10 Things August

Would someone please explain to me how it is August already?  I know I’ve been absent on the blog (I stay much more active on my social media), but where has this year gone?

In an effort to share a few going-ons in our life, I thought I would share ten things that I’m loving right now as well as give you an idea into our year!  Who knows, maybe this will become a permanent addition to the blog.

 1. It’s farmer’s market season and I love visiting our little local, Saturday market here in Cartersville.  Audley & I do very little grocery shopping during the summer, choosing to focus on supporting local farmers and small businesses.  If you have a chance, check out your own local markets.  Eliminate the middle man and find much better quality food to enjoy!

2. Hit the outdoors and enjoy a waterfall hike.  Our health is one of the most precious things we have, and it’s up to us to protect and nourish our health.  One way to do this is get outside more, taking in natural Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and exercising our body, both internal and external.  The North Georgia Mountains are abundant with waterfalls to choose from, but I’m sure there is one near you as well.

Helen, Georgia

3. One of my resolutions this year was to dig a little deeper into Bible Study.  I am loving Candace Cameron Bure’s devotional books geared towards women.  From dealing with our own brokenness that we often don’t want to face, to discovering power in kindness, these little studies are simple yet impactful.  I found my copies on Amazon and  Dayspring and they are definitely worth investing in.

4. Another resolution I had for this year was to write more personal notes and remembering to send cards.  This beautiful stationary from American Stationary really makes that goal easy, as I love the beautiful colors and textures of the paper.  

5. Graphic tee-shirts for all occasions are all the rage right now, no matter your age.  I love these cute shirts from Kelley & Co.  Of course when your daughter is Kelley & Co you can’t help but love her work as well!  Check her out on Facebook or Instagram

Less News, More Nature
Girls trip anyone?

6. I have 6 pounds of fresh huckleberries arriving  tomorrow, so its time for a little jam session.  Huckleberries aren’t native for us here in Georgia, but hopefully the ones arriving from Idaho will satisfy my craving for this sweet berry!

7. Head out one Saturday morning to catch sunrise on the lake/river/creek/secluded field with someone special.  A thermos of coffee, fresh donuts, and a blanket are all you need for this inexpensive but romantic date.  Audley and I love taking our canoe out for sunrise, but believe me, a blanket and viewing point are all your need!

8. From Kindergarten on I’ve maintained a summer reading list every year.  I may not earn a free personal pan pizza or tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game any longer, but the satisfaction of finishing another great read is great in itself!  This summer I’ve finished Mary Kay Andrews The Newcomer, The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House by Adrian Tinniswood, When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplin, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner, Below Stairs by Margaret Powell, and The Glitter & The Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt.  I also purchased several books about Laura Ingalls Wilder while on our road trip (see my social media) last month that I can’t wait to dive into.

9. Summer gardens are at their peak and even beginning to fade away, so now is the time to plan and organize your fall garden/container gardens with cooler weather vegetables.  Start your seeds for sugar peas, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, parsley and the like for fresh veggies through the next season.  Hopefully some of the summer heat will begin to loosen its grip soon and help make for a productive winter. 

10. Finally, if you don’t know already, I’m going to be a grandmother in just two months!  It’s a girl!  I’ve spent several weekends up in South Carolina helping Gracie and Michael pull together the nursery this summer using paint and *gasp* wallpaper.  The color scheme is just beautiful and I’m loving this gorgeous mural from Photowall that pulls everything together.  It adds so much color and personality to this sweet room.  I can’t wait to see everything completely arranged after her showers.

I hope August is full of simple pleasures and you find joy in the small things as we roll through the last days of summer!

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!

McCray’s Tavern East Cobb; A Review

Last weekend Tammie and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner out in Marietta at McCray’s Tavern and Pour House. Since moving to the northwest-side of Atlanta over the summer I’ve not been out much to see what all the area has to offer, so I was excited to go to dinner… and who doesn’t love a girlfriend’s night out?!

This was not my first visit to McCray’s; they have four locations throughout metro Atlanta and I have eaten (and thoroughly enjoyed my visit) at the location in Lawrenceville. McCray’s East Cobb is brand new, braving the coronapocalypse to open this year!

With a new chef on board, McCray’s is showcasing a modern twist on old tavern fare with a new menu, exciting original cocktails and local craft beers. McCray’s has also reached out to local sources for beef, chicken and even bringing in seafood from the Gulf for the freshest and tastiest of menus.

McCray’s East Cobb creates a modern but inviting atmosphere and is family friendly. If you want to catch the latest televised sporting event, McCray’s has you covered with flat screen tv’s conveniently placed where everyone can watch! Our server was delightful and the food was absolutely delicious!

For appetizers Tammie enjoyed a grilled shrimp salad while I savored the tuna tartare.

For our entrees Tammie tackled the double cut pork chop with mashed potatoes and green beans.

I went with traditional tavern fare and enjoyed the “Tavern Dip” (prime rib, horseradish cream, caramelized onions and au jus) and fries.

We were so satisfied … ok, we were stuffed … with just dinner, but enjoyed dessert anyway; splitting the Creme Brûlée with berries.

McCray’s East Cobb will definitely be a restaurant I’ll return to in the future, and soon, as they are hosting Sips & Stogies on October 22!  Audley says make reservations, so I’m looking forward to date night as well! You can make your own reservation for Sips & Stogies by clicking here.

If you’re on the northwest side of Atlanta, or just passing through looking for good food in a welcoming environment, definitely visit McCray’s!

Make a reservation at 404-800-3553 and check out McCray’s today!

4880 Lower Roswell Road, Ste 850

Marietta, Georgia 30968

Make Your Own Pumpkin Cream Coffee

I absolutely love coffee.

Savoring a large cup or two in the quiet morning hours has become a necessary and important part of my daily routine. There are mornings I even wake up early to make sure I have this coffee time before we have places to be, including Sunday mornings before worship.

I’m also quite fond of pumpkin spice season at Starbucks. That first sip of pumpkin cream cold brew is the highlight of September 1 each year and I relish each cup throughout the fall. Living just outside Atlanta I don’t go out for just coffee though, unless I have plans. With the kiddos grown there isn’t as much running around going on. Besides paying $5 for coffee every time I go out the door definitely adds up.

But, I still want to enjoy pumpkin spice during this fall season.

So I’ve come up with my own “copycat” recipe to enjoy at home or on the go.

It’s super easy to make and fits in our budget much better. The best part of all is it is delicious on hot as well as iced coffee!

The ingredients for the cream topping are simple: You’ll need heavy whipping cream, pumpkin purée (homemade is best so that you are getting actual pumpkin & not a “squash mixture”), brown sugar and of course pumpkin spice.

This works best made in small batches; in other words, coffee for one.

For one cup of 8 ounce coffee, using a frother whisk a 1/4 cup cream, 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin purée, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, a one pinch pumpkin spice. This should be slightly thickened and easily pourable. This is how your coffee is sweetened and needs to drift to the bottom some.

Pour your hot coffee into a mug. Then top with the cream. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice and enjoy alone or with a friend if you must.

BTW, this is really delicious when made with vanilla coffee.

The iced coffee is similarly assembled; add ice and 8 ounces of coffee, then pour the pumpkin cream over the top. Give it a quick stir to help the cream drop.

Just a couple of quick notes:

First, don’t over spice the top. It should be very subtle & when drinking you DO NOT want to inhale or sip pure pumpkin pie spice! Second, there is a reason Starbucks doesn’t give you a straw for your ICED pumpkin cream coffee … if you sip through a straw you only get a mouthful of Cold. Black coffee. If you drink from the top, you will relish the rich pumpkin cream with each sip.

Learn from my mistakes people.

And enjoy your coffee.