st. george island, fl {+ vacation meals}

Posted: July 9th, 2015

St. George Island, FL

We traveled last week to St. George Island, FL, for a week long vacation with my family.  I’ve been going to St. George Island since I was a baby, so while I may be a bit biased, I think I can objectively say that it is my favorite beach.  It is all beach houses and small condos (no high-rises), which makes the whole atmosphere more relaxed and the beach less crowded than so many of the other more popular beaches along the Gulf Coast.

St. George Island, FL
St. George Island, FL

It was our first vacation with Evelyn, which was an adjustment–figuring out how to keep her on a relative schedule, the entire getting us down to the beach routine, someone in the family having to stay at the beach house with her during naps.  By the end of the week I felt like I was getting used to it, but on the first night (when Evelyn was up for an hour because a thunderstorm woke her up and then she realized she didn’t know where she was), I told Gerrit, “I think as parents we don’t really get vacations anymore.  Just trips.”

But despite that feeling, plenty of it felt relaxing.  I read a book.  I sat on our screened in porch a lot.  I sat on the beach a fair amount of time.  We ate dinner overlooking the ocean.  We did a bit of shopping in Apalachilcola (and I found a place with hazelnut gelato for the first time since Italy!).  We played in the ocean and saw dolphins almost every day (some of them quite close).  We watched fireworks for the 4th of July along the beach.  We drove around the island and looked at houses (one of my parents’ favorite activities: trying to remember and find all of the beach houses we’ve stayed in in years past).

St. George Island, FL

I wish I had some recommendations for you and “travel advice”, but the truth is that we ate most of our meals at home and spent most of our days at the house and at the beach.

But let’t talk about eating/cooking on vacation.  We ate out for lunch one day and out for dinner one night.  Other than that, we cooked out meals at the beach house, which I had a lot of fun planning ahead of time so that we would have minimum stress.  So here are the basics of what we did:

1)  I made mushroom lasagna ahead of time for our first night there.  I froze it and then let it thaw on the top of the cooler in the car and then on the counter once we got there.  Then I stuck it in the oven and headed down with my family to the beach for a bit and dinner was ready when we got back.

2) We had buttermilk brined grilled chicken on our second night there, and since it is better the longer it stays in the brine, I prepped it all before we left and let it sit for two days and we grilled it there.  (To go with it, my mom did some corn on the cob, and we baked frozen dinner rolls.)

3) My mom made another baked pasta dish ahead of time for one of our other nights.  So another meal where basically we just had to throw a pan in the oven and dinner was ready when we came up from the beach.  (And we sauteed some zucchini to go with it.)

4) We brought steaks for one night and ate fish that my dad, my brother, and Gerrit had caught on a deep sea fishing voyage they went on one day.  (Our sides: baked potatoes and roasted broccoli)

5) Because my family’s problem is always too much food, we had various leftovers for dinner one night.

4) My parents made hamburger patties ahead of time and put them in the freezer and we grilled them on 4th of July.  (My mom made a slaw, and we put some frozen sweet potato fries in the oven.)

What about you?  How do you like to eat on vacation?

St. George Island, FL

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a month of meals {june 2015}

Posted: July 6th, 2015

{Back from the internet silence of vacation!  I didn’t mean to completely disappear from the internet, but we were unexpectedly without wifi for the week.  Thanks to everyone who has responded to the survey so far!  If you still want to, click here.}

a month of meals june 2015

Here’s what we ate this month.

{An explanation as to why I’m doing this can be found in January 2015.}

{Past months: January 2015 : February 2015 : March 2015 : April 2015 : May 2015}

Jun 1–pork chops, roasted broccoli, cous cous
Jun 2–dinner at Gerrit’s parents’–grilled pork chops with mango salsa, rice, green beans wrapped in bacon
Jun 3baked chicken thighs, bread with olive oil and herbs for dipping, brussels sprouts with bacon
Jun 4–dinner at my parents’–breaded chicken thighs, brussels sprouts with bacon (notice a pattern with pork chops and bacon this week? totally unplanned), toasted herb bread
Jun 5–burger cookout with some friends (I made quinoa salad)
Jun 6–sandwiches (we had lunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Chattanooga)
Jun 7–yogurt grilled chicken, leftover quinoa salad

Jun 8–dinner at my parents’–rotisserie chicken, quinoa salad (we seem to be unintentionally repeating each other a lot this month) (also, we didn’t mean to eat with my parents this much this week (not that we don’t love to eat with them) but it’s just how our schedule worked out and what side of town we were on…just throwing that disclaimer out there if you think I try to get out of cooking dinner…I really don’t…most of the time.)
Jun 9–dinner at Gerrit’s parents’ for Gerrit’s dad’s birthday–grilled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing), corn on the cob, twice baked potatoes, oreo dessert
Jun 10–dinner at my parents’–buttermilk brined grilled chicken, corn on the cob, roasted asparagus
Jun 11pasta alla carbonara, garlic bread
Jun 12–burgers, oven fries, grilled zucchini, chocolate peanut butter ice cream
Jun 13whole what pasta with cauliflower
June 14–pasta with mushrooms

Jun 15asian marinated salmon, cous cous, roasted broccoli
Jun 16–dinner at Gerrit’s parents’–grilled tilapia, pan fried cauliflower, rice
Jun 17–dinner at my parents’–flank steak, roasted squash, polenta with goat cheese
Jun 18baked chicken thighs, brussels sprouts with bacon, zucchini fritters
Jun 19–out to eat
Jun 20–grilled chicken under a brick (which I still can’t get quite right), roasted potatoes, grilled zucchini, s’mores pie
Jun 21–pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches (recipe to come!), sweet potato fries

Jun 22–pork chops, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes
Jun 23–dinner at Gerrit’s parents’–pot roast with vegetables, rice, strawberry pie
Jun 24–dinner at my parents’–baked tilapia, brussels sprouts with bacon, fruit
Jun 25roasted red pepper pasta
Jun 26–rotisserie chicken, baguette with olive oil for dipping, sauteed zucchini with almonds
Jun 27–chicken pesto panini, sweet potato fries
Jun 28–mushroom lasagna (frozen so we could stick it in the oven once we got to the beach!), garlic bread

Jun 29–buttermilk brined grilled chicken, corn on the cob, frozen dinner rolls
Jun 30–out to eat at the beach

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summer 2015 blog survey

Posted: June 29th, 2015

blog survey

Just a brief post today to ask if you wouldn’t mind taking a short blog survey.  I don’t care if you’ve been reading this site for years or just stumbled upon it today, I would so appreciate your feedback!  It’s a short survey, just a handful of questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.  I’d love to know your thoughts on what you like, what you’d like to see more of, etc.

Just click here to get to the survey.

Thanks!  Hope you’re having a great week.

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things i’m loving lately {june 2015}

Posted: June 26th, 2015

porch swing

My Back Porch

Our back porch has been a work-in-progress for years (and really still is.  But in the past couple of months we have done three things that make a huge difference: 1) stained it 2) strung up some lights and 3) finished staining and hanging the back porch swing.  And now it is starting to feel like the relaxing haven I have always wanted it to be.

Yoga with Adriene

I kept hearing about it and kept hearing about it until finally I had to try it.  And I am loving it.  I’ve been on the search for a dependable yoga program with lots of variety that also happens to be free, and this is it.  I also love that there are plenty of shorter (20-30 minute) routines so that doing yoga doesn’t always require an hour long time commitment from me.

Sun-Bleaching Stains

I guess I’ve always considered it an old fashioned thing to do (because really we have stain remover these days!), but y’all.  It works.  A few weeks ago Evelyn had a little red stain on her adorable white popsicle shirt (really it is the cutest! summer popsicles that are smiling!) and I set it aside on my dresser so I would remember to treat it (again) next time I washed it.  Well I didn’t get around to that for awhile…and lo and behold a week or so later, after it had been sitting in the sun from the window next to my dresser, the stain was gone.  Same thing with a white decorative dish towel.  Hung it up to treat later, and the sun from the window bleached it out.

Book Podcasts

You may have heard me confess my love for From the Front Porch (the podcast from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA).  But I have been in a podcast listening mood recently and have been looking for more.  So far I’m really enjoying Books on the Nightstand, and I’ve listened to a bit of The Lit Up Show and I think it’s going to be a regular for me as well.

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about a tree

Posted: June 23rd, 2015

fallen tree

Last week, I think it might have even been on Tuesday, I read The Giving Tree to Evelyn.  I haven’t read that book in years.  In case you’re unfamiliar (or forget) the story, a boy loves a tree and as he grows older the trees offers him herself (apples to sell for money, wood to build with, etc.) trying to make the boy happy.  And in the end, the tree is an old stump on which the boy, now an old man, can sit and rest.

Later that day, my dad texted us all to let us know that the tree that has been standing for several decades in front of the family house fell down unexpectedly in the middle of the night.  No one and nothing was hurt, part of it just fell into the street and into the neighbor’s driveway, and the rest needed to be taken down so it wouldn’t fall on the house.

I say the “family house” because it is a home that has been in our family for over 50 years.  My great-grandparents lived in it.  My grandparents lived in it.  My family lived in it.  My grandmother has recently been living in it again.  But it is being sold out of the family for the first time next month.  We (more specifically my parents) have been over there helping my grandmother clean out closets and move her things.

The wall-paper in the small bedroom is still the same teddy bear wall paper that was my nursery theme when my parents brought me home from the hospital.  There is a Christmas tree growing tall in the back yard that my parents planted.  The first dog I ever had is buried in the back corner.

If I had a lot more money, I’d buy the house and do the remodel myself.  It’s going to be hard to drive down that street and see someone else making that house into something different.

It’s going to be hard to no have a particular reason to drive down that street.  (It’s a beautiful street.)

But we have to let go of things and move on and tree reminded me of that last week.

I got a picture in front of the tree a few weeks ago, and picture of me with Evelyn sitting on my lap, because as a child we took so many pictures sitting on that little brick wall out front and as a child I remember wrapping my arms around the tree trunk and drawing on the bark with crayons.  I wanted a picture to remember the tree before the house sold.  But I assumed I would be remembering it because my family no longer had the house, not because the tree would be gone.

In a way, I’m glad the tree fell on it’s own last week.  It would have been harder to see someone else pulling it up.  But instead, it did the hard thing first and gave us all permission to let go and move on.

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