deemed too rough), we were warmly welcomed to Nantucket and rapidly whisked to our hotel.

The White Elephant is known as a harbor side, high-end, family friendly resort and our stay proved its worth. Located blocks from Downtown Nantucket, this resort is in a prime location for walking, allowing you to leave your car parked (or off island), and without the hassle of navigating traffic (even in mid April it increased as the week wore on) or finding parking. Staying outside of the Hotel and Inn itself, at the White Elephant Residences, our lodging more closely resembled an apartment, ensuring our family could spread out and enjoy our stay on Nantucket, even if the weather kept us inside. The two bedroom unit offered ample space for our family of four, and we sure did make use of it.

Whaling Museum
Whaling Museum

With two bedrooms the kids bunked up, enjoying a sibling sleepover all three evenings: movies in bed, staying up late talking and waking far too early; they had a blast in their shared bedroom. They both used it separately when quiet playtime and rest were on their mind. Best of all, they eagerly awaited the trinket placed on their pillow each night by the White Elephant staff- a stuffed elephant upon arrival, one lobster that evening and a whale the another, and I eagerly awaited watching the giddy excitement when they found their treasures.

Fully opening for the season the week we arrived, the White Elephant proved itself to be a well-oiled machine. Functioning as if it had been at full speed all winter, the concierge offered plenty of suggestions, including a sheet highlighting island events the week we were there, earmarked with ideas for entertaining the kids throughout the week. Best of all, they provided us with two guides geared towards kids about Nantucket.

Library time
Library time

The Nantucket Kids Adventure Guide was invaluable. It offered so many ideas for exploring the island that we could not possibly complete all that appealed to us on this one visit. Listing everything from playground guides to hiking trails to warnings, this book could have entertained us for weeks. The Look Book was a little old for, but still big hit with, my 5 year old son, allowing us to do a treasure hunt of Nantucket’s hot spots.

The library, Atheneum as it’s called, is a short walk from the White Elephant and hosted two activities that my kids still talk about : a sing along and a LEGO challenge. Both free, and requiring tickets or pre-registration,  they were great ways to feel like a part of Nantucket and be indoors. Year-round activities change and are geared towards various ages, but are certainly worth looking into before you head over. I initially came across the Atheneum when doing a Google search in preparation for our trip on the Nantucket Island Events website. Offering a comprehensive calendar listing I was able to simply click on the dates I planned to be on island then further research those of interest.

Children's Beach
Children’s Beach

This website also clued me in on free art projects taking place at the Whaling Museum. A visit to the Whaling Museum, followed by diorama construction and a treasure hunt kept my kids entertained for hours after lunch at the Pharmacy’s old fashioned soda fountain.

Situated right outside the White Elephant, you’ll find a sandy shore for play, Children’s Beach. Home to a seaside playground, and snack shack (which had yet to open) we spent time there each day, sometimes returning multiple times a day. The kids loved digging in the sand, and even testing the still cold from the winter water while the air temp hovered in the mid 50’s. We watched the ferry arrive and lobstermen bring in their haul while climbing, swinging and sliding. Holes were dug, friends were made and the sand in their shoes even made it’s way to the mainland.

Dining on Nantucket is anything but ordinary. A collection of quaint eateries mix with foodie havens bringing locals and visitors a taste of island authenticity as well as trendy tastes. Breakfast was something prepped in our large kitchenette: bagels or cereal, but the rest of the day we dined out. Sandwich shops allowed us to bring back lunch so cranky kids could stick to nap time while the rest of of played games or snuggled on the couch with a movie.

Met on Main
Met on Main

When we dined out, we found ourselves in the midst of a dining culture often reserved for major cities. A family friendly dinner at Nix’s brewpub gave adults a darn good lobster roll while serving kids pizza to their liking. A lunch at Fog Island Cafe had us seated among working locals looking for a great sandwich and even better iced tea.

Hiring a sitter for our final night on Nantucket, we walked around town piping into several popular eateries for drinks and dinner. We kicked off the evening with a drink at Nautilus. With its small dining area, chefs table and bustling bar specializes in small plates and killer drinks. It was difficult to stop at just one cocktail as everything is made fresh and the balance of flavors ensure your cocktail showcases the ingredients within. This pre-reservation pop in gave us a glimpse of the menu and left us planning a return to indulge in dinner.

Dune, was where we found ourselves eating that evening and it lived up to all I’d heard. Overwhelemed by the menu choices, we opted to share what appealed to us. Fresh oysters; perfectly briny and icy cold found their way to our table to start our meal followed by a clam special laced with chorizo in a light and aromatic broth, then came a smoky roast shrimp and grits, fluffily cod and the miso ramen. Glasses of wine were poured and dessert ordered before we walked to our final destination that night.

Cocktail Time
Cocktail Time

LoLa’s hip vibe made their bar extra inviting. Loud music pumping and small groups chatting gave this Nantucket  restaurant the feel of New York City. After a quick nightcap, we turned in for the evening, welcomed back by our sitter who had successfully managed to get our excited kiddos to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Our boat ride home was bittersweet. As we checked out, we saw crowds checking in to take part in Daffodil Weekend. Boarding the fast ferry back to Hyannis, we pledged a return for more off-season fun, maybe in the fall.

 

-Making hot destinations easier to explore with your kiddos, Jess

Let us know how your trip to Nantucket turns out! #amazingmatriarch on social media. Find us on Facebook: at AmazingMatriarch Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  #amazingmatriarch 

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