The Great Summer Trip of 2015 {Part Two}

7.19.2015

In the beginning of the year, the family and I decided to plan a huge road trip from where we are stationed in the South West to where my parents reside on the East Coast. Husband Man had accumulated 30 days of "use it or lose it" leave time and well, we thought this would be a great way to burn off his leave AND have the kids see both sets of grandparents.

We planned out everything, from which cities to make stops at to how long we would spend visiting our families and friends. We packed up our RV and hit the road on June 28th and it has been non-stop traveling since then.

This is the second post of our journey (click HERE to read the first post).

Fayetteville, North Carolina

After our wonderful stop in Savannah, Georgia, it was off to visit Fayetteville, North Carolina, my hometown. Fayetteville is home to the U.S. Army's second largest military base, Ft. Bragg. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you know that I was born and raised an Army brat. My father completed his 20 years of active duty and then retired over at Ft. Bragg. It was where I spent my middle school, high school, and college years…until I met and married Husband Man. 

My side of the family planned a little reunion of sorts, with our destination being my parents house. Husband Man, the kids, and I arrived a few days before everyone else so we were able to explore our old stomping grounds. We drove to Ft. Bragg and reminisced about our dating days and then went out to lunch at a little German restaurant called The German Diner located right outside of post. 

I honestly was not impressed with the restaurant's atmosphere. I must have counted 3 or 4 flies that were buzzing around everyone's food and the floors looked like they had not been swept or mopped in over a week. The food was mediocre as well. I ordered the Chicken Schnitzel Plate while Husband Man ordered the Jagerschnitzel. I ordered spatzle with my dish and he ordered German potato salad, both of which were ok, but not the best. The meal did have that German-esque taste to it, however, it didn't leave a great impression on us. 
The day after, we stopped at a little mom and pop farm and antique area (Gillis Hill Farms) that served seasonal homemade ice cream. Now THAT made an impression on us. I have always known about Gillis Hill, however, out of all the years I lived in that city, I never took the time to visit them. I'm regretting that now! From the ice cream cones to the ice cream itself, they make it all from scratch! I ordered two scoops of ice cream (butter pecan and vanilla) in an ice cream cone and hubby ordered two scoops of banana ice cream. We also ordered a pint of cookies and cream for the kids. They are not stingy with how much they place inside your cone either. We felt very satisfied with our purchase! 

It's a tradition among the women in my family to stop at Lone Star Steakhouse and share a plate of their cheese fries for lunch every time we get together…which we did once my sister arrived in town. We also hit up Hardee's (because the Southwest does not have them) and ordered biscuits and gravy for breakfast. 
Our visit not only included eating out on some days, but also consisted of eating at my parent's house as well. My sister-in-law's birthday took place a few days after we arrived so my mother gathered all the grandchildren together to decorate and make butterfly cupcakes for her. The kids had a blast and did such a wonderful job! 

Something magical also happened during our stay. While helping my father clean out the garage, Husband Man and I came across my mother's handwritten recipe cards, stashed away in vintage recipe boxes! I asked my mother if she wanted them and her response was, "take whatever you wish to have." I actually have all of these boxes in my possession at this time, mainly because I forgot to give them back to her before we left North Carolina.  Not on purpose mind you. It literally just slipped my mind to return them. That's what the post office is for, right? :) 

Wilmington, North Carolina

Both my parents, my brother, and his wife LOVE the city and beaches of Wilmington…so when we had our little family reunion, it wasn't much of a surprise when we found out a family trip to Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington was on the agenda.  My parents only live a few hours away from there so we made a day of it.

In all the years we have been married, Husband Man and I have not actually been able to enjoy the benefits of living near a beach. We did live 15 minutes away from one back when we were newlyweds, however, we both never took the time to enjoy it. We are more into the mountains then the beach. Regardless though, we did have a fun time. It was a little crazy in the beginning. After all, we are talking about my sister's 3 children, Husband Man and I's two children, and my brother's two children (one of whom is only a month old)…plus all of us grownups…some of whom aren't familiar with going to the beach. However, once the craziness died down it was a good day. A very relaxing one too.  The kids had a great time and we all were able to work on our tans, which is always a good thing :)
After our fun at the beach, my parents took us out for lunch at the Bluewater Waterfront Grill
This restaurant serves up the best seafood in town, or so I've been told. Crab dip, fish and chips, and popcorn shrimp were all ordered. Husband Man and I ordered the Southwestern Warm Crab Nachos. Call me crazy, but after being on the road for nearly 3 weeks, I found myself missing the southwest just a tiny bit. This dish that we ordered definitely reminded me of being back there. It consisted of roasted corn, crab salsa, melt Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and cilantro. It was topped off with sriracha-lime sour cream and guacamole. The crab was the only part that was not southwestern. However, the other ingredients delivered such a powerful kick that it was hard to taste it at times. It was the perfect way to end a relaxing day at the beach!

Our visit to my hometown was such a relaxing one! We all had so much fun! Stay tuned for Part Three coming up soon! 


The Great Summer Trip of 2015 {Part One}

7.10.2015


In the beginning of the year, the family and I decided to plan a huge road trip from where we are stationed in the South West to where my parents reside on the East Coast. Husband Man had accumulated 30 days of "use it or lose it" leave time and, well…we thought this would be a great way to burn off his leave AND have the kids see both sets of grandparents.

We planned out everything, from which cities to make stops at to how long we would spend visiting our families and friends. We packed up our RV and hit the road on June 28th and it has been non-stop traveling since then.

The one thing I enjoy the most besides visiting family and friends….is FOOD! I mean after all, what is a vacation without it? We have had a lot of it in the last few weeks! Allow me to fill you in on our adventure so far!

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Our first place to stop at was Oklahoma City. We stayed there over night just to rest and relax before we hit the road the next morning. 

I have family who reside there so we contacted them and met at Old Chicago Pasta and Pizza. Supposedly, this restaurant is known for their pizza! And boy was it ever good! I ordered their Pesto Margherita Pizza and Husband Man ended up ordering their Pizza Supreme. After dinner, we guided them over to the RV Park where we were staying and the kids were able to play outside while the grown ups enjoyed some lively conversation. A good time was had by all!

Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana

The next stop on our trip took us to our old stomping grounds in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana. We were stationed over at Barksdale Air Force Base for 10 years so we definitely knew our way around the area. We stayed at Fam Camp at Barksdale for 2 nights and one day. We drove through our old neighborhood and schools and spent the afternoon with some old friends. It was an emotional visit for me because our years stationed at Barksdale were not the greatest. However, I did get a chance to reflect on the good times that we had. My career as a food blogger and food columnist started in Shreveport and my two children were also born there. So yes, good memories indeed!

Since we lived there for 10 years, the family and I definitely had our list of favorite restaurants we wanted to eat at. However, it was humanly impossible to fit ALL of them into 2 nights and 1 day. In the end, we ended up choosing a local restaurant that would tame the cajun side of our taste buds. We ate a nice afternoon lunch at Shane's Seafood and Barbecue over in Bossier City. We knew we could not order this type of food out west and savored every single spoonful that went into our mouths.  I ordered their famous barbecue sandwich and Husband Man ordered their gumbo, along with fried jalapeƱos.

South Mississippi

Our journey continued as we drove further down to South Mississippi. Husband Man's family resides near Biloxi so we decided to stick around there for almost 4 days. The children were able to spend time with his side of the family while we celebrated the 4th of July. Between having a pool party/barbecue for the 4th and eating at the places we frequent whenever we come down for a visit, we ate very well during this part of our trip! 

The restaurants we picked to eat at were Sicily's Italian Restaurant and Edd's Drive In. It's a tradition for Husband Man and I to eat at both of these. Sicily's Italian Restaurant reminds us of a high end Ci Ci's Pizza. It is the ONLY pizza buffet that we are aware of that serves cajun/New Orleans style pizza, gumbo, crawfish etouffe' and everything in between. It's all about pizza with my children so we know every time we go that they will eat well.

The other restaurant, Edd's Drive In, is a little mom and pop dive located right near the beaches of the Gulf. When Husband Man was younger, he worked there for one day before he signed those enlistment papers for the Army. He loves to reminisce about his one and only day making chili cheeseburgers and milkshakes, which is exactly what we order every time we visit.
While we were in South Mississippi, we also took the kids to Mobile, AL to visit the USS Alabama. The scorching heat made it difficult to enjoy the ship, however, we made the best of it. I also purchased a new cookbook at the gift shop! Between the restaurants, the USS Alabama, and everything else in between, our visit to Mississippi was a memorable one ;) 

Savannah, Georgia

The next stop on our itinerary was Savannah, Georgia.  I'm serious when I tell y'all that the only thing I knew about Savannah was that it was where Paula Deen got her start. When Husband Man mentioned months ago that Savannah was one of our stopping places, I flipped out! When I started planning our stay, the only thing I wanted to do was go on a guided Paula Deen tour and eat at The Lady and Sons. And by golly, that's what we did! I met Paula years ago when she published her Southern Cooking Bible, however, stopping in Savannah afforded us the opportunity to actually eat at her restaurant and see where she started her business all those years ago.  

We had so much fun! The food tasted just as I imagined it would taste…on the heavy side, with that southern charm added to it. I placed a little bit of everything onto my plate. AND…to make things even better, we actually were able to catch a glimpse of Jamie Deen and his family during our time at the restaurant! Husband Man took a quick picture as they were walking into the 'employees only' section. It was a moment in time that I will NEVER forget! 

Savannah itself is a wonderful city, steeped in culture. If it's one thing we enjoyed on the tour, besides learning more about Paula, was the array of historical houses and the moss lined trees that graced some of the roads.  I would definitely love to go back there one day…without a doubt! 


….and this concludes Part One of our great summer trip!  Notice I said "Part One." Part two will be coming up in a few weeks, where we travel to North Carolina to see my family, Charleston, South Carolina, and Gatlinburg, TN. 

Stay tuned!!!!!! 

June Monthly Times

6.20.2015

Hello everyone! 
Yes I am still here and no I have not left the blog. A little thing called 'life' has gotten in the way of things this month and I have no clue where to begin!

June is not even over yet and so much has already happened!

Let's see……

I've been working, working, working since the last time I posted:
Husband Man took a quick picture of me working this month while testing out his new camera lens. 
1. Remember THIS updated post I wrote a few months back (read number one on the post)??  
Well….I received this lovely letter in my e-mail this Monday:



That's right folks! I am now an online graduate student over at The University of Southern Florida, seeking a non-degree graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography! I guess all of that hard work I did back in April paid off!  My classes start this fall and I can't wait to contact them to discuss my future in food writing :)

2. Speaking of food writing, the latest issue of Military Spouse Magazine is out…and so is the article I wrote on my lovely friend, Maliaka. They even gave Husband Man credit for the awesome pictures he took for the article ;)

3. I have also joined forces with the lovely online military spouse community, White Walls. I'm one of their featured food bloggers and write up recipes and food related articles for them every other week. 

4. Besides, food writing, I have also spent the majority of the month preparing for my first full week of teaching culinary classes to children.  I've had to make 15 new recipes, complete with lesson plans, in a span of a few weeks to prep for these summer cooking camp classes. Even though the end of each day left me super tired, I had lots of fun. I hope the children did too. One little boy told his mom "I had soooo much fun this week! I wish this camp was going on allll summer long!" I'm thinking that's a good sign that I must be doing something right?? Maybe?? 
My little summer chefs!!
I am also partnering with our local Air Force Base and to bring this program to the residents who reside here. It's a HUGE undertaking, but hopefully it will be worth it! 

5. We celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday this month. I cannot believe we have a 9 year old in the house! Where did the time go?? Truth be known, we have been celebrating her birthday off and on for a month, due to summer break and prior job commitments. There is no doubt she knows she is loved though and that she is a very blessed girl. 
My kids at the Olive Garden for my daughter's 9th birthday, one of the MANY celebrations we've had this month for her!

This is all for now!

Between all that has happened this month (and last month), I have racked up some really great recipes along the way! It's just a matter of finding the time to make them and post them on here. 

The family and I will be taking a 30 day road trip soon to the East coast to visit the grandparents and have a family reunion of sorts, so I honestly do not know when I will be able to post some new ones. Maybe by the time the school year starts back up?? I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Till then….

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