Friday, September 5, 2014

South Haven 2014 Vacation Recap

Warning this post is a cuteness overload photo dump! You have been warned.
Last year we went to South Haven with a 6 month old and it was an easy drive, a beautiful beach and a great we decided to go back again this year. This year we again went with friends so had two couples and two 18 month olds. We got a little smarter this year and used our new understanding of the area to our advantage and chose another townhouse complex with a pool....

But this year instead of the 4 block walk...we chose a house that was right across the street from the beach!

The first night we got in, we unloaded our cars and walked over to check out the beach. Gavin was not too sure about the sand between his toes so Hannah tried to make him feel better.

We bought these chairs that I saw everyone using when we were in the Outer Banks and were able to stuff in the pockets in the back everything we needed so we could stay hands free to carry babies up the sand and not have to make multiple trips. They are backpacks! They were awesome. 

We spent a lot of time playing at the beach:

and a LOT of time at the pool....which oddly enough I have no pictures of. We were able to rig our video monitors to allow us to sit at the pool baby free with cocktails while the babies slept. Yessss..
But 18 month olds can't spend the entire day just laying at the beach (or can they??)

And the weather in Michigan isn't necessarily pool weather from the second you wake up until you go to bed, so we did lots of other activities to fill our days.

We took long walks on the pier

We visited the Children's "Museum" in St. Joseph. (I use the term museum vey loosely here)..

and while we were in St. Joe's we had lunch, walked around town

and checked out the indoor carousel down on the beach....
We bought our token out of the little machine and Hannah was not feeling it.

I tried to put her on a horse but that wasn't just like that I became that person that I always wondered why they would bother riding a carousel if they were going to sit on the stationary bench....

One of my favorite things we did was to go blueberry picking! There were tons of places to go, but we chose Earl's Farm Market and highly recommend it. Hannah discovered very fast what to do and was in heaven. I don't even want to know how many blueberries she ate... haha

After dinner we usually walked half a block down the street to play at the park! These two are seriously so in love

Most nights we ate dinner at home and after the babies went to bed the adults sat outside and had frosty beverages and played silly games, but we each went out for one little date night too. Rob and I caught the end of the sunset

and had dinner at Taste, a little tapas restaurant downtown. It was really yummy!

One day we checked out "kids corner" which was a nice playground but I'm not sure what age group it's targeting. Check out these drop offs on the slides/steps... maybe the sand has just gotten washed away over the years?

One morning we decided to dress up and get some family pictures on the beach...which coincided with literally the only hour of the vacation that Hannah decided to be while we didn't get any great family pics....we were still able to get a few good pics. 

Ok, I think I've babbled on long enough for now... in conclusion we heart South Haven..and we will definitely be back :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fresh Thyme Market in Oakley

I meant to write this post like a week and a half ago, but man was life busy last week. So anyway, here I am instead  as pretty much the very last person to write about this awesome new grocery store that just opened in Oakley. When I heard about it I wasn't sure if it would be a total gimmick ....they were throwing the "healthy food" phrase around a lot...or if it really would be full of healthy food. Whole Foods is my gold standard for grocery stores so I wondered would they have bulk bins? spices by the ounce? brands I have heard of? so I was excited to get "tickets" to the sneak preview they had a couple of days before the grand opening to check it out.

First of all I kind of hate giant grocery stores...full of aisles I don't care about like cookies and picnic supplies...when I'm grocery shopping...I just wanna grocery shop. Small grocery stores that have a good selection of good food are what I love.

Fresh Thyme had a beautiful salad bar:

and a beaaautiful olive bar.

I like to try and mostly make my own salad dressing, but when I buy it, I buy the kind that comes in glass jars in the refrigerated section....and they had a ton of it to choose from:

Tons of beautifully displayed organic & conventional produce

and 77 cent avocados. wwhhhhhhaaaatttt?

They also had a couple of rows of my beloved bulk bins which saves money and the environment :)

AND they had spices by the ounce which was so exciting to me! (because sometimes you just don't need $30 worth of saffron).... Something they have that I probably wouldn't typically use but thought was different and cool was like a bulk sweetener type of stand. They had agave, honey, etc with bottles to fill as much as you want.

Things not pictured were their great frozen food section, tons of different eggs, milk, a beer and wine section, etc. They also feature Boar's Head Meat and made to order sushi...along with tables and chairs to enjoy your food there.

Hannah was getting a little ansy at this point so I didn't get a chance to really look at the meat to see what they offered, but I did snap this picture and it looked great!..also they did have pre-packaged brands like applegate, etc.

I'm looking very forward to exploring this store on my own during a full grocery trip...

Cheers to another organic grocery store in our neighborhood!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Eating on Vacation - Outer Banks Vacation Part 3

I thought this might be an interesting post because it's always interesting learning what people eat when they are on vacation. Cooking on vacation is interesting because you don't have all your normal supplies when it comes to spices, oils, vinegars, pots, pans, etc... We went to the grocery store once we got there so we tried to come up with a menu that included minimal spices, time and equipment. Originally we had planned to make lasagna there so my plan was to measure out all my spices into a baggie and bring it in my suitcase with me...but we decided that was a little heavy for the beach so we scrapped it... but one thing I did bring in a baggie is a little bag of kosher salt, my pepper grinder and my knife. I can not live life without these things......not even for a week.

We made a meal plan for the week and a grocery list before we even left for our trip so that we could go shopping the first night without having to figure everything out then. We had 5 adults and a baby, and our intention was to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in every day except for the first night, we would order pizza and we would go out to dinner two nights. We tried to keep breakfasts and lunches as simple as while we generally don't eat a lot of turkey sandwiches at our house, it seemed like the easiest plan for the week...

Anyway, here was our meal plan

Bananas, Eggs, Cereal, Milk, Juice, Fresh Fruit, Coffee, Cream

Turkey Sandwiches, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Pretzels, Chips, Fruit, Carrots/Veggies, Dips

Cheese & Crackers, Pretzels, Chips, Cut up raw veggies, Fruit

Baby Snacks:
String Cheese, Cheddar Bunnies, Fruit & Vegetables, Dry Cereal, Fruit & Veggie Pouches, Raisins

Tacos & Rice
Slow Oven Cooked Ribs with BBQ Sauce, Mashed Potatoes & Cauliflower
Breaded Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potato Fries, Broccoli
Sauteed Pork Chops with Roasted Red Potatoes & Summer Squash

I didn't even think about writing this post so I didn't take pictures of any of these dinners, but lucky for us, the kitchen was well equipped and the oven worked great...even the night I was roasting 4 pans at everything turned out great! I have stayed places where the pans are so warped you can barely cook eggs, so I was happy that this place had really nice things.

One night we went out for fish tacos and I got this halibut burrito. mmmmm

And one night Emily, Rob and I got away and tried out a little whole in the wall called Armstrong's Seafood.

We had read great reviews of it on Yelp and called to make a reservation. The lady on the phone laughed out loud and said they didn't take reservations and that the place only seats like 30 people.. When we got there we realized it was a seafood shop that also has a few tables set up to feed people. You can order off the menu, or pick a fish right out of the case and pay that price +$5 to have them cook it for you. 

A nice no nonsense lady sat right down at our table and asked what we wanted... we asked what was fresh... she looked at us like we had 3 heads and said "everything was caught this morning". a true love with this place was forming...

We started with some (ridiculously reasonably priced) beers and a pound of mussels (steamed and served with butter and garlic lemon sauce)

gotta love the mussels on a paper plate
Emily ordered a big piece of rare tuna with fried Okra and Old Bay steamed potatoes.

It was served with wasabi and soy sauce for dipping. This was out of this world delicious. If I went right now...this is what I would order. I wish I would have gotten a shot of the inside....pan seared just enough with a rare inside almost like sushi. So fresh.

Rob ordered the Wahoo, blackened. He ordered a side of hush puppies and the old bay steamed potatoes. I had never had this fish before and MAN was it good. In Ohio we don't ever really get fish this fresh so I think everything just tasted a million times better because it was right out of the ocean. We ended up going home with a jar of this blackening seasoning. Can't wait to blacken.everything.

I ordered the scallops again with the potatoes but for a side I ordered the corn nuggets.

It was a generous portion of scallops and they were, again, SO fresh....but I will say I like my scallops with a little bit of a sear on them which these didn't have at my dish, unfortunately was our least favorite entree but man did I win in the side department. Do you see those little fried nuggets in the top left hand corner of that picture? They were like cheese and corn soup fried into a ball. Yes. Cheesy corn soup...which already sounds like something I should be eating.....somehow put into a ball and fried. so.seriously.yum.

Anyway, if you are on vacation in Kill Devil Hills...go here. Either eat here or pick up some fish for to sautee, steam, grill or fry at your beach house. Also, don't make the mistake of waiting until your last night to go like we did. Go early so you can go again and get whatever the person who went with you last time got and is still making you jealous thinking about it to this day....just a suggestion. :)

That concludes this installment of vacation updates. Luckily for us we have one more beach vacation this summer not far from now.  Let the countdown begin :)
Read about part 1 of our trip here and part 2 here!

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