Tag Archives: April Vacation

Fun Friday: “The Cowarts take Manhattan” and what was for dinner

5 May

April was incredibly busy, and here is the rest of why!

Last week in my What’s for Dinner Wednesday post, I promised you that I would share more of what had been keeping me from posting recently and I also promised you some weekly meal inspiration with a twist. Today’s Fun Friday post is all of those things wrapped in one.

As you’ll see in this week’s Cranston Herald feature article, we took a whirlwind trip to New York City and the surrounding areas, including Jersey City, Hoboken and Brooklyn, just to name a few. It started out as a college tours trip primarily, but because we had never taken any of the kids to NYC, and because they all wanted to visit so badly, we decided to try to make it a mini family vacation, on the cheap rather than one adult taking one child to New York and everyone else staying home.

Super cheap.

We accomplished that goal by using our camper, although very early in the camping season, and despite the fact that we wouldn’t have a ton of time for prepping for the trip due to work obligations and the Easter weekend. One of the ways that we made it work was by eating many of our meals in and only eating a few special things out, as we visited the city. We had extra money and we could’ve spent it all on eating out, but we didn’t want to. We opted instead to choose a couple of extra-special eating adventures and to choose a couple of extra-special sightseeing adventures too, giving ourselves the best of both worlds.

Our camper has a full kitchen with a microwave, oven and stove as well as a refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Therefore, we could plan meals as extensive or as simple as we wished. We decided to go simple. We knew we’d be out a great deal of the time and the last thing we wanted to do was come home and spend an hour and a half cooking. We also knew that simple meant cheap, and if our meals were inexpensive, that was more money we could throw into our travel budget from our normal grocery budget.

Because the weekend before the trip was Easter (an expensive, busy weekend in itself), we did have some leeway in our meals leading up to the trip and we were not eating at home on Easter Sunday. Therefore, my list of meals starts with Monday, the first night we arrived at Liberty Harbor RV Park and Marina. Here’s what we ate while we were away:


Monday: Quesadillas (extras became lunch the next day) with Spanish rice and corn. We also had chips and salsa for appetizers when we arrived because it had been a five hour ride and we’d eaten lunch in the car earlier in the day.

Tuesday: Chicken burgers and hot dogs, fresh sugar snap peas, sauteed.

Wednesday: Macaroni with Chicken Parmesan, (chicken cooked in the cast iron skillet). Today we also used some of our spending money to have treats at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, the original bake shop featured on the TV show, “Cake Boss.”

Breakfast on Wednesday morning: Carlo’s Bakery sweet treats


Very inexpensive, delicious and a fun end to our trip to NYC!

Thursday: We opted to eat out that night, experiencing NY Style Pizza, $1 a slice, in Times Square at 2 Bros. Pizza. DELICIOUS.

Friday: We were home again by Friday night and we had French Toast for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is fast and easy and a good meal to make when you get home. It was a breakfast option we never used on the trip so we had all the ingredients ready to go.

For the second week of our two week cycle, we tried to choose meals that were still inexpensive and that used some things we had at home already

Saturday: Homemade chicken and rice soup (perfect for what ended up being a cold, rainy, raw day)

Sunday: Pork Chops and homemade applesauce (I brought applesauce to dinner on Easter Sunday, so I made a triple batch that day, freezing one batch for our trip. We never used that meal on the trip, so we had it Sunday night instead.)

Monday: Zucchini shrimp Scampi (recently featured in this blog post)

Tuesday: Taco Bake (recipe here)

Wednesday: Chicken, Broccoli and Pasta

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pizza

Movie Review: “Chimpanzee”

24 Apr

This movie got two thumbs up from all of us!

Last week we got the chance to see the new Disney movie, “Chimpanzee,” on the very first day it came out. I was excited because I personally haven’t seen the last few Disney movies that come out around Earth Day each year. The commercials I’d seen for the movie looked wonderful and we couldn’t wait to surprise the kids with this particular Staycation activity.

We were not disappointed. The movie was rated G, which took a huge weight off of my shoulders. Whenever we see a movie, even if it’s PG, I spend the entire time worrying about what might pop up in terms of language or violence, especially having a child on the younger end of the age range. A rated G movie takes those fears right off my radar. It’s not often you can find a G movie that’s good for the older kids too, keeping their attention throughout. This one definitely did that.

The cinematography in this movie was amazing. The scenery was stunning and the camera crew did an amazing job capturing it all. I loved the out takes at the end because you really see what the camera crew went through to get some of the shots you were awed by throughout the movie.

Tim Allen was the narrator and he did a fabulous job with it. He had the difficult task of narrating a true story where the characters themselves do not speak–nature at it’s best–and he pulled it off without a hitch. He guided the viewer through all the emotions. There were funny parts, sad parts, scary parts (but not so scary) and parts where you were on the edge of your seat.

I wasn’t sure how my kids would like the movie. It was non-fiction which they generally prefer to read, but as far as movies go it wasn’t typical of some of the movie plots out there right now that I know they’ve also been dying to see.  However, everyone loved it! They’d been wanting to see it, and they really enjoyed it. We all did, and I’m so glad we splurged on this activity for our Staycation.

If you get the chance to see the “Chimpanzee” movie, I highly recommend it!

In honor of National Library Week

16 Apr
open book with glasses

Reading has always been a favorite past time of mine.

Did you know that this week is National Library Week?

Well, if you didn’t know before, now you do!

I love my public libraries, I always have. It saddens me as each year our city’s library budgets are cut more and more, closing them oftentimes for more hours than they are open.

My kids love to read. We have big book shelves in almost every room in the house. They love to listen to audio books. They even, sometimes “play” library.

On rainy days my kids have been known to set up a "library" in their rooms. This photo shows the "children's section" of their "library," complete with a check out desk.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my local library. My mom took us to “story hour” and we always participated in the summer reading programs at the library, contests which encouraged us to read as much as we could over the summer, writing a brief summary of each book we’d read. I can still picture those reading forms in my head.

My parents are readers, Grandma Rose at 90 still reads a book a day. I come from a long line of people who love books.

We still have actual “books on tape” as our car is old enough to still have a tape player. We’ve listened to story books where they’ve been able to read along, as well as chapter books on long rides, even on short rides.

When my oldest daughter was about three, I left my job to be home full time. The very first thing I did now that I had my freedom, was sign her up for story hour at our local library.

I brought her that first day and I still have a photo somewhere of her on her last day, standing with all of the kids she had met from years and years of story hour through her kindergarten year.

As the years went by, all of my children participated in story hour. They all participate in the summer reading challenges. We love all of our librarians SO MUCH.

To me, our library is a magical place full of happy memories. I often drive by my local library and it makes me sad sometimes, as I think of all those story hour years we won’t get back. I met some of my closest friends through story hour. We went from going downstairs with the kids when they were littler, to sitting at the tiny kid tables upstairs, waiting for them to come up as they got older.

In honor of National Library Week this week, make a visit to your library. If you have spring break this week, check out their schedule and see if they have any special activities planned.If you’re not in the middle of a book, consider starting one.

This week I’ll be updating my “What I’m Reading Right Now” section on my blog. I’ve been reading a ton but haven’t taken the time to put the books I’ve read up on the blog.

Make a visit to your local library this week!

I think National Library Week is the perfect week to do so, don’t you?