Wine Country with Kids

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“You’re bringing your kids? To wine country?” I was asked this question multiple times and responded confidently with a  “Yep! It’s going to be great!.” And it was. I don’t even know where to begin illustrating this part of our trip. It was incredible, restful, and beautiful – full of gorgeous views, delicious meals and obviously lots of wine! Were there a few tantrums and stressful moments here and there? Of course. But these happen whether we are at home or away, so I wasn’t discouraged from getting out as a family. We had to shift our plans a little because of the huge amounts of rain. This really just meant more eating, drinking and relaxing and less outdoor activities than planned (we didn’t mind at bit.)  Wine country is known for being a romance destination, honeymoons and anniversaries, yet it was amazingly kid-friendly. I think because we went during off season (key if you want to take kids) people were extra accommodating towards us and our two very young children. It’s hard to narrow down my favorite moments and places but I’ll try! Below are some snapshots and notes. Enjoy!

Stay: We set up shop at the delightful EuroSpa and Inn in the charming town of Calistoga for 5 nights. We were served a scrumptious breakfast in the courtyard every morning and warm cashew chocolate chip cookies every afternoon.  We had a two bedroom suite with a whirlpool tub that Charlotte (see below) especially enjoyed and a fireplace in the living area. It was the ultimate cozy retreat in our little mountain/wine country town for the week and we looked forward to returning there every day to unwind after our sightseeing. From the Inn we ventured all around Napa Valley doing something different each day. If you’re not familiar with the area – Napa Valley is made up of a strip of small little wine country towns (including actual Napa) that are all connected in this gorgeous mountain terrain. Something I was happily surprised by was how non-commercialized and touristy wine country felt, but also how accessible the entire Napa Valley was. You can stay in any of the little towns that make up the valley and still be able to explore the rest of the area. It’s called wine country because you really are in the country! I loved how rural and relaxing it all felt. However, there was still loads to do. Each town was dripping with vineyards, wineries, restaurants, art galleries, shops, etc. We opted for doing one little outing each morning, then spending the second half of the day and evening relaxing at the Inn or wandering around Calistoga, so our trip really felt like a vacation and not as much of a chaotic adventure.

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See: Castello di Amorosa, also known as “the castle.” We had heard mixed reviews about visiting this particular tourist stop and I am so glad we decided it was something we wanted to see. They served Grace grape juice and bread sticks while we did a tasting. The olive groves, roaming chickens and moat going around the castle (yes, it’s a real castle!) made us feel like we were in medieval Europe. And the castle itself is just stunning.

 

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Eat: Burgers and fries at Taylor’s Refresher. My Uncle Alan, who is all-knowing when it comes to food and wine, gave us a few must-eat recommendations, including this burger joint. It’s outdoor seating only with a very picturesque grass lot of picnic tables and umbrellas. The ahi tuna burger was so fresh with a nice kick of wasabi and cilantro. I only wish it were bigger because I wanted more!

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Stroll: HALL St. Helena has not just wine but a showcase of modern art and great outdoor space for walking around. It provided a beautiful backdrop for some family photos and all felt very classy. Grace loved picking the mustard flowers and the giant bunny sculpture at the front of the property. Getting to see the mustard flowers was another major perk of visiting wine country in the spring during off-season. They blanket most of the vineyards in beautiful shades of yellow and serve as a cover crop helping fertilize the soil before the branches bud, as well as helping with erosion. You can read more about their role here.

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Treat: Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Only in our dreams could we ever afford to eat at Keller’s famous French Laundry, but luckily right next door is his chic French bakery filled with a nice variety of macaroons, croissants and the like. Their interpretation of a Ho Ho (an Oh Oh) was oh so yum.

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Sip/ See: The famous Chateau Montelena. I will say of all the places we went, the people at Chateau Montelena were the most friendly. Additionally, I can see why their Cab Sav has received international recognition – it’s delicious! Or should I use “exquisite” when referring to wine? No clue. The girls fell asleep during our first tasting, so we stayed for a second and were having so much fun that we really didn’t take many pictures except this one below. You might recognize it from this movie.  It was also here that I learned old wine corks are great entertaining tools for a 2.5 year old and a baby.

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Eat/See: The Culinary Institute of America . Oh man, if I had to pick one thing that was my favorite, going to the CIA would be it. I had a bit of a Julia Child moment (even though I’m not in culinary school and there really are no parallels.) We had an incredible 4 course meal at their Gatehouse Restaurant (miraculously the girls cooperated through the entire thing!). What’s neat about the restaurant is that it is completely run by students at the culinary school. It’s a small intimate setting with no detail left out. Our dishes were meticulously plated with perfect serving sizes and accompaniments. Cured salmon, potato crepe, fennel tarragon purée, squab breast, and caramelized endive tart were just a few of the dishes. I can still recall the deliciousness.

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After our meal, we went and toured the school (for free!). Above is Grace admiring the wacky cork screw collections and below is the actual school. I loved seeing the classrooms, and all the students cooking and learning away.

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Eat/See: Oxbow Market is an indoor food and gift market. A great place to mosey around during a rainy day. Chris really wanted to find some tasty Mexican street food while we were in California and this hit the spot.

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That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed our little wine country with kids tour guide. Thanks for reading. -Addie

 

Armstrong Redwoods Reserve + Sonoma Coast Snapshots

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One day I might convince myself to leave the kids home so Chris and I can enjoy a vacation solo. But while they are this young and full of wonder, they join us just about everywhere. There is a famous quote by St. Augustine I keep in the back of my mind. In case you haven’t heard it:”The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” If this is true than I want my girls to read books on books on books! With loads of trips around the Southeastern US and last month, 10 days in California, I think they are off to a good start.  I am finally finishing up organizing pictures from the epic trip we took last month. We covered a lot of territory (even with record rainfall) so rather than one massive post, I’m doing several smaller ones and going in backwards order. Enjoy!

Scenic drive from Napa to San Fran

The last full day of our trip was spent taking a long scenic drive out of Napa Valley, driving along the Russian River, stopping at the Armstrong Redwoods Reserve and then winding around the Sonoma Coastline. The views we saw that day were some I will never forget and it was the perfect way to wrap up a very memorable family vacation. In full disclosure, I feel a bit guilty and insensitive even posting about our trip as much of the area is recovering from catastrophic flooding. It made me so sad to see such a beautiful part of our country completely underwater, a part of our country that apparently suffers from either not enough rainfall or far too much. We saw multiple vineyards completely submerged, gorgeous huge trees uprooted, and campsites whose travelers had fled to higher ground leaving their things behind. Even with the flooding though, this part of California was still full of beauty, and you have to admire the residents’ resilience.

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The picnic benches we stopped at were a bit cold and wet so we set up shop on the back of the car with apples, cheeses, meats from a local grocery, and some dessert from the famous Bouchon Bakery.

IMG_5868Grace was very into the creek running through the park. She loves the sight of any form of water, even a simple puddle!IMG_5894IMG_5895Pictures don’t really do the Redwood trees justice. These majestic trees make you feel as if you are in some sort of fairy tale – huge, ancient and a bit eerie. Because of their size, the entire park feels very cold and damp, and you can only see little bits of the sky peeking through the top. Several trees had hollows at the bottom taller than Chris! After our car picnic, we walked around the reserve for a little while, marveling at the trees, then hopped back into the car to head to the beach.

IMG_2310Breathtaking views of the coastline. Chris and I had no idea how beautiful this would be.  What we found really unique about this coastline is on one side of the road are these rocky beaches and the other are mountains full of bright green pastures, meadows, roaming farm animals, etc. How neat would it be to live in the country and on the ocean at the same time? Sign me up! Thankfully the girls napped then entire drive, so we were able to drive slow and get out a few times to take it all in.

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Then we stopped at Doran Beach near Bodega Bay to let the girls play. I think our short time playing at the beach was Grace’s favorite part of the entire trip. The beach brings out the best in kids. Grace found a cup and some sea shells and escaped into her own world of running around and playing in the (very muddy and dark!) sand, not phased by the cooler temperatures at all.

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I’m not really a bucket list person. I guess that’s because if I had one, it would be to do everything, ha! See every country, swim in every body of water, read every book, etc. I just try to make the most of each day and every opportunity. I do have some traditions, however. One being that I try to go swimming wherever I travel. I have an intense love of the ocean and I feel more connected to a place once I have taken a swim in its waters. So, even though the Pacific in February is frigid, I am happy to report that I can now add the Pacific Ocean to my list of major bodies of water I’ve swam in! The others are:

  • Aegean Sea in Turkey
  • Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina and South Carolina
  • Gulf of Mexico in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Florida
  • Caribbean Sea while in Jamaica and Honduras
  • Red Sea in Sharm El Sheikh Egypt

IMG_5919Grace is fortunately a very happy child (for the most part). It’s easy to get a smile, a hello or a hug out of her. But at the beach this day, she was REALLY happy. At one point she was just running around with her arms out, screaming with pure joy. I never want to forget that sight and I just had to take a photo of it. She was so free and happy and it was all totally on her own. I had just swam in the Pacific, which she was very excited to see (yet didn’t want to get near the water herself), Chris was holding Charlotte, and I was thinking how lucky I was to have this little family of mine to go through life with. Hope you enjoyed these snapshots…more to come and thanks for reading. -Addie

 

 

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Happy Holidays from Mississippi!

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Just wanted to wish our beloved friends, family and any readers who I haven’t met personally, a very happy holiday season! I opted not to do a Christmas card this year for various reasons, so thought I’d share a few photos here. We are staying at my mom’s, in my  hometown for the week enjoying a warm Christmas and New Year’s. This has included lots of good eating. In fact, I snapped these photos of the girls yesterday before heading out to a delicious five course seafood dinner with family, cooked by my  Uncle Alan, a super chef. I just had to document that these two were outside, barefoot in December. That’s the Mississippi Gulf Coast for ya! Also the dress Grace is wearing was mine from when I was her age! I often tease my mom for having so much stuff but I love that Grace gets to wear some of my old clothes. So special. Thank you Mom!

Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying your week, wherever you are and that you have a wonderful new year. While this year has been incredible, my goal for next year is to really slow down. The fact that I have a two year old and seven month old blows my mind. I really don’t know where the time has gone and Chris and I want to soak up and relish these two girls as much as possible. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than here at my mom’s where my family of four is sharing my childhood bedroom and spending every waking moment together in my little sleepy hometown. Here’s to a happy, healthy and slow 2017 everyone! Thanks for letting me share these pictures and as always, thanks for reading.

 

Love,

Addie

A ride around Tabletop in Butler, GA

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After Thanksgiving, I loaded the girls up and embarked on an adventure to visit my dad and stepmom in rural Butler, Georgia. Butler is located in Taylor County, a few hours south of Atlanta. If you are familiar with Taylor County or the surrounding area, you might inquire as to what we did for an entire week in the middle of nowhere. Well, I am learning more and more since having children that you can always conjure up things to see/do and people to meet no matter where you are. You just have to be willing to look. We found lots of great places to play: an old train caboose parked along side a track, a severely outdated but nonetheless imagination-provoking town park, and a creek to throw sticks in. And we had loads of fun visiting with my dad’s family. We also drove to Pine Mountain to see the famous Callaway Garden Fantasy in the Lights Show. Thanks Dad and Gail! Haven’t quite learned the skills to photograph Christmas lights…maybe next year 🙂

While Taylor County is mostly rural farm land, now being taken over by solar farms, my dad and his siblings all have houses “in town.” Butler’s downtown consists of a courthouse with a functioning clock tower, two restaurants, the post office, a farm store and not much else. It’s your typical rural Southern town that hasn’t changed much in the 28 years I’ve been visiting, which is one of the reasons why I love it!

The most unique and unexpected sight to see in Butler, aside from the miles and miles of solar farms, is the hidden hippie-feeling Tabletop area. The “neighborhood,” nicknamed Big Gully, consists of three houses. On home is owned by Mr. Ward and Mrs. Billie Edwards, one belongs to Mr. Ward’s brother, Sonny, and the other home belongs to my aunt and uncle. It’s in a huge, beautiful, wooded area that has only carved out space for the few houses and a road to access them. The Edwards family uses the land as their own personal canvas with all sorts of folk art, gorgeous intricate bird houses, statues and antique political signs scattered throughout the premises, some done by their daughter of Big Gully Folk Art.

There is so much storytelling and creativity in these woods through their artwork – it’s unbelievable! Some leave you in awe, some leave you laughing or scratching your head wondering, “What was the thought process??” Whenever driving over to visit my aunt and uncle, I love pulling into the woodsy neighborhood to see what birdhouses or statues I’ll notice each trip. When I was a child, I relished driving an old John Deere gator around, soaking it all in, and now Grace is old enough to somewhat participate and appreciate this little Butler “tourist stop.”  I’m hoping next time I’m in town, I can ping the Edwards family and hear about their inspiration and history behind this neighborhood and all that encompasses it. Until then, I thought you’d enjoy the photos of what the heck I’m talking about. Grace particularly loved counting all the bird houses and the funky farm animal art around the painted pick up truck. So fun!  Enjoy, and happy holidays everyone!img_4825-2img_4828-2img_4830-2img_4841-2img_4849-2img_4852-2img_4859-2img_4869-2img_4872-2img_4879-2img_4884-2img_4895-2img_4898-2img_4903-2img_4914-2

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Hope you enjoyed the photos! This last one is my dad’s favorite stop in the neighborhood…cracks me up!

 

-Addie

 

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Thanksgiving at Milburnie

Main, North Carolina, People, Raleigh

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Happy holidays everyone! Can you believe it’s already December? We are currently in rural Georgia for a slow-paced, relaxing week with family. I wanted to share a few photos I took of our Thanksgiving at Milburnie Fishing Club in Raleigh. To be honest, I mostly wanted an excuse to share a few pictures I took of Grace that I just couldn’t resist! Milburnie Fishing Club is an old social club in Raleigh that has been around for more than 100 years. While the rest of Raleigh is changing ever so rapidly, driving out to the fishing club, you realize that are actually some parts of this city that are untouched and have kept their old-fashioned charm. It’s on a beautiful piece of property with walking trails, fishing piers, and an old cafeteria style dining hall. Raleigh’s local lifestyle magazine, Walter, wrote a great article on the fishing club if you are interested in learning more. You can read it here.

Every year Ann and John, some of the first friends we made in Raleigh, invite a large group of folks that are staying put for Thanksgiving out to Milburnie for oysters, beer and the other typical Thanksgiving fare. We spent the entire afternoon outside walking around the property, meeting new friends, hitting golf balls in the lake and eating lots of slimy, salty oysters topped with all sorts of delicious things. Here are a few photos. Enjoy! -Addie

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Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches + A New Project

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About once every two months we make some seasonal form of soft-shell crab sandwiches and the past FOUR times I have been meaning to post a picture along with a recipe. Our friend Matt, a New Orleans native, joined us for dinner last night and we all feasted on these crispy fried crustaceans. Wouldn’t you know I forgot to snap a photo! But I did have a picture from another time we ate them recently. Soft-shell crabs are only in season for a short time in the early summer when they are shedding their hard shell. What a treat that with just a bit of cleaning, you can enjoy the entire crab! I often like to serve these to people who are hesitant to try or intimated by all the work that goes into eating boiled blue crabs. Between some fresh toasted bread, grainy mustard, mayonnaise and bacon-who could resist? I’ve never eaten or cooked soft shell crabs any other way than fried and I have no desire to. Now, during cooler months, wilted bitter kale goes great and in the summer, sweet tomatoes for the ultimate BLT. Give them a try!

Before jumping to the recipe, I wanted to let everyone know about a little project I’ve been working on (slowly, very slowly, but surely). Sometimes with this blog, I felt a little confusion about its direction. Is it a food blog? A family blog? A travel blog? Really I don’t even know. A good bit of my readers are friends and family from our hometowns who could care less about what we are eating (because they eat so good already-some taught me everything I know!) and just want to see pictures of our little rugrats and what we are up to. A few readers stop in to check out recipes and likely have their own adorable kids to stare at all day so don’t really need to see a dozen photos of mine. People are always commenting on Grace’s eating habits and asking about how she came to eat such a myriad of foods at only two years old. Not wanting to bombard this site with recipes and articles, I’ve been slowly logging them on a separate site titled Grace Gourmet. I will still continue to post to this site, however there will not be as much food content as there will be recounts of our little family adventures and other personal updates like birthdays and other celebrations. If there is a unique pertinent recipe (like soft shell crabs!) or one that comes with a story, then I will post it here. Grace Gourmet will be ALL food related and also geared towards encouraging other parents to feed themselves and their children the best they can. I am still working on the rhythm of Grace Gourmet (can’t even get myself to write on the about page ha!) but I wanted to go ahead and share it with you. There should be an option to put your email in if you want to follow along there as well, submit questions, recipe ideas, feedback and whatnot. I’ve gone ahead and linked some recipes from here to there and added some new ones too. I’d love for you to pay it a visit, leave your email if you want to stay in touch, and give any feedback you have. Thanks for letting me share this with you and all the other random pictures, stories, etc that I spill on this site. More to come and here’s a recipe in the mean time. Thank you all for reading and for your support!

Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches

Cooking notes: Make sure crabs are as dry as can be and room temperature before frying.

Serves 4

For the crabs:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cleaned soft shell crabs, patted dry
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk (or whole milk + 1 tbs of vinegar or buttermilk)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (or enough to generously cover a dinner plate)
  • 1 cup cornmeal (or enough to generously cover a dinner plate)
  • About 1 tablespoon homemade or store bought blackening or Cajun seasoning (cayenne, cumin,  paprika, onion & garlic powder, black pepper, salt)

Method:

  • Heat enough oil for the bottom 2 inches on a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven to be coated completely.
  • While oil is  heating, pour flour on a plate, combine seasoning and corn meal on a plate and buttermilk/egg in a bowl. Arrange in an assembly line ordering flour, buttermilk/egg, cornmeal.
  • One at a time, dip soft shell crab in flour, dust excess, then dip in buttermilk/egg, and then in cornmeal. Fry until the crab is stiff and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. If you’ve put enough oil in your pan to completely submerge the crabs than it will likely only take 3 minutes total. Once all are fried set aside to drain on paper towel and keep warm in oven on low heat.

For the kale:

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices good quality bacon
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, loosely chopped
  • Generous pinch of salt

Method:

  • Fry a few slices of bacon, set aside to drain on paper towels
  • In the same pan, cook 1 bunch of kale and season generously with salt, set aside

The rest:

  • 4 onion rolls or good quality sandwich rolls, toasted
  • Creole mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pickles
  • Lemon

Assembly:

  • Smear the bread with a generous spoonful of mustard and mayonnaise, then add kale, pickles, two slices each of bacon and soft-shell crabs.

Side ideas:

  • Baked sweet potato
  • Zapps potato chips

 

 

Annual weekend in the mountains

Main, North Carolina, Visit

The Blue Ridge Mountains in NC have got to be one of North Carolina’s most prized attractions. Coming from the Mississippi Gulf Coast where there isn’t really a definite Fall season, I could spend hours just driving up and down the Blue Ridge staring at all the autumn colored splendor and breathing in the crisp, chilly air.The first time Chris and I explored the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains was the fall after our wedding. New to the state and eager to cover as much of its territory as possible, I signed us up for a group hiking and camping trip through our church.  We didn’t know a single person on this trip and we had never camped or hiked in the mountains at all! Most of the other folks on the trip had all sorts of gear including walking sticks, heavy duty sleeping bags, thermoses etc. We brought wine, sandwiches and our camera (and of course our tent, but not much else!). Regardless of our ill preparedness, the weekend remains one of our favorite memories.

Our campsite was under an apple tree centered around a crackling fire. The biggest adventure of the weekend was hiking to the top of Grandfather Mountain by way of the Profile Trail. We later learned that the Profile Trail was likely not the best trail for first timers like ourselves hence the sore ankles. We still laugh about our first real hike up a mountain. We finished about an hour after our group, largely in part to us stopping every chance to either eat, rest or take pictures of all the fall colors. Oh the fall colors!  Since then, we have made it a tradition to drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains every year to see the foliage. We’ve kept true to this tradition since our first trip, with the exception of when I was in labor with Grace and well, couldn’t really go any where 🙂 Our mountain trip has evolved slightly over the years. There’s a few more of us, and we’ve opted to staying somewhere indoors to avoid any unexpected rain or freezing temperatures, which we’ve learned the hard way is completely likely this time of year.

This year, our friends Keta and Steve and their kids joined us in the Linville/Newland area. We found a historic cabin to rent on a gorgeous property full of  Christmas trees, wild berries and apple trees and a creek weaving its way around the mountains. Friday night we played games inside around the fireplace, and enjoyed some hot chili and smores for dessert. Saturday we spent the first half the day just exploring the property (which we could have done for days) then took a scenic drive, while the kids napped, out to Linville Winery. Thought you all would enjoy some photos of our weekend. Happy Fall!

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Above and below: Our cabin for the weekend. We wanted the feel of camping and being out in nature but still the security and warmth of a roof over our heads. This was a good decision because it rained all Friday night 🙂 Our cabin was perfect – rustic, cozy and full of antique decor and appliances.  The property including this original cabin have belonged to the same family for more than a hundred years.

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The ultimate spot for reading and morning coffee.

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Giant Christmas trees everywhere!

img_4393img_4380-2Walking trails and leaves for days.img_4391-2img_4440-2img_4456img_4484-2What a perfect spot for a house.img_1133-1Afternoon wine and cheese at Linville Falls Winery.  img_4542-2Such a clear afternoon!img_4533-2Grateful to have a baby and toddler who love little adventures as much as we do.IMG_4537 (2).JPGimg_4548-2

Wineries can be very family friendly! So much territory for kids to explore and play while the adults enjoy the wine selection. Grace’s favorite was playing her version of duck duck goose and doing “rolly pollies” down the hillsides. 

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“…the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures..”

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For being in the low 40’s while we were there, the plant life was very colorful and healthy.

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Managed to round up all the little ones for a group shot

Until next year! Would love to hear anyone’s recommendations on where to stay along the Blue Ridge next year. I know there is so much territory we have yet to cover! Hope you enjoyed the photos.

-Addie

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Labor Day Weekend in Oriental, NC

Main, North Carolina, People, Visit

This summer has been one for the books – perhaps tied in comparison to the summer I graduated college, married my best friend, honeymooned in Jamaica and moved 13 hours from home to start a new life (all within a few months)! This summer, we welcomed a second child and Chris, after 6 years of long nights and weekends acting as a mad scientist (while he wouldn’t call it that-it’s what I envisioned) finished his Ph.D in Chemistry. In many ways we’ve felt like his Ph.D was another “baby.”  We’ve spent the last few months gallivanting around the south showing off our little family or entertaining  family and friends at our house. All of which we love doing! However, we are finding as we get older and our family grows, we need and crave down-time. So, for Labor Day weekend we packed up and drove over to a sleepy little sailing village called Oriental.img_3563-2img_3589-2img_3612-2img_3571-2Oriental is a tiny town located on an inlet of the Pamlico Sound, just outside of historic New Bern. The town claims to house more sail boats than residents and I believe it. Everywhere we looked there was some type of water vessel, whether it be for sailing, shrimping or yachting.

Everything there is to see and do in Oriental is walking distance from the center of town (not that there is much but that’s exactly why we were there). This was ideal for our little family. In many ways Oriental reminds me of my own home town, Bay St. Louis, Ms. We arrived Friday after driving through Tropical Storm Hermine. I’m not sure too many people thought it was a good idea for us to head directly towards a tropical storm, but who doesn’t love a good rain storm? We assumed (and hoped) it would pass by Saturday and it did! We checked into our delightful bed and breakfast Friday night just in time to meet the other guests at the B & B for cocktail hour.

Since it was pouring out (actually that’s an understatement) we ordered dinner in, put the girls to bed (who seem to love sleeping in the rain just as much as we do) and stayed up listening to the storm, drinking wine and playing card games. It was a great way to kick off a lazy leisure weekend.  Saturday and Sunday were spent mostly taking long walks along the water, hitting up local places to eat, taking a dip in the small “town beach” and just relaxing at the Inn. Here are some snapshots from our weekend. Enjoy!img_3669-2Tuna and avocado tapas with a balsamic glaze (along with seafood nachos not pictured because we devoured them so fast) at O’ Town Restaurant. O’ Town is outdoor seating only and overlooks the marina-a perfect spot to eat for any meal.img_3682-2All the rain made all the plant life look so lush and healthy, especially these hibiscus.img_3686-2img_3979-2We chose the Inn at Oriental as our place to stay and were blown away by the accommodating, sweet and fun owners, Lou and Lucy, who made us feel right at home.  Additionally, the Inn is gorgeously decorated with loads of books, art and furniture from the couples travels.I especially appreciated all the plant life scattered around the property.img_3986-2img_3745-2img_3917-2img_3923-2img_3929-2img_3934-2img_3939-2img_4005img_3957-3img_3715-2Charlotte starting to show her little cheeky personality. I loved being able to spend the entire weekend with these three and no distractions.img_3545img_3734-2Chris about to serve everyone mimosas on Sunday morning.  We were served a scrumptious made-to-order breakfast every morning. Options included fresh fruit parfaits, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and eggs any way you like them.img_3802-2Chris and Grace’s sand castle. Who needs beach shovels and toys when you can find shells, drift wood and other beach treasures?img_3787-2img_3830-2img_3832-2img_3864-3Hors d’oeuvers at cocktail hour on our last night. Grace filled up on these and couldn’t have cared less about the delicious meal that Lou and Lucy were so generous to serve us Sunday night.img_3870-2Lou and Lucy served us a home cooked seafood dinner on our last night..these shrimp were cooked perfectly! We weren’t sure where we wanted to eat on our last night, so when they invited us to join them for dinner, we couldn’t say no! However, it did seem that both Grace and Charlotte had other plans for our last night as they made it a bit difficult for me to actually sit and eat. It was still a lovely evening none the less but I made sure they were both sound asleep before having my dessert (along with a large glass of wine.)

img_3878-3img_3888-2img_3892-2Think it’s time to get Grace her own straw hat. I can’t wear mine any more with out her commandeering it.img_3905-2img_4007We still haven’t gotten used to the higher seafood prices here in Raleigh. Luckily, someone told us about a place to get incredibly fresh fish (I’m talking still living) on our way out and we stocked up on flounder (pictured above), black drum, soft shell crabs and shrimp.img_4001-2Group shot with the Inn owners Lou and Lucy before heading home after an incredibly restful weekend. I saved this photo to post last because of all the people we met over the weekend and little simple outings we went on, I think the highlight for all of us was getting to know these two gracious people. They went out of their way all weekend to make sure we (as well as all the other guests at the Inn) had everything we needed and more.  Lou and Lucy are the type of people who as soon as you meet you instantly feel at ease and connected with. Oddly enough, it turns out we have some mutual family friends from my home town. It really is a small world!

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

 

Addie

Santee State Park, South Carolina

Main, Visit

A few weeks ago, we rented a cabin at the Santee State Park in South Carolina with some of our best friends Emily and John. Emily and John hadn’t met Charlotte yet and we were all itching to see each other. We originally tried to meet up in a beach town between North Carolina and Florida, but every place we looked was booked or too pricey. Hoping to still be around some form of water and nature, we found this state park and it was perfect! The park is situated on Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake. The Spanish moss, which hung from much of the trees at the campground area, added a nice low country touch and the views of the water reminded me of home. There were multiple playgrounds, a public pier, and a little mini “beach” that Grace couldn’t get enough of. While the adults thought the “beach” could have been a little cleaner, Grace seemed to care less. She could have spent the entire weekend running up and down the small shore and gathering little fresh water mussel shells.

The highlight of the weekend for me (aside from the obvious fact of seeing Emily and John of course!) was eating at Lone Star BBQ & Mercantile, an authentic old-school style restaurant located just down the road from the campground. The food and atmosphere were incredible. Think tomato pie, stuffed crab, bread pudding, hush puppies and other southern comfort food. Even their simple cucumber and tomato salad tasted so refreshing and delicious (which could have easily been because of how hot it was out). The restaurant is made up of four historic shot-gun style buildings and set up cafeteria style. It’s pretty much a museum and restaurant in-one. There were all sorts of antique items lining the walls and hallways reminiscent of the past. I shared a picture on Instagram of Lone Star and one of my friends said it looked like a scene of out the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. It certainly felt that way. Thought you all might like to see some photos from the weekend, especially of our two little rugrats. Enjoy! -Addie

spanish mosskayaksIMG_0283 (2)IMG_0269IMG_0296IMG_0287.jpgcharlotte and johngrace

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