Monday, April 30, 2012

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

   We visited the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst over the weekend. For those that aren't familiar with him, Eric Carle is a children's book author and illustrator. He has written more than 70 children's books, including the popular books The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider. Apparently, he also lived in Northampton for over 30 years!  

   The museum consists of three galleries of artwork including Mr. Carle's work and rotating exhibitions of picture book art. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures of the inside of the galleries but there are previews of current art exhibitions on the website. The museum also has an adorable gift shop (with tons of items that would be perfect for decorating a baby's nursery!), a library with story hours for preschoolers, cafe, and a drop in art studio where your child can create his or her own work of art.

   For more information on the museum or Eric Carle, visit or

Friday, April 27, 2012

Traverse City Salad

A little taste of Northern Michigan…

My family used to vacation in Traverse City, Michigan every summer when I was growing up. I have many fond memories of hanging out on the beaches with my siblings, swimming, jet skiing, shopping downtown, and (my personal favorite) eating out! There’s one particular dish, a salad, my parents used to order at one of the restaurants that always brings back those happy memories every time I recreate it at home.

Behold the Traverse City Salad! The ingredients consist of:

A Mix of Romaine & Iceberg Lettuce
Grated Asiago Cheese
Pecan Pieces
Dried Cherries
A Grilled Chicken Breast
Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

That’s it! Simple, right? Over the years, I’ve made a few changes to it. I prefer to use only Romaine lettuce (I rarely eat Iceberg) and Blue Cheese instead of the Asiago. Both versions are delightful! After some research, I discovered that there several other variations of the salad.

Another version from

Lettuce (doesn’t specify what kind)
Dried Cherries
Ginger-Candied Walnuts
Goat Cheese
Red Onion
Cherry Vinaigrette Dressing

2 Cups of Greens (mixed)
1 Slice Red Onion (chopped or separated into rings or to taste)
3 Tablespoons Cherries (dried, taste)
3 Tablespoons Walnuts (pecans, roughly chopped)
6 Grape Tomatoes (1 small tomato quartered)
2 Tablespoons Blue Cheese (crumbled or to taste)
4 Ounces Turkey (optional or chicken cut into strips optional)
Raspberry Vinaigrette

The list of variations could go on, but you get the idea. No matter which one you make, I hope you’ll enjoy the salad as much as I do!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mount Sugarloaf

   Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield has incredible views for picture taking. It’s my favorite mountain to take people on when they visit! There are lots of picnic tables for eating at or you bring a blanket and have a picnic lunch. There are also restrooms which are convenient when you have little ones! You can park at the bottom and hike up, or pay $2 and drive up. For only $2, it’s a great way to spend a summer day taking pictures and having a picnic with your family!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random Ramblings on My Favorite Movie of All Time

A lighthearted note to self (and those interested)…    

   Although it is criticized in one of my favorite books (“Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto” by Chuck Klosterman) for being every girl’s romantic fantasy of the perfect relationship, the movie “Say Anything” still remains my favorite movie of all time. You may ask how can this silly, 1980’s cheesy teenager love story be someone’s favorite movie of all time? Well, I will tell you AND share my favorite scenes and characters AND I’ll put them in a list format AND I’ll include film stills…because I’m just that enthusiastic about it!

1. The opening credits scene where Joe is singing “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston at graduation.

   During my college years, I lived in a very small, boring town in Michigan. There wasn’t much to do on the weekends other than hang out at this bowling alley/bar located in the one block stretch of the downtown area. On a couple of nights during the week, they would have karaoke. I loved the karaoke nights because there were usually about only 5 people in the bar. This audience size was perfect for anyone, like me, who gets really nervous before performing. My college friends would come out to the bar on karaoke night and sing their hearts out to the 5 drunken bikers that happened to be listening. On one of these “wild” karaoke nights, my friend Dave got up on stage and gave one of the most incredibly monotone and unenthusiastic renditions of “Greatest Love of All.” It was beautiful and possibly the best karaoke performance I’ve ever witnessed. Every time I see Joe sing this song in the movie, it reminds me of that night and fun times with my college friends. We were always able to make the most out of our college experience despite living at home and attending a commuter university.

2. The main characters Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court.

    Who doesn’t fall in love with Lloyd Dobler in this movie? He’s so awkward, subtly hilarious and a hopelessly romantic. Even though he’s an underachiever, he has good character. You can just tell! He stands up for what he wants and doesn’t give it up without a fight. He’s so crazy about Diane Court that it makes you jealous. It makes you wish that someone would love you and want you that badly (well, if you were a teenage girl anyway). He doesn’t care about Diane’s reputation or family or his own place in society or his future because he knows that everything will fall into place if he can win the affection of this girl. I admire that. Ladies, whether you want to admit it or not, you wish you had your own Lloyd Dobler.

   Diane is beautiful, smart, innocent, hardworking, and a devoted daughter. Girls want to be like Diane Court and the boys want to date her. Her perfection fascinates me because I was nothing like that in high school. I’m also equally fascinated with Ione Skye because I’m guessing that she too is nothing like Diane Court (Diane Court would never do nude scenes in movies like “Four Rooms” and or have a topless photograph in the book “Scar Tissue”.). When you are someone who has been in relationships with men such as Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adam Horovitz from the Beastie Boys, and Ben Lee, you probably have some pretty wild stories to tell. I’d love to spend an afternoon chatting with Diane Court and/or Ione Skye.

3. The scene in the diner where Diane and Lloyd decide to be “friends with potential.”

   There’s really not much to say here, I just love it! Diane looks beautiful and Lloyd is willing to be whatever it is that Diane says she wants, as long as he gets to spend time with her. It reminds me of that crazy time at the beginning of any relationship where everything is magical and wonderful.

4. The wildly famous scene of Lloyd holding up the boom box while it plays “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.

   I will proudly admit to how romantic I think this scene is AND how much I love that song! Lloyd is so hopelessly in love with Diane that this gesture just makes your heart melt. It’s also fascinating to me for a few other reasons: 1) Where in the world is Lloyd standing? Can anyone tell me? It is clearly not in Diane’s front or back yard. He appears to be parked at some random park, which means that the music must have been ridiculously loud in order for it to be heard at Diane’s window. While this scenario is totally not plausible in real life, I still love it and revere it as one of the most romantic scenes in a movie.

   2) Why the hell did Diane continue to lie in bed even after she heard the music? If that was me, I would have run outside and jumped Lloyd in that random park! I guess that’s just another one of those things that makes Diane and I different.

5. The scene in the guitar store where Lloyd’s friend Corey Flood is explaining to him how his relationship with Diane has changed now that they have slept together:

   “Lloyd, listen to me. Everything has changed. You’ve had sex. No matter what you might think, nothing will ever be the same between the two of you. You might be 60, you might be walking down the street, and you’ll talk to her about something…whatever, but what you’ll really be thinking is, 'We had sex'.”

   It’s funny because it’s true. Plus, Corey just seems like she would have been a really cool friend to hang out with (despite her obsession with Joe).

6. “Write me…” the scene at the jail with Diane and her father James.

   Oh, Daddy got burned! Diane gave him the pen that he gave to her to give to Lloyd. Don’t you just love the irony? It’s so cheesy and wonderful! Sometimes I think Cameron Crowe should have just ended the movie there.

   So there you have it, my reasons for loving “Say Anything”. If this doesn’t motivate you to watch and fall in love with the movie, I don’t know what will. You may never be convinced! It should at least be in your top 5 favorite John Cusack movies. Learn to appreciate and love its cheesiness.

(All film stills belong to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, I don't claim to own anything.)      

To check out the PART 2 post on my favorite movie of all time, click HERE!!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Magic Wings

   We recently visited Magic Wings, the butterfly conservatory, in South Deerfield. I went to Magic Wings once before in 2008, but I hadn't been back since then so I thought we'd check it out again. The butterflies were very pretty and flying everywhere! I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them. It was quite warm inside the conservatory but not too hot. There were a lot of people there because of spring break. When I got home I decided to compare my recent pictures of the conservatory to the pictures I had taken back in 2008. I was surprised to see that the gardens aren't nearly as nice as they were back then. There were lots of plants and flowers missing. It was a little disappointing because they looked so beautiful in my older pictures.

  Magic Wings is still definitely worth visiting though. Here's a little more information about the conservatory from their website:

"Magic Wings features an 8,000-square foot tropical conservatory with nearly 4,000 exotic and domestic butterflies. Magic Wings focuses on butterfly-related education, recreation, entertainment and gardening needs. Snacks can be purchased at Monarchs Restaurant but are not allowed in the conservatory. Strollers are also not allowed in the conservatory. Cute gift shop has lots of collectible and toys."

For more information, visit



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mosaic Cafe (and more fun at the Waterfalls)

   Life has been really busy lately! I've visited many wonderful places but haven't had a chance to update the blog in awhile. Luckily, I have some much needed time off now so I can rest, relax, and share all of the pictures I've been holding on too.

  My best friend visited this past weekend and chose to eat at Mosaic Cafe for lunch on Saturday. I had eaten at Mosaic once before so I was excited to return. I ordered the Mosaic salad and it was delicious! It is a mix of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted peppers, feta cheese, carrots, roasted walnuts, zaatar, with a vinaigrette dressing. I even liked it better than the crepe I ordered the previous time, which was also very tasty. It was a beautiful sunny day so we ate on the tables outside (and we both thoroughly enjoy people watching).

(My BFF Jenny)

   I also took Jenny to the Waterfalls at Chapel Brook in Ashfield over the weekend. You can read more about them in my previous blog entry. Even though it wasn't hot enough for swimming, I knew she would enjoy seeing them and the peaceful feeling you get after visiting them. I expected the water levels to be low, considering we haven't had a ton of rain this spring in Western Massachusetts but I was surprised at how high the water actually was. Rocks that we sat on last summer were now covered in water! There were also a lot of trees that had broken in half and fallen down (probably from the heavy snow storm we had at the end of October). But it was still BEAUTIFUL and peaceful and totally worth the trip! 

(Jenny LOVED the waterfalls)

 For more information on Mosaic Cafe or to see the menu visit   


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Monkey Munch (aka Puppy Chow)

   A recipe for Monkey Munch (also called Puppy Chow) from my fellow Massachusetts mom friend Sarah Shea. Thanks again Sarah! Enjoy!

9 cups Chex cereal (any kind)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Put Chex in large bowl. Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter separately (1 minute in microwave then stir. It will melt eventually.).
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
3. Pour mixture over Chex cereal. Put into large plastic bag with powdered sugar. Shake well to coat.
4. Spread mixture evenly on wax paper and allow to cool (you can skip this step and just put it into the refrigerator).
5. Cut into squares or break into chunks before serving.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

La Fiorentina Pastry Shop

   La Fiorentina is a perfect spot to stop in for a sweet treat after dinner. It's a cute little Italian pastry shop in downtown Northampton. There are also locations in East Longmeadow and Springfield (which I believe was the first/original shop). They offer a wide variety of treats such as chocolate mousse cake, red velvet cake, carrot cake, gelato, lemon tart, macaroons, coffee and more! It's a great place to meet with a friend, have a long chat, and enjoy a tasty pastry.

     For more information visit