Archive | Road Trips and Pit Stops

A Guide to Dauphin Island

Click here for the printable version.  Or you can Pin it below!

So this is my last post about Dauphin Island (click here for a bunch of pictures or here for a bunch of fresh seafood recipes). I thought I would post here all the little tidbits we did/saw/ate on the island a couple of weeks ago.  (The only thing I wish we could have figured out how to do was to get a boat on the sandbar right as you cross the bridge on the left–the water was gorgeous and calm and there was no one around–next time we’ll get there!)

Here are the links to the things mentioned in the guide:

To Do:

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To Eat:

To Shop:

If you have any suggestions on something to add to the guide just let me know! I’m sure there was a ton more we could have done. 🙂


Tour Alabama Series: Our Week in Dauphin Island

We got back from a week at the beach on Saturday. It was relaxing. And laid-back. And none of us got sunburned.

Basically it was perfect.

Since MM was 1 we’ve been Tybee fans. It’s 4.5 hours from our house and right outside of Savannah (my favorite city in the world). We always stayed in the same condo and it became a habit.

This year though I decided to change it since none of the kiddos had ever even seen the Gulf (sacrilege!). I asked around and settled on Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama (between Mobile and Biloxi).

Dauphin Island isn’t huge and there are no fast food restaurants and just a few restaurants and shops, but there were plenty of bike paths and things to do (fishing is huge on the island). Given Lawson’s age (right on the cusp of 2) and the lack of lots of restaurants I decided I would cook dinner every night in the house using fresh seafood–I plan on doing a big recipe post this week ’cause we ate so good at the beach, as well as a must do/must see/must eat guide for the island as well!

We wanted a place (didn’t matter to us if we were in a condo or house) that was very close to the beach, had access to a pool, and had at least three bedrooms (my parents go with us).

We found all that in more with Island Time II–a house right on the beach with a pool on the porch and four bedrooms. It was perfect for our needs.

Here’s some pictures of our time on the island.

First up, our fishing adventures. Including our encounter with a snake.

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I caught this beautiful red snapper at 8:10am. Guess when snapper season ended? 12:01am. That’s one lucky fish!


It’s just a salt marsh snake–probably got washed into the “ocean side” of the island from all the storms.

But we didn’t just fish, oh no! We did lots of goofing off, laying around, and napping. You know, the really important parts of any good vacation.

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The two youngest are sort of twins in this picture: Lawson is 23 months old and Baby B. is 23 weeks in utero.


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Lawson went to three new states for him: Alabama, Florida, AND Mississippi and got to meet his Mama J.

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We lived in bathing suits and t-shirts and shorts with elastic waists and pajamas. It got so bad that the last night there I MADE us put on “normal” clothes and take a picture (we seriously could have packed two sets of clothes each and been fine!). These pictures were taken right in our “backyard”–it really was the perfect setting!

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Oh, Dauphin Island, you spoiled us, girl. xoxo


At the Beach and It Feels so Good

We made it to the beach.

It’s not surprising that  or C. made it to the beach…it is however a little surprising all three kids made it down here alive. HA! (We always go to Tybee Island (Atlantic) which is about a 4.5 hour drive from our home, but this year we chose to go to Dauphin Island (Gulf of Mexico) which is a 6.5 hour drive. And we survived, but I definitely do not want to go any further away than this any time soon.)

We’re enjoying it here: beach and pool during the day and cooking fresh seafood at night.

…now if only Lala would sleep past 7:30 (which is really 6:30 here) that would be fantastic.

Here’s a few pictures from today. We’re here until next Saturday and would love to hear your favorite things to do/see in Dauphin Island…if you’ve ever even heard of it, haha.


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An All Around Sweet Friday

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Not one, but THREE, of three tasty sweet treats I’ve made lately.

And a sweet girls’ weekend to a Georgia winery.

And a sweetie pie kiddo.

First up, sweets!

Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know they don’t look like much, but they were good (albeit a little crumbly). So good in fact all 2.5 dozen were eaten in 24 hours by my crew. The recipe is The Southern Baker, but you can find the recipe here.

Mary Kay Andrews’ Butterscotch Brownies (scroll to the bottom of article for recipe)

This picture doesn’t really do them justice, but these were good (especially so right out of the oven). Usually I’m not a fan of a dessert unless it contains chocolate, but this one was definitely an exception.

The recipe is part of her new cookbook out called The Beach House Cookbook and it’s a great cookbook. Mom & I met her and got our cookbooks signed at her book launch party in Atlanta at the end of April.

And finally, Peach Cake

Earlier this week we went to Jaemor Farms because we had a hankering for some homemade peach soft serve ice cream (June – August is peach season in Georgia and I swear as soon as the calendar flips to June 1st I want peach everything).

After the kids were asleep on Wednesday I made this peach cake from Back in the Day Bakery: Made With Love Cookbook. (I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but it’s a great cookbook and it’s now on sale for less than $13 shipped)

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One note on the recipe: it says to cut up ten peaches and I did. Honestly 3 peaches would have been enough for the cake. I had so many extra peaches that I tripled the recipe to accommodate all those extra peaches from the first step! (‘Cause lord knows, you CANNOT waste Georgia peaches!)

When does a “girls’ trip” officially turn into “middle-aged women’s trip”?

Just asking for a friend.

‘Cause we’re definitely not old…even though we all pledged the same sorority EIGHTEEN YEARS ago. Lordy.

We went to Helen last weekend and did a little hiking, a little gossiping, a whole lotta eating, and spent quite a few hours at Yonah Mountain Winery.

It was good. So good to be with these girls…ladies…middle-aged gals…who get me. Who knew me as I was finding myself, before I ever met C. (by a good five years!), and before I was a mama. They know me better than I even know myself. I love these ladies something fierce.

And last but not least, this cutie.

Being the third child means he doesn’t get as much one-on-one time as the other two have had in their lives. This past week the oldest two had VBS at night so it was just the two of us hanging out and it was so fun to watch his curious, goofy, funny personality come through.

Wednesday night he spent over thirty minutes hauling this giant blanket to the couch and getting himself all settled in just right with his lovey and sippy cup. Then he sat there giggling. I think he liked being an only child for a bit.

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Hope y’all have a great weekend. It’s supposed to be low 80s and sunny and absolutely perfect for being on the boat and sleeping in tomorrow. Can’t wait!


Tour Maine Series: Portand + a Printable Guide!

This is my last post about from our recent trip to Bostom, Salem + Plymouth, and Portland. I saved it ’til the end because I loved Maine that much. It was absolutely perfect. Perfect weather, perfect views, perfect shops, perfect food, perfect everything.

It was probably one of my favorite places I’ve ever been.

I will say this: the ocean in mid-May is COLD. When we went lobstering our guide said the water temp was in the 40s! (But look how pretty!)

One of the places I recommend eating is the Lobster Shack Restaurant. The food is good (they have live lobsters right by the cash register), but the view is spectacular. I’ve never seen anything like it. Oh, and the whoopee pies are worth the trip to Portland themselves. Woah Nellie.

Most seating is outside overlooking the water. There are some tables inside, but you don’t go to this place to sit inside.

That’s a pretty fresh lunch right there.

And while we’re on the subject of food another must-do in Portland is The Holy Donut that’s in downtown Portland. C.’s favorite was the lemon, mine was the dark chocolate glazed.

We got to Portland around 5pm the day we drove in from Salem. Instead of stopping at our hotel we drove on through to Freeport (about 30 minutes north of Portland). It was the cutest town! We said when we come back to the area we might actually stay in Freeport. We only spent a few hours there and wish we could have stayed longer (we got Moseby his kindergarten backpack–that they’ll monogram while you wait–at L.L. Bean).

The next morning we went on a lobstering tour with Lucky Catch Cruises. I can’t recommend enough. They let you bait traps, throw them out, pull them in, etc. or you could just sit on the boat. I learned that I’m very fast at baiting them with herring. Maybe I should quit my job as a teacher and move to Maine and work on a lobster boat? Sounds like a good plan to me. (note: they accept cash or checks only)

One of our favorite things we did was explore the Maine coastline by getting off the interstate. We hopped on Route 9 outside of Portland and took it all the way to Kennebunkport. We stopped and visited the Bush family of course. 😉

And yeah, their compound was nice, but this house was my favorite in Kennebunkport. It’s on Haverhill Avenue and overlooks the ocean and it makes my little historic preservation loving heart go pitter patter. This is a house dreams are made of.

And then there’s this house on route 9. Yes, beautiful and old. …but look at the second picture to see its view: a pasture with stone walls with views all the way to the bay. You know when they built this home 200+ years ago the view was what brought them to this spot and I can just imagine looking across the street (where their barn is) and seeing your livestock (in my head it’s fluffy white sheep) grazing in front of the Atlanta. Wow. Just wow.

That night we ate pizza at Slab back in Portland. The pizza was great, BUT they won’t let you customize it. If it says cheese pizza on the menu you can’t add a topping. If it’s a five meat pizza you can’t take ask for only four meats. And there’s only like five pizzas to choose from and I’m married to Mr. Picky…so yeah, just know that going in.

The next morning it was time to head out. We stopped at Mt. Agamenticus and hiked for a few hours. It was so beautiful! From one viewpoint you could see the Atlantic Ocean to your right and snow-capped mountains to your left.

After that we hopped on route 1 and took a leisurely ride towards Boston and Plymouth (we stayed in Plymouth that night) and I’m so glad we did because I found my ideal beach town along the way: York Beach. It was like the perfect little beach town straight out of the 1950s with a soda shop (that we ate at, ’cause duh), an arcade (old fashioned kind of course), and even a bowling alley…all right on the beach. Oh y’all, it was just perfect.

There is one thing we didn’t get to do while in Maine/Massachusetts and that was going on a whale watching trip. We’re already talking about taking the kids back when Lawson gets to be around 4 and that will be the first thing on my list of things to do with them. I think they’d love it.

Here is the Portland cheat sheet (click on this link to get a high resolution copy).

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I didn’t mention the shops in this post, but the shops there were great. I especially loved Market Square Jewelers (where I got a pretty new ring (‘new’ meaning from the 1920s of course) that I posted about on Instagram that day) and the Mangy Moose (in Freeport).

Thank you so my friend, Denise, for her awesome suggestions and to my friend, Sarah, as well. This trip was spectacular because of you ladies!


Tour Massachusetts Series: Salem and Plymouth + a Printable Guide!

I’m combining our two day trips from our trip Northeast last week in one post. I didn’t think we did enough in each place to warrant a whole post on each and I definitely think you could do both places in less than eight hours each.


After we flew into Boston  we drove up to Portland, but stopped in Salem on the way up (it’s a 1.5-hour drive from Boston with traffic).

We took a tour with the Salem Witch Walk company because we thought we’d see the most of Salem in a short period of time that way–and afterwards I can say that was definitely the right hunch–I can’t imagine trying to see Salem on your own. The sites of the witch trials are tucked away in a modern-day city so it would be hard to find them on your own. The Salem Witch Walk boasts that all the tours are given by witches. We didn’t take the tour because of that though–our reason was purely that of schedule–we wanted a morning tour during the week (and in mid-May before “tourist season”)–this was the only company we found having one that Thursday morning. And it wasn’t busy, that’s for sure!, because C. & I were the only two people on the tour with our witch-guide. (As far as the whole witches thing: he was, uhm, interesting. He did a well-being spell and gave us some crystals…and a car tag. #random)

After our tour (spoiler: there’s very few original buildings/structures/graves/sites from the time of the witch trials left) we grabbed lunch at The Lobster Shanty. And y’all, those gigantic lobster rolls (I had the traditional cold lobster roll while C. had the Connecticut-style that’s warm with butter, both came with delicious homemade pickles) made the whole trip to Salem worth it. It is a Salem MUST.

My cold lobster roll with tots.

His warm lobster roll with fries. They were twice as big as they look here.

We each had our tarot cards read for fun. Then we did a little shopping which I totally forgot to add to the my cheat sheet at the bottom of this post. I loved Roost & Company–they had the cutest gifts (I got my grandmother a tire swing bird feeder and MM a goat tote bag) and Curtsy (where I got my mother-in-law a picture frame and my mother a pair of earrings). Both are on Front Street. Salem also had a fabulous retro-inspired dress shop called Modern Millie. Oh my gosh, I could live there.


We had about twenty hours from when we left Portland until we were to fly back to Atlanta. We took our time driving down the coast (our favorite beach town was York Beach–I’ll post about it in the Portland section) and got to Plymouth around 4pm. Now, I’m going to be honest here: the only reason we went to Plymouth is because I love history and I felt that it would be unpatriotic to go all the way to Massachusetts and NOT see Plymouth, you know?

Once in Plymouth we spent an hour or so walking along the jetty (breakwater? sea wall?) at the harbor. It was fun, but you do have to be steady on your feet–it’s just rocks stacked on top of others.

Afterwards grabbed an early dinner at Wood’s Seafood which served huge portions (C. and I split the fried seafood plate of fish, oysters, shrimp, and scallops) and had some yummy clam chowder…and a great view to boot.

The next morning we went to Plymouth Rock at 9am (not much to see, not going to lie). It seriously took ten minutes tops.

Afterwards we went to Plimouth Plantation right after they opened. And I liked it. I’m not sure if it was worth the $60+ for the two of us–we were in and out in 1.5 hours–but it was interesting to see structures the Wampanoags and Pilgrims had, as well as to listen and talk to them (they stay in character the whole time). I definitely would make sure I went AFTER 2pm during the week during the school year–I imagine that place is a zoo with school kids!

And here’s a little Salem and Plymouth Cheat Sheet/guide I made for the two towns.  (click on the link to download it)


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This week is a packed week here on the blog. Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of our (finally) finished dining room redo and Friday I’ll post about the one year anniversary of my tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and muscle repair that I had on June 1, 2016. It’s going to be a “what I wish I had known”-kind of post and I’ll be more than happy to answer ANY questions you have–just leave them here or on Facebook or on my Instagram page by Thursday.

Thank you to my friend Sarah for her delish recommendations for Salem. That girl knows her stuff!


Tour Massachusetts Series: Boston + A Printable Guide!

What to do and see and where to shop and eat for a quick 36-hour trip to the city!

Y’all, I might just have a crush on Boston. If their traffic didn’t completely stink (and I know bad traffic– #helloimfromatlanta), I would have a full-on stalker relationship with Boston.

It’s so pretty. And old (old being a very good thing). And tasty. And full of personality.

But the traffic? Oh, the traffic makes me say bad words.

So here’s what we did: we flew in late on a Tuesday afternoon and arrived just in time for dinner. We ate fried lobster (that were the size of chicken fingers!) at Tony’s Clam Shop that’s right on Quincy Bay on the way to our hotel. Nothing fancy (hello paper plates and plastic trays), but so good.

The next morning at 9:30 we took a Duck Tour (we left from the New England Aquarium stop). It was a blast and we got to see lots of Boston–by land and by sea (well, technically river). 😉 If you book a tour earlier in the day (which I recommend for the heat alone) you save like $9 a person.

After that we grabbed lunch at the Tip Tap Room where we had the best calamari I’ve ever tasted (and we eat calamari all the time). C. enjoyed his roast beef sandwich, but I wouldn’t recommend my BLT (the olive bread was overwhelming). But I’d go back in a split second for that calamari. Like woah.

The afternoon we spent exploring Beacon Hill and Harvard Square (see the cheat sheet below for a few of my favorite shops). Both areas are beautiful, especially Beacon Hill.

Don’t these pictures just scream Boston? So pretty!

That night we had pizza at Easy Pie in Braintree. They have subs and salads too. The buffalo pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had.

The next morning we left to go to Portland via Salem. We did come back to Boston Sunday before our flight home and ate brunch at the Beehive. It was hands down the best brunch I’ve ever had–I had Belgian waffles with mascarpone and chocolate and C. had a bacon cheeseburger that was the best burger he and I had ever tasted. We sat right in front of the jazz band in the basement and it was perfect. Definitely recommend it if you’re in Boston!

And here’s my little cheat sheet I promised! I’m sure there is so much more you could do (like go to Fenway Park!), but this is all we could cram into 36 hours. 🙂

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Click here to download my boston cheat sheet (in better resolution than the one above).

Thank you to my friends, Denise & Jessica, for her tourist insight and to my friend, Sarah, for her local insight. Y’all ladies did not steer us wrong!


Boston, Salem, Portland, and Plymouth

Last week C. & I spent five nights touring the northeast in celebration of our twelfth anniversary that’s this Sunday. We flew into Boston and stayed for a couple of nights before making our way up to Portland through Salem and New Hampshire, before driving south to Plymouth.

And it was really great.

I’m going to do small guides to each city–things to do, see, eat, and shop–over the next couple of weeks since my friends who’ve been there before helped me out so much (and my friends that live there–thanks Sarah!).

But before I do those I thought I would share just a few photos to tease you. 😉

See y’all back here on Friday–hope you’re having a good week (we’re almost on summer vacation, hooray)!



Tour Texas Series: What to See & Do and Where to Shop & Eat in Dallas

I’m doing this last post on Dallas before I forget all the fun things we did, ate, saw, and shopped there.

To Do, See and Shop:

The reason we went to Dallas in the first place is because two of C.’s jobs are there. One is in an area called Bishop Arts District and one is an area called Deep Ellum. Both are technically in Dallas, but they are on opposite sides of the city and have different vibes for sure.

For the kind of shopping where you park and go to multiple stores along a sidewalk, I love Bishop Arts District. We also ate at Hattie’s while there and it was yummy {I had an onion tart}. DIRT Flowers there is amazing. And Emporium Pies looked delish.

The other things we did while in Dallas were to go to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (read my review here and DON’T go there before 1pm during the school year).  We also went to Klyde Warren Park first thing one morning and it was dead (but it’s super cool–the interstate runs right under it!) so I would recommend going to lunch and eating a burger at Savor Gastropub (you can order from a takeout window or sit inside) or go at lunch on Saturdays when they have food trucks.  Another thing MM really enjoyed was the Reunion Tower–a giant tower (you ride an elevator up) that allows you to see all over Dallas.

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One thing MM said she wished we had done was go on the trolley. It went right by our hotel (we stayed here and it was great) and every morning she would talk about it, but we never got a chance to do it.

My favorite souvenir shop we went to was Buzzerk in Lower Greenville. We got the coolest Dallas t-shirts (some shirts were not little kid appropriate, but most were) and coasters. While we were in the neighborhood we ate at Toasted–an entire restaurant/bakery/cafe built around different types of toast. The peanut butter-honey toast was GOOD.

To Eat:

Probably the best place we ate was a small hole in the wall/kinda fast food restaurant called Velvet Taco (they also have restaurants in Ft. Worth, Austin, and Houston). The roasted corn side was amazing. They also have artisanal sodas (MM love the grapefruit one). It’s a definite ‘must do’ in my book and will be my first stop when I go back to Dallas.

We also ate at the Shake Shack one day.

I’ve heard great things about Pecan Lodge (BBQ and sides) from C. in Deep Ellum, but we didn’t go there.

And that’s it. This is the last post about our Dallas trip even if we did get stuck there for an extra two days and had to drive allllll the way back home. #thanksdelta

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We don’t have much going on (YAY!) other than MM’s artwork is being featured in a pretty prestigious art show for our school system’s K-12 annual art show. We’re all going out to eat lunch before we go on Sunday and she is on cloud nine that all the people she loves will be there celebrating her. Art is where her heart and passion are and she was over-the-moon to be chosen for this exhibition. It’s so amazing/interesting/thrilling to watch as your children find their passion.



Tour Georgia Series: Washington Farms Strawberry Picking {’17}

I mentioned last week that we are doing something fun with my dad every week for the month leading up to his 70th birthday on May 17th. Last week we went to a Gwinnett Braves game and today we went strawberry picking (so I could make him a strawberry cobbler!)…who knows where we’ll end up next week! 😉

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And just because I had people ask on Facebook (’cause I personally think I look like a hot mess express post-workout here) here’s links to my gym clothes: top. sports bra. compression leggings. tennis shoes (different color). 

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Lawson had a blast picking berries. Well, he’d pick one, squish it all in his hands, and then stuff his mouth with it. ‘Cause that’s how you’re supposed to pick them, right?

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Mary Margaret and Moseby are old pros of course.

They grabbed their buckets and started picking right away.

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And after we picked these gorgeous ladies we headed over to the picnic tables and had our fill of strawberry ice cream.

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When we got back to my parents’ house I made dinner {spaghetti and meatballs because that’s my dad’s favorite} and homemade strawberry cobbler. I used this recipe and it was PERFECT. The crust was almost cake-like and delicious.

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Definitely can’t recommend Washington Farms enough (they have TONS of berries right now!) or this cobbler enough…or my dad enough. He’s one terrific guy.

This is the fourth time you will find me talking about Washington Farms on the blog. The first was in 2011 when MM was 2. We took her again in 2012 when she was 3.  And again I wrote about it in 2014 when we took her and Moseby (she was 5, he was 2).



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