Tag Archives: summer

Strategies for a Stress-Free Vacation

Today we have a guest post from travel expert Kendra Thornton! Kendra is a travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, wife, and mama of three. Follow Kendra on Twitter @KendraThornton. I’ll let her introduce herself in her own words:  “I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I’ve found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy!”

Whether it is an amusing anecdote about getting to a vacation destination or the memories of a favorite sunset, family vacations are worth the time and cost.  However, a vacation with small children can be exhausting, unless you have prepared yourself with tips and tricks to help your vacation run smoothly and keep you relaxed.

1. When you are planning a vacation, try to choose your hotel based on your family’s needs.  A hotel with a small fridge can be a godsend for families with tired and cranky children.  You are able to store snacks and healthy drinks to help ward off the temper tantrums. Whether it be hiking in state parks or visiting a unique museum, a family friendly resort may be an option for you.  My family’s trip to Hawaii was spent at a family friendly resort that offered a plethora of activities for adults and children and was still ranked as a top Honolulu hotel.  Another benefit to family friendly lodging?  The amenities that appeal to children, such as an onsite playground, pool or kids club.  In addition to keeping children happy on vacation, it will also allow them to burn off energy so they fall asleep faster at night.

2. When traveling with toddlers, it’s especially important to stick to a routine.  While you may want to stay out longer at a tourist attraction, naptime and snack time are essential to children of this age group.  When on vacation, you tend to get more exercise walking than at home, and this additional exercise means that children, as well as adults, need time to rest.  Giving family members this relaxation time will make their trip more enjoyable.   

3. When you are packing for the vacation, don’t forget to bring a few essentials that will make your trip easier on you.  Zip lock bags in a variety of sizes, baby wipes, a first aid kit (with blister band aids), and your child’s favorite sippy cup will make the trip run smoothly.  Of these listed supplies, zip lock bags can be used to store dirty or wet clothes and treasures the children pick up on their adventures.  If you go to a beach or water park, slip your camera and phone inside one of the bags to prevent it from water or sand damage. You may find other items to bring as well that will help your family on the vacation.

4. If your vacation includes a long car or plane ride, you may want to think about occupying that time with technology.  Tablets can be loaded with apps that are appropriate to your children’s ages, and they can pass the travel time learning and playing with these apps. If you are worried about children breaking the iPad, there are videos on the Internet on how to child-proof it.

5. It can be difficult enough to spot your luggage at the airport when you are by yourself, but with children, it becomes a monumental task.  Tie a ribbon to your luggage to help you quickly identify the luggage and get you out of the airport and on the way to your hotel.

By implementing these tips into your next family vacation, you can help create lasting memories for your family of your stress-free and fun family vacation.

Simple Summer Vegetable Tart

This easy tart can be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Because it calls for pre-made pie crust, it’s a quick, healthy weeknight fix, and it looks deceptively impressive. I recommend getting a quiche/tart pan if you want the fancy scalloped edges; plus, it makes getting the tart out so much easier because the sides lift right off. Although Olivia initially squealed “Avocado!” when I set the plate down in front of her and was not-so-pleasantly surprised to find that “avocado” was really zucchini, she seemed to like it and ate almost her full helping.

Summer Vegetable Tart

1 refrigerated pie crust, brought to room temperature
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced thin
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
5 leaves of fresh basil*, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary*, chopped
3 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley*, chopped
olive oil
goat cheese crumbles

*I used basil, rosemary, and parsley in mine because those were the fresh herbs I had out back, but you can use dried herbs as well. I’ve also used thyme, dill, and mint, but it’s really whatever you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spray your tart or pie pan with a nonstick cooking spray. Unroll the pie crust and place it into the pan, pressing gently along the edges. Bake the shell for about 3-4 minutes, and then allow to cool for just a few minutes.

Lightly sauté the zucchini and squash with a little bit of olive oil over medium-high heat to soften the vegetables.

In a small bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and herbs, and then salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture evenly into the pie crust. Top the tart with your vegetables, placing them in a circular pattern working from the outside in, one type of vegetable at a time.

Bake the tart for about 5 minutes or until the crust begins to turn golden brown. Pull the tart out and top it with goat cheese crumbles. Continue to bake until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

My Favorite Summer Side

This bean salad is a huge hit with my family, and it’s just not summertime without it. This dish is packed with fiber, iron, and protein, so you can feel good about your kids asking for seconds—because they will!

Summer Bean Salad

1 can fat free reduced sodium black beans

1 can chickpeas

1 can fat free reduced sodium kidney beans

2 cups shelled edamame (I use the frozen variety)

1 small tomato (you can also use roasted red peppers if you have any), chopped

1 avocado, diced

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime

Salt and pepper

Drain and rinse the three canned beans and place them, along with the edamame, in a large bowl. Add the tomato, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, and avocado. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the avocado to help keep it from browning. Mix everything thoroughly, and salt and pepper to taste.