32 Ways to Have a Great Summer!
1. How to eat corn on the cob
“Really, unless you have access to dental floss and a mirror, you may want to pass on the corn,” says Newport etiquette guru Angela Moore. If you’re craving carbs, cutting the kernels off the cob is the next best approach. “Don’t make a big deal; just stand the cob on its end, and using a serrated knife slice off the kernels. When you’re finished, set the cob to the side of your plate,” she says. If you’re attending a backyard fete, hopefully you’ll have those cute little holders to plug in to each side. “If not, grasp the cob lightly with a napkin at either end,” Moore advises. “And go easy on the butter; it’s sure to drip.”
2. How to find a bathing suit that fits
That’s easy, says Sylvia Wedge of Beach Party Swimwear in Newport (847-9730; www.beachpartyswimwear.com). Go one size up. If you wear size ten pants, you’re going to need a size twelve because suit sizes almost always run small. Keep in mind: it’s all about directing the eye. Got a small chest and hefty hips? Choose a solid color (brown is hot) for the bottom and a complementary but patterned or brighter top. Mixing and matching is the secret. Flaunt the good areas and camouflage the less-than-perfect parts. Tankinis are magic. Consider one to give a boyish figure a waist. A skort, a combination of a skirt and shorts, will divert attention from your bottom.
3. How to get a great fake tan
You too can glow like a beach bunny with just a spray tan or a body polish. Arthur Angelo School of Cosmetology and Hair Design (272-4300; www.arthurangelo.com) in Providence features an inexpensive tanning package ($55) that includes a body polish along with moisturizer and extra tanning product. “Put on your bikini and come on in,” says Ellie Trait, the school’s director. If you’d rather dispense with that pale, I’ve-been-under-a-snow-bank look in the privacy of your home, moisturize first before applying tanning solution. “Moisturizing smoothes the skin and allows the solution to glide on without leaving streaks. Use a circular motion, never up and down. Bony parts like ankles and knees should be avoided,” says Trait. Do it right and your tan will last for about three weeks…longer than your vacation.
4. How to score great seats at the Bristol Fourth of July parade
It’s a Rhode Island institution and the oldest Independence Day parade in the country, so if you don’t live in
Bristol, venturing over to the East Bay to see it at least once is a must. Stretching for two-and-a-half miles along Hope and High streets, the parade starts promptly at 10:30 a.m. on the corner of Hope and Chestnut streets, according to Nat Squatrito, general chairperson for the parade committee. Arrive early, before 8 a.m. early, as the streets are blocked off at that time. Bring plenty to do, eat and drink, as it is often a long, hot day. And leave the alcohol at home; it’s prohibited along the parade route. Spectators can sit anywhere along the route, and generally seating is never a problem. “There is something for everybody, and there is really no bad place to watch the parade,” Squatrito says. Be forewarned, however. There are several areas of the route that have zero shade coverage, so arrive early if you are not a sun worshipper.
5. How to grill a perfect burger
As perfect as they may look and taste at your favorite restaurant, there is actually a lot of thought that goes into making these mouthwatering patties, says Gary Mathias, kitchen manager at Brick Alley Pub in Newport. Begin by selecting a quality cut of meat. Mathias suggests a lean-cut sirloin, which is both tastier and healthier than many others. Form the meat into eight-ounce, quarter-inch-thick patties using your thumb and index finger, then throw them on the grill. A medium-done burger takes three to four minutes on each side, Mathias says. Flip them when you see pink juice oozing out. Top with condiments, lean back on lawn chair and enjoy.
6. How to find a parking spot in Newport
There is nothing more frustrating than driving around Newport in the summer, searching for a parking spot while the beautiful weather and cheerful tourists beckon you to come out and play. But think twice before parking illegally. Illegal parking in Newport is a major problem in the summertime, according to Newport Police Department Traffic Sergeant Daniel Dvorak, and often results in hefty ticket fines or towing. Dvorak suggests parking in one of two public parking lots, the Gateway Center or the one between Church and Mary streets off Thames Street, where visitors can park all day for a nominal fee. To avoid being ticketed or towed, Dvorak says to watch out for yellow curbs, pay attention to time limits and generously feed meters.
7. How to pack for a week at a beach house
Wendy Brown of Wendy Brown Linens Company in Providence has the details down: “When you’re at the shore, all you really do is go to the beach and then go to bed; I think a stockpile of good cotton sheets and towels are a must. Candles in the colors of the season are also great. This year it’s sea glass hues and coral. I like to bring some tiki torches, along with a few colorful tablecloths, for impromptu beach parties, too. And every year I buy a new set of inexpensive, fun-looking plastic tumblers.”
8. How to treat a sunburn
Sometimes your skin can get cooked to a deep red even after you’ve slathered on sunscreen. Painful and often dangerous, a sunburn can be the precursor to cancer, so it is important to know how to treat one. Craig Coffenberg, a technician for Brooks Pharmacy, recommends applying a cool compress, but not ice, to the sunburned area for ten to thirty minutes after you go inside. “This decreases the area of redness and swelling and may also prevent the formation of blisters,” Coffenberg says. You (but not your kids) can take over-the-counter medications like aspirin or acetaminophen; Coffenberg suggests consulting a physician or pharmacist before doing so. Avoid local anesthetics like lidocaine, harsh soaps and petroleum-based products; they can make symptoms worse. Moisturizing creams and products containing aloe vera, however, may decrease the burning and prevent peeling.
9. How to find a last-minute room on Block Island
“Except for July Fourth weekend, you can always find an accommodation out here,” says Kathy Szabo at the Block Island Chamber of Commerce (466-2982). “Definitely call the chamber because we have updated listings of everything that’s available.” Maybe you won’t get a bargain but, then, maybe you will. With your bags packed and the ferry rumbling at the dock, don’t quibble about prices, okay?
10. How to find a secluded beach spot
Head for Napatree Point in Westerly, suggests Myrna George, president of the South County Tourism Council. On one side, there are boats coming in and out. On the other: miles of blue ocean. It’s never crowded and it’s beautiful. “But, then, for that matter, I can go to Narragansett Beach on the busiest day, open a book and lose myself,” says George.
11. How to find a last-minute room in Newport
Wave dollar bills? Sob in the visitor’s center? No need. To ensure you get a place to lay your head, call Megan Henlyshyn, manager of Newport Reservations (800-842-0102, www.newportreservations.com). “Many places require a two- or three-day stay. But even these spots have vacancies as the weekend approaches,” she says. Other places to try:
12. How to make sangria
Sangria is to summer what eggnog is to December. Instead of artery-clogging cream and egg, however, we’re talking fresh fruit and vino. This drink could actually be good for you. What, no limes in the fridge? All out of oranges? Substitutions, especially by the second batch, work just as well. Mix the following ingredients together in a pitcher and chill, says Trish Masso of Tricia’s Tropi Grille in Jamestown:
one liter dry red wine
one cup peach liqueur
two cups club soda
one tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup simple syrup*
two oranges, sliced
two cored apples, sliced in quarters
one lemon, sliced
one lime, sliced
*Simple syrup: To make 1/4 cup, stir five teaspoons of sugar into five teaspoons of very hot water until sugar is dissolved.
13. How to catch a big fish
Forget climbing around Beavertail Point at dawn in search of a humongous bass. Instead, line up a charter aboard the Coral Rose and let them take you to where the big fish loiter. “We do a lot of chumming and chunking,” Captain Joseph Aiello (623-1121; www.sarastarcharters.com) explains. “We also keep plenty of poles at different levels to guarantee a variety of fish coming in over the rails all the time.” Once you’ve landed your fish, the crew cleans, fillets and bags it. All you have to do is take the credit and find a cook, or not. Aiello has connections. Ask him to call Zelda’s Cafe in Newport. He’ll alert the kitchen, and the chef, John Philcox, will do all the rest. There is a charge according to the fish and number of diners, but, hey, all you have to do is sit back and feast.
14. How to avoid tan lines
Staying out of the sun completely is the only surefire way to avoid natural tan lines. But if you’re going to be outside, Stephanie Petty, spa supervisor at SpaTerre in the Hotel Viking in Newport, recommends exfoliating first to ensure an even tan. If a professional spa treatment isn’t doable, Petty suggests mixing up a homemade concoction of either sugar or salt and olive oil or massage oil. She also says that slathering on a thick moisturizer such as body butter after you go inside will help to prevent premature aging and the effects of sun damage.
15. How to tell if a watermelon is ripe
Scratch and sniff, says Jeb Schartner of Schartner Farms in North Kingstown. “Take your finger and scratch the end where the stem used to be attached. If it smells sweet and watermelony, it’s good to go,” he says. Tapping it to see if it makes a hollow sound (hollow means it’s no good) isn’t a bad idea either. And about those seeds: consider spitting them discreetly into a napkin rather than launching them across the picnic table.
16. How to dig for shellfish
If you’re a Rhode Island resident, you don’t need a license provided you’re harvesting for personal consumption and don’t take more than one half-bushel of quahogs, mussels, soft clams or surf clams per day. According to a spokesperson at Clipper Seafood in Narragansett, you need a legal area (one where you can wade in is fine), low tide, a good rake and a basket. Scratch your rake along the bottom. When you hear “clink,” it’s either a clam or a rock. Eventually you’ll get a feel for the difference. For legal areas, call the Department of Environmental Management (222-6800; www.state.ri.us/dem). Check out which sites are closed at the Office of Water Resources (222-3961). Visit www.quahog.org for all sorts of shellfish information.
17. How to keep bugs away
These days the bite of a bug is not only annoying, it’s potentially dangerous. Al Gettman, mosquito abatement coordinator for the state’s Department of Environmental Management, says that besides bug spray and protective clothing there are a few simple steps to keep mosquitoes away from yourself and from breeding near your home, like emptying all containers of standing water when they are not in use. “A tire on its side can breed many thousands of mosquitoes in a short Rhode Island summer,” says Gettman. Ticks are another easily avoidable and potentially dangerous summertime nuisance. According to Dr. Thomas Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island Center for Vector-borne Disease, you can ensure a practically bite-free summer by wearing long-sleeved shirt and pants as protection and using repellents.
18. How to be a first-timer at a nude beach
Since there aren’t any official nude beaches in Rhode Island, we suggest you ease into it at Dyer Woods Nudist Campground in Foster (397-3007; www.sunclad.com/dyerwoods). It’s the only legitimate place in the state where you can drop your inhibitions and bare your, um, soul. “Women are allowed to wear a long shirt until they feel more comfortable,” says field manager Richard Fielder. “Not in the hot tub, though, because chemicals in the water might react with the fabric.” Men have no problem, he says, with the let-it-all-hang-out, I’m-going-to-need-extra-sunscreen idea. “We’ve never had a man ask to keep his shirt on,” says Fielder. Of course, the camp’s spring-fed pond is another option for bashful bodies; make a run for it and don’t come out ’til dark.
19. How to see a shark
Come on, the best way to see a shark is on a National Geographic special. But if you must lock eyeballs with a creature that would like nothing better than to eat your head, sign on with Captain Charlie Donilon (782-4040; www.snappacharters.com). Donilon’s boat, Snappa, a thirty-five-foot custom fishing boat, heads out of Galilee in search of the makos, blues and basking types that vacation here in August, September and early October. You climb into the shark cage, get lowered into the water and hang out. Not scuba certified? The captain’s boat is also equipped with a surface cage, or what’s known as a playpen. In this case, you lie on top and look down at the fish. “Lots of people prefer the playpen,” says Donilon. “There’s no cumbersome gear involved, and when you’re finished, you can roll off and swim back to the boat.” Uh-huh.
21. How to kiteboard
Yup, you need good balance to kiteboard, but you also need to balance the kite and the board according to the wind. “The best way to do that is to take lessons,” says kiteboarding pro Bart Cerra (369-2297; www.diamondbluekiteboarding.net), who teaches the finer points of the sport on Block Island. “You wouldn’t just strap a parachute on your back and jump out of a plane, would you?” he says. Duh. Cerra says the boards are smaller than they used to be, and smaller boards mean more agility. It goes without saying that only the physically fit should even think about kiteboarding. Wait a minute, we take that back, it’s okay to think about it all you want. Forget that you could conceivably catch a wind gust and be whipped miles offshore into the Atlantic.
22. How to find a last-minute beach rental
Pick up the phone. “It’s never too late because there are so many available,” says Heather McCarthy at Durkin Cottage Realty in Narragansett (789-6659; www.durkincottages.com). And, get this: sometimes you actually get a better rate because the place hasn’t been filled. If time is of the essence, as in unwanted out-of-town relatives approaching, don’t even take the time to pack.
23. How to survive a family car trip
Bumper-to-bumper traffic, no AC and rug rats bouncing on the backseat; it doesn’t get much better. Reach for a “Sugar Beats” CD (available at Barnes and Noble) and let it rip, advises Lauren Runkal at Nannies Nook, a local nanny service. Kids love the tunes (it’s okay if you do too). “Band-Aid canisters or a small box filled with supplies (snacks, flash cards, things to look at) are also great distractions. And an empty film canister that will fit in a tiny hand, filled with Cheerios, is sure to please,” she adds. If all else fails, next time see if the grandparents are free for the weekend.
25. How to snorkel
Snorkeling is one of the easiest ways to explore the colorful plant and animal life below the surface of Rhode Island’s sea. “It’s pretty much for everybody, even if you don’t know how to swim,” says Dan O’Neil, manager of Ocean State Scuba in Jamestown (www.scuyak.com; 423-1662). For a small fee, you can rent the proper equipment (fins, a mask, a wetsuit) from a shop like Ocean State Scuba. If you are a little apprehensive, they offer instruction in their heated, indoor pool for $30 an hour. If you’ve got a little experience, O’Neil suggests starting off in a calm area, like Narragansett Pier or Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, where you know you won’t be bothered by boats and the water is shallow. Beyond that, the ocean is your playground.
26. How to get a last-minute reservation at a Newport restaurant
“Niceties go a long way,” says Jamie LaPlume, general manager at 22 Bowens Wine Bar and Grille, who suggests that a polite word on the phone or at the door might help get you a great table, even on a really busy night. For those visiting the area, Shawn Westhoven, general manager at the Mooring Restaurant, says that making reservations through a hotel concierge will give you a little more leverage. Finally, be prepared to be flexible, says Corey Barriera, director of food and beverage at Castle Hill Inn and Resort. Try for earlier reservations or arrive early and see if there are any no-shows. Early is the key, according to Barriera: “7 p.m. is never a good idea!”
27. How to watch the stars
Stargazing is a romantic and educational way to pass a summer evening. Frosty Drew Observatory (www.frostydrew.org) in Charlestown attracts gazers on many a clear Friday night. Wherever you prefer to see the stars, Les Coleman, director at the observatory, recommends paying attention to the weather and the moon before heading out. Moonless nights are best for seeing the most stars, and days that are either very windy or have a big difference in temperature from day to night will probably have poorer visibility at night. A good guide for finding constellations is to start in the north and look for the Big Dipper; it’s the easiest to find. Or just sit back with someone special and count the shooting stars.
29. How to survive a rainy day with kids
The beach is a great place to get stuck with young children who are giddy with the freedom of vacation. A cramped house on a rainy day, however, is not. Being prepared is the key to turning a potentially disastrous situation into a day that is fun for everyone, says Cathy Saunders, director of education at the Providence Children’s Museum. “Playing together is good for your kids, and for you,” she says. “It makes you feel closer and more connected as a family.” Put together a box full of art supplies, magazines and a list of activities. Balancing games, follow the leader and musical chairs are good ways for kids to get their wiggles out, Saunders says. Arts and crafts, storytelling and dress-up games encourage creativity, as do baking and simple science experiments. A little sunny-day preparation and those rainy-day hours will fly by.
30. How to get a last-minute Block Island mooring
If you plan to bring a boat to Block Island this summer, arrive early, says Chris Willi, the island’s harbormaster. Starting May 15, mooring and slip spaces are handed out daily on a first-come-first-serve basis. “We’re full for ninety days straight,” Willi says. New Harbor has ninety moorings available for $35 to $50 a night, while Old Harbor has thirty slips for $2.50 a foot per night. Willi says that the hours between 7 and 10 a.m. each morning are the best times to try to get a spot, but that someone is out on the water for check-in from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Once you arrive in the harbor, radio in on channel 12 or call 466-3204, and someone will come out to check you in. Too late? Old Harbor has 175 acres of anchorage for those not lucky enough to secure a coveted mooring or slip.
32. How to build a sandcastle
According to Dick Huggins, who has been packing sand for some fifteen years, the key elements are sand with high clay content and plenty of water. Huggins belongs to Sandtasia, a Rhode Island group known for their fabulous Walt Disney-like castles. Cut the bottom out of a five-gallon bucket and set it on the ground. Pound in sand, pour in water, let water drain. Pack, pound, remove bucket. Presto! You can carve windows and doors with just about anything, from kitchen utensils to palette knives. A credit card (preferably someone else’s) is a super tool. A kid’s plastic shovel, pushed into the sand at ninety degree angles, make great steps. Huggins sculpts with both his left and right hand, so his designs take shape fast. But, alas, one giant wave or one nasty kid, and the whole kingdom could topple.
Model: Evelyn/Maggie; stylist: Chris Waters/Team; hair and makeup: Rick DiCecca/Team