Maine’s Wonderful Waterfronts

waterskiing.jpg Close your eyes and picture a huge crystal clear lake surrounded by tall pine trees.  Take a deep long breath and fill your lungs with perfectly fresh air.   Now, walk out onto the dock and and leap forward into the crisp, clean, pristine water… ahhhhh, how nice is that on a summer day?  Just think, your children can experience that amazing feeling each and every day all summer long at overnight camp in Maine.  As Henry David Thoreau said  “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is the earth’s eye, looking into which we measure the depth of our own nature.” 
Maine has 5,785 lakes, many of them are larger than 1 acre, covering 1,762 square miles! Nearly half of these are classified as “Great Ponds”, meaning larger than 10 acres, a term that dates back to Maine’s colonial days.   It’s the perfect place for an abundance of water sports every day.  Most sleep away camps in Maine have canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, row boating, water skiing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and of course swimming at least twice a day.  Kids learn safety skills and the wonderful feeling of swimming in a lake.  Rich Deering, Director of Camp Birch Rock said it best “The Lake is invigorating for a kid’s soul and spirit.”  This is a key reason parents choose camps in Maine over other states… there is just no comparison when it comes to the waterfront and all the activities that are associated with it on a daily basis.
Learning how to waterski at camp was a huge thrill for me.  I can still remember the feeling of getting up on the skis for the first time and everybody cheering for me!  I am so thankful to have that skill so I could continue to waterski throughout my life.  Campers also learn survivor skills while canoeing and kayaking on their camp lake so that they can go on fantastic camping trips.  From canoeing down the Saco River to sea kayaking on the Atlantic Ocean; Maine offers endless water adventures. These age appropriate trips allow campers to master and accrue skills to use on longer and more challenging adventures as they mature.  Campers love to look forward to these exciting escapades! 
Anyone can swim in a pool… but mastering swimming and water sports in a bountiful and beautiful lake is something special.  The lake provokes a calming feeling and provides a stunning backdrop to many campfires and special activities.  Overnight camps in Maine pride themselves on their beautiful waterfronts and phenomenal opportunities for water activities.    To find out more about sleep away camps in Maine, visit and start planning your child’s experience of a lifetime.

Jake’s Resort: The Ultimate Family Vacation

IMG_0188.JPGIf you and your kids are getting tired of those traditional all inclusive vacations that come complete with a “kids camp” where you arrive at your destination and never leave the hotel gates, I say it’s high time you experience the ultimate family adventure with a vacation to a tropical destination that exposes your entire brood to the sea, the land, the food and the culture of the caribbean. Trust me, you’ll create memories that’ll last a lifetime and will have all of you yearning to return every year. We did just that this week when we paid a visit to Jake’s Hotel and Resort in Treasure Beach, Jamaica and our days and nights were absolutely magical. Take a look…
IMG_0205.JPGDay 1: We arrive at the airport in Montego Bay and our driver, Darin, greets us, piles our bags into his van and then drives us through a cavernous mountain to Treasure Beach, located in the southern portion of Jamaica. While the ride takes about two hours, we actually feel as if we are experiencing the ultimate amusement park ride – twisting and turning around a mountain, hugging the coast line and watching as locals are busy selling tropical fruits, pepper shrimp and jerk chicken from colorful cement storefronts that line the road.
By 4 pm, we arrive at Jakes and the general manager, Yvonne, greets us as we step out of the van and asks if we’d like a fruit drink or mango sorbet while we check in. Within minutes, we’re already settling into our two bedroom cottage which sports an incredible view of the ocean, two decent sized bedrooms and a TV with a VCR. Even in one of the remote corners of the world, we still have access to technology (Jake’s has wifi located near the hotel lobby.) We then slip on our bathing suits and take a dip in the salt water pool located a few steps away from our cottage (Sweet Lip). After I lazily sip a rum punch, all four of us unwind as the sun sets over the turquoise ocean. We then head back to freshen up for dinner where we dine on jerk shrimp, beef tenderloin and traditional Jamaican desserts (if you haven’t tried bread pudding with rum raisin ice cream, then you don’t know what you’re missing). Meanwhile, the kids enjoy banana daquiries, minus the alcohol and I order a second rum punch that’s expertly prepared by Dougie, the bartender. While we’re eating, an incredibly docile stray dog named Blackie, who we later find out lives at the resort year round and follows guests to their rooms, lays down next to us while we enjoy our meal under the stars.
SANY0329.JPGDay 2: After an incredibly tasty breakfast (my husband Darin now loves Ackee and callaloo), Yvonne and her assistant manager Annaki arrange for us to take a boat ride with Captain Dennis (his nickname is Shabba) where we spend an entire day at sea – exploring an unspoiled stretch of ocean and beach where a fishing sanctuary is nearing completion. During our journey, Dennis shares how he had envisioned re-vitalizing the fishing economy in Treasure Beach by creating a fishing sanctuary that would be off limits to fisherman so that schools of fish could grow and mature. While the kids snorkel and we sink our toes into the pure sand, Dennis then expertly guides us toward a patch of sea grass where his trusted co-captain Jace uncovers some of the most incredible starfish we’ve ever seen.
IMG_0227.JPGWe then head to Snake River where we come face to face with crocodiles that are baking in the hot sun and lurking in the muddy waters just a few feet away from our boat. Though we’re a few arm lengths away from the crocs, they don’t seem fazed by our intrusion. Instead, they pay us no mind while we snap photos. Dennis then takes us to one of his favorite foodie haunts in Snake River, Sister Lou’s – a remote locale that serves some of the tastiest crabs we’ve ever eaten. As Sister Lou prepares our lunch, the kids jump off the pier along with some local children who are speaking a language we can’t seem to understand. We soon learn it’s called Patois (pronounced pat*wah) and Dennis and Jace begin giving us lessons on how the kids can converse with their new friends.
Next, we head over to the Pelican Bar, which resembles a hut that’s suspended on stilts. Inside, Darin orders a rum punch while other tourists are dining on traditional Jamaican fare while carving their names into the floor boards. Meanwhile, my kids have jumped back into the ocean to search for more tropical fish. I stay behind and chat with a family that’s also staying at Jake’s. A family friend had raved about the resort and they were impressed by the online reviews and decided to make last minute travel plans to vacation there. And so far, they were having an amazing time.
IMG_0249.JPGFollowing their second swim of our boat ride, we hop back inside and head back to Jake’s, but not before we see at least five wild dolphins swim past our boat – it’s awe inspiring to watch these incredible creatures diving in precision as we try to chase them down and capture photos. By the time we arrive back at the resort, we’re famished and head straight for Jack Sprat’s on the beach where we order pizza with a variety of toppings and I check my watch because my aromatherapy massage is about ready to start.
IMG_0248.JPGI leave my family behind and head over to the Driftwood Spa where I literally drift away as I’m given the first aromatherapy massage of my life. Okay – I’m incredibly uptight, I admit it, but I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and give my body the chance to truly relax.
Completely at peace, I feel as if I’m floating as I meander along a brick path back to the pool where my kids and hubby are playing a trivia game while laughing and reminiscing about the incredible day we’ve just experienced. We then head back to the cottage where we relax for a bit and then join Blackie (the stray dog) and Millie – a jack russel terrier who has been a fixture at Jakes for nearly a decade as we enjoy another fantastic meal together.
Stay tuned for Day 3 where we visit a waterfall, the kids swing from tree vines, we meet the most famous farmers of Treasure Beach and enjoy wine, dinner and incredible conversation with Jason, the owner of Jakes and his lovely wife, Laura on a veranda high atop a mountain overlooking southern Jamaica.
More to come…

Le Personal Coach

Thumbnail image for LePersonal Coach cover.jpg As busy moms, we usually come last on “the list”. Unfortunately between taking care of the kids, the household and working, there’s not much time left for working out at the gym. If you’re like me, you have been trying to lose the baby weight and those last 10 pounds for years (yes my youngest child is now four and a half). So when I read the cover of this book “A French Trainer’s Simple Secrets for Getting Fit and Slim without the Gym”, I thought to myself – I like the sound of that!
The Author of this book, Valerie Orsoni, is a celebrity coach and founder of LeBoot Camp as well as an entrepreneur, mom, cancer survivor, world-renowned trainer, nutritionist and so much more! In Valerie’s book, Le Personal Coach, she has tips on every page to help everyone get firm arms, a flat stomach, killer thighs and even a natural breast lift! She has amazing ways to fit all the moves in just a few minutes a day all while doing everyday activities. There is also great advice about nutrition throughout the book.
Here are some of my favorites-
“Work those stoplights: When you drive, each time you get to a red light, suck in your stomach during the entire duration of the lights.” I have been doing this and I feel it!
“Dance! Whenever you’re working at home, stand up, turn on your favorite fast-paced music, and dance. Nobody’s there but you, so let go of your toxic thoughts and stress. If you dance 6 times a day, that’s 20 minutes of cardio!” I love this one! Don’t feel embarrassed, nobody can see you, go crazy!
“Bring a small ball to your workplace. When sitting, put it between your legs at knee level. Squeeze and hold the squeeze.” This is so simple and yet, you will feel the burn!
The last section of the book, “Bon Appetit” has wonderful recipes from homemade hummus, to banana chips, to smoked salmon rolls and more.
I highly recommend this book whether you have time for the gym or not! I am now doing squats while brushing my teeth and I feel good about doing the dishes and cleaning because it burns lots of calories! This book will make you think twice about sitting still and doing nothing, it has made me stand a little taller and it may change the look of my body altogether.
Click here to buy your copy of the book

Alma’s Corn and Carrot Orzo Salad

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider
Summer is almost over so make use of that delicious fresh corn while you still can. You can also boil it, cut the kernels off and freeze to make this salad in the Fall or Winter. Enjoy!
Corn and Carrot Orzo Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette:
3 cups cooked orzo
2 chopped carrots, small dice
2 cups corn, freshly cut off 2 cooked cobs or frozen , thawed and dried
3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce or any lettuce
2 TBS currants
approx. 1/4 cup mustard Vinaigrette from below :
Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 TBS red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
one tsp agave syrup or maple syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed garlic
Whisk above ingredients until fully combined
More Salt and pepper to taste if need be
In a big bowl, add the orzo and corn, carrots, lettuce and currants. Gently toss and add dressing. Toss gently again and add salt and pepper to taste.

Wholesome Food + Active Days = Maine Camps

Vega1jump.jpg We all want our children to be active and eat healthy, but it’s not so easy when they are home watching TV, playing video games and snacking on heaven knows what.  One of the biggest benefits of sending your child to overnight camp in Maine is they will spend all their time outside in nature; running, swimming, hiking, playing and breathing in the most amazing fresh air!  Not to mention eating delicious and nutritious meals all together, family style like the good old days.  As Ronald Hall, director of Camp O-AT-KA says, “All meals are sit down, the way family meal time used to be.”
It is so important to teach kids from an early age about nutrition and how to eat healthy. One of the best parts about going to camp in Maine is that a lot of the fresh produce and other foods all come from local farms.  Most camps now have a salad bar option with tons of fresh food and the camps try to teach kids about eating in moderation and having a well balanced diet all while enjoying the food experience.
Pam Cobb director of Camp Runoia says they have a farm program where kids can get in touch with farming and learn about composting.  Some of my favorite trips when I was in camp in Maine was when we went blueberry and strawberry picking.  Then we were able to eat the blueberry pie they baked from the blueberries we picked!  Talk about fresh! 
While fitness is a given at most sleep away camps, in Maine, the kids are outside playing sports and swimming all day long.  With more acres of land at Maine camps, kids have the opportunity to take healthy walks to their activities. In Maine, there are amazing day trips like mountain climbing, white water rafting, canoeing and more! There are so many ways for your kids to be active.

Win $100K Salary for Blogging!

If you haven’t yet heard about Cheap Sally's Bring Home the Bacon Contest, then we are here to let you in one the coolest contest we've ever seen that's dedicated exclusively to bloggers, coupon clippers and savings mavens!    Cheap Sally is giving away $100,000 for a guest blogging spot for the year 2012. This opportunity is perfect for anyone with a passion for saving money and who loves to share their deals and discount finds.
The best part about winning the competition (besides the $100K, of course) is that you don’t have to move or quit your day job. The winner will be chosen by popular vote (top 5 from each state, then top blogger from each state) and a money-saving challenge in the month of December.
Interested? Find out more details, share the contest with your friends and followers, and register here:  
Voting for winners begins September 1 so complete your profiles ASAP!

Special Free Award Winning App…

dadandboy.jpg It’s inevitable… your child will be playing video games whether you like it or not. It can be scary – not knowing exactly what they are playing and if it is age appropriate. The award-winning video game rating app from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a free mobile app, from the organization that assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games. It allows easy access to video game ratings and detailed rating summaries. For parents, it’s as simple as snapping a photo or typing the name of a game to quickly determine if it is right for their family. This important app is now available for Windows 7 phones as well as iPhone and Android models.
“Summertime can mean video game time for many families, whether playing in the car, on the plane or in the living room. But just like movies, not all games are appropriate for every child,” says ESRB president Patricia Vance. “So before buying a video game for a child it’s important to check the game’s rating and understand its content to determine if it’s the right choice. Today we added our ESRB app to Windows Marketplace, further expanding parents’ access to a game’s rating or rating summary, anytime, anywhere.”
The ESRB mobile app offers easy access to ESRB rating information for over 20,000 titles by either taking a photo of the game box or typing in the name of the game. Rating summaries, which are not displayed on game boxes like the ESRB ratings and content descriptors, provide parents with a detailed, straight-forward explanation – including specific examples – of the content that factored into a game’s rating. The ESRB app is a great way to put this information in parents’ hands right from the video game store, where it is often needed most. Rating summaries are available for games rated since July 1, 2008, which means that most of the games on kids’ wish lists will have rating summaries.
It’s as important for parents to know what their kids are playing as much as what they’re doing on the Internet or watching on TV… this free app empowers parents and will be especially important as we head into the holiday travel season. Check it out…“>Click here to check out the App and then visit“>YouTube for the trailer. For more information, visit

Unplugging: The Gift of Camp (in Maine)

boyslaughing.jpg Throughout the school year our children can be overscheduled, stressed out and plugged in to some or multiple electronic devices. It is pretty unavoidable; between iTouches, iPads, computers, video games and TV, kids spend a good amount of their day “plugged in”.
Summer is the ideal time to literally unplug your child. There is no homework and the weather is perfect for outdoor fun and learning. When you send your child to camp in Maine, the majority of camps do not allow any electronics whatsoever. At some camps the older kids can listen to music during quiet time in their bunks… but for the most part it’s all about enjoying the beauty and nature surrounding them. Ronald Hall camp director of O-AT-KA feels “When you are enjoying what Maine has to offer, you don’t need any outside distraction. You learn to appreciate the sounds of the wilderness.”
Kids these days have a lot of pressure on them, whether it’s academically, socially or even when it comes to material objects; there is always competition over who has what. For those glorious weeks they are at overnight camp, they don’t have to worry about all that. Everyone is on the same playing field. Pam Cobb, Director of Camp Runoia says “Some campers feel relieved to not be plugged in. They have a chance to decompress.”
When you give your child the gift of sending them to overnight camp, they grow in so many ways, and unplugging them for that time is priceless. Interacting personally with peers and staff, connecting with the incredible water and nature, encouraging self-discovery and skill development, are all the rewards of unplugging at Maine camps. To find out more about all the amazing overnight camps in Maine, please visit Maine Camp Experience and start planning the best summers of your children’s lives now!

Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Amazon for Back to School Clothes!

ella moss.jpg Congratulations to Stacy B. from Deerfield, IL! She is the lucky winner of the $50 gift certificate to Amazon. They have adorable back to school clothes for your kids… check it out!
The summer has flown by, school will be here before we know it! Growing up I always loved back to school shopping, and now I love it for my kids. They feel differently… they do not enjoy shopping for clothes (yet). So, I end up doing a lot of my shopping online. Did you know that Amazon has fabulous brands for kids ages two to fourteen? For girls they have everything from Splendid, Ella Moss, True Religion jeans, Lilly Pulitzer and more. For the guys they have City Threads, Charlie Rocket, Levi Jeans, Tea Collection and so much more!
Now, for our role mommy readers you can win a $50 gift certificate to the Amazon Kid’s Fashion Boutique. All you need to do is fill out the form below for your chance to win. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday, August 22nd 2011. Please visit and check out the latest back to school fashions so your kids can be too cool for school.
Here’s an example of an awesome boy’s top…
city threads.jpg
And here’s a great dress I know my daughter will love…
cool for school.jpg

Free USTA events!

Thumbnail image for us open.jpgThe biggest sports and entertainment event of the summer returns to New York as the world’s best tennis players descend upon Flushing Meadows in Queens for the 2011 US Open. Beginning on Monday, August 29th through Sunday, September 11th, defending champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters will attempt to repeat their 2010 triumphs in this major in front of one of the liveliest crowds in all of sports.
If you live in the tri-state area or are planning a trip to NY in August, you should definitely check out these kid-friendly, free events:
On Tuesday, August 23rd, a week before the main draw tournament, the qualifying rounds will be completely FREE to the public. Now everyone can enjoy a true US Open experience, as for the first time, the entire USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will be up and running for the qualifying rounds. Fans can enjoy world-class tennis and entertainment, wonderful restaurants, special events and attractions, all without having to buy a ticket to the US Open.
On August 26th, the Friday before the main draw tournament starts, the USTA will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people hitting a tennis ball with a racquet at 9am at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Over 500 people are expected to come out and join US tennis star Mardy Fish as they attempt to join the record books. This event, which is co-hosted by the USTA and Wilson, is free, open to the public and fans are encouraged to come and be a part of this amazing event.
Please visit for all things US Open.