The Low Down

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MAWAGE!

You probably already know this but... J and I are getting married!

(Photo by talented future brother in law.)

I am so excited. First and foremost, because I get to hang out with this guy for the rest of my life:


Secondly, because I get to see all the people I love most! It is one of my favorite things when thinking about a wedding - that all of my (& Justin's) best people will be in one place at one time. I can't wait!


Lastly, because I love all things local, I'm going to get a chance to share some of my favorite Baldwin County highlights with loved ones far and wide. While I don't want my blog to become a wedding site (I'm not up to the task,) I would LOVE to tell you all about some of the local flavor we'll be touting on the big day! So stay tuned. I've got some good ones coming. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Girl's Gotta Eat

I'll start this post with an announcement: I have begun writing for another blog! Fear not readers, I'll still bug you on a weekly basis. :)

This new blog is for a wonderful small business in Orange Beach called Gulf Coast Beach Getaways. (Here's the link to the blog.) I'm excited about the opportunity and elated for the chance to give more exposure to the beautiful corner of the world that I live in.



In the interest of integrity, I am going to try to keep the two blogs separate. I don't want my employment to influence the recommendations I give you. But, from time to time, I might do some posts that are about the same topic and are quite similar. In these cases, I will be sure to inform you of my bias.

One exception to this: My employers requested that I maintain an events calendar for the area. This has proven to be quite a task... there is SO much going on! I'm going place this calendar on my blog as well. It will have it's own tab: To Do List.

Get ready, it's going to be a busy fall!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spring Time

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend! I learned two things over the three-day break. First: You can fit 7 people onto a one person kayak.

(There is still some debate about who finally tipped us.)

Also, I had no idea how many incredibly beautiful fresh (and cold) water springs decorate the Florida Panhandle.

Cypress Springs
We rented a few extra kayaks from Old Cypress Canoe Rentals, a new mom-and-pop company that rents out canoes, kayaks and rafts. The equipment is brand-new and they let us stay out as long as we wanted. We were able to explore the main attraction, Cypress Springs (above.) I wish the picture could convey how beautiful it was. Of course, the locals are well aware of their little treasure, and the place was absolutely packed with rowdy friends enjoying Labor Day weekend. It might behoove you to go on a weekday if you are looking for some low-key exploration. We took our time down the rest of the cypress and oak covered river, relishing in the relatively silent scenery.

Kayaking the Morrison Spring Run 

We also explored some of the less popular springs on the creek. They were not nearly as beautiful, but very interesting in their own right. We also paid a visit to Morrison Springs, which is a nice, clear diving spot with some fantastic kayaking opportunities.

We camped at Falling Waters State Park, which also has some interesting geographical features, but it is a bit of a drive to many of the springs.

It was a really nice weekend! Oh, and fear not, my football loving friends, we were able to enjoy both the Bulldogs' and the Bammers' beatdowns with a TV that we ratchet-strapped to a tree.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Red Flags With Black Boxes

Facing my first named storm as a Gulf Coast resident hearkens me back to this common pre-snowstorm conversation back in Atlanta:

Person A: Did you see how full the parking lot was at Kroger? Haha.
Person B: Yeah, hahaha, people really go crazy whenever snow is in the forecast!
Person A: Yeah, no kidding. It's like, chill people!
Person B: Haha, chill. Hahaha.
Person A: I remember back in the Blizzard of '93, we had no power for three days.
Person B: Yeah! Burrrr. We definitely chilled then! Oh, I also heard that Wal-Mart ran out of bread and bottled water today.
Person A: Oh really, ha, wow, people are crazy.
Person B: Sure are.  The weather people are probably exaggerating anyway... It probably won't even snow that bad.
Person A: Yeah... Well I better get going, I've got to "run some errands."
Person B: Me too. Maybe I'll even grab a "bottle of water." Hahaha.
(Both secretly head to the nearest Grocery Store to stock up on essential grocery items, flashlights and matches.)

While Hurricanes are nothing to joke about and are decidedly more dangerous than Atlanta Snowpocalypses, I find that the attitudes are really quite similar: a mix dread for what could happen, practicality about what will probably actually happen, excitement about missing work/school, irreverent humor about the "over-prepared" and lots of jokes about the overreaction of news media and the in-competencies of the weather people. (Apologies to my meteorologist and news friends.)

Thanks, NOAA

So, though Issac has turned his eye westward and everyone assures me it won't be that bad, I thought I'd share with you MY hurricane preparedness list, just in case a latter-alphabet storm sets its sights on us.

1. Water.
2. Granny. And her Meds and Oxy-Tank
3. Flashlight & 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey*…. Because nothing makes ghost stories more frightening than a power outage and a flashlight!
4. Fully charged cell phone and computer. Or maybe not...
5. Blankets/Battery Powered Fan – Is it going to be hot or cold? I can’t get a read on that.
6. Virgin Hurricane Recipe – (Fitting since it is my first storm. :)) Orange Juice, Pinapple Juice, Grenadine and Sweet-and-Sour mix
7. Fiber Bars – Don't judge, I live with an octogenarian and I’m hooked
8. Helmet, Galoshes and a Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet – Just in case I have to go rescue this guy:

(Baxter. A hurricane in his own right.)
9. Non-Perishable Iced Coffee – Storm or no storm, I still need caffeine*
10. Body Spray – Showers may be few and far between?
11. Stack of books and the sewing project that Granny and I are working on
12. Extra batteries.
13. A group of good people to batten down the hatches with!

That should do it! Any other suggestions?


*Thanks for the tip, Deb. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Food with a Y Chromosome


Category 5
Don’t be fooled by the name. Food Network-featured Manci’s Antique Club is a man-cave if I’ve ever seen one. (Which is handy, because I suggested we try it as the lone woman in a party of 8.) Lined with old farm machinery and a Jim Beam collection that rivals the moonshiner himself, this bar/dive is something.

I have it on good authority that males will love this place… Especially if they decide to man-up with the Hurricane Burger! A bacon-cheese burger slopped with chili? C’mon, you know you boys would wear bacon-chili cologne if they made it.

Gals, this is not Dr. Pepper 10. There are plenty of treats for us as well. (And I’m not talking about the bathroom. Wink, wink.) I sampled a few of the sandwiches, but I especially like the sides: homemade chips, fries, or (yessss!) fried okra. 

The place is a little bit dusty, but fun and worthy of the "dive" label. Also, you'll definitely have something to talk about after you leave. Don't worry, Manci's regulars... I won't ruin the surprise. :)

Manci's Antique Club Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Seafood Edition #2: Oysters

I feel cozy in paradox.

While I may shy away from raw oysters, one of my absolute favorite foods in America is a char-grilled oyster from Drago’s in New Orleans. So, upon our family outing to the Original Oyster House on the Causeway for my mother’s birthday, I decided to try a similar dish-- the oyster sampler.* It was a lovely arrangement, including 3 different varieties of oysters: fried, baked with Parmesan cheese, herbs & butter, and the house specialty. (Marinara sauce and ham were involved.)

Any time I have ordered oysters at the O.O.H., I have ooooooh-ed. They are delectable. Not sure what they bathe the little bottom feeders in before they are cooked, but they are quite nice- especially the fried ones. The baked versions were nice too, but it’s a shame to compare anything to one of my absolute favorite foods in America. I was so enraptured by my pearly feast and the rowdy family conversation that I did not realize that I had an amazing sweet chili sauce to dip with. My plate was clean when I discovered it, so I had to borrow a few of J’s leftover shrimp and other samples from around the table so I could enjoy the sauce more fully. In conclusion: next time I go to O.O.H. I must be in the mood for fried food. And I’m asking for a gallon of the chili sauce.

Also, a very Happy Birthday to my unique and inspiring mother; and to my grandmother who did all the work. 



*I am aware of the old saying that one shouldn’t eat oysters in months that do not contain an “R,” but my grandmother assures me that farm raised oysters have created a cozy paradigm shift to year-round oyster eating. Your thoughts?

Original Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake


Can we all just agree that we are tired of eating cupcakes? 

...Ok, now that we are all in agreement, let’s go back to eating cake. This cake: Dean’s (slap-yo-mamma) 7-Layer Caramel Cake  from Andalusia, Alabama.

I bring this up because J and I are doing a juice fast this weekend in an effort to reset our taste-buds. So, naturally, my daydreams are vacillating between bacon cheeseburgers and my favorite store-bought cake in America. Ugh. Yum.

Aunt Dean’s got it down, y’all. She recognizes cake for what it really is: a skeleton for its muscle, a frame for its drywall, a blank canvas for its Chagall, a set-worker for its Madama Butterfly. What I'm trying to say is: the true star in Aunt Dean’s cake is the icing. Oh, the icing! Her caramel spread has a contrasting sweet and smoky bite and that will make you wonder if there was an epic battle for good and evil fought in its fruition. Holy moly, it's good.

I admit, I'm so in love with the caramel, I've yet to venture out and try her many other cake flavors. Aunt Dean's website says her cake business all started with a Sock-It-To-Me accident. (How’s that for intrigue?) It also includes all the local places you can pick them up. I usually get mine at Allegri Farm Market in Daphne.

So tell me... what's your favorite cake?

Dean's Cake House on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Country Conversion

My conversion to country girl may have just become complete. I learned how to drive a tractor yesterday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ode to the DEEP South (New Zealand)

It has been a productive week in the kitchen! Geez Louise, we are going to gain weight with all this deliciousness! Yesterday marked 3 years for J & I, so I made him one of his favorite things in the wide world:

NZ Meat and Cheese Pie!


It was really good, although I don't think I did the real Kiwi version justice. I used this recipe, but it was too ketchupy. Next time I'll probably make a similar version with a tiny bit of tomato paste in place of the ketchup and maybe less soy sauce.

It was funny because I realized as I was cooking that I was wearing a New Zealand shirt from my dear friend Vee. And Justin arrived wearing an All Blacks jersey. Clearly we are smitten with this country! It's not hard to see why:


This is a collage I had printed on a canvas and gave to J for taking me with him to New Zealand in April. It's of pictures we both took on the trip. (By the way, I used a Groupon for this company. It turned out really great, but I had to wait about 5 weeks to get it.) It was an incredible trip, not just for the beauty, but mainly all the new friends I made! Love you guys!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Change in View

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. So, I decided I needed a little attitude adjustment. I'm so grateful to live 2 minutes from the water, it's a perfect place for prayer and silent reflection.



Where do you go to re-center?

Monday, July 9, 2012

You Know You Are Loved When...

... I make this cake for you...

J's brother & his fiance were in town this weekend, so we threw them a bridal shower. When my newlywed cousin (who is also J's brother's wife, think about it,) suggested we make the same cake I made for her shower, I took a deep breath and nodded my head, warning her that it would be quite a project. We did take some shortcuts this time - like using cake mix. Good decision!! If you are dying to spend a whole day in the kitchen, I made you a list of what is in it. I won't bore you with all of the steps, I'm sure you can figure out most of them.


2 Boxes Duncan Hines Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Pudding mixed in, of course!
Simple Syrup with Lemon juice to coat the layers right after they come out of the oven
Homemade Buttercream Icing
Lemon-Raspberry Curd for the filling between the bottom two layers and the topping. I used the lemon curd from this recipe, and just added raspberries after it cooled.

I saw the rose thing here first. It's super-easy, but slightly time consuming. She explains the technique really well, but I used a different tip than she did. I don't even know what it is called, but it looks like a 5-point star.

My cousin and I worked long and hard on this, so it was great to see that it was a huge hit at the shower. Even for "non-cake people." It looked great, but tasted even better!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Free Book Friday: Pure Poetry

You've already heard me gush about the wonders of the LS2 app. Now, something else I love about the BC Library system, particularly the Fairhope branch: Free Books.

You are judging me right now, so let me explain... The library is constantly taking in donations for its collection. Many of them are (surprisingly) not in hot demand, so they end up going straight to the free shelf. Anyone can pick them up and take them home for keeps. A few weeks ago, I found this delightful book:



It was published in 1934, such a pivotal point in our history! My grandparents were little kids and America (and its popular poetry) were still quite square. It makes me nostalgic for a time I never lived through. I get a giggle from this treasure every time I pick it up. And my favorite part is the running commentary that Ted Malone peppers each page with. I mean, how could you compete with this little gem?

Thank you, Mrs. Myrtle, whoever you are, for parting with this book!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday: Pop Music

There are three things I love almost as much as chocolate: Music, Free Stuff & Sunsets. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I could have all three of these things in one evening. (And chocolate to boot!)


As I've already told you, J is a master at impromptu date planning and a few weeks ago he wowed me again. We picked up a huge calzone and salad from The Ravenite*, and went over to The Bluff in Fairhope for a free Baldwin Pops sunset concert. The music was nice and the crowd was watch-worthy. After the concert, we drove down to the The Grand for some hot chocolate and a stroll on the gorgeous live oak covered grounds. Although the hot chocolate is nothing to write home about, I would never pass up a chance to walk around by the Bay! BTW - Did you know they just put up hammocks???

Sorry Ladies, this bf is taken!

*Note about The Ravenite: My days in Atlanta fostered a love for local, grungy, less-than-sanitary-looking pizza joints. This is really my favorite of that genre. They've got the grunge-factor down and the pies are really great. I just wish they served by the slice!




Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There's Something About Berries

I'm pretty sure June is the best month of the year if you like to eat. Give me hot temps and crowded beaches any day of the week, if I can trade it for fresh food off the vine, tree, bush or ground. Thankfully, my friends and family have connections with gardeners who are practically begging them to come thin out the crops. Oh okay... if you want...



Also, Mom was in town this week and on Monday she took me and my aunt blackberry picking. If you, like me, do not have blackberry connections, Gardener's Berry Farm is a gorgeous setting for this. This was Mom's second haul, and she said it was a little more sparse than last time, but we still pulled in two gallons in less than an hour.



The operation hours are a little bit tricky and you do need to call ahead to make sure there are actually berries on the vines. One gallon of blackberries will set you back $15, which is totally, totally worth it.


 

Then you can go home and make an easy dump cobbler* and everyone around you will realize you are Wonder Woman! (Man?)


*Just sugar up the berries to your taste, mix 1/2 stick of butter (melted), 1 c. self-rising flour, 1 c. milk, cinnamon in baking dish and pour the berries over it. Bake 375 for an hour. Easy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Maybe I Need to Change My Blog Title...

Ha.

I've bought into* hype again. Check out these t-shirts made by Alabama designer Billy Reid.

Oh and I promise that Alabama Seafood isn't paying me to love this stuff. I just do. I think we can probably thank BP for the hip ad campaign. Thanks Beeps!!



*bought into- succumbed to, fallen in love with; not actually purchased, they are expensive! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

GW#3: Wheels and Deals

After a meal fitting for a truck-stop at Derailed Diner, Jackie and I needed to recover... fast. So, we headed to Orange Beach for a little R&R... Rest & Riding.

After an hour or so on the beach, with grease seeping through our pours, we decided to hit the Backcountry Trail on our bikes. Good decision.


Jackie's Artistic Eye on the Ride
Have you guys ever done this trail? If not, stop what you are doing right now and go to OB (or GS, you can access it from both sides.) This trail runs parallel to the shore, separated by about one mile. It was probably my favorite bike ride ever. The air was breezy and the path was shaded. There were a few snakes, so beware runners. The oaks are laden with Spanish moss, the clearings from that fire last summer are a perfect place for a sunset. And it's flat. Go. Now.

When you finish with your 6-10 mile bike ride, may I suggest a stop at Bravo Tacos? J and I have been there at least 5 times in the past year. We love it. Jackie enjoyed it too. Here's why:

1. Tastes great - Everything that I have ordered here is tasty. The flavors are fresh and original. J and I happen to be fairly picky when it comes to Mexican fare, but we both agree that it is one of the best Mexican places we've tried here in the good-ol' US of A.

2. Healthy Choices - The chicken is free-range and the other meats are organic. There are even several vegetarian choices, like the Chipotle mushroom and tomato taco Jackie ordered. The food is not greasy. As in, this is not your run-of-the-mill TexMex place, don't go there and order a ground beef taco.

3. Good Price - Even though the quality is excellent, so is the price. Two tacos, a side and a drink will cost you $8. My favorite dish, the Costa Rican is Rice & Beans, Meat and Tortillas... 7 bucks, y'all.


I did not have a phone (see previous post) to take a picture, so I'll have to share one with you next time.

Have a good weekend!



Bravo Tacos on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

GW#2: Rolling Down the River


My abs still hurt from laughing so much during last weekend. As you saw from my previous post, it was an eventful few days. NOLA was so delightful, but I don't think I could do it justice in this blog post.

Music & Coffee. Love.

<---- So, here's a picture that sums up the day.

Meanwhile...back in Baldwin County... Have you guys ever been to Dragonfly? I'm still trying to decide what I think about it. The food concept is so great. I love the idea of fusing Asian and Mexican flavors. A few weeks ago, I had a pork noodle bowl with green curry and egg noodles. It was delicious, but a bit too spicy for my taster. Next time I'll order sans jalapeƱos; the curry was hot enough. On Friday, I ordered the pork taco with an avocado sauce and apples. It was good too, but I think it could have been more spicy. (BTW, they have plenty of other meats, I'm just a sucker for a good pig.) Jackie had the veggie bowl - I just had a bite, but it is probably my favorite dish I've tried. So much flavor! So I love the food. My only beef (ha) with the place is the seating. The concept is cool, in theory. It's a "food bar," so that's the main seating option - a bar. In execution, in I'm not crazy about it. Maybe it's because I'm short. Maybe it's because I don't like facing a wall when I'm eating. What I do know is - it's awkward.

Thanks for the photo, Jackie!
Okay, I actually have two beefs, I also think some of the tacos and tapas might be a little too pricey.  It is not an expensive place, but I guess I'm comparing it to other places that have better tacos for less dinero. (Come back tomorrow...)

Besides all the calories we burned laughing our guts out, Jackie and I also spent a good bit of time racking up activity points... including a Kayak Trip to end all kayak trips. Eighteen people, from ages 3 to 70, hit Fish River with a vengeance after barely escaping a redneck brawl at Bohemian Park.(Yeah, I'm seriously exaggerating.) It was a fun 2.5 hour jaunt, where Jackie and I were able to brush up on our communication skills in a tandem kayak. I only caused her to cuss once when we ran through a spider-infested tree. Actually, I pushed said tree out of my way, which sling-shot it back into her face.

Sorry, again Jacks.

The stretch of river is shaded, and pretty, and the current keeps you moving most of the way. Just be prepared to get out a few times where trees hinder passage.The only downside the the whole day is that my phone got submerged for approximately 3 hours, even though I put it in "dry" storage. Thankfully, T-Mo is determined to keep us non-iPhone-smart-phone users happy, so there's a new one on the way. Despite the setback, it was good fun and a chance to appreciate another view of this beautiful area. And we really worked up an appetite for dinner at Big Daddy's!

I have so much more to say about the weekend. I'll tell you about Bravos Tacos and our Bike Ride tomorrow!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Girls Weekend: Not Without Incident.

Hi!! Here are the exclamation points, as promised!!!!!! It's just going to be an abbreviated version for now.

Here's a summary of the weekend so far:
1. Dinner at Dragonfly in Fairhope.(Yum!)
2. Blueberry Picking/Eating (Double Yum!)
3. Kayaking Trip down Fish River (So fun!!)
4. Phone Drowned (Boo.)
5. Dinner at Big Daddy's (Again.)
6. Lunch at Derailed Diner (Odd.)
7. Beach Lounging (Yes!)
8. Biking the OB/GS Back Country Trail (Double YES!)
9. Dinner at Bravos Tacos (Yes! Yes! Yes!!!)

I promise I will blog about these things this week, but I really must prepare for our jaunt to New Orleans!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Comedy, Friends & The App That Changed My Life

Any comedic bone in my body is almost exclusively owed to my best friend in college, Sarah. Sarah is hilarious in a smart, ironic and fun sort of way. So the following book made me miss her terribly:

Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. After a few chapters of her book, Mindy and I were on a first name basis. By the end, we became so close that I actually had a dream that we met at a bus stop (!?) and chatted about her book. I told her how I laughed uncontrollably in the chapter “How I Write,” which she also thought was a pretty funny chapter. I also mentioned that I had a blog, but she immediately morphed into her best friend Brenda, who was only mildly concerned about the success of AbaO. (Bren was thinking: That’s so 2009. I know because it was my dream.) My bud, Mindy Kaling, AKA: Kelly Kapoor from The Office*, wrote this book as witty, irreverent memoir-ish essays that will make you smile, sometimes laugh out loud, definitely wish that she was really actually your friend, and possibly creepily work her way into your psyche.

Note: Due to some of the jokes and language, Kaling's book is probably better for a mature audience.

Another friend that taught me to appreciate humor is my former roommate, Jackie. (She has a blog! It's fun!) Jackie has an infectious and uproarious laugh that I wish I could still hear on a regular basis. She introduced me to the author of this book:
She Got Up Off the Couch, by Haven Kimmel. This is actually a sequel to a book called A Girl Named Zippy. Both of these books are loads of fun, chronicling the life of a young girl in small-town Indiana.  Kimmel writes about some tough topics through the eyes of a smart-mouthed kid, so somehow it is just heartwarming and funny. Jackie, along with my other roommates, used to read Zippy aloud to each other and then fall on the floor in fits of laughter. Well, really, Jackie would fall on the floor laughing, which would get the rest of us bowling over like that too. Reading the sequel to Zippy has makes me feel almost like she is down here with me. (But she is coming to visit today! Girls Weekend! Blog to come with lots of exclamation points!!!!!)


I owe any reading suggestions I may have to the Baldwin County Library system app called LS2. This was a game-changer for me. I used to be the worst Library patron in the country, until I could reserve and renew books on my phone!!

Have you read any good books lately? I would appreciate the suggestions!

*I felt really cool and modern telling you this fact, until I found out that she is about to star in her own show, called The Mindy Project. I feel behind the times... clearly I need to move away from the History Channel. Also, Mindy, if you ever read this, you - or someone who works for you - is a marketing genius. I have to watch your show now that we are BFFs. And I am sorry I didn't buy your book. Blame LS2.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seafood Edition #1: Who's Yo Daddy?

Beachgoers, visitors, and wonderfully welcome guests to the shore... can we have a little chat?

I'm with you. For the first 28 years of my life, I was a guest of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. I took my friends to Lambert's and Lulu's, or some place at the Wharf, and I loved it. I get it.... who doesn't love balls of hot bread flying at your head and/or some loose association to Jimmy Buffett? But, if you are ever tired of paying so much for atmosphere and if you decide that all you really want is some darn good fresh seafood...

I'll be here for you. So, here's my first Seafood Edition*.

J took me out last night for our "Monthary."  (If you come by often, you're going to learn real quick that he is a master date-planner.) Last night we went out to Big Daddy's Grill. It is a favorite to suggestion to out of town guests because it is off the beaten path and the food is good. (Just don't ask me for directions. I will get you lost.)

Other bonuses include live music on the weekends and apples as after-dinner mints. The fried stuff is alright, if that's your thing, (it is often mine,) but I really love the blackened shrimp. The menu is fairly similar to other seafood restaurants around, including the ever popular fried pickles and smoked tuna dip, but I think the quality/freshness is better. It is a little bit of a drive from GS/OB, but worth it. You might want to stop on your way in or out of town.



*Speaking of, have you seen the new Alabama Seafood ads? Aren't they so trendy!? We are coming up in the world, people!

Big Daddy's Grill At Riverpark on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hirty, Girty, Look Who's 30!

Part of the Dream Team
Surprise parties make me giddy. I love them. Especially when the surprise party is dedicated to my favorite almost-30-year-old on the planet. This one was beyond perfect.


First of all, the party planners made a good team. We put together a dream scenario in less than two weeks. Secondly, the guests made a wonderful combination of fun people who were willing to get wet! Lastly... don't you just love a wholesome excuse to lie to your loved ones? Exhilarating! (Kidding.)
Slip and Slide made of Recycled Billboards

Best feature of the evening: A huge slip-and-slide. (Note: If it has been a while since you've done this, I have to say... it really is just as fun as when we were kids, just be prepared to pop the pain pills the next day.) There was also a balloon toss, a water gun fight and a real-live photo booth, recycled from J's brother's wedding.

The best moment: The Surprise. Y'all, J was SO surprised! We had a hard time keeping him out of the house with the rain, but it still worked. AND it stopped raining just as the bash began. The party guests had the brilliant idea of pelting him with water balloons upon his arrival. Genius.

All in all, a great evening. Even in the photo booth...

Our Reenactment of a Redneck Love Story: Don't worry dad, it's all just pretend. :)





Friday, June 8, 2012

Pass the Iniquity, Please!

If the world’s descent into moral indecency includes chocolate, I probably need an extra dose of grace. 

Don't worry, it's my middle name. 

This is especially true for Sin in a Tin. (Take a moment to remove whatever thought may have just popped into your head.) Behold…

If this chocolate is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


The angel on your shoulder may be saying: “Just another bag of calories you’re going to exercise off later.” Don’t listen to him. (Her?) The calories are worth whatever form of torture you choose to endure later. (Unless, of course, it includes eternal punishment.)

It makes a great gift or you could add it to a tray of fruit and cookies and bring it to your next gathering. You will be the sin-ter of attention (I know. Lame joke.) You could just do what I do… hide it in the fridge and take it out for a slice in moments of weakness. Anyway, we can all feel a little bit holy, because Sin in a Tin and its tart cousin Lemon Lust, are made by locals: Guthrie’s in Pensacola, Florida. And aren’t we special? All the Publix stores in Baldwin County carry it. Look in the frozen dessert section.

PS - Since this is the first day of public posting, may I suggest clicking "Join this Site" right over there. ------->


:) Thanks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Park It.

Although the Food Truck craze has yet to really take off here in (the other) L.A., I would still like to imagine that I am hip enough to dine at and comment on them.

If I'm not... The bf definitely is...

So Hipsta.
Anyway, we stopped at Mr. Surf's in PCB, on the way out of town and happened upon the food truck parked in the lot beside it.

If the location doesn't give it away, I'm sure you can imagine the crowd that frequents Finn's Island Style Grub. Let's just say my hipstometer was off the charts and my own personal coolmeter was dipping in the single digits. But, I had great company and the fish tacos were brag-worthy, so I was a happy post-camper. The spice was perfect and the price was about right. Plus they topped it with cabbage, so obviously they know what's up.

The greatest deal here was the 2lb. burrito for a measly $6.99. I liked the cilantro-laced refried beans so much that I scarfed down half of J's, even after I ate my own fish taco. (Don't you love a man who has eyes bigger than his stomach?)

Anyway, Finn's a definite revisit. Now that I know the food is solid, I might even go for the ceviche. :)


Finns island style grub on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 4, 2012

Heaven on Earth Update

It was so much fun. Dreamy, in fact. Some of the highlights from the annual camping trip:

1. Swimming with wild dolphin mother and baby. Seriously. You can do it too, just take a jet ski or a kayak out to the end of the jetties. They are always there and they want to meet you!


2. Sleeping in a hammock on the beach. Fun, although I don't recommend doing what J's brother and wife did. Lesson Learned: sharing a hammock all night is never a good idea.

3. Playing football at sunset.


Okay, I admit, I flaked out this year after a full day of being washing-machined by waves and being stung on the finger by a bee who really liked my floral-print tank top. But don't they look so snazzy? My hottie bf is the QB, of course. :)

4. Eating. Period.

Want more pics from the camping trip? Follow me on Instagram! My ID is Gra_Bee. See you there!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heaven on Earth


If you've ever been to Panama City... it was right under your nose. Smack dab in the middle of Spring Break's Sin City is true Paradise: St. Andrews State Park.

I'll admit... I'm a bit biased, because this the place where I finally became googly-eyed and wobbly-kneed for the bf.


But, many other avid campers will agree... if you want a great family campground on the Gulf Coast, this is your spot.

St. Andrews is tucked over to the east of Panama City Beach. It is shaded and backs up to an inner-coastal waterway. It's a short walk or bike ride to the beach front. There's a wave-free lagoon for kids and jetties that a great for fishing, diving and snorkeling.

It's a family/church tradition for our group. We have devotionals, do yoga in the mornings, late night bike rides, snail races, group meals, gator tracking, shark watching and a Friday fish fry.

Do you have a favorite family vacation spot?