Monday, June 14, 2021

List: Ten gift ideas under $40 for three year old boys that are fun and super cool.

 As if it wasn't enough for my little princess to turn 8 this year, my son is creeping age 3.  Why can't their baby years last just a little bit longer?!  To be exact, in a week and a half, it will be my son's third birthday.  To distract my brain from the sadness, I've been searching the internet looking for the perfect birthday present for my baby boy.

what to buy a three old boy toddler

With a budget of $40, I was able to brainstorm ten different gift ideas that are perfect for little boys turning 3.  Like always, I have to share my finds!  Without further delay, here's my list of ten gift ideas with the last one being what we actually got our baby boy.

what to buy a three old boy toddler

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten gift ideas <$40 for 3 year old boys.

This super cute inflatable pool is shallow, dinosaur themed, and has a sprinkler that will splash right onto your three year old's head.  As a bonus, you're preparing them not to fear a shower!  This gift idea will guarantee hours of Summer fun, especially on those extra hot days.
Can be found here.

These reptile toys are meant to mimic the reptiles they're representing.  For example, this raptor will move a lot faster than the T-Rex and with very different movements than the lizard.  My son has several of these from the collection and is his most played with toys.  It's the perfect gift for a 3 year old boy and is way under budget.
Can be found here.

If your son is anything like mine, anything Toy Story is quite a big deal!  This Woody doll is a lot of fun for the kiddies, but the coolest part is the interactive feature.  When turned on, Woody will interact with other interactive Toy Story action figures.
Can be found here.

Remember Magna Doodles?  Yes, I'm old.  This is just like that except MUCH cooler!  This toy teaches the kids how to write letters and numbers.  It also teaches the kiddies how to draw basic things with step by step instructions that are easy to follow.  My toddler son spends a lot of time with this toy and I'm not complaining!
Can be found here.

Ever since my daughter was born, I immediately became a big fan of Melissa & Doug.  Their toys encourage imagination and education while staying surprisingly traditional.  In other words, they're toys are fun without the distracting "extra" bells and whistles.  This floor puzzle is no different.  Strengthen the child's fine motor skills and problem solving skills while familiarizing them with numbers, counting, and animals with this fun gift idea!
Can be found here.

This "big boy book" is perfect for a three year old!  It's filled with super cool pictures, fun facts, and tons of knowledge.  If you're looking for a cool gift idea that makes learning fun, this is it!  I mean, I'm 32 and I even enjoy flipping through these pages..
Can be found here.

If your soon to be 3 year old boy is anything like mine, they're all about Cocomelon!  First off, I'm so sorry that they are.  This Cocomelon keyboard will let those JJ fans reenact their favorite Cocomelon tunes while playing along on the keys.
Can be found here.

For some reason, kids love to play pretend kitchen games.  This set by Melissa & Doug helps fuel that imaginary play time with this 43 piece set.  It comes with everything you can think of to open your own fake food truck or host your own fake taco Tuesday.  It's the perfect gift idea to fuel the imagination of a 3 year old.
Can be found here.

Most 3 year old boys love Mickey and building things!  This LEGO train set is the perfect gift idea within our budget.  This gift is also festive with a cupcake, lit candle, balloons, and gift LEGOs!
Can be found here.

My baby boy always gets a little jelly when he sees his big sissy play on her Razor scooter.  This scooter by Radio Flyer is the perfect first scooter for a toddler.  It adjusts and grows with them.  It's plastic and lightweight making it easy to move and steer.  I just know that he will LOVE this gift!  Now let's just see if he can keep up with Mushy..
Can be found here.

Which gift do you love for a 3 year old?

Friday, June 11, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings

We had quite the afternoon when...
...Thor the Puppy of Thunder got loose from our backyard.  By the time that I noticed he wasn't in the yard, over an hour had passed.  In panic, I starting driving around the neighborhood screaming "THOR", interrogating strangers, and crying my eyes out.  After making no progress other than having the neighborhood think I'm a nut for 30 minutes, I called my husband and begged him to come home and help me look.  Around the same time, my neighbor across the street called me with the good news that Thor came home on his own and she locked him safely in our yard.

While I'm reuniting with Thor... husband was looking at the security cameras to see which direction he ran off in.  What he found was the above video.  Apparently, poor Thor was following my car the entire time!  He must have thought that I was running away from him instead of frantically searching for him.  Let's all take a moment to really appreciate the fact that I didn't hit him with the car..

I'm beyond frustrated with...
...the contractor doing my deck.  Not only did he demolish the deck without having the materials, but I gave in and agreed to a color THAT I DON'T REALLY WANT and he still can't make it happen.  All I know is that we have my son's birthday party and a fourth of July party coming up and all we have are support beams with deadly, rusted nails sticking out like spikes.

I'm completely OBSESSED with...
...Young Living essential oils (link).  When everything was hitting me at once a couple of weeks ago, a lovely lady named Leah McFarland (link) introduced me to Young Living.  After receiving my starter package, I put a few drops of the Stress Relief oil in my diffuser.  I set the diffuser right under my face and breathed in the oil for the entire work day.  Maybe it's all in my head, but I definitely felt a little less stressed!  Mental or not, I'll be breathing that in regularly.

My family surprised me with...
...the best day EVER for my college commencement.  We celebrated the virtual graduation by tossing our hats in the air and getting lunch at the local marina.  We watched the boats come and go with the Fire Island light house and Robert Moses bridge as the backdrop.  I sipped chugged a pina colada and the kids snacked on mozzarella sticks.  My family even took me to my favorite bird watching spot and tried to help me spot some cool new birdies.  Finally, to end to best day EVER, they treated me to my favorite dessert spot, Cold Stone.  It really was a great day and I consider myself very lucky.

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Travel: Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island

 When planning our trip to Rhode Island this past September, I did lots of research on things to do mostly outdoors because COVIDOne thing that kept coming up was the Roger Williams Park Zoo (link).  It sounded promising, but I was getting turned off by the mixed reviews from the locals.  Some admitted to not visiting the park in over a decade, yet still felt the need to give their opinion.  Being only a short drive away from the famous Bronx Zoo (link), I didn't want to waste time or money visiting a zoo that would disappoint us in comparison.  

Despite my conflicting thoughts, we purchased tickets and planned for a whole afternoon exploring the Roger Williams Zoo.  I've been meaning to post this for a really long time to set the record straight on how the Roger Williams Park Zoo is modern day!

honest review and what animals are in the roger williams zoo in ri

Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI

Based on reviews, we expected a smaller, disorderly, run down zoo.  When we pulled up, we were immediately surprised.  The Roger Williams Park Zoo looked new, well kept, and WELCOMING!  Lines were short, staff kept things orderly, and everything looked well maintained if not new.  My first thought was relief and then panic because I didn't plan enough time to explore!

Since we visited in mid September, the entrance to the park was lined with the most beautiful pumpkin display.  Hundreds of pumpkins dangled from the tree bridge over our heads and dozens of carved jack-o-lanterns lined the path.  We learned later on that if we visited a week later we could have seen a fabulous Halloween jack-o-lantern display at night.  Based on the small bit we saw, I was a little disappointed that we would miss it!

Fun Fact:  The Roger Williams Park Zoo dates back to 1872 making it the first accredited zoo in the New England area and the fifth oldest zoo in the US.  How cool is that?!

Contrary to the reviews I read online, there were lots of things to do and see in the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  First was the vast array of animals to watch and appreciate.  There were the typical zoo animals like elephants and giraffes, plus other unique ones like giant anteaters that were SO cool to see and my personal favorite, a pair of blue macaws!  There was a farm area that was kind of like a petting zoo except there was interactive activities that were designed to act like a Rhode Island farm.  Here you can see a donkey, gigantic rabbits, goats, and even a barn owl.  Another exhibit that was really enjoyable was the Faces of the Rainforest!  Here you get to see and have intimate encounters with the playful monkeys shown in the video above, sloths, otters, and more.  You can take a stroll along the Wetlands Trail where you can see what wildlife you spot below you.  We found frogs and turtles galore.  The list goes on, but you get the point, there's lots of animals to appreciate at this zoo! 

When not enjoying the animals, there are plenty of other things to do.  To start, there's a very large eating area.  Here you can get lunch cafeteria style.  We had burgers and hot dogs.  Other then being a little pricey, we were very happy with it.  Next to the eating area is the gift shop where we had to buy some novelties.  My daughter picked out a small, stuffed red panda and my son picked out gigantic elephant ears to wear.  There is also an impressive Hasboro play area in the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  You'll find things like a rock wall, water activities, fort building, relaxing hammocks, and a bajillion other things that I don't remember in the play and exploration area.  Finally, you can get your adventure on with a short train ride that my son made us do TWICE, pony rides, and pretty intense zip lining that we skipped.

The above video is of my son trying to talk to the elephants at the zoo.  He must of thought that his new elephant ears gave him some sort of elephant speaking super powers!

To reiterate, the Roger Williams Park Zoo (link) is clean, well maintained, orderly, filled to the brim with things to do and see, has a clean place to eat, AND has interactive experiences.  It really was a pleasant experience and I would go back again in a heart beat!  If we're being honest, I liked it way better than the Bronx Zoo, but shh, don't tell anyone.  Just make sure that you plan enough time to do everything without feeling rushed.

I would highly recommend a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI.

As a double bonus, the zoo is located in the Roger Williams Park which is filled with fun things to do.  To fully appreciate the park, you may want to plan two afternoons here when visiting Rhode Island.  One for the zoo and one for the park.

What is your favorite zoo animal?
Monday, June 7, 2021

List: Ten lessons learned from the A&E TV show Hoarders.

 My daughter has been itching to take over R&W again.  Remember this post (link)?  She's constantly throwing out ideas but we never have the time to actually get together and do them.  I love that she takes interest in blogging so we relish in it.

In addition to being a great motivator for my website, she's constantly encouraging me to do our indoor walks every night.  If I try to skip a night, she begs me to get up and move with her.  During all of our 1.5 mile indoor walks, we watch an episode of Hoarders (link) together.

One night during our walk, I saw the lightbulb shine right above her head.  She yelled out, "Let's make a post about Hoarders!".  I laughed and agreed, yet knew we wouldn't have the time to actually do it.  Like she read my mind she said "You walk.  I'll write.".  And that's what she did.  She handwrote a list of ten things that she learned by watching Hoarders.  Then my daughter handed me the list and said "Your turn.  Make it happen.".  Imagine?  When did she grow up so much?!  Not one to disappoint my Mushy Face, here's mommy making it happen!

what is the show hoarders about

Ten lessons learned from the show Hoarders.

1.  Do not buy something that isn't important.
A simple lesson, yet important all the same.  Save your money for things that you need or truly want.  If your wish list is empty at the moment, skip the store and try enjoying what you have instead.  And by enjoy, I don't mean stare at in an inaccessible pile of junk.

2.  Do not put food on the floor or else rats will come.
Another great lesson learned from Hoarders.  Food on the floor is a great way to attract mice, bugs, vermin, mold, mildew, opossums, bats, feral cats, and yes, RATS.

3.  Clean your house.
I love the simplicity and ease that my daughter said this with.

4.  Throw something out when you are done.
The "Extreme Cleaning Specialists" and psychologists of the show all have different guidelines for this.  Many say that if you haven't used it in 6 months, then you probably don't need it.  These items are safe to toss.  The problem comes when they're applying this rule to things like dirty napkins, moldy fruit, and bags filled with their own poop!  Yes, all three of those things are way more common than they should be.

can kids watch hoarders

5.  Put something away when you're done using it.
We're halfway through her list, and mommy is already beaming with pride.  YES!  THIS!  Say it, remember it, and do it.  As in you, baby girl.  Put away your stuff when you're done.  Thanks.

6.  Bunnies will burrow in the walls.
One very disturbing episode, involved a bunny hoarder.  This man had hundreds of bunny loose in his home.  I say "his" home, but he was renting.  Imagine?  The tenant from HELL.  Those bunnies chewed through anything and everything, including the walls where they made their homes.  While that's bad, the worst part of the episode was the floors.  I assumed they had dirt floors, until the Hoarders crew announced that it was just endless layers of bunny poop!!!!!!

7.  Too much garbage makes the floor fall down.
My daughter was really impacted by this.  She just can't believe that this can really happen.  Thanks to A&E, we all know this does happen.  Sometimes the hoard gets so big, dense, and heavy, that the floors buckle underneath it.  The supporting beams crack and sadly the homes are usually condemned.

8Mouse poop is bad.
Yes, it certainly is.  It's contaminated, filled with bacteria, and is really unhealthy to live with.

9.  Collector is a nice way to say hoarder.
Of my daughter's entire list, this is the only one that I don't completely agree with.  Being a collector of something can be fine.  It's when that collection is unhealthy or so extreme that it turns into a hoard that one becomes a hoarder.  What this should say is, Hoarders that are in denial call themselves collectors.

10.  Do not hoard.
A perfect lesson to sum up my daughter's list of ten lessons learned from HoardersJust don't do it!

Have you ever watched Hoarders?
Friday, June 4, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings


First, please excuse my husband for...
...standing in the road without shoes on!  He REALLY wanted the ice cream man.  I guess you're never too old to get excited for Mister Softee.  The moment that he heard the familiar tune, he dashed out the front door to grab a soft served treat on a cone.

It's unofficially...
...Summer time over here!  The temperatures have been lingering in the low 80s to mid 90s for a few weeks now.  The migrating birds have dwindled down to almost nothing.  The ice cream man drives past our house every night around 7pm.  We have sunlight way past 8 o'clock now.  And, we're preparing for the final few days of school while studying the calendar of events for the kid's Summer camp.  It seems as if we skipped right past Spring and jumped into the Summer!

The notary exam is over and...
...I have zero clue how I did on it!  You're allowed to get up to 12 questions wrong and still pass the exam.  I know for fact that I got about 5 wrong, so it's really a toss up.  I hope that I passed so that I have something new to add to my resume.  My fingers are crossed!

We are completely failing at...
...finding a mimosa tree to gift my grandmother for her 80th birthday this month!  Something so simple has become so complicated.  We may need to switch gears and get her a weeping cherry blossom tree instead.  In other news, my Nanny is turning 80 and it's got me feeling some sort of way.  I'm grateful that she reached this milestone age and am trying to live in the present instead of lingering on the "what if"s.

The big announcement of the week is that... college commencement is tomorrow (Saturday, June 5th)!!!!  After over a decade of a college education, I finally have a commencement day.  Granted, I won't have a cap and gown and I won't be walking, but it's still a commencement nonetheless.  After the virtual ceremony and after I finish this Summer course, I'll be mailed my college diploma in July.

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

DIY: How to make chocolate lollipops in 7 simple steps.

For my daughter's first holy communion, I thought I'd save some serious cash and make my own party favors.  After doing some research, I decided to make homemade chocolate lollipops.  Apparently, I thought I was Martha Stewart for a hot minute.  I decided on the chocolate lollipops because they could be made for <$30 and seemed relatively simple to put together.

While they weren't as easy to make as I originally thought, the surprisingly stressful afternoon was worth the over $150 savings on party favors.  I took notes along the way and came up with simple solutions that made the last batch way less stressful than the first.  Here are my seven simple steps and noteworthy tips on how to make your own chocolate lollipops!

recipe for chocolate lollipop molds party favors

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

DIY:  How to make chocolate lollipops.

Step One - Gather all ingredients and equipment.

Before anything can be done, you're going to want to take the time and compile everything you need.  You're going to need chocolate molds made specifically for lollipops, sticks, candy melts, and more.  See below for a handy checklist.  Because who can do anything without a list?!

__  Chocolate Lollipop Molds (If you like mine, this is the one I used (link).)

__ Ribbon or Twist Ties  --> See step 6 below.

__ Large microwaveable bowl

__ Small spoon

__ Clean shelf in the refrigerator

Note:  When purchasing the candy melts, keep in mind the color you want and the amount of chocolate you will need.  We purchased this six pack of Candy Melts (link) which made about 45 lollipops including the ones that I ruined.

recipe for chocolate lollipop molds party favors

Step Two - Melt the chocolate candy melts.

After you gather all of the ingredients and equipment that you need, melting the chocolate is the obvious next step to making your chocolate lollipops.  You can do this two ways.  You can melt it in the microwave like me or in a pot on the stovetop.

Microwave:  To melt in the microwave, pour (1) bag of candy melts into a microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high heat for (2) minutes.  Carefully because it's obviously hot, remove the bowl from the microwave.  With a heavy duty spoon, stir until the chocolate is a consistency similar to the one in the below video.  Round of applause for Chef Mushy in the vid!

Stovetop:  To melt on the stove, pour the chocolate into a pot.  With the burner on low, slowly melt the chocolate candy melts.  Stir frequently and heat the chocolate until the desired consistency is reached.  

Method aside, I recommend melting only 1 to 2 bags at a time unless you have enough molds to utilize all the melted candy at once.

Step Three - Fill the chocolate lollipop molds.

With a teeny, tiny spoon I used a baby spoon, carefully pour the melted chocolate into the molds.  This may sound simple, but I promise it's not as easy as it sounds.  To save you the frustration that I experienced with the first batch, I have two recommendations.

1.  Lightly coat the bottom part of the mold with the melted chocolate first.  Then place the lollipop stick in the mold, right on top of that first layer before continuing to fill the rest of the mold.  This is a simple yet important step so the lollipop stick is fully covered where it needs to be.  See below video where I failed to do this which resulted in unwanted stick action.  Be careful NOT to overfill the molds.

2.  Instead of going crazy trying to make the melted chocolate lay perfectly flat against the mold, lightly tap the filed molds a few times against the counter.  The result will be a smooth, flat surface without the headache of doing this with a spoon.

Step Four - Chill the filled chocolate molds in the fridge.

If you didn't clear a space in the fridge at this point, then stop everything and do this right now.  The fridge will help harden the chocolate and set the molds.  If there isn't a flat surface available, the molds will tilt and your lollipops will harden into an abstract looking version of what you want.

Leave the molds in the fridge for at least 12-15 minutes depending on the depth of the molds.

Once I got into a groove which did eventually happen, I would fill one mold while two others were hardening in the fridge.  If I could go back in time, I would have stuck that first mold in the fridge to eliminate 12 minutes of down time after the first batch.

Step Five - Carefully remove the chocolate lollipops from the tray.

There's not much advice that I can give here.  If they remained in the fridge long enough, the chocolate lollipops should easily pull away from the chocolate molds with no residue left behind.

Step Six - Wrap the lollipops and secure them closed.

For starters, you'll want to slip the chocolate lollipops into a small, cellophane bag.  Once bagged, you'll need something to secure them closed.  There are a few options here and it's important to consider them all in step one.  If you heeded my warning above, you probably skipped right on down here, so, hi!

1.  The first option is to use cloth ribbons.  This is a fun option since you can pick your favorite color and have them custom made to read a special message.  In order to secure these properly, you may need a little dab of hot glue.  Of the three options, this is the most expensive and time consuming, but will give the prettiest result.

2.  The second option is to purchase the thin, paper like ribbons that are sold in spools.  These are much more economical and come in a variety of colors.  They're also much easier to tie.  A simple knot with running a scissor along to ends to curl the ribbon will make the chocolate lollipops secured and pretty!  We went with this option.

3.  The third option is probably the easiest.  Purchase little twist ties like these (link) and close the cellophane wrapping with a simple twist.  These are as economical as #2, but with virtually no work involved.

Step Seven - Store in a cold place.

Find a cool space to store your artwork.  Once they're stored in a safe place that's cold like a refrigerator, give yourself a pat on the back because that was NOT as easy as everyone thinks!

Have you ever made a homemade party favor?

Monday, May 31, 2021

Life: Happy Memorial Day!

memorial day honoring all of the fallen heroes

When I told my 8 year old daughter that today is Memorial Day, she said "Does that mean we can wear white now?".  Can we take a moment to acknowledge that baby girl DOES listen to me!  Clearly I did a poor job of explaining to her the meaning of this holiday.  When I told her that Memorial Day is the day that we remember all of the soldiers that fought for people like us to be free, she said "Oh, like Veterans Day.".  I then had to tell her that some people died in that fight and today we remember the ones that gave their lives.  Then she looked at me and said "Like our rock?".  I couldn't help but laugh.

We have a stone that has "GOD BLESS AMERICA" (link) engraved into it.  We keep it displayed in our flower bed at the end of the driveway.  Somehow that rock got cracked in half this Winter.  We definitely need a replacement.

We will be celebrating this Memorial Day like true Americans!  We'll be teaching our children the real meaning of the holiday, hosting a backyard BBQ, and buying a new rock.

 Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings

We finally gave in and...
...bought flowers to plant around our home.  As a reminder, we were delayed this year due to the deck disaster.  We decided to look past the deck and plant flowers anyways.  As always, we got baskets of bright pink and purple petunias.  Instead of our usual begonias, this year we opted to try our luck with dahlias.  These gorgeous blooms were planted in our flower beds and help brighten our backyard despite the ugly, dismantled eye sore of a deck.

We ripped up our... eyed susans because they weren't doing too well.  We knew last year they were on their way out and decided to just rip off the bandaid.  In their place, I got a beautiful, rod iron, pedestal bird bath with a little metal bird sitting on the edge.  The birds are already preferring this bath over our old one which is still in our bird sanctuary.  Probably because it's a deeper dish making it better for bathing.

I'm totally FREAKING out because...
...Thursday was my exam to become a notary and I really have little confidence that I passed the test.  It was much more law based than I thought it would be and the study material they provided didn't help much.

I'm in complete shock that...
...I had to sign my daughter up for Summer camp already, my son is turning THREE in less than a month, my daughter's dance recital is in a few weeks, and every other reminder that life is just flying by.  It feels like we only had two true weeks of Spring and them Summer hit us with a vengeance.

What are your Friday Ramblings? 
Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Gift Guide: Ten Father's Day gift ideas for dad that are under $50.

Since early April, this old Father's Day gift guide (link) has held it's spot in the top three most popular posts on R&W.  This gift guide was posted in 2016.  In other words, it's a little outdated.  To eliminate panic, I decided that I should post an updated Father's Day gift guide right away!

ten father's day gift ideas for dad that are under $50

Last year was one of my favorite Father's Days.  Instead of investing in a gift, I hosted a super tinyCOVID19 friendly barbecue.  I made a tray of sausage and peppers, blew up our inflatable pool, played an intense game of hide and seek, and then made s'mores over the fire pit.  While we were roasting marshmallows, my dad entertained us with his spooky tales of Sasquatch in the woods.  

If you're not inspired by my experience as in invest in memories instead of things and still want to invest in a gift, this guide should be super helpful!

unique and inexpensive gift guide for daddy

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten Father's Day gift ideas under $50.

Many of us reestablished our love for puzzles and creating during the lockdowns.  This is the perfect gift to feed that creativity.  Many find the creative process as a fun outlet to relieve stress.  As a double bonus, they'll be left with a lifelike car model.  The automobile loving dads out there would LOVE this gift.
Can be found here.

Many of the men in my life take great pride in their fig trees, especially when they have enough fruit to pass around.  For Father's Day, get the man in your life started with their very own fig tree.  If you're nice, he may even share a fig or two with you!
Can be found here.

Growing up, my dad would take us fishing every single Monday.  These are some of my fondest memories of my childhood.  Sometimes he even took our friends.  We'd cast out our fishing poles, throw down some crab cages, eat a bagel with cream cheese, and wait for a bite.  This would be the perfect gift this Father's Day so your special man can make similar memories with his family.
Can be found here.

My uncle brought these slippers up at a family gathering, and every man in the room expressed a desire to have a pair of their own.  The sandals are designed to pin point different areas of your foot in order to effect other areas of your body.  Of all the gifts, this one definitely wins for coolness.
Can be found here.

This is the perfect Father's Day gift for the dad's that love a homemade drink in the comfort of their own home.  This pretty set comes with a stand hello, organization, bar accessories, a cocktail shaker, and a little flip book of recipes.
Can be found here.

My father was after one of these so that he could take nicer pictures from his smartphone while hunting in a tree stand.  Not a hunter?  That's ok.  There's a million other reasons why this is the perfect gift for Dad on Father's Day.  One of them may be birdwatching..
Can be found here.

There's just something about a hammock that screams relaxation.  This hammock is budget friendly, large enough to hold a couple, and comes in two different neutral shades.
Can be found here.

This inexpensive Father's Day gift is perfect for those gassy dads with a good sense of humor!  Not going to lie, my immature sense of humor had me laughing way too hard at this one.
Can be found here.

These comfortable slip on shoes aren't just for women.  They make plenty of styles specially for men.  These specific shoes are a dark denim color with a brown trim, so they'll basically match anything.
Can be found here.

For the dads that enjoy manning the grill, this is the perfect Father's Day gift to surprise them with.  You can personalize the apron to say what you want with a picture of your choosing.  They'll think of you and smile every time they flip a burger.
Can be found here.

What's your favorite Father's Day memory?
Monday, May 24, 2021

List: Ten things to do and places to see on Long Island - Nassau County Edition.

 Today is all about part two of my travel recommendations for Long Island.  Last we spoke about my top ten favorite things to do and places to see not including eats or drinks on the east end of the island, Suffolk County.  Today we'll be focusing on the western half of Long Island, Nassau County.

plan a vacation on long island new york nassau county long beach

This series of posts (one for Suffolk County & one for Nassau County) are dedicated to some of my favorite places not counting restaurants or bars worth visiting on Long Island.  We're skipping right past the typical tourist spots like The HamptonsJones BeachNassau ColiseumSplish Splash ew, local wineries, and Adventureland.  Instead, I'm taking you to some of the spots that are loved by the locals.

Tip:  If you know when you're coming to visit Long Island, do a quick search to see what local festivals and festivities are going on at that time.  There's never a weekend that passes without something going on.  Take a moment to see if there's something that peaks your interest!

what to do while on vacation in new york or long island

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10 things to do on Long Island - Nassau County Edition.

Of the entire list, this is my favorite place to be.  This is one of the many famous "Gold Coast Era" estates on Long Island.  Built and owned by the Vanderbilt family, think Long Island royalty it's truly magnificent.  The garden is large enough to get lost in for over an hour.  The terrace and pool are spectacular, and if you climb up the steps in the back, there's a beautiful view of the Long Island Sound while overseeing an antique salt water pool.  Tour the inside of the mansion where you'll be able to explore the home.  The most memorable part of visiting this mansion for me is the 3,000 year old Egyptian mummy.  I mean, how cool is that, to see a real mummy just chilling in someone's HOME?!  My husband's favorite part is the Carriage House where one can see Vanderbilt's ancient racecar collection.  The kiddie's favorite part of our visits is always the Full Dome Planetarium Shows (link).  They have different shows available at different time of the day at the Planetarium.  We usually make a point of seeing one show, exploring the grounds & mansion, and then seeing a second one before leaving.

Fun Fact:  The Habitat and Stoll Wing has an impressive collection of items similar to what one would find in the American Museum of Natural History.  William Vanderbilt hired the scientists and artists from the museum to curate his own personal collection.  The coolest piece on display is a 32-foot whale shark, the largest taxidermist preserved fish in the world!

My husband would never forgive me if I skipped this Long Island gem.  That being said, this is a super cool place for those interested in aviation.  Located in Garden City, this museum is dedicated to everything air and space.  With over 75 air and space crafts on display, an Arcade Age exhibit where you get to play retro arcade games, and a planetarium, this is a place many families frequent.

Tip:  Not into air or space crafts?  That's ok.  Look into the Heckscher Museum of Art (link) instead.  This museum is another staple on Long Island.

My grandfather used to take us to this historic village every Summer.  We loved exploring, walking through the old homes, interacting with the actors, walking through the gardens, and watching the farm animals.  Some of the homes that you're allowed to visit date back to the 1600s and are ORIGINAL buildings.  If you plan accordingly, you can get live demonstrations such as basket weaving, blacksmithing, spinning, and natural dyeing.  Make sure to check out their calendar of events (link) to see if anything specific peaks your interest such as the 1863 Thanksgiving Celebration, the apple festival, or the Gingerbread Workshop.

While I'm not a fan of horse racing or gambling, we used to take my mom to the Belmont Stakes every year for her May birthday.  It would make for a nice day out sitting on the bleachers, placing bets on horses while hopefully winning a few bucks, and admiring the fancy attire and hats the ladies normally wear.  You can either dine in the Belmont Room (link) while watching the races from the windows in the luxury of the restaurant, grab a quick bite at the Belmont Cafe (link), or eat in the picnic areas from a food truck.  If you're like me and like to explore, print out the Traditions at Belmont (link) and find all the sites depicted on the page.  Each element is historical, fascinating, and blends in with the park so you wouldn't notice them unless you were looking for them.

Note:  For those wondering if Belmont Park is handicap accessible, I can confirm that it absolutely is.  Call ahead instead of purchasing tickets online.  The staff will be very accommodating and work towards making your visit work for you.  We've had experience with this annually for over a decade and they never once fell short with accommodating any special needs.

5.  Long Beach, NY
If you're looking to bypass the touristy beach spots on the west end of Long Island, skip Jones Beach and head on over to Long Beach.  This little beach town is compact, but is where the locals go for a beach getaway.  Stay at the Allegria hotel (link) right on the water, stroll along the boardwalk, enjoy some great eats and trendy drinks, catch a show at the Jones Beach Theater (link), and get ready to party because party sums up Long Beach!

Whenever someone says polo, the thought of uppity, high class people wearing polo shirts or large, floppy hats overseeing a game in the Hamptons comes to mind.  At least, that's what I think of.  Luckily, I'm hear to tell you that you don't have to drive out to the Hamptons to enjoy a traditional polo match.  The Meadowbrook Polo Club is the oldest polo club in the US, dating back to 1881.  Enjoy a lovely day with the family by learning how to play the sport, watching a polo match, or even join a tournament.  If you're just looking to watch and wear a floppy hat check out their Spectators page (link) where they list everything you need to know.

Aside from being a very short distance from my favorite mall ever, this is a very cool place to visit.  You'll have plenty of time to shop because you'll be able to see everything in under two hours.  Tour the historic home that dates back to 1816, see Walt Whitman's birthplace, visit the Interpretive Center where you'll find countless exhibits, and see the grounds of the poet's childhood home.  

Tip:  Don't forget to save some time to visit the Walt Whitman mall and dine at one of the fabulous restaurants.

Cold Spring Harbor is an underrated place on Long Island.  It's a quaint, little hamlet that's filled with history, nature, and some pretty cool places.  Of all those cool places, a family favorite of ours is the hatchery.  You'll be able to observe fish native to Long Island in the aquarium, feed fish in the trout pond, see the fish eggs seasonally in the Hatch House, count how many different species of turtles you see in the Turtle Pond, catch and release fish in the Tidal Raceway, and see what unique wildlife you find at the observation platform while overseeing the tidal estuary.

The Gold Coast Mansions are famous on Long Island thanks to The Great Gatsby.  You can visit Eagle's Nest (link)Oheka Castle (link), Westbury House & Old Westbury Gardens (link), or Winfield Hall (link).  While Sagamore Hill is nothing compared to the extravagance of these mansions, this is my second  favorite one to visit right behind Eagle's Nest because of the grounds.  This park is known for being the location of the Summer White House as the home of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Tour the home, learn the history of the Roosevelt family, walk through the nature trails, and find the almost secretive entrance to the Cold Spring Harbor Beach on the grounds.

What's your favorite local place to visit?