The Busy Giffs: 2018

July 20, 2018

The Best Ice Cream on the South Coast

Even in New England, where we eat ice cream in the snow, ice cream is pretty synonymous with summer. Our favorite place is right down the street at Acushnet Creamery, but we're expanding and trying new places this summer! We happily tried ice cream at 7 different places to let you know what we love!

best ice cream, New Bedford, Wareham, Fairhaven

1. Acushnet Creamery
264 Main St, Acushnet, MA 02743
This has always been a favorite. The s'mores ice cream is a go to for the kids and I but David loves their caramel macchiatto. All the ice cream is handmade and delicious!

2. Country Whip
1173 Main St, Acushnet, MA 02743
Another townie favorite. They offer lots of homemade ice cream, including alcohol infused ice cream but their payment system is a bit wonky if you use a debit card- it rounds up and you pay a convenience fee and then get the change back. 
3. Friendly's
This is one of the kid's favorite places, but mostly because they get lots of toppings with their kid ice creams. Emmalee is especially loving the octopus sundae, complete with gummy worms as tentacles. Always check the reviews on particular restaurants because some locations are seriously slow (I'm looking at you Fairhaven location...). 

4. The Slip
Mattapoisett Town Wharf, Mattapoisett, MA 02739
This little shack on the water offers some of the best prices I've seen on ice cream. Plus they have fried food and RICKEYS! I love Rickeys and they are so hard to find. Chicken fingers for $5, sodas for $1, Ice cream starts at $2.50...  The Slip is cash only but you'll be more than set with a $10.

5. Dairy Made
1517 Cove Rd, New Bedford, MA 02740
This is another new one for us! It's a little stand and the prices are great.  It's another cash only stand but we spent less than $9 on 2 kid ice creams and a raspberry lime rickey.  This is a big winner because a. they have raspberry lime rickeys and b. it's directly across the street from the ocean and the hurricane barrier in New Bedford which makes for a super picturesque view. 

6. Captain Bonney's
1522, 258 New Bedford Rd, Rochester, MA 02770
Captain Bonney's is one of the few places left with soft serve, which puts it on the top of this list immediately! Plus the playground set up, the goats and horses at the farm, and the huge boat to play on- it's tons of fun! Just be careful you don't sit downwind of the farm animals... 

7. Kool Kone
374 Marion Rd, Wareham, MA 02571
In addition to ice cream, Kool Kone has amazing food. I love their onion rings! This is great walk up counter, but they have a dining room as well. There's a very small mini golf set up on the lot, but I've never seen anyone using it. 

Bonus:  Dollar Tree
If you need a quick ice cream treat but don't want to spend too much, check out your local Dollar Tree. My absolute favorite strawberry bars are sold there and are only $1 each, compared to the $2.50 price tag from the ice cream man!

What southcoast ice cream stands did I miss? Which is your favorite?

xo, Heather

July 18, 2018

9 Drive-cations in New England!

Call it a stay-cation if you want, but I call them drive-cations since they are all within driving distance and can be done in 1 day, or take up a whole weekend!

Here's a few of my favorite places for weekends sort of away in New England.

1. New York City

New York City is one of our favorite places to go.  Between American Girl, , Rockefeller Plaza, and Times Square, you could stay busy for days.  Add in a trip to Central Park (and a run by Laduree for some macarons and Lilly Pulitzer) to see the castle and the sculptures, and again, you could be there for days. Make sure you grab a seat hot dog and check out the well known spots like the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero. If you are feeling especially adventurous, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is an amazing way to view the city skyline!

2. Saco/Old Orchard Beach, ME

Growing up, we always went to Maine. If spending the day on gorgeous Old Orchard Beach isn't enough, you could check out Funtown Splashtown, York's Wild Kingdom, Aquaboggan. We especially love Pirate's Cove mini golf and Palace Playland.  For something slower, a walk along the pier to find salt water taffy and soft serve works too!

3. Conway, NH

Conway is one of those places we can go to every year. Although we could spend the day exploring the Kancamagus Highway, we also love spending the day at Story Land or Santa's Village, if you don't mind a drive. Kahuna Laguna looks like so much fun and is in the perfect location to access all the other fun locations!The Bretton Wood Canopy Tours look amazing and the Conway Scenic Railroad has always been something we love. Of course, be sure to stop at Zeb's for penny candy before you head home!

4. Cape Cod

I feel a little spoiled growing up here but a few favorites include The Children's Museum and shopping at Mashpee Commons, which of course includes Cupcake Charlies and Lilly Pulitzer. If you want to venture farther you could check out Pirate's Cove Mini-golf or the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory.  We especially love P-Town all the way at the tip of the Cape! If you want a water park, be sure to stay at The Cape Codder or visit the Cape Cod Inflatable Park.

5. Mystic

We're actually heading to Mystic this month for a dance competition, but have so many other fun things planned as well! We may visit Ocean Beach Park for some fried dough or Alice in the Village for macarons. Other favorites are the Dinosaur Place and the Southeastern Children's MuseumMistick Village is a great place to wander around, but the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Pizza are probably the most well known attractions.

6. Springfield, MA

I'll admit I don't venture out to the western part of the state often, but it really is an overlooked location. If you stay in springfield for a weekend, you could easily visit the Dr Seuss Museum, Eric Carle Museum, or the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Zoo in Forest Park and the Holyoke Merry Go Round offer even more easy fun!

7. Boston

There's so much to do in Boston.  Grab dinner in the North End, visit the penguins at the New England Aquarium, head over to the Children's Museum, or head to the Museum of Science and take a ride on the amphibious Duck Boats. A little more relaxed (or adventurous) is the Freedom Trail as well as all the old gravestones and famous buildings. Other ventures include the Charles River, the local zoo and playgrounds, or any of the area splashpads.

9. Martha's Vineyard

It goes without saying you'll need to order a lobster roll and adding a dirty banana from Nancy's is a great way to kick off a long weekend! Another great spot for a drink is Bad Martha Farmer's Brewery. While the island won't have as many "attractions" you can spend some time at Island Alpaca or the Carousel. However, the Vineyard is more for checking out the scenery-- the gingerbread cottages, the beaches, and the lighthouses, and if you're feeling up to it- check out Chappaquidick and learn about that infamous bridge or take a jump from the Jaw's Bridge!

All of these trips can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it, depending on whether you check out all the local amusements or spend the day taking advantage of free beaches and state parks. These are a few of our favorite places and while we've already visited a few this summer, we still have time to visit some more!

Where's your favorite "drivable" vacation spot?

xo, Heather

July 2, 2018

Lcpl. Matthew Rodriguez Playground aka Airport Playground, New Bedford

We're always looking for great playgrounds and we stumbled on a small, but really fun playground. most of our favorite playgrounds are huge, sprawling places with lots of things to do, but sometimes it's nice to have a smaller playground where I can see the kids wherever they are and sit and relax for a bit.

The playground is located at the New Bedford Airport (1569 Airport Rd, New Bedford, MA 02746) and is mostly fenced in.  The kids love that it butts right up to the airport runways and they can watch the airplanes as they play. 

It's such a fun place to spend an hour-- what other playgrounds do you love?


June 28, 2018

Summer Fun Plans

I really love summer. I spend all year working, and I mean, I work a lot. Weekends, late after school, early in the morning. I lose a lot of time with my kids to grading so summer is 10 full weeks with my kids and husband.

The kids and I sat down to make our summer fun list because even though summer itself is fun, we want to go to some extra fun places. Plus, having a list reminds me to get things done! Here's our hopes for this summer:

This looks like so much fun, right!?
I can't wait to see which we cross off our list first!

xo, Heather

June 26, 2018

Coney Island Theme Park - Ohio

With a 5 pm flight, we had some time to kill in Cincinnati. We could have gone into the city but honestly, I was a bit nervous about Monday traffic, so instead we ended up at Coney Island in Ohio.

Emmalee has been all about carnivals and street fairs lately, so Coney Island's rides were the perfect way to spend our morning. The actual park consists of a water park and the rides, but we opted to only pay for the rides and forgo to water park.  At only $13.50 for adults and $6.95 for children ages 2-7, it was a very affordable way to spend the morning.  They even offer wagon rentals!

 After buying our wrist bands, I learned that parents can go in without wrist bands if they do not plan on riding the rides! That's an even better value for parents of children who only wanted to go on the kid sized rides.

There were a good amount of rides for the kids: turtles, airplanes, helicopters, but also had rides that parents will enjoy like bumper cars, a roller coaster. and the scrambler.

The kids had a blast and we got to try funnel cake for the first time! Coney Island is the perfect size amusement park for a 1 day trip, but if we had gone to the water park, we would have needed two! I'm glad we made time to visit!

xo, Heather

June 21, 2018

Great Wolf Lodge - Mason, PA

For the last year (at least!) Emma has asked to go to Great Wolf Lodge and honestly, I just wasn't really into it.  Over $300 for a hotel room seemed a bit crazy, and honestly, I'm just too cheap for that.

BUT with Emma's birthday being a bit overshadowed by our travel to Ohio for my brother's wedding, coupled with a great promo that the Mason OH location was offering, we figured it would be a great birthday surprise on the road!

We pulled up and Emma screamed in excitement. She could not believe that we were at Great Wolf Lodge! The front desk check in was amazing and quick! They even gave Emmalee a special set of ears that had a birthday hat on it!

We were given the option of upgrading our standard room for a KidKamp and considering how inexpensive the upgrade was, we grabbed it! I am so happy we did since the kids loved the extra KidCabin set up!

The KidKamp was adorable! A bunk bed set up, tucked into a "tent" that had their own tv and table set up. Emmalee was especially excited to sleep o the top bunk!

The room itself was wonderful- comfortable and spacious. We especially loved the balcony that overlooked the outdoor pool.  It was perfect for a end of the day snuggles, late night drinks with my husband and an early morning wake up view. 

Even though we loved the room, we decided the afternoon at the water park would be a better way to spend our time. 

I love that Great Wolf offers puddle jumpers and life vests for children to use. They had so many different activities- slides, including a little set for younger kids, a lazy river, the obstacle challenge, and a wave pool.  Tyler thought it was so cool that some of the slides even went outside! The water park is kept around 80 degrees, but with so much moisture in the air, we ventured outside and loved the quieter outdoor pool. As the sun began to set, we went back into the indoor pool and spent even more time in the wave pool and on the slides. 

I was so glad we were there for more than one day because there was so much more to do! The resort has a candy company, an arcade, and a Dunkin Donuts, as well as multiple restaurants and snack counters.

And if that's not enough, they have a whole schedule of fun every day! We got to do arts and crafts, morning yoga, and meet Oliver! And honestly, the most amazing employee ever works at the Mason location. You can get that whole story on my twitter feed...

I honestly wish we were there for more than one night and I've already started looking at when we can go again to our more local location.  It was absolutely worth it!

Have you been?

xo, Heather

June 4, 2018

Competitive Dance Team

This year we started a new adventure-- competitive dancing!
I will admit I was hesitant... I've never even seen an episode of Dance Moms, but the world of competitive dance has always just sounded catty and a bit crazy.

Emma has put in months of work.  Dance classes are twice a week plus at least once a month she has a private lesson for her duo and a semi-private technique class.  Each class helps her become a stronger dancer and more confident in her ability to compete! Her dance teacher is unbelievably amazing.  She's encouraging and nurturing, but pushes Emma to constantly strive for more.  The ambition and determination she has embedded in Emma is unreal.

At competitions Emmalee competes in 2 group dances, as well as duo with her cousin.  Every time she takes the stage, I am in awe of her and her friends.

So much sass. And determination. And focus. And drive.

All the hard work has paid off. After 7 competitions, she has quite a few pins and awards on her lanyard. Some are for her duo and some are with her group dances.  I am constantly in awe of what she accomplishes.

Beyond the Stars:




Each competition was a chance for her to spend time with her friends and push herself in a way she hadn't before.  Whether the girls were all playing with Snapchat in the audience or dolls back stage, or if they were stretching together and giving high faves and hugs after performances... it was amazing to see this new little family emerge. Celebrating Tyler birthday at the Platinum competition was especially fun for him-- he was surrounded by so many of his favorite "big kids".

With our dance recital 3 weeks away and our National competition just over a month away, we're sad to see the end of this season, but are hopeful about next season! Emmalee has grown so much as a dancer this year, I can't wait to see how far she will go!

xo, Heather

May 28, 2018

Fresh, Delicious, Easy Drinks with RIPE Bar Juice

Disclaimer: I was provided product in exchange for this post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The unofficial kick off of summer is today! I'm not sure how Memorial Day became the summer kick off, but after paying our respects to the fallen, it's a good weekend to grill some food, have a drink, and start the countdown to summer.

Thanks to Ripe, I can easily make drinks perfect for the summer weather. One of the biggest stresses for me while hosting is that I never seem to have all the ingredients I need. I wanted to start my day with a mimosa buuuuuuut I was out of champs and had no sparkling wine.  Then I thought about a bloody mary and while I didn't have many of the ingredients I needed, I did have Ripe's Bloody Mary mix which meant I only needed vodka, and honestly, when don't I have vodka on hand? I used some shrimp, bacon, olives, and a tomato to really beef up my brunch drink!

I will admit that Bloody Mary drinks are not my favorite but they are so perfect for the morning.  My real love lies with margaritas. Sadly, not all are created equal.  I'm a big fan of my own Margarita recipe but it's nothing in comparison to Ripe's! It was the perfect mix and all I needed to add was some tequila. Dave does not like tequila but enjoyed drinking just the Bar Mix, which means it must be good, right?

A little salt and it was perfect!

Ripe Bar Mixes are perfect and easy for all sorts of events, even just a drink by myself. No extra ingredients to stock, no concerns about ratios... Ripe Bar Mixes come in lots of flavors, like Bloody Mary, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, and Lemon Sour.  I am especially excited to try out the Bajan Punch! RIPE Craft Bar Juice is the nation's first cold-pressed, fresh juice bar mixer and are all natural with no preservatives. I love that the taste is so amazing that having a virgin drink would be so easy with these craft juices.

The company itself is based out of New Haven, CT but you can use the FIND RIPE tool to see what local stores carry it!

Each bottle has a shelf life of about 70 days so I will be stocking up on them for the summer.
Which are you most excited to try?

xo, Heather

May 23, 2018

Soccer with

Emmalee is huge in dance and Tyler has always been along for the ride.  He goes to dance classes every week; conventions in the Fall when she develops her skills, competitions in the Spring where he stays occupied for hours so she can dance. He comes tagging/canning at the grocery stores when my husband is working. And while Tyler has spent so much time at dance, we decided it was time that he had something too.

Tyler has been asking to play baseball but he misses the town birthday deadline by 6 days so we instead looked at soccer.  It was a small, 6 week programs offered by Challenger Sports, called Tiny Tykes. The 6 week classes were an hour long and worked on developmental skills, while introducing kids to soccer.

Our local session offered a class for 2-3 year olds and one for 3-4 year olds.  I put Ty into the older class knowing his birthday would be halfway through the sessions. He loved it! A great bonus that was with our registration, he received soccer shorts, a jersey and his own soccer ball.  It was all under $100!

His group was great-- not too many kids and the coach was unbelievable.  She was so kind and compassionate, making every skill a fun game.  Whether the kids were building a boat with cones, or kicking the ball at the octopus, they were having fun while developing skills.

The Tiny Tykes program was exactly what we hoped it would be- an introduction to soccer that would allow my kid to decide if he loved it.  Now that the session is over, he's asking when he can play soccer again! I'm excited that he has found something he loves.

To see if there are any programs near you, you can check here. We will be looking for more programs near us so we can continue on!

xo, Heather

The Best Ice Cream on the South Coast

Even in New England, where we eat ice cream in the snow, ice cream is pretty synonymous with summer. Our favorite place is right down the st...


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