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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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UltimateMama’s two little ones surprised her with a clever breakfast in bed funny face that put a smile on her face! Their secret ingredients:

-turkey bacon hair

-blueberry and strawberry eyes

-corn muffin nose

-scrambled egg mouth

Delicious and nutritious!

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UltimateMama’s girls had a brilliant idea for a recent casual get together with friends – make, bake, decorate, and serve cupcakes for all to enjoy!  Inspired by whimsical Lilly Pulitzer dresses, the girls used the Domino Buttercream Frosting recipe (found on the Domino Confectioners Sugar box) and food coloring to create beautiful pink and green frosting.  The girls loved experimenting with a piping bag and Russian piping tips to create stunning designs.

In a rush?  No sweat.  Betty Crocker makes easy to use decorating cake icing in a variety of fun “party” colors as well.

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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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After enjoying several days in Athens, UltimateMama and her family flew directly to Santorini to experience a beautiful Greek island and it did not disappoint.  A few tips for touring Santorini with kids:

– Figure out your transportation in advance. As of June 2018, UltimateMama heard there were less than 40 taxicabs on Santorini which means you will need to lock in a driver (we met a kind one at the airport–luckily) or rent a car (which UltimateMama did not do as Santorini doesn’t have many street signs or street lamps).

-Stay at the Santorini Palace Hotel in Firostefani if you have a family as it offers a great location only few meters away from the cliff of the Caldera and the panoramic view of the volcano.  The pool was excellent, as was the location (a short 10 minute walk to the capital of Santorini, the village of Fira).  Not to mention a full buffet breakfast was included with our booking which made mornings easy for all.

-Walk up the hill and grab a family photograph opportunity with one of Santorini’s most photographed chuches, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Pamper your family members with some Garra Rufa fish spa therapy at Kissing Fish in Fira.

-Grab some gelato at Crema Latte Gelato in Fira.

-Spend the day at Perivolas Beach, a black sand beach with many amenities. UltimateMama and her family loved eating sushi under beach umbrellas at Sakura.

-Visit the prehistoric town and see the excavations at Akrotiri.  UltimateMama had a guided tour that was extremely informative as we learned about the elaborate drainage system, beautiful artwork, and intricate jewelry of a settlement covered by a volcanic eruption (Thera).

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Explore a traditional village in Santorini.  UltimateMama had a guided tour of Megalochori which had beautiful bell towers and mansions.

-Watch the sunset at Oia, one of the most beautiful places in Santorini.

 

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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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UltimateMama and her family hit Costa Rica in March and did a terrific day trip to Nicaragua as well.  Perfect weather, ideal scenery, and terrific food made for a great vacation for all in Central America.

A few tips:

-Stay at the Andaz Costa Rica hotel in Guanacaste and make sure you get the breakfast included in your room rate as it is expansive and delicious (monkeys even stop to take notice).

-Take advantage of the kayaks and paddleboards at the hotel’s private beach which you can reach by shuttle bus.  UltimateMama and her two kids even hit the Nature Center Papagayo Explorers Club.

-Use Tropical Comfort Tours through the Andaz to book excursions.  The Buena Vista Extreme trip didn’t disappoint with zip lining, the longest waterslide in Costa Rica, horseback riding, mud baths, hot springs, and lunch.  All near the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park.

-Look into Tropical Comfort’s day trip to Nicaragua where one can take in breakfast, Lake Apoyo (a crater lake), Mombacho Volcano, Masaya Volcano National Park (active volcano), a carriage ride in Granada, and a boat ride on Lake Nicaragua.  The Garden Café was delightful for lunch and included Thousand Cranes, a great shop for local crafts and goods.

Pura vida!

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