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Over the weekend, UltimateMama and her two children had a nice one hour shopping trip to stock up on holiday goods and craft supplies at Michaels.  Killing time as it rained on Long Island was quite easy as UltimateMama challenged her family to come up with a gorgeous holiday tablescape that was pleasing for all ages and works for either a dining or side table.  Mission accomplished with the 70% doorbuster promotions at Michaels. Best of all the total cost was under $25!  The breakdown:

Potted red poinsettia with gold foil (artificial): $6 (from $20)

Metallic garland: $3.60 (from $12)

Small champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $6 (from $20)

Large champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $7.50 (from $25)

Total cost:  $23.10

Happy Holidays!


 

 

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Was it on our bucket list?  Of course!  So, UltimateMama and her family took a quick (relatively at under 5 1/2 hours from NYC) flight to Iceland.

Day 1

After landing, UltimateMama picked up the rental car and headed directly to the Blue Lagoon for an 8 AM spa appointment against the volcanic landscape.  One must book visits in advance.  UltimateMama and her family were treated to the “Comfort” package which included:  entrance fee, silica mud masks, use of towels, and one drink per person.  Remember to take your disposable/water cameras for some fun pictures!

Next, UltimateMama drove approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to start the Golden Circle Tour!

First stop was Thingvellir National Park to see the Everyman’s Gorge between 2 continents-America and Europe as well as the Law Rock.

Second stop after a 50-60 minute drive was to the Geysir Geothermal Field to see Strokker.  UltimateMama and her group grabbed some pizza and did some souvenir shopping at the visitor’s center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third stop was a 10 minute drive to Gullfoss Falls to see the breathtaking waterfall.

Next was a 50 minute drive (in the pouring rain/sleet) to the Kerid Crater.

Finally, after a 45 minute drive UltimateMama and her family made it to lodging at the Hotel Ranga which offers outdoor hot tubs, delicious cuisine, and fabulous Northern Lights displays (if one is lucky and we were)!

Day 2

The Lava Centre, which was only a 5 minute drive from the hotel, offered a glimpse at Iceland’s active volcanoes.

Next, a 15-20 drive to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall enabled us to be fully encircled by a fabulous wonder.

Don’t miss views of Eyjafjallojokull, a glacier volcano that caused panic to air travel in 2010.

After a 10 minute dive one will reach Skogafoss Waterfall and most likely see a rainbow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another 10-15 minute drive takes one to Solheimajokull Glacier which is easily accessible to all. UltimateMama and her family really enjoyed walking on/around it. Be careful!

One can’t miss the black sand beach of Reynisfjara on Iceland’s South Coast, next to a fishing village called Vik, which is only another 25-30 minute drive. The basalt stacks are extraordinary!

Day 3

A one hour tour of the Lava Tunnel is worth one’s time if one wants to see layers of volcanic eruption.

Ægissíðufoss waterfall is a majestic site and close to Hotel Ranga too!

Day 4

Spend the day in Reykjavik before heading to the airport for departure.


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UltimateMama had the honor of attending the opening of Chaos Theory Presents Flashpoint:  An Intersection of History, Perseverance, and Joy curated by Joyce Varvatos with Alexandra Hayden. The powerfully visual show is at 112 Hampton Road in Sag Harbor, New York from July 28 until September 2, 2018. Integrating pieces from various artists in different disciplines the exhibit features works by Francesca DiMattio, Friends with You, Dan Life, Susan Tepper, Do Ho Suh, Raul de Nieves, Kim Hyung Dae, Zeus, Lucy Winton, Friends with You/Daniel Jacobs collaboration, Ouattera Watts, Derrick Adams, and Leo Villareal.

The show blends the idea that chaos and order are not always opposed. The end result is a remarkable mix of the two that all will enjoy. Bravo ladies!

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UltimateMama was recently treated to a delightful, decadent afternoon lunch at KDHamptons founder Kelli Delaney and Dr. Mark Kot’s beautiful Water Mill home, Maple Shade.  The radiant hostess gave me a tour of this home’s his (Mark’s) and hers (Kelli’s) expansive gardens which include grand silver maple trees and the most elegant hydrangeas on the East End of Long Island.  Kelli and Mark’s ultimate summer garden is accentuated by a drizzle of blue and white pillows, vases, and urns surrounding their outdoor furniture which makes for a dazzling, sophisticated, yet comfortable atmosphere.

Mark’s garden:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelli’s Garden:

 

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UltimateMama’s girls are always excited to make these clever, easy, minimalist, nutritious, and tasty avocado boats.  The best thing about them is that they can be eaten right out of the avocado! Avocados are high in healthy fats and great anytime of day.

Ultimate Avocado Boat recipe (for 8 people):

-4 avocados

-6 plum tomatoes cut into cubes (or use a pint of washed cherry tomatoes which you won’t need to cut)

-1 container of fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini) or you can cube one larger mozzarella ball

-4 tablespoons diced red onion (scallions work well too)

-2 tablespoons of lime juice

To do:  scoop out the “meat” from each avocado but remember to keep the “shell”.  In a large bowl, gently stir cubed avocado chunks, tomatoes, mozzarella, onions, and lime juice. Carefully, spoon into each of your eight avocado “shells” and serve!

 

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UltimateMama and her girls love to make this refreshing summer salad for lunch guests.  It is quick, easy, delicious, and filled with nutrients.  Best of all, it is colorful as well as easy to eat poolside.

Ultimate Pineapple and Chicken Summer Salad recipe

-Fresh kale

-Pineapple chunks

-Red (or yellow) potatoes cut in chunks

-Grilled chicken cubed (UltimateMama usually uses leftovers from the prior evening)

-Balsamic vinegar

To do:  wash and dry the kale, add the rest of the ingredients, and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve in pretty summer bowls.

Optional:  Add some feta or goat cheese.

 

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UltimateMama and her family took a quick trip to Lisbon, Portugal and discovered the beauty of the city.  The amazing food (and wine for the grown ups) was an incredible treat!  UltimateMama’s kids still rave about the Pasteis de Belem–a MUST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few tips on Lisbon:

-Stay at the Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade in Lisbon, Portugal.  The rooms are pristine and the buffet breakfast (included in our room rate) was out of this world!

-Visit the Tower of Belem which is on the Tagus River

-Walk by the Padrão dos Descobrimentos which is also right on the Tagus River

-If you are visiting in the summer of 2018 don’t miss the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Museu de Arte Popular Lisboa

-Head to Pasteis de Belem and experience the sweet delights (one can buy a few and eat them while walking around the city)

-Tour the stunning Jeronimos Monastery

-Eat lunch at one of the shops in the Mercado da Ribeira Time Out (which has great canned fish you can buy to take home too)

-Explore the Bairro Alto area

-Have dinner at Petiscos no Bairro

 
 
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UltimateMama and her kids thought Greece was the perfect blend of education and relaxation.  Although it was extremely hot in early June at 95 degree F, Athens was an absolute delight of a city.  A few tips to enjoy Athens with kids:

-Stay at the Hotel Grande Bretagne as it is central to everything.  The rooftop pool is perfect for a late afternoon dip and the spa/indoor pool is truly a pleasure.  In the evening hours one has a wonderful view of the Acropolis lit up from the hotel’s lovely restaurant.  The Syntagma Square was ideal for touring, eating, and catching the underground subway.

-Stroll the National Gardens, right in Syntagma Square!

-Have a quick lunch at Kosmikon in the Plaka area (and grab some inexpensive souvenirs afterwards).

-Watch the changing of the guards across the street at the Parliament Building (in Syntagma Square). Just make sure you ask your hotel for the exact times.

-For dinner visit Erato restaurant café in the Plaka area and then browse the silver jewelry in the Monastiraki flea market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Visit the Acropolis Museum BEFORE touring the Acropolis.  Grab a kids guide scavenger hunt to keep your children engaged!

-If you need a great kebab place try Thanasis in the Monastiraki which is near the Plaka area

-Near the Acropolis at an outdoor booth window purchase a 5 day special ticket for 30 Euro for adults (as of June 2018) which includes admission to must visit locations such as: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis

-Arrange a guided tour of the Acropolis through Context Travel, including the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Agora.  UltimateMama’s kids enjoyed the “Acropolis for Families: Drama and Sacrifice in Ancient Athens” 3 hour long tour. The tour begins with a visit to the theater of Dionysus on the south slope of the Acropolis and goes from there!

-Have dinner in Kolonaki at OIKEIO which was a superb, traditional Greek food experience with home style cooking at the address: Ploutarchou 15

-Visit and tour the stadium of the first modern Olympic games, the Panathenaic Stadium and be amazed at all the beautiful marble that was used in its creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Walk around the War Museum in Athens and see the collection.

-UltimateMama was rushed for time so briefly visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum

-A favorite dinner spot was in Kolonaki at Barbounaki which was a traditional fish tavern. Definitely a must do!

-Take the cable car to Mount Lycabettus which is the highest hill in Athens (the gift shop at the bottom was a nice surprise as was the restaurant at the top which we didn’t try but were tempted).

-Walk around the Temple of Olympian Zeus in central Athens, a spectacular temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Head to an Italian dinner in Kolonaki at Malconi’s which has a chic and trendy vibe.

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UltimateMama and her family have lots of visitors all summer long.  As hosts it is always the goal to make a great impression, however, we all want to enjoy the day too!  A quick and easy dessert that looks fancy but takes no time at all is the classic sundae. Sundaes look a bit more decadent compared to ice cream cones but basically have all the components.  Best of all, they can be made ahead of time and stored in your freezer.  Here’s what you need:

Waffle Bowls (Joy makes good ones)

Sprinkles (Betty Crocker never disappoints)

Chocolate Sauce (love anything by Ghiradelli)

Ice Cream (Breyers is consistently good)

For those who don’t want to waffle bowl experience UltimateMama and her girls love making sundaes in depression glass sherbet desert bowls (blue bowls are our favorite color for summer fun)!


 

 

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UltimateMama’s children get tempted each and every time they walk past a donut shop.  The smell of the sweet, greasy treat just fills their hearts with joy.  Not wanting them to miss out, UltimateMama purchased the Babycakes nonstick coated donut maker and the kids have been creating all sorts of sweet and somewhat healthy, not fried donut varieties.

Many donut recipes can be found online or in cookbooks, however, UltimateMama has cut down on time by using pancake mix, waffle mix, muffin mix, cake mix, and even splurged recently with a mix from Sur La Table.


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