Whidbey Island, Washington + Some Writing Clips

Main, Visit

The wildlife, the golden hour (now I see what a true golden hour actually is!), the endless views of cliff-sides meeting the ocean, the Penn Cove mussels… oh, I could go on!

I’m talking about Whidbey Island. Earlier this summer, we kicked off our annual “Summer out of a Suitcase” by heading to the Pacific Northwest to visit two sets of friends. As mentioned, we started in Portland, Oregon, and then took a train from Portland to Seattle to meet my best friend (since second grade!), her husband, and their sweet little boy. We then caravanned to Whidbey Island, off the Washington Coast for a about a week-long vacation. Being an ocean lover, I had imagined I would love exploring this corner of the U.S. However, I was blown away by how beautiful and untouched it all was. Here are a few notes and recommendations on where to eat, stay, and play for anyone wanting to re-create their own Whidbey Island trip. And as usual, lots of photos of our travel buddies. I highly recommend exploring this area if you are a family who loves nature and adventure and enjoy exploring the lesser-traveled destinations.  

Whidbey Island is made up of several small quaint towns. We stayed in Coupeville and chose this for its central location on the island, and its surrounding historic nature reserve. Apparently Coupeville is the second oldest town in the state of Washington! This meant lots of hikes, views, parks, beaches, and more to explore. 

We ate:

  • Fresh Penn Cove mussels many times. You can read about the discovery and uniqueness of these delicious delicacies here. I loved that we were eating them as fresh as you could get. 
  • Oyster Catcher – A standout place that you must try if you go to Whidbey Island and want a delicately crafted meal. Super artisan and unique creations – we had pea sorbet as palate cleansers, oysters with a hazelnut chutney, roasted sunflowers, ceviche, and more. The staff were so friendly considering we had very tiny guests with us. I’d recommend making a reservation.
  • Hot Dogs at Coupe’s Last Stand. This hot dog stand is right in front of the Coupeville Wharf  and made for a nice picnic on our first day. They had kielbasa and polish sausage options too. In fact, it was just after this hot dog stand while walking down to the Wharf on our first day that Grace declared, “This is the best day ever!” We had just spotted a seal in the water 🙂
  • We ran out of time but would have loved to experience Orchard Kitchen which looked amazing.
  • Baked goods and coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley.

Note: We stopped in a local grocery store and bought items for picnics and breakfast. While there is great food on the island, there’s not a ton of varied options, the hours of restaurants can be tricky, and the popular places fill up. Plus with all the wonderful views and small kids, relaxed meals at our houses seemed the obvious best choice. 

We Explored:

  • Rosario Beach at Deception Pass – such a beautiful bridge with a beautiful view. Our first adventure of this leg of our trip was heading to Rosario Beach to check out the tide pools. We spent hours seal searching, stone collecting and checking out the tide pools.
  • Ebey’s Landing – Likely my favorite outing was the long walk we did here along the bluff, with open fields to our left and views of the Puget Sound to our right. A great fairly flat hike for a sunny day, even though our middle child insisted on being carried 😉
  • Fort Casey – If you love history like my husband, there’s an old light house here you can climb up, as well as a huge fort to explore, and a beach at the base with loads of drift wood for kids to play on.
  • Pelican Bay Books in Anacorters (which is technically on Fidalgo Island). I’m a sucker for a good used bookstore and I could have spent hours in this one. I’m so glad our friends recommended we make the drive to check it out. There’s a coffee shop in here too which was helpful for those of us still adjusting to the time zone. The exposed wood walls and shelves made me feel like I was in a cozy log cabin.
  • Langley (mentioned earlier) is a charming little town on Whidbey with lots of little shops and art galleries.

We stayed here:

While I usually like to find a local hotel or bed and breakfast, we decided on this simple vacation rental and were so happy with it. Its garden was so beautiful to look at every day and we were next door to the small downtown area and could see the water from just outside the driveway. It fit our family of 5 just fine with the two oldest sharing the upstairs and the baby tucked in the pack and play in the closet. And our friends were just a short walk away. However, we’ve heard wonderful things and are eager to check Captain Whidbey’s out next time we come!

Getting to and from Whidbey Island:

We were coming from Portland via the Amtrak Cascades line (highly recommend – a trip favorite!), then drove and caught the Mukilteo Ferry to Whidbey. On our way out of Whidbey en route to Seattle, we enjoyed a long scenic drive through Skagit County, exploring the sweetest little creative town, Edison and Mount Vernon, where we picked up Dungeness crab and other goodies from Snowgoose Produce.

Perhaps one of the best overall things about being on Whidbey was just that- being on the island and enjoying its natural state. Sharing that with my family and our friends (who are so lucky to live to close to there!) was totally priceless. The pastel-colored stones collected at the beaches, the deer that aren’t scared of humans at all and just mosey about the island, the cherry trees, the seal pups… It was so great just to be there. In fact, more than once, we opted out of naps to be able to just drive around and explore the island. It’s all very accessible. And a highlight for me personally, was taking a dip in the Puget Sound. I think I’ve mentioned this but I have this little running bucket list of sorts where I like to swim in as many bodies of water as possible. While it was understandably too cold for the rest of our group, I’m excited to add the Puget Sound to my running list of waters along with the Red Sea, the Aegean, the Caribbean and a handful of others! Even though with how cold it was, it was a very quick swim. Definitely keep this area on your radar for a trip and I hope you enjoyed the photos. Below are some recent writing clips.

For Raleigh folks, you might enjoy learning about where Stanbury owner Joseph Jeffers eats and plays in this interview I got to do. I loved getting to know this local abstract artist and mother. I’m also super excited to kick off a local food finds column which I think even non-Raleigh area residents might enjoy reading. And I’ve been been steadily contributing to the wonderful Babyccino community where this Whidbey Post actually first appeared on.

Busy but good times! Thanks for tuning in. -Addie

Oregon Highlights & Catching Up!

Main, Visit

Helllllllooo!!

Ah, summer, I love you so. We’re just catching our breath after being gone for a whole month! We were in Oregon, then Washington, then I flew (by myself with all three children!) from Seattle to New Orleans to see alllllllll the family. There are a lot of you! I’ve accepted that there are just not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do (like post to this blog). But I did want to share a few photos and published work, because I saw so many familiar faces this summer who said they love seeing our family adventures. These are for you! We shall start with some Oregon highlights…

For the curious…

We stayed with some dear friends who live in the beautiful Sellwood neighborhood which was walking distance to so many shops, restaurants, city views, and the kids favorite-playgrounds. In fact-for anyone ever traveling without kids, they have a lovely little vacation rental behind their house and are super hosts/people all around.

We ate SO much good food. But the favorites were dinner at swanky, farm-to-table Coquine which will go down as one of the best meals of my life ( if you know me, that says a lot), vibrant, fresh (so colorful!) Indian food at Bollywood Theater and so many cherries and other munchies like tempeh, cheese and lambsticks (#wheninportland) at the Portland Farmers Market

We explored the Columbia River Gorge area and the city of Hood River

We shopped at the world’s largest independent bookstore Powell’s. I literally could have spent days here!

We joked about what was the most Portland thing saw. The contenders are:

  • a succulent garden atop a car
  • artichokes growing in peoples front yard
  • personal compost containers for all
  • not being able to pump your own gas because there are people who are given jobs to do just that!

Truly though the best part of this trip was seeing our girls and our friend’s daughter Olivia play so well for hours and hours together. They would have been happy to stay inside orchestrating tea parties or dance recitals. Each day we had to peel them out of the house so we could explore!

An additional update– I’ve been writing/working up a storm which means pictures of my kids and our adventures are circulating all over the internet. Specifically, I’ve signed on to be a contributor at one of the best modern parenting blogs out there-Babyccino Kids. You can read my recent posts here or my first one, a city guide of Raleigh here. Other local work, I’m pretty proud of that you all might enjoy learning about is the story of this artist, this non-profit that specially resonated with me, this island or this group of amazing women working to help young girls learn that confidence comes from within.

More to come & keep in touch!


-Addie

Beaufort, NC + a quick note

Main, North Carolina, Visit

IMG_4219 (2)

IMG_4200IMG_4210 (2)IMG_4215 (2)IMG_4226 (2)IMG_4232 (2)IMG_4236 (2)

Paella.JPG

I started this post months ago and was tempted to skip over it and get right to all the exciting changes our family has experienced the past few months to catch you all up. But then I realized I always do that! It would be remiss to act like our annual blissful summer in the sun never happened, when the girls (only two of them!) were sun kissed and had the permanent smell of sunscreen and salt water on their skin. And Grace, only 4, learned how to swim with confidence! Oh summer where did you go? So many amazing changes since then, but looking at photos from summer makes we a bit weepy. My love of warm weather and the water must be rubbing off on my children (along with other, unwanted attributes). Grace several times recently has asked “When will it be summer again so I can go scuba diving?” People, she has never been scuba diving. But she came pretty close in her mind while in Beaufort, NC over Labor Day with flippers and a snorkel set up to search for mermaids and treasure chests 🙂 Remember our tradition to cap off summer with a weekend away? We chose Beaufort this year and what a good decision it was.

However, I’m not going to go into too much detail about Beaufort except a little insiders guide at the end. Beaufort, along with the rest of the Carolina coast was devastated by Hurricane Florence and my main reason for even posting these photos is to shed light on this sweet little inlet town and encourage you this season, to donate your time or money to hurricane relief or pay a visit to all the small coastal towns I love. Knowing all to well what it’s like to have your world turned upside down by a hurricane, my heart ached at the sight of my beloved Carolina coast after Hurricane Florence. So consider donating to hurricane relief this season or swap material items for a weekend away and pay a visit to this inlet town. While you’re there…

Stay at the Inlet Inn and look at the wild horses roaming across the water every morning. The Inlet Inn is an old hotel right near the boardwalk so you’re in a central location, walking distance to the shops, restaurants and sights. They serve a humble breakfast every morning of muffins, bagels and coffee.

Eat pizza at Black Sheep, paella and scrumptious tapas at Aqua (amazing service!) and 2 dollar hamburgers and hot dogs at the historic Royal James cafe.

Do take a charter to Shackleford Banks to swim, shell hunt and horse watch. Visit the NC Maritime Museum and make time to get ice cream and stroll along the board walk every night to watch the sunset, no matter how tired your kids are.

And now, a few other important things!

In August, we moved into a new home. Our first one that we can call ours!

I’ve been working a ton and wanted to share some recent writings here and here.

And the best for last, we welcomed a sweet baby girl last month, Louise Ader, born on October, 22, just before mama’s birthday. She’s perfect in every way and a welcome addition to our family, encouraging us all to stay home and slow down a bit this time of year.

That’s all for now and as always, thanks for reading. Appreciate you all so much! -Addie

Keep in touch,

twitter

pinterest

 

Finally a trip to Ocracoke Island

Main, North Carolina, Visit

What feels like eons ago (pre-kids) my best friend Emily and I planned this epic camping trip to explore Ocracoke Island. Around that time a tropical storm (or maybe it was a hurricane) was brewing in the Atlantic, planning to make landfall on the North Carolina Coast. Not intimated by this fact at all, I stuck with our plans. There were plenty of hurricanes that often approached the Gulf Coast growing up, only to die down before making landfall, leaving us out of school with beautiful weather to take advantage of. So unless it’s a large, high category storm, I rarely worry. “Hello! This is Addie, I just wanted to make sure you all were going to be open this weekend as my friend and I are headed over there for a camping trip,” I said, when I called our campground. The man, in a very twangy eastern NC accent, replied; “Honey, you won’t even be able to get anywhere close to this campground this weekend I’m afraid, or the island for that matter.”

“What? Where is everyone’s sense of adventure?” I didn’t say that but I was thinking it 😉 A similar trip to Ocracoke was later canceled because of Mother Nature, again, and since then my desire to go there only strengthened. It didn’t help that award-winning food writer, Andrea Weigl, wrote about this apparently fabulous fig cake that you can only get on the island (unless I wanted to make it myself). Then come to find out the entire island is filled with one of my favorite things in the world, fig trees (14 varieties at least!). And in August there is an entire festival dedicated to the FIG. Then I’d have so many people say, “I can’t believe you’ve never been to Ocracoke! It’s your type of place!” Well, it wasn’t for a lack of trying I’d say.

It’s true that good things come to those who wait. This year, immediately following our trip to New Orleans (literally 1.5 days later) we road tripped out to Cedar Island to hop on a ferry ride to…wait for it…Ocracoke! Some great friends of ours (who left us for a life in PDX) were coming in town and wanted us all to trek out to Ocracoke. “YES!” I said. Never-mind that we will have just gotten back from New Orleans, are in the throes of house-hunting, that Chris is working 60+ hours a week, that I had a story deadline due which I had yet to start, and that we seem to have a million other things going on (including having another baby!!). I am a yes person. So of course, yes was my answer and I’m so glad it was.

The untouched island is both gorgeous and rustic. Because it’s truly remote, aside from a handful of golf carts, it’s remained un-commercialized. Just a handful of restaurants, a bookstore, some art communities and a few ice cream and coffee shops make up the shopping and dining options. The historic island (which is largely uninhabited) is filled with dancing live oak trees, fig trees, oleander, ancient cemeteries, and a few families of ducks, and it’s only accessible by way of ferry. Here are a few things that I’ll remember about this trip and some snapshots too.

IMG_1759 (2)

IMG_1740 (2)Pizza and a ferry ride. What more could these two want?

IMG_1770 (2)

Seeing dear friends for the first time in two years.

IMG_1776 (2)

Ocracoke, finally!

IMG_1797 (2)

Daily bike rides to hike through Springer’s Point where we’d have a large stretch of beach all to ourselves. Springer’s Point, a natural preserve area, is said to be the famous pirate Blackbeard’s favorite hideout place. It felt so cool yet eerie to be hanging out in the same exact woods where notably the most famous (or infamous) pirate spent so much time. The hike was long and hot for the girls but for the most part they where such champs. 

GirlsbeachIMG_9646IMG_1804 (2)IMG_1806 (2)IMG_1834 (2)IMG_1841 (2)IMG_1855 (2)

I was able to bring my bike along and use it as our main mode of transportation. Ocracoke is so scenic, biking is really the best way to enjoy it. We loved discovering all the cemeteries, the historic homes and the lighthouse.

IMG_1915 (2)

Grace having too much fun. So much so, that on the first day she cut her foot on seashells and insisted on wearing socks (and also wanted to be carried everywhere and was absolutely hysterical during bath time #3yearolds) the entire trip. The girl makes me laugh so hard! It wasn’t that bad of a cut but I think it’s the sight of it that disturbs her. She wore socks the entire time and came back with the funniest looking tan lines on her ankles. 

IMG_1957 (2)

Fig cake for breakfast on our last day. Mission accomplished!

IMG_1876 (2).JPG

Chris pointed out that Ocracoke was a perfect combination of my home town and my beloved Grayton Beach, Fl. I hate comparing places to other places but he was spot on which is why we probably liked it so much.

 

Let’s keep in touch and thanks for tuning in!

twitter

-Addie

 

 

5 Days in New Orleans + Eating Recommendations

Main, Visit

IMG_1608 (2)

It felt so good to be back in New Orleans, if only for a few days. I love the city even more now that I have children. Growing up less than an hour from New Orleans, with much of my extended living family living there, I was lucky enough to be heavily influenced by the cities rich culture, strong tastes, sounds, and sights. “Having” (poor us!) to fly in for a good friend’s wedding was a great way to kick off our annual Summer out of a Suitcase and I’d say we did so with a bang.

New Orleans may be notoriously known for Bourbon St., Mardi Gras, and a place for drive-thru daiquiris and jambalaya but there is so much more to it. The historic homes, the hospitality, the energy, the Spanish moss that hangs from the ancient live oak trees (what I miss the most living “north!”), the rotating smells of beignets, Tony’s Chachere’s or unwelcome sweat – I just love it all.

One thing that I’m most excited about is the burgeoning food scene (for non-traditional New Orleans food that is) that’s come to New Orleans in recent years. For someone who grew up on Southern/Cajun food and cooks it often at home, I’m not necessarily looking for those dishes when I travel there. I will say however, I could sit in the courtyard or balcony dining room of Brennan’s allll day. With the help of my cousin and sister, I was so happy to discover some non-New Orleans-y places to eat that I can’t wait to return to next time. I’ve listed them below along with some pictures from our trip, and a few other tips for anyone traveling there soon with little ones. Enjoy and thanks for reading! -Addie

Non-touristy places to eat in New Orleans:

  • Bearcat Cafe for Breakfast-whatever you order make sure you order the potatoes as your side!
  • 1000 Figs for Lunch– most beautiful and inventive, yet authentic, Mediterranean food I’ve ever had. The small space and light airy setting will make you feel like you’re at a friend’s for lunch.
  • St. James Cheese Company– Any time a restaurant has cheese in the title, I’m there. This is a great place for lunch or just an afternoon snack. Well-curated salads and sandwiches, not to mention a varied selection of artisan cheese. The girls enjoyed their very own chef’s board.
  • Reginellis for pizza to-go– If you’re ordering take-out this is a great option, just make sure you call the location nearest to where you’re staying!
  • Auction House Market for Dinner– Another awesome food hall in New Orleans where you can order a drink then choose from a variety of different dining options including Indian, sushi, empanadas, dessert and more. It has a great atmosphere with the sassiest bathroom I’ve ever seen.
  • District Donuts for breakfast or dessert.
  • Cochon Butcher for lunch or gourmet food items to go.
  • Dung Phuong in New Orleans East (or Little Vietnam) for French bread, pastries and a superb Banh Mi. This is a bit out of the way but has a scenic drive of old fish camps, bridges, and beautiful marshland. The spot recently won a James Beard award and while I’m not thrilled about having to possibly wait in line for some take home French bread, I’m so happy this family-run, long-time New Orleans business got some much deserved recognition.

A few other travel notes on the city if you’re bringing children….

  • You could trek to Cafe Du Monde and maybe have to wait in line, or you could head to City Park and have beignets at Morning Call.
  • Take the kids for a ride on the streetcar along the riverfront and hit up the aquarium (make sure to find the white alligator!) as well.
  • Storyland at City Park is a must.
  • We rented this adorable shotgun VRBO and can’t say enough good things about it.
  • This time of year, water, hats and sunscreen are essential!

That’s all folks! Thanks for tuning in and happy summer!

IMG_1538 (2)

IMG_1567 (2)

BrennansNewOrleans.jpg

IMG_1568 (2)IMG_1574 (2)IMG_1581 (2)

IMG_1588 (2)

IMG_1601 (2)

IMG_1605 (2)IMG_1627 (2)IMG_1682 (2)

IMG_1697 (2)IMG_1698 (2)IMG_1707 (2)

IMG_1712 (2)IMG_1728 (2)IMG_1731 (2)IMG_1645 (2)

Let’s stay in touch…

twitterpinterest

-Addie

Billiards and Bluefish

Main, North Carolina, People, Visit

IMG_9891 (2)

It’s snowing now – and for the second time already this year! It’s nice to look at it but I’m over the cold weather already. Actually, I was over it before it even started, but I’m wearing my best poker face for the girls. They don’t seem to mind the cold at all. Every winter, I beg (plead!) for Chris to look for a job on the Gulf Coast. However, with Mississippi experiencing unusually cold weather this year, I’ve decided that idea must be nixed. The only option now to avoid ever feeling cold and stuck inside would be to move to Australia or the Caribbean.  To get through the season, I’ve been embracing all things hygge which is helping. Yet, I still just resist the cold. Today I can’t help but think of our last beach trip, the last time we were in swimsuits and felt our skin sweat. I longed for it and sat looking through these pictures and replaying the memories in my mind. Emerald Isle, early this past November for 5 days.

What do you do in Emerald Isle, North Carolina for 5 days? Not much of anything. Fish, play in the sand and of course, eat. You may have heard us mention our honorary North Carolina parents, Liz and Bill. To our kids and us, Bill is referred to as Guillermo, the Spanish translation for the name Bill. I met Guillermo on a mission trip in Honduras years ago. Since that meeting, you could say we have sort of inserted our family into theirs. They like to garden and eat good food. We do too. They like to make and talk wine. We like to drink it. They like the beach. We do too. They value their family, their marriage, their faith and love a good adventure –  they’re a couple we easily look up to and enjoy being around. We spend hours talking about anything under the sun, including the often-avoided religion and politics. I think it also helps that we’re not related 😉 Guillermo himself, a retired engineered from Cotton Inc., is full of interesting facts. He can somehow simultaneously make us all scratch our head and burst into laughter. We just never know if what he says is true or not! They spent most of the months of October and November in Emerald Isle, NC (#retiredlife) with visitors coming and going and generously invited us over for an entire week.

Most posts about our little adventures have just been general highlights of where we stayed, what we ate, the more vague stuff. Lately though, I’ve really been wanting to hold onto the little details that I never share and often forget. Funny things Grace says, conversations between Chris and I, images I want to ingrain in my mind of all of us together. Here’s what stuck out to me about this trip.

IMG_9722 (2)

Grace insisting I bury her in the sand over and over, accidentally eating sand over and over and laughing about it.

IMG_9781 (2)

The large amount of seashells we found each day and quizzing the girls on bi-valves. “Is it a scallop, mussel, clam or oyster shell?”

IMG_9729 (2)

How loud and close the waves sounded at night when we slept..all like we were milk drunk infants. The beach is the best remedy for a good night’s sleep. We slept with the blinds open so we could rise with the  sun. Chris was up early just about every morning to go fishing with Guillermo. Nothing like the prospect of catching fish to get a man out of bed early! 

IMG_9831 (2)IMG_9843 (2)IMG_9866 (2)

Charlotte being cheeky as ever all weekend, mischievously sneaking up and down the staircase having us wondering what trouble has she sought out now? She loved the sand, eating her weight in boiled corn and all of Guillermo’s fist pumps.

IMG_9883 (2)

Bluefish-the buzzword of the week. It was pretty much all anyone was catching. Still, every catch was exciting (and sometimes frightening) for the kids. We ate it for the first few meals, fried hot with seared vegetables and cold on sandwiches. It’s actually incredibly tasty but you must eat it the day of or after you’ve caught it. It has a reputation for having a fishy taste and not a favored seafood. But alas! Most of the fish you buy in stores or at restaurants have not likely been caught that day. I mistakenly did a Google search of its safety which led to a huge discussion of mercury levels and the safety of consuming certain fish. Note to self – never start a debate with a chemist and an engineer unless you have a huge glass of wine and a lot of spare time. At one point Guillermo repeated the phrase in his natural New York accent “forget about it” in what must have been five different languages. We concluded that unless we were catching huge bluefish (which we weren’t) there was no reason to be concerned about heavy metals. “They’re hitting, they’re hitting!” Guillermo or Chris would observe on and off throughout the day. They meant birds where huddled over the water nose diving to catch blues. Chris and Guillermo would then load up, walk down to the beach and follow the birds, catching their leftovers. “Still blues? Still blues?”  Mostly blues. However, Liz caught several puffer fish much to the girls delight.  We bought scallops one night to have with the blues, a surf and surf if you will. And the next night did a shrimp and crab boil feast on the balcony. Grace proudly got to stay up late enough to enjoy dessert, oven broiled s’mores. She’s doing some socially-conscious eating lately..aka vegetarianism. Can you believe it? My child decided against all fish and many meats and cheeses?!..Pray it’s a phase.

IMG_9779 (2)

IMG_9889 (2)

Billiards-Chris and Guillermo decided to go for a walk one night, a walk that lasted well until at least midnight. At one point after realizing the time, Liz and I both looked at each other thinking, “did we really let our husbands go out together alone?” We still don’t know the entire story of why they were gone so long. According to them they were hustling a group of marines at a local bar over a few rounds of billiards. They apparently won 100 bucks which we’ve yet to see.

IMG_9898 (2)

Chris and I agreeing, “we need more of this, time at the beach with no plans.” Or just anywhere with no plans which I’m happy to say we’ve done well with so far this year. We stayed put for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, a first ever for us. By far it was a great decision. We’ve been enjoying a restful, cozy New Year.

I’d love to hear from our friends and family who we haven’t seen in a while. Hope you all are well! Feel free to keep in touch in the comments or connect on twitter or instagram.

P.S. I wrote an article (both print and online!) for Raleigh Magazine on a few unexpected places around town to bring your little ones. You can read it here. I also happily answered some questions for Mother Magazine about where to play and eat in Raleigh which you can read here and shared my granola recipe on Raleigh Moms Blog which you can view here.

Birthdays in Brevard

Main, North Carolina, Visit

The only year we’ve missed our annual fall trip to the mountains was when Grace was in my belly waiting to make her debut. She was four days late and we totally could have made it! Perhaps the change in elevation would have sent me into labor though. Typically, we are in the Banner Elk/Boone area but this year we met Christopher’s parents for a lovely weekend in Brevard, an area we’d yet to explore.  It was a joint celebration weekend between ringing in my 30th (wowza) and Grace’s 3rd birthday.  My mother-in-law (hi Juju!) pulled out all the stops with decorations all over our historic rental house, pumpkin spice pancakes in the mornings, and lots of fun things for the girls. Here are a few highlights and things to know if you ever make a visit to the Brevard area yourself!

IMG_7094 (2).JPG

We stayed at a vacation rental house connected with The Red House Inn and made a point to actually spend some time in the house itself – drinking hot cocoa, reading, cuddling, etc. We even made smores on the gas stovetop one day. And as a birthday treat, I took the opportunity to get through some reading tucked away in the upstairs bedroom listening to the rain.  The house was walking distance to downtown, where we tested several local restaurants and played at this awesome toy shop. If you need eating recommendations, try Marco Trattoria for Italian (I loved their asparagus appetizer and crab risotto), Square Root for brunch or The Phoenix and the Fox for a fun farm-to-table, local place.

IMG_9483 (2)IMG_9498 (3)

We explored downtown Waynesville for their Apple Fest where I found a dream store: part local grocery, part coffee shop, and part gift shop, with a little corner for the kids to play!  Blossom on Main served us a bright, flavorful warm Thai lunch. Who would have thought you could find good Thai food in little ole’ Waynesville in Western NC?

IMG_9511 (2)

Transylvania County (where Brevard is) is famously known for the large number of enchanting waterfalls including Skinny Dip falls, pictured above and below. We’re looking forward to checking out more of these when it warms up and we can swim, especially Sliding Rock!IMG_9517 (2)IMG_9588 (2)Chris and I sneaked away one afternoon to take in the spectacular views of the Art Loeb trail. Even with the low visibility, it was breathtaking. Last time I hiked this, I was pretty heavily pregnant with Grace. It was late summer, and the views were lush green and bright blue, with wild flower patches everywhere. This time, the atmosphere was eerie, golden and gray. I loved it just as much.

IMG_9571 (2)IMG_9573 (2)IMG_9581 (2)We couldn’t not take the girls on a little hike of their own, so on our way home we stopped and hiked the Hard Times Trail Loop on Lake Powhatan (located within Pisgah National Forest right outside downtown Asheville and the Baltimore Estate). This is a great trail for young kids to walk on their own (or if you have babies in carriers). The trail follows Bent Creek (which houses a trout hatchery), gives glimpses of the mountains, has a natural tunnel made from clustered old winding tree branches, and lots more exciting things for a 3 year old 🙂

FullSizeRender (2)

Speaking of, Grace, I can’t believe you are THREE. You are wise beyond your years and filled with so much spirit. If I had one word for you, I would say content. The day we were packing to leave, frazzled running in and out of the house, I had a bit of a minor panic attack when I didn’t know where you were. I realized it’d been a while since checking in on your whereabouts and for all I knew, you’d walked down the street to make a new friend or “go to school.” I found you happily laying in the grass in the front yard with a doll, singing a song. I smiled and asked what you were doing. You replied, “Just lying in the sun mama.”

Today, while playing with you on the beach (yes-we’re currently at the beach!), we decided it would be fun to cover you in sand. Per your request, we decided to build you a “sand castle mermaid tail” over your legs. I was just about finished and without thinking, you kicked your legs up, wanting to wiggle out to see the finished product. Sand went flying everywhere, most of it landing in your eyes and mouth. I gasped a bit, looked at you, expecting some dramatics. You looked at me, started laughing, opened your mouth and said “look mom I’m accidentally eating it.”  I’ve said this before, to know you is to love you and I certainly do! Please never change.

Until next time folks, and thanks for reading!

P.S. If you read my last post from your email, you missed out on all the photos that went with it. To view those you would have clicked on the post title where it would have opened it in your browser. Here it is again if you wanted a look.

Addie

 

Summer out of a Suitcase

Main, North Carolina, People, Visit

Hello friends and family!

Apologies for the extended absence. We had a busy summer, as you will soon see.

It kicked off in the charming Matthews, NC visiting my Aunt Pat who proved to be a super host. Thank you for hosting our rowdy bunch Aunt Pat!

Then there was Emerald Isle for a long weekend with the famous Liz & Guermillo and some other super great cooks and friends.

Then the in-laws came in town for a week in the Outerbanks. There we celebrated Charlotte’s first birthday, ate our weight in birthday cake and seafood and discovered the idyllic, historic Manteo, NC.

Then we spent about 3 weeks in Mississippi (you can read more about my beloved hometown here) where we made play-dough, did fish prints, learned to overcome our fear of the water (good job Grace!), eat scrumptious homemade ice cream, collected chicken eggs and played with all the grandparents.

Then we spent a week in Grayton Beach, Fl where we “fished” with our cousins, built sandcastles and read lots of books.

I just scratched the surface on all the people we saw, the meals we ate, and the memories. But let the pictures and smiling faces speak for themselves. It was a good summer! Mostly it was a summer of growth for both girls as you’ll see how different they now look (and act!). September has been a month of catching up with friends, doing all the things we love around Raleigh, and relaxing at home.  I’m happy to be back into a rhythm and look forward to sharing some upcoming fall adventures with you all.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want to see more of some home-cooked meals we enjoyed this summer, check out this post on Grace Gourmet.

P.P.S. If you’re interested, I wrote a guest blog post on Carolina Parent.

 

Climbing Kitty Hawk

Main, North Carolina, Visit

If you’ve ever seen a car with a North Carolina license plate, you may have noticed the phrase “first in flight.”  While this claim to fame has been contested (which you can read about here), Kitty Hawk, NC is where the famous Wright Brothers, achieved the first successful aviation flight in the world. We had the pleasure of vacationing in this area of the North Carolina coast, known as the Outer Banks, a few weeks ago with my in-laws. One of the highlights of our trip was making a visit to the Wright Brothers memorial, which was conveniently just across the street from our vacation rental. It was a long, hot hike to the top but worth the panoramic views of the coastline. Grace, in all her confident grown-up acting glory, walked the entire way! From the top of the memorial, you can see the actual runway that the plane departed from. It is open for patrons to walk along from the visitors center and museum to the monument itself. Between the kiddos and the heat, we opted to save our energy for the hike up and just enjoy the views. There was also a very cool rendition of the first flight with statues of the crew aiding in take-off. Check out the pictures below and enjoy!

IMG_7876 (2)IMG_7879 (2)IMG_7896 (2)IMG_7898 (2)IMG_7906 (2)

IMG_7927 (2)

IMG_7910 (2)IMG_7930 (2)IMG_7935 (2)IMG_7955 (2)