Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Meridian Health Introduces Meridian SoundingBoard

It’s not a novel concept for a company to ask for customer feedback. We are accustomed to seeing customer satisfaction surveys come in the mail or pop up in our Inboxes. But when was the last time you were asked to join the conversation and give your opinions about how an organization can improve the health care experience in your community?

Meridian Health is putting out the welcome mat and launching an innovative initiative in the form of an online community, Meridian SoundingBoard. Meridian is reaching out to people in Monmouth and Ocean counties to sign up and join the conversation about the health care experience in the community. Meridian cares about your healthcare experience and wants to hear what you have to say.


Meridian wants to understand what the health care experience should be like, and what direction new programs and services could take at Meridian in the future. They understand that when it comes to health care, the community knows what is needed best, and they know a great health care experience is built on many building blocks.

When you invest a little of your time and much of your opinion by helping Meridian to improve the health care experience in your community, and you see some of your feedback implemented, you will know you’ve contributed something important to the well-being of your community.

What's in it for you? Well, in addition to providing opinions and valuable feedback from a patient perspective, joining this community has other rewards too! Just for joining the community you earn entry into a drawing for $150 cash prize. When you complete surveys, you’ll have chances to win great prizes, including $100 cash prizes, and more!

Click below to join Meridian SoundingBoard and to take the first step in making your health care experience an even better one!


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Best Online Reads


All the links I am loving this week:

1. A glimpse at Jackie Kennedy's private family album via Redbook Magazine.

2. Finally! A trick for keeping avocados fresh via Women's Health.

3. 11 things no one will buy at a yard sale via Huffington Post.

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Summer Fun and Learning at Liberty Science Center {Giveaway} #ScienceSummerFun *CLOSED*

After spending almost 10 months of the year in school, the last thing my kids want to do is spend their summer learning. Summer can be a challenging time to keep the kids educationally engaged. With plenty of opportunities for outdoor and physical fun and the constant distractions of electronics, summer, at least in the eyes of my kids, isn't always conducive to learning.

I've discovered that finding the right venues and opportunities to combine fun and learning is the key. To subtly incorporate the learning with the fun is my ultimate goal, and there's one place that's the ideal environment for achieving this goal: Liberty Science Center.

Although we visit LSC several times per year, our favorite time of the year to visit is during the summer when the little brains are in need of a good challenge and workout.

On Sunday, we were invited to visit LSC to enjoy the exhibits and experience the wonder of the newest exhibit Beyond Rubik's Cube. The iconic toy is celebrating it's 40th anniversary, and Liberty Science Center offers its visitors interactive and digital challenges in solving this mesmerizing puzzle.

Before entering the exhibit, visitors are greeted by a 26-foot tall Groovik's Cube that hangs in the atrium of LSC. Visible for 3 floors of the museum, this web-enabled exhibit is playable from anywhere in the world.

We entered Beyond The Rubik's Cube, and I was immediately transported back to the early 80s when I would spend hours trying to complete the puzzle. I immediately headed to the Solve Bar where guests can get hands-on and try their hand at solving the elusive puzzle. There are also interactive exhibits where you can attempt to solve it via the help of Google technology. A "tutor" guides you in your interactive experience and suggests moves while you solve the puzzle on a tablet.


Give up? Well, you are in luck. There's hope for solving your cube at Robot Race. A speed-cubing robot solves any scrambled cube that is handed to it. My girls had to pull me away from this to move on to other areas.


After spending our fair share of time in Beyond The Rubik's Cube, it was time to move on. One of our favorite exhibits at LSC is Infection Connection, a look at how various types of infections are spread and treated.

The Contagion Station is like a giant sneeze which covers you in pseudo airborne germs.


This interactive station allows you to treat bacteria with antibiotics. Sometimes the strains of bacteria are greater and stronger than others, and thus, more antibiotics are needed. This was a great tool for showing my daughters how effective antibiotics are at treating some of the common infections they get.


Our next stop was the Communication exhibit. This exhibit focuses on means of communication, primarily written forms. In addition to learning the origins of communication, you can learn how to read the Braille alphabet, see the early writing instruments before a pencil and pen were invented, and try your hand at a little street graffiti. 


If you plan a trip to LSC, be sure to inquire about the shows in the J.D. Williams Science Theater. On a previous visit, the show featured a mathematician who could solve any problem within seconds. He could even tell you that day of the week you were born on based on your birthday. Yeah, crazy. On Sunday's visit, the show was all about the origins of electricity. During the Tesla Lightning Show, we saw how electricity is conducted. This was a really cool show and a real delight for the senses. Here's a bolt of lightning being conducted in front of our eyes.


One of my favorite parts of LSC is the IMAX theater. We always set aside some time to see an IMAX movie during our visits to Liberty Science Center! On this visit, we saw "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar". Get your tickets early at the box office. We wanted to see the "Galapagos 3D: Nature's Wonderland", but it was sold out.

And lastly, our visit was made complete with a photo with Clifford The Big Red Dog.

If you've got little ones, you don't want to miss the Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog exhibit. It's an incredibly colorful and highly interactive experience (almost like a playground) where you can play with Clifford and his favorite friends.

Doesn't all this talk about science, technology, and fun make you want to plan a trip to Liberty Science Center?

WIN TICKETS!

One lucky Pieces of a Mom winner will win a 4-pack of tickets to the Liberty Science Center. The tickets include complimentary admission to LSC for up to 4 adults or children during normal operating hours. Tickets do not include parking, or any special programming or IMAX movies. Tickets expire on January 31, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to LSC for me and my family and a 4-pack of tickets to use on a return visit. I was not required to or compensated to write this post. All opinion are my own.
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Best Lipsticks for a Natural Lip

I used to love the deep vampy lip colors of the 90s. But as I've gotten older and the trends have changed, I've embraced a more natural look for my lips. While I still love a bold lip for a night out on the town, my day-to-day lips now take on a natural look.

In honor of National Lipstick Day, I'm sharing a few of my favorite shades to create the look of a natural lip. But first, here are a few fun facts about lipstick provided by Amazon.com:

  • People in Atlanta, Miami, and Portland buy more lipstick than those in any other city.
  • "Lipstick" is searched twice as frequently as "Lip Gloss" on Amazon.com
  • Amazon has seen a 50% increase in "nude lipstick" searches during the month of July 2014.









Makeup Forever Lipstick in Pink Beige

I'm linking up with #BeautyBuzz, hosted this week by Janise at Mama In Heels.
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Menu Plan Monday :: 7.28.2014

I have to be honest...executing my meal plans has been a bit of a challenge lately. Lack of motivation is the primary culprit. Is a personal chef too much to ask for???



This week I am keeping it easy in hopes of not resorting to take out.

Monday - Caesar salad

Tuesday - BLTs and Alexia sweet potato fries

Wednesday - Dinner out

Thursday - Light and easy pasta salad

Friday - Slow cooker shredded chicken nachos

Saturday - Caprese lasagna roll ups

Sunday - Spicy mustard mayo chicken kebabs with either rice or roasted potatoes.

What's on your plate this week? For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday linkup.

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinner Pinterest board for even more ideas.
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Let's Chat

I'm up bright and early this Sunday morning. I'm sitting at my desk listening to the rain lightly fall outside. It certainly doesn't look like a beach day today. That's a good thing because we are headed to the Liberty Science Center for a blogging event today.


We will be touring a few exhibits at the facility including the new Rubik's Cube exhibit. I can't wait for that. I was a huge Rubik's Cube fan as a kid. I never could figure out how to solve the puzzle, but I sure spent hours trying. After our tour, we will be on our own to enjoy the Liberty Science Center. We've been there many times before, but the exhibits are constantly changing and evolving to make each visit seem like your very first one.

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #ScienceSummerFun.

Moving on... Yesterday I woke up with a urinary tract infection. If you've ever had one, you know that they are the equivalent of having sewing needles stuck in your eyes. I wasted no time in calling my primary care physician for an appointment. By 12:15 I was out of his office and on my way to recovering. I spent the afternoon having a pity party for myself in the form of a movie marathon. I watched 3 of my favorites: You've Got Mail, Clockwatchers, and Return To Me. It was just want I needed.

Later in the afternoon, I had a surprise visit from my sister Brenda and her best friend who had been in Philly all week for the USPS convention. I hadn't seen her since Mother's Day and won't see her again until the end of August, so it was a nice surprise for her drop by before she returns to Florida today.

Summer seems to be flying by. Emma is in drama camp, and Harper is taking tennis lessons this summer. We've spent lazy afternoons at the pool, and of course, our visits to Jenkinson's Boardwalk have certainly been a highlight of our summer. We've started preliminary planning for our annual vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my sisters and their families at the end of August. We started the tradition in August 2007, and it has really become a sort of family reunion. We rent the same house year after year, and we've had that squared away since October. We are starting the countdown and getting super excited.

While I was visiting my sister last weekend in central Pennsylvania, I woke early and walked around her neighborhood. She has a great neighborhood for getting exercise, lots of hills to get your heart rate pumping. But here's what I realized: I am terribly out of shape. I really fell of the exercise bandwagon back in February when Harper became sick, and I've had a tough time getting motivated since then. But those morning walks sure proved to me that I need to do something. So, this week I'm going to buy a Fitbit and really get serious about incorporating exercise in my life on a CONSISTENT basis. I am such a yo-yo exerciser. At 46, I need some sort of regular exercise routine. If you have any tips for how you've kept up your motivation, I'm all ears.

Also while out in PA, we visited Knoebels Amusement Park. It was great fun, and I'll be sharing a few of my must-dos this week. I'm lucky in that my girls are pure thrill seekers. They go on all the big rides and roller coasters. We really had a blast.

Time to sign off. Stay tuned. This week I'll be sharing the details of today's visit to the Liberty Science Center with you and giving away 4 tickets to the LSC for one lucky winner. Hope it's you!
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Objects of My Obsession

Last weekend was one of those weekends. You know....the kind that leaves you completely fulfilled and ready to take on a new week. I spent the weekend in central Pennsylvania where I was born and raised until I moved away to go to college. It was a weekend filled with family, and it was just what I needed to feed my soul.

This week's OOMO is dedicated to the small things that made me happy during our long weekend in the country. I hope you can find a few things that make you happy this weekend. xx

{A plethora of fresh vegetables from a local farm}


{A sweet Amish girl handing out caramel corn samples}


{Swimming with cousins}


{Neighboring farms}


{No trip home is complete without a stop at my favorite ice cream shop for a "Chocolate Jigger"}


{A country sunset to end the day}
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July 2014 Birchbox Deconstructed #birchbox

I finally had a chance to sit down and open my July Birchbox last night. Since I seem to be receiving the same types of items each month, I've been considering updating my Birchbox profile in hopes of receiving more of a variety of products. Although I still haven't updated my profile, I am happy to report that this month's selection was a bit different than that of past months.



Here's what I received in my July 2014 Birchbox (in no particular order):

1. Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect (Received a sample. Full size: $32)
This sulfate-free leave-in conditioner safeguards color and strengthens and nourishes hair.
My thoughts: I love leave-in conditioners, and this is one of the best I've tried. I liked that it was a spray-on, too.

2. Supergoop! Daily Correct CC Cream SPF 35+ (Received a sample. Full size: $32)
This CC cream triple protects against UVA, UVB and infrared-A rays.
My thoughts: My container was empty when my box arrived. I have contacted both Birchbox and Supergoop! to resolve this.

3. SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins for Adults (Received a sample. 30-day supply: $29.95.)
Delicious gummies provide essential nutrients without artificial flavors.
My thoughts: They are very tasty, but one serving is 6 pieces. I'd prefer to eat one or two per day rather than eat 6 to get me recommended daily allowance of vitamins.

4. Harvey Prince Hello Body Creme (Received a sample. Full size: $22)
Infused with a best-selling citrus scent, this hydrator leaves skin silky-smooth.
My thoughts: I LOVE this!! The smell, the texture were both perfect. I will definitely be ordering more of this body creme.

5. Cynthia Rowley Beauty Silver Eyeliner (Received 1 full size, $16)
This metallic liner goes on smoothly and is long-lasting.
My thoughts: I love this eye pencil for creating a smoky eye. I wouldn't use it by itself, but when used with dark shadow and smudged to create a smoky eye, it's a very pretty look.

All items available for purchase at www.birchbox.com.

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

To see more of my favorite beauty products, check out my Beauty board on Pinterest
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Best Online Reads


The links I am loving this week:

1. Sixteen ways to tell if you are succeeding in life via The Mind Unleashed.

2. How to choose the perfect paint color for your bedroom via Domaine.

3. How to cook on hot summer days via Four Hats and Frugal.

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale :: For The Kids

Get a head start on back to school shopping at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. From sneakers to jackets to boots to jeans, you'll find all the essentials to send the kiddos back to school in style.

Here are a few of my favorite bargains for both girls and boys.

FOR BOYS


FOR GIRLS


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Root Beer Floats

By far my favorite summer treat is a root beer float. The combination of smooth, creamy ice cream and sweet, fizzy soda is divine. Most Sunday evenings during the summer, we go out for ice cream, but lately, we are beat after long days at the pool. Rather than go out, we've been opting to stay in and make our own root beer floats.

This recipe is a variation of the traditional one and makes for a smoother, creamier root beer float.

ROOT BEER FLOATS (Makes 2 floats)

Ingredients
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
16 oz. (2 cups) root beer (regular or diet)
2 dessert glasses

Preparation
1. In a blender, combine 2 scoops ice cream and 3/4 cup root beer. Blend until mixture is smooth.

2. Add a scoop of ice cream to each glass. Fill with blended ice cream/root beer mixture. Top off with a splash of root beer.
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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale :: My Favorites

I love a good sale, and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is one of the best. I count down the days, hours, minutes until I can get online and take advantage of some of the best prices on exclusive merchandise. A few years ago, I picked up a fantastic Tory Burch tote. Last year, I bought several pairs of sandals for $30...TOTAL!!!


This year I jumped in a little late as I was away on vacation over the weekend. But as soon as I returned home today, I hopped online to do a little shopping. I picked up some great deals. I can't stress enough that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale really is THE BEST around!!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite picks from the sale. These deals are AMAZING, but hurry, prices go up on August 4th.


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Running With Confidence with Poise Microliners

It's time for a frank discussion. Sort of like the kind I have in my "Let's Chat" posts, but even more personal. When Poise asked me to speak frankly about my issues with light bladder leakage, I gladly accepted the offer. I am certain that I cannot be the only 40-something suffering from this often embarrassing yet infrequently discussed physical problem.

Several years ago, I started running for the first time in my life. I had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and my cardiologist recommended that I exercise enough to get my heart rate above 140 beats per minute. At the time, I didn't belong to a gym, and the most effective way to get my heart rate up was to take up running.

And so I did. I slowly eased into increasing my speed and my distance. Soon, I was up to running several miles per day.

And then I stopped. Not because I was bored or tired. Not because I lacked motivation or stamina. I stopped because, well, I had an embarrassing problem that was preventing me from running with ease and confidence. I had light bladder leakage (LBL).

We can't always know when light bladder leakage will strike, but we can be prepared with Poise Microliners.

Years have passed, and I have recently taken up running again, but this time I am doing it with help from Poise Microliners. They offer light bladder leakage protection that allows me to run with the knowledge and confidence that I will remain protected during my run. I am thrilled that I am finally able to resume running, a sport that I thoroughly enjoyed but refused to continue when light bladder leakage became a serious problem for me.

GET YOUR FREE SAMPLE KIT FROM POISE MICROLINERS.

Poise Microliners Light Bladder Leakage

If you suspect you are suffering from LBL, you can request a FREE sample of Poise Microliners and give them a try for yourself. I leave the house prepared and confident with Poise Microliners and ready to tackle my several mile run. No more worrying about leakage. No more worrying about a simple morning jog or yoga class. Poise Microliners are the idea light bladder leakage solution, and I love that they fit easily into my gym bag and are perfect for any intensity workout.

About Poise Microliners

  • Poise Microliners are thin and incredibly absorbent.
  • They feature SAM (Super Absorbent Material to keep you discreetly dry and comfortable
  • They are ideal for life's little leaks and are designed to stay three times drier than period liners.

Light Bladder Leakage Tips and Facts

  • 1 in 3 women will experience LBL
  • Everyday occurrences such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or in my case, exercise can trigger LBL
  • Many women rely on nothing at all or feminine care products to ineffectively treat LBL
  • Poise, the leader in light incontinence products, offers a variety of pads and liners to protect against LBL

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Poise. As always, all opinions are my own. The only products that I endorse are those that I love.
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Menu Plan Monday :: 7.21.2014

We are wrapping up our long weekend in Hershey tomorrow. I've enjoyed the little break from cooking and meal planning, but I'm ready to get back to some healthy eating. We are heading back to New Jersey tomorrow and will be home in time to enjoy dinner together.

Here's what we will be eating this week.


Monday - We had a late lunch at Red Robin, so nothing is planned for dinner.

Tuesday - Chicken stir fry

Wednesday - Dinner out.

Thursday - Zucchini potato frittata

Friday - Cavatelli with broccoli

Saturday - Grilled chicken with roasted potatoes and grilled summer squash.

Sunday - Cheese fondue

What's on your plate this week? For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday linkup.

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinner Pinterest board for even more ideas.
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SHOP MY OUTFITS

CLICK ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW TO SHOP THE ITEMS FEATURED.

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Objects of My Obsession

We are Hershey bound this weekend to visit my sister and celebrate my great-nephew's birthday party. We've got lots of fun things planned with family, and I couldn't be more excited to hit the open road. However you plan to spend your weekend, I hope you throughly enjoy it! xx

Here are a few of the things inspiring me this week.

{How pretty is this Adirondack antler jewelry dish?}


{My new car air freshener that comes with a gentle reminder}




{Love this idea for a salad on the go}


{A flock of sunbathing seagulls}
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Casual Date Night

Recently the Hubs and I found ourselves with an unexpected night to ourselves. Both girls were at friends' houses for a few hours, and so, we decided to duck out for a quick dinner. Because of our time constraints, I didn't have a lot of time to spend getting gussied up as I normally would for a date night.

I kept the white jeans that I had been wearing all day on and threw on a black lace top and heels, and quickly swapped out my tote for a clutch. I kept my jewelry to a minimum since I didn't want it to compete with the top. The bracelets are a few years old from TJ Maxx.

We stopped at a place along the Manasquan River for a pre-dinner drink and then headed to one of our favorite spots for dinner. This outfit was the perfect choice for our casual night.


Banana Republic Jeans / Loft Lace Top (similar) / Sole Society Sandals / Nine West clutch (similar)




Shop my look:

I'm linking up with Fashion Friday, What I Wore Wednesday.
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Best Online Reads


Here are my favorites for the week:

1. The secret to wearing high heels without any pain via WhoWhatWear.

2. A collection of French recipes that are almost better than going to France via Huffington Post.

3. How many days old are you? Wow! I'm 17,028 days old via You're Getting Old.

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Hostess Gift Ideas

Whether you are heading to friend's house for an informal barbecue or you are going for a formal dinner party, a hostess gift is always a thoughtful gesture.

Here are a few suggestions for gifts that I like to give (and receive) when either attending or hosting a get together.

1. Fresh Flowers
I love giving and receiving fresh flowers as a hostess gift. Go a step further and place them in a pretty vase or a simple Mason jar so that the hostess doesn't have to take the time to do it during her party.

One of my favorite online ordering sites is Bouqs.com. You can get more info on and read my review of Bouqs here. In short, the flowers are AMAZING! Most bouquets cost $40 and the flowers are cut the day that you order them so they stay fresh longer.

I love the Boom bouquet.

Take a look at the Bouqs selection and get 15% off your first order here.

2. A Designer Candle
Most people won't splurge on such an item, and that's why it makes a fantastic gift. These candles are quite an indulgence, but they are so worth it. The scents are unbelievable and they last forever (50-60 hours).

My favorite is the Diptyque Feu De Bois candle. It's a woodsy scent that works for cold and warm months.

3. An Interesting or Unique Serving Piece
You can never have too many serving dishes. And one that strikes up a conversation is even better. A few years when we visited Maine, we bought a lobster platter that inevitably becomes a conversation piece at our parties.

This botanical flower serving platter from Mikasa would definitely do the trick.

4. A Pair of Nice Salad Servers
I know this sounds weird, but trust me, it's a great gift. Very few people have a nice pair of salad servers. I've been to dinner parties where a meat fork and a large serving spoon have been used to serve salad. At another party, a meat tongs intended for grilling was used. Treat your hostess to a nice pair of salad servers. She'll thank you.

I love the look of these wooden serving hands.

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Beach Movies at Jenkinson's Pavillion #JenksAmbassador

Every once in a while it's fun to do something you've never done or rarely ever do. On Friday night we did just that. Normally, we lay low on Friday nights here at the Jersey shore. Most restaurants are packed with visitors and tourists, and the long waits to eat just simply aren't worth it.

Rather than get stuck in an overcrowded restaurant for hours, we headed to Jenkinson's Pavillion for the Friday night beach movies. I was apprehensive of the crowds. When you live at the beach, you're smart enough to know not to go near the tourist spots on the weekends for fear of large crowds and lack of parking. But Disney's "Frozen" was the featured movie, and we really wanted to experience it on the beach under the moon and stars. It took us only 5 minutes to find a parking spot, and the crowds were tolerable.

It was an ideal night for a movie under the moon.


Each Friday during the summer, Jenkinson's hosts a family movie night starting at 9 pm. A huge inflatable screen is erected on the beach and moviegoers gather around it for the show.



People bring beach chairs, big blankets, and snacks. You claim your spot in the sand and then you spread out your stuff and settle in for the movie. We brought typical movies snacks such as popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, Goobers, and Sno-Caps. I loved that people were bringing whole pizzas down from the boardwalk and that everyone was throughly kicking back and enjoying the experience.

We found a great spot up front. I worried about the noise level, but it wasn't too loud at all. If you are concerned about getting a good spot, get there by 8:00 and bring some sand toys for the little ones to keep them distracted until the movie starts.

We had a great view and a great time.

We can't wait to go back for another beach movie. For a complete list of dates and movies, click here.
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