Monday, July 21, 2014

Outer Banks Vacation Part 1

In the past re-capping our vacations on the blog has been a fun way for me to look back on past vacations. Here are a couple of past vacation recaps. Here is South Haven recap 1, 2 and 3....and a pre-baby Mexican vacation here and  another one here.

We just got back from beach vacation 1 of the summer from Outer Banks, NC so I thought I would share some highlights of our trip. This might be a multi-part post again, depending on how long winded I get.

The trip started out with Hannah's first flight. I would be lying if I said this didn't scare me a little. A 17 month who literally doesn't hold still for more than 30 seconds having to sit on my lap for an hour to an hour and a half....I just didn't have high hopes for the experience. We checked our suitcases, gate checked our stroller and carseat (which we transported in one of these bags that we borrowed from a neighbor) and carried on our 300lb backpack full of all the things I was praying would occupy my busy toddler for the hour long flight. DVD player and 2 videos, a color wonder set, this pretty sweet Melissa and Doug re-useable sticker set, books, toys and a roll of blue painter's tape which my mom made fun of me by referring to it as "redneck stickers"....which is fair. Ha.

Well for the hour long flight she basically looked out the window, took the magazines in and out of the seat back pocket, pointed out all the dogs in the skymall and ate the mini airline pretzels. She really earned those wings that the delta flight attendant gave her! Now this flight was only an hour so with loading and unloading and all that stuff maybe an hour and I don't know how she would have done on a longer flight....but an hour...we can definitely handle.

We landed in Raleigh and Aunt Emily picked us up from the airport. We walked around downtown and had lunch...

and took a trip to Pullen Park which was one of the nicest city parks I have ever been to. I seriously couldn't believe admission was was a gorgeous park. We took a train ride around the whole park, rode the antique carousel (each a dollar) 

and watched the ducks swim around. We went down the slide approximately 25 times and rode the teeter totter..

She also rode this thing which she obviously hated... :)

and we got our picture taken with a random statue of Andy Griffith and Opie (is that how you spell that?)

Anyway, if you are in Raleigh with a child, you should visit this park.

That night my parents got into town and watched the baby monitor while Emily took us for a night on the town... first we hit up the Tasty Beverage Company which was a great little beer store/bar. You could order from the bartenders or grab any single from their retail section and open it up and drink it. Rob was in beer heaven.

Next we walked down the street to Poole's which was a super hip downtown Raleigh restaurant that used to be a diner and had the entire menu written up on chalkboard walls. The three of us split 2 entrees and this mac and cheese

Not the best picture but damn gina was this thing enormous... This is one of the things they are known for so we had to try it did not disappoint!

After dinner we stopped for one more beer at a brewery that had a bike theme..Crank Arm I believe it was called and had a night cap on the outdoor patio before heading home for the night. The next morning we got up and had breakfast at Emily's apartment and then drove over to a gigantic farmer's market that is open every single day.  I bought waaaay too many fruits and vegetables for the week (I can not help myself at farmers's a sickness) and then we were off to start our 3 hour journey to the Outer Banks....

and boom. Just like that I've talked your ear off enough for this first blog post just talking about our first day. Stay tuned for more in part 2 :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Father's Day Fun

Well our second Father's day is in the books and it was a much better one than last year when 4 month old Hannah had a terrible reaction to her 4 month old shots and put the brakes on all of our plans.

This year we decided to celebrate with all of our neighborhood friends with a beer tasting for the guys and a playdate for the ladies/babies followed by a cookout for everyone.... here is a little bit of our day!

Each mom/wife brought a 6 pack of singles of different types of beer for the Dads to taste. I made pretzel necklaces for everyone to "cleanse their palate" between beers and some tasting sheets for them to fill out if they were feeling ambitious :)

They had a great time tasting beers and chatting while the moms spent time with each other and the babies....but after an hour or two, this was the scene.

You can't keep a good Dad away from playing....especially when this cuteness is going on

Yes. That is my daughter going head first down the slide.

Hannah's Daddy manned the grill

and after lots of drinks, lots of food and lots of fun....we had to get the obligatory group photo...
....which took a little coordinating

But a photo always turns out cute with a good looking bunch like this! For those of you keeping track at home, that is 7 girls and 2 boys.....lucky boys!

Happy Father's Day to these and all the awesome Dads out there!!! Especially mine and Hannah's! 
We love you so much!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Restaurant Review - Sleepy Bee

Last week I finally got my butt to the new(ish) restaurant in my very own neighborhood, Sleepy Bee. Sleepy Bee is the kind of restaurant I would want my house would be if it was a restaurant. The ingredients are local, healthy, organic & delicious.

Yes, yes yes.
I love your sleepy bee standards!!

When you walk in you get a complimentary mug of coffee while waiting for your table in the lounge area where there is a table and chairs and a comfy couch.

and lots of cute bee related artwork

After a few minutes we were seated at our table and I immediately chose "the Beekeeper" because the combination of avocado, havarti and pickled onions would make me eat pretty much anything.

Let's discuss the picture above for a minute. You have the option to choose Ezekiel bread. Awesome. We generally buy Ezekial bread at home, which has no added sugar and contains sprouted whole grains as opposed to the refined wheat most commercial bread uses...but Shadeau Breads beats out Ezekial any day of the week, so I went with it the traditional way. I also LOVE that the side options are roasted root vegetables (with homemade ketchup!) or a side salad.

I ordered the side salad, expecting a simple spinach salad or something like that was very pleasantly surprised to see this beautiful array of kale, arugula (my favorite) and various other hearty lettuce varieties.

And I think my favorite part of the sandwich was the pickled onions. I need to pickle more things in my life, stat.

My lunching companion ordered the same sandwich but with the roasted root vegetables and got a colorful array of sweet and purple potatoes with a homemade ketchup, which almost tasted like a bloody mary in a condiment cup. So imagine roasted sweet potatoes dipped in a bloody mary. yes. please.

The coffee/smoothie bar had all kinds of different drinks and used top notch ingredients for both. I can't wait to come back to try breakfast!

Do yourself a favor and try out this great new little neighborhood spot!

Sleepy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easter/Spring gift ideas for Toddlers

Hannah is a winter baby with a February birthday. So now that spring is coming I have so many ideas in my head of outdoor toys for her to play with that I figured I would throw them into a little list of ideas in case anyone else is looking for ideas for the same thing! Let's get started :)

This is one she already has. Every time the weather breaks even a little, we load up this little trike and take a walk around the block.

Right now we push it and steer it but eventually it goes down to being just a regular tricycle! As of right now we are parking it in the house when it's not in use and she likes to crawl over and point to it when she wants to take a walk. Now if only the weather would get the memo.

Another thing we recently got and are loving is this adorable whale suit by iplay.

 It has a built in swim diaper which is awesome and it's pretty much just the cutest thing ever.

At swim lessons one of the tricks the teachers use to get them to lay on their backs when they might not want to is to open a waterproof book above their head to make them relax and lean back. Absolutely genius and Hannah is totally getting a waterproof book in her basket.This one even comes with water toys!

Last year we had a party with lots of toddlers (Hannah was still a baby) and someone brought a water table. The kids flocked to it. Absolutely obsessed. If she gets nothing else on this list, she is definitely getting a shiny new water table to play with on hot summer days!  This one looked like a lot of fun to me! Simple, no sand, and something to dump water in.

Last year we bought her a raft similar to this one to use on vacation and at the pool but she was still a little too small to hold herself up in it. I'm really hoping this year it will work for her. I love it because of it's canopy and because it fold up easily really teeny tiny in a small bag which was perfect for lugging to the pool.

This year I'm also considering getting her a puddle jumper. If you can't tell we intend to spend a lot of time in the water this summer and probably for the rest of her life. Growing up as a pool rat then later working as a lifeguard, swim lesson instructor and swim team member/ is really important to me that she learns to be really comfortable in the water. I was jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side of the pool alone at 18 months...pool water runs through our veins in this family :) Puddle Jumpers are actually US Cost Guard Approved Life Jackets and are so much safer than water wings. This one is purple and has a giraffe on it, so it's pretty much meant to be for her.

A few inexpensive buckets  

and a board book about Easter..and I think we're set for now!

I would love to hear any more great ideas!
Happy spring shopping!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lenten Fish Fry Series: Our Lord Christ the King in Mt. Lookout

Our fish fry series continues with last week's visit to Our Lord Christ the King in Mt Lookout! It was their first fish fry of the season, but there will be another April 4 and April 11... from 5-8.

Now let's talk about the fish!
We walked past this to get in. People breading and frying up the fish on our right side and grilling up salmon on our left! The salmon looked fantastic with some kind of delicious marinade on it.

This is another one of those places you might want to get to early. We got there around 5:30 and didn't have trouble with parking or lines, but some of our friends who arrived closer to 6 and after had a little trouble finding parking spots and issues with much slower lines. Also, like I mentioned it was their first fry of the season so I'm sure some kinks had to be worked out.

So the way this fish fry works is just a dinner fee. $10 for dinner....and that includes the fish of your choice and as many sides as you want! (including brownies and ice cream for dessert!!)

You checked what you wanted including your choice of fish and as many sides as you wanted....

Then you walked through their little cafeteria line to pick up all your sides. You might need multiple trays if you opted for an embarrassing amount of sides like we did... but in our defense there were 3 of us! :)

Christ the King is definitely winning in the sides department. So many to choose from!

Shrimp Salad with delicious looking lettuce:

Colorful and fresh looking fruit cups, green beans that still had some bite to them, sauteed summer vegetables, homemade mac and cheese, french fries.....

The fish was good too! Warm, fresh & flaky.

They also didn't disappoint on the rye bread. It was a soft delicious bakery bread.

Beers were between $2-$4 and there were some decent options available:

Modela for him, Shock Top for her
Hannah as usual enjoyed her dinner and appreciated the fruit options besides just applesauce.

And her friend Everett, looking dashing for the night, also enjoyed himself.

Then we had our (included but not pictured) brownies with ice cream for dessert. Perfect end to the meal!
Our table's consensus was very positive. We loved the quality and variety of sides available. The fish was very good... I wish one of us would have tried the salmon because it looked really good! There was ample places to sit and spread out and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

So officially All Saints is still winning for their efficiency, Our Lord Christ the King is definitely winning with their sides, and Nativity I think still has Christ the King eeked out for best fish. St. Cecilia still has it's "closest to my house" award going for it :)

2 more weeks! Where to go next?