Easter in Gainesville

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I couldn’t resist sharing a few photos from our short but sweet Easter weekend in Gainesville, FL. We went to spend time with our best friends, the Corrings (you may remember them from this trip), who are now a family of 3! They welcomed a perfect baby boy in February who I was just itching to meet.  Gainseville is a laid back, funky college town. A major perk of being in Florida for Easter was that it was actually warm! The weekend was filled with lots of baby cuddles, good food, a wonderful Easter mass service and lots of quality time before they made a cross country trip to their new home in Seattle.  Emily and I used to stay up all night talking about our future adult life and what we wanted out of it. It’s crazy to me that now we we are living it! Seeing friends you hold near and dear have children is incredible. Here are a few favorite photos from our weekend. Enjoy!

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We ate at a popular restaurant, The Top for both Sunday brunch and dinner. The Top is a very fun and funky place, much like Gainesville itself. The food didn’t last long, otherwise you know I would have included a photo 😉

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How sweet is this little family? Parenthood suits them.

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 The Baughman Performing Arts Center (pictured above) on UF’s campus made an awesome spot for a little Easter egg hunt for Grace. Afterwards we hung out around Lake Alice, took some photos and spotted both a turtle and an alligator!

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John bought dried fruit to fill the eggs with, which Grace was very happy about. By the end of eating all the dried fruit from the eggs she knew which was papaya, mango and kiwi (her favorite). 

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“Too much, Mom and Dad…too much.” Ha!

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Across from Lake Alice is a huge Bat Conservatory (pictured above) that you can read more about here.  Just before dusk every evening, you can apparently watch the thousands of bats swarm around outside their houses. While we didn’t stick around for that, Grace loved playing in the patch of wild flowers on the property. 

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Emily and I were laughing about the fact that before kids, we used to revolve these weekend meetups around our pets…notice there are no dogs in any of these pictures. Oh how times have changed! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and thanks for reading. Until next time!  -Addie

Grayton Beach, FL

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I’m sitting here wondering how people blog so frequently about their travels, their home cooked meals, their life and still actually find pleasure in those things. I had plans to do an entire post on the best crab cakes in the world, which are served at the famous Red Bar. Actually, I haven’t tried every crab cake in the world but I would argue they’re the best in the South!  I had plans to post about the eerily quaint Seaside community. I had plans to take you on a bike ride through Grayton Beach State Park to see the sand dunes, blue herons and alligators. However, it felt like a lot of work and not enough vacationing! I’m hoping the reason I wasn’t able to compile several posts about our trip is a sign of a great vacation, (or I’m a little unorganized). Maybe both?

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So here is just one post (that didn’t take away from what was an awesome week!). All of the pictures were taken at arguably my favorite place on earth (besides Bay St. LouisGrayton Beach, Florida. A place I’ve been fortunate to vacation for more than 20 years thanks to my step-mother and father. It has been named one of the best beaches in the world before and rightly so. The crowds are relatively small compared to other Florida beach towns. The water is clear blue. The sand is white and feels like sugar on your feet. Grayton is an old town that has kept its’ charm thanks to protection from Grayton Beach State Park. You’ll find bungalow style homes, just a few restaurants, live oak trees and people roaming around in their swimsuits.

Perhaps its’ most unique quality is that it’s the home of Western Lake, one of the few coastal dune lakes worldwide which flows in and out of the ocean. It’s difficult to explain but when you are at the beach in Grayton, watching the waves, behind you is a beautiful peaceful lake usually filled with kids looking for fish, swimming, canoeing etc. If you’re lucky you’ll sometimes get to see the lake when it has joined the ocean and turned crystal clear. Mother Nature is an incredible thing and Grayton Beach is filled with natural beauty. Here are some photos.

My brother Jay made low country risotto one night. I was assisting him in and out, scribbling notes but mostly chatting, drinking and getting quality time with our family. So I have no idea how the deliciousness ended up from pot to plate. I ended up with just this one not-so-good photo but a lingering addictive taste of silky corn, nutty risotto and spicy crab in my mouth.  He is so creative in the kitchen. Who would have thought low country boil leftovers could be transformed into risotto? He used vegetable and seafood scraps to make a fish stock that perfumed the entire house. Chris caught crabs off the dock in the back yard that accompanied the risotto perfectly.

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I just had to include this picture because it makes me laugh. This is Grace “waving.” She proudly waves very seriously now, often with two hands and not just at people, but animals, cars, plants and in this case, a kite.

First dip in Western Lake, or the “little lake” as we call it.

Crab cake and grouper dinner at the Red Bar (great food, weird lighting.) While the price of the crab cakes go up, the taste and quality seem to be just as good if not better. Look at that generous portion of pure lump crab on my plate!

I hope Grace grows up loving this place as much as I do. Her first trip was a success thanks to our family who fed, cared and entertained her while we were there. Until next year Grayton!

-Addie

La Crema in Rosemary Beach, FL

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It’s been one week since we returned from sunny, one-of-a-kind, Grayton Beach (sad face). To no surprise we spent our days at the beach and evenings indulging in seafood and family time. Additionally, we had free babysitters built in all week! Our trip was near perfect. If I can get organized enough to sort through the hundreds of pictures I took, perhaps I’ll share some. However, the idea of that is daunting and I am a pro at putting things off these days!

In the mean time, I wanted to share some photos of a superb cafe named La Crema in the picturesque Rosemary Beach, where we spent our last day of vacation. Judy, my mother-in-law (and most dedicated reader-hi Juju!) and I explored Rosemary Beach this time last year and discovered La Crema. All week I had been hoping we would have a chance to go back. Luckily we did! Rosemary Beach is at the tip of the famous, scenic 30A highway in South Walton Florida. It boasts charming Tuscan style architecture, narrow brick roads, shopping, dining and the same gorgeous perfect beaches that make up South Walton. You can enjoy everything by foot or more festively by bicycle. Dining at La Crema is a must if you find yourself in the area. It was the perfect way to end our week.

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The menu and ambiance at La Crema is inspired by the culture of Spain, particularly Barcelona and Madrid. The environment was airy, bright and comfortable. The service was great. The sangria and food were even better. Tapas, chocolate and al fresco dining? Sign me up. Tapas is all about the quality of the food you’re eating rather than the quantity. La Crema executes that perfectly. You’re encouraged to relax, take your time eating and enjoy who you’re with. Below are some snapshots of our experience.

We started with figs wrapped in pancetta, stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Much of the menu had red wine incorporated into it and I was totally alright with that.

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Next was lamb lollipops cooked perfectly to medium rare with grilled asparagus and a caper berry aioli. When in doubt, order the special of the day. You’ll likely receive the freshest and tastiest option on the menu. The lamb was a hit with all of us.

Perhaps the favorite at the table was the beef, pepper and cream cheese empanadas. The filling was rich with just the right amount of spice. The crust was flaky yet soft. Notice the sangria flask in the background? Chris has the exact same one in his lab. Apparently, chemistry can’t escape us. Not even on vacation!

My mother-in-law suggested we order dessert and I am so glad she did. We went with the Nutella chocolate molten cake, and salted caramel ice cream. Both were divine. The molten cake, baked perfectly with a piping hot and not fully cooked center, as it should be. I typically skip over anything on a menu that has caramel in it, not interested in something so sweet. However, their salted caramel ice cream leaned more on the salty side which paired perfectly with the sweet Nutella molten cake. I am now a salted caramel convert!

Grace tried little bites of our food and seemed to enjoy everything, especially the empanadas. She’s 9 months old people and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to afford her growing taste buds!

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Until next time La Crema and Rosemary Beach. You were such a delight!