Sundays in the South : Link Love

Southern States Link Love

Since I’ve lived all around the South my entire life, I thought I would share with you just a few of my favorite places in each of the states I’ve lived in.  This will definitely give you the travel bug – and I hope you can live it out to the fullest!  Enjoy the Around-the-South tour and dream on this Sunday – that God would enable you to see more of the world He created!

Florida: The Sunshine State

Hontoon Island was a relatively new find for me.  Traveled there last year.  Your littles will love the little ferry ride over to the island.  There are also good hiking and biking trails – but most of these trails aren’t conducive to strollers.  Moss abounds!

If you are looking for a hole in the wall seafood restaurant – you need to come here. My Dad has ties to the owners and I love their fried grouper sandwich.

The best chicken and yellow rice and cuban bread – EVER.  My first trip I remember to this Florida (chain) but staple, was in high school with my Spanish class after going to the Salvadore Dali museum.  A must EAT!

And one of my favorite places in the city that I being an adult in – and one that I love and could retire in forever because I love it so – Barnacle Bills.  Only thing you ever need to get there is the Datil Shrimp.  Enough said.

I attended this private school most of my schooling years (except for half a year).  I loved the principal then and my teachers.  Some of the ministries I got to be a part of and friendships made still impact my life today.

The college I went to was in the heart of St. Augustine.  College for me turned out to be different than I though mostly because we had no football team.

North Carolina: The Tarheel State

Durham landmark

Oh, this could be a while.  I love it here and consider it home more than any other place I’ve lived.  Its where I fell in love with the Word, ministry, college students, the ocean, my husband, and where I became a momma for the first time.

Guglhupfs – best pancakes hands down.

Ketchie Creek Bakery – 5 flavor pound cake – need I say more?

I went to seminary here.  The first time I saw the campus I knew I was going to love it there.  Arrived on campus 4 months after my initial introduction.

I fell in love with missions, college students, and brooklyn tab while doing ministry at The Summit.

Had my first road trip with my husband and our first random stop was to one of the older cities.  Loved it.

Kentucky: The Bluegrass State

Louisville Zoo

I wasn’t here for a long time, and the seminary I worked for became home – and I loved the ability I had at the time to travel all the time and see people and things that I never would have otherwise.

Where I fell in love with Meditteranean food.

Where I grew to love this ministry and all that is stands for.  And Dr. Mohler spoke in our Sunday School this morning – and this ministry will have such a vital role in the church in the coming years (maybe even more so than before).  Owen and Courtney – you and your teams have my prayers as they always have!

And how I fell in love with gospel centered preaching was by listening mostly to this man at this church.

Arkansas:  The Natural State

Hot Chocolate

I was here the briefest and made some really sweet friends.  It is also where I fell in love with my second little boy!

ARWB – thank you Stephanie and Debbie and all of you other bloggers.  Yall were a great community!  Hopefully we will have that in GA soon!

Georgia: The Peach State

Georgia Aquarium

I’m growing to love this state more and more.  I’ve always had ties to this state and now my husband and boys are here.  Lovely combination

This is the church we get to be a part of.  Thankful for faithful preaching each week.

This is the bestest place in the state for me.  I’ve been going here since I was a kid and get to go with my family in 2 weeks.

And then the islands and Savannah – get me to the ocean!

There you have it.  If you have lived in one of these states – what are your favorite things to do, see, eat?  Help me out!

Family Ministry Today: Meals and Media

Meal time has often been considered one of the most needful times when connecting with your family.  Whether you eat at home at the table, in the living room, in the car, or at a restaurant, meal time is important.  You can make it either meaningful or literally a waste of time (except for filling bellies).  What are some issues concerning meal times and what can we as parents do?

1.  Media.  Mostly I mean television – and I’ll start with home.  Rarely do my husband and I eat in front of the television.  I can probably count on one hand the times we’ve done that in 19 months of marriage.  But, growing up we did that more times than we didn’t.  It was acceptable and counted on to eat while watching a Mets game, the news, or sitcoms.  Television watching at home provides a means to have no conversation and to also not think about what you are eating.

2.  Social Media or Telephones.  I rarely remember a meal when the phone didn’t ring in our house growing up and someone didn’t get up to answer it.  It speaks of what is more important: the person on the phone or those you are eating with.  There may be times when emergencies happen and you must do that – but I would say those are rare.  Parents: leave your phones in another room or turn them off.  Eat with your family: be all there.  If your children do have phones or other handheld media devices, have them turn them off or don’t allow them to interact with them during a meal time.

3.  Restaurants.  Last night my husband and I went to Carino’s for dinner.  We sat in the bar area and I sat facing the news channel.  They were focusing on a sex crime/murder trial.  I didn’t know anything about it but caught myself glancing up every now and then.  By the end of the meal I had mentioned it to Eric just as a way of soundbite.  It didn’t do anything to fuel our conversation, but sometimes it does.  If you are out with small children: go to a place without a tv or sit in a place where they can’t see it.   You usually have no control what is going to be shown and therefore can’t be on guard against what your children (or you) might see.  I often am saddened by couples or families that sit in almost silence at restaurants.  They rarely talk with each other and are instead engrossed in their phones or just staring at their meals.

4.  Use meal times strategically.  You can teach young children responsibility and what is important.  You can make meal times a priority for your family and a chance to have great conversation about their day and your day and what you read in the Word that day or use some books to fuel conversation.  Nancy Guthrie has a book on dinner table devotions that would be an excellent choice.  Eric and I use a grouping of memory verses to read and pray through before the meal.

Whatever you do, don’t let meal times be stolen away by society.  Use them for your family’s strength and God’s glory.

My Back in the Day Visit

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For about two years now I’ve wanted to hop in a car, drive to Savannah, and sit down in a  little bakery that boasts of great bread and antique cookery.  Finally, I did it.  And unfortunately it was one of the hottest days in Savannah and I was almost 8 months pregnant, but the food and company was well worth it.

The co-owner was sincere and cared about her customers.  The menu was not extensive so they specialized in what they made: great homemade sandwiches on fresh baked breads, and delicious desserts (and though we weren’t there for breakfast, I know from personal experience how great their morning goodies are).  The decor matched its name “Back in the Day” with antiques and mid-20th century kitchen finds. 

I split the Super Chicken sandwich with E.  Then we also split the bourbon bread pudding (to quote my husband, it was the best vread pudding he has ever had), and I took a few bites of my friend’s Coconut Cream Pie. 

Here are some of the pictures from the day.  Enjoy – and next time you are in Savannah, this is a must-stop!










Taste of Durham: Pop’s Trattoria/Rue Cler

posted in: food, restaurants, Uncategorized | 0

Two delicious downtown restaurants: one week: one owner.

Rue Cler is about a block from First Durham, a french restaurant and bakery (I’ve heard their blueberry muffins are just excitement for your mouth).

A friend and I went.  Dinner menus are daily reads, so I couldn’t plan ahead of time (ACK!).  They are pre-fixe menus, but you can substitute for anything, or you can do it a la carte.

I got the salad frisee (frisee greens, croutons, vinaigrette, bacon (which I left off for meatless year) and an egg – broken down into the greens – maybe all the time from now on.  Then I had a side of the pomme frites (really yummy seasoned french fries).  I didn’t care for the sauce (butter/tarragon) but I refrained from asking for ketchup. 

We had a great waitress who was patient in answering all of our questions because neither of us specialize in French cooking.

The other restaurant I tried this week was Pop’s Trattoria on Main Street.  They recently moved buildings – into an urban/warehouse type feel with local artist’s work adorning the wall.  We walked right in on V-day weekend because of reservations.  They sat us right next to beautiful precious friends which made the night even more special. 

Mussels with tomatoes, white wine, and red chili – AMAZING.  You really want a straw to sip up all the broth – but instead you dip the bread.  They come around to the tables periodically with a big basket and a set of tongs to give you as much bread as you desire. (1 1/2 for me).  The olive oil they served was delicious and fruity, but it didn’t compare to the mussels’ broth, so I chose that for my dipping choice.

Those we devoured – we also got the apple brie ricotto pizza topped with a truffle oil cream.  Very rich, we took leftovers.

The food was better than the service.  That’s not to say the service was bad, just not STELLAR – but the food definitely made up for it.  I could go back every night just to have the mussels.  Will definitely be going back to Pop’s!

Book 4 of 52: Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

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Today is one of those days when I wish I was independently wealthy and didn’t have a job.  If I were – I would purchase a ticket to the closest airport to Big Sur I could possibly find, maybe even tomorrow, and dine at the Big Sur Bakery along the Californian Coast.  Honestly, I wouldn’t go today – because its January and they may or may not be open – but maybe the first week of June.

The Big Sur Bakery was recommended to me by Jenna or Eat Live Run who lives in the area of the Bakery now and loves this cookbook as well.  I really was skeptical of how good a cookbook could really be.  This sets the bar.  A new plumb line for cookbooks.

Honest.  Ingredients.  Journal-type writing.  Amazing breathtaking, simply want to make you run to whole foods and make everything recipes, and beautiful mouth-watering pictures – the type I only dream to one-day take. 

They care about their friends and family, their local ingredients, and specializing in their craft.  And don’t let the term “bakery” in the restaurant’s name fool you.  They are about craftful baking, but they love their meat and potatoes as well.  They even have a pork and beer night once a year, complete with fake pig snouts.  Vegans not apply (that’s why I can’t go for  eleven months).

So…do you need a good read by a fire-place?  Pick this up.  I may not have a fire going at this moment, but this has been an amazing 3 hour journey into the lives of the owners and lovers of the Big Sur Bakery.

Tax return money, pleae come quickly, so I can buy my own copy.

Taste and Heard in Durham: Beyu Caffe

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I don’t know really how you say it, but I pronounce it: good eats.

On the side of Five Points in the downtown district of the Bull City, sits a gem.  Jazz, spinach gruyere dip, vegan and vegetarian choices on a full menu, wines and coffees, luscious desserts, and wifi – really – need I say more.

We walked in with only about 35 minutes for dinner.  I stated that to our waiter and he was on it.  Thankful for the service! 

I think I may have had the best spinach dip I’ve ever had: spinach and gruyere cheese – that’s all (well, the two main ingredients) – baked in my own little ramekin so I could devour it all to myself (I did share a bite, and saved some for leftovers).  No artichokes – I think I like it that way.

The sauce that I tried from my friend’s choice: chorizo quesadillas: guacamole mayo – splendid.  That would go good on just about anything – but maybe perfect on a BLT.  Yum.

The dude singing – perfect, not too loud, we could still carry on a conversation.  Must. Go. Back. for more.

TriRestaurant Week: Vivace

posted in: food, restaurants, vegetarian | 2

Unpretentious.  Good food.  Hopefully go back for the good wine.  Good price.  Good friend.  What more could you ask for?

A friend and I celebrated hump day by taking advantage of Triangle Restaurant Week and went to a new place for us both, Vivace in North Hills.  I will definitely pay a return (or two or three) visit!

They brought out delicious simple crusty bread slices with a white bean hummus type dip.  Good, simple.

We both ordered the salad: spinach, dried apricots, slivered almonds, and a prosecco vinaigrette.  Loved the attention of the dressing of the salad with the light vinaigrette and the sweetness (but not overwhelming) dried apricots.  Maybe the hand was heavy on the pecorino cheese, just a bit salty.

I ordered the pizza, minus the chicken since I’m going meatless.  The presentation was flawless, brought out on a wooden cutting board.  Thin crispy-edged pizza with olive oil, goat cheese, roasted garlic, pear, and red onion.  Simple.  Mastered.  I took one bought, slouched back on my cushioned-seat, and sighed.  Good food.  Such a pleasure.

My friend got the mussels in white wine sauce and linguini.  I tasted a mussel and tried some of the sauce.  Splendid.  And both meals provided us leftovers.

Dessert: cappuccino panna cotta with raspberry puree (dotted with 3 chocolate covered espresso beans) and biscotti.  Everything was good, nothing oh my goodness stellar (like the pizza).  I enjoyed it.  Brown colored desserts are not easy to photograph. But, neither of us (my friend nor I)  are HUGE coffee fans and we both enjoyed it!

So.  My plan: return for a visit.  Go late at night with a friend who wants to split a pizza, a glass of something, and sit there and talk, oh for hours.

And we had attentive wait staff and an enjoyable time!  Thank you Vivace.  Enjoy the photos.

Taste of Durham: Amelia Cafe

In the middle of the Brightleaf Square corridor sits a little cafe that serves desserts and real food.

I spend 4 hours there on Sunday, taking pictures, talking w a dear friend, and sipping on an espresso macchiato. 

The cake we chose was moist, texture-perfect, and delicious.  I could have easily eaten the entire cylindrical – goodness, but I shared, like a good girl.  We chose the coconut tres leche cake and the toasted coconut on the outside was supreme.  The filling of the tres leche cake was rich and pale yellow taste-bud delight with every bite. 

They serve many other beautiful creations and then have a full menu as well.  You can sit there for hours and have no one bother you.  And they have refills on their coffee – serve your own.  So, I’ll definitely be heading back there, especially when it gets warmer and I can sit outside.

Finds like Amelia’s are what makes Durham a great place to eat!

Only negative: their photos both on their website and menu need help.  Hey folks at Amelia’s: I’m available.  Contact me!

Taste of Charlotte: Red Rocks

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Nestled in the South Park neighborhood of the Queen City, NC’s largest city, sits Red Rocks Cafe Bar & Bakery.  I would just call it good food.

A friend and I decided to meet up there on my recent overnight trip to Charlotte.  We were anticipating a long wait, but got in there and were the next ones to be seated.  Perfect!

So many delicious finds on the menu: appetizers (including parmesan potato cakes), salads (including my dinner of a large Greek salad with salmon), steaks, pasta, fish, sandwiches: if you are hungry – they have something to fill your tummy.

Our waitress was friendly and attentive.  We were told her we were in a hurry and she was on top of things.  We placed our order, specifically under-cooking our salmon – and probably 8 minutes later, both of our meals were on our table.  My friend was gracious enough to let me snap a few photos, then we dug in.

The salmon was perfectly cooked: slightly crispy on the outside, slightly underdone on the inside.  The result: smooth, moist salmon full of flavor.  The dill sauce on my friend’s salmon was lemony and seasoned perfectly.  Not too much, not too little dill.

Then came the Oreo cheesecake.  Usually, you can’t go wrong with splitting cheesecake.  My only fault for the whole evening was I thought the cheesecake needed some more sugar, because it tasted too cream cheese, the perfect balance wasn’t there.  But, the chocolate sauce and oreos improved it 100%

Ambiance: check.  Wait staff: check.  Price: 10-20$ per entree.  Parking: no problem.  Food: double check.

Delicious Wilmington: Coastal Cupcakes

posted in: chocolate, food, restaurants | 2

I think every other cupcake business in Wilmington needs to just close up shop and that Coastal Cupcakes needs to bake more cupcakes. 

Best cupcake I’ve had, hans down.  I’ve had cupcakes in Chicago, RDU, Publix (which are a favorite of mine), TN,  CO.  Cupcake bakeries and “shoppes” are all the rage right now, so there seems to be one on every corner.  They do it right!

A friend and I share the coconut with cream cheese icing and coconut on top.  The most moist, fall apart, not dry at all cupcake.  Flavorful and just melt in your mouth.  Most cupcakes I’ve tasted in bakeries taste like they are frozen.  I would have though these were baked right before we walked in (though the icing wasn’t melting, so I know they weren’t).  The coconut wasn’t hard.  The cream cheese frosting was just bliss. 

I would love to have tried all of them, and the shop clerk that day was so kind and gracious to let me come behind the counter to not have the glass in all the pictures!

Thank you Coastal Cupcakes!  Keep baking!  I will return!