The Busy Giffs: 2022

June 30, 2022

June Books

 

28. You Betrayed Me, Lisa Jackson

29. The Turnout, Megan Abbott

30. The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave

31. The Long Weekend, Gilly Macmillan 

32. A Slow Fire Burning, Paula Hawkins

33. When the Stars Go Dark, Paula McLain


Halfway through the year and more than halfway to my goal of 50 books!

June 28, 2022

Stone Zoo, Stoneham Ma - Zoo New England

We celebrated the first day of summer with a trip to a new to us Zoo - Zoo New England's Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Ma!
Stone Zoo is a great small-medium sized Zoo, taking roughly 1-2 hours to go through all the exhibits. My kids loved the flamingos right at the very beginning in the aviary. The amazing Lego displays out right now, were amazing. Literally, jaw-dropping. 


 


 



 

 



We loved how close we were able to get to the animals and the zoo had the perfect amount of shade pockets so we weren't overheating (even though it was 87*!)


  



Emma mostly loved the great photograph background walls!





Tyler's favorite part was petting the goat!



Stone Zoo is a great zoo to visit!


Be sure to stop by the playground and carousel on your visit!











May 31, 2022

May Books

23. Good Girl, Bad Blood, Holly Jackson

24. It Will End Like This, Kyra Leigh

25. Last Thing to Burn, Will Dean

26  People Like Us, Dana Mele

27. The Sanatorium: A Novel, Sarah Pearse 

April 29, 2022

April Books


20. Just My Luck, Adele Parks
21. One Step Too Far, Lisa Gardner
22. Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty

Didn't really love much this month but also slumped with vacation and being so busy so on to next month!

 

April 14, 2022

A New Playground - Robey Playground

The sun has been staying out later than usual and we finally had our first 70* day, which means it's time to start playground hunting again.

We found a great playground in Needham at the Newman Elementary School. Because it's at a school, you can not visit during school hours when school is in session, but if you can get there in the Summer or for an after dinner session, it's a lot of fun.





The playground is in the back of Newman Elementary school, located at 1155 Central Ave, Needham, MA 02492. Be sure to stop at Cookie Monstah when you're done!


April 5, 2022

Nova Trampoline Park, Plymouth

 My kids love love LOVE trampoline parks.

We've made our way to multiple parks (Launch in Norwood and Fun-Z in New Bedford) so we were excited to see another trampoline park open in Plymouth last month. Nova Trampoline Park opened at 65 Shops at 5 Way in Plymouth, Ma.





General Pricing
60 minutes $18.00
90 minutes $24.00
120 minutes $28.00
150 minutes $32.00
180 minutes $35.00

Toddler Pricing - Prices apply to children 42" and under
60 minutes $12.00
90 minutes $16.00
120 minutes $20.00
150 minutes $24.00
180 minutes $27.00

All jumpers require jump socks, which can be purchased for $3.00.

It's a great way to spend the afternoon!


April 1, 2022

The Alice at The Merchant, Boston

 If you know anything about me, you know how much I Love Alice in Wonderland. Fun fact - my boyfriend bought me the most amazing 1930 Illustrated edition of Alice in Wonderland and it's one of my all time favorite possessions. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Alice Experience taking place in Boston.



















The event took place at the Merchant in Boston, located at 60 Franklin St, Boston, MA 02110,a nd was everything I could have hoped for.

The show had us solving riddles to get the ingredients to make our drinks and a trial with the Red Queen. They offered mocktails to those of us not drinking, and had vegan and gluten free options as well!
Seats are $45 a piece and include a welcome drink, 2 bespoke drinks and an “Eat Me” cookie. Shows run until April 30th so grab your tickets soon!



March 31, 2022

March 2022 Books


Another super productive month of reading... even if they were all enjoyable, murder or suspense type books!

13. Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay

14. Aint Burned all the Bright, Jason Reynolds

15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kasey

16. Reckless Girls, Rachel Hawkins

17. They'll Never Catch Us, Jessica Goodman

18. Bad Girls Never Say Die, Jennifer Matheiu

19. The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda

Be sure to follow me on Good Reads to see what I'm reading next!

March 4, 2022

2 More Checkmarks on my 40 by 40!

I just turned 36 and looks like I have two more check marks!

3. Travel internationally - Europe ideally Iceland in February 2022!

6. A spa day  I originally meant this as a massage and facial and all that, but we ended up at Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik and it was the most amazing, relaxing spa experience.




 40 by 40

TRAVEL

1. Disney World or Disney Land with the kids (again) - August 2021

2. Lego Land in New York - check! So much fun!

3. Travel internationally - Europe ideally Iceland in February 2022!

4. Harry Potter World - Another we checked off on our trip!

5. Go to a Tropical Island

6. Go on a cruise.

7. Go on a road trip that's at least a week long a different place every night or two. - this was unreal! Check out the post all about it!

8. Fly 1st class.  - this was a surprise! On our way to Nashville, we got a free upgrade!

9. Go Glamping/ Stay in a Tree house

10. Camp at least 10 days in the five years

       - We did 3 nights to celebrate my sister's graduation - June 2021

11. Go to Ohana at Disney or real Luau in Hawaii.

12. See 5 National Parks

13. Go to an all-inclusive resort

14. Make a bucket list of travel locations  - done and done - check out my list here.

15. Get a new passport 

16. Visit 5 new states

    - California to see my brother and North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee this summer!


FITNESS

1. Try Barre or a new type of fitness class

2. Bench a full plate on each side

3. Run an in person 5k or 10k.

4. Run a half marathon.

5. Do a pull up

6. Try a pole fit class


FOOD

1. Try a juice cleanse

2. Eat vegetarian or vegan for a week

3. Go to a fancy dinner and splurge without looking at menu prices - Nick and I went to a deliciously amazing steak house.  We ordered amazing steaks and sides and drinks and didn't pay attention to the bill.  It helped that it was even less than we expected, but it was such a fun experience since it's so out of the ordinary for us!

4. One month take out/fast food free

5. Try barbeque in the south - so many times on our road trip. It. Was. Amazing.

6. Tip 100% on a bill /$20 on a small bill


FOR WORK

1. Take a spanish or ASL class - I signed up for DuoLingo Spanish! I'm a couple weeks in and I'm relearning so much.

2. Masters + 30 or a CAGS


FOR ME

1. Be comfortable in my body

2. Get another tattoo

3. Buy a piece of art -- real art, not a print from Marshalls/Home Goods  I was beyond excited to support my former co-worker at SAPedrosa.com. I bought the most gorgeous print, but hope to buy this one day when I own my own house again and can decorate.

4. Do the AFSP Overnight walk NOT in Massachusetts or New York

    - I just signed up for New York in the Summer of 2022 since they just announced it but crossing my fingers for 2023!

5. Unplug completely for 24 hours

6. A spa day  I originally meant this as a massage and facial and all that, but we ended up at Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik and it was the most amazing, relaxing spa experience.

7. Try diamond painting or another new craft with Em

8. Cross stitch something

9. Take a baking class -- cookies or cake decorating.

10. Pay off the car

March 1, 2022

February 2022 Books

 


9. Girl in Pieces, Kathleen Glasgow
10. Find Her, Lisa Gardner
11. Before She Disappeared, Lisa Gardner
12. The Drowning Kind, Jennifer McMahon

Be sure to follow me on Good Reads to see what I'm reading next!

February 27, 2022

A Trip to Reykjavik, Iceland

 In April of 2021, after my birthday trip falling apart because little guy ended up in the hospital (breathing issues but totally okay), Nick and I found a ridiculous deal on a trip to Iceland through TravelZoo for only $600, which included our flights, hotels, a Hop On / Hop Off city tour, a boat trip to see the northern lights, a trip to the geothermal heated Sky Lagoon, and our breakfast each day. The deal was a "Buy Now, Travel Later" thing and we booked for February 18th, 2022 (two days before the promotion ended), hoping by then Covid would be gone and we'd be able to travel again.

The Christmas/January upswing of cases made us nervous and we considered cancelling our trip but decided instead to just be extra cautious. Iceland is only open to vaccinated Americans and masks are still required in most indoor places. Even though the CDC said we did not need to quarantine or test after returning from the trip, we chose to keep the kids at my boyfriends (just like December when we tested positive for Covid) and decided to rapid test multiple times before returning to our house. Getting sick meant that the possibility of getting sick again on vacation is much lower, which eased our concerns even more.

I am so happy we decided to go through with the trip. Again, we had to be vaccinated and prove negative tests before we could get into Iceland. Even their citizens had to follow their expectations before entering the country. We had an "overnight" flight on Friday, leaving Massachusetts for a 5 hour flight, but thanks to the time difference, we arrived at 6 am Saturday am. We pre-booked a shuttle through Gray Line Tours and were in Reykjavik by 8 am. Our hotel room was not ready yet so we set off to explore.

Saturday

Thanks to Iceland's location, the sun didn't rise until 9 am so the quiet walk through the city was very serene. There was a lot of snow and it was cold, but we walked the two miles from our hotel to the Hallgrímskirkja Church and then to the Perlan Museum

The Perlan Museum is a beautiful museum that teaches the history and nature of Iceland, as well as has a walk through ice cave and the most amazingly gorgeous 360 degree walk around balcony that allows you to see how gorgeous Reykjavik is. 

After finishing at the museum, we hopped on the Hop On Hop Off Bus offered around the city. Heads up, the signs say they come every 45 minutes, but we waited much longer for one... we did keep ourselves entertained laughing at everyone getting stuck in the revolving door because they weren't pushing (we were exhausted at this point...). We took the bus to the opposite side of town and got off at the Harbour. In reading other sites, I knew I wanted to find Omnom Chocolate and this seemed like the best way to get to it. On our way down the Harbour, we found Grandi Mathöll and had a quick lunch. I love this place so much. It's like an indoor food truck hall. There was Garlic, a noodle place, a fish and chips place, a storefront that served traditional Icelandic lamb dishes, korean BBQ, and a Gastrotruck that had the most amazing chicken and their fries tasted like McDonalds! I seriously wish we had these in MA because I would host every function in one and people could just grab whatever food they want. We made our way to Omnom and honestly, it was unreal. I'm so thankful it was tucked all the way down the Harbour or we would have gone back every day.

It's going to sound like we ate our way across the city, but we did. As we made our way back to our hotel to see if the room was ready (again, ex-haus-ted), we stopped at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which is this cult following hot dog stand in Reykjavik. Lamb hot dogs - and yes, they are amazing. So amazing we went back 2 more times!

On our way back, we came across another place I had hoped to see - Skólavörðustígur, aka Rainbow Street. It's absolutely a tourist spot, but I feel like there are so few spaces in this world where people can celebrate who they are and it was an important spot to see. I loved being able to take pictures for couples who wouldn't have been able to get a shot of them together otherwise, especially in a space that's made for them.

We made it back to our hotel, Center Hotels Laugavegur to find out we had been upgraded to a top floor room with a view of the mountains on our balcony. The rooms are small but were perfect size for the two of us. I fell in love with the heated towel racks and have decided I need to have them in my own bathroom. The hotel is in the perfect location, right on one of the main streets in Reykjavik. It made walking to everything super easy.

A quick nap and we were back out looking around the city again. We found another food hall, Hlemmur Food Hall a block away from our hotel and had some tacos from Fuego. We made a quick trip into 10/11, which is a quick shop convenience store and spent more time than I want to admit looking at different foods and figuring out how much foods cost ($10 USD for a single avocado!).

Sunday

The hotel offered a wonderful buffet at their restaurant, Loa and we fueled up before heading out to do more exploring since our only plans were to catch a Northern Lights sightseeing boat at 8:30 pm. We decided to visit the geothermically heated community pool, Sundhöllin. A European community pool is everything I didn't expect it to be... a lot of naked people walking around and me having zero idea of what was culturally respectful. It was overwhelming at first, not understanding what I was doing wrong but after showering and changing into my bathing suit, leaving behind my flip flops and towel, I ventured into the 23* air to jump into those 100* pools. When we were leaving, I overheard another couple asking questions and I inserted myself into the conversation to tell her and her husband everything I wish someone had told me. They ended up being from Delaware and were so thankful for the information. 


We left and wandered around a bit, finding two bakeries I hoped to find, Brauð & Co and Sandholt. We bought a pretzel croissant from Brauð & Co and a cinnamon roll at Sandholt. We stopped at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant and tried Icelandic fish and chips and a Fish Platter. I'm so picky about fish living in New England, but this was so good and did not disappoint. We wandered through bookstores and grabbed ice cream from Ísbúðin Valdís. We know how much I love Dole Whip, but their pineapple ice cream blew it out of the water. We found the store called Bonus, which is a super cheap market and we loaded up on candy for the kids - mars bars, Cadbury eggs, Milka bars... the best of the best. After all that walking, we needed another nap.


Our night time adventure to the Northern Lights sightseeing boat included a long walk down to the water side path. We got to see the Sun Voyager statute and Harpa Music Hall. We absolutely stopped and got another hot dog as well. 

Our boat trip was sadly, unsuccessful. We did not see the Northern Lights, which was a big part of why we wanted to go, but it's nature and we have no control. We've already been joking about when and where we can travel again to be able to try again to see them. The great thing about Special Tours in Reykjavik is that they have a guarantee and if you don't see the lights, you can go on a return trip for free, so we can go back any time we like!

Monday

Monday the 21st was my actual birthday so we started with another delicious breakfast from Loa and went to the bookstore to mail off our postcards to the kids. We buy a postcard everywhere we go and send it home as a souvenir, complete with postage from where we were. We also had to get Covid tested so we would be allowed back into the US. The Covid testing location was at the main bus station hub so we made our way down there. Unfortunately the weather changed and we ended up walking through snow and sleet so I was not very happy, thinking we'd need to walk back to our hotel where our pick up was planned. I was so happy and thankful when the customer service woman at the bus station said we could wait for the bus in the terminal instead, but also informed us that due to the weather and an incoming storm, the three hour trip we had scheduled to Sky Lagoon, a geothermically heated lagoon,  would be cut short because the buses were too tall and top heavy to be out in the winds. We'd be lucky to have an hour in the pool, but we would be welcome to take a taxi home later (on our own dime) if we wanted to stay. 

Since we had 40 minutes before the bus was set to leave, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in terminal and waited. As we were cleaning up our trash, I heard a woman yell "Hey there Boston!" and turned to see the couple we had helped at the Community Pool yesterday. They were also heading to the Lagoon and we chatted about how thankful they were that we had shared the information at the pool. They also said they planned to stay later than the buses were leaving so if we wanted to share a taxi, they'd be game. Iceland's very high gas prices lead to very high taxi fares, so this was a great idea for us!



Sky Lagoon was gorgeous. The water was the perfect hot temperature and even with the cold wind and (often pelting) snow, we had an amazing time. We made plans to meet the couple at the indoor bar in couple hours and went off to Sky Lagoon's Seven Step Sky Ritual

1. Enjoy the warm geothermically heated lagoon
2. Dunk yourself into the glacier fresh (and cold!) tub.
3. Sit in the sauna that has Iceland's largest single pane window and look out to Iceland's infinite landscape
4. Step through the cold fog-mist space
5. Scrub yourself down with the Signature Sky Body Scrub (made of salt and almond oil)
6. Re-warm yourself in the steam room (so dense I couldn't see Nick next to me!)
7. Cleanse in a luke warm shower
... and then hop right back into the warm lagoon!

Each step felt unbelievable, and I even made myself go through the cold areas. I didn't last nearly as long as Nick but knowing it was a whole process that led to complete relaxation was worth it. I could have spent hours in the lagoon. I wish the lagoon had a sauna you could just sit in without going through the seven steps (since it's a one time thing), but I was very content floating around in the lagoon. There was even a swim up bar if someone wanted to have a drink (and almost everyone was floating around with plastic glasses in hand!).

We met up with our new "friends", checked out and waited for a Taxi. The weather had gotten bad but the taxi driver was personable and got us back to the city. We parted ways outside the hotel, us heading to our room to unload bags, and them heading off to dinner. After a quick rest in the room, we made our way back to  Hlemmur Food Hall and decided to order small plates from all the places we still wanted to try. We got a lobster tail from Kröst, scallops and beef tartar from SKÁL!, and a Hrókur sandwich (Lamb steak sandwich with lamb bacon, pickled red cabbage, grilled tomatoes and chipotle mayo) from FJÁRHÚSIÐ. Eating a bunch of small plates was the perfect birthday dinner. We made our way back to the hotel where we had two petite cakes from Sandholt in our fridge and indulged before heading to bed. 



Tuesday

It's leaving day already. Since we already had Negative Covid tests and our paperwork in order to come back to the US, we had a lazy morning after filling up at Loa once more. We decided pretty last minute to go grab one more hot dog, and on the way back I stopped at the Christmas store to get an ornament (another traveling tradition), and we got one more dish of pineapple ice cream!

Leaving in the middle of more intense winds was a bit frightening but after 5.5 hours of flying (and both Free Guy and In the Heights, plus 200 pages of my most recent book), we arrived back safely in the US.

I made a reel for the whole trip and it makes me smile every time I watch it.
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Traveling is something I love and I'm so thankful that we were able to find a safe place to go to. One that required Americans to be fully vaccinated, and required negative tests before traveling, and encouraged mask wearing, and had access to free tests through the government (and super cheap tests in store - literally $3 for a rapid antigen test in the drugstore!). It's hard to find that line of being cautious but still enjoying life and this trip was perfect for us. 

We're being overly cautious now, staying at my boyfriends rather than being in my house with my grandmother, rapid testing to make sure we didn't contract anything, and masking even though the CDC says we don't have to as fully vaccinated individuals. And as we do all this, we're checking out deals and looking for our next passport stamps...

Where do we go next?

June Books

  28. You Betrayed Me, Lisa Jackson 29. The Turnout, Megan Abbott 30. The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave 31. The Long Weekend, Gilly Macm...