Monday, August 10, 2015

A Family Jersey Shore Vacation in Ocean City

One of the best things about living in New Jersey is that you get to go to the Jersey Shore in the summer.  Actually it is a requirement – isn’t it? I look forward to this every year, and for the last few years I have especially looked forward to time on the beach and boardwalk with my grandson.  This year it was only my daughter and grandson joining me as my son-in-law was working and my husband preferred to stay home.  No problem – our little threesome still had a great time.

We go to Ocean City which is a dry town and has no gambling games on the boardwalk.  So it is strictly a family crowd and very multi-generational too.

My daughter prefers to stay at the pool at the hotel and I prefer the beach.  So my grandson gets to experience spending time with each of us.  Zach loved the beach and we did it all from building a boat in the sand (This is one of my most favorite things to do at the beach) to crashing the waves.  He is braver at the ocean each year and it is so much fun just to watch him enjoy it.

It is hard to capture pictures at the beach because of the sun, glare, suntan lotion embedded in your hands and sand.  But I didn’t let all that hold me back from trying and I’m glad I didn’t because I absolutely love these pictures from our vacation at the Jersey shore.

Our first activity at the beach was building a boat in the sand.  We did this just above where high tide would come in and protecting it with a wall and moat was part of the project.

Zach is proud to show off the final product.......

Uh Oh!  The tide has breached our wall and wet the moat.....

Off to the the ocean's edge......

Escaping the advancing waves....

And one of my favorites...

Before dinner on the Boardwalk.....

On Zach's favorite rides at Wonderland on the Ocean City boardwalk......

I took one night off from all the family fun and went into Atlantic City to Dock's Oyster House for dinner.  Way before casinos - in 1897 - Dock's opened for business and the Dougherty family still runs this incredible gem.  It is one of the best restaurants in New Jersey and I have heard many claims that it is the best.  In the summer it is always filled to capacity, serves the freshest and best seafood anywhere and never makes you feel rushed.  Yet when you get up to leave they turn around the table in less than two minutes and you have new neighbors sitting next to you at once.  The piano bar is right there as you open the front door and the cheery guy from Jersey City clearly enjoys being part of this institution and will ask for your request when you come near the piano.  My husband grew up in Hoboken about two miles from where he lived and so we always enjoy a little local geography history.  When you have dinner at Dock's you enjoy the whole experience - it is fresh and new and old and nostalgic all at once.

And now I look forward to next year's visit to Ocean City and all its splendor.


Other articles you may enjoy.....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Backyard TMNT 6th Birthday Party

Earlier this month we hosted our grandson’s sixth birthday party.  It was an old fashioned backyard party.  I am more convinced than ever that even today this is the best kind of birthday party.  Kids have lots of organized activities and not enough free time to just be themselves and naturally creative.  The parents also enjoyed the ability to be outside and social with other adults rather than standing in the back watching the organized activities.  Here how the day went:

Zach helped bake and decorate his TMNT Birthday Cake

The party had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme’ and Zach came early to help bake and decorate the cake.  Pillsbury now has prepared frosting in colors including “TMNT Green.”  Zach was proud of this homemade cake.  Just like his Mom, he wanted a homemade cake rather than a store bought one. 

When the party goers arrived, they immediately got involved with free play.  The yard still has the swings that my kids used and a new addition is the Little Tikes Alligator seesaw hand-me-down from my niece.  The small plastic pool filled with small plastic balls completed the setup.  Everyone got a Ninja Turtle mask when they arrived so they could get in character if they chose to.

About half the kids were girls so we set up a table with some fancy beads to make jewelry for anyone who preferred that to running around and sure enough that was a popular activity too. Some of the boys were interested too.

Pop was at the grill and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids and adults too.  Everybody was ready for lunch when it was ready.

After lunch there was more free play and party games.  The games were very popular.  There was “Pin the Pizza on TMNT Michaelangelo” which is an updated version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey and a ring toss. 

Pin the Pizza on TMNT Michaelangelo - What great fun!

Finally it was time to sing Happy Birthday and have the cake.

The kids chose their favorite TMNT character mask

Some of Zach’s fans gave him a hug before they left.  I don’t have pictures of the goody bags but they were TMNT cups (reuseable) with favors in them.

Yes, this was a lot more work than taking 13 kindergarteners (plus a few siblings) to an organized party place.  But it was also a lot more fun for all. Definitely worth it -  I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chefs and No Kid Hungry - Riding Together

If you follow The Grandma Chronicles on Facebook (click to go to page and like now) you know that I re-post posts by No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry is a major campaign to provide meals to children by the national Share Our Strength organization – one of my favorite charities.  This is especially important this time of year because so many kids depend on meals they receive at school and during summer vacation their access to regular meals is in jeopardy.  No Kid Hungry sponsors a major summer feeding program to provide thousands of kids food security during the summer. I hate to think of any child being hungry during the summer vacation - that just shouldn't happen.

The No Kid Hungry Chef's Cycle is a huge event coming up that you can to be part of.  You can find out all the details here - Nearly 50 chefs and restaurant industry professionals are riding bikes 300 miles to raise funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry. There will actually be two 300 mile bike rides and you can sponsor an individual rider for either event. The East Coast ride will be from New York to Washington, DC on t June 7-9 and the West Coast ride is from Santa Barbara to San Diego on June 14-16.

 If you are on twitter, follow and post with the hashtag #chefscycle.  You can help by sponsoring a chef and also spreading the word on social media.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Trip to Provence and Cote d'Azur, France

If it seems like it has been quiet here at The Grandma Chronicles recently it has been because I was on vacation in France – Paris (Just briefly), Provence and the French Riviera.  I traveled with a women’s travel group – Women Traveling Together – since my husband was not interested in this trip. I had a great time and enjoyed all of it.  Here are some pictures and highlights.

We visited a number of small towns with historical things to see span whole different periods of history.  The Romans came to Provence and Cote d’Azur (Riviera) in 121 BC and stayed for 500 years.  You can see a coliseum,  columns and ruins of Roman baths still standing.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from that period.

During that middle ages, Counts and Knights ruled and built fortified castles usually on hillsides and many small towns and villages still existing today grew up around them.  You can visit castles, monestaries, old churches and more from this timeframe throughout the region.

Avignon was the home of popes in the 1300s and was owned by the papacy until the French Revolution.  It is a walled city – from medieval times – and has the famous Popes’ Palace.  It was definitely something to walk through the building which is intact and marvel at the sophistication and size of the construction.  Today Avignon is a busy city with 12,000 people living inside the walls and 78,000 living outside.  The first floor of many buildings have become modern stores, banks, restaurants and cafes and the facades of the upper portions remain intact while modernized inside for modern inhabitation.  Avignon –and surrounding area – was owned by the Papacy and never part of the French kingdom.  They do think of themselves as a separate place that does not have the French kingdom in its history. For example there are no Fleur-de-lis as this was originally associated with the French kingdom and Provence does not all associate itself with that time in French history.  In Paris and parts of northern france wyou will still see a lot of Fleur-de-lis decoration.

There is the history associated with the French Revolution – this is when Provence became part of France.  The church was outlawed in this time and many churches became government buildings and today some of them are schools, hospitals and civic buildings.  This monestary was bought by one owner and given back to the monks many years later when the church was able to re-establish itself in France.

One of the most interesting facets of Provence is that is is so beautiful and inspired so many well known artists.  Arles was home to Van Gogh and they have pictures of his paintings at several of the scenes he painted that are still there – here are two of them.

Cezanne painted the beautiful landscape and we visited a church with three Reubens.  The sculpture everywhere is just gorgeous.  If you are interested in art, you will definitely appreciate a trip to Provence.

We ended our tour with a visit to Cannes and Nice on the Mediterranean sea.  In these bustling towns historical old towns and modern cities exist coherently side by side as if neither was out of place.  There is a continuum of time that seems to work just fine.

Outside the hall where the Cannes Film Festival is held

If you stay on your yacht you can just walk over the the Cannes Film Festival

Approaching Nice

Train Station in Nice

Sculpture in Nice Main Square

Sculpture in Nice Main Square

In all of these places the food is just indescribable.  The food is grown locally, the fish is caught locally and everything is farm fresh and prepared to be a visual delight.  One of the things I enjoyed most on this trip was the many times I just sat at an outdoor cafĂ© and enjoyed lunch or dinner on a picturesque small “rue” and watched life go by.  

Market Day in Grasse

The trips included a visit to an olive farm, winery, lavender factory and perfume factory.
Meet the winemaker

And this is the picture of my grandson that went with me everywhere on the trip.:

Will I return?  Oh yes – but I will choose one or two places to visit and just appreciate the local culture.