On the road again

This time off to Baltimore to visit my sister in her new town and new row house. I'm hoping she enlists my decorating advice once we get there.

I promise after that I will be back with regular updates and inspiration. I know all 9 of you (I'm gaining:) miss me:)


On the Road

Roadtrippin' to Virginia to visit my college ladies. I'm not back until late Sunday.

In my absence take a look at this article about reviving true cocktail parties. So true, especially the part about "Use glass." I think this means I should be living in the 1960's. Maybe I can pretend when I get my vintage bar cart set back up in our dining room. That's right, I found the one I mentioned in this post. It's going to take some cleaning up, but I'm pumped.


No need for an umbrella, because it's a baby shower

Two in fact. I have two wonderful friends both due with boys later this year, so of course I had to be in the middle of shower plans.

Shower #1 was for Baby V and his mama. The V's are our neighbors so we hosted at my house. Shower number #2 was for Baby L and both of his parents. The L's are both college friends of me and Carolina hubby so the shower was for the ladies and the gents alike.

Both of the showers were fairly traditional-light food, gifts, activities (notice I said activities, not games). We hosted them both in mid-afternoon, so there was no need for a huge meal. For shower #2 we actually stuck exclusively with dessert (plus a bit a fruit and cheese).

We chose themes to follow for both showers-jungle (which actually matched Baby V's nursery) for one and trains for the other. Themes help jumpstart the planning and creative ideas and give a cohesive feel to the event from invitation to event to party favor. They don't have to be tough, just choose colors to stick with.

To follow the train/dessert theme, we used toy train sets as decoration and I made railroad crossing cookies. For the jungle, the cake and diaper cake were decorated with jungle animals.

I quickly learned that I really dislike most of the traditional baby (and wedding) shower games. I like the idea of having something to do besides eat and open gifts, but really I don't want to smell or taste baby food. Celebrations at Home seems to have a similar opinion. I have come up with a few "activities" that I think are a good compromise.
#1-For a small shower full of creative guests gather scrapbook materials and have each guest create a page for one of "baby's first...". Leave room for mom to add pics and have guests sign each page. Mom gets to keep a personalized baby book.

#2-Help build baby's library by asking each guest to bring to the shower a special or unique, unwrapped children’s book to add to Baby's bookshelf. Include a tag with the invitation for guests to write a simple note about why then chose the book. Make sure no one signs the tags then ask mom to guess who brought each book. The books make a nice display at the shower as well.

#3-Help eveyone get to know each other at the shower by asking each guest to send or bring a baby picture of themselves. Post the picture with out names for shower guests to guess who each picture is. It was neat to play this game with adults.

#4-Wish baby Happy Birthday for years to come by asking shower guest to sign a birthday card for baby to be opened on Birthday's 1-18. Grab several cards and envelopes for a wide range of ages and make sure guests write which birthday the card should be opened on. Send the stack home with mom so she can remember her sweet shower as baby grows up.


Have ticket, will travel

Its been a busy August so far, and that is not really letting up until at least September, but I could not resist quickly posting our favorite vacation spots with Kelly's Show Us Your Life Fridays.

Not necessarily in any order:

#1-Vacation Spot: Ambergris Caye, Belize
Lodging: Xanadau Resort

Belize seems to have something for everyone. We biked, snorkeled, swam (pool and reef), ate, fished, zip lined and visited ruins. If that is a bit to active for your vacay taste I recommend a book, a Belikin (native beer), and lounging the palapa (beach hut) for a week. English is the native language so its easy to get around the whole country, the island is mostly walkable and we never ate a bad meal. If you are looking for a place to stay I can't recommend Xanadau more highly.

#2-Vacation spot: Oak Island, NC (OKI)
Lodging: Family cottage on the beach front

I posted a bit about how much this spot means to me in this post. I never really appreciated the
casual Carolina coast as a kid, always wishing for something a bit more exciting. Now as an adult, give me a few days where all I really need to pack is a bathing suit, the dog the the hubby and I'm in heaven.

#3-Vacation Spot: NYC
Lodging: The couch, floor or air mattresses in friends apartments

I don't think that I have stayed in a hotel in the city since I was in high school, thanks to friends. I love that NYC has become a vacation spot that I have frequented often enough that it's no longer about seeing all of the touristy things the city has to offer (though I have certainly not hit them all). With the help of natives I get to plan trips that include a Broadway show and a trip down 5th Avenue (window shopping) one night and neighborhood pizza and dive bar the next. I don't worry about missing out on things because I know, at least as long as there is floor space, I'll be back for another visit.

Those are the top three. I've got great plans to share 2 baby showers, upholstered headboard completion, a quick spicy dinner option and two weekend trips just as soon as I find some time to type things up.


Julie & Julia

It really was so cute and I had the perfect cooking companion to see the movie with (Thanks JL:)

It did get me thinking that I don't really read my cookbooks. I will hunt the index sometimes or use specific ones for certain recipes that I already know about. Honestly, these days I bypass the books altogether and default to the web for searching. Even when I am actaully flipping pages of a book I tend to ignore any content unless its part of the recipie.

I think I may be missing out on some key techniques or pairings, not to mention what may come before or after the actual collection of recipies. I may have found some new nightime reading, though I am not sure what Carolina Husband is going to say when I bring my copy of "How to Cook Everything" (Mark Bittman) to bed with me.

Also for those of you who have seen the movie, I have a distinct hankering to cook Julia's Beef Bourguignon some time soon.


AM insipiration

This is where you would have found me this morning. Since we have managed to stay home a few weekends this summer I have discovered how refreshing it is to spend an early Saturday morning on our patio (I say early because its only 9am and already pretty warm, but 7:30am was nice).

Coffee, pillow, laptop and tennis ball (for the dog)

I took my coffee, laptop and cookbook with me and returned a few emails planning fun girls weekends, decided to make some fresh pesto, caught up on a few blogs and found some awesome inspirational images thanks to Haven and Home.

The zebra table runner is from Z Gallerie and take a look at that hood in the last kitchen picture, wow.

I'm off now to get ready for a weekend of making pesto, a girl friend visit, shopping, and maybe even Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

(I'm not really sure why the last paragraph is underlined.)


At the Beach

We made it home from the Beach yesterday afternoon, not to mention home to a clean house (thanks to hosting a baby shower before we left). I have a tendency to leave things in a bit of mess when we leave town, only to return to a laundry list of things to clean up, not to mention actually doing all of the laundry from our trip, so this was a welcome change.

We headed to Oak Island, NC where my family has a beach cottage in the true sense of the word. It was build in the 1960's; and it's literally a rectangle house cut up into three bedrooms on one side of the house with an open kitchen, eating, and living area on the other side. We do also have a nice sun porch with a wall of windows on the beach side of the house.

View from the beach front of the house.

Paper thin walls, no dishwasher, finicky light switches, and kitchen cabinets, hardware and counter tops that are older that I am. The furniture is all left overs and most of the work we have done down there has been less cosmetic and more necessity. Adding AC, new windows, not to mention major structural rebuilding to the utility/garage/shower area after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. But as I told someone today. It's our house and it's beach front so I'm not complaining.

Hurricane Floyd took out several homes on the island when it hit the NC coast on September 1999. I can't express how difficult it was to watch the news coverage of the storm and not know if our house survived. No it is not any one's primary residence and no one was down there in the storm, but this house does hold 40 years of family and friend vacation memories for 3 generations. It would have been devastating to loose it.

A little google search and I was reminded of some of the damage Floyd caused from these pictures. Our house is only about 11 houses down the beach from this shot. We lost our entire front porch and huge gazebo, as well as the utility and shower area below the house, not to mention the utility connections. The main living area is on stilts and actually sustained little damage on the inside. There were limits to what was able to be built back and clean up took the better part of 9 months not only for our little house but also for rest of the island.

The past few days have been a reminder how important this spot is for my family. We spent most of our time as well always do eating, playing cards, napping, sunning and relaxing on the beach. The pup even got out of the house to play in the water with Carolina Husband and chill in a shady spot next to me under our beach tent.

We typically have pretty low key beach trips. Packing usually consists of making sure that we have bathing suits, PJs and a toothbrush, nothing fancy. Usually the only place we venture out to is Provision Company Restaurant in Southport, NC. Which is so good I think it deserves its own post later on this week, so be on the lookout.

On the docks waiting for our table at PC.

Four days off is a a nice break, but not to long that I will spend the next week catching up. We are already counting down to more visiting and vacationing later this month with my sister in Baltimore. So let the travels continue.


Gone Fishing

Not really, but we have headed to the Carolina coast until Wednesday.  But not before hosting a baby shower yesterday.  More pictures in a few days, but here is a quick peak at the diaper cake.