Well, summer has officially arrived. I've spent the majority of the weekend feeling sweaty and lethargic, I've eaten my body's weight in ice cream (and hot dogs), we attended a parade, we dined outside, and I have a slight sunburn on my back. Life is pretty good.
My weekend began with a sweaty Friday afternoon run. It was the first of three runs I'd take over the course of the weekend, and due to the time of day, the strong sun, and 100 percent humidity, this was by far the worst I'd feel all weekend.
Saturday morning I completed a slow and steady 10-miler with one of my running partners, and then decided that James, my sister Em and I needed to start off the weekend with mimosas at the Pond House, my favorite brunch location. (Sammy stuck to milk.)
Adorable picture of Sammy and his auntie Em.
After brunch, we headed over to the pond that the restaurant overlooks and spotted a baby duck!
The Pond House is on the grounds of Elizabeth Park, which boasts a huge, beautiful rose garden.
I was feeling somewhat nostalgic that morning as prior to my wedding a couple years ago, I hosted a brunch for my bridesmaids at the Pond House, and the rose above played center stage in my wedding flowers.
As it's still a bit early in the season, not all the roses are out yet. Come mid-June, the trellises that line the walkway will be overflowing with greenery and roses in full bloom.
Saturday afternoon, we prepared for an impromptu visit from my sister- and mother-in-law, as well as our three nephews. I know summer is here when it becomes imperative that tomatoes make an appearance in every meal. We barbecued that night, and I made Ina's scalloped tomatoes (again) and her French potato salad. (Years ago, when The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was first published, this potato salad was the first item I made out of it. Since then, it's become my go-to potato salad recipe. You simply can't go wrong with it.)
Sunday, in need of an activity to keep three little boys (and a baby!) entertained, we all caravanned down to The Dinosaur Place, which consists of outdoor trails, a maze, a huge playground, and a splash pad. Having previously passed this place a million times on the way down to my parents' beach house, I once swore that I would never set foot in it. Well, chalk that up to another thing I said I'd never do before having kids ... and then did.
Walking the dinosaur trails first was vetoed by the under 8 contingent, and thus we hit the splash pad up right away.
I couldn't believe it when Sammy deemed the "baby" side too boring, and ran right over to the big kid section.
I think his Water Babies class paid off as he showed no signs of being afraid of the water! (Instead, he chose to stomp it out.)
Sammy finally made his way back to the baby area, only after his cousins Alex and Patrick proved it worthy.
And here's cousin Christopher under a water umbrella.
After a solid hour or more at the splash pad, and another hour or so at the playground and picnic area, we finally made our way to the dinosaur trails.... (The photo below was taken at the entrance to the trails.)
... Only to turn around after 10 or so minutes due to an overwhelming need for ice cream. (The photo below was taken at the entrance / exit to the entire park.)
Which was just as well, as we had one sleepy boy on our hands.
Upon our guests' departure this morning, we made it to our town's Memorial Day parade.
Sammy loved the marching band the best, but the balloons were a close second.
Once the parade ended, we got back in the car, picked up our friends Sara and Neil, and enjoyed an afternoon in Essex, a beautiful town along the Connecticut shoreline. (A shout out to my friend Kate, who was lucky enough to grow up in such a cute town!)
We toasted the official start of summer over sandwiches, salads and Blue Moons at Abby's Place, a simple little restaurant overlooking a boat marina.
Essex is about as quintessential New England as you can get, between quaint little antique shops, cedar-shingled homes, adirondack chairs and picket fences lined with rose bushes.
(It's hard to see in the photo above, but there are two adirondack chairs under that far tree. Could there be a more perfect sit?)
(Sammy wore the quintessential New England lobster motif in order to match his surroundings.)
We concluded our visit to Essex with ice cream at Sweet P's. It was a happy ending to a busy weekend, indeed.