At last! Autumn has arrived, not only is it calendar official, but you can feel it in the air in the south! This is my favorite season and I’ve been rather impatient waiting on it to arrive this year.
Thanks to the coronapocalypse, fall is a little different this year. Audley and I are skipping football games and missing tailgating, there aren’t any county fairs or rodeos, among other things, but there is no reason to not enjoy it! We have a “bucket list” of things we are looking forward to do this season. It got me thinking Maybe I should share it in case you were at a loss of how to enjoy the season in this crazy time. Almost all of these keep social distancing guidelines in mind.
* Go for a sunrise canoe ride
* Light autumn scented candles all through the house
* Pick apples and make apple crisp
* Make all the soups
* Bake a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin
* Visit a pumpkin patch
* Take a drive & enjoy a little leaf peeping
* Light a fire and make s’mores
* Celebrate National Coffee day ( September 29)
* Go camping or glamping
*Watch fall & Halloween themed movies
* Carve a pumpkin
* Pull out the patchwork quilts & get cozy
* Enjoy a girl’s day or even road trip
* Take a leisurely bike ride on a scenic trail
* Drink apple cider
* Meet your spouse for a coffee date
* Decorate your porch just a little extra this year
* Star gaze
* Make & eat caramel apples
* Go hiking
* Visit Starbucks for at least one Pumpkin Spiced drink
* Plan an autumn picnic
* Run through the leaves
Being outdoors is very good for boosting your immunity system, so many of our plans involve fresh air and sunshine, even with a few cooler temperatures. Take advantage of this anytime you can in the coming months! It’ll keep your spirits up as well.
What’s on your bucket list this fall? I would love to hear what you’ve been up to!
This year has been anything but normal, so when my girlfriend Tami reached out to me for a little road trip to Orlando I had a bag packed in a snap! The idea of doing something “normal” was extremely exciting!
Walt Disney World arranged park entry to Hollywood Studios (I’ve only visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot so this was exciting) and a stay at the new and gorgeous Riviera Resort. We were able to check out the newest rides and spaces, as well as all the health and safety measures they are taking so you can still enjoy the parks!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios was Walt Disney’s third park which opened in 1989. Its undergone several transformations over the years, but continues the premise as an ode to the “Golden Age of Hollywood” with details and architecture that will send your imagination into overdrive as you step back in time.
Hollywood Studios is an opportunity to emerge yourself in the movies you love through interactive rides, shows, parades, and experiences.
When you first enter the park you’ll stroll down the main street of the park; Hollywood Blvd. it is homage to the beautiful Art Deco style of the 30’s and 40’s. Neon, chrome, architecture with personality surround you as you meander towards the park’s iconic Chinese Theater.
While waiting in line for Micky & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, check out all the handprints in front of the Chinese Theater & see who you recognize!
Once you reach the Chinese Theater you can experience the fun of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway adventure! This brand new ride actually opened just a few days before the coronapocalypse shut the world down. It is the first ride to actually feature the iconic Mickey Mouse! It’s a super cute ride no matter your age.
Hollywood Studios is so much fun to walk through as you check out each themed area.
One of my favorite rides was the famous Tower of Terror that has been a hit in the park since 1994! I could’ve ridden it several times!
Galaxy’s Edge opened in 2019 to delight of Star War’s fans of all ages. It is by far the most popular attraction in the park! In Galaxy’s Edge I enjoyed blue and green milk with baby Yoda aka “The Child” and guided the Millennium Falcon on a Smuggler’s Run. Tami & I also took a 3-D Star Tour with C3PO. It was so much fun!
Toy Story Land is so colorful and enticing we had to check out a few rides there as well! The Slinky Dog Roller Coaster through Andy’s Backyard is so cute and if you’re not a fan of coasters you can twirl with the Aliens!
As you can imagine, with this virus going around there are changes to the parks and how things are done. Here are a few things you should be aware of if you are planning a trip in the next few months.
*Masks are required on all Disney properties, at all times, unless you are sitting and actively eating and drinking. This includes parks, resorts and Disney Springs. Take extra masks… it’s hotter than the devils kitchen in Florida this time of year and a mask soaked with sweat is highly uncomfortable.
*When you purchase your tickets to the parks, you must make a reservation for the days will will use the ticket. They’re limiting park attendance, so you must have a reservation to enter.
*Before entering the park your temperature will be taken. If you have a fever, don’t go.
*Each ride is set up so that you are socially distanced as you wait. There are limits on how many can ride and only every other car/row is used.
*There are hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer stations everywhere in the park. I do mean everywhere.
*As for experiences in the park, they are different. There are a limited number of character experiences, generally found in the form of parades, and very few shows. You can feel a difference in the level of “magic”. The Disney Parks app is essential as you order and pay for your food and sign-up for times for certain rides. The Advantage of park policies right now are short lines for most of the rides.
Overall visiting a Disney Park has definite pros and cons right now. I am not a fan of masks so it was a policy that dampened some of my enthusiasm (and my mood once the sweaty thing rubbed a blister on my jaw). I did love limiting guest attendance to the park; shorter lines, not stepping on heels of people in front of you and not feeling like the whole world is crammed in around you. Smaller crowds is a definite plus and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they kept that policy! Ordering food through the app is super convenient, but I am not a fan of my payment info being saved on the app. Overall it was a fun trip and i would go back if given the opportunity. If you decide to make the trip, just remember to make a reservation and plan out all the details of your trip before venturing down to Orlando!
So you want to go to the coast , but it’s not really doable right now?
How about bringing the coast home to you by throwing a southern low country boil?!
This is exactly what Audley & I did last weekend with Jonathan & Madeline. We set the mood, incorporated just a little themed decor & enjoyed a lovely night in.
I just love seafood, so a low country boil is one of my favorite ways to serve it up. Plus it’s so easy to pull together as you can make it as fancy or simple as you like! While dining outside is preferable, you can always bring this taste of the southern coast indoors. The best part of preparing a low country boil is it’s a one pot deal!
Yep, you read that correctly; one pot!
So how did we set up for our low country boil?
First, we hit up the market for fresh, coastal Georgia seafood. I love being able to support our fisherman, and nothing beats the taste of fresh seafood. If you don’t have access to locally sourced seafood you can use frozen, but try to find things that are wild caught; not farmed.
For our seafood pot we used shrimp, crab legs and littleneck clams. Sticking to tradition we also added andouille sausage, small, red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob.
The beauty of a low country boil is there is no set recipe or required ingredients! We’ve enjoyed occasions where crawfish was the main ingredient and I’ve known folks who added scallops or lobster! It’s all so delicious.
After shopping for all the ingredients, we set up a cozy little spot in the backyard. Our yard is a huge hill, so it’s not the most conducive for entertaining, but we still enjoy our time out back.
We lit up the fire pit, set up the Adirondack chairs, laid out a few blankets, decorated the table with what I call coastal Americana vibes, and hit play on our favorite playlist.
Of course a playlist is completely optional, but if you choose to have one, make it something you enjoy. For me it’s the smooth sounds of 70’s and early 80’s soft rock. About 90% of the music came out before I was old enough to establish my musical tastes, but classic Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4, Steely Dan’s Deacon Blues, Atlanta Rhythm Section’s So Into You, or Christopher Cross’s Sailing is hard to beat in 2020!
Once you have the mood set through you decor and music it’s time to boil up your seafood feast! You can do this indoors or out, over a fire or on the stovetop. The key to this dish is the seasonings & properly cooking everything. I’m all about Old Bay Seasoning or even some Zaterains seafood boil. By far, those two brands are my favorite.
There really isn’t a recipe to follow here: heat up a huge pot of water to boiling. Add several lemons you have sliced as well as the seafood boil of your choice. Add your potatoes, cooking until nearly done, then toss in the corn and sliced andouille sausage. Once those two items are cooked to your liking, add your seafood to the mix (check cooking times so you’re not overcooking your shrimp). It doesn’t take long to cook seafood at all! The entire dish should be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!
There are so many ways to serve up a Low Country boil; the most common one just dumping the cooked pot of food on newspaper. Since I was using a wooden table (not really made for outdoor use), we opted for another method of serving.
A great big serving board!
We added cocktail sauce and melted butter for dipping and our one pot dinner was a one platter delight!
Pile your plate up or eat off the tray; it doesn’t matter! Just dig in and enjoy!
“Eat at home” they say; “you’ll lose weight because it’s healthier than eating out.”
Quarantine weight gain has commenced.
Really, it’s not been too bad since I’ve kept most all junk food of the house, but I’ve given up a lot of my tuna and grilled chicken for full on sit down at the dinner table and savor every bite meals. Madeline is working less and home more, and there are no post workout sushi dates (or a an abundance of workouts), etc, so I’m actually cooking/prepping more food than normal. I try to keep weekend meals exciting while we are staying in right now.
I’m also trying to be more creative which is how I came up with this yummy recipe that’s a knock-off from a healthy restaurant (Clean Eatz) we like to visit in Nashville or Greenville when we’re traveling.
Sweet Potato Nachos, while taking a little time to prep (you need to prepare your chicken and all before the sweet potatoes), are so delicious and healthy which makes them a repeat meal in our home!
Keeping it Healthy at Home
To make these you will need sweet potatoes (one for each person), roasted or grilled chicken seasoned with a TexMex spice (I used the Protein Snack Shop’s taco seasoning), shredded lettuce, onion, jalapeño, limes, salsa and avocado cream (you will have to make this, too).
I highly recommend you use a good knife to cut your sweet potatoes into chips. You will want them thin and even so the slices to cook at the same pace. You’ll need to turn them about 8 minutes into cooking. It won’t take long for them to cook (around 15-20 minutes), so you’ll want to have your other ingredients ready to assemble as soon as the chips are ready.
The avocado cream is super easy to make & to keep a pretty green color, make it while the potatoes are cooking. It’s one ripe avocado (under-ripe avocados will be more difficult to process), juice of one lime & 3/4 cup quality Greek yogurt (I like FAGE). Blend until smooth in a food processor.
Assembling the nachos is just like any others you might make: a layer of sweet potato chips, then arrange your chicken, & veggies. Squeeze a little lime juice over the stack and top with a little salsa and avocado cream.
You shouldn’t need sides with this, but Mexican Street Corn (as unhealthy as it is) would be so delicious! It’s all about keeping balance!