What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Palm Beach

On my seven day 3000+ mile adventure with Audley over the summer I truly loved our time in Baton Rouge, touring Oak Alley Plantation, stopping over for dinner in New Orleans, and our few hours at Battlefield Memorial Park in Mobile, but my favorite stop (while Audley worked) was beautiful Palm Beach, Florida.
From the iconic palm tree line boulevards, the gorgeous Atlantic ocean, shopping Worth Avenue (often referred to as the Rodeo Drive of the Atlantic coast), beautiful estates, rich and delicious food to high-end antique shopping, Palm Beach was everything I always heard it to be and I totally fell in love with it all!

It was also the most ideal place to stop and relax for a couple of days (before picking up our teenagers from my parents and heading back to South Carolina).

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in West Palm with a corner suite on the top floor.  Our room was spacious with separate sleeping/living rooms, a small little kitchenette complete with cabinets, a sink, microwave and refrigerator, and a large bathroom.  The staff was amazing, especially considering we arrived at 3:30 in the morning!  The valet could have easily stayed out of sight, but he unloaded our truck and carried everything up to the room for us.  It was much appreciated after our ten hour drive from Mobile.  Each evening in the bar area (located in the lobby) the Embassy hosts a reception for its guests.  This is just perfect for those of us who enjoy a later dinner reservation while traveling.

Early afternoon in the bar and lobby area.  Besides a reception in the early evening here, breakfast is served every morning.
Our spacious living room
King size suite with over-sized closet

We actually enjoyed a day and a half of complete relaxation to sight-see and chill in Palm Beach, which ended as we took a couple of Audley’s associates to lunch on Sunday and then he headed out to the job-site while I slept in on Monday!  There is no way I can begin to give you all of the details of our wonderful stay in Palm Beach, but I can show you.

I hope you enjoy the view!

Beautiful Royal Palm Way which leads straight to the ocean from downtown.
Glimpse of the Atlantic from one of Palm beaches public access areas.
Peaceful evening walk along the beach … It was so picturesque and perfect!
It is very rare to actually catch my hubby relaxing because he works so much, so I am definitely sharing this moment with everyone!

The best part about visiting Palm Beach during June is we discovered it to be rather vacant.  The more touristy Panama City, Daytona, and the beaches of Destin are a huge draw, leaving this beautiful spot open for those who aren’t into party beaches. This meant that our Sunday afternoon was spent taking pictures of what we wanted and not having to worry about photo-bombs or working around crowds.  Personally, I loved it!

The Memorial Fountain and Park (in historic Palm Beach)  was designed by famed architect and creator of the Mediterranean Style, Addison Mizner The fountain and park were built in 1929 to commemorate the sacrifices of the town’s early pioneers.
I loved the Spanish style architecture of the Palm Beach area…. it’s not Audley’s favorite, but something about it just really appeals to me.
The Fountainhead rests on the backs of four horses emerging from the water, each representing the directions of the compass. The fountain is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a locally designated landmark.

We fell in love with Charley Crab on the ocean (where we dined both Saturday night & then again on Sunday afternoon).  They are actually a chain owned by the Landry’s company, but you wouldn’t know it by the atmosphere and their ability to spoil and accommodate their guests!

The house special was Scallops encrusted with crab and topped with a house made Dynamite sauce.  Audley enjoyed it so much he asked them to make him some oysters the same way and they were more than happy to oblige him.
My special ordered dinner of grilled sea bass, steamed green beans and rice…. all extremely fresh and cooked to order.

The weather was perfect for strolling along the shore after dinner out each evening and we definitely needed a walk after the delicious meals we enjoyed.

The love of my life …. actually relaxing again!

One of my favorite ways to relax was a little shopping without my teenagers and their input.  Lily Pulitzer is one of my favorite style icons and one thing I am truly looking forward to is buying a Lily dress when I reach my personal/physical goals.

Exploring the hometown of Lily Pulitzer & shopping her iconic styles was so much fun!

Don’t you just love all of the color?!
So simple, yet makes a huge statement!

We also enjoyed shopping the four blocks that comprise the famed Worth Avenue in such notable shops as Island Company, Neiman Marcus,  Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren, & Saks Fifth Avenue.  I was just window shopping though, despite the amazing shoe sale Saks was having!

{Next summer when we return I will be prepared for the shoe sale!}

Before leaving Palm Beach we also hit up a few antique shops on Antique Row.
From simple shops to grand and elegant you will find antiques of every style and in every price range.  It was an impressive area to visit.

Talk about a unique chandelier!

Cedric Dupont Antiques was definitely one of my favorite stops we made.  High-end does not begin to describe this beautiful store filled to the brim with European (mostly French) antiques.  After we were buzzed in (not just anyone can walk through the door) the gentleman managing the business gave us a run-down of the history of the Dupont antique business and how he acquires his pieces.  As high-end as it was, the owner as well as the manager were extremely personable and so enjoyable to talk with.

These aren’t reproductions, but the real deal.
The prices were the real deal as well.

Palm Beach is honestly a dream get-away in the summer months.  From what I understand summers are always like that and the fall, winters and springs are the busy season.  I would have loved to have more time to explore and enjoy the beautiful area, but when your are tagging along while the hubby works you enjoy what you have!  I do hope next summer will allow us the time to return again.  I could totally make this an annual trip.

I eluded to loving the architecture of the area, and so I have just one more vacation post where I wanted to share just a little glimpse of the real-estate eye-candy we were able to enjoy.  Hope you’ll stop back by and check it out!

Becky-Jack’s Food Shack

Off the beaten path where the Mermaids swim in Weeki Wachee, you will find a quaint little restaurant that will capture your heart as well as your stomach.
With specials of the day written on a brown paper bag, mismatched placemats, old Trivial Pursuit cards for conversation at the table and condiments stored in an old cardboard beer box, most people wouldn’t give BeckyJack’s Food Shack a second glance.
{It is totally their loss.}
Audley and I heard about BeckyJack’s through word of mouth.  To me that is one of the best opinions you can get about a place.
We walked through the door into a restaurant that could’t seat more than twenty at any given time and were greeted by the owner who obviously knew we were not locals (who frequent this little place).  He began to explain all of the specials and cooking methods, and even showed us the local favorite “YOU CATCH IT, WE COOK IT”!
 With it’s casual & eclectic decor, I knew this was going to be my kind of place.
We had two other waitresses who shared their favorite dishes, filled our drink orders (and never let them empty), and answered every question we had.
All dishes and their tasty sauces from “shack” sauce to tarter sauce are made on site daily.  They also serve a fabulous 5-bean salad as one of their sides that I noticed several other patrons enjoying.  The menu itself is quite simple, consisting of burgers, seafood, and wings.  The freshly caught, battered, and flash fried white fish is what they are known for.  The fish is breaded in corn flakes, almonds and then flash fried.
With all of our options laid out before us, Audley and I placed our orders.  Now I know we have adopted a serious lifestyle change, but it was well tossing aside for this one meal.
Audley ordered fantastic fish tacos with tarter sauce, fresh, crispy lettuce, pico de gallo and jalapeños.
Served on colorful FiestaWare, the tacos were almost too pretty to eat.
I stepped totally out of the box and ordered a crispy fish ruben sandwich.
Served on grilled multi-grain bread spread with “shack” sauce on one side and tarter sauce on the other, then topped with a tangy coleslaw, this was quite possibly the best fish sandwich I have ever put in my mouth!
It was “oh, so crispy” and perfectly cooked.
Served with a side of the delicious 5-bean salad, lunch was almost more than I could eat!
And despite the fact I couldn’t have possibly consumed one more bite, Audley ordered a double chocolate cheesecake to finish up our meal.
With impeccable service and fabulous flavors, this little unassuming spot has earned my respect more than many five-star restaurants I have dined in.  I wouldn’t change a thing about our time spent here.

Audley’s company will be working just outside of Tampa for the next six months, so I know we will be back down visiting.  When we do, I can assure you that we will visit BeckyJack’s again and if you ever make your way on down, be sure to stop in!

Sharing for Foodie Friday this week because we all need a good place to eat!

Amelia Island Eats …..

I love the flavor of fresh, local food when I am traveling.  You can walk into an Applebee’s or Zaxby’s just about anywhere you go, but you can’t find freshly caught seafood prepared with freshly gathered produce just anywhere.
Why should I settle for the common and ordinary when the uncommon and extraordinary are an option?!

While we were in Amelia Island last week, enjoying fresh and local fare was a highlight of our trip.  Raising little foodies sure made this a lot of fun!  In five days of dining out, we only had one meal that was a let down (The Marina Restaurant).

That is a pretty good record.
From traditional seafood dishes to eclectic cuisine we dined on it all.  A few meals that stood out for me would be the shrimp po boy I enjoyed beach-side at Sliders Grill the afternoon we arrived on the island. Sliders also served up some fabulous fried Kosher dills and calamari.  Audley was still talking about that meal when we left and a couple hours later as he was still full!

I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at Cafe Karibo our last full afternoon there.  This trendy little cafe is also a microbrewery.  There I had the absolute best shrimp salad on a fresh, buttery croissant.  This shrimp salad was fantastic; not too much mayonnaise in it, and the shrimp that had never been frozen was amazing!  I also added a cup of seafood soup to my order at Karibo.  Instead of the common bisque you find at many seafood restaurants, this was made with a tomato base and filled with diced potatoes, corn, snapper, crab, and shrimp.

All I can say is “YUM!”
Audley & I enjoyed a night out for two at The Crab Trap; a 30 year tradition in Amelia Island.  This casual restaurant with it’s hardwood floors, actual traps from fishing boats, and a really cool Florida/Georgia rivalry wall had the best fried seafood. I usually prefer my seafood broiled, but this one night, fried was the way to go.  Audley said the oysters he had to eat were the best, and for oysters (not always my favorite) they were good.  I think the thing I liked best about the Crab Trap was that the locals love this restaurant, too.  It was comforting to hear the waitstaff calling customers by name and greeting them as they walked through the doors.  That says a lot about their reputation.
Of course the night out for the two of us made this one of my favorite restaurants of the trip.
But, there was one restaurant that still has my children and hubby talking.  

This fun restaurant in one of Amelia’s historic homes was full of surprises that delighted our senses and thrilled our taste buds.

The first surprise was when you walked into the door of this sweet old home place.

As you enter the door, you are immediately transplanted from 1910 to 2011 with this fun and contemporary decor.  The red walls, white and black tile work and simplicity of it all really made a statement.
The kids were even impressed.


So why did I chose 29 South for our lunch?




You got it, my decision was solely based on the fact that chef/owner, Scotty Schwartz, had a gorgeous kitchen garden out back from which he gathers many of his ingredients.

I just love fresh!

The menu at 29 South was super fun.  We started off with two orders of these great pulled pork spring rolls topped with a sweet chili glaze.  Who would have ever thought something so different would be so delicious?!


Pulled Pork spring roll On Carolina Slaw with Sweet Chili Glaze


I chose to start off my meal with a completely scrumptious rich and creamy crab bisque.  It was loaded with vegetables and seafood and was quite satisfying.


crabs were harmed in the making of this scrumptious bisque!

And while I feasted on possibly the best shrimp & grits ev-ah  (how positively Southern is that dish?) ……

Mill Ground Grits and a Sherry, local shrimp & Andouille sausage pan gravy

…..the rest of my family seriously put away some lunch!

Fried chicken Sandwich, Applewood Pulled Pork,  Irish Ruben Clubhouse Sandwich, Waygu Burger (American Kobe beef),  & Buffalo Chicken Tacos w/ a spicy sweet sauce and blue cheese crumbles.

In fact Audley was so torn over what to order, he ordered both a pulled pork sandwich AND a ruben club sandwich!

{He was ready for a long nap after that.}

The best part was how awesome it was to enjoy a meal with my little foodies and have their take on it;  they had plenty to say, and all of it was positive.


29 South was well worth our time and a restaurant we will definitely visit again.

I don’t know if Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach is on your agenda in the future, but the local cuisine sure did add a lot of personality to our trip!

Food on the Beach

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get back into the swing of things after a relaxing vacation?  I think I have discovered my destiny in life after my children grow up is to own a quaint, little seaside inn.
 {I would be a great beach bum!}
Our holiday to the beach was planned rather quickly.  With the jr. high school out for spring break (unfortunately college kids had their break several weeks ago), I decided that we all needed a break from work, soccer, band, rain, flooded yards, and laundry.  We took advantage of the many hotel points Audley has accumulated over the last several months with Hilton, loaded up the vehicle and headed off to beautiful Amelia Island, Florida.
It was fabulous having a week away from the reality of stay-at-home-motherhood!


Located on the Atlantic coast, Amelia Island is a beautiful and quaint island located on the Georgia/Florida state line.  This quiet coastal community is completely opposite Panama City/Destin/ Myrtle Beach which is why we chose this area to escape.  I don’t want 100 variations of the same beach shop every three feet and really despise the crowded beaches.  When I have a get-away, that is exactly what I want to do; GET AWAY!


We could not have requested weather any more perfect than what we had.  There were no crowds, no party-minded young people, just families content with having a good time.


And we definitely had a lot of  fun!


If you have tried to plan a vacation lately, you know that it isn’t cheap.  With gas prices out the roof and trying to fill up the bottomless pits that I call children money goes quick! But, there are ways to maximize the time and money you have to its absolute fullness.
Here are a couple of ways we were able to maximize our money on food costs……
  I packed a cooler filled with sandwich meats and cheeses, bottles of water, then fixed a bag loaded with chips, fruit cups, bread for the sandwiches, and other small snacks.  This kept us from having to stop at every convenience store we passed during the nine hour drive! A $1.00 can of Pringles (even cheaper if you use coupons) goes a whole lot further than .99 grab bags of chips, and a Dole fruit cup or granola bar is definitely healthier for a child to munch on.
Buying a case of water ($3.99/24 bottles) saves a bundle when you pay $1.50/bottle at a gas station!


Carrying simple groceries and snacks with us also served another purpose …. food on the beach!  Jumping waves, building sand castles, and tanning while reading a good novel really build up your appetite!


For eating out, we chose restaurants that were local, not chains.  Restaurants that feature products raised locally are my favorite.  There is something so appealing about eating the freshest of ingredients, ingredients that come from just down the road, not across the globe.
Yes, these can be pricey, but go at lunchtime!  Most of the time lunch menus are just as extensive as a dinner menu and half the price. When you are feeding five who all eat off the adult menu, dinner gets expensive!   I think that my children are well-behaved, but when going to a pricey restaurant at night, I don’t want the fear that they might disturb others who are dining.
Going at lunch allows their inner-foodie to enjoy a meal, at a lower cost, and I don’t worry as much if they might bother other diners.
Eating out for lunch nearly every day was an enjoyable break from the beach and touring the historic district.
right on the harbor in Fernandina Beach
For supper we made sandwiches and one night even grilled our own dinner out on the beach!  I bought steaks here before we left, and then we visited a local fresh seafood market and purchased shrimp.
 Local fishermen bring their fresh catch in daily to sell.  You can’t beat that!
Audley packed our small grill and we set up a little kitchen right on the beach for a fabulous supper as the sun set.
fresh Atlantic shrimp


And our chef of the evening …….



squeezing fresh lemon juice on the shrimp




Ribeye Steaks & grilled shrimp
It was great saving money on food, which allowed us the opportunity to do other things like play golf and check out some other local sites.
This week I hope to share some more of our holiday, including a great restaurant review!
Until then, I guess I will return to reality and begin one of the 99 loads of laundry waiting in the hallway!