Sunflowers for Wishes

sunflowers for wishes One of the most beautiful summer traditions I’ve found Connecticut is the annual Sunflowers for Wishes fundraising event at Buttonwood Farm in Griswold. Now in its 12th year, this event truly one of a kind.

According to the farm owner turned philanthropist Duane Button, in 2003, at the suggestion of a friend, Duane and his family planted a one acre field of sunflowers. When the flowers began to blossom, people from miles away visited the farm to admire and photograph the blooms.

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Aside from enjoying their beauty, the Buttons did little else with the flowers in the first year besides feeding them to their cows.

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After discussing possible solutions, the idea for a Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser was born.

By 2004, The Buttons planted 10 acres of sunflowers, (yielding approximately 300,000 blooms) and that numbers continues to grow. The event is so popular now that 14 acres of sunflowers (450,000 blooms) have been planted to meet the demands.sunflower field

The 2015 event will take place July 18th – 26th. I realize July is still a long ways away, but since this event is so time sensitive, I thought it best to leave ample time for planning (like I did for another flower-filled event).sunflowers for sale

Large, stunning bouquets will be available at the farm (on a first come, first served basis) for just $5, and 100% of all proceeds are donated directly to the Connecticut Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.sunflowers for wishes ct

The farm will also sell sunflower themed t-shirts and notecards, and will offer hayrides through the flower field and adjoining cow pasture – an absolute must do if you visit the farm. 

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Another must on your to do list is to sample the oh-so-creamy ice cream made fresh on the farm – and naturally, there is a (delicious) sunflower flavor.buttonwood farm ct

To learn more about this incredible event, Make-A-Wish, and the family behind it, visit sunflowersforwishes.com.

Day Trip: Thimble Islands, CT

IMG_4714Let the countdown to Memorial Day begin!

My favorite time to live in this blue state will be here in just a couple of weeks. And, while most people are already familiar with Fairfield County’s beaches, just a half an hour east of New Haven is a the little archipelago known as the Thimble Islands.

Once known as the “The Hundred Islands” twenty five tiny, rocky islands dot the Long Island Sound, and although they are entirely inhabited by private owners (except Outer Island, an ecological preserve), and only accessible via private boat, it’s a great choice for a unique New England day trip, or a stopover on your way to the Cape.

Thimble Island CTSuggested Itinerary:

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#BloggerBash Canadian Lentils Carnival Recap

gina zammit blogger

When I sauntered into the closing party of Blogger Bash, my jaw nearly fell open. 

The decadent #lovelentils circus theme put together and sponsored by Canadian Lentils, was, in short astonishing. 

Before this event, and due to my participation in the Live Below the Line Challenge,  I considered lentils a cheap, tasty and nutritious source of protein – not a purveyor of wild by night affairs.

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But, I was wrong. Very wrong.

Not only am I certain that Canadians can throw a serious shindig, but the party convinced me that lentils are much more versatile than I ever had imagined.

All of the food offered at the buffet at Pier 60 contained lentils – burgers, fritters, veggie-heavy side dishes, even chocolate truffles, cupcakes, and ice cream! 

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After sampling the many lentil-filled treats, I played several classic carnival games including a ring toss, strength tester, and milk bottle game, and enjoyed over twenty different sideshow-style performances.

There was a circus strongman (complete with handlebar mustache), contortionist, three piece band, a juggler, card trickster, can-can ladies, and a DJ.

My absolute favorite performer of the night was an aerial bartender suspended from a chandelier doling out flutes of bubbly.

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I promptly dubbed her the champagne fairy and became a frequent visitor/photographer. I texted a few friends to say that “my dreams had come true” (yes, I dream about champagne fairies) and there was an overwhelming feeling that Jay Gatsby would’ve approved of this soirée. 

The party left me smiling the rest of the evening, and has inspired me to incorporate lentils into some unexpected foods. Perhaps I will even throw a carnival party of my own – but only if the fairy is available :)

For now, I’m left with the amazing photos I captured, and the compilation video you too can watch below:

What’s the best party you’ve attended? Have you used lentils in an unusual way? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Blue Man Group Review & Giveaway! {Closed}

gina zammit

Last week I attended Blogger Bash in NYC. Despite its reputation as a “mommy” blogging event (not exactly my cup of tea), I decided to make an appearance anyway, and was pleasantly surprised by two of the events.

Like other conferences, Blogger Bash focused on networking with brands and fellow bloggers, but what set this event apart was the rare addition of a performance from the Blue Man Group

Most of my knowledge of the Blue Men? (before seeing the show) came from watching Tobias Funke’s obsession with the group on one of my favorite TV (now Netflix) shows, Arrested Development.

Suppressing the many dirty jokes in my head, 100 bloggers and I piled into several air conditioned buses to make the trek from Chelsea Piers to Astor Place.

The theater was a lot smaller than I imagined (a huge plus in my opinion), and for 90 minutes I watched what I can honestly call one of the strangest live performances (in a good way) I’ve ever seen. 

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The Blue Men use a wide variety of props including drums, marshmallows, toilet paper, and an art store supply of paint.

They interact with the audience for a good amount of the show, and I was unwittingly roped into one of the routines involving throwing broken bits of Toblerone into the performer’s mouth – who had the courtesy to “return” them to me shortly after.

To avoid any spoilers, my summary of the show will stop here. However, something very special about Blue Man Group is because of the audience participation and improvistation from the performers, no show is every fully alike.

As a former improv student, I appreciated the ever evolving nature of Blue Man and as someone who is at least slightly familiar with NYC in the 90’s, this show is a peek at the somewhat seedy past, but also (through the use of new props and updated material) has adapted to present day.

It’s a fun and dynamic show, appropriate for all ages, and is even more fun to see after bingeing on a few Arrested episodes. 

If my detailing of the show has you ready to book your tickets, the BMG organizers were nice enough to give me two pairs of tickets to #giveaway to my readers for ANY Blue Man Group performance in America! 

All you have to do to win is leave me a comment with which show location you would choose, and enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. Full contest rules are listed below as well, and the contest will close at midnight on August 24, 2015.

BloggerBash_banner_300x250a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRIZE RESTRICTIONS
THE FULFILLMENT PERIOD BEGINS SEPTEMBER 8, 2015, FOR SELECT PERFORMANCES ONLY, AND TICKETS MUST BE REDEEMED BY JUNE 8, 2016. ALL REQUESTS ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AND MUST BE SUBMITTED A MINIMUM OF TWO (2) WEEKS IN ADVANCE.
 
IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR BLUE MAN GROUP PERFORMANCES TO SELL OUT, SO ADVANCE PLANNING IS REQUIRED. THE BEST SEATS AVAILABLE ARE LIKELY TO BE SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY SHOWS. HOLIDAY BLACKOUT PERIODS VARY BY CITY, AND THE CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID DURING THOSE BLACKOUT PERIODS.
 
THE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CHOICE. CERTIFICATE HAS NO CASH VALUE AND IS NON-TRANSFERABLE. VALID FOR THE BLUE MAN GROUP SHOW ONLY WITH SEATING LOCATION AT THE DISCRETION OF THE BOX OFFICE. NOT VALID FOR VIP UPGRADES, THEME PARK, CLUB, OR SPECIAL EVENT ADMISSION. PARKING IS NOT INCLUDED. THERE ARE NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES ONCE TICKETS HAVE BEEN ISSUED. ALL REDEMPTIONS ARE FINAL. NO SUBSTITUTIONS, CASH EQUIVALENTS OR TRANSFERS ARE PERMITTED. NOT FOR RESALE. 
 
THE CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID AFTER EXPIRATION DATE OF JUNE 8, 2016. BLUE MAN GROUP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REPLACING LOST OR STOLEN TICKETS AND/OR VOUCHERS.
 
ELIGIBILITY
EMPLOYEES OF BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, SPONSORS, AND ANY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES’ EMPLOYEES AND EACH OF THEIR HOUSEHOLDS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY.
 
GENERAL CONDITIONS
ALL ENTRANTS RELEASE SPONSORS, BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE FOUNDERS, PARENT COMPANIES, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES AND THE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AND AGENTS OF THE FOREGOING ENTITIES, AND ALL OTHERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AND EXECUTION OF THIS CONTEST (ALL AFOREMENTIONED PARTIES, THE “RELEASED PARTIES”) FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FROM INJURY, LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND.
 
SPONSORS AND BLUE MAN GROUP RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL, MODIFY, OR TERMINATE THIS CONTEST OR ANY OF THE PRIZES AT ANYTIME, INCLUDING AFTER WINNERS ARE CHOSEN. ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY ENTRANTS TO SPONSOR OR ITS AFFILIATES WILL BE SUBJECT TO SPONSOR’S PRIVACY POLICY , EXCEPT WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW AND BLUE MAN GROUP’S PRIVACY POLICY LOCATED AT HTTP://WWW.BLUEMAN.COM/PRIVACY-POLICY, ENTRY AND/OR WINNER’S
 
ACCEPTANCE OF A PRIZE OF ANY KIND CONSTITUTES PERMISSION FOR THE SPONSOR AND BLUE MAN GROUP TO USE WINNER’S NAME, ADDRESS (CITY AND STATE), PHOTO, LIKENESS, BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION, STATEMENT AND VOICE FOR ADVERTISING/PUBLICITY PURPOSES WORLDWIDE AND IN ALL FORMS OF MEDIA IN PERPETUITY, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO OR COMPENSATION IN CONNECTION WITH SAID CONTEST OR THE PRIZE AWARDED. ALL ENTRANTS EXPRESSLY RELEASE THE SPONSOR, BLUE MAN GROUP,AND THEIR AFFILIATES, PARENT, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, LICENSEES, DESIGNEES, AND ASSIGNS FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL CLAIMS WHICH THEY HAVE OR MAY HAVE FOR INVASION OF PRIVACY, DEFAMATION, OR ANY OTHER CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF ANY SUCH USE.
 
MISCELLANEOUS
BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, IS NOT THE SPONSOR OF THE CONTEST AND IS SOLELY PROVIDING THE PRIZE. THIS BLOG IS THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR.ENTRANTS AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE PRIZE RESTRICTIONS, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, AND SPONSOR RULES. BLUE MAN GROUP AND ALL RELATED INDICIA ©2015 BLUE MAN GROUP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

A Kingly Experience on St. Simons Island, Pt. 1

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This trip was sponsored by the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. All opinions are my own.

Although it seems summer has just begun, before you know it we’ll be back in sweaters, scarves, and overcoats.

Before this inevitable chill, consider flying south this summer for a “kingly” experience at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island.

The largest of the Atlantic barrier islands in Georgia, (known by locals as the Golden Isles), St. Simons is the size of another favorite island of mine (Manhattan), and completely walkable, but that is where the similarities end. Continue reading

Updating the Dirndl for Fashion Week

gina zammit dirndl

This post originally appeared on Dirndl Temptation website. I was chosen by Austria Tourism to act as a dirndl ambassador in New York City to spread awareness and interest in visiting Austria. All opinions are my own.

“There would be no ugliness in the world if every woman wore a dirndl.” Vivienne Westwood

In honor of Fashion Week, I decided to “upgrade” my dirndl and make it more fashion forward for our outing in The Village during Fashion’s Night Out. 

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How to Grill Your Favorite Veggies

gina zammit travel bloggerWhen you mention the word barbecue thoughts of plates piled high with meat immediately comes to mind. However, as more and more people are realizing the amazing benefits of a plant based diet, the healthy, delicious, colorful, and more environmentally responsible option is making its way to more grills across the nation. Continue reading

Thoughts While Watching Jurassic World

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Last night I saw Jurassic World for the first time. Here are my thoughts during the movie (Disclaimer: I grew up watching Jurassic Park).

Thoughts While Watching:

  • Judy Greer bids farewell – without saying “say goodbye to these”?!? Disappointing.
  • Hormonal teenage protagonist? Why not. I wonder if my niece thinks he’s cute. 
  • Oh look – OG Gwen Stacy. We can’t see the hybrid dino yet??
  • Ok, enough back story – when does the people eating start?
  • Fat guy dies first. Can’t say I’m surprised.
  • A mosquito in – what we call – amber!
  • The DNA strand!
  • BD Wong is still schooling people 20 years later.
  • The new raptors are.. cute? Also not kosher or halal.
  • Somebody consulted animal trainers – perhaps at a famous watery theme park?
  • Oops, SeaWorld’s image got a little more tarnished.
  • Mercedes SUVs? REALLY? Where at the JEEPS?
  • No one can do better than Spielberg’s dino glass attack – let’s do that too!
  • Wait a minute… night vision goggles!
  • They found the Jeeps :)
  • It’s THE BIRDS! I never thought pterodactyls were so menacing.
  • The raptor pack has arrived!
  • If the black guy dies, I’m never seeing another action film.
  • Is this an action film? Or sci-fi? Both?
  • So, um, the same plot as original? But, where is the shaving cream can?!?
  • Haha a hologram Dilophosaurus scares a raptor.
  • Here comes THE MOTHERFING T-REX!
  • WTF just happened?  I don’t care – this is awesome!
  • The mosasaur! Whaaaat!

Post Movie Thoughts:

  • WTF just happened???
  • I laughed more while watching this movie than most comedies. Can’t decide if that’s a pro or con.
  • Where were the Drs. Grant & Sadler??
  • What was the death toll this time? And which park is deadlier, Jurassic Park or World? 
  • Why does this franchise hate raptors so much?
  • Lady T-Rex – more bad ass than Katniss Everdeen

Have you seen Jurassic World? Let me know your thoughts below and check out this hilarious reenactment/review by Nostalgia Critic.

Gerolsteiner Water Courier Adventure, Part 2: Eifel Region Tour with Dr. Bitschene

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This is part 2 of my water courier adventure. If you missed part 1, please click here

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After lunch and a visit to the Gerolsteiner factory, we began my favorite part of the trip – touring the tiny town of Gerolstein – where the water gets its namesake.

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This untapped area of Germany is absolutely beautiful. I immediately noticed the incredible fresh air, manicured gardens, and of course, immaculately clean water.

IMG_2385We were able to taste the water straight from the spring and I was nearly floored when I could taste a hit of sparkle! 

IMG_2412Dr. Peter Bitschene (pictured above), geologist and our amazingly informative guide for the day, explained this was due to the volcanic activity of the region.

IMG_0101We toured several maars (perfectly round volcano-made lakes), gardens, and even stopped at a monastery for some coffee and dessert, an afternoon tradition in Germany.

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We spent the night in, Heilsburg, a very tiny town, so we were pretty limited in our dinner choices, but we did manage to find an Italian restaurant a few blocks away before heading to bed.

In the morning, we went for a swim, walked around the village, and had lunch at a nearby café. 

At 3:00 sharp, our driver, Mr. Grabow arrived to drop us off at the airport.

My official water courier duties abroad were complete, but culminated in another three days at the U.S. Open. 

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I was able to see powerhouse Serena Williams crush her visibly scared opposition early in the rounds, Victoria Azarenka literally howl at the competition (….), and met up with the German tennis pro, and fellow Gerolsteiner brand ambassador, Andrea Petkovic to deliver the all important case of mineral water.

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My trip to Germany and attending the U.S. Open for the first time will be something I truly will never forget. Thank you so much, Gerolsteiner for choosing me for such an unforgettable experience!

This trip was sponsored by Gerolsteiner Water USA. All opinions are my own.

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