I love being near the Outer Banks. It’s nothing for me to just get up on a day and drive down there for a few hours. During my maternity leave, I actually loaded Caleb up in the car and drove down there, picked up some Duck Donuts and came back home. It was a wonderful trip and a good way to spend a morning.

Caleb’s first taste of cantaloupe – he loved it!

Every summer for about 18 years now, my grandparents go down to the Outer Banks for about a week and stay in a condo inviting the rest of the family to come. I usually try to get down there. In the past few years though, I’ve only managed to go down for the day. The condo is located right near the ocean and when I was younger, it felt safe for me to be able to come and go as I pleased pretty much.

Two of Caleb’s favorite toys – a cup and a spoon!

The latest tropical storm lurked about 150 miles south off the coast of North Carolina this weekend, making it overcast, WINDY, and cool. The temperatures lurked in the low 80’s near about all weekend, giving us a nice break from the previous weeks. We couldn’t go on the beach because of how hard the sand was being blown everywhere but that’s okay – we still had fun!

Bonding time with the grandson!

My mom had picked Caleb up a float for the pool so we went to the indoor pool for about 15-20 minutes and let Caleb float around. He’s been in the water before and enjoys it. His little legs were kicking as hard as they could. I think that I have a little water baby on my hands and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Caleb was wore out from floating around, so I put him down for a brief nap before he resumed crawling around on the carpet. Crawling is something that he just started doing that weekend and he was so proud to show his skills off. He has even been working on pulling himself up a little bit. Now that he is mobile… we have our hands full!

After his nap, my mom, Caleb and I went down to Rock-A-Bye Baby OBX and picked up some really cute goodies. I can’t wait to get back and shop some more! I’m working on a YouTube video right now that’ll feature some of the goodies that I purchased from the shop as well as some clips of Caleb swimming.

I took Monday off of work so that Caleb and I could relax a little bit. Since it was a much warmer day, I took him outside and allowed him to just go to town with a bowl of apple puree. I think he had fun!

I love going to the farmer’s market and the Edenton Farmer’s Market is one of my all-time favorite markets. I love the variety that is offered and the market seems to really have a bond with the rest of the community. Even better, they just opened up in a snazzy new permanent location this year. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while now so Robb and I bundled up Caleb and made the drive over to Edenton.

I always set myself a spending limit for the farmer’s market. If I don’t, then I usually end up going way past my spending budget for the month. $40 seems to be the magical number for me since we grow a lot of our own food. I view the farmer’s market mainly as a way to supplement what we grow and as a venue to find some super awesome items. So here is what I got for my Farmer’s Market $40:

As of Monday morning, all we have left from our haul is two rabbit ears, some honey goat cheese, the microgreens, and the ground lamb. There is nothing like cooking with fresh, local vegetables.

After showing Caleb off at the farmer’s market, we decided to walk a few blocks downtown. I wish that it had been a few degrees warmer but it wasn’t bad if you stayed out of the wind. Robb had carried Caleb around the market but I slipped him into his carrier for our longer walk. Our Lil Bean is growing so fast that he will really tire out your arms! One of the things that I like most about babywearing (besides the bonding time) is that on a chilly day, it helps to keep Caleb nice and toasty.

Like every other time when we go to Edenton, I made Robb go into the Cupola House garden to take some photos of me. If the weather had been a bit nicer, I would have made him go to a few other spots but I decided that could way for another day. Maybe when Caleb is slightly bigger and we will be able to take him down to the playground and I can swing with him.

We went into Salty Kisses Boutique to check out their sale and found an absolutely adorable monster hat for Caleb when he gets a bit bigger.

For lunch, we ate at the recently opened Governor’s Pub. Robb had a burger while I had a turkey Reuben (aka, the “Rachel”).

We were all tuckered out by then so we piled in the car and headed back home.

I love our little day trips and can’t wait to take Caleb on some more adventures! Though I think that he might have been a little less than impressed with the day…

If you are a North Carolinian, you may have heard a lot of buzz in the last few months about the “brunch bill”. But do you really know what’s going on with it?

The “brunch bill”, which is actually Senate Bill 155 and contains a plethora of other changes to North Carolina’s liquor laws, would allow stores and restaurants to begin selling beer and alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays (it was previously noon). The bill was signed into action by Governor Roy Cooper on June 30 however local municipalities have to approve the bill for their own communities before the law could go into effect.

Surprisingly not everyone has been on board with this bill and some communities (such as Kure Beach, Nags Head, and New Bern) did not reach the 2/3 majority of votes needed to pass it. From my reading, it seems like the biggest reason the bill did not pass was because of morality reasons – people fear that by selling alcohol earlier on a Sunday, it would deter individuals from going to church or that it would ruin the “family” atmosphere of a tourist area.

Seriously? The beaches are already covered with cigarette butts, beer cans, and other less than savory items in these “family” areas. You walk an extra block in some cute little historic town and may find yourself in a crime ridden neighborhood where heroin needles linger in the gutters. I think our communities need to focus a bit more on fixing their already existing issues than trying to blame those issues on something that hasn’t even come to fruition yet.

But I digress.

I’m not a big drinker myself. I might have one Corona on occasion or a pumpkin beer during the season, but that’s about the extent of it. Does it matter to me about picking up a 6-pack from the grocery store at 11:30 a.m.? Not really. Even though I rarely consume alcohol, I still see the need for North Carolina’s Brunch Bill to pass.

Why?

Revenue.

Living off the cuff of North Carolina’s coast, we receive a lot of tourists to this area. A lot of tourists who support our local businesses and would more than likely not attend church in the area anyway. These are typically families who aren’t going to go wild and crazy and turn into lushes at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. They are the ones who are going to want to go out, have someone else prepare their breakfast, and enjoy a mimosa or two with their family.

This is the opportunity to drive additional business to our areas. Instead of staying home and fixing their own drinks, people could spend the money out in the community. They could support our local restaurants and shops. The price of one bloody mary may not seem like it would make much difference, but if that person then decides to wander into the shop next door, then multiple people benefit.

The majority of restaurants seem to be in favor of the “brunch bill” but as the communities in North Carolina continue to vote, it’ll be interesting to see the overall outcome.

What do you think about the “brunch bill”? If you aren’t in North Carolina, what time does alcohol sales start on Sunday in your area?

During the late 1880’s, North Carolina oysters were being harvested as an alarming rate and shipped out all over the country. At it’s peak in 1902, 800,000 bushels of oysters were harvested, exhausting the supply and threatening the future of the species [information from NC Oysters]. Thank goodness that efforts have been made to rectify this and increase the population.

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Like I’ve said before, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by fresh seafood. Oysters aren’t a delicacy to me but are simply another reason to gather around at my grandparent’s house. We’ve had oyster roasts for as far back as I can remember, though when I was younger, the oysters were heated on top of a wood stove until they popped open. Now we steam them over a cooker but they taste just the same – delicious. Typically we wait until January to cook oysters the first oysters of the season(sometimes we will have them on Christmas Eve) though the recreational harvest season runs from October 15 through March 31.

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I tend to like my oysters a bit firmer than most (otherwise it tends to look like snot). I also  chew my oysters (unlike most of my family). Once I’ve waited as long as I can wait, I snatch the oyster from the cooker, careful to avoid the steam. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to open an oyster with moderate success. You lay the blade of your oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist until it pops apart.

If there is any juice, I sip it. The salter the better and where/when your oyster was harvested sometimes dictates the saltiness. I slather the meat in homemade cocktail sauce (a mixture of horseradish and ketchup, though I’m a bit heavy handed on the former) and eat it.

When we get fresh oysters, we always eat them steamed. If we are wanting to fry oysters, we usually will pick up a jar of already shelled oysters from Quality Seafood.

This wouldn’t be a post on oysters if I didn’t highlight the oyster knife of my dreams. Made by Carolina Suckers from an old railroad spike, this oyster knife is practically a work of art to me.

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The Mother Shucker

Maybe one day I’ll get my hand of one of these beauties. For now, I’ll just keep using the crusty – well, let’s call them vintage – oysters knives rummaged from drawers at my grandparent’s house.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them (steamed, fried, make into an oyster stuffing)?

Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been working on clearing out my pantry in anticipation for my quarterly Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods excursion. My boyfriend and I almost messed up. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Moore County to visit his family for the holidays. On our way up, as we passed through Raleigh, we decided that we would stop to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Cabela’s on our way home. Monday came and it was a dreary day as we set off back to our house with a truck full (and I mean jam packed) with gifts.

We stopped to Cabela’s but decided to bail on the other two stores. We were tired, ready to get home, and most of all – our truck was FULL! So we decided to stick to our original plan of making a day date of it while I was out on break.

That same Monday night, I attacked the kitchen in a whirlwind after we arrived home. I cleaned out our pantry – putting items that have been in our pantry for months – into a bag to donate to the local food bank (I ended up with two large bags full), throwing some expired items away. Then I started on the spices. There were spices in there from back in 2011! I let Robb go through everything before I tossed it and if he said keep it, we kept it (fair trade).

When we went to Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s the day after Christmas, neither of us were feeling at our best. That may have been why we didn’t go as crazy as I had anticipated. But that’s okay. It still ended up being a good “date” day for the two of us and I enjoy spending time with Robb. Even if it’s doing something that seems as mundane as going to the grocery store!

Here’s what we purchased:

 

Some of our favorite purchases were:

  • Growler of Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha (first tried at the Heritage Festival at Monticello) from Whole Foods (Me)
  • Olives from Whole Foods (Robb)
  • Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup  from Trader Joe’s (both of ours)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes (mentioned before in this post)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Flour from Whole Foods (Me) – this is for homemade corn tortillas using the tortilla press I got for Christmas!

Molten Chocolate Macaron from Trader Joe’s – this thing is HUGE!

Since we went on Monday, we were able to take advantage of the Pasta Night at Whole Foods. For $12.99 we were able to get a pound of fresh cut pasta (our choice was spinach pappardelle), 16oz of Severino sauce (we went with the Fra Diavolo) and 4oz of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Our pasta night deal from Whole Foods with chorizo, mushrooms, and onions thrown in. Delicious!

A few nights ago, I was able to try out my new tortilla press. I know that a tortilla press is a weird thing to ask for but I love the idea of being able to make fresh corn tortillas. I still need to practice but I think I did okay! I paired my homemade corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, homemade lime crema, cilantro, coleslaw mix, and pan seared Alaskan halibut (with a adobo seasoning purchased from Whole Foods).

Tacos?? A good first try.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!