Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toes in the Water

A large majority of our vacation consisted of THE BEACH.  It's pretty much our favorite family vacation thing.  Pretty much my favorite thing ever.  I also apparently gave birth to three water babies because every single time we were at the beach, I could not keep these children from splashing in the waves.

We did a majority of our beaching in two places: Tybee Island, Georgia, and Hilton Head, South Carolina.  Tybee north beach is much less crowded (and has cheaper parking!) and we hung out there every day but one we were on Tybee.

Tybee also has no open container laws.  I repeat: no open container laws.  You can walk around with your can of Miller Lite or your straw-ber-rita and not even bother having to try to hide it!  Point: Tybee.
Hilton Head, on the other hand, has prettier beaches with smoother sand.  You do, however, have to conceal the goods.  Oh, that in this non-descript-can't-see-through-it tumbler?  Totally Coke Zero.  Not at all half a bottle of wine.  Swear it.
We really had a great time at both beaches.
Even though the waves were a little crazy our first day at Hilton Head.  And even though my bathing suit top BROKE one day at Tybee.  And even though it was crazy crowded our last two beach days (the 4th and 5th of July).
Seriously, though, I'm pretty much of the opinion that there's no such thing as a bad day at the beach.
Our last day, we went out to Hilton Head.  There was construction all through South Carolina.  The traffic was crazy.  I couldn't find a Subway to pick up lunch so I ended up getting McDonald's.  The parking lot of the first beach we went to was completely full.  I was in a foul mood.  Awful.  Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.  Then we got there . . . walked out on the sand . . . smelled the sea air.  Insta-mood lifter.  Instant better mood (until we got in the car to head home).
Seriously.  We're in love with the beach.
And, for the rest of their lives, if there's anything I hope my children remember about this trip . . . it's standing in the ocean off the coast of Georgia, splashing around, the boys singing "rock me Mama like a wagon wheel" while K2 holds on - and holds on HARD - to me, yelling "that way!," urging me to go further out.  I really hope "Wagon Wheel" takes them back, every time they hear it, to the summer of 2013 and the Georgia coast and the smell of sea and salt.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Virginia Beach

My friend Rella lives in Virginia Beach and, until a couple months ago, actually liked right ON the beach. 

Lucky bitch.

She's been trying to get some of us to visit for yeeeears now.  Of course, we go when she's moved away from right ON the beach.  (For the record, she still lives close enough that I can call her a lucky bitch without feeling any real guilt).

Since the kids and I were already on the east coast, we decided to head north and visit her and her fun family and see Virginia Beach for the first time.  I got lost on the way there (ended up taking a detour through downtown Norfolk), the weather did not cooperate AT ALL, and my daughter wanted to spend the entire time we were there in the bathroom.  But we still had a really good time!

Our first full day there was a Saturday and we headed down to the Bay for a beach day.  Rella has a son who is just a few months older than J and all three boys hit it off really well.  They had so much fun splashing in the water and playing in the sand.  J drifted out too far in the inner tube no less than 390249 times.

It rained on us a little bit and the water was OMGSOCOLD.  We had a really good time though.  Seriously, my favorite thing in the world is sitting on the sand with a straw-ber-rita in my hand and a friend right beside me.  Does life get any better?

After dinner that night, we headed out for some Italian ice and I got to try Rita's for the first time.  Can you believe we don't have Rita's in Memphis?  That stuff was ahhhhmazing.  So yummy!

The next day we made our way down to the ocean front.  Virginia Beach has a neat little stretch of boardwalk -- tons of souvenir shops and restaurants (and, man, they love their pizza!) and frozen yogurt and rides and fun stuff.  We couldn't get in the water because there was a red flag but we found a playground right on the beach.  This was like Heaven for J.

The weather once AGAIN chose not to cooperate (Virginia hates me) and we had to leave the ocean front area before riding any rides or anything like that.  I want to go back sometime because even though they have open container laws (BOO HISS BOO), the area seemed like a lot of fun.  Just hold on, VA Beach, I'll be back!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Because BUTTER

I made reservations to eat lunch at The Lady and Sons weeks before any of the Paula Deen controversy hit the fan.  As things happened, our reservations fell right smack dab when all this was going on.  Like, just a few days after the Food Network and Wal-mart, et al, jumped on the "Let's Burn This Woman at the Stake" train.  Even with the controversy, there was never any question as to whether we would keep our reservation.  Honestly, the only real concern we had was whether or not the restaurant would be crazy packed with people.

I'm a Paula Deen fan and I think the way the media has treated her is incredibly shameful.  The woman admitted to using a racial slur in the past but everything else is merely alleged at this point.  And alleged from a former employee who both wrote a letter profusely offering thanks for her employment AND promised a smear campaign if her initial demands weren't met.  Sorry, y'all, I'm just not buying it. 

Anyhow.  Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about some hoecakes, fried chicken, and greens!

I initially wrote what was basically a Yelp review about our lunch with P-Dizzle.  (Side note: I kept telling the kids we were going to "have lunch with Paula Deen."  About halfway through our meal, K1 asked, "Where's Paula?"  He totally thought we were really going to eat lunch with her and then was upset that she wasn't there).  You don't need to know anything beyond the fact that this food?  It.was.good.
When we were first seated, a lady brought along a hoecake and garlic cheddar biscuit for each of us.  I didn't get to so much as touch my biscuit (thanks, K2 the carb-i-tarian!) but the hoecake.  SWEET BABY JESUS AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN MOTHER.  It was a mouthgasm and a party in my tummy.  I want another one.  Like, right now.
We opted for the buffet because duh we wanted to taste a little bit of everything.  The fried chicken was good (not quite on par with my buddy Gus but still very good).  Everything was really good (I think I tried everything except the green beans and the lima beans) but my favorites were the mac and cheese and the greens.
Dessert was banana pudding that I didn't get but a bite or two of thanks to one of my children (K1, maybe?).  My mom and J both really liked the Gooey Butter Cake (I'm not a cream cheese fan) and the peach cobbler was tasty too.
It was $15.99 for the lunch buffet and, in my opinion, worth it.  Would've been more worth it if all the media hooplah hadn't been going on and Jamie Deen himself was working the room.  But I guess you can't always have hoecakes AND Jamie Deen, right?
Damn, this STILL ended up sounding like a Yelp review!  I'll end by saying if you're ever in Savannah, dine with The Lady.  And bring me back some hoecakes . . .

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Day in Charleston

Rethinking those sunglasses.

I didn't love Charleston.

Please don't throw things at me. I had comments and emails from people who adore the city, people who call it home. Honestly, it's my own fault (oh, and also the fault of the seriously rude ass no concept for southern hospitality folks we ran into) that I didn't love it. We drove through construction to get there, a monsoon to get back, I TOOK MY KIDS, and when all was said and done my favorite thing about the day was that I made my first ever visit to Trader Joe's.


The main thing I wanted to do was visit the City Market. Twenty years ago I would've griped, complained, carried on, and possibly thrown a hissy fit at the idea of going to a flea market. Times have changed, though, and there are not many things in the world I love more (short list: my children, cupcakes, Coke Zero, the beach) than haggling for a good deal in an open air market.

The market was big and everything it was supposed to be: vendors peddling baskets and everything "Gullah" or "Low Country" branded you could think of. There were booths with expensive artwork and others with cheap t-shirts and shoes. There were keychains and shot glasses and wooden signs with "if Mama ain't happy" phrases. I could've spent a lot of time - and a lot of money - in there. Without the kids.

They were bored, they were hot, we'd hiked 47636745 miles to get there, I was afraid they'd break something. It was my fault. I knew better and I should've picked something more kid-friendly.

The other issue with the market, and the area surrounding it, was the people. It was crowded (and on a Tuesday!) which was to be expected. What was unexpected was just how goshdarn rude people were. Look, I understand that tourists anywhere and everywhere have a reputation. But DON'T GET A JOB WHERE YOU'RE AROUND A BUTTLOAD OF TOURISTS IF THEY BOTHER YOU SO MUCH. The guy we bought our souvenirs from had the personality of a wet noodle. The lady operating the trolley was rude and wouldn't let us board even though it was less than half full.

While in the Market area, we did find the Moon Pie general store. It doesn't get much more southern than an RC Cola and a moon pie and they had things like moon pie milk shakes and RC Cola in glass bottles. The kids set at the soda fountain bar area and had lemonade (their request) and we cooled down before finding our way back to King Street.

JUST ONE MORE negative and turn I'll focus on the positive: I promised the kids a cupcake. They love cupcakes, I love cupcakes, and the reward for our walking all over the place would be a gorgeous, glorious, gourmet cupcake from a place called simply ... Cupcake.

If you judge a city by their cupcakes, then Charleston is in trouble. These were dry. The frosting was gritty and tasteless. I spent nearly $15 on four cupcakes when I could've spent a third of that at the Kroger bakery on a half dozen cupcakes with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle rings on top and been more satisfied. I DIDN'T EVEN FINISH MY CUPCAKE! The kids, all icing connoisseurs, left heaps of frosting behind. So disappointing. Can't wait to Yelp about it.

As previously stated, totally my own fault I didn't enjoy the day in Charleston.  I should've planned better.  It was a pretty city, lots of southern charm, and I can totally imagine what the trip could have been.  One of these days I'll go back and experience it the "right" way.  And totally avoid Cupcake Downsouth.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Salt Life

Last week (or maybe the week before):


This week:
Want last week back.
This week can kiss my ass.