Monday, September 1, 2014

Riding the Vacation Wave: Oh, the Places You Go!

I thought that Labor Day might prove a good time to reflect on our mini trips while on vacation in NC this summer. Like I posted yesterday, though, I am also still in summertime mode... that may be part of my motivation.

But, make haste....let's take a trip to...

>>Fort Fisher (Ferry Ride + Aquarium)

While on vacation, we decided to visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher--known as the "fish zoo" to my niece.

And what better way to get there than by boat? That's right, we took the ferry!

NC has a public ferry system that is super affordable, time efficient, and a really fun way to travel! For each family-sized vehicle, it only costs $5 to ride (we would have paid more than that in gas).

Click here to view the 2014 NC ferry schedule.

Once your car is loaded onto the boat, it's time to ditch the family ride and climb to the ferry's upper deck to look at seagulls, other boats, take pictures of your feet, etc.
Driving onto the ferry! Don't worry; my parents had a license plate. I just blurred it out :)
Upper deck!
Pulling out into the big water.
A passing large barge...
This picture doesn't do it justice... it was huge!
Mine and my niece's feet! (We're both wearing crocs.)
Red Beard looking all smooth.
Making our way back to shore.
Fish outside the aquarium...
Fish inside the aquarium... lol. I struggled to capture the actual fish, as you can see!! Although, it's a little difficult when you're simultaneously watching a 2 year old. 
>>Southport, N.C.

Post-ferry return, we were all hungry. I will be writing about the restaurant Provision & Co. in my food post (great place to eat, y'all!). But the town of Southport itself is very charming! This quaint, coastal town is littered with cute shops and equipped with a trolley (if you're not inclined to walk around). This would be a fun spot to visit on a rainy (or sunny) afternoon.

Notice the stuffed dog in the window? That's my grandpa's solution to buying my grandma a dog...
Confession: I was way too engrossed in looking around to take many pictures!

>>Bird Island

This mini trip was researched by my older brother, and we were all under the impression that it would be simple and, well, quick. Not a long walk at all. We were wrong about the quick part. At least with 10 adults, plus 2 toddlers in tow. Not to mention the sun swiftly setting.

However, it was one magnificently beautiful walk, and man, was it a wide beach!

As the name suggests, Bird Island can be a fantastic spot for watching birds. There is a mailbox, too (that we never reached because it got dark too quick), where visitors can submit a "hey--we were here" or "my thoughts on this place" kind of thing. More information about Bird Island can be found on this website and this other website.

I recommend you complete this mini trip when you have ample time to make the jaunt. If you're into scenic exercising, a romantic walk on the beach, a good way to tire out your kids, or amazingly beautiful scenery, this is definitely a good stop.

Bringing a box of doughnuts and coffee would make it even better. :)

Here's hoping to visit these places again soon,
--Mrs. D.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

Red Beard is typing his literature paper on Bradford and Winthrop, Miss Kitty has succumbed to a long nap, and I am enjoying a glass of iced water on this hot August afternoon.
I know the Fall bug has bitten many folks already, but when it's a muggy 90 degrees outside, I can't help but revel in that last bit of summer heat blazing on outside.

It makes me think about donning our swimsuits once more so we can refresh ourselves in the cool creek water in the woods (or maybe even a pool). And it makes me think about sinking my teeth into another crispy B.L.T. sandwich before our friends no longer have surplus summer tomatoes to give us.

Most of all, I like to think about God's goodness to us. So often we fail to see the beauty in our surroundings--the lush green of plants, the vibrant colors of flowers, the refreshment of cool water, the beauty of the sunlight...

And God made all of those things for our enjoyment.

I hope you can appreciate the last stretch of summer this holiday weekend. Tune in to God's Words, and take the time to just relax in the season God has us in.

Taste and see that the LORD is good,
--Mrs. D.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cucumber Rain

As I sit here, polishing off my cucumber sandwich on homemade onion-dill bread, I am amusedly reflecting on this year's summer yields. 

This is the first year that Red Beard and I didn't plant any cucumbers. It felt strange at first, but we honestly didn't have enough buckets in our container garden.

And then, sometime during mid-June, cucumbers started pouring in from every gardener and farmer we know...

I've made countless batches of dill pickles, carved up cukes to hold tuna salad, infused gallons of water with cucumber slices, incorporated dozens of cukes into shakes and pastas and salads, and the cucumbers just continue to flow in a steady stream into our apartment.

It's kind of funny, really.
"Ok, seriously, Mom: Why are we doing this?"
Every year there is a "cash crop," as we like to call it. "Cash crop" is a real term, but it is also our family's nickname for the gardening item that is out-producing everything else--or at least making it's way into our kitchen more than everything else.

One year it was zucchini (we planted 12 plants--why didn't someone warn us?!), another year it was grapes. There was also the year of the Roma tomato. Those tomatoes made some mighty fine spaghetti sauce that winter.

But this... this is clearly the year of the cucumber, with it's fresh green (or yellow) skin and cool white flesh. And we didn't even plant any!

I thought sharing a list of our favorite recipes (and some ideas I still want to try) might prove helpful to you--in case it's the year of the cucumber in your kitchen, too.

Cucumber Smoothies (All Smoothie Recipes)
Tuna Salad Cucumber Cups (Peas & Crayons)
Cucumber & Dill Sandwich (Peanut Butter and Peppers)
Cucumber Slices w/ Homemade Hummus (Inspired Taste)
Baked Cucumbers (Julia Child)
Crunchy Kosher Dill Pickles (Mama Economics)
-->Cucumbers are also great in pasta salads, green salads, on turkey sandwiches, etc.

To Try:
Chilled Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad (Skinny Taste)
Cucumber & Coconut Salad (Martha Stewart)
Pineapple, Basil, & Cucumber (Martha Stewart)
Braised Cucumbers (Julia Child)
-->Any other ideas?

I hope you've enjoyed your own summer bounty, whoever's garden it came from!
--Mrs. D.