10 Things: Visit Pensacola Beach

Happy Wednesday dear Friends!

Over the weekend I hit the road with my friend, Tami, for a girl’s weekend in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  We had a fabulous time getting away from Atlanta, soaking up some vitamin D, and catching up on the latest happenings in our lives.

Between Hurricane Sally in late 2019 and Rona shutdowns in 2020 Pensacola Beach has weathered its storms and is ready for summer 2021!  Pensacola Beach is not a PCB, Destin or Daytona (thank goodness), but it’s the perfect location for a family or girl’s getaway.  The atmosphere in Pensacola Beach is so much warmer, welcoming and friendlier than larger beaches.  It retains a bit of a vintage vibe which I appreciate more than ever right now!

So, what can you do in Pensacola Beach?  Here are “10 Things” to fill your week while vacationing here.

1) Eat at one of the many local restaurants along the strip. Pensacola Beach is making a splash in the foodie scene and there are so many great options!

Tami and I first ate at Laguna’s Grill and Bar as we rolled into town. This adventure park/restaurant was so bright and colorful, a fun place to dine and play!  The coastal views made for the perfect welcome to the beach.  I ordered delicious shrimp tacos made using gulf-caught shrimp and the crispiest fries ever!  Tami dined on a grilled cheese sandwich made with gruyere and Havarti cheeses.  It was all so delicious.

Another great place to eat was Water Pig BBQ. Sitting right on the water the chopped brisket with caramelized onion tasted even better.  You have to try the pimento cheese as well!  After supper, walk next door to Water Pig’s sister restaurant, Red Fish, Blue Fish for a drink and watch the sun go down.  The setting is beautiful.

Sunday Brunch at the Hilton is absolutely wonderful.  With live music, fresh seafood and so many other dishes from prime rib to fresh pasta, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.

Also located at the Hilton is an unassuming restaurant on the second floor called Bonsai.  I plan to review this separately, but y’all, trust me, you will want to check Bonsai out!

 

2) Head over to Ft Pickens National Seashore for trails, fishing, and history.  This beautiful area is rich in history and absolutely stunning. Learn about the fort itself as well as the fortifications that were made up through World War II and take in all the natural shorelines this preserved area has to offer.  There are park rangers around to answer your questions, but tours are mostly self-guided.  If you’re not a fan of history, you can hike along the parks many trails, or take a guided nature tour.  While in the park we saw a majestic eagle, turtles and so much more.  If i hadn’t been driving, I would have love a pic of the eagle.  Y’all, he was stunning!  Fort Pickens is a great place to watch the sunset, ad I’ve heard rumors that it makes a fantastic viewing area for watching the Blue Angels practice. The area is a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and if you are an America the Beautiful passholder you are covered here.  Otherwise, it’s $25 a car and the admission is good for seven days.

 

3) Find adventure out on the water.  Pensacola beach has so many options available for water activities aside from playing in the surf.  Rent a boat for fishing, or dolphin watching, take a sunset cruise, kayak the calmer bay water, paddle board, parasail, or rent a jet ski to jump wakes and fly across the water.

Tami and I rented our jet skis from Key Sailing and had an absolute blast out on the water.  The staff at Key Sailing were friendly and helpful.  The jet skis were new and well maintained.  I highly recommend that you check them out.

Key Sailing

400 QuietWater Beach Rd.

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 932-5520

 

4) Shop the Boardwalk shops.  These shops are a mix of small boutiques as well as the more well-known Ron Jon Surf Shop and southern beach staple Alvin’s Island.  In the Boardwalk area you will also find a few restaurants and ice cream!  There is also a beach entrance in the area, so if you forget your sunscreen or need an extra towel, everything is extremely convenient.

 

5) Miniature Golf at UFO’s.  When our kids were at home no beach vacation was complete without at least one mini golf excursion.  UFO’s is cute and different with it’s out of this world theme.  It’s also walking distance from many of the local hotels or restaurants making it super easy to get around.

UFO’s Pensacola Beach

2 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 677-8830

 

6) Stay at the Hilton Pensacola Beach.  This beachfront property has everything you need for a fabulous vacation stay:  great food, beautiful views, fantastic pool area, a top-notch staff who went above and beyond, and of course access to the beach right out the back door.  Tami and I had a 2 1/2 room suite that could easy sleep 6.  There were 2 queen beds as well as a set of bunks perfect for kiddos.  The sitting area had a sleeper sofa if needed as well as a kitchenette for making sandwiches and keeping drinks cool in your room.

The breakfast buffet each morning is convenient and delicious.  Have Miss Shirley make you an omelet from scratch or choose a more carb heavy breakfast by munching on a large assortment of muffins, bagels, and waffles.  There is something for everyone!

If you stay at the Hilton, have Donna or Jacalyn from the Butler’s Pantry.  make you a Teavana Peach Tranquility tea in the evening to drink as you unwind on your patio.

Hilton Pensacola Beach

12 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 916-2999

 

7) Visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Fort Pickens is not the only preserved area on Pensacola Beach. On the opposite side of town you will find the Santa Rosa area of the National Seashore.  This, to me, is the beach.  Sand dunes, and plenty of natural, and mostly unspoiled beauty.  This is a beautiful area for a walk, catching the sunrise, or sitting and savoring the quiet, natural sounds of the coast.  I wish that more beaches would would retain these large areas of preservation and less development.

 

8) Get your fitness on.  Pensacola Beach is bike and pedestrian friendly.  Leave your car at the hotel and venture out to explore.  Take a walk on the beach, hit the trails in the National Seashore areas (there is a great paved trail in the Santa Rosa area), or bike around Pcola.

You never know what you’ll see on a beach walk!

If you need a workout, hit the gym at the Hilton.  They have everything you need for a great sweat session!

 

9) Be sure to watch the sunrise or sunset in Pensacola Beach.  There is prime viewing for both just about any way you look!  My favorite sunrise was out on the beach as i was walking back from the pier and the most beautiful sunset was one I watched from Red Fish Blue Fish.  There are other beautiful places to watch from, but plan ahead, because it goes fast!

 

10) Finally, don’t forget to catch some rays on Pensacola Beach!

{Like you would, right?}

The beaches were well staffed with trained and attentive lifeguards (who stayed on top of red flag conditions).  Watching them work over the weekend was exhausting, especially when dealing with people who overindulged in alcohol and others who just wanted to push their buttons.

If you need a chair and umbrella, the guys at Lazy Days are great to work with and will happily make a great deal for more than one days rental.  The chairs were well kept and comfortable for tanning, enjoying the waves, or people watching.

It’s not too late to plan a getaway for this summer.  Pensacola Beach is a 5 1/2 hour drive from north Atlanta which makes for an easy weekend road trip.  Check out all Pcola has to offer and let me know what you think!

Uncle Jack’s Meat House – Peachtree Corners

In a year where we’re continually hearing news of businesses closing, it’s quite exciting to celebrate an opening! 

New York restaurateur, William Degel is opening the doors to his third metro-Atlanta eatery, tonight in the rapidly growing community of Peachtree Corners.  It’s taken three years to make this day happen, but it’s definitely worth the wait for the newest addition to the Uncle Jack’s family!

Last week Audley and I were invited out for the soft opening where we were delighted with a fantastic taste of what’s in store for diners.  Executive chef, Dylan Temple, has helped create a menu that will leave you salivating for more! 

Uncle Jack’s uses a farm to table mentality and employs local ingredients whenever and where ever possible.  I don’t know where to really begin, but definitely start your evening off with the tender and flavorful lamb lollipops coated in Dijon mustard and panko, or the crispy pork belly “chicharrons” that will give your taste buds a kick!  If you prefer something a little “less”, try the Swedish meatballs that combines, ground quality pork, beef, and veal in a house created pan gravy for a savory bite to wet your appetite for more.  If prefer seafood, the Maine lobster and avocado mini tacos are  the northeast meets the south with this delectable meshing of flavor.  Of course no meal is off to the right start without an order of Uncle Jack’s signature Applewood smoked bacon with a chipotle maple glaze served with housemade peanut butter.  Trust me, you have to give these a try!

After waking your taste buds, head on over to the main menu to find a dish that will satisfy even the pickiest of palettes.  Keep things simple by trying the Peachtree Burger, also known as the Duke (influenced by Paul Duke, who has had a huge impact on the growth of Peachtree Corners).  This top quality beef burger is topped with fresh Georgia peach jam, housemade peanut butter, and maple bacon and served on a brioche bun.  Oh y’all, this often carb skipping foodie absolutely loved it!  Its perfect for a midday lunch and will keep you satisfied for hours.  

If it’s steak you are wanting, Uncle Jack’s all natural aged cuts of beef will having you returning time and again for a tender and savory bite.  The 35 Day dry-aged “Fred Flintstone” Longbone is Audley’s absolute favorite, but I really enjoyed the tender and juicy cut of the NY Strip.  There are sauces you can top these with, but I savor the flavor of a good steak; no sauce needed.

If you have room (and I suggest you try), you must indulge in dessert.  From the simple ‘Baking Bad’ cookie trio consisting of a Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Cookie, Lemon Marshmallow Cookie, AND Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookie to the Fudge Brownie Soufflé, you cannot go wrong.  

The Uncle Jack’s experience is as much about the decor as it is the food, which create the perfect atmosphere for an upscale yet casual night out. 

“Uncle Jack’s has the look and feel of a 1900s building in New York’s Meatpacking District, complete with aged cement, raw vintage steel, subway tile, meat hooks, custom wallpaper featuring archival butcher photos, and flying pigs and steer heads mounted on the walls. The tufted and red vinyl seating, marble bar tops with old school bar styling mixed in and outdoor fire pit lounge areas provide a pop of sophistication while also reinforcing the vintage theme.”  The Peachtree location also has a 16-person suite you can reserve for private parties that was named after former wrestling icon, Ric Flair.

Uncle Jack’s Meat House Peachtree Corners is accepting limited reservations through their website or by calling 470-532-1010

Check it out and let me know what you think!  

Uncle Jack’s Meat ‘House – Peachtree Corners

5222 Peachtree Pkwy. Ste 920 Peachtree Corners, GA 30092

(470) 532-1010

 

A Candy Cane Christmas

It’s just thirty-two days until Christmas.

Can you believe it?!

There were times I thought this year was never going to end, and suddenly it’s Christmastime!

After this long and often stressful year, I’m really excited for the holiday season and will definitely savor every moment with our family and friends and especially the quiet, peaceful nights in with Audley.

Today, I’m teaming up with some of our favorite bloggers for the 4th Annual Christmas Tree Blog Hop hosted by Michelle from Our Crafty Mom. You’ll have the opportunity to visit 28 talented bloggers for plenty of Christmas tree decorating inspiration, so turn up the Christmas music, grab a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and get lost in Christmas inspiration galore!

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Here in our home we are crazy for candy canes.

For as long as I can remember we have decorated our home in some shape, form or fashion with a candy cane theme. It might be a tree… or two, it might be the top of my kitchen cabinets or the dining room, but ribbon or garland or ornaments or the real deal are always featured. It just “fits” us as a family.  Not only have my kids come to expect it (they would be so disappointed & try to “borrow” my decor if I didn’t), but Audley wouldn’t have it any other way!  

Are there more husbands out there who actually love decorating for Christmas?

This year the candy cane theme is adorning our living room tree. It’s our first Christmas season as empty nesters, so it is a great way to pretend the kids are close (all of them live out -of-state now).  They will all be in and out through the season … our Marine is home for Thanksgiving/Christmas leave this week … so I want them to know it’s still home when they come to visit.

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This is the second year I’ve used a flocked tree, and I really do like it.  The colors of Christmas pop and smaller ornaments stand out as well.  Besides, living in the south, this is the closest to a white Christmas we’ll get!

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From top to bottom I tried to incorporate the joy  and traditions of Christmas that are a part of our family.  We bake a lot, so there are plenty of nods to hours in the kitchen cutting out cookies, whipping icing, and indulging in fabulous holiday treats.

Audley and I tucked in ribbon and marshmallows and gingerbread and springy things all around our ornaments to create a full and festive tree.  

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Our tree incorporates twenty-six years of ornaments collected from all six states  we’ve lived in (14 moves total) to carefully chosen floral picks and ribbon plus a few whimsical elves tumbling down the side,  I can tell you just about everywhere we lived as we hang specific ornaments on the tree; lolipops from Rome, Georgia, peppermint teardrops from Clinton, Iowa, a Christopher Radko from our time in Bridgeport, Alabama, a handpainted treasure to reember our years in South Carolina and more recently a very large Mark Robert’s Elf from living in Loganville.   There are so many beautiful memories, in this candy cane themed tree.  I love how it all came together this year. 

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This year I have a sweet addition to my decor … this adorable crate created by my youngest daughter.  It’s so much fun and fits in just perfectly.

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The candy cane theme is wrapped-up (pun intended) with our presents under the tree. 

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I just love incorporating gift wrap that compliments whatever theme we are using, and Audley does a fabulous job with a lot of our wrapping!

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Buttercup seems to think it all looks perfectly delicious, and I’m a bit hungry after talking candy canes, so it’s off to grab a snack and visit all the fabulous bloggers who are sharing their holiday with us!

Check out their links below.  Be sure to leave a comment letting me know you stopped by!  I would love to hear from you.

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Christmas tree graphic (1)

 

Welcome To The Fourth Annual Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers below for gorgeous holiday decorating ideas for your Christmas tree.

tree hop collage

Our Crafty Mom // Sustain My Craft Habit // Red Cottage Chronicles // Celebrate and Decorate

Christmas tree decor blog hop collage

Jenron Designs //  2 Bees In A Pod // Virginia Sweet Pea // From House To Home

Christmas Tree Collage

Tribe of Burton // Across the Boulevard // Intelligent Domestications // Simply Beautiful By Angela

Christmas Tree Decor

Modern on Monticello // Redneck Rhapsody // Purple Hues and Me // My Pinterventures

tree hop collage of 2Zucchini Sisters // One Thousand Oaks // Raggedy Bits // Southern Yankee DIY // Fiddle Dee Dee

Christmas tree hop

My Sweet Home Living // Pretty DIY Home // Michelle James Designs // Daily DIY Life

Christmas tree collage of four

Happily Ever After, etc. // Kippi at Home // Simple Nature Decor // Design Morsels

Trick or Treat: Caramel Apple Cocktails

Happy Halloween!

Things are a little different this year without the kids at home for this fun holiday. Trick or Treating went by the wayside years ago, but you’re never too old for a bonfire or holiday themed food with teenagers.

But here we are; our first empty nest Halloween!

And Audley and I plan to treat ourselves!

One of my favorite fall highlights is apple season. This year I didn’t get to pick my own, but I still made a trip up to my favorite north Alabama orchard with Momma. Crow Mountain really has the best apples!! It’s always fun to decide how to use them, and this year I changed it up from dessert to a delectable and over-21 grown-up Halloween treat ….

Caramel Apple Cocktails

The ingredient list is short: large apples (I love a Granny Smith) that you’ve hollowed into a “glass”, melted caramel to rim your apples, apple cider (try to find local), Crown Royal Vanilla, Ellington Reserve Salted Caramel Whisky (use airplane bottles), and brown sugar.

Wash and dry your apples, then slice the tops off and hollow out the inside of the apple. Don’t go all the way to the bottom or your cocktail “glass” will leak. I used a spoon for hollowing out the apple.

Rim the edge of your apple with melted caramel. Since you will be working around juicy apples, this works best when spooned around the edge. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Also sprinkle a little brown sugar inside the apple.

To mix the cocktail (for 2) heat 5 ounces of apple cider, then add 1.5 ounces of the caramel apple whisky, 1 ounce vanilla Crown, and stir. Pour into the apples you’ve made into glasses.

Pour into the apple glasses, garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!

These take just a few minutes to prepare; keeping you in a Halloween frame of mind while toasting an empty nest!

And don’t waste your apple! When you’ve finished your drink, slice the apple to eat for a spiked caramel apple treat!