Momma Told Me: July 2017

Blog Archive

6 One Day Summer Adventures To Take In Your Hometown

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CraftYourCool #CollectiveBias
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
Sometimes it can be hard to find your Summer.

For those of us who don't attend school, or work at a seasonal job, Summertime is still very much work time. While the weather has changed and the promise of fun lurks around every corner it's not always obvious how to claim those golden Summer moments. In the past we've taken entire weeks off for vacation and travel- this year we're 'adulting' more in an attempt to meet the financial and physical demands of home ownership. There's yard work to do, coupons to be cut, repairs and upgrades to be planned, and no shortage of work to do to finance them.

But all work and no Summer makes anyone a dull person. We, as humans, need Summer moments to fuel those 300+ days of the year where we cant be spreading our toes in warm sand and sipping Frappuccino®'s pool side.
Let's face it we don't all have a giant Pegasus (yup, we got that at Walmart) pool island (it's so big they don't even call it a floatie) to waste away the Summer afternoons on. Heck, most of us don't even have a pool. We certainly don't- that photo was snapped at my father's house. Haha!

But I have great news for all of you Summer-weary people out there. #1 You can bring a bit of Summer fun and flavor ANYWHERE thanks to Starbucks® Frappuccino® bottled beverages sold at Walmart AND even earn bonus stars for the Starbucks® Rewards Program when you buy 3 or more bottles in store now through July 10th, 2017! #2 Jay and I are planning 'mini adventures' all Summer long, from overnight trips up the coast to afternoons spent exploring our home town. We're going to share a few of our favorite adventures here with you today.
Stock up on your favorite Starbucks® Frappuccino® bottled beverages at Walmart now through 7/11/17 and get 35 bonus reward stars when you upload tour receipt! #CraftYourCool #AD
First things first- those stars.

Walmart is one of our Summer headquarters, we're there at least once a week (if not, and usually, more) to stock up on all of our must-haves for the season. Since we like to take our Starbucks® with us the Frappuccino® bottled beverages are a convenient way to indulge on the go. Those icy, tall, glass bottles and that happy-moment 'POP' sound the second the cap twists off for the first time are the hallmark of great Summer memories waiting to be made. Best of all there's a huge variety of flavors lining the aisle at our local Walmart so we can both choose our favorite flavors- like the NEW Starbucks® Bottled Dulce De Leche Frappuccino® coffee drink.
This NEW Starbucks® Frappuccino® flavor comes in larger than standard 13.7oz bottles so it's not sold in 4 packs like the classic Mocha and Vanilla flavors. We're fine with that because we like to have extra Frappuccino® flavor when we're out wreaking havoc creating memories. And now, through July 10th, 2017 Starbucks® gold star rewards members can take advantage of an exclusive Walmart offer to receive 35 bonus stars when they upload a receipt showing a purchase of 3 or more Starbucks® bottled products. You'll definitely want to take advantage of that offer so be sure to learn more here.
Stopping into Walmart is more than a routine or necessity- it's plain fun. We love exploring the aisles for the latest flavors of our favorite drinks and snacks, as well as the newest fashions and gadgets. We can't go past the toy aisles without Jay touching everything- and I cant pass by the housewares without looking for new decorative plates or fawning over the rainbow of bath towels. We always find exactly what we're looking for, and we always leave with more than we went in to find. Heck, shopping at Walmart should be considered a Summer adventure!
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
But let's get down to business. How about those Summer adventures? 

Today we've rounded up 6 of our favorite things to do around our home town, that pretty much anybody can enjoy- The exception being those living in highly rural small towns. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a Walmart within driving distance you can likely do all of the following. And, worst case scenario, anybody who is reading this blog right now can enjoy #4.

So, let's get to it, shall we?
#1- Discover hidden treasures.

I don't think I've ever visited a city that didn't have some form of farmer's market or swap meet. In fact it's one of the things we check community calendars for when planning a trip to a new (to us) city. Whether you plot a route through old downtown to plunder thrift stores or enjoy the afternoon at an open air flea market you're sure to find an endless array of curiosities, not to mention delicious eats.

Our local fairgrounds has a swap meet every Wednesday that is free to attend and takes hours to walk through. We find the most amazing things, with the most amazing stories behind them. We also meet the most fascinating people. A local swap meet is different every time you attend and a great way to discover a little local history, whether you're treasure hunting or not.

If you don't have a swap meet/flea market in your area then you probably have a farmer's market. Farmer's markets usually feature more than fresh produce and flowers. Many community farmers markets feature local food trucks and bakeries, or even handmade artisan crafts and gifts.

Lastly, if the above two options are nil in your hometown why not hunt down local thrift and antique stores and plan an afternoon route. Just one 'booth' style antique store could have hundreds of vendors with each space packed full of amazing and rare finds. Best of all, these types of stores usually allow you to shop and browse without any pressure from sales reps!
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
#2- Geocaching

This one I'm fairly confident ANYONE can do in their hometown. Even if there aren't many geocaches in existence near you it's fun to spend an afternoon creating, hiding, and registering a cache of your own.

What is geocaching? Well it's a real life treasure hunt which relies on geographical coordinates and written clues to locate small treasures known as caches. You can geocache as casual or intense as you choose- simply printing out a few points of interest before you leave the house, or using a full blown companion application with real time community updates.

There are several guidelines as to what can be a cache and where people can hide them, so you don't have to worry about getting into anything illegal (like trespassing or vandalism). While geocaching is often considered a hobby it's something anybody can do with no prior experience and minimal to no preparation. So, while you might not pick it up as an interest it's definitely something worth exploring for an afternoon.
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
#3- A dog's day out.

Okay, so for this one you have to have a dog- or maybe a leash trained cat (we don't judge).

But if you DO have a dog then there's a plethora of adventures to be found in any home town. In fact you'll find several phone applications designed just for networking with fellow dog parents- one even lets you map your regular walking route, share snapshots of daily walks, and meet nearby dogs and their owners.

Truly, though, to have a dog's day out you need to commit to spending the entire day doing dog friendly things. This will vary on your location and how dog friendly your community is but could include participating in a charity run/walk, visiting a restaurant with a dog friendly menu/patio, chasing ducks down by the local park's pond, taking the long way home with the windows down all the way, hunting down a new dog park, chasing squirrels, visiting a pet store to shop with your dog, and so much more.

Our only rule for a dog's day out? Make sure you bring plenty of water- sadly they don't make Starbucks® Frappuccino® bottled beverages for dogs quite yet.
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
#4- Virtual museum tour.

This one doesn't even require you to leave your house- but, perhaps, we can suggest you enjoy it at least out in the beautiful weather on a patio with an ice cold Starbucks® Frappuccino® at your side?

Many people talk of wanting to expand their intellectual capacity over the Summer but few have the time, or budget, for worldly travels. Even more disappointing is the fact that so few people know you can visit some of the most amazing, prestigious, museum and art galleries online, absolutely free. Hundreds of historical and educational facilities across the globe have interactive online tours that anyone with an internet connection can access 24/7. And some of them are impressively interactive with 360 degree camera rotation and 'click on' exhibits. You'll find guided tours, video content, and more at your fingertips without ever having to leave the house or pay a dime.

You're welcome.

Check out some of these great online tours here:

#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
#5- Get creative.

While I'm sure you can pick up some art supplies on your next trip to Walmart and plan an entire craft-fest in your living room I do really want to encourage you to get OUT for some mini-adventures. The truth is you hometown is likely covered in hidden beauty in the shape of art installations, murals, and even graffiti. Why not plan an afternoon exploring the cultural value of your hometown and share some of those finds on Instagram or Facebook for your friends and family to see?

If you're feeling really brave you might be surprised to discover some local events, and even locations, which offer a little creative inspiration year-round. I'm not talking about community college classes- though those are always great for extra-curricular skill building. I'm talking about attending a 'paint night event,' local home and garden store DIY class, or ceramic studio.

Did you know many local ceramic galleries and studios, as well as major craft stores, often offer instructional classes as low as $15. These events and classes typically include all of the materials needed to create a work of art, as well as as much (or little) instruction/teaching you desire.

Jay and I spent 4 hours painting our own ceramics at a local gallery last week and I was surprised to walk out hearing Jay chime 'That was actually really fun!' Look for locations/events during the week days if you want some down time, or shoot for weekend evenings to really explore night life and meet some new people.
#CraftYourCool with these genius 1 Day Summer Adventures to take in any hometown! #AD
#6- Take shelter.

Lastly, and this is hands down my absolute favorite one-day Summer adventure, visit or volunteer at/with a local shelter or rescue organization.

I cannot stress enough how enjoyable and fulfilling it is to spend the afternoon at our local shelter- and it's absolutely free.

I don't want to hear about how you can't take the site/thought of the animals without homes and how you'd never be able to leave without taking an animal home. Believe me, I've been there- but there's something that simply washes over you when you realize you are making (if even just) one animal's day better for even a few minutes spent visiting with them.

So, let's break it down- what your local shelter offers will vary. Our local county shelter has 3 areas where animals are not caged and allowed to interact with visitors with no supervision of fuss. As long as you sanitize your hands on the way in and observe safe door practices you're allowed to walk into these areas and interact with the animals inside as long as you please. Where we live the areas feature a Senior Cat room, Well Behaved Puppy room, and Rabbit room. If your local shelter doesn't have the room for spaces like this they will often be more than happy to allow you in to 'recreate' kennel bound dogs for a few hours with no fancy commitment or certification.

If you really love this sort of adventure you can also volunteer your time (a commitment as small as 15 hours a month is usually required) to help out at a shelter as volunteer staff- OR connect with a local foster or rescue organization to socialize pets on a schedule that works better for you.

No matter where you live there are organizations like this and animals that can benefit from attention and love regardless of whether you have the means or intent to adopt. Animals in places like this benefit not only from the immediate perks of receiving attention and love for a little bit during the day but also from the character building of being around new people which will ultimately help them find their forever homes.
So, there you have it- 6 amazing Summer adventures to enjoy in pretty much any home town.

I hope I've inspired you to take charge of your Summer and find your own adventure. Whether you're jet-setting across the globe this Summer, or planning a Staycation in your own home town, Summer moments matter. Make time to enjoy them, regardless of your budget or schedule. Stock up on all your Summer adventure needs at Walmart (even make shopping an adventure) and grab your favorite Starbucks® Frappuccino® bottled beverages now before the 35 bonus star limited time offer ends. Now tell me what's one adventure, big or small, you plan on having this Summer.

MSG 4 21+: From Sea To Table- Making Memories At Red Lobster's Summer Crabfest®

The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CrabfestSummer #Crabfest #CollectiveBias
MSG 21+ NEW! Crabfest® Cooler, a tropical blend of Malibu®, Midori, Sour Mix and pineapple with a Blue Curacao Float, served in collective Coastal Crab glassware. #CrabfestSummer #AD
A few months back I shared a personal story of my own family traditions in relation to one very special (to me) seafood dining chain. While Red Lobster's Lobsterfest® is over, a new reason to stop in and celebrate has begun, this time all about crab. Whether you're an avid enthusiast of Snow, Kind, Dungeness, Alaska King, or Blue; or know so little about crab you think those could be Game of Thrones characters, you're sure to find an excuse to stop by and explore this specially crafted seafood menu. For a limited time Red Lobster visitors will be treated to 5 all NEW Crab-centric entrees, the brand NEW Three-Cheese Crab Dip appetizer, and a special NEW Crabfest Cooler® (21+). All of these NEW menu features grace the Summer Crabfest® menu alongside tempting add-on options such as Shtimp-Topped Crab Cakes and delicious sea-to-table crab leg selections.
My father and I have a long running tradition of making time for monthly (at least) meals at Red Lobster. It's a father/daughter tradition that began in high school and is going strong some 15 years later. In fact, we have been patronizing our local Red Lobster for over 15 years. It's gotten to the point that the general manager knows our faces and names, and the servers light up (and maybe even fight over the chance) to serve our table. It's kind of like enjoying a great family seafood meal at home, except I am terrible at preparing seafood and have no idea how to properly cook crab.

With Red Lobster's Crabfest® calling us my father managed to pencil in a father/daughter meal despite a recent surge in workload and overtime at his job. We often cross paths here and there between these dinner dates, but these meals are particularly special because I get to enjoy one-on-one time really reconnecting over a topic we both hold so dear; food.
The Crabfest® menu is huge- we had such a hard time deciding on what to order for our entrees that our drinks and appetizer actually arrived before we'd finished ordering our meal. The fact that those fresh, warm, Cheddar Bay biscuits hit the table minutes after we'd sat down didn't help the issue either. I know I suddenly became ravenous and abandoned my mission of decision when our server sat that basket of heaven on the table between us.
 What did we get to drink? As it turns out there's a brand new draft beer on the menu just in time for Crabfest® and it pairs perfectly with sweet juicy crab offerings; Stella. Not only is Stella one of my father's preferred beers but it was so new to our location that they hadn't even gotten their glasses in yet. Now that's a fresh draft! Even I was tempted to indulge a little and sipped happily on the duo-toned, colorful, NEW Crabfest® Cooler. With strong tropical vibes of Malibu, Sour Mix, Midori, Pineapple, and Blue Curacao I was easily sailing away to a distant shore. I especially loved that the flavors lent to an easy to drink adult beverage experience, along with a Crabfest® commemorative glass to take home (while supplies last).
No sooner had we finished the last few pieces of crisp lettuce in our dinner salad did our server bring by our chosen appetizer. Tradition mandates that we typically order the Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms but the NEW Three-Cheese Crab Dip was calling our name so we made an exception. Paired with artisan bread the ooey-gooey blend of Cream Cheese, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheeses, paired with generous chunks of real crab meat made a real treat for any crab or seafood (or heck, cheese) lover.
Red Lobster #CrabfestSummer #AD
Remember how I said the servers sometime fought over our table, since we've been visiting our local Red Lobster for 15 years? Well on our most recent visit, for Crabfest®, we had the pleasure of being served by one of the newest team members. It's always a true joy to be served by a new server because they bring such a wonderful enthusiasm to their table and service, Diana was no exception. It turns out she'd also head about us from the vets (all praise, of course) and even seen some of my previous social shares from that location. While she'd never met us before, and was newer to the chain, she was all smiles and truly got us excited about our entree choices. I'll admit, I wanted to ask her to sit and have a bite with us at one point!
Sadly Diana was in truth pretty busy, as it was heading into the dinner service, so we really had our hands (and mouths) full with quite the selection of amazing Crabfest® creations. My personal piece de resistance was the side of Dungeness Crab legs I'd added onto my meal. It's one of two (the other being Southern King) wild-caught crab varieties guests will find on the Crabfest® menu this year.
When my father and I visit Red Lobster we always 1.) order large amounts of food, especially with limited time items such as the Crabfest® menu in front of us, and 2.) spend hours talking while slowly enjoying every last bite. Sharing dishes is as mandatory as gushing and arguing over who's plate is better. One of the things that makes our Red Lobster location so special to us is the staff's consistent patience with our slow eating, and extended reminiscing, and the commitment to make sure we have everything we desire so long as we are seated in their restaurant at a table. That's especially important because you really should feel free to take your time and enjoy amazing seafood such as this.
Red Lobster #CrabfestSummer #AD
So what did we finally decide on ordering from the plethora of Crabfest® entree options? Well my dad chose to enjoy the NEW Crab Cakes and Crab-Oscar Salmon, which just happens to have his favorite seafood, shrimp smothered in a white wine butter sauce. I would have gone this route, too, but I was thrilled to see the NEW Shrimp-Topped Crab Cakes appeared in several Crabfest® entrees, as well as the option to add-on to any meal. I won't lie, though, I was awfully jealous of that crab-hollandaise topped salmon after sneaking a bite- it was so buttery, tender, and flaky I almost forgot we were there celebrating crab!
Red Lobster #CrabfestSummer #AD
Because I am a sucker for a good surf n' turf, I ultimately chose to order the NEW Crabfest® Ultimate Surf And Turf entree. Honestly, it was only intended to be an encore to the true star, my Dungeness Crab legs but I was blown away by the rich flavors and generous portion of steak. Once again the crab hollandaise topping made a special appearance and offered a true surf n' turf dining experience that needed no steak sauce. Of course my meal wouldn't be 'ultimate' without 2 large Crab Cakes topped with Shrimp covered in a white wine butter sauce. With just the essence of crab, having been baked atop the juicy crab cakes, those shrimp were sweet and tender and possibly a new menu favorite.
Wild Caught Dungeness Crab Red Lobster #CrabfestSummer #AD
My father comes from several generations of New Englanders- I was raised around fresh caught seafood, and I'll admit I was never a fan as a child. Any proper New England seafood lover will tell you you have to be willing to put on a bib and get a little messy to enjoy some of the ocean's best treats- Well, Red Lobster, the nest time Crabfest® rolls around I'm going to need a bib. I'm not afraid to admit, though I enjoy seafood and crab, this was my first time doing the handy work of actually shelling my own legs! I dare-say my father had a chuckle as I desperately googled how to properly tackle the task at hand.
Thankfully this was one of those cases where my grumbling, and maybe even shrieking at a few points, paid off big. There's no substitution for fresh crab legs- not only is the meat wonderfully tender by the flavor needs no enhancing outside of a daub of melted butter. I daresay I might even prefer crab legs to lobster tales after having enjoyed my Dungeness crab- and I'll definitely be making a return trip to Crabfest® (which is only around for a limited time) to try one of the other amazing crab varieties on the menu.
While there is, sadly, no official Crabfest® dessert this time around, it's also tradition to complete our meal with something sweet. Our server, Diana, spoke highly of the Chocolate Wave cake but it, and my favorite Brownie Overboard, had sold out just tables before ours. Must've been all that time chatting over delicious crab, haha! So, instead, we tried something new to us, the Warm Chocolate Chip Lava Cookie, as we chatted just a little more with our server about her passion for her job, and our previous Red Lobster exploits. In what I think is a first, we actually had cleaned all our plates and had no Crabfest® leftovers to take home- but we were sent home with some of the famous Cheddar Bay biscuits none-the-less.

We've been dining at Red Lobster since I was in a booster seat, it's family tradition. Now Red Lobster wants to share some of their traditions with guests such as you and I. To learn more about the fascinating sea-to-table journey of Red Lobster's Alsaka Crab with Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch's Wild Bill, crabbing expert, click here. Hurry into Red Lobster for Crabfest® now, it won't be around for long, and join the Fresh Catch Club for a FREE appetizer or dessert, as well as a heads up on special deals!