Friday, May 22, 2015

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY

If you have any small children, chances are you've been to a zoo in the last handful of years. It's a great outing for little ones, and if you live close to one (as we do), it's a relatively easy way to get out of the house without spending a ton of money. While the kids may be into repetition, and you all may develop a little love for the specific animals in your zoo, sometimes the same old place can get boring!

I have a tip for you!

We were gifted a membership to the Buffalo Zoo for Christmas the past couple of years, and with our membership we get free or reduced admission to tons of other zoos.  If you have a zoo membership to many other locations in the Northeast, they'll offer you the same deal - I highly recommend taking advantage of it! (Also, asking for a zoo membership for Christmas from Grandparents is a great way to avoid getting TOO many toys and also have a way to make great family memories all year!) It was really cool to see a new zoo, and they had lots of animals that our zoo doesn't have. Plus, with it being a new place, it was extra-exciting for the kids to get their grubby hands on everything for the first time. ;)

Almost exactly a year ago, my family and I took a quick trip to Syracuse, NY to take advantage of our zoo discount and to visit my sister and her family. They actually just moved back to the Buffalo area recently, but had been living there for a few years. It worked out perfectly!

So on a Friday evening, we loaded the crew in the van and made our way across the state.

The next morning, we went to the zoo bright & early. We ended up getting my entire family in for only $10 - which was awesome! (See? Pack snacks and drinks, and you've got one heck of a cheap family outing!!)

I was expecting this zoo to be really small and not as nice as the Buffalo Zoo (as I've heard from many that Buffalo is the best zoo in Western & Central NY), but I was pleasantly surprised! They did a lot of recent renovating, and it was really cute there!

The first thing we saw was a big octopus - the kids loved it!


We followed the twisting hallways and saw meerkats, lemurs, fish, snakes, and all kinds of monkeys. Their lion den was even visible through a hallway, and we found ourselves separated from a massive male lion by only a sheet of glass! It was so crazy to be that close and see him so well - I don't think I've ever been that close to a lion before!! (Coincidentally, I wasn't able to get a good picture because there was a bad glare due to the glass - oh well!)

Some necessary goofy picture posing ;)

We saw lots of birds (big and small), tigers, elephants and farm animals (like pigs, chickens, and ponies) before we got some lunch in the zoo's cafe - which was yummy!

Our "Zoovenirs"...haha ;)

They had a great little gift shop, and since this trip counted as a family vacation, I let them all pick out a small souvenir. I was wearing the baby through our whole trip, and as we walked passed a little display of squirty bath toys in all different animals, he reached out and grabbed a lion! I tried to put it back, and even show him some of the other animals, but he insisted on that little lion! I'd never seen him show a preference for something like that before, so that had to be his little toy! The big boys each picked out a Jeep toy, and I picked out a magnet for our fridge.

I would highly recommend a trip to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo if you're in NY or passing through - it's really nicely done, and the kids really enjoyed it!

Jenn is a mom of 3 boys living near Buffalo, NY, and blogs about her life and hobbies on her blog, Rych In Love

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog of the Week: My Sensational Kid

This week's blog of the week features Joy who writes the blog My Sensational Kid!  Meet Joy:

Tell us a little about you:
I am Joy- and am addicted to my sensational 7 year old son... I am also passionate about writing, FOOTBALL, Adoption (I'm adopted), food, fitness, yoga, family and BEING YOURSELF! I love to learn about ways to live my best life! My family is my #1 priority and being a WAHM allows me to balance work & family the way I was meant too! Namaste ~

What is your blog about?
My blog originally started out as a way to express the challenges and triumphs of raising my son who has Sensory Processing Disorder as well as some other challenges......however it morphed into my diary if you will. I write about anything and everything I want- Life according to JOY! I love to include recipes, cool DIY crafts and activities as well the occasional review & giveaway! I kinda have something for everyone (IMO)........

Where do you live and what do you love about it?
I live in Warwick, RI! The smallest, yet mightiest state! We have an amazing art scene and food to die for....... Waterfire in Providence is a must and being so close to SO MANY beaches doesn't suck either!  

What is your favorite spot to visit in the Northeast?
I Love LOVE LOVE NYC! I am a Jersey girl and living so close to NYC was amazing! Weekend trips, mid week dinners in Manhattan....I just love it all! I live in RI now and we still go to NYC every chance we can! My son loves it! He is already counting down until our next trip!     

What do you love most about blogging?
EXPRESSION! I love to see my thoughts on paper (or screen if you will)........ it just makes everything seem so clear......... 

What is your favorite form of social media?
FACEBOOK! Like I said before, I originally hail from Jersey- so moving away I can still keep in touch with so many people from back home! I love it for that reason! Plus I learn so much from other people from their recipes, different destinations to visit, places to see, things to do.....I like the adventure of Facebook! You never know what people will post tomorrow! 

Thanks for the great interview Joy!  Be sure to visit her blog this week and follow her on social media!  Check out a few of Joy's favorite posts below:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Italian Inspired Noodleless Side Dish

Hi everyone! Happy Monday! I'm Kelly. I am one of the Massachusetts reps here at Northeast Bloggers, and I write A Lovely Life, Indeed

Getting to our healthiest selves is important to my husband and me, so I want to do whatever it takes to make the journey more fun. He has been doing a great job on the 21 Day Fix; he's making a great effort to clean up his diet and he is working out with a trainer as well. 

One way I am pushing outside the box is in finding ways to make comfort food more 21-Day friendly. We like Italian flavors, so I wanted to find a way to bring that comfort food flavor into a "cleaner" side dish. 

Here's what I did. 

Italian Inspired Cabbage Slaw Saute

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Olive oil for sauteing
1 bag of cole slaw mix
Spaghetti sauce to coat
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: feta cheese, chopped bacon or pancetta

Saute the garlic (and bacon or pancetta) in the olive oil. Add the onion, pepper, and cook until softened. 

Add the slaw mix and cook down until it is tender. 

Finally, add the spaghetti sauce to coat and add another level of flavor. 

Make pockets in the mixture to add the sauce. It makes a full skillet easy to mix. 

Before serving, add feta cheese, if desired. You may also add Parmesan cheese. 

That's it. It's super easy and surprisingly flavorful. And, if you're avoiding rice or pasta, you can find the Italian comfort food sweet spot with this convenient substitution. 

Buon appetito!

Do you use vegetable substitutions in comfort food favorites? Please share. 

Thank you to Northeast Bloggers Network for letting me guest post. If you're looking for an upbeat blog about love, travel and the good life, visit me at A Lovely Life, IndeedHave a great week!

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