I am in the midst of planning a summer vacation. A beach vacation where we will do nothing but play. In the sand, in the ocean, in the pool. And relax on a screened lanai facing the sea where I can watch the storms roll in, the dolphins, and the setting sun. With a drink in my hand and my feet up of course.
Because of our earth-shattering move last summer, we were not able to take a vacation, and we need one desperately. And I know the perfect place!
My family began vacationing in Sanibel Island, Florida when I was a child. It became etched in our hearts and my parents took us back again and again. We love going in the summer, despite the heat and humidity. There are less people, and it is less expensive, which is an added bonus.
The shelling has been ranked one of the best in the world. The wild life is amazing.
I can hear the sound of the surf in my memory as I write this and am aching to go back. Whenever we leave Sanibel, I stand and stare at the ocean for a few minutes, recording the sound of the waves crashing and the sun sparkling in my head. And try not to cry.
I would love to live there someday, but who knows where life’s journey will take me. Where does your heart lead you?
Turquoise and citrine ring
The Best of the Gipsy Kings playing in the background
THE ANSWER IS…
1 ripe avocado, 1/2 a lime, 1/2 a tomato, salt and pepper to taste. Roughly chop avocado and squeeze lime over it. Mash a little bit with the back of a fork, being careful to leave it chunky. Add the tomato, salt and pepper. Personally I like a little minced jalapeno or Tobasco and red onion, but since my 6 year old daughter was eating it, I left that out this time.
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, one orange bell pepper, one yellow bell pepper (any color bell peppers will do), 1/2 red onion, 1 minced garlic clove, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, olive oil, flour tortillas, sour cream, lime. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano to taste. Grill until cooked through. While grilling, saute peppers, onions and garlic until cooked through, about 10 minutes. After the chicken is grilled, slice into strips and add to the peppers and onions. Saute for another five minutes to combine flavors. You can also skip the grill and saute the peppers, onions, and garlic, move them to the side, then add raw chicken strips in the middle and saute until browned. Heat the flour tortillas on a griddle or in a pan with a little olive oil until golden spots start to appear. To serve, add the chicken mixture to a flour tortilla, squeeze some lime juice over the top and add a dollup of sour cream if desired.
While basking in the glory that is spring in the South, I was rudely awakened from my cherry blossom and wisteria filled dreams.
Atlanta is not the place you want to move to if you suffer from allergies. It is one of the allergy capitals in the United States. It truly lives up to its nickname of the “city in a forest.” I wasn’t sure what to expect during our first spring here, because allergy season is pretty nasty in Chicago as well.
But then I saw this in the school parking lot..
And on the railing of our back steps..
Yellow pollen is blanketing everything like pixie dust, minus the fun trip to Never Land. My daughter has a yellow ring on the seat of her pants after she swings on our play set. There is yellow dust inside my car! I do not exaggerate. The people at Allegra should have sent us a welcome basket when we moved here.
I have heard that if you eat local honey, you can build up a resistance to allergies in your area over time. There is a wonderful apiary near our home that we have yet to visit. Mabry Farm has been in the same family for over 100 years.
And then there are the stink bugs. What the heck is a stink bug, you ask? A little flying beetle, slightly lady bug-like, but brown, more irritating and less cute. They stink when you squash them apparently, not that I have tried.
The back of our house must be stink bug heaven because they have been swarming it in the hot afternoon sun for several days. My husband had to move our grill from the patio to the driveway, lest he be attacked while making cheeseburgers. Luckily they will depart in a week or so, we have been told.
Say hello to my little friends (in my best Al Pacino voice)..
I might complain, but I can still enjoy the splendors of the season while taking the dog for our daily walks. The weather has been gorgeous and unseasonably warm, like much of the country.
I hope you too have been able to get outside and enjoy this first day of spring in your neck of the woods!
The sun rose brilliantly over the Georgia pines this morning.
I love that our house faces east. The sun comes streaming in the front windows. And we can watch it set in the west from our backyard. I grew up in a house like that and have always wanted the same for my family, strange though it may sound.
The morning light makes everyday objects enchanting.
In the light of day, irrational (and rational) nighttime fears have dissipated, if only temporarily.
All is possible.
There is a new restaurant in town that the hubby and I have wanted to try since it opened in the fall of 2011. Seed Kitchen & Bar is a hip place with great accolades. For one of our rare date nights, I made a reservation as recommended. Being that it was still my husband’s birthday week, I said we were celebrating his birthday. We walked in and loved the airy modern vibe right away. Sure, it’s across the parking lot from Kohl’s, but it’s in a great area with a Whole Foods in the same shopping center. And the best part for parents with two young children? It’s close enough in case the babysitter calls to say one of the kids accidentally lit the house on fire.
The young hostess was so sweet and wished my husband a happy birthday. Then we headed toward our table. As we got closer, the theme to “Jaws” popped into my head. Sure enough, she wanted to seat us in the little itty bitty half booth in the corner next to the kitchen. First of all, my husband is a big guy. To give you a visual, he is 6’ 3” and played college football. That booth looked about as comfortable for him as trying to squeeze into a children’s ride at a theme park. Secondly, it was right next to the bustling open kitchen doorway. Why do restaurants do this?! We are a decent looking very polite 30-something couple, dressed as what we believe to be relatively stylish. If we had on sweatshirts, overalls or a bad case of B.O., I could understand. The same thing happened at a different restaurant for my birthday a few months ago. I’m not in the industry, but I think restaurants try to fill up their worst tables early and work their way up, holding their best for regulars of course.
So I said, “Oh la la, this won’t do, do you have anything else??” The hostess looked surprised and annoyed. I am all about views and ambience, not to mention how uncomfortable my husband would have been. It was our only date night in months and the restaurant was still half empty. She walked us over to a table in the middle of the restaurant, not the best table, but much better than the other. I was hoping our evening would be more promising.. and it was!
We started off with a “Taste” of Pimento Crostinis. Pimento cheese is a food group in the South. They were delish and something you could easily replicate for cocktail hour in your own home (my recipe to follow).
I had a yummy glass of pinot noir (David Bruce 2009 from Sonoma) and the grilled shrimp adobo. It was delicious and flavorful, and you could taste the smokiness of the grill and adobo. It had a kick but was mild. The picture I took turned out rather fuzzy, so unfortunately you will have to just go there yourself if you want to see the presentation, which was artful and appetizing.
The hubby had a butter lettuce salad, beer and a burger, which he loved. Which says a lot coming from him. Can you already tell he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy? For dessert we chose the chocolate mousse cake with white chocolate sabayon. The waiter brought out our dessert with a sparkling candle and “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate. Very nice touch, and dessert was complimentary, which many restaurants don’t do anymore for special occasions. I would have been perfectly happy to drink the sabayon sauce alone, but the cake was excellent. I wasn’t embarrassed to melt a piece of white chocolate bark into my cappuccino. I highly recommend it!
We left, stuffed and content little piggies. I cannot wait to go back and try everything on the menu, one by one down the line. Which doesn’t happen often. Kudos to Seed Kitchen & Bar, we will be back! And we will be specific about where we want to sit next time.
Pimento Cheese Crostinis (what I think the recipe is at least)
Thinly slice a baguette, place the slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven until golden and crispy (375 degrees for 5 minutes on each side)
Generously smear each piece with pimento cheese
Add a slice of prosciutto to each
Add a very thin slice of sweet apple to each
Garnish with watercress and black pepper and serve
It was such a gorgeous day today. 73 degrees, sunny and breezy, the occasional cloud floating by. The kind of day that makes you open all the windows in your car, and you don’t care what your hair looks like.
I had lunch with a friend and before picking up the kids from school, I decided to take a winding road and headed toward historic downtown Roswell, Georgia, one of my favorite places.
Cherry trees were blooming everywhere.
Mr. Bulldog on the back steps: the bulldog is the mascot for the University of Georgia. I have never seen so many bulldogs until I moved down here! This was taken in back of a charming gift shop. In case you feel sorry for him, he looked very content on his bed in the sunshine.
This kind of day called for.. PIE! The Pie Hole sells amazing homemade pies from an old wooden building at the end of a gravel driveway. It’s a hidden gem. The owner is wonderful and she will tell you exactly what is in the case every time. Today they had strawberry rhubarb, lemon chess, chocolate pecan chess, caramel apple, original apple, peanut butter, pear cranberry, and pecan. The pecan was too warm to cut, much to my chagrin (it is my favorite when peach isn’t in season). I bought four slices and you will just have to guess which ones! Unfortunately they are not all for me. Oink!
Since moving to the South, I have become familiar with different phrases that we do not use in the North.
The phrase “y’all” is still as jarring to me as it was the first time I heard it. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about it. But I am just not used to it, even still.
And yet one night I found the phrase leaving my own lips. I was telling my son to take a bath, and I said “Y’all can get in now.” Quel horreur! I don’t even think I used it correctly since I was only talking to one person! Typical Northern faux pas. He thought it was amusing of course.
Then there is “bless her heart.” At first glance, you would think it is a term of endearment used fondly. No no no, my Yankee friend. It is often slyly used by southern women to negate what was just said, as if adding it at the end makes the statement less, shall we say, spiteful. There is definitely an art to it. For example,
“She sure could use a better bra, bless her heart!”
Now in all fairness, not all southerners use those phrases. And I know that my Chicago accent occasionally rears its ugly head. As in “da Bears, da Bulls, da Cubs” from Saturday Night Live fame.
True Chicagoans often add an “s” to the end of things that are not intended to be plural. Such as Soldier(s) Field, and Nordstrom(s). There’s nothing wrong with liking something so much you wish there was more than one, is there?! Or perhaps eating too many hot dogs, pizza and Polish sausage affects grammatical skill. And yes, there is other amazing gastronomy in Chicago, and they don’t eat like that all the time.
Then there is “Oh jeez!” One day my pilates instructor laughed and noted that I say it when I make mistakes. Her other client from Chicago says it too! You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl.. as they say.
So one day if you hear me say, “Oh jeez y’all, she got lost on her way to Nordstroms, bless her heart!” you will understand. My brain will forever be stuck somewhere between Chris Farley and Scarlet O’Hara.
Spring brings with it new life, and indeed it has done that in a very literal sense for me. The first time we saw Atlanta as a family was in the spring of last year. We came here from Chicago to scout things out because my husband had accepted a promotion. The minute we stepped out of the airport, I could smell the fragrance of flowers in the misty air.
Springtime in the south is magical.
Purple wisteria climbing its way up the trees..
Azaleas blooming everywhere..
Camellias as big as your hand!
Spring graces the South at least a month before the Northern states, much to my delight. I can’t believe almost one year has passed since our adventure began. I was very lonely at first but am starting to find my footing. Not every day is perfect, but I am finally able to say I am happy here. Of course from time to time I feel the pull of the heart strings and miss my family terribly. But there are so many new things to see and do and I want to soak it all up like a sponge!
Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy it, and happy spring!